Kuya Mike and pasta

29 06 2013

THE DIFFERENCE in time zones is the loophole of lapses in thoughtfulness.  Clearly, I mean this about friends who have oceans between them – blame it on the time zone, so to speak.  If this post had made it to the third week of May or at most the one after that, then I would claim my opening sentence to be nothing but absolute truth.  Or, at least my scapegoat.  But this post obviously is more of the really belated kind.  No loophole could justify the delay.

Well, I guess there’s one – I actually know when his birthday is, independent of any post on his facebook wall, and I always remember to greet him.  But then again, it is indeed way too late.

So let this be just one of those posts about my few but well thought out friendships.  It’s coming at a time when the cinemas are rumbling with the 40–minute pivotal action sequence in one of the more definitive superhero movies of our time.  So clearly, this post that talks about one of the superheroes in my life, is quite appropriate.

I’ve never really seen any of the cinematic installments but from what I’ve read about Tony Stark, it’s Kuya Mike who embodies him the most among my friends.  We came to Singapore together, had our first day at our new jobs together, and have since been waging our battles together.

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Kuya Mike a.k.a. Iron Man clearly drives for Scuderia Ferrari!

It’s amazing the clarity that comes with being down on your luck or just unexplainably sad.  You realize who your real friends are.  And you resolve to do your best to keep them.

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Linguine ai Frutti di Mare al Cartoccio (Linguine with Seafood “in the bag”). This has turned out to be Iron Man’s favorite pasta dish!

 

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I saw this pile first thing one morning and I knew that Iron Man was back for his hectic, full-packed two-week break from his assignment on the isle of Sicily. I said in jest that his “pasalubong” for me has had a consistent theme – an “I heart (place)” item and a… notebook! The one the chocolates are on came from his layover in Amsterdam.

I’m quite thankful to be really close friends with Kuya Mike.  That is, Iron Man.  Over a week ago, he took a Royal Dutch Airlines flight back to Italia.  I’m quite happy that he has this chance to enjoy God’s creation in a totally different place.  He deserves every good opportunity that comes his way.

And my special, limited edition airport send–off service.  Hahaha!

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Every airport send-off starts with a snapshot of the control tower as our taxi approaches. My trusty Canon IXUS 860IS really does have great stabilizer.

 

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We’ve arrived! It has to be said that Iron Man may seem to be the conscientious traveler. But he actually travels quite light, packing everything efficiently. If I were to go to Italia, I’d probably lug around twice as much. Haha!

 

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While Iron Man fusses over his stuff for one final accounting before checking in, my attention was demanded by this dynamic work of art. I didn’t bother to check its name out just yet. All I could make of them at the time was that they seemed to be golden droplets of rain making beautiful patterns suspended in the sky.

 

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Here are those golden rain drops, suspended on parallel planes. Observing my being mesmerized, Iron Man quipped, “Boss, ngayon mo lang nakita yan?” (Boss, you’re just noticing that now?)

 

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Iron Man took the Royal Dutch Airlines.

 

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Trust Audemars to give accurate time check. Iron Man’s flight leaves past midnight.

 

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The blogger and the superhero. That’s Iron Man at the check-in counter.

 

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Something in common with Iron Man: We travel in shorts!

 

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I asked him to post for a photo in front of numbers “3” and “4”, two of my favorites.

 

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Like with most of those I had sent off at the airport, the first post-check-in activity involves… F–O–O–D.

 

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I realize that I have been in Singapore for two years, yet I haven’t been to Aston’s. This dinner with Iron Man was only my second time at the place – in the space of two days! It felt like a revenge for missing out. Both were such treats.

 

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I loved this chalk work on the board that I asked permission to photograph it. (Lest the store manager screams, “No photo please!”)

 

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It was departure time so Iron Man was fielding text messages that were coming in a-plenty.

 

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Between Iron Man and me, the count was two wristwatches and three phones. If it were one of those days I fancy to strap on two watches, then it would’ve been three even.

 

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Tag Heuer and Technomarine – live together in perfect harmony… Channeling Stevie and Paulie. Hahaha!

 

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The food has landed!

 

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The same thing in the space of two days – the Prime Ribeye Extra Cut, with sides of french fries and steamed vegetables. I would’ve wanted the Macaroni & Cheese but given the lateness of the hour, they had run out.

 

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This is exactly how I want my meat – medium rare.

 

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See, nothing left. Hahaha!

 

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Dinner’s done! It’s time to head to the departure area.

 

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Iron Man was a walking advertisement for UNIQLO. And North Face.

Copyright © 2013 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





Comfort notes

19 05 2013

OFTEN HERE in Singapore, I don’t need to move away from my desk to survive a hectic workday.  I can successfully keep the insatiable, unceasing hunger pangs at bay with munchies I pop in my mouth from time to time.  You probably think that I could very well have made a pantry of one of the three drawers on my MPD (mobile personal drawer).  To a certain extent, I did.  But I actually survive more through the “love and care for me that is in other people.”

From_Intern_Someone

One morning, I found this paper rose on my desk. I still don’t know who made it for me. Ok, cue the song… “Paper roses / paper roses / …” HAHA!

If only my cubicle walls could talk, I would be regaled with anecdotes of food and notes left on my desk by some of the most generous and it has to be said – lovable – people I’ve ever come across here.  The surprises would come in the morning, perfect for starting one’s day, and any other time in between.  Regardless, they’re perfect for adding a spring – no, make that chutzpah – to one’s step in yet another long day in the office.

The food may have long disappeared – believe me, they’ve had (haha!) – but I have the accompanying notes to go back to and read.  They’re like a warm blanket I can pull up to my chin when the cool breeze blows through my windows at night.

And even in the perennial tropic that is the Singaporean warm weather, there really are times when the cool wind blows.

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I receive a lot of these from my Malaysian friends. But this one, its Chinese name translated to “Black Sugar Biscuit” has got to be one of the ultimate best!

 

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I asked someone to translate for me what these lovely delicious balls of gooey goodness are called. “Black Sugar Biscuits,” he said.

 

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Malaysian treats don’t have to exclusively come from Malaysians. I have a Singaporean friend who always remembers me too!

 

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These biscuits had a (purple) yam filling. Quite scrumptious too! I liked it.

 

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These treats are paper-thin wafers or crepes called “Love Letters,” made by hand by a colleague’s aunt. Each bears a very intricate pattern. They are so delicious.

 

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These two boxes came all the way from Shanghai in China, from a beloved colleague I respectfully call “Ms. Lynda.”

 

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One box contained these sesame seed finger biscuits that had the feel and taste of biscotti. Perfect with tea or coffee.

 

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More cookies in the other box.

 

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This is one amazing sandwich made by Betchie (or by her “Staff”). To this slice I sing, “Sana maulit muli…” Hahaha!

 

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A variety of teas from Rhonee

 

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My current “half-and-half” fixation, introduced to me by Cecille – Cadbury Brunch Bars! Every bar is half guilt, half “good-for-you” goodness.

 

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Two muffins from Ms. Sharon

 

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Chocolates galore! Godiva, no less. And there are so many others. Like that pack on the left. I’m not crazy about chocolates. But it’s nice to be thought of from time to time.

 

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Two of the most heartwarming notes I’ve ever received came from my Bez’s (Glenda) two daughters, Kyla and Keisha!

 

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The letter from Keisha opens up, literally, and actually has a story to it.

 

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This one is from Kyla.

 

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A collage of more recent notes that have been taking up real estate on my wall.

 

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This came posted on a couple of morning treats from Ms. Madeline.

 

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It’s soya!

 

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Saw this on my notebook at the end of a workday.

 

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Thanks again, Ms. Madeline!

 

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Blast from the past – Some really memorable notes.

 

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A lovely note from Trisha. Beside it is a card from Melissa and Sam.

 

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Only a true kolehiyala has monogrammed stationery. Hahaha!

 

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From Dearest Daphne Tatiana!

 

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Of course there is a note from Batman!

 

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A farewell note from my Chinese best friend, Bin!

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Copyright © 2013 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





A cat and a donkey (and a notebook) from the Lion City

2 02 2011

Partner came to dinner bearing gifts!

“THERE ARE countless good reasons under the sky for giving.  But the sweetest one may be for no reason at all.” – the RedEnvelope Fall 2003 Catalog

While I consider myself to be generous, I’ve been blessed with people in my life who manage to – just when I least expect it – “outnice” themselves and make my generosity pale in comparison to theirs.

Over dinner with Partner at Mamou, she handed me presents from both her and The Boy Wonder – a couple of new wristwatches from Universal Studios Singapore and a “MY RECIPE BOOK” notebook by kikki.K, that purveyor of “Swedish Home / Office Style.”

Partner put me on the spot and made me declare which between the two wristwatches – Puss In Boots and Donkey – I like better.  She laughed boisterously at my response and bragged that she won a bet against The Boy Wonder.  Haha!

As for the recipe notebook by kikki.K, I couldn’t wait to perfect my own version of Fettuccini Alfredo with Shrimp so that I could put the recipe down for posterity.

Thanks, Partner and The Boy Wonder!  I love the presents.  Hugs and kisses!

"Puss In Boots" and "Donkey" wristwatches from Universal Studios Singapore from Partner and The Boy Wonder

 

Puss In Boots

 

Donkey

 

"My Recipe Notebook"... Wait, I want to turn that into my own TV show!!!

 

Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





36 Things

12 07 2010

36.  AFTER THREE unsuccessful attempts, I’ve finally completed the Starbucks® Coffee Company’s Christmas Traditions Promo Card.  I redeemed my 2010 planner at their Las Piñas store on New Year’s morn, just hours after I was treated at the hospital for firecracker-related injury – also a first.

Starbucks Christmas Traditions Promo Cards

My Starbucks 2010 Planner, plus three bags of New Year's gifts.

 

35.  I’ve been in the same job for the past 14 years and two months.

34.  My beverage of choice be it at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf or at Starbucks® is Hot Chai Tea Latte served over ice.  Strong on the freshly steeped tea, easy on the steamed milk.  Unfortunately, neither has perfected it, just the way the Sodexho Coffee Bar at Intel Corporation in Folsom makes it.

The very kind staff at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf didn't mind me taking a shot of their fragrant chai tea loose leaf blend. It was a bouquet of cardamom, cinnamon, star anise and fennel, with hints of ginger and black peppercorn.

My chai tea latte over ice is finally served! Notice that it's quite milky white, unlike in the States where they put more of the steeped tea. Chai tea latte should be a mug of spicy black tea with milk and sugar, profuse with notes of cardamom, cinnamon, star anise, fennel, ginger, and black peppercorns.

I've kept these beverage rewards cards all these years.

 

33.  I’ve been meaning to prop up my Americana Wooden Birdhouse at the terrace.  But I haven’t gotten around to actually doing it.

32.  The first time I’ve ever seen a movie on 3D here at home was when I saw Toy Story 3.  I thought the Dolby 3D glasses over my Emporio Armani prescription spectacles were putting too much strain on my eyes.  I didn’t know the lump that was forming in my throat had managed to escape through my eyes.

Toy Story 3 movie tickets

31.  The best motion picture I’ve seen in the past six months is Up In The Air.

Movie ticket for Up In The Air

30.  During flights, I take photos of the airplane’s wings at 30,000 feet.

Took this photo of an airplane wing on a flight from Penang in Malaysia to Singapore.

29.  I’ve never seen an episode of Glee.  But I never miss watching Royal Pains weekly – on its original time slot and on both its encore screenings on Saturdays.

28.  While I prefer tempura batter to be light and fluffy, I don’t mind the heavy batter Healthy Shabu-Shabu uses on their mixed tempura.  My favorite in their platter is the shiitake mushroom caps.

A small portion of Healthy Shabu-Shabu's Mixed Tempura

27.  Gourmet’s Farm grows the sweetest, most fragrant basil leaves.  I bought one packet, stuck it in the fridge, and forgot about it.  Three days later, when on a whim I made my angel hair pomodoro, I got arrested by the unusually heady, invigorating scent that tearing Gourmet’s Farm’s basil leaves emanated.  Basil had never smelled that good to me!

Gourmet's Farm's Sweet Basil

Really fragrant Gourmet's Farm sweet basil leaves ready to perfume my pomodoro sauce.

The actual Angel Hair Pomodoro I first used Gourmet's Farm's Sweet Basil on. Sumptuous!

26.  Mapúa Institute of Technology, where I studied in high school, was near Baker’s Fair where I used to get my favorite hopia monggo.  Nineteen years later, I serendipitously discovered their ube ensaymada.  Simply scrumptious!

Baker's Fair's Ube Ensaymada

Purple yam swirls through the brioche.

25.  I eat noodles using chopsticks from Shanghai that my friend Tenz gifted me with.

Chopsticks from Shanghai, courtesy of Tenz.

My favorite chopsticks piercing through a pile of Beef Tendon Noodles from Kim Hiong!

 

24.  The big Zara S-A-L-E is going on.  There is one item I didn’t get before – because it was still full-priced.  Hahaha!  I wonder if it’s still available.

Zara S-A-L-E, 2009.

23.  One of my principles in life is:  “Never pay full price!

22.  The only vegetable entrée I consistently ask for everywhere is Ampalaya Con Carne (bitter gourd with beef in a fermented soybean sauce).  At Max’s, I’d rather have that than the all-you-can-eat fried chicken they are currently offering at a very reasonable – almost a steal – Php 165.00.

Max's Ampalaya Con Carne

 

At Maxim's Tea House, Ampalaya Con Carne with Rice can be had to go.

21.  I prefer fried chicken to be doused by nothing more than a good Worcestershire sauce.

Max's fried chicken

 

Worcestershire sauce does wonders to fried chicken!

20.  My tea of the moment is TAZO Mint Blend, courtesy of my Ninong Allan Paz.  It’s a caffeine-free herbal infusion described as a bracing blend of mint with a pinch of tarragon.  Doesn’t that sound lovely?!

A pile of this wonderful tea from Ninong Allan Paz!

 

The description of this tea blend alone is half the fun already!

19.  I adore Cibo’s Farfalle Genovese.  This dish of farfalle (bowtie pasta) in a wild mushroom cream sauce with fresh basil pesto is both heaven on a plate and a party in your mouth.

The family size serving of Cibo's Farfalle Genovese

 

Farfalle Genovese on my plate

18.  Still at Cibo…  I always ask for extra slices of fennel bulb and fronds whenever I have a plate of their Spaghettini Alla Romana (spaghettini with sardines in oil, fennel, and red pepper pesto).

Cibo's Spaghettini Alla Romana

17.  My favorite Chicken Tinola (chicken in a gingery broth with chili leaves) is not my own, but my friend Stave Michael’s.

Stave Michael's Chicken Tinola

 

This has got to be the best homecooked Chicken Tinola I've ever had.

16.  My favorite commercially available cookies are Mama’s Kitchen’s Mango Chewies from Iloilo City.

A box of Mama's Kitchen's Mango Chewies from Iloilo City

 

These are the best cookies!

15.  Buon Giorno! at the Cliffhouse in Tagaytay makes amazing Bruschetta and Insalata Caprese (Caprese Salad – tomatoes, basil, buffalo mozzarella).

Buon Giorno!'s Bruschetta

 

Buon Giorno!'s Insalata Caprese

14.  Of the many malls, The Podium gets decked in the best Christmas decorations.

The Podium, Christmas 2008.

 

The Podium, Christmas 2009.

 

In Christmas 2009, Victorinox Swiss Army held an exhibit at The Podium.

 

I loved the golden Christmas trees that hung from the ceiling.

13.  Whenever it’s on the menu, I ask for fresh Chrysanthemum Juice.  Here, I get it only at Banana Leaf and at North Park.

Fresh Chrysanthemum Juice at The Banana Leaf

12.  Long before Up and Toy Story 3 wrung my lachrymal glands dry, Finding Nemo had done so seven years earlier.

I found Nemo!

11.  I waited for the results of the voting in the 121st IOC Session, and I was quite saddened when Chicago lost in their bid to host the Games of the XXXI Olympiad (the 2016 Summer Olympics).

One of the placards in downtown Chicago as the city awaited the announcement of the winning host for the 2016 Olympics.

10.  The Highlander Steakhouse at Tagaytay Highlands makes an excellent Salad of Hearts of Romaine and Smoked Salmon.

Tagaytay Highlands' The Highlander Steakhouse's Salad of Hearts of Romaine and Smoked Salmon

 

I served myself with a lot of the smoked salmon! Greeedyyy!!!

  9.  I’ve had the best Chicken Curry dishes at over 30,000 feet up in the sky, on board Air India and Jet Airways flights.  The New Bombay Authentic Indian Cuisine at The Columns on Ayala Avenue and at The Podium is a nice place to go to here at home.  Besides the curry, I super love their Saffron Basmati Rice.

Chicken Tikka Masala Curry at The New Bombay Authentic Indian Cuisine

 

Saffron Basmati Rice

  8.  I have three notebooks in current (simultaneous) usage status – the Superman notebook I made, the Cardinal Notes from Mikko, and the Daily Notes by kikki.K from Friendship.  They’re for my essays, work, and all other notes of personal importance, respectively.

MIT Cardinal Notes from Mikko

 

kikki.K Daily Notes from Friendship

 

The cover of the Superman notebook I made.

  7.  More than ever, I have become really grateful for friends far and wide.  Not a single day passes by without me having conversations with Friendship, Batman, and Superman – no matter how busy each of us may be.

Friendship!

 

Batman!

 

Superman!

  6.  I’ve developed a deeper appreciation of Anderson Cooper, anchor of CNN’s AC 360O, after reading his memoir Dispatches from the EdgeA Memoir of War, Disasters, and Survival.

My book of the moment!

  5.  I woke up with Maroon 5’s Sunday Morning playing incessantly in my head.  Sang it a number of times in the shower.  So it turned out to be a looong shower.

  4.  For three years in a row, Batman has always been the first one to greet me on my birthday.  And there has always been a gift.  I sure hope he does keep that tradition this year.  Hahaha!

  3.  I’m craving for the U.S. Beef Ribcap Tapa & Garlic Overload at Mr. Jones in Greenbelt 5.  TheCorporateTeener highly recommends it.  “Tapa” in this context loosely translates to strips of beef that had been cured.

  2.  I believe in this: “There comes a point in your life when you realize who matters, who never did, who won’t anymore…and who always will.  So, don’t worry about people from your past. There’s a reason why they didn’t make it to your future.”

Adidas Samba shoes... my favorite!

  1.  My favorite shoes are still the Samba by Adidas.  They’re the best!

Copyright © 2010 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





I made a notebook

20 06 2010

Not just up in the sky! But on my new notebook too!

I HAVE been meaning to write an essay since Friday night.  But I didn’t want to do it on the computer, on my laptop, or in any of my current notebooks.  My MIT notebook from Mikko is purely for work, while my kikki.K Daily Notes from Friendship is for random thoughts and observations of personal importance.

So a new notebook is a must.  Besides, I have set a goal that starts with this essay.  And I want to write it in cursive.

To make this “new” one, I took an old Mead college composition notebook, cut it to size (to make it fit any of my laptop bag, adidas UEFA EURO2008 bag, or fave smallish North American leather bag), and covered it with the image of one of my favorite superheroes, Superman, torn from the June 6, 2008 issue of Entertainment Weekly.

The opening paragraph of my new essay has been in my head since Friday night.  I’ve got to get down to it and write it down.

How my new personalized notebook looks like.

 

The most painstaking part was gluing the two sides perfectly together. Yes, the image was split into two pages.

 

Copyright © 2010 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Recent presents

14 06 2010

FRIENDSHIP GIVES the best presents.  By that I mean both the relationship one has with a friend, and “Friendship,” my shopping soulmate based in Singapore.

The kikki.K bag bearing gifts

Nothing beats waking up to this message:

Spell it out loud together with me: G-I-F-T!... And Friendship, I know you like Anderson Cooper. I'm reading his book right now, concurrent with two others.

So Friendship’s sister and I made a plan to meet up at Town for what I kept referring to as the “drop” (giving away my penchant for far too much TV spy series watching).  We met up at Starbucks.  And over my very first Iced Coffee Signature in Chocolate, I carefully tore off the delicate almost tissue-like wrapper to reveal what I later texted Friendship as one of the nicest and most thoughtful presents I’ve ever received – DAILY NOTES by kikki.K notebook.  And this was just gift number one.

I love the design of the wrapping paper – closed and opened envelopes!

 

My new DAILY NOTES by kikki.K notebook from Friendship!

 

That's the product sleeve and a shot of 7 of the 8 predefined tabs. Friendship has always been on a "gift ideas" tab in my head. Now I can write those down!

Daily Notes is a practical notebook that helps “keep track of information, ideas, recommendations and inspiration.”  It has 16 tabs which will assist in organizing random thoughts and observations into 8 predefined categories – books, films, gift ideas, music, bars/restaurants, shops, websites, and miscellany – and 8 that can be personalized.  The product sleeve says it all, “You will never forget an idea or misplace a written note again.”

My kikki.K 10-pack Recipe Inserts and My Recipes folder. I'm going crazy thinking about which recipes to write down on these precious sheets!

 

How the 10 recipe inserts looks like.

Gift number two turned out to be a 10-pack kikki.K My Recipes folder that comes 10 sheets to write down recipes in my head, or those that I come across in magazines or newspapers – both of which I read a lot of.  I like it a lot that the sheets have sections for temperature, preparation time, level of difficulty, number of servings, and rating.

The presents are equally nice – the designs are stark, the colors very basic, and the lines very clean – as they are quite thoughtful.  Friendship really knows that these will allow me to indulge in a couple of things I love the most – lists, and writing in cursive.

For good measure, Friendship’s sister threw in the latest Ferrari by Hot Wheels model car in the bag.

Speaking of the “bag,” having been told that the gifts came in their own special paper bag, I had to spend time familiarizing myself with it.  It’s a pretty white-and-gray number that says “kikki.K Swedish Home / Office Style.”  I took it as an homage to Robin Söderling making it to the finals of the French Open at Roland Garros.  Haha!

Me and my loot!

 

It's hip to be green. Makes me love kikki.K all the more!

Thanks a lot, Friendship.  I’ve often wondered why I’ve been holding back buying myself a new Moleskine.  I mean, besides the fact that I didn’t want to spend that much for myself.  I guess the universe was telling me to wait for your presents.  Love them!

Had to send Friendship a text of thanks!

 

The meet-up was at 3:00PM. I made it quite early. By the way, my wristwatches are wound 30 minutes in advance!

 

Copyright © 2010 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





I heart cursive

3 06 2010

Taking down a sad but important note – in cursive.

HAVING BEEN educated at the Mapúa Institute of Technology – both at their pre-engineering technological high school and at their college – I didn’t really have any of my teachers inspect and then grade my cursive handwriting.  Nobody had to tell me if my letters had just the right upward slant to the right, or if my loops were oval and closed enough.  What we were graded on were our papers written in engineering lettering.  And with that, I have to say, I was the benchmark.

Students that had come years after me used to stop me on my tracks to tell me that they had gotten their hands on photocopies of my work.  And that I had impeccable compliance to the “2-4-4.”  Measured in millimeters, these numbers meant that the uppercase letters were kept at the top of the type case, the “2” mm plus “4” mm (total of 6mm tall); and the lowercase letters were confined to just the “4” mm.  The third “4” mm was the spacing between lines.

But all my notebooks were written in cursive.  And quite frankly, up to now, I still keep my daily notes in longhand rather than in some digital assistant, my laptop, or high-tech cellphone.

Yesterday, a couple of people and a reader of this blog complimented me on my handwriting.  I know mine is not something that was shaped by education from and by nuns – quite obviously, I didn’t go to one of those schools (hahaha!) – but I do find it surprising that people find my handwriting pretty.

This is how I write my uppercase and lowercase letters in cursive.

 

My fave uppercase letters? B, J, R.

 

My fave lowercase letters? f, h, q, z.

 

Copyright © 2010 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.