Saturday, September 28, 2013

Travel: Hotel Kimberly in Tagaytay

 Well, this travel is not really for leisure but for business. We stayed overnight in Kimberly Hotel for our department's annual planning.

 As much as I can't of course share what were discussed during the planning, I can share with you our hotel experience.

Here are some photos. The rooms were huge, the session rooms which are named after well known artists were well equipped except for the faulty mics. Good thing, being a Post Production dept. we always bring our own equipment. We are OC that way.

The lounge. In the same floor is the K Cafe where our meals were served buffet style. I really had to watch how much I eat, though. I already lost 6 lbs since our first weigh in and there's no way I'm backing out now.  I took advantage of the fresh vegetable salads instead.

The bedroom. The bedroom which I shared with 3 other managers/bffs was furnished with 2 king-sized beds, a T&B with hot and cold shower, personal ref, TV and DVD player, vanity mirror with dryer and a big closet. It also has a small terrace overlooking the entrance of the hotel.

During the section presentation. See one of our senior heads in a cowboy hat? We take our presentation and our work seriously but we definitely know how to have some fun:)

Unlimited brewed coffee. I brought along my Stevia sweetener.

The outdoors

We didn't get to take a dip. It was so cold daw.

The petting zoo.  They got bunnies, turkeys and a herd of sheep.


 Oh you have to meet these cutesies. They're the most adorable creature in the planet and such cam whores! Just lure them with bayabas leaves and they'll come to you.

The playground. As soon as I saw this area, I wanted to try everything. The rope ladder, the tire swing, the obstacle course but my companions threatened to leave me behind. Hmmp! I will definitely come back with my kids/playmates.

They were game for this though. So fun! Weeee!

I wanted to go back to Hotel Kimberly with husby and the kids.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Recipe Share: Longganisa and Dinuguan ala Monterey

I used to have a helper that can cook to-die-for Filipino dishes so anytime we crave a pancit bihon or ginataang langka, we just request it from her and wish granted.
When she was still with us, our relatives and in laws would troop to our house every weekend for that taste of ginataang langka (jackfruit with cocunut milk). Some even attempted to pirate her but she remained loyal to us, until she got pregnant and had to leave.
When this helper left, I really felt deprived and realized that I cannot recreate those dishes I used to enjoy on a regular basis. We still communicate,though, so I can ask her for recipes and she said she misses my pastas and cakes naman daw :)

Moving on in life, when I reviewed my Nora Daza and other Pinoy cookbooks, I realized my knowledge of Filipino dish is very limited pala. I can cook tinola, sinigang (which my daughter dubbed as the best sinigang ever :)), a variety of tomato based recipes like pochero, embutido, barbeque/liempo, paksiw (that my in-law loves) and variety of adobo. That's about the Pinoy recipe I can confidently cook. The rest is either Italian, American or Chinese. So, my goal is to learn to cook more Filipino dishes.

I started off with homemade longganisa because one of my goals too this year is for our family to enjoy these breakfast favorites all natural.

Here's my recipe for longganisa (Filipino sausage):

1/2 k lean ground pork
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsps. sugar
1 1/2 tbsp. white vinegar
pepper, season according to taste
lotsa chopped garlic if you want it that way (I used 4 cloves). Some like it sweeter, just add mroe sugar.

Now, I didn't put this in a casing as I'm not sure where to buy a good (clean) one. I tried to form them into rolls and fried them but after while they just disintegrated so I decided to just saute the batch. My husby calls it buhaghag longganisa, haha! But in terms of taste, it's a winner especially if you let the mixture stay in the fridge for 2-3 days before cooking. The ingredients will become BFFs and yield a tastier longganisa.

Now for the Dinuguan (Pork Blood Stew).

Since I'm kinda scared to go all out on this recipe being my first time to cook this, I decided to try the Pork Blood Trio that Monterey meatshop offers. It's a pack that contains marinated pork and 2 packs pork blood. It sort of ready to cook, all you need from your pantry are garlic, onions, vinegar, jalapeno pepper or siling mahaba, water, salt and pepper.

Why Pork Blood Trio, I asked the very accommodating attendants of Monterey (I love their costumer service, really). Well, with the pack you can make 3 different dishes: Dinuguan tagalog-style, Batchoy and Dinuguan Bicol Style. Each pack comes with the how-to guide for each recipe. So convenient, right?
Just follow the step by step guide. 

My take on this recipe? As I've said it's convenient especially for first timers but the taste is okay. It helps that the meat was already marinated but it could use maybe more pork blood. At the last part I had to add more vinegar and salt than what the recipe said to make up for the taste. Each recipe serves 5-7 pax. 

Finish product. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Ikea TVC and MAS Awards

Although I'm no longer connected in Advertising, the industry still has a soft spot in my heart. I still watch great TV ads from around the world and here's one that I like :)

If you can't play the video, click the link. This is so cute! There's one Ikea TVC too about the gnomes, you can also search it on Bestads.
This particular ad reminds me of my little boy who doesn't want to be called baby anymore. Oh dear Sam, don't grow up just yet.

On the topic of great work, I recently got news that one of my former colleagues is a finalist for Best Sound Design in Gaming Category for International Music and Sound Awards. Guess for what game? Ghost Recon! Cool right? Here's the link to see the finalists.
He didn't bag the prize but being shortlisted and going to Cannes as finalist is awesome already for any artist.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Blue, Blue, Blue

Either it’s the color of my mood the past weeks or it’s the IT hue for me these days.
I just realized that the stuff I bought during those shop-to-feel-good moments are all in blue.

I’m in such a pensive mood right now. So many things running around my mind, things that both excite and worry me. The worry part, I got to share bits of that here. The exciting part, I'll tell more at the right time.

Anyway, nothing more relaxing than a stroll in the mall and exercise a little of that spending power to keep the mind off the worries, don't you agree? Here are a few of my finds (warning: blue overload).

A royal blue (reminds me of my highschool uniform) bag with stones. Bought this at Landmark Trinoma for a wedding with a spring color theme.

This is the dress (and shoes) for the wedding. So spring right? :)

See the detail on the bag's clasp ? It's roomy as well, I can fit my cellphone, mini wallet, lipstick and blush in there.

Blue dress from The Ramp. It's a long back dress, so kikay. I haven't worn this yet but I'm thinking it would look fab with a pair of boots or killer stilletos.

A bag from Linea Italia. I've been looking for a bag that will break the monotonous black, brown and red collection that I have. This is the perfect color (yeah, I know I'm biased that way). It's roomy as well and winged shape. Very up-to-date.

The snaps at the sides keeps the bag's sides (the batwings) closed. 

Here's how it looks if you unsnap them. It has room even for my tablet. 

See how everything fits in there? Even my chunky Marc Jacobs shades case has a place. 

Frontal look :) 

Lastly, blue matte polish from BK Rose. It's supposed to be a matte polish but it still gives out a gloss once applied. Later I found on the web that you need to apply a matte top coat pa pala. Anyway, I love the color (again, I'm biased) so it's okay. Added a confetti clear polish on one nail :)

What's your color today? Stay safe and dry everyone!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

School: First Quarter Update

Mid September and I’m on my 2nd post pa lang. Not.Good.

Sorry about that guys, been up to my neck with work and offline activities. I actually just came back from a work-related trip so I will try to catch up blog world.

Now off to my topic.

I have shared here our struggle during the first weeks of school for my 1st grader. Actually, after my last post, I tried very hard not to share more depressing posts about how we try to get through the mornings. It’s hard not to let that out here and try to be as positive in the midst of chaos. I’m thankful as well for family and friends who listen and give words of encouragement and wisdom.

Now, when friends ask me how we are adjusting so far, I give a sigh of relief and say ‘we are getting better’ :0 And we sigh in unison, 'salamat naman.'

Yep! The adjustment period is over, er, almost over. I don't think it will ever be officially over for any parent even if they're all grown up and Sam grows hair all over his body and Sophie becomes BFF with her make up kit and vanity mirror. The adjustment period is a constant friend in different shapes and sizes.

Back to now. After a month the little girl got to the habit of waking up early, with a little lambing (tenderness) from mommy, of course. It's something my Mom made me realize during her one week visit at home. 

My mom gave me an honest to goodness bird’s eyeview of the situation and what needs to be corrected. I have many realizations along the way. What stuck most with what my Mom said was this, ‘Your kids are hungry for your attention especially that you're out most times because of work. Just try to be more patient with them and a little sweetness will go a long way.’ So I did.

Being a working mom, my mother said ignoring the situation more will make the kids feel more deprived. The trick is to give just the right amount of affection or tenderness and the right amount of firmness so she will still follow instructions.

When time permits, Sophie and I take a bath together in the morning; mom-daughter bonding and chismisan in the bathroom and we both enjoy it. 

On school, two weeks ago husby and I met her class adviser for the PTC and, naturally, I dreaded the sight of the report card. I know my daughter is struggling as well with the teaching techniques and pacing of a traditional school being a product of a progressive school. I wasn’t expecting anything, I was just praying she’d pass the subjects.

Oh, another sigh of relief for me. She got good grades, better if I may say so myself than what we expected. Her lowest is 84 and her highest is 92. Not bad for a start.

During the PTC, her teacher gave good words for Sophie – she’s very helpful and is mature for her age. She looks after her other classmates (especially the one with special needs) that's why she is very well liked in class. Although she struggled at first (she even cried once in school, that I didn’t know until PTC) the persistence and willingness to learn is very evident and most importantly she’s more focused now. I love those last few words, more focused now. Naturally, being the artsy and creative girl that she is, she got As on her music, arts and other non-academic subjects :)

We asked her teacher if she needs to be tutored because she struggles in some subjects like Math and our little girl said some of her classmates have tutor after class. I guess she wants to jump into the bandwagon. Her teacher said, ‘No need Mommy. Just keep on doing the kind of tutoring you do at home. That seems to work for her.’ 

Now the challenge is, as her teacher said, to keep doing what we do at home. Easier said than done, I wanted to tell her teacher that but kept my mouth shut instead.It's not that easy especially if I have to stay late in the office because of various matters that demand my attention. By the time I get home, either I’m beat to do homework with her or she’s already asleep. The other day, we did her homework at 5am, before our usual school prep routine because the night before she was already asleep when we came home. 

But we will keep on, as parents, don't we? Because we know that each child deserves a parent's proper guidance and whatever becomes of a person is a product of the home. Don't you agree?

Just to share another happy thought, the other day while we were reviewing Math in advance and I was explaining why she needs Math when she runs her business someday (she really wants that), she suddenly understands blurted out, ' Mom, math is easy pala.' Those were music to my ears, coming from a girl who seem to struggle in the subject. 

Really, no doubt it takes a village to raise a child. I thank heavens for bringing the right people into our lives to help and guide us raise these children to be the best they can possibly be. 

To end, here is a photo of my little girl in her homemade mask for the Linggo ng Wika. They were assigned Masskara festival costume and she made this mask from scratch. We just bought the white half mask and some paints. She paired it with her birthday dress which I embellished to match her mask. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Product Recall

This is on my email this morning from the site Circle of Moms. 

I started subscribing to parenting sites when I found out I was pregnant with Sophie and until now that the kids are older, I'm still subscribed to these useful sites like Circle of Moms, The Nest, Babyzone, etc.

The sites mentioned above are all foreign sites because at that time there wasn't much preggy and parenting sites hosted locally. I'm glad we have a bunch now, they're so much more helpful and relevant to Pinoy moms and moms-to-be.

Anyway, one of the regular updates I really look into in these sites are the Product Recalls. These sites helped me a lot when I purchased kids' stuff like stroller, the crib, toys, apparel, toiletries and most importantly medicine and food. I need to know what's safe for them and what's not. Don't we all want that for our kids?

From the Product Recall section, you get regular updates of what brand and type of products have been recalled from the market because of the danger it may pose or the reported incidents from consumers. Although most of the brands were released initially in the US, these brands reaching the local market is very very possible so it's better to be safe than sorry.

As consumer, it is also important to note the specific product type, serial and release dates of the batch being recalled because not all units of such brand type are recalled. Sometimes it just pertains to a certain batch released probably due to factory defect, safety hazard, etc. Like for the Halo Sleep Sack below, I suggest one buys the version without the flower embellishment to be sure.

To know more about product recalls, visit this site.

Vitamix 64-ounce Low Profile Containers

Vitamix 64-ounce low-profile container
The recall involves Vitamix 64-ounce Low-Profile containers with blade part number 103208 A and blade date codes 03-12 (March 2012) through 07-13 (July 2013). The blade part number and date code are laser etched onto the top of the blade at the bottom of the container.  The clear, plastic, 64-ounce container with black plastic handle and lid was sold with Vitamix blender models 7500, Professional Series 300, Professional Series 750 and individually.  Replacement blades with part number 104602 A are not affected.
Vitamix has received 18 reports of blades breaking.  No injuries have been reported.

Halo Sleep Sack Wearable Blankets with Ruffles and Pink Rose Embellishment
HALO Sleepsack with floral embellishment
The recalled HALO SleepSack wearable blankets are 100% white cotton with pink-edged ruffles and a pink satin rose embellishment on the front. These sack-shaped wearable blankets have cut-outs for the baby’s arms, a zipper down the center, a sewn bottom and were sold in small and medium sizes. Only SleepSack products with GPU numbers 2701, 2781, 2886, 2887, 3007, 3035 and 3142 printed on a neck label under the primary neck label are included in the recall.  
The firm has received six reports of the petals detaching from the blankets including one report of an infant found gagging on a detached petal.

Build-A-Bear Stuffed Animal
Recalled Sulley stuffed animal
Sulley is a furry blue creature from the Monsters movies. The Build-A-Bear stuffed monster is covered in blue furry fabric with purple spots, horn on its head and has blue eyes measuring about 1 inch in diameter. The stuffed monster is about 17 inches high and 10.5 inches wide.  Tracking label ending with 4384 or 4385 for USA and 4378 for Canada can be found on a sewn in label on the backside of the leg of the stuffed monster.
None reported

Baby Einstein Musical Motion Activity Jumpers

Kids II Baby Einstein Activity Jumper
This recall includes Baby Einstein Musical Motion Activity Jumpers with model number 90564. The model number can be found on a tag attached to the underside of the seat. These stationary activity centers have a support seat covered in blue fabric attached to a large white metal frame and include a variety of brightly colored toys surrounding the seat. The yellow sun toy is attached to the seat frame on a flexible stalk with either three or five brightly colored rings. A date code is located in the lower right corner of the sewn in label on the back of the blue seat pad.  The following date  codes, indicating a manufacture date prior to November 2011, are included in the recall: OD0, OE0, OF0, OG0, OH0, OI0, OJ0, OK0, OL0, OA1, OB1, OC1, OD1, OE1, OF1, OG1, OH1, OI1, OJ1 and OK1. 
The firm has received 100 reports of incidents including 61 injuries. Reported injuries include bruises, lacerations to the face, a 7-month-old boy who sustained a lineal skull fracture and a chipped tooth to an adult. 

LL Bean Painted Wood Cottage Step Stool:

L.L.Bean painted cottage step stool

This recall involves L.L.Bean painted wood cottage step stools. They measure about 12 inches tall by 12 inches wide by 13 inches deep and have a slot on the top surface and hard plastic caps on the bottom of all four legs.  They were sold in the following colors: black, coffee bean, ivory, light sage and red.  Item number 281655 is printed on a sticker on the underside of the stool.  
L.L.Bean has received six reports of incidents involving slips and falls, resulting in soreness and bruising.

As consumer, it pays to be more conscious and discriminating of the products sold in the market (whether local or foreign) and to know our rights as consumers. I'm happy when I see in the news that products are recalled or investigated, even the big names. We don't have much of that some years back but now it goes to show that consumers are more vigilant and actually speak up. 
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