Thursday, July 31, 2008

Thank you, Ralph.

I've never met Ralph, except online. He came to Manila a month ago, but I didn't get to meet him then. Yet when he sent my husband a box of books and videos, one book was especially for me:
Little Heathens by Mildred Armstrong Kalish
My first reaction was, "Now why would I want to read about life in an Iowa farm during the depression?" I mean, everything about it seems so far removed from my life and experiences—Iowa, a farm, the depression in the 1930s… And it was even more confusing because stuck on the book was this note:

Okay, now my thought became "What has all of this to do with blogging?"

Then I read the blurb at the back of the book:

    I tell of a time, a place, and a way of life long gone but still indelible in my memory. For many years I have had the urge to describe that treasure trove, lest it vanish forever. So, partly in response to the basic human instinct to share feelings and experiences, and partly for the sheer joy and excitement of it all, I report on my early life. It was quite a romp…

    So begins Mildred Kalish's story of growing up on her grandparents' Iowa farm during the depths of the Great Depression. This, however, is not a tale of suffering but the story of a childhood that "built character, fed the intellect, and stirred the imagination."

    Filled with stories of a family that gave its members a remarkable legacy of kinship, kindness, and remembered pleasures, and brimming with recipes and how-tos for everything from catching and skinning a rabbit to preparing homemade skin and hair beautifiers, apple cream pie, and the world's best head cheese, Little Heathens portrays a world of hard work tempered by simple rewards—and shows how the right stuff can make even the bleakest of times seem like "quite a romp."

Now, I understand. And for someone I have never met, Ralph seems to understand me better than many people I interact with on a daily basis.

Thank you, Ralph.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Erasing dirt like magic

Remember that article about keyboards being dirtier than toilets? I didn't just post it here—I also emailed it to a lot of friends and colleagues and may have caused a keyboard cleaning binge at work (and in Multiply).

Anyway, my husband—who originally sent me the link to that article—didn't stop at just disinfecting his keyboard. He decided that he wanted the keyboard to be as white as the day he bought it. Thanks to Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, he did.

I read a few forum topics about keeping computers and gadgets clean, and this product keeps getting recommended. After seeing my husband's keyboard, now I'm recommending it too. Since the sponges are kind of large, I suggest you cut it up first. Aside from saving a little money, you'll also have more surface area to clean with.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Almost, but not quite

Soon after I ranted about ladies' bags in Portable black hole, I bought myself a new bag from a friend of a friend who designs and makes bags. I got to choose the design I like and the leather to be used for it. This is it:

It has three large compartments—two with snaps and one zippered. The problem is, it still doesn't have as many pockets as I'd like it to have. In fact, it only has two small pockets, one in each of the compartments with snaps. So to keep my things organized, I still have to use several pouches of different sizes.

It does have one great thing going for it—it's huge! Note its size in relation to the chair. I can actually place a file folder in it and it won't be peeking out. The design comes in a smaller size, but I purposely chose the larger so I don't have to carry several bags. But then, as my friends say, I'm lucky because I can get away with it.

Because I meant to use the bag for everyday office use, I chose a dark brown braided leather so it can go with all of my clothes. It's not real braided leather, by the way—it's just stamped leather. But the stamping's so deep, you won't know it's not really braided unless you look at it very closely.

I'm satisfied with it for now. But the hunt still goes on for the perfect bag.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Or pure oil?

November 2007 was the first time I ever tried using body butter, and I wrote about it in Cream or butter? July 2008 marks the first time I'm using body oil.

Body oil doesn't feel like it's being absorbed very well, but I think that's just my imagination because my skin's still well-moisturized. I especially like the sheen it gives my skin.

So what's your favorite kind of body moisturizer? Butter, lotion or oil?

Monday, July 21, 2008

Bug off!

Don't you just hate it when you're alone in a room with one pesky mosquito? That you can't swat, no matter how many times you've tried? Happened to me in the office this morning. I have five angry-looking bites right now. I need to pack bug spray tomorrow. Or make sure that someone else will be in the room with me—someone whose surface skin temperature is warmer than mine. Of course, I also hope that it's dead by the time I go back tomorrow.

Image of 3-D female mosquito model from Turbo Squid. It's for sale.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Mediterranean fish fillet

My version of a dish served during one of our office's special events. I couldn't ask the caterer for her recipe—that's her business edge after all—so I kind of had to guess what she put in it, ending up with another un-recipe. I do know that it's based on the Provençal tapenade (a paste of black olives, capers and olive oil), because that's what she calls her dish. But she didn't use a paste and she put sun-dried tomatoes, so I think that it's actually more Mediterranean than French.

My changes: (1) sun-dried tomatoes are not easily available here so I had to use fresh tomatoes, so I lost the tartness of the sun-dried tomatoes, which I like; and (2) the caterer's version was baked, but I couldn't get the gas oven to work, so I cooked it stove-top. This, and using fresh tomatoes, at least gave me a dish that was more moist than the caterer's.

My one kilo of fish (I again used creamy dory), had four fillets. Since I don't have a pan which can accommodate all four, I had to cook them in two batches. Not difficult, don't worry, since fish cooks quite fast.

small bottle sliced green olives
small bottle sliced black olives
small bottle capers
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsps butter
1 kilo fish fillet

1. Sauté all the olives and capers in about one tablespoon of olive oil for about one minute. Set aside. Divide into eight servings (for four fillets—the idea is two servings of the mixture per fillet).

2. Put a dab of butter in the pan and melt it. Place the fillets of fish in the pan and spoon one serving of the olive mixture on top of each fish. Cover the pan and wait about three minutes.

3. Flip the fish over with the olive mixture—try to place as much of the olive mixture under the fish. Spoon another serving of the olive mixture over each fish. Cover and cook until done.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Dry + brittle nails?

Then get this darling little bottle: Sally Hansen Age Correct Strength Dry + Brittle Nail Care.

Several months ago, I noticed that my nails had suddenly turned extremely brittle. Anything and everything I did caused them to split, chip or break. Annoying, to say the least. I couldn't touch any fabric because the threads would snag on my nails. I tried using moisturizer—though the skin on my fingers turned nice and soft, it did nothing for my nails.

So I was forced to go hunting for a possible solution and found this in the beauty and health care section of the department store I regularly go to. It works! (Thank goodness. Or I would have been forced to search for another solution.)

You're supposed to apply it every other day until your nails heal. When applied, it looks like you have clear polish on, though not as shiny. Since I started using it, I haven't had a single chip or break. Of course, I'm now afraid to stop using it, but I think I will soon because I also want to find out how long it'll be before my nails turn brittle again. If or when they do, at least I know what to do already.

I just wish Sally Hansen would change its name. It's hard enough to be aging without having to use a product that shoves that fact into your face.

Monday, July 14, 2008

How beautiful we all are!

As my friend Anna said in her introduction to this video, "How small the world is and how beautiful we all are!" After my blues last night, this was exactly what I needed. Thank you, Anna.

Visit to read about Matthew Harding, see his other videos (including the outtakes) and read his blog.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sunday evening blues

Every now and then (like right now) on Sundays, as soon as the sun sets and it gets dark, I start getting depressed. It's a combination of a lot of things, most beginning with "I did not…"

  • do all the chores I needed to do
  • do all the other things I wanted to do
  • get enough sleep or rest
  • read all the blogs, newspapers and book chapters I wanted to read

Weekends are really just not enough to do all these (especially when you only get half of Saturday off from work). But what really gets me depressed is the fact that I only have one night's sleep separating me from another thankless week at work. When I was younger, I felt the same way about school. I think that's why I always end up sleeping very late Sunday nights—you know, trying to keep Monday morning at bay. Because when you sleep, you don't feel time passing and next thing you know it's Monday. How juvenile can one get, right?

I'm not normally this glum, thank goodness. I don't like feeling this way at all—it's tiring and it makes it harder to accomplish anything. There's still some chocolate-filled bonbons in the refrigerator. Time to have a couple, I think.

To those in the same hemisphere as the Philippines: I hope you have a wonderful week. And to those on the other hemisphere: have a peaceful and restful Sunday.

Public domain photo of "Sunset Over the Sahara Desert" by NASA from

Thursday, July 10, 2008

June 2008: Happy elsewhere

Almost pathetic. I've been so stressed out at work, I hardly went anywhere during the month of June. One movie and one art exhibit—that's it. And I just realized that it's almost halfway through July and I haven't had a blog post yet. I sure hope things change soon.

Duetto, an exhibit of artists Migs Villanueva and Anna de LeonDuetto
An art exhibit by Migs Villanueva & Anna de Leon

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince CaspianThe Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
Directed by Andrew Adamson

Still, busy-ness and all, I did spend some time with friends and family. We had dinner with my best friend from high school and her husband, had lunch with two good friends from university, and another lunch with my husband's brother and sister (and her family).

I always spend some time at night reading, and I've been at "Nazi Gold" for almost two months. My husband hates the type—says it's way too small, and I have to agree. If it used a regular type size, it would easily be double its thickness. But it's a very interesting read. But somewhere in the middle, I took a break to read the graphic novel "Fables: Legends in Exile" because I just borrowed it. Fun!

And finally, my husband and I watched the documentary "Helvetica" at home. Yes, it's about the font. How nerdy can one get, huh?