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Monday, November 29, 2010

Most wonderful time of the year!

It's 25 days before Christmas! This occasion is much celebrated in the Philippines and will be awfully missed by my family. Yearly we would go to my parents' house and celebrate Christmas with them. We attend the Christmas Eve mass followed by a hefty Noche Buena; after which, my kids, niece and nephews would gather around the family room and open their gifts. It has always been a family tradition and a happy one at that. I miss shopping for gifts, I miss the bright lights that line up every major streets and cities, I miss hunting for the toys that my children would wish from Santa. Ooh I will definitely miss the fruitcake and the Christmas ham. It's a good thing though that Queso de bola is available in this country. But more than anything else, I will surely  miss the delicious food that my parents normally prepares for this happy occasion and the joy of being with them.

Christmas is not recognised in these parts according to articles I have read, it is even illegal to celebrate it openly with respect to their religious laws. So, what to do??? what to do??? I guess we would have to prepare something really special, it's Christmas after all. Normally, my husband would request for pork barbecue which is not allowed here so, we might have chicken barbecue instead, pasta, cheese... I'll try my damnedest to look for fruitcake! We will probably buy cheese and I'll also try my "bestest" to convince my husband to buy us a good  bottle of wine....

I'll need to think about what to prepare for Christmas...perhaps, Rosemary roast beef would be nice and stuff chicken... will get back to you once I have organised what to cook for my family's 1st  Christmas meal in Saudi Arabia :)


Sunday, November 28, 2010

turning to jelly...

I know... I realised of late that this blog has turned mostly into a recipe blog of sorts but I have gotten good  feedbacks about it; as friends and relatives have either tried, are trying or plan to try out the said recipes. And that's good maybe in the near future I would be able to come up with my own purely Recipe blog. For now I am hoping to share bits and pieces of our adventures here in this country; that is, once we have received our Iqamas and am able to work. It kinda scares me though as the thought of landing a job would mean -- me...going out alone in a shuttle full of people I don't know in a foreign country with definitely strict laws. Of me...starting out in an office where people know each other already. That in the not so distant future I would have to brave riding a cab all by myself. This time I am the stranger not the "strangee" if there is such a word. I have always thought of myself as a person who can easily adapt and make adjustments.  The kind of person who appreciates a good adventure. Not the kind who finds it hard to get out of one's own comfort zone, because if I did I would not have agreed to start anew in another country. Sigh... all I know is the fact that mi esposo necesita mi ayuda, that life is hard and that we need get by. 

Oh and by the way, as I conclude this short article, we have received our Iqamas. So that means, I can start hunting for a job. Hopefully, the job I get would give me good benefits and a good enough pay. Insha'Allah.

Que sera sera...


Stuffed Bell peppers

Our flatmate gave us a bag full of freshly picked bell peppers and cucumbers which sparked my culinary acumen :) (this "light bulb phenomenon" happens when our 1-week grocery supply is about to run out hehe).  Anyway, this is a good and simple dish even my kids loved it... surprisingly!

For this recipe, you will need:

Slices of cheddar or feta cheese (or both, if you are a cheese lover)
a handful of mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup of ground beef (can be substituted with chicken, pork or tuna)
pinch of salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 bulb of onion, minced
dash of ground pepper
Olive oil





Chop the top of the bell peppers and remove the seeds

Slice the cheese lengthwise

Saute the garlic, onion and ground beef in olive oil. Set aside.

Stuff the bell peppers with cheese, then

followed by the ground beef

Your stuffed bell pepper should look like this.

Fry the stuffed bell pepper in a dab of olive oil until done.

Top with mozzarella cheese and serve hot!


Dinner is ready!!! I served my stuffed bell pepper with fresh cucumbers, and tomato-sausage sauce




Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Finally!

three generations...
Right this moment and about 5000 miles away, my mom is undergoing angiography and angioplasty while I am trying to keep my mind busy by doing all sorts of things just to take away my apprehensions. Two years ago when she suffered her 4th heart attack she was already advised by her cardiologist to undergo the said procedure but my mom would not hear of it. Her refusal to undergo angioplasty in the past was because of her fear that it would fail and eventually lead her to a bypass operation which she would like to avoid. 

Almost a month ago, exactly 7 days from the time we left for Saudi Arabia, she suffered her 5th! Perhaps the thought of us no longer being with them and with her favorite grand daughter moving far away from her, exacerbated the already frail condition of her heart. But my mama is a strong woman indeed; she is, with a stronger desire to live! No son or daughter would ever be prepared to lose any one of their parents, that is why we are just so grateful that she has decided to take the first step for another chance in life. 

Go Mama! Fight this battle like a true Archer! May St. Luke guide the hands of your doctor... For now I would just have to be contented with news across the miles from my sisters.... Be well Mama! We love you! 




Sunday, November 21, 2010

Enid's Crumbly no-bake Apple Pie

Aside from the occasional tomato sale, fruits like apples, oranges, grapes, and bananas are placed on bargain too. My kids and I are apple lovers and it was just fortunate that we were able to buy a kilo for only SAR 2.95  

It was a timely sale because my kids have been hankering me to bake an apple pie. We do not have an oven to make the usual "crusty" pie crust, so I made the "no-bake" one. This recipe is so simple that anyone can do it...

For my Crumbly no-bake Apple pie, you would need the following:



1. Prepare:
        For the apple pie filling:
              2 - 3 tbsp. sugar, brown is better but white would do (adjust according to preference)
                1 tsp. cinnamon powder
                 a pinch of salt
                3 tbsp. unsalted butter

        For the crust: 
                1 pack (150 g) Graham crackers, crushed***
                1/4 cup melted butter
                1 tsp. cinnamon powder
                1/2 to 1 tbsp. sugar (brown or white, adjust according to preference
                   although for a 150 g pack of graham I only put 1 tsp because the apple filling is already sweet)
                handful of walnuts (optional)

2. Core the apples with a paring knife; when done, skin with a peeler. Slice the apples thinly. 

3. In a bowl, mix the cinnamon, sugar, salt and apple together. Prepare the pan and put it on low heat. Place the butter in the pan and pour the rest of the mixture into the melted butter. Simmer until apples are cooked.

4. While waiting for the apple filling, prepare the crumbly crust. Crush the graham crackers by using a rolling pin if you don't have one you can use a long jar or put the crackers inside a plastic that would hold it and just crush it with your hands. 

5. Mix the cinnamon, sugar, and melted butter with the crushed graham crackers. Cook this in low fire until the crushed crackers are golden brown. ***I could not find Graham crackers at Panda Supermarket, so I used DeeMah Tea biscuits instead which, I discovered, is actually better. On a container press some of the crushed crackers firmly and pour the apple mixture on top (make sure you leave some crushed crackers). Cover the apple filling with the next layer of crushed crackers. 

Your Crumbly no-bake Apple pie should look like this, when done.




You can pour whipped cream or top it with vanilla ice cream
Enjoy!









Spaghetti ala Tomatina

Tomatoes are quite expensive here hence, when it went on sale a couple of days ago I bought more than a kilo. I used some of them for my Spaghetti ala Tomatina. It is a simple pasta dish that my husband and kids enjoy eating once in a while. I was also able to purchase 3 packs (450grams per pack) of spaghetti noodles for       SAR 10.00 at the nearby Panda supermarket. Normal price of a single 450gram pack range from SAR 3.50 to around SAR 5.50 hence, I saved 0.50 halala. As the saying goes "Every halala (penny) saved, is a halala (penny) earned." :)

For this recipe, you would need:

7-10 pieces of tomatoes, sliced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium red onion, sliced
fish sauce or salt to taste
ground pepper
Olive oil
Crumbled feta cheese or Labneh cheese
500 g spaghetti noodles

Saute garlic, onions and tomatoes in olive oil, put salt or pour 1/4 cup fish sauce to taste. Sprinkle ground pepper and simmer until tomato is cooked. Pour this into freshly cooked pasta noodles along with the cheese and mix thoroughly. Serve hot :)  

Enjoy! Bon Apetit!




Saturday, November 20, 2010

Oh my Gulay!

I had a load full of things to do yesterday that I asked my daughter to cook dinner for us. It was her first time to do so including chopping the garlic, onion and tomatoes needed for the dish. I gave her the instructions and was elated to find out that she was able to follow everything that I told her. Her first dish ... Gulay na Toge (Sauted beansprout).

My husband's verdict? "Super sarap" (delicious!) and he wanted some left to bring with him for lunch the next day. Yey!









Grow old with you...

Last night while my husband tinkered with his iPod, he played this particular song and asked me to dance with him... my husband is that way...you would not know, just by looking at him how romantic he is. But he is! He definitely still makes my heart go thump-a-thump-thump... and while he held me in his arms I realised how beautiful the lyrics of the song was. Go ahead and listen to it and read through it's lyrics as well... :)




Another day 
Without your smile 
Another day just passes by 
But now I know 
How much it means 
For you to stay 
Right here with me 

The time we spent apart will make our love grow stronger 
But it hurt so bad I can't take it any longer 

I wanna grow old with you 
I wanna die lying in your arms 
I wanna grow old with you 
I wanna be looking in your eyes 
I wanna be there for you 
Sharing everything you do 
I wanna grow old with you 

A thousand miles between us now 
It causes me to wonder how 
Our love tonight remains so strong 
It makes our risk right all along 

The time we spent apart will make our love grow stronger 
But it hurt so bad I can't take it any longer 

I wanna grow old with you 
I wanna die lying in your arms 
I wanna grow old with you 
I wanna be looking in your eyes 
I wanna be there for you 
Sharing everything you do 
I wanna grow old with you 

Things can come and go I know but 
Baby I believe 
Something's burning strong between us 
Makes it clear to me 

I wanna grow old with you 
I wanna die lying in your arms 
I wanna grow old with you 
I wanna be looking in your eyes 
I wanna be there for you 
Sharing everything you do 
I wanna grow old with you 

Goofing around

We spent the five-day straight holiday just goofing around and bonding, we decided not to go anywhere because we were saving for Christmas and since it was Hajj here, there was not much to do anyway. So we just watched movies that my husband compiled and just goofed around. It was a happy time for most of us as my daughter complained of being bored (she claims she already belongs to the new genre haha). My 2 sons, on the other hand, took advantage of having their dad to goof around with. Watch this...


video

They were trying to get their dad's phone and succeeded... happily, i must say.... :)







Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bunsoy

When I was  7, my Mama gave birth to a chinky eyed girl and she named that little girl Corinne Marie. I, on the other hand, was given the privilege to give her a nickname...hence, I called my little sister Coco. I remember when my Mama was still pregnant with our bunsoy how my sister, Minpi and I would often kneel down and pray that this time God gives us a baby brother. I guess Minpi and I were so bored that we needed a baby brother to put some life into our already growing family haha. So when Mama gave birth on November 16 some secret years ago and found out that she gave birth to a girl again, I remember getting mad at my Papa. I kept asking him why we had another girl when we prayed so hard to have a brother this time to which my father simply replied, "your sister is a gift from God, and only God knows what is best for our family." 

The first time I saw my sister, I got so excited, she had little hands and feet and she was so cute. Today I keep wondering what happened. hahaha just kidding Coco! All throughout the years, Coco remains to be the only sister I could not borrow clothes from when I was younger because she was always slim. Whereas I can always try my very best to fit into my other sister's clothes hehe. Now my bunsoy of a sister, is no longer that chinky eyed be-dimpled little girl that we can always manipulate hahaha and frighten out of her wits, no longer the little girl who would perform in front of the mirror when she thinks no one is looking. She is no longer the little girl who smelled bad after a weeklong vacation from the province (sorry I just had to say this!). And neither is she the little girl, who, we would hear muttering to herself pretending to be a movie star but rather someone who has built her own character, who has her own 7-year old kid but is still the same little girl who has captured our hearts when she was born. 

Happy Happy Birthday bunsoy! Remember Ate E is always here for you no matter where I am! I love you so much and your daughter Hope, too!





Eid Mubarak!

Hajj is yearly celebrated by Muslims all over the world, it is a pilgrimage to Mecca (most holy place in Islam) and is said to be one of the five pillars of Islam. For us Catholics, we celebrate Holy Week by purifying ourselves and follow certain practices until Easter.  They also do their own share of purification and it is a must that they should be in the state of Ihram before they trudge their way to the Holy City of Mecca. Ihram is the state of sacred purity that a follower must be in before performing the Hajj. 

On the other hand, i think it is also their way of celebrating new year or new life, correct me if am wrong. My husband and I went to the city to buy a couple of stuff at the Kadiwa. This is a small grocery store that most Filipinos frequent in Khobar as there are a lot of items from the Philippines that are sold here. And as we walked the streets I noticed that a lot of firecrackers were lined up and being sold, including stone-like scents. I don't know what these "stone-like scents" are called but will definitely ask my husband about it tomorrow :)

It's already 3:21 in the morning in this part of the world but before I doze off, I would like to greet all our Muslim brothers out there Eid Mubarak! 






Gerger

There is this one leafy veggie that I have began to like eating...and the locals call it Gerger. Back home gerger meant something else and, no offense meant, but am sure my gay friends would know what this means :) Gerger is also known as Arugula or Eruca Vesicaria. It is normally used in salads or eaten raw with Kabsa (Roast chicken served with Basmati rice). It has a peculiar taste which I find very pleasant. It tastes a bit like sesame seeds. I had a handful served along with fried fish over dinner this evening. I sprinkled my gerger salad with olive oil (which is quite inexpensive here). I made a mental note to squeeze a tad of lemon next time and fresh black pepper. And perhaps serve it with grapes and crumbled feta cheese. Yum!




Saturday, November 13, 2010

To remove or not to remove....

A word of advice to friends and relatives please refrain from sharing this particular entry with my mother whose heart is not that strong to take any form of news about her grandchildren. Thank you.

Say "aah!"
My youngest son, since he was 2 years old, has been quite a snorer. My husband and I thought it was something   that he would outgrow. And several check-ups with different EENTs back home, advised us that his adenoids would still decrease as he grows older. Apparently, the Egyptian doctor who saw him yesterday thought otherwise. He said that if the size of my son's adenoids diminished in size, it would have done so by this time since he is already 5 years old. But according to the x-ray done on him, my son's adenoid has entirely blocked his nasal passage, reason why he breathes through his mouth. In addition to this, the doctor observed that even his tonsils has grown bigger than normal. Thus, he needs to go through a procedure called Adenotonsillectomy (a.k.a. T and A or Tonsillectomy & Adenoidectomy). The doctor assured us that it was a routine procedure and that we need not worry. However, I could not help but think if we would be given the same advise by his Pedia and the Eent's back home. 

Adenoids are soft bunch of tissues that protect children from getting sick; they function much the same way as tonsils by filtering out bacteria and viruses. My son's condition is called Adenoid Hypertrophy (Enlarged adenoid). I have read several articles regarding the removal of adenoids and it's effect on the child although the positive results outweigh the articles that says "no don't have them removed", I feel the need to know and feel confident that this would be the best option for my son. 




Thursday, November 11, 2010

Abaya here Abaya there

Friends and relatives back in the Philippines who have seen my pictures wearing an abaya has often commented that I wear it like a pro (not like a pro=poquita but like a pro=as if i've been born wearing one, let's be clear about that haha). Most say I look more feminine... now sometimes this statement gets me thinking... back in the Philippines did I look more masculine than otherwise? But surely my husband would not have fallen in love with me if I did. Unless he like masculine-looking girls. hahaha sorry but the four walls of our room plus 3 kids trying to get my undivided attention all at the same time is driving me a little nuts. 

Wearing the abaya is quite complicated I thought it was just a matter of wearing it everytime we go out. Hence, when my husband took me out for the first time to buy my own abaya, I chose one with a pretty design. However, while recounting to him some trivial stuff that I have observed while hanging our just laundered clothes on the rooftop, my husband asked me whether I went out wearing my abaya. I recall feeling a bit cold when I said "no, I was wearing my sleeveless sundress" and he replied (complete with his scary wide eye look) "you should have worn your abaya because the locals can see you from their own buildings."  Oops okay I never thought about that.... I thought it was safe for me to go out in the open on our own rooftop without the abaya on. So...

Now everytime I need to go to the rooftop to hang our clothes, I need to wear the abaya, which is actually such a hassle. First, because the abaya I chose does not have any buttons in front so I have to wear it like a shirt (meaning through the wide neckline). Second, because I have to take it off again when I enter the laundry room lest I wet the hem of my black long gear :)  

Well, looking at the bright side at least I look more feminine and plus the great thing is I can hide my love handles. No one would ever guess how much "skin" I need to hide underneath. hahaha




Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

either he feels cold or is playing pretend as a pilot while scratching his nose

my bunso finds out I was taking his picture

but he smiles for me anyway... i love this little boy so much :)


Monday, November 8, 2010

All in a day's work

It's my children's exam week and this is the first time that I will be 100% involved in reviewing and preparing them for their quarterly. For almost 3 years my children's nanny was the one who took over this task as I worked nights while she was left with my children. Now I have no choice but to face the music...I am no teacher, don't even have the inclination to be one, and don't have the patience either. But what choice do I have? Just now I have spent 10 minutes seething as my son refused to get his stuff so that I can start reviewing him. Grrrrr!!!  It is so hard to be a mother and we only realised that later on when we become mothers ourselves. Sigh... 

I can say that the independence of living in Saudi Arabia has done my husband good. I was observing him last night as he patiently reviewed my son. Back home he relied so much on me when it came to our children. Now he has acquired a more active role in parenthood. I remember during the earlier part of our marriage when he would always tell me that a woman's place is beside her husband and inside the home. He would often tell me that he would rather I just stay home and take care of our kids. I was brought up differently, I kept on telling him back then. Still I was thankful that he respected my desire to work...now he perfectly understands the need for us to help each other financially. Because at the end of the day, it would not be us but our kids who would greatly benefit from our combined efforts. 

I am very much thankful for all the effort that my husband has put into getting this family together and the effort that he continues to exert. Just last night coming home from the office, he brought several folders with photocopies of the books that my children need in school. We asked permission if we could just photocopy the books since the kids were halfway through the school year and it would be such a waste if we would still have to buy the complete set, and they agreed. I was just pleasantly surprised that hubby took time to pick up the master copy from school and have them duplicated. 

I have to park this for now as the king of my heart (wink! wink!) has just arrived home, and the queen, I supposed, will have to serve dinner. Am pretty sure he would love the chicken adobo that I prepared for him.  In the meantime  my son is still dealing with his tantrum... i'll let hubby take care of it   :)





Doctor Doctor I am sick...

Due to the change in weather, my children and I woke up coughing and sniffling on Friday morning. I noticed that morning how the air was a bite chilly already. After lunch, out of concern, my husband decided to take us all to the doctor. It is a good thing that we don't have to pay for doctor consults and medicine as everything is provided for free via my husband's company. As I mentioned earlier, SAAD Specialist hospital is one of the biggest here so we are pretty much covered. It felt good knowing that the company my husband works for has this kind of privilege and covers all dependents as well. From the hospital we went straight to the city of Al Khobar to buy our daughter another abaya. She requested for an abaya that has buttons in front so that when she reaches school she would be able to take it off and just wear it again when she goes home. We also had our first taste of Shawarma and later ate dinner at the Al Ramaniyah mall and shared 2 orders of Broasted chicken with khubus. The Shawarma here tastes different my children loved it! And aside from the  chicken meat and veggies, was a handful of french fries! :) it only costs 5 riyals.



The price of Broasted chicken on the other hand, is around 10 to 13 riyals per order, which would include 3 big pieces of chicken, 3 pcs of khubus, fries with garlic sauce and chili sauce. Don't they just love fries??? My husband says that Al Ramaniyah is the mall in Khobar that most Pinoys frequently go to and indeed it is. Everywhere my head turned there was a Pinoy walking around. And you'd notice that our "kababayans" are the only ones sporting happy faces.






We went to Everything for 20, 30, 50 and 100 where they sell stuff for not more that 100 riyals. It was there where we were able to buy a 40 riyal abaya for our daughter. There were so many people that my husband offered to take the children with him outside while I pay for our stuff. When I got to the end of the line, I noticed that everyone was trying to catch the attention of the cashier that they call "Sadiq." I don't know if it's his name or what but when I felt everyone pushing I called him Sadiq too! I wanted to pay and leave immediately as my face was just about an inch away from the wet armpits of a local shouting "Sadiq, my friend! here's my money no more change!" And just about a few seconds from collapsing I started waving  exactly 42 riyals right in front of the cashier's face and shouted "this is exact change! this is exact change!"  As soon as "Sadiq" put my stuff inside the plastic bag, I hurriedly grabbed it and ran outside to get a breath of fresh air before I could faint. :)




Mall of Dhahran

Last Thursday we went to the Mall of Dhahran where hubby decided to bring us for our weekly grocery shopping. We don't actually want to do our grocery shopping every week as it is too time consuming, tiring and more expensive. However, we have a small ref that can only fit a week long supply hence, we have no choice really.

I now realise the importance of having jeepneys around instead of just riding the cab every time. Our cab fare is normally 10 riyals but since the Mall of Dhahran is quite far from where we hailed the cab, we had to pay 15 riyals. The mall is quite huge, complete with a hypermart named Panda; it housed branded clothes, shoes, and bag shops. It is a one-level mall with an entertainment park for children where ticket ride prices ranged from 7 to 10 riyals. Female toilets are hard to locate though...well not really, I guess it was the first toilet that we went to which drove me and my daughter a bit crazy :) We found a sign that read female toilet/female mosque. As we entered, there was no door whatsoever except for a long hallway which led to a seemingly endless stairway. At the top of the stairs were doors that led to a prayer room, a fitting room (i must admit though that I was a bit confused to find a fitting room in the area) and a door that probably led to another room. I did not bother to open the said door and instead retracted our steps back to where we entered hehe... I suddenly lost interest in taking a pee and was in a hurry to go back to my husband who was waiting downstairs with my 2 sons. Again my husband laughed at my expense :) he said it was that way with the other female toilets. We saw another toilet which was not as complicated as the first one we entered, this time my daughter backed off as she saw that the toilet bowl is different from the one she is used to. It was one of those squat toilet bowls. The first time I saw one was back in Japan at Tokyo Disneyland which they call "washiki."


With the abaya and the headscarf (hijab) that keeps falling down, it was a pretty difficult task to lift up the long skirt and do "the deed" while holding my head (remember the headscarf?) hahaha  Still it was a cool experience for everyone...well for us girls anyway... 

After walking and looking around the mall, we then decided to do our grocery shopping we needed to wait for 15minutes though as the grocery had to close their doors to give way to Salah (prayer time). 

looking on as the grocery doors are being closed for Salah (prayer time)

almost empty aisles as everyone prepares for Salah
Once again I took the liberty of taking amateurish pictures using my phone but I did this without attracting anyone's attention as I don't see people taking pictures of their kids around. I don't know if it's allowed or not but with the many rules in this country I'd rather be on the safe side :) without having to sacrifice taking pictures of the places we have visited...















Thursday, November 4, 2010

Forgetful Lucy

My eldest who is assigned to take care of their packed lunch and water jugs turned "forgetful lucy" and failed to bring the latter the other morning. So when my husband called I told him about it and we concluded that our son would probably just go to her Ate and borrow money to buy a bottle of water. I guess my husband got antsy that he called me again just before lunch to tell me that he was coming home to fetch the water jugs and bring them to my children's school. He decided to tag me and our youngest son along. When we arrived, our son was nowhere to be found. We were told by his teacher that he asked permission to go to the boy's room, where he could not be found either. We decided to go to his Ate, on the way to her classroom however, we saw our son running from the school canteen with 1 riyal on his hand. Upon seeing us he said that his friend gave it to him so that he can buy a bottle of juice. I guess it was not enough and was on his way to give the money back. I felt terrible and so did my husband. We promised ourselves to remind each other of our children's school stuff.  It was a good thing my husband decided to go home that day otherwise our son would have been sooo thirsty.  It was only an hour before they go home so I decided to just stay and wait for our kids, as my husband needed to go back to his office. While waiting I took pictures and a video of my youngest who tried to amuse himself  by trying to climb up the school posts until he got tired . See for yourself.... :)

IPSA's gym, perfect venue for my youngest who wanted to run around


And then he starts climbing the post...


tried to do it a couple more times....almost succeeded

now he gets tired and realised I was taking pictures of him... :)

video