Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2012 is upon us

Challenges aplenty this 2011. Too many to mention and too much to say...I know I am not whiny nor a cry baby so the innermost thoughts in my mind's kitchen are best left to sit in the sink of ugly thoughts.
But through it all, I realize there is a God who listens, who answers. Sometimes, my faith waivers and then a simple whisper to Mama Mary or the Sto. Nino, and my BFF St. Anthony works many little miracles that I can only wonder and and bow to the fact that I am a Catholic by beliefs and choice, a Catholic who supports the living church but not the church governed by gold and commands that are man made. How about that!!!
I continue to pray for good health, freedom from sickness of any kind, accidents of any sort, and the evil that men do.....I ask the Lord to continue to hear my prayers for my family and those around us, to keep us safe from bullets in the air, mad men and amucks, deadly dangerous diseases, accidents, serious injuries of any sort. To keep us in light of His love. Lord, to embrace us with Your peace, love,safety and protection. And to know I thank you from my heart and soul.
For every time I am fearful, anxious and frustrated about many mundane things, I hear about the greater challenges faced by others and know I should not and cannot complain. So THANK YOU Lord for all that You have sent my way.
May 2012 be a lift of spirits for all of us, and most of all, give us the ability to help others.

Feasting to welcome 2012

As always, we open the year with lots of food, fun and family. It has been (MY) our tradition to hold our Xmas party (although we had a good one Dec. 25th as we were all present and accounted for) on January 1st...because I know there are no lame excuses about having to be with an in law or out law....and that we can bring out our prayers and wishes for what we hope for in the coming months of the new year.
It has always been private..because should.
But food wise.....hmm, we try to keep traditions alive. Food comes in form of Spanish fiesta party fare, the ubiquitous Cocido Espanol(puchero, pochero whatever one wants to call the dish) that boasts of a strip of pork belly, a small chicken and beef shank with the marrow staring out at you, some sliced chorizo de bilbao and then a medley of vegetables from cabbage, potatoes and carrots with the addition of garbanzos. Add to that a side of roasted eggplant salad, redolent with garlic, onions and olive oil (which I used to burn my fingers with stove top till I see the skins blacken and shrivel then the light bulb lit and I now use the danged broiler), a sauteed in garlic, spanish style tomato sauce (which should really be dumped into the broth). Daughter Bambi has gotten this down pat.
Truly a celebration of Plenty.
Then I ambition to make lengua with mushroom sauce and a Paella Valenciana complete with sea food, chicken , pork, chorizo and pinoy saffron with toppings of boiled eggs, green peas and pimiento strips. Two dishes I had to learn or rather teach myself to make otherwise....Cafe Babareeba would never be in my budget and all the others I have tasted are nowhere near authentic. Kylie has nailed the Filipino fruit salad to an anticipated wait each time we push her to make it. I bought a Virginia Ham over the summer...I massacred the first one I ever got from my Virginia cousin, so this time I hope I cook it right...making it almost hamonado with the pineapple juice and brown sugar might do the trick.
So far, that's the plan, let me see what happens next. abangan ang susunod na kabanata.

Monday, August 29, 2011


Went to a party yesterday in a beautiful home. Walked with the owner and we complimented the beautiful garden, plants and flowers. He proudly showed a huge butterfly he snapped a picture of early that morning. And then he said he also had hummingbirds. I have never seen a hummingbird other than in pictures or tv. I look around so many times in hopes to see one but never in my 25 years here. So I said a little prayer, Lord if I could see a hummingbird then I know my prayers will be answered. Just a thought prayer sent out there.
Suddenly, from the corner of my eye, I saw a little creature flitting in and out of the bell shaped flowers. The it was gone. I saw a hummingbird!!!! But not close enough, still, a prayer answered was the sense of being I felt.
So we walked on and I didn't say anything because it was too far and too fast. As we neared the bellflower plant, with its attractive orange blossoms, I saw it again, it's as if God said, here, to prove to you I answer your prayers, here's an encore and sure enough there it was, the green little hummingbird hungrily sipping nectar and honey from each blossom,flitting in and out of each bell, disappearing into the flower and coming out heading to the next.After taking my quiet feel of the wonder of prayer, of the hummingbird, I shared with my companions that the little one was there. So we watched silently as little hummingbird took its fill of the abundant food until it flitted away into the dusky evening.
The impact of this leaves me in awe of the Lord, He listens and answers, even for what one may think is a trivial matter, seeing a hummingbird. But He answered to let me know that He is there should I need Him through this challenging times. That as we try to salvage an account we are losing, I can pray for His help. That with my wanting resources to open the MACC, He will hear my prayers. And most of all, to take care and blanket my family with His love and protection, He is there for me. Thank you Lord, thank you hummingbird for bringing me His message of love and hope.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Three Years, mom

How fast time flies and suddenly you've been gone 3 years. Yet each day I see you
in pictures and memories. Yesterday, the latest dream I had of you, I woke up happy and feeling your love, just like I did when I was a little girl. It was a darkly dream, but I felt your presence and the love. The happy loved feeling kept me going through out the day.
The kids miss you, I miss you.

So, my little vignette for this deathday anniversary: the enjoyment of spooks, occult, afterlife, horror movies, ghost stories, the macabre, not too many will believe that you actually exposed us to this since we can remember. My interest in vampires, led by the Drac, the Arthur Ford and Jane Roberts, behind the door, (hey JB you have my collection) my books that have everything from ectoplasmic emanations and ghostly pics, getting scared of Fright Night and other REAL vampire and Hammer films, mom, this I owe to you.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Primanti Brothers maridel vs food

So after watching so many food shows on tv, here I was at the Primanti Brothers restaurant, filled to capacity due to the ballgame. No plates, just heavy duty wax paper for their 2nd most famous item on the menu (beer being number one), the heart attack cheese steak served on thick challah type bread with a vinegar based cole slaw and lots of fresh fries all piled up into the sandwich and a picture of the guy in Man vs Food hanging on the wall. Ok, so how does one eat this contraption? I ate the first half without a problem but tackling the second half was easier, took out the fries and the other half of the bread, there! But I was so stuffed that i was reeling...tums anyone?
I have to admit it was pretty good but......Chicago's Italian Beef still rocks, and maybe Max's of Chicago's gyros layered over cheese and burger on a giant bun still wins the award of heart attack burger.

ships passing in the night Baltimore-Washington DC

After a harrowing experience going through the GPS convoluted route of driving through
30th (kind of really notorious like Mission in LA) where gleeful son-in-law excitedly took cel photos of what the WIRE show features in their weekly grisly murder filled town, I finally bit the bullet for an acela two stop train as against a stop every stop local train. And there's this polite kid who also was a bit lost in his trying to get to the same place I was. And a lady who was traveling the same route so we tag teamed on the train. The kid is a Saudi high school senior taking advanced classes here to gear him towards what he may want to do for college. After making sure he got his return ticket at the amtrak counter, she and I ran for the blue line to transfer to the orange line, she to the Courthouse and me all the way to Vienna. And along the way she was excited to meet up with her cousin who finally,after two harrowing assignments to Afghanistan as press attache, they allowed him to come home and study some more and take the test to press attache in Milan, he deserves it after having to deal with the bind laden thingy. She trained in from Atlantic City. She and her hubby are celebrating 25 years this year but are hesitant to go to Europe because of anti american sentiments and I said, that will always be there, but the time is now to visit those places and hopefully cousin Rick will be in Milan, so remember to wear your Blahniks...or Ferragamos, so they won't know you're an ignorant American.hahahaha. And on that note we parted...another ship passing through the night and all they will remember is the Mrs. A part or cupcakes.

Ships passing in the night Pittsburgh

A comment made by daughter Bambi that I am so like my mom chatting up strangers....and so it is.
Dropped of the Bells on 6th and Pennsylvania as they walked their way across the bridge I decided not to drive off into the unknown and lose my way around the streets of Pittsburgh. So I parked and paid what $7???cheez, cheaper than Chicago. After randomly walking up and down the streets within the area in the steamy heat of a 99 degree summer afternoon, i decided to wait for a bus and do the GYN thing of getting on and letting the bus run to its end and come back hopefully on the same bus. But Pittsburgh and its many unknown to me bus lines and where they may lead made me wait for the casino bus after I realized that the couple I asked about the buses (who do not ride buses) had finished dining out and still saw me walking around stupidly. After an exchange of pleasantries, i waited and waited for the once an hour Saturday bus, looking at the Pittsburgh folks and telling myself they look the same as the Chicago folks, NOT, something about them told me there was a difference
So I finally got on the bus and asked for a round trip which the driver obliged giving me for 3.25 the little paper ticket. So off he drops me at the Rivers Casino. I got a free cup of coffee, scouted around for the food places, took a few pictures just so I can remember where I was. After losing ten bucks in the 25cent poker slots, i decided it was time to go. So i walked way out to the bus stop after chatting the security who told me many of their staff went to Chicago to open the new casino right by jaybee's. So I waited at this bus stop while listening to this man talking on the phone. So i asked when the bus was coming and he said they run every hour on a Saturday (oh great) but not to worry it it comes at 9:17 (ugh!!! until he said it was already 9:10, sigh) and I heard him say he was going to the Starbucks on 6th and Penn (yay, May I piggy back cuz that's where I have to meet my kids)...and then, you got a transfer? That doesn't work, it has to be used on another forward route but not on the same (oh no, another $3)oh well. So the bus comes and by this time, Gary has already told me about his collapsed veins on his legs and that he has had an operation putting a stent in and that his other leg was bloated (manas to us) and he was ready for another operation where he doesn't take days off because he has work in the casino as a walking supervisor...and that he was born and raised in Connecticut but has lived in Florida working casinos for the past 18 years. He had to come to Pittsburgh to care for a sick uncle who finally passed away and so he was giving himself a few more months before heading back to Florida. He missed being sent to Chicago for the new casino because he was only with the company 4 months and the requisite was 6 months. After fireworks and a bit more chitchat before Bambi, Sam and Daniel showed up, I bade Gary goodbye until the next time who knows when.

random thoughts travelling to DC

Sometimes I wish I weren't lazy and relying on fading memories and thoughts as i travel the countryside. So many rich and fertile thoughts run through my mind as i catch forests, hills and rivers richly abundantly lushly growing all around, mixed with thoughts of coconut trees and wafting breezes from salt sprayed beaches. I chose to be here, di ba? So from a flat landscape of the mid west, to the hilly ups and downs of Pennsylvania, I realize the scope of the thought...ang laki-laki ng Amerika, pare!r

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Another one for RSM

After a slow day, I baked cookies to give Kim of Wheeling Donuts, so i could spend some time with her looking at paperwork. As I walked to my car, oops, keys, I had all my keys save for the car keys. So I walked back to the store (MACC) and started looking. Inside out my bags, up and down floors, tables, boxes and bins, NONE!!!no key. It is always in the blue thingy that is my key chain attached to my other hundred keys. But able to be separated at a moment's notice if someone else drives the car.
I walked back to the cat, up and down, sides, floors, grounds, trace my steps and all.
Meanwhile, Brian of Westfield finally came in (#1 if i left at 3 on the dot, I wouldn't have been able to talk to this very busy person ) and I was able to ask the pertinent questions of which items I could bring with us when we finally closed Mrs. A's. Then since I couldn't find the keys, i started packing boxes from my desk, in hopes of finding the keys. NONE. So Les can and picked me up, he also did the whole routine I did and even he couldn't find the danged keys. I was already whispering to RSM to help me find the keys.
I gave up. Les called the tow company after being told by Ford that they needed the car present to get the new key made (it has this chip, you see)
As I was going up the stairs, I suddenly thought of the many times dad found stuff for us, the weirdest was my losing my bridge at mom's house(searched the floors, garbage and everywhere) only to find it on my pillow at home. So the thought crossed my mind and I asked dad not to freak me out. Les had those thoughts too as he kind of worried that they would be on the door hook.
I passed by RSM's painting and said..oh so dad, you're not helping me this time, huh..!!?? a bit miffed but resigned. a fail this time.

Next day, stuck in traffic, the tow guy calls and we finally made it to the store. Kylie and i walked in while les went to get this thing going.
Twenty minutes later, too early, Les walked in with this burly cop type guy, the tow driver and they said they couldn't get the car onto the tow because I parked with the wheels askew, it kept slipping off the tow and he needed an ok from his boss to add Les' car to the tow so it would stay put. A mechanic had to be called in.$$$$$oh good grief. Then Les said, we probably don't need to go right away..and held up the KEY!!!!
While the tow guy was walking to his boss, Les spotted the Westfield janitor on his golf cart driving around cleaning the streets and lots. Les asked if he found any key by chance and the guy held up MY KEY!!! He found it at 9am (this was 9:45) during his round, not in my walk path but a few car spaces down the other way...not where I would walk or even pass.
Les said, "guess his name?" of course all of you and like me answered, Ruben???
No, ANGEL. Dad sent an angel. He knew I was upset. of course I could be making this up and it is once more serendipity, but i did chide dad about not helping. so he sent Angel. Thanks dad.

random thoughts

life is one amazing on and on and on.
today is rapture day. I tell everyone that even Jesus kept mentioning
the end of the world and that you never know when you will meet the bridegroom.
etc.etc. But what HE actually means, even with his parable that sounds so unfair (about the workers who came in at different times but got paid the same wages) is that the hour or YOUR death is the end of the world (YOURS) and that it doesn't matter if you came in first or last, wages(death) are the same, we all DIE.
Hasn't anyone figured this out yet?

Friday, May 13, 2011


When one door closes, another opens, and with God's grace, two.
Around the second week of April, we got the dreaded call that someone wants our
little Mrs. A's Cupcakes & Cookies store at Westfield in Old Orchard. Our home since February of 2008 after closing our first location at Northbrook Court.

This was devastating to us, all four of us work the store as our only source of income and we had no intentions of going anywhere. We weathered the downturn in economy, struggling but slowly building our name, and this year, as we started seeing an uptrend, comes this tension causing news. The chipper leasing manager whom we hardly knew showed her corporate claws and played it as an everyday thing. Meanwhile we were grieving and worrying.

But the Lord has His ways. A guy came in asking how our cupcakes were compared to Georgetown Cupcakes, a place we've heard of many times from customers who've been there saying the lines were out the door at that place, and we deprecatingly always say ours would probably be just as good. We noticed his jacket and immediately noted it as he mentioned it was a company his family owned. A few days later he came and said we had good cupcakes. Whew. Would we be interested in checking out their place? At that point, we had not gotten the news. So we went for a look see and called for an appointment to check it out.

A few weeks beforehand, Les who has always patronized the donut place on his way to work, befriended the new owner from last year, and gave her tips, advice and gave her new vendors to try. Jason from Bear Stewart thanked Les for the new business and said, hey she wants to sell the place to you.

Yesterday, Thursday May 12th, the Pickwick Theater management team of 2 brothers-in-law allowed Mrs. A to sign a lease and anent weeks of working with Park Ridge, we look forward to an August opening.

Today, Friday the 13th, we signed papers to take over an owner financed Wheeling Donuts, because Kim Hok Chong believed in us.

Thank you Lord, thank You for loving us and opening two doors to the one that was taken away from us. Each of this was serendipity. Thank You for your love.

Sunday, April 24, 2011


On our way to Bambi's for our Easter meal, we reflected on the fact that, we who own a bakery of sorts, did not have any Easter Lamb Cake or cookies to serve the kids. Also,as we saw lines of cars in chocolate shops, we realized that we also worked in these stores (Long Grove, Fannie May, See's) and sold tons of marshmallow eggs,caramel and peanut butter eggs, solid chocolate Easter Bunnies ; we did not have any to eat. hahaha.
Our menu this year was Roasted Lamb with a balsamic mint sauce courtesy of Sam , Bambi made the sides of lemon baked asparagus, petite french beans casseroles style, Baked Ham,mac and cheese, and my lengua in a mushroom cream sauce. Mary Bell brought the scalloped potatoes and fresh fruits, Kylie made her fruit salad and we made do with a store bought flan. Ate many times throughout the day and watched 2 movies. We missed one family who drove to Indiana, and Migay came before her road trip to Los Angeles.

The weather was cool to cold but not rainy or snowy. My mind's eye brought me back to Easter Eggs hunts at our home in San Juan, dainty baskets with us looking for painted boiled eggs with gumpaste hand painted eggs filled with imported candy from Rolling Pin. Holy Week was the time for visita Iglesia, and we mapped out 14 churches, choosing at least 2 new ones each year and ending with a trip to Aristocrat or Magnolia before heading home after a 7 to 8 hour trip. We got sophisticated one year and made 14 churches as we drove up to Baguio for Good Friday.
One Holy Week end was spent with the Bulakena clan in Baguio, another time in Cielito Lindo in Laguna, then there were times in Botolan or Nalinac.
But here we are in America, where Holy Week is not recognized, where people work even harder on Good Friday, where church is put on the back burner and we can't even find Jesus movies to watch and feel the Lenten quiet.
But it is the belief in Easter and the hope He brings plus the food, traditions and camaraderie and a bit of relaxation that makes it an event worth looking forward to, plus seeing the kids and apos. No pictures this year, we were not complete. Here's to the next one.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Gloria Y. Nichols/me vs Arlington Rehab/Carter Korey

When mom was in the ICU, hardly breathing because of pneumonia, and we knew it was only a matter of time, there was a moment of lucidity and she said to me, "be prepared".
When she passed, we were unable to give her the funeral service she deserved, with a grand Ruby plan from Funeraria Paz, but too far away to let it matter, we had a private cremation and a memorial service 40 days later.

But the "be prepared" did not mean her passing. It was what happened next. Arlington Rehab sent me a bill which I belieeived to be wrong. When we brought mom to the rehab center, Tricare was paying only the first 60 days and Patty and I said we would have to take her out if her Medicaid was not approved. Thankfully, it was and the way it works is, medicaid pays the rehab any amount after mom's pension is deducted. Which means that regardless of the rehab cost, the payment would only be her pension check minus any amounts paid for her insurance and personal needs.
The amount in the bill was too much. I told the accounts person that there was a mistake and to please check. With arrogance she said everything was correct.
From this came a series of calls and counter calls and then a sub poena as instead of calling me in to settle and check it out, they hired the services of a seeming ambulance chaser, a lawyer who also did not want to check my request. After two years of wrangling and threats from the lawyer, and my pleas for checking with medicaid, I had many sleepless nights and payments to my lawyer whose forte is not this kind of ridiculousness where he could not get the other lawyer to give me the billing. Instead there was a series of statements from the rehab and each time I questioned the bill, another came with a change of the bill when I pointed out there were errors in that they did not acknowledge the payments I had made. It became a series of changed statements and each one still reflected the wrong amounts.
The lawyer did not want to check why I was asking for the Medicaid statements. Sleepless nights and threats and requests to now look into patty's income status and her entire life aside from mine made me do what I should ahve done from the beginning, go to Medicaid.
Surprise, the woman said no one ever checked with them for the past 2 years....and that there was an error and it was corrected. And that why were we being charged for the month of GYN's death when Medicaid paid it in full knowing that her pension check would not be paid for that month.And then another round of statements again changed each time I pointed out the error. i still lost the case but for the correct amount. That was so exhausting and scary as the ambulance chasing lawyer continued to bully me and instead of writing me for payment plans went on to shut down my personal account and then file an arrest through the cook county sheriff. Finally, with the grace of God and as we celebrate GYN's 94th birthday, it is over.
Now I wonder if justice can really be served. They wanted to bill me the wrong amount and did not want to check. And billing me for when they were paid in full, stinks of fraud. And that if they checked my request from the beginning, I did not need to pay court fees nor lawyers fees. Smart lawyer, each time he re sets this, he got paid. I would have had to pay his fees if I did not show that the bill was wrong.
Anyway, after two years of stress, thank goodness its over. And we are celebrating GYN's 94th at a Polish Buffet, having decided to choose a cuisine from a place she has visited. She enjoyed her trip to Poland, just when Pope John Paul II was named Pope and Poland was still a communist country.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Mom in church

It is February, superbowl Sunday and no one is at mass. Frank is one of a few in the choir who showed up and was given a chance to sing a solo for the first time. Frank who has known mom, GYN since we first started going to St. Mike's. Frank who has always looked young, vibrant, happy. Frank sang and I started to tear up, mom would ahve been so proud. As I looked to the left of the pew, I realized why i never sat there by the aisle, because I always reserve that place for her and know she must be there. Tonight, she definitely was there. I had to tell Frank and it was amazing that even he knew that mom was there, he also felt her. She would have been so proud and so was I. When I went to him, he already knew....he also felt her.

February Blues Superbowl Sunday at mass

Not even 50 were at mass last night but Father Tom gave a homily that struck a chord in me. I keep telling this story of going to a charismatic bible reading group with my late MIL Leonor, to please her and to bond. Being Catholic, but in a non-religious school, I knew the bible stories but not the books. Besides, at this time I was already infected by Johnny Midnight's question of WHO WROTE THE BIBLE???
Anyway, Father Tom gave this excerpt from a book where all the religious, good guys, holy guys were all waiting to get into the pearly gates, then a rumor wafted through that HE was going to let everybody in. This drew anger and indignation amongst the group and they got angry because they have been good all their lives and then when it came to entering heaven HE was allowing everyone in that moment of anger, they damned themselves. They did not recognize God. So in that little seminar where I behaved like the good daughter in law eager to embrace the Lord, my MIL introduced me to the head of the group. I enthused that it was interesting and that I was also inspired by the fact that Jeanne Young, a bad girl turned Charismatic, spreading the word of the Lord, was so prominent in this movement and I was touched by her ability to reach both Catholic and Christian groups. The dude then said, " Yes, BUT we want her to focus on the Catholic groups and not the Christian groups" DING DING DING, I kids you not, I felt a curtain falling in front of me and heard a big THUD, I can still remember it after all these years, with goosebumps, too. And a voice yelling GET OUT OF HERE. I blinked and smiled , went back to the afternoon session struggling to renew my interest, left and never went back.
And here comes Father Tom and his amazing story. An answer to my search. Of course, bible readers will note that the Prodigal Son and the workers in the vineyard all have that same theme, Love. And that the Lord will forgive and let everyone in because He is Love. But if you are really deeply into anger, have taken a life, then the universal TIME OUT is in place until you can get in there. But in the end, we all have to die, there is no great leveler than this, it is an equalizer. It is in our hands where we go after. Right?

About Me

My photo
wife, mother of 5, lola(grandma)of 5,joined facebook and still wonder why friend, cook, baker, decorator,daughter,sister, Mrs.A'sCupcakes&Cookies Virgo Year of the Snake St. John's Academy 1970 University of the Philippines BSHRA I'm afraid to admit this, but oh well, Jack of all Trades, master of some. Football fan. Totally. Mrs. A's Cupcakes & Cookies, my latest venture.

another year and patty

another year and patty

Trendsetter at 8

Trendsetter at 8
Cooking on live TV with Nora Daza, the Philippines' Julia Child


All Mine!!!

All Mine!!!
Taylor, Maddie, Daniel, Hunter & Lynn

GY Nichols and Grandkids

GY Nichols and Grandkids
looks like lola's birthday

simple elegance

simple elegance

wedding cakes and me

wedding cakes and me
finishing touches


pure joy, returnable at the end of the day

Summa Cum Laude Bambi Bell

Summa Cum Laude Bambi Bell

patty and me

patty and me
another holiday has come and gone

Daniel's 1st Birthday Cake

Daniel's 1st Birthday Cake
labor of love following tradition, merry-go-round