Sunday, February 27, 2011

Dinner for Five

I tend to post what I cook on Facebook, which led to my friends inviting themselves over for dinner. I didn't mind at all--I love cooking for guests; it's the dishwashing that gets to me. So I came up with a rule of using breakables for dinner parties of six people or less, and disposables for parties of more than six. (Please forgive me, Mother Earth. I rarely entertain big numbers anyway...)

On the night of the scheduled dinner, my husband's car was "coding," as we call it here in Manila. To the uninitiated, coding is some sort of traffic management scheme--cars with license plates ending in certain numbers aren't allowed on the street on particular days (e.g., 1 and 2 for Monday, 3 and 4 for Tuesday...). This is lifted after 7:00 pm. (Are there other countries that do this?) By the time he picked me up from work and I got my last-minute shopping done, it was 8:30 pm. So I didn't have time to prepare anything fancy...

We started off with bacon-wrapped asparagus (not shown; recipe in the Jan-Feb issue of Good Housekeeping), then had pan-fried rosemary pork steak (a house favorite; lotsa meat for the boys, but not as pricey as beef), and lemon-cream pasta with asparagus (recipe in the April issue of Good Housekeeping!). Yeah, I had a lot of asparagus in the fridge! And Jerry, a true-blue carnivore who's been my friend since high school, noticed how I was sneakily trying to feed him veggies.

I'm hoping next time we host dinner, it'll be on a weekend, so I'll have time to make something more elaborate, plus whip up dessert from scratch. (Jerry brought blueberry cheesecake. I've been dreaming of making red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.) Who wants to come over?:D

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Feel the Love

I'm not sure if regular readers have noticed, but I tend not to rant in this blog. I've had my share of rants on Facebook and possibly in my past blogs, but I try to steer clear of negativity now because there's just so much of it in the world. I don't want to join the tribe of negatrons. (Which is not to say I'm totally positive all the time. In general, I air my grievances to my husband, my best friends--but not in a public forum. There is a time and a place for everything.)

So it's kind of ironic that I'm ranting about those who constantly rant. Har. Things that get me down:
  • A litany of complaints on Twitter. In the morning, it's about how horrendous traffic is. In the afternoon, it's about how work sucks. In the evening, it's about exhaustion and how the next day would also suck. (But isn't it awesome to have a car to get stuck in traffic in? A job that puts food on the table? A brand new day ahead?)
  • Thinly veiled patamas on Facebook. It bothers me how people can't just go right up to a person and deal with it face to face, and instead share with 900 of their closest friends how a certain someone is a cause of stress. It's weird when it's about an unnamed co-worker. It's just unprofessional. And immature. And so rude!
  • People who publicly complain about their place of work. No company is perfect, but biting the hand that feeds you? Really?
I know we're all entitled to freedom of expression and all that. But I truly believe in Frances's post about being Oprah-esque. Everybody is entitled to a good, solid rant, but I invite all those who read this to start focusing on the good stuff instead. Less complaining in blogs, on social networking sites, in real life. There's a lot to be grateful for.

Monday, February 21, 2011

On My Nightstand

It's chick lit. Ha. Pulitzer Prize-winning chick lit. Hmmm. So I do read this genre after all, eh? Sort of.

The background: Gone with the Wind is one of my all-time favorite movies. It rivals the Ten Commandments and the Lord of the Rings extended versions in length, but every time it was shown on RPN9 pre-cable, I would watch it (both weekends--it was so long, they had to cut it in two). I loved fiesty, ballsy Scarlett O'Hara, so unlike typical damsels in distress. And I adored the Scarlett-Rhett love team! Har. So when I found myself with a little time to kill, a little extra moolah in my pocket, and a lack of GGM and Bill Bryson titles at the bookstore, I ended up buying this nearly-1,500 page tome, something I've been wanting to read since I was in high school.

After I finish it, I'll probably try to get my hands on an original DVD. And then after that, it'll just be a matter of finding time to watch it!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Pillow Talk (and a Bedroom Sneak Peek)

Was going through our linen closet and was pleasantly surprised to find a set of charming pillowcases that I had forgotten about...

These were given as a wedding gift, and feature iconic chairs by Le Corbusier (Chaise Longue), Charles Eames (at least, based on the website--I can't for the life of me remember what it's called), Eero Aarnio (Bubble Chair), and Arne Jacobsen (Ant Chair). Since I can't get my hands on any of these chairs just yet, I guess the pillowcases will have to suffice. Too bad they don't have my dream Barcelona Chair (white, please). Um, yeah, I salivate over designer chairs the way other girls drool over designer bags.

These pillowcases look so cute against our purple sheets, mocha walls, and painted headboard! In this photo, there's also a hint of our vintage sidetables--stolen inherited from my mom--IKEA lamps, and retro-looking iPod dock. Will do a house post once I finally get everything in order! I am so raring to get a humongous plant for the living area...but since a cactus (a cactus!) is practically dying in my care, I'm a little worried about how a larger, higher-maintenance plant would do.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Tishie vs. K-Pop

One of my BFFs posted a link to this video on my wall...

We were both dancers in our past lives, which is part of the reason she shared this vid with me. But here's the thing about my BFF: She is absolutely K-Pop-obsessed. Not entirely something she's proud of, and not something I could understand. Which is one reason I'm reading this book...

I had to read this because, aside from the fact that it's written by a friend of mine, I figured it'd also give me some insight into the dizzying world of K-Pop and why it's got my best friend so hooked. I gotta admit, for a time I felt like I was losing my BFF to all things Korean. I just couldn't...relate. I even confessed to my husband that I felt like BFF and I were drifting apart. But reading this book, I'm realizing that a K-Pop obsession is much more than just singing along to songs you don't understand, watching Koreanovelas with plotlines that have been rehashed over and over again (and yet still remain kilig), and eating Korean takeout while watching a concert DVD. It's about being in the company of like-minded friends, having a judgement-free zone (the way all true friendships are supposed to have), and having a solid support group that shares all your joys and sorrows. If that's what K-Pop is giving my BFF, then I'm all for it.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

For Shoe Addicts--Got Tired Feet?

"Are those...Louboutins?" OK!'s Lana asked with a little gasp.

Red-soled patent leather platform pumps! Now, if only they felt as good as they look.

"Um, no," I replied. I wanted to add that they were from Paris too...or, at least, my favorite fairly cheap shoe brand, Parisian!

These platform pumps are absolute darlings and, I believe, a necessity in every grown woman's shoe wardrobe. But I gotta tell ya, they hurt like hell. The heels I can handle--there's just something about the shape in general that doesn't agree with my fairly wide feet. Ah, fashion is pain.

I'll be the first to say that I don't have particularly pretty feet. A couple of years ago, my mom pointed out that my legs and feet seemed more worn than hers. I wasn't entirely bothered by it because I considered the imperfections battle scars--I did earn all those callouses and veins from all my running and dancing. But they're not particularly attractive when I wear shoes that exhibit the top part of my feet.

At an event a few months ago, a speaker talked about relieving stress and bringing on a good night's sleep by soaking in a tub of hot water and Epsom Salt. It was the first time I ever heard of Epsom Salt, and I decided to research. I read website after website extolling the virtues of this product, scientifically known as magnesium sulfate. I was sold.

I found a carton at hardware store True Value for about P500. (It's about as big as a milk carton, but trust me, the contents go a long way.) Since we don't have a tub, I brought out a little palanggana, filled it with warm water, and poured about a cup of Epsom Salt into it. I soaked my feet for half an hour, feeling the salt dissolve into the water.

When I removed my feet, I noticed that my prominent veins had pretty much disappeared! While the effect wasn't permanent (it lasted about an hour), it really amazed me to see a smooth, vein-free version of my feet for the first time in years. I became a believer in the wonders of Epsom Salt.

For all you shoe addicts out there, who suffer in often wear heels like I do, you might wanna give this a shot! Want more info? Check out the Epsom Salt Council's website.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Kiss #8: At the Finish Line

Adrenalin and pride--possibly the only things that kept us going!

It was dark as the crowd gathered at the starting line on Ayala Avenue for the Condura half marathon. We were a group of five: me, my husband, our 50-year-old ninong, and two of Hamil's friends. I was the only girl. About an hour before, Hamil and I had already slathered petroleum jelly onto our feet and arms (to know why, read this) and eaten bananas. We did a slow warm-up jog before taking our places amid the crowd that turned up for the 21-kilometer run. When the clock hit 4:30 am, wave after wave started running every 30 seconds. Our turn came up, and bodies--mostly tight, impossibly fit bodies that trained much more than I did (a measly six runs in the three weeks before the 21K)--surged ahead of us. (Legolas: "They run as if the very whips of their masters were behind them!")

Two of our friends went ahead of us, while Hamil and I kept pace with our ninong. We turned left onto Rufino and soon, we hit the Skyway. I picked up speed, as I am wont to do while running uphill, for the simple reason that I like getting it over with as soon as possible! I silently thanked our neighborhood with its steep inclines, as well as White Plains with its hilly streets, for somewhat preparing me for this.

Our tactic was to run five kilometers, then walk to recover and munch on some chocolate to keep us going, before running five kilometers again. I kept running ahead and stopping to wait for Hamil, who was making sure that our ninong kept a good pace, enough to meet the three-and-a-half-hour cutoff. My husband kept telling me to go ahead, but I stubbornly insisted on waiting for them.

We ran all the way to Bicutan then made a U-turn back onto the Skyway. By the tenth kilometer, Hamil checked the time, and I started to get worried. I realized that adjusting to someone else's pace was killing my momentum, and I feared that I wouldn't be able to finish. With a somewhat heavy heart, I ran ahead. I didn't want to leave Hamil, but I also didn't want to sputter at some point and give up. Big realization: I run better alone.

The sun had risen by the time I was running to Buendia. I tried listening to some music, but my earphones kept slipping off, so I just kept going in silence. I was excitedly looking for markers saying how far I had run: 14km, 15km, 16km... By the 18th, I told myself I wasn't going to stop running until I reached the finish line. But my body was kind of giving out, and I had to walk for a few seconds every now and then. Once I got on the flyover leading to the Fort, I ran past the people who were walking up the incline. When the flyover flattened, I walked for a bit before picking up speed on the way down.

When I started the race, I had it in my head to finish strong. I wasn't going to run 20 kilometers then just walk it the last kilometer. I was going to run, dammit. I was going to run faster than I had the previous miles. When I rounded a corner, I spotted the finish line and I almost cried. I teared up, knowing that this was the farthest, the longest I had ever run. I sprinted the last 100 meters--at least, as much as I could sprint given legs that already felt like lead.

I crossed the finish line and felt an overwhelming sense of relief. My time was utterly unimpressive, but I was just glad that I did it. Despite the lack of training, despite my hate-hate relationship with running, I did it. Minutes later, my husband came with our ninong.

I was quite proud of myself for running 21 kilometers, something I never would have imagined myself doing, er, a month ago! I was most surprised that I stayed focused throughout the run. I half-expected that my mind would give up at some point, the way it kind of did during our 15K. But on that morning, I felt absolutely no desire to stop. But I'm even more proud of my husband for his unbelievable patience and restraint. He could have run that thing in less than two and a half hours, but he wanted to make sure that our running buddy was OK. That takes even greater strength.

I'm probably never going to run a half marathon again. I honestly thought that this would be my longest run ever, but now I'm considering trying a full marathon. Some day. Not just yet. I'll need much more than three weeks' training for that!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Friday Night Escapade: Janet Jackson's Number Ones World Tour

Ari Gold: Oh, I got tickets. Happy belated.
Johnny Drama: How are the seats ?
Ari: Nosebleed, just like you like 'em.

Yup, my husband, a couple of friends, and I were in the nosebleed section at Janet Jackson's Number Ones World Tour--but no need to feel sorry for us. The venue was pretty intimate so our seats--up in the balcony, somewhere in the back but near the center (we got our tickets late!)--were still pretty good.

Surveying the crowd, I wondered if I was now part of the, er, older set, and if high school and college kids now see me the way I see people who watch, oh, Fra Lippo Lippi (or Trini Lopez?). It was a decidedly older audience--definitely not the same people that'll be cheering for Taylor Swift in a couple of weeks!

SPOILER ALERT: Those who plan to watch the concert in other countries might want to stop reading now.

There was no opening act. Miss Janet got right into it, starting with an intro video I could barely understand. (She's kind of soft-spoken, and the crowd was screaming really loudly!) I gathered that she dedicated the song "Go Deep" to Manila, the first stop on her 35-country world tour.

The "Go Deep" video then started playing before Miss J burst into the theater through a side door! Here she is in outfit number one:

Photo from Map

In this skintight number, she did a bunch of her dance-y songs, including "Pleasure Principle" and, yes, "Feedback"!!! I went nuts! I was practically the only one jumping and dancing and singing along in our section.

In her next set, she wore a sparkly gown with a slit up-to-there...

Photo from Map

And performed some of her slow songs. She had the audience belt out the first verse of "Let's Wait a While," and she also sang a crowd favorite...

Super low quality--converted the video into a small file and this is what happened!

The way all the women in the audience were in raptures (you could tell from the giddy tone of the collective voices), this was one song many were really waiting for, and that a number of them were thinking back to the days when this song came out ("Suddenly the memories came back to me in my mind..."). It reminded me a lot of that scene in the movie Fired Up, where all the girls (and some of the boys) at cheer camp knew the entire Bring It On dialogue by heart!

After the senti set, she changed into a black outfit and started the third set with "Doesn't Really Matter," before going into lighter, feel-good dance classics like "Escapade" and "When I Think of You."

Photo from Map

She also performed "All for You," which brought back memories of me dancing to the song in college. Sigh.

Next set, another black outfit.

Here, she did her more hard-hitting songs, starting off with a "What About" interlude (another CADs dance number back in the day). Then there was the song that, I realized, had one of the videos that really made me want to get into dancing.

I remember trying to get the steps back in grade school, not an easy feat considering this was pre-YouTube (and pre-Internet, for that matter!). Even though my body probably won't be able to do the choreography anymore, I knew in my head which movements were coming during the dance break. During this set, she also sang "Scream," dueting with a recording of Michael's voice. I wondered what was going through her mind, hearing her late brother's voice.

For her finale, Janet came out in an all-white outfit and sang "Make Me" before ending with a very touching "Together Again"--as she sang and danced to the song, pictures of her and big brother Michael flashed onscreen.

Photo from Map

It was such a sweet, unexpected ending. This concert was pretty amazing--not only did it have a whole set list of songs that I could sing (and dance) along to, but it had so many layers: It was exciting, engaging, and surprisingly poignant. So worth the nosebleed seats!:D

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Summit Crew

I was thinking about the Janet concert on Friday, and it made me remember this. (I don't have a video of this particular dance, so please pardon the link to Macy's site! ) That's me in the green hoodie and cargo pants. The one on the left is Mara, one of our teachers for the day. The others in class that day were a bunch of dance-lovers from a number of Summit titles--Candy, Seventeen (who later moved on to Preview and Martha Stewart Weddings), Marie Claire (now with Runner's World), Cosmo (the only guy in class!), OK!, Real Living.

This was one of our dance classes in 2008. My co-workers and I were obsessed with Bobby Newberry, and so we organized weekly (or bi-weekly) jazz funk dance classes. I asked a couple of the kids from my old org, the Company of Ateneo Dancers, to come and teach, and we would rent out a studio. Once or twice, I asked someone from UP Street to teach us. And on days when they were itching to dance but we couldn't find a teacher, they asked me to fill in.

This little trip down memory lane compelled me to dig up a video of another class. That's me, front and center. Can you tell that I like wearing this outfit to class?

Janet's "Feedback" kind of became our signature song, mostly because we practiced it to death. At my wedding, Martha EIC Tata had already said goodbye when the song started playing. She hurried back inside and onto the dance floor, and proceeded to do the choreography! If Janet sings this on Friday, I am so busting a move.