Friday, January 10, 2020

Mo-Mo Paradise Taipei : Japanese Hot Pot Buffet

For our first night in Taipei, Paul and I set a meet up with our friends Floyd and Nicey and their cutie son Matteo who coincidentally were also having a vacation in Taiwan. They're one of our closest friends in Singapore and M is actually just a few months older than the twins. Such an amazing long distance friendship these little toddlers have! I hope that we'll get to see them more often as they grow up.

Anyway, it was super sweet of the de Santoses to travel all the way to Luzhou to meet up with us. If I'm not mistaken, they're staying somewhere in the city so we truly appreciated that they went totally out of their way to have dinner with us. By the way, my friend Floyd is an amazing vlogger so do check out his YouTube site and please subscribe and follow him too. He vlogs about his extensive rubber shoes collection, tech and their family trips too. Sadly, he wasn't vlogging yet when we had our Taipei meet up so no surprise appearance from the twins in his vlog yet. Floyd, this just means we have to meet up again soon!


momo paradise 1
Since we're not all sure where to eat in the area, we decided to just check out St Ignatius Plaza which is the name of the mall within the same building as our hotel. We found Mo-Mo Paradise and got so curious to try their Japanese Hotpot Buffet. The price was pretty reasonable regardless if you convert this to Peso (for us) or SGD (for them) haha! Also, we're all feeling hungry already so unlimited fill of soup, drinks and sides sounds really good.

There are two rates for their buffet : 1 kind of stock (NT$ 529) or 2 kinds of stock (NT$ 579). We all agreed to get two kinds of stock in order to have more variety and since our little toddlers will be eating too. We went for the famous Sukiyaki and the class Pork Stock soup broths.

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Thursday, January 9, 2020

Taiwan 7-11 Food Finds : Must-Buy and Must-Try

Yesterday, I shared about our hotel during our trip to Taiwan back in 2018. It was at Park City Hotel in the Luzhou district which was strategically located on top of the St. Ignatius MRT station and has a 7-11 shop right at the ground floor.

taiwan milktea
I have this habit of stocking up with snacks on the first day of my trip. It's this habit that I've had since I was a kid. You see, my parents would always make it a point to look for the nearest grocery to our hotel whenever we travel and they would buy bottles of mineral water, bread and banana. Aside from that, they will allow Pan and I to choose a bag of snack each. I would always go for the most unique looking bag that's only locally available that way I get to try something really new. Thus, Paul knows that I just have to make a trip to the grocery to at least to the convenience store to by my snacks.

taiwan snacks 2
Here's what I found on my first visit to the 7-11 store in Taiwan. I found bottles of these famous milk tea that my friends in Singapore just love to bring back. Apparently, they have close to a dozen of flavors! Earl Grey was the most popular but there's also Extra Ceylon, Rose Honey, Coffee Latte and more. I love seeing all these colorful bottles all lined up in the chiller.

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Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Hotel Review : Park City Hotel, Luzhou Taipei 成旅晶贊飯店

Before anything else, I'd like to wish all of you HAPPY 2020!!!

My New Year's resolutions include -- BETTER HEALTH (losing the weight and keeping it off forever, good blood tests and avoiding the flu and other illnesses this year), GOING BACK TO MY PASSION (keeping this blog alive and kicking, writing more often), SPENDING MORE TIME WITH FAMILY (time is flying so fast that I don't want to miss out on any moment with my twins, Paul, my parents/his parents and our siblings). It's all about keeping things simple and going back to the basic. I got to admit that with everyday's busy schedule, we have the tendency to complicate things, to lose sight on the main reason why we're doing it in the first place. I want to pull myself a step back and to see the bigger picture, to take more deep breathes and to just take each day at a time. My kids are at this stage where they're becoming their own individual selves. They're funnier, more talkative, more playful and definitely more expressive. I want to be there for them as much as I can. How about you? What's in your New Year's wish list?

ang family taiwan
Anyway, here's a major throwback. Two years ago, we took the twins on their first-ever trip abroad. It was right after their 1st birthday party that the entire family flew to Taipei, Taiwan. Boy, was I so excited and at the same time so nervous as we all went without our dependable yayas. For the first time, I just let my sister took care of crafting our trip itinerary with the help of our friend Winner who's an expert tour guide in Taipei. My last Taiwan trip was in 2011 with Paul and my sister and seeing the Instagram photos and Facebook posts of our friends, it seems like a lot has changed since then. In any case, if you wanna see our trip itinerary during that 2011 trip, please click here.

park city hotel taiwan 6
The first step was to book a hotel. Thankfully, my brother-in-law E recommended Park City Hotel in Luzhou, Taipei. It's not located right at the central but given Taipei's very modern train system, you can get to the shopping and eating districts in record time. This was the first time for Paul and I to travel as parents and it really changes your perspective and priorities when making decisions like where to eat, where to stay and so on. We have our twins and my niece A with us so my BIL E made sure that the hotel was truly family-friendly. Indeed, the hotel did not disappoint and it has totally exceeded all our expectations.

Let me tell you why:

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Wednesday, December 18, 2019

HOLAdays Feasting at Gringo at O Square, Greenhills #GringoPH

This year flew by at record speed (and I feel that I've been saying this every single year) but seriously, with all the things that's been keeping us super busy in our lives, I can't believe that we're nearing the end of 2019 and we're less than a month away to welcome the new year. The holiday feasting and partying have surely began two weeks ago for me when I met up with my bestest friends.

phantombunnies
We've been best of friends since we were in high school so that means we've been friends for more than 2 decades already. Back when we were young (and silly), our group went by several names -- 4 Musketeers, Phantombunnies, The Mosquito Gang (don't ask me about this one haha) and many more. It shows how crazy we were but despite that, it shows how we just wanted a name that would bind the four of us together..forever. If you really think about it, we're four women with very different personalities. One is the analytical thinker, the smartest girl in our barkada, it's actually not a surprise that she graduated as one of the top of our batch and got in our state university earning a double degree. Another one is our very organized planner. She has her schedule super jam-packed that believe me, I even have to set our dinner with her at least a month in advance. She's a talented baker and is super artistic too. She's a homebody but at the same time has probably the most number of social groups among the four of us. My third best friend is the chillest person I know. She's quiet to most people but to us, we can just carry on a conversation all day long. Ever since we were young, she's been a music lover and she's one of my sweetest and most loyal friend too. In fact, she even spent some time to see me at the Lion City a couple of years back.  Then there's me. Well, I guess you pretty much know who I am so let's skip the introduction. Haha! These ladies have been there for me through all the ups and downs of my life. They're been present and have played big roles in all my life milestones too. My wedding entourage, the ninangs (godmothers) of my twins and the list goes on and on. I guess, it's true that you don't really need to have a million friends in this world. As a fact, having them and my family around me is enough to make me feel complete.

gringo 5
This holiday season is the perfect time to reunite with old friends and to bring the family together. In our neighborhood, Paul and I actually have this favorite restaurant. It's called Gringo and they specialize in roast chicken and meats. I think it has been around for a while but since we got back in 2017, it was only then that I discovered it. I remember celebrating Father's Day there last year and that was still when my Kongkong was still happy and well. Oh how I miss him! One thing that we love about Gringo is their Nacho Grande which is ... okay, ready with my proclamation the best nachos in town! Yup, such a bold proclamation but Paul and I are so crazy about it. We love how the nacho platter is always served warm, the nachos has this perfect crunch and it's generously topped with minced beef, salsa, cilantro, cheese. If you think about it, it's a very simple appetizer but one that we can't do without everytime we're at Gringo.

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Thursday, December 12, 2019

Lactation Goodies by Raquel Chua of Mama Chows

Just a few hours ago, as I was scrolling on my phone, I got a notification to look at several photos taken on the same day as today but 2 and 3 years ago. The first photo was that of my sister with my barely-a-month-old niece A. Oh, how A has grown into a smart little toddler who can easily surpass her daily word count and would delight us with the funny things that she would say. The second photo was of my twins, a few days after their first month celebration and it reminded me of how tiny and fragile they were before. We truly came a long long way from that to our active two year old toddlers now who are starting to talk a lot more each day.

One thing that I'll never forget about being a new mom to my twins was my breastfeeding journey. I've mentioned this several times here that I actually had very low expectations of myself breastfeeding. I guess it's because my mom didn't breastfed (and it wasn't that widely practiced back then) and my sister struggled with low supply with her first baby so I was thinking... well, if genetics has something to do with this, then I wouldn't bother getting myself all excited to breastfeed when I might end up disappointed.

mama chows 1
I guess I was meant to breastfed my babies. On the very first day that I had to express my colostrum, I easily managed to do so with Paul's non-stop encouragement and with the help of the nurses in the NICU. So there I was, still recovering from my c-section and feeling a bit woozy from all the meds that I had to take, sitting on a comfy recliner while trying to get my twins to latch on properly. It wasn't easy at first, I remembered sweating so much despite being in an air-conditioned room as I tried and tried and tried to get J to open his mouth and to latch. His sister was a natural. I never had any problems with L latching as she could easily do so and with so much ease. In fact, I was so close to accepting that L will be breastfed and J might have to be bottle fed. Anything just to make sure they eat and be nourished. We even thought that J might be tongue-tied given how hard it was to get him to latch. Well, eventually he did. 3 weeks after that first day and boy was I so relieved!

I had the privilege to breastfeed my twins for 17 full months until Paul and I decided that it was time to stop. This was because I started working full time and I felt my milk supply dwindling by the day. In fact, it came to a point when I felt like I was nursing my twins at night only to get them to sleep. Nonetheless, it was definitely a good run. A journey that I will remember forever. Through breastfeeding, I have this special bond with my twins that no one in this world will ever have. I also learned a lot of things, I have made new friends and have built support groups who encouraged me to keep going on and the list goes on and on. One thing that I also enjoyed while breastfeeding is having the excuse to try all these delicious lactation treats and one of my favorites are the lactation bread and pastries from my friend and fellow twin mom Raquel of Mama Chows.

mama chows 2
I first tried Raquel's lactation ensaymada a year ago and boy were they delicious! I love how it was so buttery, cheesy and fluffy soft and it has helped me in increasing my milk supply. Raquel is a genius! While everyone has been offering lactation cookies, brownies and chocolates left and right, she went for something that's so local and familiar to every Filipina mom -- ensaymada, Spanish bread, cinnamon roll and pan de sal. Brilliant, don't you think? I remembered feeling so hungry after a feed and yet I am wary about taking in too much sweets so it has always been a challenge to find the best snacks that's good for me and at the same time will help increase my milk supply. Who shares the same sentiments?

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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Celebrating 20 years with Seaking PH (Superb Catch Inc.)

"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them." - Walt Disney

This was the quote that inspired the Uy siblings to strive and to pursue their dream of building their company, Superb Catch Inc., 20 years ago. As I was listening to the speech of their president, Ms. Jennifer Uy Ampon, I suddenly got teary-eyed as flashes of memories of how me and my sister Pan started our own little business when we were still both in university.

Not known to many, our mom had a mild stroke TWICE as in two weeks in a row and with the doctor giving her strict orders of going easy at work and Papa was on semi-retirement already then, we knew we had to do something in order for our parents to not worry about our family's finances. After all, they've worked so hard to give me and my sister a comfortable life and most of all, the best education possible; so we knew that we had to be proactive in at least covering for our weekly school allowances and whatever miscellaneous expenses that might come while Mommy was in road to recovery. That was how ::MiXed uP:: was born. ::MiXed uP:: was a little online fashion retail shop that we put up with the help of our super nice and supportive creative friends. We sold items such as bags, accessories and belts... pretty much everything and anything that we can market, we sold. The brand grew allowing us to cover our allowances till I graduated from university and got a full time job. While our mini business lasted for about 2 years, it was indeed the best experience for us as we learned to deal with our cash flow, talking to suppliers, dealing with buyers and more. What we both enjoyed were the random late night meetings that we held inside our shared bedroom where we would count the inventory or brainstorm for more products to bring in. This was why I got to emotional listening to the story of the Uy siblings as it hits so close to home. Either that, or I was just so hormonal that day as I was crying on off during the event. Anyway...

seaking ph 2
Despite that little dramarama of mine, it was such a joyous occasion for this family business that began with their father's bangus fishpond as the Uy siblings would personally deboned the fish and market these to sellers the next day. From a small home-based business to a huge corporation with a 20,000 sqm processing plant in 2020, Superb Catch Inc the company behind the famous seafood brand -- SeaKing, has reached fish lovers all over the world such as in Japan, Korea, Australia, Canada, USA and more.

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Monday, December 9, 2019

Staycation Files : Shangri-la at the Fort, Bonifacio Global City

Long time readers of this blog will know how much Paul and I love going on staycations. Back when we were a young, newlywed couple, we would go around town spending our weekends at various hotels in and outside of Metro Manila. Even when we moved to Singapore, we would still go on staycations to celebrate our anniversary or either of our birthdays. Things change when you have kids, that's true. Of course, we spent their first year learning the ropes of twin parenthood and going on a staycation is no longer as simple as packing a small carry-on bag with clothes good for two to three days and to just head out the door with no specific itinerary in mind. Going for an overnight stay away from home with our twins takes a whole different production level. It's about packing their clothes ahead of time taking into consideration bringing at least 3 sets of clothes as buffer, getting them to choose only a handful of toys and trying to negotiate while doing so as they want to bring their entire toy bin, asking for an extra bed also for Yaya M to join us, and the list goes on and on. We've been to three staycations with the twins so far and I'm happy to report that we've survived and they really had an amazing time.

The first one was the hardest as they were just 3 months old! We even brought our sterilizer with us and all their bottles too. The second one was just last May and that was when I realized how both my twins took after our love for staying in hotels as they would clap and laugh as they run around the lobby. After that second staycation, I made it a goal to take the family out for a weekend hotel getaway once in a while. Having a change in environment will definitely do all of us good. So, after the crazy months of October and November where I was just super duper busy at work, I took two days off from work for us to have our Christmas staycation at tantananannn... Shangri-la at the Fort at the Bonifacio Global City.

I had my office event at the same hotel and after seeing Adventure Zone, the in-house play area of the hotel which unfortunately is only open to annual members and hotel guests, I then convinced Paul that we stay the night at the hotel to get the twins to experience playing there. It wasn't difficult to convince Paul as we're both fans of the Shangri-la group. As you may have remembered the number of times we've stayed at most Shangri-la Hotels here and in the Lion City.

Related posts:
Staycation Files: Edsa Shangri-la Hotel
A paradise called Shangri-la
A weekend staycation at Shangri-la Hotel, Singapore
Weekend staycation at the Valley Wing (Shangri-la Hotel Singapore)
Back at our Shangri-la : Staycation at the Garden Wing

shangrila at the fort 2
We got the Deluxe High Street View room at the 24th floor and the view was amazing! I can just imagine how great staying at Shangri-la at the Fort will be this New Year's Eve as you'll surely get a spectacular vantage point of any fireworks display in the area. The room is appoximately 45-47 sqm which has one king size bed and has enough space for a pull out bed for Yaya M.

We stayed the night at the hotel on exactly the birthday of Yaya M and she was so happy! Well, she was indeed a blessing to us and to the kids so she deserved a little treat on her special day. The room was complete with all the necessary amenities such as pillows and linens, towels, toiletry sets, stationaries, a well stocked mini bar and fridge (which I had to keep a close eye on my twins as they wanted the orange juice in the ref so badly *sigh*), water kettle, iron and board, a very spacious closet and a 48-inch flatscreen TV.

shangrila at the fort 6
Of course, I had to check the bathroom out and it was beautiful! It was so spacious that the twins loved running in here and they would climb into the bath tub, there's a separate shower room and well a well lit vanity area too. I love it! I really got to hand it to Shangri-la for having one of the nicest bathroom design as compared to other hotel chains. I just love the marble flooring and the white over-all theme. It just makes it feel so clean and comforting.


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