Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Happy Happy News

Image courtesy of The Endowment for Human Development

A few minutes ago I learned that one of my dearest cousins, Nadya, is 8 weeks in the family way! I am just so happy to hear this news.

After the passing of my Lola Luz and Uncle Bob, news of new life brings me so much happiness - overwhelming joy!

Nadz, praying for a safe pregnancy. Enjoy it!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Chubby Cuppy Cake Sam

I think he's adorable. My two boys, Ren and Irvin, say he's so cute! I think he is!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Sunshine of Counting Sheep

I have the privilege of owning a coffee painting of Sunshine Plata. What makes this painting extra especial is Sunshine did it for me. What makes it UBER especial is it came at the right time - I needed it.

Some blogs ago, I wrote something about Counting Sheep. Counting sheep was the only natural way I could doze off. It was a very stressful time - personal and professional. There were so many things going on and it was so hard for me to cope. The hardest part was I kept everything bottled up. I was suffering already and I just didn't want the people around me to know, to be worried. My mind couldn't rest. I was thinking all the time, trying to figure out how to fix everything, how to make things work, how not to mess up. I would lie in bed 10pm and still be awake by 2am. In the morning when I woke, it was like I never slept.

When the painting was finally delivered to me, there was a rush of emotions. I felt so happy and relieved. I felt peace. I was so emotional I started crying in front of Sunshine's brother - it was embarrassing! Sunshine's painting was like an outlet. Although I didn't create it, seeing how beautiful it was unloaded me the emotional baggage I had at that time. Literally, the timing was also perfect. It was delivered on June 27, the day I held one of my biggest projects.

This painting will always remind me that out of struggles and sufferings can come out something beautiful and peaceful.

Thanks, Sunshine.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Irvin's Jingle Bells

Christmas Bell Cliparts

With the "ber" months starting, my youngest son, Irvin, is so excited with Christmas already. Heard him singing a few days ago his own version of Jingle Bells.

Jingle bells
Jingle bells
Jingle all the bells

Just yesterday, he ask me, though, if Santa Claus is real. I told him that the answer is in his heart. If he wants Santa to be real, he will be.

He's only 8. I just feel it's too early for him to stop believing.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

How NOT to talk to a Myna Bird

Picture was taken last Father's Day at Bag of Beans in Tagaytay.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Star Struck with Mark Meily

I had the privilege of working with Director Mark Meily for a tv commercial. He is so creative, intense, down-to-earth and so so funny.

I was so star struck I just had to have a picture with him. More! I had the storyboard autographed!

Of course, reverse side autographed by Lee Meily, the cinematographer of the tvc. Lee is also very pleasant and nice. Soft-spoken. Always saying "please" and "po" to all her instructions to the crew, and not forgetting to say "thank you" as things get done.

Given the opportunity, I'd work again with the Meilys (together with the whole Spark* team) without thinking twice. Thanks to Ideas Direct for bringing in Spark* to work on the project.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Counting Sheep

I'm a Sesame Street baby that's why I know what counting sheep is. Until now, it's one of the most effective sleep-inducing methods for me.

Three nights ago I couldn't sleep. I laid in bed at 10pm, by 1am I was still wide awake. I didn't want to open the TV because I'd have more reason to stay awake. Then I remembered, why not count sheep! So I did. I tried three times, on the last set, I think it was on the 26th sheep that I dozed off.

When was the last time you counted sheep?

Image courtesy of Color with S e n y a h !

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Gotohan sa Barangay

When in Batangas must try Gotohan sa Barangay.

We spotted the place on our way to La Laz that's why we made it part of the plan to try it out on our way back home. So lunch we had.

I thought that the goto that was on the menu was the typical goto - porridge with beef innards. Beef innards – that was just it. It was no surprise that everything in the menu was beef – meat, innards, skin and whatnot – being in Batangas. Practically every part of a cow is used and cooked.

If you’re into exotic and just like us – eat what the locals eat to really experience the place – then this is a must-try place.

Gotohan sa Barangay (043-3122616) is a vegan’s hell and a carni’s paradise.

Braised Litid


Deep Fried Bituka

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Loving La Luz

We just came back from a really nice vacation at the La Luz Beach Resort in San Juan, Batangas . It's been 3 years since our last "grand" vacation. Three years ago, the family went to Boracay. It was the first time for all of us - as a family and as individuals - to go to Boracay. Aside from it being a usual summer outing/vacation, it was a joint celebration for Irvin's 6th birthday and Renmund's graduation from grade school . We actually made an effort to have this vacation because we were looking forward to starting the construction of our new home. That would not only mean busy, busy, busy, but also money, money, money. So before we started scrimping, we decided to indulge for the last time. Three years passed and with God's grace we've been able to manage. We've been blessed and thankfully able to cope financially.

The kids have been requesting for a beach outing so we decided to finally have another one. We took a 3 day and 2 night package at La Luz. I've heard so many good things about the beach resort and it has always made me curious. Some call it the Boracay of Batangas – at half the cost, how can you go wrong?

The Beach
The beach is not as crowded as Boracay. Thank goodness! I love the fact that we were able to snorkel and see a lot of different fish at the shore – no need to rent a boat and go very far. The water was relatively clean, with a few trash at the bottom and some cigarette butts flouting around – when will people learn to throw their garbage properly! I’ve seen worse in other beaches, I hope and pray the tourists and resort owners will be able to maintain the cleanliness of the beaches of San Juan. Maybe it would help if La Luz constantly reminds its guests to dispose of their trash properly. Most of the time, adults need "nagging" reminders. As for the sand, one needs aqua shoes. Nothing beats Bora sand.

The Accommodation
The Ipil at night
We got a Deluxe Room at P3500 per night at the Ipil. Initially I thought it was a bit expensive but as I googled for other resorts nearby I discovered that this was potentially one of the cheapest. The room we got had two beds and one pullout – enough for the four of us. If you’re “ginawin” like me, bring your own blanket. The ones they have are very thin. The room also had its own toilet and bath. Water supply was never a problem, at least when we were there.

The Service
Everyone was very nice and accommodating. They were very helpful and polite. When Irvin couldn’t find his slippers, they even helped look for it. It turned out that he left it at the dining area. One of the staff put it aside until someone asked for it.

The Food

Superb! At P995 per head per day, with 3 meals + afternoon snacks, it was such a good deal. You don’t even have to make “baon” because you’re always full. My only comment is the breakfast should be served earlier like 6am (they serve it at 7:30am). Coffee should also be free flowing. It’s only available in the morning. It would be nice if it’s available anytime of the day especially for caffeine addicts like me. I specially loved the suman and the chutney. I think I gained 5 pounds in just 3 days! Ouch!

Halo-halo (P40 only!), colas, shakes and other drinks were available at very affordable prices.

The dining areas.

The Massage
Amazing! At P250 per hour, it’s a bargain. The best we’ve had in years. Erwin and I had massages for two consecutive days. It’s a must when in La Luz. It completes the La Luz experience.

Snorkeling and Kayaking
When I was in the water it hit me that the last time I snorkeled was around 10 years ago. No wonder I was not as confident as I used to. I had some sort of a panic attack when I realized that I was far from shore. I didn't notice that I going far, my attention was just on the scenery at the bottom of the sea. When I saw the rocks I felt that I was going to smash against them. Thank goodness Erwin was nearby. He had to accompany swim back to shore. The next two days I was still able to snorkel a bit. Although I was calmer and braver my problem was the jelly fish. They were very small and stung like crazy. I could bear the stinging I was scared of the allergic reaction I could have. Another first time was kayaking. It was fun. Tiring but fun. Erwin is now contemplating of buying our own kayak so we don’t have to rent when we come back.
It was Irvin's first time to snorkel. It was a struggle to make him try it out. He finally tried it during our last day! He was so sorry for not trying it earlier since he only had a few hours to enjoy it. Now he's nagging us go back so he would have longer time to snorkel.

Getting some pointers from Kuya Ren

Finally going to more than 2 feet deep of water

We hope to return to La Luz by April or May. I was told that they’re full all weekends this summer. I hope I can get another vacation leave.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Irvin 's Photographs

Irvin, my youngest, loves to play with the camera - whether it's a phone cam or Erwin's Canon. Of course, Erwin would always get nervous if it's his Canon Irvin is playing with. Recently, Erwin has been trusting Irvin more with his camera. It's because Irvin seem to be really interested in taking photographs.

Here are some photos Irvin took during our last week's trip to Silang, Cavite. Most pictures he took while he was inside the car, while Erwin and I were going around shopping for plants.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Quesong Puti Meatball Lasagna

This recipe was inspired by Patsy’s meatball lasagna recipe which was featured on the Today's Show. Of course, I had to make do with the ingredients readily available.

1 kilo ground round
salt and pepper to taste
half a head of garlic, minced
2 eggs
oil for frying

1. Mix all ingredients together
2. Form into small balls
3. Fry until brown
4. Set aside

1 Package of lasagna noodles
Marinara Sauce - home-cooked or store bought
5 packs of quesong puti - this is the local variety. Each pack has 2 slices.
1/2 cup of sour cream
1 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped
1 cup of fresh spinach, coarsely chopped. Alugbati is a good substitute
5 leaves of fresh oregano
1/4 cup queso de bola, grated
1/2 cup grated quick melt cheese
salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook lasagna noodles - follow instructions on the packaging
2. In a separate bowl, mix quesong puti, sour cream, basil, spinach, oregano with some salt and pepper.
3. Layer as follows, starting from the bottom
- meat balls with marinara sauce and some grated quick melt cheese
- quesong puti mixture
- meat balls with marinara sauce and some grated quick melt cheese
- quesong puti mixture
4. Cover the 4th layer and top with the remaining grated quick melt cheese and queso de bola and a few meatballs.

NuWave Oven Baking Instructions
1. Cover the top with foil so as not to burn the cheeses.
2. Cook for 10 minutes under P50
3. Cook for another 10 minutes under PH1
4. Remove foil and cook for another 3 minutes under PH1, just to melt and brown the cheeses
5. Serve hot.

Bawai's - Another Cavite's Best

I first read about Bawai's on The main reason why I got so curios is its location - Silang, Cavite. Until the discovery of Bawai's, we knew of Silang only because of its rows and rows of gardens along Aguinaldo Highway (which we also frequent by the way).

Last Friday night, Erwin had a craving for another breakfast in Tagaytay. We slept on the idea. The next morning, I decided to read again the article about Bawai's. I googled it too hoping to find its site or at least a review and I found Anton Diaz's July 2007 blog which did the final push to satisfy the Tagaytay breakfast craving.

It was one of the best, if not the best so far, breakfast experience. The food was awesome but the people behind it were exceptional. From the very warm welcome we got from Mr. Ver Tatlonghari at the garden, the privilege of meeting Bawai (Mrs. Tatlonghari) and Paul (this is actually just an assumption because we were not formally introduced but I'm very sure he's the one mentioned on the inquirer article and one of the children because he looks so much like Bawai), and the very accommodating staff.

Mr. Tatlonghari gave us a quick introduction of the restaurant and even provided us with reading materials. As he gave us the menu he warned us that they didn't have any specific breakfast menu and all dishes are authentic Vietnamese cuisines. In case we didn't like anything, he said it's ok if we decide to leave but he would give us coffee first. So nice. Of course, we decided to stay.

Decisions... decisions... decisions... If only we could try everything in one meal.

The complimentary tea to warm our tummies as we decide what to order.

Pho Bo (P195). Not so spicy but enough to keep you warm.

Bung Bo Hue (P195). Like beef mami but way way better. The fresh vegetables, herbs, lime, and noodles give this dish it's character.

Cha Gio (P130). Irvin is a lumpia lover and he specifically ordered this dish. He loved it!

Goi Cuon (P145). Very refreshing! Light, crunchy and tasty.

Ca Phe Sua Nong (P45). Brewed Coffee with sweet milk.

Ban Da Lon. I don't think I will be able to describe how this dessert tastes like. All I can say is it's a perfect finale for a wonderful meal.

The interior was straightforward and elegant.

The view outside was also refreshing.

Teaching Irvin how to use the chopsticks.

Irvin has not stopped telling his Kuya Ren (who decided not to come with us because he made other plans) how delicious his breakfast was. He hasn't stopped asking us also when are we going back. That would be soon, definitely!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Herb and Meat Sauce

Refreshing. That would be how I can describe this recipe. It was one of the dishes I prepared for Media Noche.

Olive oil
1/2 kg bacon, sliced into small pieces
Leftover Nacho Beef
Onion, chopped
Garlic, minced
Fresh tomatoes, chopped. Use as many or less as you want
Fresh basil, roughly chopped
Fresh sage
Fresh oregano, roughly chopped
Fresh spinach (you can also use young alugbati leaves)
2 cups broth - chicken or beef
salt and pepper

1. Heat olive oil and saute onions and garlic
2. Add bacon and saute for 5 minutes
3. Add leftover nacho beef
4. Add tomatoes, cook for 3 minutes
5. Add all herbs except the spinach, stir and make sure the herbs are incorporated with the meat
6. Add broth and simmer for 3 minutes
7. Season with salt and pepper
8. Add spinach and turn of the heat.

Top sauce to pasta of your choice. Serve immediately.

The sauce will not look like your usually creamy or heavy pasta sauce but very tasty and full of character.


Nu-Wave Pork Chops

To find out whether it could really cook meat directly from the freezer, I used frozen pork chops in this recipe.

For the marinade, I combined oyster sauce, soy sauce and ground pepper. Dipped each slice of the pork chop on the marinade then placed them on the #4 rack. On high, I cooked each side for 6-8 minutes.

The result was amazing! The meat was very juicy and moist. The taste was wonderful.