Thursday, February 25, 2010

"Eng eng eng...pot pot pot..."

"...Chaporado malapot." 
(malapot: thick)

That was the little rhyme my grandmother used to sing about this delicious weekend treat.  Once in a while, we would be lucky enough to have some for breakfast in the morning.

Champorado, not to be confused with though very similar to the Mexican champurrado, is basically a chocolate rice porridge.  I would personally like to argue that it's better than oatmeal - I mean, chocolate for breakfast???  Heck ya!

Though I didn't eat this all the time, it definitely explains why I'm not remotely close to my "normal" weight.  But, this dish is a staple in Filipino households.

There were some mornings that my siblings and I would specifically request this for breakfast.  Did I mention that my Lola lived with us?
Day 2 in the world!

I've lived with my Lola for most of my life.  I'm #26 out of 34 grandchildren.  My mother was her 9th child out of 12.

For a couple of years, I believe (relatives, feel free to correct me!), my Lola and Lolo joined three of their daughters living in Chicago, but soon moved back to the Philippines.  In 1990, after my Lolo's death in 1989, my Lola moved to Los Angeles into our tiny house.
House on N. Berendo St. (it used to just be a white house, but my aunt schnazzed it up!)

She specifically asked to live with my mother and our family, though she was asked to move to Los Angeles to help care for one of my younger cousins.  I've always wondered why she chose to live with us all these times.  Though, and maybe I'm biased here, in the end, my mom (with my dad at her side) was perhaps one of the ones who were better equipped to handle all the logistics of her death.

Regardless, my Lola managed to pass along a healthy appetite to all of us, in the Philippines, in Chicago, in Florida, in Los Angeles, and in other international locales.

Now, traditionally, champorado could be accompanied with a salty treat.  My sister favors salami, microwaved just a little bit.  Hardcore Filipinos favors tuyo (salty dried fish).  I personally am a happy camper with a nice warm bowl all on its own.
Salami?  Tuyo?  Or just Champorado on its own?


1 cup sweet rice or brown rice
water, about 5 cups, more or less
¾ cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips, or half the amount of each

milk or soy milk
sugar (optional)

Cook rice in 2 cups water. Stir once in a while so the rice does not stick at the bottom of the pan. When rice starts to absorb the water and the consistency becomes too thick add more water, slowly, ½ cup at a time. Repeat adding water for desired consistency. When the rice starts to pop, add chocolate chips and mix until chocolate melts.

Serve warm with milk or soy milk to desired amount. Add sugar if desired.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 1/8 medium pot

Amount per Serving
Calories 204 (not counting milk or soy milk)
Calories from Fat 83.9

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Now for something completely different...

I firstly would like to apologize for anyone who doesn't really care, but I just wanted to share a blog post from my "other life" in which I'm outraged about the state of affairs.

What state of affairs, you ask? seems that there seems to be more and more messages about how "bad" and "dirty" our bodies are.

So, here's a link to my other blog and the post:

Hopefully, no one gets offended, but I just wanted to share.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Re-Posting: "Sinigang, sinigang, I love sinigang."

Ash Wednesday happened to also be the day my Lola was buried along with my Lolo (grandfather) in the Philippines.  The family and I are still somewhat in mourning, unfortunately, but we're getting better at it.

I had posted in the beginning of the month that I would use this blog to share recipes of the foods my Lola used to stuff our faces with.  Clearly, it's taken me a while..but honestly, I think it's because I struggled with the finality of it all.

Here we are, near the end of the month, and I'm finally ready to post a recipe (which doesn't mean that I haven't done a hell of a lot of eating!).  But, I'm cheating, as this is a re-post.

Without further ado, here is my family's recipe for Sinigang:

Damn You, Catholic Guilt...

Another year, another Lent.

Truth be told, I'm not very religious. 

My family is Catholic (as is a HUGE part of the Philippines), and I attended church with my Lola every Sunday.  When I was younger, my Lola, my mom, and I would pray the rosary every night.  I complained about how it wasted 15 minutes of my day every day.  But that was as much as I was told to do.

My parents, who grew up attending Catholic school in the Philippines, never forced me into it.  Perhaps they remembered all too well the strict punishments of the nuns.  I didn't even get my First Communion until I was in high school (and only because I was taking Confirmation classes).  I have not been Confirmed, however.

Later on, I asked my parents why they did not make me go through my First Communion when I was younger.  They proceeded to tell me that I was their guinea pig - they wanted to see if I would still come out a good person regardless of being raised in the church.  I asked how I was doing so far, and they said they wouldn't tell me.

Interestingly, I don't remember practicing Lent when I was younger.  While we ate fish on Fridays, I don't remember any feeling of "giving something up."  Only in college did I ever really learn about Lent, from one of my awesome roomies, Keri.

So, I started really thinking about Lent, and saw it as more of a challenge at bettering myself as opposed to giving something up.

Then, when I started working as a social worker, one of my coworkers, Rebecca, introduced me to the idea of adding a good habit as well as removing something that doesn't benefit me.  I thought it was a great way to feel as though I was really gaining something. 

With that, here is another Lent, and yet another list of ways I'm attempting to improve myself and my 2010.

What I'm giving up:
Using any of my credit cards (really, it's just my Old Navy, Victoria's Secret, Best Buy, and Capital One cards...only....).  I've done it once, and I can do it again!!!  I realistically can't say that I won't purchase anything new, but I will not use my credit cards!

What I'm taking on:
I talked a little bit about this in a previous post, but I will add one more days of movement.  With me being away in California for the past 2 weeks, I haven't really been able to devote any time to working out.  Not to mention that I really ate like I was on vacation (pho 2x, pupusas, Korean BBQ, Jack in the Box, In N Out, Filipino food.....ya.....).  Now that I'm back in Boston and hopefully back to a regular routine, it's time to up my cardio!
(pic from Hawaii 2007, Jumping Pictures in the Hotel)

Here's to success in the next 40 days!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

City Sights - Makin' Me Nervous

One of the first things that popped into my head when I saw these sights was, "What the what???"

August 2007
Walking down Newbury Street in Boston
I know it's really hard to see, as I took this with my phone.
But I kid you not...her tattoo says, "AC Slater"

 January 2010
Huge abandoned hotel area on 3rd and Vermont Streets in Los Angeles.
What a completely strange use of this space.
It didn't help that when I was walking past it again, 
a group of men (young and old) were prepping for some sort of aim practice.
In the middle of the city, no less.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Today's the Day! The One World One Heart Winner is....

Which means that Abby from Reviews by Abby is the winner!

Congratulations, Abby!!!!
As I'm returning home to Boston on Thursday, I'll be able to work on your shirt this upcoming weekend!

What a truly amazing event!
Though I only got through about 760 of the 1100 listed, it was really quite a journey!
I've made new friends along the way, and discovered amazing fountains of creativity all over the world!

Thank you to all who left comments, and especially those who shared a bit of their lives with me.
No matter how you identify and what your life experiences have been,
you are all maganda and malakas to me.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Oh, Happy Day...

I truly believe that sometimes the universe's timing is just spot on.   As many of you know, it's been rough times lately, with job losses, work/volunteer work stress, and my grandmother's passing.  Through most of it, I've tried to be strong, though mainly for other people.

But it's nice to be reminded about all the things that are going well.  I am really truly a blessed person.

Michelle from TheMuseFactory, who I've recently connected with through the One World One Heart giveaway but already feel a very strong affinity with, awarded me with The Happy Award!

The Happy Award

So, I believe I'm supposed to list 10 things that make me happy and then award 10 bloggers that make me happy.  I'm feeling like my list of 10 stays the same for the most part - though there are subcategories within each item.  I'm sure I could have a list of 100 if I thought long enough.

So here goes!

10 Things that Make Me Happy
1.  My GINORMOUS Family
Why, yes, this is a genogram.

The picture above is an illustration of the ginormousness of my loud, obnoxious Filipino family.  My maternal side is the large part of the image, with 12 children, 33 grandchildren, and approximately 29 great grandchildren.  My paternal side has 6 children and 4 grandchildren.  Then there's my dad's brother who married my mom's brother's sister-in-law; as well as my cousin who married my mom's sister's sister-in-law.  Did you get that?  I love it.

2.  My Boyfriend (Who Cooks)
One of the many delicious stir frys

Thank goodness for bachelorhood and its lessons in how men can take care of themselves (for the most part).  As the person who's constantly busy, I'm very lucky to live with a boyfriend who loves to cook.  I'd probably be extremely unhealthy if it wasn't for his cooking.

3.  Baking Sweets for Sweeties

I was inspired by my lovely sister to start baking.  While I've been making chocolate chip cookies since high school, my baker sister has lit a fire under me to bake wonderful deserts, from cupcakes to marble cakes.  It's messy, but it's always so satisfying to watch people enjoy your creations.

4.  My Friends on Both Coasts
Bicoastal Love

God, I hate flying.  But it's so worth it when I'm in the presence of my awesome friends.  If only there was a teleportation machine to make my travel go so much faster.  I love how different they are from each other, yet so similar in little ways.  I like to imagine one massive party where everyone would chit chat with everyone else as my two worlds collide, but in a good way.

5.  Pets!

At this point, many people already know about how petting animals helps to relieve stress.  While the boyfriend and I don't have pets (yet!), I love visiting my friends and family who do have pets.  During this current trip to Los Angeles, the boyfriend and I are going to house/dog sit while my family takes my lola to the Philippines.  I'm sure it'll be an interesting time.

6.  My Bed, My Sanctuary

I love my bed.  If I could do work and run a business from bed (not that way...), it'd be awesome!  I'm also very picky about how the bed is taken care of - no dirty backpacks, snackies, or dirty pants legs on the bed.  It's a weird pet peeve of mine.  But it's the place where I feel safest, where deep, meaningful conversations take place.  It's also better when it's warm.

7.  Music
Tunes Carry Me Through

With all the traveling I've done in my life (and really for the most part, it's within the same city), the various soundtracks that have accompanied me have been my saving grace.  On family road trips, it's The Beatles, movie soundtracks, bossa nova, and Patsy Cline.  On the plane, I have a "Bicoastal" playlist on my Zune.  On my drives throughout the city, it's the oldies station or cheesy soft rock.  As ABBA sang, "Thank you for the music."

8.  The Ocean
Venice Beachiness

I need to preface this paragraph with some history:  I was born by the ocean, I grew up by the ocean, and so I choose to live by the ocean.  I chose to move to Boston because of its proximity to the Atlantic, and when I move again it will be near another ocean.  I don't really care to live anywhere else.  The end.

9.  Working with Kids where credit is due!

It's really hard work.  REALLY hard work.  I could go on about the inefficiency of the bureaucracies that are supposed to help families and children.  I could then go on about how difficult it is to then be part of a nonprofit that is trying up uphold and empower the structures that are "meant to serve" in addition to those families and children.  But I won't.  I could, however, go on and on about the amazing things that my middle school students are able to accomplish, from raising money for kids with cancer to writing and performing a skit about internet safety.  If the only thing I ever teach them is that it's okay to be a little quirky, then I've done something good for this world.

10.   Summertime

Summer has always been my favorite season.  Vacation, trips, lazing by the pool or beachside.  I love it all.  Most of my recent adult (read: free) summers have been in Boston, and truth be told, it's where I've really come to appreciate the summertime (I know...Thanks, Winter, for showing me how AWESOME Summer really is.).  Starting with the Mermaid Parade (Coney Island, New York) in June - ending with the All Night Costume Dance Party (Quarry Hill, Rochester, Vermont) in August - and filled with a whole host of free or cheap activities, the summertime has just been a sandwich of awesome.

10 Bloggers Who Make Me Happy (a.k.a. Blogs Whose Updates I'm Always Looking Out For)(a.k.a. The Happy Award goes to...)
Steph at not the oxygen
Arnetta at This May Sound Crazy But... 
Chatterbox at The Dialogue
Joy at Joy the Baker
A mermaid in the attic at a mermaid in the attic
Jen at The Novelista Barista
I really suck at this at I Really Suck at This
Amanda and Jenn at kind over matter
Sophie at Missed Connections
Jo at My Own Breed of Random

It's so hard to stop at 10.  I love a lot of blogs, from photoblogs to recipe blogs to ridiculously laugh out loud funny blogs.  But I must say that I feel a strong fondness for the blogs listed above.  If I could list Michelle at TheMuseFactory, I probably would have!  Thanks again, Michelle for the awesome (and my first!) award!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Planes, Trains, and Automo-buses

Remember when I said that "movement" was my word for the year?

Well, I really didn't know how true that was going to be at the time.

Here's what I've done in the past weekend:
February 5th - Chinatown Bus to New York City
February 6th - Chinatown Bus to Boston
February 7th - Flight to Los Angeles (til the 17th, when the boyfriend and I fly back to Boston on a red eye)

I know you're thinking, "Where's the train in all of that?"

I'd like you  to consider Boston's MBTA system, the T.  As the first active subway system in the U.S, I'd say it counts as the "train."

Seeing that it's really been one stressful couple of months, and with all the traveling I've been doing, I've really lacked a lot of sleeping in.  But, luckily, I'm one of those people who can easily knock out in a moving vehicle.  So, I've counted a lot on falling asleep during my travels just to keep my energy levels up.

Maybe it's from long drives around Los Angeles and California.  When my brother was a baby, we used to all get into a car just to lull my brother to sleep.  Apparently, it stuck with me as well.

I asked my psychiatrist auntie about whether there was a name for that phenomenon, and she told me it was motion sickness!  Not the worst version of motion sickness, considering that I could be throwing up all the time instead.

Even as I write this post, I'm feeling like I need to take a serious nap - which, after all the stress I've been encountering and all the traveling I've been doing, I'm gifting myself for all my hard work.  Napping is not something that I can do as easily for some reason.  Maybe I'll ask my sister to drive me around the block.  Maybe I'll just get cozy in the blanket my grandmother used.

So, I will leave you with some sights I've captured during my travels thus far.

Sunrise Over Logan

Clouds Over California

Live Music and Drugged Out College Kids at Park St. Station

Friday, February 5, 2010

Toesies of the Month - February 2010

So, this is what I was doing when I received my mom's text message about my Lola.

I had a big work event to not-stress about, and one of our previous interns suggested that we hit up the nail salon.

We were chit-chatting about what was going on at the organization and in our lives.  I started telling her all the things I'd been saying about anticipating my grandmother's death.

Suddenly, I realized that I hadn't checked a text message that I noticed when we walked into the nail salon.  So, out came my phone, and there it was.

"Lola is gone"

Such finality.

My friend was very understanding of my need to call my family.  Seriously though, what better person to be around than another social worker!

Honestly, though, I felt awkward.  I was very conscious of the need I felt to make sure the rest of the family was okay.  I also didn't want to make anyone else feel uncomfortable by such a sad situation.

And, you know...I'm usually really good about this....I promise...I forgot to ask one other time only!  But, I totally didn't ask for the nail technicians name.  I feel really bad that I forgot to do so.  Though, I know my mind was elsewhere at that moment.

As the nail technician was painting her chosen design, I was speaking with my mom.  So, it wasn't until after I hung up that I was really able to look at it.
Designed by Unknown Nail Technician, Dana's Nail Salon, Brighton, MA
Color: OPI-Yoga-ta Get this Blue (bottom), SEPHORA by OPI-Too Good for Him (sparklies)
Occasion:  De-stress and Valentine's Prep
February 2010

"Ooh! It looks like fireworks!" I exclaimed when I finally saw what she did.  It felt like my toes and the polish were trying to uplift me, in a way.  At such a difficult time, it was hard for me not to smile at the cheery design.
Cold fire close-up

Upon further staring, the design is almost campfire-like.  Interestingly, the event I was not-stressing about was a Camp Fair.  

But it makes me think of light in the dark.  Hope.  A spark.  Starting new.  Transitions.

It almost makes me wonder if the images I interpret from the designs are dependent on what's going on in my life.  What a neat way to free-associate.  What a neat distraction from the more difficult things.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

To the Stars, Please Take Care of My Lola

My Lola took her last breath today.

About a week ago, we were told that she, already in hospice care, was nearing the end.  I could feel that folks were still holding on to her.  So, I wrote this letter to my Lola.

This past weekend, I had the fortunate opportunity to go home for this unfortunate reason.

The whole 2 days, I felt that I needed  to be really strong for the family.  While I feel that I had a more realistic point of view about her passing, it was difficult to see her in bed the whole time, being fed small amounts of food and given oxygen.  What a way to sustain life.

But my grandmother was a strong woman.

Though she didn't open her eyes at all, she seemed responsive.  I told her how we were going to be alright.  My siblings, my cousins, all us kids.  We'd be okay.  I told her I was leaving for Boston again, but that I'd be back.

She would make a noise signaling that she heard us.  She would raise her eyebrows acknowledging our words.  At one point, she scrunched her face up, almost to say that she didn't believe it was me as she was so used to me being away.

I broke just then, after trying to be strong for the family and for myself.  I broke.  I apologized for being so far away.  I apologized for always leaving.  I told her I loved her.  I told her we would be okay, though I almost didn't believe myself at that moment.

But she taught us that we need to be strong too.

She was 90 years old.  She was a mother of 12, grandmother to over 30, great-grandmother to over 10 and then some.  She's left us all with powerful life lessons, a strong sense of family, and a healthy appetite.

Throughout the month, I will be using this space to honor my Lola the best way I can - with the food she cooked for us kids.

With that, I wanted to post this poem for my family, and a video my mom and cousin put together for her 90th birthday celebration.

“You can shed tears that she is gone,
or you can smile because she has lived.
You can close your eyes and pray that she'll come back,
or you can open your eyes and see all she's left.
Your heart can be empty because you can't see her,
or you can be full of the love you shared.
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,
or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember her only that she is gone,
or you can cherish her memory and let it live on.
You can cry and close your mind,
be empty and turn your back.
Or you can do what she'd want:
smile, open your eyes, love and go on.”
--David Harkins

Leonida Garcia Rodriguez
September 12, 1919 to February 3, 2010

I love you, Lola.

Gettin' Back on the Heatlhy Wagon

Here's my #3 Goal for 2010:
3. Focus more on being healthy and eating smaller portions rather than the number on the scale.

This road has been a rough one.  I feel like I've spent my whole adult life working on it, and I'm still in the midst of it.

Hi.  My name is Cecilia.  I'm an emotional eater.
Butternut squash...nom nom nom...

With all that's been happening this month thus far, it's been really tough to not snack on EVERYTHING.  But, as I mentioned in an earlier post about my Goal #5, this is the year I'm going to do it.

The truth is 2009 was a great year for my weight loss.  I met a lot of inspiring people, I got really motivated and utilized my Netflix membership to save money, and I ate a lot of really healthy food that the boyfriend and I cooked ourselves.

I've totally slacked on this.  Obviously, the holidays have a way of messing with everyone's weight loss goals, so I'm trying not to be too harsh.  But I know I need to get re-motivated.

I'm going to start by re-naming my "weight loss goals" to "healthy lifestyle goals."  I have a lot of bad habits, the biggest of which is not taking care of myself when things get really stressful.

As I mentioned before, I've already signed up for yoga and pilates classes at a local studio.  I'm also taking belly dance classes 2x a week from 2 different teachers.  All of this is mainly for my mental health.  But the sweating ain't so bad either.

I will probably start up again with Jillian Michaels' DVD's.  She's super intense, but I love her workouts!  Even the 30-Day Shreds (which I stretch out to more than 30 days) are ridiculously intense for about 30 minutes a workout.

When it comes to food, well, we have a complicated relationship.  Strangely, when I was living by myself, I had an easier time staying away from a lot of snacks and so I wouldn't randomly eat stuff even when I wasn't hungry.

One thing I truly miss is our CSA membership.  It was really easy to focus on eating healthier when we needed to pick up fruits and vegetables every week.  But that's not a good excuse.  The boyfriend and I have both lacked a lot of veggie intake since the CSA ended, and we should have continued buying them in the grocery store.

Luckily (or unluckily, depending on the outcome), the yoga studio is housed in the same building as a super market.  So, I can really commit to going straight to the fruit and veggie section.  At least, until the CSA pick-ups start up again in June.

Alrighty.  Did you get all that?  Let's review shall we?

1.  Workout schedule:  Monday and Tuesday is for belly dance.  Wednesday and Thursday is for yoga and a pilates/yoga combo.  Friday with a rest day or a 30-Day Shred workout (I have to give myself some's been a rough month, remember?), but will start committing to a 30-Day Shred workout more often than not.  Saturday is pilates.  Sunday is rest (but if I'm feeling highly motivated, I will do some belly dance practice).

2.  Buy veggies after my pilates class on Saturday - at least enough for the rest of the week.  I will start planning ahead with the boyfriend to make sure we don't over do it or waste a lot of food.  I will also start really paying attention to my moods and my hunger response.  Admitting you have a problem is the first step, right?  So, there you go.
Starting anew...

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