Sunday, September 30, 2012

Happiness Is...

I went to our company's bowling tournament on a fine Saturday morning. It was the opening day of the tourney and, honestly, I felt both freakish and excited. I haven't played in a tournament for years but decided to join nonetheless after some coaxing from co-workers. I think it was a good idea to join this year. We won that day :)

Before anything else, the Oath of Sportsmanship

I brought along my photographer daughter to the game and here she caught me patiently waiting, in my oversized uniform, for a strike. Yep, it was a strike! Yay :0

I was informed that there's a cash prize for the first five bowlers who hit a strike at the opening. Double happiness! :)

 Came Sunday, my husband decided to be spontaneous and said 'let's go to Centris.'  Every Sunday, Centris Walk holds a weekend market and vendors sell a variety of goods - fruits, veggies, plants ranging from herbal to fruit bearing plants, meat in raw and cooked form (the beef ribs particularly got my attention). This is a total heaven for gardeners and food lovers alike.
I always wanted to experience it so immediately dropped the plan to join the morning aero and got ready for a trip to Centris.
What we bought:
1. Tita Norms biko (P20/slice). You have got to try this, rice well cooked and just enough sweetness and texture.

2. Seedless Atis plant (P120) and Kalamansi (P150). I've always wanted to plant kalamansi and I'm glad hubby took me back to Centris. I was a gardening warrior that day.

See all the other fruit bearing plants available in the area. I didn't even know until then that there's such a thing as seedless atis

If you plan to visit Centris on a Sunday to purchase some plants, look for this very amiable and accommodating (but camera shy) guy. He's Mang Lando who gave me a good price for my plants. According to him, all these plants came from their farm in Batangas. From the main entrance, their stall is located at the far right end of the market.

Bought also some plants to replace my overgrown and rowdy vietnam roses. I wanted a clean look for my garden this time.

Other things we bought : langka for our weekend halo halong ginataan (P100/pack) and our new fave dilis fillet (P150/kilo).
One  tip if you plan to visit this place, try to come as early as possible as it can get scorchy hot in area after 7am plus you can easily get a space to park your car. We are definitely coming back to Centris Sunday market. I want to buy more herbal plants and one store sell them for 3-for-P100. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Parenting: Small Goals with Big Impact

Our lives are filled with itsy bitsy details that when we attempt think and do them at the same time can be just as overwhelming.

The past weeks, it was just as overwhelming at work with all the launching programs/projects that I tend to lose control of family life. But I thought, one small step at a time. Time is my friend (sometimes).  Prioirity-wise, here are my small goals that I can focus on right now:

  1. Help Sam learn to write his full name. He has started to right the first three letters of his name, SAM ( sometimes backwards but it's okay). For the past weeks, we have been practicing on writing his full name including his surname. I made him a very good deal he can’t refuse that’s why the defiant little man is hard on achieving this goal. 
  1. For Sophia, in the next months we need to scout and make a shortlist of a good school for next year when she turns first grade. This is her last year in her current school and until now, we’re still torn between a progressive or traditional school. Is ecclectic way of teaching effective? Need to make a research on that as well. Oh wow, my little girl is such a big girl now...
  1. I recently gave our DVD cabinets another visit in the hope to reorganize hundreds of DVDs & CDs. While going through piles of discs, I realized that I have Hip Hop Abs copy. Gave it a try once more and found it really fun and helpful to lose those calories even on a rainy day. Those days when I can’t go to the gym or run. Perfect for toning my abs and gluts since this is my next fitness goal. ‘Nuff with the bulges, I say (hopefully, I can say that same for hubby). 
     4. Still working on filling up our emergency fund and it looks like bright days ahead. We are slowly but surely reaping the fruits of our investment and I likey :0

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Concerts to Watch

OMG! Two of my fave artists in Manila concert scene. How cool is that? :)

Ate JLo, I will see you okay? LoL! :)

The eternally cool Sting will be here in December. Hubby and I are so going to this one :)

For those who love these artists as well, this is your perfect holiday gift to self. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Baking Partners: Fauxreos and Cornflake Cookies

Hi Baking Partners! This is my first time to join in the activity and excited as I am, I decided to make two of the three recipes given by our host Swathi

Homemade Oreo Cookies: Fauxreos Adapted from Serious Eats

            3 ounces/85g/ 6 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
            3 3/4 ounces/106.3g / ½ cup sugar
            1 1/2 ounces/42.52g/ 3 tablespoon  brown sugar
           3/4 teaspoon salt
            1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoons baking powder
            1/4 teaspoon baking soda
            1/2 teaspoon instant coffee powder
            1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
            2 egg yolks
            4 ounces/113.4g / ¾ cup all purpose flour (or rice flour), sifted
            3 ounces/85g / 1 cup cocoa powder, sifted
    For the filling:
            2 ounces/56.7g/ 4 tablespoon shortening or unsalted butter at room temperature
            5 ounces/141.7 / 1 ¼ powdered sugar, sifted
            1 teaspoon vanilla extract
            a pinch of salt

Yield:    Makes 32 sandwich cookies
Active time:    45 minutes
Total time:    2 hours
Special equipment:    2" round or other cookie cutter, pastry bag or Ziploc bag

my tested ingredients 
            1. To make the cookies: Using a hand or stand mixer set to medium speed, cream together butter, both sugars, salt, baking powder, baking soda, espresso powder, and vanilla extract until combined. With mixer still running, add in egg yolks one at a time. Once incorporated, shut off mixer and scrape bowl down with a rubber spatula.
            2. Turn mixer to its lowest setting. Dump in flour and cocoa all at once. The mixture will be stiff. Continue mixing until uniform. Shut off mixer. Use a spatula to scrape the dough from the bowl and knead lightly to form a smooth ball. Use your hands to flatten into a disc.
            You may begin rolling the dough right away, or you may wrap it with plastic and refrigerate for up to a week. If you've kept the dough refrigerated, let it sit at room temperature to soften before starting to roll.
            3. Preheat oven to 350°. Sift some cocoa powder onto the counter (using cocoa instead of flour gives the Fauxreos their uniquely dark color). Use a rolling pin to roll the dough to 1/8" thickness.
            When finished, slide a metal spatula between the dough and counter to loosen. This will prevent the cookies from sticking.
            A 2" round cutter makes perfect "Oreos" but use any cutter you like. Cut out the cookies and use a metal spatula to lift and transfer to cookie sheet.
            Arrange cookies on ungreased cookie sheet. (If the cookie sheet is dinged up or uneven, line with parchment paper first.) The cookies will not spread during baking, so they may be arranged quite close together. Set the sheets aside.
            4. Gather up, knead, and re-roll the remaining dough scraps, likewise cutting and arranging on a cookie sheet.

To add texture to the cookies, place any remaining dough in a mixing bowl. Mix with a hand or stand mixer and add about 1 tsp of hot water or coffee. Continue adding hot water/coffee, a teaspoon at a time, until the dough has thinned into a paste. You can always add more liquid, but you can't take it away. Add slowly and let each addition mix in fully before adding more. When the mixture reaches a frosting-like consistency, use a spatula to scrape it out. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a very small tip, or a heavy duty Ziploc bag with a tiny hole poked in the corner.

I had total fun with this recipe but instead of piping the decor, I hand crafted simple dots and smiley designs
            Pipe some sort of design atop each cookie. A tight cornelli design gives the impression of an Oreo. But anything will do, have fun with your designs!
            5. Once the cookies have been decorated, bake for 10 - 12 minutes, or until firm to the touch. If your oven has an uneven heating element, rotate the cookie sheets after six minutes. Once the cookies have baked, cool thoroughly, directly on the cooling rack.
            6. To make the filling: With a hand or stand mixer, cream together shortening/butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt. Cream on medium speed for five minutes; use a rubber spatula to scrape the bowl down periodically. The long mixing time aerates the filling, making it especially white and less gritty.

            Using a spatula, transfer the filling to a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip. Alternately, portion with a melon-baller sized ice cream scoop, or by using Ziploc bag with the corner snipped off as a makeshift pastry bag.
            7. To assemble the cookies: Flip half the wafers upside down. Onto each, pipe or scoop 1 teaspoon of filling (specifically: 1/4 oz for Double Stuf, 1/8 ounce for regular) directly into the center. To finish, top with remaining wafers and press down with your fingers, applying very even pressure so the filling will spread uniformly across the cookie.
            8.  Transfer cookies to an airtight container and refrigerate for several hours. This is crucial. After whipping the filling, it will be quite soft. Refrigerating it (especially if you're using butter) will solidify the filling, restoring its proper texture, and bonding it with the wafers. Serve.

I think I made too thick oreo cookies because the recipe only got me 2 dozens sandwhich cookies. But this recipe is definitely a hit with everyone at home and at work! :)

Cornflake cookies from a cookbook called BakingCommonsense by Murdoch  Books


125grams Softened unsalted butter
3/4cup/165grams Sugar
2nos Eggs (lightly beaten)
1teaspoon Vanilla extract
2tablespoons Black raisins
1+1/2cups/135grams Dessicated coconut
1/2teasponn Baking soda
1/2teasponn Baking Powder
2cups/250grams All purpose flour
2cups Crushed Cornflakes

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F, line two baking trays with baking paper.Sie ve the flour with baking soda and baking powder. 
Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl,using electric beaters until they turns light and fluffy.
Gradually add the egg, beating thoroughly after each addition, add the vanilla and beat until combined.
Now add the raisins,coconut, give a stir. Fold the flour mixture with a metal spoon and stir until the mixture is almost smooth.
Put the crushed cornflakes in a shallow dish, then drop tablespoon of this cookie mixture onto the cornflakes and roll into balls.

Arrange on the trays, bake for 15-10minutes or until they turns golden.
Cool completely and arrange it in an air tightened box.

and they bake...
into golden brown cookie crisps :)
 This recipe I did with my kids. They helped me with incorporating the cornflakes on the dough and made little sneaky munch every now and then :) This recipe is much easier to make but both tasted fab. 

I can't wait to see the other baking partner's post!  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Progressive School: Palarong Pinoy 2012

Our Palarong Pinoy experience this year was a little different from last year's song, dance and re-enactments.  This year, it was all fun and games for both children and parents in the aim to introduce to children the very Pinoy games like luksong tinik, kadang kadang and other games that make use of organic materials like coconuts and bamboo.

Hubby and I were as excited because both our kids took part in the activities. Love, love taking photos of my kids as they frantically wave their colored flags and played in the games assigned to them. They were such sport, knows the concept of participative play and were so proud of them. Both were in high spirits the whole event. 

The truth is, my little girl packed her kikay bag 3 days before Palarong Pinoy. Excited much :)

During the parade of colors
The opening prayer. Sophie sang the Lupang Hinirang

 Sam with his classmates

 Sam joined the relay race of Nursery level. They won the game! :)

Sophie was part of the luksong tinik game. Her partner had to sit it out in the middle of the game so they were not able to finish the game. 

While this is the 'tulala' me when I learned that our game was race on coconut shell or 'patiyakad'. We were about to win when the other team's coconut crashed and we had to change the game to sack race. We lost but it was all fun. It was actually my first time to join a sack race :)

This year, it was the school teachers and staff's turn to do the dance and play part :)

At the end of the program, awards and prizes were given away and just as Sophie thought she has no prize from the games, she was called to stage as the Batang Active Thinkers ng Palarong Pinoy. Yay! Being the student who was the most active and all out from practice to the actual program, she took home several books, art materials and a game board.

We look forward to next year's Palarong Pinoy but I'm sure it's gonna be new experience since my kids will be going to different schools next year. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

In Charge and In Control: Belle de Jour Event

When I got an email invite for this event, I read through, not really sure if this event if really for me. After reading, I immediately signed up to attend. They had me at corporate and Saturday. This is definitely for me. An event for working women on a Saturday :)


On the event day, I arrived a little late (thanks to metro traffic) and got a wee bit of Kat Dy’s talk about power dressing. Good thing, I made it to the juicy part, Q & A portion where real women asked real life concerns on dressing up for work, all those tips and what nots. 
Kat Dy also hosted the event and I find her very entertaining, so natural on stage and very chic.

Kay Dy
In between the games and raffle draws (I believe everyone brought home something), a guest speaker from Unilab gave a very informative talk on how to take care of our intimates and work clothes by understanding the labels/instructions and how to take care of our LBDs. Did you know that we can actually clean our jewelry with fabric conditioner? 

After more raffle draws and fun games, it was time for PJ Lanot’s talk. PJ is a motivational speaker who has travelled locally and globally for speaking engagements. He also owns several restos such as Burger Project and Pepino among others.
I have been to many talks and management seminars and as our speaker was being introduced, I silently hoped that my time will not be wasted listening to what I already know.
Truth be told, I actually held my wee until the end of PJ’s talk because I didn’t want to miss any part of his talk. When I looked around me in the middle of his talk (the event was held in heavy-traffic concourse area of SM Makati), quite a number of passersby actually stopped to listen. He is one engaging and magnetic speaker. He has the power to draw in a crowd.

PJ Lanot
What was his talk to become filthy rich! Or as they formally titled it 11 Factors that Make People Really, Really Successful. That's why it drew in a crowd. 

According to PJ, the 11 factors that can make a person successful are:
1)    Location – take advantage of what’s good in your location. My personal example: If water is hard to come by in your area, then sell water. 
2)    Situation – example are those who succeeded even in time of great wars. They took advantage of the situation, war being a great equalizer; with diligence these now business magnates became sucessful;
3)    Time – almost all successful men have one thing in common – they wake up earlier that everyone else. The early bird gets the worm as they say :)
4)    physical self – perfect example would be Michael Phelps, his unique physical attributes made him become an award-winning olympian in swimming.
5)    Information – information is power, ‘nuff said.
6)    Experience – practice makes a habit. Agree? I do.
7)    Talent – either you have it or you don’t but one has to exhaust and know himself to identify his strenth and talent
8)    Networks – No one succeeds alone. Amen!
9)    Technology – just as information is power, so is technology and it's all around us to explore.
10) Passion – the driving force that will keep us going despite all the trials and struggles. I totally agree, I have been in the business of Post Production for 15 years now and I believe only passion keeps me going. 
11)  Money – last on the list, yes. PJ believes you don’t need money to be successful. What’s more important is that you have all other 10 factors.

 I went home with goodies from this event and more importantly, an inspiration take on something new and big and pursue to be successful. Thanks to Belle de Jour for the invite and for making the ultimate organizer for women. Thanks too to

Monday, September 3, 2012

Recipe Share: Spinach and Artichoke Formaggio

Happy Monday everyone! As much as I just want to stay home and be a couch potato for the rest of the day, I'm off to the office with tons of work awaiting. Just to keep the mood on a positive note, I'm sharing my fave comfort food ever! 

It was love at first sight,er, bite for this ultimate dip, the spinach and artichoke formaggio. First discovered it in Italliani's restaurant almost a decade ago. Actually, it's just a dip but I can eat this for like 2 straight weeks. SO TRULY DELECTABLE. 

So one fine morning, while craving for spinach and artichoke formaggio, I decided why not try to make my own. 

Formaggio is an Italian word meaning cheese. The ingredients of the recipes I saw on the web were (obviously) artichoke, spinach, cheese as well as mushroom, heavy cream, onions, salt and pepper. Most groceries here don't carry fresh artichoke so I used a canned version. I also butter, fresh spinach, mushrooms (good thing at least we have those in our groceries). Most recipes also use at least three types of cheeses and I went for parmesan, mozzarella and cheddar to get those different layers of creaminess and saltiness. Can you imagine how creamy and rich this dip is? 

For the step by step procedure, there are several versions on the web on how to do it. I just experimented based on ingredients at hand and how I like my vegetables cooked. My version, I very quickly sauteed onions, mushroom and artichoke in butter, added the different types of cheese and chopped spinach. Afterwhich, I reduced the fire and added the a few tablespoons of heavy cream, salt and pepper to taste. Once cooked, I realized how much I made and decided to bake it on small muffin cups so I can freeze the rest. 

This recipe is best served with french bread and I was in heaven for days :)

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