Saturday, December 31, 2011

..FA, a long, long way to run.. SO, a needle pulling thread...

truthfully, i now find myself happier when i am the one doing the giving rather than the receiving. i guess this is a sign of being older.. and hopefully wiser :)

but that is not to say i don't like surprises... (who doesn't love suprises?) provided the surprise is something i really, really, really want or like.

for this christmas though, i received something i have been considering buying many, many countless times. but because i consider it a "want" and not a "need", it always end up at the bottom of my wishlist.

this christmas though, i received a most wonderful, wonderful surprise :) its a spanking new sewing machine from my in-laws! i love its red polka-dot design and the fact that its portable!
i am truthfully, divinely happy with my new sewing machine :) i am already imagining the many stuff i will be making with this baby :) first though, i will have to teach myself how to sew :)

what is your great surprise this christmas?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

post-Christmas din-din

i have been missing going to my favorite thrift shops here in Gib :( they won't be open till at least the first week of January, so i am whiling away my time either trying to learn the ropes of a new "machine" (will tell you all about it on my next post) or meeting friends and inviting them over for some rosé. the shops are also still prepping up for their big after-Christmas sale so all i gotta do is wait, really. *sigh*

i mentioned a while ago that we had my in-laws over for a post-Christmas party. i decided to pull an asian-themed dinner since that's really what i cook most of the time in the house. its quick, tasty and i've already cooked them before so very little chance of screwing them up. i was a bit worried though that my food-fussy in-laws will not have anything to eat or nibble! my parents-in-law are old school Gibbos (Gibraltarians) so they always, ALWAYS eat the time and tested ham and cheese on rolls as well as old Spanish favorites like the jamon serrano, gallos (fried John Dory in very light batter), vol-au-vents (very 70's i know!), etc., etc. they are not too adventurous in their food, am afraid.

my sister-in-law is a vegetarian and so is her friend so thats also a bit of a challenge. whew!
for my parents-in-law i served: (1) jamon serrano (of course!), (2) my dad's beef steak (they've tasted this before and loved it), (3) gambas pil-pil (the mister's speciality) (4) french bread and "crujientes" or bread sticks (they also had some of the potato samosas and the gnocchi)
for my sister-in-law and her friend: (1) cabbage, bamboo shoots and carrot dumplings, (2) potato samosas, (3) fried vegetarian spring rolls, (4) vegetable tempura, (5) garlic fried rice, (6) gnocchi (Italian potato balls in tomato sauce)
for drinks i served homemade California iced tea and freshly squeezed orange juice. we also had the staple Coke, raspberry soda, and pineapple juice. for the wicked, we had beer, WKD and Disaronno (mix it with Coke and you have a Dr. Pepper in your hand!).
for dessert: i just threw in some dried sweet figs, my favorite fresh berries (blackberries, blueberries, strawberries), mini-magdalenas (Spanish cupcakes), traditional "polvorones" (with cinnamon), some choco sticks, some candy corn (believe it or not!), Hershey's chocolate kisses which we don't get here and all kinds of nuts.

the mister was so surprised when his parents actually had some of the garlic fried rice and the potato samosas! his dad even went for seconds! needless to say, the party was a success and they even took home some of the leftovers!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Boxing Day Polar Bear Swim 2011

hello! i am back after a week long absence. it felt like i've been away for a million years, believe me. apart from being very busy preparing for christmas, (we had the in-laws over for dinner yesterday and i'll post some pics next time) i have been very worried about the state my city was and is currently in after that horrible typhoon. i decided to monitor the activities and developments as well as relief and rehabilitation efforts for my beloved people. the outpouring of love and support all over the world is just overwhelming!

now that i am pretty much confident everything is taken cared of by admirable and capable people, i can breathe easier and focus once more on the things at hand.

hence, the annual Boxing Day Polar Bear Swim.
i have been curious about this tradition since i came here so i dragged the mister to Caleta Bay and while we sipped coffee, we milled about feeling the energy. here you can see the crowd slowly build up...
lots of interesting characters were out and about and since this is called a polar bear swim, it wouldn't be right if there are no polar bears around wouldn't it?
i am wondering if what he's wearing is a onesie or a very trendy wet suit. if it is the latter, i would like one for myself!
we've been told that the water is FREEZING! now, what do you think is this guy thinking?
this elf is on the naughty list! see the ball of sand he has on his hand? he chased his friends around and then pelted them with that :P
look who's here! santa was present too and joined in the fun! can you spot baby spiderman?
here is a bunch of santa's helpers trying to get coffee before the "plunge"
and someone yelled "GO!"
...aaaaaand back they came again... the water really is FREEZING!
the doggies wanted some of the action too... but the water is too cold for their liking... they came back just as fast as they got in...
this gorgeous golden retriever couldn't drag his mom out fast enough!
this baby/elf/santa's little helper is having the time of his life too!
he was just crawling all over the place and stopping after a few crawls and just sort of dancing and waving his arms :) sooo adorable!
we saw some friends who participated and chatted with them a bit and took some more pics. after that, its another cup of coffee for me!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

a blue, blue christmas

at first, i thought it was a joke.

i was reading a thread in facebook between a former high school classmate and her husband (who is away because he works with the Department of Foreign Affairs). she was asking for help. she wrote that she and their two little boys were on the roof because flood waters were rising so fast. the downpour was also relentless.

the rain is normal, i thought, however hard and seemingly endless. but the rising water? very highly unlikely.

little did i know that in a matter of minutes, everything will be wiped out of the face of the earth. houses, vehicles, pets, entire villages and most of all, lives.

an average of 20 typhoons and tropical storms hit our archipelago every year. but despite this and the abject poverty that came along with being a third world country, we still manage to smile for the cameras. we have always been a happy, resilient people. nothing will ever quell our positivity and fighting spirit.

Typhoon Washi (or Sendong) struck my hometown, Iligan City, in the southern part of the Philippines, around midnight on the 16th of December, 9 days before Christmas. as of this day, almost 1,000 people have died and thousands more are left homeless.

i am so far away from home but everyday since that day this happened, my thoughts and spirit are with my people. i will try my best to celebrate Christmas despite my heavy heart.

my friends, please say a prayer for Iligan.

with much love,


Friday, December 16, 2011

from homely to comely: a tale of a serving tray make-over

come christmas i can't help but miss friends and family back home. its just different when you are spending it with people who you are familiar with and feel free to be yourself with.

the other day, after spending a nostalgic afternoon laughing and joking and exchanging messages in Facebook with good friends, i was inspired by one fabulous friend of mine after i saw her christmas dinner pictures. she cleverly repurposed her decor from last christmas and it came out so elegant and classy, just like her. what caught my eye was her 3-tier serving tray from Ikea full of fruits and yumminess :) i immediately wanted one. but in tiny Gib and the nearest Ikea being a 2-hour drive away in Malaga, Spain, i have to think out of the box and into the drawing board :)

after combing every nook and cranny in Gib looking for the perfect serving tray, i came out exhausted and empty-handed. the closest was a small-ish 3-tier tray with an awful rose design costing £22.50! highway robbbery indeed! so i went home dragging my feet and went to the grocery to pick up a big bundle of pears to gorge in when i saw this:
as you can see, its plain and i do rather like it that way :) but since its christmas, i thought i'd jazz it up a bit :)
thanks to my japanese washi tapes, i came up with a simple but classy design on my new 2-tier serving tray :) i was also inspired by ideas from
Elizabeth Goodman of To Be Charmed.
aahh, i love days like this. when inspiration hits and creativity kicks in and i am just powerless and must, must, must give in :)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

What's Santa up to in Gibraltar?

since december rolled over, the grocery shops here in Gibraltar have been bursting at the seams with people. on top of the cruise ships that visit daily and the tourists crossing the frontier, the locals are also out and about doing their holiday shopping. now, i've done my shopping waaaaay ahead more than anyone (precisely to avoid the crowds and the endless waiting at the check-out counters) and am done decorating the house as well with my handmade christmas so i am finding myself amused and bemused as i indulge in one of my favorite past-times: people-watching :)

soooo. you wondering what's Santa up to in Gib? here he is, in one of the toy shops in Main Street. welcoming shoppers and tourists alike, especially the little kiddos. (personally, i think he looks a bit pissed off and are those vise-grips for hands? hhmmm)
every year, the Santa's Grotto visits Gibraltar. it is a drive run by a charitable organization where children can see Santa and sit in his lap and of course take their pictures with him. as i was coming towards their booth in Main Street however, i noticed that the greeting above their stall is missing the letter "M" (Erry Christmas one and all! hhmmm)
i was just about to wrinkle my nose when as i was nearing it, i saw that the very important letter "M" was just lurking on the side :) *sigh of relief*
these boys in the re-enactment parade never fail to troop down Main Street in full regalia and bagpipes. last saturday, they were playing Christmas songs all through-out adding a most festive air to a cool December day.
couldn't resist taking a close-up of the holiday socks and the oh-so-masculine kilt :)
everywhere in Gib, Santa has also been seen climbing up windows carrying a bag-ful of gifts. here he is accompanied by the three wise men... climbing up the same house but in separate windows!
in Spain, the "Dia de los Reyes" or the Three Kings Festival (the 6th of January) is just as important as Christmas itself so kids get extra gifts too!
because there is more Spanish influence in Gib than British (even if they are a British territory), they also celebrate this very important holiday :)
adding flair and style to the festive season are these colorful hats that are just perfect for your Michael Jackson impersonation at your office Christmas party :)
" know i'm bad, i'm bad, you know it....who's bad?" -- love, Santa

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

of tinsel, bell and holly wreath...

borrowing from a quote by Madeline Morse pretty much sums up what Christmas is all about. and no, its not the tinsel, bell and wreath, nope. far from it.

its family. its the birth of our Saviour. its love. (never ever forget this!)

but (aherm) going back to the "tinsel, bell and wreath" part, look what i've made for this year's wreath!
like my wreath from last year, this is 100% handmade and home-grown and it is now up and ready for hanging outside our front door :) i made this from extra felt pieces that i had lying around the house but i also had to buy a few for the finishing touches. the gold ribbon i got from a chocolate box from last year. it was wrinkly but a little ironing fixed that in no time :)
before they became my wreath, i had to roll up the felt strips and pinned them to the wreath with a pearl pin like the ones pictured above
and our tree is up too! watched over by the simple plastic angel i found this year at a carboot sale :) would you believe that i bought nothing new for this christmas in terms of decorations and trimmings including wrappers and ribbons? do you remember the £1 christmas tablecloth from Portugal? well, i re-purposed it into a tree skirt! being my frugal self, i up-cycled and repurposed everything i had from last year and made my own ribbons too!
i made these from the extra cloth pieces i had from making my own christmas balls last year :)
every year, after the holidays, the stores always have a massive post-christmas sale, and thats when i stock up my supplies for the next year :) this way i dont have to join the christmas rush and moreso, i dont have to worry about wrappers and ribbons and gift tags. they might not cost much but adding them up can be an extra cost.

i love me a handmade christmas!

Friday, December 2, 2011


'tis the season! december is here! the most wonderful time of the year! the smell of peppermint chocolates is in the air, shiny, sparkly things are in the shops, carols are in my head... and the flu is in our house :( *sniff* that doesn't stop me though from stuffing our humble abode with colors :) here are some of the things that are taking my fancy and keeping me busy this month:

(1) FAUXIDERMY - i love this colorful DIY reindeer decor that i bought at the V&A in London. i fell in love with its iconic antlers thats very popular lately. of course i wouldn't dream of putting a real reindeer trophy head in our house, but i am really finding this design element very appealing. it adds a sense of adventure to our flat :)

(2) DIY's and everything HANDMADE - i love everything handmade! i feel that its special if someone really put time and effort on making something :) like this colorful hand-rolled felt Felt So Good hair band that i also bought at the V&A :)

(3) LETTERS - these tie-dyed monogrammed felt ornaments (bought at Anthropologie UK) are our initials and are meant to be hung on a Christmas tree. a few years ago, this design technique was a favorite among set designers and it quickly spread through-out the design world

(4) JAPANESE WASHI TAPE - this is an obsession i am having at the moment. these colorful Japanese masking tapes are made from rice paper and comes in a million colors and designs. they are great to use because they can be easily torn off and they come off easily too without any marks. great for the million things i am doing at the moment for Christmas! they are a bit expensive at £3 each for the small ones (£10 for a pack of three) but the bigger ones are from a Japanese shop in Singapore and are sent by my lovely sister :)

(5) JEWEL TONES - and lastly, these are my christmas colors this year, inspired by the gifts of the Magis on that defining night when they visited the baby Jesus in a little manger in Bethlehem :) close your eyes for a moment and picture that magical night :)

what are your colors this Christmas? next time, i can't wait to show you my handmade Christmas wreath! but first, i have to fight off this stupid flu bug :(