Sunday, December 11, 2011

Crêpe Is The New Birthday Cake!

REVIEW: THE VINTAGE Restaurant – Eugene, Oregon

It was a long drive just for lunch. But my husband said we weren’t going out just for the heck of dining out. It was my birthday (December 3) and he wanted to give me a treat. He didn’t give me a window on what to expect though. But that did not get me thinking. Hubby and I share the same knack for food so I trusted his gourmet taste.

My birthday cake last year
Like I said, I was clueless about the day’s game plan. Part of the trip I guess was to take me on a road trip but the weather that morning wasn’t cooperating. It was so foggy! No sight of evergreens and maple trees in a vista. Nothing to see except traces of mountains covered in thick fog. That is, if you’re lucky.  The only thing visible was the road. Thank heavens! Otherwise, it would have been a very dangerous trip.

We left Corvallis around 1PM with me having no idea of where we were going. He said, it would take almost an hour to get “there. “ As we left our home city and got closer to a place I have never been (I’d find out a few minutes later that it’s called Eugene), the fog seemed to dissolve into thin air. Or maybe, Eugene knew I was coming! Like a pop-up in the sky, the Sun miraculously gave me its light rays’ show all of a sudden. Hello Sunshine!

The city is known mainly for two things: the Ducks of the University of Oregon and for being the de facto residence of some of the country’s leftover hippies. As we got closer to the city’s core, the view from inside the car allowed me to explore some more. You just know that artists live here. Wall paintings pockmarked every corner. Graffiti was present everywhere. Proofs of the active local music scene were all over the place. Plus, the street fashion gave away all the clues on why Eugene has always been the destination for writers, artists and music performers!

My sightseeing was cut short when the car pulled over in front of what appeared to be a worship hall at West 8th Street. I got out of the car and was deprived of fresh air when I smelled some bong resin. I realized that where we stopped at wasn't a religious house. Its name is WOW, a music center for the local performers. My husband obviously smelled the "pot fragrance" too but he simply shrugged his shoulders and said “Welcome to Eugene!”

We strolled a little bit, unmindful of the passersby. Hubby was looking on a small sheet of paper all along, probably the address of where we were going. We continued walking until he said “Here we are!

The Vintage
And I was surprised to see a structure that looked like a half-kept old two-storey house. The facade of the building appeared to be uninviting although I did like the fact that they have an outdoor patio. So, I followed my husband inside and read the signboard of this small and unassuming restaurant that can easily be knocked out by an expecting diner.  THE VINTAGE.

As a classic example of the “Don’t judge the book by its cover” adage, the place welcomed me to a sweet, intimate and homey setting. As we waited to be seated, I gazed around and realized that the Vintage has a cozy interior! The halls were decked with artworks that virtually took me to a trip around Oregon’s scenic spots. A friendly waitress gave us a romantic little spot by the window. She came back with the menu and gave us all the time to pick what we wanted to try. When I wasn’t looking, Hubby secretly asked her something. I saw that she shook her head, to my husband’s disappointment. Then I overheard her saying “it’s only available after 4PM.”

The FONDUE was the draw but we arrived around 2PM. He told the waitress that we were there for my birthday and that was his special treat for me. He then turned to me and suggested that we go out somewhere and just come back at 4PM but we were too hungry to leave. Plus, what if the next place would turn out to be bad?

So we stayed and checked the menu again. The Vintage offers crêpes (lunch or dessert), sandwiches and burgers, steaks, a selection of cocktails, etc. The prices were reasonable or to a point, fantastic. The waitress was too nice to give us a picture of how big the servings were when we asked. We were happy to know that it is easy and possible for not-so-big eaters (Like us!) to share a meal with someone so that you can split an already reasonably-priced dish even further!

We decided to “make our own” crêpe, instead of ordering for what were suggested on the menu. For our lunch meal, we opted to stuff it with roasted chicken, avocado, roasted peppers, spinach, chèvre and pecans. For dessert, we ordered the Classy Creme Crêpe. A few minutes later, we asked the waitress that we also wanted the Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Crêpe.

Crêpe is the new birthday cake!
We didn’t expect that the friendly waitress would come back with two plates for our lunch. Wow, they already divided the crêpe and spinach salad instead of us doing it! Talk about top-notch service. It inspired me to mentally start this review in my mind that time.

But the pleasant and unique experience didn’t stop there! The melange of the flavours in our lunch crêpe was unbelievably awesome! The richness almost had us order for another round but we have to spare some room for the stars of the day, the dessert crêpes. Also, the spinach salad topped with chèvre and pecans proved to be the best partner for our choice of crêpe! I must say that the choice of chèvre was the perfect foil to the sweet goodness of the candied pecans.

The moment for the Classy Creme (ripe strawberries and sweet ricotta cheese) and Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake crêpes (pureed pumpkin with cinnamon, nutmeg and sweet ricotta cheese) came. It was equally stellar! I was awestruck by the beautiful arrangement too! Both served with real whipped cream, these heavenly treats made me let go of whatever restraint I have with eating. They made me drop my issues with sugary stuff. Ahhh, I was a very satisfied and happy little camper!

I told my husband that they could strip their menu bare and leave me with just these blissful crêpes and I will still come back.

Overall, everything ended on a positive note. Our dining trip to the Vintage was really phenomenal. What more can we ask for? It was a very laidback, quiet place, with excellent food, impressive service and a great setting. We finished our meals around 3PM and we thought of waiting for another hour so we can have the fondue. But we just got too full! So, we agreed to be back in the future.

The place is not only great for lunch. We found out that they have a popular variety of things going on at night but you know, we won’t go there when everybody is there for the booze. And if you’re one who is used to instant food services, please don’t visit this place and later write a review about the slow service. Food here doesn’t come from the factory. The skilled kitchen team delivers all the magic! (Not the free MSG and trans-fat you get from drive through or fast food joints).

I can’t wait to be back and try the fondue. Plus, have a rendezvous with the three divine crêpes I mentioned above!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

PHOTO: Lonely Strawberry

B-U-S-Y! It's the most overused word in my vocabulary lately, next to "love." I am supposed to share a note about how I spent my birthday, what I (or "we") did on that day. Or was it anything more special than my daily life? As much as I want to sit down and blab about it, research and writing have been killing me a lot and I don't want to write an article just for the sake of coming up with one.

So today, as my way of saying hello and letting you know that "I still manage to keep my head above water amid all these swamped schedules," I am sharing one of my favorite pics. Took this photo last summer. The Star of the Berry Tub (blueberries & blackberries in the background) -- Lonely Strawberry.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Simple & Easy Vanilla Cake Recipe

Like I said in my previous article, if you want to work on a flavorful and very moist cake, you must know that egg whites will do the trick for you.  The day I made the egg custard pie, I didn’t plan to embark on another baking idea. It was just me, playing a genie, granting my husband’s simple wish.

But after using just the egg yolks, I hated the idea of throwing something that I believe can still be useful. That’s when the image of a vanilla cake popped up suddenly.  And it’s so easy! 

The idea though, of using a lot of butter, is frowned upon in this house. Yes, it lends a lot of flavor to the recipe but it is very unhealthy to load up your recipe with it. And half of a cup, like what my original recipe suggests, is too much! So I decided to cut the amount into a quarter of a cup and used apple sauce, of the same amount, instead.  

I have done this kind of trick many times. Last summer, I used the combination of apple sauce and olive oil (which works like butter too) when I made blueberry muffins.  In some recipes, like spinach cheese puffs, I did the same.

This kind of cake makes a perfect basic cake for birthdays, weddings or for any kind of celebrations. Its unique richness of flavor helps a big deal in creating overall taste of your holiday cake. Its texture also will make those looking for a “melts in your mouth” kind of cake very happy. It’s too simple and yet, the cake’s taste is not underwhelming.  Sometimes, you really don’t have to come up with an icing idea or to make your frosting. It’s already good enough to enjoy. I love its special taste! 

When I made this cake last time, I whipped up some dark chocolate frosting, just enough for a 9x9 inch cake. The cake and the frosting combo were just so amazing. We didn’t have a lot of leftover for the next day. Sweet forces of calories!

For purposes of sharing, below is the original recipe. It’s up to you if you want to do your own tweaks. If it is your first time to make this, it’s best to follow this one first. Save your idea for your next kitchen adventure.

3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 whole eggs
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup milk
3 egg whites
2 tbsps vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350F.
2. Combine flour and baking powder in a small bowl. Mix well. Set aside.
3. Cream together 1/2 cup sugar and butter. Add eggs one at a time. Then pour in flour and milk, alternately. Add the vanilla extract and mix well until the batter is smooth.
4. In a big bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy. Gradually add the sugar while beating continuously. Continue beating until mixture is stiff.
5. Add half of the egg white mixture to the batter. Using the cut and fold technique, try to blend the two mixtures well. DO NOT BEAT.
6. Then add this blended batter into the remaining egg white mixture. Continue the cut and fold technique.
7. Once it is blended well enough, pour the batter into a greased baking pan. Spread it evenly using a spatula.
8. Bake for 30-40 minutes.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Egg Custard Pie Recipe

Speaking of custard, after a trip this morning to the supermarket, my husband mentioned that it's been a long time since I made an egg custard pie. With "a long time," he actually meant just six to seven days ago. So that says a lot about this dessert.  It is his favorite. We would usually make this pie once a week, so I understand why he has this cute craving for it. Yes, it's about time to whip it up again.

So as a happy camper at our small kitchen, I pulled out a medium-size bowl and whisk in everything that I needed. This time, I decided to just use egg yolks instead of using whole eggs. Plus, instead of using plain milk, I went a little too far by making my own sweetened condensed milk. Now that's a lot of work.

He had two major roles in this task, of course. Preheating the oven and eating the finished product. :-)

Hey, the efforts paid off in the end. I noticed that the flavor is richer this time. Also, I loved the texture of the condensed milk and egg yolks combo. The soonest time the pie was cool enough to be tasted, my husband had a big slice for himself. And came back for a second one. Knowing that he liked them big time made me very happy. (BIG TIME = two-three big slices when there are only four slices).

That sounds like the ending of this story. NOT.

Halfway through this baking day, I realized something while waiting for the sweetened condensed milk to come to a boil. What will I do with the egg whites since I only used the egg yolks for this recipe? I didn't plan to waste them.

Like a pop-up, the idea of making a vanilla cake just flickered. Last time I made this simple white cake, Jande raved about it. So from one recipe to another, my muscles had to work today a little harder. Just because I didn't want to throw away something that I thought would still be useful. It turned out to be a good idea. Egg whites do the trick if you're looking for a very spongy or very moist cake. As Jande would put it, it's the magic ingredient in every "melts in your mouth" kind of cake. (Then I figured again into another situation. For the cake, I didn't want to use the prescribed amount of butter. But I won't go into that right now. I will share the vanilla cake recipe and the tweaks I made next time.)

So, yeah. This has been another day for my husband’s sweet tooth. And I cared less about all the hard work today. Baking is something that I love doing anyway.

*Slap me with this article next time when I talk about weight gain. LOL!*

After mentioning what happened today to a close friend, she commented that "it sounded like you're hosting a feeding program." I thought that was funny. How in the world will we finish all these baked goodies when there are only two people in our house? She also found it funny that we dressed up our table with tablecloths and napkins.

Don't expect us to eat the egg custard pie and the vanilla cake in one day. Although, we really can. :-)

To share the fun I had, please feel free to use and follow the recipes below for the custard pie and for the pie crust. You may always opt for a ready-to-use pie shell, but I would suggest that it's better if you make your own. The steps are easy and simple anyway!

1 9-inch pie crust (recipe below)
3 eggs
2 tbsps white sugar
1 ¼ cups of milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg (optional)
Dash of cinnamon-sugar (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 425F.
2. Mix egg and sugar.
3. Heat up milk in the microwave for 15-20 seconds. Or, place milk in a saucepan. Over medium heat, bring to a low-simmer.
4. Pour milk onto egg mixture. Mix well.
5. Add nutmeg.
6. Pour into the pie shell/crust. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar on top of it.
7. Bake for 10 minutes at 425F then lower the temperature to 350 and continue baking for 20-25 minutes.
7. Allow to cool.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp white sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tbsp milk

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients. Mix well.
3. Pour the mixture into a greased a 9-inch pie pan. Press mixture into bottom and up the sides of the pan. Using a fork, poke holes in bottom and side of crust.
4. Bake for 15 minutes or until light brown. Allow to cool. 

My next blog will cover the vanilla cake recipe ... and the kitchen adventures that came with it!

**This is the original recipe.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Healthy Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk

Five days ago, I posted a photo of the custard cake that I made on my Facebook Wall. My friends really poured in all their Likes. When I mentioned that I opted to make my own sweetened condensed milk instead of grabbing a can at the supermarket, folks filled the comment mill and my message inbox with the question, "How the hell do you make it?"

I did respond on my Wall. But for my curious friends, instead of sending individual messages, I am sharing the recipe below.

Homemade Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 1/2 cups whole milk
MY CUSTARD CAKE. Thinner cake. Thicker Custard.
1/2 cup sugar
3 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla

In a saucepan, mix sugar and milk. Bring to a low-simmer over medium-low heat. Stir often. When steam starts lifting off the milk, lower the heat even further. When sugar dissolves, put heat at its lowest. Stir, stir, stir. In my case, I would stir it every 5-7 mins. Once you get the desired texture or once reduced to your satisfaction, whisk in butter and vanilla. Stir a little more. Then, remove from heat and allow it to cool. It is that simple!

(Stirring speeds up the process. Mine took only 45 mins to accomplish; other people would do theirs for two hours.)

Playing Rewind

November 17th. Wow, it's amazing how time fleets swiftly. Today marks my fourth month here in the United States. Yes, days went by unnoticed. It feels like it was only this morning when I secretly shed a tear inside the plane that would take me to Narita, Japan. From there, we'd hop to another plane that would take me to Portland, Oregon.

On my way to the airport, the picture of being reunited with my husband--after three freaking months of not seeing each other--made me excited. I could hardly believe that after going through the paperwork nightmare and a long waiting game, we'd be back into each other's arms again and start life in a place where only fate can help us. Thoughts of him made me busy inside the cab. Actually, it was my way of not letting my heart get into the situation.

But emotions made me powerless after boarding time. For one second, my mind figured in an imbroglio inside, with blurry scenarios popping up. I didn't plan to give it a minute but yeah, the mood inside just ate me whole. I struggled to not let the lady sitting next to me see me getting teary-eyed because it would be very funny. So, I pulled a tissue from my pocket and wiped my tears away. It was still a puzzle for me, back then, why suddenly it happened. Was it because I knew it will be long before I'd see my siblings again? Was it because I will definitely miss flying to Palawan? Was it something just natural and normal?  Or, was it because this was one flight where I wouldn't be home later?

FIRST GLIMPSE: These islands hinted that we were in Japan. 
I didn't bother to figure that out. After all, we planned for this move to the US to happen anyway. An image of a coffee cup being handed to me by the stewardess helped me ditched the dramatic scene in my head. Then she poured some more, when she came back to check if I was done. A few minutes later, her colleague asked me if I wanted some wine. And my reply--which was a smile--was not misquoted. She left me with a happy face. After a few sips, I started to enjoy the flight.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Apple unveils iPhone 4S

This morning's "Let's Talk iPhone" event at the Infinite Loop in Cupertino, California confirmed my inkling that Apple has not come up yet with another bunny to take out of the hat. It's not the time yet, given the research, product development, advertising and productions costs that the company incurred to come up with iPhone 4. Thanks to MacWorld and Engadget, because watching their web broadcasting made me feel like I was there too doing a coverage.

Yeah, I had that "As-I-Thought-So" moment. There's no iPhone 5. Instead, Apple executive Phil Schiller announced the sequel to their hottest smartphone, the new Apple iPhone 4S. Sharing the same look as the iPhone 4 it replaces, the unveiling was followed by a strange mix of disappointment and excitement.

Listening to Phil though, it is easy to grasp that the real beauty of this revamped smartphone is in the inside, with Phil promising a major internal makeover. Meaning, the newest member of the iPhone line is faster and smarter than its predecessor.

To save you from wading the Net for the latest update, I made a list of the essential points touched. Yes, the features! So here, take a look at the basic rundown of the new iPhone 4S:

  • The Apple-designed A5 chip, the dual-core processor that powers the iPad is now inside the iPhone 4S. Phil said that users can expect graphic performance up to seven times faster than the single-core A4 chip, the old iPhone 4's processor.
  • Finally, an 8 megapixel camera with 3264x2448 resolution! Wish granted for the click-happy. Not only that, the camera comes with a Hybrid IR filter, a feature usually associated with DSLR cameras. Phil said that users can now enjoy better color accuracy.
  • With a new feature called Siri, iPhone owners can click the home button, and ask about the time and weather, or ask it to schedule or make a phone call.
  • Improved battery life. The latest iteration now allows the iPhone to offer eight hours of 3G talk time and six hours of 3G web browsing.
  • Users can now record video in 1080p HD resolution. That's savvy!
  • Other features include dual-mode GSM and CDMA radio plus AirPlay mirroring, a feature that lets your iPhone screen content to be streamed wireless to the Apple TV. If you don't have an Apple TV, an HDMI cable will do to mirror over the wire, too.

With pre-orders starting Friday, the Apple iPhone 4S--that is priced at $199, $299 and $399, depending on storage capacity--will go on sale this October 14th.

Apple also announced its new iCloud service plus an update to its iOS mobile operating system.

An Apple app that is expected to be a sure fire called Cards will also hit the market. It is an application that allows users to create/design their own photo greeting cards. Apple will print and mail them depending on location. $3 for destinations within the United States and $5 internationally.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Unfinished Scribbling

(WRITER'S NOTE. I found this unfinished scribbling saved in my flash drive. Time flew swiftly and I am finally reunited with my husband here in Oregon. I haven’t updated any of the web sites that I owned because every single day, I’d be busy with something else. Most of the time, I’d be out helping my hubby.  I believe I wrote this note last April 2011, when one afternoon sadness went down my spine and it made me powerless. All that I could do was to vent through writing and had the sheet capture my thoughts).

The adjustment phase is still making me crazy but everything at home isn’t new to me except that hubby is not there anymore whenever I reach home. John would drop everything a few minutes before 4pm because that’s the time that I get out of work. 4pm is an exciting part of the day for me too because I get to see him again, after spending eight hours at the salt mines. When my cab stops by our apartment gate, he’d be there smiling and in a snappy way, would open the door for me. I really miss our small conversations as we walk towards our unit.

I believe that’s why things are working great between us. We have real conversations, unafraid to share whatever. We’re each other’s best friends. We are not fans of online chats, we talk for real. If there’s something that needs explaining, we send emails.  And now that he’s abroad, we email a lot and talk over Skype. We love “us,” we love the idea of being partners or being in a team.

His kind of love included spoiling me by not making me work on a lot of stuff at home. As much as possible, he didn’t want me to lift a finger. Every day, I’d wake up and he’d be there making mocha or coffee for me. And while I am preparing to go to work, he’d wrap up my lunch bag, complete with sandwich and other snacks plus take-away coffee. That is so I would have mocha while on my way to work.

I remembered my first day at my new job. I sent him a message that I can’t make coffee at the pantry because  I didn’t have a mug or tumbler. Whopeedo! just a few minutes later, I got a message from him saying “Can you get the door for a second. I have delivery for you.” Yes, he got me a new tumbler plus cappuccino. Talk about being loved. Or spoiled.

Life without him will be a lot poorer, I would usually tell him. His presence just means the world to me.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Real and Happy Marriage Isn’t Project Merlin

TODAY is not so great. I am actually not in good shape. It must be period-related but who knows. Bad timing, I know. It sucks to be sick and be alone at the same time. Not a fun combination, eh.

Tough, especially when the best care provider is not around. Yes, this day makes me miss John all the more. Not because I need someone to take care of me but because I am reminded of how great his love for me is.

Since the odds of being with him now are not giving me any choice, I will create my own set of options. Yes, I will choose to be happy. Haha, c’mon, I have no reason to be sad. As what he’d always say, happiness is a choice and it’s not rocket science.  So right now, I am thinking happy thoughts. I am thinking of him, of us. And he is absolutely right.

Somehow after gaming my mind, I feel better. As memories of those times spent together essayed to pump that happy feeling, I can’t help but realize that a relationship doesn’t have to be sent to the miracle department.

A happy marriage isn’t Project Merlin if the very people involved are seriously committed to keep the magic alive. There’s no known potion, no proven fashion. Just be in it for the long haul, with the highest degree of dedication you can submit yourself to.

John and I are blessed to live in our world where honesty is the currency, with love being the exchange rate.
CEOs: Coffee Expert Officers

With him I enjoy the kind of reality that most couples in the world are struggling so hard to find. With him I share a real marriage, one that didn’t start after the wedding but one that continues to iterate itself for the better.

Ours is not a perfect love story. It is actually punctuated with holes that we both patched together. But you know, it is with the very presence of imperfections that genuine feelings are pushed to the surface. That is a bonus discovery for people who are in touch with the true love side. Well, that makes John and I extremely lucky that we can tell Magellan, “Man, we found the Spice Island.”

We’ve been through rough times too but we took them as necessary lows that enabled us to see the awesome heights we’ve reached as a team, as partners. Our daily triumphs are fortunate leftovers from a challenging yesterday.

I feel that as a young woman who is married to someone senior my age, I am blessed with a husband who has seen a lot of life and learned from it. He is someone who can guide me, pointing out the road signposts as I explore the best direction to take with him. He is someone that I can hold on and look up to. Someone I can love and be in love with, with sincerity in our hearts that is deeply rooted. His kind of love is selfless, always giving, always all-out. He is a die-hard fan of being human, using his heart to have a clearer view of what’s inside you.

Until now I am incredulous about ending up with a super human like him, should I say, the best husband in the world.

Monday, March 7, 2011

What Did You Do For Lunch? (Our Lunchtime Wedding Story)

MY WEDDING SHOES. Old and rugged "chucks"
Have you ever heard of a girl who sneaked out of work during lunch time, quickly headed to the town hall with her three friends and signed up for a marriage contract? Then after 5-10 minutes, she went back to work? Take note,  she was wearing her usual pair of jeans, topped it with a white blouse and finished her get-up with a ponytail and black canvass shoes (that Filipinos call “chucks”). 

If your answer is NO, then read on. This one is very true.

Welcome to my post about my fun wedding story. As an iPod touch would banner it, it’s one of the “funnest” wedding tales you’d ever know.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010. For some people who saw my status on that fateful day, it meant nothing.

10/5 = 2 (The two of us ...awww, spell C-H-E-E-S-Y).

The two of us picked this date with a William Tell attitude—whatever the arrow hits because for us, that event was a sure shot already. We were just there to fulfill the legal aspect of our union. The marriage of the minds already happened when we agreed to embark on a relationship. Our hearts made up their decisions for us.

One of the witnesses that I tagged along didn’t know what we were up to. I just asked him to come with us to the City Hall. On our way, inside the cab, his imagination gave him ideas of being slapped with a criminal case at the trial court or other things worse. But he shared, when we got there, that the idea of me tying the knot with John also crossed his mind. But was it possible? That was a thought that he was unable to reconcile.

The groom was already there when we arrived. He looked handsome with his neatly pressed outfit. He seldom dons long sleeves and slacks so you can tell; this was a big day for him, for us. He greeted me with this line “Honey, you’re late.”

Yes, I was late for my wedding. Hahaha! The time estimate that the court’s clerk gave us was around 11:00AM to 11:30AM. We arrived at 11:15AM and the judge decided to attend to the first couple who got there.

To make the long story short, the wedding proper lasted for 5 minutes. The waiting game outside must have taken some 25-30 minutes. My friends and I were supposed to be “out for lunch” so we really had to hurry outside after signing all the papers, after that wedding smooch (don’t believe those wedding movies), and after accidentally responding to the judge with a “yeah, yeah” instead of “I Do, Your Honor.”

It was fun because the discussion of the conjugal properties opened doors for humor. For example, because I am long-haired and John’s hair is thinning out, I was thinking of sharing half of the strand count with him. And he grabbed my favourite pen as the judge explained the part of the wife sharing her assets with him. (So you can relate with this part, I am in a relationship with my gel pens, as though it's my biggest fetish). How cheap! Haha.

So there, my dream wedding came true. I never liked to wear make-up and dress so that wedding was so fun for me. John wasn’t a fan of big weddings too, we like intimate ones. Of course, we weren't really cheapskates. We went out for dinner with my friends at Cafe Breton, a French place that John and I would frequent. That for me was the happiest and the best wedding reception. 

There is a reason why I handpicked the people I shared the wedding with and will come up with a separate post for that.  For now, I hope you liked what I shared. The fun and heavy sides of this story were taken on a serious note.

Our bond is real. So is our marriage.

And oh, my family knew about this. They were informed, the day before.

The Best Husband's Wife Writes

As I am tinkering the keyboard for this post, my husband is somewhere in the United States sleeping to recover from the jetlag feeling. In his email earlier, he said it felt freezing out there. Man, I wish I can give him a hug, just like minutes before that tough moment yesterday.

Yes, I took him to the airport. That was one of the most difficult times in my life. Seeing him walking away with all his luggage tore me apart inside but I had to keep myself together because I know he was trying to hold his emotions too. Nobody wanted that. And so we hugged and said our “I love you” to each other. This decision is for “us” and it’s for the best.

Central Park in Corvallis, Oregon
Don’t get me wrong! We didn’t have a break-up or anything of that sort. We’re hoping that it won’t be long before we can be together again. He had to fly because he has to be in his country as requisite for my green card application. We didn’t plan really about moving or settling there. But some events in our marriage life prompted us to pick better choices and that is to pursue the best of life. Sadly, we cannot see that happening here in the Philippines.

There’s no life in Manila. Every freaking day, you are treated to a lungful of polluted air, to deafening vehicle horns and to unbelievable attitudes of some people. You can’t leave your door unlocked. You can’t even trust your neighbour. You can’t trust the food that restaurants serve. Either they’re loaded with MSG or they’re loaded with factory crap labeled as “ingredients.” While that holds true anywhere in the world, the reality remains clear. It’s not that there’s nothing here in Manila for us, but there’s so much more if we try outside.

Some people, especially Filipinos, won’t agree with that. But my husband John and I believe that there is a reason why half of the world wants to be in the United States. And to be honest, this wasn’t my idea—but his. And the reality is, my man is oozing with all things wisdom and common sense—a rarity among men. He’s the smartest man, I must say. And he’s got the biggest heart too, with soul so pure and selfless. With that, I say, I trust him in this decision.

You see, when we realized the beauty of sharing a real relationship, all that mattered to us is to be “for keeps” and to keep things “for real.” Whatever the world says is none of our business. Quoting Oscar Wilde, “We have the simplest taste. We only settle for the best.”

So, when we’ve come to our senses and accepted the real score, we had to make plans because we’re running out of time.

Ours is an unusual tale that people inadvertently judge from the surface. You must know that my husband and I have this huge age difference. In fact, he’s older than my dad. But who cares? When we’re together, we don’t feel any of that. We pay no mind to age because for me, that’s just a figure, a man-made symbol. He is my best friend, my confidant, my one true love. And I can honestly say that.

For his part, I can’t find the right words to say. Whenever someone asks me why I ended up with him, I simply say “coz John’s the Best Husband awardee.” More than being a thinking cap and a humor tank rolled into one, his amazing character is a rare find. And this once in a lifetime chance of ending up with the best man in the world is something that I can’t pass up. What can I offer? My pair of metal accessories?

Yes, I am using crutches. Throw into the basket that I am a Filipino and he's an American and that will make this love story a strange mix. But like I said, he made me feel as though he didn’t see my "extra legs" or he didn't take face or physical value against me. He loves me for what I am and together, we built a beautiful friendship that rolled over to the biggest event in my life—marrying him.

That is why, this separation that I pray will be brief, say a couple of months (Calling the Immigration Office ... haha!) seems to be a difficult time for me. Because John spoiled me with his love, presence, and a real marriage. As he would put it, “Have you ever seen an American house bitch?” Hahaha!

Now tell me, what can I ask for? #