Sunday, October 5, 2014

I'm one of the last Generation X-ers - and yes, I remember when Il Ponticello first came into the scene. This is way before my "mommy" days - and hence, I remember Ponticello as wine, music and good company! Recently, they have had a relaunch but since I am not based in Makati (for work) anymore, it has been tough to stop by. 

A couple of months ago, the SoMoms bade our dear friend Jenny of My Mommyology a "see you again" dinner at Il Ponticello. Thankfully, I was in Makati that day for some meetings - and so I decided to drop by. It was my first time to be back since they relaunched. The atmosphere was the almost the same - warm and relaxed, with just the right level of noise to make the place busy, but not too noisy that you cannot have a good conversation. I hadn't seen the SoMoms in ages, so it was perfect for a "catching up" dinner too. We immediately got started with some Ponti spritzers. Yep, moms drink too when they are out - and my breastfeeding days are long gone, so it's safe!

For our main course, we had minestrone soup, pasta ala vongole (which was sooo good, I have to go back very soon for more), the amatreciana, and porchetta. Each dish was cooked from fresh, authentic ingredients (the clams weren't your regular tiny clams - they were plump and juicy!). It definitely feels like a real Italian table. I had been looking forward to the porchetta (as I've been seeing it make its rounds in the usual foodie IG and FB accounts). I must say, it did not disappoint. The skin was crunchy, and the meat was tender - and had just the right amount of fat. Il Ponticello really did well with that one.

They put the plate of porchetta in front of me... like they never wanted me to stop.
Here's a closer shot! Yummmeeeh!

Dessert was served in this beautiful glass cake stand - clockwise from the top - that's bread pudding, cheesecake panna cotta, tiramisu and vanilla ice cream. Nothing extra fancy, but very homey and warm.

As I write this, it's pushing October. The cool October air always brings with it a sense of festivity for me. It's partly the anticipation building up for sembreak (which takes on a whole new meaning now that I have kids of my own). It's also partly the lingering thought that December (and Christmas) is near enough to plan for now... buy Christmas wrappers, have your gift tags printed, and think of the theme for your Christmas tree. People always say that the "ber" months bring in Christmas cheer - for me, it's October that feels truly Christmas-y. October is when you start planning for dinners, get togethers, reunion events, and the like. This season, when you think about reunions and gatherings (especially with officemates) - consider Il Ponticello, in the heart of Makati. It's got a special place in my heart as I used to work at the building behind Ponti (as we fondly called it) - and it was always a go to place for a nice, relaxing lunch. Ponti is open again and like me, you will surely make good memories at Ponti. Try it soon!

Il Ponticello
Unit 203 2F Antel Corporate Center
121 Valero Street,
Salcedo Village, Makait
(02) 553-9971

Mon-Thurs: 11am-2:30pm   5pm-12:00am
Fri: 11am-2:30pm  5pm-2:00am
Sun: 5pm-2am

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Bento Making 101

I've been following The Bento Mommas for some time on Instagram. I can only
imagine the amount of time they spend on making those beautiful baon boxes.
The only attempt I've had that's remotely "bento" is to make mini
sandwiches using cutters to make Hello Kitty shapes. 

Through the
SoMoms' Better Me events, Oreo and The Bento Mommas joined together and
invited a group of mommies (and kids) to a bento making workshop. My
daughter was so excited - she was counting down to the day of the
workshop (it helped that there was a very long weekend for her at that
time). Despite how daunting each bento looks - it is surprisingly easy
to make a simple bento box that is sure to delight your child come
lunchbreak. I asked my daughter recently what she remembered about the
workshop - and she gave me clear instructions on how to make animal
faces for bento boxes! And here are her instructions... see if you can
follow create a face from this. 

1. Get two small balls of rice to make ears.
2. Get one bigger ball and make that into a face.
(At this point, I asked her, can you touch the rice with your hands?)
3. Her answer: No, use a plastic bag to shape the balls.
(Kaye likes to use ziplock bags).
4. Use a little smaller flat ball to make the nose.
(I asked: how do you make the face?)
5. Cut up seaweeds into shapes to make the face.

To cut up the seaweeds - you can use clean punchers (make sure they
are for food use only). And there you go - 5 simple steps to make an
animal face. Once you have the animal face - then you can proceed to
add other "decor" all around the face. Use brocolli as "plants", use
shape cutters to shape other objects to decorate... or simply fill up
the rest of the box with apples, grapes, and Oreo cookies.

Oreo cookies are a great way to perk up the boxes because they
come in different flavors! Did you know that? I always thought that
they only come in black and white (and I have to admit, I used to NOT
eat the whites - my husband was really lucky, he got double stuffings
each time we ate Oreos). According to this page, there are more than 30 different
kinds of Oreo flavors all over the world. And they are still creating
more as I write this... the other day I was shopping for food when i
saw some Chinese Oreos with really unique stuffings! 

Even at your local grocery stores, there are non black and white Oreo cookies to make your bento stand out.

And before I end this post... let me share some other tips on how to
make your bento nice:

1. Use a combination of white and brown rice to make your rice animals
look more "alive."
2. You can put a light dab of ketchup to make the cheeks red!
3. A heart is always a cute shape to use as a nose.
4. To stick on the facial parts made from seaweeds - you can dab a
little ketchup or mayo to the back and use that as "paste."
5. For the fruit slices - soak in a bit of Sprite of 7-Up to prevent
them from browning.
6. Try to put as much color into your box as possible - use carrots,
green vegetables, colorful fruits as garnish.

This was my daughter and my entry to the create a bento animal using Oreos contest for mommas...

Thursday, July 31, 2014

What are you #reading?

If you happen to see this book at the bookstore, grab it. It's a really fun book. I won't be a party pooper and tell you what happens at the end. 

We loved The Magic Faraway Tree that we went back in time and got the first book in the series. If you are interested in this, get the boxed series. I think there are 3 or 4 books in the series. We also started reading Heidi. This version is a shortened version that is perfect for kids below 12 years old. I'm going to get the other classics in this Collection. It's actually a really good way to refresh and remember the classics (and catch up on the ones you've missed).

I found this at the BookSale store in Shoppesville for 100pesos. I got it because it's from the creators of The Gruffalo series, and we loved that series. The book is such a pleasant surprise --- it's a combination of catchy rhymes, wonderfully drawn pictures and the value of kindness. 

And on the Kindle...

What are you reading? Do share it here!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

What's in a #citysuper?

Mom had asked me to look for something specific, and we only had a few hours left before we had to go to the airport. But even in that quick trip, I managed to snap some pictures of stuff that I wished local grocery stores carried. A trip to any grocery store abroad would always make me feel like I am missing so much. Check these out and tell me if your mouth does not water.

Dark, dark Japanese kyoho grapes. I checked, they really are called kyoho, from "kyoho budo", literally meaning "giant mountain grapes."

Lots of Japanese condiments. I did not have time to check out each one but I did manage to grab a bottle of dashi granules. Hope to make some chawan mushi as soon as I figure out the instructions on the bottle!

Wagyu! At 20% off! We got a free taste too. No pictures of the free taste, we gobbled it up too quickly.

All kinds of organic stuff. This is organic pork fron Denmark - it came in all kinds of cuts. I can only find sinigang and adobo cut here in Manila.

I find it hard enough to source kale and arugula in Manila, let alone baby ones.

French foie gras flown fresh, now that's quite a mouthful. I am not a regular consumer of foie gras (disclaimer) because I've read how cruel some farms are to the geese. I am perfectly happy with chicken liver for my regular dose of vitamin A. But some of these, once in awhile, sure would be a happy pill.

I first tried mozzarella di bufala at a wet market in Rome. The lady picked up one ball, cut it in half, and drizzled some evoo on it. I was hooked. I later learned that the cheese had to stay in its own liquid, and kept constantly cold. No chance for me to bring it home. Finding it in hk means there's no need to go all the way to Europe to find it.

And for my grand finale... Jamon from Spain! Hubby and I love spanish tapas. The jamon iberico was a personal fave. There is a jamon counter in all citysuper stores to suit your fancy. Jamon is also quite easy to bring home too as the meat is naturally preserved, and the packaging is so flat. In fact, it was so flat, I misplaced ours and only found it again when we got back to Manila. Yup, I got to bring home a piece of citysuper!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Manic Monday Quotes: It's now...

Here's to the beginning of the work week, the end of June, the end of the first half of 2014, and the beginning of the rest of our lives.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Storytelling in Mandarin

I read three to four different books to my kids before they sleep at night. Sadly, none of these books are in Mandarin. First, there are hardly any good Mandarin children's books in Manila. Second, even if there were, I probably would not know how to read them well. In this day and age though, with the internet at the tips of our fingers... anything can be found online. So I googled "storytelling in Mandarin" and I was led to these wonderful youtube videos! 

There are videos by Miss Panda. These are great because they are of familiar books that children already read and love. I love that she read Goodnight Moon and The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I'm sure there are a lot more kids and moms who will enjoy these. If you've memorized the books already, it will be very easy to align the Mandarin word to the English word. 

Then there are these videos by Hongen education. The nice thing about these vidoes is that there is a portion at the end where the host (who reminds me of the wizard at Enchanted Kingdom) reviews key vocabulary/phrases in English and Mandarin. There are English words and phrases interlaced in the entire story so it's easy to pick up the story line (not to mention we must all be familiar with the story of the Three Little Pigs already!) 

Mandarin is a language that requires a lot of repetition and memorization. These videos sure are great tools for our kids to learn the language in a much more fun way. Do share your Mandarin language tools in the comments section! 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


I didn't realize there's an actual term for it. Do you have a child born in the second half of the year? Have you thought about delaying sending him/her to school? There's an actual term to describe it... Redshirting!

Over the past several years, I've had discussions about this with fellow moms, and even some educators. I've hear of anecdotes about children who entered school too early, and were forced to "adapt" to school. Their handwriting turned out less nicer (because their fine motor skills were less developed). Some of them struggled with math concepts, or reading. There were also those who succeeded, and had not a lot of problems academically. In my own personal academic experience - I also had experiences with both. My birthday falls in the month just before school starts here in the Philippines, so I tended to think that I was just at the right age for that school year. I had friends who were a full 6months older than me, and I also had friends who were almost a year younger than me. I personally could not tell the difference.

To be honest, I have seriously considered redshirting my second child. It was very enticing - it means she can stay a full two years in progressive school, and it also gave me the remote chance of perhaps seeing her very successful in her future trad school. And she may end up with better handwriting. But then, she may turn out to be one of the oldest in her class. Who would her friends me? What would her younger friends think? What will she ask me if she graduates at an older age than her sister? Tough decisions.

 This article got me thinking again. It's actually a practical article... Does not cover all bases but it sure is logical enough to be followed. I'm sure educators all over the world have thought about the rules behind accepting kids of a certain age to kindergarten. Our role, as parents, should be to be standing alongside our kids year on year, guiding them through obstacles, cheering them on their successes and fully supporting them, whatever the outcome may be. 

Unless your kid is a superhuman or a truly gifted child, chances are they will struggle over some things. Some will struggle over science. Some will struggle over reading. Some will struggle over friendships. I look back at my own childhood and I really cannot recall a single person who was perfect at everything. I do recall the kids who had parents to support them all the way! So yes - before you think about redshirting... Think first about what you're willing to commit to your kids... With your support, they are sure to be successful! 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

I cooked: Baked Eggs and Sardines

We wanted to make something special for Father's Day beeakfast. K suggested fried eggs, or roast beef, which obviously will not make the cut. I decided on baked eggs because the girls can help me with some of the steps in making it. I've been seeing this recipe in several magazines for some time, and have been meaning to try it. We found the link to a basic recipe online, and we started preparing. I usually don't follow ingredients down to the last step... I like to improvise along the way. 

First, we put some sardines in a clay baking dish. I used a Spanish style baking dish (similar to a paellera) that we got from Terry's a long time ago. This is the kind of dish that Casa Armas would use to serve their appetizers on. Then I let the girls sprinkle on some herbs and spices - we used turmeric, sage and some pepper. I then put this dish inside the pre-heated oven for 5 minutes.

After five minutes, we mixed in 4 eggs into the mixture - and let it bake in the oven for another 7 more minutes. There's no need to "scramble" the eggs... Just crack 4 eggs into a bowl and pour the eggs on top of the sardines. I let K do this step. After 7 minutes, you can take out your dish from the oven and leave it to stand and cook a bit more on its own. 

Just before eating, we sprinkle some sea salt on it for seasoning... You can do this right after you pour in the eggs too.

This was our inspiration. 

The man of the house is still asleep... Hope he likes it! Happy father's day to all of you who have been fathers or father figures!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

What are you #reading?

I love books, and I grew up loving them. My dad used to tell me that he plans to open up a neighborhood library, to put all my books to good use. I still love books, and I continue to buy them, even if I actually do not have time to read them. I just love the idea that I have them on hand, when I do finally get time to read. 

The only time in the day when I actually get to read books is when I read them to my kids at bedtime. So, I thought I'd do a regular post on what we are reading now. I hope it inspires you to read to your kids, too. I speak from personal experience that the more you read to your children, the more you bring them into the fold of bookreaders. They will grow to love books too, and you would have given them the gift of the world!

As you can see, the princess stories will always make their way into our repertoire. I don't really try to discourage my girls from the princesses. What I do is introduce new genres to them... like Enid Blyton's The Magic Faraway tree, which is an adventure fantasy book.

As for me, I always make sure I have books on my ipad Kindle, for days when I suddenly have time. Here's what I am reading now.

What are you and your kids reading? I'd love to hear from you! Do post your recommendations here!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Beyond the Physical #LIFE

It could be an aunt, a cousin, your colleague's mother-in-law, someone's dad... How many times have you heard of the story of someone who found out they were sick, but it's gone beyond the stage of prevention. Instead, drastic measures have to be taken. It's happened to people very close to me, too. What would we give for that ounce of prevention? Often, the manifestations of a sickness come out only in actual physical onservations. A lesion, a lump, a painful part... but it really started somewhere deep down inside of you, way before it came out physically.

Our bodies are intercomnected with nerve bundles that link to our vital organs. 

Two weeks ago, The ONE Core group (Thanks Coach Pia!) gave me a meaningful Mother's Day gift - the gift of LIFE. It's a preventive health management system from Europe that checks seven areas of our bodies. It goes from our vital organs, to our nerves, bones and blood, to our energy and mental state. All in all, it tests seven areas of our bodies, using non invasive and painless technology. It does all of that in 10 minutes. The theory behind LIFE is that way before our illnesses becomes physical manifestations, they first come out at the nerve level. After the nerve level, it manifests in the blood and hormones; then finally, at the physical level. LIFE scans your nerve bundles and comes up with readings of your nerves, blood, hormones and vital organs to detect areas of concern. 

The great thing about LIFE is it identifies not only where potential sicknesses might come out, but it also identified stressors. It makes recommendation based on a holistic approach, integrating lifestyle and medical advice that would best suit your condition. I think it's great that way because you can then adjust your day to day lifestyle to what your body needs.

My results came out quite interesting. Now the background is - I took the LIFE test right after a week long family vacation. No yaya. Enough said :). It also came at a time when I am at the end of a very long project at work that has literally taken over me... body and soul. Now without further excuses... here are my results.

I found it absolutely amazing that the 10minute assessment detected the over exhaustion in my body. It has been what I've been feeling since the beginning of the year- absolute, physical exhaustion. My job is not actually physically tiring per se, it's a lot more brain activity over physical activity. But the constant thinking and worrying do take a toll on you physically.

The second thing I loved about the assessment is the comment on being in a good mental state. I take pride in being an optimist, being generally happy... it really helps balance the daily stress I absorb. I loved that, despite everything, I still am in good harmony, and won't need my straightjacket yet. As a parent, I think it's most important for me to be in a good state of mental harmony to be able to raise my children well. Despite the fatigue, the physical toll... I'm happy to report that I'm safe hang around with!

Whatever your results may be, LIFE gives you a multipage report that talks about the different points of your body that was analyzed, as well as suggestions on how to address them. I was told that if I brought my report to an acupuncturist, they would be able to interpret the results and use acupuncture to restore the balance. I personally am looking forward to that.

If you know anyone who you think will benefit from LIFE, they may get in touch with our office and get 50% off the regular rate. Promo period is until June 30, 2014 only. For more details, please visit

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Yummy-ly Yours

I love Summit Media's Yummy Magazine. I used to buy them from the newsstand, I would leaf through them, almost as if I were already tasting and enjoying the food itself. I started buying the small Yummy books where special recipes are collected. But i still did not part with my Yummy issues. I liked reading not only recipes, but also articles about restaurants, cooking tips and gadgets. Then... Last year, I discovered Zinio! I can read Yummy via an app that downloads the new issues every month. Now, I can breeze through all the magazines on my IPad. No more clutter! Hubby sure was thankful about that :)

Yummy is having another 50% off sale on it's annual subscription, including past issues. You can get it via the Appstore or via Zinio and Buqo. It costs less than $13 for 12 issues, and you don't need to drive to the newsstand to get it.

Go to this link to access the Summit website and get your own Yummy subscription. The sale is only until June 1 so hurry and subscribe now.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Raising the Bar #YouTheMom

My mom raised four children... while also earning her share to put food on the table. She knew how to do all kinds of household work... From cooking to cleaning to doing the laundry. There were many things that she was not - she was not at my high school graduation, nor did she cheer me on during math competitions - but I remember that I always had pristine white socks and uniforms, and a delicious snack when I came home from school. She probably never sang a single song for me, but she sat with me all night as I finished a Turbo Pascal project. Even today, she is the epitome of a grandmother for my kids. When she's a around, it's possible for me to not lift a single finger (except what good would that do me?) My mom has sure raised the bar on motherhood, not only during her time, but in my time too. Every move I make as a mother is a reflection of what I've seen from my own mother. Whether I am copying her, or trying to outdo her (hehe) - my mother is the model of my own motherhood. I don't know how many of us would dare admit it... Our mothers are models of what we are (and what we are not ) as mothers. 

BUT.... This does not mean we BECOME our mothers. From the day we saw those two lines on the pregnancy test, we have all been evolving to be the unique mothers that we are right now. We will continue to evolve as our kids grow up... And we will continue to raise the bar of motherhood. There is no cookie cutter out there to model out the perfect mother... you are perfect on your own, especially to your children.

So what else can I say, except... You The Mom!

This year's Expo Mom by Mommy Mundo is all about you superhero moms... It's a shoutout to all moms. You The Mom! Mommy Mundo Founder Janice Villanueva says, "We admire moms for their almost superhuman qualities, their powers in time management and multitasking alongside their ability to do anything and everything for their loved ones, and they all do these things woleheartedly and passionately at that! And because most moms do all these tasks with grace and usually with flair, even we may sometimes forget to show her some appreciation and affirmation." 

A belated happy mother's day to all you moms out there. Why don't you extend your celebration by joining Expo Mom 2014 this weekend? For more information and event updates, visit Download coupons and the event map from the website and be prepared for a grand time. To be part of the You The Mom! campaign, check out

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Multitasking Much?

I read this article recently about how to find more leisure time in your life. When I saw it on zite, I automatically opened it up to read it. What I read struck so close to home... and it sure shot down a lot of truths I believed in, until now. The phenomenon of multitasking - how effective is it really? Some people might say, "nope, that's not me... I don't multitask at all...." Stop right there and think again. How many times have you tried to eat dinner, talk to your husband/kids/parents, and watched the evening news at the same time? When was the last time you sent out that message while driving? What about reading and sitting on the throne (lol!)? Each one of us multitask in some way... some more than others, some better than most. I take pride in being the latter. I take pride in being a master multitasker. But after reading the article, I realized it's one of the reasons why I always say "I'm so busy...." It's because I am doing 10 things at the same time, while another 10 things run through my mind.

These are my realizations about multitasking:

1. It takes a longer time to do everything. Try walking someplace while reading your smartphone. Try doing it again without reading from your smartphone.

2. You make more mistakes. Sometimes, when I talk on the phone while I type an email, I type the word that I just verbally said. 

3. It makes you look insincere. No matter how you sincere you are as you talk to a person in front of you, if you're reading something off your phone or tablet, it looks like you're not sincere. I've been om the receiving end of this and I know.

4. You're bound to forget something. This happens to me at work when I combine sending an email reply with reading a news article and running a financial query. The email usually ends up as a draft, unsent, as I get caught up in looking at the query (or the article). One of the tasks usually end up not finished.

5. You tend to pile it on. Because you've done it, and you think you've done it well... The tendency is to pile yourself with more task. Doing ten things in half the time does not mean you "end" in half the time. Chances are, you'll pile on ten things more. (I'd call that a multi-task-aholic... Call in Multitaskers Anonymous).

I think moms are one of those groups of people who are generally serial multitaskers. I don't really blame them, there's a lot that one has to do in a 24 hour period. Let it go. I'm going to give this non-multi-tasking thing a try. No, it won't be a full change for me, but I will definitely try to slow it down. Maybe I'll find some of that elusive free time I've been looking for!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

As S Heard It: CruciFived

My second daughter is quite a verbose toddler, if there is such a thing. Between 8-9 months, she said one of her earliest words (which caught me, my husband, the yaya and our pediatrecian by surprise) - "elmo." Our doctor was trying to distract her with a dancing Elmo, and she asked, "Who is this, Shobe?" To which S answered - very clearly - "Ewmo." Whoa. She started speaking her first few words before she turned one, which is normal. A few months after she turned one, she started talking in 2-3 word phrases. By the time she was two, she was speaking in full sentences just like the little person that she is. Being the competive mom that I am (aren't we all? Even just a teeny weeny bit? Come on....) I am led to believe (by my and my husband's illusions) that she's quite advanced. 

I actually think that she is verbose because she has a keen sense of hearing. She has a knack for repeating phrases, songs and rhymes from memory, after hearing them a few times. However, given that her vocabulary is limited - she usually has to just rely on the what the word "sounds" like to repeat it. One time, she said she wanted "frangled eggs." She refers to a bath as "baff," and she refers to her "thumb" as her "fumb." (Darn that soft 'th' sound!) And so, this often makes for some very interesting conversations.

As Easter approached, and I knew K had been learning about Jesus dying on the cross in school, I mentioned that it was soon Easter. That opens up the question of what is Easter - and so I talk about Jesus rising from the dead, after he was crucified. K knows about crucifixion since she had been quizzing me on the Ways of the Cross posted around the church hall. And here comes Little Miss Bionic Ears....

Me: Yes... It's almost Easter and on Good Friday, Jesus is crucified.

K: Why Mommy?

Me: Jesus was crucified on the cross, he dies to save us from our sins. But don't worry, because he is alive... he rose up after 3 days.

S: Yeah, like Achi, Mommy.

Me: Like who?

S: Like K! She's five! And Jesus is five, too, right?

Owwwkay. That's how stories are made. I hope you and your families have a meaningful Easter celebration. For me, it's a break that I've been looking forward to for sometime. My four month hiatus from blogging has not been without its own stories... and after exactly 4 months, I hope to get my groove back,

Don't forget to pay your taxes! It's April 15!