Seven Days of Dinner, Oct. 30-Nov. 5

My parents have come to visit, which is a real treat for the whole family. The kids get doting grandparents, Alfie and I get trusted (and free) babysitters -- and I get a cook. While she's here, my mother usually takes over kitchen duty, which I love, because her food is awesome, and which she loves, because she's usually too busy to cook in the Philippines, and she likes to cook. So my Seven Days for Dinner posts will be taking a temporary hiatus while my mom plans the meals. I may decide to do some posts listing the dishes she actually prepared, but for now, I'll leave you with several mouthwatering dishes I'm hoping she will prepare:

* Arroz a la Cubana with rice (actually, we'll probably have rice with every meal since that's how people do it in the Philippines!)
* Roast chicken
* Paella Valenciana
* Sauteed cabbage and mushrooms with garlic
* Salmon Teriyaki
* Chicken adobo
* Chicken fetuccine
* Chicken chuletas
* Chicken chow mein
* Chicken croquettes
* Pork fried rice
* Pork chorizo and garlic fried rice
* Spanish omelette
* Menudo
* Pork lumpia
* Spaghetti bolognese

Ahhh... my happiness levels (and cholesterol levels) are rising already. This is bonggamom, signing off kitchen duty for the next few weeks. See you soon!

Halloween Costumewatch 2011: The Pea

This year, The Pea and her best friend decided to wear matching costumes for Halloween. After lots of flipping through catalogs and flip-flopping over choices (the most notable being the one that left me with two yards of leopard-print cloth and cemented my own decision to be a cavewoman this year), they chose characters from Alice in Wonderland: the Mad Hatter and the Cheshire Cat. Sort of. Here's what the costumes look like:

Halloween Costumewatch 2011: Alfie

Alfie is the only one in the family who is somewhat grumpy indifferent less than enthusiastic about dressing up for Halloween. He does it because he knows the kids like it; once they leave home I doubt if I'll be able to persuade him to go anywhere near a costume. Oh well, just like childhood, I have to enjoy Alfie's costume era while it lasts.

Since the kids were born, Alfie has only had two costumes: a skeleton and Jack Sparrow. Every year he's either one or the other, so this is quite an unusual year in that Alfie has three Halloween costumes to choose from. First is a werewolf costume from Pottery Barn Teen:

It was given to us to review, and I chose it for Alfie because I thought he'd enjoy the warmth it would provide as we went trick-or-treating on Halloween night. It's just a headpiece and gloves, so he can wear it with regular clothing and take it off really easily.

Alfie's second choice is a devil bathrobe costume that I bought for the annual PTA auction party. The theme was a pajama party, and Alfie didn't want to go in just any old boring pair of pajamas. We thought of Wee Willie Winkie, in his nightcap and gown, so I went on eBay and found one from a UK site. I bid and won.... but horror of horrors, when it arrived, it was just the cap! No gown. Apparently the term "Fancy Dress" in the phrase "Wee Willie Winkie Night Cap Fancy Dress" meant "Costume", not "and gown". I should have known it was too good to be true, but with just one week left, I had to move on to Plan B. I found a devil smoking jacket and convinced Alfie he'd look cool if we left the horns off and cut the tail out and he could go as Hugh Hefner.

(By the way, that is not my husband. I don't have a photo of him wearing the costume, because if he decides not to wear it then I can try to resell it as "New, Never Worn").

But Alfie still wasn't sure about the Hugh Hefner thing, so in the end he decided to wear his own pajamas, along with the nightcap, and take along his very own Teddy. Except he never got to wear it, because 3Po got sick and Alfie had to stay home with him.

Which costume will Alfie ultimately pick for Halloween night? Who knows?

Halloween Costumewatch 2011: Bonggamom

I've had many Halloween costumes over the years (many in a single year, even), and I've enjoyed wearing them all, but I must confess that I'm really looking forward to wearing this year's costume. I've always loved cavewoman costumes; in fact, the first Halloween costume I wore as an adult was a cavewoman costume. I wore it to a grad school costume party and I paid $60 to rent it for the week. Every Halloween since then, I've looked around for cavewoman costumes, but couldn't really find one that I liked. There's not much variation in the cut (I don't think there were many fashion designers in the stone age), but all the materials looked thin and cheap.

Halloween Costumewatch 2011: 3Po

Next up on Halloween Costumewatch is 3Po. He decided to be a ninja this year, which is awesome, because a couple of years ago my sister gave us her kids' old ninja outfits. It has been many years since I have been able to force convince my kids to wear the Halloween costumes I want them to wear, so these ninja outfits have been sitting in storage, just in case, and I was about to give them away. Fortunately I didn't, and one of them fit 3Po just right.

Halloween Costumewatch 2011: Jammy

In past years I've done blog posts about how I've decorated the house up for Halloween, but this year, for the first time in almost 10 years, I haven't done much decorating inside the house. Other than a few candles, tablecloth runners and wall hangings, I decided to focus on the front yard. Okay, it's a lot more than most households ever do, but if you've seen the inside of our home in past years you'll agree it's looking pretty bare. Since I don't have anything photo-worthy inside the house to blog about (I'll post photos of our front yard soon), I've decided to showcase what each of us is wearing for Halloween, starting with Jammy.

31 Days osf Pink: Week 2 & Week 3 Recap

I said it last year, and I'll say it again: Where did the time go? October has just flown by! I can't believe we're in the last week of October already. I've got blog commitment, work projects and volunteer assignments piling up, three Halloween parties to plan, home remodeling projects to manage..... I'm having palpitations just thinking about it all. No, wait -- those palpitations are because I'm all clogged up and can't breathe. Of all the times to come down with a cold.

Seven Days of Dinner, Oct. 23-29

When you're planning the week's dinner menu, it really helps if you're not sick with a cold and the thought of slaving away over a hot stove is enough to make your heart palpitate even more than it's palpitating already. This week I think I'm going to take it easy, get some takeout, and rely on simmering pots of soup to get me through. No doubt my kids will be excited at the prospect of school pizza, PBJ and cereal for lunch this week! I've deliberately left off three nights this week because my parents are arriving for a visit this Friday, and I look forward to relinquishing control of the kitchen and letting my mom take over.

How to Dress for a Pajama Party

Last night our PTA hosted an auction party to raise funds for the kids' school. It's an annual, adults-only event, and every year the party has a different theme. This year's theme was PJ Party, so more people than usual came in costume. Dressing for a pajama party has got to be the easiest thing ever: just put on your regular PJ's, or a tshirt and sweatpants, and you're good to go. You don't even have to get undressed after the party; just kick off your shoes and fall into bed.

Is anybody left out there?

Remember Harold Camping? He predicted the end of the world would come on May 21, 2011. Obviously, it didn't happen. So Harold Camping backtracked and said what he meant was, the spiritual end of the world happened on May 21. The real, true, pinky-swear end end of the world would happen on October 21, 2011.

Just so you know, I scheduled this post in advance. I scheduled it to post at 1 minute past midnight on October 22, 2011. I wanted to give old Harold's prophecy a chance to come true, all through October 21, down to the last second. Right now my family and I are sleeping peacefully in our beds. Or we've just been snuffed out, along with the rest of the universe. Then again, if this posted and you're reading this, then we definitely are sleeping peacefully in our beds.

Hmmmm... Harold, whaddup? Since you didn't put up The Bible Guarantees It billboards all over the place this time, perhaps you'll escape some ridicule. Or perhaps you meant Oct. 21, 2011 on the Ethiopian calendar? That would mean the next real, true, pinky-swear end end of the world is actually on June 28, 2019 according to the Gregorian calendar.

Perhaps I'll schedule another Doomsday Predictions Are Stupid post on June 28, 2019.

Starting the day right

I'm generally an upbeat, glass-half-full person, but occasionally I get those days when I feel like getting back into bed with a box of chocolates and staying there all day. You know: Those Days. Days when I went to bed too late. Or when I'm running late. When the kids start tiptoeing around me and whispering to themselves, Mama is crabbers, I know I have to get out of my funk. Here are three things I like to do to get my day started on the right foot:

Seven Days of Dinner, Oct. 16-22

For the past several weeks, most of the dishes I've cooked have been from a cookbook. I don't have much patience with following recipes, and I'm usually a throw-everything-together-and-see-how-it-turns-out kind of cook, so I've probably used recipes more in these past three weeks than I have all year. But this week, I'm going back to my usual modus operandi and using some of my tried-and-true "recipes". I've loved everything I've tried, but my cookbooks need a rest.

The worst road in the world

This is a photo of a street that Alfie takes every single day to go to work. When I used to work in an office, I also drove down this street every day. I still use this road quite a bit; it's the most direct route from our home to the highway (the southbound direction, at least).

We hate this road.

October 13 is National Metatstatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day

Last week I blogged about how people dislike the way companies are jumping on the breast cancer bandwagon and exploiting the pink ribbon to increase sales. Personally, I think cause marketing, done right, is a great way to raise money for breast cancer research, as well as money to fund treatment for women who can't afford it.

But there's another reason people for "pink fatigue".

Yup, that's my dad

3Po: Mama, why did you buy a devil bathrobe costume for daddy?

Forty before Forty Item #14: Where's the Party?

Ever since I first heard about Perry Mann's Exotic Erotic ball, I've wanted to attend it. I love Halloween, I love dressing up, and I love being around folks who love to dress up as much as I do. I love a party, and it has been ages since I attended a really wild one. I love outrageous people who are true to themselves and don't care what anyone else thinks of them -- their confidence and energy are infectious! Besides, after being closeted and sheltered for so long in my life, the thought of releasing a bit of my wild and naughty side in a fun and harmless way is so appealing.

For at least a decade, I've been working up the nerve to buy tickets, but every year I found some excuse not to go:

Seven Days of Dinner, Oct. 9-15

Tomatoes and basil

I've broken one of my Seven Days of Dinner rules this week. I said vegetables have to be part of each and every meal, yet here I am, putting pancakes on the menu. It is October, so I guess I could make pumpkin pancakes. Or I could sneak some beets into the pancake batter like Jessica Seinfeld does in her Deceptively Delicious cookbook. Or I could just serve the pancakes with blueberries and change the rule to Veggies or Fruit must be part of every meal. Yeah, I like the last option better.

Help is just a click away

I get it. You agree that breast cancer research is an important cause, and you want to help. You want to donate money, but money is tight. There are so many important causes, and it's hard to choose. Believe me, I get it. That's why I'm willing to jump through hoops for sponsors who are willing to donate money to the cause. Fortunately, many sponsors don't require an arm and a leg-- just eyeballs. Many companies will make a donation to a good cause -- in this case, breast cancer research -- in exchange for a Facebook "like", a tweet, or a click on a link.

Making a teacher's day better

One of the nicest things about being a blogger is getting the opportunity to participate in some really great programs and attend some really cool events. I'm not talking about product launches or blogger parties (although those are really cool too!), I'm talking about getting to make a difference in the community and in people's lives.

A Day Made Better with OfficeMax

I've wanted to participate in OfficeMax's A Day Made Better program ever since I heard about it, 3 years ago. Surprising a deserving teacher with $1000 in school supplies so she focuses less on equipping her classroom and more on teaching her kids -- who wouldn't want to be a part of that? With more and more funding being cut from classrooms, with teachers actually having to spend their own money to purchase supplies for their kids (an average of $1000 annually!), A Day Made Better is really making a difference.

Today was OfficeMax's fifth annual A Day Made Better, and they surprised 1,000 teachers across the nation with $1000 in school supplies. This year I had the pleasure of joining a team of OfficeMax associates at a local school, where we awarded Liz, a third-grade teacher, with $1000 in school supplies.

Join the Army of Women

For those of you suffering from Pink Fatigue, here's a meaningful way to help in the fight against breast cancer without having to buy pink spatulas or pink boxer shorts or pink rubber duckies: join the Army of Women. As an Army of Women member, you're joining a database of women volunteering to take part in breast cancer research studies. You'll receive emails announcing new research studies; if you qualify for any, you can volunteer to take part in the study.

Too much pink?

October's colors are traditionally red, yellow, gold and brown, the warm tones of fall. But pink?

There are many people who dislike the wave of pink that engulfs the world in October. The pink ribbon is everywhere, from cat litter to bagels to g-strings. Many people feel that all these Pink Products for sale are an overcommercialization of a serious issue and a desperate attempt for companies to get on the cause marketing bandwagon.

Seven Days of Dinner, Oct. 2-8


We've got eggs on the menu two times this week. No, make that three: Filipinos traditionally eat arroz a la cubana with a fried egg on top. We love eggs -- scrambled, fried, boiled, poached, baked, whatever. Without eggs, I doubt if I could maintain our resolution to limit meat-based meals to three days a week. In fact, eggs and cheese are really the only things that stop us from adopting a vegan-based diet. Here's to the incredible, edible egg!

Avoiding Tooth Decay this Halloween season

Now that October is here, I just know my kids are going to be eating candy. Yes, I know that as the parent, I'm get the final say ... and for this month, at least, I'm going to let them. Halloween comes once a year, and candy is part of the fun. Now that their school has instituted a no-treats policy, their Halloween parties won't be filled with cupcakes and other sugary treats, and we won't be going to so many Halloween parties or pre-Halloween trick-or-treat fests, so they won't be gorging on candy the whole month long.

31 Days of Pink

One year ago I walked 60 miles in 3 days for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure. It was an amazing journey, physically exhausting but mentally exhiliarating. I met some amazing, dedicated people and heard some amazing stories. It was an experience I will always cherish, and hope to repeat someday in the future.

This year I did not sign up to do the walk, but my commitment to raise awareness for breast cancer remains as strong as ever. No, stronger. About 4 months ago my doctor found two lumps on my breasts, I found myself wondering whether I'd be joining my dozens of female relatives who had fought breast cancer. To make a long story short, I don't have breast cancer, but that experience has made this cause even more personal for me than it already way. I will never forget those feelings of disbelief, fear and relief, and I'm hoping that one day no woman will ever have to feel the way I did.