Saturday, December 29, 2012

Cooking Mama

We have a cook at home so I don't have to worry about cooking. If I do cook, it's because I want to and my husband is asking for a dish. Today, however, we were faced with the decision whether to order dinner or I cook. I opted for the latter just because.

We went to Festival Mall earlier today so my husband can buy me my Christmas gift -- a computer chair (yes, quite romantic). We decided to shop for groceries after lunch. While waiting for our order of pizza and chicken at Don Henrico's, I browsed through my recipes which I brought with me on what stuff I should buy. I opted for a chicken burrito for dinner and some chocolate chip cookies for Basti.

cooking outfit
Upon getting home, I started to prepare for my afternoon in the kitchen, I made sure to dress comfortably-- Shorts, shirt, my Starbucks apron and a bandana. I always wear an apron while I cook as ingredients tend to get on my clothes (like flour for one) and the bandana is for the sweat as I do a lot of that while in the kitchen. When I posted this picture in Facebook, some of my friends thought I was on my way to the Operating Room.

I decided to do the baking first. I rummaged around the kitchen for my supplies and found a mixer. I was surprised as it was not used. I asked my mother-in-law about it and apparently, it was mine! I must've bought it sometime ago and as usual, forgot all about it. I checked my ingredients and was relieved when I found baking powder at the pantry. The grocery stores were out of baking powder and soda. Lots of people must have baked a lot of stuff for Christmas.

some of my chocolate christmas gifts
However, I underestimated the chocolate chips that will be used for my cookies. Instead of buying 2 12 oz packs which the recipe required, I only bought one. I scoured through our refrigerator hoping that I still have some form of chocolate left which I can use as substitute. I remembered  my Royce chocolate hoard that one of my colleagues gave me for Christmas. I resolved to only eat and savor only one piece a day but desperate times called for desperate measures. I broke the remaining pieces and dumped them in the cookie batter praying that the chocolate will cook well.

As our oven thermostat is undependable, I  had to turn the kitchen upside down to look for my oven thermometer (our cook was on vacation and the other maid is with my in-laws in Tagaytay. The one who was left behind is barely a month in the job so she does not know what I'm talking about. Fortunately, I found it beside the oven). I also could not find my cookie sheets so I had to improvise. After all the grinding, mixing and molding, we tried putting one batch inside the oven and after 10 minutes, the kitchen smelled heavenly. I quickly pulled the cooked batch from the oven and without waiting for it to cool, took a bite out of it. My experiment paid off!

sunshine's chocolate chip cookies
The chips were so gooey and tasted oh so good. I'm happy to say that I haven't lost my touch. I used to cook batches of these in the past. Maybe I should seriously go back to baking. It's a good stress reliever and my son apparently loves whatever I bake (as long as it's chocolate).

hubby enjoying the tortillas
By 5PM, I quickly started on dinner. I marinated chicken breasts in a taco mix that I bought earlier. I then placed them in a pyrex container and baked them (I took out the cookies first as I don't want my cookies smelling like tacos) for 5-10 minutes. I was not exactly sure as I kept on testing the meat to see whether it was cooked. The recipe called for it to be grilled but I was too lazy to go out and light some coals. Anyway, my gamble paid off (again) as the meat turned out really soft and juicy. I also put together the salsa mix -- tomatoes, onions and cilantro. As I was not able to buy lemon, I used calamansi for the citrus taste. It tasted absolutely wonderful! I placed the tortillas between paper towels and microwaved them for 10 seconds. Putting everything together was easy -- rice, chicken, salsa, grated cheese and sour cream on top of the tortilla and wrapped it up. It also tasted  amazing! The tortillas were halfway gone before I remembered to take a picture!

After dinner, I'm glad I did not have to do the dishes as I was so exhausted from standing and running around for 2 1/2 hours. I just plopped down and relaxed after discussing with the helper on what will be cooked for breakfast. I'm sure I'll be awake already to supervise the cooking. But then, I'm the only one who eats breakfast. Hubby just eats cereals and my son eats whatever's served (or sometimes the cereals that his dad eats). I still have two dishes to be cooked tomorrow. I can't wait to try them out. Hopefully, they'll be a success as well.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012


I've always been a tomboy when growing up. I disdained make-up and fixing myself much to the chagrin of my PerDev high school teacher and my mom. I spent 11 formative years in an all-girls Catholic school and instead of being conscious about my looks, I would rather read books and study rather than figure out how to fix my hair or apply make-up (yes, I was and am still a nerd). Even when I had a serious boyfriend, I still never paid attention to my looks. I justified the thought that it was not my looks that attracted me to him in the first place. I was out of shape and though how much my mom harangued me, I never really gave a thought about it. My idea of fixing myself was combing my hair, putting on moisturizer and ensuring my clothes fit properly.

The first bank that I worked for did not pay too much attention on appearance or make-up. There's a dress code but we could wear jeans on Fridays and so on and so forth. Our job was considered backroom so we did not have to really spruce ourselves up as we're not exposed to customers. From time to time, I would try to put on make-up but it was such a bother for me that I gave up on it all together.

It was only after I gave birth and moved to a new company that I seriously paid attention to my looks. I learned to apply make-up skillfully. I had a colleague who really loved cosmetics so I would spend hours asking her for help. I shared this "hobby" with my high school bestfriend so I would visit her and we would practice. I also learned how to wear suits and pearls--outfits that would flatter my "unflattering" figure and would make me more "respectful-looking." When I moved to my current employer, I began wearing make-up everyday as I have to look the part of a "boss". My staff and colleagues have grown used to seeing me with make-up that they get alarmed whenever they see my pale face. At least I get to now utilize my boxes of cosmetics that my relatives from abroad are fond of giving me (I do ask for them). I'm not complaining though as I get to experiment.

As for my nails, I've always admired my sister-in-law's and mother-in-law's well kept nails. For my birthday, I treated myself to a manicure at my favourite nail salon--Isabella here at Alabang. Whenever I would visit them, I usually would just get a foot spa/pedocire but since it was a special day, I resolved to get a manicure together with my pedicure. The nail technician talked me into getting gel nails. I first heard of it from my mom when she came over for a visit last October. The first color that I got was red (again, for my birthday). It was supposed to last for a month but since it was red, I got rid of it after two weeks as I could see the new nail growing. This time around, I got a pale pink color (see above picture) so that the new growth will be unnoticeable and I can test their claim that it will last for a month without chipping.

I'm such a late bloomer. I'm now having my hair dyed at least twice a year to hide the white strands. I try to regularly get facials and ensure that I clean my face everyday. Someday, I hope to lose weight as well.

The best compliment I got so far was when one of my colleagues gave me a personalized coaster with a caricature of a nice lady with a handbag as her Christmas gift for me. She said that she chose the drawing because it reminded her of me (ma-postura daw). That really made my day.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

So This is Christmas

John Lennon followed that by asking "and what have you done?". Perhaps I'll ask the same question to myself.

I previously mentioned in my recap that this year has been an exciting year for me. A year full of changes. However, my spiritual life took a beating and it's something that I hope to reclaim.

I also haven't had a an outreach activity this year other than my monthly contribution for World Vision and Unicef. Back in my previous company, we would have outreach activities right and left. In fact, it was mandatory and part of our annual grade. With my current employer, I can't recall getting any email about any outreach activity. I should discuss this with my team leaders and see if it can be feasible.

Speaking of World Vision, I received an award last March that I was honored for being an donor for the past 10 years. The sad thing is, the child that I have been sponsoring decided to stop studying as he would rather work and help his family. I was given a new child to sponsor but it broke my heart that my contributions for the last 10 years were for naught. It did not deter me from stopping my contribution as I still believe in the organization's purpose and that they are a big help in the community. I just hope that my adopted child would be able to finish College.

I still haven't thought about my plans for next year. I'll probably do that before the New Year. Maybe I'll strive to have better answers for John Lennon's question.

Monday, December 24, 2012

It's Just Another Christmas Eve

For the last 30 or so years, Christmas Eve was always spent at my paternal grandparents' home--wherever it was. We spent it in Paranaque and then in Makati. But when both passed away in 2007, Christmas that year was particularly somber. This time around, we spend it with our Dad and my siblings and whomever among his siblings would want to come. It's just dinner with exchanged presents and little bit of chitchat.

Christmas Day was spent at home relaxing and just sleeping the day away. Before 1991, we would spend Christmas with my maternal grandparents but when my maternal grandfather passed away in 1991, we really just spent it at home. When I met my husband, he would bring me to their family Christmas reunions and that has been the tradition for last 8 years that we've been together.

One of these days, I would want to spend Christmas abroad--away from the maddening crowd. Just with my hubby and my son. We have a standing invitation from my mom in the US to spend Christmas with them and we would probably do that sometime in the near future.

Sadly, I don't really feel the spirit of Christmas even with all the parties I went to. I have somehow forgotten that it's the birthday of someone very important and what that represents. Maybe I have faltered with my faith this past year no thanks to the RH bill brouhaha. But I am a Catholic and a part of me does not want to let go of that. Hopefully, I can get back that connection that I once had with Him. I have returned to listening to Christian songs to hopefully help me find that missing part of me.

I leave you this song which should be the real reason for the holidays. Merry Christmas everyone--whatever it's worth.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

2012 Recap

I have neglected this blog for too long. I initially thought that I will surpass my posts this year as I started off rather strong but it tapered off in the end. I was horribly busy with my new job and teaching at the same time. Good thing I took the term off this semester. Else, I will be running in fumes.

The changes that happened to me this year are not for the fainthearted. I joined a different employer and not only that, I took up teaching. Health-wise, I'm back to wearing glasses because my eyes got irritated with the dust at work due to the construction. We also marked our 5th year wedding anniversary with an overnight stay at the Penn.

For our trip this year, we went to Bohol and it was Basti's first plane ride. That was a fun, albeit expensive, trip. It was worth seeing the joy in my son's eyes and bonding with him for three days.

Back to my new work: It's still in the financial services industry (aka banking. I don't dare use banking as according to my STRAMA teacher, banking is not an industry) but not as big as my previous employer. My new job lets me utilize my MBA degree as I'm handling a department once again and within credit operations at that. There are days that I'm actually having fun. With 52 employees under my purview, it can be quite challenging but I'm enjoying the ride. I have four capable team leaders who are miracle workers as they make impossible things happen. I let them know what I want to happen and they make it so with little or no help from me. I have great plans for them and hopefully, they will all be realized. WHEN that happens, I would want to think that I had a small hand to it. That's us in the picture below in our recent Christmas party.

I actually don't know where 2013 will take me. Should other opportunities arise that should coincide with my core purpose then I will go where that path will bring me. I would want to think that I was able to accomplish what I set out to do at work and I'm quite happy with that.

Everything's not perfect though. I do have trials and challenges but as my favourite song goes, "What if trials of this life, are your mercies in disguise?" I believe that what I'm going through is part of God's plan for me. I just have to be steadfast and firm and believe in His grace and goodness.

Merry Christmas everyone. May the true spirit of Christmas dwell in our hearts throughout the whole year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Christmas Party

Christmas is less than a week away. You know it's almost there when Christmas parties come one after the other.

For this year alone, I had four Christmas get-togethers/dinners/parties. Probably the best one is that of my department.

I was never really that invested in Christmas parties--even in my previous offices. Yes, I would join the presentations and I would always try to leave early. But my department Christmas party was the best ever that I can remember. I have never laughed so hard as much as I did that day--as in falling off my chair and rolling on he floors hard.

My department is the largest in our division--52 officers, staff and PH under my purview. It still boggles my mind that I have that much people who I have to watch out for but I have somehow survived the past 10 months and have even met our targets so I must be doing it right somehow.

When I formed a team as early as July to handle the employee engagement activities in our department, one of the things that I assigned them to do was to organize the Christmas party. As early as August, we were already scouting for possible venues that would fit all 53 of us and our visitors.

I don't know if it was the long preparation period or the excitement but all my teams were very gung-ho about it. They came out with the idea that each team (not only the new hires or contractuals) will have their own presentation. Everyone embraced the thought and a week before the party, they were hard at work practicing their dance moves.

The video below is not part of the program. It was just a spontaneous suggestion (albeit shouted out) that the team leaders have a dance showdown. Not contented, they had to ask for me and my bosses as well. At least I hope I didn't embarrass myself too much.

Once I finish uploading them, I will also post the presentations of my teams. They're absolutely hilarious! Probably the "pangbubuyo" and "pang-aasar" made it more fun. Good thing there's no "pikon" person in my team.

Here's the presentation of Team Eds:

Here's the presentation of Team Ernie:

And here's the team that won the contest, Team Toto:

I can't wait for next year's party. It will be so hard to top this.