I think I spoke too soon about the snow..

because we had some yesterday although it had turned to rain by last night.  The sky looks like there’s more to come because the sun should be up high by now but the cloud cover is just too think.

So I’ve been making good use of my newly bought snow boots.. actually, winter boots that can double as snow boots. =)

I had more e-mails to write and answer last night which led to zero blog posts, plus I’m trying to complete the first profile of a batchmate whose blog is on my blogroll.  (Save the drumroll and fanfare for later when the article is up.)

I have two more articles to write, one of which weighs heavily on my heart but which I really want to produce ASAP because of the urgency of the situation. 

I’m grateful for those who have been writing comments despite the absence of new posts.. I’m not going anywhere.

The things on my plate..

Sometimes I wonder if I’m trying to do too many things all at the same time.  I go to work five days a week, I am trying to run a household, raise a two-year-old tyke who is outgrowing me faster than I hope to teach him about life, I have these little projects.. my scrapbooks, my blogs, a song I’m trying to write, the website I’m putting together, the eZINE we’re pulling together..  Then again, I tell myself life is short — I have been never one to wait for the “right time” because to me, “the time” is always Now.

I’m trying to find the words to put a friend’s story together.  Her son has been struck by leukemia and she needs our batch’s help to help her family through the financial challenge this is posing for them.  I know that when the inspiration hits me, the words will come. 

I had hoped to work on the scrapbook this weekend but I did not even touch the layouts I was supposed to piece together for lack of time to sit down to do it.  (Blame it on JERICHO’s first episodes which I watched all weekend online.) 

I’m happy I got to bake, try out some new dishes for the family and just relax this weekend. 

I heard what appeared to be the pitter patter of rain on the window.  I didn’t look out to see how things were until I heard what was like a snow plow drive past our house.  I was shocked to see that so much snow had fallen.  This is going to be a tough commute tomorrow.

I’m just happy and content to be lying next to my boy here.  I’ll write that story just yet and finish that song.. all in time.

I wish it were a Sunny Sunday..

.. but it’s not.  So we’re making the most of it by just taking things easy at home.  Father and son are locked in an embrace on the couch taking their afernoon nap.  I just finished whipping up some dough for banana bread which I’m afraid I might’ve grossly damaged by adding twice as much mashed bananas as I should’ve.  It’s more banana than bread, but with a house full of banana lovers, I’m sure they’ll take it even if it’s not quite the usual consistency.

Mom’s sat down to watch a Bollywood movie on AZN.  It opened with an MTV style number with two pop artists talking about their love for their motherland.  I told Mommy it looks like an action movie and I am trying to figure out how they will be able to put in a song and dance number as they do in practically all their movies.  She realized it was a replay so she went back to bed to rest.

I only have one more errand to do and I’m good.  I have to do the grocery.  I can’t believe I’m out of sugar — that can’t happen if I’m baking!  I already have a stash of carrots in the fridge for another carrot cake I can make during the week.  While I was mixing the banana bread batter, I couldn’t help but wonder if I’d be doing this if I were back home in Manila.  With Red Ribbon, Goldilocks and the many other bakeries there, buying baked treats from one would be so much easier.  But I enjoy baking and I find it therapeutic.  There’s a different sense of fulfillment when I come up with something from scratch.

I almost succumbed to buying ready-mix bread batter at Target yesterday, but I pulled away and decided I loved the carrot cake I did last week, and I can still improve on that.  (I substituted the vanilla extract with pandan extract and kept the cinnamon to a minimum).  The recipe was moist and just right — it stayed fresh until midweek.

Time to check my banana bread and do some scrapbook layouts.  (Yes, I haven’t quite abandoned that..=)  I love the smell permeating the house just now.. it smells of the promise of a good snack later on.

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E-mailing like crazy

I’ve been catching up on the episodes of JERICHO the past two nights, and I even stayed up until almost 3AM Friday morning to watch half the season.  I’m hooked.  That was one reason I wasn’t able to do any posts here, the other reason being that I’ve been e-mailing like crazy since Friday, trying to pull together articles for the eZINE of my batch website.

It’s quite a challenge trying to conduct interviews long distance via e-mail.  But I think I’ve been doing well so far.  The ask ahead now is to actually write those articles.  It has also helped ease the burden when others volunteered to help take care of some of the articles we were thinking of writing.

I try not to get too caught up with e-mail because I haven’t quite insulated myself from the disappointment of not getting an immediate reply, primarily because I answer my e-mails promptly.  (Well at least I try to..)

At least I’m getting my responses, so I am happy.. but now I’m really sleepy.. and there are all these sub-clips of the show I MUST watch!

Blog Withdrawal

My blog server was down for maintenance last night so I wasn’t able to access the blog at all. So the three or four posts I wanted to publish last night disappeared into thin air.  There’s just something about not being to blog when you feel like writing.  It was a momentary blog withdrawal.

The server is back up and so am I.  The wind is howling outside and I have a good mind to request to stay home but I don’t really feel like cooping myself up here.  The connection is bound to get affected by the wind and I can always request to go home early because of bad weather.  What’s more, the boss isn’t around today, so it’s a good day to just pass the time in the office cleaning up.

Yesterday was a pretty busy day that saw me relieved that it was time to go home by 5:30PM.  It’s always a task to pull a meeting together between the heavyweights whose calendars are no different from my boss’s.  I have one more meeting I need to pull of today and I can rest easy next week.  I’ve kept to my little corner, steering clear of possible aggravation.

My neighbor who assists one of my boss’s direct reports has this habit of relying on me for step-by-step instructions to do everything, and the last time I tried to help her, one of the managers in their department practically chewed my head off.  I can understand disagreeing with colleagues, but I believe that there are rules and parameters for hostility and aggression.  It got so bad that when the boss and I started sending each other instant messages on the internal chat facility we have, he must’ve sensed there was something wrong he called me and conferenced the manager in.

Even with him on the other end of the line, the hostility from the manager did not end although it became more restrained in a very pronounced manner.  In the end the argument ended when the boss cut through all the issues and told the manager the end result of not complying with corporate policy on a contract he was being asked to sign off on.  The dust settled. 

I felt so drained not so much because I was put on the defensive because in truth, I was not.  I just didn’t have enough energy to explain why requirements were requirements, and that these were corporate procedures I had given the manager’s department ample warning about.  This manager wasn’t even my boss’s direct report.  She was one of the minions who felt like she was the smartest in the group.  Perhaps she was — but that did not give her reason to talk down to others who obviously knew the procedure better than she did.

So that neighbor of mine was asking me something about the same issue yesterday, and I knew my non-involvement will not spell the end of that engagement.  It did, however, ensure being shielded from any further hostility.  I simply said I don’t know.. I am not the best person to ask, and I don’t want to get into trouble with them anymore.  Period.

Somehow that felt good.  I managed to tell them off without firing a single shot.  I didn’t even raise my voice.

Time to hit the shower.. the boys are still asleep in the bedroom.  Meanwhile, I have to start getting ready for work.


Trying Hard Baker

I’m killing time posting here while waiting for my carrot cake to bake.  It’s 10 past 11PM, and my arms are aching from grating carrots.  What was I thinking?!

I came home and cooked dinner only to discover we were out of bread.  I have been mulling about baking some carrot cake since last week, that’s why I have the carrots and the cinnamon.  I figured I had to make the carrot cake tonight so the grandmas have something to munch on tomorrow for merienda. There are other things to snack on, but I don’t feel right leaving the house knowing they only had one serving each of bread to eat.  Alan was happy to know he had something to look forward to for breakfast tomorrow.

I grated the carrot by hand because I have had a bad experience getting my food processor to do it right when I need some texture in whatever I’m processing.  I figured I couldn’t go wrong doing it myself.  I didn’t — it’s just that I didn’t realize it would be the most tedious part of making the cake.

I had been searching for an easy enough carrot cake recipe and had landed here and decided I would try this one primarily because the shortening it used was vegetable oil instead of butter which I was running short of.  The fact that the vegetable oil was better than real butter hit me as an added plus much later.

I have a ready tub of cream cheese frosting in the pantry, but I’ll save that for individual servings.  The grandmas might prefer it without.

I think I’ll save the pistachio macarrons for the weekend.  Another project that needs some tedious preparation, but the francophile in me says it should be a breeze.

24 years ago and counting..

It has been 24 years since I left high school and went on to the more exciting world of college and the real world eventually — and next year we are the high school silver jubilarians of St. Paul College of Quezon City.  It makes me feel old and at the same time makes me feel young when I see how many of my batchmates have aged so gracefully.  It gives new meaning to the saying age is but a number.

Some batchmates put up an e-group just as I arrived in New York 7 years ago, and although we have been hard put to organize ourselves here on this side of the world, the e-group with its members largely based in Manila  has provided a platform for us to reminisce about the past, share with each other the things that keep us busy these days — and we have fostered a sense of community that is more akin to a sisterhood between women who had grown up together through our formative years.

Life has way of sweeping us away and it is always a struggle to stay connected with our friends of old, although I have managed to succeed in that despite the distance — as a group, we have been more or less “quiet” except for a few get-togethers in the previous years.  Things are stirring up back home, though, given that we are tasked with preparing for the next homecoming.  It’s an exciting and heartwarming time as we find ourselves renewing ties with those we had lost touch with.

We’ve come to that point in our lives when some of us cannot remember everyone in the batch anymore.  After all, there were 300+ of us then.  There are around 30 of us here in the US, and a similar sized group of  local batchmates are actively organizing get-togethers and fundraisers back home.

Some of us have married and and some have become single again.. some have chosen to stay single.. there are many mothers among us — there is a big group of career women.. and we count doctors, lawyers, artists, models, businesswomen and many stay-at-home moms among us.  It’s a very diverse group of Filipinas who spent at least four years with the Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres in that campus bordered by Gilmore, Third Street, Hemady and Aurora Boulevard.  At least a third of us had spent the 7 years prior to that in St. Paul College of Pasig.  In a very literal and real sense, we were childhood friends.

There are some who have passed on.. one of the more recent ones had waged a battle against cancer four years ago.  I even managed to see her when I came home in 2002.  She has since passed away and it still makes me wistful when I work on the old pictures we are now posting in the batch website’s password protected albums and I see her and those others who had passed away.  One of our batchmates finished Dentistry and managed to top the Dentistry Licensure exams the year she took it — she, too, waged a battle with cancer and succumbed to it eventually.

Not all of us have had the same measure of success in life, as we each have our own story to tell.  But all of us have evolved into different persons and stayed the same in some ways through the years.  It is such a joy to go back to the memories of yesterday now that we have our own children, some of whom are studying with the same nuns who gave us the foundation upon which we made our decisions in our adult lives.

We’re counting down to that day when we can all get together and celebrate the 25 years that have passed since.  We sang a graduation song I composed for the batch, a song that some can no longer remember, but which some still remember to the last refrain.  I’m trying to write a counterpoint to the song to bridge the years in between.  It’s been a slow process drawing out the inspiration, but with all the memories to draw it from, it has not been lacking.

The old song went:

Remember all the places.. the jokes and the funny faces..
All the things we used to do, things that were part of me and you.
And it’s so hard to say goodbye, after all that we’ve been through
to hope that things won’t change between us is all that I can do
I’ll miss you when you go (when you go)
It won’t be easy I know
But at least I’ll have the memories that you have made with me.
You’ve come to be such a part of me
That I can’t help but cry
And so I give to you these memories before I say goodbye

The new song hasn’t gone quite that far but I have the first two lines which I keep singing over and over in my head.

Has it really been that long since we last said hello?
It seems as if you were just here not so long ago..

I’ll finish it in time..

Back from a long weekend..

I’ve been writing a post the last two days that just isn’t getting any closer to being published.  So I think I will set that aside for now until the time and emotion is right.  A year ago on President’s Day, something happened in our family which changed a lot of things.  We’ve moved on and we’re better off after all that has happened.  In some ways, it’s been a relief — and we’ve tried to deal with any leftover bumps that still come our way.

Meanwhile, the weekend was quiet.. cold but quiet.  We stayed home and tried to make the most of the times we could go out — Angel nursed a temperature at the start of the three day weekend but he is bouncing back as always.

I’m nursing a cold, too, but I’m beginning to feel better.  I’m here, lurking in the shadows..


Roast Chicken for Sunday Lunch

It seems of late that I’ve been rushing through so many things.  Today is a good day to take things slow and just relax.  I would’ve normally whipped up a fancy breakfast but I woke up at 9AM, and only because my Mom went into the room and woke me up because Angel didn’t want to eat breakfast if I wasn’t the one feeding him.  So there I was trying not to miss his mouth as I spoon fed him his oatmeal breakfast, until I finally had my eyes open wide enough to make coffee for Alan and myself.

I made him some sausage and eggs and I settled for a microwaved cheese sandwich.  I sat down through breakfast and my morning cappuccino checking up on e-mail.  I didn’t really get the chance to post because before I knew it, it was 11AM and time to prepare lunch.  My project this Sunday was Robert Arbor’s Roast Chicken from his book Joie de Vivre which I’ve been meaning to do for a while now. 

The recipe itself is simple enough, and I believe doable on an Electrolux Turbo broiler, too.  (Note to self: E-mail this to Abril, my brother, who loves his turbo broiler back home.)  It takes around 20 minutes to prepare the dish and then an hour and a half to make sure you don’t undercook the chicken, so give yourself two hours’ lead time if you want to try this.

I also learned that being too cautious with the seasoning can lead to a very bland but well textured and moist chicken — so be generous with the seasoning.  You might also want to put in more garlic for a stronger flavor.  Enjoy!


Salt and pepper to taste
Paprika to taste
1 fresh, free range chicken, about 3 lbs
4 cloves garlic or to taste
Pinch of Herbes de Provence (thyme, bay, rosemary, oregano)
1 slice stale bread
Olive oil, butter or duck fat
1 bunch of carrots, about 8, with greens intact to ensure freshness
* I’d count two sticks per serving to make a good side
2 medium yellow onions
2 Roma tomatoes, fresh and whole
1 glass white wine (8-10 ozs) – optional

Preheat oven to 375 degress.

Place salt, pepper, and paprika inside the chicken cavity.  Add one or two cloves of garlic and herbes de Provence.  Replace liver, heart, and gizzards in cavity if you eat them.  Rub the stale bread with one clove of garlic and stuff it in the cavity.

Don’t bother to tie or truss the chicken.  Simply push the chicken back into shape and tuck wing tips under the bird.

Rub the skin of the chicken with the fat of your choice — olive oil, butter (Pinay New Yorker’s choice), or duck fat.  Season the outside with the same herbs you stuffed the chicken with if you wish.

In a low-sided pan that has been lightly rubbed with oil, place the following: the seasoned chicken; the carrots (greens removed, peeled but whole)l the onions (cut in half then into 4 wedges, and then cut across into 1/8 inch strips); the tomatoes (cored and cut into 4 wedges each); one clove of garlic.

Cook for at least 1 hour and until juice from a pricked thigh runs clear.  It is not bad to cook this chicken a little longer than necessary, but it is awful to undercook chicken.  You do not need to baste.

Bring the remaining juice in the pan to a boil.  Add salt and ppeper and deglaze with a glass of water (or white wine).  When the liquid boils and reduces a bit, pour it into a sauceboat and serve witht he chicken and vegetables.

Variations:  Use fresh tarragon when preparing the chicken and add chopped fresh tarragon to the sauce.  You could add butter or cream at the end of the sauce making for a richer taste.

More than the flavor, I enjoyed using this cooking method with the stale bread in the cavity and flavoring, etc.  I will definitely make it more tasteful next time by not being overly cautious with the seasoning.  I just didn’t want anything too spicy or sharp in the chicken.  The skin was crisp and the meat very juicy.. yummy, yummy, yummy!