Archive for August, 2010

Pretty Sight

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Public Library

One of the things I miss, being away in China, is visiting the local library. When I was in school, I spent a lot of time there just browsing, reading, writing, lounging around. It has always been a place of solace for me. So, after these days of nonstop activities, I headed over there for some much-needed down time. It was a delight to see the many services they offer, such as internet access, book club discussions, children’s theatre, technology classes, workshops to prepare for school, used bookstore, and a section just for Chinese books and magazines (donated by a patron). There was even a room for a photocopy machine, a scanner, a microfiche reader, and a filing cabinet of microfiches (who uses those anymore?). I don’t remember the public library being this innovative in the past. Too bad I’m leaving soon. If I lived here, I’d most likely take advantage of these services … how wonderful!

Just seeing the rows of books on neatly lined shelves makes me feel that all is right with the world. Somehow, being in the quiet of the library helps me to center myself and my world …

Celebrations!!

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

Jason, Faith, and Olivia

After church, we headed to the Sheraton to celebrate Faith’s birthday — a very posh 1st birthday party! It is easily the grandest children’s party I’ve ever attended … people agreed that it beats most weddings in scope, grandeur, and entertainment! It was in the Cerritos ballroom inside the hotel, complete with a band, dancing, worship, singing, buffet, balloon animals for the kids, video, games, baby dedication, and party favors for all kids and adults. What a celebration!

Baby Faith fell asleep during the family picture-taking session (maybe even during the later half of the party), but everyone else sure had a great time! The emcee was entertaining and left everyone in stitches the whole time. What touched me about this grand get-together was Jason and Olivia’s declaration that this is their way of expressing thanks and praise to God who answered their prayers with Baby Faith even as they asked in great faith and waited for years. What an inspiring testimony! With family and friends in the big ballroom, I believe they wanted to share the immense joy they feel in having such a sweet daughter come into their lives … and another one on the way!

Lechon -- yum!

We were seated in table 21 right next to the lechon. I couldn’t help but take a picture of this roasted pig before it was carved and cut up. It is a Filipino delicacy to eat the meat along with the crunchy skin topped with liver sauce. Though I kept to a healthy portion, I did not hold back on the skin — my favorite part (despite warnings of “high” everything)! I’ve never had better lechon than I did today … truly good quality!

Double Celebration

After an afternoon break of shopping, we had an early dinner to celebrate Yeegee’s success in passing her final test and earning her architecture license. What a great accomplishment! This dinner had been planned and postponed and planned again. I’m so glad we finally met up tonight. Alvin and Yeegee ordered double portions of all the family favorites. The spread of the food actually looks better than what I was able to capture with my camera. In any case, it was a special dinner of giving thanks, sharing, tears, and rejoicing. Thanks for a great dinner!! We left feeling so blessed and satisfied in more ways than one. Congratulations again, Yeegee!! (and Alvin)

For those familiar with the Filipino culture, there are usually games played in big parties, like impersonation contests (the same one they played in Algee’s wedding). They are so much fun! I was able to record this with my camera … Enjoy!!

Dessert – ing

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

McDonald's Choco Dipped Cones

There is no such word. But I thought I’d use it anyway.

Ever since I went on vacation, I’ve been having dessert nearly every meal. Normally, I’m an eat-and-go kind of gal. I am not what people would call a “foodie” but I do know good food when I see it. Desserts, therefore, are a luxury to me — it sure is nice but not necessary. These days, though, it’s becoming a habit. Unlike some people who have discriminating palates, I am not picky with my food nor do I necessarily have specific cravings. Maybe because I grew up with four brothers, I learned to be more practical in my approach to food intake. As I heard once from a friend, “I eat to live, not live to eat.” However, these days, my favorite is McDonald’s Choco Dipped Cones for only 99 cents. I don’t know if it’s the chocolate or the creamy vanilla or the price, but I find myself cheering with my nephews when we decide to go for ice cream.

I don’t have a sweet tooth. Though I do like chocolate, I don’t crave candy, cake, or ice cream. Weird, I know. However, I do crave popcorn (esp. when watching movies!), chips (Cheetos!), and French fries (McDonald’s!). I guess I like more salty kinds of food.

What about you?

Vacation Continues …

Friday, August 27th, 2010

Baby in a Box

The title of this entry has nothing to do with the picture I posted. I just thought this picture of Avery climbing into a box (for whatever reason) was adorable. He sat content for a while before we had to take him out of there. I wonder if babies know how cute they are … they can get away with just about anything!

My vacation does indeed continue. I do not concern myself with lesson planning, setting goals, nor preparing a framework for the school year in as many years as I could remember this time of the year. I have been eating well, sleeping well, and playing well, that’s for sure. For the most part, I join in my nephews’ crazy imagination games and have been out and about with friends and relatives. I don’t even concern myself with dieting or keeping up with any deadlines. I usually just go where the wind blows. It’s such a freeing experience. Indeed, I am so enjoying my vacation! Pretty soon, reality and responsibility will catch up to me … but not yet.

Rainforest Reunion

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Birthday Girl

Rainforest Cafe does birthdays … yes, it does! Not only do they give you free ice cream, they sing to you, too! It was fun to take Anne out on her actual birthday night, especially this year — a very special year. Our cedar plank salmon dinner was excellent, but I enjoyed our time of catching up even more. What a blessing to have shared the evening with her!

During the meal, someone comes around with a stuff animal for you to hold while they take a picture of your party. I imagine this is one way Rainforest makes additional revenue. On our way out, Anne purchased the picture to remember this special night. Afterwards, we drove around Downtown Disney and caught an 11:00 p.m. movie at the AMC. We didn’t come out of the theatre until 1:30 a.m. We had our little late night adventure — just another one one to add to our experiences together over the years. I’m glad we made it out okay!

Back to Berkeley

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

Sather Gate

One of the things I like to do when I have time is to visit the Berkeley campus. This morning, I went to the Cheeseboard for some cheese rolls (yum!), then I took a stroll around campus. Always good to remember college days. I had some great memories! Sather Gate … Go Bears!

me and Angelia

Angelia and I had a picnic lunch right outside of Moffitt Library. When I was a student, I spent a lot of time in this area, so it was meaningful for me to hang out there. We had tasty chicken sandwiches with avocado on wheat bread. Angelia also brought chips (!), all kinds of fruits (raspberries, blueberries, peaches, figs), and drinks. On top of that, she came prepared with a bamboo mat for our picnic! If there’s anyone who knows how to cover all the bases, it’s Angelia! It was a special afternoon of lunch, ice cream dessert, shopping on Third Street, and prayer. I miss you already, Ange! :-)

Visiting a Co Clan

I ended the day with a visit to Jeff and Aileen’s. What a great house … and an even greater home! I last visited them more than five years ago. The kids are a lot bigger and older. I don’t know that many families with five kids anymore these days, but it was so much fun to get to know them, especially the girls. I am so glad to have reconnected with this awesome family. What an inspiration they are!

Sausalito

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

Day with Linda

We set off to Sausalito after church today. Beautiful day to walk along the Marina. I think we were celebrating several things: Linda’s upcoming birthday, my return to the Bay Area after two years, transitions in our lives, and our own reunion. Sausalito certainly made us feel like tourists … sitting in Starbucks with our Java Chip Frappucino was a nice touch, too. We have been good friends for so long that it really does not take much to go deep in our conversation. I’m so thankful to have a friend like her — my sister and kindred spirit.

Work of Art

While we were walking, we saw this man who balanced and piled rocks on top of another. I’ve seen pictures of this before but this is the first time I’ve seen it done in person. It certainly looked like a work of art. Notice the coke cans near the front of the picture. I think it’s cool.

the Marina

On our way back to the car, I saw this row of yachts. I like the reflection of the sails on the clear water. I’m going to miss the Bay Area when I leave.

Hanging Out

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

Hiking Trail

One of my favorite things to do in the Bay Area is to go hiking, especially with my friend Linda. Over the years, we’ve hiked different trails in various parks, whether it’s in Los Angeles or San Luis Obispo. Today, she took me to Redwoods Park where we just walked and chatted about whatever came to mind. It was like old times … good times. With Linda, it’s like time stops and we pick up where we left off from the last time we met.

Redwood Trees

I guess the park is named after the redwood trees that grow there. It was great weather for hiking. We encountered other hikers as well as mountain bikers. There were muddy puddles along the way, especially in places where there’s shade, but it was a good and easy trail. I was so engrossed in our conversation that I almost forgot to look around and enjoy the trees.

Pizza dinner with LB and kids

We met up with LB and his kids for dinner that night. He’s a dear old friend and a co-Chinahead. It has been more than ten years since I last saw him, I believe. It was a blessing to meet his two children reminisce about old times — a good evening of comparing apps in our iPod touch, recounting our college days, and remembering how far we have come since those days. I’ve come to a conclusion that no matter how many years have passed, we remain the same people if we stay true to ourselves and to our friends.

Oakland!

Friday, August 20th, 2010

David, Carlos, and Linda'

I headed up north via the Bart to visit college friends whom I haven’t seen in two years. In the past, I used to come at least twice a year and stay at their house, so our reunion this time around was all the more special to me. They took me to this “hole-in-the-wall” Japanese restaurant which they go to regularly. I was craving some sashimi so I got a plateful! Especially in the Bay Area, it’s these small hole-in-the-walls that seem to serve the tastiest food! If anyone knows where to find them, it’s the Flores family. They had just gotten back from a trip to Hawaii and filled me in on their adventures while I had my own stories to share as well. We have had our yearly get-togethers for more than a decade but our times together continue to be precious. It’s funny to me that they look the same as when I first met them in college over a decade ago, yet we talk about not having as much energy as the “young ones” and the new technologies these days that we didn’t used to have. Since when did I become part of the older generation? It’s a good thing I’m in good company!

Day with Deb

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

Deb and Livvy

My former roommate took it upon herself to pick me up from the airport and take me to Southeast Asian cuisine for lunch. Afterwards, we took a drive along memory lane during a visit to Berkeley. She was a great host and made me feel welcomed. Her daughter Livvy is adorable — I held her as much as I could during my time there. We also had lunch with Daniel when we visited him in Microsoft. It was great to see the offices and all the perks that go along with being an MS employee.

Dinner at the Low House

That night, Deb made dinner using a secret family recipe. I’ve always known her to be a good cook, but she outdid herself this time, putting together a gourmet meal consisting of flank steaks, steamed and sauteed broccoli, spinach and strawberry salad, Rosemary bread (from her breadmaker), and rice, topped with cranberry apple juice. We might as well have had restaurant food! It was one of the best homemade meals I’ve had in a while. Wonderful!

Ustin's Flank Steak Dinner

After dinner, we chatted a bit more before relaxing with a rom-com movie that we picked up from Redbox. And of course, Deb prepared dessert — cookies and cream ice cream (from her ice cream maker). We also had popcorn (from her popper) with special Hawaiian toppings. Needless to say, I was super full by the time the movie was over. I was a happy camper and slept really well that night! Ahh, I miss my old roommate. What a wonderful day of catching up!!