Archive for May 14th, 2009


I never heard of Sharon Hinck until Renovating Becky Miller. At first I had some reservations if I’ll read it among a stash of around a hundred books which have been accumulating in our shelf – left unread.

It’s a story of Becky, Kevin, her husband and their three young kids named Dylan, age nine, Kelsey, five and the youngest Micah, who is two and a half years old. Becky is your typical young mom – smart, tender, and deliciously witty, at times doing everything to keep the household running in a perfect rhythm – only she realizes that she’s just human. She is a daydreamer too and she’s been envisioning herself in the happy endings she sees during her weekly movie nights with Kevin.

When they decide to sell their family home to purchase a rundown farmhouse, Becky pictures herself in a slower, simpler lifestyle in the countryside only to discover that it doesn’t really work out that way, her real life feels more like a broken filmstrip, spinning out of control.

Hinck is a good storyteller, the book comes alive with every page that have you laughing and crying at times with Becky. It makes you remember your own experiences as a young mom, that feeling of “been there, done that” and “I can oh-so-relate to that life” thing.

And Becky Miller’s Guide to Home Repair? Here goes,as summarized in the book cover:

“- Budget the gross national product of a small country then double it
– Never, ever invite your mother-in-law to stay with you during a remodel
– Figure out how to heat the living room before inviting your Bible study group
– Stock up on Tylenol, chocolate and sandbags
– Hire a professional to fix the plumbing
– Sometimes, renovation is an inside job”

This book is definitely a good read, it will make you ask, “What will happen next?”.

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The last time I blogged  about  American Idol was when David Cook got the crown, so to speak.  It was David Cook all the way during Season 7.  Wow, now both Davids are here, what a thrill!  But if you ask me, no matter how I admire the two, I won’t  even attempt to watch their one-night concert at SM Mall of Asia.  I am not that nimble enough to mingle with the anticipated huge crowd who will be watching the concert.

I watched David Archuleta on SIS this morning, he really brought the house down. He was a darling and so generous with his praises of the Filipino singers (GMA talents) who interpreted some of his songs during the program.  He described the singers as “perfectly harmonized”. And he loves mangoes. SIS gifted him with a barong Tagalog designed by Pepsi Herrera. He was also given a miniature Filipino symbols like an ice cream cart, a nipa hut inside a bottle and a jeepney(he even joked that he wanted to ride in one) and a small figure  dressed in barong Tagalog.

So Season 8 has finally reached the top two, with Adam Lambert and Kris Allen vying for the  American Idol crown. I haven’t been watching the show religiously but most of them are really, really talented artists.  I love the vocal range and style of Adam Lambert but Kris Allen’s version of Kanye West’s Heartless was totally amazing.  And if you ask me who will win in this season’s finale? It would be Adam Lambert, hands down.  I love Kris Allen though with his winning  smile and charming looks. Win or lose, the top two slots are assured of a bright future anyway, so it won’t affect me that much if Kris Allen goes off with the crown.  Who’s your bet?

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“One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs, or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls”.

If Khaled Hosseini shines in The Kite Runner, he was even more brilliant as a writer in A Thousand Splendid Suns. And if I shed a tear or two reading the former, I cried buckets reading the latter. I like the simple prose that touches the heart. Once again, the setting was in Afghanistan, this time, Hosseini takes us to the last thirty three years of the country’s history of war and oppression through the eyes of two women with minute details that jump into you and seem so real. You also feel the pain and anguish as you read along and begins to hate the oppressors as much as the other characters in the book. Women in the old Afghanistan were forced into marriage at an early age. At the time of the communists’ rule back in the seventies, women were given the chance to be educated, they were more free and had more rights than they ever had before. But during the Taliban rule, they were not even allowed to practice their profession or to work, they cannot even leave their houses alone.

There were so many quotable quotes in the book but the lines that really moved me were these:

“She sat on the chair instead, hands limp in her lap, eyes staring at nothing, and let her mind fly on. She let it fly on until it found the place, the good and safe place, where the barley fields were green, where the water ran clear and the cottonwood seeds danced by the thousands in the air; where Babi was reading a book beneath an acacia and Tariq was napping with his hands laced across his chest, and where she could dip her feet in the stream and dream good dreams beneath the watchful gate of gods of ancient, sun-bleached rock.”

The book was divided into four parts. And here is a brief summary of the book:

Mariam grew up believing that she was an unwanted child, a harami, which means bastard, illegitimate, born to a rich father, Jalil and a mother, Nana, who was a housekeeper in her father’s house. Mother and daughter lived in an isolated place and they were occasionally visited and provided for by her father. When she turned fifteen, her father promised to take her to his cinema in Herat. Her mother pleaded with her not to go but she ventured all alone into town until she found her father’s house. She saw him looking out of the window but she was not allowed to enter the house. Upon her return, she found out that her mother hanged herself in their backyard.

She was not welcome in her father’s house so his three wives found a way to get rid of her by marrying her off to a man almost thirty years her senior. She vowed that from that time on, she will forget her father. She was taken by Rasheed to Kabul. At first, Rasheed was nice and cordial to her but when she lost the child she was carrying, the true colors of her husband showed. She was treated like a servant. The abuse worsened over the years through several failed pregnancies. She began to live a life of misery in the hands of her husband.

Laila was the daughter of Mariam’s neighbors. She was born during the turbulent years of the Soviets rule in Afghanistan. Her father Hakim, a school teacher valued education and told her that a society has no chance of success if its women are not educated. She did not get on much with her mother Tarifa whom she called Mammy. They were both “pretending, unenthusiastic partners”. She felt more at home with her childhood friend’s Tariq’s parents. Her world changed when her two soldier brothers died in combat. Ahmad and Noor were like lore to her – mere characters in a fable, kings in a history book. For young as she was(she was nine when they died), she felt so neglected by her Mammy who was the most affected by the death of her two sons. They fell more and more apart. Tarifa forgot that she still had a daughter who was a mere shadow in her sons’ existence, “the parchment on which Mammy meant to ink their legends”. She was not the reason why her mammy wanted to live on and she could never leave her mark on Mammy’s heart the way her brothers had.

A few months before Laila turned eleven, the Soviets finally left Afghanistan. The Mijahideen, the returning forces fighting the Soviets incited a civil war. Kabul was bombarded by rocket attacks. It was at this time that the two best friends Laila and Tariq grew closer and discovered their deep love for each other. Tariq’s family left Kabul and she was distraught when she learned that even her beloved Tariq (supposedly) died before crossing the border to Pakistan. Laila was the only one left when their house was bombarded by the rebels and she was pregnant with Tariq’s child. Rasheed, Mariam’s husband took care of her and offered marriage against the wishes of his wife. Rather than go hungry, without a future for her unborn child, she agreed despite the gap of almost forty six years. At first, Mariam resented Laila but through the times that they were mistreated and abused by their husband Rasheed, they finally forged a bond amidst all the hardships of making a life with the former. Mariam learned to love Laida’s children, they showed strength of character in a place where only violence and hunger prevailed. When she reached her 23rd birthday (they were now under Taliban rule), Tariq came back to her life and she learned that through the ten years that they were apart, Tariq spent some of it in prison. When Rasheed learned about this, he was so livid with anger and almost killed Laila in the process. Mariam, seeing red killed him to protect themselves from further hurt and pain. She did a great sacrifice for Laila’s sake and was hanged later. Laila, her daughter by Tariq Aziza and her son by Rasheed Zalmai crossed the border to Pakistan to live a new life but they came back to Kabul after the Taliban rule. Laila visited the place where Mariam was born and raised and there she discovered that Jalil afterall, loved her daughter very much and even wrote her a letter and left a small inheritance before he died.

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Category: Books
Genre: Nonfiction
Author: Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine

A few days ago, my daughter brought home a book which she borrowed from their Stress Management Office. My eyes got caught by the title, “what not to wear”.It’s all about the common mistakes we usually commit when dressing up or trying to be fashionable. Some people really don’t care how they look as long as they follow the fashion trend. Never mind if they have big boobs, no boobs, big arms, big butt, no waist, short legs, flabby tummy, saddlebags, short neck, or thick ankles and calves. This book explores every aspect of how to be stylish, it’s about knowing what not to wear and knowing what suits you. It’s about being honest and accepting the fact that some parts of your body aren’t really that great. Everyone of us wants to look good, who doesn’t?

The book says that “looking stylish is not about following fashion, losing weight, being rich or succumbing to the knife. It’s about dressing to show off what you love and hiding what you loathe about your body”. Here’s a summary of some of the golden rules according to Trinny and Susannah:

. for big boobs: never wear high round necks. chuck out the clothes that don’t suit you – even if you think of them as old friends. never put on underwear that’s darker than the clothes you are wearing.

. for no boobs: plunging necklines are only for perfect decollete undamaged by sun and age. flat chests need high necklines. backs are sexy alternatives, so keep them shiny and expoliated.

. for big arms: fat arms must always wear sleeves. small prints cover a multitude of flabby flesh.

. for big butts: never wear jackets that end at the butt. any panty line on the rear is revolting. hipster trousers cut your butt in half. high-waisted trousers make you butt looks huge.

. for no waist: never wear baggy sacks. deep V necks clinch the waist. all things double-breasted must be chucked-out.

for flabby tummy: never wear hipsters. no skintight shiny fabrics. no cropped tops, even on baby fat.don’t wear your belts too tight.

Yes, I am giving this book four stars out of five

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