Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Cheap Toddler Activities

IMG_0240

I buy my son a lot of toys and activities but being a crafter, I also like making some for him at home when I have the time. Here are some cheap activities that I made for him back when he was 11-12 months old.

IMG_0238

This is a variation of this activity. Actually, this is the first one that we did. He started doing this when he was 7 months old. I just bought a pack of cheap Pick-Up-Sticks from the bookstore. I got an old formula container and punched holes on the lid. He loved this activity. He would do it every day. This is a great fine motor skills activity.

IMG_0241

My son loves lift-the-flap books so I decided to make him a simple one about elephants. During that time, our lesson was the letter E. My son also likes elephants so this was a perfect topic.

IMG_0242 

I just printed some photos on cardstock then got another one and made “windows”. I glued them together and voila!

This next activity is a no-brainer. I didn’t make this. I got some cheap cartolina and finger paint and gave them to the little one.

IMG_0235


IMG_0236

What are your cheap activities for your toddler? I’d love to hear them! Share them in the comments below.

Monday, February 23, 2015

A Mountain of Rice and Meatballs

IMG_0055

We love meatballs but I seldom cook them because they are just too much work for me so we consider them a treat. From time to time, I have cravings so I cook them. Meatballs and vegetables are already a heavy meal but we Pinoys eat rice with everything thus the mountain of rice in this plate. My son and I shared this meal and no, we didn’t finish the rice. We did devour all the meatballs and veggies though.

For dessert, we had some ice cream. If I am not mistaken, this is Selecta’s Choco Almond ice cream.


IMG_0056

Meatballs and Vegetables in Cream Sauce

cooked meatballs
garlic
onions
frozen mixed vegetables
cream
S&P

1. Saute the garlic and onion in  some oil. Add the frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, corn). Let them cook for about a minute or two.

2. Add the meatballs. Stir.

3. Pour one Nestle cream brick. Season with salt and pepper.  Wait to cook and serve with rice or bread.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Mothers Need a Good Cry From Time to Time

When I was younger, I had so many outlets to choose from whenever I felt sad, depressed, angry, frustrated, etc. I had many sports and martial arts so stress from these emotions was not really an issue for me. Today that I’m a mom, I find it hard to release these emotions. Sometimes I wish I’d bought a punching bag so that I can give it a few kicks and punches. Sometimes I get so frustrated with my husband and son that I just want to scream at them or just leave them for a few hours. I don’t. Instead, I take a deep breath and walk out of the room to do some chores. When my son is asleep, I get a good cry. I watch One Born Every Minute to remind myself of the miracle of life…of how precious it is. Other times I drop on my knees and pray. I pour my heart out to God and feel better afterwards. I need a good cry from time to time in order to keep sane, to be able to do my mommy/wife duties and to be basically functional.

Today, one of my best friends is crying. She  lost her brother to cancer. It wasn’t a long battle. We were actually surprised to find out that his cancer has progressed so much that chemo won’t work anymore. Her brother has special needs and to be sick with this disease is so much harder because he can’t really communicate what’s going on. I will never know what my friend goes through right now but my heart and my prayers go to her and her family. This is a tough challenge for her but I know with God’s grace, she will overcome.

“You turn my mourning into dancing again, You lifted my sorrows. I can’t stay silent. I must sing for His joy has come.”

My CDO Takeaways

We were not able to do a lot of shopping in CDO. We just visited the 2 major malls in the city – Ayala Center Centrio and Limketkai mall. From Centrio, my only takeaway were my Starbucks mug  and this:

IMG_1636
a red HotWheels truck to add to our collection

At Limketkai mall, I got a few things.

IMG_1633 
A Skipper pencil case for my son, a Hello Kitty bread/dough cutter for me, a set of Toy Story stickers for my son and a roll of zip lock bags. I needed to transfer my SIL’s food gifts to a more travel-friendly container and nothing is friendlier than zip lock bags in my opinion.

IMG_1634

I also got 2 books from National Bookstore. These were on sale (score!) and a box of crayon bandages. These are awesome! My son had a kick out of them. They were so helpful at the airport when our flight was delayed and our son was having some tantrums out of boredom. These kept him quiet for a few minutes.

IMG_1635

I also got a few magnets for me and my mom. This is kinda our tradition whenever we travel.
For food, I got more of these Sler’s special chicharon. I wish I bought more… We demolished one bag when we got home.

IMG_1637


I also got 2 boxes of Missy BonBon Pastel for my sister and a tray of Floss Ensaymada for us.

IMG_1638


Finally, a Kinder Joy egg from Watsons because that’s what I do. I buy one egg whenever I see it then put it in my stockpile. My son and I open one egg when we are bored.


IMG_1639

I’d say that this was a pretty budget trip. We stayed on budget and I was able to control my shopping which is something new when I travel.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Eating Through Our Pantry and Freezer – Meals 5, 6, 7, 8

Here’s another installment of meals I whipped up from the leftovers in our pantry and freezer.

For dinner the other night, we still had some leftover sauteed mung beans. I served it again but with the addition of this eggplant torta. It’s just basically cooked eggplant dipped in beaten egg and fried. I also added a few tablespoons of the meat mixture I made from the leftovers from the sauteed mung beans dish. You can put the eggplants in the oven until they are cooked. Peel the skin and then flatten with a fork. Be sure to leave the stems on. Dip in some beaten egg and fry. For this version, I laid the small eggplants side by side by side and then topped them with the meat mixture and poured the beaten egg over them.

IMG_1699


For breakfast yesterday, I still had some leftover omelet from our breakfast tortilla so I mixed that in with some cold rice and made fried rice.


IMG_1705


I found a can of corned beef and cooked that as well.

IMG_1706



IMG_1727


For dinner last night, I made some allergy-friendly pinakbet. Pinakbet requires bagoong or fermented shrimp sauce but I am allergic to it so I skipped that. The vegetables for this dish were newly bought so this is not part of the series.


I served the pinakbet with some fried dried tawilis that’s in our pantry.


IMG_1728


Of course, we had to have our favorite dipping sauce – Sukang Pinakurat.



IMG_1729



I forgot to take a photo of today’s lunch. I’ll get around to it soon as there were some leftovers. For dinner, I cooked half the squash and saw that there was about 2 tablespoons of corned beef left. Perfect! I used that for this sauteed squash dish.


IMG_1741


I found a can of spicy pepper luncheon meat and cooked those as well.

IMG_1740

This will probably be the end of this series for now because I want to add more to our food supply. I can still probably squeeze in a dish or two with the leftovers (minus the newly bought veggies) but I am hankering for something new.

The good news is that I was able to squeeze in 9 more meals with the short list of ingredients that I have. What’s even better is that I only need to buy a few more items in order to stretch our meals until the next pay day.

If you want more money-saving ideas like this, please subscribe to my mailing list on the right. Thanks!

Friday, February 20, 2015

10 Things I learned In Iligan

I told you guys that we went on a work/vacation last weekend in the province. Here are 10 things I learned from our Iligan stay.

1. I’m allergic to dried danggit. (rabbitfish).

I thought that my allergies were contained to shellfish and tanigue. Here, I am able to eat dried tawilis and espada without any problems. Back there, I just tasted a little and I broke out into hives that lasted the duration of our vacation. I had to wear sunglasses the whole time as my eye and cheek were swollen.

2. Most comfort rooms that I’ve entered had no mirrors and trash bins. Mental note, bring a bigger mirror next time and be sure to bring plastic bags for garbage disposal.

3. Queuing is mostly non-existent. in the one mall I’ve been to.

4. You have to be either a very skilled driver or a mad man or both in order to drive through CDO and Iligan…. and I mean that as a compliment. I have the highest respect for the drivers there. I will probably never drive through that terrain.

5. Twin Pops are horribly overpriced!

IMG_1543

I paid 35 pesos for this!

6. I should never let my husband pack for an impromptu outing. He forgot so many things. Enough said.

7. Parking ramps are super steep and scary.

8.My boy likes chicharon. CDO has arguably the best chicharon around with their Sler’s brand. My son loved it! He also loved the jingle and couldn’t stop dancing in front of the kiosk.

9. There is a snack made from camoteng kahoy and latik:

IMG_1532

It tastes like fried sweet potatoes with sweet syrup.

10. I should bring more bubbles and Play-Doh next time. The kids demolished 2 tubs in just a few hours. As for the bottle of bubbles, gone in 30 minutes.

IMG_1455

Stay tuned for more of our CDO/Iligan vacation.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Another Toddler Meal Installment

toddler meals 2

Hey, busy moms!  Here’s another installment of toddler meal ideas for you. Let’s get started!

On the first photo, I cooked some sauteed chayote and pork adobo. My son finished everything in his plate. On the second, those are melon cubes, some warm pita pockets which I cut up and some vegetable chowder.

On the bottom left, we have some  oranges and a pita pocket filled with scrambled eggs with cheese. Finally, some watermelon cubes and a breakfast hash of potatoes, ham and mushrooms.

That’s it! Stay tuned for more. I hope you found some useful ideas in this post. If you did, please subscribe to my mailing list on the right.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

National Bookstore Ang Pao 2015

I am always excited when CNY rolls around because of National Bookstore’s Ang Pao. If you are not familiar with these red bags, they are basically a bag of goodies. They are usually priced at 500 pesos but what you get inside is worth soooo much more. Such a great bargain!

This year, here’s what I got.

IMG_1713 

I got 3 bags because they were only priced at 300 pesos each! Can you believe that? There are so many goodies inside. The supervisor said that the bag is worth Php1,500.

So what’s inside? Are you excited?

IMG_1714

These are the writing instruments – lots of pencils and pens. There’s also a highlighter, permanent marker and whiteboard marker. There’s also an assortment of Uni pens. There’s even a Paint Marker there.

IMG_1715

These are double-ended colour pencils and crayons.

IMG_1716

There are 3 correction tapes in one bag. The other one is in the next photo.

IMG_1717

The roller tape is very useful for me as I always ship things. There’s the other correction tape and a stapler, which according to the super, is expensive.

IMG_1718


Two different-sized notebooks.


IMG_1719


This year’s book is…


IMG_1720

This alone costs Php399 already. I grew up reading Archie comics  and my mom was super excited for this.

There are also 2 organizers included. Love, love these organizers!

IMG_1721
Everything in the bag fits inside this clear box. And I still have some leftover space!


IMG_1723


That’s the clear organizer when folded. There is also a clear book included in the bag. I always need clear books to organize my tax papers so this is helpful.


IMG_1722

About half or more of the contents of the bag will be given away as gifts. I will put them in my own version of a goody bag. The ones left are for my son, for my crafts and for my journaling.

And while we’re in the subject of hauls, here’s what we hauled today.

IMG_1710

I got this set of Doh-Dough Happy Meals because we just love playing with Play-Doh! My husband, son and I would always bring out our sets to play with them. Play-Doh is great for developing motor skills and strengthening fingers and hands. It’s also great for creativity and open-ended play. I love Play-Doh and I will continue to encourage my son and buy Play-Doh for him for as long as he wants to. This set is probably more for my husband and I. (haha!) I was so excited to go home because I wanted to play with this set. I initially wanted to buy the smaller sets. One for the doughnut and the other for the ice cream. Good thing I saw this set and the SA at Toy Kingdom was kind enough to show me the contents. I wanted to buy this because of the molds and not for the dough. We will stick with Play-Doh, thank you very much. Stay tuned for a review of this set soon.

IMG_1724

I also got this fire engine Matchbox as my son is crazy about fire trucks. Then a Jake watch, some wet wipes and zip lock storage bags for mom. The Matchbox and watch are going inside my gift closet.

IMG_1726
This is a Jake pocketbac and a Hotwheels PIzza truck which are also going in my gift closet. I had quite a Hot Wheels collection when I was a kid but I gave them away to my cousins. I think this is a great time to build up my collection again. It’s great that my son and I both love Hot Wheels and Matchbox.


Finally, this Spider Man tin set which Mom got and this Snap book which I got for only 47.50 pesos. The Spider Man set will also go into my gift closet. My son is on a Spider Man kick so I have been collecting Spider Man things for the past few weeks. I will give them to him when he is ready for them.

IMG_1725
So that’s it! We spent about 3 hours in the mall and then went home. Our main goal was the Ang Pao bags so that’s mission accomplished.

The Ang Pao bags are good for today only so hurry and get yours now!

Hump Day High

This week, these are my LIKES

IMG_1686

The left one is the Stanley mug from Cath Kidston. It’s a Christmas gift from my SIL. I was only able to get it when we went to the province over the weekend that is why the late appearance on this blog.

On the right is a Cagayan de Oro mug from Starbucks.

IMG_1688

IMG_1689 Love the pineapple print on this mug

I now have quite a sizeable mug collection which I am very happy about. These two need to get some caffeine action soon.

Eating Through our Pantry and Freezer – Meals 2, 3 and 4

I am starting a series on eating through our pantry and freezer. I am doing this in order to save money. Grocery shopping takes a huge chunk out of our budget and with only my husband’s income to support us, I need to have all sorts of tricks in order to stretch our budget.

First, let me show you what I am working with. Here’s what’s left in our food supply.

a bag of ground beef
a few shreds of ham
a few mini pizzas
6 pcs of squid balls
2 bags of ground pork
hotdogs
a bag of tortilla
some dried fish
1 potato (yes, one!)
tomatoes, garlic and onions
sweet potatoes
mung beans
a can of corned beef
a few eggs
4 eggplants

I started with the pancit yesterday so that’s a few ingredients off my original list. For dinner last night, I used half of the beef shreds to make this:

IMG_1690

This is a super easy beef and mushrooms dish. To prepare the beef, read this post first.

In a pan, I sauteed some sliced onions in oil. I then added half a can of mushrooms, leftover from my pancit dish. Wait for the mushrooms to cook. I then added the fried beef and poured about half a cup of water into the mixture. I seasoned it with premium soy sauce and some pepper. What made this dish so flavorful was the brown bits on the pan. I used the same pan where I fried the beef then deglazed it with water. My husband truly enjoyed this dish. He wanted to eat more but he needed to leave some to take to the office for lunch today.

Next is breakfast. I used 4 mini hotdogs and 2 eggs to make this breakfast tortilla.

IMG_1696

Sorry for the lousy photo. I totally forgot to take a picture. The tortilla on the left is my son’s. He demolished it, biting on every side. This would have been great with mayo but we ran out. I forgot to season the omelet so it’s a good thing that the hotdogs were seasoned nicely. That’s less salt for us! I served this with some chocolate soy milk from Hershey’s which my son loves.

For lunch, I cooked some sauteed mung beans.

IMG_1698

This is a very typical Filipino dish. It’s cheap and has many variations. I used to put shrimps in this dish when I wasn’t allergic to it yet. For this dish, I used about a fourth of a bag of ground pork. I sauteed some garlic, onions and tomatoes in oil. When the veggies were cooked, I added the ground pork. I let that cook for a couple of minutes then I  added 2 pork cubes and a cup of water. I let the pork cook through then I added the mung beans. Season with pepper.

To prepare the mung beans: Soak them overnight and then boil them in water until soft.

So that’s it. I actually can’t believe that I am able to stretch our food supply this far. I haven’t been grocery shopping in 6 weeks! But, I will probably have to make a quick trip tomorrow just to buy some vegetables. We can’t survive without them. I will continue this series and make sure to indicate if a meal I cook is from the leftover list above.

How do you save money on groceries and meals? Share! I’d love to hear your tips!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Eating Through Our Pantry and Freezer – Meal 1

Hey, everyone! I am fresh off from a vacation. We visited family in the province and I also did some consulting job while there. I didn’t buy much food before we left because I wanted to save some money and decided to just eat through our freezer, pantry and fridge. Our first “tipid” meal was today at lunch.

IMG_1684

My son and I both love pancit so this was a no-brainer. I had a third of a package of noodles, a can of mushrooms and one carrot. I also had one bag of beef shreds.

I first cooked the beef shreds. I added about a tablespoon of premium soy sauce to the beef and massaged it in. Then I added some pepper and a tablespoon of cornstarch. I fried this in oil and set them aside.

In another pan, I sauteed some garlic and onions in oil. Then I added the mushrooms and carrots. I waited for the veggies to cook. Then I added about a cup of water, one tablespoon of oyster sauce and one tablespoon of light soy sauce. Mix this up and wait for it to boil. Then I added the noodles. When they were cooked, I seasoned it with pepper and added the beef.

I suck at making pancit but this dish was delicious. My son enjoyed it a lot. On his last noodle, he looked at me and said, “Sarap!”. Now that’s enough reward for me.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Luxurious Chocolate Balls

We love chocolate in our family especially my husband. So, it was no surprise that he loaded up on chocolates while in Hong Kong.

IMG_0366

He said that he got this tin because he saw them in the fridge when my sister brought home some from HK. He liked them so he thought that I would like it too since it’s dark chocolate. Well, he was right. Even our son loved it! If I didn’t interfere, they would have eaten everything in one sitting.  These are from Hershey’s, by the way.

The Lindt chocolate is super bitter. I will use it for baking. When that is, I really don’t know but hopefully before it expires.

IMG_0367

This chocolate balls also come in Creamy variant. Check them out when you go abroad.