Thursday, December 30, 2010

Noche Buena

Nochebuena, often translated as "Good Night", is a Spanish word referring to the night of Christmas Eve. In Spain, Cuba, the Philippines and Latin America, the evening consists of a traditional dinner with family.

In the Philippines, this usually comes after the entire family has attended the late evening Christmas Eve mass or Misa de Gallo. Often on the table are: lechón, pancit, fried chicken, hamon, quezo de bola, arroz caldo, lumpia, rice, and adobo among others for the main course. Desserts include ube halaya, bibingka, membrillo, rice cakes, ice cream, pastries and cakes; drinks include hot chocolate, coffee, soda, wine, beer, and different kinds of fruit juices.
-- from Wikipedia.

It's that time of year again to gain weight.  If it's Thanksgiving in the U.S., here it's Noche Buena and New Year's.  We go out of our way to prepare enough food for one night that will last for days :D.  Of course it's time for the family as well.

Well me and Therese decided to meet on the 24th of December instead of our usual third Saturday of the month since it's a busy month for parties.  24th is our only free time.  It's my only time as well to buy gifts for the family so it's a good thing we'll be going to meet and hang out at the mall (Glorietta again).  We'll be home before night time anyway so we'll have time for Noche Buena.  I was a bit worried because for the past weekends the malls were jam-packed and the traffic bad.  I'm glad my worry was for nothing.  Few people went to the mall on Christmas Eve and most are going home to their provinces so traffic in the city that day was so light.  I'm so thankful I could shop with ease.  I wonder if next year it'll be the same? Hmm.

After I finished my Christmas shopping we decided to have lunch.  We already decided beforehand that we'll have it at Tony Roma's.  It's been a while since I last ate there and I still haven't tried their ribs yet so I was curious what it was like. I ordered their original baby back ribs since that's what they're famous for and Mojitos for drinks.  I've tried Mojitos at Fridays and loved it so I want to try the ones at Tony's. 

Tony Roma's Original baby-back ribs and Steak and Ribs Combo with Mojitos and Blue Romarita
Well the ribs wasn't exactly what I expected.  I thought it needed more sauce or something.  I even thought it's no better than the ribs at Kenny Rogers or Racks.  Hmm I even think my mom could cook better.  Haha! But my mom's a great cook so she'll be better than most restos of course.  I thought I shouldn't have paid a high price for it but maybe I was paying for the ambiance.  The thing I can say about the Mojitos is it's strong. Lol.  I could tell right away when alcohol is taking effect on my body and the Mojitos got through my system fast.  Therese said her drink was pretty strong too. She ordered a Blue Romarita and her food was Steaks and Ribs Combo.  She said her steak was a bit bland and needed some sauce but she liked her ribs.  We ended up going to Starbucks after to have some 'pick me up' haha.  Well next time I'll probably be back at Tony's for the Mojitos and not for the ribs since I know I'll have more bang for the buck with the drinks there. 

Before going home I also went to Kaya Korean Restaurant to buy Japchae for our Noche Buena.  Our family watched too much noon-time Koreanovela, particularly Don't Cry My Love and First Wives Club in Channel 5, and they wanted to know what Japchae tasted like.  So far Japchae in Kaya is the best one I ever had so I volunteered to buy it for them.  I bought six orders.  My younger sister also asked me to buy a cake for her for the Noche Buena as well.  She said it's the best Mango Torte in town and there's a stall in Glorietta Food Choices.  Well sure enough it was the best because by the time I went there after lunch they said it was already sold out.  It's the Dulcelin Mango Torte by the way.  Hm I wonder if it really beats the Mango Torte  in San Lorenzo Village.  Well I haven't tasted both yet so I can't judge.  I've only tried Yulo's Strawberry Shortcake and it's the best ^_^! (just FYI). 

So Therese and I went home to our families and below is what we had for our Noche Buena.

Noche Buena - (clockwise) KFC Chicken, Cookies, Roast Chicken, Rice Syrup Chicken, Pizza, Purefoods Ham, Kaya's Japchae and salad.  (Middle) Apple pie and Buko (coconut) Salad.
As you can see this year we're pretty lazy to plan for our feast.  We just bought most of it at restaurants or stores and mom only cooked the ham and made the Buko Salad.  We didn't really follow the traditional dishes as was written in the definition of Noche Buena above. We just served the food we like best.  I was the one who suggested the Japchae and Rice Syrup Chicken which are both Korean dishes.  Rice syrup chicken is from a Korean fast food restaurant called BBQ Chicken.  It's spicy sweet and crispy and goes great with the Japchae.  The apple pie was given to us by a friend of my older sister and it's amazing as well!  The ham (star of the Noche Buena) is as always the best.  Mom knows what we like already after years of experience.

So, that's what we had for Christmas.  If you have questions just leave a comment or email me.  Up next... Media Noche! (New Year's Eve)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

PC Express, LG and Samsung

I've been meaning to buy a new PC for the past three to four years I think and finally I have the time and funds for it!  Whenever I buy a PC I always choose my specs and never buy the packaged one.  There are just some brands I can't live without and have already tested through time.  It could be a little more expensive but I know it will last.  In Packaged PCs usually they put in one great part/spec and the rest are lower brands or generic so it wouldn't be wise to get packaged unless you're inexperienced and don't know what to do.    The brands I can't live without are: Intel, Asus, and Seagate.  Here are my specs:

Intel Core I3-530 (2.93 Ghz)
Asus P7H55 Motherboard
Kingston 2GB DDR3
Inno3d GTS450 1GB DDR5 128bit HDMI
Seagate 500Gb SATA
LG 20" E2040T LED Monitor

I originally wanted the Intel Core I5 but it's just too expensive for now so I settled for I3 instead of a core2duo as replacement.  That way I'll be able to upgrade my processor when I5 becomes cheaper.  So far so good.  Everything works great.  I'm now on Windows 7 Enterprise which is a huge jump from Windows XP on a Pentium 4.  I'm still getting used to the difference.  I'm thinking Windows 7 is pretty heavy but my specs seems to be handling it fine. I'm also doing Autocad Architecture 10 with ease.

The last time I bought or assembled a PC was probably about 10 years ago so I'm not sure which stores are the best right now.  Everyone kept saying it's good to buy at Gilmore since stores there are cheap but it's just way too far from our place especially if we want to get something fixed.  My brother in law suggested PC Express.  I actually had no experience with them yet so I wasn't sure at first.  Then I remembered my friend, Joie, always go there to have her PC fixed that she bought originally from PC Corner.  So then I decided to find PC Express at Festival Mall since people at our house usually go to that mall.  I couldn't find it at first.  It wasn't with the other computer stores that's beside each other in one part of the mall.  I almost gave up and thought there wasn't one in Festi.  As we're walking at the top floor and arrived at Abesamis (located at the very end of the mall) since my brother was looking for a dentist, there at the lower floor was PC Express! It was incredibly small and no computer parts or peripherals on display.  It looks like a service center more than a store.  I just went inside and practically just showed them a list of what I want assembled.  After some discussion on the missing parts they told me I could get the assembled PC after an hour.  I was shocked.  Last time I bought a PC I picked it up after a week or so.  I asked them if they have everything in stock and they said yes.  (A note by the way: I checked their website first before going to the store and chose from there what parts I want)

So after an hour I got my PC and went home.  I just want to say that people at PC Express really know what they're doing.  All their staff there seem to have ample training unlike with other places that just hire anyone to man their stores.  Also they're the ones who suggested I get the I3 instead of the core2duo.  Not sure if they have commission on the I series but it does make sense that I get the latest trend at the same time cheaper as well.  That way I could upgrade to an I5 without changing the motherboard in the future.

My new PC with an LG 20" E2040T LED Monitor
I didn't open the boxes until the next day, Sunday, then I went to work and hooked up the PC.  It was a great sight.  Loading only took seconds and Windows 7 looks and feels great!

But something was wrong.  My eyes were hurting.  There's something wrong with the colors.  My old AOC LCD monitor looks better than this!  Yes it's bigger and it's LED but the colors were off.  I couldn't place what was really wrong.  I tried adjusting the monitor and the graphics card settings and even asked help from people at home to no avail. Colors were just a bit off.  Green isn't green the way I want to, blue isn't blue and red isn't really red.  After a few days of trying to figure out what's wrong or if it's just my eyes that's just overreacting, I gave up and went back to PC Express to replace my monitor with another brand.  I have a 7-day grace period where I can replace any part if I'm not satisfied with it.  I decided to go with a Samsung (which everybody was saying you can't go wrong with) and upgrade it to HDMI.  Yes I had to add extra money with the upgrade because I didn't want to keep coming back to the store.  Now I've got a Samsung BX2250 21.5" LED monitor.  When I first powered it up everything was smooth.  The colors were right.  The brightness just right.  I didn't have to adjust anything.  At that moment I was at peace :).

I have to thank the people at PC Express.  They were very accommodating.   I even left the power cord of the LG monitor at home but they still let me take home the Samsung monitor and bring the power cord to them the next day.  I know it's against rules but they trusted me.  Lol.  So below is my lovely new monitor.  I feel like my couch potato-ism is calling me again and find no need to get out of the house for a while.

Samsung BX2250 21.5" LED monitor

here's another pic playing around with the wallpaper :)