Showing posts with label Finds. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Finds. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

How has your life changed?

Last weekend, my lawschool friends went over to our house for some "girl bonding".   Amidst our laughters over our usual "kagagahan", a thought suddenly hit me:  motherhood had transformed me and my mommy friend - Boinks. 

Unfortunately for our single friends Joyce and Fila, they had no choice but to be dragged along.

For one, we met at our condo at freakin' 7 o'clock in the morning! Boinks wanted some sunshine for her 5-month old baby Kloud, but knowing how talkative we could all get, we finished breakfast at way past the time for a healthy sunlight.

Over breakfast, I was imagining our lives not too long ago - drinking and singing at videoke bars until wee hours of the morning, long dinners, chitchat at coffeeshops, and occasional sleepovers. Contrastingly, at our place that morning, we were acting like some domestic diva wannabes - meeting for breakfast, gushing over a really good Vietnamese coffee paired with sinangag and tinapang salinas with kamatis, and talking about weekly  household budgets!

Likewise, instead of picking a crowded mall for our next agenda, we voted on scouring the good old Makati Cinema Square for thrifted clothes. I had been a fan of thrifted clothes since I became a mother. Being a big convert, I thought that the good money I'd spend on brand new clothes should rather be spent for other essential  things for my family. (Shopping when extremely emotional not included, of course!) My ultimate favorites were Surplus Shop where I'd get coats for my hearings, ukay shop near Makati Med for non-office clothes, and a "secret store" near Cash and Carry for branded dresses and other office attires. (I hope to muster enough courage to showcase some of them here soon.)

After our cheap thrill, we had lunch at Aida's at the basement of Makati Cinema Square which, to my mind, served the best chicken inasal in the metro. Then we had dessert at this dainty little place called Sophie's Mom, located at the corner of Santol and Aranga streets in San Antonio Village which served really good red velvet cupcakes.

After dessert, my little family had to go home because I had a scheduled check up with my OB late in the afternoon. Boinks had to go too, because she left Kloud at home with the yaya after breakfast, and she needed to express milk.

I couldn't help but think of the old times. Kristan and I were used to spending the whole day (and night!) with this group and yet, we couldn't seem to get enough of each other. But last Saturday, it was just a little past lunchtime and we were already done for the day! Times were really changing, and we were getting more mature by the day.

On a lighter note, it was the first time we brought Zohan along with us at an adult's affair. And I was so proud of that little guy for not giving Nanay and Tatay a hard time - except that his Tatay always had to carry him because he wouldn't walk. Tamad! He was a constant source of laughter for his Ninangs. (Now I know how fun it is to have a child who can respond to questions without being coached. A few more months and I really have to censor what we talk about in his presence.)

Before we retired that night, Boinks told us through iMessage how much she enjoyed our short get together. It was her first time to go out without the baby after returning back to work. And I could totally get her when she said how much she enjoyed the day, but she just had to go home to Kloud immediately.

That's what I felt too everytime I went out with my friends. I was all for the "giving yourself a break every once in a while." Taking care of a family, with a full-time work to boot, could feel so exhausting that I could really use a breath of fresh air. But after a few hours with friends, all I could think of was Zohan - what could he be doing, was he looking for me, did he eat enough for dinner - which would prompt me to head home.

I remembered a line from What to Expect When Expecting when I was re-reading it for my second pregnancy. It said that an expectant mother should spoil herself, because if she was a first time mother, it would probably be the last time for a long while that she could take care of herself without feeling guilty. 

I could relate very well with the book's idea. My life was never the same, postbaby. It was as if I had been taken over by this new creature that all my decisions and actions had to revolve around him. I felt vulnerable and empowered at the same time. Of course, there were bad, tiring days. But at the end of each day, when it was time to kiss my child goodnight, I always knew for certain that my son was worth all the changes.

What about you? How has your life changed?

(By the way, check out the short vid made by Joyce to chronicle our shenanigan last Saturday. You can make a video, too. Just download the app for free!)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Surprise Baby Shower!

It's a boy! But no, it's not my baby - it's Nina's!

Last weekend, we successfully surprised our lawschool barkada, Nina (whom we fondly call Boinks), with a baby shower. And boy, was she surprised! She thought all along the gathering was for Joyce's birthday celebration; little did she know that our friends, her sisters and nieces were all anxiously waiting for her party to begin. You could tell by the look on her face how overwhelmed she was to see the whole kaboodle! 

We had to credit Joyce for organizing the event. She patiently delegated tasks to us, leaving the more important duties to her and her bufra. I honestly believed everyone delivered

Look at how Mai turned Red Box-Greenbelt to a baby shower venue with her pompoms and decors and whatnots. 

I've never been the crafty type, so while they were all busy trying to magically turn crepe papers into a blooming flower, I was writing thank you notes to be inserted on our give away ecobags.

Elsewhere in Greenbelt, our friend Fila was running out of excuses to stall Nina so she would not yet go to the venue. When we were finally ready, Nina was in for a pleasant surprise!

After the exchange of pleasantries and the winding down of our pregnant momma's natural high, we all proceeded to have our buffet lunch just outside our room. I didn't know Red Box was offering buffet lunch – which was surprisingly good although there were only a few selections.

I was in charge of the games, so after we're done with the hearty lunch, I took the stage to be the emcee slash game master of the day. We played walang kamatayang charades, with topics on motherhood and parenting, of course. 

 For a bunch of single ladies who were not yet mothers, my friends sure knew a lot about motherhood. Maybe it was a sign they should hit the road soon.

We also prepared a game for the boys to make them feel they were not just dragged by their partners into attending the event. They were asked to approximate, through a yarn, the waist of Nina's baby bump just by looking at her. The most accurate guess would win. Here is Nina preparing to give the actual measurement.

 Next game is The Baby Price is Right. We showed them photos of baby products and they would guess the price. The closest guess to the actual price would win.

Some of the items shown were ridiculously priced, like the Stoke Tripp Trapp High Chair, which left everyone in disbelief. How could a single baby item cost a tuition fee? Welcome to my world, my dear friends.

We also asked everyone to give a message to Nina as they open their gifts and explain what it would be for. From the Cristobal spouses, we gave her cloth diapers from Next9, because while we may look silly, irresponsible  kids, we're actually mature adults who care for the environment. #chos

Look at the rest of the wonderful, not to mention, useful gifts given by Nina's friends and sisters. 

I couldn't help but remember my own baby shower thrown by the same people some three years ago. All the gifts given to me were put to good use. I'm sure Nina would do the same.

To Karl and Nina, congratulations. 

To Nina, you are one of the prettiest pregnant mommies I've ever seen - I wish you a safe and uneventful delivery. 

Welcome to my world, I'm so glad to have you on-board. Happy mothering!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Where to eat in Binondo

I haven't done my Where to Eat portion in a while because obviously, I have not gone outside the metro for so long! My new job has put in obscurity all my junkets, but I was okay with it since in exchange, I've been spending a lot of time with my boys.

Anyway, for our second wedding anniversary,  we opted a do-it-yourself food trail in Binondo. This was a more adventurous celebration compared to our first wedding anniversary, when we just had lunch at Chocolate Kiss in UP and then a heavy-movie date right after. Think Incredibly Close and Extremely Loud, where I cried buckets of tears. 

Anyway, here's what you can eat (and expect) at a Binondo Food Trail:

How to get there:
I would not recommend bringing your car for lack of a good parking space. And besides, the trail would require a lot of walking since most of the nooks and crannies were difficult to reach by car. If you have no qualms taking public transportation, that would be better. Just make sure to wear comfortable clothes, take care of your belongings, and ready your parasol. Majinet!

From Makati, take a bus/jeep going to LRT Buendia Station. Take the train and alight at Carriedo Station. Walk a few blocks, don't be afraid to ask around. If you see the Plaza Sta. Cruz with the Carriedo Fountain in the middle, you're on the right track. Enter through the Filipino-Chinese Friendship Arch (or Arch of Goodwill), and let the foodfest begin!

1. Shanghai Friend Siopao
This was the first on the list- a yummy siopao that's fried! The place was unassuming, so make sure to carefully look for every signage so that you wouldn't miss it. It was located along Ongpin corner Bahama Streets. Each siopao costs P16.00 each, we shared three siopaos. How was that for a cheap date? Kristan said the siopao was good, and I agreed very passionately! Eating it removed my weird fear everytime I would bite any siopao that I was actually ingesting a cat! This one tasted very "veggie", although it wasn't really made out of pure vegetables.

Shanghai Fried Siopao
This is how it's done

2. Dong Bei Dumplings
This was a small stall located at almost the tail end of Yuchengco St. (from the main road, turn to the side where a grocery stall was located). 

Their specialty was kutsay-filled steamed dumplings, which was a healthy and yummy concoction that came cheap at P100 for 8 pieces.

Kutsay-filled steamed dumplings
 Kristan found it a little overrated though. We brought some as pasalubong, but it didn't taste as good when cooked at home. Joyce said their xiao long bao was also good, but we weren't able to try it. Tip: No matter how tempting, do not order softdrinks! I finished these dumplings off with a good old coke, and that sealed the end of the food trail for me!

While we were still full from Dong Bei's dumplings, we walked around and chanced upon this little grocery store called Bee Tin. It's a haven of Chinese products that we would not normally see in a regular grocery store. Kristan brought some fresh dates, while I tried this milk tea. 

This was a little pricey so I was crossing my fingers that they would taste like my favorite Toastbox's cold teh. It was a good thing that they did not disappoint.

3. Wai Ying Restaurant

This was where we had lunch. We ordered Beef Wanton (P100)
Pardon the mess! Not really a good photoblogger, eh?

Beef Chong Fan (P65)

This was a flat dumpling with soysauce. I wasn't able to try this since I made the dumbest mistake of stuffing myself with coke. My husband said they were just okay.

Hakaw (P70)

They were good, one of my husband's favorites!
Siomai (P65, four pieces), which I forgot to take a photo of. 

Milk Tea (at P50 each)

I'm an ultimate milk tea fan! Even before they became a craze, I was already in love with Chowking's Nai Cha. That was why I expected a lot from the authentic ones. They were patiently made through the contraptions shown in the photo below..
Nai cha love!
 And I was so happy with the result! Their milk tea was the bomb.

There were other food stops which we opted to try some other time. The Kainan sa Estero located in an alley beside the estero was known for their crispy fried frog legs. We thought family life was adventure enough for us, so we passed up on the frogs!

Another famous food stop is the Cafe Mezzanine (located above Eng Bee Tin) known for their Soup #5, made out of bull's testicles. The proceeds from the said restaurant were said to go to the volunteer firefighters of Binondo. So if you weren't really a fan of exotic dishes, perhaps these firemen will be reason enough for you to try it out. 

There you go! We had fun doing this food trail. You should try it, too! 'Til the next anniversary =)

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Spending Christmas in Manila

Christmas of 2012 was the first time I spent it in the Metro. Prior to married life, I would spend Christmas days with my folks in the province (how I missed them so!). Christmas 2011 was the first time I spent it away from my “original” home because that was our first Christmas as a married couple, and we went home to the husband’s folks.

This year, my husband’s family wanted a different Christmas so they went to our house instead and celebrated it quietly with us. It was probably the most relaxed Christmas celebration I had in years. For one, I didn’t have to pack our stuff (with a kid tagged along, packing for a 3-day trip meant bringing a truckload of everything, so I got to skip that part this year!). It was just so comforting to celebrate Christmas in “our” home – we didn’t have to leave, no need to rush and brave the heavy traffic, and we got to be surrounded by the very few people dearest to our hearts. For another, since we were already in the metro where everything came in an instant package, we just ordered in our Christmas Noche Buena! One could never go wrong with Amber’s Pancit Malabon, so we had that. My new discovery (thanks to Joyce) would be the Suki Market in Dapitan – where we ordered a Sushi Bilao and rellenong bangus. 
At the center of our celebration was, of course, little boy Zohan. He slept early, around 7pm, and woke up at 10PM, in time for the Noche Buena preps. (There was a preparation still because I made wicked oreos for dessert – credits to Mai for the recipe.) 

At exactly 12 midnight, we warmly greeted everyone a merry christmas, gobbled down a lot of food and then proceeded with our annual exchange gifts! There were no family pictures because.. well, I guess we weren’t the type who’d remember to put everything to a halt for a pose.

My ultimate excitement was all about the gifts given to Zohan. The little boy’s obsession was fuelled by some very generous people! He had not just one, but two basketball rings! My brothers-in-law were joking that Zohan now had a full court. 
The days after Christmas were tedious for everyone else at home because Zohan exercised his freedom of choice way too much. We had a total of three basketballs, two rings, and one very obsessed kid. Go figure.

Anyway, we were also thankful for the rest of the gifts given to him. He had clothes (lots of it!), books, a toothbrush and Sansfluo toothpaste (which Nanay very particularly mentioned in his wish list – because apparently, Sansfluo is one of the few toothpaste brands for kids without fluoride), lunch box (which he would bring to the playground), and lots and lots of loving!

It was a simple and quiet Christmas eve -exactly the way our personalities would have wanted.

Merry Christmas from the Cristobals! Hope you had fun last Christmas!

Monday, November 5, 2012

An UPDATE! (plus some heavy thoughts)

Yep, I'm still here! I'm drowning in the sea of reflection and contemplation, but I'm glad I still managed to squeeze in two timely posts (for Halloween and for my anniversary with Kristan) after a very long hiatus. 

I've been through a rollercoaster of emotions and a series of events, hence the lack of post. I also contemplated on deleting this blog altogether, but I hung on to my mantra of late that "Nothing just happens". So okay, I started this blog for a reason - which may not be clear to me now, but it will have to unfold sooner or later. In the meantime, I just have to keep swimming (or in this case, writing). 

I also failed to keep you posted about what happened to my two golden weeks. Perhaps because aside from the lack of time, there was also a lack of face, so to speak. Obviously, things didn't pan out as planned. As said golden weeks drew near, I listed down the pre-employment requirements of my new work, my errands which had been archived in my To-Do List under "can wait", and some other personal stuff. I tried to narrow it down, but the list still filled up two pages!  

It turned out, in two weeks, I only managed to stay at home for three full days, which made me came up with this thought - that working mothers should be given an extra holiday and just call it "errand day". (Seriously, weekends are never enough to do all the errands because it's supposedly time for family! Now, if we could only find a kind-hearted sponsor in the Senate.)

Anyway, despite the long list that I had to tick off, I was still able to spend time with Zohan. We went home to my province and his Tatay's during the two weekends. 

at our home in the province
Here in Manila, I would whip up something in the kitchen every now and then:

pancakes (in the afternoon!) and Nanay's version of Jamba Juice's choco moo'd
Of course, we played (a lot!), I accompanied him to swim, we would sleep in the afternoon, I would read him books at night, I even tagged him along to do the groceries. I made sure that what I lacked in quantity, I made up for quality. 

Also, while I was on a break, I had the chance to distance myself a little from the chaos of the world. While I was at it, I finally did my husband a favor and bought myself the book The Road Less Travelled by M. Scott Peck. 

There was a little background story about that purchase. I had been bugging him for as long as I can remember that I wanted to enroll in a yoga class. When he asked me what for, I gave a straight-from-the-gut response that I wanted to loose weight. Apparently, that was the wrong answer, as I was accused of stripping yoga of its true meaning. So the next chance I got, I said I wanted to do yoga to find my center. (clever, yes?) He said okay but not without a condition: I must first steep myself in "spiritual literature" so that I can do yoga with a proper frame of mind.  Well, what do you expect? I conceded and bought the darn book from a plethora of his suggested titles. 

The Road Less Travelled was about a new psychology of love, traditional values and spiritual growth. Kristan read it when he was in college. When we went home to his province, he eagerly looked for his copy and showed it to me. As I browsed through it, a certain page immediately caught my attention. I grabbed my own copy of the book and looked for the same page.

We both highlight our books when we read

Read several years apart, and we highlighted the exact same lines!
"To willingly confront a problem early, before we are forced to confront it by circumstances, means to put aside something pleasant or less painful for something more painful. It is choosing to suffer now in the hope of future gratification rather than choosing to continue present gratification in the hope that future suffering will not be necessary."
Still on the mantra that "Nothing Just Happens", I took it to mean that delaying gratification should help me cope with the pressing issues I had at the moment. Truth be told, I have not finished reading the book yet. I wanted to digest each and every letter of it, and then take it to heart. True enough, the book helped me put things back in perspective  and "find my center", in a manner of speaking. While I'm still a work in progress, I could fairly say that it has been a real sanity saver. 

So that's what my golden weeks had been about. Quite tedious in the beginning, but I was glad I found something to slow me down towards the end. How about you? What has been saving your sanity lately? :)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

My Photobook Project

Guess what just arrived today, straight from Malaysia!

It's our wedding photobook, which I have been raving about on twitter. If you have no idea about what a photobook is, well, welcome to the club! I didn't know about it either until I saw it being offered on a discount in one of the group buying sites. 

Here's how the system works:  You need to look for a photobook provider to print your photos in a coffee table book. Then, you have to download the provider's software (for free!) which will take just a few minutes. Easy Peasy. 

Next, you have to choose the photos and create your own lay-out. Yep, the labor is yours, as well as the style, designs, arrangements - all the not-fun stuff if you weren't born an artist like me! It took me several nights (which would start when the boy is finally asleep!) to finish the damn thing. It was the laying out (and selecting which ones to print from a thousand photos) which was the hardest for me. 

After you finish your lay-out, upload it, pay for it online, and wait for the confirmation of your order, then you can sit back and relax. It took seven days to arrive, and I didn't even know it came straight from Malaysia until I saw the package.

I chose to create one for our wedding photos, given that we actually didn't have a wedding album - just a couple of photos printed and a virtual album on Facebook. Such a shame. So before we totally forget what really happened that day or who celebrated with us, I decided to give this photobook a try. If things would  turn out well, I had planned to do another one for Zohan's first birthday party photos.

There were actually a lot of photobooking services out there in the market, but so far, it was Photobook Philippines which had good reviews. So I decided to try it out. I chose the Imagewrap style for the cover, Medium portrait size (it's 8x11 inches) with 40 pages. The pages were made of 170 gsm Premium Silk. It costs P3,500.00 (I know, it's expensive!), but I liked their Facebook Page and I was given 40% discount. I paid a total of P2,300, including the shipping fees.

Kristan and I were so thrilled when it arrived, but we became a little disappointed when the supposed front page, which was this:

 ..was interchanged with the supposed back page cover, which was this:


I was not really sure if it was their fault, or - knowing how computer illiterate I could get - I may have committed some error uploading it and accidentally had it interchanged. I did not bother reaching out for the USB in my bag to verify the saved copy of the photobook project -- spilled milk and all.

Anyway, there were a couple of pictures which made up for it, like these:

Now come to think of it, the aesthetics were products of my lay-out, while the quality of the photo could be attributed to our talented photographer back then, Joyce Ducut. Photobook just had them printed, so, I guess I should just commend their quality printing and the good paper. Oh, and their efficient service.

If you have important photos, which somehow did not land on a tangible photo album, you might want to give Photobook a try. If you are willing to take a certain level of risk to save a few bucks, there's a 75% discount offered by Groupon (from P3,570 down to P899), in collaboration with Photobook Philippines. I haven't tried Groupon yet, and Kristan recently had a very bad experience with a group buying site, so I'm wary of trying out new deal sites and risking hard-earned money again.

At any rate, I will still get Photobook Philippines to do another photobook project, this time for Zohan's first birhday party. But first, I need to catch up on my zleep.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

What's keeping us busy these days

I find it hard to blog these days because I've been busy with so many nonsensical (but fun) stuff! 

First off, the husband and I are addicted to television series once again! We had been afflicted with the series-disease back when we were reviewing for the bar. Yeah, what better time! I remember back then, I would promise to watch just two episodes of Friends and then go back to eating books, but we all know that didn't happen. I would end up finishing a full season and cramming to read the next day! After the bar, we've been hooked to Jack Bauer's 24, and now - BReaking BAd!

Photo Source

Breaking Bad is a story of a highschool chemistry teacher, Walter White (played by Bryan Cranston) who is diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. He wants to secure his family's financial future before he dies, so he decides to venture on something he's good at - chemistry. He cooks methamphetamine and partners with his former student Jesse Pinkman (played by Aaron Paul) as the latter sell their products. It started pretty boring - a science teacher cooking meth to survive, and a drug-junkie taking meth, to survive. But then, Walter White eventually turns to a life of crime until he comes to a point of no return, then it becomes intriguing. 

If you remember the thrill of Prison Break, this is a subtle version of it.  Bun unlike Prison Break which becomes less interesting towards the end, BReaking BAd keeps getting better and more riveting.  But of course, Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller) definitely outdo the angas-factor of the drug-junk Jesse Pinkman. 

Second, the husband discovers group-buying websites and insists that I go through the nightly browsing with him. Initially, I declined because I promised to myself to stay away from temptation to keep me sane.  But then again, what is a submissive wife to do if the husband insists? Right now, we just enjoy looking at great buys without actually hitting it. 

If I say one more time that we don’t have the money for it, my optimistic husband will remind me (for the nth annoying time!) that it is not the right way to put it. It should be along the lines of “We have money, but we have more important priorities.” So, there. I am slowly learning that shopping is not a priority. And, it is quite surprising that it can still be fun to just look at "deals" without buying. It feels so mature. (But I am seriously eyeing  a deal on photo coverage with free photobook of 20 pages, for P5,000. I'm thinking of getting it for Zohan's birthday. Steal, what do you think?) 

Lastly, I've been obsessing over Zohan's birthday. Nope, it will not be a big children's party like the folks back home are expecting. The husband and I both agreed that at one year old, the little boy cannot appreciate any kind of party. It can be a pansit and orange juice affair and I'm sure Zohan will not mind, as long as I whip out my boobs every five minutes and I allow him to hold dangerous things that are not supposed to be played with. So, we settle on a birthday lunch - with just family and our closest friends. 

The thing is, I have discovered Hostess with the Mostess (and a lot of other party inspiration sites linked to it), and I suddenly want to channel the Martha Stewart hideously resting within me. I am seriously hooked to it but I do not want to change any of our plans for the boy's birthday. So - I'm bookmarking it and promising to get back to it when the right age for a children's party comes. (or not!)

I want to add a fourth, which is to join Real Living magazine's Ultimate Makeover 2012. I feel as if this can be the answer to my prayers for a beautifully-themed home. But then, one of the requirements is a two-year residence in the house that would be made over.  So that's my dream out the window. If you've been living in your current residence for two years, you might want to try your luck! Just invite me to the housewarming!

Oh, and Zohan had been sick. He had fever since Sunday, but he's been well since Wednesday. So, playing with him before bedtime actually takes the fourth spot on what's keeping us busy, and happy, of course!

What have you been up to lately?
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