Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Gifts and gifts

Until two years ago, when I went on my monthly gift-buying expedition, I'd always buy two gifts per person on my list. One for her birthday, one for Christmas. That way, my Christmas shopping list is very, very short by the time November rolls around. I'd wrap the second gift in plastic and write the person's name with permanent marker and keep it on a shelf in my closet. It's a fantastic system for avoiding the December rush. The only caveat: you need lots of storage space for keeping the Christmas gifts for one entire year.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Make that three

Last night of the three day weekend, we decided to watch one more movie. This was after I kept all my purchases of the day before, cleaned all the shoes I used last week (something I really should be doing daily, but obviously don't), changed the bedsheets, and bathed the dog (and myself!). Something light and fluffy, since I have work the day after and didn't fancy any drama or anything serious.

Ocean's Thirteen
Yummy, yummy, yummy! The only way to describe a movie that has George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Andy Garcia (I'd put in Al Pacino too, but he really is a little too old for me now). Those boys alone will ensure that I'll enjoy the movie. But I've really always enjoyed the Ocean's franchise, and 13 was no exception. The particular heist in this third movie, however, wasn't as complex as in the first two. Nor were the characters as funny or witty. But still, fun, light entertainment was what I was looking for, and that's what I got. Not to mention lovely dreams after.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Two movies in one weekend

Joy of joys! I got to stay home two weekend nights in a row. Of course, instead of tackling any of a hundred and one chores I really ought to attend to, I decided to curl up in bed and watch movies instead. I did some chores during the day anyway, so I figured I deserved a little treat.

Blood Diamond
I've always thought that Leonardo DiCaprio is a terrific actor. For so many years though, the acting was eclipsed by his cutesy boy good looks and his social life (Titanic and The Beach didn't help either). I'm glad he's a little scruffier looking now and I like what he's done the past few years, beginning with Gangs of New York.

I also like him in Blood Diamond where he plays a gun-runner and diamond smuggler in civil war-torn Sierra Leone. Djimon Hounsou plays the fisherman whose village is raided and destroyed by rebels, he becomes a slave in a diamond mine and finds a huge pink diamond. The story revolves around this pink diamond—everyone wants it. This main part of the story was okay. As usual, I found the romance part ick. It has its purposes, I guess. One is definitely to show the humanity of DiCaprio's character. But, really, this can be shown using some other device! I suspect they really just wanted to stick in a pretty girl (Jennifer Connelly) in there somewhere.

Beyond the story though, the movie is mighty depressing because of the issues it raises. Boy soldiers, conflict diamonds, civil wars, refugees, gun-running, poverty, greed… the list is very, very long. The question of conflict diamonds (diamonds used to finance arms and civil wars) itself can be extended to so many other products. Wood and timber, cacao, coffee, cheap toys and clothes. Illegal logging, slave labor, child labor, hazardous working environments, human rights violations. The movie's right in that last explanatory line it displays, which I'm altering to encompass more than conflict diamonds: It is up to the consumer to insist that the product she is buying was produced without harm to humans, animals and the environment. But that leaves me at a loss: how does one find out for sure?

Casino Royale
To be honest, I was disappointed and skeptical when Daniel Craig was announced as the new James Bond. I'd gotten used to Pierce Brosnan and didn't think that Craig was at all good-looking enough. Now that I've finally seen him in the movie, though, I take back all that I was thinking then.

Meet a young (being Asian though, I really can't tell age with Caucasians—they always look so much older!), newly 00-d, and much more realistic Bond. This Bond is buff, sweats, shows how difficult it is to kill someone with your bare hands, and gets all dirty, bloody, cut up and roughed up after a fight. Seeing how the producers want the franchise redirected, the choice of Craig makes perfect sense. They've definitely geared up for a new run: in this movie, Bond's just gotten his 00 status but M refers to the aftermath of 9/11. I'm already looking forward to the new movies.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

My monthly mall expedition

Because of my Saturday work, I've had to learn to be a little more efficient with my chores, errands and such to make sure I have time left for myself.

Take shopping for birthday gifts. The last couple of years, I've taken to going to the mall during the last Sunday of the month armed with a list of birthday celebrants for the next month. I'm in the door the minute it opens at 10am and I'm usually out by noon. I hate crowds, see, so this way I'm gone when the mob arrives. I also always choose a mall with a big department store so I can get most things I need and just line up at the checkout counter once. I usually sneak in stuff for the house (like shower curtains or table runners) or for myself (a new shade of lipstick, for example) during these trips too.

So, this being the last Sunday of the month, I was at the mall by 10:15am. This time, though, my list had much more than just department store stuff.

One. Get my credit card promo item.
You know where you get some free item if you spend a certain amount within so many months? That kind. They were out of the only item I could get so they just gave me a voucher, got all my contact numbers, and said they'd call when the new stock arrives.

Two. Get new eyeglasses.
I've come to the inescapable conclusion that I have to get double vision glasses. Having two different eyeglasses for distance and reading is not just mighty inconvenient, it's started giving me headaches. This took the longest time (an hour) because I also decided to change optical shops, so much time had to be spent on measuring. I wasn't happy with the service of my old one anymore.

Three. Get my watch strap adjusted.
The watch is a gift from a high school girlfriend who came back from Texas for a visit after more than ten years. I needed about five segments removed.

Four. Buy the department store stuff.
That included gifts for four people (November's a lean month for birthdays among my friends), two new pairs of office shoes for me (one black, one brown but I ended up buying three pairs because they had my size! and all for less than the price of one pair of Naturalizers!), scalp treatment hair conditioner and anti-frizz serum (because I'm on my last bottles), and a hair dryer (mine's so old, it's being held together by electric tape!).

I was out of the mall and in a cab by 1:30pm. Longer than usual because of the eyeglasses, but what they hey, right? 'Til next month…

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Keep a birthday book

It doesn't really take much to make people happy. I've discovered that in this life, it's usually the little things that matter. Take the tiny gesture of greeting someone on her birthday... you can now do it by sms, email, sending an e-card from one of many sites offering that service, or commenting in her blog. If she's right around the corner, you can actually call her up, visit her to greet her personally, or, if you're true girlfriends, go out to lunch or dinner. You can also choose to just air kiss, kiss and hug, or give a gift. But the point is, greet your friends Happy Birthday! It really doesn't take much effort.

What does take a little effort is remembering all those birthdays and anniversaries. And that's where a birthday book will come in handy. It doesn't matter whether it's an actual book, like this little beauty given me by my high school girlfriend, or your computer or cellphone calendar. Remembering your family and friends' special days will always keep you special in their book. And if you've lost touch with the person, then just remember to say a prayer and blessing for her, wherever she may be.

Welcome to my home

I have a full-time job and wear three hats at work. Moreover, we're also required to come in Saturday mornings. You can imagine that this leaves very little time for me to do what I'm happiest doing: staying at home, reading, watching movies, cooking, and puttering around the house (not necessarily in that order). This blog is going to be my attempt at chronicling those little things that make me happy and make our home a little cozier.

I will try to post something everyday, but if things get hectic—either at home or at work—I hope you'll forgive me if I miss out on some days.