Saturday, November 22, 2014

Santa Monica, California: Dining at Le Petit Cafe

 When we have a hankering for French food, we go to the Let Petit Cafe, which was where we went last night. Le Petit Cafe is located at 2842 Colorado Avenue, Santa Monica; it's a small, family-run bistro, with an informal but charming ambiance. It's almost always packed, so make reservations beforehand (tel: 310-829-6792).

Friday, November 21, 2014

Thanksgiving Around the Corner

Thanksgiving Day is around the corner and one can sense a flurry of excitement around town. Stores are displaying Christmas items; families are talking about food dishes to fix for Thanksgiving Day; people are fixing their homes; and traffic is getting bad.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Gardening: LIFE! - Progress of My Paper White Narcissus

Life! - Progress of my Paper White Narcissus

Look at how quickly my Paper Whites are growing!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Muslim Queen Rania Says No to ISIL - #ISIS, #QueenRania, #MiddleEast

It's not very often I read of Muslims speaking out against ISIL, and so it was refreshing to learn that Queen Rania of Jordan spoke out against ISIL at a recent Abu Dhabi Media Summit:

 "A minority of irreligious extremists is using social media to rewrite our narrative and hijack our anatomy. That's what ISIS is doing to the Arab world and all of us," she said.

She also commented on social media's postings of ISIS's violent propaganda (beheadings, rape, and so on):

"These images don't represent me anymore than they represent you. They're alien and abhorrent to the vast majority of Arabs -- Muslims and Christians. And they should make every Arab across the region seethe. Because they're an attack on our values as a people and on our collective story.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Philippines: Remembering Super Typhoon Haiyan & Bohol Earthquake

At around this time last year, two disasters struck Central Philippines, where I was born and raised.

First was the Bohol Earthquake with 7.2 magnitude that caused damage to 73,000 structures, including historic churches; second was Super Typhoon Yolanda (or Haiyan) that stunned the world with its ferocity. Yolanda (or Haiyan) claimed some 6,300 lives, with 65,000 listed as missing in Google Person Finder.

There was a fundraising anthology put together by Dean Francis Alfar, Outpouring: Yolanda Relief Anthology, and which is available in e-form from and other places. The anthology included work that I had just finished then, a chapter from my novel-in-progress, which I am now rewriting -- "Pilar Echeveria"

Monday, November 17, 2014

Prayers for Peace in Syria, Iraq, the Middle East

More beheadings in Syria, and when news like this flood the media, I feel stunned, shaken. I have to turn to something beautiful -- art, music, nature, prayer to calm my spirit.

I found these prayers in a Jesuit site. May these give you comfort, dear Readers.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Guest Blogger: Manny Gonzalez Reviews Barcelona Restaurants - #BarcelonaSpain

Barcelona, Spain has been home to the artists Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, and Antoni Gaudi. This Spanish city, in fact, nurtured these artists. This tolerance (a better word is "appreciation") of the eccentric, even weird, can be seen and felt in Barcelona in its architecture and unique Catalan culture, including cuisine.

The following reviews of some restaurants in Barcelona, Spain are reprinted by permission of the author, Manny Gonzalez.  A resident of Whistler, Canada, Manny Gonzalez is a Director/shareholder at the Plantation Bay Resort and Spa in Mactan, Philippines. He travels extensively and enjoys reviewing the hotels and restaurants he's visited.

These reviews first appeared in TripAdvisor.Thanks to Manny Gonzalez for sharing these reviews in my blog.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Found - Fresh Turmeric in Los Angeles, California

I've never seen fresh Turmeric in Los Angeles and was excited to find some at the Seafood City Supermarket on Vermont -- packs of huge, fat, healthy Turmeric.

I set aside some huge ones to plant.  The rest I will use for tea.

Gardening: Growing Paperwhite Narcissus Bulbs

I have a project and that's to grow Paperwhite Narcissus. I usually do this in the Winter.  Take a look at the picture with white flowers.  That is the goal.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Creative Writing: The World of My Novel-in-Progress in Pictures

More on my writing: Pictures help stimulate my imagination and I'm sharing some photos that date (more or less) from the era of my novel-in-progress - 1909.  

These images help me visualize the world of my characters so I am able to imagine the clothes they wear, the room and streets that they move in. I know for instance that there were street lights, that there were horse carriages and a few cars, that there were trains. I know that most women wore long traditional Filipina dresses; a few wore the Edwardian slimmer look.  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Creative Writing: Sinking Back into My Writing

Dear Readers,
My recent travels have pulled me away from my writing, and so I must spend time with it. I have to sink back into that fictive world, visit the world of my imagination. I have to transform myself into my various characters, so that I can see, hear, smell, feel, think, and act like them - become them, so to speak. And I must write these imagined experiences as artfully as I can.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Case of the 43 Missing Students - #Mexico, #MissingStudents

When I was in San Miguel Allende, Mexico, there were protests demanding justice for the 43 students who disappeared last September 26 after an altercation with police in Guerrero, Mexico. The mayor of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca, and his wife reportedly ordered local police to prevent the students from disrupting an event the wife was holding that night.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Guest Blogger: Celine Conejos Reviews Makati Restaurants - #MakatiPhilippines

 The City of Makati in the Philippines is prosperous and has numerous restaurants. I am delighted to include reviews about some of these Makati restaurants by our Guest Blogger, Celine Conejos.

A Philippine Diplomat's wife, Celine Conejos is a permanent resident of Makati, although she currently lives in Geneva, Switzerland. She reviews hotel, restaurant, and attraction sites in TripAdvisor under the name of Coellum. She says this of herself:

"My father was very fond of traveling. He passed on his wanderlust to me. I enjoy traveling and planning for my trips. People close to me benefit from this. My children have many good memories of happy vacations together. At present, I live in Geneva temporarily. Being in the heart of Europe gives me many opportunities to see new places."

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sex and Crime in Cebu, Philippines: The Fuente Osmena Murders

I watched The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden, about unsolved crimes in the Galapagos in 1934, and I was reminded of Cebu's own murder mystery referred to as the Fuente Osmena Murders.

This sensational event happened in 1915, and involved the murders of two people, Ramon Santiago and Natividad Garcia Reyes.  Just like the Galapagos Affair, this case involved sex: it was said that Ramon Santiago was having an affair with a married woman, Natividad Garcia Reyes.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Guest Blogger: Manny Gonzalez Reviews Paris Restaurants- #ParisFrance

The following reviews of some restaurants in Paris, France are reprinted by permission of the author, Manny Gonzalez.  A resident of Whistler, Canada, Manny Gonzalez is a Director/shareholder at the Plantation Bay Resort and Spa in Mactan, Philippines. He travels extensively and enjoys reviewing the hotels and restaurants he's visited.

These reviews first appeared in TripAdvisor.Thanks to Manny Gonzalez for sharing these reviews in my blog.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Some Treasures from San Miguel Allende, Mexico - #Shopping

Do you remember the San Pasqual statue that I bought in Beaune, France?  San Pasqual (or Pascual), you will recall, is the patron saint of the kitchen, and my French San Pasqual sits on the ledge of my kitchen picture window, guarding my cooking.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

East or West, Home is Best!

East or West, 
Home is Best!

After traveling to Europe then on to Mexico, it feels great to be back home!

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Mexico: My Last Words about San Miguel Allende (For Now)

We're winding down our visit to San Miguel Allende in Mexico, and what a wonderful time we've had.

The group picture was taken on the rooftop where we had cocktails before dinner, l-r Lauren Brainard, Hilary Walling, Doug Noble, and Cecilia Brainard.

I'm also sharing a picture of a dog on a pharmacy counter, which amused me a lot. There are several pictures of a wet market near the Mercado Artesania. There's a picture of the Los Milagros Bar, where we played Bingo one night. There'a a picture that shows some fanciful wood carvings outside a building. And the last picture shows Hilary Walling, the magical Manuel who keeps the Zazula garden green, and Doug Noble.

San Miguel Allende, Mexico: Important Landmarks in San Miguel

We've had unusually cold evenings in San Miguel, a surprise to many tourists who can be seen with layered clothing. It's relatively warm in the daytime (in the 70's) but when the sun sets, the temperature goes down to around 50 degrees.

It's Monday after the Day of the Dead festivities, and many tourists have left. The city is relatively quiet; it remains charming with great restaurants and the shopping is great.  Streets and parks have been cleaned up. San Miguel has their tourism business down pat.

Monday evening, there was Bingo at the Milagro Bar on Relox, a fundraiser by local expats.

Here are pictures of important landmarks in the center of San Miguel Allende.

San Francisco Church

Monday, November 3, 2014

San Miguel Allende, Mexico: House & Garden Tour

Most Sundays, the Biblioteca (the library) hosts house and garden tours in San Miguel Allende.  We did this last Sunday, visiting three places: the Hacienda del Angel, an Equestrian Center, and the Casa Cruces.

La Biblioteca is the center of American and Canadian ex-pat activities.  There are some 10,000 ex-pats residing in San Miguel. The overall San Miguel population is approximately 80,000.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

History of the Day of the Dead in Mexico

It's All Saint's Day and the celebration of the Dead continues in San Miguel Allende, Mexico. It's very festive and reminds me of the Mardigras in New Orleans. Apparently, the celebration is a way of defying Death, a custom that dates back to pre-Hispanic days.  

Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Mercado Artesanias in San Miguel Allende, Mexico

Today started with a lovely brunch, after which members of our group spent some time doing their own thing. We've all been to San Miguel Allende and so we don't feel compelled to see the tourist sights. After relaxing, I took off to for the Mercado de Artesanias where shopping is great. The things for sale are folk crafts of ceramic, pewter, metalwork, embroidered clothes and many, many more. The prices are terrific, especially when compared to those in the tourist shops.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween from San Miguel Allende, Mexico

Happy Halloween from San Miguel Allende, Mexico!

There are a number of Halloween events going on, including a parade of children in costumes. Here are pictures of some of the children and grownups in costume at the Jardine in front of the Parroquia San Miguel Arcangel.  The church was lit up and looked glorious with the moon above. There were families with their children in costume; some mothers were also in costume. It was festive with teenagers dancing in the plaza grand stand, and families with their costumed children promenading in the park. People were very generous in allowing me to take pictures of them and/or their children.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Chocolate Mexicano at San Agustin Cafe #SanMiguelAllende, #Mexico

When we are in San Miguel Allende, we must visit some favorite places, one of which is the San Agustin Cafe. This famous cafe, which is dominated by an irreverent painting of St. Agustin, serves a variety of chocolate drinks - Spanish style, French style, and Mexican style. During a past visit to the San Agustin Cafe, we had taste-tested the three kinds and decided the Spanish chocolate was too bitter, the French too sweet, and the Mexican just right. (But better than the Chocolate Mexicano is Chocolate Filipino -- the chocolate from Batanes, Philippines mixed with Mexican is the best combination -- in my opinion.)

In front of the St. Agustin painting with naked cherub, we had churros and Mexican chocolate --- what a treat!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Casa Zazula in San Miguel de Allende -#Travel, #SanMiguelAllende, #Mexico

Hello, dear Readers, I'm in San Miguel de Allende, in Mexico, a UNESCO Heritage Town with well-preserved Spanish-Colonial houses. We're staying in a 300-year old structure now reincarnated as the Casa Zazula. Owned by Kathy and David Zazula, the house has an indoor courtyard, and a fantastic rooftop room and garden with a view of the Parroquia of San Miguel Arcangel. The details in the house are incredible, with antique baptismal fonts now used as wash basins, and a 300-year old fountain gracing the indoor courtyard.  The house is featured in the coffee table book,Casa San Miguel

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Travel: Coming Up - MEXICO!

Stay tuned dear Readers for reports from Mexico!

Ignore ISIL Propaganda, KOBANI Remains Strong & Motivated! #Kobani, #Kobane, #Rajava, #ISIL, #Syria

Defenders of Kobani are as strong and as motivated as ever. Ignore desperate ISIL propaganda by a hostage who's fighting for his life.


Email your US Legislators to help Kobane. 

My thoughts and prayers are with Kobani, its defenders and residents!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Berlin Germany: Counting Time by the Minute -#BerlinGermany

In Berlin, our train for Frankfurt was delayed. All throughout my recent trip to Europe, I've had to deal with: first, a train strike in Paris, followed by a train and airplane strike in Berlin, and now our train was late. I laughed at the matter, but Berliners were stressed-out as they rescheduled their train rides.There were many sour and long faces, and one man came along and yelled that there were no seats available, and so on.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Review of DOMA's Musical Young Frankenstein

We saw DOMA's musical production of Young Frankenstein, which has received excellent reviews, and I have to agree that the production was very entertaining.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Supreme Court Decision Reached on Bikini Girls of STC Cebu -#CebuPhilippines

The Winner

In April 2012, I wrote about the five senior students of St. Theresa's College (STC), Cebu, whose pictures in Facebook showed them scantily clad. Photos of the students drinking and smoking in a bar had also been posted. When the officials at the exclusive Catholic school, where the girls attended, learned about the pictures, they barred the students from attending graduation rites. The whole matter was quite a drama - read my earlier account - and resulted in the parents suing STC all the way to the Supreme Court.