Tuesday, January 31, 2012


One of my favorite memories when I went to Jamaica last April was hiking up Dunn's River Falls, a very famous tourist attraction in the Caribbean.

A little trivia that our tour guide shared about Dunn's River Falls is that it served as location shoots for famous Hollywood movies such as Cocktail which starred Tom Cruise, and the first James Bond film, Dr. No.

About 600 feet high, the cascading waterfalls are terraced like giant stair steps, some of which are man-made improvements.  Appropriate footwear is required for climbing Dunn's River Falls.  Water shoes are available for purchase or rental in the area, but I didn't need to worry about that, because Vince and I brought our own.

I was a bit scared to climb up at first.  The water current was strong, and it was not anything like walking on a sandy beach.  The surface was rocky and slippery, and there were no rails to hold on to, so you really have to watch your footing, and if possible, form a hand-holding human chain with the rest of the tour group.  I was glad that Vince was there to push and pull me up and hold me whenever I hesitated. 

I gained more confidence later on the tour as I got the hang of climbing up the waterfalls.  The tour guides were very helpful too, and they made sure that everyone was safe, and at the same time, having fun.  We were dunked into the water; we slid down the falls; we dipped and plunged into the water; we crawled and passed through small lagoons; and we smiled and cheered for the video and camera!

At the end of the hike, a copy of the video and picture prints were available for purchase.  Since we didn't bring enough cash with us, we contented ourselves with buying just one photo for souvenir's sake with printed caption that says, "We survived the World's Famous Dunns River Falls Ocho Rios JA."  To which I say, "Heck yeah!" ☻


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Monday, January 30, 2012


I very recently acquired two kitchen buddies, and today, I am going to introduce you to the first of two:

Tadaaaa!  It's a three-crock slow cooker by GE.  A long-time-online-turned-to-be-in-person-friend visited me about two weeks ago and gave us this wonderful and useful present.  Coincidentally, about a week previous to that, Vince and I were on the mall contemplating of buying a crock pot/slow cooker, but postponed our purchase as we wanted to get something else first, i.e., my other kitchen buddy (which I will talk about in a separate post).  So, you can just imagine how hyped up I was to have received this gift!  Soon after I ripped the wrapper and took the appliance out of the box, I started reading its manual and Vince searched the Internet for recipes.

We saw a lot of recipes, and we thought we'd try Beef Bourguignon first.  However, we couldn't find fresh thyme at Wal-Mart, so we opted to do Cornbread Casserole instead.  The recipe for the casserole called for a variety of ingredients including yellow cornmeal, cream of corn, milk, taco sauce, ground beef, eggs, green chili, and cheese.  I wasn't familiar with this dish (never tried it before), so I wasn't really sure what to expect as an outcome.

In fernez, the recipe is very simple and easy to follow, so I was able to whip it up in a jiffy.  It started cooking in the slow cooker at around 12:30 p.m., and according to the recipe, it should be done in six to seven hours.  Just in time for dinner after we get home from the gym!  The element of surprise and virtue of patience altogether made me more and more excited to find out how the dish would turn out.

I was anxious to go home after working out, but Vince and I stopped by the mall first to buy my other kitchen buddy (which I will introduce in a separate post).  As soon as we got home around past 8:00 p.m., I checked the casserole, and lo and behold, it was steaming and smelling good!  The dish is, in fact, a meat pie,  like shepherd's pie or cottage pie.  "Aaaaahhhh... ganito pala 'to," was my reaction when I took my first bite.  Hehe! (*Aaaaahhhh... so this is what it is*)

For me, the main benefit one can get from a slow cooker is it being a "walk-away kitchen appliance."  All you have to do is prepare the ingredients (some recipes require pre-heating/cooking) and when all is set, you just leave them to cook in the slow cooker.  You can go to work, take a bath, sleep, or do whatever you need to do, and after several hours, you have a wonderful meal that's waiting for you.   Other models and brands have timer functions which can set the cooker to automatically turn off or in warm mode, pretty much the same as what a rice cooker does.

Anyway, Vince finally found thyme at a different grocery store, so you all know what that meant ;)

Oh, and stay tuned to know about my other kitchen buddy ☻


Friday, January 27, 2012


Happiness is... a day at the beach with my family.  This is my share for this week's HAPPINESS IS meme.

In Manlawi Island - Episode 1,  I posted a few pictures of the gorgeous island, the first stop in my Caramoan island hopping adventure with my family.  The beach has a long stretch of shallow part, and so we had to wait for the tides to rise before we could boat away onto our next stop.  We didn't mind that at all, not an itsy bitsy at all.  That only gave us the chance to spend a longer time in this piece of paradise on earth ;)

Now for the second episode in this series, I would like to introduce you the wonderful cast in this adventure.  Meet the Survivor wannabes:

"I'm not the usual adorable but terrible 3-year-old, you know?  Just saying!" *grins*

"I don't know what's it in seashells, crabs and starfish, but they really fascinate me, like totally." *scratches head in confusion*  "Maybe because they remind me of Spongebob, Patrick, Mr. Krabbs, and the whole Bikini Bottom village?" *mental light bulb flickers*  "Yeah, that's it!" 

"Yes, we are the responsible parents of the adorable but terrible, not to mention atrocious, 3-year-old boy above.  Any complaints?" *both raise an eyebrow*

"We have to make a pact that we will get enough tan to last the whole cold wintertime that's waiting for us when this tropical vacation is over and done!" *apply sunblock to each other*

"Excuse me, kids, lest we forget, you owe your beautiful genes to us. Hehe!" *laugh out loud in chorus*


Still blogging in progress, but you can find out more about my epic Bicol vacation here:


You can read my other travel stories here:


To read more of my Philippines 2011 vacation, please visit:


Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Blue and white striped knit cardigan by H&M
White vest by Aeropostale
Blue jeans by American Eagle
Brown boots by Payless Shoe Source
Brown purse by Coach

*Photo taken at Philadelphia, PA in Spring 2011*
"If winter comes can spring be far behind?"

Dear Mother Nature,

I was positive that you haven't forgotten about me, and I (as well as the local weatherman) was right that you were bound to send some snow my way.  I got your package over the weekend, and the once dry roads and parking lots, had been filled with your glorious dandruff!  I wonder, though, what took you long to send some?  Have you been doing a tough quality inspection on those snowflakes making sure each one is unique?  Well, I would rather think of it that way than be upset to realize that the delay in snow pour was just another effect of global warming which has been wearing you out and causing you to age faster. 

Anyway, you know I'm not a big fan of cold weather and this-whole-walking-in-a-winter-wonderland-thing, right?  Would you be so kind, Mother Nature, to please ask your mighty son, Winter, to go easy on me for the rest of his term, at least this year?

Oh, and before I forget, it's probably a little too much to ask for your beautiful daughter, Summer, to come anytime soon, so I'm trying my luck with your other equally attractive daughter, Spring.  Could you, maybe, send Spring earlier than usual?  You just don't know how happy it would make me when one day in February I'd wake up to the scent of her flowers and chirping of birds!


Just one of the many wishful thinking human beings in this planet called Earth

PS:  Would it help if I say that I recycle and I use those "green"  bags for grocery shopping? ☻


For a sneak peek of what's inside my closet, please visit:

And nope, they're not for sale ☻


My share for:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


The Scripps Park Guest House was built by Ellen Browning Scripps, an American philanthropist who is known for her generous donations in South California.  Among her many philanthropy contributions were schools, medical centers, an institution of oceanography, museum, an aviary, and a recreation center.  She also helped her brother, James, found The Detroit News, a major newspaper in Michigan.  Her half-brother, Edward, founded the powerful chain of Scripps newspaper.  Ellen Scripps came to America in 1844 with her father and grew up on a farm in Rushville, Illinois.

When Vince and I went for an interview/site visit in Rushville in fall of 2011, we had the privilege to lodge in the Scripps Park Guest House.  Allow me to take you on a virtual tour inside and around the said cottage:

A rocking chair in the living room
More living room furniture
Dining room
Bedroom #1 with two twin-size beds
Bedroom #2 with queen-size bed
An old-fashioned tub in the bathroom
Scripps Park/golf course surrounding the guest house
Vince and I were supposed to stay in the guest house for two nights but on our second day, when the interview was done and with nothing much to do in Rushville, the urban being in us got pretty bored.  We also realized that we couldn't survive another day without Internet, so we hurriedly booked a hotel in St. Louis, Missouri, packed our stuff, drove to St. Louis, and flew out the following day ☻


You can read more of my travel stories here:  TUESDAY TRAVEL


Monday, January 23, 2012


Vince and I celebrated our first wedding anniversary a few months back.  We planned on going out of town to Maryland for a little getaway, but on the day we were to leave, a heavy snow storm almost snowed our plans in.  We waited for the bad weather to pass but it was already getting late, so we initially decided not to go.  However, soon after we cancelled our hotel reservations and other itineraries, we realized what a bummer it would be if we won't do anything for our first anniversary, so we changed our minds and decided to eventually push through our plans.  We quickly packed our stuff, got dressed, shoveled and scraped heaps of snow, prayed for safety, and in a jiffy, we were off to Baltimore.

Our first stop in Baltimore was at Tio Pepe Restaurante for a sumptuous Spanish dinner in a subterranean setting.  Vince had been wanting to eat Spanish cuisine for a while then, and when he searched for Spanish restaurants in Baltimore, Tio Pepe Restaurante appears as the best and most popular of all.

Our Tio Pepe dining experience was memorable for its authentic Spanish ambiance, from the decor, servers and receptionists, all the way to the food, as well as the Hispanic guests.  Vince and I had Paella a la Valenciana para dos, one of the more popular dishes in its menu.   It is mainly a seafood dish composed of lobster, shrimps, mussels, clams with veal, chorizo and chicken in fragrant saffron rice.   The serving was big for the two of us, and Vince, not much of a seafood eater, we had lots of leftovers as expected.  The food was good - very seafood in flavor - although, we felt it could use more taste from the chicken or veal meat, to counter or maybe neutralize even for a bit the power of seafood in it.  Of course, we're no food critics and we could be wrong to say that, but the meal definitely didn't blow us away.

So what I did was... I took home the leftover Paella a la Valenciana and revamped it to suit our palate.  I reheated it in a pan and added a dash of salt and pepper and a portion of chicken bouillon cube, and that did the trick of enhancing the flavor and taste.  I served the revamped version for our next meal, and voila, we finished it!  Nothing went to waste ;)


You can read more of my foodie stuff here:  GASTRONOMY MONDAY


My share for:

Life and then SomFTFBadge

Friday, January 20, 2012


Happiness is...

...receiving a bunch of flowers on special occasions ♥

Vince gave me this bouquet of sunflowers, roses, mums and daisies one special day in 2011.  He picked me up at home after work to go to the gym, and when I opened the car door, this pretty thing was sitting on the passenger seat waiting patiently for me.  Awwwww :') 

It could really make one happy to receive flowers on birthdays, Valentines Day, anniversaries and monthsarries, or other occasions, but you know what could be happier than that?  Click HERE to find out ;)


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Wednesday, January 18, 2012


My mother (who lives in the Philippines) often asks me how many layers of clothing I put on during winter.  Hmmm...

Using this photo as a guide (this was taken in late December 2010 in North York, Ontario), I'm going to try my best to answer that question:

1.  Undies - of course!
2.  Stockings.
3.  Tights/long johns.
4.  Socks.
5.  Skirt.
6.  Undershirt/tank top.

7.  Long sleeves sweater top.

8.  TNA knee length parka - A bit pricey but definitely a very good investment.  Not only this jacket suits almost any get-up, this can also keep up well in colder weather.  Depending on the temperature, I use wool, leather, down, or hoodies as appropriate.
9.  Boots - It wasn't snowing at the time this picture was taken, so my kitten heels fashion boots were fine.  I have different pairs for other weather conditions like heavy snows, rain, etc.

Winter clothing essentials not seen in picture:

10.  Gloves or mittens - I prefer leather gloves.
11.  Scarf.
12.  Earmuffs - I don't usually wear these but yes, I have one.
13.  Tuque or beanie - Same with earmuffs, I don't usually wear one, and yes, I have a few, but as long as I'm wearing a furry hood, I'm good.

So, can you just imagine how painstaking it is to bundle up - even if you're just going out for a short time, say to throw the garbage - (and then undress when you get home!) on a freezing winter day?  My BFF said, "There's no shame in wearing long johns."  I totally agree, especially that temperature in Toronto do drop to as low as feels like -30 degrees Celsius.  Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!


For a sneak peak of  what's inside my closet, please visit:

And nope, they're not for sale ☻


Tuesday, January 17, 2012


When Vince and I went to Jamaica last April, we did several side trips and one of those was to Appleton Estate in Nassau Valley.  During this tour, we were showed around the factory that has been producing world renowned handcrafted Jamaican rums for over 260 years.

As an introduction, we were greeted by Paz the Donkey who showed us how it was to manually extract and collect sugar cane juice.  Basically, sugar canes were put into a machine, and Paz, wearing a yoke attached to the machine, goes around in circles, causing the machine in turn to press into the sugar canes and squeeze out juice, which will then drain down to a vessel.  Obviously, now that we're living in modern days, Appleton Estate no longer uses animals for this process but has automated machines which can extract more juice in an expedient manner.  At one point, two volunteers were called to be the tour group's "donkey" and perform Paz's manual labor, after which we were given a small cup of sugar cane juice that our "donkeys" had extracted ☻

We were also taken to the heart of the factory, which is the distillation area.  Our tour guide showed us the machines they use and explained to us various fermentation methods.  This is the part of the factory where smoking and taking pictures are not allowed ;)

After distillation, rums were then filled into handcrafted oak barrels and kept inside to mature for up to 30 years and beyond.  Only the finest American oak barrels are used to transform these rums into a smooth mellow spirit and touched up with complex flavors of coffee, vanilla, cocoa and hazelnut.  Ageing of the wood plays a role in the development of the rum's golden brown color and delicate sweet taste.

We were then led back to the reception area for rum sampling.  There were 13 kinds of flavored rums available to try.  Our tour guide had been stressing out early on the tour that most people waste pure, fine, high-grade Appleton Estate rum by mistakenly mixing it with cola chaser.  Hence, he made sure to let everyone in the group know how to tell which Appleton Estate rums are meant to be enjoyed by itself.  I'm not sure though if anybody paid attention to that, because I could tell then that almost every one, including Vince, was already excited to try the tempting rums.  Hehe!


You can read about my Jamaican escapade here:

You can read about my other travel stories here:

 My share for:

Monday, January 16, 2012


This has been my favorite appetizer recently!

Crab rangoons are deep fried dumplings filled with a combination of cream cheese, crab meat (or more commonly imitation crab meat), onions and garlic wrapped in wonton wrappers.  These appetizers can be found in restaurants that serve American Chinese cuisine.  Although these delicious dumplings are usually accompanied by dips like soy sauce, plum sauce, or sweet and sour sauce (as seen in the picture), I prefer enjoying them as they are sans sauce ☻

Like most people, I find happiness and comfort in food :)

When I looked back at all my dining out, buffet, and gastronomy adventures within the past so and so months, it made me kinda' wonder how, despite all those, I still managed to lose weight.  I guess, somewhere there, I must have been actually doing something right ☻


You can read more foodie stuff here:  GASTRONOMY MONDAY

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