I’m On The Right Track

At the dawn of the new year, I had two objectives this 2015 that I made sure I will really carry on and actually do. No, it’s not the typical new year’s resolution (I’m way past that phase already whenever a new year unfolds) but rather two tasks that have taken a backseat all these years.

I’ve never been one of those gals who always want to have the latest gadget there is. In fact, I’m far from that because I belong to the class of women who feels complete and secure sans the latest ‘it’ gadget in my possession. Designer bags and jewelries however are totally the opposite :-) .

The advent of digital cameras saw me taking the longest walk I can walk before I had to dive into it. I did not upgrade my film cameras until June 2007. Years prior to that when we were traveling, we always felt funny as we were about the only couple who had no digital camera in use (we had a couple of trusty film cameras) except for our cute and tiny digital Sony camcorder (the latest model at the time when we purchased).

Owning a digital camera was also the end of my paper scrapping. I totally stopped  putting together the albums that I’m used to creating after every travel. Thousands of photos that spans from 2007 to 2014 were just left stored in my EHD and USB’s. I got nothing to show for, they were only viewable when I intentionally viewed them.

A lot of life changing events in the last three years had me thinking that I totally missed the boat and that those photos will forever be stored just the way they are. But I was blessed and given the CHANCE. The chance to put them in order. I was more than willing to take that chance, so at the dawn of this new year (2015), I made up my mind to create digital photo books out of these photos, as well as start a journal that will document my deepest thoughts, no pressures – no filters. I write on my makeshift journal when I feel like it.

I’ve set my objective to make 1 photo book per month. But my creative juices must have been really re-awakened that to date, I have already made 5 photo books. In fact, I received the first book earlier today.

shutterfly photo book

shutterfly photo book

shutterfly photo book

shutterfly photo book

And my journal? Yes, it’s just a makeshift journal. In fact, my idea was fueled when I got this complimentary hardbound Personal Wealth Management Notebook from Citi. It was a freebie for account holders and we’ve been getting it annually but it was only this year when I really thought of making use of it.

journal

journal

I’m not new to journaling. I’ve done it on and off over the years. I find that this activity helps me heal, grow and thrive. It is also a very effective stress management tool. Well, at least for me.

Five photo books done, I don’t know how many more to create and make. All I know is, I have 7 years worth of photos to put in order. I’m determined and I’m psyched!

The Unreliable US Postal System

For two years in a row, I’ve fallen victim to the sub-standard service of the United States Postal System. I wrote about it here in 2013 but when it happened again last year, I didn’t bother to rehash it one more time because I knew it was  simply counter productive.

My main concern however, is no longer my magazine subscriptions that are not properly delivered. How many more important documents in the mail are not delivered to the right address, or worse are getting lost in the system?

My husband had to put a Security Freeze on his credit record with the three Credit Reporting Bureau because he was a victim of Identity Theft last year. We believe that this came about when a credit card bill was undelivered/missing for one month.  We surmised that it was probably wrongly delivered and got into the hands of an unscrupulous individual who took his time and spent a few bucks to obtain vital info about my husband. He then went ahead, pretending as my husband and called the bank and tried to obtain a replacement card. Thankfully enough, God was watching over us. The UPS delivery man who knows me and my husband personally did not release the parcel containing the replacement card to the guy who went out of his way to trick the UPS man (pretending to be my husband and is expecting a delivery that day) while he was still out in the street. Obviously, the bank is also guilty of security breach because they did not verify by calling us first. No monetary amount was compromised, but we know that someone out there has my husband’s vital info thus, the Security Freeze on his credit file for life. I subsequently placed Fraud Alert too on my credit record because that credit card is a joint account wherein the primary is my husband. Our trust in the bank’s system has gone down the drain, so even if the account is still active we’re no longer perusing the card. That’s 20 years of excellent credit history on this card. Reporting the case to the police was a nightmare let alone being a victim of Identity Theft. It requires a lot of documentation and communication with the credit bureaus and the bank involved.

The above incident altered my staunch stand on not going electronic with both banking and paying bills. I have succeeded for years in managing our bills via snail mail and phone payment whatever the case may be, but after the ID Theft, my way of doing things changed.

So yeah, my Fall 2014 issue (everybody knows that it is the most coveted issue) of Vogue magazine last year went missing once again. It was supposed to be the last issue for my annual subscription but because I did not receive my copy, my subscription was extended to one more month. I was so appalled that I just took it with a grain of salt.

But imagine the look on my face when it resurfaced a few days ago, exactly one season later. I was supposed to get this in August 2014. I guess, I got more lucky this time because in 2013 it never resurfaced, it was totally gone and undelivered.

Now, what will I do with a ‘stale magazine’?

vogue sept 2014

vogue sept 2014

vogue sept 2014

Call me old fashion but I still prefer the actual magazine subscription. I’m subscribing to several magazines both local and international delivered direct to my Zinio app on my iPad but I’m a dismal failure. I haven’t been reading all of them, and I’ve got 2 years worth of unread magazines. I don’t know when I’ll ever be able to read all of them. The issues keep coming and they’re piling up. I’m 7 months delayed too with my actual magazine subscriptions that’s delivered via snail mail, but at least I’m doing a lot better. After all, 7 months is better than 2 years worth of unread mags.

Parting reminder to all: Be vigilant of any important missing mail. You’ll never know, that document may get into the wrong hands. And, USPS???? – – kindly do a better job. Thank you.

Recipe: Flourless Double Chocolate Chip Cookie

Ingredients:
1 cup thick almond butter
1 cup coconut sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1/4 cup or more dark chocolate chips

Procedure:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Mix together almond butter and coconut sugar
3. Add egg and mix again
4. Add a bit of cocoa powder at a time until well mixed
5. Add baking soda, vanilla, salt, chocolate chips
The dough should be thick, if too runny add almond flour
6. Roll cookies into balls and place on a parchment paper
7. Use a fork or the palm of your hands to press the cookie down slightly
8. Bake for 10 minutes
9. Cool the cookies on a baking rack

Enjoy!

flourles double dark chocolate chip cookie

Note: ingredients are all organic

Healthy And Refreshing

After days of indulging and limitless bingeing, it’s time to go back to our same old way of eating. As I’ve mentioned on my prior posts during the holidays, I was not going to count calories and I surely did. Luckily, no matter how much calories my husband and I may have ingested, it didn’t do a number on our waistline. No additional weight gained! I have to tell you, while I was eating without limitation, I dragged myself into the usual exercise routine that I’m used to. It was a totally a different story for my husband however, as no dragging is required because he loves the gym.

Back in the summer, I made what I can say as the healthiest flourless double chocolate chip cookie. Healthy – because I used all organic ingredients (my pantry has been officially all organic three years ago, by the way) and as the name implies, it’s flourless! If you think a cookie can’t be cookie without flour, think again. It is possible!

Here’s the proof.

flourles double dark chocolate chip cookie

flourles double dark chocolate chip cookie

flourles double dark chocolate chip cookie

Partnered with a refreshing watermelon smoothie with mint and you’ve got a really healthy snack. It’s time to go back to the more wholesome and guilt-free food.

watermelon smoothie

watermelon smoothie

Coming up : the recipe of the flourless double chocolate chip cookie

New Year’s Eve 2015

It’s the third day of the year, and it’s been three great days thus far. Christmas decors indoor and out are still intact, 2014 calendars around the house are still left hanging where they are. Am I refusing to let go of the year past? Definitely not! I’m so into the new year and I’m claiming it to be a healthy, peaceful and a prosperous one.

But let me share with you how we celebrated New Year’s eve.

We decided to welcome the new year in the comfort of our home and in  keeping with our holiday theme of silver and blue this year, I pulled out our blue and white dining ensemble.  Sans the traditional new year’s eve fare, it was a fun night. I just prepared whatever food I know that we both like, and that was it.

I don’t normally drink anything alcoholic but this time, I was convinced so I did. I have to admit that I must have drank a little too much because I was buzzing into  the first two hours of 2015. We skipped the bubbly however, we just opened a bottle that was  available in the house. The wine at dinner did me in. Then I didn’t stop there. After dinner while waiting for the ball drop on Times Square (on telly of course), husband and I decided to go for Hard Black Cherry Lemonade. The drink has 5% alcohol so it didn’t help my case.

new year's eve dinner

new year's eve dinner

new year's eve dinner

new year's eve dinner

Salmon Roe Caviar, Mackenzie Scottish Smoked salmon, Dutch cheese with Mediterranean herbs and Jack cheese with herbs and garlic

new year's eve dinner

multigrain and flaxseed water crackers

new year's eve dinner

14.5% alcohol in this green ginger wine is too potent for someone like me

new year's eve dinner

salad greens with ginger dressing

new year's eve dinner

 sushi platter

new year's eve dinner

It was my husband’s request that I make any kind of pasta dish. So I whipped up my usual whole wheat, garlic, anchovies, red pepper flakes and parsley combination.

new year's eve dinner

This very light chiffon mixed fruit cake was good  for two nights (new year’s eve and new year’s day) for this sweet tooth couple

new year's eve dinnernew year's eve dinner

I didn’t have the so called 13 variety of round fruits. Does it really matter?

new year's eve dinner

 

12 oz. of Hard Black Cherry Lemonade was enough to keep me buzzing till 2 a.m.
new year's eve dinner

What’s the best way to start the first day of a new year after holiday bingeing? An alkalizing fresh green juice!

new year's day morning drink

Here’s to a bright and healthy 2015! Cheers!

Prayer For The New Year

Dear Lord,

We pray that this New Year will bring us closer to You.
May we take the time to get to know You.
Help us to truly celebrate the gifts You have graciously given us
and use them to serve You and spread Your word,

May we also see and love you in all the people we meet,
so that in turn, they can see You in us.

We know that all human relations take time if they are to grow and deepen. This is also true of our relations with You, the Father and the Holy Spirit, which must grow over the course of our lives. In this New Year, let us realise that every action of ours no matter how great or small enables us to be in touch with You.

Let us accept You in our lives, in the way it pleases You,

as Truth, to be spoken,

as Life, to be lived,

as Light, to be lighted,

as Love, to be followed,

as Joy, to be given,

as Peace, to be spread about,

as Sacrifice, to be offered among our relatives, friends, neighbours and all people.

Amen.

(this is a repost originally published on January 1, 2014)

Holiday Highlights

This holiday season may have been our most ‘quiet’ of all since we’ve been married. It was devoid of all the usual accouterments. I made sure that gift giving, decking the halls and time with family and friends didn’t get in the way of our normal routine. Proper planning made everything possible, but most of all, our conscious effort on streamlining our activities was the best thing that we could have ever done. Seeing the people that are near and dear to us was done in phases, and they were made to understand and they respected our decision.

For our Thanksgiving dinner ( being that most restaurants are closed on that day), there could have been no better choice than go to our fave diner. If you recall last year, my husband chose pancakes for dinner. We made progress this year, as we both opted to have ‘normal’  light dinner and capped with a luscious ending of Strawberry shortcake.

thanksgiving day 2014

thanksgiving day 2014

thanksgiving day 2014

thanksgiving day 2014

thanksgiving day 2014

With my husband’s looming conversion to Catholicism, Advent was a big deal in our household. Initially, he wanted to have an Advent wreath here at home. Of course, it elicited a lot of laughter from me. He was delighted to see the first candle lit in church during the first Sunday of Advent, as the symbolism of the candles has taken a deeper meaning to him. I finally realized a couple of weeks later that I had to take a snapshot of the advent wreath before it was taken down from the altar in church.

advent wreath

advent wreath

We also witnessed the annual outdoor Christmas tree lighting in church. This year, the new Pastor went for a live tree and everyone is hoping that it will be the parish’s tree from this year and the many more years to come.

christmas tree lighting

christmas tree lighting

christmas tree lighting

christmas tree lighting

The tree is huge, but in my humble opinion, it needs more lights. What do you think?

christmas tree lighting

After being outdoors for quite a few minutes, with a live sax player around for the lighting, we had to stay much longer than expected even if it was bitter cold. We couldn’t help but go for a hearty Japanese bento box from Sarku Japan  for dinner right after. Although considered fastfood, taking out food from this place never fails to satisfy our Japanese food cravings.

sarku japan

sarku japan

At Whole Foods for our usual weekend food shopping the weekend before Christmas, they had this outdoor roasting pit and they were dishing out freshly roasted chestnuts for free. I have to admit that the taste of freshly roasted nuts on an open fire was divine!

chestnuts on open fire

chestnuts on open fire

While the day of Christmas eve turned out to be dreary, wet and windy all day, it didn’t dampen the spirits of the man who is about to be Christian. My husband was really geared to attend Midnight Mass in spite of inclement weather. But true to HIS words, the sky opened up and everything turned calm by 9 p.m. We had a late Christmas eve dinner, took our sweet time until we were ready to head out to Church for Midnight Mass.

Christmas eve dinner

Christmas eve dinner

Christmas eve dinner

This bowl of clam chowder soup was perfect after a windy, rainy day.

Christmas eve dinner

Yes, your eyes are not fooling you. These are french fries with gravy. It was kinda yucky to me, but my husband wanted it. Call it the night of indulgence :-)

Christmas eve dinner

Christmas eve dinner

Christmas eve dinner

Christmas eve dinner

We certainly  didn’t finish these decadent treats within half hour. We slowly savored these treats because we have significantly cut back on indulging to treats like these.  Hey, it’s Christmas so we were willing to pack on the calories. The fruit flambé and chocolate cake was perfect for the occasion.

Christmas eve dinner

Christmas eve dinner

The night could not have been more perfect. It was calm and temps rose to the 60’s. Suddenly it was Spring in Winter. Celebrating with the congregation was really sacred. We were finally home by 1:30 a.m.

midnight mass

midnight mass

midnight mass

midnight mass

The real reason for the season – commemorating the birth of Jesus.

midnight mass

I wish I had a better shot but this is the best my point and shoot could do :-)

I hope you all had a peaceful and meaningful holiday. Till next year.

Gifting Mrs. Prindable Gourmet Apples

Greeting cards have all been sent. Those that are going overseas have been mailed as early as the third week of November except for one (delayed due to address change) which was sent only on the first week of December, out of state cards went out on the 13th, and all the local cards were mailed last Friday. All presents are now wrapped, sent/mailed out or about to be distributed (on Christmas day or a day before) whichever the case may be.

One of the changes in my gifting pattern this year is – instead of giving cash token gifts  to people whose service we value and like (we however, maintained cash gifts to our on-call housekeeper, UPS delivery man, my and husband’s hairdresser, my colorist and spa personnel that we love  ),  I sprang for gourmet apples from Mrs. Prindables.  I bought 20 pieces of gourmet apples (2 boxes), 6 of which we are keeping for our own consumption. Forget about counting sugar and calories this Christmas, I’m ready to pack on the pounds (lol).

mrs. prindables

mrs. prindables

These apples are addicting. I bought three flavors : Triple Chocolate Chip Holiday Sprinkle Apple, Toffee Apple and Red and Green Peanut Butter Drop Apple.
mrs. prindables

I have these gift boxes ready to be filled with apple for each recipient on the day of distribution. They have to be refrigerated.

mrs. prindables

This Triple Chocolate apple is our absolute favorite. As you may have guessed it, we ate one apple splitting it in half in one sitting. One large gourmet apple is supposed to serve 4 to 6. But the chocolate addicts that we are, we put away one apple in one sitting. I have to admit that I was a bit guilty after indulging.

mrs. prindables

We didn’t go for half an apple each with the Peanut Butter drop apple. 1/4 was just right. The rest of the apple –  I had to squeeze lemon on the sliced part to keep it from discoloration and it worked. And the Toffee apple? Both of us are not enamored with it. Needless to say, we are giving all of it away except for the one that we sliced open. Of the 6 apples that we are keeping, we have 4 pieces Triple Chocolate, 1 piece Peanut Butter Drop and 1 piece Toffee. That’s how much we love the Triple Chocolate flavor.
mrs. prindables
As I’ve mentioned above, I’m not counting calories and sugar this Christmas. I will deal with any bulge after the season. Looking at the nutrition facts, they are really loaded. And for people like us who have no control, it’s really going to do a number on our waist. The numbers just multiply if you eat more than 1/4 of an apple in one sitting. Now, don’t be surprised to see me balloon after the 1st of the new year :-) I’m pressured to finish all the apples within 2 weeks. Remember they can’t keep forever.
mrs. prindables
mrs. prindables

mrs. prindables

It’s Christmas In Our House

I have to say, the tree is my work of art. It took me days until it was all finished. My husband’s involvement was limited to unboxing, building and shaping the tree. Since our tree came pre-lit with clear lights, he didn’t even have to string the lights. But I’m not complaining, I had fun doing it and that’s all that matters. Silver and blue is our decor theme this year.

xmas 2014

xmas 2014

xmas 2014

This pair of silver balls found their rightful spot along with a pair of  venetian glass teardrop snowflake.
xmas 2014

xmas 2014

xmas 2014

The coffee table is adorned with star shaped pine cone centerpiece.

xmas 2014

Live potted red poinsettia adds color to our Christmas theme this year

xmas 2014

xmas 2014

xmas 2014

Another pine cone centerpiece is on the dining table. I gave up looking for a silver tablecloth because there was simply nothing that caught my fancy so I settled for this Ralph Lauren holiday table runner.

xmas 2014

xmas 2014

This year, Christmas lights found its way in our balcony railings

xmas 2014

xmas 2014

xmas 2014

But let’s not forget the reason for the season. We have an Advent Calendar and Daily Advent Reflection Book. Since day 1 of Advent, opening the door of the Advent Calendar and reading the reflection book have been a part of my morning ritual.

xmas 2014

xmas 2014

xmas 2014