got this in my email

i signed up over at goop (gwyneth paltrow's website) a few days ago, just to see what would come out of it and today i got this in my email.

great ensemble, this.

hmm... gwynnie definitely has a way with clothes. she makes simple clothes look "interesting" simply by wearing them. i know a lot of her detractors are always more than ready with their negative comments (regardless of what she says or does, the knives are always sharpened for quick response), but you have to admit they can't help but take note of her dress, her shoes, her accessories, her movies, her kids, her activities, etc.

incidentally, i like goop's spare, understated pastel layout. it doesn't sport much in the way of flashy designs or bold arresting colors (some have described it as rather bland), but i like it nonetheless.

celebrities & their kids

there is something humanizing and endearingly sweet about celebrities who try their hands at parenting (never mind those excellent photo-ops and favorable publicity it automatically generates).

notwithstanding the usual intense media and public scrutiny that surrounds the arrival of each celebrity offspring, there is always that part of you that's curious as to how this particular child or that kid will turn out.

and so we keep our eyes (and flashbulbs) open to record and exclaim over each smile, gurgle and wail, or any other tell-tale moment, and then tell the whole world about it -- rather like officious relatives who like nothing better than to stick their oar in.

and so, we like to tell ourselves it's all part of the cycle that keeps their parents in the limelight and keeps the industry alive. in any case, the unending routine feeds the whole process: it provides reporters and photographers material to fill up pages of those entertainment magazines and online sites that we buy and subscribe to. and, in turn, in stimulates us to know more.

when you come right down to it, we like seeing these pictures because these folks are darn photogenic.

more coffee news

being a huge coffee fan, i'm always on the lookout for any news or interesting developments that could put a positive spin on the art of drinking coffee in particular and coffee industry in general.

so, now if you're looking for a something that's a bit more rooted in hard science, you ought to check this article from New York Times, Heartwarming News on Coffee.

or if you want to get down to the nuts-and-bolts of the whole thing, you can go straight to this online piece on Scientific American.

there's some caution for lady coffee drinkers though. according to an Australian news website, women who drink an average of at least 3 cups of coffee a day may be in danger of 'shrinkage' -- in short, a Swedish study found a link between coffee intake and a decrease in women's breast size.

hmmm... i guess what we ought to keep in mind here is that most sensible of all warnings: "everything in moderation"

coffee after meal

i don't know exactly when i started taking coffee after meals, but i think it must have occurred when i was trying to cut down on my dessert intake.

the first time i did that wasn't exactly fortuitous, but for some reason i decided to stick with it. the next day, i added a teaspoon of sugar -- which seemed to do the trick. and so a new habit was formed.

as my new beverage of choice, it solved a couple of problems for me. aside from the cutback on my dessert bills (and the calories it shaved off from my usual intake), it also eased my fondness for soda drinks.
and as my sister never fails to remind me, hot beverages are a better choice during meals (except on hot days, of course -- that's where i draw the line).

cofffee-guzzling celebs

so, who else guzzles their latte and mocha by the barrell? why, red-hot celebrities on the go, of course.

it seems like everywhere you go these days there's some coffeehouse sprouting overnight so it's really no wonder why it's the most likely place to spot a celebrity these days.

1. keith urban & nicole kidman -- sweet!

2. jude law, his canine pal & his coffee

3. vanessa hudgens of High School Musical

4. hilary duff (uhh... is she doing anything these days?)

5. even brooke burke and her baby are getting into the action

well... down the hatch mates!

over a cup of coffee

after going through headlines, i decided to search for news relating to coffee houses and came up with a few interesting articles that might amuse some of you coffee drinkers out there.

here's an interesting item regarding best-selling authors and coffee shops -- or rather, the way coffee shops seem to inspire would-be authors to reach their goal.

and here's also a way for aspiring poets to share their work, although this seems to be more or less geared towards a specific group. nevertheless since this involves cafes, we might as well check this out.

now, here's an intriguing question: are there simply too many coffee houses out there? this article should provide with some sort of an answer.

happy reading folks. and here's a toast to you all!

time for a break!

what else could be better than to gulp down a cup of coffee and toss in a few yummy goodies fom krispy kreme? mmmmm!

or how about a cold soda to cool you down and some sticky rolls from gonuts donuts. yum!

for me, anything goes. right fido?

muggy mugs

like all things, mugs have a way of asserting their own personalities, too -- an extension of its owner's relationship with his/her surroundings. sometimes it can pass for cheeky statement.

it can be simple, no-nonsense, and functional

or a must-have accesory for a dyed-in-the-wool star wars geek

or even a perky, fuzzy bee mug

a snazzy statement from a shop-a-holic?

a low-key celebration of life's joys

whatever your choice, it all has to do with you -- it's your coffee mug after all

tales from a coffee addict

this is an old post from my other blog. i found this while i was rifling through my old files and since the main topic revolves around coffee, i thought it would be nice if i post it here among my other coffee tales...

we've had a series of good news lately, so i'm writing this post in a better frame mind. one is work-related (you should see the ear-splitting grins on my officemate's faces), the san antonio spurs won the play-offs (yayy, go spurs!), and the last one is more personal in nature but certainly welcome. [Note: i wrote this last year, hence the note on Spurs, which eventually won the series]

so yesterday, after an enforced 2-day inactivity, due to a lingering, half-baked cold that refuses to go away, i decided to go out for a brief spell (i was literally climbing the walls in sheer boredom). after an hour of aimless meandering, i dropped by at Cibo (Glorietta). Looking over the menu and realizing that i couldn't stand a strong dose of caffeine at this stage, i finally asked the waiter if they had latte and then he assured me it was available. and darn, if he didn't bring me a steaming cup of — milk! — 10 minutes later.

nonplussed i stared at it for a full minute. because we were discussing hot drinks (coffee) while he was scribbling down my order, i naturally assumed that the waiter would know i was referring to cafe latte.

frankly i didn't know whether to laugh or feel insulted. [fortunately, the place was half-empty and the other patrons were too absorbed in their own affairs to notice what was going on.]

finally, i shrugged, and stirred in some brown sugar and gulped it down as quickly as i could. i shudder to imagine what that waiter thinks of me, but i suppose i can always take refuge in the fact that i was obviously not at my best — surely he couldn't fail to notice my stuffy nose and occasional fits of muffled coughing? (gosh i hope so). the terms "wishy-washy", "namby-pamby" and "insipid" were floating before my eyes like red flags, but i ignored them with a virtuous air of indifference.

in any case, i suppose that cup of milk wasn't exactly a total loss because i felt better afterwards. i had a good laugh when i finally got up to leave (i left some tip for the waiter, too). it looks like i will be avoiding Cibo for awhile…

ebbs & flows

after 3 weeks of ever-changing, crazy work schedule and deadlines that never seem to end, things finally grinded to a merciful halt today. and not too soon, mind you.

this past weekend, i was slowly creeping up to that maudlin stage where i begin to wonder if i had made the right decision after all. fortunately, i pulled back long enough to realize that it was basically exhaustion and lack of sleep that were warping my mindset. i just needed a moment to catch my breath, and push on again.

after a 1-day break, i'm happy to note that i have somehow regained my equilibrium. and to top that off, today we were basically back to our laidback routine. i'm not sure how long this lull will last, but i'm grateful for it at least.

who knows, maybe this weekend we will be hurtling through space again, falling over our feet and imbibing barrels of coffee as we race to meet our latest deadlines, all the while wondering if this race is ever going to end.

blue funk

i'm in a weird mood these days...

i can't explain it. it's just that whenever i find myself doing something worthwhile i'd end up feeling morose and dispirited in the middle of everything, then somehow convince myself that it wasn't worth the effort anyway.

it's gotten worse lately. sometimes it feels like i'm going in circles.

i think i may need somebody to walk up and to me and give me a shake and say "snap ouf of it!"

miyazaki masterpiece: my neighbor totoro

Among Hayao Miyazaki’s animated films, I’ve always found My Neighbor Totoro (Tonari no Totoro; 1988) the easiest to appreciate and relate with because, notwithstanding its supernatural elements, the story is essentially grounded in reality (with subtle autobiographical brush strokes) and takes place in a sleepy rural setting.

My Neighbor Totoro has no overt violent scenes, which should make this animated feature fairly suitable even to young children, although it does deal with the threat of loss and pain as only a child can sense it. The film radiates with childlike wonder, discovery and ready acceptance of extraordinary incidents. Basically, it’s one anime title that I’d be pleased to recommend to anyone regardless of his/her age.

The animation, as expected for a Studio Ghibli offering, is top-notch, and the characters are well delineated. The story focuses on two young girls who, along with their father (a college professor), move into an old country house — a quaint, rustic structure complete with cobwebs, rotting posts and rattling windows — in order to be near the hospital where their mother is being treated. In one of her rambles, 4-year-old Mei (and later, along with the her older sister Satsuki) stumbles into the slumbering guardian spirit of the forest — a huge, cuddly, bear-like creature called Totoro, who’s apparently only visible to young children…

Without giving away the rest of the story (I really don’t want to spoil the experience for those who still haven’t seen it), there are several items in this film that should be fairly obvious to a Miyazaki enthusiast. The main protagonist is a young girl (or in the case, girls) who’s learning to grapple with the complexities of life (a recurring theme in many Studio Ghibli films such as Spirited Away, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Laputa Castle, Porco Rossi, etc.). There’s also an endearingly clumsy young boy, Kanta, who shows an abiding interest in planes/aviation (Kiki’s Delivery Service, Laputa Castle), a trait that Miyazaki shared as a child.

My Neighbor Totoro likewise highlights, in unobtrusive but touching instances, the way the Japanese show respect for their old and the ‘natural’ spirits around them.

this summer...

i like looking at this picture... it reminds me of lazy days and tranquil walks on the beach

at the moment it looks like our plans for an out-of-town trip this summer is slowly losing steam (busy, busy), so to keep up with the illusion that our summer outing will go on as planned, i am posting this picture here. if i can't have the real thing, at least i have this image to keep me holding on *fingers crossed*

room with a view

while i was having coffee with a friend, this was the view that greeted us

a perfect backdrop as we discussed about days gone by and things that lie ahead

anime tunes

i seem to be listening to a lot of anime tunes lately. i think i must have downloaded about 160+ (via LimeWire) of them by now. i even compiled a separate playlist for these songs in my mp3 player (my good old reliable Zen Vision: M).

the funny thing is that if anyone ever asks me about their titles, i'd probably end up scratching my head because i can't commit them to memory -- except maybe to say that this particular song is featured in a certain anime series/movie. i'm better at remembering the tunes though.

some of my favorite tunes are closely associated with anime features that i also happen to like. for instance,

Azumanga Daioh: Shin Gakki, Soramimi Cake
Fruits Basket: Black and white Haru, Momiji's Onsen Song
Final Fantasy X: 1000 words (can't remember the japanese title, sorry)
Full Metal Panic: Karenai Hana, Kimi ni Fuku Kaze
and the list goes on...

and of course, the songs sung and/or written by super-seiyuu Megumi Hayashibara, like themes from Love Hina, Abenobashi Magical shopping District, Evangelion, Ranma 1/2, and many more.

for sheer collective appeal, though, my top 3 favorites are the soundtrack from Trigun (vols. I & II), Ouran High School Host Club and School Rumble. i may have been partly attracted by these songs because they strongly remind me of certain scenes and characters in these series. for instance, when i listen to Guilty Beauty Love i am immediately reminded of Tamaki's goofy expressions, and each time i hear harima kenji's guttural rendition of his solo numbers i naturally think of his hilarious misadventures. and who can forget the offbeat and strangely hypnotic charm of the guitar-driven themes (opening and ending) in Trigun? first time i heard it, my gut reaction was "whoah, brilliant!" (i bought the CD, too).

dawdling over coffee

being confined to sick bay is no fun. not least because i'm barred from drinking one of my preferred liquids -- that's right, coffee.

which is probably the reason why i'm stretching my latest cup to as far as it can go... just for the pleasure of cradling a warm coffee mug in my hands without worrying about the consequences.

right now, we're in the middle of one of those periodic spurts of intense activity, after coasting through two weeks of relative lull. it is rather ironic for me to realize that i have missed that sense of urgency and state of harassed distraction whenever we're rushing to meet a deadline. in fact, i miss looking over my shoulders (to check if i'm being overtaken by my chores) and feeling somewhat overwhelmed by events as they rush by.

it feels rather sacrilegious to say that i thrive in this setting -- because believe me i gripe about it all the time -- but there it is. i guess i must be one of those contradictory creatures who can't abide with order and calm as soon as things have settled down a bit. but only throw a whiff of chaos into my pond and i'm up in arms whining and wishing things were quiet once again.

*sigh* it never ends...

well, here's to the busy week ahead of us *raises cup*

any reason

it's no secret that filipinos love to eat. i think that's one reason why we so many town/barrio fiestas all over the country. no pretext is trivial enough for us to invite our friends and loved ones over to gather 'round the table and partake in a hearty meal that is usually seasoned with a convivial conversation.

birthdays, christmas, weddings, house blessing, graduation, job promotion, winning the lotto, ... heck, you name it, we celebrate it. sometimes we even invent things on the spot so we can have an excuse to raid our larder or open up a few bottles of drink. and if everything else fails, there is always the option of having food delivered straight to your house or office. all you need is a reason.

consider our case. yesterday, a number guys and gals from the 3rd shift decided to have their own little salo-salo because Friday was their last day as graveyard shift Joes (after 2 months). i was willing to go along and contributed my own share (i was asked to bring the cake), although strictly speaking i wasn't part of their batch because i have a flexible schedule.

sensing my mild enthusiasm, one enterprising colleague piously pointed out that there was another reason why we're having this little bash: with 2008 being a leap year, it would be quite fitting to commemorate Feb. 29th because it only comes around every 4 years.
[note: pictures above were taken from FoodNotebook]

and so we had our little banquet. as food fests go, it wasn't much but the atmosphere was boisterous and we had a grand time stuffing our gullets at 1:00 am. by the time i stumbled out of the building i was awash with this glow of satisfaction that i haven't felt for some time.

yup, i guess any reason will do -- so long as you're in the right company and willingly go along for the ride.

learning my ABCs (ads, breaks, and cofee)

showing up for work on a public holiday can be a drag. still, it does have its perks (double pay!)

as usual, i woke up late but i managed to make it to the office before 2:00 pm. and now, i'm gearing up for my first meal of the day. yum! (*stomach rumbles in anticipation*)

three slices of honey walnut bread (from BreadTalk), a slab of butterscotch roll (from Go Nuts) and coffee (instant! from Nescafe... hah!).

do i sound like a regular TV ad? gosh, it'd really be neat if i actually do get paid for this. ummm, did i mention that i also accept donation?

coffeehouse perks

for some reason, my mind just keeps going back to the coffee bin. (i promise you i haven't been addling my mind with caffeine all day. i've only had one cup of coffee, during my 5:45pm break.)

i just wondered why coffee shops are getting so popular these days. when you think about it, coffee products have been around forever and many food establishments have been serving them for centuries -- and yet coffeehouses continue to proliferate all over the metro lately and people just keep on showing up! i don't think it's the food because, inflated prices aside, you can easily find better-tasting cuisine elsewhere.

but i digress...

here are a few perks that that might explain why people like you and me are hooked on coffee shops.

1. coffee -- subjective. to each, his own. and it also depends on which coffee product you like

2. endless supply of napkins, sugar, milk, etc. -- you may laugh, but i'm comfortable with the idea that i can grab as many napkins as i need or pour as many sachets of sugar (into my coffee) as i like without hassling somebody (waiter/server) else about them.

3. plug-in outlets -- they're heaven-sent for folks (like me) who can't seem to function fully without lugging about 15 lbs of electronic gadgets along with them. special mention: Starbucks, Alabang Town Center. Aside from being large, it has many convenience outlets that are strategically placed all over the place. which means that you can just plunk your stuff anywhere you like because there's always some outlet within reach.

4. location -- one of the best reasons to park your buns in a cafe is because of its convenient location: usually in street corners, and proximity to malls, parking areas, offices, theaters, etc.

5. ambience -- well-lighted, well-maintained, casual, and it's usually open til early morning -- a boon for night owls like me.

6. promos -- not too many of course, but Starbucks's annual planner always attracts its share of customers. i have a friend who faithfully collects stickers just so she could get at least 2 of those coveted planners every year. i can never keep track of my own 'stickers' so i usually end up buying one from e-Bay (thanks to her help).

i'm sure there are a lot more compelling reasons, depending on your viewpoint, why people keep going back to coffee shops. maybe you can add your two cents to this list. cheers!

coffee & memories

my coffee intake has increased again lately. i don't know if it has something to do with the weather -- it has become noticeably colder again these past few days, hasn't it? -- or the fact that i like to sip something hot every now and then. or maybe it's because i like the simple act of pouring myself a cup of something sweet and sticky, and absently stirring the mixture while i gather my thoughts.

i remember having my first serious cup of coffee while i was in college: i was gearing up for a whole night of heavy-duty stint at the drawing table because our plate was due the next day. i was all psyched up to start but for one reason or another i just couldn't concentrate on my assignment.

after my second attempt went nowhere, i decided to stop and made myself a cup of coffee. while i was sipping from my mug and looking down at my drawing pad, i remember feeling grown up all of sudden, as though in that one random moment things came into clearer focus: it was time to get serious. and strangely enough, everything flowed smoothly after that.

i don't know if it was the coffee or if it was just the act of looking at things from a certain angle, but the thing is i've had similar moments of epiphany since then. not always in the same situation of course, but there are times that when i find myself at a standstill, i generally take a few steps backwards (usually while sipping coffee), think things over, and eventually come up with a few conclusions that allow me to choose a course and move forward.

i don't know why imbibing coffee has this effect on me. i don't think it's due to caffeine though. i think it's the thoughts and the memories that i have come to associate with drinking coffee.

of bookstores and coffeeshops

i'm going to expand on Zarine's recent comment on my post the other day (Why Coffee and Donuts), specifically her thought on combining a coffeeshop and a bookstore under one roof.

if i'm not mistaken, this concept is already being carried out by PowerBooks (Greenbelt Branch). they do have a small coffeeshop there, don't they? i think it's on the 2nd floor (or maybe 3rd?). of course, the whole place is basically a commercial library of sorts so the coffeeshop is practically an island in a sea of bookshelves. it's almost like an afterthought.

but i share zarine's point. i wish there was some way that they can put up a place that's really 50% cafe/50% bookstore. and there should be more appetizing food choices so the patrons will really be tempted to curl up, read, drink cofee and eat (of course!).

The "Dark Knight" Cometh

i'm on pins and needles while waiting for The Dark Knight to make its bow in the local theaters. the untimely passing of Heath Ledger, may his soul rest in peace, has only made me more impatient. his take on the Joker was a bit jarring (based on what the trailer showed), to say the least, but in a way it was just as compelling as Jack Nicholson's hammy treatment of Batman's indelible nemesis.

i don't know why Batman Begins hit me the way it did. maybe it was because i got so disillusioned by the way the filmmakers treated the earlier live action Batman films -- which got progressively worse after Tim Burton's Batman. come to think of it, i wasn't that enamored with Tim Burton's piece either. it was ok, i guess, but i never connected with it the way i did with Batman Begins.

or it could have been Christian Bale, whose intense portrayal made Bruce Wayne/Batman somehow easier to accept. either way, Christian Bale obviously made the role truly his own. the moment he stepped on the scene, all the other 'Batman' actors simply flew out of my mind.

i expect Chris Nolan to pick up, if not surpass, from where he left off with Batman Begins. he may not always hit the high notes, but this guy's work is always solid.

things that i live for

i live for...

COFFEE Breaks --- hence this blog :)

how 'bout you?

seriously, coffee breaks are about the only time i can goof off and forget the pile of work that should have been finished yesterday.

it's not really about the food (yeah right!) or the caffeeine kick (although it certainly helps). i'm mainly buoyed by the idea that for the next few minutes i can let the whole world hang while i sip my coffee and glance at the window... wondering idly why everyone is so much in a hurry.

Empire of Ivory

after learning that book 4 (Empire of Ivory) of Naomi Novik's Temeraire series was already out, i immediately headed for the nearest bookstore to buy a copy. after completing the rest of my errands i went home and plowed into it, barely pausing for a break as i lapped up the details of Temaraire's latest exploits.

i finished the book a few hours later.

ok. bottomline, i found it entertaining (hardly a surprise there). but compared to the first 3 books (His Majesty's Dragon, Throne of Jade, Black Powder War), i found Empire of Ivory rather tame and a bit flat.

Empire of Ivory starts off a few days after The Black Powder War ended, with Temeraire and Capt. Laurence and their allies finally reaching the safety of British shores. This 4th installment basically highlights Temeraire's trip (along with Lily, Maximus, Dulcia, etc., and their crews) to Africa in their desperate search for a cure against the deadly malaise that was steadily decimating the draconian ranks of the British Aerial Corps.

after finding the cure and surviving a run-in with the local dragons, which have their own peculiar hierarchy and mythology, the squadron heads back for England. The British dragons are eventually saved.

this series of events however, leads the British Admiralty to find a way to spread the deadly disease across the Channel -- thereby ensuring that Napoleon's dragons would suffer the same fate and consequently tilt the balance of power into Britain's favor. finding this move vile and downright shameful, Capt. Laurence and Temeraire take matters into their own hands. Empire of Ivory ends with Temeraire and Capt Laurence finally meeting Napoleon face to face, which of course sets the tone for book 5.

the publisher has already sent out advance notice that Book 5 will cover Napoleon's invasion of England.

hmmm... let's hope Bbok 5 doesn't suffer the same lethargic pace that hounds Empire of Ivory. i really don't want to give up on this series yet and i'm still wondering how ms. novik will integrate the Duke of Wellington into the series. perhaps in book 6...?

why coffee & donuts?

i had a brief chat with a college chum, who managed to stump me quite nicely with a simple question: "yes, i know it's your new blog and i'll be happy to read your posts, but why coffee & donuts? aside from the fact that you like them, of course."

well. why, indeed. the more i thought about it, the more i realized why this name appealed to me in the first place.

i guess for a regular coffee drinker like me, "coffee" seems obvious enough. as for the donuts -- well it comes with a lot of reasons. sure i like donuts (who doesn't?). they're yummy and visually appealing, not to mention drool-worthy. if you're looking for a quick sugar fix, you couldn't ask for more. they can be eaten anywhere: at home, during parties, in the office, streets, even on the subway if you're pressed for time (that is, if you don't mind the mess and the inevitable hungry stares from bystanders).

the thing is, i wanted this blog to reflect something about my daily routine. being an office slave, i often look forward to coffee breaks as a time to unwind, catch up on the latest gossip and generally just hang out while i forget about my work for a while. more often than not, me and my workmates would be reaching for donuts to go with the coffee.

also, being a confirmed anime nut, it gives me a certain amount of pleasure to note that one of my anime favorite characters, Vash the Stampede (Trigun), also happens to love donuts.

coffee & donuts -- they just go together. coffee is something that's basic to my life these days. and donuts? they're something extra, a delightful and unexpected add-on, like icing on a cake you just can't go without.

while i was out

here are a few things that perked me up while i was out snatching a few minutes to myself...

it's a dog-eat-dog world out there

flip-flop delight: don't turn square on me now

miniature scene. this takes me back to my college days when we busted our bums to complete one miniature set of the buildings that we drew plans for.

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