Saturday, December 30, 2006

Reality Check

While the Melrose gang was having dinner tonight, the "fly-ins" were seated in the same area at the far end of the table. There was Rache from Australia, Claire from New Jersey, Rommel from Singapore and myself from Hong Kong.

In one of the lull moments, Rache asked the question that the 4 of us dreaded:

"Are you ready to fly back home?"

Of course, all of us shook our heads and tried to ignore the question. Because the truth is, we weren't. It's been more than 2 weeks since we all arrived in Manila, and the past 2 weeks were just wonderful.

But of course, in a few days, we'd all have to fly back to reality. Rache is flying out first on the 2nd of January, followed by Rommel, myself and Claire.

It's times like these that I wonder why I'm even out of the country when I have so much here.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Happy Holidays

While everyone is still busy preparing for the pictorial, and i've got a few minutest to spare, I decided to write down this holiday phenomenon that has been pointed out to me recently.

More than 10 people. More than 10 different instances.

They're all saying one thing:

"You look so happy."

Of course. After all, 'tis the season to be jolly.

And yes, my holidays are definitely happy.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Rediscovered Landmark

Yesterday, Prichy and I ventured into the Landmark department store in the hopes of killing a few hours before lunch. Since my arrival in Manila, i've probably passed through Landmark more than 5 times, but those were usually 5 minute run throughs. Ergo, i've never really had the chance to check out their current merchandise.

Today, since we had the luxury of time, we decided to really scour the area and check out their new stuff. Frankly, i'm glad that we did! I've rediscovered the fact that Landmark is really a treasure trove of excellent finds! (Inexpensive + Unique + available in most sizes = excellent find!)

With less than 2 hours spent, I walked away with a pair of skinny jeans for Ate Bullet (an unknown Chinese brand, but the quality of the denim is bar none!), a pair of bronze peep toe pumps with wedge heels (also for Ate Bullet) and 2 funky belts (wide and elastic!). The stellar part of this stash is the fact that it cost less than P1,400! Makes me wish I could shop here more often - or it would be great if they can open a branch in HK. (uh...uh...)

Dropped by again in the evening with Mark to buy towels and he got this really fluffy one in a nice, deep red hue - and it costs less than P500. Yup, hindi lang pang-fashion, pang-bathroom pa!

Really, Landmark is THIS close to replacing SM Department Store and has overtaken Robinson's Department Store as THE place to shop.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Taking it slow

They say it's because of the quake in Taiwan, but the internet connection in most places in Manila is punishingly slow...

Monday, December 25, 2006

Here's to the Holidays!

Noche Buena was celebrated in the usual Morales fashion at home last night.

That included a lot of agitated nephews and nieces asking: "Is it Christmas yet? Can we open the gifts NOW?" To which my answer was "NO!" At that point, I'm sure one of their wishes for the holiday was for their Lolo to be in Manila and not in Georgia. My Dad always gives in to their requests. Last year, he let them open gifts at 11:30pm, despite my constant ranting.

It also included my sister drinking wine coolers like it were ice cold water. Needless to say, she was inebriated and was laughing like Santa Claus on LSD by the 3rd bottle.

Then, my siblings and I decided to have a dance showdown. After my nephew put on this 80s CD on the player, my kuya and 2 ates were standing up and trying to recreate the dances of that era. There was Ate Bullet trying to "Rock the Boat," Ate Lissa trying to find out the "State of the Nation", Kuya Marv dancing to "Stars of 45" and the four of us dancing to "Celebration" by Kool and the Gang. My Kuya captured the moment perfectly when he said:

"Kapag kasama ko kayo, I feel like a kid all over again." (awww... tear...)

At the strike of midnight, I distributed the gifts and the wrappers flew around fast and furiously. That's the best part of the holiday season: seeing wide eyed kids with gargantuan smiles after seeing the gift they've wished for for the past few months. There were PSPs, a lot of iPods and MP4 players, basketball shoes, and moolah from the U.S.

I was so glad seeing my nephews and nieces getting their Christmas wishes. That's because I know exactly how they're feeling. There's one big wish I had for Christmas, and I got it! Actually, I got it a week earlier, and I think it's quite evident. Last December 23, during a dinner party, one of my best friends told me: "Gosh! I've seen that smile on your face the past few days, and it's priceless." And of course, my reply was the same big smile.

(... now if only I got a red iPod Nano, then that would even be perfect...)

Mariah Carey

I don't want a lot for Christmas
There's just one thing I need
I don't care about presents
Underneath the Christmas tree
I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true...
All I want for Christmas
Is you...

I don't want a lot for Christmas
There is just one thing I need
I don't care about presents
Underneath the Christmas tree
I don't need to hang my stocking
There upon the fireplace
Santa Claus won't make me happy
With a toy on Christmas day
I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
All I want for Christmas is you...
You baby

I won't ask for much this Christmas
I won't even wish for snow
I'm just gonna keep on waiting
Underneath the mistletoe
I won't make a list and send it
To the North Pole for Saint Nick
I won't even stay awake to
Hear those magic reindeer click
'Cause I just want you here tonight
Holding on to me so tight
What more can I do
Baby all I want for Christmas is you

All the lights are shining
So brightly everywhere
And the sound of children's
Laughter fills the air
And everyone is singing
I hear those sleigh bells ringing
Santa won't you bring me the one I really need -
won't you please bring my baby to me...

Oh I don't want a lot for Christmas
This is all I'm asking for
I just want to see baby
Standing right outside my door
Oh I just want him for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
Baby all I want for Christmas is

All I want for Christmas is you baby... (repeat)


Saturday, December 23, 2006

About Pace

This is definitely an improvement from my previous years. My Christmas shopping pace this year is more relaxed and less frenetic.

In fact, 2 days before the big day and I only need 2 more gifts for our 2 maids. Everyone else is accounted for, gifts are wrapped and all ready to be distributed.

Yup, this is definitely a good year.

Friday, December 22, 2006

This is giving me ideas...

Since this Janet Jackson song came out sometime in the 90s, it was an instant favorite. What's not to love about it? It's got a steady, hypnotic beat. It's got a nice rhythm that's both soothing and dance-worthy. Now where can you get a combination like that? If there's one reason why I bought Janet's "Design of a Decade" album, it was because of this song.

Of course, the video was just as spectacular! My love for travel was actually reawakened after seeing this. Seeing her "travel" alone from one place to another made me think: "Hey, I can do that!" And I certainly did! Thankfully, they had the video on youtube, so I'm putting it here as a tribute to the song that awakened my wanderlust spirit.

Last Wednesday, Mark and I were actually talking about this subject. And after I googled the lyrics, I realized something:

Yup, this would be a great thing to do.

Janet Jackson

Let's run away, there you go

I've seen the world, been to many places
Made lots of friends, many different races
I've had such fun, around the world, it's true
African skies, with a Nairobi moon, whoa
I feel asleep in Tuscany and dreamed

The one thing missing was you
Run away with me, my love, yeah, yeah, yeah
Run away with me my love yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

I've woke up with an Australian breeze
And danced the dance with aborigines, whoa
Under the moon glow down in Mexico I dreamed
(rpt one)

We'll sail the waters of many colors
Won't need a compass, love will guide our way
Don't need nobody long as we got each other
No need to hurry we've got every day

I wanna share the world with you, you see
Springtime in Paris feels so good to me, whoa
This is for me reality, so please

(rpt one...
Make all my wishes come true...)

And I just know we'll have a good time, yeah
And I just know we'll have a good time, yeah
Oh, please come with me
And I just know we'll have a good time
It'll be fun, walking in the rain in Spain
And I just know we'll have a good time
Wait, didn't quite hit the note
That wasn't such a good time
And I just know we'll have a good time
Don't you think so? I do

And I just know we'll have a good time, yeah

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Temporarily Disconnected

It's been 6 days since I've arrived in Manila, and this is the first time I've opened my computer and ventured into the world wide web. For the past few days, I went on a "techie sabbatical" and I've almost forgotten how good it feels.

Between January and December, i've been to Manila more than a dozen times. But this is the first-honest-to-goodness-vacation. It's one of those few times when I'm in Manila to just laze around, without thinking about another regional meeting, teleconference, or FGD. This time, I'm just here to meander around the malls, meet old friends, and attend as many Christmas parties that I can. And knowing how we Pinoys love to party, I'm sure I'll be attending a lot.

The past few days can be best described as bliss. I've been waking up on my own bed, and without any pressure to get up and go to work. When I open my eyes, all I do is think of where I want to have breakfast later, then it's back to sleep.

Most of my mornings are now spent playing with Javier and making him giggle. Hearing babies laugh is one of my favorite sounds. Once he falls asleep, i'd take Bubbles out for her daily walk. I'm amazed at the memory of this spitz of ours. She still remembers our route and she actually leads me around. And of course, she'd always ask for her doggie massage.

Now, instead of going to Pacific Place or Cityplaza for lunch, I'm off to Megamall or Ayala Center to meet up with old colleagues and good friends. Of course, they dread having lunch with me since i'd often choose to eat at Jollibee, Wendy's or Max's. Agh! I've missed fast food so much! But of course, when I had lunch with my Ate last Wednesday, I had to bow to her culinary wishes. She ain't my Ate for nothing, you know.

Then in the afternoon, I'd meet up with Mark and we'd decide what to do or which movie to watch. Thank goodness the MMFF hasn't started yet and we can still catch a couple of good English films. We've seen "Happy Feet" and the soundtrack is just stellar. Hearing Brittany Murphy sing "Boogie Wonderland" is worth the price of admission. Today, we watched "Little Miss Sunshine" and it's surprisingly entertaining. Films about dysfunctional families are always fun to watch - it's like watching my own family. Hahaha!

And I must say, while emails and YM have made it possible for people from different parts of the globe to communicate, nothing beats the feeling of having the person in front of you. That feeling is something that technology can and will never replace.

Tomorrow, I'll also disconnect from my Hong Kong phone. I promised the office that i'd keep it open until the 22nd just in case some big emergency comes up. Thankfully, it hasn't rang for the past 4 days, and that means it's all good at the office. (Oh, it actually rang, but it was my former colleague calling, so I chose not to pick it up. Hehehe. Meanie!) The office will shut down for the holidays and we'll only be back on the 4th of next year. Awe-so-me!

Never has being disconnected felt this great. Being disconnected from work usually means being more connected with familiar places, worthwhile experiences and people I love and long to see.

I could get used to being disconnected.

Really, I could.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Bowled Star

Last year, it was a yacht ride around the Hong Kong harbour. An interesting, albeit sea-sickening experience. This year, Christmas at the office was celebrated in a more sporty way.

We went bowling!

I haven't been bowling for the past 5 years, but i'm surprised at how I did. I got scores over 120, and was the 2nd highest scorer in the team.

For that, I'm bowled over.

Thursday, December 14, 2006


The weather is a bit dreary here in Hong Kong and if you ask any resident, they'll tell you that the best way to beat the blues is to hit the mall. That's what I did this lunchtime. And the mall of choice today was Cityplaza so I could eat at my newest favorite eating place: Food Republic!

I've had a craving for Indian food since this weekend, but wasn't able to eat any. My friends from Manila were here, so we had to constantly eat Chinese food, with a bit of Italian and McDonald's somewhere in between. Since Food Republic has a good Indian kiosk, I quickly queued and had the Indian lunch i've been craving for.

Today's special was fish curry. But as curries go, they all look alike. It's the same dark brown glop with potatos floating around. Frankly, it was too salty and the fish was a bit rancid.

But despite that, it was saved by my mostest favoritest Indian staple of all: Nan Bread!

Yay! Nan Bread! Nan Bread!

I've been eating Nan Bread for ages, even while I was in Manila. (Thanks to Swagat and Bombay Kitchen) but Nan Bread didn't appeal to me that time. Well, Indian food as a whole didn't appeal to me that much. Maybe it was because there were too many Jollibee stores and that would always be the priority. But after moving here, I developed a love for Indian food: from curry, to roti, to tika, and of course, Nan.

Even if the curry wasn't too thick, I relished dipping the Nan bread in it, and in less than half an hour, I was stuffed. So I proceeded to walk around Cityplaza and check out the new shops. (Uniqlo just opened! Wooha!) My meandering was sidetracked by a concert where an orchestra from a boy's school was performing.

Snaps to Cityplaza for a nifty stage. Their theme this year is Broadway, and they perform excerpts from popular shows like Cats and Chicago on weekends.

The orchestra wasn't bad - still a bit rough around the edges, but entertaining nonetheless. It was great to hear them playing my favorite song: "It's a small world after all." A few songs later, they shifted to Christmas mode and started playing carols. Kauffman Christmas choir these kids ain't. Nonetheless, hearing familiar holiday tunes 11 days before Christmas day is great.

They started to play "O Holy Night" and it was accompanied by a singer (who I can't find! Strange...) By the middle of the song, my homesickness started to kick in and my tears were already looking for a ride up my tear ducts. Needless to say, I had to go before that happens.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Mallow Touch

Rejoice! Rejoice!

They now have Choco Mallow Pie at the Jollibee store in Central!

Choco Mallow Pie has to be my most favorite Jollibee dessert of all time. I was addicted to it when I was still in Manila, and was a tad bit disappointed when they didn't have it available here.

Good thing somebody had the noggin' to decide to bring this little gem of a dessert to Hong Kong. Hopefully, though, it's a permanent thing.

Thanks, Jollibee!!! (Now, can you bring Chickenjoy Strips and Double Cheese Fries here, too?)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Happy Hour

Since Le Shigmeister is going to be on holiday starting tomorrow, the expat group at the office decided to have an early Christmas dinner to cap the year, and to celebrate Le Shig's quest to become the next Vegas high-roller. Like any special occasion within the group, we decided to have dinner at Ruth Chris'!

Honestly, the phrase "fish out of water" applies to me whenever we dine at Ruth Chris. Why?

The specialty on the house is steak. They've got the best steak in Hong Kong. You can have it cooked precisely the way you want to. They've got different cuts to suit different tastes. And their beef is soooooooooo good, it melts in your mouth.

Incidentally, I'm pesco-vegetarian.

Yup, while i'm surrounded by 12 carnivores who are happily gorging on 12oz Rib Eyes, I have to eat this teeny Seared Ahi Tuna with Red Pesto Sauce.

Honestly! Each time we eat there, they call me a woos and put the "L" sign over their foreheads once my order arrives. As Peter so clearly puts it: "We dine at the best steak house in Hong Kong and YOU'RE EATING FISH?!?!?!?" I often retaliate by saying: "I'm actually here for the company, and not for the food," followed by bambi-eyes and an innocent smile. Yup, that gets them everytime.

Speaking of company, this is the first dinner i'm having with our new colleague, Jeff. And I must say, Jeff is absolutely, undeniably, unbelievably funny! Throughout the course of our 4-hour dinner, he just brought out joke after joke after joke after joke after line after line after line after line and we just laughed our arses each time. His jokes were so diverse, from Benny Hill to Dr. Who to pirate talk. Then he'd make fun of the national anthems of his native Australia and England. Plus he sang this South African song which was soooooooooo funny, I thought Pete was going to spew out his asparagus.

It's been a while since I laughed out so hard for so long! At one point, we were in tears. The term "happy hour" must've been coined for events like these.

Now my stomach is so bloated because of the tuna, all those glasses of red wine, and all the air i've sucked in by laughing so hard. I definitely need to find some activity to do before going home and going to bed.

That's why at quarter to midnight, I'm at the Central MTR station, blogging about that happy dinner we just had.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Corporate Christmas

One sure sign that Christmas is just around the bend is when we start receiving Corporate Christmas gifts. The 2nd week of December usually ushers in packages of different shapes and sizes from clients, agency partners and suppliers. Among these gifts, there's one I look forward to receiving. And I received it tonight.

It's the gift from the stock image company, INmagINe. Among the lot of gifts I received last year, theirs proved to be the most practical and visually appealing. (I got a bottle of white wine last year and it's still gestating in my fridge at home.)

Their gift this year was similar to the one before. They have a tent calendar which is filled with beautiful images and the easy to read dates. One of the reasons why I haven't missed a birthday this year is because of INmagINe's calendar. It made checking the dates and writing them down more entertaining.

An added bonus this year was this little folder which had playing cards, a pocket organizer, a CD of images, and a letter from the GM. The packaging alone was way worth the admission, and I love their corporate color scheme of orange and black. (Halloween? Maybe not.) And the graphic design is also great eye candy.

I wonder who else in this office received a package like this. Maybe I can exchange it for last year's white wine...

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Bears and Babes

Speaking of the Conrad Hotel, their Holiday Decore was so adorable that I had to go back tonight to get a snapshot.

The entire Christmas tree is made up entirely of bears. Yup, it's a Bear-y Merry Christmas this year at the Conrad. (It's a pun! Mr. Soh would hate me for that. Hahaha!) They have fluffy white bears all over the lobby - from Christmas trees to wreaths to centerpieces, and yes, even the Advent candle set-up has been surrounded by bears.

One particular bear that I liked was this paper machie variety in white. I'd love to bring it home and put it beside our Christmas tree, alas, it was attached to the tree by a wire! So were the little bears. (Not that I was seriously considering filching a couple of bears. Really, I wasn't. Honest.)

On my way back home via Admiralty, I passed by HMV to check if they have new magazines.

They didn't.

What they had, though, was the latest CD of my favorite British girl group, Sugababes! Ever since I heard "Overload" a few years back, I've fallen in love with the group and their sound. Then, when I found out that one of their original members was Filipina. Mutya Buena was one of the original members and is the group's more prolific song writers. This gave me more reason to dig the group.

Their latest CD contains 14 of their best tracks, including Overload, of course. Other songs I love are: "Round, Round," "Freak Like Me," "Caught up in the Middle," and "Push the Button."

Strangely, Mutya is no longer on the CD cover. Apparently, she was dismissed by the group recently. Even stranger is that even if she's not on the cover, it's still her voice we hear in the songs. Even even stranger is that even if they have the new girl on the cover, she's not in any way involved in this project.

I just hope Mutya goes solo soon. She has an awesome voice and great songwriting skills. I'm sure she can easily do an Apl de Ap and do Pinoys proud with her music.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

O Positive

Among the many pleasant surprises that my stay in Hong Kong has accorded me is the chance to catch up and reacquaint myself with one of my college friends - Ovvian. It's been more than a year since we ran into each other aboard the Star Ferry and since then, we've seen each other a couple of times - including that time when she won at the Wynn! (Woohoo!)

Last night, we got a chance to hang out at the Conrad Hotel lobby again over drinks and wonderful music provided by Verna and the Filipino band.

Ovvian is one of the most positive people I've met so far. Whenever we get together, whether it's over a good dinner at La Fourchette, a packed meal at the First Ferry (business class area, no less!), or drinks at the Conrad, there's always a lot of positive energy bouncing around between us. She's always very constructive in her approach towards issues and she always finds good in things.

One thing that Ovvian and I have in common is our positive feelings towards the country. It's so good to find someone who still believes in the Philippines and what it can accomplish. Whenever we begin to talk about the country, our energies automatically focus on what we can do to make it better, how we can look better in the eyes of the international community, and how we can harness the positive in people to make the country really work.

Since we both have a creative background, the suggestions we share are often unconventional and apolitical. We talk about simple things like creating shirts and slogans that would knock Filipinos out of their complacency and fatalist attitudes. We brainstorm about Philippine Airlines refurbishing its fleet and changing the cabin attendants' uniforms to make it at par with "first world and first class airlines." She's very passionate about making Filipinos feel accountable for the country since this is the only way to instill discipline in them.

After each talk with Ovvian, it's further reinforced in my mind that the Philippines has the chance to become great again. My faith in the country triples. And it's because there's someone like her who has so much positivity and faith in her.

Heck, if only she'll run for public office, i'll volunteer to become her campaign manager.

O Positive...

Sounds like a good campaign line.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Melrose's Place


So Caridee won in America's Next Top Model. But I'm glad that Melrose went as far as she did, and ended up as the first runner up in the competition. She did come a long, long way from her first episode performance where she was almost eliminated because of her "diva" ways and bad acting. I still remember when Christian's name was called, she was so relieved that she knelt down and cried. That showed how much she wanted to be in the competition.

Melrose was probably the dark horse in this cycle because of her age. She was the oldest and considered "over the hill" by most of the contestants and judges. (She's friggin' 23 for crying out loud! What kind of sick industry turns 23 year olds into wrinkly old hags? Modeling, that's what!) Thank goodness they changed her hair from brunette to blonde, that really made her look younger and fresher.

Strangely, a lot of people in the house didn't like Melrose and vilified her. For one, Monique hated her with a vengeance, which made me glad that the "psycho diva" was eliminated by episode 3. A lot of the girls find Melrose too domineering and trying too hard. Well, I might give the "trying too hard" part to them since she did have moments where I felt she was emulating Tyra too much that she was almost imitating her. But that just showed her passion and drive. And I admire passionate and driven people. I guess that's why I was rooting for Melrose since Episode 1.

Look at these photos! She's just gorgeous! I bet the reason they chose Caridee over her is age. The winner gets a cover and spread at Seventeen Magazine, and they must've thought that a 23-year old won't sell too many magazines and won't appeal too much to teens. Oh well, it's Atoosha Rubenstein's loss.

There have been cases when the first runner up becomes even more famous than the winner him or herself. There's American Idol 2 where Clay Aiken has been outselling Ruben Studdard since album 1. In Project Runway, Kara launched her collection much earlier than Jay. People are saying that Katharine McPhee will be a bigger hit compared to Taylor Hicks.

That's why I wouldn't be surprised that even if Caridee won, Melrose will be much, much, much bigger.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The low down on the skinny

When Rache and I were chatting yesterday, she asked me if I had a pair of skinny jeans and that it should look good on me. Of course, my answer was to the negative. Although the "skinny jean" phenomenon is big in Hong Kong, I've never really subscribed to it. The closest I got to owning one was when my friend Mel forced me to try on this pair from Uniqlo. Eventhough he said that it looks smashing on me, I thought it was too... hmmm... 80s.

But as I was poring through my jean closet this morning in search for something to wear, I made a suprising discovery:

I actually have a pair of skinny jeans!

This pair must've been in my closet for more than a year already. But because of the large number of jeans that I have, it was pushed back too far to be noticed - until today, of course. It's a pair of Replay Jeans, a bit faded, and with a slim, straight cut. Just for kicks, I tried it on, and...


and it fits perfectly!

Not only is the pair skinny, it's really, really low. The best way to describe this pair is this:

- It's low enough that it's hanging on to dear life on my hipbones, and i feel like they're going to fall off if I sneeze.
- It's skinny enough for people to actually know what's in my pocket because they can see the outline. (Heck, they might even be able to count the coins in my coin pocket. Harharhar.)

There was a debate in my mind whether I should wear these to work, though. The reason being they're too "party" and not to "office-y". But heck, since I've had this pair for more than a year and still haven't worn them, I should at least give it a shot.

And what's the reaction here at work?

1. I've been told that I can be a rock star if I wanted to.
2. Someone said that she never noticed that I have evenly shaped legs. (Whatever that means)
3. Horror of horrors! Somebody's been calling me sexy boy the past few hours and he sings Justin Timerlake's "sexy back" whenever I walk by.

Which brings me to my verdict on this pair of low-riding, skinny jeans.

I don't think i'll be wearing them again anytime soon.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Triple Yum!

Whilst this might seem like a post about Jollibee, it's not. Although I must say that my feelings of longing for Jollibee grow stronger every day! Too bad they don't have chicken strips, brownie sundae and choco-mallow pie here in Hong Kong. Thank goodness Erwin and I were able to sneak in some Bee-time last Monday when I was in Makati. It was great eating those "super meals" again.

But I digress...

My friend from the U.S. emailed me about Bath and Body works' latest Christmas Collection. Their new scents are inspired by the tastes and flavors of the holidays. They have a whole line of products - from lotion, moisturizer, body shimmer, and shower gels - carrying 5 different scents. Each one is simply mouthwatering - and almost good enough to eat. (This reminds me of that time when Victor was so enamoured by the smell of chocolate flavored lip balm that he actually ate it! Ewww!) But instead of making me drool with 5, she only sent me the top 3 scents which she thought I'd be interested in:

Yum # 1: Caramel Popcorn

Yum # 2: Hot Chocolate

Yum # 3: Twisted Peppermint.

Honestly, the first 2 seem conceptually yummy, but I can't imagine anyone putting that on their skin. It conjures up images of red fire ants suddenly attacking your body after following the sweet scent trail. The Twisted Peppermint, though, is uber appealing! I've always been attracted to minty scents, and this one looks like a winner.

The two other scents she didn't send me were Gingerbread and Pumpkin Pie. (Pumpkin Pie? Can you say gross?) I checked the Bath & Body works website and felt that the Gingerbread lotion has promise. I've always loved the scent of freshly baked ginger snaps and gingerbread men. And if that's how this lotion smells, then I'll probably dig it, too.

Well, I'll have a chance to know how the Gingerbread and Twisted Peppermint variants smell like this December. Rache, who's currently in Vegas, said she'd get me a bottle of each one the next time she goes to the mall.

(Oh my gosh, I'm having a major deja vu moment just now! I should play Beyonce's "deja vu" to further set the mood...)

In two weeks or so, Rache, myself and the whole Melrose gang will be meeting up for a long-awaited, major reunion. Aside from Rache (coming from Australia and the US), there's Claire (from New York), Rommel (from Singapore) and me! Hopefully, Rache will have these two bottles for me when we meet that time. Then Christmas will definitely be yummy!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

And they're off!

It must be the journalist in me who still believes in the magic of snail mail. While the net provides a faster and surer way of sending greetings across countries, I think that there's magic when you receive a real card with someone's real handwriting on it. You can almost feel the emotion that went into each word in the letter, and the effort of going out of your way to mail it. That's why I always get giddy when I send and receive cards and letters. As Claire said, "getting a letter is much better than getting leaflets and bills in your mailbox."

You got that right, Claire!

Plus, it's always fun to shop for Christmas cards. This year, I got my cards at Marks and Sparks since they've got a wonderful selection. I bought a box of handcrafted, die cut and crystal embedded cards. They're awe-inspiring, but a bit tricky to write on and mail. Then there's another one which had silver stamping and the happiest illustrations I've seen in a while. This box only set me back by $90 for 30 cards, which is an uber great deal!

After spending the weekend writing to each and every relative I can remember, I went to the Post Office this morning to send out my 2nd batch of Christmas cards. After mailing letters and packages for more than a year, I've been able to gauge how fast things get to their destination. Mail from around Asia get there the fastest, while the ones that go to Europe can take more than a week. Last Saturday, I sent my cards going to Amsterdam, and today I sent the ones going to the U.S. and Spain.

Another reason why I love sending Christmas cards to the U.S. is that they have this habit of displaying all the cards they receive on top of the ledge over the chimney. It's always nice to see this cacophony of greetings from all over the world, all gathered in one place. It's a testament to how much love goes inside every home during the holidays. And love is what Christmas is all about.

Despite the proliferation of the internet and email, I hope that my relatives in the US don't forego or forget this tradition. Because as long as keep putting cards on their chimney ledge, i'll keep on sending them.

Monday, December 04, 2006

M&Ms meet Mint

The last time I was this giddy about M&Ms was when they introduced their crispy variant in the cerrulean blue pack! While browsing for something to nosh on at Mannings, this deep green pack leaped off the shelf and grabbed me by the collar, just begging to get noticed.

It's the new M&Ms variant for Christmas! Honestly, the past few incarnations of M&Ms were a bit disappointing - the worst being Peanut Butter M&Ms. (And to think that Reese's Peanut Butter Cups are my favorite, but M&Ms and Peanut Butter just don't mix.) Ergo, I had to double back to see whether this new one would be worth the few dollars I'd shell out.

Lo and behold!

M&Ms Crispy Mint! Need I say more! It's got the crunchiness that I've always loved about M&Ms blue, but now it has a hint of minty freshness in every piece. If Andes thin chocolate mints and Nestle Crunch had an offspring, this will definitely be it. I bought two packs, and they were gone in record time.

Dang! I forgot to take a photo of the actual chocolate! (They come in dark green, mint green and white.) Oh well, I guess i'll just have to buy a few packs more later.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Presenting presents for the present

Inspired by receiving my first Christmas present, i've finished wrapping my first batch of Christmas gifts as well. In lieu of just wrapping gifts with whatever wrapper that Hallmark has available, I've been taking the high road the past few years and assigning a "theme" for my Christmas wrapping. Last year, my theme was "Chinese Christmas." In honor of my then-move to Hong Kong, my presents were wrapped in Chinese newspapers (bought in Binondo) and wrapped with a red ribbon. The year before that, it was "Zen Christmas" where a plain silver wrapper interacted with black ribbons.

This year, I've decided to added a splash of color and a dash of richness for one set of gifts. And the result is this year's theme # 1: "Christmas Riches." First, I chose a wrapper with a very deep and rich red color. Surrounding it are prints of ornaments in jewel tones: emerald, green, and gold.

To add richness to it, i've decided to put two satin ribbons: one in gold, and the other in a jewel color. For this particular gift, it was deep purple. And as a punctuation, i've added a gold star as an ornament.

The next set also follows the same color scheme, but with a different wrapper. The other batch from the "Christmas Riches" series features a burgundy wrapper with gold writing on top. I've never really gotten around to trying to decipher what's written, but mesuspects that it's a Christmas carol. Or then again, it just might be "Merry Christmas" in different languages.

Then, I added two satin ribbons of the same hue as the wrapper: burgundy and gold. Since the wrapper is made of kraft paper and is matte, the sheen of the ribbons really pop out. And this makes for an uber interesting combination.

Like the first set, I've also added ornaments on these ones. But instead of stars, I chose Christmas icons in gold colors. This particular one has a santa that's jumping for joy. I hope the person who gets this will have the same reaction.

After wrapping the 8 or so boxes at home, I had a kick looking at the finished set of gifts. Now i'm excited to give them away so that it'll take its rightful place under a Christmas tree really soon.

Now, it's time to work on theme number 2.