Thursday, January 29, 2009

Random Acts of Kindness

I have been collecting articles from magazines for years. This one came from the December 1991 issue of Glamour Magazine's editorial page.

It's titled "Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty".

"It's a crisp winter day in San Francisco. A woman in a red Honda, Christmas presents piled in the back, drives up to the Bay Bridge tollbooth. "I'm paying for myself, and for the six cars behind me," she says with a smile, handing over seven commuter tickets.

One after another, the next six drivers arrive at the tollbooth, dollars in hand, only to be told, "Some lady up ahead already paid your fare. Have a nice day."

The woman in the Honda, it turned out, had read something on an index card taped to a friend's refrigerator. "Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty." The phrase seemed to leap out at her, and she copied it down.

Another lady said "I thought it was incredibly beautiful," she said, explaining why she's taken to writing it at the bottom of all her letters, "like a message from above."

Now the phrase is spreading, on bumper stickers, on walls, at the bottom of letters and business cards. And as it spreads, so does a vision of guerilla goodness.

A man might plunk a coin into a stranger's meter just in time.
A dozen people with pails and mops and tulip bulbs might descend on a run-down house and clean it from top to bottom, while the frail elderly owners look on, dazed and smiling.
A woman writes "Merry Christmas!" to the tellers on the back of her checks.

Senseless acts of beauty spread: A man plants daffodills along the roadway, his shirt billowing in the breeze from passing cars.

They say you can't smile without cheering up yourself a little - likewise, you can't commit a random act of kindness without feeling as if your own troubles have been lightened if only because the world has become slightly a better place.

And you can't be a recipient without feeling a shock, a pleasant jolt. If you were one of those rush-hour drivers who found your bridge fare paid, who knows what you might have been inspired to do for someone later?" Excerpts from December 1991 issue Glamour magazine

I have been struggling with a few issues lately. After reading this article, I feel so much better, so much lighter. I truly feel that the world can become a nicer place, if we can be kinder to each other.

New Blog Address

I have registered a new blog address for my personal posts. All the previous posts from this blog have been exported to the following site,

This blog will be reserved for Pastel b. Creations, which will be linked to Pastel b.'s upcoming website. Thanks for following and looking forward to your comments!! :D

Thursday, January 22, 2009


My fondest and most treasured trinkets were collected from over a span of 2 decades. The binoculars were from an antique store near San Francisco almost 20 years ago. The 3 miniature picture frames were bought at the Takashimaya in New York.

They are prized because of the memories attached to them. Among the many times I went to New York, these 3 occasions were extra special. The first time attending a cousin's wedding, the second time, also a wedding, as the maid of honor at a very good friend's wedding and the 3rd time, spending Christmas with my newly wed friends at their home, with a Labrador taking 2/3 of my bed, and us being bossed around by a little Yorkie.

Each trinket served as a momento of these precious memories. I remembered crying so hard at my friend's wedding at the chapel that the best man came over to ask me if I were hyperventilating. Luckily, the bride and I decided to put on clear mascara that morning when the lady did our makeup. Actually it was the groom who cried first when the pastor read the letter the bride wrote to him. Me, I choked up on the first sentence.

I was so happy the newly weds invited me to stay at their new home the next year, and got acquainted with Jed, the massive Lab with the biggest heart, the gentlest temperament and the saddest of eyes. Each night for those 2 weeks, I had to jostle with him to get 1/3 of my bed back to sleep on. Well, Jed had thunderous snores, too.

As for the little Yorkie, he would boss Jed around and oh, they loved to chase the postman. It was funny to see Jed following Potato Cake's command to go "chase". Jed would stand guard wagging his tail while the little guy yapped his way out. It's funny.

Jed passed away last year.

When I read what my friend wrote me of Jed's last days, my tears welled up and blurred the words on the screen. But I am so honored to have met this big gentle guy.

When the brush fires raged thru' California, people were asked what were the few items they'd brought with them, when they saw the fires coming so rapidly. Almost all said, their pets, photos of loved ones and items that had personal meaning to them, and funnily enough, not the items with the most dollar value.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Women

(Photo : www.

The Women, starring Meg Ryan and Annette Benning....

It 's been a while since I have watched a movie with Meg Ryan, a favorite actress of mine, on the big screen. I remember her fondly in the roles of "When Harry Met Sally", "You've Got Mail" and "Sleepless in Seattle". I also like Annette Benning a lot, coz she is so beautiful and elegant. When the DVD came out, I rented it.

The storyline is nothing new. One of the girlfriend's husband has an affair and the movie revolves around on how she deals with the betrayal, with the rally of her best friends around her. I guess the best part of the movie is the emphasis on the bonding between 2 best friends, and how, losing the best friend hurts more than finding out about a cheating husband, because your friend is someone you trust that you could fall back on when things go wrong. Since it is a comedy, it has a happy ending.

The funniest part is that there are no male leads, not even the husband who cheated in question. The most you get that he existed is from the phone calls he supposedly made to his wife. This is an all female cast, with Candice Bergen and Bette Midler, too. I don't think I gave too much away with this post, but girls, you should rent it. It would boost up your girl power!!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Appearance Matters

Rent or Buy?

The article by Sameer Reddy is titled "Keeping Up Appearances". It talks about how a character in a US prime time TV show, "Gossip Girl", "goes to great lengths to project a soignee appearance in order to court popularity at her exclusive Upper East Side prep school. She saves her allowances, frequent second hand shops, stitches her own party dress and does whatever else it takes to keep up with her better-off peers." In the end, she succeeded and even made it to "New York Post's Page Six gossip column."

The theme of the article is that a lot of people still want to project an air of well-off-ness in the economic downturn we are facing today. The gist is, we could do it with a little creativity and imagination. The author cited 2 luxury items, jewelry and bags, that women seemingly could not live without.

In this day and time, money in the pocket makes more sense than plunking it down on a sparkly diamond or a must-have bag. Popping up are lab-cultured diamonds and rent-a-bag shops. You could buy a diamond so real that diamond experts have a hard time to tell apart, and rent to own bags that could satisfy the urge to look hip.

I had a secret smile after reading this article. It reminded me of Jennifer Hudson's character, Louise, in the SATC movie. There was one scene when Carrie was interviewing her for an assistant post, and Louise was saying how she was living in a tiny room in NY city. Carrie then asked her how she could afford an LV bag, Louise smugly replied that she rented it, and said to Carrie, "You have a lot to learn from me, girl".

I still want to look good, but spending money in these tight times just doesn't make sense. Yeah, there are still a Chanel bag or 2 that I would looove to have, but parting with my money is not that easy now. I guess it has more to do than the economic crisis, I would want to believe that I have gotten wiser.

Weighing the US$2,000 I'd have to spend to get the coveted bag, is the amount of work I'd have to put into to find the money. Nowadays, I would ask myself, does the bag justify the extra stress? Well, the answer is a definite "No". My investment has shifted, from owning things to investing in myself, in knowledge and in values like empathy, integrity, and freedom.

Afterall things are just things and will fade away, or more likely, we'll be bored with it sooner than we think and will be stumped by the question, "Why the heck did I pay so much for this?"
Investing in oursleves, in the core of our being, is more long lasting. In the end, we'd appreciate the better person we have become.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Loving yourself is the Best Gift to Others

Today's title in "A Year of Living Consciously"

"On the surface it might sound like loving yourself is a selfish act, but it is actually the ultimate act of selfless giving....One moment of genuine self-love can result in a lifetime of compassionate contribution to others.

One of my friends, a yoga teacher and single parent with several children, told me, "If I take a few minutes in meditation each day to resonate with myself, I can do things all day with and for my kids. But if I don't take a little time for me each day, I end up feeling resentful about all the demands they make."

-Conscious Living Practice for today-

Take five or ten minutes to yourself today. Don't do anything, just sit and be. Appreciate yourself for simply being you. Realize: If I don't take wonderful care of myself, who will?
(Excerpt from A Year of Living Consciously by Gay Hendricks)

I am blessed with Merlyn to take care of my kids and my household chores. The house is cleaned, the kids are fed when I wake up. I could smell the coffee brewing when I get out of bed. This is heaven.

A week into her 3 weeks holiday back home in May last year, I almost went crazy with the things I had to do before I could enjoy my morning coffee. First, feeding the kids with their appropriate food, dog with dog food, cat with cat's, bird with bird's. Then comes the cleaning of their you-know-what. The point is, it totally broke my most important morning ritual of enjoying 2 cups of hot coffee first thing in the morning.

I was moody and I was impatient with the kids. I felt that I had no space and they were "asking" for too much, as if they could "talk". As I re-read this entry again with the calmness of Merlyn here taking care of everything, I could totally relate to the importance of having some time to yourself.

I guess the quote from Lucille Ball sums it all up, "I have an everyday religion that works for me. Love yourself first, and everything else falls into line."

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Freedom Moon

I have been an avid supporter of the Animals Asia Foundation for a couple of years now. I was so excited to get this book in the mail. The proceeds of the book will go directly to the moon bear funds.

It is thrilling and heart warming to see the bears thrive after so many years of being abused. Some more fortunate bears get to live out in the sanctuary, finally free, feeling the sun and grass, playing and getting proper nourishment and medical attention.

Some unfortunate bears never get to set foot on the grass, and have died after arrving briefly at the sanctuary. I was outraged to see the tortured images and it made me want to do more for them besides supporting the foundation. I want to spread the word, my righteous indignation at the humans who would torture animals for profit. I hope that more bears will be saved and this horrendous practice of bear farming will end once and for all.

Hooray to the team at Animals Asia for their tireless efforts in freeing the bears!!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Noka Chocolates

One piece of Noka Chocolate, price tag US$10....

The Gift Box....

The chocolate ice cream/sorbet is 3000yen....

The jewel-like display of Noka Chocolates.....
I am not a big chocolate fan, but an occasional chocolate mousse cake or a creamy hot chocolate is nice. Sometimes, I would splurge on my sweet tooth, and a Godiva or a Cova truffle would nicely satisfy me. I consider them luxury items coz one piece of truffle is pretty pricey.
Well, imagine my surprise when I walked into the Noka Chocolate Store in MidTown. The chocolates were framed by a backlight, so they somehow looked mysterious. There weren't a lot of choices, only 4 flavors to choose from, but the price tag was what made me go "whoa!!"
One tiny piece of chocolate costs US$10 and it's the size of a piece you break from a Cadbury bar!! I got so curious that I actually bought the one piece. The lady explained the reason behind the exotic price was that there's an initial taste, and an after taste that would linger in your mouth. Ok...
I tried it on my train ride from the onsen in Hakone back to Shinjuku. Maybe I was expecting too much. Indeed there were flavors described by the lady, but the taste certainly didn't linger long. 2 minutes of indulgence came with a US$10 price tag!! Luckily I wasn't sold to buy the 3000 yen ice cream!!


This is the florist in Takashimaya, Shinjuku. I have very fond memories of the Takashimaya in New York. It is one of my favorite stores on Fifth Avenue. I was told that the store in Japan was not the same elegant one in New York, more like Daimaru.

Well, after visiting the store in Shinjuku, I must admit that the Takashimaya in New York is much more chic. However, one aspect is similar, that of the spectacular florist. The fragrance travels and the scents of the flowers are just heavenly.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Tokyo MidTown

Tokyo MidTown.....

Aoki Parisienne Cafe Entrance.....

The interior of the cafe.....

The Dessert Display with Calla Lilies is a nice touch....

My order of cappuccino....

The Tea Set Display at the cafe, they are models....

Tea Set Display, again, they are models....
My favorite place in my Japan trip is visiting Tokyo MidTown. The subway exit goes directly into MidTown, so you don't have to get out into the cold to get there. Aside from brand name shops and specialty stores, there is this nice cafe that I went.
The entrance looked more like a jewelry store than a cafe. Tall vases of white calla lilies sat atop tall displays of all kinds of sweets imaginable, from cookies, chocolates to cakes and pastries. The display is certainly a feast for the eyes. When my order of cappuccino arrived, the foam came as a heart shaped design. It looked so nice I didn't want to dip my spoon into it and stir.
The whole ambience and presentation gave the impression that the food and drinks were to be appreciated as gems in their own right. I guess this is the best representation of appreciation with all your senses, visual, smell and taste.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Meeting Leigh

The trip to Japan has been a whirlwind. I have never walked so much in my entire life, and it's non-stop walking for 4 days!!
I am so happy to be able to meet up with Leigh and Pascale on the day before I left. We had drinks at the Bulgari Cafe and Pascale treated us. :)
Leigh is adorable and with her ponytails and pink boots she is just too cute in person. Here is a picture of us.
I am still sleeping round the clock and napping between my readings to catch up on my zzz. Boy, am I tired!! All the same, I am happy to have experienced so many things on this trip. When I had my fill of zzz, I will write about it!! Ciao!!!

Monday, January 5, 2009


I am off to Japan for a week. Porky is not pleased at all to see me packing. Usually, when I take a shower at night, he would go to sleep in my room. Not last night though!! He was at the door guarding the exit!! He has had experience of me going on trips and he knows what a luggage means!! Awe.....I miss my snoring P already!!

Can't wait to see Pascale and Leigh Leigh!! Here comes auntie Bonnie!!
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