Sunday, September 21, 2014

Santa Monica, California: Mural on Stewart Street "Pico Neighborhood"

The City of Santa Monica in California has a number of murals, including the California Heritage Museum, Main Street Farmers Market, Ten Women Co-operative, A Whale of a mural, Unbridled, and many more. Here are sites related to Santa Monica's outdoor art: Art Tour of Santa Monica and an Art Trek map.

One of the murals in Santa Monica is titled, "The History of the Pico Neighborhood", on Stewart Street, along the underpass of Santa Monica Freeway. It was created by the artist Ann Elizabeth Thiermann, whom I knew and who had asked me to pose for this mural project. She took pictures of me and my son, which she used as the model for the "woman with baby" image on the mural.  

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Pet Therapy: The Healing and Creative Powers of Cat Purring

I caught my cats being very good. They stayed in the house even though the door was wide open. I thought I'd blog about how they're behaving like the Scots who had been wanting freedom, but decided not to make the break.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Spoken Word: Open Mic Literary Readings in Paris and Berlin

  I have writer-friends, poets mostly, who feel the need to perform their writings, and they do so at readings or spoken word events. For me, my writing is for reading. Performing what I've written is another matter entirely. Now and then though, I feel the need to connect with people via performance. It's a heady experience, especially if the audience is a good one. There's something immediate in the connection a writer/reader can make with an audience, and this can be gratifying.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cecilia Brainard Google+ 3.4 Million Views & Blog Stats

Cecilia Brainard
Google+ 3,441,893 views

 Many thanks to the visitors of my Google+, blogspot, and Facebook sites.

This blog's top 10 all time visitors are from: United States, Philippines, Germany, France, Russia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Canada, China, and Poland.

Check out some of these popular sites from my blog:

Fiction by Guest Blogger, Erlinda Kravetz "Song from the Mountain"
Visiting Colonial Mexico
Sphagnum Moss Almost Killed my Orchids
Mariana and Ouro Preto
Fiction: The Turkish Seamstress in Ubec
Cecilia's Recipe: How to Make Gugo or Gogo Shampoo
Creative Writing: Your Writing Workspace
Creative Writing: The Importance of Sensual Writing
Typhoon Haiyan: Jews in the Philippines -1940 and 2013

Tags: blog, social media, hits, Cecilia Brainard, writer, Philippine, author, novelist

This is all for now,

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Philippine Volcanoes Erupt: Mount Pinatubo and Mount Mayon

News reports in the Philippines state that Mount Mayon volcano is spewing ash, rocks and lava. Some 10,000 residents near the volcano have been relocated. The volcano, famous for it's perfect symmetry, is expected to continue its restiveness.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Cooking with Cecilia: Filipino Barbecue Pork

We've had a heat wave in Southern California, which is perfect weather for barbecuing. My family loves barbecue pork, so I fixed this over the weekend. Here's a recipe. To be honest with you I don't measure ingredients and just add stuff into a huge bowl. For my family of 12, I cooked 10 lbs of pork butt; my men gobbled up most of it.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Islamic State: What's in a Name? Isis vs. ISIS

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, has stolen, not only swaths of land from Iraq and Syria, but also the good name of the Egyptian goddess Isis. These extremists also use the acronyms of ISIS, ISIL, and IS, and they are also referred to as Daash or Daesh, an Arabic term.

Women and businesses named after the Egyptian goddess Isis have been unhappy about the maligning of their name and some have filed a petition "Save Our Name" asking that the terrorists be referred to as ISIL or as the Islamic State for Iraq and the Levant. The petitioners' organizers may seek a civil suit against news organizations for damaging the names of women and businesses.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Syria, Iraq: Will the Killing Never End?

Yesterday, there was news of yet another beheading by ISIS.

Will the killing never end? I wonder.

A priest told me that these current events are nothing new, that these have been going on for centuries. There has always been evil, he said.  And we talked about what happened during World War II and the holocaust, and we remembered the days of slavery, and we referred to bible accounts of ferocious fighting.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Cecilia's Tips on Travel Packing

Hello, dear Readers! My mind is on packing right now, so I'll go ahead and share some of my travel packing tips.

1. Travel light: This is the most important "rule" in travel packing. First, airlines have limited weight allowance, and second, you'll have an easier time navigating with light luggage. I call this Freedom! It's infinitely better if you can pick up your luggage, roll it around, carry it up some steps, all by yourself. I have learned to hone down what I bring. I keep in mind that usually I can find whatever it is I've failed to bring.

2. Check the weather of your destination: I bring this up, dear Readers, because on a trip to Vietnam one February, we expected the weather to be tropical, and to our group's surprise, Hanoi was very cold. We didn't realize that Hanoi and Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) have different temperatures.

Friday, September 12, 2014

TRAVEL TIPS: Buying Airline Tickets Online

There are many online sites that sell airline tickets; airline sites do the same. Here are some tips that can help you when buying plane tickets online:

1. Don't wait until the last minute, especially for holiday travel. Buy a month or two ahead of time, but before you do so shop around to get an idea of how much tickets cost. Check the airline site itself; and check sites like Kayak, Travelocity, Cheap Tickets, Expedia, and more.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Some Animals of Australia

Don't ask me why but I woke up thinking of the animals that we had seen in Australia.

I'm reposting these pictures. From top to bottom: koala, patty melon, sheep, tasmanian devils, and a skink.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Travel: Looking Forward to Paris, Berlin, Heidelberg, Frankfurt

I'm planning a trip to Paris, Berlin, Hiedelberg and Frankfurt and I'm looking forward to this trip.

I love Paris! And as far as Germany is concerned, the only German place I visited was Baden-Baden.
What I'd like to do, and I'll blog more about when and if this happens, is to follow the footsteps of Jose Rizal, the Philippines' National Hero.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Hail Cebu! article by Philippine National Artist, F. Sionil Jose

Philippine National Artist, F. Sionil Jose recently wrote an article lauding my birthplace of Cebu. He kindly mentions me. I'm posting an excerpt, and you can read the complete article here:

Monday, September 8, 2014

Weight Loss Diet Plan for the Stars

Weight Loss Diet Plan for the Stars

I don't believe in fad diets because once people get off a particular diet plan and resume eating as they normally do, they will gain the weight back. People should change their eating habits. Eating healthy foods for good health should be the goal; increasing exercise should go hand and hand with this endeavor. However, in some cases, people need help to "jump start" their weight loss. Here's a diet plan designed by the late Dr. Pacita Reyes-Navarro, the mother of my friends Josie Navarro and Maria Ciocon. Dr. Navarro's clients included movie stars, models, and other high-profile people. Here's the Menu, thanks to Josie Navarro.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

What Kind of Tree Would you Be?

If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?

This question is used in job interviews because the person answering can reveal himself/herself in the choice he/she makes. Choosing to be an oak tree for instance can suggest that the person is (or believes he is) strong and reliable. Choosing an evergreen can suggest steadfastness, palm trees, flexibility.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Friday, September 5, 2014

Song to Lift Your Spirit - "Better than a Hallelujah"

There's a monsoon near Baja California and it's gray outside. The weather fits my mood in fact. I've been feeling pummeled by world news - beheadings, fighting, war, drought, excessive rain, seas rising, polar bears dying... Sometimes it's just too much.

So this dreary September day, I'm sharing this lovely song, "Better than a Hallelujah." Read the lyrics carefully -- they are poetic. What a comforting thought: all this human drama around us is music to God.

Better than a Hallelujah

God loves a lullaby
In a mother's tears in the dead of night
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes

Thursday, September 4, 2014

St. Teresa of Avila: Salve Regina, Nada de Turbe

A friend shared this YouTube link to a virtual choir performance by members of the Carmelite Order. It's "Salve Regina" and is very relaxing; it pulls you away from some of the awful world events.

Here is another favorite Carmelite link, Nada de Turbe:

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Creative Writing: Cecilia Gives Advice to an Aspiring Writer

Dear Readers,
Now and then I receive email from people who have read my work, and I'm sharing one such email today. I've left out the person's name:

Dear Ms. Cecilia,

My name is _______. I graduated from Ateneo de Manila University last March. I moved to the U.S. 3 months ago and while browsing the public library, I came across, "Growing Up Filipino." This is how I found your blog and your bio.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

UPDATE: The Case of the Filipino UN Peacekeepers

Last Thursday, August 28, Syrian rebels (the al-Nusra front an al-Qaeda affiliate) surrounded encampments of UN Peacekeepers at the Golan Heights, a buffer zone between Israel and Syria. Forty-five Fijian peacekeepers from one encampment surrendered their weapons, but two other encampments manned by Filipinos, refused to surrender. One camp with 32 Filipinos were evacuated with the help of Irish peacekeepers. The other camp with 40 Filipinos stayed on and engaged in a 7-hour firefight with the Syrian rebels before they were able to escape.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Things That Make Me Smile

Here are pictures of a few things around the house that make me smile, including two vintage ceramic frog bowls, two Botero reproductions, an antique oil lamp, and there's my cat again.

Happy Labor's Day today!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Labor Day Weekend & Indoor Cats Sneaking Out

It's Labor Day Weekend, a holiday weekend in the US. This means that a lot of people are on vacation, and there will be a lot of barbecuing, partying, swimming, etc.

August 31 - Cebu Priests Perform in Panorama City, CA & One Hail Mary for Pope Francis

Here are a couple of announcements:


Our goal is to reach ten million Hail Mary's for Pope Francis. 
This campaign started today. Send this message to all Catholic friends or even to those who like him 
We pray for the Holy Father that the heavenly Mother intercedes for him and protects him in his ministry:

Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen. 

Do not forget to forward this message to as many friends. We want to reach ten million Hail Marys.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Southern Novelist, Eve La Salle Caram - Lunch and Excerpt from her novel

The novelist Eve La Salle Caram and I did some catching up over lunch at  El Caserio's in Silver Lake. I thought I'd share the beginning of one of her novels, Wintershine, which portrays the early childhood of Beatrice Merrill in the foothills of the Ozarks. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Syria Iraq War: Obama's Statements About ISIS's Murder of James Foley

"Our message to anyone who harms our people is simple. America does not forget. Our reach is long. We are patient. Justice will be done. We will do what is necessary to capture those who harm Americans, to go after those who harm Americans, and we'll continue to take direct action where needed to protect our people and to defend our homeland.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

ISIS (ISIL) Recruiting in Mindanao, Philippines

A senior official of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Mindanao, Southern Philippines, stated it is possible that ISIS is recruiting in Mindanao. Sunni preachers have reportedly been conducting recruitment there, according to Habib Mujahab Hashim, Chief of the MNLF's Islamic Command Council. The MILF, the largest Philippine Muslim rebel group, has signed a peace pact with the Philippine government.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Literary Cats Reading Isabel Allende's "The House of the Spirits"

Oh no! My cats, Che and Tesla, got a hold of my signed copy of The House of  the Spirits by Isabel Allende. However, they are taking good care of it and say they love this novel. They've developed a taste for magic realism.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Taking a Break in Cambria, California

We had dinner at the Sow's Ear in Cambria, in the Central Coast of California. It's a good restaurant to go to if you're in the area. The filet mignon with lobster sauce and the chicken fried steak were good. I love the bread in a flower pot!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Travel: In Search of Catholic Ireland

When I was growing up in the Philippines, there were many Irish priests and nuns; I knew that Ireland is a Catholic country that sends many of their sons and daughters to far corners of the world as missionaries. When we visited Ireland, I looked for the "Catholicism" in this small country - the Emerald Isle as it is aptly called because indeed there are fields and fields of vivid green grass with grazing sheep and cattle.