Thursday, July 31, 2008

flexi contraption

hubby's been very generous to me lately. first a groovy camera, and now this:


the coolest tripod on earth

it's an awesome thingamajig that supports any camera quite well. an Original-sized Gorillapod's legs are sturdy enough to carry the weight of my heavy duty G9. and the most amazing thing about it is that its maleable as a contortionist so it can be perched on almost any surface (even jagged ones), wrapped around pratically anything or even left hung on to a pole or branch. plus, it has a lock ring that provides extra security to the camera to ensure it's safely attached.

yes, the bendy, out-of-this-world-looking-legs seem real fun, but they're more than meets the eye. apart from being able to follow the contour of the object you're securing them to, these legs' joints have rubberized grips in them so there's a low risk of the Gorillapod slipping from where it's attached. clever, huh!

one more thing i love about this tripod is that it's very handy. it fits in most of my handbags and could also cling on to the strap of the camera bag. lightweight, fuss free to carry & so easy to use! and they have various colors to choose from, too. to check which Joby Gorillapod is right for your camera, come and see here.

of course i had to pick the one with pink color on it. pink & black - looks so Chanel, di ba? ;-)

on house arrest

today is Prophet Mohammed's Ascension, so the whole of UAE is on holiday. woo hoo!! what a perfect way to end an exhilarating month.

we usually go on a weekend get away whenever there's a long weekend ahead. but since hubby has the sickies, we just opted not to go on a road trip this time. we took things easy since last night so instead of watching a movie, we just had an early dinner at our ultimate favorite Thai restaurant, The Lemon Grass, and went home straight afterwards.

today, we did manage to catch "The Dark Knight" (finally!!), have coffee at Starbucks inside Debenhams (this is our secret hide out when there are sooo many people romping at the mall), and dinner at Japengo. as hubby is still under the weather, we were home by 8:30 pm. he's now sleeping like a log, getting some much needed rest. i am declaring tomorrow as our rest day so we're definitely not leaving the house. besides, there's a lot of decluttering to do so i can work on that while hubby relaxes. (sheesh, and i just said it's gonna be our rest day...how come i'm planning to do chores then?!?)

i hope hubby gets better soon. and i hope i won't catch the virus, too.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

the husband’s birthday celebration streak

my dear husband celebrated his big 3-0 birthday last Friday. since he’s been such a sweetie the past few weeks, i thought it’s only but fitting to celebrate his birthday the entire weekend (from 24th – 26th July). and so we did.

24th July
it was a TGIT, which is the end of business week here in the UAE. after the husband picked me up from work at half past five, we proceeded to Garhoud to have an early dinner at Oriental Kitchen. we stuffed ourselves crazy, so by the time we finished, we could barely walk back to the car.

sushi lover

elongated cutlery


we also went to Party Supplies to buy some metallic balloons, party napkins, plastic utensils, plates and cocktail cups & stirrers for Ryan’s party the next day. oh, i love going to this place! it’s filled with all the party goodies you’d need for any occasion. the first time we went there, we spent a good hour just going through various sections of party stuff for kids and adults alike. it was a haven for party lovers like me!

after snatching the items we need, we headed straight to Deira City Centre to do some grocery shopping for Ryan’s party the next day. we also planned on catching the movie “Dark Knight”, but when we got to the cinemas section of the mall, we saw that it was jam-packed! not our kind of movie experience so off we went. we decided to just chill at home instead of squeezing ourselves with all those people in the mall. Ryan settled himself in our bed and played with his PSP, while i worked in the kitchen and living room areas. when the clock struck midnight, bessie, K and i surprised Ryan with a chocolate cake mousse cake with a candle. we also gave him our gifts, too. he wasn’t expecting another gift as i had given this present a few days ago:

40 GB Playstation 3 Metal Gear Solid 4 pack

little did he know that this cookbook below was just some sort of a decoy because something else was in store for him the following day:


for a Jamie Oliver fan


B & K got him a nice Adidas shirt with an Anime design on it. of course, Ryan was surprised with this unexpected birthday eve celebration just as usual.

25th July
the next day, we packed some stuff we needed to bring to the hotel for Ryan’s birthday party. just like my birthday, we stayed overnight at the iconic
Dusit Thani Dubai with the very same neat package that my cousin had arranged.

throwing a party in a hotel is always so convenient, especially when you’re booked in a suite. you have your own living room, kitchen and dining areas which you can utilize well, not to mention that clean up is also fuss free!

before checking in at the hotel, we had lunch first at
Uno Chicago Grill at Deira City Centre. i had Shrimp Scampi, a light but delicious pasta in angel’s hair, while Ryan had the Grilled Shrimp and Sirloin, grilled medium well, which is an absolute perfection.

pasta's oh so good!

steak & mashed potatoes...the perfect combo!


i tipped the receptionist that Ryan's celebrating his birthday that day, so right after we had our sumptuous lunch, a group of waiters came by our table cheering for the husband with the Uno Chicago Grill birthday chant, while another waitress carried with her a special chocolate dessert with candle. and yes, you guessed it right…Ryan was again caught by surprise!

birthday chant

surprise, surprise!!

the reason we actually made a pit stop at the Deira City Centre was to get Ryan’s new toy an accompaniment. and what do you think goes well with a PS3 and a party? what else but a Guitar Hero! that’s my 3rd gift for him.


gift number 3

the moment we dropped our stuff at the suite, the husband began to connect the PS3 to the 46-inch plasma TV and tried out his new loot. his inner kid was roaring so wildly!

training mode

yeah!!

guests started to arrive at half past six in the evening. for dinner, we served Chinese food and Dominos pizzas (to go with the beer), all delivered straight to our suite’s doorstep at 6:00 pm (see, it’s totally hassle-free!). and we also got 2 dozens of Krispy Kreme glazed donuts for a sweet fix. we did stock up on a few bottles of liquor, some sodas and juices, too so everyone mixed their own cocktails as they wished.

cheers!

oversized bears

opening the gifts

of course, a birthday ain’t complete without a birthday cake. since Ryan loves chocolates (and i love coffee…hehe!), i ordered Tiramisu cake from Hediard. seemed that the guests liked the cake because most of them asked for seconds.

"oh no the big 30!"...

...as if he had any other choice. LOL!


Ryan’s party rocked big time! his guests looked like they were having the time of their lives because the hall was filled with boisterous laughter. our source of live entertainment was Ryan’s new gaming console with games such as the funky Guitar Hero (which played rock music till dawn), Fight Night 3 and Ninja Gaiden. we were having so much fun that we didn’t realize we were being too loud already. a hotel security even came knocking on our door at around 2:00 am to shush us up ‘cos the room below us had already complained. the ruckus went on till about 4:00 am. the hubby and me collapsed in bed as soon as the last guest had left.

gamers on the loose

26th July
the birthday boy and i woke up at 9:30 am to have breakfast at The Californian. hubby couldn’t get over his new toy so he excitedly wore the shirt that came with the Guitar Hero pack. at the restaurant up the 24th floor, we delighted ourselves with pork bacon, Thai crab fried rice, sausages and other delectable breakfast servings from their buffet table. aahh, the joy of real food!

big bite baby!

after our hearty breakfast, we went back to our suite. guess what the husband picked up first? yep, his new “guitar”! he went gaga over his rock n’ roll instrument all afternoon!

we didn’t leave the hotel without making a stop over at the Club Executive Lounge for some afternoon snacks. their scones were a must-try. simply divine!

we went home tired but happy from all the happenings that took place in the last couple of days. i just hope this birthday celebration streak proved memorable to hubby.

happy birthday again, honeybear! love you so much!

Arabian Desert surprise

last week, our department had its team building at the Godolphin Ballroom of the Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel. it was a half day activity which started with a buffet lunch at the foyer of the ballroom, and followed by 4 stimulating activities. needless to say, the food was terrific! well enough to energize us for the rest of the day’s proceedings. and all the activities we did were memorable. the challenges presented to us accented the key aspects of working together as a team, and what's more fun is that we got to discover the other side of our colleagues.

after 4 hours of pure enjoyment, our MD capped off the event by distributing a special envelope for each of us. last year, Business Development won the “Department of the Year” award (and i'm proud to say that i was part of the committee who worked on the paper we submitted to the judges). all staff were awarded a voucher for 2 nights stay for 2 at Dubai’s most plush desert hotel, Jumeirah Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa. it’s valid ‘till December so hubby and i can plan our stay on November, just when the weather is a bit cooler. wee, i’m excited already, and i can’t wait to try their spa packages!

Monday, July 28, 2008

make up essentials

pretty blogger participants: 1. 100% Kelly 2. A Reality Bite

Kelly, i haven’t studied cosmetology, but i guess i love make up well enough to have a train case filled with cosmetics. to answer your tag, here are my my five make up essentials:

1. Dior Skin Compact
my love affair with Dior began exactly a year ago. i noticed that my colleague was always looking glam in her make up, so i unashamedly asked her what brand she’s using. that very same day, i trooped to the mall and tested Dior’s products on me. let’s just say it made a very good impression on me so i purchased a few. and this powder was, for me, my best buy.

my major requirement for a compact powder is that it must have sunblock. as you all know, the sun here in Dubai is not so friendly to the skin so it was good that it has SPF 20. what i love most about this product is its lightness. it doesn’t feel heavy on my face and lets my skin breathe, which is what i also want in a powder. and it leaves my skin looking soft and radiant with its natural matte finish. long wearing, too, which makes it perfect for everyday use.




2. Dior Addict Ultra Gloss Reflect
ooh, this is my favorite gloss of all! it’s truly an ultimate weapon for seduction! its deep, dazzling shine and sophisticated colors make up a perfect pout for any occasion. it is water-like and so it doesn’t have this heavy, sticky feeling to your lips as compared to Lancome Juicy Tubes. it also has a brush tip applicator which makes it easy to apply with precision. i have it in Denim Rose, which instantly gives my face a fresh look without even trying!






3. Dior Crayon Eyeliner
i never leave home without an eye liner. just like Paris Hilton & Lucy Torres-Gomez, i have a wonky eye (or sometimes called ‘lazy eye’) – the right one if you haven't noticed (my maternal grandma thinks it’s my lucky charm!) in order to hide it, i create an illusion that my eyes are bigger and wider. and there’s no other make up better to use than an eyeliner to draw a fine line along the base of my lashes to instantly give me that ‘doe-eyed’ look. very easy to apply and soft to the touch, too. and oh, this eyeliner also comes with a beveled foam blending tip and its own sharpener.




4. MAC Fluidline Eyeliner
why do i need another eyeliner, you ask? this MAC invention is what i use as a top liner. it comes in a small jar that’s very handy. but it’s long lasting so i don’t have to carry it with me wherever i go for touch ups. it’s a gel type so applying it is very easy, and smudge proof compared to liquid liners. i have it in black track. to apply, i use a brush to do the trick, and the perfect brush for this is the MAC 210 precise eye liner brush. the only con is that it’s difficult to take off so you have to use special make up remover for it.


5. Maybelline Great Lash Curved Brush Washable Mascara
beauty experts say that the best mascara in make up history is Maybelline Great Lash. and i completely agree. with its cheap price of $35, it's wand truly does magic. it’s a breakthrough eye product that thickens my lashes and conditions them at the same time. it also gives them the curliest curl ever without clumping or globbing. Maybelline brand is categorized as a drugstore make up, but for me, this mascara is still the best even if it’s not so chica. the only downside is that it’s not available here in the UAE, so i had it purchased pa in the States. and yes, i got it from a drugstore nga! :D


i wanna know how kikay my other online friends are, so let me tag ‘em pretty ladies: Drea, Cheryll, Vannie & Jacqui.

friends are the best

thanks Jhona &Jacqui for giving me this:



this is a great Monday indeed! tagging all my fellow bloggers in my blogroll.

have a wonderful week ahead! :)

something special

how sweet of Jacqui to send this to me!

~start copy here~
1. copy from start to finish
2. this letter should be pass on to your closest friends online.
3. add your name and URL blog
HERE!! . 1. Wheng 2. Hazel 3. Janeth Vicy’s Life Journey 4. A Sweet Taste Of Life 5. Sassy Finds 6. Shangrila Journey 7. Mommyhood and Me 8. Coffee Table Conversations 9. A Reality Bite
4. get back to Me [
WHENG] and leave a comment once you’ve passed on the letter. will then visit your site to make sure your links are complete and proper.


it's true i have never seen you
and we have never met,
never shaken hands
or even truly hugged and yet
i know for sure you care for me
by the kindness that you give.
and our keyboards keep us together
doesn’t matter where we live.
so i give this gift
to put a smile on your face
and to let you know
in my heart you have a special place.

~end copy here~

i’m passing this on to my blogger friends Joanne, Jesse & Kelly.

se7en



Pat tagged me with this lucky seven post.

the rules:
a. list these rules on your blog.
b. share 7 facts about yourself on your blog.
c. tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blogs. you’ll have to read on for my 7 facts and see who i tagged.

1. i was an average student from 1st-3rd year in highschool. come Senior year, i was moved to the cream of the crop section (either it was because of a mistake made by our school's system or simply out of my sheer luck!). instead of being happy about it, i felt miserable. that was the most depressing year of my highschool life. i was an outcast and i missed my barkada terribly. but now that i’m older, i'm happy i did manage to move sections. i learned to balance my time between academics, extra curricular activities, and CAT (i was part of the Model Company).
2. like Pat, i prefer the old fashioned planners than the electronic ones, too. i guess i’m a bit of a neo-luddite :)
3. i love shoes! buying them makes me feel tickled happy all the time. and if i like a particular design, i'd buy not just one pair but two of the same color :D
4. i collect fridge magnets of various shapes and sizes. the only criteria though is that they must come from the cities i’ve been to, counting those cities that i’ve connected to, as well. gifts from colleagues who frequently travel are of course more than welcome.
5. i’m a mad driver back home, but i couldn’t bring myself to get a license here in Dubai. me so scared!
6. i love pork sinigang a lot! and i prefer it with loads of kangkong. mmmm, that’s mouth watering!
7. when i was in 2nd year college, i took up ballroom dancing as my PE. i even represented our class and danced cha-cha to the tune of “Fallen” by Lauren Wood. we didn’t win because the judges thought swing has better dance moves. (hahaha, sour graping!!)

i’m tagging
Valerie, Weng, Chung, Cheryll, Jody, Jhona & Mich.

grrr...

i don’t know what the hell’s wrong with my blog!

last night,
Chung sent me a message saying that she can’t read anything from my blog other than the header. i told her it may be a glitch of blogger again because it was fine 5 minutes ago.

this morning, i saw what she was talking about. kainis!!

i checked the last post i made, and saw that it was empty. the title was there, but the body was nowhere to be found. that was my post in response to
Kelly's tag. Kelly, if you are reading this, i promise to repost my answers tonight. and i’ll remember to repost it by using Internet Explorer instead of Mozilla Firefox 3.0. (i can only assume that's where the screw up came from). good thing i saved my draft!

i will devote time this weekend to migrate from blogger to wordpress. i'm paying for my domain name, but haven't utilized it and it's such a waste. well, not for long....

sun and sands


as i was watching Gossip Girl’s S1E10 “Hi, Society” last night, a particular scene made me realize how “in” the Emirate of Dubai is right now.

Serena: (to Carter) i heard about your scrape in Dubai
Blair: you’ve been to Dubai? did you stay at the Burj Al Arab?
Carter: no, i stayed at the Palm Island.
Serena: Dubai is so overrated!

and then Carter started yakking about his kinship with the Sheikhs and other big wigs in the city.

wow, even the writers of Gossip Girl think Dubai is a must-see luxury destination! :)

well, truth be told, Dubai is indeed a luxurious place to live in – meaning you really have to have the money to be able to keep up with the kind of lifestyle here. inflation is high, basic commodities’ prices increase regularly, and rent doesn’t come cheap. the only consolation we have is that gas is pretty affordable here. AED 360 (USD 98) doesn’t make a dent in our monthly budget, and that’s gas good enough for a full month, including weekend trips to wherever in Dubai. for us lowly people, we could afford to drive a 3.0 MIVEC engine on a daily basis, traveling 60 kilometers back and forth.

with gas being inexpensive here, it’s not so surprising that a lot of people can afford to buy vehicles with big engines that gargle on petrol when accelerated. this is the only place on earth where i’ve seen all the luxury cars one can ever imagine – Maseratis, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Rolls Royce, Bentleys, and even stretch Hummers. Mercedes Benzes, Jaguars, Porches & BMWs are a common sight here. i pretty much have assumed that the unofficial national vehicle in the UAE is a Toyota Prado in white color. you can stand on the side of Sheikh Zayed Road for 10 minutes, and i can assure you that the ratio of spotting one cruising along is 1:1 (1 Prado per minute).

Dubai is known for being outlandish & flashy. in fact, it boasts of its love for superlatives in all sorts of direction. they are building the tallest building in the world (Burj Dubai), the world’s biggest mall, the world’s largest indoor ski slope, and the world’s largest airport (Dubai World Central – Al Maktoum International Airport) that’s estimated to be almost twice the size of Hong Kong - not the airport, but the island. apart from those, they already have the world’s tallest hotel (Burj Al Arab), which is also known as the only 7 star hotel in the world, the most lavish 5-star hotels you could ever think of, glamorous shops and modern souks, 20% of the world’s cranes, clusters of economies, and all other material wealth you could picture. Dubai is obviously trying to become the world’s number one tourist destination of the insanely rich and absurdly wealthy.

but what i admire about Dubai are the people who truly work hard and roughen their hands to build Dubai from a hole in the ground to a skyscraper of an architectural wonder. these are the men who work in the construction sites, who carry rickshaws from the harbor in the Dubai creek to the souks, the watchmen, the street cleaners and those who serve in the hospitality business. these people make Dubai...they create Dubai. these are the very same beings who make things work, who provide the luxurious treatments, who carry the shoppers’ bags, who drive for the tourists, who fixes things when something’s broken, who carries the golf bags at a golf course on a hot, humid day. i could go on and on about these people who keep Dubai alive, steady, and upbeat - people who make Dubai known as a service-oriented city. but my main point is that Dubai is nothing without these people who offer these pampering and luxuries to locals, expats and tourists alike.

for those who wish to see Dubai, i’d say it’s a wonderful experience coming down here and seeing all the lovely sights. once you’ve stayed in a five star hotel here, your standards will automatically rise up, and you'll expect nothing less of what you've experienced. the sun and sands of Dubai will forever be etched in your memory…because there’s nothing like it anywhere else in the world.

Friday, July 25, 2008

30 is this year's lucky number

to the best husband in the whole universe...

happy, happy birthday honey!

i am so glad we're now of the same age :) you'd finally stop teasing me that i'm old! (although i have to admit you do look very young, and could still pass for a college student. remember that bar in Madinat Jumeirah? those bouncers were really annoying! LOL!)

kidding aside, i wish you more reasons to smile, loads of hearty laughter spells, lots more of pleasant surprises, the best of health, and a gaming console that could rock your world.

i love you very, very much!!

xoxo,
gracie girl
(a.k.a baby mo)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

let's do the countdown

Jacqui tagged me with this one. sure looks like fun, so i decided to work on it in between doing my work & sipping my coffee.

Participants:
Me and Mine Creative in Me For the LOVE of Food Little Peanut Pea in a Pod Mommy Talks Aggie Shoots. Aggie Scraps All Kinds of Me Stuff The Salad Caper Winding Creek Circle Fun.Fierce.Fab Ozzy’s Mom Me,Myself+2 Shopaholic Ties the Knot Coffee Table Conversations A Reality Bite

Ten movies you’d watch over and over: My Bestfriend's Wedding, Notting Hill, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Love Affair (original or remake), My Sassy Girl, The Cutting Edge, Serendipity, Stardust, Jerry Maguire & Sweet Home Alabama.

Nine people you enjoy the company of: hubby, bessie cousin Sarj, bessie Beth, gradeschool friend
Drea, college bud Cleng, HS barkada Mylin, Jeez & Jowe & friend at work Hazel.

Eight things you’re wearing right now: earrings, wedding band, engagement ring, watch, bracelet, undies, business suit & leather pumps.

Seven things on your mind: my weight, reports at work, Ryan’s birthday party preps, blogging, my family back home, Sid Meier’s Civilization Revolution PS3 strategy game & uploading photos.

Six objects you touch every day: purse, mobile phone, laptop, keys, ballpen & keys

Five things you do everyday: send and reply to work and personal emails, surf the net, hug, kiss and talk to hubby.

Four things that you see when you turn your head to the right: my retro mug half-filled with coffee, a bottle of spring water, a ballpen & a pile of business cards.

Three of your favorite things that are red color: polo shirt, a heart shaped candle at my desk and an Untangler comb.

Two people who have influenced your life the most: my parents.

One person who has been nice to you today: my hubby, of course!

i’m tagging
Laine & Joanne.

sweet blogger

what a lovely thought from Pheng! thanks dearie! :)



sweet bloggers:


passing these on to Tracy, Jody & Mich. hope you’ll like ‘em as much as i did.

Monday, July 21, 2008

weekend in pictures

i’m working on a few things right now so can’t come up with a cohesive post. since i’ve done a bit of a test run on my new camera, i’ll just share with you our pictures to tell you what we’ve done the weekend.

Friday


attending Maybelline’s birthday party at Docklands, Dhow Palace Hotel Dubai
1st pic: college buddies Armil, Bob & Ryan
2nd pic: the wives, me & Ditas (Bob’s wife)
i’ve just realized we didn’t have a picture with the birthday girl (Armil’s wife)
sorry for the grainy pics! still learning how to use my digicam

Saturday



captions from top to bottom, left to right:
traffic!!
this is what boredom can do to you (
Kelly, i think i need that same bag organizer of yours!)
the hungry husband waiting for the food
my favorite drink at Chilli’s – Strawberry Lemonade
my order - Rib Eye Steak with lip-smacking mashed potatoes & steamed veggies
Ryan’s order - Fajita Trio
flashing our tickets to the movie, ‘Wanted’

hope you guys had a wonderful weekend! keep safe everyone & enjoy the week ahead :)

Monday checklist

Mich asked me to join Aggie's Monday Checklist here. lovely! just what i need on a Monday morning to get me organized.

let us all start the week right by listing all our goals and to-dos for the week, come on in and join the fun!


my to-do:

1. blog about what we’ve done over the weekend.
2. organize the stuff i need to send back home.
3. shop for items needed for Ryan’s party on Friday.
4. buy a nice greeting card for the husband.
5. follow up the responses for the meeting invites we’ve sent at work.
6. call my cousin to remind him about the hotel booking this weekend.
7. email my friend, Len to know the gender of her baby (i’m doing some shopping for the babies of my friends who are expecting this year)
8. finalize the priority list for the leasing department.
9. do the laundry before the weekend.
10. do some ironing while watching Gossip Girl *wink!*

what's yours? put your blog/s on this entry and spread the organizing tip around :)

what are you waiting for? come join us now! :)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Aggie wants to know # 3: halfway there

how’d your first six months go? and what are you looking forward to the next six months?

unlike many others, i didn’t create a New Year’s Resolution list. don’t get me wrong - i love making lists because it gets me organized on a lot of things. but when 2008 kicked in, i decided to just go with the flow and not make any resolutions list to live by for the year. i wanted to be less OC and eradicate my bad habit of worrying too much because i wanted this year to be more relaxing and a bit carefree than usual. later, i’ll explain why. of course, i still made plans for this year, and so far, i can safely say that i’ve managed to stick with those plans – both for myself and for me and the husband as a couple.

top 3 plans for the year:
1.) travel abroad for leisure
2.) lose weight
3.) conceive

this year is a milestone for me & Ryan. we both celebrate our 30th this year, so one of the plans we’ve made is to make it truly memorable by traveling somewhere exotic to treat ourselves. we’ve allocated a portion of our savings to explore a new place, and we’re sure glad we’ve done so. one thing we promised ourselves before getting married is to visit a new place and try something we’ve never done before each year. it’s to help keep our minds and bodies feel young, as well as to discover more things about each other. God is so good to us by blessing us abundantly that we are able to keep up with this kind of lifestyle.

another thing we’ve planned for 2008 is to live a healthier lifestyle. gone are the days when we can simply binge eat whenever we feel like it, or laze around just because we want to, even thought there’s lots of things we can and need to do. and so we decided to cut down on our eating out trips, and enroll ourselves to a fitness club. we started a new habit, which we are starting (and trying with all our might) to love.

having a baby is also something we are planning for this year. we believe we are now ready to become parents, and God-willing, we want to start conceiving this year to welcome our bambino next year. this is our fervent wish, and we hope this wish will be granted soon. this is also the reason why i am taking things easy this year – trying to devoid my life of unnecessary stress or unwanted anxiety attack. enough worrying already! (although i think as soon as i started to let go, my husband absorbed all my worries! LOL!)

HALFWAY THERE:

January – started the year with a not-so-loud bang
first New Year’s Eve celebration away from home. not so much fun, but managed to survive it. finally gave in to the call of a
new mobile phone, and realized that i must start wearing spectacles. first experience of heavy rains and flooding in the UAE.

February – extremely happy
decided to put my writing skills to good use by submitting an article to the DIFC Diary, which earned me an
Apple iPod Nano instantly. celebrated Valentine's Day with the husband by spending a weekend in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi. we definitely loved that road trip!

March – busy as a bee
one of the busiest months at
work. we sponsored a big event, which needed 101% of my attention and time. my residence visa in UAE expired, too, so its renewal was something i had to deal with, among other things. even on weekends, i was also in full throttle at home. so many things needed to be done, and de-cluttering was one of ‘em.

April – photography & travel
got formally introduced to photography. nope, not me, but my hubby. i got him his first
dslr camera from the bonus i received that month. good thing i did because it brought me a much needed ME time when he tagged along for a shoot one Friday afternoon. we also attended the wedding of my former team mate at work, Maie, and her fiancé Ahmad. on the same month i flew to the U.S. to attend a conference.

May – unleashing the other facets of me
yes, May was a joyous month where i enjoyed expressing my
inner child. i was like an 8-year old who goofed around, and innocently said out loud the names of my crushes. thanks to Aggie's men hunt tag, which Kelly passed on to me, i had a good excuse to express ‘kilig’ over celebrities who make me blush and scream inside…hehe! and since i had access to US stores and outlet malls during my business trip, the shopaholic in me struck again! around the same time, i discovered the discrepancies made by my bank that affected my pension plan. i was a tigress who fought with all my valor to save what i have worked hard for.

June – celebrating life
i turned
30 in Dubai, surrounded by my husband, my cousins, and friends i’ve made here in my second home. one of the most memorable celebrations i ever had! finally had an EB with fellow blogger, Chung & her husband. about the same month, i, together with Ryan, joined the Fitness First and began hitting the gym religiously.

2008 Wrap Up – First Half Edition:

WHAT HAVE YOU DONE THAT YOU’VE NEVER DONE BEFORE?
this is so lame, but i’ve never, ever shopped that much in my entire life in just one occasion. i was Becky Bloomwood for a week while i was in the States. $2,500 went kaput in less than 5 days!

DID YOU KEEP YOUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS?
i didn’t make any new year’s resolution so this is not applicable.

DID ANYONE CLOSE TO YOU GIVE BIRTH?
none.

DID ANYONE CLOSE TO YOU DIE?
our nextdoor neighbor in Manila, who was a close family friend (he was my youngest sister’s Godfather)

WHAT COUNTRIES DID YOU VISIT?
United States of America.

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR THAT YOU LACKED EARLY THIS YEAR?
a new bag…hahaha!! (how materialistic!) seriously, a baby growing in my tummy.

WHAT DATE WILL REMAIN ETCHED UPON YOUR MEMORY AND WHY?
June 20, 2008 - my birthday. celebrating it felt like getting on an emotional rollercoaster ride.

WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT OF THE YEAR?
learning to forgive and forget…sincerely.

WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST FAILURE?
like
Aggie, not taking care of me (i.e. not trying harder to lose weight, not drinking the required amount of water i should be drinking to prevent UTI attacks, forgetting to take my vitamins & iron capsules). so much for my wish for good health!

DID YOU SUFFER ILLNESS OR INJURY?
none, thank God! but i did live through the worst back pain i’ve ever had in my lifetime. it was horrible! and just reminiscing about it makes me squirm again. thankfully, i have a caring husband who patiently gave me a soothing back rub for about a couple of hours while i was screaming & crying in pain.

WHAT WAS THE BEST THING YOU BOUGHT?
a
Canon 40D slr camera for hubby. it gave him so much joy! quite a useful gadget, too!

WHOSE BEHAVIOR MERITED CELEBRATION?
my husband. i’ve never expected so much love to receive from just one person.

WHOSE BEHAVIOR MADE YOU APPALLED AND DEPRESSED?
a very close HS friend who forgot to tell me that she got married (and she was one of my attendants during our wedding!)

WHERE DID MOST OF YOUR MONEY GO?
shopping, paying bills and savings

WHAT DID YOU GET REALLY, REALLY, REALLY EXCITED ABOUT?
my trip to the US. after more than 15 years, i got to see my Uncle Regie (Dad’s eldest brother), Aunt Malou, and my cousins.

WHAT SONG(S) WILL ALWAYS REMIND YOU OF THINGS THAT HAPPENED EARLY THIS YEAR?
- David Cook’s rendition of “Always Be My Baby” – we got hooked to this year’s American Idol.
- All of High School Musicale’s songs – watched Part I & Part II on the plane bound to the US. those songs remind me of my memorable trip to California.

COMPARED TO THIS TIME, LAST YEAR, ARE YOU:
I. HAPPIER OR SADDER?
definitely happier :D
II. THINNER OR FATTER?
i hate to say this, but i’m fatter (maybe because i’m happier!)
III. RICHER OF POORER?
a bit richer, i guess.

WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU’D DONE MORE?
i wish i’d given more to charity, or at least been involved in any charity work. i used to be active on these kind of things, but now, i feel like i’m a passive, apathetic person. i feel so bad about it :(

WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU’D DONE LESS OF?
procrastinating…tsk, tsk!

HOW WILL YOU BE SPENDING CHRISTMAS?
we’re going home to Pinas.

DID YOU FALL IN LOVE?
yes, countless of times…to LV bags, Aldo, Nine West & Zara pairs of shoes, and MAC make up! hehe!! of course, i keep falling in love over and over again with Ryan!

HOW MANY ONE-NIGHT STANDS?
none.

WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE TV PROGRAM?
Grey’s Anatomy.

DO YOU HATE ANYONE NOW THAT YOU DIDN’T HATE THIS TIME LAST YEAR?
hate is a very strong word. i guess i’m just annoyed with that person.

WHAT WAS THE BEST BOOK YOU READ?
A Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffeneger. magnificent book! fun reads were Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic Series.

WHAT WAS YOUR GREATEST MUSICAL DISCOVERY?
High School Musicale teeny bopper music…hahaha!! :P

WHAT DID YOU WANT AND GET?
a pair of baguette diamond small hoop earrings. it was hubby’s (civil) wedding anniversary gift to me.

WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE FILM OF THIS YEAR?
Kung Fu Panda :)

WHAT DID YOU DO ON YOUR BIRTHDAY, AND HOW OLD WERE YOU?
i threw a
birthday party, with a bowling theme. i turned 3 decades old.

WHAT ONE THING WOULD HAVE MADE YOUR HALF YEAR IMMEASURABLY MORE SATISFYING?
conceiving.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL FASHION CONCEPT THIS PAST HALF YEAR?
i’m wearing more dresses now during casual Thursdays at work.. i’m forever a fan of stiletto heels, but these past few months, i’ve begun investing on girly bling slides. my choices for clothes are classic pieces, same with my shoes & bags. they may be safe, but they never go wrong. i also take time to put on make up in the morning just to add a little color to my face.

WHAT KEPT YOU SANE?
Ryan. internet. my favorite series.

WHICH CELEBRITY / PUBLIC FIGURE DID YOU FANCY THE MOST?
Patrick Dempsey.

WHAT POLITICAL ISSUE STIRRED YOU THE MOST?
since i’m not in the Philippines, i don’t read or watch the news back home. i know it sounds too indifferent and cold, but it keeps me from feeling stressed out and worried (i easily get carried away by bad news).

WHO DID YOU MISS?
my family – Dad, Mom & siblings :(

domino tag

making the domino tag come alive again...from Thea :)

{BEGIN COPY}




rule: copy the entire list and add your name at the bottom. and tag at least 5 friends. (but you can tag as many as you like).


note: please link the blog where you posted the tag. we appreciate you linking all your blogs but make sure you post the tag in the blogs, too.

Mommy Talks Aggie Shoots. Aggie Scraps All Kinds of Me Stuff The Salad Caper Winding Creek Circle Anorexic Queen Apple of Yan Ple YanPle Howell and Abie My Planet Purple WomenXplore Princess Bela My Happy Place I am Dzoi Cliktrik Life’s Simple Pleasures Coffee Table Conversations 100% Kelly My Colorful World Ramdom Thoughts Scribbles of My Life In This Game of Life The Shopaholic in Me Mommyhood and Me My Charmed Life My Joys Sassy Finds Celebrating Life Life is Peachy Belly, Baby and Beyond {BloggerHappy} {BerryScrappy} A Reality Bite

{END COPY}

can't tag any further 'cos everyone seems to have done this already.

Friday, July 18, 2008

the birthday present

wondering what hubby got for me on my birthday?

in this post, i made a subtle indication of what i really wanted to get for my birthday. i thought long and hard – and decided that these two things, apart from good health and a baby soon, should be enough to complete my wishlist: either a one carat diamond solitaire ring or a classy Gucci Princy Hobo large bag in brown.

knowing my husband, i know that he’ll make sure i’d get them. not necessarily on the spot, but definitely at the right time (read: when he can finally afford it). i know the ring sounds like asking too much, but any woman’s free to dream and wish, right? besides, it’s a good investment. and it won’t really matter if that dream gets fulfilled by end of this year, next year or even 10 years from now. i didn’t say i want it pronto!

the more realistic option, which is the bag i’ve been eyeing on for quite sometime already, is unfortunately still out of stock. it’s probably a sign that i should wait till someone i know flies to Rome because it’s way cheaper to get Gucci bags there.

so, what did Ryan finally get me?


yes, my dream point & shoot camera – the Canon Powershot G9.

i’ve been reading a lot about this ultra-fab camera that’s so hot in the market since its release. it got me so curious, so on the day we bought our Manfrotto tripod, i had to see and feel it first hand. golly wow, it looked so darn pretty on my palm! i knew it’d be a wonderful addition to our growing Canon family.

it has so many incredible features i don’t even know where to start! ok, let’s see – it’s a 12.1 megapixel CCD sensor cam with 6x optical zoom, an optical image stabilizer, a 3.0 inch LCD, and an advanced auto-focus technology. you can also add a few accessories to it to maximize its features, like conversion lenses, and an external flash, which is great ‘cos i can use our Speedlite 430EX flash with it. but the best spec of it, for me, is its wide angle lens - 7.4-44.4mm f/. it’s so amazing! at a mere two meters distance, i can take a whole body picture of somebody else (with an average height of 5’6”-5’8”). totally fitted with my major requirement! and oh, do i even need to mention that this little monster can also capture RAW images? how’s that for a point & shoot, eh?

thank you so much, honey for this wonderful gift! i love, love, love it!! today, i’m testing it at a friend’s birthday party we’re attending. for a change, i’ll be behind the camera. LOL! :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

tanned, toned and tired from Jordan part 2

a continuation of our little adventure in the land between Israel & Iraq. brace yourself for a very lengthy post and picture heavy post, my friend.

day 2
the following morning, we woke up real early to have breakfast at the hotel before proceeding to ‘The Palace Hotel’ where we booked our King’s Highway Tour. the King’s Highway Tour usually leaves at 8:00 am, with the following itinerary:

1.) Madaba
2.) Mt. Nebo
3.) Wadi Mujib
4.) Karak Castle
5.) Wadi Al-Hasa
6.) Shobak Castle
7.) Petra

yes, the tour was our means to get to Petra, which is about 300 kms. from Amman, roughly 3 hours by car. for the price of 92 JD (USD 130), we believe it’s already a good deal, considering the hours we’ve spent on the road. but before i tell you more about our tour, let me share with you first how we fought our way to get to ‘The Palace Hotel.’

when we booked our trip the day before, we were advised to turn up at the hotel by 7:45 am so we can settle ourselves first, and be able to leave at 8:00 am sharp. we knew that ‘The Palace Hotel’ was near our hotel, but we didn’t have any darn idea how to get there. we flagged a cab, hoping the driver would know his way around. turns out the cab driver wasn’t familiar with the roads, so he kept stopping & asking people on the road for directions, which irked me big time because we were on time constraint. anyway, we just tried to help him by following the map that we were carrying, and found the police station that was near the hotel. however, we kept going round and round the block, watching out for a signage of the hotel, or any building that resembles a hotel at least. it says in the map that it’s four streets after the police station, which served as our landmark. after passing through the same police station 3 times, i casually looked towards the direction of Ryan (he was seated on the right hand side of the car) and saw the hotel’s signage. lo and behold! the hotel (more of an inn, actually) was located in an alleyway – not in a street! a far cry from ‘The Palace Hotel’ where Serena van der Woodsen lives! geez!!

we hesitantly stepped inside the dingy looking building, which reminded us instantly of Sta. Cruz, Manila, and took a lift to get to the 2nd floor where the reception of the inn, er, hotel was located. i wasn’t too comfortable taking the lift because it was as small as that of a dumbwaiter, and it doesn’t have an automatic door - you had to open its door by yourself, and it’s just like any push and pull door! oh well, there goes a first for us then!

in fairness to 'The Palace Hotel', the car they’ve arranged for us was relatively new. it wasn’t a Camry or anything fancy like the ones here in Dubai, but we’re still happy because it wasn’t crappy looking, and the air-conditioning was good. not only were we happy about the car, but we were also happy with its driver. Jamil is an extremely sweet Palestinian guy, probably in his late 50’s, and he treated us so kindly. after we had left the hotel, he suggested an additional pit stop to our itinerary – a visit to the Dead Sea for 2 hours, where we can also have our lunch before proceeding to the other sites. for an additional 15 JD (USD 21), we decided to go for it since it meant that we wouldn’t need to squeeze a trip to the Dead Sea on our last day in Jordan.

our first stop (after us making a brief halt at our hotel to grab my swimwear & extra towel) was at Madaba. before we got to its famous 19th century Greek Orthodox Church, where the significant Byzantine-era mosaics of maps of biblical places from Lebanon to Egypt can be found, Jamil stopped for a moment to get us some freshly picked green grapes, which the locals turn into wine. they were very sweet and tasty – just perfect to munch on while on a road trip!

snacking on sweet, healthy grapes

the mosaic signage of the church

ancient mosaic map #1

ancient mosaic map #2

inside the church

while in Madaba, we visited a shop that sells lovely mosaic pieces made of natural colored rocks. we bought one as a souvenir, with the tree of Madaba design on it. it took the maker weeks to finish it as cutting the stones was quite difficult. we ourselves tried it, and it was solid hard!

mosaic art pieces

our next stop was Mt. Nebo, situated on the edge of the East Bank plateau. history says that this was where Moses saw the Promised Land. from the lookout, you’ll have a spectacular view of the valleys to the Dead Sea, Jericho, and the Jordan Valley. if you’re lucky, you may even see the spires of Jerusalem when it’s not hazy.

pit stop with the view of Jericho

next to the Memorial of Moses

tomb cover

by the pathway to Mt. Nebo

memorial of Pope John Paul II's visit

after touring around Mt. Nebo, we hopped back to the car to get to the Dead Sea. we took the private road built for Pope John Paul II when he visited Mt. Nebo in the year 2000. we passed by a lovely scenery of open valleys, plus a couple of check points here in there for security purposes. upon reaching the Dead Sea Highway, we immediately felt the change in temperature – it was sweltering hot!

we headed straight to the Amman Beach Resort, where i excitedly purchased lots of salt scrub packs, mud, salt & peeling soaps, mud packs, and bottles of facial wash. why not when they were having a buy one-take one promotion? i’ve seen the prices in Amman, so i was sure we were not duped. as soon as we’re done, i quickly changed to my swimming outfit, and made a mad dash to the sea to get a feel of what it’s like to bob like a cork. as soon as i settled in the water, i literally floated with no effort at all! thanks to Dead Sea’s high salinity, buoyancy was not a problem. of course, a Dead Sea experience will not be complete without putting on Dead Sea mud filled with minerals good for the skin, so for 5 JD, i had me covered in mud all over. imagine a high noon spa by the beach…i was toasted!

floating effortlessly

authentic mudpack (pardon the fats!)

Ryan’s never fond of the waters, especially when it’s hot, so he just amused himself by taking pictures of me. after baking myself for about half an hour, i showered and changed so we could have lunch. it was an Arabic buffet, as expected, but food was surprisingly good, i must admit. we strolled around the place a little bit more, and by 1:00 pm, we took a last glimpse of the view of the other side, which is Israel, and hit the road again.

at the Amman Beach Resort

our next stop was the Wadi Mujib Nature Reserve. we didn’t spend much time exploring the place as we were feeling too heavy from our lunch, apart from the fact that it was too hot to do more walking. we contented ourselves by walking in the bridge to take some snaps of the trail. the place is more suitable for adventurous souls who've got time in their hands. in as much as we wanted to take on the trail, we couldn’t as the hike would take up about half a day all in all. it was a bit disappointing, but we had an itinerary to follow so we just allowed that adventure to slip off our hands.

an enticing Wadi Mujib

we went on with our tour, and made a short stop at one side of the road where there is an edge to see the view of the sea with the dried up salts forming in the rocks. just above the ridge next to the road was a rock formation believed to be the wife of Lot. in the bible, she was the woman who defied God’s instructions, thus, was turned into a pillar of salt when she looked back at Sodom while it was being destructed.

the pillar claimed to be Lot's wife

more salt formation

as we traversed through the winding road to get us to Karak, we passed by the signage that indicated the actual sea level of the earth. we were going up, so it only meant that the Dead Sea, and the rest of the areas we’ve been to are below sea level. interesting! (fact: Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth)

the sea level gauge

we’ve crossed a valley that seemed never-ending, and seen Bedouins camping, too. we were told by Jamil that the lives of the traditional Bedouins are very hard, and i couldn’t agree more. once we stopped to take pictures of their make shift homes, and kids started running towards the car. they found it quite peculiar that we were using a device that they’ve never seen nor touched before. and since it hasn’t rained in Jordan for the last 5 years, the wadis surrounding the area were dry, making things doubly hard for the Bedouins. a very sad sight we saw was that of a young girl, probably around the age of 8-10 fetching water from the dam a few miles away from her home. she had just secured 4 big plastic containers filled with gallons of water each onto a back of a donkey, which we presumed she carried all by herself as no one else was there with her :(

after a few more minutes of going through the valley, where we’ve seen lovely sights of grape vineyards and lanes and lanes of olive trees, we’ve finally reached Karak. we went inside the Karak Castle, a crusader castle with an Ottoman Gate reached by a short bridge over a dry moat. we headed straight to a tunnel, which we’ve later learnt was an underground marketplace. despite the pathway lights they’ve put in the tunnel, it still scared me to bits walking there by ourselves. we also took time to see the stables and museum of the castle. it’s not very big, but it requires a bit of a walk, both uphill and down hill.

Karak Castle from a distance

view from the top

by the steps of the Crusader Castle

at the tunnel

the haciendero & his estate...LOL!

by the ruins

we went on with our tour, where we passed through Moab Valley and Wadi Al-Hasa, a deep canyon in the West Central Jordan, which looked like Arizona to me. we stopped on the side of the road for about 10 minutes just to feel the afternoon breeze, and have a bite of the flavorsome bread Jamil had gotten us in Karak.

with a view of the valley of Moab

Wadi Al-Hasa

Ryan with our tour guide, Jamil

Shobak Castle, another crusader castle, was the last in our list to see before heading to Petra. prior to driving up the castle, Jamil introduced us to a Bedouin family that lives in one of the caves along the narrow road. they invited us for tea inside their unique home, but we politely had to beg off as it was slowly getting dark already. before finally ascending atop the hill to see the castle, Jamil asked us to hop off the car to see the end of the 365-step escape tunnel he was telling us about.

view from the Shobak Castle

Islamic inscriptions praising Prophet Mohammad

as soon as we arrived at the castle, we quickly toured the place, with the help of a tour guide stationed there. we saw the ruins of the school, the market place, plus some scattered canon balls left and right, and of course, the amazing view of the Shobak area from the hilltop. but the highlight of our visit there was seeing the underground escape tunnel that winds down into the guts of the earth. no, we didn’t dare try to go through the 365 steps as it was very, very scary. you’d actually need a strong flashlight with lots of batteries, and nerves of steel to do that. i think we managed to go down to as far as the 20th step. further than that was impossible because it was pitch black. Ryan tried using the camera flash to see what was beyond where we stood, and what we saw was nothing more than steps in an uninviting tunnel.

we continued with our journey to Petra, which was just a few kilometers away from Shobak. when we entered the town, we decided to stop for a while to see the sunset, before winding down further to the town proper. we checked in at an inn recommended by Jamil, whose owner, Ibrahim, was a young entrepreneur, probably in his early 20’s. he eagerly suggested that we go for the Petra By Night Tour since it only happens 3 times a week – every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday nights, and we were quite lucky. we had about 20 minutes to spare before Ibrahim takes us to Petra Visitor’s Centre, so we gulped our welcome drinks (i had coffee, and hubby a cup of tea), took our stuff to our room, quickly washed our hands and faces, and then set off again for yet another adventure.

the Petra By Night Tour was an out of this world experience! we walked through the 1.7 km path lit by nothing but 1,500 ++ candles that led to the world famous Treasury of Petra. it was a solemn walk as the Bedouins who were guiding us discouraged us to speak loudly so we could appreciate the beauty of the evening – the breathtaking Al Siq’s rocks, the clear night sky with thousands of stars, and the haunting music of the Bedouins.

Ryan and i had no idea what was in store for us. upon seeing a glimpse of the Treasury just before exiting Al Siq, we felt astounded - it was so beautiful! when we got inside the Khazneh, we sat down on mats provided by the Bedouins, and we were served delicious, hot tea. we stared at the wonder that was before us, with surroundings lit by hundreds and hundreds of luminaries. what made the evening all the more special were the musical performances prepared by the Bedouins. one of them sang while playing a rababah, and another played the flute while going around the crowd. we stayed there for about 30 minutes, until it was time for us to head back to town.

we didn't have a proper lens to capture the beauty of the Petra by Night, so i borrowed a photo from 'Travel in Style' website so i could show you how magnificent it was that evening. the 2nd picture, though, was taken by Ryan.

The Treasury by night

candles that seem like fireflies in the evening

we were fetched by Ibrahim at the Visitor’s Centre entrance. at the car, we met Charles and Vivian, a Chinese-American couple who was touring the Middle East. since all of us haven’t had dinner yet, we ordered pizza for take out at the local pizza joint that Ibrahim recommended, and ate at the inn’s dining area. we exchanged coordinates with the couple since they were scheduled to visit Dubai the following week. we promised to tour them around on their last day, especially in the DIFC, since Charles is so keen on seeing our centre.

Ryan and i were so tired when we got to our room. by then, the dread for the next day’s activities had started to creep in. we hit the sack at half past midnight, ironically with ‘The Mummy’ being shown on cable TV.

the final two days account to follow. promise, it won’t be as extensive as this one! :)