Forty Before Forty Item #21: Welcome to Facebook, Dad!

My parents are not what you'd call Luddites. They have cell phones. They have a PC. They use wireless broadband. I remember my mom signing us up for computer lessons when I was just 9 or 10, and we bought our first PC in my early high school years. This was back when you needed a floppy DOS disk to book the computer up, and the only useful programs were Wordstar and Lotus 1-2-3, when computers were not an integral part of middle-class households.

That being said, they're not exactly on the bleeding edge of technology. Their cell phones are still the basic models with no internet access. They use email and my dad browses the internet to manage his financial portfolio, but I'm still not convinced they know how to get to my blog, let alone share my witty and cleverly written blog posts with their friends (what good are parents for if not to brag about their kids' accomplishments?). I'm sure they have no idea what Twitter or Skype is, because none of their contemporaries use it.

Not so with Facebook.

Cauliflower and white bean stew

If you ask Alfie or the kids what my favorite vegetable is, chances are they'll say it's cauliflower (okay, they might also say eggplant or onion or broccoli or tomato, but I guarantee they'll say cauliflower by the third or fourth try). I love cauliflower, and my absolute favorite cauliflower dish is Cauliflower and White Bean Stew.

My childhood is filled with memories of the Pote Gallego made by my grandmother's cook (the best cook of all time), with Chorizo Bilbao (Marca El Rey, naturally!) swimming in a broth of white beans, chicken stock, garlic, onion and olive oil. When I went off to make my own way in the big wide world, Pote Gallego was one of the first dishes I tried to cook on my own.

Forty Before Forty Item #3 and #4: Take Care of Yourself

I know it's a cliche, but most women really do seem to have the wires crossed in their brains when it comes to putting themselves first. Women take care of their kids, their husbands, their parents. They champion their local schools, the environment, hungry kids in Africa. So often, it's at the expense of their own well-being and sanity. I'm up there with the worst of them, and with all the blogging I do, it's easier than ever to put Health at the bottom of my to-do list. I have to admit, it's not all martyrdom that makes me procrastinate when it comes to making dentists' appointments, or getting a wax at the salon, or scheduling some time with friends -- laziness is a huge part of it. But whatever the cause, I need to get better at taking care of myself.

This pearl of wisdom really hit home when I finally got around to making an appointment with my gynecologist for a checkup (Item #3 on my Forty Before Forty list) and mammogram (Item #4). I knew I should have done this long ago, but I was shocked to find out that it had been almost 3 years since my last visit. Yikes! Where did the time go?

And then my doctor found a lump. Two, actually, one on each breast.

How to Make the Perfect Potato Salad

I love potato salad, but when I make it myself I usually just squirt some mayo and mustard onto boiled potatoes and season with salt and pepper. It's good, but not great. This weekend I learned how to make not just great, but Great potato salad, from none other than Food Network star Tyler Florence. He was the celebrity chef at Safeway's World's Longest Picnic Table event, where he demonstrated how to make a couple of easy picnic dishes. This was one of them. Even more valuable were his tidbits of information on how to make the perfect potato salad. I'm sharing Tyler's tips here with you, but don't tell anyone else or I'll have to silence you:

Coke for breakfast (and other fun things I did in Atlanta)

Last week I was invited by BlogHer and Coca-Cola to visit Coca-Cola's headquarters in Atlanta and have some Conversations with Coca-Cola. It was part workshop, part presentation, part focus group, part party-- and all fun.Here's what I enjoyed most about my trip:

Whatever happened to Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield?

When you think of the 80's, what comes to mind? Some of my nearest and dearest memories of that era are teased hair, flashdance outfits, poufy prom dresses, Duran Duran ... and Sweet Valley High. At some point during my tweens and early teens, my friends and I devoured Francine Pascal's series of novels about identical twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. We Filipino Catholic schoolgirls envied the twins' perfect looks and bodies, followed Jessica's crazy antics, fantasized about finding true love like Elizabeth, and dreamed of living the sunny, carefree California teenage life. Bikinis, beach parties, boys, and drama, drama, drama.... yes, it was shallow and silly, but hey, teenage girls can be that way sometimes.

The Most Disgustingly Delicious Sandwich Ever

Last Friday was the kids' first day of summer vacation, so I was pretty lax about what I gave the kids for lunch. I just put out a bunch of stuff and told them to get creative. 3Po and Jammy really took my instructions to heart, because they came up with The Most Disgustingly Delicious Sandwich Ever. Here's how to prepare it:

My first long-haul flight

I took my first international flight when I was six years old. Nowadays, infants and toddlers fly everywhere from Atlanta to Antarctica, but back in the seventies, and living in the Philipines, it was a pretty big deal. My parents took my sister and I for a month-long visit to the United States, and just a few days before we left, my sister and I went down with a bad case of the flu. But even that couldn't dampen my excitement. What are fever and chills and nausea compared to your first long-haul flight on a Boeing 747? Everything was a source of delight: the enormous cabin, the plug-in headphones, the pillows and blankets, the airline food (even though I couldn't eat any of it).

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How to Make a Foghorn

A couple of years ago we went to a free craft event at our local art center where a local artist taught the kids how to make a foghorn from a cardboard tube, a rubber glove and a straw. It was an instant hit with the kids! 3Po, Jammy and The Pea loved the low, moaning foghorn sound it makes when you blow into it. The only problem was that the cardboard tube kept bending and crumpling from being repeatedly doused by overenthusiastic kids' spit. To solve the problem, we replaced the cardboard tube with a plastic tube, and the rest is history.

Forty Before Forty Item #25: Bye Bye Baby Toys

A few days after I posted my Forty before Forty list Alfie pointed out that if I want to do all those things before I turn forty I'm going to have to check things off at the rate of almost one per week. Yikes! I've acknowledged beforehand that it's highly likely that I won't get to every single item, but I figure I've got a decent shot at completing at least 80 percent of that list, so I'd better get cracking.

Last weekend I got the chance to cross out item #25 on my list: clean out the kids' old toys.

Italian Vogue features plus-size models on the cover

photo: Huffington post

I'm very impressed that Vogue, the ultimate fashion magazine, has bucked the trend of Photoshopping cover models to make them look thinner (remember Faith Hill on the cover or Redbook Magazine?) and actually featured three plus-sized models on their cover. Of course, the images might also have been Photoshopped, but they certainly didn't cut out the rolls or the curves -- and do I actually detect hints of cellulite in this photo?

So this is what a five-hour waiting line looks like

Last week I was at the Disneyland Resort, and like all the times I'm there, I resolved to wake up early and get into the park early. As luck would have it, there was no early morning entry for resort hotel guests, so I had to enter at 9AM, at the same time as everyone else. Since it's the beginning of summer, I expected to see bigger crowds than I had on my previous visits (in the spring and the fall), but I didn't expect this:

More Restroom Signs Around the Disneyland Resort

This was a big weekend at the Disneyland Resort. Two major, much anticipated attractions opened this weekend: The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure at Disney's California Adventure, and Star Tours: The Adventure Continues at Disneyland Park. I was invited to take part in the media events surrounding these two big celebrations, so for the next several weeks I'll be blogging quite a bit about all the new things happening at the Disneyland Resort.

But before anything else, I simply must take a moment to continue a series of posts near and dear to my heart .... Disney restrooms.

Happy National Donut Day!

Happy National Donut Day! To celebrate this all-important (and delicious) holiday, I've compiled some fun donut facts from around the internet: