Showing posts with label updates. Show all posts
Showing posts with label updates. Show all posts

Monday, January 11, 2016

Best of 2015

According to Instagram, here are my best nine photos from the previous year...

first row: best loved pair of shoes from Steve Madden, Airbus A350 simulator experience, visiting Frodo's hobbit hole at Hobbiton Lord of the Rings Movie Set in New Zealand (will post about this soon!)
second row: an evil bunny ice floe on Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon in Iceland, a picture representing my first time to try aerial yoga, a throwback pic of my beloved and long-missed autumn at the Japanese Garden in Toulouse
third row: trying out new wide angle lens on night time view from our balcony, throwback pic at Piazza di Spagna, the fittest i have been this year after 2 mos of xtendbarre + yoga + wall climb

...nine best, meaning the "nine most liked" photos of the year. I admit that, like most people, I tend to get carried away and get overwhelmed with the social media "likes" from time to time. But I try to remind myself that I'm doing Facebook mostly to keep in touch with friends, especially those who live far away. Making people jealous is just second priority (insert wicked evil laugh here). And the "likes", I really usually do not care about. A 1000 likes do not equate to being a 1000 times less lonely. Most of the time, it's quite the contrary, actually. Especially since, you will only get a lot of likes if you give a lot of likes also. It's not really because your picture deserves it or that these "likers" really like you. I'd always prefer good old-fashioned personal meet-ups any time or a personal private message if bodily presence is constrained by distance. Non-virtual relationships are seemingly becoming more and more of a rarity these days.

I like Instagram because i treat it like a pin board of all the good things happening in my life, whose essence, I would like to somehow freeze and capture in frames that I can look back on gloomy days to cheer me up. But the truth is, my most loved memories from last year cannot be captured in just a few photos. There were so many of them. For this, I am truly grateful and feeling "blessed" as the overused hashtag goes...

Happy new year, everyone! More photos and more adventures await!


Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas 2015

The last few Christmases have been really wonderful, especially with the coming of my precious daughter. For quite some time, the thrill and excitement of the holidays have really waned for me over the years. But through my daughter's eyes, I am experiencing Christmas again as I have experienced it during the wonder years.

My dining table centerpiece pour Le Réveillon (Christmas Eve) -- candles and candle holder from Crate and Barrel, some christmas décors from La France, courtesy of my mother-in-law

It's also a great bonus for all the moon lovers out there that the full moon appears on Christmas this year, not since 1977, coincidentally my birth year.

May we all have a wonderful holiday season with family and loved ones.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

This One's for France

Warning: profanities



There is no way in the world we should hate back on hate and give back violence to violence... we should just carry on with our normal daily lives as usual.

And guard our smiles and laughter.

As one great writer once said, "The world is a comedy to those that think; a tragedy to those that feel."

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Three Years at Being a (Not-So-Smug) Mom

my little kitten and moi
I’m not really in the habit of talking about being a mom so much, as I think it bores and annoys most people. I remember back when I was single, I thought about parents, especially new parents as smug, self-righteous and overbearingly annoying, especially when they are bragging about their kids and offering you unsolicited advice on how to become a good parent even when you're not even a parent yet, or have no plans of being one.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Talking Pretty

i would say that a lot about being pretty is a lot about how you feel about yourself. i mean, if you feel pretty and believe you are pretty, then, others will also see you as pretty. and no matter how much others say that you are pretty, but you don't really feel pretty, then... it's a pretty lot of waste of pretty.

now, i don't always feel or think i'm pretty. there are just days when i feel totally drab and ugly. but it's quite surprising though, when someone unexpectedly tells you that you look pretty. like, out of the blue. catching you out of your wits. especially if it's coming from a stranger. and a woman. i just hope she's not lesbian, though. the compliment just totally took me by surprise because it was so unexpected. i didn't know what to say. it's usually me who compliments others first. i'm quite generous with compliments. i don't understand people who aren't. is it because it makes them feel less privileged than the other person?..

it's good to tell people how pretty they look, even if they don't return back the compliment or they rarely give any. because talking pretty attracts a whole lot of pretty. and i say this pretty much out of experience. ;)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Le nouvel an chinois

Cette année, on a décidé de rester à Singapour pendant le nouvel an chinois parce qu'on était trop paresseux de decider de quoi à faire et où peut-on aller pour les vacances.

This is how you make Spritz... first, some bubbly drink (prosecco or champagne, or this time, we had some cava from Spain)


Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Physio Pilates Experience

one of the torture machines at the physio pilates gym
ever since having a baby, my back has never been the same. during the first few months after delivery, it was extremely painful getting up in the morning. and it was always painful when i stay in a single position for a long time.

since then, i have always been taking physio, or when i was in France, going to the kiné.

here in Singapore i have tried going to the physiotherapist also. i have had a couple of physiotherapists in the same clinic, which is quite close to our place. my sessions were quite good but they seem to offer temporary relief... after the stretching and the massage, the pain would just come back again.

this time, i ventured into trying physio with pilates. and i was quite lucky to be able to find a french kiné. i never thought it would be advantageous to get a woman kiné over a guy one. until i realized that a woman is less restricted when it comes to touching your upper body parts to loosen the muscles, while a guy one would only touch your back and the extremities. :)

i have been taking the physio pilates for quite some time now. it has helped me a lot on improving my posture and working on my core muscles. the best part of it all is that i have also found out that i do not have a diastasis recti so i can now start doing more abdominal workouts. :)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Saint Vincent de Paul

one of the fondest memories of my university life was taking the mass every Sunday at Saint Vincent de Paul's chapel.

i was already not a religious person at the time, but i have always enjoyed good singing. the SVP chapel had a really good choir. and i really liked Saint Vincent de Paul's birthday because it means school holiday. :)

last time i was in France, i took the chance to finally visit his ville-natale.

A small church at the center o the small ville

Monday, May 5, 2014

An Evening With John Cleese

i've been a big fan of Monty Python ever since i was introduced to this movie, with this favorite scene:


what's so funny about it is the silliness of the dialogue and behavior of the characters, bordering on cartoon-ish. it reminds me so much of the times i was watching silly Bugs Bunny cartoons when i was a kid.

we felt a bit scammed when we realized this  row of seating is the most uncomfortable and awkward in the theater, despite being so near the stage, and not to mention, expensive!

last night, i had the luckiest time of my life to be able to see John Cleese perform live here in Singapore. he talked briefly about his early life, family and a lot of funny anecdotes in the span of his works and career.


some random fan

he mentioned that his early inspiration for writing comedy are children's programs. in fact, some of the members of the Monty Python were writing for a children's TV show before they started collaborating together. i guess that is why their type of humor appeals to the silly and those with an overindulgent sense of the ridiculous.

the show was delightfully entertaining. i was on the edge of my seat the whole time. literally (due to the awkward seating placements of the theater) and figuratively. people were laughing from the very first line, and it didn't feel at all like two hours had passed when he said his last.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Introduction to Painting Class

ever since i can remember, i have always been on the lookout for painting classes. as you know, i have quite a bit of experience with drawing, as i love doing portraits in charcoal or pencil. but with painting, i always get a bit apprehensive. not only because i find it quite difficult to render color on paper, but also because i'm scared to go in a class where all the other people have already had the skill and experience beforehand. yeah, i hate being judged. especially for my art work. so, do be gentle with me in the comments, now. :)

but then, last week, i felt quite lucky to stumble upon this painting school that organizes classes for people who have never ever painted in their lives. and they even offer a discount for this introductory class. what's more, it's a mere fifteen-minute walk from where i live, which is just perfect!

my class began really early in the morning. i decided to bring along my baby and her nanny with me since it was quite a pleasant early morning walk on the way to the school. we got there really early, so we even had some extra time to sit and enjoy the pleasant park where the school is located.

there amidst the greenery is my art school

such verdant and calming ambiance. who wouldn't get inspired to create some art work surrounded by all this greenery?

with a lovely little café

they even have a cozy little café inside. it was unfortunately closed on Wednesdays.


can't wait to color up all that stark whiteness

this is how my set-up looked like.  you can see my blank canvas, and farther up behind is the still life subject of a collection of things in different shapes -- a cube, an apple and a banana. they were all illuminated on the upper left corner with a yellowish light from a tiny desk lamp.

before sitting, the teacher first told us how to use the materials. we were made to choose between oil and acrylic. i chose oil because i thought it's easier to manage than acrylic since she told us that acrylic dries up quickly. this is how i looked like after the session. right before cleaning up everything. so happeeee!!!

the mix of colors on my palette has taken the form of a mandelbrot set.
and this is how my palette looked like. can you imagine how a lot more difficult it would have been had we used more colors? we only used white and green, actually, because we were just working on the different shades, tonality and gradation of colors.

you would think that having just two colors to work on would simplify everything. it was not the case at all. i kept getting lost all the time, trying to find where one shape ends and where one shape begins. it's a lot lot different from mere black and white sketching and drawing, which is definitely more straightforward than painting.


our teacher, explaining and giving some pointers on how we can improve our paintings

here, you have the results. can you guess which one is mine? :) 



the semi-finished paintings of the whole class

mine is actually second from the left in the above pic. i thought i screwed up the entire painting at first because i started my painting using a mix of white and green colors. it's because i thought i should begin from lighter to darker. it turns out to be just the opposite... but i managed to make the corrections.

i really think my banana was the best and most realistic-looking than the rest of the class. and it was in the most challenging position from where i was sitting. unfortunately, i didn't have enough time to work more on my apple and cube. i don't know why i got so fixated on the banana... probably because i tend to work on the most challenging to the least... which is not always a good idea.


please be gentle on me with the criticisms... it's my first time. ;)

and here it is again up-close. i really liked painting. i totally enjoyed it. makes you forget about everything else and makes you feel like a kid again. i'm just a bit turned off with the mess and the smell of the turpentine. and it also stings a bit on the skin. but well, don't we all have to do some sacrifice and suffering, all in the name of art and beauty?

and of course, i had to do a pic with my chef d'oeuvre. :)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Typhoon Yolanda's (Haiyan) Wake

I would just like to share this video to as many people as possible. Help is desperately needed.




Here's one way you can help via Red Cross donation.

Please share to as many people as possible.

Thanks!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Chinese-Malaysian Wedding in Johor Bahru

i have rarely attended big weddings... come to think of it, i rarely attend weddings at all. this Sunday, hubby and i had the occasion to go to one in Johor Bahru, Malaysia.

armed with a brand new GPS, we drove in the rain towards Johor Bahru, Malaysia to attend hubby's colleague's wedding

first off, we had to buy a proper GPS as the one from Google doesn't really work well giving cross-country directions. it was quite a challenge trying to find a good one here in Singapore. i guess most people don't really have the need for it with Singapore being such a small country.

it was quite a rainy drive on the way to Johor Bahru from Singapore. and there was heavy traffic jam crossing the border. we didn't realize so many people go to JB on a Sunday. but driving was so much easier going past the customs than when you are commuting. i remember having such a nightmare doing this when i went to Malacca by bus.

our cozy and well-lit bedroom for the night at Renaissance Hotel, Johor Bahru

we arrived at the Renaissance Hotel finally, after almost two hours, i think. it was quite a nice, new hotel. i especially loved the lighting. the swimming pool could be better though. our condo's swimming pool back in SG looks way better, in my opinion.

can't stop with the selfies

after taking a much needed siesta, we headed off towards the café at the ground floor level. the lighting here is impeccable too. it inspired me to take a lot of selfies and foodies. :)

Friday, April 12, 2013

French fashion, selon moi

While reading a favorite fashion blog, I've come across this article about French fashion and style.

The first thing I've noticed while watching TV and observing the celebrities here in France is how they put on make-up. It's like there's nothing on their face. They don't put too much garish colors. They tend to just sculpt or highlight the features, not colorize them, which, come to think of it, really makes sense.

Juliette Binoche's easy, classy and elegant hairstyle and make-up

But then, the way they put on eye shadows, eyeliner and heavy mascara even during the day is a little bit over the top for me. Too much drama for daytime.

As for the wardrobe, they stick to the classics. Classic colors -- beige, blacks, neutrals and then they just glam it up with accessories. "They really know how to put together an outfit", as what KC Concepcion (Filipina actress who studied in France for two years) said in one interview.

Audrey Hepburn is not French but her manner of dressing and overall fashion sense is more French than American to me. It's probably why she was chosen to be an image model for Chanel. (image from magellanstraits.com)

The French tend to steer clear of loud colors and prints. They don't like to look messy. They like to keep it simple, classy and clean. I know somebody French who likes to make fun of English people for their love of floral prints. He says English people have no sense of fashion. I find it a bit true, especially when I see the queen wearing weird-looking clothes all the time that resemble something from the haberdashery than haute couture.

I used to like floral patterns in clothes and everything. A friend even once told me that I always dress like I'm going to church. But now, I find floral prints too lola-ish (grandmother-ish) because it's what the grandmothers (esp the ones in the countryside) in France like to have in their furniture, wall paper, beddings, etc., except maybe for the rich and posh lolas who remain fashionable despite their age. Come to think of it, it's the only country I know where the old people are so fashionable.


Catherine Deneuve, posh french Lola... in fairness, ang ganda pa rin nya kahit lola na.

While the word posh may have a positive connotation in certain cultures, contrarily, when French people say this word, they usually mean overly luxurious, possibly pretentious and bling-bling. Being posh is something negative to them because they usually never like to show off or brag about how much money they have. While in some countries like the US, the Philippines, etc, where being rich is gauged by how much money you spend, here in France and most rich European countries, being rich is gauged by how much money you save.

While i like some of the aspects of this wardrobe, like the studs and the colorful clogs, putting together an outfit like this, which obviously screams for attention will be a total no-no here in France where subtlety is the key. People will look at you like you're some freak from the circus. (image from breakmystyle.com). Sorry, Laureen.

But what I don't really get is why people here like to dress in the same color as the season. Like during winter, they would dress in dark drab colors and accessories, the same color as the gloomy skies and the leafless, flowerless, seemingly dead plants around. As for me, when the weather is looking drab, I like to dress more colorfully because it cheers me up.

I guess they dress in the same color as the surroundings because they are too afraid to stand out or to look too loud?

I would take the simple, clean, classy, easy elegance of French fashion and style any time, but the one thing I cannot keep away from is the vibrance and freshness of colors because life without them would be just plain boring.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Foie gras for the new year

My husband cooked up a special new year's eve meal with foie gras.

the chef at work

foie gras poêlé


As you know, duck is one of the major produce in the south of France, and foie gras de canard (duck foie gras) is a specialty. There is also foie gras from the goose but the duck one is more common.



foie gras poêlé with some risotto paired with dry white wine


Foie gras usually goes well with sweet wine, but we paired it with some dry white wine from the region famous for truffles. I liked this wine very much. According to some wine expert i know, you'll know if a wine is really good if it passes through the throat really smoothly and when all the flavors linger in your taste buds even after you've swallowed it.

Personally, I like any wine that is smooth on the throat and is not too bitter or too old. Old wine tends to have these sediments that gather at the bottom of the glass, which i really don't like.



melts in your mouth, like M&M's :)

And you know foie gras is really good and really fresh if it just melts in your mouth like butter. I like it like this, but not in huge servings.

And since he knows these are my favorites, we had this for dessert:


strawberry tart


The next day, we still had some leftover foie gras from last night. we didn't want to waste it, so we had it for lunch again.


foie gras poêlé again with some beets, mache and rocket salad

bet you wanna have a bite! :)


This time with some salad on the side.

And we had some dessert too.


a box of chocolates with special holiday packaging



I just love these Christmasy packaging on chocolates during the holidays.

Bonne annee!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Wine Dégustation

last Saturday, it was my first time to attend a wine dégustation (wine tasting) here in France.

some finger food to go with the wine

The wine comes from a friend's friend's wine produce from Bordeaux. This is a famous region in the south of France where wine of prime quality comes from. it was a good experience, even made better when shared with friends.

the name of the wine is usually the family name of the owner

you know it's a very good wine when it doesn't have any advertisement at all at the back of the bottle, like this one. it only has the label in front.

Hubby and I bought a box of six, with a mix of their produce from 2010 and 2011. For sure, winter will be a lot less dreary and a lot less of a misery if you have the company of a good wine at hand.

For wine lovers, click here for further info.

* this article also appeared on the afpmp web site.

Monday, November 5, 2012

La Toussaint

To commemorate the day of the dead, hubby and I visited his dead relatives at the cemetery in Millau.

We brought flowers.

My beau-père offering flowers for his grandparents
And stood quietly in front of the grave for a few moments.

They only give chrysanthemums to the dead, apparently

 I told my father-in-law that All Saints Day here is so solemn and quiet.  In the Philippines, ASD is like a picnic/party in the cemetery.  And so he says their way of celebrating ASD is a lot less expensive.

the eerie quiet and the mountains -- like a scene from an Edgar Allan Poe story/poem
I agree.

Le destin a fait son chemin mais il n'a jamais separé nos coeurs
Destiny has parted our paths but we have never separated our hearts

Expensive or not, what really counts in the end is whether or not we've managed in our busy schedule, to sincerely lend some of our precious time to dispense warm thoughts for those loved ones who have long departed.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Titre de séjour

Ten thousand papers and many moons later, I finally got mytitre de séjour. For those who do not know, this is a card that entitles you to live and work for a certain period in France.

Before I started living here in France, I processed everything that I needed to be able to stay here for a long time with my husband back in Singapore. I got a visa from the embassy which is valid for a year's stay. And upon my arrival here, I needed to undergo a medical exam and several not-so-useful seminars regarding the country's history, social integration, and blah blah blah, to be able to get a stamp on my passport that says I have completed all the necessary requirements to be able to stay here for a year.

And now that this visa expired, I had to undergo another set of tiresome procedures to be able to get that titre de séjour that will allow me to stay in this country for yet another year, detailed as follows:

1. First and foremost, you have to call this OFII office to ask them what you have to do for the renewal. It’s not always the same all the time, from what I gather. After several attempts at calling, my husband finally had the luck to be answered by a human at the other end of the line, and he found out that I'd have to wait for a letter from them stating that I have met all the requirements to stay here for a year, the requirements being those seminars and medical exam that I took upon arrival.

2. Upon receiving the letter in step 1, you have to go to the prefecture of your region to get the list of requirements for the renewal. You cannot just simply ask this information over the phone or download the document containing the list on the internet, etc. because they like to make you queue for two hours just to get that all-important list. They will schedule an appointment for you to submit all the requirements in the so-called list. By now, you already know that everything in this country works only with appointments.

3. You submit the list on the day of your appointment. Note that this appointment is not the exact time that you will be served. They will make you wait at least two hours again, like the last time when you queued for the list, so it's no use to go there earlier than the time of your appointment. On this appointment, they will give you a piece of paper with your picture on it called récépissé de titre de séjour. It’s a paper saying that your titre de séjour is in progress. It will be valid for two months.

4. After a month, you will receive a letter that your titre de séjour is now ready for claiming at the prefecture. Thank god, during this time, there is no need for an appointment. You just go there and take a queue number.

5. You go to the prefecture to claim your titre de séjour and have to pay 106 euros of timbres fiscaux (tax stamps). This timbre fiscaux is something you buy outside of the prefecture. You can usually get them at places called Tabac Presse, a small convenience store like 7-11. I went to the prefecture on a very rainy day, so there were very few people in the queue, so that this time, I only waited an hour to finally get it.

The maddening crowd at the prefecture the first time I went there to get the list of requirements for the titre de séjour

And then again, you may or may not have to repeat all of these steps for the renewal of the titre de séjour next year. And you have to note that this card is not even what they call a residence card. To be able to get this one, you'll have to stay for god knows how many number of years in this country first, enough to accumulate heaps or mounds of thousands of papers that they will require of you. Franchement, it's not very environment-friendly.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Le Match Amical de Rugby

Since my husband is on a three-week holiday, we are visiting his parents for a few days. My father in-law took the opportunity to get us some rugby tickets for the Match amical between Mont de Marsan and Dax.

We did not expect it to be so crazy crowded since it was not a serious match. But we thought wrong.


Kids amid the crazy rugby crowd

Lolo wearing a T-shirt with print promoting Occitania

It was a really small stadium. And it was bursting at the seams with the heavy crowd. This stadium is actually even much smaller than the stadium in front of our apartment in Toulouse. Now, this stadium in front of our apartment is not the famous Stade E. Wallon where the world-famous Stade Toulousain rugby players who come from all over the world to practice.


Mont de Marsan stealing the ball from Dax

Rugby is a big sport in the South of France and in the Basque Region. It is not as famous as European Football (soccer, in the American lingo). But I most definitely prefer it over football because rugby players make the football players look like sissy little girls running around the field.


This is what is known as the scrum, where rugby players bash their heads against each other... crazy...


You end up with eerie-looking ears like this if you've been doing the scrum for years

We almost watched the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand last year, my husband being a fan of rugby like most french southerners. But we purchased the tickets far, far ahead in advance, and by the time the start of the games arrived, we have already gotten married and moved to France.


No, this hairstyle is not a result of doing the scrum for years :D

And so this was my first time to see a live rugby match up-close. The first time I saw it on the internet, I thought it was so violent. And then after some time, I began to think it was quite funny and entertaining. All these big burly guys strangling and beating each other up in the field for a teeny-tiny ball. It's not at all uncommon for the players to get all bloody and heavily injured. This is why I say they make the football players look like sissy little girls in the field.


C'est un bordel des parties du corps humain !

This game kinda reminds me of all the ancient wars in European history.  All that blood and gore.  And I guess they miss it. And rugby is all they have left of it now.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Nudes of Europe

best viewed large, so go ahead and
click on the image for your viewing pleasure
i have always been fascinated with nudes.  i never really understood those who aren't.

i may be a bit inhibited when it comes to being naked, (being born in a country where people are so vain and had too many issues and insecurities about their physical appearance) but i have no qualms about appreciating a beautiful nude body.

and this is why i love europe.  i love those beautiful naked statues and nude paintings, nude photographs, uncensored nudity on movies, TV shows and advertisements... and sometimes, when you're lucky, people running around naked in the rugby field from across the street where you live! :)

crazy nude guy on the background
of some kids' clothing ad
i was quite surprised to wake up to a sunday morning seeing these crazy seemingly drunk people early in the morning, running around naked tackling each other in the rugby field from across the street, which can be viewed from our balcony.  usually, on calmer mornings, i only have the view of the icy peaks of the pyrénées.  but this morning, i was in for a surprise.

and sometimes, you even find them in even more unusual and unexpected places, like in an advertisement for kids' clothing. :D

surrounded with all this glorious nudity, really, how can it be more fun in the Philippines?  :p