Saturday, May 31, 2014

Making a house a home

This week’s blog prompt is about making your home, your home.

“What makes a house "home" to you and your family? What are the small things you do immediately upon arrival (or upon the arrival of your UAB) at Post to make your house more homelike?”

I tried to find a picture of what I do to make my house a home, and I can’t find one, though I’m fairly sure I posted one on facebook a couple of years ago.

I am a collector of only one thing – magnets. I love magnets so much. I try to buy one or two from every destination, purchasing at the airport sometimes (our two years in Manila have increased my magnet collection by quite a few).

In my suitcase I’m bringing an envelope of magnets and things to hang with them. Decorating my fridge is something I’ve loved doing for a long time, and I feel much more at home when it’s done. The envelope of magnets and things to hang has been done since our very first move from Dallas to DC, and it’s getting thicker these days.

After realizing that I have said envelope somewhere in the house I thought…Oo! I can take a photo of those. Here’s a very small portion of my magnet collection.

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It is going to make our place in Jamaica ours very shortly after we arrive.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Turones!

Today’s blog subject is thanks to the writer at SubjectVerbObject.

Remember when I said (in my very last post) about the writer who’s helping some of us find new things to write about? This week her topics are about food.

I. Love. Food. Like…loooooove. Would marry it if I could.

My favorite Filipino is the turon.

photo courtesy of pinoyfavrecipes.blogspot.com

It’s a dessert. You take a banana (and maybe some jack fruit), wrap it in spring roll wrapper, fry it, and immediately after it’s out, throw some sugar on it. When fresh these are a very, very tasty dessert.

Please forgive the shortness of this post. I am packing out in one day and am so busy.

If you can get a hold of a turon – do it! Your life will be better for it.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Doing something for myself

The second prompt in this week’s series is doing something nice and telling y’all about it.

I had already made the mani/pedi appointment before the promt. Score!

Today when I went up to the salon, I saw a sign in the window. They have a special going on in May for their spa manis/pedis. They call it Toe-ti-fruity. I decided to treat myself to their refreshing scrub and wrap for my feet (a wrap for my feet is unheard of there, they don’t do it). It was so fun!

Toward the end, they brought out some four seasons in a champagne glass and a couple of candies. What a nice sweet treat.

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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Staying happy in Manila

The Foreign Service blogger at SubjectVerbObject is trying to re-start her blog, and is getting others to join. She’s giving out lists of blog prompts (suggestions accepted, and encouraged) on Sunday and will post the participating blogs on her blog on Thursday. Since I’ve felt like my own blog has been a bit boring lately I thought I’d join in when I have time. Tonight, I was sitting down, reading when I saw the prompts. I practically jumped up to blog – something I haven’t done in a while. The prompt for this week that I’m going to concentrate on is taying happy where you are. There are two other prompts, I probably won’t make it to them, but maybe I will.

For me, staying happy in Manila is fairly easy.

For me to be happy, I need to be around people, and I need to be able to pamper myself. Manila is so easy to do/have both of those things.

Sure, the greater Manila area has over 12 million people. For someone who’s looking for friendships, this is a good place to do it. Filipinos are friendly people who love Americans. There are also over 300 direct hires at the Embassy. There’s no shortage of Americans who you can shoot the breeze with at lunch, befriend at the Marine’s happy hour, or experience the Philippines with on a CLO trip (let’s be honest, it’s easy to avoid the ones you want to avoid with such a large pool of people to choose from).  

I’m an extrovert. The stereotypical kind that requires friendships for emotional survival. The kind who asks friends over to play games on her wedding anniversary, or who thinks that the only thing that could have made today (Mother’s Day) better is friends coming over for the wonderful Tea Party that my husband threw me (seriously, it was awesome and deserves a blog post of its own).

I’ve made some amazing friends here. Life-long friends, that I would travel to Canada to see. Like the ones I’m traveling to Canada to see this summer. They are what I’ll miss most about the Philippines. It’s the same about Costa Rica, and will be the same about every where we go, unless everyone at Post is horrible, and I hope that never happens.

It’s so easy to pamper oneself in Manila! This is a large metro area made of multiple cities, each one having a skyline that would rival some of the bigger mid-size cities in the US. Driving into the area on the Skyway from the south you can see them all lined up and the way they’re going, pretty soon you won’t be able to see where one ends and the next one begins.

The separate cities are chock full of restaurants, malls, cinemas, and beauty spas…so many of each of those, that one would have a very hard time (possibly impossible time) trying them all in two years.

Malling is a very popular past-time in Manila and the Roy family has picked up a love for it as well. Even in Costa Rica we’d go to the one mall near us almost every weekend to eat and let the kids play.

I spend a lot of my time at Greenbelt. I go not-infrequently to Nail Tropics and get manis and pedis for prices that would make an American salon blush. One of my favorite things to do, thanks to an introduction by Carla at Carla Runs the World is going to tea. She introduced me to High Tea at the Penninsula. While I love High Tea, I love going to TWG more. This is an international restaurant chain and I wish it was in the States and Jamaica. Alas, it’s not and soon I’ll have to leave it behind.

Though I do get to take a bit of TWG with me because for Mother’s Day the kids (read: John) got me one of their tea pots, their sugar, their tea jelly, their Earl Grey, and another tea. The name of it escapes me and that’s too bad because it’s amazing. It has the word “blue” in it, I think.

I’ve not been short of movies, eating out, spa appointments, or friends in Manila. It’s so easy to stay happy here.

You should try it if you get a chance.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Not fair

It’s not fair that I have to be so far away. It’s not fair that I can’t help even when I want to. It’s not fair that her mind is going while I’m so far and can’t be there to see her or talk to her when she’s still “there” so she’ll at least know me. Right now, she’s not so far. But how quickly will it progress, how bad will she get? Will anyone really know? She wants to be independent, but how independent is she? According to an ER doctor, she can’t be. She needs help. Why can’t she be the woman who makes me itchy clothes, and has a biting wit that either made you roll your eyes or laugh? Why can’t she be the strong woman from when I was young? Why do I have to be so far?

And I can’t be there.

This sucks.

This is the worst part of the Foreign Service.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Stocking up

There’s a monthly bazaar here put on by the American Women’s Club of the Philippines (AWCP).

It’s a large event held in the World Trade Center in the third or fourth week of every month.

I haven’t made it a habit to go every month. I’ve only gone a handful of times. I really love seeing everyone that goes. It’s a mixture of so many cultures under one roof. You see, even though the AWCP hosts the event, everyone and anyone is welcome to go, as long as they can pay the P100 ($2.25) entrance fee.

You’ll hear so many languages, and different accents. Today I didn’t pay much attention but I did hear French. I even talked to the French speakers a bit (in English…no French knowledge here).

There are plenty of things at the Bazaar to buy. There are the typical local products, things made of capiz, things made of wood, or coconut. There are the handmade crafts that you can personalize. There’s lots of jewelry. Lots of clothing, there’s a large area with tables and food booths set up. It’s quite a site, and is a monthly social gathering for many.

Today I went knowing that it was my last bazaar before we pack out next month. Actually, I forgot the bazaar was today until I was in the embassy after my workout and saw today’s date. Why does April 22 sound familiar, I thought. Oh yeah! The bazaar!

I had my driver drop me off at the bazaar before going to run an errand. Then I spent almost two hours looking at things, making purchases, and chatting with friends. I dropped quite a bit of money. But I’m not ashamed of it, and I know that between now and pack out I’ll think of things that I want to bring home from the Philippines, or something that I want to give someone.

Lucky for me there’s still Greenhills mall.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Good Friday in Pampanga

Yesterday John and I went to the Pampanga province to witness a Filipino tradition. The wiki has information on exactly what’s happening. But here’s what I saw.

Men carrying crosses:

Very large crowds flocking to witness the events:

Self-flagellation (the two guys kneeling with really red backs), and men hanging themselves from crosses:

So much of what I saw was really hard to watch. I don’t understand the rituals, and I find it illogical. I understand to some extent how they think this is acceptable, but their own religion doesn’t support it.

However, it’s a very big thing here. We saw so many tourists, Filipino mostly, and at the site in the last photo there were even tents set up with snacks, drinks, and ice for sale. You could get cross balloons from the balloon guy. It was interesting, and I’m happy to have experienced this part of Filipino culture once, but I feel no compunction to do it again.