Monday, December 27, 2010

Wiener Chriskindlmarkt--The Vienna Christmas Market

A few years ago, we found ourselves in Vienna during the first week of December. Despite the freezing weather, I think this is one of the best times to visit Vienna because the streets are filled with holiday cheer. It is quite an experience specially for us who live on the other side of the globe.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christ the Savior is Born

 Nativity scene made by G and C in 2007
Oh come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant...

Merry Christmas to everyone!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Last Baking Day

Today was our last baking day! It's been a tradition for us to bake lots of pound cakes every Christmas using an old buttercake recipe that we always enjoyed while growing up.  Come to think of it, I've actually been baking all these cakes for the past 25 Christmases! (No, I'm not that old, I just started baking at 10 years old--hehe)

The whole mass-baking production started when I was single and living at home. There was one year mom and dad were abroad until December 23 and  nothing was happening in the house in the 3 weeks leading up to Christmas.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

My New Look!

I wish I could say that the "new look" referred to me, but with the Christmas holidays, no way. I should be eating this healthful delicious salad here--haricot verts with thin curls of foie gras--instead of all the poundcake that is being baked now at home (it's called "pound" cake for a reason!). Nope, the new look is an experiment on the blog!

I've been in touch with fellow bloggers who have been critiquing my blog (I know, I know, a proper blogger should be linking at this point--but I'm rushing out the door so I'll do a proper post on this later), and wanted to do some changes right away.

If you are one of my ten loyal readers, can you please tell me what you think of this lay-out? Those of you who get my posts by email, tsk tsk, you are missing so much!! I still have to design my header and all the fun design stuff. But kids have to be picked up from school, lunch with a girlfriend, Christmas shopping, workers in the house, visit the office, Barangay Xmas party tonight... I have to get off this computer ahora mismo!!!

I'll get there...hopefully in these last two weeks of 2010~

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Room at Marina Bay Sands

Here is the room at the new Marina Bay Sands in Singapore.This is a Horizon room facing the water. 
I forgot to take a picture of the wall facing the bed but you can see that there is a flat screen TV across the bed, and to the left of the TV is an executive desk. I prefer taking daytime shots of rooms, except that if I waited till the next morning, the room would be too messy. This was taken the evening we walked into the room, so it's still at its neatest!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The SkyPark at Marina Bay Sands

The Skypark at the new Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore is simply spectacular.  The edge pool on the 57th floor is such an amazing sight that every single person had a camera taking pictures of everything and everyone! Good thing I was one of those behind the camera and not in front of one.

Clouds and Complementary Colors

I glanced out of the plane window and was mesmerized with this cloud "tower". 
Not only was the shape of the cloud unusual, I loved the color combination
 of blue and orange--complementary colors on the color wheel.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Spain Roadtrip

Our itinerary: Start in Barcelona and finish in Madrid

One of the highlights of 2010 for us was a 6-day road trip of Northern Spain with 5 other couples 
right after a conference in Barcelona. 

What's great about traveling in a group of savvy travelers is the shared responsibility of arranging the trip. Our "couple assignment" was to arrange transportation for 12 people. The foodie couple was in charge of researching the restaurants, another couple in charge of booking them, and  the-most-particular-about-hotel-couple was choosing and booking the hotels.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Assumption Cookbook Winners!

Me (left) and the glamorous Annie Lim Kawpeng with our Pearl Edition

Here are the results of the Cookbook Giveaway of this post
I used an online random generator, but I didn't have a DTI person next to me, 
so you'll just have to take my word for it! 

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Dolphins in Bais

Every year we make it a point to bring the kids to at least one local destination so that they realize and appreciate how beautiful the Philippines is. 

This particular trip was to Dumaguete in the Visayas. Dumaguete is on the southwest part of Negros Oriental. We stayed in a resort in Dumaguete, and from there, took a day trip to Bais, where we could see dolphins in their natural habitat.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A Cookbook Giveaway on My 100th Post!

To mark my blog's 100th post, I'm giving away the
Assumption HS79 Cookbook, 
The PEARL Edition, to one lucky winner! 

This cookbook is a compilation of 202 favorite recipes contributed by members of 
Assumption College San Lorenzo High School class of 79.
All you have to do is leave a comment after this post!
Winner will be chosen by noon of Nov 15, Manila time. 
That's less than a week!
The book will be mailed to you anywhere in the Philippines.
(okay, United States included too since I have a sil leaving next week and
she can probably hand carry one to the nearest US post office!)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Manila Sunset

I usually write about places far from home, another country or another province--not usually about Manila, because well, maybe I take it for granted. But on days when the weather is nice and cool, 
and in the company of good friends, I am reminded how nice it is to just be here. 
We had just taken off from the yacht club on Manila Bay, for a sunset cruise. 
This is the view looking back at Roxas boulevard.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Picking Pumpkins at Hacklebarney Farm

 Semestral break is one of the few times in the year when all the cousins in different schools are off school at the same time. When my father-in-law learns that all the grandchildren have more than a week off, he immediately plans a trip!

This particular trip a couple of years back started off in the US east coast and we were able to  catch the last week of pumpkin picking at  Hacklebarney Farm in Chester, New Jersey.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I Am Love

I've been so busy with local-ongoings that I've been keeping in touch with the world out there through the internet and blogs. One of my favorite local blogs, Chuvaness, keeps me abreast with the latest that's happening in the local scene.  The author of the blog, Cecile, is smart and witty, and she has about 20,000 to 30,000 readers a day--approximately 29,980 more than mine!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Looking for Nice Lockers?

Lockers have become stylish over the past decade 
because of the proliferation of high end spas. 
Most clubs have upgraded to wooden lockers, and steel lockers are usually 
now only found in the most functional settings like gyms, schools and offices. 
But for lifestyle-type applications, these are some of those I saw online.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Gelateria del Teatro, Rome

It isn't flashy like other gelaterias. In fact, it's tucked into a little side street off the lovely Via dei Coronari, the antique street of Rome--which I just happened to find it quite by accident! 

But since Gelateria del Teatro in Rome always appears in the shortlist of "best gelaterias in Rome",
I recognized the name immediately. 
The low-key, antique-y looking sign attracted me.

Monday, October 11, 2010

10 Fun Things for Kids to do in Honolulu!

My friend Anna is in Honolulu with her family and three little daughters 
so I'm listing the ten things my girls like to do when we're there. 
My girls are now 8 and 9.  

Honolulu is not about flash and theme park glitz. 
I love Honolulu because it has that relaxed "retro" feel of simpler days when all one needed 
to soothe the soul was great weather, nature, and fresh air. 
But while the adults are soaking up the "relax" vibe, kids might be getting antsy. 
Here is a list of ten unplugged things for them to do in Honolulu.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Walk Down Via dei Coronari

When I commented on the sepia ink on this pen and ink sketch, the "artist"  at Piazza Navona told me I could get it, really cheap, at a store  at the end of the Via dei Coronari. I dutifully walked towards the direction he was pointing, hoping to buy a little bottle of sepia ink so that I could make my own sepia sketches on this trip...

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lunch in St. Francis' town, Italy

We arrived in Assisi at lunch time, and headed straight to Ristorante San Francesco right in front of the church. With its fabulous location, it's probably a very touristy restaurant.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Theodore Hotel, Tagaytay

The Theodore hotel is a 6-room inn that's relatively new. As of now, it's only open on weekends. They wouldn't allow me to take pictures of the other bedrooms--only of the bedroom that's featured on their brochure and website. 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pamana Restaurant, Tagaytay

In the past few years, a number of new establishments have sprouted up in Tagaytay again. Pamana is a fairly new restaurant on the ridge owned by a lady named Happy Ongpauco, who belongs to the family that owns Barrio Fiesta, the Singing Cooks and Waiters Restaurant and a few more others (really good Filipino food). Here on the ridge. they have Pamana and Hawaiian BBQ, and also a 7-bedroom inn called The Boutique.

Toscana Farms, Silang

On the way to Nasugbu this week, I was finally able to stop by the Toscana Farms kiosk in Silang. I never stopped by before because aside from it being on the 'going home' part of the road,  we would zoom  by it before I'd have a chance to say "hey, let's stop there..."

Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Ladies' Lunch

Pumpkin Bisque with hint of Curry 

This beautifully catered lunch took place a few months back in the home of a good friend. I happened to have my camera with me and decided to document each course as it was served (except for the appetizers which were gone by the time I remembered I had my camera). Our host,  Crickette, is the epitome of style. She is always impeccably and stylishly dressed, and she entertains with effortless elegance.  Take a look at this wonderful lunch she had prepared for us in her home.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Kings Camp, Timbavati Game Reserve

I still get occasional emails from Kings Camp, keeping me up to date on what's happening in that part of the world. The emailed newsletter comes every few months--just enough to make me recall fond memories of the trip and look back at the pictures in my iPhoto library every now and then. The safari was a detour on the way home from Cape Town, in South Africa, where we attended a conference.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Of Crabs and Cookbooks

The other day my neighbor texted me to ask me if I wanted to buy fresh live crab. Her regular crab vendor (yes, she has one!) was there and still had a few crabs left. Now, even if the kids and I love crab, I never cook it at home. My mother-in-law makes the best crab for Sunday lunches, and my own mom will occasionally have Thanh Long style crab at Sunday dinners. Between the two moms, my kids are I are crab-spoiled.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Chandelier or Lustre?

I've always loved chandeliers. If I could, I would have one in every room in the house. Right now I only have one in my dining room. After moving some furniture around yesterday, I realized I could hang small one in the den and maybe in the foyer too! This one above is from the Vernaison market in Saint Ouen flea market in Paris. I'm so excited!  The hunt begins.

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Doors of Italy

I love everything about wooden front doors in Italy--the paneled wood, the ventilating grill above, the brass kickplate below, the knobs/knockers/handles. Most of these pictures were taken in different towns of Umbria, and some in Rome. I have lots more but got dizzy uploading them.
Enjoy these...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Peninsula, Shanghai vs. the World Expo

Luxurious was the word.  The air-conditioned lobby was a welcome intermission  between the events of the day, a perfect break from the heat and humidity outside. And even if you can't really compare it to the bigger and more impressive lobbies of its sister properties in Hong Kong or Manila, it was quite sufficient. In the evening, the public areas are all nicely lit. Whoever designed this hotel has a thing for low key lighting and I believe it makes all the difference.

Monday, August 9, 2010

To the Coolest...

Happy Birthday Coolio!

I guess you've left disco behind and are now on to Justin Bieber. From now on I think you're going to teach us what dance music is, instead of the other way around. I loved your 7th birthday party last year--which you planned all by yourself. You invited a dozen of your best girlfriends to a disco party at home.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Shanghai Xiao Long Bao


I first discovered Xiao Long Bao in 2002. We were staying at the Four Seasons hotel in Shanghai on a fun trip with 3 other couples and someone in our group had asked the bell captain where we could get  really good xiao long bao, a flavorful pork dumpling with soup inside. The hotel staffer directed us to his favorite cafeteria a couple of minutes' walk from the hotel. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

No Blogspot from Shanghai

We just got back from Shanghai.  Perhaps it's because of the Shanghai World Expo that just opened in May, but it seemed like everyone and their grandmother was in Shanghai!
 At Xin Tian Di, after dinner stroll

We had dinner on a Thursday evening at a restaurant in a mall beside Xin Tian Di, the famous leisure street. It was quite crowded for a Thursday night-- but it was nothing compared to the crowd the next day at Nanjing road, the pedestrian shopping street. It didn't help that it was also extremely hot at 38 degrees, so it wasn't very comfortable to be walking the streets with the crowd. The only other time I was in Shanghai was in March some 8 years ago, and the weather was much more pleasant than it was now.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Floors at the Vatican Museums

I'd been to the Vatican Museum a couple of times in the past: once as a teenager when my parents took the whole family to Europe, and then again when I was in college, on a month-long art course to Italy.

Friday, July 23, 2010

When Old Becomes New

The "before" picture

These are our dining chairs--or more accurately, these were what our dining chairs looked like before. Underneath that baby blue layer of paint is solid narra (Philippine mahogany) wood.  When I first saw these chairs, I had a hard time visualizing them in our house, but I saw potential in the fluted legs and the mother-of-pearl inlay on the cross rail. Proportions were not bad either on this typical Federal style dining chair. We rescued 12 of these chairs from hubby's bodega.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sitio Remedios, Ilocos Norte

Last summer the family drove up north from Manila to Ilocos. A ten-hour drive. We prepared the kids by saying the trip was as long as a plane ride to Hawaii, but easier since we could stop along the way. They were happy with that, brought a ton of books in the car with us,  and behaved all throughout the trip! We stayed in Vigan, but also visited Laoag all the way up to Pagudpud stopping by all the little towns in between.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Collecting Candlesticks

I love these sterling candlesticks I got on Ebay. I like setting the table with candles when I entertain but the kids get mesmerized and play with the melting wax leaving the coffee and dining table in a big mess! Instead of nagging them to stop playing with the wax every time we have guests, I decided to solve it at the source and keep melting wax out of reach.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

One Long Table

I love the idea of long-table seating as opposed to round table seating. I think a long table is much more intimate--you can talk to the person on your left, on your right, and the person right in front of you.. The people also diagonally across you can also be included in the conversation. The setting has a way of engaging all the guests.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Study Room

On my long list of to-do's is fixing up the study room of the girls (before they graduate from high school--haha).  I haven't really paid attention to it in the past year, so things are dumped there with regularity that it is now a stockroom of sorts.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Allure of a Gallery Wall

I love the look of a gallery wall--it's casual, relaxed, intimate. I definitely like it more than one big painting. With a gallery wall, there are so many "stories" that can be told, making it much more interesting.

The current post on this blog reminded me that I have to hang up my frames. I have nothing up on the walls yet after being in this house for a year now, plus I have 4 or 5 places where I can create these art walls.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Do You Own a Garden Stool?


It's versatile and it adds a punch of color. These Chinese garden stools have been around us so long that I've never really paid attention to them. Doesn't help either that I only remember them in blue and white or glazed green.


Then since a couple of years back, they kept appearing in shelter magazines and in design blogs. They were being used for everything else but the garden.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Warm versus Cool

This is what I had in mind for the bathroom renovation. I'm only looking at the marble counter color and the contrasting white cabinets. I've always liked Emperador dark brown because it's "old world". So naturally, to get a nice light effect, I was going to pair it with white tiled walls and an beige tiled floor.

The look of white cabinets, after having dark or beige ones, is a refreshing change and will create a major impact. It also works the other way around. If you're tired of your white cabinets, do wood grain in modern straight lines. it'll be a welcome change. Going from dark to light, and from light to dark--It's all just a cycle.

 I totally love this cool blue-grey look

Anyway, mom mentioned that she really likes her blue-grey towels and bathmats and wants to continue using that color for a looong time. Ooops, that's a totally different color temperature. Here I was  thinking of something warm, and she was thinking of something cool (but didn't express it that way).  So much for "communicating with your client".  Blue accessories desired, therefore it shall be a cool color scheme!

I would never think of blue for me because I just naturally gravitate to warmer colors--yellows, mustard, ochre, burnt sienna, beiges, etc. After some online image research I see the possibilities. It really looks cool and relaxing. The walls in this bathroom look like Carrara marble while here they call it Kolakata marble (one supplier called it that, and spelled it that way too). I know Romblon marble looks just like it too. I would use it sparingly though, just for the countertops and maybe baseboards, otherwise the bathroom might looks like a mauseleum!

We will be able to fit in a dressing counter with an upholstered stool underneath so it will be nice to play with a print similar to this, and slip-covered with white terrycloth.

And this above is very similar to the layout of the current bathroom. Looks very promising. So it's decided,  everything will just be a cool white and the accent colors will be the towels, bathmats and other accessories.  If I use a rainshower, we might not even need a door, so it will just be open. For a woman's bathroom though, I prefer an adjustable-height telephone shower on a bar, for those days that you want a quick shower without having to shampoo your hair (the guys don't get this concept).

blue photos are from here.

Now to scout for some chrome faucets and lighting fixtures.  I already have some in mind.


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