Sunday, December 30, 2007
Family sometimes takes a backseat in the hustle and bustle of life in the US - especially if most of your relatives are in the Philippines like mine. Although you can talk on the phone or chat online, you miss the being together and having fun part of being one family.
The LA Chapter of my husband's church group is part of my family here in the US. They are the people we spend time with, have fun with and party with.
So what is an LA Chapter Christmas Party like?...
It's a serenade of angels, rambunctious kids who took the time to stand still and sing a Christmas carol for us....
It's our respected Staff Members and Kuya Council performing for us, treating us to lots of free food and hosting the party...
It's our beautiful women's officers taking time out from their hectic day to perform for us...
And the men's officers, joined by Ate Pining, dancing and making everyone laugh with their antics...
And kids - lots and lots of adorable kids - without which, the chapter will have no future.
How do you define a family? A family is a group of people who want to be together to celebrate Christmas, even if it's 4 days later. A family fills a home with laughter, love and well wishes. A family is where you go to for hugs and support. It is made up of the people who make you happy and energize you for the year to come.
What is a family? We are a family. We are our home away from home. That is the LA Chapter.
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
At the Crystal Cathedral with our cousins who were leaving for the
Philippines on the 24th of December.
After running errands for my mother-in-law all day Friday with my husband, we picked up our cousin's boxes that they were taking to the Philippines at around 10 PM. We had planned to spend the weekend with them and then take them with my mother-in-law to the airport.
Saturday morning was spent sending last-minute Christmas cards and last-minute shopping for groceries we will need for our pre-Christmas dinners. Our cousins did not get to our place until about 9 PM. We had a late dinner and watched dvds, we were all too tired to do much else.
Sunday, we treated them to the brunch at Marie Callenders then had a photo tour of the Crystal Cathedral and finally we had sundaes and banana splits at Old Towne Orange. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves! Foregoing trips to the mall because we had enough exercise for the day, we went home to margaritas and improved DVDs since Arnold discovered that though we had an HD upconvert DVD player, we didn't have the proper cable to go with it. So we went and bought one and the picture quality was much better after that.
We had a late lunch at my mother-in-law's place after opening presents from each other. We brought honey-baked ham, grilled chicken, mashed potatoes, fruit salad, leche flan, rum cake and a vegetable salad. Everything was store bought except for my leche flan and fruit salad, but everything tasted so good nobody really noticed.
They would be spending Christmas eve on the plane so we decided to make it an early noche buena. We got to the airport at around 5 PM, checked them in and lingered for about three hours before saying our goodbyes. It was a simple but happy Christmas weekend. I'm glad we were able to make at least three people happy this Christmas!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
I have not bought any Christmas cards this year and I was wondering if I could still order some since I have this one picture of me and my husband that I like very much. So I went online and was able to order them still - I'm picking them up tomorrow, but I'll prepare all my mailing labels tonight so I will just need to stick them on the envelopes and send them to everybody.
It might get to the Philippines late, but I think it might still be delivered to my friends in California - plus there's the added bonus of my inaanaks (godchildren) remembering what their godmother looks like before I go home next year. Plus I know my lolas (grandmothers) miss me out there in the Philippines and out in other states here in the US as well.
And of course, I will send the cards to my cousin and friend/boss who gave me the idea of sending out greeting cards so late in the season:) You rock!
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
I vow to change that the weekend before New Year's Eve, especially since my mother-in-law will go to the Philippines and I shall be mom-in-law-free for 33 days (woohoo!). And I plan to spend lots and lots of quality time with my husband - especially on the weekends when it's just the two of us.
Just in case I am unable to post til after the Christmas rush, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone!
Sunday, December 16, 2007
My husband and I had our special Christmas date last night. We went to see Andrea Bocelli in concert at the Honda Center of Anaheim.
He was amazing! He gave us a glimpse of the best opera songs from La Traviatta, Madame Butterfly, Rigoletto, La Boheme, Tosca and many others. He was accompanied by a great orchestra with a very young and very entertaining conductor, Maestro Steven Mercurio. His guest performers, Ms. Daniela Bruera, Mr. Luis Ledesma and Ms. Heather Headley complemented his magnificent voice to perfection in their duets. I must admit there were notes in Mr. Luis Ledesma's and Ms. Daniela Bruera's solos that had me wondering if my ear drums could handle the decibels. They had very powerful voices, but I enjoyed Ms. Heather Headley's voice the most of all the three, her voice had body although it was just as high and just as powerful. By body, I mean that special and distinct melody that most African American singers have - even when singing Canto della terra.
My favorite solos were when Mr. Andrea Bocelli sang Ave Maria and Panis Angelicus - these solos which are sung by pop singers differentiated him and his voice (which is probably why he is not classified as a pop singer), he was obviously a cut above the rest.
Someday I hope to watch and hear him sing O Sole Mio and Because We Believe/Ama Credi E Vai. These two songs were not part of his repertoire last night.
The crowd gave them a standing ovation several times, which made Mr. Andrea Bocelli come back to sing The Prayer and Vivo Per Lei with Ms. Heather Headley, Time to Say Goodbye with Ms. Daniela Bruera, and Resundo before he left his delighted audience (me included).
I am glad we were able to see him. He is such a powerful and wonderful singer, a very endearing man who didn't say much but sang like an angel. This night is definitely on my list of the best experiences of my life.
We had our annual Employees Christmas Breakfast last Thursday. It was great, they gave us a copy of our senior pastor's new book and we got the chance to have him autograph it for us. They served a full breakfast for us with omelette, sausages, hash browns, pastries and fruits, plus coffee and juice.
There were a few new things this year, they invited a group of children to play the hand chimes and we had a jazz band singing christmas songs and carols with us. And our Care Ministry pastor was doing stand up comedy while hosting the party.
We had our prize drawings and for the first time in the three years that I've been employed I won! Two movie tickets for a date with my hubby. I was the only one in our department to win though, usually at least two of us won. The grand prize for the drawing this year was an Ipod Nano - and they had great prizes mostly gift certificates but not for our local bookstore, they had Barnes and Noble, Chili's, Ebay, Red Lobster (ok, so maybe they shopped at Ralph's for them - but it was a big improvement from the other drawings we had the previous years). But it is still the free paid day off that is most coveted, I think that will never change.
We had Santa come over, riding a camel, saying it was too warm for a reindeer in California. We also had service awards given for people who have been here for ten, fifteen and thirty years.
Great entertainment, prizes and breakfast! It is still the best and most attended staff chapel we have!
Friday, December 14, 2007
What's in the Bible for Couples by Kathy Collard Miller, Larry Miller, and Larry Richards intrigued me when I first saw it in our online store, it had very amusing chapter titles and subtitles. It seemed very intriguing so I bought a copy and read it to my still sleeping husband this morning.
It was very interesting. I only read a few pages, but it kept me wanting to read more. The first chapter begins with how marriage came about, interlacing verses from the bible with a narrative of why Adam needed Eve. The book wasn't preachy at all, it flowed like a story that you want to just keep on reading. It has points of views from other Christian authors as well, which spices up what's already there.
From someone whose reading list consisted of medical thrillers, romance novels, vampire chronicles or touching love stories - this is definitely different. But it is more of a refreshing change than anything else, I've gained new perspective about what's written in the bible - a deeper study into underlying meanings. I enjoy this book. It's very easy reading.
I think this book is very cleverly written and is a good manuscript to read together as husband and wife. It will probably make a good Christmas gift as well. Just in case you have newly weds on your list this year, this is a great gift!
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
So I decided to go look for recipes for them - here is my list:
- Leche Flan - http://www.filipinofoodrecipes.net/leche-flan.htm (replace 10 yolks to 12 yolks, don't forget that the water is only for the caramel)
- Coconut Macaroons - http://www.joyofbaking.com/CoconutMacaroons.html (something to do with the egg whites left over from the leche flan)
- Cathedral Windows - http://slvrdlphn.multiply.com/recipes/item/27 (I have a Cavite version of this which involves replacing the colored gelatin with fruits, we'll see what I'm in the mood for when I do make them)
- Ambrosia salad - this is actually fruit salad, but I use strawberry-flavored cool whip instead of nestle cream - I've had a few diabetic friends complain of dizziness because they couldn't get enough of it.
- Ube Halaya - http://pandisal.blogspot.com/2005/12/ube-halaya.html (I replace the 1 cup of evaporated milk with condensed and do not put as much sugar, my husband keeps asking me to make batches of this - he does the stirring and the cleaning up after)
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
We stumbled upon Marie Callender's Sunday Brunch buffet at Katella last weekend - not that we didn't get our fill from Tito Poling's party, but it's Sunday my personal chef (a.k.a. my hubby) deserves a day off from cooking.
We were just looking for a place to eat breakfast that morning, Marie Callender's was the first place we came upon. We used to order pies from them on special occasions so I thought we'd give their breakfast menu a try. They had a brunch buffet and everything looked so yummy.
There was a pick all the stuff you want on your omelette set up, a salad bar, waffles, french toast, baked salmon, roast beef, ham, pasta, roast chicken, sausages, eggs benedict, fruits, cakes, pies, cookies, etc. And everything tasted good. Drinks are included, by the way, there's coffee, orange juice, cranberry juice - even champagne! I'm beginning to sound like a commercial (and I'm not even getting paid!).
The next time you go looking for somewhere to eat on a Sunday morning, try your local Marie Callender's brunch buffet - it's definitely worth every penny!
My great friend, Anitokid, shared this award with me. Thank you, my friend. I want to share this award with my sisters: Lea and Lennice and friends: Ninna, Joy, Ian and Adz.
Thank you for your entertaining posts, photos and what-not that I love reading and look forward to so much!
And thank you again to, Anitokid, a great friend and an even greater blogger.
Although the home was very impressive, I think what was more impressive was the spirit that enabled a family to become one again. When members of a family welcome and accept someone new to them - either by marriage or by birth.
Sometimes it can be daunting when you don't know how your in-laws will receive you, but all it takes is one gesture from one person to say - you're with us. You're part of us. I think we were able to do that last Saturday.
As we took turns posing in front of the colorful Christmas tree - me and my husband, Arnold and Maya, and Tito Poling and his new wife, Tita Gloria - each of us a family unit in ourselves yet still part of one bigger family - becoming one family.
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
My husband and I had a spa night yesterday. Since normal treatments like hot oils, facials and foot massage and pedicures are considerably more expensive here in the US than in the Philippines - we usually apply the DIY (do-it-yourself) money-saving principle to many of our luxuries.
I have aromatherapy bubble baths and shower gels which double up as our foot soak. We have one of those at-home machines with bubbles and heat. When I have bath salts I pour some into the foot soak as well. We usually take turns soaking and massaging our feet with moisturizing souffle (my husband thinks the chocolate scent is a bit much!).
There are many readily available at-home hot oil treatments that you just submerge in hot water for several minutes and apply to your hair and scalp. We take turns massaging the oil into each other's scalp and hair - he usually complains that I don't massage his scalp long enough, well all the oil is already in his hair! We leave it for 15 minutes or so, usually wrapped in a towel dipped in hot water then rinse it off.
I already wrote about the facial peel I use, so that one I do myself. My husband's skin is smoother than mine, he doesn't need it.
I am still searching for that at-home paraffin wax machine for my hands. My mother-in-law says it does wonders for her painful aches and joints, I just like how soft my hands feel after a paraffin wax treatment:)
A spa night is a nice way of spending quality time with your significant other, you will get to talk without work or other things getting in the way. I enjoyed it very much, I think my husband does too. I'd recommend it to any couple thinking of different ways to spend time together.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
We were the first department to actually put up a tree last year, the other departments liked the idea so much, accounting and donor services actually put up their own trees before we did this year. But they put up plastic trees, we are the only department with an actual fresh tree. Our rooms smell of pine, I remember my former coworker in the Philippines who used to light apples and cinnamon - scented candles just to make it feel christmas-y in our office.
I'm so excited to put up my own tree at home! I plan to do it this coming weekend. My mother-in-law just showed me an album of her and papa when he was still alive. It had pictures of them in front of the different christmas trees my husband and I had put up - as well as in front of the giant tree we have outside the Crystal Cathedral. I want to continue the tradition and take a picture of her in front of our tree this year, I want to show it to her grandkids one day when she is no longer with us.
Merry Christmas, everyone! Enjoy the holiday season...
Sunday, December 02, 2007
This is my first December post - Christmas is my favorite holiday so this is a very exciting time for me. It rained here last Friday, not the typical wimpy rain we get in California, but a full blown downpour (I had to get my umbrella out and remember how to use it!).
It has gotten cold since the rain, in the Philippines I used to tell my friends there is this nip in the air and you know it is almost Christmas. Well this is more than a nip, it's freezing in the morning! The sliding glass door from our bedroom had a mist covering it like you would see in the refrigerator this morning when I woke up!
It's Christmas time, I've been mostly nice... I have fought the temptation to apply for another credit card successfully - more than ten times (especially through the Black Friday sale at Thanksgiving). I have stuck very close to my budget this year. My officemates and I had a meeting one time and a coworker asked if we could forego the exchange of gifts this year (I was thinking of passing on office gifts this year as well, but maybe I will get a starbucks basket for the whole team or something instead of individual gifts or bring food at our christmas party).
I have one last small gift to buy for my sister before going to my mother-in-law's to pack her box for her trip to the Philippines on December 24 - (yes, she will be spending Christmas on a plane this year). I can maybe buy a gift for my stepdaughter at Macy's as well. I bought my mom and Lea's gifts early this year - and my dad's chocolates yesterday. I think we will not send a box home this year (sorry, godkids...) but remit money instead (ok, so maybe that isn't so bad!).
I'm trying to stop my natural compulsion to just blow my budget and shop for gifts for everybody... It's so hard, especially since I'm listening to Josh Groban's Noel right now and the malls and streets have their Christmas trimmings - and it smells like pine everywhere. Argh!!!
And if I don't end this post we'll be late for a singing engagement hehehe... Enjoy the Christmas season everyone!