Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sweets: The Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award

     As a newbie blogger, I have the whole blogosphere to learn from in maintaining my little blog. It is one of the things that perks up my day, and preserves my sense of self after a stressful day of earning my keep.

     More than personal fulfillment, knowing that there is an added dimension on how you can reconnect with and touch another person's life is wonderful and rewarding. Getting a validation like The Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award is just another version of receiving a wonderful gift of a guilt-free cream cheese frosting on the wonderful cupcake of life. So...

     1. Thank and link back to the person that gave this award:

  • MyMommyology, thank you for your wonderful insights on motherhood that I know your family and friends (and hope) Dada D, Sam, and Jamie will appreciate in the years to come. Here's to the first title on the bestseller list! :D

     2. Share four guilty pleasures that you have:

     Guilty Pleasure #1: Dark chocolate.    

     To me, dark chocolate is accessible, affordable, healthy, enjoyable "gold." The Aztecs would have indulged in this from the cacao plant in its purest form, and not even as milk chocolate. Ahh!!! They knew a good thing when they saw one. Even RenĂ©e Zellweger's character, Barbara Novak in the movie Down with Love has high praises for it too, although, it's chocolates in general. It does not hurt that in moderation, it's good for the heart too!   

     Guilty Pleasure #2: Massages.

     Pampered from head to foot, smelling clean and fresh afterward. The stress relieved from your tired, aching body. All because you love (your family) and would like to give the best of yourself to them. That one hour or so of having nothing in the world matter but you, connecting with yourself... and hot chocolate or tea afterward... ahh!!! Heaven!

     Guilty Pleasure #3: Reading Children's books with a cup of frozen yogurt in one hand. ;-)

     In the noise and bustle of everyday life, one of my escapes is to turn the pages of children's books. Mainly to remind me that life can be simple. There is a joy in simple things. There is clarity in simplicity. There is even strength and wisdom at times in meekness and humility. In fact, it starts out simple for everyone, for we all come into this world as children. I think kids are lucky because children live in the simplicity of a very chaotic and confusing world. Aaahhh... may we not lose this child-like view of the world as we go through this life as adults. 

     Guilty Pleasure #4: The Big Bang Theory and The Nanny.

     Even though the TV show The Nanny has stopped airing, I love the character's take on life.  Fran Fine's positive outlook turns trouble into opportunity. But my favorites are Niles the butler and C.C. Babcock's delicious, smackdown repartees. As for the Big Bang Theory, I love the way the show has turned the world on it's head by making smart people shine and stand out!
     3. Pass the award along to 6 other Sweet Bloggers:
     a. The Chef's Wife: Her blog on life in the land down under is what inspired me to start my own blog. She was a schoolmate in elementary and high school, and is mother to Kat, Zechy, Hannah and superwoman wife to Mr. K. 
     b. Catharsis: Transplanted from the Philippines, this mom shares her life lessons on her introspective blog.
     c.  Because Candy Says So: Candy's blog reflects her personality. It's all glitz and glam without being over the top. It's a look at a slice of life from Manila's fashion forward and stylish people.

     d. Market Manila has got to be one of the blogs I follow in my "must read list." It is a good reference for people who are just venturing into the wonderful world of the kitchen, and it is a haven for foodies and gourmands alike. It's insightful, simple and deliciously wicked in making you appreciate everything that goes into food more. Not to mention that MM's feeding program is always a double thumbs-up in my book.

     e.Not Just Minerals: This site is wonderful if I would just like to keep abreast with what's available for "girly-girl" days, thanks to a make-up loving SAHM. :-)

     f.  Dessert Comes First: Lori Baltazar's food blog is a sweet treat without the guilt. Plus, I love her photos. She's a no-nonsense writer that would make you look at desserts and food in a different wonderful way.

** I would like to share this award too with Soccermomof4boys who's witty, entertaining and insightful blog often leaves me in happy giggles.

©CherWriter 2011.02.23

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Mise en Place: Oven Toaster Pizzas

      Have you racked your brains over left-over food in the refrigerator? Have you ever had to hit a panic button over the sudden arrival of guests at your house with nothing ready or suitable to offer them for food? I have on a number of occasions, and thankfully, one of the things that have come out of the kitchen is my take on oven toaster pizzas.

     It's a good thing you can do a bunch of these ahead of time and stick these in the freezer, wrapped in freezer or just ordinary clean plastic bags and just pop them into the toaster for a quick food fix. :-)

What you will need:

Ready made tortilla or pizza dough
Left over spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, or store bought pizza sauce
Grated cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, Parmesan, or whatever is in the pantry)
Oregano / Basil (dried or fresh) (Optional)
Your choice of toppings (leftover from breakfast, or again, whatever is the orphan in your ref or pantry). Here are some of my suggestions:
 -- Salami
 -- Spam
 -- Hotdogs
 -- Pepperoni
 -- Green / red bell peppers
 -- Pineapple tidbits
 -- Onions
 -- Sliced tomatoes
 -- Roast chicken

  1. Thaw tortillas if frozen.
  2. Place a little pizza sauce on the dough, working your way from the center outwards to near the edge of the tortilla.
  3. Add oregano / basil if using.
  4. Sprinkle cheese.
  5. Add toppings.
  6. Place in toaster oven and cook to preferred doneness.
  7. Enjoy with friends!
One of the three pizza variations I did this afternoon. Yum!

©CherWriter 2011.02.20

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Eco Echoes: Typhoon Ondoy Makes Muntinlupa See Green

     (Note: This entry is inspired by both MyMommyology and O.C.Mominmanila's recent entries. Thank you, ladies!)

     I think O.C.Mominmanila's blog post on MyMommyology's recycling efforts is very timely because there was a recent television news report saying that since January 18, 2011, Muntinlupa City has enforced City Ordinance No. 10-109.

     In essence, the ordinance puts a ban on the use of plastic bags and styrofoam materials as packaging for wet and dry goods in palengkes (wet markets), groceries, and other establishments. The news report further said that even a gigantic mall and fast food chains like McDonald's are changing the packaging for their Muntinlupa branches to comply with the ordinance (Why not in other areas in the country as well? It would be good for the environment, anyway, right?)

     I am proud that at least one city in Metro Manila has had the courage to propose a law like this a year after typhoon Ondoy (international name: Ketsana) devastated much of Metro Manila with the worst flooding record in history, and have it passed and implemented a year after. You can see photos of a clean-up project a few friends and I did right after the flooding  in Provident Village, Marikina here and here. (Mahalo, Mike E! :-) )

     I think Muntinlupa is only ranked 5th in terms of land area among the cities that make up the metropolitan region. Nonetheless, what it has done by way of this ordinance is a very laudable move in leaving  gigantic positive tracks towards eco-friendly living. It isn't easy to get people to follow and really live their lives thinking of how to save the planet and care for the environment because the use of plastics and styrofoam products have just been second nature to this generation at least.

     Sometimes, on the way to work, I see trashcans on the sidewalk clearly marked for the city's effort's for garbage segregation and sadly see people beside it, unmindful of the markings and just throwing their garbage into any trashcan
(Pet peeve alert! While it is pitiable practice, I would take that over inconsiderate people throwing their cigarette butts and candy wrappers on the sidewalks or plant boxes even if they are already standing beside trash cans.)

     Admittedly, the practice of bringing reusable bags to the malls still takes getting used to, and personally, I think I need to remember to do it more often. We also reuse plastic bags here at home. Though we do not sort the bags by color or type or designate a particular type of bag for a particular use, it feels good to give these plastic bags more than one use.

      Think about the humble bayong. It is literally the quintessential FILIPINO MARKET BASKET. I grew up seeing this used by my grandmas whenever they went to the market. It was also packed into the car on long trips out of town to carry mostly kitchen essentials. It is basically a sturdy, reusable woven mat traditionally made of buri palm strips. Some modern bayongs are made out of plastic strips instead of buri palm for recycling efforts.

Traditional Philippine bayong made of buri leaves


Modern bayong

Modern bayong detail, made of plastic
laminated food labels / packaging

      With the adaptation of the grab-and-go lifestyle, that symbol of rural, peasant living, the bayong, came into disuse. The prevalence of plastics and the "disposable lifestyle" then became the norm. Sadly, today we face the problems of lack of landfills and sanitation problems because our garbage has caught up and is threatening to overtake our lives. Please, God forbid, that another Typhoon Ondoy tragedy strikes the city, or any other part of the country, what with the crazy global weather nowadays.

     Though some may argue that it may be a case of too little, too late, I do not agree. I think every little bit helps. I hope the bigger cities like Quezon City would follow suit. Maybe we can overlook the small gripes people are likely to vent out once a program like this is implemented. Think about the money the city can generate in savings from better working drainage systems, less ecological waste, less flooding problems, less people displaced from their homes during typhoon season, better health for city residents, and all of this credited to whoever is the current city mayor. A crowning achievement in local government administration, all because a typhoon named Ondoy came with a fury and such a force to drive home a lesson in caring for the environment.

©CherWriter 2011.02.19

Monday, February 7, 2011

Writing Exercise No. 1: The Pizza Delivery Guy!

    WD Writing Prompt: Create a character that has an unusual phobia. Write a scene that causes that character to face his fear.

Pizza! Hot ! Fresh! Pizza!

   She hated being in this predicament. What she hated more was admitting this to herself. Rationalizing, she tried to be stern and chided herself for her behavior. Face her fear! Grab the bull by the horn! Go! Surely, every adult on this earth surely must have one type of fear or another, was it? In fact, she thought, it's probably one of those things that make people unique in their own way.

     She continued to stand there, immobile. Her hands twisting and clutching at her blouse so tight, that one of the buttons started to become loose. Her legs twisted; her feet, digging into the threadbare carpet.

     It was not going to be that hard, she told herself. But she could not help but be angry with her nanny for leaving her all alone. Why today of all days did she have to leave for town? Her long time nanny knew very well that she couldn’t cook. And while she knew that it was out of her nanny’s concern why she found herself in this predicament, she still couldn’t help but be angry.

     They were moving tomorrow so movers had taken away all the furniture in the house earlier. The paper plates and cups were on the kitchen table. All that was missing was the food they’d be having until tomorrow morning. If only her nanny delayed her departure until the man at the door got there, she would have done okay.

     Her stomach growled as the doorbell rang for the third time. With a great effort, she spoke tentatively from behind the door.

     “Who is it?” she asked.
     “Pizza delivery, ma’am! Please open the door.”
     “Could you find a way to slide the pizza through the door, please?”
     “You want me to do what, ma’am?”
     “Could you find a way to slide the pizza through the door without my having to open it?”
     “I don’t think that would work, ma’am. Your door is flush against the front step. Is your door busted, ma’am?”
     “No. Not really.”
     “Then just please open it, ma’am. I would appreciate it. I still have several deliveries to make. I pay for cold pizzas delivered, you know.”
     “Yes, but I am sorry. I can’t.”
     “What do you mean you can’t?”
     “I have this fear of opening doors.”

     Silence followed. “Well, I can understand that ma’am but I’m not about to pay for a pizza that you ordered and got delivered cold simply because you are afraid of opening the door. It’s easy. It won’t bite. Just gently put your hand on the handle, unlock it and turn it slowly.”

     She'd either starve or just open the door in this predicament. So with a deep breath and one eye closed, she turned the latch and held the cold doorknob with her left hand. Slowly, she turned the knob until the door opened and pulled.

     “Here’s your pizza. That’ll be $10.00.”
     Disbelieving what she just did, all she could do was faint.
     The End.

©CherWriter 2011.02.07

Saturday, February 5, 2011

MOVIE LIBRARY: Kit Kittredge: An American Girl

Movie poster for Kit Kittredge: An American Girl

     It's been months since I last saw a movie in the theater. Not because I've gotten tired of it, in fact, I like watching movies. It's just that at the end of the work day, my feet and brain's homing devices are locked on HOME.

     Today, being down with fever, I had the opportunity to scan what's on the TV. I did a double run through of the channels on cable and other than a rerun of National Geographic's Great Migrations series, nothing else interested me. Randomly, I punched out numbers on the remote control and saw credits for a just concluded HBO movie. So, I decided to check out the next feature film.

     In the opening credits, I thought it was just going to be another period movie, what with the 1930s~1940s feel and memorabilia being shown. I even hardly glanced at the screen, while trying to get comfortable and scheduling my next round of meds. What caught my eye though was that shot of an old camera propped against a wall. I thought... "Hmmm.... what an old camera... nice prop!"  Next, I heard the unmistakable tap of typewriter keys being punched. That sound made me nostalgic of the time I was still in school and was still using typewriters to do my reports. Ahhh... the rhythmic typewriter tap... Definitely music to my ears. That made me stop, sit up straight on the bed and pay attention. Little did I know that that camera and typewriter set me up for one of the best movies for kids that I have seen.

     Have you ever noticed that amount of cussing and cursing injected in movies nowadays? I feel dismayed by it. I feel as if the scriptwriter's only way out of writer's block of what to make the characters in a movie say is to pepper the dialogue with expletives and inappropriate language.

     In this movie, thankfully, in the opening scenes, I found the characters dressed up so conservatively and talking in complete, polite sentences charming. I knew then that I would have a reprieve from all the "macho-cursing" and "bully" language present in every other movie in Hollywood.

     The story of Kit Kittredge: An American Girl is about a 10-year old girl living during the Great Depression. She (Abigail Breslin) lives with her mother, Margaret (Julia Ormand) and father Jack (Chris O'Donnell). In her tree house in their backyard, she types up stories of the goings-on in the neighborhood in the hopes of becoming a reporter one day and seeing her stories printed in the Cincinnati Register newspaper.

     As Kit works on fulfilling her dreams, their friends and neighbors' dreams shatter as job losses and home foreclosures increase. Here is where viewers are given a sharp insight into what prejudice and social segregation does in society. I am thankful though that the story shows that while her mother's friends have drawn the line between the haves and have not's, Kit's family have extended a charitable hand and heart to those whose futures have suddenly become bleak.

     As the Depression continues, Kit's family is suddenly torn apart as her father leaves home to find work in Chicago. Left to fend for themselves while her father is away, Kit's mom moves them into the attic and then to the sewing room to accommodate boarders to make ends meet. They share their home with Mr. Berk, a magician (Stanly Tucci), Miss Dooley, a dance instructor (Jane Krakowski), and Miss Bond, a mobile library driver (Joan Cusack).

     Because of hard times, a series of crimes have been committed in the neighborhood, and even Kit's house was not spared. All of these were blamed on hobos who lived in a jungle near the Ohio river. Here she meets hobos Will (Max Thieriot) and Countee a.k.a. Constance (Willow Smith). When the muggings and robberies are pinned on Will, Kit refuses to believe it and sets out to investigate with her friends Stirling (Zach Mills) and Ruthie (Madison Davenport). 

     While I am not really going to divulge the exciting climax, I'll just tell you that what the kids uncover brings the characters in the movie into a new light. The movie also shines a light on true dignity... how it shines in times of adversity, and tells us that with determination, spunk, and keeping her father's words "Don't let it beat you" to heart, any obstacle is surmountable, and any dream can be fulfilled.

     For anyone out there still looking for value laden, wholesome movies, keep a copy of Kit Kittredge: An American Girl in your video library. It can't be beat. ;-)

Rating : 5 Popcorn Tubs 


©CherWriter 2011.02.05


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