Monthly Archives: September 2012

I’m Off!

I’m off!

20120930-174441.jpg

Yup, am leaving for Europe with the parentals :) Am I a lucky girl, or what? :)

Will definitely try to post pictures of all my foodie, shopping, and sightseeing adventures :) Although ofcourse that highly depends too on the wi-fi situation over there. If it isn’t free, then I guess you’ll be hearing from me in a couple of weeks or so :). Hahaha!

I’m so excited! :) Off I go!

Toodles y’all! :)

Date Night Diaries { Lemuria }

A couple of weeks ago, the H, my good friend M and I decided to redeem some Deal Grocer coupons at Lemuria.  So technically, this wasn’t so much of a date as it was a threesome.  Hahaha!  But I couldn’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday night than to be in the company of my husband, one of my closest friends, and good food!

This actually wasn’t my first time to visit Lemuria. My first experience, however, was quite a  disappointment.   So ever since,  I’ve been looking for another opportunity for Lemuria to redeem itself.  I was hoping this night would be the night :).

As I was making reservations, I made sure to specify to the waitstaff that we wanted to be seated in the main dining room.  Part of the reason my initial experience was a let down was because our party was relegated to the Lavender Function Room which, in terms of ambience, pales in comparison to the main area.

Aside from the food, one of the big draws to Lemuria is its beautifully-decorated, mediterranean style interiors.  The walls are lined with brick, the ceilings are high and made of wooden beams.  It feels warm and cozy inside, and it makes one feel as if they’re in some European villa–definitely not in Metro Manila. Hahaha!  It’s a perfect date place, actually, the candle-lit tables setting the mood, and lending an air of mystery and romance.

So I’m really glad that this time around, I finally got to sit in the main dining area. It was quite small, but every bit as pretty as the pictures I’ve seen on the net :). Sa ambience pa lang, worth it na.  Hahaha!  Or at least it was worth the traffic and the trek to New Manila on a rainy Saturday night :p.

On to the food…

Our coupons were for a 6-course degustation dinner.  Knowing that we were in for a Filipino fare feast, we came with hefty appetites and our sense of adventure. Most of the menu items were specialties of the chef–his creative take on some classic Filipino dishes and ingredients.  So I was quite excited to dig in, and to discover the new tastes and flavors this meal had to offer.

First up was the amuse bouche.  We were served an open-faced lumpia with vinegar sorbet.  I really liked the flavors of this dish–the vinegar adding a nice kick to the crunchy wonton wrapper and meat and vegetable filling.  I also liked the added pakulo of serving the vinegar slightly icy, then watching it melt over the lumpia.  It’s added details like these that for me, truly make the meal an “experience”.   I took it as a good sign of the many dishes yet to come :).

This was followed by an appetizer of tinapa mousse.  I have to say, when they laid the plate in front of me, I was pleasantly surprised at how beautifully it was presented!  The mousse was streaked at the center of the plate with a small dollop of olive oil.  Surrounding it were purple flowers and pink peppercorns.  So pretty!  I am more used to mousse’s or spreads being put in a ramekin or being served like butter would so this was a nice change :).  And to add to that, it tasted really good–the fish taste not overpowering at all!  I also liked that this dish was quite light.  It left enough space in my tummy for the rest of the courses that were still lined up for us :).

The appetizer was followed by soup and salad.  For the soup, we had a seafood bouillabase.  For me, this was quite similar to and reminded me of sinigang, for some reason, although the broth was much thicker.  Unfortunately, I was a bit underwhelmed with this dish–both the presentation (you’ll notice how “unexciting” it looks in the picture below) and the taste.  While it was quite flavourful, they were a bit stingy when it came to the laman.  It also tasted like something I’ve had before so there was really nothing new about this dish for me.

The salad was definitely much more enjoyable!  Let me start off by saying that I loved how happy and colorful this dish looked!  I loved the mix of greens from the pako (a kind of fern) and lato (some kindofa native seaweed), and the pop of red from the fresh tomatoes.  The purple petals  were a lovely touch, as well :).

That it was served with itlog na maalat and marinated tawilis, made it a symphony of textures and flavors in my mouth all at once!  Yes, it was really, really good!  While I honestly could have done without the tawilis (I’m not a fan of fish or slimy stuff :(), I still think that this dish was one of the best we had the entire evening! :)

The next course was a seafood course–bangus belly ravioli with aligue cream sauce, danggit chips and kesong puti crumbs.  Doesn’t it sound so yummy already?  And for me, anything with aligue sauce is winner!  Hahaha!

But this dish actually surprised me.  While I was already assuming that the sauce would be rich and creamy (as aligue sauces usually are), it was actually not.  It was light, although still flavorful.  The ravioli was cooked nicely, slightly chewy, with a generous portion of the bangus inside.  I was a bit sad to see just one big piece of it, though–I totally could have had extra servings!  Hahaha!  The only thing I didn’t like so much about this dish was that I felt the danggit and kesong puti were a bit too overpowering, making it a tad salty.  I think the dish could have done without it :).

At this point, we were served some salabat, pulot and calamansi sorbet to cleanse our palate.  Two words to describe the concoction?  SOUR and TART! Hahaha!  I swear, one small scoop and I could already feel the zing in the sides of my mouth!  Hahaha!  I have to say though, it did its job really well– any trace of the previous courses were eliminated from my taste buds!

The sorbet signaled we were also nearing the end of our meal.  The next dish was the poultry course, followed by the finale–the dessert!

For the poultry dish, the H and I chose the free range native chicken breast braised in red wine and served with fresh mushrooms.  M, on the other hand, had the leg confit.

Like the rest of our meal, again, this was a great dish!  The chicken was fall-off-the-bone tender, and very flavorful, having been braised in red wine.  It could have used more mushrooms, though–but that’s just me :).  I looooove mushrooms and could always go for extra servings.  Hahaha!

Lastly, we were served some Tsokolate Tablea and Kapeng Barako Brulee for dessert.  From the sound of it, it seemed like such an interesting combination. And actually, it was :).  Again I was surprised how nicely the two flavors mixed together and complemented each other.  It was slightly bitter, but balanced by the sweetness of the caramelized sugar on top.  Perfect!  Despite the fact that the consistency could still be improved, I thought that we ended the meal on a high note with this one :).

The verdict?

Definitely, this Lemuria experience proved to be not just a gastronomic delight, but a visual feast as well.  Our beautiful ambience was the perfect backdrop to an equally beautiful, enjoyable, and delicious meal.  Our threesome really enjoyed the evening–despite the initial traffic and rains, it actually ended up being a fun and relaxing night!  If only Lemuria was closer to my neighborhood, I’d probably visit more often :).

Notes to Self

I’ve been seeing a lot of these inspirational quotes on Pinterest lately.

(I’m addicted, by the way ;p)

Thought I’d share some of my favorites with you.

It’s funny how the thoughts behind them are so simple, yet life-changing.

Especially on those not-so-good days, they serve as reminders that things aren’t as bad as they seem to be, and that definitely, whatever happens (good or bad) is what YOU make of it.

via beingalison.com

via happiestaretheprettiest.tumblr.com

via becauseiamarunner.tumblr.com

via beriablogs.com

via notsalmon.com

Open Doors

I find it so amazing how this blog has opened many doors for me :).

What started out as a venue to remind myself of the everyday things I should celebrate, has turned into an opportunity to share my hobbies, my talents, and my interests.  In short, the things I love and am passionate about :).

In case you missed it, I wrote about how our home was featured here, and how my vision for my daughter’s first birthday party was also featured here.  While I was actually a bit dyahe that something so personal to me and my family was put under a spotlight, my discomfort was eased by my eagerness to inspire others with my ideas, and to share my love for all things beautiful.

Also recently, through this blog, I received an invitation (plus an offer for free tickets!) to write about the upcoming ManilaFAME Expo in October.  Wow, I totally didn’t see that coming!  Hahaha!  But I am thrilled to be given the chance to see the show, and to blog about my experience :).  It’s my little way of showing my support to Filipino artisans, and promoting Filipino culture.  Pinoy pride!!!

Lastly, this just got published recently:

The picture of the mat weaver at the center of the article is mine! :)

To have one of my images published and used in a foreign publication is such an honor for me!  I am beyond excited and thrilled considering that I am not even a professional photographer.  Hahaha!  Isn’t this way cool? :)

I can’t help but feel thankful for such experiences that not only encourage me to continue to do what I do, but to continue to celebrate the wonderful life I have, with all its unexpected surprises :).

While these opportunities are actually the icing on the cake, I’m feeling pretty good about my decision to start this blog, and am inspired and excited to share even more of my little “doses of happy” with all of you :).

Article via Mingpao Weekly Issue 2284, Hong Kong

Many thanks to Edith Cheung for the feature!

http://www.clothhaven.com

The Weekend That Was

It was a lovely, relaxing, albeit fast weekend.

My PIL (Parents-In-Law) treated us to an overnighter at Anvaya Cove.

It was soooo nice to get away from the city.  No fail, the scenic views on SCTex did its job of taking my breath away, and mesmerizing me.

I was once again reminded of how beautiful our country is and how the H and I should really make more of an effort to explore…

To get to Anvaya, we had to pass through Subic.  It was nice to see this familiar sight on the road.

Hahaha!  Some things never change :).

There were also a lot of curvy, twisty roads we had to maneuver but I was loving the forest-y and nature-y vibe.

Anvaya at last!

Isn’t it purdy? :)

The warm blue water of the swimming pool was so inviting.  And the lush landscaping made for a peaceful, relaxing environment.

The beachfront also looked really quiet, the waters still.  Too bad we ended up not having time to take a dip :(.

This was where most of my time was spent–the spa!

Two hours of pampering was just what I needed to start off the weekend on the right foot :).

Speaking of feet, I just love this basin of water and the native scooper used for feet cleaning.  So much more visually interesting than the usual faucet or shower head. :)  The yellow flower is a nice touch, as well :).

These are what some of the casitas look like.  We were at the bottom floor of a two-storey structure.  It was nice because all our rooms were adjoining, and we also had our own verandah.

This is our huge, comfy, king-sized bed.

Sorry, I forgot to actually take a picture of our room!  Hahaha!

Anyway, I am ending this post with some pictures of the little miss and her cousins.

They obviously had a blast!

Hopefully, this will be one place we will be visiting more often :).

I am Loving…

…the Impossible Instant Lab!

What is it, you ask?

 It’s basically a device that turns your iPhone images into Polaroid-like photos!

How cool is that?

I.WAAAAAAANT!!!

I am a huge Polaroid fan, and purchased a camera for myself even though  I knew the company was closing its doors for good.  There’s just something so nostalgic and vintage about Polaroid film that I love.  I also love the mystery of not knowing what your picture will look like, then finally, when the image appears, its imperfect perfection :)

Thanks to the Impossible Project for continuing to dream up ways for people like me to get their Polaroid fix!

Despite the fact that this wonderful invention retails at a steep 300 bucks, I’m hoping there will be enough demand for it to be mass-produced, and for the price to drop to more pocket-friendly levels :).

I definitely can’t wait to get my hands on one of these!

Photo via http://www.kickstarter.com

{Party Planning} A’s Mexican Fiesta

A couple of months ago, while on a shopping trip to Shoe Mart for some of A’s essentials, my daughter happened to be drawn to a fuschia, purple and orange tiered dress that was displayed on a mannequin.

I can totally see why my daughter was attracted to it–mind you, it was a pretty cute dress, and colorful too! :).  It also had the cutest crochet detail at the back :). However, while we were not there to make any unnecessary purchases (my daughter has a closet-full of clothes already–haha!), A would unfortunately not leave the store without the dress.  Her obsession was beyond me, but because I was not in the mood for a scene, I relented and bought what I now refer to as “the dress that inspired it all”. :)

When planning parties, it helps alot to have some design inspiration.  Whether it be a color, a pattern, a character or a country.  In this case, the tiered dress with its bright palette reminded me very much of a Mexican fiesta.  And since I was already researching themes for A’s party at that time, I thought it would be perfect!  Coincidentally, I just loooooove Mexican food too so that pretty much sealed the deal!

So with the theme settled, I buckled down to work on the menu.  I decided on tacos, cheese quesadillas, chicken empanadas, and baked spaghetti (I had to throw in some noodles for long life!).  My mom, on the other hand, contributed some jamon in toasted pandesal from The Plaza.  For desserts, we had some leche flan, mexican wedding cookies, and ofcourse, churros con chocolate!  To keep things within budget, I also decided that most of the food would be cooked at home :).

For the event styling, I was challenged to find decor that made a lot of impact, but didn’t break the bank!  Hahaha!  If you read my post on A’s first birthday party, I totally did not want to throw a party of that proportion again!  Hahaha!  Well, maybe not until A turns 7! :p  The H and I decided that we were just going to celebrate on a much smaller scale this time around, inviting only family and our closest friends.

So for the party decor, I decided to go DIY.  If you love DIY like me, then I personally think there is no need for expensive party supplies.  Just craft them! The net is chockful of ideas!

There were several items that I knew I had to make to give the party a truly Mexican flair.  A pinata was one of them :).  Luckily, there are so many tutorials on the web that offer easy instructions on how to make a pinata, so I was actually able to construct one without much difficulty.  It was pretty fun to make, and I was so proud of the outcome!

Other elements of the decorations included some papel picado, mexican paper flowers, paper stars or lanterns, papier mache horses, sombreros, maracas, and some cactus as well :).  Luckily, most of these can be made with a little bit of creativity and a lot of patience–hahaha! :).  And good thing I happen to looooove crafting so I was actually excited about all the projects I had lined up!

I’m so excited to share with you how everything turned out!  In the end, I was so proud of my work!  It may look like I may have spent a fortune, but I actually didn’t!  That’s the best part! :)

On a bit of a serious note, A’s party actually had to be postponed about 2 weeks. The original date it was planned was a week filled with heavy rains that resulted in flooding.  Many people were affected and lost their homes.  I donated some of my party funds to the victims, but decided to proceed with the celebration at a more appropriate time.  We also downscaled the number of invitees, and ended up just inviting family.

Anyway, I hope you liked the photos of A’s party, as much as I enjoyed styling it!  I hope in some way, it inspired you with some DIY ideas for future parties of your own!

My Journey to Thin + Happy Weekend

Weight loss.  Argh.  Why does it have to be so difficult?

Why couldn’t I have just been born naturally thin?

*Sigh*

Despite my efforts to moderate my food intake and to supplement my diet with fiber, I guess I was missing one of the most important components of weight loss and a healthy lifestyle–exercise!  Duuuuh!

Yup.  There’s no going around it anymore.  As much as I hate it, I. MUST. GET. OFF. MY. BUTT!

So I’ve enrolled myself in barre3 class three times a week with my cousin-slash-exercise buddy B, and I’ve also started playing badminton again with the H, with my big bro, and the SIL.  That makes 4 days of exercise in a week!!!  Not too shabby for an exercise averse person like me :p.  Hahaha!

Wish me luck, that I can keep this up!  It’s a huge commitment on my part, but I’m determined to lose the poundage.  Hahaha!

And speaking of determined, it has helped me a lot to visualize my weight loss goal.  I came across this picture of myself yesterday and while it kinda made me feel wistful of how young and “thin” I used to look, it has also firmed my resolve to look that way again!

My colleague K calls this picture my “thinspiration”.  Hahaha!

Have a happy, healthy weekend, folks!!! :)

I am Loving…

…these Limited Edition product packaging designs!

I am in love with these Campbell Soup cans– they’re an ode to the famous artist, Andy Warhol.  One of his most iconic artworks is actually on the Campbell Soup can!  I guess you can say their relationship has come full circle :)

And Absolut Vodka just keeps on pushing the envelope when it comes to churning out unique, cutting edge designs!  With this new line, Absolut Unique, the company promises that none of the 4 million bottles that will be produced will be the same.  Holy Kamoley!  It kinda takes this whole idea of limited edition to a whole different ball game :).

These Kiehl’s labels are not only colorful and quirky—a stark contrast to the company’s usually clean, minimalist and slightly apothecaryesque look—but there’s also an added bespoke quality to it.  The intent behind the word bubble is for the person buying it to fill in a personal message for the recipient, before the label is attached to the product.  Kinda cool, huh?

And lastly, I am so in love with Orla Kiely AND method and to find out that these 2 brands have joined forces to come up with a limited edition line available in Target—man, be still my heart!  One word to describe it: LOVE.

*Sigh* Aren’t these packaging designs all so beeeeyooooteeefulllll?  The products have become works of art themselves!  How’s that for a dose of middle of the work week inspiration? :)

Images via thedieline.com and methodhome.com

Star Crayons + Happy Weekend

A’s 2nd birthday party was a success!  Yippee!

While I am still writing my blog post about that, in the meantime, I’d like to share with you one of the projects that I did for her party–Star Crayon give-aways!

I gave these out to A’s cousins who were still too young to be given the papier mache horses (takas).  Those went to the older kids :).

Anyway, these star crayons are not only very easy to make, but it also cost me nearly zero pesos–next to nothing!  Hahaha!  I say “nearly” because while I recycled materials that I had lying around the house, syempre I did use up some electricity while in the course of making them so I guess may gastos pa din yon (I still spent something) :).  Hahaha!

Here are the things you’ll be needing to make your own Star Crayons:

one deep pot

mini glass jars (the number depends on how many colors you are making)

old crayons/broken crayons

mold/shaper

Here are the steps.  Easy Peasy.

Step 1: Sort your crayons into like colors and shades.  This is not really a super necessary step–only if you decide you want to make a monochromatic crayon.  In this case, that’s what I pretty much wanted.  I’ve seen other versions, though, where the maker just went wild and mixed so many different colors together!  The results are beautiful as well :).

Step 2: After you’ve got your crayons in groups, break them apart and put them into the glass jars.  One color group per jar.  Again, if you have an extra non-stick muffin or mold pan, you can totally eliminate this step and just sort the crayons straight into the pan itself.

Step 3: Fill your pot with water (up to the level where the crayons in the glass jar are covered, but not high enough for the water to enter the jar)  and bring to a boil.  Once water starts to bubble, carefully place the glass jars inside, and let the crayons melt.

If you use the non-stick pans, you can do this step in the oven.  I think melting the crayons to 325 degrees will do.

Step 4: Once the crayons have all melted, pour them carefully into the molds.  You may want to use an oven mitt in this step because the glass jars will be very hot!  Also, it’s best to do this project without kids nearby since you are dealing with stuff that can potentially scald or burn.

Step 5: After pouring, stick the mold in the refrigerator to cool for around 20 minutes, or until they harden.

Once the crayons have fully hardened, just pop them out!  In this case, maybe because I used a silicone mold, the crayons popped out easily :).  In other cases, especially if your pan or mold is not non-stick, you may have to spray some oil or any other agent that will make the crayons slip off with ease.

And here’s the finished product!  Voila!  Ready to be wrapped :).

Pretty, right?  I made them in the party motif colors–yellow, purple, fuschia and orange :).

Here is the little one giving her own set a try…Perfect for little hands!

Success!!!

Hope you have a great weekend, folks!