Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Meet Cain

Our family of four humans (Ariel, myself and two helpers) and three furry friends welcomed our newest baby yesterday.

Meet CAIN. He's a two and a half month old cream teacup poodle and he's just the most adorable puppy ever. Look at those puppy eyes. He's only 7 inches tall and about 9 inches long.

I was a bit worried about how he would adjust to his new environment. When I took him home yesterday, he slept throughout the drive home. When we got home, he started playing with everyone! So cute! I specially love it when he wags his inch-long tail. After playing for a bit, we gave him dinner - two tablespoons of dog food mixed with a bit of milk. He finished his food quickly and pooped on a sheet of old newspaper. Yup, he's potty trained!

Can't wait to buy him clothes and accessories! But he's gorgeous just the way he is. Look at him! Welcome home Cain!

People ask me why we named hi Cain. No reason in particular. I would have named him Mr. Big after Chris Noth's character in Sex and the City but he looked more like a Cain to me so Cain it is!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Stories in Hand

I wanted to enroll in the 5-week Friday night classes at Powerbooks called The Five Stories You Want To Write. It's a writing class which I thought would improve my writing skills. But my main objective is really how to capture the relevant stories of my life that I can put into my scrapbook pages. Unfortunately, the schedule doesn't work for me. Three out of the 5 Fridays are already booked in my personal calendar (it starts Nov. 14 and every Friday til Dec. 12).

Fortunately, I signed up for Jessica Sprague's online class called Stories in Hand. It started yesterday so today is Day 2. The class is about the process of capturing the stories that matter. As a scrapbooker, I thought this is highly relevant because I want my scrapbooks to tell stories of how I lived my life. I don't want my scrapbooks to be just about pretty "artistic" pages but I want them to remind me of the good times and the bad, of the experiences that make life sweet, of the blessings I need to be thankful for, of the lessons learned, etc.

The good thing about this class is that I can do it on my own pace. I can access the site any time I want and print the materials on my own convenient time. Yesterday, Jessica shared some printable digital elements to be used for our "scrapbook". Today, she gave us what she calls "sparks" - questions about our ancestry, childhood, routines, etc. - that would, well, spark stories that can be captured in our scrapbook pages. I haven't had a chance to read through the very long list (there are three categories - Roots, Self, Family) but browsing through some of them already brought back memories. I am very excited and I am hoping to interview my parents to know more about my ancestry.

I think I am already doing a good job capturing our travel stories but I need to capture the everyday moments too. So hopefully, this class will help me do just that.

I will share what I can as the class progresses (it runs til Nov. 23!). Right now, I need to go to bed and rest. I still have low-grade fever (4 days already!), a terrible cold, and now, I have cough too! I'm already taking antibiotics so hopefully, the fever will subside soon.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Dinner at Firelake Grill

For our 112th monthsary, we decided to drive to Tagaytay and have dinner at Firelake Grill. We went on Aug. 17th, a day before our actual monthsary, because it falls on a Sunday. The first time we went there about a year ago, it was closed so we ended up eating at the Italian restaurant across Firelake. So this time, I decided to call first and reserve a table for two.

We got there a full hour before our reservation and they just opened. We decided to go for it even if it was still very early.

We started with Iced Tea and dinner rolls. Ariel then ordered a glass of red wine to go with our dinner.

The Smoked Salmon and Caviar salad was very tasty. The serving was just enough to whet our appetite for the main dish.

We ordered Rib-Eye steak with prawns. Well, it's supposed to have just one piece of prawn but since we are splitting this, we asked for an extra piece so Ariel and I can have one each.

I love risotto and every time it is offered in the menu, I just couldn't resist. So we also ordered the asparagus and mushroom risotto. The serving was quite large specially since we had another heavy dish in the steak. I wanted to leave room for dessert so we weren't able to finish the risotto, but it was really good, too.

For dessert, we went to Bag Of Beans. We ordered the Blueberry Cheesecake and I think the other one was Pannacotta.

I had coffee of course - cafe latte to go with my dessert.

Thanks for looking!

Birthday Bash - Part 2

My birthday was actually almost two months ago but it took me a bit of time resizing the photos so well, I'm just posting this now.

Anyway, my hubby gifted me with an external flash for my Canon 40D DSLR. Knowing him though, I know he has a few more surprises up his sleeves. So, while I wasn't all that surprised to get flowers from him, I was surprised to see it waiting outside our bedroom door when I woke up the morning of my birthday. Turned out he arranged for an early morning delivery.

The bouquet contains three each of some of my favorite flowers - three red Roses, three pink Carnations, three Gerberas (in assorted colors) three Lilies, and a lot of beautiful fillers. I just love getting flowers! And he knows it!

We had lunch at Abe right after our Blow Up Babies appointment. I blogged about that here. Anyway, it had been very difficult to reserve tables at Abe but we were able to book one for my birthday. Yahoo!

We ordered Binukadkad na plapla which I first discovered at Bistro Remedios. Now, this dish is actually available in many other restaurants (like Recipes) but it's only here where it is paired with Burong Dalag which I thought is the best way to eat this dish.

A meal won't be complete without veggies so we ordered Pinakbet. It was ok, nothing really spectacular - just your average pinakbet.

Now, I had been looking forward to ordering the Sinuteng Baby Squid. Unfortunately, it was unavailable so we ordered Sisig instead. No luck. It was also unavailable! Sigh. We settled with the Crispy Shrimps which was good but I had my heart set on the baby squid.

After lunch, we stopped by the Home Depot nearby to get some kitchen stuff for my newly renovated kitchen. Then we headed to the Manila Ocean Park. I've got to tell you this. I've been planning to go to MOP for a long time and I thought I'd surprise Ariel on my birthday. So I told him that I have an itinerary and that he should leave it up to me. Days before my birthday, Ariel told me that whatever my plans are, I should give him 3 hours because he has a surprise for me. I had a very strong feeling about it so I asked him if he's taking me to MOP. True enough, our surprise for each other is a visit to MOP.

Our plans ended with MOP. After that, it was totally spontaneous. Ariel asked me if I want to go to Fort Santiago. It's been over two decades since I was last there so I readily agreed. It was a bit unkempt. I think we are doing a poor job maintaining our historical sites. Tsk. Tsk. Nonetheless, it's still beautiful and very photo-worthy.

After our tour of Fort Santiago, I asked Ariel to take care of choosing our dinner destination. He brought me to Ilustrado which I really liked because that only means we're having Paella for dinner. It was our first time to eat there and we had a wonderful time.

Ariel ordered red wine while I opted for white. We skipped appetizer because we need the tummy space for the heavy paella dish.

Ariel also got a fish dish with lots of garlic. Yummy!!!

For dessert, we ordered Canonigo which is a popular Spanish dessert. It's like the outside of Brazo De Mercedes which is light and fluffy, topped with vanilla and caramel sauce , and mango balls. The sauce is too sweet for my taste but it was a great end to our mouthwatering dinner.

Tired from a packed day, we just went home after dinner instead of going to the spa which we initially planned. We opted for a home massage so we can go to sleep immediately after. Before I went to bed, hubby presented his final surprise - a white leather-strapped wristwatch which I saw at a jewelry store months ago.

See all photos here.

Can't wait for my birthday next year! :D

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Weekend Roadtrip

Ariel has been inviting me to spend a weekend at Clark but I just couldn’t see the merits of the place. That is until I got to spend a few days there on business. I realized that Pampanga offers some of the country’s best culinary experiences. Not to mention Duty Free shopping.

So, now it’s my turn to bug Ariel to spend a weekend there. What better time than our 114th Monthsary? Fortunately, the 18th of October fell on a Saturday, perfect for an overnight weekend out of town.

On the morning of the 18th, we began our two and a half hour drive to the province of Pampanga. We made leisurely stops along the way and spent a wonderful weekend together.

We had an itinerary and we planned to make a stop at Mely’s Sisig – said to be the best Kapampangan Sisig in town, located at San Fernando. The web information said that it’s a very small carinderia that has no sign. Well, it must have been well-hidden so we completely missed it.

Our alternative was RFW, home of the best Tokwa’t Baboy, as well as Palabok and Halo-Halo. As I have been there a couple of times already, it was pretty easy to locate it. I wanted Ariel to taste the tokwa’t baboy but unfortunately, it was unavailable. Just our luck!!! So, we proceeded to Zapata’s instead for our lunch. It’s one of the best Mexican restaurants I’ve tried – better than those in Manila – and I want Ariel to experience it as well.

The interior of Zapata’s is quite cozy. The lighting is slightly dimmed and the interiors a rainbow of Mexican colors. The walls are painted a sunny yellow and the entire restaurant is decorated with colorful ornaments like Mexican hats, chili peppers, and colorful textiles. Some parts of the walls are painted with phrases written in the Spanish language. We picked a table near a window so we would have enough natural light for taking photos of the food.

The selection wasn’t long. It was just a page of food options, the usual stuff – Nachos with salsa, Tacos, Fajitas, Burrito, etc. Since it was my second time here, it was easier for me to order – I just made sure I tried a different one from my last visit. Ariel, as usual, took a bit more time to order. He’s not very adventurous with food but I could see that he wanted to venture out of his comfort zone. If we came for dinner, we would have ordered some alcoholic beverages. But it was midday so we just opted for some sodas – perfect for the Mexican-spiced dishes we ordered.

Ariel ordered the Mahi-Mahi with Mexican Rice. Between the two of us, Ariel is less experimental and would tend to get the safe option. The Mahi-Mahi is already an adventurous choice for him. On the contrary, while I am more adventurous when it comes to food, I opted for Beef Fajitas which is among my usual fare. I love the act of putting together the Fajitas on a piece of pita bread. A bit of salsa and sour cream, some grilled onions and bellpepper, add the strips of beef and the Mexican Rice. Roll and enjoy! After our main meal, Ariel ordered a slice of American Apple Pie. Yummy! Thus officially begun our Pampanga food and shopping trip.

After lunch, we checked into Oxford Hotel. We got a room with King Sized bed. This is the cheapest hotel we found inside the Clark Freeport zone. We figured we just need a place to sleep as we will be out most of the day anyway. We quickly realized why it was affordable. Customer service is practically non-existent. Nobody greeted us at the entrance. No one helped us with our bags. We only had one overnight bag but I brought my DSLR and my laptop so we had a few pieces of luggage in tow. After checking in at the front desk, no one ushered us into our room.

The hotel, though still practically new at 2 years old, looked unkempt. The hallway was dreary and there was a musty smell. Our room was quite large, but sparsely furnished and decorated. There’s a ref but nothing inside – though we got two bottles of complimentary water. There’s a dresser table but no lighting above it. The bathroom had basic amenities – bath & hand towels, toilet paper, bath soap and shampoo, and a hair dryer. There was no trashcan in the bathroom so I just got the one under the dresser table. Because we started the day early, we were quite sleepy by the time we checked in. So we spent the better part of the afternoon napping in our room.

At 4pm, we were ready to conquer Duty Free Shopping! We were able to buy an assortment of household stuff, sporting goods, and imported canned goods and confectionery. By 6pm, our SUV was filled with shopping bags. The only thing we weren’t able to buy at that point were the Christmas ornaments I saw at my last visit. Oh well, there’s still tomorrow, but at that point, we were raring to have dinner. We didn’t have snacks so we were a bit famished.

After a quick shower, we got dressed for our Monthsary dinner. We had a reservation at 7:30pm. C Italian Dining was just a few minutes away so we made it in time. We opted to get seats inside the air-conditioned room rather than al fresco at the garden. It was a bit humid and we wanted to be comfortable. The interior was tastefully done, with modern furnishings and adequate lighting. Framed paintings line the wall. The table setting was quite casual. The guests were mainly adults with some families with small kids.

We started with some wine. We were very hungry so we waited for the toasted bread and pesto dip before taking a sip of the Sauvignon Blanc. They have an extensive menu and we can only try so much for the evening. Good thing I had friends who recommended some of the bestsellers.

C Italian Dining’s claim to fame is their unique Panizza. We opted for the Kristina Panizza which came highly recommended by friends and even our very helpful waitress. The Panizza base is made from very thin crust pizza with 5 types of cheeses. Kristina Panizza has ham and bacon toppings, as well as caramelized onions and roasted mushrooms. It is served sliced in long strips with a bowl of arugula and alfalfa sprouts. Then you put some arugula and alfalfa on the panizza, roll it and enjoy the explosion of flavor and texture in your mouth. Ariel doesn’t like arugula at all, so he started with just the alfalfa sprouts. But seeing me enjoy my roll of panizza convinced him to try and he enjoyed it immensely. We were able to clean up our plates along with the bowl of greens.

We also ordered a pasta dish called Penne Roberto. It’s a cream-based pasta with Gorgonzola cheese, roasted chicken and garlic and sundried tomatoes. We ordered one serving split into two plates. The serving was huge, even at half order each plate. It was served with toasted bread, and they did not scrimp on the chicken. Since we are already almost full with the panizza, we set the chicken aside and just ate the pasta soaked in the creamy sauce.
Ariel and I both had a second glass of the Sauvignon Blanc, which made our dinner even more enjoyable.

Cheers to our 114 months together, and wishing for more happy months to come.

After dinner, we had some drinks back at the hotel. I had a glass of margarita while Ariel opted for his usual San Mig Light. We checked our emails and just spent a few minutes chatting.

We had a leisurely breakfast on Sunday morning. The breakfast buffet wasn’t good and we finally decided that the extra cost of staying in a nicer hotel is really worth it, on account of the breakfast buffet. Nonetheless, we still had a good time so it was ok.

After breakfast, I met with a scrapper friend who showed me some yummy stuff fresh from Scrapbooks Hawaii. Then it was off to more shopping. We bought some Christmas ornaments for my winter inspired Christmas tree this year.

We had lunch at RFW in Angeles City. It was abit disappointing as their Tokwa’t Baboy was still unavailable. We just settled with the Palabok and Halo-Halo which were very good, though we were really hoping to have the tokwa’t baboy here.

Anyway, our weekend ended with an hour of full body massage in the comfort of our own bedroom courtesy of our usual pair of masseuse – Rose and Ivy. They come to our condo every Sunday for our weekly massage and I couldn’t think of a better way to soothe our travel-exhausted bodies.

Til our next road/food trip!

Check out the complete set of photos here or here.

I also made a mini for this roadtrip. I submitted it as an entry to Bookoto's Show Me The Mini challenge. View it here.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Birthday Bash - Part 1

This is becoming a habit! After shopping til we drop at a local scrapping store, we eat like there is no tomorrow! This time, we had a pre-birthday dinner at Kimpura right after shopping at Lasting Impression. The LI store is located in San Juan so we dined at the Greenhills Shopping Center which is a few minute's drive from our shopping mecca.

Here's the Reyes family. Karen's birthday is on Sept. 19th and Yana's, her little girl, is on the 29th.

The girls (l-r) - Yana, Karen, Aggie (winner of biggest shopping spree!), moi, Joycee, Nollie and Aileen (who celebrates her birthday on Sept. 22nd)

And of course, a picture with my ever supportive hubby
Ian, Yana, Ariel and Joycee met us at Kimpura. The rest of us first satisfied our craving for paper before satisfying our craving for real food. Fun!

(Note: We since had a follow-up scrap shopping - this time in Sta. Mesa - followed by a pig out session at Persiana in Pioneer. Yup, definitely becoming a habit!)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

High School Musical On Ice in Manila

I was fortunate to win 5 tickets to the High School Musical On Ice performance at the Araneta Coliseum. I've never seen a single HSM show on TV or in the movies and I am totally clueless on what it's all about. Nonetheless, a free show is a free show, so with hubby in tow, plus two of my adult cousins - Johannes and Jo-Ann, and Johannes' wife Richelle, we trooped to the Araneta Coliseum to watch HSM On Ice. My cousins and I used to watch Holiday on Ice when we were kids so this was a bit nostalgic for us. I managed to snap a couple of photos using my DSLR. "Professional" cameras are actually prohibited inside the coliseum but since I am not a professional photographer, it shouldn't matter. I could have taken the same set of photos even with my point and shoot.

The best part of the show? Dinner at Cafe Bola afterwards. :b