Saturday, January 30, 2016

Weekend Trip - Venice Pizza/McKinley Grand Canal Mall and Lunch Uncle Cheffy's

We've been having some adventures in the city since Friday.  We rode the Double Decker bus going to SM North last Friday. Today, we went to Venice Piazza and McKinley Grand Canal Mall. I took some photos.


This is the courtyard. There's a tiny bridge on the left. It's always busy with people taking photos. The whole place is modeled after old buildings in Venice. 



This is the canal. It's actually long and big. It's beautiful and much better than the canal at Marina Bay Sands. The gondolas here are also more beautiful. 




The gondolas are not yet functional but I'm pretty sure they will rent it out. 



The whole place has a nice ambiance. It's a perfect place to spend a weekend afternoon in with friends or family. The shops are not yet open and there's still a lot of construction going on so people come here mainly for the ambiance and to take photos. A mass was also being held when we got there. 



This is the ceiling of the Piazza. The whole place is full of restaurants. The second floor houses the fast food joints. It also has Posh Nails, Fix and a spa. 

The canal is of course, at the Grand Canal Mall. Both malls are connected to each other. 

We had lunch at Uncle Cheffy's in Venice Piazza. On the sign, it says that they have the best barbecues in town. I was intrigued. 

Here's what we ordered:


This is the Uncle Cheffy's Favorite pizza. It looks "kawawa" really with just a handful of toppings. I ate it Dear Darla style, putting the greens and tomatoes in the center and rolling it up. It was super thin and for me, that's the only way to eat it. The pizza itself is bland but the salad added some flavor to it. Love the alfalfa sprouts. I keep forgetting to buy me some at the grocery. 




This is the medium order of calamares. Kuse and Uncle Cheffy are connected and you can order from both menus. The calamares is from Kuse which offers Filipino food. The calamares was okay. It lacked salt so it needed a dip. It came with a sweet and sour dip. When I tasted it, I thought vinegar would be a more suitable partner but the vinegar they gave us was blah as well. We had some leftovers and I'm going to "fix" it later and serve it with Sukang Pinakurat. 


Finally, some U.S. beef ribs (250g) which also costs 250 pesos. This was bland. The sauce on top can only do so much. It needed some salt and pepper. It also needed a good marinade. The salad greens had a drizzle of vinaigrette which was salty and sour. The baby potatoes were also drizzled with the same. My husband and I shared everything. The little one didn't want to eat. He was cranky and sleepy and wanted to chase the pigeons in the courtyard. 


The restaurant is small but it can accommodate several tables inside. There's also an al fresco dining area but it was too hot and windy outside. We were there early but come lunch time, a line started to form outside, probably because it was the only place serving Filipino food and the orders were for sharing. 

Our bill was a little over 800 pesos. I gave my PWD card but I only got a 48-peso discount. The food also came out surprisingly fast, less than 5 minutes. In 10 minutes, our order was complete. We won't go back as the food lacked flavor. They have an ongoing promo of all you can eat calamares and baked/fried chicken and another dish for only 199 pesos per person. I guess that's why it's so popular. The medium calamares also costs 199. The pizza was 200+. We also ordered bottomless ice tea and Pepsi. 

Check out my next post about Robinsons Selections.




Friday, January 29, 2016

Teach Your Child Sight Words with Pop Corn Cards


We are studying sight words and I found a few things from Daiso that are very helpful and fun. Check out this video. 




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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

DIY Washi Tape Dispenser Tutorial

This is another Daiso post but it's not a sponsored post. You all know how much I like Daiso.

I also love crafting. I love to DIY stuff. I have a growing collection of washi tapes and I needed a good way to dispense them. Good thing I found this wooden dispenser from Daiso. I got this plain so I decided to prettify it a little. You can also just leave it as is if you like wooden things/accents for your table.

Check it out!




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Friday, January 15, 2016

6 Bad Health Habits that I'm Ditching this Year

Everyone has a few bad habits. When I underwent a few life changes before 2015 ended, I had some time to analyze how my day goes and spot a few problem areas, mostly health-wise. I want to be around for a long time for my family and so I will be ditching these bad health habits this year. Check it out, maybe you have some of them too and let's ditch them together!


Sleeping at irregular times

I had some trouble with work-life balance and I guess that's why God made me rest for a few weeks from work. Now, I'm busy with new writing projects and found that the best time for me to write is during the wee hours of the morning. Being awake so early in the morning and doing a series of chores thereafter takes its toll on me. My body really gets tired easily because of the PM and fibromyalgia from before and so I need to take a nap sometime in the afternoon. The problem with this is I couldn't sleep early at night. My ideal time is 10 pm but when I take an afternoon nap, it's hard for me to fall asleep even at 11 pm.

Starting Sunday night, I vow to sleep at 10 pm or before so that I have the strength to wake up early and do the chores without needing an afternoon nap. If I do take a nap, I'll be sure to hit the sack by 10 pm. I'll just close my eyes until I fall asleep.

Not exercising regularly 

I like exercising, don't get me wrong. I was an athlete in my teenage and young adult years. But, because of the above issue, instead of exercising, I sleep. If I do the first one right, I'll be able to exercise regularly.


This playmat sees more action than my Yoga mat

Being lazy when preparing my afternoon snack

Should really stock up on these

My son and I need to snack twice a day - one in the morning and one in the afternoon. I usually have fruit or my leftover breakfast for my morning snack. The problem comes in the afternoon when I am too lazy to prepare my merienda. My son has all his fruit crisps, fruit leather and other healthy snacks so that's not a problem. I, on the other hand, am too lazy to prepare a decent sandwich so I reach out to our stash of cookies and chips. Not a good idea, I know so it must stop! 

My solution to this is to prepare healthy snacks during Sunday so that all I need to do is get them from the fridge. I'll be stocking up on salads, fruits and homemade sandwich spreads and bread. Now that should take care of that bad habit. 

Procrastinating

Oh, my. I think this is still related to my number one bad health habit. When I get tired, I sleep and then when I wake up, it's already too late to do the rest of the things on my morning list because I need to do the things on my afternoon-evening list. So, I end up writing those things again on tomorrow's list and so on. 

My solution to this is to prettify my planner more so that I can be more motivated to look at and stick to my schedule and to-do lists. I've actually started doing this and so far so good. I've had a few misses but at least it's better now than in December.

Now this should get me motivated

Overworking myself

I am a workaholic. I admit it. I used to juggle three jobs at the same time. After that phase and I was back to just one job, my mind and body craved for work. I couldn't rest. Until now, during weekends, I get restless when it's only midday and I'm already done with my list of chores. I told my mom that I couldn't seem to rest and she told me to try harder. I know I need to rest because I don't want the PM to come back and I need to stay healthy. 

Actually, I also already started mending this problem. Before, I would pressure myself to come up with several blog titles for the week. Now, I stick to 3 weekly so that I can have time for other things. 

When I finish my to-do list for the day, I try to relax. I lie down or play the games I downloaded in my phone. I also play with my son more. I also started watching TV again at night. 

Being a worrywart

I worried a lot last year about so many things and I decided to stop. I have a God who is above and beyond anything on this universe, above and beyond anything I can think or dream of so really, I shouldn't worry. As far as I can remember, I've been like this since I was a kid. I think it's the perfectionist in me - always trying to be perfect in everything I do and then worrying if it's enough. 

I am slowly learning to let go of a lot of things. I used to stress out about homeschooling, blogging, our finances, etc. But through it all, my son is still learning, my blogs are still here and you guys are still there reading them and we still eat at least three times a day. So, I'll just let go and let God. 

I hope this post has inspired you to ditch the negative aspects of your life and start living a happy, healthy one this year!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

6 Cheap Weekend Ideas for the Family

In my last post, I shared ways on how to spend time with your spouse without shelling out a ton of cash. Well, I am still on that cheap mindset so today, I will be sharing with you a few ways on how to enjoy the weekend with the family without ruining your budget.


Go outside and play


This is the cheapest way to get some sunshine and exercise for our family. We go out and let our son drive his 'car' around the street until he gets tired or when it gets dark. It's a good exercise for my husband and I as we take turns walking with/pushing our son. Because of this, my son has asked us to buy him a bike. Ay, mama mia! Perhaps on his birthday but for now, we will enjoy this cheap ride.

If you have older kids, play sports such as basketball, badminton, volleyball or go biking around the neighborhood.

Read books together


My son devours books like there's no more tomorrow so we have a huge collection. My grandfather shared his love of books with me when I was very young. He would always bring me to the bookstore on pay day and let me pick one to bring home. I am so blessed that God provides for our books! I buy my son plenty of books when the budget allows. We read every day but something about reading with daddy present on a Saturday afternoon makes it extra special. My husband and I take turns reading to our little one.


I make it more special by pulling out a new book every week. I buy a ton of books and save them. I only take out one book at a time so there's always something new to read. 

Movie Parties


I have a bunch of party supplies at home like special ice cream glasses, balloons and small gifts. We ask our son what he wants to watch and I make it into a big event. I get ice cream, chips, cake (when there are leftovers) or cookies. We also allow him to eat a little more candy than usual such as 5 gummi bears instead of 3. 


Make your own homemade pops for cheaper party treats. 







Do Arts and Crafts


My son likes finger painting and water coloring. I like scrapbooking and planner making. I usually involve him in my projects. He tinkers with the stickers, embellishments and anything that he can get his hands on. On the other hand, when he paints, my husband and I join in on the fun. 


This photo was taken when he was just several months old. 



Go to the Park

When we want some exercise and fresh air, we go to the park. It's cheap. I only need to bring snacks and cold water and of course, a change of clothes. We just run around the park until my son gets tired. When budget permits, we eat at one of the restaurants in Ayala Triangle. 




Bring out the toys


Aside from books, we have a ton of toys at home. My son loves playing with cars, Play-Doh, Lego, etc. On Sunday afternoons, we bust out the big toys like the Lego play sets or the Chuggington train set and enjoy watching our son squeal with delight. 





Sometimes, we bring out his tent and fill it with plastic balls. It's like a ball pool but in tent edition. 

There you have it! I hope you were able to get some ideas for this coming weekend. Enjoy!


Monday, January 11, 2016

Cheap Ways to Spend Quality Time with Your Husband

A lot of things happened last year that wiped out our savings. We are a one-income household so this is really hard for us financially. Since it's the New Year, this is also a fresh start for us to grow our savings again...and that means being creative with dates and spending quality time together. There may be some of you in the same boat that's why today, I'm sharing the few ways we spend time together without making our wallets cry.



Have a feast in bed

Many of you know that I cook a lot at home but on days when we miss eating out, I whip up something special for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Like this one:


This is homemade beef tapa with all the works. I never cook homemade tapa so this was really special. 


My husband loves burritos. This is the first time I attempted to make some and it was a success. This lunch was really special as not only did my husband love it, my son enjoyed it as well.  This is an adobo burrito.

If you're tired of cooking, maybe you can ask your husband to cook for you one Saturday for lunch. Even if it's just corned beef from the can, you know it's special because of the effort and love that he put into making it. 

Movie Marathon

We love watching movies but since I got pregnant and gave birth, our movie dates have become rare. So now, we just buy DVDs and have movie marathons at home. If we don't have the budget to buy DVDs, we surf the cable or have a movie party with our son. We have the Cars, Planes and Minions movies. I get some ice cream from the freezer and some chips from the pantry and we have an instant party!

Play Video Games

My husband and I were huge gamers when it was just the two of us. We would save up and buy new PlayStation games almost every 2-3 months. On Friday nights, we would stay up super late until we finish a game. We love adventure games such as Prince of Persia, LOTR, Tomb Raider, etc. Some of these games are one player based so we take turns.

Do Chores Together

Yes, you read that right! Believe it or not, my husband and I bond over the long holidays by rearranging our rooms, getting rid of old stuff and trash and doing DIY projects together. Just last Christmas holiday, we were able to get rid and donate a ton of stuff and rearrange our bedroom and playroom. We gave the iPad to our son and got to work. We were able to spend many hours together figuring out how to clean up the mess. We now also do the laundry together. I do the washing and he hangs the clothes to dry. I used to do everything and after that I'd be dead tired. Now that he's helping me  I still have the energy to do other things on my list. 

Window Shop

On Sundays, after church, we have lunch (at a cheap place) and then just roam around the malls, looking at shops, appliances, gadgets, books,  things, etc. We just window shop. Sometimes we would buy our son a snack and then go home. 

Cuddle

We like to cuddle. Sometimes I sit on his lap for a few minutes and we stay quiet. He would stop fidgeting with his phone and just hug me. After that I go back to whatever it is I was doing and he goes back to his games. 

Lie Down and Talk


This is probably one of the best ways we bond. When my son is asleep, we also lie down and talk. We talk about his work, our plans, etc. We basically just catch up. My husband doesn't talk a lot. Heck, he doesn't even text when he is in the office so these moments are precious. Communicating with your spouse is a great way to bond. Sometimes we talk for 10 minutes, sometimes 30 but no matter how long or short, we still both enjoy these sessions. 

The key to enjoying your cheap moments is sharing an activity that you both like. Spending time together is not all about romance. It's also a time to catch up, to connect, to talk and to listen. 




Friday, January 8, 2016

9 Heart-Friendly Foods that Every Busy Mom Needs

We don't follow a particular diet but I like to vary our meals daily and weekly. My formula for a weekly menu is chicken, fish, meat, veggies and lots of fruits. I was browsing my old emails and found one article that lists foods that are good for the heart. I didn't know that a lot of our favorites are good for the heart. Maybe that explains why the doctors say I have a heart as strong as a horse's. LOL. So, today I'd like to share our favorite super foods that are good for the heart.


Salmon, Tuna and Sardines

Fatty fishes are packed with Omega-3 fatty acids that reduce blood pressure and keep clotting at bay. They also help the heart beat at a consistent rate. The American Heart Association says to aim for at least two servings a week. 

Check out my food blog for fish recipes:


If you want more, just key in 'seafood' in the search box or use any one of the super fishes above. 

Olive Oil

Olive oil is expensive in Manila so I only use it for special dishes. The extra virgin variety is the best. Olive oil is one of the youth elixirs of the Italians and people in the Mediterranean. 

Cherries


Cherries are one of my favorite fruits but again, super expensive here as it is not native in our country. When I have the budget, I buy even just a little. When I go back to Singapore, I'm gonna hoard these babies! Super cheap at the supermarket. 

Cherries have antioxidants that lower the risk of heart diseases. Fresh is best as frozen ones can lose their anthocyanin by 50%. 

Blueberries


In the berry family, the blueberries are the rock stars when it comes to antioxidants. Blueberries have a compound that lowers LDL or bad cholesterol and they even help prevent type 2 diabetes. I love blueberries and I could eat them every day! I especially loved making them into smoothies when I was pregnant. 

Watermelons


I buy a whole watermelon every week and we polish it off in just two days! It's my son's favorite and my favorite. Recently, I discovered that my husband does a mean frozen watermelon shake so that's what we've been having lately. Watermelons are rich in potassium which can reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke. 



Tea


I'm a tea lover. I don't really drink coffee. Coffee gives me migraines. Tea can lower the risk of heart diseases by a third according to the American Heart Association. You need about 3 -6 cups a day to get the max benefits. Avoid adding milk and sugar as they will significantly decrease the health benefits. I use honey or just leave it as is. Choose a tea that contains tea leaves. 



Spinach

Spinach is another favorite but again, expensive! Spinach is rich in potassium, folate, lutein and fiber that helps cut heart disease risk by 25%. And that's just for 2.5 servings! You can further reduce the risk by a whopping 17% if you add some more to your diet. 

Avocados


I used to hate avocados but I don't know what changed in me that I started to like it. I like putting it on toast and slathering it with honey. I have also started liking it in smoothie form thanks to my husband. Avocados help reduce bad fats and help lower cholesterol levels. 


Nuts


My son and I love snacking on nuts. It started with my mom when I was young. She also loves nuts and we would often share a bag of almonds or pistachios. Walnuts and almonds are rich in good fats that get rid of the bad cholesterol in the body. They are also a great source of Omega-3 fatty acid and fiber. 


Before including these foods in your diet, be sure to ask your doctor or healthcare provider first as some food can be bad for certain diseases and lifestyles. Also, moderation is key. Nothing in excess and you will find yourself in good health. 



Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Solo Mom's Guide to Flying with a 2-Year-Old

Like I mentioned in my New Year's Eve post, we went on an impromptu trip to Singapore. My SIL had some surgery and she needed someone to take care of her while her husband was at work. My son and I stayed there for almost 2 weeks.

It was just my son and I who flew to Singapore. My husband followed after a few days as he couldn't just leave work. I have learned many things in this experience and I'd like to share them with you today.

Travelling solo with a 2-year old is challenging but doable. It has its many ups and downs. First, I got to bond with my son. The flight to Singapore is 3.5 hours plus we got delayed by 45 minutes because of air traffic. Being in a confined space for more than 4 hours served as a really good bonding time for us. However, there were many instances when I just wanted to pull my hair out because of frustration. You see, back when he was younger, he used to just sleep in the plane the whole time. I was expecting this so I didn't pack a lot of toys and activities. Boy, was I wrong. He slept while the plane was going around the airport, waiting for air traffic to clear up. When we were about to take off, he woke up and he never slept a wink anymore!

If you find yourself travelling solo with a toddler or 2-year old or a hyperactive-gifted boy like mine, here are my tips.



Ask for a porter when you get to the airport

Terminal 3 has become stricter. They no longer allow companions into the check-in area. We had 2 big suitcases, one carry-on and my own purse. Plus, I am not allowed to carry heavy stuff for health issues so this was all a problem. We spent a good 30-45 minutes waiting for a porter. We asked the guard to call one for us and it was so hard because all the porters were busy. Good thing we were there early. 

Keep your little one occupied while queuing 

My son wanted to run around while I was queuing for the travel tax and check-in. Good thing I had Lightning McQueen in my purse. The trouble with that is he kept flinging Lightning to far areas so I had to run around and ask the people in the queue to save my space. So, bring a toy that doesn't move or run. 

Bring snacks, lots of it

For some reason, my son kept asking for snacks. It might be because of the altitude and he wanted to equalize the pressure in his ears by chewing. My purse was packed with pumpkin seeds, crackers, M&M's and water. Oh, if you are using a sippy cup with a straw, be sure to open the cap first and let the water drain down the straw. Do not pop up the straw as water will fly everywhere! Yes, I forgot that we were in a plane and ended up getting soaked. 

Talk to your seatmate beforehand and explain the situation


My seatmate was a Singaporean man and when he arrived, I immediately smiled at him and said hi. This breaks the tension. Then he said that he saw how energetic my son was while in the boarding area. I explained to him that he is diagnosed as hyperactive and gifted that is why he is like that. He immediately understood and so was very forgiving when my son would cry or have fits. It's also great that he came prepared as he was busy watching his movies in his iPad with earbuds on. 

Load up your tablet with offline videos


I totally forgot to do this. Fortunately, we have 7 videos saved in the iPad. Zac keeps saving videos for some reason. He got bored immediately so I had to think up ways to entertain him. By the way, I think Singapore YouTube does not allow saving videos for offline use. We tried to save some for the trip home but got nothing. 

Bring crayons, toys and lots of activities


Prepare a busy bag, if you can. It is a lifesaver, I tell you! I had to come up with different stories/scenarios for the crayons and the cars we brought just to keep my son from getting up his seat. 

Do not load up on food and drinks before and during the flight

Airplane lavatories are tight and small and you don't want to bring along a wailing child with you in there. Just eat some energy food and drink water to a minimum. It's bad for the skin, I know but just bring a TSA approved facial mist instead. 

Pack a change of clothing for you and your child

I have motion sickness. My son does too. You'll never know what will happen. Fortunately, none of us had an accident but I was prepared nevertheless. 

Request for assistance from the ticket counter or when you book

I asked for assistance for when we land. Unfortunately, no one came because according to the ground staff, it was a Sunday and there was a scarcity of staff. On the plane, the attendant told us to go out last because we needed assistance. There were over 400 passengers so we spent some time waiting for all of them to disembark. Then we spent another 15 minutes just waiting for the help that never arrived. Way to go, Changi! I've been to Singapore many times and I was frustrated and angry with this one. So, I borrowed a child stroller, which my son didn't want to ride and just put our heavy bags there and walked to immigration. 

Of course, there were super long lines in immigration. I chose a line that was shorter than the rest but still, Zac wanted to just move on and get out of the airport. It was a very trying time. The officer didn't help as well when it was our turn. She was talking to the other officer about where to get cheaper food when she can already see that my son was having a fit. It took her such a long time to check our passports because she would pause every now and then to talk to her colleague. 

When it was time to get our luggage, I was hoping that a janitor or porter or anyone was there to help us. There was none. I prayed to God for strength, got a cart and waited for our luggage. Thank God, I was able to carry them and put them on the cart. 

You will get nasty looks from ignorant people

Being stuck in a plane for more than 4 hours is not fun for any child. So, my son had tantrums when we were queuing again for the taxi. There was a bunch of Europeans in the line and whenever my son would scream, they would look at us and whisper to each other. I got fed up and one time, I met the woman in the eye and glared at her until she got embarrassed. I was tired, hungry, frustrated and angry and I have a wailing child who keeps lying down on the floor. The last thing I needed was ignorant people judging me and my kid. Hey, if you don't have a child, you are not allowed to give an opinion, stare, judge or whisper with your companions. You just don't know how it feels like until you have a child of your own. Have some respect for mothers. Your own mother probably went through the same thing with you. 

I ended up leaving my BIL to queue and getting my son outdoors for some fresh air. However, the taxi line attendant yelled at us, telling us to go back in line. I told her, in a clear, loud voice that my BIL was queuing and that my son needed to get out of there as he was already cranky. There was no need for her to yell at us because we didn't go and ride the taxi that was in front of us. We just went directly to the side, where the chairs were. If it's your first time in Singapore, some old people are just always very angry and bitter. You'll get used to it.

Finally, put everything behind you and get some rest when you get to your destination

When we finally got to the house, I released all my frustration by talking to my mom, husband, etc. and then I moved on. My son and I got cleaned up, ate dinner and got some rest. Tomorrow is another day. 

Travelling alone with a hyperactive-gifted child is hard but it can be done if you prepare for it. Also, just go with the flow, this too shall pass. 



Monday, January 4, 2016

5 Things You Can Do Tonight to Sleep Better

Sleep is a necessity and not a luxury but in today's world, it is slowly turning into one. You need sleep in order to function well throughout the day. The recommended is 8-9 hours but it depends on you. I am fully rested after 7 hours of deep sleep. Kids ages 2-4 need 14 hours of sleep.

Are you having a hard time getting some quality sleep? Try these tips tonight and lull yourself to dreamland in no time.


Bedtime ritual

Kids love routine especially at bedtime. After dinner, they brush their teeth, wash up, change into their jammies and read a story with mom or dad then it's lights out. If you always have a busy day, you should try making a soothing bedtime ritual. It can be as simple as cleaning up, reading a good book and then sleeping. You can also turn off all your gadgets and have some "Me" time. Whatever it is that helps you relax, do it. 

Lights

I do not like lights turned on when I sleep even if it's just a night light. If you're the same, be sure that all sources of light (laptop, phones and tablets included) are turned off so that you can have a peaceful slumber. 

Pillow

The right pillows are important. You don't want them too soft or too hard. If you are not getting a peaceful sleep, your pillow might be the culprit. 

Some people have special needs. I need a special pillow to support my back. If you can afford it, invest in a good pillow that will help you sleep better. 

Aromatherapy

Some people swear by the scent of lavender to help them sleep. I also find it relaxing. You can light a candle for a few minutes before sleeping or you can get a room spray that smells like lavender. You can also try lotions and pillow sprays.

Check out this chart from hellowglow:



Drink something warm

Sometimes, all you need to do to relax is to drink something warm like a cup of tea, some hot chocolate or even milk. Avoid coffee as you won't be able to sleep. There are many brands of teas in the supermarket that will help you sleep better.



Dump your thoughts

I know this is number 6 so just consider it a bonus tip. Sometimes, a thought keeps you awake. Get a journal, a notebook, a piece of paper or even your gadgets and write your thoughts. Putting them into writing will clear your mind. You always have tomorrow to get back to your notes. For tonight, you need to sleep so that you can wake up with a fresh perspective. 



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