Wednesday, January 30, 2008

It's the thought that counts

Painted inside the taxi cab I rode this morning:

Jesus love's you

The Lord is my shepered
I shall not one

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Caring for sensitive eyes

Mine, this time.

I stopped wearing contact lenses almost a decade ago, and I do not touch my eyes with my fingers, yet every few months or so, I get a darned irritating eye infection—a stye. The curse of oily, bacteria-prone skin. (There is a blessing that comes with it, though: I'm not going to get wrinkles any time soon.)

Yesterday morning, I woke up with a sore right eye and sure enough, when I checked in the mirror, there was a little red spot on my lid. So now, after bathing or washing my face, I have to go through the extra step of cleaning my lid with Blephagel on a cotton bud. Sigh. It's not as if my morning and evening rituals aren't long enough! But a girl friend told me this morning that her daughter's ophthalmologist recommended Johnson's Baby Shampoo for everyday eye washing. (Her daughter's prone to styes too—way worse than me.) I have no idea why it should be any better than plain soap, but I'm willing to try it if it means no more mysterious eye infections.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Dream dinnerware

All that discussion yesterday about dinnerware got me thinking (again!) about ours. What exactly do I want our dinnerware to be? Of the four everyday-use sets we have, it's the fiesta pattern—the pattern's real name is "Diablo"—that I like the most. I'm not exactly a pastel and small flower pattern kind of girl. The thing is, I do get tired of seeing the same pattern year in and year out, which is why I tend to rotate the small stuff in the house. Dinnerware, place mats, shower curtains, towels, bed sheets, table runners… you name it. If it's easy to change, I will change it. (I'm like that with scents too.)

The closest to an ideal dinnerware set for me would be several stoneware sets (I'm strictly casual) of one model made by one company in all its different colors. So I went surfing and I actually found it: Fiesta, made by the Homer Laughlin China Company. They have more than a dozen colors! Oh wow! I'll be able to mix and match to my heart's delight!

Now to find it here in Manila, find out how much, and schedule the purchase (depends on the first two, of course). Oh, and figure out how to tell the hubby. Leaving you now, humming happily…

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Dinnerware rotation

In those "10 things every woman should have" email lists that keep getting passed around, one of the items is "a complete set of dinnerware for 2 dozen people." I am going to fail that one. What I do have is seven sets of dinnerware, good for four people (starter sets) to a dozen. (It's a good thing we don't have large dinner parties at home. Here in Manila, it's so much easier just to have those in restaurants.)

One set is the Christmas dinnerware which we use from the first Sunday of Advent up to Three Kings Day. Two sets are real porcelain (my mom's, or was it my grandma's?) which we hardly ever use because they're not microwave-safe (one even has gold trim—imagine what'll happen if that gets in the microwave!).

The four remaining sets are safe and convenient for everyday use. The wheat design is what my family used before I got married. The fiesta-colored plates are a wedding gift. The Corelle set is a gift from my sister. And the fourth set, I got from exchanging my credit card points before closing the account.

Just as I rotate shower curtains (read Quick bathroom facelift), I also rotate our dinnerware, though not as often as the shower curtains of course. Some years, I change sets every three months or so. The whole of last year, we only used the fiesta pattern. Depends on my mood, schedule, and (even when I have the time) whether I want to bother taking the new plates and place mats out, washing them, and storing the just-used set.

I've started 2008 with the Corelle Forget Me Not set with green and lavender place mats. Let's see for how long this time.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Keys and more

I've been planning to write a piece about hand bags because of what my girl friends did the two times we went shopping together this past month. But I read Chey's blog this morning, which is about the contents of her hand bag and it got me to thinking about mine, and I realized that the heaviest item in it is my key chain. (I'll write about my bag OC-ness and frustrations some other time.)

The key chain itself is a keepsake from the 75th anniversary of the Walt Disney company (how long ago was that? I don't remember now) with four rings attached to the central holder. On the Cheshire Cat ring are my house keys—for the front door and the kitchen door. On the Dumbo ring is the key to our bedroom.

Tinkerbelle holds the spare key to the car (my husband has only left his key in the ignition maybe once or twice, thank goodness) and my mag light, a present from one of my brothers-in-law. I love this flashlight! The light is wonderfully bright for such an itsy-bitsy thing, and best of all, it never turns on accidentally while it's in my bag. It has a push-button switch at the base, covered with rubber, and it takes a pretty hard push to turn it on. I've gone through two previous flashlights for my key chain already, both of which I discarded because the switches would slide on inside my bag. And what's it for? Seeing keyholes in the dark mostly—the car door in the parking lot, and the kitchen knob when someone forgets to turn on the stoop light. The short-cut from my office building to the parking lot is pretty dark too, so it really comes in handy.

The last ring, Pinocchio, doesn't even hold a key. He has my tiny eyeglass screwdriver which has both a flat and a Phillips head for just in case, and a small Swiss Army knife. This one has only four pull-outs (aside from the tweezers and the toothpick, both of which I hardly ever use): bottle-opener/Phillips screwdriver, knife, nail file/flat screwdriver, and scissors. This little tool has saved many an event and situation, believe me.

This heavy key chain is also my security blanket when I'm going home alone at night. I loop the strap (it belongs to the mag light) around my wrist, and hold the key chain in a fist with the rings and keys hanging through my fingers. If I can take even a single swing against a would-be attacker, it's going to hurt awfully. It may just be fancy on my part, of course, and I'm really, really glad that I've never had to find out.

Oh, and my office keys—they're in another key chain.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"It's 'cause of you that I'm this way."

Heathcliff Andrew Ledger
April 4, 1979–January 22, 2008

Image source: Yahoo! Movies

I'm going to miss Heath. I thought he was a fantastic actor and would become even better, the way he was choosing his roles so carefully. I never got attracted to his looks, though, unlike many of my younger girl friends, but his voice—that's what I found sexy. Now, he's not going to finish "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" and when I watch "The Dark Night" later this year, I'll be thinking that he's gone and that might diminish my enjoyment of the movie.

Of all the news articles that I've read today about his death, I like The New York Time's article the best. The reporters took the time to interview his neighbors in SoHo, and they liked him as a neighbor. He seemed like such a nice person.

I truly, truly hope that it wasn't suicide. Let's just say that I'm not a very happy person right now.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Caring for sensitive ears

Last year, our 13-year-old dog developed an ear infection from ear mites, poor thing. So our vet prescribed two kinds of ear drops for him, applied two times a day.

Dexoryl is a broad-spectrum anti-bacterial and anti-fungal preparation which can kill ear mites too. It also has anti-inflammatory properties, which helped relieve his pain. I don't remember now how long we had to apply it, but we were instructed to stop as soon as the vet gave the all-clear.

The second item, Epi-Otic, is a general skin and ear cleanser. Its active ingredients are only lactic acid and salicylic acid. It's good for cleaning moist, waxy and stinky ears (watch out for stink—it's always a sign that something's wrong), and the literature says it also helps remove dead tissue from the skin. This one, we have not stopped using, but since it's for care and maintenance rather than treatment, we only have to apply it twice a week. I also put a few drops on a cotton swab for cleaning his ears.

Our vet says that pet cats and dogs are really prone to ear infections so we have to pay special attention to them. One instruction she gave to help avoid future infections, and which I follow religiously, is very simple: put cotton balls inside his ears when bathing him. As much as possible, water should not be allowed to get inside the ears. Bacteria and fungi thrive in moist environments, which is what happens when water gets in.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

By Moon Alone

The web comic book of a friend of a friend begins tomorrow, January 21.

I don't know Hai, the artist. Neither do I know what the story's about, nor the frequency and duration of the serialization. But I visited the site and the teaser graphic—the book cover—caught me (SF&F's my favorite genre) so now, I've the site bookmarked so I can check it everyday. I sure hope I won't get disappointed!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Seeing red

It took three years, but I finally found my perfect pair of red jeans. Slim-fit, low-rise, not-bright-red from Mango. Bought during the post-Christmas sale too, so I got it at 50% off. Love.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Cruel knives

Thanks to an email sent by a young friend this morning—which had me grinning from ear to ear—I'm going to start a series of blog entries featuring funky home gadgets and furniture. Here's the first: knife blocks.

Inspired by the sword cabinet illusion of stage magicians, this knife block has a crouching man cowering in terror at the bottom of the box. A design exclusive to boingboing: A Directory of Wonderful Things.

"Voodoo" designed by Raffaele Iannello. Do I really need to say anything about it?

There's another funky knife block I discovered while surfing, but I decided not to feature it. Call me a softy, but I just found it too cruel. If you really want to check it out, though, click here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Natural aroma diffuser

Do you have pottery inside the house? The kind that's glazed outside but unglazed inside? (And no plant in it please!)

If yes, then you have a perfect opportunity to make any room in your home smell absolutely wonderful with almost no effort! Just pour an entire bottle of home fragrance oil (most come in .3 fl oz size) inside the pot. That's it.

Clay is porous, and the oil will be absorbed by it. But since the exterior is glazed, the oil will not seep into the base and ruin your table, mat, cloth, or whatever you have the pottery on. And the scent will last for about two months. No need for tea lights, and no danger from an open flame.

Monday, January 14, 2008


In my almost three months of blogging, I have yet to post any of my recipes. I'm reluctant to do so because they're not really recipes. As my husband can attest to, I have a strange way of cooking. I also have a strange way of deciding what to cook in the first place.

First, I decide what my main ingredient will be: fish/seafood, poultry, pork, beef, in that order of preference. Then I go to the produce section of our well-stocked local grocery and stand there looking at what's available and fresh. And while I'm standing there (looking like a fool, actually), I'm making up the dish in my head. What's the base? Will it be dry or a stew? If dry: Marinated? Grilled? Stir-fried? If a stew: Cream-based? Tomato-based? Clear broth? What flavor? Filipino? Chinese? Italian? Then I start loading the cart with the vegetables (there always has to be vegetables!) that I imagine will taste well with the base. After that, I go on to choosing the herbs, spices and what-have-you. Then, with my cart loaded, I stand there looking at it and ask the final question: Is there anything else I can put in the dish?

After I cook one my concoctions, I try to write everything down. But you can imagine that nothing is precise. Because just as I make things up in the grocery, I also have to wing it during the actual cooking. So if I do start posting my dishes here, I think I'll have to label/tag them as "un-recipes" so you know that some creative cooking will be required.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Solemnity of the Baptism of our Lord

Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him.

John tried to prevent him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?" Jesus said to him in reply, "Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he allowed him.

After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened (for him), and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove (and) coming upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, saying, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."

~ Matthew 3:13-17

Cross-shaped baptismal font, ca. 4th century, Paros, Greece
Photo by Vangelis

Baptismal font in Bartholomäuskirche, Tossens, Wesermarsch, Germany
Photo by groenling

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Email from Santa

Fun! I was surfing Blogger's Blogs of Note earlier this week and one of them was the Santa Claus Blog: Periodic Updates From North Pole, Inc. Chairman & CEO Santa Claus. The entry I read said that he and Mrs. Claus were off to a vacation in Maui and that when he comes back, he'll be negotiating with the CEOs of toy companies (for supplies) and with various governments (air space issues). So I left Santa a note, wishing him an enjoyable vacation, good luck with the negotiations, and reminding him to visit the Philippines more often this year. And dear, dear Santa emailed me back!

    Date: Wed, 9 Jan 2008 23:36:56 -0800
    From: "Santa Claus"
    Subject: Thank you

    Thanks for the kind words and nice wishes. I will definitely be visiting the Philippines often.

    Have a great 2008!

    Love, Santa

    Santa Claus
    Chief Executive Officer
    North Pole, Inc.

Friday, January 11, 2008

When you care enough to send the very best

I grew up with that tag line, and I think it really must have brainwashed me because now, Hallmark e-cards are the only ones I send to family and friends abroad. They have e-cards for every occasion, every milestone, and "just because." There are traditional and classic designs, cartoons, graphic illustrations, beautiful photos—and many of them are interactive.

I have a strange feeling, though, that I enjoy choosing the e-cards more than the recipients enjoy viewing them.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Sensual mint

handmade soapsMy love affair with mint and eucalyptus is not limited to shampoo. I especially love it in soap. Unfortunately, I have yet to see any in supermarkets. I am lucky that we have a friend that makes handcrafted soap—Annomi Soapworks—and several of his variants have mint or eucalyptus: Eucalyptus Lavender, Peppermint Scrubby, Minty Lavender and Blue Mint Swirl. Some are smooth, some scrubby. He usually only frequents bazaars, but he lives close enough to us that we can go to his house if I want to buy some.

Like the shampoo, it's the sensation of coolness that I adore. Especially in one particular area. Which area, you'll have to try mint soap yourself because I am not mentioning it here. Let's just say that sensual is definitely the word you'll be using to describe it too.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Keep a cool head


I suffer from seborrhea / seborrheic dermatitis, thankfully only on a particular spot on my scalp, near the nape. (For you lucky ones who have no idea what seborrhea is, read the article on—just don't laugh!)

Late last year, Unilever launched it's newest shampoo and conditioner in the Philippine market, and it has quickly become my (current) favorite hair product. Clear, the Ice Cool variant (I think of them as flavors, actually, but then that's me). Even if I didn't need its anti-dandruff properties, I'd probably use it anyway because it has mint. Mint! I love the sensation of my head literally feeling cooler, especially from the conditioner because it has to be kept on for several minutes.

Monday, January 7, 2008

The day after

Three Kings Day (officially, it's called the Feastday of the Epiphany in the Catholic Church) also marks the last day of the Christmas season for most Filipinos. In its most shallow sense, it means that's when we take down all our Christmas decorations.

And that's what I have to start doing tonight.

  • Remove the ornaments and lights from the tree and dismantle it
  • Remove the ornaments from the wreaths on the doors and take them down
  • Remove the ornaments from the garlands on the banister and screen and take them down
  • Walk around the house and pack up all the decorations I put all over the place
  • Wrap each piece of the creche in bubble wrap and put them in their box
  • Change the runner on the buffet table
  • Wash the regular dinnerware and change the Christmas-themed one we've been using
  • Take down the capiz parol outside the house and return the security light

Obviously, this list is for my use because I might forget something otherwise. And it's going to take me the whole week since I can only do it at night when I get home from work.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Three Kings Day

And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. They were overjoyed at seeing the star, and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

~ Matthew 2:9–11

The Journey of the Magi. James Jacques-Joseph Tissot, French.
Oil on canvas, c. 1894.

The Adoration of the Magi. Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Spanish.
Oil on canvas, c. 1655–60.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Glitter happy

Uh-oh. I think I've caught the glitter bug.

When I started this blog, I promised myself that I am not going to use glitter graphics, either on my site or my friends' and family's. Sigh. I guess it was inevitable, though. I have glitter glue, glitter gel pens, loose glitter, glittery embossing powder. So what's a few glitter graphics for the web?

If I leave some on your site, however, feel free to delete them. Just as I delete those on my site every now and then. They tend to make loading slow, and I just hate it when the thing's hosted in Photobucket and the "bandwidth is exceeded."

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Out with the old, in with the new

Toothbrushes, that is.

My dentist only told me two things about toothbrushes (not about brushing—that's way more than two). One, buy brushes with soft bristles. Not medium, and definitely never hard. Hard bristles are not good for your gums. Two, change your toothbrush every six months. I forgot to ask why, but I can only think of two reasons for it—it either has something to do with the bristles or bacteria.

Just to make it easy for me to remember, I change our toothbrushes at the start of the new year, so that's what I did this morning. July 1 is harder to remember, but I get by. I usually make the mistake of changing brushes on June 1 though—easier for me to remember because that's our wedding anniversary.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A new year

A new dawn, a new beginning.

May your 2008 be filled with peace, prosperity, success, love and joy.

Happy New Year!