Thursday, March 21, 2019

Sunday Family Affair at 26th St. Bistro by The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

It was one of those rare moments that my family was so game to drive all the way to Bonifacio Global City one Sunday afternoon that we decided to make the most of it by going for an afternoon stroll chase with our three little toddlers, checking out the long long long queue at Tiger Sugar (and resigning to the fact that it will take us months before we can try this), and ending the fun day with a nice family dinner at 26th St. Bistro.

This place is not new to me as it has been my favorite make-shift office / in-between-meetings hang out every time I'm in the area. I love how spacious it is and that they have a wide selection of hot and cold dishes which has definitely made them notch above all the other coffee shops in the area. They got free WiFi for Swirl Cardholders too which is a big plus for those working. The only thing missing is to have more provision of electrical sockets as the ones available are always taken by longer staying customer.

Anyway, as you know my Papa is the traditional kind who normally likes sticking to his usual choice of restaurants. He couldn't believe that I was taking him to have dinner in what he thought was just a coffee shop...not until he saw the menu himself. So 26 St. Bistro is operated by The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf group but what makes it different is the inclusion of dishes cooked by their in-house chef and not the kind that our friendly baristas would pop into the microwave oven definitely not your usual coffee shop food. They also have alcoholic beverages such as beer, wine and for the time being, they got sangria too!

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The three little ones were starting to show signs of hunger so we quickly ordered some Fries & Dips (Php. 255) which they LOVED! It came out really crunchy and freshly deep-fried that got the three of them happily munching piece after piece. My little niece A was so happy that she couldn't help but say "it's so yummy!". It came with garlic aioli, honey mustard and pesto which complemented the fries so well. We all loved the honey mustard the most.

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While the kids were happy with their fries, we adults started our meal with some fresh salad. The Prawn & Mango Salad with Wasabi Dressing (Php. 375) is part of their seasonal menu prompting us to go try it as there's no guarantee up to when this will be available. Well, take my word for it and make sure to go try it NOW! I love the generous portion of fresh greens tossed with some prawns and sweet mango bits. I just wish the prawns were much bigger and more juicy as it was a bit overcooked but still good. The mangoes were superb! The dressing was very light and tangy and for a minute there, I forgot that it actually had wasabi in it too. Perhaps, I'm just so used to creamy wasabi dressing that this vinaigrette based version was definitely something new.

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Friday, March 15, 2019

All things British at Cucina in Marco Polo Ortigas

"We don't call them fries, it's chips! We call it chips!"
"You don't boil sausages, you grill them! Who boils or steams sausages?"

I'll never forget these comments given by my former boss during one of our office chats about food. Oh how I missed him and our old team! It began when we started talking about the famous British Fish and Chips and one of us asked him why don't they have it with rice, of course, for us Asians..#riceislife! He then explained that they have their deep-fried beer-battered fish with chips and mind you, they don't call it fries. Living in the Lion City, Paul and I had the privilege to know more about the English language such as saying holiday instead of vacation, lift instead of elevator and nappies and prams instead of diapers and strollers. I love listening to the English accent and how formal it sounds.

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When it comes to food, Singapore also has a strong British influence as the Philippines is to the American. It's there that I got to enjoy one of the best Shepherd's Pie from our neighborhood bakery and I finally got to try authentic Yorkshire Pudding during Sunday Roast. I also love Sticky Toffee Pudding which unfortunately I am having a hard time searching for here in Manila.

Recently, Paul and I had lunch at Cucina at Marco Polo Ortigas and we were so happy to see that they have an on-going British Food Promotion which is currently running until the 24th of February. You can enjoy the best British bites in most of the hotel's F&B establishments like Cafe Pronto, The Connect Lounge and of course, Cucina.

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First, you start with appetizers (and lots of sushi for me!). Don't even bother taking a pick but instead, try ALL three British starters from the Ploughman's Salad, the Smoked Atlantic Salmon with Capers Canape and the Shrimp and Dill Salad. My favorite was obviously the Shrimp and Dill Salad. I love how creamy and buttery it was and the shrimps were so juicy and succulent. How I wish I was able to get more but I was just too busy trying the other dishes as well.

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Tuesday, March 5, 2019

DIY Mama : Homemade Baby Lotion with The Body Shop's Shea Butter

It's March and that signals the tail end of the first quarter. I can't believe it. Pretty soon, summer will really roll in and before we know it, we're just about to bid 2019 good bye. Crazy! Time is zooming by in record speed. Anyway, March has always been one of my favorite months. It's the birth month of two of my bestest friends C and T, it's also when Paul and I found out that we were expecting (not knowing they're twins) and well, it's also the time when we would normally plan for our summer vacation too. I wonder if we can really go out and travel with our twins this year. Keeping my fingers crossed!

March is also International Women's Month where we celebrate women all over the world. Growing up, I guess I'm one of the lucky ones to be born to parents who never, at any point in my life, made me or my sister feel inferior being a woman. In fact, it's the opposite. They were very protective of us thus making us really feel so special and loved every single minute of our lives. They've been very supportive in everything that we do and have continuously been giving us the freehand to pursue our dreams and passions. This is definitely one thing that I will make sure I will impart on not only my daughter L but also to my son J. I promise to be the kind of mom who will be their biggest cheerleader and their most loyal fan too. I want to play a huge role in building their confidence and I want them to know that they can do whatever they want to do for as long as they put their heart into it. I want to see them shine and should there be times that they would fail, I know in my heart that they will have that same confidence and strength to stand up again and learn from the experience to move further on.

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It's just timely that I recently received a beautiful package from The Body Shop. Inside, I got a bottle of Shea Body Wash, a tub of Shea Body Butter and interestingly, a packet of 100% Natural Shea Butter from Ghana. Apparently, The Body Shop has partnered with The Tungteiya Women's Association in Ghana for more than 25 years where its shea butter is being produced. If you look closely at most facial products most especially those that helps moisturize our skin, you'd see that shea butter is normally part of the list of ingredients. There are a lot of sources for this but when it comes to all products with shea butter from The Body Shop, it all comes from one source and that's in Ghana. It's such a vital ingredient that the company has also founded the Global Shea Alliance which helps support the 8 million women who are part of this industry. It sure does feel good using a product that cares for the community that supports it, doesn't it? I'm totally all for Corporate Social Responsibility.

Not only is shea butter very good for our skin, it smells so amazing too! I couldn't stop sniffing the bottle of Shea Shower Cream that came with my package. I can't wait to try it! Oh boy, bath time will definitely be more relaxing now.

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Now, let me focus on the packet of 100% Natural Shea Butter. I was so excited to do this little project as it feels like a little chemistry project which I haven't done in more than 2 decades! Growing up, I'm so used to hearing words like "bunsen burner", "dyestuff", "nitrogen oxide" and more. This is because my mom was a chemist and my dad was a chemical engineer so you can just imagine how much they freaked out when I came home on report card day during the first quarter of my junior year with a 79 score for chemistry. Believe me, they really sat down with me and tutored me the following quarter up until I managed to pull my grade up to 90. I still remembered my mom telling us, "you girls have no right to fail Chemistry" hahaha Sorry Mommy!

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Saturday, March 2, 2019

Franny Mommy TV : Fisher Price Smart Stages Toy Review

Remember my blog post on receiving some new toys and two pairs of shoes from Fisher Price last week? Well I did promised to give a more in-depth review of the toys and.. I do keep promises.

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Fisher Price Smart Stages Tablet
So, here you go my dear readers, presenting my very first Toy Review on the Fisher Price Smart Stages Tablet and the Fisher Price Smart Stages Puppy Walker! Kindly excuse my haggard/tired eyes. I shot this after coming from a meeting in BGC where I drove myself to and from braving the traffic in Taguig, Makati and EDSA. Wow! I felt like a winner as soon as I finally reached home. Oh, how I wish our traffic condition will improve someday. Well, dreams do come true, they say.

Happy viewing and please do not forget to subscribe! (I just had to say that hahaha)


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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Choco Liquor Cakes by Maricar -- Igniting the Choco Lover in You

Sometime last year, the trend of having delicious and truly indulgent chocolate cakes baked in tin cans became a fast rising trend in the country. Suddenly, almost all bakers, restaurants, and dessert shops came out with their own version. One trying to outdo the other and most recently, some even try to experiment with other flavors apart from the usual chocolate cake which I find to be very ingenious. I've featured a number of my favorites here and I still stand by my honest opinion on them.

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However, if you really want to try the one that I believed started it all..or in millennial speak, the OG, then ladies and gentlemen, I present to you -- Choco Liquor by Maricar Reyes-Poon. I remember sometime back in 2015, I have read blog reviews from fellow foodie bloggers about the actress' mouthwatering dessert creation. "This heavenly decadent chocolate cake won the hearts of our foodies, with its very rich and moist chocolatey goodness. We like that the quantity of wine had just the right amount bittersweet aftertaste, without it overpowering the cake.", one blog entry read. I wasn't in the country then so I didn't had the chance to try it myself.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

House of Bao : Home of the Best Fried Siopao (Tsian Bao) in Manila

It's no big secret how much I love dim sum. I can definitely have it at any given time of the day. Case in point, I actually found myself craving for dim sum when I was pregnant with my twins. I remember how happy I would be whenever Papa would come home with a box of Bola-Bola (pork meatball) siopao and as one box would have three pieces, I could easily wolf down two mini siopaos in one sitting. Guess that's alright as I literally have two buns in my oven then. He he he!

Anyway, I wasn't even very picky with the brand of siopao then. For as long as the buns are soft and chewy, the filling was not too fatty and it still came warm and ready to eat, then I'm all for it. One time, my gokopo (5th grand aunt) heard that I was craving for fried siopao, she then sent over a dozen of freshly steamed tsian bao (fried siopao) for me to enjoy that same day. Oh, I was one spoiled pregnant lady then!

Even my good friend Didi heard about this intense craving and was so sweet to also send me some fried siopao. My family tends to spoil me, I am very much aware of that..but to have a friend fulfill my whim wasn't really something that happens everyday. This is why I am so thankful for Didi and her friendship. ♥ That said, I will never forget what she did for me and how delicious those fried siopaos were. I did a bit of research and found out that she got them from House of Bao.

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I later found out that this is so near my place and so I decided to place an order one fine (Tues)day as I was on my way to the hospital to visit my sister who just gave birth to my cutie nephew S. My best friend E was also confined in the same hospital so I decided to also surprise her and her family with some fried siopaos too. Ordering was a breeze, I simply just sent a message to their Instagram account and I got a confirmation that I can pick up my orders that same day. You just have to note that they only produce siopaos every Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. You might be able to score some on other days but I don't think they'd be freshly made and ready to eat.

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Friday, February 22, 2019

Franny Mommy Favorites : Fisher Price Smart Stages Toys and Shoes

I have to say that I'm a pretty detail-oriented Mom. I guess it comes with my natural OC (obsessive-compulsive) personality. When it comes to my twins, I really do not settle for second best. Personally, I don't mind paying a bit more on certain items that my twins will use for as long as I get the peace of mind and security knowing that it won't harm or pose any risks to their health and safety.

Education and early childhood learning is also something I value a lot. Growing up, my parents would encourage my sister and I to read and read and read. We would even have assigned classical books every summer break and Mommy would make sure that we get to finish the book/s before our vacation is over. Looking back, I was so thankful that they did this as it has fostered my love for reading and I somehow have learned to speed read because of this. Furthermore, my love for reading has also led to my passion for writing. 

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You know how there's this age old marketing strategy that targets primarily moms and this is simply because in most households, it is really the moms making the decision. Looking back, most of the brands that I grew up being familiar with is because of my Mom. From her Monterey fresh meats to her Del Monte Tomato Catsup, I remember instinctively going for all these same brands from the moment that I began to do my own grocery. Likewise, whenever I'm out shopping for my twins most especially when I was really a new mom and I have no idea which one is the best out there, I would go for the ones that my mom and dad would buy for us when Pan and I were much younger. One of those brands is -- Fisher Price. I'd say this is definitely one of the most reliable, household brands for children's toys as they've been in the market for decades. One thing that I do remember about Fisher Price toys is its durability. Had we not shifted houses, perhaps we would still have some of our old toys that may still be good enough to be handed down to our own kids. 

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