My Bookcase

The Year of Pleasures – Elizabeth Berg


There’s one thing about going to the hospital alone – the wait time allows me to start or finish a good book.  In April when I started visiting doctors to see what was up with the never ending cold that I had since the year started, I took The Watchmen with me. Many times though, I found myself not being able to concentrate on reading so I only managed a couple of chapters.  This time around, Elizabeth Berg was my chosen company.  I had the book The Year of Pleasures with me when we went to Baler – it appealed to me like a book fit to read while on vacation. I thought about reading while we were on the road but it was impossible with the bumpiness of the ride, and also because I found admiring the view of the countryside a better pastime.  While Alfred was taking a siesta (still at Baler), I was out at the 2nd floor verandah, put my feet up and started to read. But the cool breeze and the lightness of the surroundings just took over me.  I felt that the afternoon was too beautiful to just spend on reading.  So I gathered the kids who were with us  and tried to do something with them instead (right before heading to the water again!).

Today, I finally finished the novel.

I’ve read Berg’s True to Form and Never Change and remembered really being moved by both stories.  I knew what I was in for when I picked this one up.

The Year of Pleasures is about Betta Nolan who lived a very happy life with her husband John. But the novel isn’t about Betta and John really, because the novel starts after his death.  Betta sells their home, and then drives to the midwest in search of a new life.  It’s wonderful how she found her new home, made new friends, but also reconnected with old ones – friends from before she met her late husband.

The book showed me that there is no single proper way to grieve the loss of a loved one. But it’s also a good resource for someone who may be suffering, so that she may find strength and pleasure in everything that happens around her, even in the small things.

It talked to me about dreaming too. And that it’s never too late to pursue something, specially when it is what will make your heart happy and your life full.

It also made me aware of how true it is for some of us women to totally lose ourselves in our relationships. Not lose in the sense that we have no identity, but… That we get too engrossed in our own little couple-world that we shut everyone else out – without meaning to.

It gave me comfort that Betta reconnected with her college roommates whom she hasn’t seen nor heard from in decades. They remained friends, but they never forgot her. It was amazing how they were automatically there for her when she let them know she needed them. No resentment. That’s what true girlfriends are about.

I fell in love with Betta’s house and her new neighborhood. I could live there, I would love to live that life. I love the idea of her quaint shop – What A Woman Wants, though if it was me, I’d setup a pastry shop/bookshop.

But I was also thinking how stupid it was to move in to a new place, all by yourself, and not install an alarms system! I mean Jovani (a character in the book) had a point – what if someone came in through the door and you didn’t hear it? I lived in a quiet neighborhood and I was left on my own a lot of times, even when I was younger. But no matter how safe you feel, it’s still better to be secured. I know that installing alarms systems is not the norm in most Philippine households, but Betta’s in the States – she should know better! Haha.

There are gems of wisdom in the book, but what stuck with me was a line John spoke to Betta – Don’t let your habits become handcuffs.  Just become you’ve been used to something doesn’t mean you can’t do it a different way or have something else entirely.

Sometimes I think about what will happen to me if the boyfriend dies…

Then I was also thinking, having been away from work for three days because of these flu-like symptoms, that I really don’t want to work anymore. And it’s not because I hate work, or that I don’t like what happens at work. No. Because I was actually happy to be at work these past two weeks. Conflicting, aren’t I? Hear me out.  I like what I do there, but I know I could be happier doing something else. So I think that’s what I’m going to work on.  I will prepare my life so that I can leave and do what I really want. It’s going to take a long time to get where I want to be to do this, but I will work on it.  If I can make half my current month’s salary doing what I love to do, I will quit my full time job. Seriously.  I don’t want to wait until a tragedy happens (like in Betta’s case) before I find an excuse to be daring and to live the life I’ve been imagining for myself.

(It’s probably not going to happen, but it’s good to think about these things, you know? Haha)

I just dug through my blog archives, and you know what I’ve found? This book has been on my to-be-read pile since September 2008! Crazy!

Visit the link below to buy the book from Amazon, or to read reviews from others. And if you’ve read it, tell me what you think okay?

The Nanny Diaries


I read the novel last week.  It reminded me a bit of The Devil Wears Prada.  In both novels, the protagonist was at a job they didn’t necessarily want and they had dragon lady bosses.  They also wanted out, but found themselves totally immersed in the work, unable to distance themselves easily.

And the movie version’s worth watching too. Harvard Hottie was yummy. hahaha 🙂

Nan was just like Andy – an achiever, does really well at her job. No matter how good she is at it, and how over-qualified she may be for a nanny job, this isn’t recognized by her employers.  She also does not get the respect she deserves.  At first I was thinking how the novel was placing Upper East Side moms in a bad light, how it seemed to have been passing judgement on moms who could not take care of their children full-time and have had to hire nannies to do that. But eventually I realized that it actually pays tribute to all moms – every single one.  Moms like Mrs. X actually takes the time to choose the right nanny for her boy, which means she tries to find someone qualified to be her child’s primary caregiver.  She wants someone who can help her son with his school work.  I guess she admits she won’t do much good in a primary caregiver role, and that means she needs to find someone who can.  Maybe it at least tries to open their eyes a bit to see how their kids need more of their attention, and that isn’t so bad.

I love kids, but I don’t think I’d do too well as a nanny.  I can probably babysit for a few hours, but it’s not something I can do on a daily basis, and certainly not full time.  Sure I’m looking forward to having kids of my own, but that’s different from caring for someone else’s.  

There are Pinoy nannies the world over – rearing children of other families, while they leave their own kids back home thousands of miles away.  Filipinos have learned to take pride in this fact.  In fact, Princess Lara Quigaman won a beauty pageant where she was asked about this very topic.  What’s to be proud of being a nation known for it’s nannies?  Well, it means that we know children and how to raise them.  It means that we can be trusted with the care of the most important members of families and societies. We can influence the lives of young minds. We play a big role in building future leaders.

More on catching up

I am cleaning up my Digital Scrapbooking Links and it is taking so long to go through the list.   I realize that I have missed out on a lot of news from blogs that I used to visit at least twice a week.  It’s nice getting re-acquainted though.  It’s also very inspiring to look at all the lovely layouts showcased in many of those blogs.  And of course, i’m happy to see all the freebies available 🙂

One particular designer blogger I was glad to have visited again is Vicki.  She now sells at a new store with some of her friends, and that is amazing.  One ad from her blog caught my attention, it was for Photobook Philippines! I checked out their website and things look promising.  Kodak stations and Digiprint offer printing for photobooks and albums but if you choose bound ones, I don’t know if the photos will line up for two-page layouts (not that I have those).  Photobook Philippines has a software that will probably help you figure that out.  I don’t intend to have a book printed anytime soon, I don’t have enough layouts for that, but it’s nice to know what my options are.

OOohhh and looking at the various digiscrapping blogs have got me to thinking that I probably should be using templates more.  Just a thought.

I still have a lot of mail to catch up on, but I’ve decided to stick it out with cleaning one particular mailbox for now.  I have two email accounts that receive shares through sharing groups and I don’t get to see to them everyday.  There are so many lovely graphics sent through them and it’s such a waste because I don’t get to see them right away.  I probably should think about delisting from either one or both of those groups…


I’ve also tried to catch up posting Project 365 photos on DigitalMe.  I’m still far from being caught up, but I know I must do this otherwise I will just forget why I took those photos or what they represented to me at the time.  I wonder if I’ll ever scrap pages for those? Hah, I don’t want to say I’ll find time, that somehow jinxes things for me.  Anyway, here are the photos I’ve added to the gallery:


You’ll see a photo of my big brother (who could be an Ely Buendia or John Lloyd look-alike depending on the angle haha), taken on January 16 at the entrance of San Benissa Garden Villas.  We visited the site of our condo units to sign our contracts for the unit improvements.  He and his girlfriend were actually back there yesterday to submit the signed contract for the property management office to take care of renting out our units to interested parties.  I hope they find renters soon.  That would definitely ease a bit of my financial woes.

There’s also the photo of my nephews and niece from my father’s side of the family (the other half of my family that hardly gets mentioned on this blog).  The only girl in the photo is the beautiful Samantha or Sam as she is fondly called.  She is so sweet, but also a handful! The whole time during the wedding ceremony, she couldn’t keep still. So endearing really. 🙂  Bench is the big boy here and he’s the same age as Sam.  He talks a lot too and together, they can be a tough pair to care for.  I have not seen these kids in a long time and it was good that they were there on my cousin Bryan’s weddin on the 15th of January.  The baby in the stroller is Bryan’s little boy. He was christened right after the wedding ceremony.  I don’t think I wrote a post about the wedding did I?  Honestly, I think I kept myself from writing about it at the time, because I didn’t want to say anything nasty.  But until now I can’t help it.  I didn’t like the bridesmaid dresses! Haha. It was in bright green satin, a material that should never be used for such a purpose.  I’m sorry, I really just don’t think it flattered anyone. The motif was green and yellow/gold.  To be honest, the green and yellow combination in the linens and decor used in the reception turned out better than the bridesmaid gowns did.   The bride was lovely though, no contest with that.  And the wedding reception was held in a nice cozy place.  Food was excellent too.  Too bad we didn’t get to chat with my cousin (who is actually US based and only came home for the wedding) and his mom since we had to drive home already.  We had to sleep soon since there was work in the evening.

The odd photo in the group is my March desktop.  Both photos used here are ones that have me and my brother together.  We’re six years apart.  If you look at us now, you wouldn’t notice that age gap.  Oh and I have to say this, I love that cute dress I had on in the bottom photo.  My Lola Maggie (grandma) did that.  She made us (me and my cousins) many lovely dresses while we were growing up, and she made some for my eldest nieces too when they were very small.  I wonder if we have pictures of those? I hope so.  They looked like dolls in vintage dresses. Seriously. Hehe 🙂

The last P365 photo is a very bad photo of my leg, to show off my ballet flats that I always wear to work.  To be honest, I forgot to snap a photo for that day, January 17th, so I took a photo of the first thing I could think of. Hehe.

Anyway, I have a magazine to read and a letter to the editor to compose (haha).  I really should go to bed instead, but it’s so darn hot!

UPDATE: I just remembered something that I tried catching up on today – Les Miserables, the book.  Oh my god, I forgot exactly when I started reading this but I know I’ve finished at least two books since. And I don’t like doing that, picking up other books while I’m in the middle of another, which is why my to-be-read pile is just growing in number.  It’s just that Les Miz is quite draining to read, with all the history and study of that time’s Paris society.  And all that talk about the gamin of Paris is a reminder of the street children of Metro Manila at present day.  And all the injustice in their prisons? Don’t those still exist today in prisons the world over?  That’s sad.  All I knew about Les Miz was a romanticized version of it I guess, and I wasn’t prepared to read all about the history of France or a study of it’s society.  But it is a wonderful piece of literature, and I will finish the rest of the book someday. Haha 🙂

PS I Love You – the novel by Cecilia Ahern


Last night, just before going to bed, I ripped the plastic covering off the book that I bought many months ago.  After reading the first few chapters, I went to sleep (not because it was a boring read mind you, but it was really waaaay past bedtime).  In the morning, I woke up and picked it right up and devoured it.  I read untill well after lunch.  I stopped only for a few minutes to pour myself some toasted oats and mueslie with milk for breakfast; and then again for a snack of yoghurt; and finally a Twiggie for lunch.  Oh, I had put it down to watch the first E-heads reunion concert in August last year on DVD (the one I didn’t see Live!), while I put some Tea Tree Oil antiseptic on Zune’s insect bites.

But I finished the whole thing.  And just like the effect the movie had on me, there were moments that were just heart-wrenching.

I’ve got to say, I don’t know if it’s just Gerard Butler and all his sexiness, but I seem to like the movie version better.  But remember, I liked the movie version a lot. So even while I say I liked it better, that by no means translates that I didn’t like the book.  I did.

Though the screenplay adaptation was different in many aspects from the original novel, it still remained true to the core messages that Ahern communicates through her pages.  Finding your soulmate.  Love.  Friendship.  Loss.  Grief.  Picking up the pieces.

If the movie focused on the love between Holly and Gerry, and in Holly learning to open herself up for a new love, the book was more about the reality of grieving.  How it’s a selfish process, really, even when you don’t mean it to be.  Though Gerry’s letters were very much the center of it all, there was also the very important role her friends played in Holly’s road back to living her life without Gerry. 

Oh, another difference is that the book is set entirely in Ireland, versus the movie being set in America with the ladies’ vacation having been in the land of the Irish.  

I found myself wondering again, what would I do if this happened to me? How would I move on?

I have a confession to make, I’m a little loony this weekend.  That’s probably why I haven’t been posting like crazy, and why I finally picked up this book to read. It’s Alfred’s first day at his new job so that meant a break in routine.  I usually stay up on Sunday nights and have breakfast with him on Monday morning when he gets home from work.  During my rest days, he is always around to worry about what we’ll have for lunch; even if he had to work on those nights, he’d be game if I had wanted to go out.  Today was so much different.  He wasn’t here. I had talked to him on the phone many times during the course of the day, but it still felt like I was losing something you know?  I won’t get to see him everyday anymore, and I would be sleeping alone again for most of the time.  There wouldn’t be breakfast or lunch dates at work to look forward to.

I’m crazy, I know. He’s still here and he’s just an hour away, and that’s where he was before he kind of semi-moved in here (we really have an odd living situation) and everything was just fine. But I’ve just been so used to having him around all the time, I don’t want to go back to how it was before. I surprised myself though;after his long day at work and running around to fix his stuff, he called to tell me that he didn’t have to be back at work until 11am tomorrow morning, which means he could actually come over now if I wanted him to. I had given him the choice to decide for himself, and he very well wanted to come. But I pointed out that it’ll be tiring for him, considering he had had to go shuttling around so much today. So there, we decided for him to stay home instead. It was the right thing to do, right?

Boy do I miss him already.

See what I got today!

My uncle is here for a short vacation, and with him are the three books I ordered from Amazon last month. Yay! 🙂


Tales of Beedle the Bard is actually available locally but I think I got it cheaper from Amazon anyway. Hehe.

I will definitely have to test my oven again in the next couple of weeks, and I’d make do with all it’s flaws so I could sample some of the recipes from these books! See that bag next to the books? A bag of chocolates for everyone! And I was totally surprised to see these inside, specially for me 🙂


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