Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Thoughts



Christmas season is  always synonymous with busy, fattening, spending, and traffic jams. There are parties left and right and only the most disciplined person can focus on her tasks what with the lists that should be done before the mall crowd gets crazy. People are more hot-headed because everyone is cramming for their gifts and party plans.

It's so easy to forget what the season is all about. I won't be a hypocrite and say that I hate how consumerist Christmas has become - I came to love Christmas traditions such as eating mint chocolate anything and listening to songs. But it's also important to remember that Christmas is all about love and sharing. I usually celebrate Christmas eve and day shuttling to and from three families (my dad's side, my mom's side, and my husband's clan) and it is tiring and gastritis-inducing but it's also a nice reminder that I am really blessed with good food and a loving family. It's a happy thought that our future child will never be lonely and that s/he will always associate Christmas with family and laughter and not a day when an overgrown old elf goes down a chimney to give him/her a gift. I also pray that our child will see this season beyond gifts and be a gift to others above all else.

Have a blessed Christmas and be a blessing this Christmas!

Video: Christmas lights display in Ayala Triangle Garden

Monday, December 19, 2011

Mt. Cloud Bookshop

Every nook and cranny is <3

One of my greatest dreams is to have a personal library or a small bookstore and. Mt. Cloud Bookshop's space in Baguio is my ultimate inspiration - their stuffed owl bookends, cozy chairs, and other quirky displays made me want to stay all day.  They also stock locally published books which are hard to find in regular bookstores in Manila (I'm drooling over the Cafe by the Ruins book but it was a bit pricey). I wish there would be more shops like Mt. Cloud but unfortunately they cannot compete with big stores like National Bookstore and Fully Booked. What if small shops unite and do something to market themselves?

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Book Report: Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

It is a common assumption that human beings behave in a predictable manner except when doing irrational things. But as Dan Ariely proved, through simple but informative experiments, irrational behavior can also be predicted. Most of the time, even smart people make irrational decisions (especially when being offered freebies) and succumb to awry logic (getting a pencil from the office is acceptable but getting money equivalent to the price of a pencil is not). 

The book is thought-provoking and opened my eyes to how I make decisions in my life especially when it comes to spending my money and time. One of my dreams is to study behavior economics and this book is a good reference and a springboard for other studies and experiments. Dan Ariely also has a blog where you can also participate in some of his experiments and share your thoughts on irrationality.


Friday, December 16, 2011

Book Report: The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Hugo Cabret is an orphan, a clock keeper and a reluctant thief who lives in the Paris train station. The only object left by his father was an automaton with a hidden message locked inside.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret  is a combination of words and illustrations by Brian Selznick. It's a different kind of story where the illustrations are part of the story narrative. In some pages, you are flipping through detailed drawings which will flow to written word when you turn to the next page. Every part of the book was part of the experience: from the colorful but subdued book jacket to the typography. Everything was thoughtfully created which is one of the favorite traits I like about the author/illustrator.You can even visit the book's website to know more about the book and how it came to be.

This book is recommended for young adults and not-so-young adults who are into films, art, and history. I'm also reminded of the movie Cinema Paradiso while reading Hugo.

This book just became one of my most favorite books of all time and Brian Selznick is one of the people I would like to meet someday.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

How to Survive the Christmas season (and zombies): Knife and Gun Threat Seminar

It's an ironic reality that crime rates go up during Christmas season. We should be extra vigilant during this season - even if we're at home we should always make sure that our house is secure. When in malls or walking along the street, it's important to look alert and intimidating to scare away snatchers and scammers. But in the unfortunate event that you're already under threat, you should also know how to defend yourself.

Last Saturday, I attended Krav Maga Philippines' Knife and Gun Threat Seminar in 360 Fitness Club in Makati . The trainers, Fred and Edmund, looked very intimidating and justifiably so, because Krav Maga is one of the most dangerous martial arts in the world. The seminar, though, was not about hurting others. In fact, the first thing they told us that escaping was the first priority and you should only bring harm only when needed. We were also oriented about the characteristics and parts of a gun so that we also know how what we're up against.


Guess who are Edmund and Fred :p

I sucked at knife and gun threat defense exercises. My reflexes were slow and I'm not well-coordinated. But it was useful just the same. I just need to practice doing the moves on my own. I liked the "zombie" activity the best. Other people would try to corner you and your task is to avoid them from doing so. It was tiring but saying "braiiiiinsss" while ganging up on one person was fun!


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Give Colorfully


This is such an adorable video! Now I want to wrap gifts using lots and lots of crepe paper and not just in one color (orange) which I'm doing right now.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cuppycake Diaries Entry # 1


I'm not fond of cakes but I find cupcakes so cute and irresistible especially if it looks as good as it tastes! For me, the perfect cupcake has fluffy frosting and a moist body that would melt and blend in my mouth when I bite into it. A cupcake is meant to be eaten by hand and not by using a knife and fork. The cupcake is the embodiment of fun that fits in the palm of my hand!

I asked C last December 1 to get something Christmassy (yes, that's a word I made up) to celebrate the last month of the year so he got me some cupcakes! My husband really knows me well :) He got me Peppermint Patty and Chocolate Surprise!



Peppermint Patty is my all-time favorite from Sonja's. It consists of Valhrona chocolate and peppermint-flavored frosting. I like anything chocolate-mint and even stocked up on the limited edition chocolate flavored toothpaste. But I digress, Peppermint Patty is so minty that when I burped, it felt like I just brushed my teeth!

Chocolate Surprise has some chocolate filling inside so when you bite into it, you experience chocolate-goodness times three! I wish the candy cane on top is mint-flavored to make it more realistic. Overall, it's not that spectacular and the Christmas theme is kind of forced but it's still worth ordering if you're fond of chocolate.

Clink! Cupcakes by Sonja Blog

Arts & Crafts: Masquerade Mask

Last Saturday, C and I went to their masquerade-themed Christmas party so we bought plain masks because embellished ones are much more expensive. I was feeling crafty and got inspired by the "mask" Kirsten Dunst wore in Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette. 


I bought French lace and some beads, rummaged for my glue gun (which needs to be replaced) and prayed for the best. Result below:




I wanted to add feathers but since the lace was already a bit pricey, I decided to make it plain but glamorous-looking. Red and glamorous are not usually in my vocabulary but it was a nice change from my bright- and pastel-colored world.

Next time someone invites us to another masquerade-themed party, I'll just spruce it up some more and use it again because I really like how it turned out!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Film Showing: The Adventures of Tintin



I LOVED THE MOVIE! I’ve only seen it on 2D and I still want to watch it on 3D! I’ve been a fan of the comic book series ever since my aunt introduced me to it (and Asterix) when I was little and had no playmates. The adaptation did justice to The Secret of the Unicorn and the CGI effects were absolutely stunning! Even if it’s your first time to hear about Tintin, it’s still a must-see for children and adults alike. But is it just me or does Tintin looks a bit like Neil Patrick Harris?

HergĂ© (real name: Georges Remi) did a spectacular job making the series, he researched about  the real (and exotic!) places Tintin visited and he often made-up places and conflicts inspired by real-life locations and events during his time.  When we were planning for our honeymoon, and future travels, one of our plans was to go to all of the existing locations mentioned in the series. The only problem was that it’s too expensive to visit the moon!




Disclaimer: Photos in this entry are grabbed from the interweb. I do not claim any ownership to these pictures.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Oh, Christmas tree!

We got our first Christmas tree!

Peek-a-boo!

Twinkle, twinkle little lights



Silver decor

Putting up the star


Definitely not our official Christmas photo

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Engagement

August 8, 2009 – A typhoon destroyed the main bridge to Iba, Zambales and that was why my closest friends, my then boyfriend (now husband), and I went to Tagaytay instead. Despite the change of plans, it was still a good day because everyone was in a jolly mood. One of my best friends even bought me a yellow umbrella out of the blue.


That night, my boyfriend and guy friends suddenly announced that we’d have a nice dinner in an Italian restaurant with a great view. I was a bit disappointed because I was looking forward to eating bulalo in one of the family restaurants in the area.

The boys were right, the restaurant was fancy and the food was wonderful. To make the most of the view, my friends wanted to take photos outside. While posing on the bench, my boyfriend suddenly knelt in front of me.  I heard my girlfriends scream. I heard myself scream.

My then boyfriend (allegedly) said, “Bitsy, for five years you’ve been the best part of my day. Would you be the best part of my life?”

Of course, I didn’t hear a word he said. But his actions said enough. Of course I said yes.


That day was one of the best days of my life, even if I didn’t get to eat bulalo.

Our wedding is also one of the best days of my life. I’ll tell that story another day.

Book Report: Numbers by Rachel Ward

       
Ward’s debut novel, ‘Num8ers’ is about Jem, a 15 year-old who sees the date of death of any person she comes into eye contact with. Crippled by her curse, she avoids social interaction as much as possible but that did not stop Spider, a fellow outcast, from befriending her. While on a trip to the London Eye, Jem noticed that people had the same date of death. The date was today. Time was running out. She and Spider have to start running for their lives.

‘Num8ers’ is a gritty, fast-paced read. Its characters and social situations greatly reminded me of the Brit TV shows: ‘Skins’ (which was mentioned in the novel in passing) and ‘Misfits.’ Jem and Spider are both viewed as juvenile delinquents whose futures are bleak and hopeless. The novel is marketed as a thriller but it is mostly about the two characters’ developing relationship while on the run. The ending was a bit surprising, though loyal to the mood of the novel.

There’s a lot of cussing, a number of criminal acts, and a sex scene in the novel but it’s still a recommended read for teens because they can relate well to the main theme of the novel: hoping for the best despite dire circumstances.

On a side note, I was lucky enough to be part of the webcast done with Rachel Ward a few months ago during the Manila International Book Fair. I even got the chance to ask her some questions and re-welcomed her a few times while the techs on our side were fixing our connection. Based on Ward’s background and demeanor, you wouldn’t imagine her writing this novel but that’s what makes her a pretty good writer.

Did I just indirectly admit that I haven’t read a single book of hers when I talked to her? Oh well…