Wednesday, November 28, 2012


This morning I woke up with the just the little boy by my side. His arm and leg imprisoned me to the bed while he continued to sleep peacefully. As I carefully made a move in an attempt to get up, he woke up, gave me the sweetest smile ever and rubbed his nose on mine. The nose to nose gesture is our version of the secret handshake.
As for hubby and our little princess who are naturally early birds, they’ve already gone down to the living room. The bedroom door was ajar so I can hear the little girl screaming numbers to her dad who seem to be inside the bathroom, “Daddy, 57 na!” Is that NBA game she’s watching? Oh no, a basketball convert?

This is one of those mornings that I love to wake up to. Some days are better than this, some days are not so heavenly with kids crying (in unison) when they realize mommy’s not beside them anymore.

There are days when I totally regret mornings with whining kids. They just cry for no reason at all and won’t let me go to work. In moments like this I just think that ‘this too shall pass’ and I close my eyes and imagine them as teenagers retreating to their own corners with their gadgets and without a care for Mom or Dad.

Then I begin to appreciate again their ages right now, 3 and 5 and wish teenage life will not come so soon. When they get older,  I will miss the clinging on my leg like a koala, the horsey play on the bed, the hide and seek which Sam is very good at and the dancing moments (they both love swing).

They will not be toddlers forever. Sophie right now is showing more interest in girly stuff. I miss the time when I fuss over her head-to-toe outfit or when I watch and sing Barney with her. Now, she chooses her own outfit and if I interfere it’s another argument between us. We now argue like she just turned 18 and so grown up. Can’t imagine how it’s gonna be when she’s actually 18 years old.

Sam will always be a baby to me although he refused to be called that. He even refuses to bring ‘gatas’ (milk bottle) to school saying it’s baby stuff and teases his classmates who are still in their diapers and drinks bottled milk to school. Mind you, when he gets home, he takes off his shoes and the first thing he asks for is his ‘gatas.’

Our household is never dull and I that is not to say that it’s always all fun and games. If you have kids at home you’ll know. Just recently, we frequented the doctor’s clinic because of on-and-off fever, cough and colds.

Sometimes when things just get too toxic at home, like everyone wants a piece of me and I seem to have nothing left, I have that tendency to mentally go to a place where I am without family and kids. Will it be more peaceful? Definitely! I’d have more money now. Heck, I’d probably be blogging now from somewhere else in the continent or in my Tagaytay resthouse.

Then again, I wouldn’t exchange the NOW with all those what would have beens. The moments we have every morning, the exciting chaos during kids' birthdays and enrollment, the playtime on weekends and my kids’ witty one liners and funny observations in life…P.R.I.C.E.L.E.S.S.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Baking Partners Challenge # 4: Shaped Dinner Rolls

Uh-oh, I'm sooo late at posting this for Baking Partners. My apologies; work and personal life are hectic as they can ever be with the holidays coming. Plus, my internet is doing crazy stuff lately I couldn't post blogs for a few days. 

Anyway, here's what I have for our shaped dinner rolls challenge. I used the Lions Roll recipe but substituted with whole grains flour instead of white flour. I'm such a fan of whole wheat bread so I thought this challenge was a great opportunity to learn to work on this ingredient. It was really a challenge for me, double up, since I don't do bread that much and I worked on wheat for the first time.  

Here's the recipe which I halved since we still have lots of bread at home when I made these. Honestly, this is such a great recipe, I'm keeping it for life :) The bread is soft even if it already cooled. 

Lion House Rolls 

. 2 cups warm water (110-115 degrees) 
. 2/3 cup nonfat dry milk (instant) 
. 2 Tb. dry yeast 
. 1/4 cup sugar 
. 2 tsp. salt 
. 1/3 cup shortening (butter or margarine) 
. 1 egg 
. 5-5 1/2 cups flour, all purpose (bread flour can be used if you have it on hand) 
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, combine the water and the milk powder and stir so the 
milk dissolves. Add the yeast to tthis mixture then the sugar, salt, shortening, egg and 2 cups of 
the flour. Mix on low speed of mixer until ingredients are wet, then turn to medium speed and 
mix for 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and add 2 more cups of flour then mix on low speed until the 
ingredients are wet, then turn mixer on medium speed and mix for 2 minutes. The dough will 
be getting stiff and you may need to remove the bowl from the mixer and mix in the remaining 
flour by hand. Add approximately 1/2 cup of flour and mix again. (This can be done by hand or 
mixer). The dough should be soft, not overly sticky, and not stiff. (It is not necessary to use the 
entire amount of flour). Scrape the dough off the sides of the bowl and pour approximately on 
tablespoon of vegetable oil all around the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough over in the bowl so 
it is covered with the oil. (This helps prevent the dough from drying out.) Cover with plastic and 
allow to rise in a warm place until double in size. Sprinkle a cutting board or counter with flour 
and put the dough on the flour. It is now ready to roll out and cut into desired shape and size of 
rolls. Place on greased (or parchment lined) baking pans. Let rise in a warm place until the rolls 
are double in size (approx. 1-1 1/2 hours). Bake in a 375-degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until 
they are browned to your satisfaction. Brush with melted butter while hout. Yields 2 to 2 1/2 
dozen rolls. 
mixed ingredients ready for the plastic wrap

left the dough overnight to rise

here's what greeted me the next morning

I also checked Youtube to see some videos on how to do:
1) Croissant

added choco-hazelnut spread since my kids love bread with chocolate

2) Clover with raisins 

3) Kaiser buns

left it for an hour to let it double up in size again. I brushed with milk before before putting the trays in the oven. 

Here's the finish product. At first it felt daunting because they didn't look as soft as I expected. I was thinking maybe because I used pure wheat / bran flour. Maybe I should've mixed it with white flour. What do you think? 
Nevertheless, when I made my first bite, it was as soft as I wanted it. Love wheat bread with raisins :)
I will continue practicing bread-making with wheat until I can make them soft and fluffy. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Recipe Share : Beef and Beans

A bag of red beans has beed sitting in our fridge for I don't know how long. I already forgot when and why I bought those beans, as weight for the pie or to replicate my FIL's pata beans (he makes really good Pata beans). 
since it was holiday last week, I found the perfect time to make beef and beans. I'm not very good at recreating Mexican dish and so I experimented with spices because I know if I put in the basic tomato sauce and soy sauce, it can taste like any tomato-basef dish. So here are  what I used:

250 g. red beans, boiled until cooked
1/2 k. ground  lean beef
3 gloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, julienne
1 cup of canned peeled tomatoes, you can include the juice
3-4 tbsps. soy sauce
2 tsps. paprika, you can add more if you want
1/2 tsp. cumin, for heat
salt and pepper to taste
1 small cabbage, thinly sliced

What to do:
1. saute garlic and onion in a pan with 2tbsps. hot oil.
2. add in beef and cook until brown. add the tomatoes and soy sauce and simmer for a minute or two.
3. add the beans and spices and simmer some more
4. mix half a cup of cabbage, turn off fire.
the paprika and cumin , even just a few tsps into the dish makes a lot of difference. 
top with fresh cabbage and it's ready to serve. perfect with corn tortillas or rice. happy weekend!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

HTC One V Phone User Review

This is another gadget post to share my view of the HTC phone, a not so very popular brand with Pinoys.
This phone was an accidental phone; I never had any plans of buying a new phone as I was happy (in simple terms) with my office-supplied mobile phone. It’s a basic Android phone but it serves well…until it dimmed its light one me one day. Something about the strip that snapped which is a common problem with slide phones.

Upon knowing that repair takes days, I decided to buy a new one. Who can survive a day without their mobile phones nowadays? It’s like a security blanket for most of us.

Honestly, hubby and I went to the mall without any inkling what to buy.  I didn’t even bother checking online for reviews of phones in the market now as I was still depressed over a defective phone.

Anyway, after going around the stores in SM North Edsa, I finally settled for an HTC phone and bought the HTC One V, an Android phone. Hubby really sales talked me into getting one as he is a happy HTC user. I teased him, 'binayaran ka ba para mag-promote? Grabe sales talk mo ah? :)
My only question to the sales guy, does it have office programs Word, Excel and Powerpoint? He said it’s not built-in but he can install it for me. That’s all I needed to hear and I bought the phone. Yeah, my life revolves around reports and notes and lists so these programs are very very important to me.

Oh and here are other things I likey about HTC One V:
  1. It runs on Ice Cream Sandwhich OS or 4.0 and costs a lot more affordable than its Android counterparts. Got this unit for less than P15k. 
  2. Camera is the next selling point; they had me at depth-of-field feature, simulataneous still and video recording in HD (720p). 
my fave Tartufo and prosciutto pasta at Amici
little boy's beautiful smile, see the (slightly) blurred background. You can adjust which part of the composition you want to blur 
kid's baon
the trick or treat mermaid, low light capture
    3. Storage capacity – it’s expandable so I can download all the apps I want and can store more videos and photos.
    4. Apps galore! – usapang apps na naman,  my current faves are
    1. Calorie Counter - really helpful to monitor how much I eat to help me keep the extra pounds off.
    2. Runkeeper - it has a voice coach feature which helps me get more of a 1 hour run. Although the first time I used it on the field, my phone shut down but when I restarted my phone, it went okay. Never had that problem ever since. 
    3. MMDA app – helps us know traffic situation in Metro Manila especially EDSA.
    4. Games – right now we’re addicted to 3D bowling, Smurfs, Angry Birds, etc. Sophie is particularly fond of Text Twist. Games are really helpful to keep the kids stay still in restos or at home, we just make sure they play age-appropriate games.
    5. HTC Car – this feature is new to HTC. The interface helps me view maps, contacts and music while driving. Cool right?
    6. Beats Audio – audio right now is good and even better than hubby’s older HTC version but will be much appreciated with Beats headphones which I don’t have yet. Until then, I can’t really say much about this feature.
It also helped that we recently got a Sun broadband package with unlimited internet conection for a month (where we got the free Alcatel tab) so we get to enjoy the apps and other features that requires internet connection even on the go. 

Let's just say, like hubby, I'm a happy user :)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

alcatel one touch tablet test run

i write this post using hubby's alcatel one touch tab.
 i decided to give it a test run with my blog while waiting for my little boy to fall asleep. he woke up late from his afternoon nap and now still up playing smurfs village on my htc onev phone. i'll tell you about the phone in another post.

the tablet came with our sun postpaid broadband subscription and so far, performance is okay. hubby downloaded most of his reading files aka comics here and number of apps and games (we're so addicted to 3d bowling game right now).

except that i can't figure out why  the capital letters wont work, typing and web browing experience is pretty much okay. that's a big compliment coming from a person who easily gets techno stressed especially with slow performing machines, my husband can attest to that.

although nothing beats typing on a pc or laptop for the screen size and functions available to both, it may take some getting used to navigating the tablet. let's see later if i can publish this post using the tab.

another thing i like about the tab and my android phone is that you can download apps that will make your life easier such as notepads where you can make your weekly grocery checklist or draft your blog while on the go, maps for travels and a bible for daily reflection. how convenient, right?. you can also download apps that are fun like instagram (it's janakidiary on ig by the way :) ) and games like smurfs (i think sam just spent all my smurfberries). i believe that if there will be a word for the year, the word apps will beat the word 'wagas' by leaps and bounds.

i need to end it here now, it's getting a bit of  chellenge reviewing a long post on a small tab. the keypad ate all the space! and where is that damn cursor when you need it? arrrgh! piece if advice, dont write a long post with a tablet.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Quality Time With Family

Happy Sunday everyone!

Tomorrow it's back to work for hubby and I and back to school for the kids but right now I'm just thankful for the long holiday and whatever is left of it. When a friend asked me last Friday what I plan to do with the long holiday, I answered 'Nothing. I plan to do some planking.' Planking is hubby's term when he wants to be a couch potato all weekend. Planking as in being catatonic or inactive for days.

Seriously, I couldn't do that, stay still for even just couple of hours, I'd go crazy. Seriously still, we didn't plan any out-of-town trip or major activity, we just wanted to spend some Q (quality and quantity) time with the kids. It's been a hell lot busy at work the past weeks, I rarely go home on time so the four-day off work is such a blessing. Time to make it up with the kiddos so we played with them, biked, did arts and crafts and just got crazy silly most times.

Yesterday was the only time we went out of the house, to do some Christmas shopping since there was toy sale at Megatrade Hall in Megamall. It's a nice thought that my Christmas list is getting more names checked. I hope to finish all my gift shopping by end of November.

Anyway, while we patiently go through aisles and aisles of toys, hubby and Sophie spotted a Barbie coin bank and the little girl asked is she could have one.

So her Little Ms. Piggy, her coin bank since she was 2, is getting replaced. Awww! I love Ms. Piggy, she's been a loyal money keeper for years but it seems that the little girl has outgrown her fave coin bank. .

Anyway, one thing good about having a new and bigger coin bank is that she's determined to keep on saving more. I always tell her to save because if she save much she can buy much. If she save little, then she'll have to settle for something small. She always wanted to buy a Barbie Princess and the Popstar toy set (her recent addiction, as in she memorized the lines of all characters) so I told her to save everyday with that toy set in mind.

By the way, another good news is Little Ms. Piggy is not going anywhere. She's got a new friend by the name of Sam who's more than willing to keep her stuffed with coins and bills :)  I'm pretty sure he knows what he wants to buy with his saved money...

Friday, November 2, 2012

Cute Halloween

This is obviously another Halloween post and, promise, my last for the year :0 With kids around, there's always a reason bake and have fun with food. This year our theme is cute Halloween inspired by the cartoonish monster candy topping I bought from Sweet Craft :)
I made muffins and dirt cake. The muffin recipe came from our recent Baking Partners challenge, Pumpkin Chocolate Chip muffin and topped it with dark chocolate ganache as adhesive for the icing. Isn't that vampire the cutest?

And this is our dirt cake, made out of Betty Crocker fudge brownie mix, glow in the dark gummy worms, more of monster candies, choco lentils and marbles. The kids dig this so much!

When I went to the market to buy squash for my muffin, I spotted a couple of these really cute squash, they're as small as a coffee bun but they're perfect shape for a jack o' lantern. I used one squash for my muffin and the other we carved into a lantern.

Lighted with a tea candle. Our very first pumpkin lantern and we're definitely doing this again next year.

To complete our cute Halloween theme, we dressed up the outdoor with these monster faces. I bought corrugated card boards in bright colors (P44 per pack) and cut them to different shapes and sizes. Can I just share how much improvement  an additional layer of eyes can make?

Here, Sophie was adding dots to the ghost's face

We hang all the monster faces on the window and added some bats and black cat (not in photo). I also found jelly eyes in the grocery and hang them around the lawn.

 Happy Halloween! More so, this time is also the perfect occasion to remember the Saints who guide and help the living and our departed loved ones. Let's light some candles and pray for the soul of our departed relatives and friends.

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