Category Archives: Things you NEED to know

It’s a Hello Kitty world…

… we just live in it!

I love Japan and their whole appreciation for anything and everything “kawaii” (cuute).  It all started in the late ’70s when I was around 5 years old, and someone gave me some stationery (this was before e-mail) featuring a cat with her name spelled in fat letters – Hello Kitty.  Clean lines, no facial expressions or cartoon bubble talk, Kitty was just a cute little cat in overalls sporting a red ribbon.  Then along the way, something happened and Kitty exploded and became a multi-million dollar global phenomenon.  People like Paris Hilton took the humble cat from Japan and went insane with her.  Here are just a few of many great examples of where Kitty’s at today (many are from :


Ok, so I do think Hello Kitty fruit is super cute —

I would so buy these! Kawaii bananas at a Japanese supermarket


And I would totally buy this yogurt maker if I could find it —

Healthy, calcium-rich and Kitty-cute: what more could a girl ask for?


But I don’t think I’d want to be friends with the girl who decides to get married in this get-up–

Scarlett O'Hara meets Cinderella in Hello Kitty Hell


Nor would I like to see this in my bathroom…

I think my husband would leave me if I ever installed this


Though I may consider delivering  a baby here at the kawaii-cute Hello Kitty hospital in Taiwan–

How could you not love working here? Unless you were a man... who hated Hello Kitty



Then there are the more interesting Kitty items such as —

The Hello Kitty Rosary (for cute Catholics)


Conversely, there is the Hello Kitty burqa (for cute Muslims)


The Hello Kitty AK-47 …

This model proved unpopular with communist rebels...


The Hello Kitty-Louis Vuitton bong for cute, brand-conscious potheads…


We get to see Kitty’s super-cute internal organs through the Kitty meets Dr. Romanelli doll…

If only my heart and spleen were that adorable


And from the “I didn’t know there was a market for that” department…

Beck’s Hello Kitty Beer

Not a good thing to bring to a tailgate party


The equivalent of a huge “Kick Me” sign for any man…

It's the kitted-out Hello Kitty Ferrari


You know the universe is coming to an end when Darth Vader becomes a Kitty fan–

Scary Schoolgirl and Hello Darth make for a great disturbance in the Force


It’s World Population Day

Population cartoon from

June 11th is World Population Day

Whenever I hear the words ‘population explosion’, I always think of the Philippines.  When I used to live in Canada, this would always come up about the Philippines in my Southeast Asian Government classes.  Now, I don’t need to study facts or statistics, I simply need to leave my home to see children everywhere — playing on dusty sidewalks by busy intersections, clutching their young mother’s hand while she begs for money, sleeping in wooden carts in empty lots. 

I always wondered how one can live in this country and not even consider the idea of a reproductive health plan.  I am against abortion, but am pro-birth control.   Underprivileged women need the information and free birth control to help them gain control of their lives.  As a nation, we seriously need to keep our population in check if we are to begin the long process of eradicating poverty.

The Philippine Star details the story of the UNFPA (United Naitons Population Fund)’s 20th World Population Day:

[The UNFPA released a statment that] calls on governments to promote women’s reproductive health and prevent maternal and child deaths through family planning programs and the use of contraceptives. Even the person in charge of direct aid for the poor in the Philippines, Social Welfare Secretary Esperanza Cabral, is pushing for the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill as resources shrink in the recession and the population continues to boom.

The UNFPA points out that an investment in contraceptive services could be recouped four times over in terms of savings in public education, health care and other social services. The UN agency also says that family planning alone can reduce maternal deaths by up to 40 percent.

So “Happy World Population Day” and may everyone in government seriously think about giving the Reproductive Health Bill a shot.  Just look out your windows, people!  Look.


Political Cartoon from 1937 shows this is not an new issue

Political Cartoon from 1937 shows this is not an new issue

Fabella Hospital still serves indigent patients free of charge.  It's known as Manila's "baby factory" as 20% of Manila's babies are born here.

Fabella Hospital, Manila's "baby factory" as 20% of Manila's babies are born here to indigent moms.

 Read more about Fabella Hospital HERE.

Pre-war Manila was so beautiful

I love looking at old photos.  Black and white photographs always evoke a sense of nostalgia in me, even if they’re of a history I wasn’t a part of.  Looking at old photos of Manila is especially interesting because the images capture a world that really seems forever lost to time.  As our grandparents’ and their friends’ stories go, these were the days when people shopped on Escolta wearing smart hats and white suits, when weekends were spent swimming and picnicking on the banks of the Pasig River, and when you got dressed to enjoy a night out at the Jai Alai Building’s Sky Room. 

To give a better sense of what pre-war Manila was like, I’m posting old photos of the Philippines that I found in the LIFE Magazine Photo Archives.   This amazing set of photographs was taken in November 1941 Manila, the week before the outbreak of war with Japan.  The days of calm before the storm…


The beautiful Jai Alai building, designed by Welton Becket, who also did the iconic Capitol Records Tower in LA:

The Welton Becket-designed art deco Jai Alai Building

The Welton Becket-designed art deco Jai Alai Building


 Watching a game of Jai-Alai:

1942 Jai Alai Game


The main commercial district, Escolta:

When men wore white suits...

When men wore white suits...


Inside a Manila Department Store:

Taken during the Christmas Holidays, a week before war with Japan...

Taken in late November a week before Pearl Harbor, stores were ready to celebrate Christmas.


View of the busy Sta. Cruz Plaza, Manila:

1942 Sta Cruz Plaza Manila


Japanese businesses still open:

1942 Japanese Bazaar


The Manila City Hall and its manicured courtyard:

1942 City Hall


Shopping at stalls near the Quiapo Church:

We loved tiangges even back then...

We loved tiangges even back then...


Lovely interiors of the Quiapo Church:

1942 Quiapo Church


Having lunch at the Manila Polo Club:

1942 Polo Club


Getting ready to watch a baseball game, Manila Polo Club:

1942 Polo Club


View of the clean, art-deco Quezon Bridge:

Note that we used to drive on the left side of the street

Note that we used to drive on the left side of the street


When men used to wear hats… a second-hand hat stall off Carriedo St.:



Manila Hotel swimming pool:



Ready for what’s coming- the popularity contest winner of the Manila College of Pharmacy smiles and shows her support for the boys:

1942 Winner

Lip Augmentation is not good

wax lips

I don’t know why wax lips are still in joke shops when there are now women who actually pay to achieve this bizarre ultra-plump-pouty look.  Maybe part of the fluid injected into your lips makes you instantly believe you look like Angelina Jolie.  Aside from Megan Fox (who can kind of pull it off), the rest of these women remind me of the freaky melting women from Soundgarden’s Black Hole Sun video.  Creepy!

I'm meltiiingg....

I'm meltiiingg....


Why Brittany, Why?

brittany murphy


There was NOTHING wrong with her to begin with

lara flynn boyle


Olivia Newton-John’s daughter, Chloe Lattanzi, felt she needed duck lips at 23

Chloe Lattanzi


Dearest Donatella… no no nooo



The Philippines hasn’t been spared…

Pops Fernandez from


gretchen lips2

KC Concepcion


The one who can probably pull it off: Megan Fox Before & After

Megan Fox Before After


Great parting shot…  Donatella is now Janice the Muppet!

Donatella and Janice

Philippines: 13th in Asia yet 14th Happiest in the World


Wealthy Singapore - but are they happy?

Below is the CIA’s list of the Top 10 Wealthiest Nations in Asia.  No surprise that Las Islas isn’t on the list but it was depressing to see that Malaysia, our former ‘not so successful’ neighbor (when I was a kid), is now at number 8.  It also says something that when I google’d photos of Malaysia, not one had a shanty, a mountain of garbage, or a half-dressed child.  But all is not lost, the Philippines stands at number 13, just behind China and ahead of  Kazakhstan(Borat’s home).  Not bad, at least we’re still ahead of Indonesia!

Top 10 List of the Wealthiest Countries in Asia  (c/o CIA World Factbook, rank based on GDP per capita)

  1. Singapore – 27,800
  2. Japan – 23,400
  3. Hong Kong – 23,100
  4. Macau – 17,500
  5. Brunei – 17,400
  6. Taiwan – 16,100
  7. South Korea – 13,300
  8. Malaysia – 10,700
  9. Thailand – 6,400
  10. Turkey – 6,200

Despite not making the Top 10 of Asia’s Wealthiest, the Philippines apparently ranks 14th out of 143 nations the in the New Economic Foundation’s Ranking of the World’s Happiest Places.  The basis for ranking being:

  • life expectancy (ours is 71 years)
  • people’s happiness with their lives (55% of Filipinos are apparently thrilled with theirs)
  • and environmental impact (hmm…) 

Costa Rica was crowned the happiest and greenest place on earth (take that, Disneyland).  The highest ranked Western nation is the Netherlands at 43, with the US at 114.   So yay to South America and to us:  Viva and Mabuhay!  Let’s dance!

Happy Filipinos

Happy Filipinos - sayaw nalang tayo!

Mmmm… Tiffin lunches are wonderful

Tiffin = a stainless steel container with curries, rotis, rice, meat, dessert... MMMM

Tiffin lunch = MMmmm!


Last night, I watched as Padma Lakshmi (star of Top Chef and Carl’s Jr.’s recent ad) explained the virtues of the tiffin trade in India on Discovery Travel & Living.  Mumbai is apparently the only city in the word where home-cooked food is delivered by the dabbawala or Tiffin Man to working people all over the city.  Basically, your mom or wife cooks your food, the Tiffin Man picks it up around 9-10am, then through a complicated series of train/cart transfers, your tiffin gets to you, filled with hot steaming rotis, curries, meats and a sweet treat at lunchtime.  Amazing!


Amazing dabbawallas deliver non-labeled tiffins directly to you

Dabbawallas deliver non-labeled tiffins directly to you


It just makes no sense to bring your lunch with you in the mornings as this system of over 5,000 Tiffin Men delivering to over 200,000 working people has been in place forever!  Plus, the dabbawallas, lowly educated Indians from the Pune region, have built their lives around this trade. It’s such an amazing system that you can easily find diagrams and flowcharts online explaining its intricacies.  Click HERE for more on the tiffin trade.

Here’s a popular tiffin recipe for Coconut Chicken.  Mmmm….


coconut chicken


  1. Cut 2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces.  Fry them in oil. 
  2. Add 1 thinly sliced carrot, 1/2 cup sweet peas, 1 chopped green onion, 1 tablespoon curry powder, salt and pepper to the chicken.  Cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Combine 1 can of coconut milk to the mixture and mix well.  Cook for 10 to 15 minutes more. 
  4. Pack into your son’s/boyfriend’s/husband’s waiting tiffin and if you don’t live in Mumbai, just look at it until he comes home…

Get some Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding in you!

Just looking at this makes my teeth hurt

Just looking at this makes my teeth hurt

If you don’t give a snit about your waistline or your blood sugar levels, then I suggest trying out this very popular recipe for “Bill Nicholson’s Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding” from Paula Deen’s cookbook.  It’s highly recommended by all the Southern folk who love Paula, especially because they love anything deep-fried and caked in sugar down there.  I may make this for the holidays for my 7 year old, who is sad to be on an enforced break from Krispy Kreme and DQ.   Sorry D, mommy will shower you with sugar soon…

  1. Cube 2 dozen (!) regular glazed Krispy Kreme donuts into a large bowl.  Pour in a mixture of 2 beaten eggs, 2 4.5-ounce cans of fruit cocktail (undrained), 1 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk, 1 9-ounce box of raisins, 2 teaspoons cinnamon and 1 pinch of salt.  Mix all ingredients until donuts have soaked up as much liquid as possible.
  2. Bake at 350 degrees in a pan for about an hour or until center has jelled.  Top with butter rum sauce (Melt 1 stick butter, stir in 1 pound box of confectioner’s sugar (!), add rum to taste and heat until bubbly).  Pour over each serving of bread pudding.   Makes 20-24 servings (!!)… but I suggest halving the recipe… or running a marathon the same night.