Wednesday, August 16, 2017

#FrannyCooks with Grande Rice Bran Oil : Creamy Prawn Pesto with Organic Garlic Parsley Pasta

One thing that I miss the most about living in Singapore is the chance to cook on a regular basis. Somehow, I never considered cooking a chore as it's something that I look forward to doing most especially when I get to try a new recipe or experiment with whatever ingredients we have in the fridge.

grande rice bran oil 6
With all my kitchen utensils, pots and ingredients finally back from Singapore, I took the opportunity to do some cooking for the family. Recently also, I was invited to check out Grande Rice Bran Oil which is new in the market. I still remembered the first time Paul and I had to shop for our cooking oil and we were totally overwhelmed by all the varieties available. From the more popular olive oil to the more mass produced vegetable oil, I seriously had to whipped out my phone right at the middle of the grocery aisle to check which one is the healthier variant before making our choice. After all, there's no early age to be health-conscious after all most especially when we see older relatives suffering from heart diseases, hypertension and the like. With our twins on the way, Paul and I promised to keep ourselves healthy for as long as we can. 

So, when I was introduced to Grande Rice Bran Oil, we were told that it has a high smoke point making it a good choice for heavy frying, it has a neutral taste, it has zero cholesterol and it's trans-fat free and it's rich in antioxidants. Sounds interesting! 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Touch of Class : Marco Polo Ortigas' Continental Club Lounge

During our amazing Anniversary weekend staycation at Marco Polo Ortigas Manila, Paul and I were lucky to be upgraded to a Superior Suite which allowed us to have access to their Continental Club Lounge. This really made us so happy as we both love hanging out at the lounge most especially during cocktail hour!

marco polo continental club 6
The Continental Club Lounge is located at the 44th floor of the hotel which gives you an unobstructed view of the city. I just love sitting by the window while enjoying our drinks and snacks. The Ortigas skyline, after all, is very beautiful.

marco polo continental club 4
The lounge itself is very spacious with ample areas for one to hold meetings or to have quiet discussions. Dress code is strictly observed here as with any hotel lounges. We also love how attentive the staff are here as they would willingly ask if you need a refill of your drinks, if you'd like some coffee or tea or when I was looking for a bowl of nuts, they quickly served some to us.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Starting the day right at Cucina, Marco Polo Ortigas Manila

Rise and Shine, Manila! 

Breakfast has always been my favorite meal especially when I'm on a vacation. Lately though, I would always find myself up and about at 6am with a growling tummy. I guess, I got two hungry babies calling my attention so early in the morning! Luckily though, Cucina starts their breakfast service really early too and so I joined a handful of hotel guests a little past 6am on a Sunday morning.

I've always been a fan of Cucina's as I love the well-curated dishes available in their buffet spread. Their breakfast offering didn't fail to impress as well. Let me take you on a quick tour around the breakfast buffet line:

marco polo cucina 11
Start off with something healthy in the morning! They have a good variety of muesli, yogurt and oatmeal for you to choose from.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Back at Lung Hin, Marco Polo Ortigas Manila

It's been a while since our last visit to Lung Hin but I can still vividly remembered how delicious everything was and the ambiance also added to the over-all wonderful dining experience that we had. It just made perfect sense to go back to Lung Hin during our anniversary weekend stay at Marco Polo Ortigas Manila. I know it's more customary to go for a nice romantic steak dinner to celebrate an anniversary but hey, who ever said you can't have Chinese food on a dinner date too?

marco polo lung hin 5
Our dinner began with our personal choice of soup. Spinach Seafood Soup (Php. 330) for me and Hot and Sour Seafood Soup (Php. 295) for Paul. We love starting our meal with a bowl of soup to warm our tummies and prepare it for the feast ahead. My Spinach Seafood Soup was so packed with a lot of ingredients! Minced seafood, tofu and what I suspect could be egg white. It was so filling and yummy!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Afternoon Tea at the Connect Lounge, Marco Polo Ortigas Manila

It's no secret how much I love going for Afternoon Tea. There's something about unwinding while enjoying a selection of sweet and savory bite-sized pasties delicately displayed on  a tall multi-tier rack. Since Paul had work on Saturdays back when we were in Singapore, I'd spend those free time with my girl friends as we would try the different hotel high teas around the city. Since high tea is traditionally very British, I'm happy though that this practice is picking up pace here in the Philippines where the American influence is relatively strong.

marco polo connect 2
After checking in and settling in our room at Marco Polo Ortigas Manila, Paul and I headed back to the 24th floor where Connect Lounge is located. They have an ongoing high tea promotion for only Php. 788 per pair and we were excited to give it a try. Similar to all dining establishments in the hotel, Connect Lounge also boasts of an amazing view overlooking the Ortigas and Antipolo area.

marco polo connect 3
Within minutes, our three tier rack was served and I must say that the quantity and selection was quite modest. Each set comes with our choice of coffee or tea. You can also opt to add a bit more should you want to have a glass of smoothie, iced tea or wine with your snacks.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Staycation Files : Marco Polo Ortigas Manila

Every year, Paul and I would make it a point to celebrate our wedding anniversary. On some years we went out for a nice dinner date but more often than not, we'd take the weekend off for a nice R&R at a hotel of our choice. This year, we decided to check out Marco Polo Ortigas Manila for one full weekend of non-stop eating and relaxation. After all, this will be the last wedding anniversary where it's just the two of us. Next year, we will be joined by our beautiful twins so looks like it will be a family getaway from then on.

Marco Polo Ortigas Manila opened just a few years ago when we were already in Singapore making us even more excited to check this hotel out. Personally, I'm a fan of the Marco Polo group as my family and I used to frequent their hotel in Hong Kong many many years ago. One thing that I'll always remember about Marco Polo is its spacious room. The one in Hong Kong is also adjacent to one of our favorite malls -- Harbour City, making it so convenient to just grab any snack or food should hunger strikes. As for the one here in Manila, it's located right at the heart of the Ortigas CBD where it's surrounded with a lot of restaurants and SM Megamall is just a few blocks away.

marco polo ortigas 3
Upon checking in, I was told that we were upgraded to the Superior Suite (Php. 8,550) which means we got access to The Continental Club Lounge. YAHOOO!! There's nothing that excites me more than being able to check out the hotel's lounge. Our staycation clearly had very very good start. Checking in was a breeze and within minutes, Paul and I made our way up to our room. Look at how spacious our room was!  With a floor area of approximately 51-61 sqm, it's complete with a mini bar and coffee machine, a big comfy king size bed and an equally comfy lounge area should you just want to enjoy the view outside. I love how they made sure to make the room so comfortable as it's the perfect place to head back too after a busy day in the city or if you're like us and you just want to spend two blissful days relaxing.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

TWINter is Coming -- My Pregnancy Story

baby ang

24 Weeks. That's how long our little bundles of joy have been living inside my tummy and it also means we're pretty much thisclose to the finish line. I got to admit that it took me a while to really decide to share my story most especially about my pregnancy journey. As chatty I may be when it comes to food, I try to keep my personal life away from the limelight but I realized that I'm not alone in this world and there may be women...or couples out there who are going through what we went through so here I am extending my hand to tell you this early on that you will never be alone.

As soon as we got married, Paul and I were told to wait for 2 years before having a baby due to feng shui reasons. We were perfectly fine with this despite the increasing number of questions being thrown our way by relatives and friends on why should we even wait. I was 27 then.. Paul was 28. That seemed like the right age to have a baby, right? Wrong. Looking back, I must say that yes, we were ready to tie the knot but had we immediately became parents right away, things would have probably turned out differently for us. We didn't regret waiting. In fact, we spent those years focusing on our careers, focusing on US. We traveled around the region, we did as much fun things married couples do, we simply had fun. 

Finally 2013 came and we thought to ourselves : "This might be the right time." Then Singapore happened. I tell you, life really has a funny way of steering the wheel for us. We grabbed the opportunity while shocking almost everyone here in Manila with our sudden move. Together, we dealt with adjusting in a brand new country, meeting new people, getting used to a more independent life. Clearly, having a family had to take a step back as we wanted to settle in properly and to build a better life in the Lion City first. 

Time flew by so fast. In the span of 3+ years -- Paul found a job that he's really passionate about. I learned a great deal of things from my own career. We have been flying back and forth Manila and Singapore on a quarterly basis. My dear Ama left us. We got siblings who tied the knot. Finally, Paul and I got our own place. 

Only when Paul and I decided to move to our own flat in the Lion City, it was then we both felt -- it was time. Prior to that, we've had our share of hurtful comments thrown our way. One particular relative even told us how selfish we were for focusing too much on our career and not caring that we do not have a kid yet. Another insisted that we go for IVF despite us telling her that we did all the tests and we're both n-o-r-m-a-l. I tell you, people will never keep their mouths shut and they will always have something to say. Some a bit more subtle than the other but they're pretty much all the same. You'd even be surprised that even those whom you're not even close with would care so much about your child bearing plans. I got friends coming up to me asking if we got plans of having a baby because so and so are asking and I'd wonder..why do they even care. We also got acquaintances and "friends" who would act as our spokesperson telling others of what they think is the reason why we don't have kids yet. Seriously. 

Over the years, I've grown to have my own set of answers and polite reactions to all these but we're human too and some comments can really sting. These people continue to talk while Paul and I would spent hundreds of dollars to have ourselves checked and each time the result would show that nothing's wrong, we'd continue to wonder what's taking so long. We'd continue to keep ourselves healthy and "stress-free" as most would tell us to do. Unsolicited advises continue to come without knowing that I would cry my heart out whenever my period would come on a monthly basis. Still, comments would never stop coming and believe me, they were not helpful at all. I guess, it's also a bit of a blessing that we're living away from Manila where most of the comments were coming from. At least we just have to deal with them during those times that we're in town. 

Christmas 2016 was our turning point. Paul and I agreed that 2017 will be our year and we will do anything to make our dream come true. We continued to stay positive yet at the same time, I have partly accepted the possible reality that it will just be me and him and we were both fine with that. The year began with lesser stress at work. We tried to make the most of our time at home, watching Netflix, enjoying each other's company, veering away from negative vibes and staying healthy. 

We also prayed A LOT. Like many, I pray at night but there are only several instances in my life when I honestly can say that I've prayed really really hard and this was definitely one of those moments. I would pray so hard that I'd tear up. It was then that I realized how much I really wanted to have a child and how ready I already am. We prayed at church and would visit the Buddhist temple too. If only I can call all the gods up there, I would have done that too. 

After all, I realized that unlike everything else in your life where you can pretty much plan and control the outcome. Having a baby will never be one of those. He or she will be given to you at the right time for the right reason. Thus, we both lifted it up to Him. 

Then came 8 March 2017. I've read up so much on early signs of pregnancy and while I may or may not have felt some of it, I tried to not assume as I didn't want my heart to be broken by another negative stick. However, I caved a day before my doctor's appointment and secretly took the home pregnancy test on the morning of the 8th. I did the whole routine which I've memorized by heart and given that I was so sleepy still, my mind was blank. No expectations, they would say. It was then that I saw that dark + sign and I even had to grab the manual to make sure I'm reading it right. I couldn't believe it. It was clearly my first time to get a positive sign and I quickly ran out of the bathroom and woke Paul up. Being the non-assuming person that he is, he looked at the stick, told me to do it again tomorrow and went back to bed. Sorry guys, no dramatic crying or hugging took place as he went back to snoozeville while I stood there staring at the stick with a million things running in my mind. 

We got the confirmatory positive result from our doctor the following day but chose to keep mum about it as we didn't want to jinx it.  However, I'm not going to lie. The moment that I found out that I was pregnant, nothing else in the world mattered anymore. All I cared about was the well-being of the miracle growing inside me. I was literally on Cloud 9 with a mix of paranoia too. 

However, the surprise didn't stop there. On our 10th week, we went in for a scan and our doctor asked Paul to count the number of sacs that he could see. I initially thought that was a very odd question and when Paul said he can see one. She corrected Paul and said "no! there's two! One...two!" We were both in shocked! Yes, on the screen there were our beautiful twins. Well, as they say.. when it rains, it pours! 

I guess this was His way of giving us the go signal that we are ready to be parents and He believed that our hearts are big enough to love two at a time. 

So there you go, that was roughly 24 weeks ago and we both look forward to each week as we watch my belly grow and the twins growing at rapid speed. Being pregnant has also brought us even closer than before. Paul has been extra caring and concerned for my well-being that's making me love him even more. I appreciate how he would make sure that I stay relaxed while he do most of the work for us. He'll be an amazing dad and the twins are so lucky to have him. 

The wait brought out the best in us. It made us see the value and importance of starting a family. It prepared us to hopefully be the best parents for our twins and it made us promise that we will do anything in our capacity to give them the best lives possible. I haven't met them in person yet but my heart is bursting with so much love for them. 

To all those who are also praying for a baby know that he/she/they will come at the right time. What matters is that your relationship with your husband stay solid strong and please do not ever let society dictate when is the right time to start a family. Do it at your own pace. Be sure you're physically, emotionally, psychologically and most importantly, financially ready. Comments will come and go and all you have to do is to stay strong all the time. Learn to tune out all the negative ones and embrace the good vibes. 

Lastly, to all those who have given unsolicited comments (tip: read up on IVF, etc before even suggesting that), who bothered to ask, gossip or add intrigue about one's child bearing plans, to those who have said hurtful comments to couples without kids yet... shame on you. :)

*special thanks to Spanky for inspiring us with this blog entry's title :P
Blog Widget by LinkWithin