Shell Fuel Save Challenge

When I 16 years old, I had a car waiting in the driveway for me to pass my driver’s license test. My dad bought me one of the safest cars on the road at that time which was a Saab 900. My soccer teammates would fondly call my car “The Tank”…simply because it was. 

In order for me to enjoy the privilege of driving by myself, I had to learn a few things and pass a few tests in which my dad would determine my grade. My dad had always stressed the importance of being safe and the weight of the responsibility one bears when behind the wheel. Well, when I was young and stupid I didn’t quite fully understand that responsibility and felt as if Dad was being all serious for something that wasn’t that serious at all. 

All of the kids had to learn how to drive a manual transmission, and had to pass Dad's driving tests as well as the requirements for Driver's Ed and the NYS license exams.

All of the kids had to learn how to drive a manual transmission, and had to pass Dad’s driving tests as well as the requirements for Driver’s Ed and the NYS license exams.

Of course, driving is a very serious matter. You just don’t take your life in your own hands every time you get behind the wheel, you are responsible for all who are riding with you and all those people you might encounter on the road. So, in order to drive the car that my parents had gifted me with I had to learn the basics before I could tool around town.

  • I had to learn how to change a tire.
  • I had to learn how to check the oil.
  • I had to learn how to check the coolant and windshield washer fluid.
  • I had to learn how to gas up my own tank.
  • I had to learn how to drive manual.

Ok, driving a stick shift wasn’t the easiest thing on the planet, but that’s how I learned. My father said that a girl needed to know how to drive anything so that at any time…if she needed to…she could get herself out of a sticky situation. You can bet, that when it’s time to teach my kids how to drive, they will need to know all of these things and more because Nino and I take driving and the responsibility of driving very seriously.

Truth:  I don’t drive for myself very much since I moved here.  

BUT…that doesn’t mean that I have forgotten all of the helpful hints and tips that have been passed on to me from my husband now that we are married for over 16 years. In fact, since Nino and I used to own a speed shop (many years ago when we first got engaged to be married) I have learned a lot more about cars and how to maintain them, and of course how to drive safely.

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This is why when I was contacted to team up with another mom blogger for the Shell Driving Challenge I was totally up for the learning that would take place and the fun that would be had with another like minded mom. (Plus, since Sarah is a fashion blogger, I look to her for posts on things like “Where to find Boyfriend Jeans.”)

All the participants enjoyed a hearty breakfast before departing Mango Tree Restaurant for Batangas.

All the participants enjoyed a hearty breakfast before departing Mango Tree Restaurant for Batangas.

The Shell Fuel Save Good Choice Driving Challenge started in Fort at one of my favorite Thai restaurants, Mango Tree.  We were invited to come a bit early to eat a hearty breakfast which was sponsored by Slappy Cakes, get to know the other driving challengers and  prepare for the long haul that we would be taking in our Ford Ecosport. I researched a little about the car and was excited to get behind the wheel because I knew it would be an easy car to drive. 

Fuels Brand Manager, Jeff Chan opens up the event and welcomes us to the challenge.

Fuels Brand Manager, Jeff Chan opens up the event and welcomes us to the challenge.

Seven teams were to compete for the title of the Driving Challenge winner. Two teams were from the media. Two teams consisted of mom bloggers. Two teams were professionals who really drove for a living like taxi and FX drivers. And the last team was made up of Shell Celebrity Endorser, Bianca Gonzalez and one of her twitter followers Rio Umali.

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Photo Credit: Official Shell Photographer

It was nice to get to know the other personalities who get behind the wheel all in the name of learning and good fun. In fact, I really enjoyed getting to know Lito Cinco who is a sports columnist from one of the leading local newspapers. We talked about team building in competitive sports and everything under the sun from parenting, special needs, and the value and wisdom of experience.

My driving partner Sarah Tirona and I had met once before for another event, and I was excited for the time we would have together in the car getting to know each other. When Sarah and I got into the car and started talking strategy, (YES, we are both quite competitive.) I realized that we were the perfect match to go on this road trip together because we were both willing to do what it takes to win. Sarah had researched on her own, and found some ways to save fuel while we were driving, while I had gotten some tips and tricks from my husband before embarking on our driving adventure. We shared our pointers and together we agreed that we would do our best because we both were “in it to win it.” 

Driving Team No. 4. (aka The Renegade Moms)

Driving Team No. 4. (aka The Renegade Moms)

Sarah had decided she wanted to drive the first leg going to our destination in Batangas, which left me of course driving back to Fort for the second leg, later in the day. We were given tasks and tests along the way to Cintai Corito’s Garden that would foster new understandings on how to save fuel and drive more efficiently…in essence we were taught to make GOOD driving choices while on the road. At each pit stop, Sarah and I, of course did our best, in hopes that we would take home the title of Champion later on that evening.

At each pit stop we were given challenges to accumulate points.  Shell Fuels Brand Manager and Communications Manager, Reggie Regala outlines our task for the first stop.

At each pit stop we were given challenges to accumulate points. Shell Fuels Brand Manager and Communications Manager, Reggie Regala outlines our task for the first stop.

Lunch was followed by a short talk on how Shell Fuel Save extends the life of your engine. While I had developed an understanding of the engine of a car and how Nino and I could make cars faster by changing the exhaust manifold, the intake and of course adding an aftermarket turbo charger or factoring nitrous oxide into the mix, I had very little understanding how the type of fuel you put in the car can help it run cleaner and or even more efficiently. 

When we arrived at Cintai, however, we realized that the real competition would not start until the second leg of the trip. PRESSURE!!!

When we arrived at Cintai, however, we realized that the real competition would not start until the second leg of the trip. PRESSURE!!! L-R Kris De Guzman from OC Mom in Manila, Sarah Tirona from Fashion Eggplant, Jackie Go from Go Jackie Go, and moi.

Before we sat down for lunch we were able to explore the beautiful garden and installations on the premises. There were plenty of photo ops for me and and my other mom blogger friends.

Beautiful nooks and crannies of Cintai offered great photo ops for the mommy bloggers.

Beautiful nooks and crannies of Cintai offered great photo ops for the mommy bloggers.

Enter: Shell Fuel Save Scientist Mae Ascan

Mae taught explained to us how Shell Fuel Save has detergents that help keep the engine clean, and how this type of fuel can not only extend the life of your car, but it can help it run more efficiently. She explained all the work and the study that goes into developing such a superior type of gasoline, and the benefits to using this gasoline in your car.

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She also taught us how to compute fuel efficiency. One can simply divide the total distance traveled by the number of liters of fuel that is consumed on said trip to find out how many kilometers per liter you have used.

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As we explored the Gardens we all kept saying how picture perfect some of the places were…and how nice it would be to get married in a place like this.

There are other things you can do to help run your car efficiently and save on gas, too.

  • Always make sure that your are running the correct psi on your tires. You can find the correct pounds per square inch on the inside of the door of your car on the driver’s side.
  • Eliminate any excess weight in the trunk of your car. If you don’t need it for the trip that you are embarking on, then store it at home. 
  •  When driving, if possible shift to a higher gear and keep your RPM’s below 1800.
  • Make sure your gas tank cap is tightly screwed on! (I never thought of this one, but it can account for evaporation!)
  • Use Shell Fuel Save Gas when possible because it keeps the engine cleaner and runs more efficiently.
  • Run your aircon at a comfortable temperature. Keeping it on high makes the engine work harder. Engine working harder = more fuel consumption
  • Regularly service your car. Check and change the oil based on the kilometers driven, maintain fluids, and have regular tune ups.
  • Maintain a steady speed, (if on the highway 80 km/hr is good) of course we know that when we are in traffic-y situations, we consume more gas because of the stops and starts.
  • Don’t let your car idle. If your car will be idling for more than 10 seconds, it’s better to just shut it off all together.
It was a treat to have a quick massage so that we could relax a bit before getting back on the road! Shell thought of everything!

It was a treat to have a quick massage so that we could relax a bit before getting back on the road! Shell thought of everything!

Truth: I was a bit nervous. Not because I was nervous about driving…I just wanted to do my best to win for my teammate!

Getting back into the car this time, Sarah and I realized this was it! Gas tanks were sealed!

Getting back into the car this time, Sarah and I realized this was it! Gas tanks were sealed!

Of course there were two more stops on the back to Fort from our lovely lunch in Batangas and truth be told I was pretty disappointed after the first stop because I thought I made a terrible mistake when we had to finish one of our challenges. Essentially, I got two of our four questions WRONG in our pit stop. IN FACT, I was so sure that I was right, I even began trying to make my point as to why my answers should be accepted as correct. (Of course to no avail.)

I really love how everything was prepared for us. Can't we have this done for every road trip?

I really love how everything was prepared for us. Can’t we have this done for every road trip?

At the last pit stop (which was the Shell station on C5) I even OVER shot the entrance thereby using MORE of our precious fuel which would be measured! Even if Sarah and I were both disheartened at my mistakes we of course wanted to see how much fuel was consumed by my driving skills. We were even more shocked when we saw the best fuel consumption of 4.013 liters drop down to 2.032 liters. 

How the heck could we beat 2.032 liters of gas? That is amazing? And I kept asking myself, how did she manage that AND run the car with aircon the entire time?

How the heck could we beat 2.032 liters of gas? That is amazing? And I kept asking myself, how did she manage that AND run the car with aircon the entire time? I wanted to Congratulate Bianca and her teammate Rio already, but the competitor in me just couldn’t bring myself to do it until it was official.

HUWAT? I was already shocked at the 4 liters…then to drop down to 2 liters? AND on top of that Bianca and her team mate RAN THE AIRCON the entire time. Here my partner and I were sweating profusely looking like messy children on the playground, doing Bikram yoga in the car, and essentially losing weight because we sweat so much. We over shot the gas station. PLUS I got two of our four questions wrong at our earlier pit stop. 

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I was disheartened along the way because I knew that I had made at least two errors that could affect the outcome of our Driving Challenge.

BUT…

The most weighted category was on the fuel consumption from Batangas back to Fort.

When Mae began clicking and fueling our car….I COULD NOT BELIEVE MY EYES. I thought there was no way we could have beaten Bianca and her driving partner.

BUT LOW AND BEHOLD….

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I think even Mae was surprised that we came in just under 2 liters!

I think even Mae was surprised that we came in just under 2 liters!

I know Sarah and I could have been more gracious once we saw our consumption at the gas tank…But gosh darn…we were so happy, high fiving, jumping around, and celebrating in hopes that our consumption would bring home a victory for us…

AND IT DID.

What an incredible learning experience.

Bringing home the title of CHAMPION was a great birthday gift! And to imagine, this gift was given to me here...through my blog...and on my birthday, which is also my blogiversary.

Bringing home the title of CHAMPION was a great birthday gift! And to imagine, this gift was given to me here…through my blog…and on my birthday, which is also my blogiversary.

Thank you Shell, for asking Sarah and I to take the Shell Fuel Save Good Choice Driving Challenge, and for awarding us the title of CHAMPIONS. It not only felt really good to win, but it was equally satisfying to meet new people who took the challenge with us, and to learn more about how Shell Fuel Save is a GOOD Choice when filling up the tank.

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ULTIMATE GIRL POWER WITH SHELL FUEL SAVE GOOD CHOICE DRIVING CHALLENGE

One of the BEST realizations of the entire night? The final count being that the honors of First, Second, and Third place were all taken home by GIRLS. TALK ABOUT GIRL POWER!!!

One of the BEST realizations of the entire night? The final count being that the honors of First, Second, and Third place were all taken home by GIRLS. TALK ABOUT GIRL POWER!!!

 

 

 

 

Mind Museum’s Halloween Celebration

It’s almost Halloween!!!

Y’all know how much I love Halloween…right?

Well, Mind Museum is putting together a really fun celebration filled with learning and exhibits perfect for you to use even at your own Halloween celebrations if you will be hosting one for your friends and family.

The kids LOVE going to Mind Museum and while it will just be the girls who will be with us on Sunday at MM, I know that even I might get a little creeped out because I’m such a scaredy cat.

You know what the best part is? I get to share 5 tickets with one lucky reader so the whole family can come in costume and play and learn in science!

MindBurst Halloween

 

Simply follow the mechanics in the Rafflecopter widget so you can enter for a chance to win 5 tickets for the Mind Museum’s Halloween Celebration! 

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Yumi Century City Mall

I have been wanting to visit Century City Mall since my Instagram feed has been buzzing with new and exciting places to visit. From Toby’s Estate, to the cute little shop Chibi Momo, and the beautiful interiors in Blue Carreon’s place I knew I would enjoy the time spent in Century City Mall exploring.

There are so many nooks and crannies to discover in Century City Mall.

There are so many nooks and crannies to discover in Century City Mall.

When my friend Jane invited us to the new restaurant of Donny Impyre, Yumi, I knew it would be one that both Nino and I would enjoy because we love Japanese food that much. I had visited Kessaku in Alabang a few times before and if it was anything like that, I knew we were all in for a treat.

One has to accessorize for a date night with the hubby. I LOVE my Serafina clutch.

One has to accessorize for a date night with the hubby. I LOVE my Serafina clutch.

Yumi parnter, Donny, really loves Japanese food. Just like my hubby, he finds that it is his comfort food. He looks for the flavors and the textures that Japanese cuisine is known for and when asked, can shared he can even eat Japanese food every day. It’s always nice to sit and talk with the owners of these successful restaurants because it’s easy to see the passion behind serving up honest to goodness good food.

  • Kani Amuse Bouche
  • Tamago Sashimi
  • Sake Sashimi
  • Tori Chiisu Maki (P240)
  • Chirashi Moriawase (P490)
  • Sake Tepan (P390)
  • Foie Gras Roll (P395)
  • Unagi Foie Gras Sushi (P350)
  • Sake Sashimi in Shoyu (P320)
  • Chirashi Ikura Sake (P450)
  • Green Tea Tempura Ice Cream (P165)
  • Crispy Banana and Jackfruit with Mango Ice Cream (P155)

Yumi is not as big as Kessaku in Alabang but don’t let the size of this joint be the measure of anything more than keeping it small and intimate. The only thing I would say I was unhappy with was the LIGHTING! This is completely from a blogger’s point of view because of course I want to try and share the best photos I have of the food. But if you wanted a cozy, intimate place to dine the lighting fits the bill. It’s the perfect date place if you wanted to enjoy some time alone with the hubby.

One of the many bracelets my mom has made for me to help me with my BLING factor when I'm on for a night on the town. Thanks Mom!

One of the many bracelets my mom has made for me to help me with my BLING factor when I’m on for a night on the town. Thanks Mom!

There is an art to serving Japanese food. In fact, I feel like many sushi chefs can be considered artists. Have you ever watched the way a sushi chef prepares and serves his dishes? Nino and I were watching the sushi chefs down below while we were waiting for our food and one thing we noticed is the attention and detail paid to every piece of fish and the thought that went into placing the food “just so.”

Nino and I enjoyed watching the Sushi Chefs prepare our food...we both believe that Japanese food can be considered one of the more artistic cuisines.

Nino and I enjoyed watching the Sushi Chefs prepare our food…we both believe that Japanese food can be considered one of the more artistic cuisines.

At any rate, I made sure to edit my photos as best I could because while mood lighting is great for me and Nino when we are on a date, it was not so good for the pics here on the blog.

Thank you Donny for graciously hosting our little group of ladies who like to have fun, make chicka, and enjoy good food!

Thank you Donny for graciously hosting our little group of ladies who like to have fun, make chicka, and enjoy good food! From L-R Moi, Joei, Donny, Jane, and Patty

Would I visit again?

Most definitely, YES. Nino and I enjoyed our dinner with the gang, and we were already looking forward to visiting Yumi’s sister resto Kessaku after this yummy dinner.

If you would like to visit Yumi in Century City Mall check out their Facebook page or their Instagram account.

Open Monday-Sunday 11:00am-11:00pm

For more information or reservations please call 02-403-6507.

 

 

New Beginnings and Beautiful Weddings

With every ending comes a new beginning…

I have always liked that saying…it takes what possibly could be a negative situation and turns it into a positive.  

But I believe that weddings are ALWAYS positive….

This weekend we were able to witness Nino’s cousin and his fiance tie the knot. It was a beautiful wedding that was thoughtfully planned and executed with the help of the couple’s loved ones. You could see that so many of the guests were really celebrating WITH the couple as they were clearly caught up in the love and affection that these newlyweds share.

I LOOK forward to weddings. I love the details that go into planning such an elaborate celebration because I feel as if it’s the bride and the groom’s way of sharing bits and pieces of themselves with the lucky few who are chosen to be invited to such a momentous celebration in their lives.

I think about how it was for me and Nino when we were planning our own wedding all those years ago. I become nostalgic. I remember how it was when I saw him at the end of the block-long aisle and the butterflies that were dancing in my belly. I remember the excitement leading up to our special day where all my cousins flew in from all over the world, and my mother’s house was buzzing with laughter, love, and overflowing with food and drink.

I enjoy the dressing up…I relish in all of the picture taking…not just of the newly married couple but photo sessions with the family that we don’t always get to see…

I LOVE the children who dress the part as well and are included as flower girls, ring bearers, and junior bridesmaids as it is a sign of what’s to come once the couple decides they are ready for the blessing of children.

I love the pretty colors of the bridesmaids’ dresses, the experience and wisdom that Ninongs and Ninangs are ready and willing to share, the toasts that come from loved ones who know the couple oh so well, and the clinking glasses that encourage the couple to kiss and kiss again…

It’s all one great reminder how LOVE is grand…how LOVE can conquer all…and how much of a romantic this girl is…

 Congratulations Mars and Nikka! We are so honored to have been included in your celebration. Both Nino and I only wish blessings and abundance for your as you begin this new chapter of your lives together!!! 

 

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Whenever we attend weddings, it’s so easy for me to recall exactly how I felt when we stood before the priests who married us. #marslovesnikka2014

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Crimson Hotel

Checking the family in for a staycation is always fun. It’s a break from the “norm,” and a chance to bond with the kids in an environment different than being at home for the weekend. On this particular weekend we had a jam packed schedule so we were all happy to have a place to relax and enjoy some time with some friends.  

Check in was easy and painless.

Check in was easy and painless.

I was really excited to spend time with Jane who invited us on this fun filled weekend at Crimson Hotel. She had also asked some of our other friends from the area to join in on the fun so I knew that the kids would have a great time, and that I would be able to relax for a little while.

These lovely ladies let me know that we would be able to avail of the special services of the Executive Lounge.

These lovely ladies let me know that we would be able to avail of the special services of the Executive Lounge.

I think the thing I enjoyed most was sitting around a table that I knew I didn’t have to clear, nor fill. I love entertaining at home. I love cooking and presenting food to my friends and family to enjoy, BUT I also love it even more if I can enjoy the chicka around a table that I’m not responsible for cleaning up. That is the beauty in staying in a hotel with your friends and their kids.  

Family photo op in our living room. The suite had a sitting area with a t.v. and even a little kitchenette.

Family photo op in our living room. The suite had a sitting area with a t.v. and even a little kitchenette.

Of course the kids were excited to explore the suite once we arrived. Nino and the boys actually had to prepare for a bike show that they were participating in on Sunday, so they would stay with us until it was time to go to bed.

Perfect for the sleepover party that we would have...a King Size bed to snuggle. Can you find The Bean?

Perfect for the sleepover party that we would have…a King Size bed to snuggle. Can you find The Bean?

Of course this guy was looking for the mini bar. He was excited when he found it because he wanted to eat the chocolate right away.

Of course this guy was looking for the mini bar. He was excited when he found it because he wanted to eat the chocolate right away.

After the kids explored the kitchenette and ran around the room (as they always do when we check into a hotel), it was time to meet up with our friends in the Executive Lounge. The Executive Lounge is located on the 28th floor and has a full list of extra amenities for guests to enjoy.

Jane and Patty had already gone downstairs to freshen up for dinner, but we did run into Joei from Joei & Me.

Jane and Patty had already gone downstairs to freshen up for dinner, but we did run into Joei from Joei & Me.

   

       

We were so happy that Cathy was able to assist us while we were in the Executive Lounge. You see children aren’t allowed in the Executive Lounge. It is really meant to be a place where you can take your afternoon tea or cocktails and relax and unwind from the day. However, since there was not anyone else in the facilities to disturb, the kids were allowed to stay and enjoy a glass of juice with us. The snack buffet was chock full of healthy snacks that I didn’t mind noshing on before we freshened up to go down for a Mexican dinner!

Kaye and I with Cathy before heading downstairs for dinner.

Kaye and I with Cathy before heading downstairs for dinner.

In fact, if you wanted to book a staycation on their Executive Floor you can take advantage of their promotional packages found on their website by clicking here.

Screen Shot from Crimson website.

Screen Shot from Crimson website.

After our snacks we prepared to bring everyone down for a Mexican dinner. Check out the post on what was for dinner here. And like I said before, it’s always more fun when you’re with friends!

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Kaye, Patty, Kar, Jane and I having a drink with our Mexican dinner.

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My two boys are getting ready to go back to the house to the prepare for the bike show. Take note :-) They won Best Retro Bike the next day. And of course, if I have my friends, my friends’ kids are friends with my kids too! Talk about family fun!

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Mrs. C and her crew :-)

After we sent the kids up to bed so we could enjoy each other's company some more. When I finally got back into the room, this is what I found. Three snuggle bunnies ready for a cuddle.

We sent the kids up to bed so we could chit chat some more without little ears around. When I finally got back into the room, this is what I found. Three snuggle bunnies ready for a cuddle.

After arriving in my room, the first thing I wanted to do was wash up and get ready for bed. With everyone in bed, and yaya asleep, I was sure I would not have the pitter patter of little feet visiting me while I was in the loo. The only problem was, that when I went to enter the bathroom, it was locked from the inside.

After I spent some time trying to figure out who was the last one in the bathroom, and who locked the door, and all the he said she said, I called downstairs to see if housekeeping could come up and fix the problem that I had.

After sending two different teams to try and open the door, the front desk called to ask if I would like to move to another room. This was not an option at 1am, so I asked if they could just send another team up with another set of keys to unlock the door no matter how much noise it would necessitate.

LUCKILY, three times is a charm, and the staff assured me that the door knob was broken and that it wasn’t something one of the kids did before closing the door. I’m sure they will have already fixed that door knob by now!

Keep in mind, that when I sent the big kids up, it was a big fiasco because yaya fell asleep with the door bolted when she was putting Gelli down for the night. We had to bang and bang to wake her up so that the kids could even get into the room to wind down for the night!

AHHHHH, THE BEAUTY OF HAVING LOTS OF KIDS AND THE CHAOS THAT COMES WITH IT!

Good thing a restful sleep (which came after 1am because of the locked doors) on a comfy bed left me refreshed for the next morning. Jane had scheduled for all of us to have breakfast together, but since the Cafe 8 was so packed that next morning we all sat separately and made our way to finding breakfast together after the crowd died down.

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I was so out of sorts these two days. I realized while editing my photos that I didn’t take any pictures of all of the food that I ate! Considering I ate plates and plates chock full of food from two different buffets, that’s a little out of character for me. As you know, breakfast and brunch are my favorite meals of the day because I get to start my day right. In a breakfast buffet like this, I was able to indulge in imported cheese, freshly made omelettes, all the Filipino breakfast meats you could crave, rice, waffles and pancakes, freshly baked breads, fruit, cereal, congee, and so much more.

To make up for the lack of food pics in this post I do have a ton of pics for the facilities. I was so glad that my little photographer was able to get some great shots of key places you would want to take advantage of when you are staying in a hotel. Thanks Gigi ;-)

Everything that you would want to do is all on the 8th floor. The Swimming Pool and Deck Bar, which is only open to registered hotel guests is just a stone’s throw from The Fitness Center, which is very close to the Lobby Lounge, and of course all within a close proximity to Cafe 8 and the Pastry & Sandwich Corner.

But before checking out (which was just as super easy and painless as it was to check in) we had a little pow wow with the girls again so we could make chicka in The Executive Lounge before we all went our separate ways for our busy Sunday.

How much fun was it to spend the weekend with ABC + K? Thank you Jane for arranging such a lovely relaxing weekend for us!

How much fun was it to spend the weekend with ABC + K? Thank you Jane for arranging such a lovely relaxing weekend for us! L-R: Moi, Jane, Joei, Patty, and Kaye.

Thank you Twinkle Lacsamana and Karina for hosting our families! We had a wonderful time bonding with each other and the kids. Crimson made the weekend one to remember!

For more information on packages and promotions you can visit Crimson’s website

www.crimsonhotel.com

https://www.facebook.com/CrimsonFilinvestCity

(02) 863 2222 

You can also check out Crimson on Twitter

     

 

 

Birthday Blessings

I have been wanting to catch up and write about a few things quickly because I have had an eventful week. It will continue to be busy all the way through the weekend and that’s ok, because there are lots of fun things coming down the pipeline.

 

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Forty-one. #blessed

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If you didn’t know already, on my birthday, two years ago, I started this blog. So every year on my birthday it is also my blogiversary. It’s really so wonderful, because I get to celebrate my birthday and the birth of my blog on the same day. 

I said I wanted to give a gift to myself two years ago and share my story about raising Gelli and what it is like to live in Manila, (since I grew up in New York and moved here) and make a life with my husband. So, starting this blog was my gift to myself.  

Through out this learning process I have been given gifts many times over by my readers, by brands who found what I say to be interesting, and by children whom I have met through parents who reached out with questions for advice.

It has been another year full of learning, gifts, and giving, and all the while trying to remain present in my parenting and life. That’s not always easy, (as you all know) and sometimes it takes a lot more effort than others.

I had so much fun this week and I’m looking forward to the weekend too. Will just make this a quick post to fill you all in…

On Tuesday, I was able to participate in the Shell Fuel Save Good Choice Driving Challenge. While I will write a more detailed post about the entire experience I will share that my driving partner Sarah Tirona and I were able to snag FIRST PLACE in the challenge! It was a day that was filled with learning good driving tips, how to save fuel, and the practical experience of driving in a convoy with others to see exactly how much gas we could save driving from Balete, Batangas, all the way to Fort.  We were so excited to take home the title of Champions together, and I have to say it’s the first time I won a contest like this so it will forever be remembered!

 

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OH YEAH BABY! 1.966 Liters from Batangas to Shell C5!!! @maeascan #ShellFuelSaveGoodChoice

 

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It was a wonderful day filled with so much laughter and learning that I didn’t even realize how exhausted I was until the next day (which was my birthday.)

I think I also experienced what I think was my first migraine. This was not fun. I was texting my friend Neva some of my symptoms and I believe it was an honest to goodness attack that was only alleviated by drawn curtains, pitchers full of water, and sleep. I was finally able to get out of bed for a simple birthday (albeit belated) dinner with Nino on Thursday night.   

I didn't get out of bed all day, but I enjoyed a slice of my new favorite cake, once I was feeling a little better.

I didn’t get out of bed all day, but I enjoyed a slice of my new favorite cake, once I was feeling a little better. Creme Brulee Cake by Camille Ocampo. If you would like to order this delicious treat you can email her at thepastrycart@gmail.com. Go. Order. Thank me later.

Today will also be a busy day, but again…filled with lots of fun stuff. Gelli will be participating in her Halloween Parade this afternoon with her classmates so be sure to look for the IG posts with The Bean in her Kangaroo gear.

Celebrating Halloween is made even more fun by enjoying Halloween Sweet Treats. Check out these Krispy SKremes! Aren't they adorbs! (and they are just as good as the every day donuts too)

Celebrating Halloween is made even more fun by enjoying Halloween Sweet Treats. Check out these Krispy SKremes! Aren’t they adorbs! (and they are just as good as the every day donuts too) We will bring these to share with Gelli’s classmates later for a pot luck party.

This Saturday, October 18th, marks the start of The Urban Food Collective here in the south. I will surely make time after my parenting talk, that I am giving in Southville International School to stop by and see all the treats from some of my favorite vendors.  

 

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@tufph is a weekend lifestyle market that is coming to Alabang! @bakedbyanita will be there so we don’t have to travel all the way to Megamall for Anita’s delicious goodies. The Urban Food Collective Marketplace will showcase good food, great finds, and artisanal arts and crafts. What’s more? The socially responsible people behind the market will be donating a portion of the proceeds from the market to the Taguyod Bayan Foundation, which helps rebuild communities affected by Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan. To become a vendor or learn more about what will be offered, check out The Urban Good Collective on Facebook at tufcph!

View on Instagram

Hope to see you at The Urban Food Collective! I will be there for sure. 

Oh and guess what…only 9 more weekends till Christmas…Have you started your Christmas list?

 

Oktoberfest 2014 Manila at Sofitel Philippine Plaza

I have this friend, Vangie. She’s one of my closest friends here in Manila and she is married to Dieter.

Why is this important when I’m writing to tell you about Oktoberfest???

Well, because Dieter is GERMAN, of course!

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Oktoberfest 2012 at Sofitel Philippine Plaza with my buddies

More than a few years ago, Dieter and Vangie invited us to Oktoberfest and we have enjoyed celebrating with them on and off ever since. We haven’t gone every year since then but we have certainly made it a point to go when it jived with our schedule.  To say Oktoberfest is a fun filled evening for adults is an understatement.

There is beer. IMG_7207 copy There is delicious German food. IMG_7182 copy There is great music. IMG_7195 copy There is friendship. IMG_7249 copy “The German Club Manila has been around since 1906, and ever since then, they have helped the poor, underprivileged, supported victims of natural calamities, and stood by the Filipinos in times of persecution and war.” 

This means that a portion of the Oktoberfest ticket sales goes to help fund their charity projects.  Dine and Eat and Party in Bavarian fashion with thousands of Oktoberfest goers, and at the same time help fund a cause? I say, YES. 

At the press launch for Oktoberfest this year, Sofitel shared that over four thousand guests showed up in 2103 to drink 30,000 liters of beer, and eat 1,000 kilos of German sausages, 300 kilos of pork knuckles and 250 kilos of sauerkraut. ( I think we missed out on not attending last year!!)

Each year for the past four years, The Harbor Garden Tent has been converted into an authentic Beer Garden where party goers dance in friendship, rock on benches, and dress in dirndle and lederhosen and enjoy the free flowing beer from San Miguel for the two day celebration that is marked by tapping the first keg.    

Check out this menu! I’m getting hungry just looking at it!

76th Oktoberfest 2014 Menu

October 17th and 18th 

Cold platter

Assorted German cold cut, sausage salad, smoked ham, salami, fish platter 

Assorted cheeses

Cheese mix with brie, fresh cheese, butter and spices

Fresh cheese with fresh herbs, Emmental cheese cut into cubes 

Salads

Assorted fresh farm salads, dressings and condiments

Potato cucumber salad, Radish salad, Cabbage salad 

Soup

Potato soup with vegetables and bacon 

Sausages

Three kinds of German sausages

Hot dishes

Meat patties, Oven fresh meatloaf

Boiled brisket with vegetables and horseradish, Breaded fish fillet with remoulade sauce

Sauerkraut, Bread dumplings

Potato puree, Boiled potatoes 

Vegetarian

Mushroom stew with parsley cream sauce, Apple red cabbage 

Carving station

Grilled pork knuckles, Crispy roast pork with beer gravy, Parsley filled roasted chicken,

Roasted steamship (beef leg) served with pepper jus, mustard and horseradish 

Condiments

Mustard, Pickled onions, Capers, Cornichons, Sweet pickle relish, Sugar glazed onions

 Bread selection

Pretzel, Laugen rolls, Rye rolls, 4-grain rolls, Ciabatta loaf 

Dessert

Bavarian cream with raspberries, Apple strudel, vanilla sauce,

Emperors pancake with apple or plum compote, Freshly sliced fruits 

Midnight snack

Beef goulash, Assorted bread and rolls, Pretzels      

 

Tickets are from P3,200-P3,300.

If you would like to know more about Oktoberfest 2014 Manila, contact:

The German Club Manila (02) 818-4236

Sofitel Philippine Plaza (02) 832-6988

Gratitude Challenge 5

It’s my birthday week, and I have so much to be grateful for. 

Each passing year is another Blessing. I am GRATEFUL for being given another year of life, love, and learning.

Each passing year is another Blessing. I am GRATEFUL for being given another year of life, love, and learning.

Last year, I wrote this post about 40 things I was grateful for because I turned 40. Life begins at 40. Forty is the new twenty…or so they say…but truth is, I wouldn’t mind looking like I was 30 again.

In the recent months I have noticed a few more wrinkles and quite a few more gray hairs. I have also realized that the damage I did to my body when I was a teenager and even in my 20’s has finally caught up with me.

But I digress, because I want to share a few things I’m grateful for here, instead of bringing in my ego, vanity, and how to age gracefully.

100 Revolving Restaurant offers quality food with a 360 degree view of the city. The kids were in for a real treat because their grandparents chose this restaurant with them in mind.

100 Revolving Restaurant offers quality food with a 360 degree view of the city. The kids were in for a real treat because their grandparents chose this restaurant with them in mind.

My husband’s family always likes to celebrate our birthdays by going out to lunch or dinner together. Even as we have all gotten older and added our children to the list of celebrations, that does not leave their parents (me and Nino) out in the cold, because we are still asked where we would like to celebrate our special day.

I started with Caviar Pie, which when after sharing and enjoying, I realized it's a recipe I should look into because I just love it so much.

I started with Caviar Pie, which when after sharing and enjoying, I realized it’s a recipe I should look into because I just love it so much. (P500)

Last night we had dinner to not only celebrate my birthday, but my brother in law’s birthday which actually falls on October 10th. He is in New York with his beautiful wife and their two children having a celebration of his own, however, even if we couldn’t eat together, we surely said a little prayer of thanks while asking for yet another year of blessings for both of us.

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Our yaya (nanny) for Gellibean has had the last few days off. She had asked to take a couple of more days off than usual this month because she had some friends visiting from the province. I also thought it was important for her to recharge, despite our plans for a nice night out to celebrate. I wanted my kids to be with us, because celebrating my birthday wouldn’t be the same without them. However, I knew it would be challenging to eat out with Gelli that particular evening because she didn’t have a nap, she has been fond of yelling in restaurants recently, and she insists on feeding herself which often leads to a big mess.

I asked my MIL if the restaurant was fancy. I wanted to dress the kids appropriately. She said it wasn’t so fancy but that she was wearing slacks and a nice top. In knowing this, I had an idea of what kind of restaurant they wanted to treat us to.

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Bacon and Cheese Souffle (P500)

Truth: Gelli is three years old. She is loud. She screams when she gets frustrated. She eats by herself and lots of food ends up on the floor. When we are out to eat, the iPad usually goes with us, because she eats just a little quieter in a restaurant while she’s engrossed with Elmo. (Yes, I know, this can lead to another discussion about kids and technology…but let’s leave that for another post.)

I understand all of these things about my daughter. While there might be some times that I wish she wouldn’t scream, I wouldn’t have it any other way because she’s verbal. She is trying to express herself. I know she hasn’t fully found her words yet, so this is why she gets frustrated and often yells when we are trying to ask her to do something she doesn’t particularly want to do. I remind myself that she is three and that it’s ok if she is still learning social cues and when it’s acceptable to be loud and boisterous and noisy…but I also forgive her when she isn’t fully aware…

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Charcoal Baby Back Ribs with Barbeque Sauce (P700)

I am GRATEFUL that Gelli has a voice, that she is verbal, and that she is beginning to express her needs, wants, and feelings.

Truth:  There are also times when Nino and I enjoy a quiet night out for dinner. If so, we make sure to choose a restaurant that will provide that. 

While I know that 100 Revolving could be the restaurant to choose for special occasions and celebrations because of their higher price points, it’s not one that is uber exclusive. I liked that everyone was dressed casually, and it does have that vibe where you CAN come and eat with your family. There were other children Gelli’s age who were running around (of course being chased by their yayas) and it didn’t feel as though they were a disturbance. When I looked around the restaurant I saw mostly families dining…and all had at least two kids or more…

My husband knew that the couple behind us might have an issue once they sat down at the table that was just to our backs. He’s very intuitive that way, and I have referred to his “feelings” about people and how certain situations may unfold. He can often read a situation before it gets ugly, and has warned me in advance of the potential dangers or hazards when it concerns our kids.

At some point during our meal, my MIL pointed out that the couple behind us was getting annoyed by Gelli’s yelling. I was trying to get her to eat more pasta, and of course once she decided that she was done, there was no forcing her to eat anything else. I could tell that patience was running thin around our own table, but to be honest-I thought Gelli was doing great, considering the circumstances. She had been sitting already for an hour and was more than squirmy and wanted to get up and explore. Because Nino and I understood this fact, we offered her ice cream so that she would sit just a little while longer while we finished up our main course.

Unfortunately, the ice cream didn’t come fast enough. Gelli had a melt down while waiting. The couple got annoyed and moved tables in a huff and puff manner, and an uncomfortable silence fell on our table for about a minute. 

I could tell that everyone was thinking about what had happened. I myself, was a little bit tense, but then I realized when the couple moved, it must have been their energy that I was feeling. As they moved to find a table that suited them better I had a few thoughts running through my own head.

  • I was glad that I didn’t feel their energy anymore.
  • I thought for a quick second that Gelli must have felt their energy too, because as soon as they stood up, Gelli was able to quiet down.
  • Other things ran through my head, but mostly, I was just happy that I could continue to eat my salad.

Those other things that ran through my head? I’m not so sure I want to share them here. I have always tried to turn the negative into the positive because that’s what helps me get through…I don’t have my head in the clouds, I just try not to dwell on negative stuff. I’m not always good at it, and my husband can vouch for that, but it’s not the kind of stuff I want to perpetuate by writing about.

SO INSTEAD…

I am GRATEFUL for family and friends who understand and love and appreciate Gelli for exactly who she is. I am GRATEFUL for the patience they have for her in difficult situations like when she hasn’t had a nap all day, is out of sorts, and is even a bit naughty. I am GRATEFUL that whether Gelli is having a bad day or not, they love her just the same…even if she yells sometimes, causes a commotion or causes people to move tables in a restaurant where we are all out to dinner.

No one said parenting is easy. We all know it’s the most difficult thing we will do in our lives. There are no days off, you are caught off guard, and you are constantly challenged and pushed to your edge. Parents of kids with Special Needs? Well, that’s a different kind of club and that’s a different kind of edge…but still, we know we are all in for the long haul, and we also know we are in it together.

Ritual Birthday Picture with the fam bam.  Pictured here are the most important 5 blessings in my life.

Ritual Birthday Picture with the fam bam. Pictured here are the most important 5 blessings in my life.

Truth:  This is the first time that someone had expressed some kind of adversity or animosity towards my daughter openly.

And I am GRATEFUL that it took exactly 3 years, 1 month, 2 weeks, and 3 days for me to experience something like this…because I expected to feel it much sooner than this. I thought that my daughter would be subject to so much more judgement and negativity in her life because of her special needs, so the fact that I’m only feeling it now is actually O.K.

If I can put in a special birthday request To The Big Guy up Above? I would like it to be at LEAST another 3 years plus before I feel the way I felt last night again…and if I can pray for one more thing on top of that…it’s for my daughter TO FEEL NONE OF IT. EVER. AMEN. 

 

If you would like to read about some of the other things I’m grateful for check out my first, second, third, and fourth posts for the Gratitude Challenge. 

Weekend Activities in Metro Manila

There are so many fun activities coming up this weekend!

I wanted to put them all in a post so that I can share them with you. Some of them might be useful for you and the family to plan for a visit.

big banquet 2 (hi-res)

The Big Banquet 2 brings together all the best in catering for your upcoming celebrations. The idea behind it is, if you know you’re having a big party coming up (think Sweet 16, Debut, Wedding, or even 25th Wedding Anniversary), you’ll have an idea of what’s out there to choose from. You pay one fee at the door and you can taste all the best that these premier caterers offer. There are two “seatings” (you don’t actually sit) so it might be best to plan your day and make sure you arrive ready to EAT!  

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Also in the line with food, Best Food Forward brings forth the best food vendors in one big bazaar like fashion and allows the customer to visit each “booth” at their own speed and on their own time. The organizers behind this two day affair invite guests to purchase snacks, drinks, and meals from any of the participating vendors ALL day.  This is the place where you will be able to try the most talked about treats on Instagram.

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I have heard about Elin from many of the SoMoms. In a Pre-Holiday Trunk Show, Bungalow 300 will be featuring Elin together with Seychelles. To find out more about the sale and what they will be offering to The South, check out their Facebook page or the event page.

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 This one is for all my southern friends who have been wanting to check out Bikram Yoga Alabang. Many of you have asked about Bikram because you know I enjoy this form of yoga. Here is a promo that makes it even easier to sign up! Uhm…and the flier has owls! C’mon-I had to share for my owl lovers too ;-)

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LIKE to TRAVEL? 

You can visit the Discovery Travel Mart at SM Megamall as early as tomorrow (Friday October 10th) at the Mega Fashion Hall and avail up to a 55% discount on your next vacation with the Discovery Group of Hotels! 

Discovery isn’t just in Boracay. Remember that they have Discovery Suites in Ortigas, Discovery Country Suites in Tagaytay, and Club Paradise in Coron, Palawan. Look for their newest property, Discovery Primea, to open soon in Makati! If you don’t get a chance to visit this weekend, you still will have time to visit the Mega Atrium from the 13th-16th.

1620744_331964300316788_3727424907640726498_n (1)Best Buddies will be hosting their FIRST Citizen event this weekend on October 11th!  Thank you SM CARES for sponsoring 15 pairs of Best Buddies for this Bowling Activity! If you would like to know more about Best Buddies or how to become a Peer Buddy or a Citizen Buddy please visit our Facebook page and Instagram account.

10711038_10204371546796328_9213827536413196872_nThe Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines is always hosting events for their members. They are usually not posted publicly (mostly in our group) because numbers are limited. This Tennis workshop is now FULL with 30 participants who will get the chance to learn the basics and play tennis in a fun and loving way. Thank you to all of the sponsors who made this possible. 

Enjoy! I’m sure I missed so many more things that are going on this weekend, but I know that as the holidays grow nearer there will be even more fun activities and bazaars that I will be able to share with you as they pop up. If you know of any family fun activities please feel free to share here too!

 

 

DIY Magnet Board

Nino and I like to get crafty…

We get crafty in the kitchen together.

We get crafty in the house together.

We get crafty when we party too!

We like to do things ourselves, and we like to get the kids involved too.

I’ve been saying for the longest time that I wanted to clean up my office where I write. I have learned from my sis Maria, that having a space defined where you sit and do your writing every day can lead to better writing and better output. So once, I was able to convert this massage room into my small office, I started making it my own. Aside from having a desk and a comfortable chair, I wanted it also to be free of clutter and conducive to writing.

Hence, why I have been bugging Nino to get crafty with a hammer and nails for such a long time.

Here is the step by step process of what he did to put together these simple rustic magnet boards for me. All I know is that I was so excited to bring out my magnets!!! 

Truth: I have been collecting magnets and salt and pepper shakers. I hide the salt and pepper shakers. The magnets have all be destroyed by little hands taking them off the fridge and throwing them for entertainment purposes. This is why I kept the others and put them away. What once was a collection is now a lonely few…

Nino assessing the wood and the situation.

Nino assessing the wood and the situation. We bought three bundles of wood for P200 each.

At any rate…we started with recycled wood. We only spent about P600 in recycled wood because it is sold by the bundle. Much of what we bought that day at the recycled wood yard came from old palettes. 

 

Nino knows I'm really bad with numbers, measurements and dimensions. So he figures out the numbers and then asks me if it's big or small enough. BUT, in this case I'm very visual. I need to see it laid out to understand the size.

Nino knows I’m really bad with numbers, measurements and dimensions. So he figures out the numbers and then asks me if it’s big or small enough. BUT, in this case I’m very visual. I need to see it laid out to understand the size.

Nino had an idea in his head what he wanted to put together and he wanted to do without also having to work too hard so he configured the measurements based on the length of the bigger pieces in the bundles.

For this you need galvanized steel. It's 4x8ft and costs about P800 per sheet.

For this you need galvanized steel. It’s 4x8ft and costs about P800 per sheet.

There is only one place in Alabang that sells this kind of sheet metal. The last time Nino made magnet boards for my kitchen he bought these really big snippers…THEY ARE KEY IN PUTTING TOGETHER THIS PROJECT. 

Once he figured out how big the frame would be he started measuring the steel to cut.

Once he figured out how big the frame would be he started measuring the steel to cut.

After cutting the steel the correct size, he attached it to the frame that was just laid out on the floor.

After cutting the steel the correct size, he attached it to the frame that was just laid out on the floor.

But keep in mind the frame is just LAID out together…the wood is not nailed together…just placed near each other, so the only thing holding it all together right now is the sheet metal.

From scrap wood that we had laying around from another project he made the reinforcements.

From scrap wood that we had laying around from another project he made the reinforcements.

Each corner has these triangles to hold it all together. He used the drill and screws as opposed to nails so that it’s more secure.

Finished product is rustic, easy to hang, inexpensive, and exactly what I requested.

Finished product is rustic, easy to hang, inexpensive, and exactly what I requested.

All in all it took two days. But this is because we bought the wood together on one day, and then the local hardware store where we bought the galvanized steel was closed. So when the hardware store was open on the next day it only took Nino a few hours to put everything together and then hang them up in my office. I love the new look and I love the ability to see everything all at a glance.

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One thing we didn’t take into consideration is how the wood we react once it was dry. Remember this wood was bought in something similar to a scrap yard. Wood left out in the rain will expand. When the wood was dried, it shrunk. This explains the warping you see in the metal. For me, it totally completes the rustic look. I had to convince Nino not to take it apart and put it back together again.

So much so, that I even took out my magnets from special friends and magnets that I had bought years ago for my collection.

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Thanks Babe for putting this all together for me. It makes hanging out in the office so much easier. I don’t have messy papers every where and it helps keep me organized. It also makes me happy to see my magnet collection.