Long days and the deception of work

When my morning alarm goes off, I jump up with a start thinking that I’ve overslept because the sun’s shining so bright it’s like high noon outside. I stumble across to my cell phone at the other side of the room and whew, it’s only 6-ish. To those of us who’re constantly complaining that we don’t have enough hours in a day to get everything done, these unseasonably, incredibly long summer spring days are a dream come true.

Getting an early start knowing you have a full 15 hours of daylight ahead of you is a great feeling. While it’s technically not quite summer yet, Summer seems intent on elbowing Spring swiftly out of the way. And if our air-conditioning weren’t acting up so often, that great feeling might easily be a superlative. Except the darned thing keeps blowing hot air instead of cold.

So between toasty temperatures and cranky AC, we figured we really must do something about it. We did the next best thing: jump in the car and drive to San Francisco to escape the heat. Well, okay, the heat was one thing but our real excuse was the Memorial Day sales. Now if you’re a serious shopaholic, you don’t just stand there doing nothing when it’s raining discounts and promos out there.

Two productive days of retail therapy later, I’m happy to report we have a few, not many bagfuls of spoils to show for our hard work. Shopping is work? You’d better believe it! Do you know how many pairs of jeans I had to try on before I found my one true love? And don’t even get me started on the shoes. Sifting through rack after rack, shelf after shelf, hunting down your size, waiting in line for the fitting room clutching armfuls of clothes, yeah!

But it’s only when you get into the fitting room that’s when the real work (or workout, depending on how you look at it) begins. You’re doing countless squats trying on a pile of jeans and your ankle socks keep coming off with your jeans and you’re doing countless bends to get them back on. At some point, I hear someone saying, to heck with these socks, I’m leaving them off. But not me, I hate stepping on the cold, sandy floor and getting my bare feet dirty… so I keep on keeping on with the battle of the socks!

So yeah, it would seem, and I’m not even going to fault you for thinking, that it’s been all play and no work around here lol. If you’ve been reading this blog long enough, you’ll know that around here, the term ‘work’ often takes on meanings that are worlds away from how others may view it.

Peace out… uttered with tongue in cheek.

The sweet, the sour and the crispy

The sweet, the sour and the crispy

We jumped for joy the day it rained movie tickets. I mean, what are the chances of scoring not one but two free movies? Hoobaheck, if it weren’t for free movies, we wouldn’t even be going to the movies.

Thrilled, we made our way early to Finding Dory. As in almost 3 hours early so that we could have dinner at 5pm. Ridiculous, I know, but it probably had to do with the sheer excitement of watching a movie with the brood again. Just like old times and definitely a far cry from that epic fail of a movie date.

Dinner was one of the best we’ve had in recent days, according to the picky eater opinion vote. While our last experience with this restaurant was bittersweet, it was quite the opposite this time.

Just when we’d lost hope of ever paying less for a bigger portion with no drop in food quality, surprise, surprise! for the first time in our history of eating out, this restaurant gets *drumrolls please* added back into PEARL (our Picky Eater’s Approved Restaurant Listยฉ).

The sweet, the sour and the crispy

Customer service aside, the fried chicken was everything we’d hoped for. Even I, notoriously known for refusing to eat with my hands, ended up licking my fingers unashamedly in public lol. That was how good this crispy double-fried chicken was (or should I say, is, since we can’t seem to stop going back for more?).

After dinner, we skipped off merrily to the cinema only to be greeted with more mouthwatering news. Free popcorn and soda each! Woah, as if Finding Dory wasn’t sweet enough on its own… with bite-sized lessons about friendships and family for savvy parents to initiate teaching points with their little kids ๐Ÿ‘.

Now You See Me 2, on the other hand, left a bit of a sour aftertaste ๐Ÿ˜. We’d planned to watch the 1pm but decided on the 10:15 instead even though we were a half hour late. Turned out we didn’t miss anything. I know everything else starts late in these here parts but movies too? C’mon!

As for the movie itself, we didn’t know what to expect. That’s what happens when you close your eyes and just pick one off the sad list. All it was, to me, was a bunch of magicians running around. And the dialog, well, it was kinda stilted, like they were reading off a script.

The redeeming factor was, of course, the air-conditioning inside the cinema. It was delicious given that the air-conditioning in the rest of the mall is non-existent these days. But yeah, all in all, it’s happy days!

Tigers in the woods

Tigers in the woods

This is one of those weekends that Hip2Dad isn’t playing the El Nino Open. I say, what a great decision! Better to be enjoying a day in the comfort of home than chasing golf balls all day in this oppressive heatwave.

That said, I have to admit that at one point in my working life, I too had a golf club standing in my office. Scattered across that corner of my room were golf balls, each bearing the initials of my beloved boss, carefully carved out in permanent marker.

At random times of the work day, you could find me behind closed doors whacking the living daylights out of said golf ballsโœŒ. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe in violence any more than I believe them initials should be allowed to run amok in the workplace. But there were times when 5:00 pm was just too far away and I needed to de-stress pronto.

Speaking of which, I wonder why ‘coming home from the office to your kids’ isn’t listed anywhere as a stress reliever. For me, it wasn’t meditation or a vacation away from it all. It was my kids who kept me sane when work was a beech (oops, I’ve done it again, haven’t I? and this ain’t no Britney Spears song either!).

Back then, I did consider taking up golf. That was when Hip2bDad began telling me to stop calling golf clubs ‘golf sticks’. He introduced me to each golf club by name. Meet Dasher, Dancer and Prancer Putter, Driver and Iron! But that didn’t stop me from using a driver to putt. Duh!

And he showed me how to swing a golf club without killing anyone in the process. Good thing we never got to the real game where I had to drive the ball across the grass, I mean, green. Apparently someone drove a ball right smack into our K-friend’s head and he promptly fainted. See, it could happen even to experienced golfers. So don’t even try to imagine what I would’ve done!

Tigers in the woods

At some point, Hip2bDad began to think he saw potential Tigers in our three pre-teens. In fact, he was so sure he signed them all up for golf lessons. So began our suntanning sessions as I played doting golf mom! Soon we all began to look like roasted potatoes even as our sunblock investments went shooting through the roof.

Golf fashion quickly dominated our weekend lives. “Hey, why are you wearing that? Where’s your polo shirt?” our resident golf fashion police could be heard hollering up the stairs. “Belts please! Hey, hey, don’t forget to tuck in your shirt!” No offense but who even wears belts any more unless they’ve been living in the woods since World War 2?! You have no idea how much it pained me to see my poor kids dressed up like fusty old men with golf sticks!!

Never could understand golf fashion. Which is why it’s probably a good thing I never signed up for lessons myself. One look at Mrs K-friend in long-sleeved polo shirts and covering herself ๋จธ๋ฆฌ๋ถ€ํ„ฐ ๋ฐœ๋๊นŒ์ง€ (from head to toe) in sun-protective garb and I was like, no no no, I ain’t wearing no hasmat suit!! There’s just no way!

To top it off, they even have golf fashion police patrolling the course in case you decide to get all New York Fashion Week-like. My kids got told off a few times but they just shrugged and carried on. Go kids!! Honestly, who the heck cares? It’s only a game! Or a work stress reliever, if you’re like me?

To the movies, 21st century style

To the movies, 21st century style

So I received a text message from a stranger: ์˜ค๋Š˜ ๋ฐค์— ์˜ํ™”๋ฅผ ๋ณผ๊นŒ์š” ์šฐ๋ฆฌ? (Shall we go for a movie tonight?)

I was almost expecting a chime of excited voices and a whole lot of high five-ing at the mention of the word ‘movie’. “What movie? We wanna go, we wanna go!” followed by the hustle and bustle of getting dressed, the mad dash for the bathroom, and everyone eventually piling into my minivan.

As a mom, my life has revolved endlessly around my three kids. The daily taxi runs, sometimes up to 15 times a day. The meal planning and cooking. The grocery runs. The home-baked birthday cakes. The home haircuts. I insisted on doing everything myself, diehard hands-on mom that I am.

To me, mommy ‘me’ time is for the birds. I never hankered for it and I didn’t need any of it. I was enjoying my kids too much as they were growing up. I was too busy creating memories with them. Hip2bDad had all but given up trying to date me.

But now, here I was reading this unlikely text on my phone and I’m like: ์ •๋ง์š”? ๋ฐ์ดํŠธ? (Really? A date?) It took a whole 22 and a quarter nanoseconds for it to sink in. Well, now that all this ‘me’ time has fallen on my lap, I guess I should start dating Hip2bDad again, so: ๐Ÿ‘Œ ํ•˜์ž. (Okay, let’s.)

Trust us to pick a Saturday night. The mall was a jungle and like vultures, we circled, hovered, then circled the parking lot again till we found a spot. Of course, it had to be at the farthest end of the mall from the cinema.

No worries though. We make it a point to be early getting anywhere. Hip2bDad has a very low tolerance for tardiness. The movie wasn’t till an hour and a half later. We still had plenty of time. Oh, look, there’s barely even a line at the ticket counter. We’re in luck!

Or so we thought. One glance at the cinema seating chart sent us reeling back. There were only 4 seats left AND all of them were singles. Oh, great, things sure are looking up for us! Okay, so do we forget the whole thing now and go home? Or do we bite the bullet and go ahead even if we have to sit apart?

To the movies, 21st century style

It wouldn’t make sense to go to a movie together and sit miles apart. It wouldn’t make sense either to go home after that hassle of finding a parking spot. So like any other couple on our first date (in probably 15 years), we decided nothing was going to get in our way..

The ticketing guy stared at us like we’d gone nuts. “Are you sure?” he asked several times with eyeballs the size of footballs. I don’t blame him. I swear he was thinking, what the heck! But ya! I’m a big girl. I can handle watching a movie alone!

Hip2bDad walked me to my seat at A3. Ever the gentleman, he said, “You take this. This seat is wider and more comfortable”. And then I watched him ride off into the sunset. To his seat at L20! Wa-aay down and across the hall. I craned my neck hoping to catch a glimpse of him but the lights went out at that very instant.

Alone in the darkness, there was nothing left to do but text each other. Welcome to 21st century dating!

When we can’t get enough

When we can't get enough

As I was saying, I make it a point not to order at a restaurant anything that we can easily cook at home. I consider it a waste, of money mostly, when I can order something fancy that I don’t or can’t cook at home instead.

Of course, there’re those times when we do chance upon something amazingly delicious (by picky eater standards) and we really, really want to stuff ourselves silly.

Like this chicken place, for instance. The first time we eat at any restaurant, we’re always careful not to order a lot. Just in case things don’t measure up to the picky eaters’ expectations. So I ordered just two servings of chicken wings. Each serving came with 8 – wings?

When we can't get enough

Seeing these, we were like, “Man, these have got to be the smallest chicken wings ever!” Immediately they conjured up images of the Christmas turkey Mickey brought home to his family in Mickey’s Christmas CarolMickey's Christmas Carol. That was how big of a turkey he could afford on the piddly pennies Scrooge paid him. A very sad bird indeed.

When we can't get enough

“Can we even call these chicken wings? They’re so tiny they probably came from premmie chicks!” my kids howled. Okay, let’s just call them ‘winglets’ then. So that’s 16 winglets total for the 4 of us which works out to be, er, 4 mouthfuls each. Which even if you’re not a young adult with a ravenous appetite is still pretty pathetic.

Dinner just became a snack.

What’s even crazier is that these chicken wings were crazy delicious!! As in licking-our-fingers-shamelessly-in-public crazy! I hope no one saw me. That’d be really embarrassing for someone who even eats her grapes, nuts, bananas, whatever with chopsticks or fork.

We would’ve ordered more but the menu warned that they’d only start frying on order so be prepared to wait 15 minutes (or something like that, I don’t really remember). We didn’t want to wait. So I called for the check.

Another surprise! I fell off my chair when I saw the damage. ๋„ˆ๋ฌด ์‚์”จ์š”! I swear I heard my credit card groan. Still we couldn’t stay away and went back a couple more times. By then, my credit card was really starting to protest, quite loudly. Small or downsized servings + big price gets the boot.

Okay, enough is enough. It’s off to the kitchen to churn out a ton of life-sized chicken wings ourselves. There, this should be enough for a real meal. Not to mention that no one can see us licking our fingers at home.

When we can't get enough

Knowing me, there’s no stopping at just one version. These are two of the many versions that have graced our dinner table since โœŒ. Wait, what was that? Did I hear my credit card laughing? Ho-ho-ho! Merry Christmas!

When we can't get enough

Food sample love

Food sample love

The highlight of our highly anticipated weekends is grocery shopping, and the highlight of that is undeniably the food samples. They say never shop on an empty stomach. But that’s exactly what we always do. Never fear though, we have an abundance of food samples to tide us over till our weekend lunch out.

I don’t always have a chance to snap pictures because those tasty morsels seem to go into my mouth faster than I can get my cellphone out. Here’s some of what we’ve sampled including Ritz cookies with a choice of salmon and artichoke dip (we bought the artichoke dip), Starbucks coffee (the homemade version), cheese and ham crackers, caramel popcorn (not just one popcorn but a whole paper cupful!) and yes, life-size Lindt chocolate candy!

food sample love

And this meatball which we’ve sampled many times. I don’t know what makes it so good but it’s, never mind, *drools*! I’ve been tempted to buy a bag more than once but not before I figure out how we plan to eat 150 meatballs (that’s how many are in a bag!).

food sample love

My first ever taste of Nutella! I see it on grocery shelves and I know many people swear by it. Well, I personally have never tried it but now that I have, I’ll have to say it makes this waffle come alive. Would I buy it? Maybe but I can’t see myself eating more than this mouthful either.

food sample love

I typically turn down food samples especially when the promoter is standing there with a pair of thongs and a tray of exposed chopped-up bits of what looks like last week’s party leftovers, waiting to plop one tiny piece on the palm of your hand as you walk by. Yuck, no thanks!

But here I’m looking forward to them every weekend. They’re life-size samples you can actually chew and taste. The gloved promoter prepares small batches of 5 to 10 samples and places them on paper cups on a tray. That way, you know they’re freshly prepared and no one has sneezed or coughed on them, for instance (eww!). The golden rule is that once you reach out and grab a cup, you can’t put it back, you have to take it. Makes sense, right?

The weekend’s coming up and you know what that means *wink*.

I’m coming for ya, tasty morsels!!!

The simplest and the best

The simplest and the best

I don’t know which is worse, the annoying songs that jar the ears or the gift contest that you know you can never hope to win. Let’s just say some of the best celebrations are the ones devoid of either.

And the best is the simplest that starts with this

The simplest and the best

rich golden ravioli and ends with this

The simplest and the best

saucy homemade shrimp linguine with a grilled salmon steak that’s too amazing to describe in words.

The simplest and the best

The simplest is really the best.

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