Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Marina del Rey, California: Eddie's Italian Restaurant

 Eddie's Italian Restaurant is another favorite restaurant of ours, nothing fancy, but just good Italian food. We love their veal piccata, shrimp el diablo, linguine with clams, fried calamari, and caesar salad.  As soon as you sit down, they serve a large basket of bread and a mound of garlic nesting in olive oil. Hmmm.... delicious.

They don't serve liquor but you can bring your own, and there's no corkage fee.

Eddie's is located at 4001 Lincoln Boulevard, Marina Del Rey, California. You can also order food to go.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Iraq, Islamic State: ISIL Kills Woman Activist for Protesting Destruction of Historic Sites

Samira Salih al-Nuaimi, a prominent female human rights lawyer from Mosul, Iraq, was recently tortured and publicly executed for speaking out in her Facebook page against ISIL's destruction of historic sites in Mosul. She is one of many women who have been killed by ISIL, including five female politicians.

"By torturing and executing a female human rights' lawyer and activist, defending in particular the civil and human rights of her fellow citizens in Mosul, ISIS continues to attest to its infamous nature, combining hatred, nihilism and savagery, as well as its total disregard of human decency," Nickolay Mladenov, the U.N. envoy to Iraq, said in a statement, referring to the group by an acronym.

Samira Sali al-Nuaimi was a wife and mother of three children.


Here's a partial list of the religious sites destroyed by ISIL:

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Cecilia Brainard Books in National Bookstore, Ayala, Cebu

My friend, Lynley Ocampo, sent these pictures showing some of my titles displayed at National Bookstore, Ayala, Cebu City. I see Angelica's Daughters, and Vigan and Other Stories, Fundamentals of Creative Writing, and Magnificat: Mama Mary's Pilgrim Sites. If you click on the links, you will find further information about these titles. Except for Angelica's Daughters, the titles are also available in ebook form from Kindle and Nook.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Syria Iraq: Closeup on Al Nusra Front

The Al Nusra Front (or Jabhat al-Nusra) was reportedly caught off guard when they were targeted along with ISIL and Khorasan by recent American airstrikes in Syria. The Al Nusra Front had developed a reputation for being one of the most effective forces fighting against the Syrian regime; and in some cases, they had fought alongside moderate rebels against Assad's military. The American airstrikes have prompted Al Nusra to say that the West and its allies have joined forces in a "crusader" campaign against Islam. The Al Nusra Front is reportedly considering joining ISIL.

There are a lot of implications here, but I'm going to focus on why Al Nusra was targeted along with ISIL.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Santa Monica, California: Rae's Restaurant and Diner

 Rae's Restaurant is located on 2901 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA, with 4-star ratings inYelp and Tripadvisor -- not too bad for a humble diner like this one. Movie fans will be interested to know that this diner has been used as the setting for many films, including Starksy and Hutch, Not Another Teen Movie, The Next Best Thing, and more.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Santa Monica, California: Dinner at JiRaffe's & Recipe for Osso Buco

We had dinner at JiRaffe's Restaurant in Santa Monica, California, which offers California/French food. We tried their osso buco, filet mignon, calamari salad, prosciutto, and lemon pudding dessert. The food was very good and I would go back again. We were sorry they did not have French onion soup that night however.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

San Miguel Allende, Mexico: Ceramic Art by Jessica Vazquez Castro

We like to visit San Miguel Allende in Mexico and during our last visit we discovered a young ceramic artist, Jessica Vazquez Castro.  She must be all of 24-years old and she works in her husband's family-owned tile shop/factory. I'm sorry I've forgotten the name of their shop, but it's one of the largest in San Miguel. The store has fine ceramic items.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Garden: My Battle with the Raccoons

I have an old Chinese ceramic pot which I keep outside as a small pond. I used to keep gold fish in it, and some of them got to be quite old, like the ones shown in the picture. Those were almost five years old and really quite happy in the pot, until one night a raccoon ate them.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Islamic State: Memorable Quotes from the Women of ISIL

From the Los Angeles Times Article, Islamic State Seeks to Recruit Women to "have kids and cook":

"One online poster, Umm Ubaydah, claims to have traveled alone to Syria to take care of her husband and fellow Islamic State fighters. Three days after American reporter Steven Sotloff was executed, one person asked on her Tumblr page, where she occasionally writes in Swedish, what she thought of his execution. "I wish I did it," she answered simply.


"One Islamic militant directed women to pack an extra abaya, a black robe, in case the first one is torn crawling under the barbed-wire fence along the border.
Umm Ubaydah, the online poster, also fields more mundane questions about travel to a war-torn country.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Santa Monica, California: Mural on Stewart Street "Pico Neighborhood"

The City of Santa Monica in California has a number of murals, including the California Heritage Museum, Main Street Farmers Market, Ten Women Co-operative, A Whale of a mural, Unbridled, and many more. Here are sites related to Santa Monica's outdoor art: Art Tour of Santa Monica and an Art Trek map.

One of the murals in Santa Monica is titled, "The History of the Pico Neighborhood", on Stewart Street, along the underpass of Santa Monica Freeway. It was created by the artist Ann Elizabeth Thiermann, whom I knew and who had asked me to pose for this mural project. She took pictures of me and my son, which she used as the model for the "woman with baby" image on the mural.  

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Pet Therapy: The Healing and Creative Powers of Cat Purring

I caught my cats being very good. They stayed in the house even though the door was wide open. I thought I'd blog about how they're behaving like the Scots who had been wanting freedom, but decided not to make the break.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Spoken Word: Open Mic Literary Readings in Paris and Berlin

  I have writer-friends, poets mostly, who feel the need to perform their writings, and they do so at readings or spoken word events. For me, my writing is for reading. Performing what I've written is another matter entirely. Now and then though, I feel the need to connect with people via performance. It's a heady experience, especially if the audience is a good one. There's something immediate in the connection a writer/reader can make with an audience, and this can be gratifying.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cecilia Brainard Google+ 3.4 Million Views & Blog Stats

Cecilia Brainard
Google+ 3,441,893 views

 Many thanks to the visitors of my Google+, blogspot, and Facebook sites.

This blog's top 10 all time visitors are from: United States, Philippines, Germany, France, Russia, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Canada, China, and Poland.

Check out some of these popular sites from my blog:

Fiction by Guest Blogger, Erlinda Kravetz "Song from the Mountain"
Visiting Colonial Mexico
Sphagnum Moss Almost Killed my Orchids
Mariana and Ouro Preto
Fiction: The Turkish Seamstress in Ubec
Cecilia's Recipe: How to Make Gugo or Gogo Shampoo
Creative Writing: Your Writing Workspace
Creative Writing: The Importance of Sensual Writing
Typhoon Haiyan: Jews in the Philippines -1940 and 2013

Tags: blog, social media, hits, Cecilia Brainard, writer, Philippine, author, novelist

This is all for now,

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Philippine Volcanoes Erupt: Mount Pinatubo and Mount Mayon

News reports in the Philippines state that Mount Mayon volcano is spewing ash, rocks and lava. Some 10,000 residents near the volcano have been relocated. The volcano, famous for it's perfect symmetry, is expected to continue its restiveness.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Cooking with Cecilia: Filipino Barbecue Pork

We've had a heat wave in Southern California, which is perfect weather for barbecuing. My family loves barbecue pork, so I fixed this over the weekend. Here's a recipe. To be honest with you I don't measure ingredients and just add stuff into a huge bowl. For my family of 12, I cooked 10 lbs of pork butt; my men gobbled up most of it.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Islamic State: What's in a Name? Isis vs. ISIS

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, has stolen, not only swaths of land from Iraq and Syria, but also the good name of the Egyptian goddess Isis. These extremists also use the acronyms of ISIS, ISIL, and IS, and they are also referred to as Daash or Daesh, an Arabic term.

Women and businesses named after the Egyptian goddess Isis have been unhappy about the maligning of their name and some have filed a petition "Save Our Name" asking that the terrorists be referred to as ISIL or as the Islamic State for Iraq and the Levant. The petitioners' organizers may seek a civil suit against news organizations for damaging the names of women and businesses.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Syria, Iraq: Will the Killing Never End?

Yesterday, there was news of yet another beheading by ISIS.

Will the killing never end? I wonder.

A priest told me that these current events are nothing new, that these have been going on for centuries. There has always been evil, he said.  And we talked about what happened during World War II and the holocaust, and we remembered the days of slavery, and we referred to bible accounts of ferocious fighting.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Cecilia's Tips on Travel Packing

Hello, dear Readers! My mind is on packing right now, so I'll go ahead and share some of my travel packing tips.

1. Travel light: This is the most important "rule" in travel packing. First, airlines have limited weight allowance, and second, you'll have an easier time navigating with light luggage. I call this Freedom! It's infinitely better if you can pick up your luggage, roll it around, carry it up some steps, all by yourself. I have learned to hone down what I bring. I keep in mind that usually I can find whatever it is I've failed to bring.

2. Check the weather of your destination: I bring this up, dear Readers, because on a trip to Vietnam one February, we expected the weather to be tropical, and to our group's surprise, Hanoi was very cold. We didn't realize that Hanoi and Saigon (Ho Chi Minh) have different temperatures.

Friday, September 12, 2014

TRAVEL TIPS: Buying Airline Tickets Online

There are many online sites that sell airline tickets; airline sites do the same. Here are some tips that can help you when buying plane tickets online:

1. Don't wait until the last minute, especially for holiday travel. Buy a month or two ahead of time, but before you do so shop around to get an idea of how much tickets cost. Check the airline site itself; and check sites like Kayak, Travelocity, Cheap Tickets, Expedia, and more.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Some Animals of Australia

Don't ask me why but I woke up thinking of the animals that we had seen in Australia.

I'm reposting these pictures. From top to bottom: koala, patty melon, sheep, tasmanian devils, and a skink.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Travel: Looking Forward to Paris, Berlin, Heidelberg, Frankfurt

I'm planning a trip to Paris, Berlin, Hiedelberg and Frankfurt and I'm looking forward to this trip.

I love Paris! And as far as Germany is concerned, the only German place I visited was Baden-Baden.
What I'd like to do, and I'll blog more about when and if this happens, is to follow the footsteps of Jose Rizal, the Philippines' National Hero.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Hail Cebu! article by Philippine National Artist, F. Sionil Jose

Philippine National Artist, F. Sionil Jose recently wrote an article lauding my birthplace of Cebu. He kindly mentions me. I'm posting an excerpt, and you can read the complete article here:


Monday, September 8, 2014

Weight Loss Diet Plan for the Stars

Weight Loss Diet Plan for the Stars

I don't believe in fad diets because once people get off a particular diet plan and resume eating as they normally do, they will gain the weight back. People should change their eating habits. Eating healthy foods for good health should be the goal; increasing exercise should go hand and hand with this endeavor. However, in some cases, people need help to "jump start" their weight loss. Here's a diet plan designed by the late Dr. Pacita Reyes-Navarro, the mother of my friends Josie Navarro and Maria Ciocon. Dr. Navarro's clients included movie stars, models, and other high-profile people. Here's the Menu, thanks to Josie Navarro.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

What Kind of Tree Would you Be?

If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?

This question is used in job interviews because the person answering can reveal himself/herself in the choice he/she makes. Choosing to be an oak tree for instance can suggest that the person is (or believes he is) strong and reliable. Choosing an evergreen can suggest steadfastness, palm trees, flexibility.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Cat Pictures: My Cats' Favorite Spot

So tell me, how am I supposed to get any work done?

Friday, September 5, 2014

Song to Lift Your Spirit - "Better than a Hallelujah"

There's a monsoon near Baja California and it's gray outside. The weather fits my mood in fact. I've been feeling pummeled by world news - beheadings, fighting, war, drought, excessive rain, seas rising, polar bears dying... Sometimes it's just too much.

So this dreary September day, I'm sharing this lovely song, "Better than a Hallelujah." Read the lyrics carefully -- they are poetic. What a comforting thought: all this human drama around us is music to God.


Better than a Hallelujah

God loves a lullaby
In a mother's tears in the dead of night
Better than a Hallelujah sometimes

Thursday, September 4, 2014

St. Teresa of Avila: Salve Regina, Nada de Turbe

A friend shared this YouTube link to a virtual choir performance by members of the Carmelite Order. It's "Salve Regina" and is very relaxing; it pulls you away from some of the awful world events.


Here is another favorite Carmelite link, Nada de Turbe:


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Creative Writing: Cecilia Gives Advice to an Aspiring Writer

Dear Readers,
Now and then I receive email from people who have read my work, and I'm sharing one such email today. I've left out the person's name:

Dear Ms. Cecilia,

My name is _______. I graduated from Ateneo de Manila University last March. I moved to the U.S. 3 months ago and while browsing the public library, I came across, "Growing Up Filipino." This is how I found your blog and your bio.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

UPDATE: The Case of the Filipino UN Peacekeepers

Last Thursday, August 28, Syrian rebels (the al-Nusra front an al-Qaeda affiliate) surrounded encampments of UN Peacekeepers at the Golan Heights, a buffer zone between Israel and Syria. Forty-five Fijian peacekeepers from one encampment surrendered their weapons, but two other encampments manned by Filipinos, refused to surrender. One camp with 32 Filipinos were evacuated with the help of Irish peacekeepers. The other camp with 40 Filipinos stayed on and engaged in a 7-hour firefight with the Syrian rebels before they were able to escape.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Things That Make Me Smile

Here are pictures of a few things around the house that make me smile, including two vintage ceramic frog bowls, two Botero reproductions, an antique oil lamp, and there's my cat again.

Happy Labor's Day today!