in review: 2011 challenges

In January 2011, I set five challenges for the year. These included:

  1. cut down on food expenses/lessen fast food intake,
  2. daily scribbles/daily blog,
  3. weekly doodles,
  4. twice-a-week jog, and
  5. monthly reads.

I don’t believe I managed to completely meet even one of the challenges. Then again, perhaps that wasn’t the plan.

The fast food intake was reduced. It was, however, replaced with fondness for more pricey, better quality dishes from restaurants. But way better quality and service 😀

Among the five, the daily scribbles was what I managed to maintain. Converting the notes into blog entries was more challenging. Somehow, I managed to complete the posts for 2011. The quality, well, that’s another matter. Don’t expect depth and substance from the 2011 posts.

Weekly doodles. I lasted until May – I think. The mindless sketching continued. I just was too lazy to have them scanned for upload. But doodled, I did. I still do. It clears the minds. It’s something I need to do.

I wasn’t to jog regularly. Paired with the increased preference for dining out, it’s not a good things (or sight). Relatively, I did manage to run greater distance in 2011. Plus, the running shoes I bought in December 2010 was more worn compared with the other pair bought in December of 2009. That’s a good indicator 😀

On the average, I did get to finish 12 books for 2011 – although not every month. There are weeks when I get to finish one or two. Then months can pass with a couple of chapters. That’s when the books are dragging. I can’t leave them unfinished. But I do get to start on a new book as I finish reading the previous one.

  1. Heather Seller’s Page after Page
  2. Memories of my melancholy whores by Gabriel García Márquez
  3. 4 Blondes by Candace Bushnell
  4. Sex and the City by Candace Bushnell
  5. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  6. Spring Collection by Judith Krantz
  7. Arabian Nights translated by Sir Richard F. Burton and adapted by Jack Zipes
  8. The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  9. Grimms’ Fairy Tales by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
  10. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
  11. The Man Who Wrote the  Book by Erik Tarloff
  12. A Perfect Mess by Eric Abrahamson and David H. Freedman
  13. American Nerd by Benjamin Nuget
  14. Ubiquity by Mark Buchanan
  15. Sabbath’s Theater by Philip Roth
  16. Aleph by Paulo Coelho
  17. Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen
  18. Atonement by Ian McEwan
  19. Hungry Woman in Paris by Josefina Lopez
  20. The Accident Man by Tom Cain
  21. Hannibal by Thomas Harris

All the challenges were not met. The challenges were not complete failures, though. Relatively, 2011 was better. I did better. Still, the challenges were left unmet. Had I fulfilled the five challenges, that would have been ideal. Life never is. What matters is how harder you’d strive to do better. (This is supposed to be motivating.)


make do

The plan was to make a blueberry cheesecake.

I couldn’t find canned blueberries in the supermarket. I wanted to try the no-bake cheesecake recipe I watched/read somewhere. We did have some bitter chocolate that nobody wanted. Some (bitter) chocolate cheesecake perhaps? In another tray, caramelized grapes was used as toppings.

(Base) Graham crackers, brown sugar, melted (use unsalted) butter, and cinnamon powder (Middle) All purpose cream, condensed milk, and cream cheese. (Top) Grated dark chocolate.

The family found the taste acceptable. It just had a salty aftertaste because of the salted butter used. Or perhaps the base needed more sugar?

One of the great things about the holidays at home, I get to use the kitchen 😀

these sessions

Everything’s too bright and loud. The world tips as one attempts to get up. the head weighs like a ton. Home? Check. Cellphone? Check. A sigh of relief. Slowly, the events earlier that morning are recalled.

It’s been quite a while since my last hangover. I’m reminded why it isn’t something one looks forward to. I tried being part of two sessions last night and I found – it wasn’t such a good idea.

It was lunch time when I gained consciousness. Woke up just in time to join the family for lunch, which I found I couldn’t take in. I’ve never had greater appreciation for the cold arroz caldo breakfast leftover. Recovery took most of the day. I’ve been gulping water the entire day, my one-liter always within reach. By dinner time, I was back to normal. The appetite’s always the indicator,

I don’t think I’ll be taking part in any alcohol sessions soon.

Christmas companion

Meet Cali.

He’s been keeping me company these past few days. He’s barely a month-old askal pup of the second sister and her husband. The pup doesn’t know how to properly urinate yet. His diet’s that of cats. See, there were three cats  in the compound before Cali came. The food prepared is shared by the dog and the cats. They’re managing well, it seems.

He barely barks. Instead, he has this loud cry-howl which is a bit weird at daytime. Come evening and it’s a different matter. I get goosebumps from the howling sound. It doesn’t help that we’ve been having cold days with strong winds and rains. Great sound effects for horrors.

Aside from the uber enthusiastic tail wagging greeting we get every morning – with the usual sandy imprints in whatever pair of shorts I may have been wearing – Cali has been my most willing subject for photos. (He certainly knows his angles. )That’s how we both deal with boredom.

I can say, this vacation has been greater fun because of this pup 😀


I’m loving this vacation!

I get to watch TV comfortably 😀 Plus there’s this subtitled Korean channel (TVN HD)in our cable subscription 😀 😀 And most importantly, I’m not paying the subscription or the electricity 😀 😀 😀

Spending the holidays at home means full parasitic mode. I don’t have to think about my next meal, deal with scheduling the laundry, wake up early (although I do wake up earlier when I’m here – without the aid of an alarm clock), and I get to watch TV! Good channels. I get to have a screen to myself. Well,  most of the day, at least.

Still, nothing beats watching dramas with the family. That means arguing about the plot, sharing commentaries, and exchanging local gossip.

I’m going to miss these.

The family part more than the TV 😀


It stands for sarcasm. The third aunt handed me a white top. It fit nicely (relieved). I looked at the size and laughed. Small. I do believe Fate loves sarcasm. I’d like to move in the place where this top was manufactured. I’d feel way better there. Small?! Hah! Or perhaps it was a typo error?  Nonetheless, that would be my favorite top.

I did see the humor in that.

The year will end with a way bigger me. (An understatement.) Deep breaths. Okay. That didn’t hurt as much as I thought it would. Acceptance. I think that’s what they call it.

Now, what motivation to use to keep the jog (as in real jog – not brisk walk sessions)? … (a long pause follows…)

… (still part of the looooong pause)

I’ll write it down once I figure it out 😀

greens, cheese, and olives in honey mustard with lemon vinaigrette

We knew the family would be desperate for some greens after all the Hamon and spaghetti in tomato beef sauce consumed during the Noche Buena. We were prepared. Informally tasked as the person in charge of the food for Christmas, I thought it’d be a chance to see if I could copy a salad from one of the pricey meals we’ve had.

There was lettuce, cucumber, bell pepper, tomato, and olives. For the dressing, we used mustard, honey, extra virgin olive oil, lemon (pricey!) and salt and pepper for seasoning. Add some cheese cubes and shavings of queso de bola plus cashew nuts (we couldn’t find walnuts) and it was ready.

The second sister found it good enough that she requested the salad to be prepared in her house blessing. I’ll take that as a compliment 😀

The salad’s a good break from all the meat and sweets I’ve consumed. I’d want to prepare it more often but the ingredients are quite pricey! The cost of the greens alone is enough to discourage me. I’ll reserve this one for special occasions.