Wallpapers and Memories

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I was digging through my old files and cleaning my hard drive when I found an album of old photos. Photos I’ve taken using a point-and-shoot camera. I’d pick out the best and turn them into wallpapers that anyone can download if they so wish.

So here they are again, free for download. :) At least I know where they all are now.

A Perfect Evening of Good Food and Great Company

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I’m not a foodie, bloggie, chef or connoisseur, this blog speaks of good but nameless cheeses, good company, and how everything comes together to create a perfect blend of tastes and experience.

Sofitel celebrated Bastille Day with 101 Cheeses. I know nothing about cheeses, except eating them. That’s why when Billie, Reggie and Mars decided to go, I knew it was an ‘eat and learn’ experience. Also, a day before the event itself, I found out that another online friend, Ian, will be going. When you’re in the company of people who know and love their food, nothing can go wrong.

After all, bottomless cheese, bottomless cold cuts and bottomless wine means an entire night of overstuffing – right? Not really.

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If you know your cheeses, you can just dive right in and select what you want. However, to enjoy the entire experience, the cheese buffet was divided into three parts. The there’s the first plate wherein they gave us 6 bite size pieces of the mildest cheeses; the second plate that had 3 goat cheese and 3 ‘cow’ cheeses that were flavorful; the third plate was mostly made up of creamy Brie cheeses (including one that was made out of real truffles); and the fourth plate that had aromatic, pungent or spicy ones.

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This is where the beauty of eating with friends comes in. You have them telling you, “try this cheese with this fruit”, “try this wine with that cheese”, “bite into it along with this fruit”, “don’t use the truffle honey with the mild ones – it will overpower the taste”. In fact on the second plate, half had to be taken with white wine, the ones made from goat’s milk; while the ones made from cow’s milk had to be taken with red wine.

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Everybody was after the taste, the texture and the subtle nuances that made the cheese different. If it were me I’d just spread it on a cracker and eat it. But after last night, I learned that you can eat just the cheese and eating them one after the other does, and building a different blend in the mouth that creates a perfect harmony – in other words, “you had a perfect plate of cheese”. There are times when it would go with a dried apricots, dates and peanuts. There are also times when chewing on a pickle will help you cleanse the palette than taking in the wine.

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It also helps to ask the people, specially if you have the French Cheese Ambassador, Maître Fromagier Gérard Poulard himself selecting the cheeses for each plate.

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In this life, everyone else is just passing through. That’s why we have to make time to spend it with people who treat us right, genuinely care, who make us happy, and yes, people who can eat without reservation. Those who can help you notice how food truly tastes and the pleasure it gives.

I was fortunate to have all of that in one night. Life may not be perfect, but it does have perfect moments.

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Do You Remember Your First Love?

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Did you ever fall in love when you were a teenager? Did you have a secret boyfriend because you couldn’t let your parents know about it? Do you remember how it started? Do you remember how it ended? In fact, did it ever “end” at all?

All I know is that it made me so giddy, that I kept a memorabilia of his first gift to me – the yellow wrapper of M&M peanuts. Kept that for 20 years inside this wooden box of stuff. Yes, he became my boyfriend and nothing happened. Nothing, meaning we didn’t have sex.

But the butterfies were there. Perhaps they’re the same butterflies that screwed up my innards when I finally met the person I decided to be with for life. The sunshine was there. The same sunshine that dawns on me each time I see the smile on the ones I love. The pain of longing was vivid at that time too. Experiences that in a way, shaped my ideals of what I want in a relationship as I got older.

Which brings me to what I am experiencing right now as a parent.

My son is caught in the throes of teenage love and although he is not as giddy and sentimental as me, he is very much grounded. On a quiet Sunday evening he tells me, “you can’t stop us from having sex, you know.”

I was doing my laundry and in a matter of fact, way I said, “I know that.”

“But don’t worry mom,” he smiled, ” once we decide to do it and if we end up doing it, I promise – I will use a condom.”

“Does that mean I should give you a ‘condom allowance’?” I asked.

“Nah, it’s too soon. It’s not even in the horizon yet,” he said.

“So sexting is enough?” I asked.

“Yes. It is not what you think it is or normally read, but it is more than enough,” he smiled thoughtfully. “And don’t give me the lecture about not respecting women. I respect her. She has been my friend for 3 years and this change in the relationship didn’t make a difference in the way I see her and treat her.”

“I know. Actually, sexting is technically solo masturbation which I think is the best birth control method – ever,” I grinned.

“Maaaaaaaaaaa!” my son rolls his eyes and blushes.

“Fine, fine – hey I’m a parent. I think I have a right to be upfront. If I don’t talk about it, use the correct terms and put everything on the table, you won’t know what I’m talking about.” I said in a very serious tone.

I also think I’ll be writing about this for some time … because I don’t think this is the first time this issue will crop up.

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Teen-age love: How do you answer questions like these? What do you do?

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A familiar scene happened earlier:

Girl Teenager:
Mom, why don’t you want me to have a boyfriend?

Parent:
Cause you’re too young, you’ll meet a lot of guys while you grow up and use your time to finish your studies not finding a mate.

Girl Teenager:
11 years old is young, 15 years old is not. 8 years old is too young, 15 years old is not. A mate is not a boyfriend – there is a difference.

Parent:
The answer is still no.

Girl Teenager:
Would you rather I have a girlfriend?

Parent:
[goes ballistic]

How many parents face this every day? Every year? It’s worse than the sex conversation. It’s the “relationship conversation”. In fact it is the “please don’t get pregnant before you finish college” and the “don’t be a teen-age mom” conversation wrapped in between the lines of “finish your studies first”. For some parents it is the “don’t make me a grandmother yet” conversation.

teenage-loveIt’s like once you get your college diploma (and get a job), you can “officially” have a meaningful relationship. The problem is, by that time, you’re more concerned with earning money and getting out of your parents’ place rather than creating meaningful relationships.

I’m not saying that all teeners should just go out and get a boyfriend/girlfriend, forget studies and have joyful sex etc. I’m not saying that all relationships end in sex. Well, some do and most of them don’t – but that’s not the topic.

The topic? Teen-age love. It’s when they fall for the first time. Teen-age love/lust, along with a lot of relationships created during your grade school and high school years, last all the way till adulthood. Some blossom into healthy friendships. Some become baggages that reek of guilt, lies and hurt.

Teen-age love. We get so giddy and feel it is “romantic” when we see kids have their first love which they carry 40 – 60 years later. But get aghast and freak out when our 15-year-old son or daughter say, “I think I found the girl I want to have a relationship with.” We get so weak-kneed when we hear a guy say “I think I found the girl I will marry”, yet ground our daughters the moment we hear that they had a boyfriend behind our backs.

Teen-age love. How do you answer questions like these? What do you do?

Chances are they will just do the opposite of what you say and just have that “secret boyfriend/girlfriend”. They’ll just tell you about it 20 years later when they’ve mustered enough courage to confront you about it.

Teen-age love. Just like sex, it has to be dealt with sooner or later by any parent. It doesn’t matter if the kid is a genius, normal or has special needs. They will all go through it and there’s no single answer or solution to it all.

Or is there?

A Different Way Of Doing Things

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This time I didn’t color over a dirty sketch. I actually ‘cleaned’ it up, closed the lines and tried to remember how I was taught to do the lines.

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This is the basic sketch.

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This is the “cleaned up” dirty sketch.

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I’m still experimenting on coloring. However I did like how this turned out.

I will try to document how I did the coloring next time so that I can remember how it was done…and be more systematic in doing things differently.