Sunday, December 30, 2007

our CHRISTmas merriment

the past holiday was filled with all sorts of revelry from left to right. the 24th December was action-packed - yours truly was busy keeping the apartment clutter-free, while our kitchen brimmed with enthusiastic cooks. bessie Beth made her famous pork ribs recipe, while hubby tinkered with the oven to create a delightful and tasty carrot cake for our dessert later that evening. this was our Christmas menu, which we served to our friends who came over:

Potato Marbles with home-made Garlic Dip
Garlic Butter Shrimps
Buttered mixed vegetables
Lumpiang Shanghai (courtesy of Ryan’s “ates” at work)

Main Course:
Rib eye steak
Baked Carbonara
Pork ribs ala Beth

Carrot cake

we also served some sparkling juice and flavored wine to go with our meal. our friends didn’t seem to mind the food we dished up ‘coz they couldn’t stop complimenting the steak and the freshly baked carrot cake that hubby prepared. they said the pasta was excellent, too, and that totally made all the efforts i did pay off (ehem…thank you!). after our meal, we handed out presents to our guests and had a few photo ops. thereafter, we watched “Stardust” till 3:00 am with a bag of chips at hand along with a big bottle of cola.

it was a lovely Christmas eve dinner with friends in our modest home. we commemorated Jesus Christ’s birthday in our own little way, and despite being away from our families, we got by through seeing friends and offering a place to celebrate. we didn’t have a grand feast, but it was a memorable Christmas eve for Ryan & i…our very first Christmas as hubby and wife in our own home. not only was it memorable, it was also filled with surprises. during the preparations, i think around 5:00-ish, delivery guys from Al Futtaim came to our doorstep to hand over our new automatic washing machine. our “kuya”, who’s away on holiday in Manila, arranged to send our present on the day of the Christmas eve. remember i have long wanted a new one, but couldn’t because i have to get rid of the old one first? well, there it was…installed a few hours before midnight. yippee!

come 25th December, we woke up to a bright Christmas morning and excitedly opened our presents. hubby got me a dandy pair of diamond earrings while i gifted him with an Omega Speedmaster chrono watch. what great gifts we got from one another! sweet!

Ryan & his time keeper

Gracie & her new sparklers

a little after 10:00 am, we eagerly prepared for the day’s schedule. we dropped off Beth to work and went to see our friend Hazel at her parents’ house. we distributed the gifts to her and her little toddler Klyde, and afterwards, went to meet Ryan’s colleagues at the Christmas lunch held at their boss’s place in Um Suqeim. it was an opportunity for me to meet his co-workers who were all surprised to see him with the “wife”. since we arrived, hubby was teased incessantly! :D

the atmosphere of the villa was very welcoming. everyone was just coolly sitting in the yard, each with a glass of wine on hand, chatting away and cheerfully greeting newcomers as they turn up. i love their place primarily because of the spacious area they have where their dogs could just run around and play. i think they have 5 pet dogs who were all so cute and endearing. while having lunch, they were coyly watching us, and at one point, i could not resist feeding them with ham. (tsk, tsk…bad girl!)

we left the gathering just before dusk in time to see my cousins down in Sheikh Zayed Road. all of us Diolazo cousins were not able to make it home this Christmas, so we decided to get together to celebrate. unfortunately, Arnie couldn’t join us that night. in any case, all 3 of us – Vox, Sarj, and myself, plus our respective hubbies Mark & Ryan, and our dear friend Beth – proceeded with our Christmas dinner plans and had the traditional exchange gift-giving ritual. it was a riot while we were trying to draw the lucky names of our recipients…and to think there were only 6 of us present!

Sarj’s pad was filled with rowdy noise as we rolled with laughter from our antics, and gleefully posed for pictures next to the Christmas tree. just a few weeks before Christmas, i was feeling miserable for not celebrating this festive season with our families back home. now that i realize how wonderful it can still be even in the absence of the familiar sights and smell of the Pinoy pasko. i guess as long as the true meaning of Christmas is in your heart, you’ll never feel lonely. and as long as you are Filipino by heart, you will know and cherish what Christmas is all about even if you’re thousands of miles away from home.

note: for more pictures, please visit here.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

a year after

today marks our first church wedding anniversary. we count this date as the official anniversary as this was the time we were bound as husband and wife in the eyes of God witnessed by our families and friends.

many people wonder how we ended up together when we were actually from the opposite poles of the globe. we don’t have much things in common, but we’ve managed to hit it off. honestly speaking, i sometimes marvel, too. the only reason i could think of is that we love each other so much that we couldn’t get enough of each other…being together makes us happy despite our differences.

in honor of this important milestone in our life, i am sharing with you 27 reasons why i love being married to Ryan – the man in my life and my partner in everything.

27. he wakes me up from my sleep in a very cute way. i love the puppy look on his face whenever he says “good morning” to me.
26. his smile is like a li’l kid’s…totally makes my day!
25. he is a tactful person…knows when to start talking and when to stop.
24. he adores kids. and kids adore him back. babies love being carried by him, and toddlers enjoy his company. i believe he’ll make a good dad someday.
23. he makes me laugh. i get massive tummy aches whenever i laugh with him, and i love it! he seems serious all the time, but he can really be funny. his wit and sense of humor de-stress me.
22. he teases me relentlessly. i’m “pikon” but never with him. i secretly like him teasing me :D
21. we make a good tandem if there’s a competition for food tasting. we enjoy eating out and discovering new restos and cafés together. in short: we love to EAT.
20. he has a relatively good fashion sense. he is quite conscious of what he wears. he is a minimalist person and would only choose something simple but classy to wear. he’d never be caught dead wearing anything with a big logo or brand name. scared of being called jologs! hahaha!
19. he’s a dog lover like me. a few weeks before i left Manila for Dubai, i got him a black labrador retriever as a Christmas gift. he’s been wanting to have one for the longest time, and since i didn’t want him to spend too much time outside the house to divert his attention while missing me, i decided to get him another “girl” to keep him busy. when he came to Dubai to join me last year, he was so sad leaving Alexis behind and even cried a tear because he missed her so much.
18. he shares my passion in travelling. exploring new places glues us together.
17. i am married to a great cook and an excellent baker. he makes me proud with his skill in the kitchen. he really owns that part of the house.
16. hubby is very smart. he knows a lot of stuff, and it amazes me sometimes. he could join any trivia contests, and i could bet all my bags he would win ;-)
15. he’s not very sweet, but whenever he shows affection, i know that it’s sincere and heartfelt. he shows his warmth not through words but through actions, which is more meaningful and sweet for me.
14. he accompanies me whenever i shop. i know that he minds my way of shopping because i tend to stay in one shop for too long and he complains about it. but he still keeps tagging along with me nonetheless.
13. he tolerates my kakikayan and from time to time supports me with my kaartehan in life. of course he also tries to mellow me down a bit when he finds it too much already...hehe!
12. i love the way he calls me “baby”’s music to my ears.
11. waking up next to him everyday is a dream come true.
10. he drives for me wherever i want to go. he brings me to work and picks me up daily, and tries not to complain when i’m late.
9. i can hug and kiss him anytime i want…forever.
8. he knows how to compromise and he deals quite well with my stubbornness.
7. he loves my family – from my parents down to my cousins. he respects my parents and treats my siblings like they are his own.
6. for him, family comes first…ALWAYS. and that’s one trait that is important for me.
5. in this union, i am truly the pampered one. enough said.
4. he appreciates what i do for him. he doesn’t expect or ask too much. he accepts me for who i am and loves the “me” that i love.
3. he is God-fearing. he is patient, kind and generous, and most importantly, he is not judgmental. he has faith in people, and keeps it by reminding himself that there’s always a good side in every man.
2. he is my source of inspiration. never a day he fails to remind me to become a better person and make a good deed.
1. he loves me unconditionally. for him, i am his princess and his one and only.

hubbybear, happy birthday to us. i am happy celebrating this special day with you. thank you for plucking me out of the vast sky to be your wife…i am honored to be your lifetime partner and your very bestfriend. i love you so much! mwaaaahhhhh!!!!

Monday, December 24, 2007

the weekend before Christmas

phew! that was some kind of weekend!

last week, we celebrated the Eid Al Adha holiday and luckily got 3 days off adjacent to the weekend. the 5 straight, bum out days were very much welcomed in anticipation of the Christmas celebration happening in less than 24 hours. we had a chance to grab some last minute items for the Noche Buena preparations, did a li’l bit of last-minute shopping, and sought some additional containers for the home-baked goodies my Ryan prepared as gifts.

Carrefour was jampacked with people, and every single soul inside was scurrying from all directions. it was horrific to find almost every shelf for basic commodities empty. the Middle East is currently facing a wave of scarcity of eggs due to a bird flu outbreak in KSA, so at some point during the weekend, Ryan & i combed all groceries we could find to search for fresh brown eggs. well, hubby cannot bake without eggs, right? :)

the long weekend was also an opportune time to bond with close friends. we hit the stores together and triple dated to catch the Bee Movie at Cinestar in Deira City Centre, which, i must say, was one clean fun activity for kids at heart like us. it was a hilarious film and we just looooove it! not surprised that it got into the roster of the Dubai International Film Festival featured films. wait, we were sponsors for the DIFF…why haven’t i thought of getting us gala tickets then? sayang!

last Saturday, hubby spent morning, noon and night baking chocolate crinkles, butterscotch and oatmeal raisin cookies. i tried to help by greasing the baking pans, washing the utensils (pathetic!) and chopping raisins and walnuts. but i am proud to say that i was the one who arranged the stuff in the container. packaging and quality control were done by no less than me, of course with a few nibbling on the side (mmmmm, yummy!). this was the outcome of every pack:

some snaps of the baked goodies:

sinful chocolate crinkles


all-time favorite oatmeal raisin cookies

i guess we did pretty well. do you think we should start doing some consignment business? yesterday morning, i dropped off the gifts for my colleagues to the office. they said they were divine! as i was leaving, i even saw a few people already on their 3rd cookie, complimenting on how good they really were. well, that’s another errand crossed out from my list, and now the only thing left to do is make the apartment spic and span for tonight’s celebration.

oh yeah, that and a lot of cooking! gotta go now…

to everyone, have a very merry Christmas! i hope you spend it with your family and loved ones. let us keep in our hearts the real reason for the season...God bless you all.

Monday, December 17, 2007

a heart’s tragedy

a person’s heart can only hold so much pain. if the pain is already too much to bear, the only thing left to do is to move on and let go. easy to say, but quite difficult to do. but there are certain things that we must do in order to get on with our lives. when one carries excess baggage, he/she may never experience the beauty of new things that may come across his/her path.

heartbreaks are necessary for people to realize how fragile they are - how vulnerable they can be no matter how successful they are in life. but sometimes, pain from heartbreak can also do you good. it brings out the willingness in you to rise above the ocean of devastation and improve yourself. you can be a better individual after having gone through the ordeal of physical and emotional pain. all you need to have is the determination to get past it through the help of your family and friends. it always works – keeping them around is a fool proof plan.

i would have to say that treachery from a person you have loved so dearly is the highest form of insult. his/her deceit is clearly a manifestation of the lack of respect. and if there is no respect, then there is no love. it really makes me wonder how one person can claim that he/she loves his/her significant other when he/she betrays his/her trust? it just doesn’t make any sense!

i have friends who have suffered severely from loving too much…from giving too much of themselves…and for loving unconditionally despite all the odds. it was unbearable to see them go through such hurtful stage in their lives, but i knew within me that they would get by, and they did eventually. they exerted their best to surpass the dark chapter in their lives, and i am happy for them that they've prevailed. although some of them are still struggling till now, i know that they are slowly getting there. i understand because at some point, i was like one of them. but with a lot of support and prayers, i did manage, too - and i am blessed to have kissed the right frog this time. he turned out to be my prince.

p.s. to my dear soul sister – hang in there, baby… the sun will shine after the storm. i’m here for you.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

sister act

i miss my sisters…terribly! yep, unbelievably true, but i really do miss them. Marian posted a comment on my Friendster account, and just out of the blue, she started reminiscing about the bullying i used to do to her when i was still around. (that’s a perk when you are the eldest…hehehe!) :D

on the other hand, my youngest sister Bernadette sent me a message in Friendster, too, saying that she misses me a lot at home. no screaming Gracie in the morning to shove her out of the bed so that she won’t be late for school, and no Gracie to delegate household tasks to her during weekends. she also misses having me as her designated driver in the morning to drop her off to St. Paul QC on my way to work, and pick her up on certain occasions where she had to stay late for a school project or activity.

they were both were very vocal in telling me how much they’ll miss having me around the house during this year’s Christmas dinner and New Year’s eve celebration. well, maybe that’s because i always organize these special happenings for the family, and they have gotten so used to that. in any case, i’m sure they will survive the celebrations without me. it may be painful for all of us to be apart, but they have no choice but to face the fact that their big sister won’t be home for Christmas. GRAMARBER ain’t complete for the 2007 holidays, but by next year, i’ll make sure we’ll celebrate it with a blast!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

swamped, with a bump

ever had one of those days when you feel like it’s the crappiest day in your life at work...moments when you feel like you needed to vent out your frustrations soon, otherwise you’ll explode, or worse, get a heart attack? i just had one yesterday, and to make matters worse, i had to experience a minor accident while I was doing my job. take note: i work in an office, not in a manufacturing building or factory, so encountering an accident is a remote possibility. but unfortunately, i did. how unlucky of me!

i will not go into details about what exactly happened, but i just wanted to share with you what i’ve learned from yesterday’s experience. lesson number 1: when God created the world, He had to make people different from one another. that is to give color and variety to this world, and at the same time, to make people understand the difference of what is good and what is bad. one can never understand good when there is no presence of the bad. that is to give balance in this universe, and now i do get His point. lesson number 2: let’s face it, there are people who are afraid of responsibility, and i pity them. because when you don’t take accountability for anything, you will never feel the satisfaction of achieving something. lesson number 3: no matter how glittering a masterpiece is, if it is not done with due diligence and passion, it’s spark will eventually fade, if not sooner, then later. and when you scratch beneath the surface, you will realize that underneath all the glamour and over-all beauty of the piece is just plain rubbish. and finally, lesson number 4: after all that’s said and done, you’ll come to a point where you’ll realize “it’s all in a day’s work.” you’ll stop sweating the small stuff and will keep doing your job. you refrain from thinking of negative thoughts and you aim to achieve something fruitful despite the hurdles ahead of you. because at the end of the day, when everything falls into place, you will understand that whatever it is that you’ve said or done, it is your dignity that’s always at stake.

just my two cents worth.

by the way, i’m physically fine now. a big bump is on my leg and it’s badly bruised i have to say, but other than that, i’m all good. a Kinder Happy Hippo helped cheer me up.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

holiday rush

Christmas is just a few days away and i can now almost breathe a sigh of relief because i’m more than half way through with my preparations. as of time of this writing, i am only short of 5 more gifts for friends, exclusive of the ones for our teaboys and security personnel at work. i’m leaning towards giving mind enriching gifts this year, so for my recipients, don’t expect the usual apparel and accessories gifts :)

for my friends at work, including my team mates who are not Christians, i’ve decided to give them my hubby’s home baked cookies and carrot cake. he had agreed to make them for me since i’d like to give something special that’s not bought from any store in the UAE. besides, whenever i come to work with some goodies to share, they’re always bitin with the stuff and end up asking for more, and most of them even offer to pay. a lot of people have encouraged us to start up a small business with hubby’s baking prowess, but there isn’t just time to do it. we have archived that idea for the time being, and will probably revisit it when we’re ready.

home is now filled with Christmas sounds with Ray Conniff songs resonating in the air these days, plus hues from all the décors i’ve added to the Christmas tree. we got a red and gold wreath hung in our main door, and more importantly, a small nativity set that is placed in the middle of the hall. after all, the birth of Jesus Christ is the real reason for all this excitement so might as well put a symbol in the heart of our home to remind us of that. i’m currently on the look out for Christmas stockings which i’d like to hang in our doors at home and hopefully i’ll be successful with my search this weekend. and guess what i did end up buying, too? a santa hat for hubby and a reindeer headband for me during one of our many trips to the mall…LOL! :D

also, i’ve already come up with my Christmas menu, and i did some sort of a dry run while i was on holiday. my critic (named Ryan) says the dishes i prepared taste good, so i guess i'm pretty much done on that part. i’ve also bought some Christmas themed napkins, linens and candles for the dinner, too, and by the start of the upcoming
Eid Al Adha holiday next week, i’m gonna start bringing out the glassware and cutlery i’ve kept reserved for special occasions. i’ve also made a mental note to take a trip to the supermarket for the non-perishable goods we need for the preparations for the Noche Buena.

we will be toiling in the kitchen during the holidays, but we don’t mind. we are pretty excited, in fact. notice that i have used we instead of i? i think by now i have successfully injected in Ryan the Christmas spirit and i’m quite pleased about it.

so, 15 days left before Christmas and at this point, i guess we’re all good and right on schedule. yey!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

of home & Christmas traditions

at long last, after managing to squeeze in some time to reorganize our flat, i was able to finally put up our Christmas tree. it looked this bare when i started:

and after toiling on it for two weeknights, it emerged as something looking like this:

i proudly present to you the first Christmas Tree of the de Gracia household :D

to give our home a livelier, Christmas-y ambience, we chose the red and gold theme, with some touches of cherubs in their musical instruments. now here’s a bit of a trivia: this tree was passed on to me by my dear friend Yvonne, who inherited the same tree from their neighbor 3 years ago. since we weren’t here for the holidays last year, i lent this to my cousin Sarj as i hated the idea of this tree being put away and not serve it’s purpose during the year’s much-awaited celebration. so yep, it’s been tossed to so many homes already, and i’ve gotta admit that this tree’s still quite nice looking and sturdier compared to those i’ve seen in Carrefour and Ace. it’s only 4.5 feet tall and accommodated approximately 600 clear rice lights. for me, it’s just about the perfect size.

to be honest, hubby wasn’t too keen about putting up a Christmas tree at home. he thinks it’s gonna eat up space in our little hall, even if we had already evicted our favorite item from Ikea in place of a more compact TV rack to hold our entertainment system. but i stood my ground and persisted till his ears bled. i calmly argued that we needed to feel the spirit of Christmas and pretend like we’re really HOME (as in Pinas home). you see, it’s both our first time to spend Christmas away from our families and i personally think we are not coping too well on this decision (more on this in a minute). i think i was able to convince him with my urging, and good thing i did. when i was feeling frantic about finding the right Christmas lights to go with the tree, he was ironically the one who found these nice, pocket friendly-priced sets for our dear tree. in fact, he didn’t mind coming back to the store the following day when i realized we needed more. good job honey!

now it didn’t occur to me that putting up a Christmas Tree can be emotional for someone who’s rather feeling homesick. when i finished with the last piece of ornament, i took a step back to admire what i’ve done (given the truth that i did not get any help at all from start to finish). suddenly out of nowhere, i found myself half consciously nostalgic. i couldn’t help but feel tears well up in my eyes. i blinked and instantly felt hot tears roll down my cheeks. the crybaby in me just whimpered like a kitten. i quietly sobbed and sobbed in a little corner as my mind waded through waves of memories of Christmases with my family…these were exactly the things i would miss this December. last year wasn’t really a special Christmas for hubby and i as newlyweds since we were busy planning for the church wedding happening in two days after the 25th, but that was a different scenario. our families were there, and we had the chance to greet them personally and share the happy spirit of the holidays in between all the wedding preps.

oh well, at least for sure we know that next year, we will be home again. we will definitely not miss spending our favorite holiday of all with people whom we love and care about. if it’s any consolation, time flies fast anyway, so in a matter of a months, we will be home for Christmas, although for 2008. for now, we will focus on beginning with our own Christmas tradition in our 2nd home.