Oodles of Pasta at Goodles!

I am a pasta lover. No doubt about it. And I love every opportunity to try out a new pasta place.

So when blogger friend Fran posted a sign-up notice for this new pasta place, Goodles, in Robinsons Galleria that her friend had just put up, I quickly signed up. It helped, of course, that I live close by. I also got to bring my girl C1 with me.

Sharlene Tan is the proprietress of Goodles. Shar explained the concept of Goodles to the bloggers present. It is simple, really – provide delicious, gourmet pasta choices ‘to go’. Now why hasn’t anyone thought of that before?

Before Goodles, one would need to find a casual or fine dining pasta restaurant with a sit-down ambience. Then one would wait about 20 minutes after placing an order for it to be served. Prices of such dishes would also be in the P200 to P400 range per plate.

Goodles is not a brick-and-mortar type of pasta restaurant. Instead, it is located near the fountain area, in an open space, with simple tables and chairs for those who choose to sit down to eat while also offering the order-and-go style for those who wish to take the food out or who want to take something other than popcorn and chips into the moviehouse.

We got to try all the dishes they served up but my personal favorite that night was the Grape Carbonara. No kidding, they put grape halves in with the carbonara. Shar said that carbonara, which oftentimes comes out too creamy and rich, is complemented by the taste of the grapes which tempers the richness of the carbonara sauce. I must say that she was absolutely right. The grapes went very well with the carbonara!

C1 had the Seven Layer Lasagna. That was very good too. I dug into the layers upon layers of the chunky meat sauce topped with lots and lots of mozzarella cheese.

The Salsa Rossa Shrimp is good for those who can stand it a bit spicy hot. This is a creamy tomato sauce with white shrimps and sweet basil topped with fresh mozzarella bits. Chili is added for that hot ooomph!

All the bloggers who went that night were one in saying that the Goodles menu was truly value for money. Know why? None of their prices hit P200. Great pasta at a great price. That is the real deal!

We all vowed to come back again and again. Next time, I’m bringing my girl C2 who is a definite pasta lover like me.

Goodles is located at the 4/F of Robinsons Galleria (near Movieworld and in front of Pizza Hut).

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Season of Hope and a Family Tradition

Every home is likely to have a Christmas tree. Almost every home would have a ‘belen’ or Nativity set. I wonder — how many homes have an Advent wreath with candles similar to what you see lit in churches during the Sundays of Advent?

Ours does!

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And mind you, this is not just for display!

From the 1st Sunday of Advent till Christmas Day — EVERY NIGHT to the extent possible — our family gathers around this table, lights the candles (purple, purple, pink, purple — in that order — from the 1st to the 4th weeks), join in the Advent prayers for the day from a prayer book, and sing the Advent songs.

C1 was still a toddler when we began this family tradition and it worked its way down the line to our youngest, M2. Each year as the kids grew older, we continued this Christmastime custom and witnessed how they grew with it. When they were toddlers, we lit the candles for them and they would argue over who got to blow out the candle/s that night.

When they learned to read, we assigned portions of prayers to them until they were old enough to read (and lead!) the prayers in its entirety. In fact, C1 insists that M1’s reading abilities improved a lot during the time he was made to read from the prayer book (can you imagine some of the Bible words and names he had to learn to read as an early grader?).

One by one, they learned to light the candles (M1 recalls his first time after he completed a scouting camp). And all of them can sing the 2 songs from memory. In their earlier school years, when ‘O Come, O Come Emmanuel’ was first taught either in Music or CLE classes, it would surprise their teachers that they knew the lyrics and tune right off. More so would be the surprise of friends upon learning that we all could sing the lesser known song ‘O Come Divine Messiah’.

A personal part of the rite was the intercessory portion. To the chorus of “Lord, hear our prayer”, we made the rounds of everyone. Each kid was given time to offer up his/her intentions for the day. When they were younger, we would get prayer intentions like: “I hope I get a ________ for Christmas” (hint! hint!). Eventually we got more serious intentions: “I wish I could pass my test tomorrow…” and lately, some of the intentions have gone outward: “I want to lift up my classmate who is sick of ______.”

The climax, of course, is something we do as an extra. On Christmas Day, we light a WHITE candle which stands in the center of the other 4 candles, waiting just for this one day to be lit. The 2 songs are no longer needed as the Christ Child is already with us. So instead, we sing a Christmas song.

It warms my heart that despite their being in this so-called “rebellious, defiant” teen years, we could not go through a Christmas without setting up these candles on our table. They themselves look for it, as though our Christmas cannot be complete without it.

Years from now, when they begin to have their own families, I hope and pray that they carry on this timeless tradition — another family memory and treasure for their own children to have.

And I believe that for as long as these candles of hope continue to be lit, our problems and that of our country and the world will not seem too hopeless. There is a God who continues to come to us, to our country, and to our homes under all situations, good or bad.

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A Thief in the Night

A good friend, a good mother and wife, staunchly protective of her family especially her sons, active in school, always willing to lend a helping hand…..

But the other day, I was enroute to work when a text message came in. Lucy had passed away in her sleep. Just like that. No forewarning, no illness. Nothing that foreshadowed her fate.

Our 2 boys both attended the China program of their school two years ago. My son then was a couch potato; so was hers. So during the boys’ free time in Xiamen, when most of the boys were out playing soccer or basketball, M1 took a stroll around the beautiful lake of Xiamen University….and bumped into Lucy’s son, likewise taking a stroll. There started a wonderful friendship between these 2 boys.

On their return to Manila, our sons continued to keep in touch and there were several Saturdays when M1 spent the day at their home with other friends, just bonding. Lucy, of course, was always there to see to the boys’ needs. And when it came time to get M1, she never hesitated to invite me in, making sure a glass of juice was served. That was typical Lucy.

It is so surreal that we will no longer meet. Just last week, we said Hi to each other as we hurried from classroom to classroom during parent-teacher conference day. Some of the other parents had their own stories to tell. One had just spoken with Lucy the night before she died; others had plans to meet up with her the next day for a game of badminton.

I now suddenly feel the fragility of life. One can be so vibrantly alive one day and lifeless the next. While it is good to plan ahead and plan well, it is better to always remember to live THE PRESENT as fully as one can.

Lucy’s passing has once more reminded me NOT to put off till tomorrow —

– saying “I love you” to the people I deeply care for;

– hugging my kids and telling them how much they mean to me;

– telling hubby how much appreciated he is for caring for our family;

– doing a good deed for someone in need;

– spreading cheer at work and at home;

– talking to the Lord and thanking Him for every breath I take during the day.

Lucy, you will be sorely missed. Most of all by your family whom you loved so much and who love you so much too. But also by your parent friends like us who have been with you these past years through all our school activities. Rest well, Lucy, in the arms of our Lord. Our paths will cross again someday and it will be in a much, much happier place.

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A Book That Could Save a Relationship

If ever there is a book that will save many a marriage or relationship (and make you laugh while reading it), THIS IS IT — “Why Men Don’t Listen & Women Can’t Read Maps”. My feet were killing me at a mall while I waited for hubby to pick me up, so I dodged into the bookstore and ended up buying this one.

I had read “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus” and it was good, intellectual reading — that is, if you got to finish reading it from cover to cover. This book, authored by Allan & Barbara Pease, may be a very simplified version of the Venus-Mars one but it does play up so many of the irritants that can crop up between a man and a woman and gives a logical explanation to them — that when it comes down to the nitty-gritty of things, men and women are indeed WIRED DIFFERENTLY and, in the authors’ words, “the way our brains are wired and the hormones pulsing through our bodies are the two factors that largely dictate, long before we are born, how we will think and behave. Our instincts are simply our genes determining how our bodies will behave in given sets of circumstances.” Continue reading

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Cebu Pacific’s Online Reservations and Ticketing System

Online booking and ticketing is making its way into Philippine homes. Convenient! Or so I thought….

Our 2 boys are headed for the province soon so the other night, I logged on to Cebu Pacific’s website and began booking their tickets. It was a cinch! The pop-up windows first showed me the available promo rates for the date I chose, then after my selection, it began asking me for passenger details. Processing my credit card did not pose any problems at all. Soon after processing, the e-tickets of the boys were emailed to me pronto! Wow, I thought to myself, what a comfort to do things from home rather than have to troop to a ticketing office.

I thought too soon. Our niece who came to Manila for a convention and who was traveling back home with our boys needed to have her e-ticket rebooked. I went through the website. Nope, there was NO ONLINE WAY TO REBOOK! Egads!

There was a 24/7 telephone number though so I promptly dialed it. A friendly customer rep assisted me with the rebooking. Okay, so far. But then, here came the bad news. The e-ticket had to be reissued and it could not be done online. I had to go to the nearest ticketing office to get it done. Huh? May record locator naman. If they could email me a newly-purchased ticket, why couldn’t reissuances be done online via email as well? Beats me… Continue reading

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Vista Marina Subic

It is just a little over a year old, having begun operations around December 2005.

Vista Marina is located along Waterfront Road, almost at the end of it. What makes this a wonderful place to stay in is its magnificent bay view — the boardwalk connects several smaller hotels, and you have an expanse of white sand and calm bay waters interrupted only by people jet skiing and parasailing. The boardwalk is tastefully landscaped, with a circular alcove that can be a perfect hang-out (surrounded by plants around it and with half of the alcove bounded by a wall with cascading waters). Continue reading

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