Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Yes, I Actually Read It

OK, I'm gonna come right out and say it.

I read Fifty Shades of Grey.

No, wait--I read and actually finished Fifty Shades of Grey

...And the two books after that. Whut? 

Take that silver silk necktie and hang me now.

Your honor, I had my reasons for reading it: 1) A friend insisted that I read it for the, um, sexy time. (Er, hi mom.) Said friend shall remain anonymous. 2) I figured it was unfair of me to bash something I haven't actually read. 3) It was lying around the office!

And my reasons for finishing all three of them? 

I plead insanity.

Yes, the writing was atrocious. It's essentially Twilight for the desperate housewife. (Read this hilarious post called "How Twilight Works" by The Oatmeal, replace "Twilight" with "Fifty Shades of Grey," "Edward" with "Christian Grey," and "vampire" with "billionaire with a BDSM fetish," and you'll pretty much get the gist.) But I think the reason it's crazy successful is because it taps into most women's ultimate fantasy: being pursued by a ridiculously rich, ridiculously handsome man who needs to be "fixed." The author may not know good writing, but she sure knows women.

I was texting unnamed-friend-who-recommended-it as I struggled through the first couple of chapters, wanting to gouge my eyes out after reading "sandstone" too many times in three pages (YES, I GET IT, THE PLACE HAD SANDSTONE FLOORS), but I was eventually sucked in. And just when you think one book is all you could take, you realize (and want to kick yourself for it) that you kind of do want to find out what happens next, even if what happens next isn't told in the most masterful fashion. And even if the lead character gets progressively more annoying in each book!

So. That's my big confession. If there's anything fantastic about the books, it's that women have reported feeling more amorous towards their husbands after reading it. 

Said women shall also remain anonymous.

P.S. I have no idea how this book will be turned into a movie. Unless the movie has three x's in it.

Recipe: Roast Chicken

I found an awesome-looking roast chicken dish in the October issue of O, and decided to try it out. I didn't have any kosher salt, white wine, scallions, artichokes, or parsely on hand, so I had to modify it a bit. And, as usual, I just eyeballed it, so no measurements provided.

Don't let the sad-looking beans fool ya (we left the chicken in the oven a while to keep it warm). This was yummers!

Roast Chicken with Green Beans
Serves 2


Half a chicken,chopped
Dried oregano
Ground black pepper
Chili pepper flakes (optional--I lurve a bit of spice!)
Half an onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
Olive oil
Red wine (it was all we had)
Chicken broth
Half a chorizo Pamplona, sliced
Green beans
Half a lemon, sliced into rounds
  1. Preheat oven to 400F. Rub oregano, salt, ground black pepper, and chili flakes on chicken. Place in a pan or baking dish, along with onion and garlic, and drizzle with olive oil. 
  2. Pop into oven for about 30 minutes.
  3. Remove from oven. Pour wine and chicken broth over chicken. Add chorizo, green beans, and lemon, making sure that they're partly submerged in the wine and broth.
  4. Return to oven for another 10 minutes or until done. 
You can serve it with rice or mashed potatoes. So good! I wouldn't think twice about serving this at a dinner party.:)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Living on Less

Two years ago, we did a "Live on Less" story, featuring families who cut back on their spending for one reason or another. This year, we decided to do a similar feature, issuing a challenge to four women: Give up something you're "addicted" to for two weeks, and tell us all about it.

One woman gave up TV, another gave up Facebook, another gave up shopping, and another (namely, me. Haha) gave up buying lunch. (I normally buy my midday meal as we don't have household help, and I just don't have the energy to cook in the morning.) Art director Kara conceptualized a shoot with all white props against a brown setup. And because our editorial staff is also our shoot production staff, I got busy making the props!

Photo by Stanley Ong. Makeup by Cathy Bala-Pablo. Hair by Elaine Ganuelas.

I made a huge Facebook logo using foam board, painted boxes to make TVs (we just pasted on black-and-white printouts by Kara), and made all-white shopping bags. On the day of the shoot, the entire GH staff (yes, all six of us) plus a bored hair stylist who was also at the studio got their fingers numb folding dozens of takeout boxes.

The hardest part of the challenge was getting up in the morning to actually cook. At this point in my pregnancy, I was still feeling sluggish, and all I wanted to do was stay in bed. But I did learn a few things from my own personal Lent. You can read about this, and the other women's stories, in this month's issue of Good Housekeeping.

Photo by Stanley Ong. Makeup by Krist Bansuelo. Hair by Bonita.

It's a fantastic issue, so do grab a copy now. It features the stunning Vicky Morales on the cover (doesn't she look gorgeous? And her hair is so fab!), who brought these yummy cookies to the shoot that were gone in five minutes. She also told me I look like our August cover girl. Har.

Other features this month: 
  • A "What's your money personality?" quiz, so you can figure out your saving and spending habits, and determine the best game plan to grow your money. (If you're married, you can ask your husband to take the test as well. A lot of marital problems stem from finances, and the quiz can help couples better understand each other's money habits.) 
  • Healthy shortcuts--if you think all the health rules are impossible to follow (like drinking eight glasses of water a day, working out 30 minutes every day, and all that), we've got the cheats that can still keep you healthy without the hassle. 
  • Meals that you can cook in 30 minutes or less--something that would have come in handy while I was doing the challenge! 
  • And one of my favorites this month: our "10 Pieces, 25 Ways" fashion feature. I ended up buying a few pieces mentioned, and I think I now have six or seven out of the 10 pieces! They really do help you streeetch your wardrobe! Hmm, maybe I should do a related fashion post.
The issue will be out until next week, so do grab a copy. It's only a hundred bucks.:)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Baby Love

At 20.5 weeks in Siquijor. Needed the scarf to keep my hair in place on that windy day. A friend said I look like a pirate. Shiver me timbers! (Photo by Fel)

I am now at week 24 and I get kind of panicky when I think about how little time we have til little monster arrives. I can now understand why people always say that kids grow up too fast--I feel like this pregnancy is just zooming by!

At 23 weeks, with my best friend (34 weeks) at her glam baby shower. We call ourselves BBFFs--buntis best friends forever.

I think I'm pretty big for 24 weeks (someone thought I was seven months preggers!), and I am so worried about my blood sugar test and weigh-in tomorrow! I resolved to cut back on my sugar, but it's not that easy considering people are constantly sending me food, plus I've been eating out at great restaurants for various reasons (anniversary, mom's birthday, a NY boss was in town...). And when you're pregnant, one of the hardest things to do is to say no to food!!!

At 24 weeks: dinner with a NY boss at Las Flores

I think by next month, we really have to start thinking about details--how to rearrange the bedrooms, where we'll put all the stuff that will be displaced, finding a yaya... A few days ago, a friend asked if I had thought about whether we would be using cloth or disposable diapers. I broke out in a cold sweat, because it represented everything I hadn't thought about. I've just been enjoying being pregnant, feeling this hyper one kick and move around, hearing people tell me that I'm "glowing," and being the recipient of such good vibes from people who can't help but be nice to the little round lady.

Sixteen weeks to go. On the one hand, I want to meet the little monster already (and start running again). On the other, I really wish time would slow down--it's possessive but I like having him or her all to myself (and, well, H), and sharing those intimate moments with my husband when he kisses my tummy and whispers for the little one to kick.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Three Years

A sweet treat from the folks at Aubergine

Three things I've learned from three years of marriage:

1. Choose your battles. You can't make an issue out of every little thing, because eventually, you'll either just resent each other or tune each other out. Besides, who wants to live in a state of constant bickering? Learn to let some things go, and make your case when it really matters.

2. Learn his language of love (and yours). It sounds cheesy, but it helps. You can love a person with all you've got, but if you speak different languages, there might be some miscommunication. For example, his language may be "receiving gifts," so he shows his love for you the way he knows how: by giving you little presents. You, on the other hand, may be a sucker for "words of affirmation," so the gifts--with no sweet nothings behind them--may do nothing for you. Talk about lost in translation.  

Sometimes you can figure out what an underlying problem is when you know what your language is. I've realized that my languages are "quality time" and "physical touch," which means proximity is important to me. (I'd have a hell of a time managing a long-distance relationship!) So when I'm feeling particularly pissy or lonely or hormonal, it might be because I feel like I'm not getting enough QT with my man, and the solution is to spend a couple of hours together.

3. The secret to a happy marriage? Choose wisely. It all starts from there. Some girls have some sort of messianic complex--it's the reason we fall for the bad boys. Deep down, we want to be the ones to change them. But when it comes to men, what you see is what you get--so marry someone for who he is, not for who you think he will (or should) be. I married a man who opened doors for me, waited for me even when I was hours late, loved spending time with me, was very secure with himself, let me do my own thing, made me feel safe, respected my family, did random acts of kindness, and loved my mom. He still does. I was overjoyed to marry that man, but after saying "I do," I was quite happy to discover that he would also cook for me, give me back massages and foot rubs, wash the dishes, call me on his way home to ask if I was hungry and if I wanted anything... The thing is, even if I didn't get all these surprising extras, I would marry him all over again. Because from the start, I already loved him for who he was.

Monday, September 3, 2012

My Body Peg

Remember this?

No one could compare to Britney at her prime (i.e., pre-KFed). Sure, she was lipsyncing in this performance, but her body was perfection, and her moves were just so incredibly sharp. And that walk--who else could make a simple walk just drip with sexiness? Even without that snake on her shoulders, she would have totally worked it.

Yes, I love being preggers and all, but truth be told, there are days when I just feel so utterly unattractive. "Round" isn't exactly synonymous with sexy. Once this baby comes out, I shall 30-Day-Shred/Insanity/Asylum/disc my way to a "Slave-4-U"-worthy body.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Yoga for Two

Yoga studio Urban Ashram had a certification course for pre-natal yoga with Birthright founder Dr. Francoise Barbira-Freedman. I wish I could tell you I got certified, but all I did was attend one of their guinea pig classes! My good friend, yoga teacher/Runner's World editor/makeup artist extraordinaire Marie, who took the course, invited me to join a session a few days ago.

Dr. Barbia-Freedman with Marie. Photo from Urban Ashram's Facebook page.

Up until then, my only experience of pre-natal yoga was courtesy of Youtube. Some of the moves during class were similar to the video moves, so I was relieved to learn that I had been following something legit. Haha. The main differences between live class and video:
  • Partner interaction. For some moves, I paired up with a fellow pregnant lady (now on her fourth baby!); for others, I paired up with Marie. One girl came with her husband, another with her mother. I imagine this is a great way to bond, and that there's a stronger flow of energy.
  • More tutok. Since the class was mostly made up of teachers, they were very hands-on when it came to correcting and adjusting poses.
  • More TLC! The teachers were very considerate of the expectant mothers, propping up pillows, rolling up blankets, all to make sure that we were as comfy as possible.
There are also marked differences between regular yoga and the pre-natal kind. A few things I learned:
  • It's easier! As well it should be. I get out of breath doing a frickin' cheater's pushup now!
  • Pre-natal yoga doesn't really hold the poses. 
  • There's a bit of a fun element--some shake-shake-shaking involved, and the occasional shoutout to the little one ("Hi, baby!").
  • Must work on pelvic area. During the class, there were hip rolls and strengthening moves, I think to help with childbirth. (Or, at least, I hope so. I still can't imagine spewing another human being out of me! Ack.)
  • Must work on breathing. Dr. Barbira-Freedman helped one of the participants correct her breathing. One of the teachers taught me how to breathe in such a way that's supposed to make delivery (dare I say it) easier.
  • Must buy new sports bras.
My only photo from class, taken while waiting for everyone else. Apparently, three of us attended yoga.

Since it was a trial class, there were a few little kinks, but over all, it was a good experience. I felt sooo many cracks and pops as I stretched, and was so relaxed at the end that I had to really be mindful about staying awake (not an easy feat when you're kind of tried, lying on your side, and hugging a pillow at the end of class!).

For more info on Urban Ashram Manila and their classes, visit their website.