Thursday, December 22, 2011

Giving and Receiving

So, what did you get this Christmas? Well, for the most part, I would like to say I gave a whole lot of quirky gifts.

For my closest friends, I love shopping unique gifts for them. I would "tune in" to things they particularly like... or need.

for one friend, who was going on a Europe trip, I bought two travel guide books. One for each city she was going to- London and Paris.

Others, I just went with unique gifts.. I gave my blog partner this... its a long pillow shaped like a PRINGLES can. It says... TO FIND A PRINCE, YOU'VE GOT TO KISS A LOT OF FROGS.... mwahahahahaha (see bottom part)

I gave my friend who has a teenage daughter this... (and some banana cupcakes- her favorite)-- it's says... I'M A PRINCESS-- SO DO WHAT I SAY!!!  --- in the bottom, -- DO IT NOW!!!
-- it's so funny and cute.

I also bought other designs, like this one shaped like a soda can. The original is called ROYAL TRU ORANGE... (ORANGE FLAVORED SODA).. they played around with the words.

I also have this LAYS look alike pillow---the kids loved this one... I never got a chance to give it. It got kidnapped.... (way too lazy... to get out of bed)

I also gave a lot of notepads... one is shaped like a camera, one is a NOTELLA.... and the other is a BLAHBERRY..... (most of those who got these were bank employees I usually do business with)

What I got---
my blog partner gave me a cute apron and some salt and pepper shakers. (I am starting a collection)

I also got some books from two friends. One is an inspirational book, and the other a travel book.-- I love checking off all the places I have been to.-- see all the markers... (the other places just give me ideas on where to go to next!)
I also got a mini bunt pan from my friend... love it too... just got so cooked out this season. not sure when I'll be able to use it.. It also came with an apron. (very useful)

These are my amazon wishlist... and some of the items I am eyeing (wishing for) are:
ink, nibs, sealer....
this whole calligraphy set... although, I still have to learn to write calligraphy.... or if not the whole set, maybe just a pen....

this murano glass pen is so exquisite. I have illusions of being in the 1800s and writing letters.... hahahaha. (Jane Austen)

ok... I would be happy with this... it matches perfectly with my froggy stapler and froggy tape dispenser

froggy timer
Well, maybe next year!!!! Hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas!!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Artsy Craftsy

Christmas is just the time to bring out the "Martha Stewart" in me. If you want to know, I have been baking my ass off. -- at least the kiddies are loving what I bake!

I used to be afraid to try my hand at sugar cookies but what the heck. It's Christmas and what better time to try it? I bought some awesome cookie cutters. One was gingerbread man and the other was a snowflake.

Honestly, when I start something, I get so obsessed with it. I started baking with small cuto outs, then I bought some more food color to tint the royal icing...

and now, I want to make more complicated designs for the sugar cookies!!!

Everyone is winding down for the holidays. Business is slow at the office....most of the time, we spend giving company gifts and receiving gifts.

One day, I was looking for some templates for envelopes. I can across this website by CANON. click HERE for the link

I downloaded a bunch of envelopes with Christmas designs. They have others too for spring, autumn etc etc...
don't you think a personalized gift (even a cheap one) is better than a gift that was not well thought of? i really appreciate gifts that the giver has taken the time to think about. Not just pulled out of some store (generic) to give to a person.

personally made and homemade is so rare these days.

I put a envelope insert on this one.

don't you just love the wrap around design of the envelope?

Christmas town version... can you see santa?
They also have templates for calendars and pop up cards. Its the pop up cards that really got me.... Its a very complicated set of cut outs that you have to assemble. If you download it, it is approximately 10 pages of letter sized paper. It had a detailed (dowloadable) instructions too..... wow.--- you would really LIKE the person to attempt to make this card.!

I think I'll stick with the envelopes for now.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Conquering THE ROCK

Joining the 2nd corregidor international half marathon was exciting to say the least. For those who know corregidor, it is one of the last strongholds of the US and Philippines forces during WWII.

Most of us learned about it during history class in high school. I actually love the sense of history this run gave me. For more info click HERE. I ran a 10k. I had no expectations of running fast whatsoever. I have heard that they have the steepest hills you can run. (it was actually like climbing up a mountain)

We woke up about 3am Dec 10. We had to catch a ferry going to the island at 5:30 am. The trip took about 1 1/2 hours. (it gave me an opportunity to take a nap on the boat). I surveyed most of the runners there and noticed they were very experienced runners by the way they were preparing for disembarkation.
Some had full on compression suits and were putting on several globs of sunscreen. By the way they looked (very lean and fit) and the gear they had on (very "runner"), you can tell they were serious.

It was humbling.

I was glad I was running only a 10k.

The 21k runners were the first up. All in all, I think the total runners for both events were about 387.

The 10k runners were so few, I had a chance to run in FRONT.  (I think most of the people were afraid to position in front.. maybe pressure to run faster?).. I checked later on and discovered we were 98 runners in total.

The start of the race went with a loud honking of the bull horn. I ran a faster pace at first because I knew I had to slow down when I got to the "killer" hills. I needed to gain more ground. About 100- 200 meters from the starting point, we were going to do a turn. This turn was going up an 45 degree uphill incline.

pretty hard to take a picture of yourself while going uphill!
This incline went for about another 1.5km!!! I tried running, well, for the most part, jogging.. but I was afraid I wouldn't last the rest of the 8km that I still had to go. --- at least most of the 10k runners did not attempt to run uphill too. I was not alone!!!

I took several shots of the ruins and the scenery while jogging.
used some artsy effects...

loved this part of the run. very relaxing!
I took opportunities when the roads got more even to run a bit. One thing about his run is you get to see a lot of sights. Like ruins (see above) from world war 2. At some point during my 3rd kilometer, I got into a conversation with a fellow runner. Her husband is a serious runner and left her (he was going for a fast time... I eventually found out that he was the first place finisher in the 10k at 49!)

So, Michelle (that's her name) was grumbling how it was so hard to take pictures when you are alone. Echoing her sentiment, I offered to take her picture if she would take mine. So I had a running/picture taking buddy from 3km onwards.

It was quite fun after that because we took turns taking each other pictures and babbling about our running experiences. (we both were recreational runners). I found the time and the kilometers went by quickly. We also found ourselves in some "jungle-like" conditions in one part of the race. Thankfully, no rain for that day or we would have been crawling over mud. (the day before saw a heavy downpour and flooding that I was worried we were going to swim our way to the island)

The sightseeing runners just had to take a picture with the antique gunnery

I think doing this run is the best ending to the year. I really enjoyed this most of all the runs I have attempted. WHY?

1. the route was challenging and yet enjoyable at the same time. You get to see history and nature and get fit too.

2. the limited number of runners made it extra special. As I was running towards the last 200m, I was cheered on by the volunteers and was actually all alone on the route. It made me feel like I was the FIRST one coming to the finish line. The announcers was calling out my bib # as I was running towards the finish and they even had a ribbon for me to cross! wow. unbelievable feeling!!! Made me feel like a winner all the waaayyy!~~~ (unlike other runs where participant number by the thousands, you get lost in the crowd coming in)

3. They handed me a rose and a medal.

We had a nice lunch (which was included in the race fee)-- my husband and friend said they could not taste the food from being so exhausted -- they ran 21k and were cramping so bad during the last half of the race. (most were hills). I was thankful I had a more enjoyable run and had time to even take pictures..! (but honestly, I could really feel the downhill on my knees)

We also took the tour after since our boat ferry back was at 5:30. The tour guide was a elderly white haired gentleman who amazed me with his encyclopedic knowledge of history. He even recited the farewell letter of the admiral who surrendered the island to the Japanese. It was like a Filipino David Attenborough and I was watching the history channel without the guy having a script. To think he looked about 70! WOWZER. If you are interested in doing the tour, click HERE

The pictures from the event are not yet available. I am excited to see the picture they took as I was crossing the finish line. (imagine me... arms up leaping over the ribbon... hehehe) will update this blog when it comes out.

Even with all the picture taking, I managed to finish 48th place out of 98 runners. Not bad eh? 1:34 mins. upper 50th percentile is not bad for one who has no training and was taking pictures.

Monday, December 5, 2011

From one blog to another

Been reading up on what other people have been up to.

On one of the post by my adventurer friend Lilianne posted, she indicated her friend, a photographer, got a postcard from her. Of course I had to see it (my post card got lost in the mail and has not yet arrived.

The blog is Josephine Icad Photography Just taking a look at her pictures makes me wanna drool.

I think she photographs a lot of couples for their wedding. The pictures are quite artsy and romantic. LOVE THEM!

Makes me wish I was going to get married... just so she can take my pictures. hehehe

Everyone she takes pictures of look so good and you can feel the romance!!!

I am permanently putting her on my favorite blog list! You never know when you'll need a really good photographer!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Little doggie Christmas

Christmas is extra extra special this year. This will be our first Christmas in our new house. (woohooo!!!)

This is one of the biggest things we have done. (in our lives)-- building this house.  Just the concept of designing, decorating and filling a house with everything that is "you" is such an accomplishment. Aside from this, our beloved chowchow has also given birth to 4 puppies. The mother is black and the father is brown. They have extactly 2 sets of each (one female black, one male black, one female brown, one male brown)-- how lucky can you get?

1 week old puppies

Our pet geese (yes, we have pet geese) have also layed 8 eggs. As of now, none have hatched yet but we expect them to come before Christmas. So the house will be full of chicks, puppies and screaming kids. (wahahahaha)

I have also begun to bake bake bake. The oven actually has gone into overtime. All those christmas goodies my daughter has assigned me to make for her friends. (whew!!!)

I have started a bit of Christmas shopping too. I am pretty excited to give my friends the cool things I have bought. (I'll probably tell you about it after Christmas, they might read this blog and it will ruin the surprise)

Anyhow.... decorating has gone into new levels. I have upped the budget of what I might have spent on decorating the house by a wee bit. (hehehehe)....

The supplier of the decors is the close friend of my husband and he willingly gave us a 50% discount on everything. (plus free use of the services of his decorator)

Whadda ya think?

12 foot (fake) tree

It took them a whole day to put the tree up and put all the balls, ribbons and swags. I feel like my house is from a hotel lobby.

It is literally picture perfect. (click click click)

Now, if only we could have some snow....

Monday, November 28, 2011

STill Running

Yeah, yeah, I know... I keep saying I am not a runner and YET I still get up on race day. (sigh).. like getting up at 3am for a 5:30am gun start....

What I mean to say is, I am not a SERIOUS runner. ( in local terms, saling pusa--)... I admit, I was peer pressured into running. (hubby, friends == me into running)

Although I am very sports inclined, I usually opt to join social sports where you get to talk more with your teammates (like in bowling, badminton). Running is a whole different mattter. LIke cycling, it's all mental.

You usually are by yourself (for HOURS). I can't train because I get bored in just running. (chatty me needs conversation). My husband enjoys the challenges of improving his time. I, on the other hand, am just happy with finishing in one piece. (of course I am so lazy to train...)

One thing about running, especially when I was doing my first 15k race was that I was constantly talking to myself. like: just till that stoplight and I can start walking a bit... 3k more and we can see the finish line... breathe... I kept telling myself to just cross the finish line and not collapse. Luckily, the first 15k I did, most of the route was level (no hills) and I finished a decent 2 hours 3 mins. I actually improved my time for my 10k. (1 hour 16 mins).

Some novelties of running is that they now have destination runs. One of them, the 2nd international corregidor run will be quite exciting. We will run through some of the historical buildings in an old fortified island. I'll be doing a 10k but I won't look at the time much because I would be taking a bunch of pictures too.

One of the other marathons I was looking at was the GREAT WALL MARATHON.--

here some videos from previous ones....

I may not do it next year, but I am considering doing it by maybe 2013. It looks quite challenging and exciting.

Just one of the things in my bucket list.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

TeaTime HK and Other Stuff

Another trip to Hong kong. Thankfully, the weather was cooler and nicer. How I wish the weather in Manila was like that--- 20C (not too hot, not too cold but JUUUUSSST right)

People were already in Fall/Winter mode as evidenced by the sheer number of boots being seen worn. (Here is my other frustration.... a great desire to wear boots in a country with 34C weather.-- hahahaha)

One of my OTHER haunts in HK is PAGE ONE. (this is where I bought the wooden postcards from last post.) It's a bookstore in Harbor City mall in Tsim Tsa Tsui in Kowloon. I never fail to go in there just like going to PYLONES (see previous post HERE)-- 
This trip, they already brought out the calendars. They had big ones, small one, diary types, all kinds you can think of. What caught my eye were these:

 okay.... as if you are interested in analyzing what your POO looks like. and for 365 days of 2012. UGGGH.

This one I really was considering buying. Even as a gift, this would be nice. one recipe for each day of the year.

This one reminded me of my HOST MOM in the US, who really loved crafts. Each day is a scrap book palette you can cut and use (cutting off the date)- a great gift for crafty friends.

I'm not sure if giving this as a gift would be wise... but I was curious as what Shakespeare would say.... AND it not 365 days... it's 366 days (2012 is a leap year)

So, work work work and finally had a respite on the second to the last day. Me and my friend went to ELEMENTS mall - a chi chi upscale mall in Kowloon. There we saw a high tea display at one of the the cafes named LGB (by the way, clicking on elements name would take you to the website... and they have the theme from AUSTIN POWERS as their background music....yeh baby yeh!!!!~~~hahahahaha)

So back to food...

Having NOT tried french macarons (pronounced maka-rons -- short "o"and not macaroons  -- long "O" ) before, my friend urged me to try eating one. She was raving about macarons she tried in another store (but was equally unsure about this one bec not all macarons are made the same... the best one of course is in PARIS) ~ love that city

We were ushered to our table and we ordered the high tea set for two. We each had a free included drink with the set. She ordered juice while I ordered earl grey tea. (which I think best suits a sweet meal like this)
the tea was great... and I had one POT of it!

the 3 tier set had: (left to right, top to bottom) a chocolate cake, fruit, macarons in different flavors.
tier 2: lemon tea cake, strawberry jam and clotted cream, peach cake with champange jelly, scones. bottom row: tea sandwhiches (salmon and cucumber) , bruchetta

I tried the tea sandwiches first. They were quite yummy. The bruchetta was so-so

We each had one scone. I put clotted cream and jam on mine. I was thinking this was how it was supposed to be eaten. (pls comment if I am wrong about this). The scones were not soft. They were actually quite dense. It was the first time for me to eat scones, so maybe that was how scones are mean to be... (dense). The jam was delicious and the cream with the jam was heavenly. So I guess, I enjoyed my first scone experience. (the tea also paired nicely with it too) - sooo very English... hahahaha, I was tempted to try an accent.

next up was the pink cake.

very thin layers of cake sandwiched with cream and a slight hit of alcohol. hmmm

I asked the waiter what this was called and he said, peach layer cake with champagne jelly. LIKED IT. The slight hint of alcohol kindda gives you an impression of something sinful. (maybe its just me, I'm not sure...because I don't drink that much)

Time to tackle the macarons.

Honestly, I found the macarons too sweet for me. My friend urged me to try the store in greenbelt 5 by PENINSULA HOTEL. which she says are soo much better than this. (I yet have to try it)-- tooo sweet... I took a bite and left the rest on the plate.

This one looks great. My friend said it was nice. However, it had cherries inside (like black forest) and the one flavor of cake I REALLY hate is black forest. I loathe cherries!! especially wine soaked ones.

So, I enjoyed about 50% of this meal. Oh well.

Finally getting on. I was on my way to the airport when I passed by a convenience store. It was the window display that got me. It might not be obvious in the picture but these are huge gigantic PRETZ.
Not only that... check out the FLAVORS.
this is shark's fin flavored..... huh?????

 The box is the same size as cereal boxes

the left is seafood flavor and the right is oyster sauce flavor.....

I was in a hurry so I didn't get to really take a box so you can see the actual measurement. Suffice it to say, these were GIANT--- maybe the pocky sticks were 12 inches each. I have to buy one next time...!

It pretty cool what you find as you travel. Sometimes, you don't notice it. Until you open your eyes.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Wooden mail

November is a month where I have a lot of friends having birthdays. From my previous post about postcards, I mentioned I saw a postcard made of wood.

On my recent trip, I bought two postcards like this (it's actually a birthday greeting..) so cute!

the dedication at the back
it reads: the secret to life is to have more beginnings than endings. Here's to the beginning of another year!
this is the front part. used a camera effect in taking the picture.
birthdays are good for you, the more you have, the longer you live...

I will try to figure out how to write on them though. (hehehe)

Another thing about this November is that I have committed to run 15 kilometers in a race. For someone who has trouble training for a race, I had the GALL to sign up for a 15k (GAWK). Not only that, I would be out of the country -working the whole week next week and the race will be next Sunday. Nov 13.

I'd probably survive though. I ran a 10k recently and came out pretty good. My time was not fabulous (1 hour 23 mins) but it was pretty decent. I think my goal for the 15k would be to manage to finish under 2 hours. (I hope! cross fingers!!!)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Hong kong miscellaneous

Hellooo out there.... yes, I HAVE BEEN busy lately. I still have a regular DAY job after all. So, I have been to Hong Kong again on my regular business trip. Fortunately, I didn't get sick this time around (you see, lately, I have been getting fevers everytime I go on a trip abroad-- I think it's a weak immune system or getting tired or GASP! ~ old!! hahahaha)

Anyhows, Hongkong weather was very nice. not too hot and not raining (unlike the previous trip~ that's probably why I got sick).

Hongkong is such a vivacious city. You can really feel the energy every time you step out. It seems like everyone you meet is in a hurry. (compared to when I went to Auckland, New zealand... where you feel everyone is just taking their time. (yawn...) Hongkong is like a city that got too much coffee.

So, I travel to HK 3-4 times a year. One of the things we like to eat are the street food. I usually don't eat too much of this stuff but what the hey. You're in HK. the city that never stops eating!


These are some of the things they serve. One order is 7- 12 hk $ (.8-$1 US). The picture above are pig's intestines. They clean them out and kind of stew them. The girls is slicing the order and skewring it on a stick to serve. The way they cook is pretty clean. the prices vary of course depending on the area the store is located, the more high end the location, the more it costs.

I did eat the intestines. It was chewy and not as bad as you might think.

These are tripe. (some other internal organs of the pig). As you can see, they stew these pretty good. They serve this in a bowl with some of the stew juices. pretty tasty! I wanted to take some more pictures of some of the fish balls, squid and pig's tongue on a stick but the owner shoooed me off (~ as if I could get anything of the recipe from taking a few pictures! -- *roll eyes*)

Going around Hk, you usually take the MTR (subway). if you happen to go on rush hour, you can feel the crush of people. (literally). One time, I had the misfortune of going with 3 kids, my mom, husband a stroller and when we got out of the station, it was raining so hard no one wanted to step off the curb.
People were jammed at the entrance and most of them had no umbrella.  My husband had to rush to a nearby store and buy a few umbrellas for us to get to the hotel - (which was about 200-300 meter walk)- naturally, we got wet all the same.

So, this time, I saw something unusual. (Which I think was a good idea)
A vending machine for umbrellas.

Granted, the price of the umbrella is on the expensive side, but hey. See a need, fill a need.


On the other hand, we were browsing in some uppity supermarket (we got time on our hands) and I saw some unique looking corn. They had them on display for Halloween. one was black and the other one was multicolored with speckles of brown in between the yellow. Gets you wondering how they manage to do it.

I also saw a limited editon coke bottle- or was it a can?

It cost hk$20- (about $2.8 US)


I love looking at their supermarkets. They have such a wide variety of stuff we don't get here. (especially city super-- located at harbor city mall- where they have tons of pricey japanese products )


In Hk, every corner you can see jewelry stores. On display are a wide variety of diamonds, gold, jade. I usually like to window shop. (ask my husband.. who usually has to drag me off the window-- hahaha)
It's just nice to take a look at the stuff they offer (we are girls after all)

If you have some serious mooolah, you can actually buy a gold rice bowl with matching gold chopsticks.

There is just so many things in display that you wonder how many people actually buy these stuffs.

For now, I'm back home and in need of serious training (ate too much in HK) for my 15k race in November. Yes--- 15k. (crazy)

for one who can barely train for a 5k, I signed up for a 15k. (gulp)


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