Monday, December 31, 2012


Had the predictions been true and the world did end in 2012, I would've been okay.

It was a GREAT year for me.

{Part of Tuloy Thursday ... with kids!)

{Work Friends}

{Tuloy sa Don Bosco}

{Wonderful memories made}

{Tuloy Thursday ... we're growing -- in numbers, not in girth, haha!)

{becoming more domesticated}

{Becoming a regular employee and all the perks that went with it ... even if they got my nickname wrong!}

{more time to read, to relax, and to just be}

{getting back into the habit of cooking}

{hosting more parties at home}
So many blessings in those pictured, and so much more undocumented here, Diego being one of the most major ones. Ever since the holiday season started I'd reflect a bit before sleeping and would be struck at how many blessings have come in one day, and couldn't help but utter a short prayer of thanks for how He has made his presences felt in so many ways. and as if that weren't enough, last Friday, I received amazing news in the morning and realized, truly, the Lord cannot be outdone in generosity.

My 2013 looks promising. I've four trips scheduled, Mama's coming home this April, Papa in December, and I finally have leaves from work. The Big Boss has predicted that while 2012 was a tough year for business, 2013 is supposed to be the year of recovery. So if my 2012 already knocked off my socks, I can't imagine how much more wonderful 2013 will be!

Thank you Lord, family, and friends for being with me on my 2012 journey. Here's to more blessings in 2013!!!



Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Post-Christmas Party

Very much inspired by the home of one of my co-workers, I did my best to "level-up" for a post-Christmas party done at my home.

I'd like to think I did well ☺

{drinks station. the drink jar and the wine glasses, as well as the wines were all christmas gifts!}

{a "welcome to my home" station with a few goodies and nibbles to tide everyone over while waiting ...
yes, my friends are notorious for being more than two hours late for dinners at my home}

{forever the cake stand from dapitan, my mom's we've-had'-it-since-forever arcopal bowl,
and ceramic serving dishes from a friend at work}

{pretty paper straws}
{two-gallon drink jar which i filled up with homemade iced tea}

{Christmas napkins ☺}

{signs on my "welcome to my home" station}
after parties like this, there's always way too many dishes to wash, things to put away, and table linen to wash. but i've got nothing to say except that it's always worth it ☺

Thursday, December 27, 2012

yummy treat #1

unlike my food twin, richie, i am by no means a food blogger. i do love to eat (my girth is proof of that), but way before i got this big, my brother's friends loved me cause i'd cook yummy treats for them. as a matter of fact, there was this time when one friend purposely dropped by our house because he found out i made brownies and he didn't get his share yet. 

talk about presumptuous, hahaha!

ironically, people from my current life think i am totally clueless in the kitchen. i guess they know better now.

recently, i've been cooking stuff i want to eat (dangerous, i know). so i'd get an idea in my head, troll the internet for recipes, and make them over and over again until i "perfect" it ... at least to my mind (or tongue?). one of the most recent was homemade peanut butter cups ... translation: reese's!!!

i've been tweeting about it, and jen has been asking me to post a recipe online. after much trial and error, i've finally settled on one that i liked. so, jen, let this be my christmas gift to you ☺ i hope your son likes this!

Rosa's tweaked version!

{ingredients used on attempt #1}
When I first made my peanut butter cups, i used this recipe but made them to look like the ones here. i've made them a grand total of three times - getting feedback from my "test audience" repeatedly until i think i hit the perfect recipe. well, at least it's perfect for me ☺ 

Ingredients (and notes!)

16 oz. peanut butter - most recipes call for creamy peanut butter. i've learned however that the perfect mix would be 8 oz of creamy and 8 oz of crunchy. my "test audience" likes the crunch and bite. me - as the cook - likes the fact that the crunchy and creamy peanut butter mix "holds together" better. if you're going to use all creamy peanut butter, i suggest adding 2 tbsps of crushed graham crackers.

2 pounds chocolate - the first time i made them, i got two bags of goya easy melt chocolate buttons - one bag of milk chocolate and one bag of dark chocolate. my "test audience" loved this. note, however that one bag each will just give you half of the chocolate requirements, so you'll actually need 4 bags (two of each kind) to make a full recipe. i tried using deutch (or something like it) milk chocolate chips but my "test audience" said it tasted cheap and not really chocolate-y. the one that got the best feedback was callebaut dark chocolate. this one a friend liked so much that he asked for the chocolate without the peanut butter! kainis!

{callebaut dark chocolate ... chopped up!}

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

4-6 tablespoons melted butter - i am a huge fan of queensland butter. do you know that now they have them on foil packs, not just in cans anymore? well, i learned that just this year and i love to use it for cooking! btw, 4 tablespoons is roughly 1/4 cup of butter. one bar of butter = 1 cup, therefore, 1/4 of this bar = your butter requirement for this recipe!

{queensland butter ... my favorite cooking butter!}

cooking spray

mini cupcake papers - i use 3/4 or 1. 


1. Prepare your cupcake papers. I discovered that papers alone make for deformed homemade peanut butter cups. that's quite okay if the peanut butter cups are just for personal consumption. however, since i wanted to make these for friends as their christmas gift from me, i got myself some silicone cups to "hold" the paper in. a mini cupcake pan would be better, but i couldn't find them in this size. after putting the paper into the molds, lightly mist with cooking spray. (or you can put a bit of oil in a spray bottle and spray away!)

2. Prepare your chocolate. I can't remember which this one was ... but let's just say that (1) i never tempered the chocolate (2) i never used a double broiler and (3) the microwave was my friend. if you're using chocolate blocks like i did on my third try, make sure to cut up the chocolate into uniform bits so that it melts almost uniformly. knowledge of your microwave helps ... because you don't want to blast the chocolate for too long. in my case, it takes one 30-second zap, then i mix it a bit, and then a 45-second zap to melt it all up. usually, the heat from the chocolate is enough to melt whatever remaining solids there are after the second zap. now, don't be lazy and put it at 1:15 and just hope for the best. you need short bursts + mixing of the chocolate in between bursts.

3.  Now things get sticky ... literally. peanut butter (especially the half creamy, half crunch mix) + powdered sugar is hell to work with. my only consolation is that by the time i was able to thoroughly fold all the sugar + butter into the peanut butter, i would've gotten my arm exercises for the day.

4. The assembly! As i mentioned earlier, i did the "layered" thing over at fifteen spatulas. Sorry but no pictures here ... that peanut butter was CRAZY to work with.

Start with spooning a bit of chocolate onto each cupcake paper. Try to get the same amounts of chocolate on each cup. Once you're done, "hit" the tray against the counter repeatedly so that the chocolate spreads and that it becomes level. Refrigerate the chocolate for a bit. In my case, 5 to 10 minutes in the ref is enough to make the chocolate hard.

If you used creamy peanut butter and your mixture is quite smooth, you may use a piping bag (of a ziplock with a corner cut out) to put the peanut butter mixture into each cup. BUT if you're working with the crunch-creamy mix, expect this to be quite difficult to work with (my ziplock actually "burst" cause of the pressure to get the peanut butter out) and i'd suggest that you just spoon a bit of the mixture into each cup individually. afterwards, flatten out the peanut butter mixture with your fingers (after you've washed your hands, of course!!!)

then put another layer of chocolate on top. you may put enough chocolate so that it reaches the rim of the cupcake paper, or leave some space. in the end, it's all up to you (and how much chocolate you still have, haha!). again tap-tap-tap the tray onto the counter to flatten out the chocolate. make sure no peanut butter is showing (translation, don't follow my example below, haha!!!). throw inside the ref!!!

and afterwards ..


 homemade peanut butter cups ... all ready to be sent off to lucky friends (yes, they're lucky they get to taste my cooking, haha!).


Friday, December 21, 2012

addicted to reese's

M, one of my good friends at work, put these ten nesting bowls on her Christmas wishlist.

before i was able to buy it, it went of sale. 50% off. yay! that meant i was able to get her another present from her list.

that also meant it was too good a deal to pass up so i had to get myself the bowls as well.

they were a pain to drag from greenbelt back to the office, but they were worth it.

so they sat and sat on my counter for a couple of weeks until i thought of making homemade peanut butter cups.

so i got myself the ingredients and got started on my reese's experiment.

first, i lined up my mini cupcake liners. i wish i had gotten prettier ones, but this was just an experiment. and notice - all my baking trays have rusted to oblivion (translation: i dunno where to find them) so i just had to make do with what i could find.

then i melted the chocolate (in the microwave - no double broiler and i wanted things quick!). since i was poor, and therefore cheap, i used goya. next time i'll spring for more expensive chocolate. 

however, i was trying to be more chef-like, hence i mixed a pack of regular milk chocolate and dark chocolate. i liked the resulting taste. 

and oooh, notice the bowl? love love love!

next up - the peanut butter mixture. now, this was where i went wrong: i think i put in way too much butter, hence the overly soft consistency. and maybe i should've put some graham crackers for a bit of texture (just like what the other recipes recommended).

and here's misstep #2 - i used this recipe and followed this assembly instructions. the result? too soft center that basically collapses when you bite into it.

the final product?

{sorry, instagram pic and not pic from garlic the camera)
nowhere near as pretty as the one from fifteen spatulas but, i'm cutting myself some slack. after all, this was my first try at making these things. 

since this is me cooking, expect to see peanut butter cups at least two times more in this blog (i have two other recipes i want to try out, including the one from fifteen spatulas whose presentation i copied, but failed to follow the recipe of.) hopefully, one day, i'll be able to come up with THE perfect recipe.

then you can expect to receive that for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

even with traffic at its worst, some people know how to make others smile still

{santa helping out with the traffic!}
there is no question that early morning traffic is enough to make one's blood boil, and the christmas season isn't helping any.

but when i spied this at the corner of EDSA extension and macapagal one Tuesday morning, I couldn't help but  smile.

so to this random traffic enforcer, thanks for this. and a very merry christmas to you!

Monday, December 17, 2012

a crafty christmas

{look, ma! i made this!}
considering that i was the girl who would've flunked high school had it not been for her mom's inner craftiness (my mom "re-did" all my projects when i was asleep!) i'm surprising myself with all the DIY that's been coming out of me lately. i could blame the internet - pinterest most of all - for making me desire to spend my days just wielding my glue gun and putting things together. i, the girl whose sole job used to be to cut tape while my mom wrapped gifts, now has a ginormous box of craft supplies.

as one lawyer at work put it, maybe i had just missed my calling.

but all the teasing aside, i actually do enjoy making things with my hands and have channeled all the mommy hormones that usually come out at this age crafting things that i never imagined. so when i saw this on apartment therapy, i knew a trip to divisoria was in order to i can get the necessary supplies at a reasonable cost.

of course, going to divi in the middle of december is nothing short of crazy - most of the stores which had tons and tons of christmas balls last november had sold out already, and the balls that i did manage to find had very few colors to choose from. i was quite ready to give up and just make a multi-colored wreath until i unearthed a huge stash of light pink balls and a couple of silver ones in the same size. three boxes of small hot pink balls later, i was in business. my christmas ball wreath was so going to be made!

when i got home, it dawned upon me that my wreath was too big and my balls too few (i blame future sister in law for preventing me from getting more balls - as all the internet tutorials had warned, the problem always is thinking you have too much only to realize you have too few!) so i had to visit bazillions of national bookstore branches to find a styro wreath form (out of stock everywhere!!!) until i settled on a flat round styro from SM which i later fashioned into a wreath form. while watching some show i can't remember now, i glued and glued and glued balls until i finally completed my wreath. it was a bit lopsided at first but i think it's less noticeable now. and as you can very well see from the pic, it's gracing my front door, a way of telling my neighbors that while i may not be the world's best gardener (i have a black thumb and i refuse to spend time outside, hahaha!), i do make amazing christmas wreaths. 

i did wonder if it was going to hold up - i keep having visions of waking up one morning with pink and silver balls all over my entryway - but so far, it's been up for several days with no balls falling off or the wreath getting distorted. i've been sooooo proud of my handiwork that i've sent pictures of it to family and friends, with the full expectation that they're going to oooh and aaaahhhh over it (i haven't been disappointed yet - i guess everyone around me is polite!). and yes, because i'm makapal like that, i've offered to make similar wreaths for people in the future. 

now if only i can make it to divi and buy an even bigger stash of christmas balls....

Saturday, December 15, 2012

meet the superstars

when D generously offered to book two hotel rooms for our group's Christmas Party, everyone cleared their schedule to make the overnight possible. this group is a busy lot: one lawyer, one doctor, one store manager, one operations manager, one with crazy UK schedule, and two in upper management - so i was quite surprised when all replied with a resounding "yes!"

the only problem was some didn't want it to be a Christmas Party, not just yet. the reason: they haven't started shopping for gifts yet! hahaha. they know me so well! party = presents!!!

so this was our non-Christmas party. after all, we were celebrating their birthdays, so it turned out to be one belated and one advanced, with an uber yummy cake and a pile of food (as you can very well see on the picture) to share among good friends.

sometimes i can't help but wonder what i did to deserve such an amazing group of friends.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

embracing the S box

i am sure, that in our collective lives, we've filled out forms and have been forced to categorize one's self in a box meant to represent either a choice, one's status, or opinion about something. and to me, person who loves filling out all types of forms with a misplaced sense of giddiness, there's a thrill (or dread, as in the case of age) when one "moves" from one category to another.

income, for one, has been a sore spot in my life. so moving another tier up, that was a biggie! and age, sigh, if only i can still celebrate march 2 without gaining a year ... turning 36 means that i will be moving from the 30 - 35 range to one that is <--this--> close to 40. in the words of the characters in the archie comic book series (shucks, yet another affirmation of my "aged" status), EGAD!

but while i've moved from one category or another, there's one box that i can't seem to escape (even the religion boxes i've moved from "others" to "roman catholic"!) -- the "S" box. it comes just after you declare your age, an accusation of sorts, similar to relatives who you see once a year in holiday gatherings who look at you with unmasked pity in their eyes as they ask if you have a boyfriend or you've plans to get married and you reply with a "no". i'm a girl, so they'd remind me about my dwindling chances of becoming a mother, with the more modern one's urging, pabuntis ka na lang, as if sex were as easy and uncomplicated as buying coke from the corner sari-sari store.

growing up, "old maids" were few and far in between. everyone gets married, sooner or later. some even get married twice (and no, no one died, and no one's muslim so you get the picture, right?). lola peng, my mom's aunt, and lola nanay, my paternal grandmother's best friend, were novelties, generous grand-aunts who'd adopt us as their own grandchildren, their gifts a happy addition to those expected from grandparents. none of us even deigned to imagine we'd end up like them, after all, wasn't finding the ONE, getting married, and having kids part of the series that begins with go to school and get a job?

maybe my mom was right when she made an offhand comment to me in high school. by then, the martha stewart gene had kicked in and i turned into that kind of person who prepared  baons for road trips, something my mom never did (she never espoused eating in the car). and then, when i decided to shift to education in college, she noted that my course choice would definitely be another nail in the "single" coffin. i, her only daughter, was most likely going to grow old alone.

funnily enough, my mom's prophetic words should not have had any basis then - i dated behind my parents' back, and when i actually could date, i did, and had boyfriends of all shapes and sizes. once, vanessa wrote a draft screenplay loosely based on my relationships and her mentor commented that art should at least imitate life and vanessa's story of my life was certainly more art than anything. i wanted to send a note - life is more complex than any of the things people could come up with; mine certainly was.

when i broke up with the last person i actually consider my boyfriend, i made a pledge not to date until i passed the bar. i've been a lawyer for five and a half years already ... my status has yet to change. it's as if i've reached my quota of possible beaus after the dating spree in my twenties. sometimes i try to imagine myself ending up with any of the boys i dated, as well as the boys who tried to date me, and save for a guy who i turned down and eventually became my best friend, i actually can't imagine spending the rest of my life with any of them.

on the wall of my bathroom, right beside the mirror, there's a post-it that reads, "i'd rather be single that be married to the wrong man." ironically, a boy i dated, after using the bathroom, plucked the post-it from the wall and kept it in his wallet, claiming that it will be a constant reminder to him to be the right man. i put a replacement up (actually immediately after he stole the original post-it from the wall) ... this wasn't something that was going to be negotiable for me.

when i acknowledged that marriage isn't something that happens with the mere passing of time, when i accepted that i didn't really want any of the boys i dated, when i realized that life is infinitely more complicated than any of the plots of a sweet dreams book, that's when i had finally embraced the S box.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

christmas is officially ON!

yesterday, i officially had my first christmas event -- a dinner with my prayer partner from community! and, can i just say it was lovely?

my office friends and i were supposed to have dinner at vivere's sky lounge, but since all three live north of mandaluyong, not to mention that one is a new mom, asking them to go to alabang in the midst of the crazy christmas traffic will just be sheer cruelty. so, when yvette came up with the idea of having our christmas dinner at vivere, it was like my prayers have been answered.

funny - i'm a southerner through and through and i don't think i've ever dined here.

of course the biggest attraction of the sky lounge will always be the view. and crazy me, save for this shot (with not-so-pretty crimson in the background), i don't think i have one capturing all the twinkly lights of the city. 

{a side story: as we were getting ready to pose, my heel got caught between the slats. i tried pulling it up, but couldn't. thank goodness for the waiter who came to the rescue to un-wedge my shoe!}

one of the highlights - at least for me - was seeing the lovely tree in the lobby. oh, how i wish i knew my camera more so that i could've made the pictures less washed out because of the lights! this was what i call our "talk show" pics. i mean, it seemed like the perfect setting for an interview, don't you think?

this is what i call my "congresswoman" pic -- if i were a congresswoman, and i were to give out calendars to my constituents, THIS would be the pic. again, i wish i knew the settings of my camera better!

and as for the food? let's just say that i enjoyed every bite, so much that i didn't even get to finish the pasta we ordered!

for the record, it was tomato soup for me ...

then we split a serving of caesar salad ...

yep -- this was half an order! generous, huh?

and then we split a serving of seafood pasta ...

again, quite generous, huh?

all in all, it was a great way to start the christmas season. hopefully, the season will bring lots of good times with friends and family, amazing presents (yes, i am addicted to presents!), and a greater appreciation of the miracle of the season ☺

Monday, December 03, 2012

thursday club

{class picture!}

friends have noticed that my amazing friend Vanessa has this penchant for thursday in her movies. in one more chance, popoy and basha's group eats dinners on thursdays and her latest, the mistress, features bea's character meeting with her benefactor on thursday.

and since my thursdays are no-no's when it comes to scheduling stuff, they asked, are you the reason why vanessa keeps using thursday as a special day?

nope, and i will have to ask vanessa why she uses it (maybe she didn't even notice it?) as her day-of-choice. as for me - again let me reiterate that i'm not iglesia (neither is vanessa) and as for my thursdays, well, they are spent with this bunch of amazing people.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

perks of the job!

no one really enjoys being thrown into christmas party committee duty. but since five of us entered the office all at the same time, the assumption was each one of us would have to take on the task of being the committee chair. should be easy peasy, except that (1) we're expected to come up with three parties (2) on a paltry budget, not to mention (3) make sure there's a carving station on the office party that (4) should be held at a hotel and that (5) all the rank and file and supervisory employees get christmas baskets.

this year it was my turn. and this year, the party was going to be held at the mandarin.

now, us girls, we take it upon ourselves to do an actual food tasting. not that we're matakaw (oh yes we are) but because we just want to make sure that "the flavor profile pleases everyone's palate". okay, that was something i just made up. and i really say it. so banquet officers everywhere must think i'm crazy.

but call me crazy if you will ... at least it got us a free buffet at paseo uno.

yep, free buffet. not food tasting, mind you. free eat-all-you-can buffet at paseo uno. for dinner. i am blessed i know. my waistline? not so much. 

apparently, it would be much cheaper for them to just allow us to stuff our faces silly at the paseo uno buffet instead of cooking tasting portions of the buffet we had ordered.  still, we really tried to do our job by asking the banquet officer assigned to us which of the food served was on our menu. i think she knew that the food tasting we were asking for was really just a nice way of saying "it would be nice to have a free hotel meal in exchange for all the stress of being the christmas party committee" but in fairness to her, i think she did a mighty job of not laughing out loud, seeing as we were all probably googly-eyed at the spread before us. 

so she just pooh-poohed away and we did some nodding, and thinking, and pretending to know what we were doing. after a while, she just said, "i'll leave you to enjoy your buffet."  magic words.

cause we really enjoyed.

i was sad (upset!) that i had to run off to alabang to fulfill my tuloy duties. but, all the rushing and fast eating notwithstanding, i did manage to still stuff myself silly.

any regrets? none, except that i wish i had more time to eat more food.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

tiny trees

it's december! which means it is officially christmas territory. next to my birthday, christmas happens to be one of my most favorite days of the year. there's just something about the cool air, the carols, and the presents that bring out the kid in me.

when i was a kid, setting up the tree was something that my mom and i did together. she'd put on the record (as in the vinyl long playing kind) at the turntable and we'd sing carols as we trimmed our tree. then, as she wrapped presents, i'd be her human tape dispenser.

when i went off to college, i stayed in a dorm so that meant not being able to see our tree on a daily basis. you know what my mom did? she got me a tiny tree to take with me! so this tree right here is 18 years old. (okay - did i just reveal to the universe i went to college way back in 1994? i guess i did! now it's your turn to say, "you don't look that old!")

{is there such a thing as way too many pink balls? uhm, yes!
and i just noticed now but my tree appears quite lopsided!}

a couple of you remember the martian, and this tree here was his gift to me when i went off to law school and ... you guessed it, had to spend a whole lot of time in the dorms. originally this tree came with a whole lotta lights. and, as with old christmas lights, they eventually burned out.

{faux lemons!} 
i will admit i was sorely tempted to buy a tree + new decors especially when one of my friends ended up decorating her condo with christmas finds from divi for only P1,700. yep - P1,700 for a 5ft. tree, 2 5ft. needle pine garlands, and a whole lotta decors (balls, flowers, leaves) in pink and gold. another friend scored a whole lot of decors + a tree as well when she went the following week. me - i went - but i was able to stop myself since kuya ef pointed out that (1) i already have way too much stuff and (2) i hardly set up the tree anyway.

bah, humbug! hahaha.

scrooge issues aside, he is right. i have a full-sized tree in the maids-room-turned-into-laundry-room, and there are bazillions of decors hidden in various nooks and crannies. the pink christmas balls i think i got off season last year (used them to fill a huge bowl + the cake tray last christmas) and the faux lemons were from two or three years ago when someone from the st. james bazaar sold all of them to me for a little more than a hundred bucks i think (the white ribbons i added myself). i also found the christmas solar lamps my dad gave me last year (which will be brought out once the yard is cleaned!) so i am, without a doubt, amply covered in the christmas decor department.

what about you? how's your christmas preparations coming along?
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