Holiday Break

Friday, December 23, 2011
It seemed just a few weeks ago that I had my study break and now I am off on a holiday break.

This year, the family has decided to embark on a trip to a local destination. I don't want to mention the place yet so I can provide a little excitement and suspense for the posts when they appear on my blog.

I must say, this year's trip is very well deserved. It has been a great year, even better than the last. I am really looking forward to next year because I know it can only be better than this year's.

Don't worry, my dear readers. I will be back soon enough. I just need to gather blog materials. And have some ho-ho-ho!

2012, here we come!

Counting The Advent Days

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I decided that since Missy has started counting big numbers, it would be kinda cool for her to count the days 'till Christmas. To help her, we've bought her a chocolate advent calendar. Basically, for every day that passes in December, she opens one block (the date is printed outside the block) and eat a small chocolate that's hidden neatly inside the block.

I think this is quite a novel idea to get Missy excited for Christmas. The advent calendar counts up to the 24th. On the 25th, she won't be opening up a chocolate block, instead she'll be opening her Christmas presents.

Here's hoping that she'll love counting....and love her presents!

Missy Gets A Cycle Upgrade

Monday, December 19, 2011
Missy has had a bicycle since she was the tender age of 4. She used to ride it around our complex and play with the kid next door. But since she has not been riding it for a while, I thought this phase was over.

Recently, kid-next-door came over with a new bike and asked Missy to play with her. Imagine my surprise when I saw the 2 kids riding around the complex - neighbour kid had a brand new bicycle and my child was riding her wheel fit for a 4-year-old. What shame! Missy was literally slouching while riding her bike. What a neglectful parent I am! To think that this bicycle would last her throughout early to middle childhood and pre-adolescent years!

A week later, we decided to buy Missy her due - a brand new bicycle. Certainly an upgrade!

Tooth Fairy Down The Drain

Thursday, December 15, 2011
No, we did not just kill the Tooth Fairy. But in our little story, it could've gone bad but we've managed to keep believing in her for a few more years.

My youngest, aged cutely at around 7 and a half, came to me crying the one night. She was busy brushing her teeth when one of them accidentally fell down the drain as she was brushing. Take note that this is the age when teeth are brittle and highly likely to fall off. I tried to console her with a very adult approach of "these things happen" and told her to just sleep it off.

She found it hard to relax and kept thinking on about the tooth. She was worried that since her tooth is now somewhere at the bottom of the drain pipe, the Tooth Fairy might try and look for her tooth. Missy, knowing that the Tooth Fairy can't swim very well, thought that the Tooth Fairy might drown in her search. That would be the end of the Tooth Fairy and Missy would have been the cause of it all. Horror of horrors!

Mommy then explained that the tooth will not stay at the bottom of the drain. Instead, it will get washed away into the rivers and the seas and the oceans. But how will the Tooth Fairy find the tooth then, asked Missy? Mommy had to explain that Tooth Fairies have tooth radar and they are instantly drawn to fallen teeth. When the Tooth Fairy finds the tooth, she will then visit and leave some pennies.

Missy, still unsure if and when she was gonna get money for a missing tooth, took her plight to her older sister. Oldest suggested Missy write a note to the Tooth Fairy explaining what had happened.

"Dear Tooth Fairy, my name is Missy. I was brushing my teeth and my tooth fell into the drain. I hope you can find it and give me money in my shoe. Thank you. Love, Missy."

And true to form, the Tooth Fairy listened. The note was gone the next day. And there were some pennies left for Missy in her slippers. :-)

Note to readers: Wondering why she leaves her teeth in her slippers? See my previous post here.

Shared with all the other lovely moms at Mommy Moments this week. Especially our hostess, Chris, who celebrates her birthday today!

mommy moments

Picking On A Strawberry

Wednesday, December 14, 2011
As there are real budget constraints when it comes to family trips, I am always on the lookout for things we could do as a family that won't cost a lot of money. We'd usually do one big holiday spree in a year and the rest of the time, it would be small excursions here and there just for family bonding.

On a recent occasion, the family had the opportunity to pick strawberries on a farm. I actually heard about this place from a friend of mine last year but the strawberry season was already over so I could only try it out this year. The strawberries finally came in season early October. And on one good, sunny Sunday, I dragged the family for a trek to Tangaroa Strawberry Farm.

The Tangaroa Strawberry Farm is situated less than one and a half hours away from Johannesburg. It is actually in the North West province on your way to Hartebeespoort Dam. I was actually nervous that we might have gone all the way there for nothing. But I was wrong.

Although the strawberries had a dry spell this year, there were enough strawberries to give the whole family some enjoyable, quality time. As the strawberries were not in abundance, we were advised to pick and eat them within the farm. The whole "pick and eat" deal was for the experience rather than anything else. But I've heard that on a good season, you are able to buy the strawberries that you've picked by the kilograms.

There were even some mulberry trees nearby. Funny, showing my ignorant side, I thought strawberries grew on trees, hahaha. I was very mistaken as the rows of strawberry plants reminded me of garden patches.

Picking the strawberries on the patch
Getting into the spirit of picking and eating

There were some mulberry trees too.

Wow! These black mulberries really look like blackberries!!!

After our little picking rendezvous, the family decided to stay on the farm for lunch. There was a restaurant by the parking lot and we had their specials of Chicken Schnitzel. For desserts, we had their specialty - the Stawberry Cheesecake.

You might ask what happens at Tangaroa when the strawberries are out of season? The farm doubles up as a spa and offers weekend getaway accommodation for people who want to take a break from the city all throughout the year.

The whole farm setting was serene, what with the restaurant by the lake and ducks swimming around. It was truly a nice, peaceful timeout for the family.

For more information, visit the Tangaroa website. Entrance to the farm costs R50 (around $6 - $7) each person, young and old.

Weighing In: Blood Analysis

Monday, December 12, 2011
Well, there's no better compliment than the one I recently got from a visit to the herbalist and natural doctor. (Who incidentally my hubby kept calling "The Medicine Man").

I scheduled to have a live blood analysis done. I thought this was the moment of reckoning. I had been on a weight loss diet for a while now and have started eating healthily. Even stomaching green leafy vegetables which I've never touched all through my life until recently. I really think that it is always good to know if there is something wrong with you so you are able to fix the situation before it becomes any worse. Plus I wanted to see the fruits of my labour.

I am very chuffed to announce that the results were good. These were how my blood cells looked although this photo is not mine.

My blood cells were very healthy and well-oxygenated. Which prompted the doctor to ask if I was a vegetarian. I was floored. My diet was obviously paying off. Although I might not be losing the weight much now, I've still got good blood cells to show for it.

In the words of Mr Medicine Man, my blood was in stellar condition. And so was I, after receiving that news!

Missy's Epidemic Badge

Friday, December 9, 2011
No, it's not a Girl Scout thing.

My youngest recently got a school badge for her academic results.

She was really proud to show it off, even calling it her "Epidemic" badge :-) Tee-hee.

Of course, the meaning of epidemic is not totally lost on me. An epidemic of Missy. Sure. It can happen. We are all suffering from it. Especially now that she's in that cute age of speaking her mind and saying whatever.

Spreading childhood cuteness at Mommy Moments this week.

mommy moments

A Big Bite Of Sinful Delights

Wednesday, December 7, 2011
My eldest recently had a school art project where she had to produce a bigger version of her most loved chocolate bar. The "chocolate" needed more complexity than the project looked. She had to have the right watercolours, size, texture.

The whole class got into the project. And the results were amazing.

MZ with her gigantic choc bars!

My eldest was ecstatic with the "bars" as you can see from this pic!

Can you just imagine us having all these goodies bigger than super size? Simply sinful!

The Spur Birthday Experience

Monday, December 5, 2011
So my daughter's birthday wish came true. Aint' that a good feeling?

We celebrated her birthday yesterday and it went off without a hitch. It was great fun!

They ordered their food and played around the jungle gyms, mini-ferris wheel and swings and trampolins. They sang around the birthday cake and my child got to blow her candles.

Hubby and I, together with my eldest daughter and her boyfriend, were the adults manning the kids. We had 15 kids on our hands. They were really a handful.

So now it's official, Missy is 8!

Oops, only half the candles went out. Time for another blow...

Mommy "Pressure" Moments

Thursday, December 1, 2011
Boy, has my youngest laid it on thick! There is no bigger pressure in the world than mommy pressure.

My youngest had a school project a few weeks ago where she had to create a birthday invitation. She brought it home and showed it to me. Quite the right timing as well as her birthday was coming up.

Sample of Missy's invite
"A birthday invitation: You are invited to Missy's 8th birthday at the Spur on 5 December from 8:00. Please bring your costume."

I felt a slight pang of guilt. I have not given her a proper birthday party in the last few years. I felt scrutinised with some other type of peer pressure as my youngest looked at me expectingly. But of course I knew my youngest was not doing anything at all. The feeling was all in my head. I was ashamed in thinking that I've been depriving her of a birthday celebration befitting a young kid her age.

The next day I was on the phone to her venue of choice, the Spur.

The Spur is a South African steakhouse, specializing in steaks and grills. What was nice was that the Spur catered for kids' birthday parties. They had jungle gyms and a computer room/entertainment area for the kids to play in.

I was very lucky to have been able to book the venue the Sunday noon before my child's actual birthday, which was on a Monday. I think I would have been crushed more than her if I had not been able to book, knowing of course that I should have arranged this long ago.

I told my youngest that night. We worked on her birthday invitation. The real ones this time. She was ecstatic. And for a little while, mommy pressure was off until the next load :-)

Have you ever felt precious mommy pressure moments?

This post is shared with Mommy Moments this week.

mommy moments


Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Wowowee! Almost every single letter in the title of this post is in CAPS. It feels like the words are being screamed at you: "Hey, you! Look at me! I'm new and great!"

And just like the maddening words, the HD PVR 2P impressed.

This decoder/PVR model has been out for a while now, actually since May 2010. But the family only plucked up the courage to do the purchase now. In truth, I probably forgot to mention that our old DSTV decoder (a very old model who shall not be named) conked out on us one evening. This simple event took us right back to the Middle Ages where sticks and stones had to be used to create fire. I had visions of kids jumping up and down on the bed and hubby cooking up batches of stews and steaks all for entertainment...I knew we could not go on without satellite TV for the next 24 hours.

The HD PVR 2P is a smaller (cheaper) version of the HD PVR. As the name states, it works well with other HD (High Definition) equipments, like TV, DVD players, etc. It lets you watch a channel and record another at the same time. It also lets you connect a second decoder to the PVR and be able to watch a second channel at another TV (this is called the ExtraView) a small extra fee, of course.

So far, I have been delighted with my purchase. So delighted that I've also bought a DSD1131 decoder to play as my second decoder. I had some "fun" connecting the ExtraView as well, but that's probably good enough for another post.

So if you're thinking of christmas gifts to oneself, this won't be a bad choice at all. Affordable too. For more, visit DSTV.

I'm Back, I'm Back....Yes, I'm Back

Monday, November 28, 2011
So the storm of examinations is finally over on my side. After going through a gigantic, last-minute cramming session, the day came and passed and the CIMA P2 exam was over.

Good or bad result, it was definitely something. I would like to say that I'm confident about the outcome. But I never am sure when it comes to these things. When did we get to the stage of studying where we can't even determine if the answer is definitely correct? My studies nowadays normally says that if you are able to explain and show how you got to your answers that you will get marks for it anyways. Odd, a "definitely maybe" answer. LOL.

One thing that is not a "definitely maybe" is that I am back to blogging. Yes, of course, until the next set of exams again. But that's sooo many months from now. I do need the study break every now and then.

Now that the storm has "temporarily" passed, it is time to turn my attention to serious matters of motherhood and to the quirky life on the African continent.

Watch out! I'm back with a zing.

Taking A Sabbatical

Tuesday, November 1, 2011
As my CIMA exam approaches, I have to, once again, take a pause in my normal blogging life.

I have less than a month to revise the work that we've done for the semester and am really hoping that I pass Performance Management first time. Like I said on a previous post, I am slightly unprepared but still hoping for the best.

My blogging sabbatical should not last more than a month.

So I guess I'll see you guys on the other end of November :-) Till then.

Johannesburg International Motor Show 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011
The 2011 Johannesburg International Motor Show recently came to town. It was held at the Johannesburg Expo Centre in Nasrec, the south of Johannesburg and took place from the 6th to the 16th of October 2011.

Hubby and I went on the last day of the exhibition to have a look.

A lot of the dealerships (i.e. Honda, BMW, Mercedes Benz, etc.) were at the exhibition to showcase the best and the finest in their collections. There were also some old cars on show but the concentration of the exhibition is mostly on the newer and more technologised offerings.

The nice thing of course is that hubby and I got to ride in the cars of our dreams and the others that were not even in our dreams yet, hahaha......

From watching one too many times of The Italian Job, I've settled quite nicely into the Mini Cooper S. I've always thought that this was gonna be my car, even if it was just for the few minutes. Yeah, can call me Mrs Bean, LOL. Although this car looks nothing like Mr Bean's.

Unpreparedness Come Undone

Wednesday, October 26, 2011
I have not been my usual active blogger self lately, you might have noticed. I have decided to slow down with the memes and posts, and might slow down even more in the coming month. You see, in less than a month, I will be sitting on my fourth CIMA exams.

I am slightly unprepared still but hopefully by that time, I will have gained the necessary and required knowledge to pass the subject I am taking this semester.

I seem to have a slight bad luck when it comes to year-end exams as I failed the last one I did last year. Mind you though, it was my first year back at studying and I was busy with my holiday plans, so that could have something to do with that.

I hope this year I break the bad luck spell.

Play Play Payback (Perspective Effect)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011
I loved this photo too much that I thought it warrants its own post on my blog.

On a recent break to Lesotho Sun, I had my daughters frolick around the hotel surroundings and started playing photographer. What transpired are in the pic. And this is my fave!

Little sis uses perspective effect to show some pretend payback to big sis :-)

VTT: The Kingdom Of Lesotho

Monday, October 24, 2011
Date: 8 October 2011

Location: Lesotho Sun, Maseru, Lesotho

Recently, the family was invited to visit some relatives in Lesotho. My sister-in-law and her family has been living in Maseru, Lesotho for many years now and her son, our nephew, 7th birthday was coming up. We were quite excited to go as we have been waiting for a much-needed break from city life.

The Kingdom of Lesotho is an independent country completely surrounded by South Africa. Basically, the only way in and out will be through the borders of South Africa, or by air flight that routes via O.R. Tambo International in Johannesburg. Lesotho is a small enough country that holds cultural fascination and excellent mountainous scenery.

Maseru, where my sister-in-law lives, is the largest city and the capital in Lesotho. It took us roughly around 4-5 hours from Johannesburg to arrive at Maseru Bridge to enter Lesotho. My relative had booked us into the Lesotho Sun, a first class hotel facilities located on a hillside overlooking the city.

As we did not have much time devoted to sightseeing, we were mostly content walking around the hotel vicinity. The hotel had a nice enough environment and of course, housed a casino, conference centre, restaurant, bar, cinema, etc.

By way of entertainment, there is really not much in Lesotho. But the scenery is unmistakably serene and peaceful. And Lesotho is exactly just that - a quiet getaway from city life.

The Maseru view from our hotel room at Lesotho Sun.

First Leg In The CIMA Diploma

Wednesday, October 19, 2011
I was so excited to have received words that my CIMA diploma had finally arrived in South Africa.

After passing the infamous subject, Enterprise Operations (which I failed once before), I had officially finished the Operational Level of CIMA.

For motivation, CIMA issues diplomas for each level that you finish. I have 2 more levels to do before the final TOPCIMA - Managerial and Strategic.

Originally I got exemptions for the Certificate level of CIMA because I already had a Bachelor's Degree in Accounting Science before deciding to go for CIMA. It was a recognition of prior learning route for me.

I am slightly spurred on to get on with my managerial level, which I still have 2 subjects left.

Wish me luck. And before I know it, I'll be ACMA soon.

Weighin In: Update

Tuesday, October 18, 2011
After my hard work and hunger restraints (and occasional but much reduced cheats) brought on by my visit to the dietitian, I am proud to say that I am half a kilo away from my comfortable weight.

I must admit, it has been slow. I just can't seem to break through my comfortable weight. I need to lose another 4 kilos after that but I seem to be stuck here in this weight for now for the last few weeks.

Regardless, I am still quite happy I got to this stage. I am way better than where I was. At the first half of the year, I did not even know how the heck I was gonna start.

There is still 2 months left in the year and I hope to get to the comfortable weight by then. Even better when I get pass it.

An Extended Family Appreciation

Monday, October 17, 2011
After a recent visit with an in-law, it actually dawned on me that by way of extended families, I am luckier than most people. I've always been slightly conscious that I could be treated like an outsider by hubby's side of the family.

You see, hubby comes from a very big family. The 10th of 11 children, the youngest son...the age gaps between the siblings span almost 2 decades. I was younger than hubby and so to me, these older brothers and sisters were really generations ahead of me. Even my hubby's youngest sister is older than me. It has always daunted me that I might not have enough social skills (being an only child) to interact with so many other family members well.

But throughout our years of marriage, I have never felt anything else than accepted by his immediate family. Granted that it probably also helps lessen any friction because we don't see each other often enough by living so far away from each other. Still, I am blessed. I integrated into their lives without (too much) scarring and bickering and hurt feelings. Most of what I have with them are good memories and wonderful interactions.

And I am truly thankful for that.

Fake Me Some Lashes

Wednesday, October 12, 2011
My vanity is acting up.

If there is one thing that I simply cannot refuse (within reasons, of course), it would be that I'd have longer or fuller eyelashes!

So on a recent occasion I saw an ad on the newspaper to put on some lash extensions for a real good price. Phoned the supplier and got a booking. And 20 minutes later, voila! I had eyelashes that were to die for.

The lash extensions were the shortest of the range, they were a strip with four lashes each and the consultant had to group the strips together to get the effect of being natural lashes. They were glued just above my own lashes and not against the skin to avoid irritation. The extensions last anything from 1 day to 6 weeks. If some lashes do fall out, I am able to get a refill for a small fee so that the hair wouldn't look uneven. The lashes are not able to withstand anything oil-based so I just have to be careful with my beauty products and check if any of them are oil-based before applying.

So finally when I got home, my youngest wonders why my eye "hairs" were so dark and my eyes appeared so big???

Fake lashes, mission accomplished!

CPR Skills For Moms

Tuesday, October 11, 2011
As a mother, I've always felt that I needed to acquire this skill to well-equip me in case of emergencies. So recently, I did not pass up the chance to attend a CPR course with some friends, who like me, were mothers with big and small children.

The course lasted for 2 hours and we were taught by a proper first aid instructor. We learnt how to handle situations involving adults, infants and babies. CPR is a very important skill for moms to have so that we understand how to react and what to do in certain cases. We were taught how to treat fractures, bleeding, cuts, choking, etcetera.

I must admit that the whole CPR activity can become a bit tiring, what with all the repeats that you'd have to do between pumping the chest and blowing into the mouth until the ambulance or further help arrives. But I suppose, in the end, it can really be rewarding and worthwhile to know that you have the ability to save a life.

We used plastic dolls as our pretend patients. On one occasion even, while practising on the baby dolls, I actually started feeling like I was in an antenatal class instead of a first aid training course. Haha.

The best part of the training though was that it happened in the comforts of one's home and I got to do the whole thing with friends. It was value for money and truly a great learning experience.

For more information, visit Supermoms First Aid and CPR for Moms.

Meet The Other Desperate Housewife

Monday, October 10, 2011
I am ready to grab my tissues out. It is officially announced that season 10, the season that they are busy with right now, will be the last season of Desperate Housewives.
I can’t believe that I got so embroiled with the lives of the residents of Wisteria Lane. I will not shy away from admitting that for several years, I’ve dedicated at least one night a week to visit the famous neighbourhood, listen to their stories, watched their lives evolved and best of all, kept all their secrets. I've even done a whole photo shoot with an apple in hand, albeit it was a green apple. Nevertheless, it shows my dedication to the show. True enough housewife, am I?
I will surely be sad to see all my "neighbours" go. Many thanks to my eldest who taught me how to use Picnik to edit the photo. She's made it quite enticing to be Desperate Housewives' material.

What I Know For Sure: Better Than Bitter

Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Gawd! What a startling discovery I made recently when an old colleague contacted me. My reaction to her request can only be described, as Oprah would put it, an “A-ha!” moment for me.
Old colleagues became wary of me after I left the old workplace two years ago, thinking me the disgruntled employee who will avenge whatever. And I suppose, to some extent, I did not blame them for thinking such. Nor did I try and convince them otherwise. I was on the vestige of positivity. People and circumstances had let me down; In fact, I still remember the hurt and frustration each time I think about that time.
So it was quite astonishing to be contacted for some assistance with regards anything about my old job. My colleague wanted to find out if I knew the mechanics of a certain apparatus that I used to have in my office.
I debated whether to assist or not. Somehow, the tempting thought did cross my mind that I could just keep quiet about it. After all, it’s their problem, not mine. After all they’ve put me through, a little inconvenience like this could really make the “bitter” me really happy (evil laugh filtering through the air BWAHAHAHAHA)!
But I chose to help. However much I can. And I did just that.
In the end, what I know for sure was that….I was better than the embittered person these people painted me out to be. Way, way better.
Lately I mostly hear myself saying that I have moved on and I am soooo over my old job. But this time, my heart truly believes it.

My Sunflower Kid

Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Just like the sunflower gracefully tilts its head towards the direction of the sun, I turn to my child, who provides me with the warmth and joy of motherhood in one quirky smile.

Now how can your heart not melt with looks like that?

VTT Postcard: Nostalgic Anthem

Monday, October 3, 2011
It's almost a year since my Contiki trip and my heart is still yearning and wanting more.

Recently, I stumbled across the song that became our group's anthem throughout the trip. It was a song chosen by our tour manager. I've never heard of the song before but it definitely grew on me. The song was the "wake up, start and go" song as we left each city for the day. It was OUR song on the 12-day journey through Europe.

So here I am, being reminiscent and sharing our song - Razorlight's Before I Fall To Pieces:

Yo, Loser! You!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011
On a recent occasion, I questioned using the word "loser" in the teen circle.

It was explained to me (by a teen) that the word loser is a commonly used term of expression and does not mean anything and should not provoke if it's used on you.

I would tend to disagree. Nobody likes to be called a loser, even in jest. And although I will not debate that loser is common, the word itself connotes such a negativity that we do not even teach our children from a young age to say it.

Imagine this: At a match or a game, you have the winners and you have the losers. Do you hear the announcers say "Here are our winners! And there are our losers!" Is it not more common to talk about the losers as the contestants who did not win or make it, or the contestants who lost?

If your child or children did not make the cut in a team, do you teach him to say "I'm a loser, ma." or "We're a bunch of losers, ma."? I think not.

And let's take it to another context. What if there is no match, no game, no contest....and the word loser is used? What does it mean? What exactly are you when you are called such in the greater scheme of life?

This post is not to attack anyone (any teen for that matter) who thinks that there is nothing to the word "loser". Certainly, it is your right to be called a loser, and to be cool enough to accept the tag "loser" without reaction.

I just know I don't like it. And I'll never be cool enough to accept any such label. Neither will my children.

It's probably not much but that's my two cents worth on the subject.

YOU'RE A LOSER! Say, how do you feel about that?

TCP: While You Were Sleeping

Tuesday, September 27, 2011
I've been waiting for this topic to feature on Tuesday Couch Potatoes for the longest time because I've got just the movie in mind.

This week, our assignment is to choose a romantic movie in the 90's. And my choice (with drumrolls please!) is the 1995 romantic comedy, While You Were Sleeping.

The film tells the story of a lonely ticket booth collector Lucy (played to perfection by Sandra Bullock) who has a secret crush on a handsome commuter, Peter Callaghan (played by Peter Gallagher). On Christmas Day, Lucy rescues Peter from an oncoming train after a mugger pushes him onto the tracks. He falls into a coma. Lucy takes Peter to hospital but due to unforeseen circumstances, she was misinterpreted that she was engaged to him by a nurse when Lucy said, "I'm going to marry that man".

Afterwards, Lucy meets the rest of Peter's family and instantly she is accepted as one of the family. She is invited to spend a belated Christmas Eve with them and in the morning, she meets Peter's brother, Jack (Bill Pullman). Jack is not quite convinced that Lucy is who she says she is.

The story goes on when Lucy finds herself not being able to confess to Peter's family that she is not really engaged to him and that Peter does not even know her. Peter eventually wakes up but because he does not know her, his family is convinced that he has suffered amnesia. A wedding was set for Peter and Lucy, but in the last minute, Lucy finally admits the truth and that she has fallen in love with Jack, Peter's brother.

In the end, all's well that ends well. A happy ending is to be expected of course.

This movie really caught me by surprise when I bought it on DVD more than a decade ago. It is one of my most treasured film. I watch it every time I feel like I need a laugh and a lot of love. Not to mention that this is one of the romantic films I've watched where there is no nudity or sex scenes but the movie still successfully conveys the love story across to the audience. Gawd! The main characters only kisses at the end of the movie even.

So there it is. My kind of romantic film. Join us for the rest of the TCP gang at Just About Anything.

Weighing In: Stepping Mad!

Monday, September 26, 2011
So after my gruelling post about the Stepper, you’d think that that was it, right?

Me and my beloved step (er, any step will do)

Well, apparently, I am a sucker for punishment, because I now proclaim that stepping is my favourite gym exercise. Although I must admit that I’ve taken a variation to the Stepper. I still share my ups and downs with the Stepper machine (hey, check it out! a little pun here). But what really gets my heart pumping for more is the Steps class that the gym offers.

My most used gym equipment

We are taught a series of stepping sequences during the class in which we have to remember and follow throughout. The sequences are all linked together and if you are attentive enough to the trainer, you’ll know just which foot to step when and you’ll never lose your step. As you go through the different levels, you’ll also learn more difficult stepping sequences.
I started with the classes because I figured I needed more help with the Stepper machine and so the classes might help to improve my stamina. And whoa! After attending a few of the advanced classes, I was hooked. I wanted to be advanced. I tried to keep up with the rest of them advance steppers….but just barely. Not to mention, all sweaty.
So there it is, my favourite gym pastime. You can surely get me to the gym faster if you mention that there’s a Steps class happening. Out of my way!

The Accountant Is In

Wednesday, September 21, 2011
I spoke about our office move a few posts ago and I am happy to show off the first pictures of my new office.

There is still a lot to be done but we will surely get there.

I am not yet settled and it will probably take more than a few weeks still. I actually have this feeling that it is more chaotic now than ever!

But knowing me, I revel in the most glorious of messes. Bring it on!

Some NCIS, Anyone?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I've been hooked for the last 4 years. Although judging from its seasons, it has been around longer. Pity I can't get my hands on Season 1 and Season 2 episodes. But I am really so into NCIS. There was even a point in time that I was watching it six nights a week (reruns and the current episodes all together).

Haven't heard of it? Where have you been, under a rock?

According to Wikipedia, NCIS is going into its ninth season this year. In 2011, it was apparently voted as America's favourite television show. I wouldn't know that much, being way out here in South Africa. But it's a sure favourite in my house.

NCIS follows the goings-on and investigations led by Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (played by Mark Harmon). His team consists of Special Agents Anthony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly), Timothy McGee (Sean Murray) and Ziva David (Cote de Pablo). In the background, they have their Medical Examiner Dr Ducky Mallard (David McCallum) and Forensic Specialist Abby Sciuto (Pauley Perrette).

We watch on as we get embroiled in their lives and drama as only a TV series can do to you.

Weighing In: An Intro To The Stairs Monster

Monday, September 19, 2011
Back in 2004, when I first joined the gym, I was really amazed at how such a simple machine could evoke so much sweat and 'out-of-breath'ness in one person. I am talking about the one and only Stepper. The one where you take steps as if you are on your way to a never-ending stairway to heaven.

Yep, that's the one. I dub ye The Stairs Monster!!!!

My first encounter with it was not very encouraging, to say the least. In fact, I would describe it as very one-sided - the step machine big and sturdy, unmoving and me on the other end, gasping for air and deciding that I need medical attention after 3 minutes of stepping (or as the experts say, taking the stairs). I could not perform any other gym exercises after that first meeting with the step machine. It had become my nemesis.

Of course, if I had known then what I know now, I would have realised that I've set the bar too high by doing something silly like increasing my level to 8 when I didn't know what the machine could do to me. The steps were stiff but as you increase the level, the steps became smoother...but then you also needed to step faster to keep yourself afloat. It felt so easy just taking steps. I was misled so I continued increasing the level of ease, or as I found out later, it was actually the level of difficulty. I've setup myself to fail. Not to mention, that I just showed myself up as totally unfit.

I avoided the step machine for a few months after that but decided to adopt the "no pain, no gain" policy. I came back to it, and after resolving that I should not play around with the controls of the level, I had a much more enjoyable experience with it. One that did not involve hyperventilation.

My Child Shows Support - RWC 2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Last Friday marked the start of the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. For a lot of our friends in the Philippines, rugby would just mean some sort of superglue. Be assured that in South Africa, rugby is serious business.

Supporters have started the Rugby Friday, where everybody is urged to wear their rugby jerseys, shirts, gears, etc. on Fridays to show their support of the South African team. Most schools and businesses really showed their enthusiasm last Friday at the start of the World Cup. You can see my child as she gears herself with the springbok shirt and waves her small South African flag.

According to Wikipedia, rugby is a style of football originating from Rugby School in the United Kingdom. I personally have not taken a liking to this game and think this sport is too rough as the players do not wear padded sports gear (this way, it is very different from American Football) as they tackle each other on the field.

But the game is definitely big here in South Africa. The South African team, fondly called the Springboks, have been twice World Champions already. Once in 1995 - this epic and symbolic win was depicted in the movie Invictus, starring Morgan Freeman as former President Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon as Francois Pienaar, the then winning Captain of the Springbok team.

The Springboks are the current defending World Champion, having won the tournament in 2007. There is high hope that they will win again this year. Go Bokke!

Of course, being a supporter can get really tiring, and so after her big rally, we popped by the local KFC to feed our little big supporter some KFC pops. :-)

More About Moms And Mooncakes

Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Wikipedia photo

Celebrating the Mooncake Festival recently, I was reminded when I was little - maybe around 5, 6 or 7 years old - that my mother used to make mooncakes.

I remember sitting on our rectangular wooden table (because sitting on the lower chair just wouldn't do for me and I couldn't really see what she was doing) and watching her make these mooncakes. I don't remember much about the recipes (as we all know how I am with cooking) but then this post wouldn't be offering any mooncake recipes anytime soon.

I remember there was some kind of yolk inside it. I think it was salted egg yolks, strained. Then it would be covered with black bean paste. I am not sure what other steps were involved except that there were unshelled watermelon pips stuck on the black bean paste all round before the whole thing is covered by dough. The dough couldn't be thin as it needed to stretch while it was being pressed into the metal stamp with the mooncake logo at the bottom. I really enjoyed playing with this carved stamp as it looked like some sort of misshaped hammer with a big dipper in the middle.

The stamp looked like these but ours was metallic silver
 and looked like a kitchen utensil

So when I see mooncakes at my local Chinese shops during festival time, I am reminded of this time with my mom when she made her special mooncakes while I was happily sitting on the table, eating away some of her melon pips and filling the metal mooncake stamp. A blast from the past!

Again, happy mid-autumn festival to everyone!

Mooncake Festivals and Dice Games

Monday, September 12, 2011
I was reminded by a Chinese friend that mooncake festival was coming up. This year, the Mooncake Festival will happen on the 12th of September.

For those who do not know, the Mooncake Festival is a harvest festival popularly celebrated by the Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese people. It is also often called the Mid-Autumn Festival, Moon Festival or Zhongqiu (as we normally call it in Philippines). Sometimes it is even referred to as the Lantern Festival. 

The Festival is held every 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar. It normally lands sometime between September and October.

When I was young, we used to celebrate the Mooncake Festival with a family celebration. Family members would gather at my uncle's house and we would play this dice game, consisting of six dice in a bowl. There would be prizes up for grabs. Each time you get a four or a one (both represented by red dots on a die), you would get something from the prizes. The more of the same numbers you have, say, getting five fours or five threes or six twos, the grander the prizes (usually the grand prize is something big and luxurious). The game could go on for hours until somebody throws the winning combination. I was usually happy if I get one or two fours as that would mean sweets and chocolates.

When I was in school as well, we would also celebrate the festival the same way. It was, of course, slightly different as you would need to chip in some monies for the prizes to be bought by the teacher. Each student would get a turn to throw the dice and win the prizes.

I think back on these childhood memories with such fondness.

Since coming to South Africa, I have not celebrated the festival in this way. The closest thing to a celebration was getting mooncakes on festival day. And then I would be reminded of all these wonderful memories of the dice game, the sweets, the chocolates, the prizes and the family. Sometimes I wish I could relive them and show my children some part of their Chinese culture.

Happy Mid-Autumn Festival to everyone! Zhongqiu Jie Kuai Le!

I'm Seeing Doubles

Wednesday, September 7, 2011
I've never believed it much when people used to tell me that I looked like a certain Philippine actress. I've always thought it was just people being cross-eyed or something. After all, my looks are not actress material....or are they?

So 2 years back, I decided to put this to the test and show my youngest a picture of the actress that I reckoned had almost the same look as me. Imagine my surprise when my child became convinced that that is a picture of mommy.

And so it became official. I looked like her. Or rather, she looked like me, hehehe....

You decide!

Note to Ate (big sister) Kris Aquino: I hope you don't mind if people tell you that you look like me, I'm not well known naman. LOL. Anyway, my hubby says I'm lacking in the nose department (too pango daw ako) to be a true dead ringer!

Kris Aquino Bio: She is a Filipino television and movie personality but comes from a family prominent in the political arena. She is the youngest daughter of the late Philippine Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. and Corazon Cojuangco-Aquino, who served as the 11th President of the Philippines. Kris is also the sister of Benigno Aquino III, the current President of the Philippines.

TCP: Fame (2009)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tuesday Couch Potatoes this week present movies with the groovy music and dance moves.

My choice is Fame (2009), which is a remake of the 1980 film of the same name.


It tells the story of various students who start out their freshmen year in an art school. Their concentration varied from dance, vocals, music and drama. The film relates how difficult it is to make it in the business and how much pressure is impressed upon these students to excel in their field of studies. This is because only the best make it and mediocrity leads nowhere.

The film did not have big names on the bill but managed to entertain and educate viewers on student life in art school. The heartaches, the triumph and the pain....

With regards music, who can forget the song "Fame"? Definitely, remember my name..... :-)