Thursday, December 31, 2009

Farewell 2009, Hello 2010

I hope this finds everyone well. I am still recovering from a bad cold that could've stemmed from allergies I could've caught in Austin. No worries, though. We got stuff done, anyway: just yesterday Jess had a haircut while I got me a facial, then we got new pillows from B3, got some produce from Whole Foods (including black-eyed peas for New Year's) as it's right across B3, then got my schedule from WEPCo, changed sheets at home, called it a day then had a late lunch of ceviche and crackers. We also took the trash out, and I plan to do laundry today: out with the old, in with the new, I think, extends even to this. I am so proud-grateful-glad J has been so patient thus far :) Let's hope it continues! As to what we'll do this New Year's Eve, we have no real plans, save eating some black-eyed peas tomorrow for New Year's Day tradition.

Aside from black-eyed peas from this side of the world, my family has traditions for New Year's too: peanuts and pineapple and grapes and tangerines and gold/silver chocolate coins (for money), totaling to 8 kinds of round-ish fruit/etc to be put on a round bowl/plate for the coming year. (8's the lucky Chinese number: it sounds like luck, just as pineapple sounds like luck coming in, once translated: J and I vetoed the pineapple as we already have a pomegranate that'll do, thank you very much) My mom also said no chicken on the first day of the year so our luck won't fly away: better fish or pork (and beef, I guess). I was also recommended a doctor in Manila who's into more holistic paths, hopefully, the path of the future :)

So what has 2009 given me? For starters, I eased off of Bikram yoga in March for a temporary leave that has turned indefinite, giving me more time to focus on commuting and also working at WEPCo. In April, my Dad underwent a quadruple stent surgery (oh no!) but J and I moved into a nice attic-space in the Heights with lots of room, a washer and dryer included (yay)! Of course and with the help of Yelp, I took it upon myself to learn more about our neighborhood, finding gems and friends in stores like Kaboom books, Hello Lucky, Antidote Coffee, Saturday farmer's markets like T'afia and Urban Harvest, Blue Line Bike Lab, Urban Jungle Self Defense and 19th St among others. July found me passing my driver's road test after the 2nd attempt and after many prayers and practice, ie not needing to take the bus anymore (unless I wanted to)! June-July also was our housewarming, and me getting into kickboxing and slowly getting some fitness back, as well as finding results in Natalia Rose's book, "The Raw Food Detox Diet;" thank God :) In September, amidst the catastrophe of Typhoon Ondoy, a volunteer spot turned into a job opening for me as a Montessori teaching assistant at Garden Oaks Elementary. Juggling two jobs just didn't give me enough time off, so I went down to pool/reserve for WEPCo in October, during which J and I also a took a pre-marriage class from Connecting Marriages. In November, my parents visited, and not only did we go to Austin for their first Thanksgiving, but we went to Peru (Machu Picchu, Lima and Cusco) before that! And before they left, J asked my Dad for my hand, to which my dad gave his blessing. In December, among the Christmas activities (gift-giving and eating), J, his parents, his sister and I all went to see Avatar in 3-D: not bad, actually. J and I've had our fair share of disagreements since then, more probably because of togetherness-pains and anxieties and insecurities and doubts (me), but we've made up and are hopefully better for it, learning to be more patient, and to be more accepting and let things happen if they do and make peace if they don't. This is where I am; I hope for more and better in 2010.

For manifestations, to start off, J and I are talking about getting married, so that's a big one, maybe with a ring and a question soon :) Hopefully too, and with my parents' help, we can get a house in the Heights, as well, and with a good price/location if we play our cards right :) As to more mundane matters, I would finally like to be able to bike on my own! ;) I am also hoping to see C soon, as well as go home in March and maybe Panama sometime and Germany/Russia in August; I would love to get a copy of J's Grandaunt Fanny's honey cake recipe one of these days, as well as make kombucha with J's help (and maybe more homemade creams etc in the future, too)! Then there's this rewards card, "Go Local Austin" I'm convincing J for me/us to get one the next time we swing by: the rewards look cool, and we're in Austin enough to use it, I think. And if we're not, it can certainly give us more reason to come by :) And more reason for me to go to Daily Juice: I want to try their smoothie "Cosmic Trigger" next :) I also want to get more Juara products: they are an Indonesian-based skincare line I've recently tried that reevaluated my whole thinking/treatment of my skin. My skin feels so much more relaxed and soft and supple. Asian botanicals for Asian skin: that seems to make sense. Of course, hopefully continue climbing and kickboxing, maybe even jiu jitsu in the future with more money, and maybe some swing dancing, too. I would also love to get back on track in getting certified to teach, especially ESL and Special Ed for traditional schooling, and definitely Montessori for Lower Elementary. Then get schooled in Holistic Nutrition from ACHS, maybe even a master's degree in Education from the University of Houston. There are other things I would like, like books, and cooking appliances (and a trampoline!), but for now, these are the big things, things I can accomplish in 5 years, hopefully. As to a more macro level, I hope more local products, markets and businesses will develop and flourish, as with more synergetic Eastern-Western medicine; more alternatives to coal and fossil fuel (connected to going local, too, like mass transit, and bikes, and electric cars) as those are on a steady decline, as well. I hope technology in these cases and such related will continue to grow and develop, as I believe this is the way of the future.

I hope this finds y'all happy, healthy and hearty :) Here's to a peaceful end to 2009, and great promise of 2010! I wish everyone love and blessings, peace and light. :)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Garlic soup, Callos, Papaya Salad and Russian Tea Cookies

I haven't posted in a while, what with work and holiday stuff (5 days to Christmas!), so for now, enjoy the following recipes:

Mom's Sopa de Ajo (Garlic soup) recipe:

Heat approx. 2-3 tbsp. of olive oil in a pot; add approx. 1-2 tbsp. butter; then, saute approx. 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup finely minced garlic until golden brown; add bread that's been cut into cubes (like croutons) say equivalent of 2 large pandesals (or 2 dinner rolls or 2 Hamburger buns). Once bread is lightly and evenly browned add approx. 4-5 cups of chicken or beef broth; bring to a boil, then add beaten egg slowly, stirring as you are doing so; season with salt and pepper to taste; add a few drops of maggi or knorr, then squeeze in the juice of half a lemon and simmer over a low fire for approx. 30 minutes to 1 hour. Serves 2 people.

Tito Pocho's Callos recipe:

6 pcs garlic, dried
1 pc onion, dried
1 large piece carrot, diced finely
1 kilo tripe pre-cooked in pressure cooker
2 pcs. pig knuckles, pre-cooked in pressure cooker
1 big can chickpeas
1 can whole tomatoes
1 can pimientos
1/2 can tomato sauce
1 bottle olive oil
2 chorizos bilbao
1/4 lb. bacon

1. Tripe should be well-cleaned-- cook in pressure cooker. Once cooked, make sure tripe is well drained (important!) as trip absorbs a lot of water while cooking; if not (drained well), it will make your callos soupy.

2. Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a casserole-- sauteed garlic, onions, tomatoes, bacon. Add the tripe and pig's knuckles and chorizo, over very low fire. Add salt to taste.

3. After 30 minutes, add tomato sauce and (rest of?) olive oil-- make sure trip has not stuck to the casserole-- if in #2 tripe begins to stick to casserole, add more olive oil

4. After another 30 minutes, add drained chickpeas. Continue cooking over very low fire; casserole must be covered at all times (important!)

5. Try the tripe; if already soft, then add the pimientos, and continue cooking for 15-30 minutes.

1.The callos should be sliced; one piece chorizo sliced into 4 pieces; bacon sliced into 4 per piece.
2. While cooking, stir once in a while.
3. Eat with French bread, while dunking bread in sauce-- delicious.

Urban Harvest Farmer's Market Papaya Salad:

1 small green papaya, or 1/2 large (papaya should be very firm, the flesh white to light orange in color)
1/2 cup honey roasted or plain roasted peanuts or glazed cashews
1-2 cups bean sprouts
1-2 tomatoes, cut into long this strips
1 red chili, minced
3 spring onions, sliced into long matchstick-like pieces
1/2 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped if leaves are large
a handful of fresh coriander

for the dressing:
1/2 tsp. shrimp paste (if vegetarian, sub 1 extra Tbsp. soy sauce)
2 Tbsp. good-tasting oil, such as olive
2 Tbsp. fish sauce or 2+1/2 Tbsp. soy sauce
3 Tbsp. lime juice
1/2-1 Tbsp. liquid honey

1. Prepare the dressing by mixing together all dressing ingredients in a cup. Make sure shrimp paste and honey dissolve fully (if using glazed nuts, you may only need to add 1/2 Tbsp. honey). Set aside.
2. Peel the green papaya, then slice it in half and remove all the seeds. Using the largest grater you have, grate the papaya. Place in a large bowl.
3. Add the sliced tomato, spring onion, chili, bean sprouts, and most of the basil. Add the dressing, tossing to combine.
4. Add the peanuts or cashews. Toss again. Taste-test the salad. If not sweet enough, add a little more honey. If not salty enough, add a little more fish sauce or soy sauce. If too sweet or salty, add more lime juice. If not spicy enough, add more fresh-cut chili or dried crushed chili.

To serve:
Scoop the salad into individual bowls or into a serving platter. Sprinkle with remaining basil leaves plus fresh coriander. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Stephanie's Russian Tea Cookies

1 cup butter
1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup chopped pecans
additional powdered sugar for rolling

1. Cream butter in large mixing bowl, gradually add 1/2 cup sugar beating until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla. Combine flour, salt and pecans; gradually add to butter mixture, blending well. Chill until firm.

2. Shape into 1-inch balls; place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 400F for 12-15 minutes or until edges of the cookies are lightly browned. Roll in powdered sugar while still warm. Cool on wire racks; roll in powdered sugar an additional time. Yields about 4 dozen cookies.

Buen proveccio! Bon appetit! And happy holidays to one and all :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

And the Credding Bell Saga Continues...

So last weekend, J and I went to a workshop held by Connecting Marriages, under the umbrella Twogether Texas. It was an 8-hour class on a Saturday, one-time only, so that's fine. It waives the 3-day waiting period for a marriage license and saves you $60 off your marriage license. That's really icing on the cake: what we went for was its shedding light on the marriage process, and relationship stuff, and so on. What we walked away with was the certificate, but also a better idea on our dynamics, and how we can improve that; it also showed us we are not alone--in love, and in intercultural unions, to name but a few. No ring yet, but we're looking into that... someday, I guess, maybe?

Along this trend, I was reading this blog that got me into ordering the book, The Meaning of Wife. Because as much as there is talk about weddings and such, what about after, which is what matters, anyway (I think)? It might prove to be good reading. And with J's and my different religious views, I got this book, Celebrating Interfaith Marriages, because religion I think plays a big role in our lives, our psyches, how we view the world, whether we admit it or not. In light of our workshop, it'll affect not only our potential ceremony, but our whole union, so I'm going to see what this book has to convey. Maybe, maybe this really is all coming together; I hope it is.

My parents touched down on Houston this afternoon. We leave for Machu Picchu on Thursday. Ironing stuff out, can't wait: haven't seen my dad since March, my mom since May. And since then, my dad's been sick, so, I'm a bit anxious: they're getting older and that can't be helped; what more my grandparents? I just hope they're all ok. This is the worst thing about being away from home: it's being away from family and friends, not being there to see the little changes that add up over time. I just hope I don't miss out on too much, and that I can visit soon.

I finally went to the doctor about my cough/cold/flu/whatever, and I seem to have acute bronchitis. The doc said it can last 2 weeks (as I have it), or more. I guess I'll just have to wait and see.

School is progressing. Office work gets frustrating sometimes, but c'est la vie. I'd prefer to spend all my time with my kids, but I guess this way with office work in the afternoon is more balanced. Sometimes, too, what to do with kids who don't take anything seriously, or who want to play all day? What about kids who get so mad they shut down? All kinds of questions: I just hope I find answers as I work with them more.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Almost-Credding Bells?

Well, J and I have been talking of "Step 2"*, and I look at this website for grounding advice and whatnot; I've also been looking at dresses lately that should still be affordably priced, 'coz who can't discount prices nowadays??? Plus most girls like dresses and like to look pretty, and I am one of those. I was looking at this dress. Now for shoes: I don't know what style, especially as I don't have the teensiest feet. Maybe this? I was thinking something else: the more we can save, the more money we can use towards other stuff like honeymoon, or furniture, or other shopping stuff, or photographers like this one, and so on. I love pictures, so it's a semi-big deal: they're memories, and those count. Pictures and maybe gifts for guests like from here? Plus we won free invites here; yay! Ok, so things are still up in the air, no ring in sight, but J told me, "have patience, mouse*." And I said "mraow." We are going to a pre-crarriage* class next Saturday, which is completely free (whee!), by the way, here. That way, we save on a potential license, and all that, so yay more savings. Since I was too sick this weekend to go look at shiny jewelry, much to my frustration (body 1, me 0) and I will be going on a trip later this month with my folks to Machu Picchu, I playfully told J, now you can look without me! And he said yes :) We tried Etsy, but we didn't find anything that really caught us. So eh, we'll see. And J said that it has to be perfect for me, nothing from a bucket out of Safeway, no sir. Aaaw <3

So this is where we are. May Fortune/Lady Luck/God smile on us. We'll see how this will all turn out.

*Step 1= serious committed dating/moving in
Step 1.5= engagement?
Step 2= marriage
Step 2.5= preggers?
Step 3= children
- My folks did not follow this process AT ALL, so want mine to be perfect, whee! (Who can blame them for wanting the best for their baby girl/only child, though)

*mouse= me
bee= J

*credding= wedding
crarriage= marriage
-I refuse to say the actual word as I am too shy

Time to get un-ill

Ugh. Sick as a dog. Getting better, hopefully, evidence being I'm typing right now, but yeah, my Mom says it's probably a head-cold: intense head pain (alternating between a band tightening around my head with a cap bearing down); chills alternating with feeling super hot; and aching joints. Not a lot of mucous, though. Oh well, I'm combating this with Dayquil first and Tylenol as needed. House-bound all the way, feh. J's mom said the first year she was teaching her doctor gave her this advice: keep your hands away from your mouth/eyes; wash hands as often as possible, or have hand sanitizer. Good advice; she reminded me it'll take a while to get enough immunities/antibodies to my kids' germs and whatnot, so yeah. I hope I get better soon.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Of Soup and School

Wow, it's only Tuesday and I already feel beat. A good thing I did (with J) today was vote at the local election for school trustee, mayor, and various propositions to be passed in state government, I guess. And as we parked, we saw the twinkling lights of downtown in the distance. Classic Houston moment: beauty amid lack of zoning laws.

But I digress. As a backgrounder, I work at a public school's Montessori program as a teaching assistant, but given the nature of Montessori classes, and the added plus of my pretty good rapport (touch wood!) with the teacher I assist (Ms. T), I am a teaching assistant acting more like a co-teacher, which is great experience. It started out that I was only to work in the classroom, but now I act as cafeteria co-marshall, then after a brief lunch, work in the office/administrative part of the school, making my work experience pretty well-rounded. Tiring? Yes. Informative? Most definitively. I think--and hope--that it'll pay off in the end. Heck, last week there was a district-wide mandated online testing requirement for teachers/salaried staff called ASPIRE, and even as I'm hourly, I was pulled to do it! It was mind-numbing to say the least, but I will say again that I (still) count my lucky stars. So all these experiences have been shaping me to hopefully be a better teacher: this week in particular found me especially stern with my class of kids. I love them, but they need to follow protocol! Man oh man, suffice it to say two kids had a curtailed recess period today. After being nice to them all morning, a stern Ms. S was a shock for them, and one of them in particular, who I've been especially encouraging with, rebuked me, saying "you're mean!" And I said, "I like you, but you have to make better choices; you know better!" to which he reluctantly nodded his head, even a tad ruefully. But I hated being stern and firm, to which end Ms. T patted my shoulder at the end of the day and said, "Be strong!" Indeed; the trials of a teacher continue. But as long as one of my 20 kids learns something, hopefully more than one; then it will all be worth it. I have hope yet.

In other news, I made soup last week.

You heard that right, I who doesn't cook, made soup--not the kind from a can, but since I like to do things all the way, I made soup from scratch. Soup made of fish and clams and shrimp and saffron, to name but a few ingredients.

Ok, so that's more like a stew than soup.

It all started when J and I went to Central Market with J's intention of getting some fish to make this little Asian islander happy. Well, yours truly had a sudden flash of brilliance: why not make a rustic bouillabaise of some sort? So we bought redfish, shrimp and clams, much to J's chagrin. To soothe his quiet alarm, I called my mom for guidance. Well, mothers know best, at least most of the time, and this time was no exception. Of course we Filipinos don't really use measurements, but rather do the "rough eyeing, taste-testing measurement." Voila, my mom's rough recipe. Note: this should only be done in 1 pan, making clean-up hopefully a bit easier!

1. Heat pan; cover pan with olive oil (maybe 1/4 c)
2. Saute 1 whole garlic (minced), 2 whole onions (chopped), and 3 chopped tomatoes.
3. Add fish one at a time: 1/5 lb. redfish, 1/5 lb. shrimp, 1/2 lb. clams*; brown.
4. Drench mixture in white wine (better half of a bottle; don't be stingy!), add 1 small can of tomato sauce* to mixture.
5. Add 2 bay leaves, 2 pcs. anise or equiv. 1/4 tsp., 1 Tbsp. saffron (I used 2 sachets); 1 pinch equiv. of 1/4 tsp. of sugar; add salt and pepper to taste.
5a. Optional: add red peppers (in can--small can), or 6-8 olives (black preferably), or chopped potatoes, or garbanzos/chickpeas, or all of the above for a heartier stew
6. Simmer, 30 minutes or a bit longer.
7. Serve and enjoy!

*tomato paste can also be substituted: just use equal parts water for tomato paste: stir and add into the pot!
*clams must be soaked overnight in ice and a bit of salt for the sand to be removed from the clams: they will spit, even when dead! Keep shrimp in shell, as well as clams, though DO clean clams beforehand to remove the sand; skin and chop the fish into pieces.

Serve stew with either garlic bread or garlic fried rice, latter's recipe below:

1. Steam rice.
2. Heat olive oil in pan
3. brown some garlic
4. dump steamed rice in (older, leftover plain rice is preferable)
5. add salt; stir-fry
6. Serve and eat!
*measurements are up to you: Filipino style!

This is most of it from my end: we had leftover soup from this recipe for tonight's dinner, as well as leftover pizza, and organic buttery popcorn for dessert, as well as coconut maple-pecan ice cream and blood orange sorbet, topped off with some red wine: trashy meets gourmet, hello! Next paycheck, I would like to buy some merchandise from this website.

Whee! Goodnight y'all! Enjoy the (hopefully) cooler weather! For those in the US, it's time to fall back; don't forget to get some rays to avoid getting SAD!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

2009 Juli

I have become a legal Texas Driver since July 14 :) Which means I have been driving to work. Woot woot; go me!

Housewarming last Saturday: yay domesticity?

September and October I have no obligations, so that means more "us time", just me and J. Yay. <3

Looking for good education postgrad colleges in Texas. If anyone has ideas, please let me know.

So little money, so much to buy.

Still studying to be a teacher. Hopefully, hopefully.

Cardio kickboxing but frustrated as I don't seem to be losing weight, or I don't know, I hope I am.

I should eat less and exercise more. Even if J says I am beautiful. I don't think so, and wish I looked better.


I hope it's J and me, more and more, better and better, together and for always.

Fuzzy mushy thoughts.


Monday, June 29, 2009


is my last day of work before a 2-day off. Sweet.

I want to make granola. and kombucha. and yogurt. 'Coz I think it can be done.

I am also thinking of reformatting this blog, to create a new username for uniformity.

I still need to learn to ride a bike, and get my driver's license, and get a new SS card. And possibly change my health insurance. And maybe join a gym, beCAUSE I might be getting visibly fat. I feel tired, so I get lazy...and it's a vicious cycle. I SHOULD exercise but...NO BUTS!

And there are steps....maybe, steps to ascend? <3 I can dream and hope.

And of course I've got to pay bills. Dammit. We cannot escape death, bills and taxes.

Things are good; I hope they can only get better. Life is good, not much to gripe about, but too busy either way.

Is this the new generation of yuppie-busy-blogging?

I try.

*Happy birthday, D. I should forget, but I haven't: I don't think I can. You were the first, after all. I wish you well from my wellness; goodbye.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Of Things in the Now and Later

J and I celebrate a year of being officially together, next week. Next week, holy cow. And with a deciding education test looming 2 weeks after that, I should've been studying, but no, I was looking at schm(w)edding sites like planning and rings and stuff, how it can be done with $2000, or why can't rings be simple bands, and even engagement ones to not have big shiny rocks? And something of contention between us (even if we haven't discussed "it!"): schm(w)edding favors.

Then there is moving. We have found a place, and J is moving there on Saturday and I on Monday. A place of our own, he likes to point out. And despite my fears, I told my parents, albeit through the postal service. I had to.

So here we are. A year pretty soon, and then hopefully more and more. Onward and upward, I pray and hope.