Sunday, August 31, 2008

Delivered by Eva

How have you been, my lovelies? To update, Myrna picked me up at home on Friday to take me to the mechanic where I picked up my vehicle they had for two days. The prognosis: there was nothing wrong. Hmm. Then why did my stomach drop when I started my car when I left the restaurant? Whatever. My free starter has a warranty. I have a receipt for it...

Vinegar was my friend this morning. I used a dilution of warm water and vinegar to clean my linoleum floors. Damn if that didn't do a great job! Here I had been using commercial cleaners to a modicum of satisfaction. All I had to do was use a kitchen ingredient and warm water to get glowing results. Cleaned the baseboards by hand while I was at it. I recalled how the two Polish ladies my stepmother hired to clean her house would use the same vinegar dilution on the kitchen tile. Yes, the house smells like vinegar, but only for several hours.

In the middle of cleaning, I stopped to create my Twitter account. If you look on the right hand margin of my blog, right below the parasol picture, you will notice some notifications. You won't see these if you have me on an RSS feed. To see some quick updates or thoughts, you will have to go to my page and check. I didn't add this to my other online presence. What I love is that I can send a message from my mobile cell phone. It is that easy to update if I don't go online. I've been a bit reticent about creating a Twitter account, but recently read an article about someone writing a book with it -- 140 characters at a time which is the max on Twitter entries. That is not my goal; this application is something new for Sarah Sprinkles.

Between McCain announcing his running mate and the crazy hurricanes spinning from South Africa, I need some new news. (Side question: Does McCain think I should vote for his choice just because she has a vagina? --rolling my eyes--) I need something fun and not necessarily earth shattering. I have a little one. Let me tell you about that as I recount my evening at Vietnamese Michelle's house tonight.

Michelle from the Asian lunch mafia at work invited me to a party at her home about two miles from my own cousin's house in South Tampa. It was easy to find if the SUVs packed like sardines in the front lawn were not a big hint. I almost died laughing when I saw over two dozen pairs of slippers before the front door. My sneakers would have to come off when I came in which they did.

My entrance was one of those moments where I instantly knew I was different. All the guests inside were full Vietnamese. Here comes amazon AGOL at 5'8" making her way quickly to the kitchen where her friend was cooking. Everyone was extremely friendly and spoke English when they were around me. Michelle's husband made me a plate of appetizers right before I was invited to the table after being handed a bowl of Vietnamese style noodles. (There was a lot of food at this party!) As I was handed chopsticks, I was asked if I could eat fish sauce by the lady next to me. Yes, of course was my reply. I knew what they were thinking: This white chick is eating our food.

Michelle was soon bragging on my knowledge of Asian food while I interspersed tidbits about my own Asian culture. I could almost feel them breathe a sigh of relief. Besides her husband, I knew one other gentleman whose wife I knew, too. She wasn't present because she just had her breasts augmented and was in recovery at home. The other guests were looking at me searching for that Filipino side in my made up face. In no time, I was like part of the family and the attention was back on Michelle who apparently doesn't cook often. They said that I had to come to more dinners so they would get better food. Ha! About four sets of friends take turns cooking each Sunday.

Did I mention how loud this house was? Children of varying ages were like ants around the house. They played nice though. One captured my attention. Eva is Michelle's just under two-year old daughter. She was toddling in the kitchen. I looked down and she looked up at me. Out of their own volition, my arms came out in front of me and hers reflected mine. I couldn't believe it -- I just broke my vow to not hold a baby until I had my own. Eva immediately put her head down on my shoulder. OMG -- how cute!! The other guests noticed this and let me know I could take one or two kids on my way out later.

Yeah...I had a new friend the rest of the evening. Her mom was very surprised that she took to me so easily. Michelle teased me that perhaps she liked my big chest and that's why she was comfortable. Ten minutes before I left, Eva and I were playing a silly game. She was mesmerized by me and kept hovering her hands over my face and hair. Every time she touched my outfit and necklace, she kept saying "beautiful" in Vietnamese. I repeated the word quickly after she did which sent her into gales of laughter. When I would pretend to ignore her, she would bring her face and body around to my face and scream the word. I said ooh in really high voice and that sent her laughing too. Michelle urged me to take her home to see how far I could get out the door with her. I was halfway to my car when Eva realized something was amiss and began to say Mommy. Michelle opened the door and received her daughter.

My drive home was a reflection of my evening. I felt none of the painful pangs of not having my own family. I was not jealous, bitter or sad even when one of the gentlemen who was curious enough to ask why I didn't have any. To say I was stunned to hear this question coming from a man was an understatement. I didn't know how to answer. I asked Tab later in an IM how I should respond without sounding like a dork. After answering some of his own questions, he came up with I guess I really haven't found the right man to father my children yet. I can live with that as an answer for me to say in the future because it is true.

All I could remember before bed was that a trusting angel reminded me that everything was okay and I am still a complete person. There is nothing like a child responding to you in a laughter so free and so pure that it must have come from the greatest love well that is God.


Friday, August 29, 2008

Word Clouds

I love words. I love illustrated words or words in illustrations, how ever you want to look at it. As a very young AGOL*, I used to draw my name or words and make designs around them. My other Filipino school mates would draw their names and surround them with concentric clouds, color them and then cutout. The best part was when they would write a little note on the back of the little cutout like, "Hello Sarah. Here is a little remembrance of me. Your Friend, ---".

My Blog as of today:

My Favorite Song: The Look of Love

By the way, listen to Sergio Mendes' version of my favorite song.

Create your own Word Cloud.

*To be honest, I still do...all the time!


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Garage Party at Harley-Davidson

My carpool ride picked me up at the mechanic's just as I was finishing my conversation a little after 7am. A few people were shocked to see me in before 8am. My routine was interrupted but I managed my energy with breakfast at 5:15am, snack at 8am and a Korean lunch with the Asian mafia at 11:30am. Anthony was wandering in our building and went with us.

The afternoon was spent putting out fires and wrapping up last minute things before taking some time off. Sharon gave me a ride home but before that we went to the Harley-Davidson showroom in Tampa where we had signed up for a Garage Party for women only. Bridget followed us.

When we arrived at this sprawling showroom of American symbolism, we were greeted by several people and were handed our name tags, a logo pen and a very nice booklet/Adventure Manual to carry during our introduction and overview of Harley-Davidson Motorcycle brand.

Harley-Davidson has been extremely busy revamping and expanding their brand to appeal to women. Below is a picture of one of the many belt buckles deemed girly (but tough!). Nothing like a little bling with your mean skull emblem.

What could announce female better than the color pink as seen in this baseball cap? You should have seen the rest of the apparel and accessories -- some pink, but definitely with a feminine flavor and design.

We were separated into four teams of five ladies. There were four stations: Apparel, Customization, Bike Mount/Dismount & Learning How to Pick Up a Motorcycle (when it falls on its side), and Introduction to the Five Families of Motorcycles offered under the Harley-Davidson name. Touching and mounting the bikes were strongly encouraged. I tried out two and participated in practicing what they were teaching. (Not sure why I don't have pics of the bikes??)

We took a break where they offered us refreshments and sandwich wraps. After all, we were there after work and during dinner time. For a total event participation of two hours, we left with a logo bag containing the goodies below: Informational and promotional pamphlets, logo items including an emery board for nails, a magnet, mardi gras beads and bumper stickers. Oh -- we all left with an individual picture of ourselves on a Harley-Davidson as well as a little personalized certificate of completion!

I came in a bit intimidated, but I left with a better understanding and appreciation of Harley Davidson. The evening was heavily staffed with both sexes but an emphasis on women. These folks put on a first class introduction to Harley Davidson. Everyone was nice, approachable, smiling, friendly and knowledgeable. If you EVER have the opportunity to attend a Garage Party, I strongly encourage it. I learned so much and opened a door to something I feel I could take part in should the inclination grow. Harley-Davidson also offers a 25-hour course on how to ride a motorcycle. This is more robust than the 15 hours required by the State to get your motorcycle's license. Tampa Harley rocks.

Just what you need...An AGOL on two fast wheels.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Crazy Sound

Could you stand another entry on my car?! I almost can't for crissakes, but here it is...

My car is now making a whining sound after they had it yesterday. It only makes that sound when I try to start it or right before it engages the engine. Holy cow! We go from no sound to crazy sound. Sigh. I went through my day without calling the mechanics at least not until after 6pm.

I posted my situation on a car repair site including the history of my vehicle especially the last several months if not the last week. A response was dispensed lightening quick. I used the recommendation to call the mechanic. After a calm discussion, I agreed to leave my vehicle for at least two days at the shop. Minutes after that conversation, I secured my rides to and from work as well as deciding whom to call for a Friday night pick-up or Saturday pick-up of my vehicle. Lucky for me, Tawny's husband would be able to pick me up at 7am at the mechanics.

I ate leftover Korean lunch for dinner that Kim made for the Asian mafia. I didn't have to cook which made me less depressed. Was I really depressed? Resigned to just trust in the universe? That's more like it.

Rob IM'd me tonight and asked what he's missed out on since he has been at his new job settling in. I sent the link to my forum post and he agreed with the online expert's response. He also recommended a local mechanic who is honest and does great work which I very much appreciated for next time.

I watched in happy amazement Joe Biden's speech at the Democratic National Convention. He's really interesting. Barack Obama came in as a surprise right after to support Biden's speech. His own speech will be at a stadium tomorrow night. Can we really have hope with this man with an unusual sounding name? Senator Ted Kennedy seems to think so and has passed the torch to him.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Taking it easy. No rushing and no expectation other than a good one. That's how I decided to approach getting ready for another trip to the mechanic's garage. They were expecting me and knew they had to come up with a mutually agreeable resolution for both of us.

I was on the phone to Bridget when I arrived at 9am. Without breaking my conversation, I handed the attending manager my keys before situating myself in the waiting room. I spoke to her at length some more until my regular mechanic came in to get more information from me since I last came in. He had not been there on Friday so he was able to see the video I took.

While my car was being dissected, I was working on my laptop and fielding work e-mails. Around 1pm, I began to wonder if I should skip next door and have a nosh. I had almost made my decision when my mechanic came in to let me know he was almost done. Never once did I ask when my vehicle would be finished because I trusted it would be.

I logged into work again and mostly IM'ed with my buddies. My connection wasn't fast enough to work on my regular things. The manager called me around 2pm in the middle of watching Tyra but not before enduring a demented and deplorable specimen of American television known as Jerry Springer. I braced myself for whatever they had to say.

The mechanics replaced my starter which is what I had advanced ordered last Thursday for Friday. An ignition switch was replaced instead of the starter. Because the previous symptoms had resurfaced on Monday morning, I called them and gave them the facts of what had transpired and what would transpire. The bottom line today was the part and labor costs were absorbed by this company to a tune of $452. Yes, it was zero-zip-zilch-nada cost to Sprinkles. I also received an apology from them for having to come back in. I thanked them, too. Please cross your fingers with me and see how the repair holds...

My sugar level was already at an uncomfortable threshold. I couldn't wait to go home and have my late lunch. My morning omelette had worn off. I continued to work a little until 5pm. Watched some TV and ate a lighter dinner. I must have been really exhausted because when I spoke to Kathy, I couldn't recall names and convey my thoughts clearly. Just as well. I will be sipping my jasmine tea all the way to the bottom while I watch Hilary Clinton give her speech this evening. G'night.



Sunday, August 24, 2008


This morning was a break from routine. I took the dog out a little earlier and then went back to sleep. Two hours later, it was as though I woke up on my own without an alarm and a care in the world. The feeling was very calming and comforting. Maybe it was that feeling that engendered a need to cook early.

There are two versions of spaghetti sauce I make but both require hours of simmering to infuse all the flavors together. I made the lesser complicated one. My apartment had the lingering smell of fried dried anchovies and garlic from yesterday. (Sometimes you just have to take the plunge and cook the whole bag then light fragrant candles to diffuse the scent. Oh, opening the sliding glass doors helps, too.) This new melange of Italian flavors would certainly do the trick of replacing one with the other.

During my second IM conversation of the day with Tab, he described me as festivious. By this time I had already enjoyed some of my spaghetti sauce and I was about to make some mini cheesecakes for the Asian mafia the next day. I replied that he always makes this kind of stuff up. He said it was his word combo of festive and fastidious. I couldn't believe he said, The exact meaning is: requiring or characterized by excessive care or delicacy; painstaking while creating a festive mood. Tab clarified it for me by saying It is the painstaking attention to detail that give you joy.

I may be more crazed than most when it comes to experiencing joy. I guess I don't want to miss a single part of it...almost like drinking it within my being. You can probably tell already by the way I describe things which is what earned my description. I was lost in describing how I made my sauce and how I was going to make the mini cheesecakes.

My simple day ended with me in bed still the smelling vanilla from the cooled cheesecakes confections that were now resting covered in the refrigerator.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

What's My Pirate Name?

I am able to reveal my real name from the High Seas. Walk the plank and try it mateys!

My pirate name is:

Iron Mary Cash

A pirate's life isn't easy; it takes a tough person. That's okay with you, though, since you a tough person. You're musical, and you've got a certain style if not flair. You'll do just fine. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from
part of the network


Friday, August 22, 2008

Krazy Korean Karaoke

AGOL IS AN UBER GEEK! Armed with my digital camera, I set it on video and filmed my attempts to start my vehicle. The purpose? So I don't have to clumsily explain the nature of my car's malady. You can't be taken seriously wearing a lot of lip gloss and hairspray. Imagine the mechanic's surprise when I told him what I did right before I arrived and showed him. I was the talk of the shop.

The morning brought rain from stubborn Tropical Storm Fay which made the humidity fog up the lens of my camera. Here was my brilliant idea...

CAUTION: Sound level

A misdiagnosis...a new part ordered....whoops -- a wrong part ordered...correct part arrives...and four hours later in the waiting room. SIGH. The assistant manager tried to flirt and wink at me to try and lessen my frustration, but it was obvious I wasn't buying his crap. I wouldn't even look at him as he delivered news to me. My eyes were focused on changing the channel on television when they weren't on my laptop screen.

One thing made me laugh while I was at the mechanics. Two other women had used the ladies restroom. My bladder reminded me how much coffee and jasmine tea I drank so far. The fluorescent lights were not working and it was pitch dark in there. I asked them if the lights were working when they went and the lady closest to me got up and jiggled the switch. A very very low light came on but enough to go. As I sat there (ahem!), I noticed that the lights were strobing. I thought to myself, Shoot. All I need is Donna Summer. Of course, silly AGOL had to text that piece of news to her boss and a couple of other people. No, not WHILE in the restroom, but straight after.

A few hundred dollars later and a new ignition switch...
MORE SIGHS. It was past my lunch hour so I succumbed to picking up fast food on the way home to eat it, walk the dog and feed him half his dinner and also get dressed for two hours of work. Luckily, my boss was understanding.

AND THEN...God made Karaoke Night:

Our group met up at Pine Tree Cafe off of Hillsborough. The bottom level is a Korean Cafe and the top level is a catacomb of Karaoke Rooms. We were in one of the largest ones.

Snaps of specially ordered buffet, Michelle and hubby, karaoke room and karaoke wall.

Beautiful dish of Chop Che. It deserved its own spot.

Kim with and without the flash. She was the best!

Sharon in video singing "Ironic"

CAUTION: Sound level

..and the diva of the evening: Kim

CAUTION: Sound level

My voice was hoarse for some reason. Maybe it was the screaming and my voice ended up sucking. I still sang I Will Survive (with Kim), Le Freak, Woman in Love (with Michelle), Footloose (with Shirley) and several others I cannot remember. There were a couple of song we sang as a group, too. It was three hours of nonstop karaoke. Talk about getting your Asian on.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Life is Good

The dread I had been feeling with my car surfaced bearing bright flares this morning. There might be something wrong with the starter as it is one of the last things the mechanics recommended if symptoms persisted from my last visit.

Tears welled up on my drive to work a few times. I didn't need this kind of immediate cash drain. So much for taking some time off the end of the month. Quelling my feelings to stem the situation from stealing my joy was eclipsed with seeing a Jeep carrying a spare tire in the back. It was encased in black with white letters proclaiming Life is Good. I began to argue with the universe until I calmed down to think about the bigger picture. (It is always about the bigger picture, huh?) I am not totally hosed -- I have plenty to do with plenty of supplies...

My Korean friend Kim at work gave me this as a memento of her recent trip home. It is a compact mirror set with a magnifying side. It is better than the one I have to pluck my eyebrows. Yes, you needed to know that bit of AGOL grooming habit. It is a very important practice to keep your AGOL's eyes open and facial expression more pleasing.

As promised, this is what the sugar apple looks like when it is ripe inside. You know it is ripe when the fruit gives or starts to fall apart. You can refrigerate it to slow the ripening process. This is really almost too sweet to eat. I broke off pieces and shared with four other members of the Asian mafia. Two of them never had it before and I just found out that one has a tree at home.

AGOL Instructions for eating a Sugar Apple --
Clean version: Using a spoon, scoop from rind the creamy flesh into your mouth, extricate the black seeds and gently spit them out onto a napkin.
Fun version: Use your mouth and teeth against the rind to scrape out the sweet pulp into your mouth, extricate the black seeds and spit them at your lunch partners. Ha!

Back to Life is Good: I am going to have my car done in the morning so I can make it to the karaoke bar tomorrow night with the Asian mafia. The food should be good and the singing frightening. Life is Certainly Interesting.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Almost Spaghetti

I saw this on and it simply amazing: - Watch more free videos


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Antisocial, no hurricane at least not on my side of Florida. All the school closures were for naught as were other businesses that made the morning commute swift. The cops decided to take advantage of the speeders and set a trap a few miles on the highway outside downtown towards the airport. Half dozen vehicles with cop cars behind them were peppered on either side of the highway and four more cop cars were lined up biding their time. It was incredible.

Had lunch with the Asian mafia which was fun. We're at the point now where we share each other's food. Luckily all are good cooks. They were excited to attend the ice cream social provided by the property firm for the building soon after. I was going to go, but I bowed out later. The ladies were baffled. I was simply still full from lunch. Besides, I can buy my own ice cream.

Happy hour was tonight. I decided I wasn't going. Tawny tried to campaign to get me to go. In fact, independent from her, I received a couple of IMs and texts asking if I was going. I said no. I arrived later at work because I couldn't decide if I was going to work from home. It didn't feel right to leave much earlier. There I go again being a conscious worker. When will I ever learn?

I made a wonderful stir-fry tonight that was so colorful it reminded me of edible fireworks: snow peas, carrots, red pepper, garlic and green onion seasoned with ginger, sesame oil and soy sauce. My veggies need to have some texture to it and these pieces still had a bite. The whole thing went well over jasmine rice. It was my own happy hour. I was social. Social with one. Me.


Monday, August 18, 2008

False Start

Traffic just got crazier thanks to the first day of school for my county. Too bad the kids will have tomorrow off for the impending hurricane. Bridget will be taking her son to school a day later. Her county starts school tomorrow or was going to start. Notifications have gone that his school will be closed.

Fay is apparently coming our way. Everyone at work was receiving e-mail instructions on how to call the employee hotline to find out if we were coming in for work. I wasn't alarmed at all because I didn't get that feeling of fear. My boss did offer for me to work at home tomorrow if it rained (not hurricane). We'll see.

Sharon and I shared a Filipino lunch we each made while the rest of the Asian mafia ate out. I think we got the better deal. The dish that Sharon made was tasty, but she wasn't happy with it. It was her first attempt and she was being too hard on herself. Next time, I need to physically supervise her when she cooks. Trying to gauge if was indeed following directions over the phone was not quite the same.

My dinner plans with a friend at work fell through, too. Nikki had been bugging me for months to have dinner with her, but we couldn't get it together. Tonight either apparently. She lives closer to the shore and needed to prep for the tropical storm..hurricane...or whatever the hell they are calling it.

I did not experience anything resembling a storm this evening. The waning moon made a mockery of the weather predictions. Let me caution that you can never be too paranoid about bad weather -- safety first. While the little ticker would run at the bottom of my television screen with updates on evacuations and weather updates, I was busy becoming engrossed with Terminator: Sarah Conner Chronicles. The network is re-running the first season in anticipation of the second season's September start. Simply riveting. What can I say? I am a geek. A geek who needs to sleep for whatever tomorrow brings. Was that a gust of wind? Let me check.


Sunday, August 17, 2008


Laundry and cooking. Sounds like my Filipina maid was here today. Ha.

I get to spend many hours lost in my own thoughts. It wouldn't matter if I am deep in my work or house chores like today. My thoughts or ideas are constantly on a big watermill rolling forward to let the wooden buckets spill ideas only to pick them up and recycle them again in my mind.

As an only child I was used to spending time in my own company and the comfort of being solitary calms me and can, on sporadic occasion, cause anxiety until I examine my feelings or talk to the angels and old spirits that surround me. It doesn't matter to me if you don't believe, it matters that I do.

The past week I lost my muse to write. I was letting the disappointment of losing my places in my cooking classes get to me. My previous and very timely reservations were ignored and tossed aside in favor of the new online self-serve reservation system. Those four classes I signed up for showed the status waiting list instead of confirmed. I know I was the first to reserve those classes with the main coordinator who is visiting the UK at the moment. The chef/owner and his staff assisting him with this didn't handle the transition well. After trying to rectify it gently via e-mails, I decided to let karma take care of it.

On Friday, all the volunteers/cooking assistants were sent a note saying to disregard every note in the past received from coordinators and that the new system would be the (next to) final say. It would appear I wasn't the only one e-mailing. I am glad I wasn't on the other end of those e-mails.

The classes for next month were a mixed bag, but I can handle those. I have since taken my name off two classes for the current month with waiting list status. I couldn't do the one today as it wasn't enough notice. Still no one sent an e-mail with anyone dropping out. C'est la vie.

During my preparation of a favorite Filipino dish of mung beans, I received a call from my fellow Filipina friend Sharon. She was trying a recipe I gave her today and was shopping for the ingredients. I corrected some of her selections and then waited for her to call me much later. When she did, she was distraught that it had not turned out correctly.

It is Sprinkles to the rescue: Rather than have her start over, I coached her by asking what it tasted like. Was it more salty than vinegary? How many laurel/bay leaves did you put in? How much crushed pepper did you use? Well, we were able to salvage it by adding water to tame the strong taste. Next time, she will also be adding the cubed potatoes I encouraged her to get before. Now she can enjoy her dinner.

Not much the rest of the day. I am bracing for the week that may get screwed up with the hurricane approaching. Lovely. Let me run the mill again while I put another load of wash before bed.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Sugar Apple

Chewing toasted sprouted English muffin can be an activity itself. It is made of food designed to make you feel full with the added bonus of providing better nutrition than traditional bread. This was my breakfast which meant I wouldn't have a mid-morning snack. I wouldn't be making my Mango Sprinkles drink (1/4 c. mango puree + 1 1/4 c. filtered water + 3 teaspoons powdered psyllium husk) which gives me about 15 grams of fiber. That's one of my snack choices during work to hold me until lunch.

My nail salon was very busy this morning. I couldn't wait to get my nails done and trimmed to a more manageable length. Too bad I ruined the polish on my left thumb within 15 minutes of leaving. I was at my apartment parking space getting out of my car. My right index finger got scratched, too, five minutes later while lightly pinning Cabal on the wall outside my door. The new neighbor next door was in the middle of moving in. I didn't think it was a good idea for her helpers to get startled by his loud piercing bark. I cursed and repaired the nails as best as I could with the nail stuff I have on hand. Only a close inspection would give me away.

My long-time-no-see friend Myrna picked me up for a Mexican lunch. On the way I told her about my new neighbor who is a true red head -- I am talking there is no mistaking ginger. Her family mirrored her coloring. I noticed a guitar so she must be musical. Not sure if she attends the university around the corner or not. Time will only reveal.

Our Mexican lunch was good, but made me uncomfortably full even in my loose jeans. It wasn't tight at all - my tummy just wasn't happy. We soon made it to a supercenter and threw ourselves in the crowd shopping. My tummy was thankful for the walk around. It was a mental idea to shop with the others who were trying to get ready for back-to-school on Monday, but we got through insanity to buy things like soap, toilet paper, etc. Myrna expressed her desire to go to the oriental store downtown and that's where we went right after.

In Tagalog, they call it atis (ah-tis), but in English it is known as a sugar apple. Imagine my delight to find it in the produce aisle at Oceanic. I have only had one of these since I left the Philippines. That fruit gem was given to me by Ant several years ago. It is worth its weight and these modest three were almost $7.00! When they are ripe, I will take a picture and show you the creamy white flesh and the shiny black seeds.

I bought some cookies/biscuits and sesame candy for the Asian mafia next week. Since I tore into the banana ones, I guess I get to keep that package. The thing about Asian flavors in products such as cookies, is that the flavors are especially strong. You know what flavor you are supposed to have as you enjoy the flavor essence permeating the treat...Tapioca pearls for my boba drink...A bun with sweet red bean paste baked in it...A package of Kopiko (a Tagalog bastardization of coffee -- kopi and ko -- meaning mine) made it into my bag. Inside the bag has 22 packets of coffee/sugar/creamer mixture.

My piece de resistance was my collection of veggies from the Asian store. Feast your eyes on the eggplant (far left), snow peas (upper right hand), big hand of ginger (bottom front), and my bunch of water spinach (far right) mingling next to the more familiar fare.

The universe has a sense of humor. It urged me to look at the packaged and impressive European cucumber more closely. And do you know where it comes from? No? Are you sure? Ft. Lonesome, FL. I almost died laughing. I mean -- are you kidding me?!

I don't like putting groceries away. Now I am wondering if I should have bought some bottled water. Apparently a hurricane is on its way. Fay is on the Way. Let's hope she's a fickle wench and goes elsewhere.


Friday, August 15, 2008

Fiber is Sexy

My expression did not match my mood. Inside I was very happy; outside I appeared tense. Maybe it was the near hit and miss with an overzealous driver in the garage? She apologized to me in the elevator, but I mentioned to her that I was more concerned for the pedestrian walking in her path she narrowly missed this morning.

The boss was hyper and I was trying to stay under the radar. My goal was to make it to lunch. The Korean lady in the Asian Mafia brought me lunch today. Holy heck was it spicy! The flavor was very good though. There was some leftover and I ended up taking it home for dinner.

My meal planning has been lackadaisical lately and as a result my fiber intake has lagged significantly. Toxins stay in your body without fiber to help it along. I had felt sluggish until I started cooking a lot of Asian food the last two weeks which constituted mostly of vegetables, a great source of fiber. Imagine that.

Tonight I made my way to the health food store for some dinosaur kale (not curly) which I can use as a shell for wraps after I have cut out the hard stems. I am going to incorporate some more raw food into my diet next week. The less processed (canned or cooked) the better for me. I bought more stuff like coconut oil/butter, agave nectar (low glycemic sweetener from agave cactus - same cactus tequila is made of), clover sprouts, sprouted bread and English muffins from Ezekiel, and a hand of bananas.

I forget how truly rewarding it is to eat organic bananas. The sweet banana essence is pure and no trace of sour competing with the sweetness found in the lots from a regular grocery store. This tart and flavorless taste are as a result of poorly farmed soil and green picking where the sugars haven't been allowed to mature in the skin.

Angie, Kathy, Sharon and Tawny have been ambushed with texts like Fiber Rocks, Fiber Fills and (soon) Fiber is Sexy. This is what happens when Sprinkles gets cracked on something she loves. There is more to the fiber story like my new Mango Sprinkles drink, but why give it all away in one post?


Thursday, August 14, 2008

House Rules

House Rules are strict. The other day I came across two rather long-legged seductresses. The brunette was hiding in my cozy kitchen and the redhead in my equally cozy dining room. I told them that if I saw them next, they would have to be dealt with...

This morning I noticed the little redheaded hussy crawling on my ceiling above me in the living room. I had a feeling...a very strong feeling as her eight legs danced around the ceiling. Wouldn't you know it? The little hookerella challenged me, the AGOL, in my own home! I barely eased out of my chair before she landed on me suspended by her silken rope. I rolled up a very stylish home furniture catalogue (of course!) and dealt with her on the club chair.

Not to be outdone, the brunette was crawling on the carpet between the club chair and sofa. My frightened Pretty Boy Dog was lounging in front of the sofa where the little minx was making her way toward. Oh, no you don't! I used the same chic catalogue and showed her who was the lady of the manor..erm...such as it is. My doggie had to be protected, you know!

(Blushing...) You're right, he was probably more startled by his mother behaving like a lunatic housegoddess and wondering why she was advancing toward him with the (still) chic catalogue. Poor baby.

I couldn't help but tease you regarding that delicate bit of housecleaning. Do I know for sure they were female? It is easier to think so when they clearly challenged me. I do give them fair warning to get out of sight instead of reacting as soon as I see them. Yes, they do have benefits and can be very beautiful in certain species, but I am not fond of them in my home.

Sigh. All this drama before going to work!


Monday, August 11, 2008

Gong Xi

Why do I always seem to go back to bed after the alarm across the room has gone off? Not only after it has gone off, but after I have emptied my bladder. Zombie AGOL finds herself back tucked in her super soft golden sheets. Just 30 minutes more. Yeah, right. Ninety minutes later. Aargh. Training myself to stop this habit is going to take some strength and determination.

NBC, broadcasting from Beijing this morning, has continued with their Olympic tradition that started in Athens of giving a word a day. Today's word was congratulations or gong xi in Chinese. It is pronounced goong shi, I think. I kept saying it all day. What a nerd ball! It is bad enough I can say My name is, Hello, Thank You and Goodbye in Russian. I won't even go into the bits of Japanese as I know an expert and not want to embarrass myself further. Now I am attempting to add Chinese words. I already know plenty of Chinese words like Lo Mein, Chow Mein, Pu-Pu (Platter), Feng Shui, Tao, I Ching, etc. What's a few more for this crazy chick?

I felt immediately queasy when I arrived in the garage building at work for some reason. Maybe it was the jet fuel fumes wafting from the airport and mingling with the gasoline fumes in the garage? Did I mention the hot oppressive humidity hanging in the air holding said fumes? Eek... It would be a quiet day and be mostly to myself since Bridget was on vacation. I knew the temp would try to engage in conversation. She always does when Bridget is not around. Odd thing. My boss was a little freakish, too. I wasn't going to let anyone mess with my good vibrations from the weekend.

The Asian Mafia was complete again (sans Bridget though). We were more subdued, but still lively. Because of this connection, work has been made more enjoyable during lunch. The fun we have makes us more eager to bring our lunch. We will still go out once a week though. The girls were mentioning a girl's night out with karaoke today. That ought to be fun. No alcohol needed for sure. I can only imagine what a little alcohol would do to this group.

I left a few minutes earlier than normal and be home sooner. Three Asian eggplant were in my fridge waiting to be roasted and prepared Filipino style. I decided to do that for my next two lunches. Dinner was a lighter fare. I didn't want my body to spend the evening digesting a heavy meal to wake up exhausted before I have even had a chance to start my day. That's why you shouldn't have a heavy (ex. Italian) meal at night or late at night. Your body will spend the evening digesting the meal instead of only repairing and rebuilding your body while you are at rest. Let's not even go through the strange dreams you might have. Make sense?

I'll say gong xi to myself for being productive for a Monday. Now I am ready to wind down with my requisite bedtime mug of hot jasmine tea.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Visit to the Thai Temple

For years I had heard about this place and the food served on Sundays to the public. Today was my first pilgrimage to the Thai Temple in Tampa. It is situated on several acres next to a main river. Trees and lush tropical plants hug the buildings.

Ant was the first one who told me about it years ago and then recently Michelle from work. Michelle and her husband were taking her Vietnamese cousin and aunt visiting from France. Sharon and I were invited and I, in turn, invited Ant and his wife Rebecca. Ant was dying to go again after a few years.

Near the inside entrance of this Buddhist temple...

Anthony about to chow down on his big bowl of nuclear spicy Thai soup and equally nuclear spicy fresh green papaya salad. Cute pic of Ant and his expectant wife Rebecca who is due in November.

Views around the golden temple and the adjacent building: The backside of the adjacent building is where all the cooking and serving of food were located. We descended from there towards the picnic tables lined next to the river. It was cool enough with the mild breezes and abundant shade from the surrounding trees.

I would have taken more shots of the other food, but we were all too busy sharing it. Everything was good from the noodle dishes to the skewered meat and curries. Dessert was yucca, sweet potato and banana slices dipped in batter with sesame seeds and fried to golden. This dish was so popular that we had to pay ahead and put our order in so we could come back up the steps 15 minutes later. We had a great time eating, laughing and enjoying the surroundings plus meeting new people. We arrived at 10:30am and done by noon.

Sharon drove us back to Brandon where we made a stop at the gourmet shop. I wanted to give her a better sense of what I have been talking about these days. En route, I received a voicemail from the owner/chef that I hadn't registered for the online reservation system which is also used by cooking assistants. Huh? I registered one hour after he sent the e-mail. I am sure I was first.

Thanks to on site Internet connection and dual sets of computers at the register, I was able to pull up my Google e-mail account and show my confirmation e-mail. I logged in and the marketing lady immediately saw my error. I had transposed the fields for my last name and first name. Instead of saying, Hello Sarah, it said Hello A------. Whoops. There was some more mix-up later with classes on the new system, but I don't mind. It's a new system and there are too many variables to get used to during new installations.

My poetic heart was out in full force today. I think the breeze at the temple teased it out of me. Sharon and I were in the spice aisle and I pointed to the colorful spice jars holding their precious dried herbs. I told her that they were like flowers to me. Seeing them lined along the shelves made me very happy and filled with their beauty. I didn't tell her that the taste they help create in a dish also made me appreciate their beauty even more. From there the good feeling from ingesting the cooked dish creates an outward expression of that same beauty. It is like beauty begetting more beauty.

I welcomed my afternoon nap after Sharon dropped me off... Kathy called me in the evening and regaled me with her visit last week to an old friend of ours' home. I also received a call back from Trish in San Francisco. She had typed something on her current facebook status that alarmed me and made me call her initially. Everything was good; she was just trying to make some changes in her employment.

My mind meanders through the events of the weekend and I am very pleased to have been productive and free flowing with new fun. Buddha was smiling on this AGOL.


Saturday, August 09, 2008


My morning date ended up with 11 children. No, not a date with a guy -- my gourmet class! It was a last minute addition to my schedule as they were short in assistants. I arrived at 9:30am, one hour before class.

The more the morning wore on, the more I started to feel inept. When I expressed my concern, I was told that we should have had one more assistant and that the recipes chosen were not all kid friendly or cooking assistant friendly. I washed a lot of stuff and boy was I glad I didn't get my nails done yet!

The guest chef was also an attorney during the week. She seemed overwhelmed at some point and we helped her out during the dumpling making. The kids were starting to fling some dough. There were five boys and six girls ranging from 7-9 years old. Yes, I know you can imagine. I had no problem corralling my group. Kids thrive on gentle, but firm guidance.

I was asked to read aloud one recipe and then ended up finishing it with the kids. They were happy when I asked them to take their seats so we could serve them this portion of the lesson. We had them from 10:30am to 12:30pm. After all was said and done, I received a few hugs from the kids. It was 2pm when I begged off to leave. Not only were my fingers morphing into prunes, I was late meeting Sharon miles across on her side of Tampa.

(When I arrived to class, it was sunny. During class, it monsooned. After class, it was sunny and steamy icky. Lucky AGOL.)

I love Sharon's candidness. Here not-so-welcome mat greeted me below:

Sharon gave me a tour of her cute one-bedroom apartment and showed off her Filipino souvenirs which made me laugh. She drove us to Cracker Barrel for her loved Chicken and Rice dish. We chowed down on a late lunch/early dinner and became uncomfortably full.

Filipino flags displayed on a small store window assured us of our visit to a Filipino store. We shopped with our eyes, but somehow a small tub of avocado ice cream made it with us. While I showed her something online, she served us generous scoops of ice cream for dessert. I didn't leave her side of town until 8pm. I was ready to go and I could mentally hear Cabal call my name.

There was one stop at a gas station/convenience store right by my apartment. It was on a sudden idea to buy two lottery tickets (hey, you never know), but nooooooooooooooooooooo I had to stop and give directions in Spanish to a guy who was clearly lost and low on English words. It was late, I was tired and couldn't think of Spanish words. I could barely speak English, but with my demented map drawings and explanations, the guy was thankful. It really wasn't the lottery tickets for my stop; the universe needed me to give directions to this man for a baby hospital across town. I saw him as I was parking and knew I was going to help him. Sometimes it just happens that way.

*Kids in the Kitchen Menu: Cornbread, Chicken and Dumplings, Glazed Carrots and Steamed Green Beans, and Strawberry Shortcake.



Wednesday, August 06, 2008

In Lieu of Cake, Tequila

Antsy. I was too keyed up at work today. We're busy enough and Bridget was getting ready to go on her almost two-week vacation to spend time with her son who has been with his father since June and to get him ready for the new school year.

Tawny reminded me it was her son's birthday this morning -- Jeffy turned 22! I sent him a birthday instant message in Tagalog. He replied, either I'm some sort of South African rutabaga... or that's a Filipino happy birthday. The humor definitely runs in the family. Later he invited me for dinner at his mom's house with his family and girlfriend. I had to decline dinner, but offered to be present later for cake. Jeffy said he wasn't sure about having cake, but "in lieu of cake, we can do tequila". That's my boy! I've known him since he was 12.

Before tequila, there was an early dinner with Kristey and Myrna at Chili's. I despise Chili's but suggested it anyway since the girls like it. I can adapt. Eating there this evening just emphasized my distaste for it. Everything was salty and mediocre. EW EW EW Well, I wasn't there for the food...Kristey iterated that her biopsy came out benign and she has to go for a five-month follow-up or something like that. Myrna has been busy in general. We had a good laugh and caught up on people from our past jobs.

I made my way to the gasoline station so I wouldn't have to drive on vapors and then back home to take care of Cabal. Then came tequila. I arrived just as Tawny's family was finishing dinner. The table was cleared and we elected to go with tequila shots instead of margaritas. I almost embarrassed myself by snarfing the shot. That means I almost had the fiery liquid go back up my nose after I stuck the slice of lime in my mouth to suck on right after. You know Tawny would've made me lick the table for any spillage so as to not waste the premium brand tequila. I would not have blamed her.


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Keeping a Schedule

Tuesday feeling like Wednesday was not good. It was easy enough to get over that disappointment quickly! I have too many other things I need to worry about like finding the energy for this month's calendar that is filling up quickly. Let me explain...

All of my Sundays this month are now spoken for. Three of the five Saturdays have been scheduled. Peppering the rest of the calendar are dinners with people I haven't seen in a while and have requested to see me. I have one wine tasting event and one Harley Davidson event for ladies only where Sharon, Bridget and I will learn about the history of HD, the differences in bike models, safety, etc. Sharon used to ride and is trying to get back in while the rest of us are going for enrichment.

Your pity is not needed or required. I am just trying to figure out how I will manage my energy. Adequate sleep will certainly be a factor in being able to enjoy everything. It's been a long time since I've carried a schedule like this. I was chastised for planning everything in my life and not leaving enough room for spontaneity. Well, the person who said that has been years out of my life. Realizing that what works for me may not work for other people. I work better when I plan. It helps me to visualize a sense of purpose and to manage my energy so that I may properly appreciate these experiences. There is enough flexibility for spontaneity. How do you think some of the stuff got on my calendar? I said yes.

The pendulum from no planning the last seven years has swung back to planning. I don't regret not planning. Some interesting adventures have come my way, but no planning has also left me standing on quivering ground. Instead of enjoying my journey, I've been wondering when the quivering will stop. That doesn't seem like a good way to be in the moment and enjoy the experience, is it?

I am not arrogant enough to think that all my planning will control The Big Spontaneous Event Called Life. What's that joke? Wanna make God laugh? Tell him your plans. No, I am no such fool.


Monday, August 04, 2008

Chocolate Suicide

Suicide for breakfast? Not quite. That would be Chocolate Suicide birthday cake that Bridget picked up for our temp. My boss asked if we could do that first thing to let her know that we did do something for her. I picked out the card..

My temp had already bitten off my boss' head earlier after he wished her a happy birthday. Apparently she had a suck weekend. Whatever happened to saying thank you? I wished her a happy birthday and she knew better by responding properly. I am not as nice when it comes to blatant rudeness because I would have let her have it in spades, birthday or no birthday.

My boss lured her in his office after Bridget and I were situated in there. We sang to her loudly as she came in. Would you believe as soon as she received this she wanted to go into how bad her weekend went? Of course, we all tag teamed and kept that from happening by forcing her to enjoy the moment. It helps to be of one mind in these things. Of course, we were sick to our stomachs from consuming chocolate decadence before 10:30am...

Bridget shared mine and Sharon's lunch. I let her try my tamarind soup and Sharon gave her a steamed pork bun. I told her we've about covered Asia with her (Thai, Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, Filipino and Chinese). I love that she is adventurous and willing to try new and complex flavors.

The afternoon was spent quietly working. I tried to listen to contemporary French music -- surprisingly, they all sounded the same. Not like Edith Piaf or anything like that. It is hard to describe. I switched to Classic Disco. Am I hard to follow? You are not alone.

My evening was more introspective. IM'd with both Tawny and Rob separately, but simultaneously. They were both working late. Rob was still glowing over his first day at his new job. (This was not an overnight offer; it has been a work in progress for weeks.) He will be traveling more and has been setting up a home office. Dressing up today for work and driving across the bay to get things initially set-up at the main office was a confidence boost after he lost his job almost two months ago. Meanwhile, Tawny was doing homework of sorts. She was bad at work and had to take home stuff. Just kidding, T.

Maybe I'd better wrap it up. Sweetest dreams, my lovelies!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Mamma Mia!

The tempo was slower today. I love being lazy on Sunday mornings with no real purpose but just to be. In my case, that is sipping coffee and watching my 90-minute news magazine. Very nice.

Here are two kinds of veggies I bought yesterday: baby bok choy and Chinese long beans. They were submerged in my tamarind soup base already simmering with bits of pork. I served this over rice and seasoned with soy sauce for my lunch. It is that sour flavor kicked up with the salt that awakens my tastebuds!

I did make a girly movie date with Tawny and her daughter for later in the afternoon. We went to see the movie version of Mamma Mia! which was fun to watch. This is not Meryl Streep's epic movie, but almost an homage to her growing old gracefully sans nip/tuck. I very much enjoyed reliving my Abba music memories. Two of my favorite actors Colin Firth and Pierce Brosnan were in it, too! How can a gal go wrong?

Thank you to for this pic:


Saturday, August 02, 2008

Four Asian Markets and Little Philippines

Coffee from my French press was like nectar of the gods this morning. I had to prepare for a big day with my Filipino friend Sharon. Your AGOL was playing tour guide around town to four Asian markets and a stop for lunch at auntie's house to start.

Sharon received the quickie tour of the Sprinkles Sanctuary first. She told me how girlie I am yet how comfy my place makes her feel. The thing that surprised her the most was how tiny my kitchen was in proportion to all the kitchen paraphernalia. I showed her my overstuffed kitchen drawers/cabinets and revealed to her the other places of storage for kitchen stuff. She said I can open my own catering business with all of it. Nah...but close.

I had warned Sharon that my aunt's house was like Little Philippines with the tropical fruit trees around the house and the decor inside. She agreed after seeing everything. My aunt fulfilled my request for a certain Filipino dish and augmented it with other stuff that Sharon and I quickly wolfed down. The grandkids were over, too, so the rest of the household was still full from a late breakfast. I doubt they would've eaten what we had. In fact, little Kristen commented how something was stinky and I brought a serving bowl up to her nose which she quickly wrinkled.

The Brandon Oriental Market had moved to a bigger spot as they had outgrown the other place. They had things I have never seen before at an oriental market. Spent $23 and took home three bagsful of stuff. Sweet. You get way more and way cooler stuff from the Asian store.

Our next stop was downtown where Oceanic, the mother of all Asian markets in Tampa, was located. Sharon had a good time looking at everything. We both shopped conservatively. This was only Asian market no. 2 out of 4 after all. From downtown we stopped at MD Oriental Market which Sharon loved. We took home one large cooked tilapia fish each. The one store she loved the most was our last stop: Philippine Oriental Market where we ate halo-halo for a late afternoon snack.

Just a few of my groceries...

Both of these cost $1.99: Round wooden chopsticks for Sprinkles and red plastic attached cheater sticks for Bridget.

Who doesn't have fish sauce mingling with their Colman's?

Sharon brought in some of her cold items in my refrigerator so she could hang out with me a little bit. Tired and suffering from sensory overload, Sharon couldn't wait to regale her husband and her mother with our adventures around town. She's not much of a cook, but she loves to eat and vows to run more tomorrow to offset all the goodies she bought. I loved watching her childlike delight in purchasing items she hasn't seen in 2o years and I enjoyed reliving the Philippines with her. It's all in a day's work for this AGOL. Mabuhay!*

*Mabuhay (mah-BOO-hai) meaning long-live and more recently something said to welcome foreigners like when the Hawaiians say aloha.