Sunday, October 31, 2010

summer in october

Last Monday I went to a beach resort with my mother-law and sisters-in-law. I had fun having even just a day out of town, especially since I hadn't been able to visit the beach last summer. It was a Summer in October of sorts - we were blessed to have a good amount of sun and wind that day, and I acquired the tan lines to prove it.

That place we went to is an exclusive resort called Pico de Loro. It's is one of thirteen natural coves in Hamilo Coast, an area currently being developed in Batangas.

Typically I dislike beaches - I mean the generic kind of beaches where there is a lot of clutter, hardly any decent bathrooms, a strong salty-fishy smell and roaming vendors trying to push you stuff. I hate how strong chlorine solutions give me rashes, how sharp sand-crystals crawl into my bathing suit, and the absolute inconvenience in using the shower.

But places like these, I absolutely adore.

It's got a litter-free shore of powder-soft light sand cluttered with intact shells (i.e., not shell fragments). Really lovely.

And cheers! No annoying vendors or uncomfortable "comfort rooms". Everything's nice!

I was also happy to see that there are a lot of fish and trees in that area.

There is an unsullied view of the coast, wide-open spaces and well-planned architecture that works with the natural layout. Very easy on the eyes and more conducive to relaxation than the usual random beach-hut theme.

I had fun splashing around (both in the swimming pool and in the saltwater), even if I hardly remember anything I learned from childhood swimming lessons.

It was too delightful to feel warm sand under my feet again, bathing in the warm glow of "summer" while lazing off to delightful Beach Boys music.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

girls talk: all-time favorite book

Just ONE all-time favorite? That would be hard. Alright, I'll just pick one random favorite of mine.

J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings is easily at the top of my list of all-time favorite reads. Of all my faves, I've loved it the longest.

Okay, wait - I know that the instructions at Beauty Queen Gene said ONE BOOK ONLY. Well here's a bit of trivia: The Lord of the Rings is actually one whole novel published in three volumes, each volume further separated into two books each. So I'm not cheating. ^_^ This is still actually one book.

I first discovered LOTR when I was ten years old; I spotted a copy of the first volume in the Grade School Library. I borrowed it thinking my brother would like to take a look at it, and then I ended up falling in love with it. I was lucky to find the two other volumes in the same library; at that time no one as interested in them (I was the only one) so it was an easy task. They're not exactly easy reading for a ten year-old, but even if I didn't completely appreciate everything at that age, I developed an affinity with LOTR. It was for me a profound secret that hardly anyone else knew about, like it was something exclusive for the brilliant and special.

I re-read the books when I was older of course, and it was much easier to navigate through Midde-Earth with an adult vocabulary. ^_^

When the movies came out I sort of had mixed sentiments. It was definitely exciting to see my favorite fantasy lore incarnated on the big-screen, but a lot of director Peter Jackson's work - though impressive - turned out to be quite disappointing for lovers of the novel like myself (So while LOTR is one of my favorite books, the LOTR trilogy is not in my list of favorite movies. Furthermore, I felt like Peter Jackson just opened my exclusive little club to the whole world. I found it disgusting that fangirls watched the movie just to see Orlando Bloom, and not to appreciate the amazingly-crafted story. Har har, I'm a prick that way. :D ). Thankfully, the fuss over the LOTR movies eventually died down, and LOTR movie fans have moved on to new fixations.

But as for myself, I'm still a huge fan of Tolkien and his books.

And here's another trivia tidbit: J.R.R. stands for John Ronald Reuel.

So yeah, I'm a geek. ^_^ I'm not the type that goes around in costume or spews Elvish words, but I suppose I can ace a test on Arda-lore.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

a very good reason to think happy thawts

Here's something memorable from Roald Dahl's well-loved children's book, The Twits.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

girls talk: thrilling page-turners

I almost forgot about Girls Talk this week (again); good thing I remembered to check my dashboard.

Today we're doing suspense-thrillers. The first thing that comes my mind is Dan Brown.

I read them before the movies came out (I didn't like the movies much though) and I was enthralled. They had the right combination of mystery and the things I happen to be interested in - Christianity, history and art (I was so proud of myself when I was able to figure out the clues!). If I didn't have work to do at the time I picked those books up, I would have read them straight through without sleeping; those novels are so hard to put down.

Those two books are phenomenal - aside from the fact that they caused a worldwide stir because of the controversial claims, they're excellently written, brilliantly woven and amazingly narrated. There are a lot of holes in the research, but Dan Brown is definitely a gifted writer.

Another writer of thrilling page-turners is Chuck Palahniuk.

Palahniuk is another genius. Very cleverly written; layered and twisted His tone of choice though is very dark humor, delivered in perverse language through an unglamorous cast of characters - something that many people might not appreciate.

Fight Club spawned a movie and a cult following. Not many know that the irreverent flick starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton was taken from a novel. It's one of my favorite books, but it's not something I'd recommend to everyone.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

pumped up about a tim burton themed party

It started as a musing what if.

Toward the end of September, I've been noticing how crafter-bloggers and foodie-bloggers have been sharing their Halloween-related projects and recipes. A lot of those are actually brilliant and easy; it made me want to have a reason to make them.

The thing is, I've never really been a fan of Halloween. As a kid, I liked the candy associated with it, but I basically had a problem with the ugly things. I hated - and still hate - how television stations mostly air spooky specials in October through the first week of November; I'd watch them out of curiosity but have trouble sleeping for days.  I also heard a lot of anti-Halloween teachings at church while growing up. If we were to have a "Halloween" party, we'd do it with candy and costumes but nix the ghoulies and ghosties.

A few nights ago my younger sister mused about holding a Halloween party of sorts, just for the sake of having a nice time with friends. We agreed, of course, that we'd have none of the vile stuff. We knew we didn't have the budget or the resources to pull it off - especially since October 30th is just a mere few weeks away - but we just went on imagining what sort of party we'd want to host.

We came up with this really cute idea: a Tim Burton-themed party. We thought it'd be perfect. It would give us enough room to be dark, but cute at the same time. We even conceived of a menu. It got us so excited, but within minutes we were deflated by the realization that we didn't have time to make it happen.

I tweeted my frustration over our creative idea that could have been, and lo and behold, I got the attention of two other friends of ours who want to hold a party too, just for the reason of dressing up in costume. They thought the Tim Burton theme was brilliant, and wanted in. To make the long story short, we got a few more buddies to ride on, we volted-in, and now party planning is ongoing. Whoopeee!

We agreed to call it a Tim Burton Un-Birthday Party. It's not exactly a Halloween party, but we'll be holding it on the 30th at a friend's house. We're thinking of meat pies (in memory of Mrs. Lovett), finger food and Beetle Juice. We'll be laying the treats and sweets on thick; hopefully we'll have enough chocolate to homage Charlie. We'll have a Tim Burton movie marathon and a few games on the side.

What we're mostly excited about is a reason to play dress up. I don't know what it is about costumes, but some people just love it, ourselves not exceptions. This particular theme is just a brilliant one to dress up to. And since we're serious about making Christ visible in our lives even at our parties, it was natural for us to uninvite zombies, vampires, devils and other vile creatures.

We're all pumped about this. I've been busy thinking up decor and costume concepts. We've come up with cheap, easy ideas that we can accommodate at our tight budget and even tighter schedules; I love how this really brings out the creativity and innovation in us. This just has a lot of potential for fun, and we're already having lots of that just preparing.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

girls talk: humorous reads

I like this month's Girls Talk topic because I love books. This week we're doing funnies.

Do comics count? At the top of my list would be The Book of Bunny Suicides by Andy Riley, and Gary Larson's The Far Side Gallery. They're very easy reading.

But yeah, I have some favorite funny books too.

The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
is a compilation of five novels by Douglas Adams. It maps out the outrageous story of Arthur Dent's survival through space after his home planet, Earth was demolished to make way for the construction of a hyperspace bypass. Brilliantly funny; mocks science fiction a bit with dry Brit humor, while it attempts to explore the answer to life, the universe and everything. The answer, it says, is 42.

Arthur Dent's adventures were made into a BBC television series sometime in the '8os I believe. The first of the five books, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, was made into a movie a few years ago.

Another set of humor books I absolutely enjoy are The Sacred Diaries of Adrian Plass.

British author Adrian Plass has a humorous take on Evangelical Christianity, through his eyes as a church member and later as a preacher.

It's nice to have books that poke fun at life, the universe and everything (I'm quite inclined toward witty, brilliant and/ or dark humor though; I don't like slapstick or green jokes). It's good to laugh, and I particularly enjoy laughing out loudly.

Other ladies share what's in their library. Click the badge to read about their choices:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

baked potato soup

Last Sunday, the Hubby and I had lunch with his side of the family; we went to this resto with fabulous baked potato soup. It was so freaking yummy that within the first spoonful I decided to try to replicate it at home. I Googled various baked potato soup recipes to get a general idea, and then for lunch today I made attempt number one.

I'm happy to say that attempt number one turned out to be really good soup, and I'm proud enough to share my improvised recipe here.

Baked Potato Soup

You will need:
  • 2 large potatoes, diced (or around 2 1/2 cup or diced potato)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped (around 1/4 cup)
  • 2 small cloves of garlic (or one large one), crushed
  • 1 cup evaporated milk or cream
  • cheddar cheese, grated (or any cheese you prefer, I suppose)
  • a few tablespoons of spring onions, finely chopped
  • fried garlic chips

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • a few sprigs of rosemary, minced
  • bacon chips
  • salt and pepper


I know this is called "baked potato soup", but some of the recipes I found didn't require baking the potato since the vegetables have to be boiled together anyway. So here goes --

  • Boil the potato until soft. By soft I mean easily mashable.

    Boil the taters with rosemary (or any herb of your choice); I chose rosemary because it adds a bit of tang.
    If you don't have herbs, you can use chicken flavor cubes. You can also use chicken broth instead of water, if you prefer.
  • Remove from heat. Draw out half of the potato cubes and mash them separately with a fork. Combine the mashed potatoes and potato cubes in the pot.
  • Toss in the onion and garlic to the potatoes-and-herb mixture and bring to a boil.
  • At this point you can add butter if you prefer, and/or a few tablespoons of grated cheese.
  • Lower heat and let simmer.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the milk or cream.
  • Serve warm in individual bowls. Top with spring onion, garlic chips and more grated cheese. Bacon chips would be a good idea too. Makes 4-6 servings.

Monday, October 11, 2010

knowing there is a heaven

Of course I believe in Heaven. Knowing that there is a Heaven is not just a way of coping with the grief of loss, but an assent that God is sovereign and good.

Deaths and funerals aren't new to me, but losing a loved one isn't something you get used to. Sure, you grow familiar with the traditions and rites and various grieving processes associated, but it doesn't diminish the sadness because every loss is unique.

My father-in-law passed away recently and though all those who love him were grieved (and likely still grieving), still a sense of joy is very evident in each one. We rejoice because he is in a happier place, free from the limitations of an aging body, free from the illness he suffered in his last days with us. We rejoice because our separation is but temporary; we will all get together again sometime under better circumstances.

Knowing there is a Heaven changes death: Death is not merely an end but a beginning; not merely a cause for sorrow but of celebration. Death is no longer cold but kind.