Thursday, October 11, 2012

Gone too soon....

One of the benefits of maintaining an FB account is that even if you're overseas, you get updated about the "goings on" in the life of family and friends. Never mind the sometimes ominous and negative energy that FB sends your way. What's important is that we are all updated. Yep even the criminal posers whom we accepted as friends. So beware and review your friends list, block these posers as soon as you can! But that is another story meant for another day.  For now, let me dedicate this article to my young niece, Vianca.

One of the best memories that I have as a child is the bond that my cousins (mostly from my maternal side), my sisters and I share. I remember how Papa and Mama would take me and my sisters to Batangas for a week-long vacation. Most times, we fear being fetched by our parents because we enjoy being with our cousins so much. Unfortunately, this is a phase that my children and my nephews and nieces won't enjoy the same way, as we are oceans away. It is fortunate that the children of my cousins (living at close proximity to each other) have the better luck of enjoying each others' company. Growing up together, they not only enjoy the fact that they are connected by blood, but connected by a bond wrought from pure love and friendship. They went to school together, and probably shared the same secrets that my cousins and I used to share back then.

Rosario was my second home, and I love the fact that I can run around the rooms in my Grandmother's house. My cousins and I would always try to scare each other out of our wits. And I can only imagine my nephews and nieces doing the same. Am sure they have raced on the same stairs, ran on the same grounds, on the same roofs, or even went up the same truck loaded with sugar cane, that my male cousins would get for us. But I can only imagine all these.

Since my cousins and I had our own family, like my parents, we chose to live in the city, while the rest of my cousins stayed in the province. The only time we see them and their children are during Family reunions, big birthday bashes, weddings, all Soul's day, important events, and during funerals. We made sure that we reunited at least once a year to keep our bond strong.

Once every year, we witnessed our nephews and nieces grow by a mile.  Reuniting with them last year, I was in awe to see how much they've grown physically, from the babies we used to cuddle. And so bonded they were, that even by themselves, amusement was not a rare commodity. They laughed, they performed, they sang and danced. I was just amazed at how our clan has grown! We've lost uncles and grandparents along the way and how I wished they could see their grandchildren in their shining moments.

Then I learned about my niece's illness, at first I thought it was just a simple flu but learned later on that she was afflicted with Stage 4 Dengue. A dengue virus with a new strain, more deadly than the first. (I didn't even know that there was a new strain going around.) After a week-long battle with the disease, her physical body could not take anymore. My niece...she just had to say goodbye albeit reluctantly. I cried because I could not even see her, cried because I never got the chance to know her more, the way I know her parents (her father is my first cousin). I was sad because at a young age she had to go. But I know that God has a good reason for letting her stay for a little more than over a week. She needed more time to show us, her family and her friends, how strong her will was to survive. How even in her weakest, she could still bring everyone to smile with the good memories that they remember her for. I only learn about her life from FB, and even that makes me thankful because through this channel, I learn about my nieces and nephews. Enjoyed their posts, got angry when they were oppressed, sad when they are depressed, overjoyed to share in their triumphs even as we are miles apart. I always looked forward to more happy news from them. It's just sad that I won't hear anything from my niece from now on. But I know that she has fallen in love. And am glad that before she left us, she's felt this emotion however, short-lived it was.

My niece, we will never understand the Lord's plan for us. But we rejoice in knowing that His plans has always proved the best! You have fought hard! In your 17 years on earth you've shown how a true warrior should be, while others never made it, some even continue living not knowing what true honor is. A true warrior of our Lord, you know well that He fought with you too on that battlefield! While we (your family and friends) cheered on the background, you made sure we all witnessed your fight, we know you won! You won because you awed us, you wowed the doctors who did not think that you could make it this far! You made your parents and us proud and we know that you have a purple heart reserved for you in heaven.

Rest now my dear one... You'll be met at the gate by our grandparents and uncles. They will take care of you there, in that place where pain is no more. You'll surely be missed but in our hearts your memory will remain forever. We love you!

Seriously delirious

My youngest son fell fast asleep after bouts of symptoms akin to diarrhea. Before falling into slumber he  went into hypothermia that urged me and my husband to sandwich him between our warm bodies. Earlier I had him drink water spiked with Hydrite powder to replenish his natural electrolyte and potassium reservoir. Only a couple of minutes passed when he woke up with a start seemingly in a drunken stupor. He was incoherent and did not seem to awaken in his dreamlike state. He was not really feverish hence, it was unusual for us to see him that way. In past feverish state, at a temperature of  more than a hundred degree Celsius, he'd still be alert. This time I was scared! I bet my husband was, too!  My husband carried our son out of our bedroom while I tearfully, grabbed shirts, shorts, the medicine given to him after lunch when we first brought him to the doctor. I shouted out orders to my children to prepare stuff for me as well and before I went out of our flat, I saw both my children in tears. They, too, were worried.

As soon as we arrived at the emergency room, I ran to get a nurse and my bunso was immediately attended to. He was then lethargic and was staring into space. When I asked him to look at me and if he knows me, he would not answer. The doctor who saw to him clapped his hands and tried catching his attention to no avail.  

He was confined and underwent several tests, including MRI and a procedure called Lumbar puncture. A fluid, called Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) was collected from his spine for analysis. He was primarily suspected to have gastroenteritis, but because he was not responsive and did not know his name nor ours, the doctors wanted to be sure that he was not afflicted with meningitis or meninggococcima or any of those bacterial diseases that involved the meninges of the brain. We were scared, my husband and I, but my husband was a pillar of strength. He kept admonishing me to stop crying and to remain positive. I can understand his point but I just could not help it where my youngest son is involved.

I was afraid of the possibility that he will never recognise me again (I was probably over reacting but my mind sometimes, in panic, is that way). I just wanted him well. I called to the highest heavens and prayed for my son's fast recovery. I even promised to slow down on sweets and exercise more for good measure as long as my son hurdled through this successfully. It was during this time that I went over my role as a mother. Indeed motherhood is a roller coaster ride and I can say that at that moment I was at the lowest part of the ride.

We stayed in the hospital for 4 days and thankfully, all his tests came back negative. It all boiled down to stomach flu and realised that he may have gotten it from school during a classmate's birthday party. I've always been strict with my kids when it comes to thorough hand washing, good hygiene and general cleanliness. But there are just some things that we can't control when our kids are out of the house. And I just realised that my youngest has been confined in the hospital 3 years in a row. The first time was when we were still in the Philippines while my husband was abroad. I had to rush him back to the hospital due to very high fever that just would not go down, this was in the year 2010. Then in 2011, he underwent T&A or better known as Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy. I hope this stops this year.

We're home now and his usual complaint about painful eyes and nausea seem to have gone away. Am just glad we're home, my son is well, and we're all back to normal! :D

Busy Kitchen

I've been neglecting my blog for quite awhile and I attribute it to my busy kitchen. My kitchen has been smelling of cinnamon, chocolate, vanilla, and all those wonderful aroma that can only come from baked goodies. I've always wanted my kitchen to smell this way...the kind that greets my children when they come home from school. I want them to remember their growing up years with these such has been  a part of their childhood. And I hope they remember it with fondness.

I still wish for that day when I can finally be trained by the masters. I used to think that my kitchen ability only involved breakfast, lunch and dinner. Am glad I gave a hand in pastry. I think this hit home. And now am just so excited to have all the kitchen gadgets I can get hold of.  :D

I will always make sure that my kitchen smells this way... do you know that scents are better conjurer of past memories? 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

When God Made You...

I came across this music video while looking for a good Wedding Anniversary song, a special occasion that my husband and I celebrate today.  The song speaks so much of my thoughts every time I realize how lucky I am to have a husband who loves me unconditionally.  Ours is a marriage built on a foundation that we continue to strengthen through our daily struggles, our fervent dreams, and the love that we have for our family.

I will always thank the Lord for that one day when he decided it was time for us to meet. I can no longer imagine my past, my present nor my future without you.  I love you and will always do, for the rest of my infinity and beyond!  Happy Anniversary to us my husband! You are that one reason why nobody can ever break me! 

Watch this and listen to the words....this is my heart speaking to yours   :)


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Prelude to our Anniversary

It was 3 minutes before my waking up time and  when I opened my eyes the first thing I saw was my husband's handsome face. I stared at him and thanked God that I have someone like him to spend eternity with. *Sigh*.... We've been together for years and here I am still so much in love with him. I suddenly thought about the gift I wanted to give him on our anniversary. So many things going on in my mind and the 3 minutes was just about over. Yet my mind drifted to what to cook up for this special occasion. We don't have much but he knows me well enough to be able to come up with something special without having to spend too much! :D

I'm so excited! Four more days and it's reliving those very first "kilig" moments again (not that it happens only during our anniversary). I will never grow tired of our beginnings and will always look forward to more tomorrows with the one person who made me whole 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Someday I'll have you

I was literally in tears as I ogled at the Wilton baking tools displayed at the FB page of Tavola.  They are the lone distributor of baking tools and other supplies here in Saudi Arabia and I know they have a shop here at the Corniche in Al Khobar. However, due to forced circumstances, I am unable to go there and really ogle and perhaps purchase a few baking stuff that I need. You know when I visited their FB page and saw their beautiful baking tools, I felt a tug at my heartstrings. And no it is not vanity that I should have them. But it is this burning desire to own such tools so that I can make more improvements with my products. 

There are so many things I want to add in my list of "kitchen needs" which I can describe better as "must haves" or aptly "my baking wishlist"  :)  I've never wanted anything this much (material wise) in my life hence, every time I come across such kitchen treasures I feel a kind of  high. Just seeing such wonderful baking tools and equipments is always a feast to the eyes and I could do nothing more (for now) but sigh.

I was never good company to my sisters when it came to shopping. I remember there was a time back when we were still single and they'd tag me along whenever there was a mall wide sale. I'd see how they seriously rummaged through the clothes and shoes on sale. How their eyes would lit up with excitement when they are able to get themselves a good buy. And the frustration when they see me just standing beside them looking bored. Those times they didn't know how I was so wanting to just go to the hardware section or to the bookstore and go through my own buying or ogling spree. I was more interested in buying hooks that I needed for my room or a book sale. These days I've kept my hardware store and book store urges at bay as my culinary interest has taken precedence over all that was.

If there was one wish I want to say out loud, it would be this "To family and friends you know what to give me on my birthday or  any gift-giving time ok? hahaha

Get your mom a plastic spoon

For now I'll have to stick to my one "power word"..."Someday I'll have you..."

Monday, June 25, 2012

His Mysterious ways

Indeed it's true how our God holds the blueprints of our lives.  He has dominion over our past, present and future. How the Lord works in mysterious ways. Our daily struggle is proof of how He takes care of us in His perfect way. You know  this month found us in such a quandary as salary was delayed again. This time not only for a week but for almost 3 weeks and counting... Unbelievable right? Inhumane even! (These are facts that most of our relatives back home don't know about.  Hence, complaining about their own plight is so easy for them to do. If they only knew...)

I have come to terms with how my husband's company delays its employee's salaries, hence, I did not think much of it because I knew that the Lord will never forsake us. But you know what's amazing, despite our strife? It's the fact that every single day salary is delayed, our family has miraculously survived without having to miss a meal or borrow money.  The Lord DID know that my interest in the culinary arts would be put to good use someday. And that someday is here and now.  And what makes His plan more perfect is that He did not just put food on our table but sent angels our way. Angels in the form of friends, friends of friends, new found friends, and even neighbors willing to help in my small business :) We are so blessed to be loved by our God :)  

About 3 weeks ago I was surprised by the rush of orders I got from friends and new clients. Since then I have had continuous orders especially when it comes to my cakes. And more surprised because after more than a year in our flat, one of our neighbors became an instant friend and sort of "dealer" of my baked goods. She brings them daily to work which she sells to her officemates. A stroke of luck? Nope! It was God's will! Borne out of love for His humble servant.

So my promise to you Lord, as always, is to serve You before anything else. To work honestly and always give my best. To give my clients their money's worth! To inspire others as others have inspired me.

Let me take this time to thank Agnes Vicente, Carina Dagupon and friends, Elaine Valencia and friends, Jackie Mendoza and officemates, Kay and Mike Ganaban, and Jackie Alfonso. It is through your orders :) that we survive each day till payday. Group hug!!!! :)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Wind Beneath my wings

Last Father's day I mentioned that I wanted to share a letter that my Papa wrote to me and my sister. Hence, one of the first things I did when we went to the Philippines for a short vacay was to look for it. Let me share my Papa's letter with you....

Papa wrote this letter to us back in 1984, I still wish he wrote the date :)  

Papa, I was never a perfect daughter I know I tried to be. Every time I climb that ladder with you, or stood as your assistant in a couple of house repairs, I know it was my littlest way of letting you know how much your presence meant to me. Papa, despite everything in between, I will always be thankful for having a father like you. You taught me how to ride the bicycle, how to drive a car, how to climb up ladders and do minor repairs. I will always be thankful for my sturdy legs (sorry can't get over it), my sense of humor, and best of all my existence. I love you so much and miss you! I wish I could run to you right now and give you a hug. But for now I hope this will suffice...

Happy Happy Father's day to you Papa...the wind beneath my wings!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bittersweet Independence

I have not thought about Philippine Independence until my family and I moved here to KSA. I can only remember how much I looked forward to this special holiday (pre-call center career period) because that would mean an extra day without work. And since it was a holiday, it equates to time with friends and family. But when I joined the bpo bandwagon, this too faded like a song that I used to sing. Why? because being in a call center, we are deprived of such a privilege. We follow the holidays of the country we service. 

Being in another country, we begin to look at things differently. We are able to compare what we have then and what we have now. We begin to compare our country to the countries we have visited or the country where as Filipinos we slave over work that equates to money that we send to our family back home. And most times it is a shame how families of our OFW think that money is so easy to earn abroad.

We may have achieved our independence more than a century go but have we really gained our freedom? As an overseas Filipino wife I watch the news and see that the Filipinos are never really free. And the saddest part of our "faux freedom" is that our country is still a slave to corruption, poverty,  and huge taxes that only goes to the pockets of self-serving public officials. What has ever changed? Apart from the latest fashion, the latest technology...nothing really has. We may have gained our independence as a country, but as Filipinos we still allow ourselves to be slave to the dictates of others. Slaves to corruption, poverty, public figures, and rich businessmen who only cares about making money. 

This is probably the reason why we see doctors, dentists allowing themselves to work as dental assistants in other countries, nurses, IT graduates, Engineers who'd rather work abroad. We do not benefit as much as public officials do in our own country. No, I am not writing this to besmirch my country because I love the Philippines. I dare write about this because I feel so much for my hungry countrymen and yet as an OFW I am unable to do so much. 

My prayer as always for my country is that there would finally be peace! That people working in the government will start to work honestly and always with the quest of being of help to others. That the Philippines will once again be a pillar of strength to its countrymen. That the government would be  able to unite each and every Filipino from Aparri to Jolo. 

Happy Independence Day Philippines! Here's a sweet treat from my family to yours!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tooth Fairies and a colloquy...

I heard a commotion among my children and both "A-te and Kuya" were pointing at something inside my youngest son's mouth. Turned out that there was a new tooth growing on his lower gum. My son also showed me that one of his baby teeth was already loose.We were supposed to schedule an appointment at the dental clinic so that we can have his tooth extracted. But this never happened as my son was so relentless, he was so bothered the whole day. It was difficult for him to eat, hence, kept on moving his tooth. We both tried a couple of times to remove it until it became so loose that I was able to pull it out easily without even hurting him.

My son was so excited that he asked me to keep his old tooth so that he could put it under his pillow. That night when they were all asleep, I placed 1 riyal beside his tooth.  Earlier that day, my husband suggested that I put a dollar instead, but for the life of me I could not find the wallet where I kept the only dollar I have lol. The next day as he woke up, my son excitedly turned his pillow to find the 1 riyal and the still intact tooth. He asked me "Mom bakit po nandito pa yung tooth ko? Di po ba dapat kunin ng tooth fairy yun?" (Mom, why didn't the toothfairy get my my tooth? Wasn't she supposed to get it?). To which my reply was "Perhaps she forgot it because of her busy schedule." But his next question blew me out hahaha! "Mom, bakit po 1 riyal lang ang iniwan ng tooth fairy?" (Mom, why did the tooth fairy leave me only 1 riyal?). I could not think of a very smart answer so I just told him "Perhaps it depends on the size of your tooth?"  His next question made me roll in laughter, "E magkano po ba and binibigay ng tooth fairy pag malaking ipin?" (How much does the tooth fairy give for a larger tooth?)

My youngest son! He did it again!  You can always count on his canny remarks! My Mr. Smartmouth! So innocent and am glad that I am home with him (and with my two other children) because by being at home for my family, I never get to miss moments such as this one. :)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Deja vu?

Behind the scenes of Corona's walk out

Are you proud of your performance? Just one wish...that the absolute truth comes out!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A celebration of sorts!

Google PageRank CheckerI've been a blogger since 2008 when I started my call center blog, From the diary of a Call Center Mom. I was searching for that particular time during my Call Center Mom days, when I was given a Page rank of 1, to no avail. You see, I wanted to check the amount of time I had to wait to be given that rank in my first blog as compared to my second and current blog. Am sure though that I got my first positive PR even when I had less site visitors as compared to the current visitors I have now.

Am not too conscious of such page ranks anymore, although it is a good push for my interest in writing. And 19 months from the day that my Diary of an Overseas Filpino Wife was born, and  39,752 visitors later, getting a 1 is still good news for me. So...yipeee! At last am getting enough attention in the blogging world! :)

Perhaps for the professional bloggers out there, this means a little, but for me getting this much is like winning in the lottery! :) (am shallow like that, when it comes to my blog hahaha)

Well, I think this day calls for a special homemade cake...hmmm....I hope I don't lose the momentum though... :)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

On Mother's day and my thought bubbles

It was a thoughtful mother's day for me. Though my hands were busy with a new cake recipe, my mind wandered aimlessly with "motherly" thoughts. Thoughts about my children and my own childhood, thoughts about how I fare with my kids as their mother. Questioning myself whether I am doing alright. The following are questions that I have raised for myself and which I would like to be able to answer with all honesty:

As a mother..
1. Am I fair?
2. Am I kind with my words?
3. Am I a source of encouragement?
4. Do I promote happiness?
5. Am I teaching my children humility by being humble myself? or am I so high-strung to admit my own mistakes?
6. Do I seek ways to be a better mother to my children or do I expect my children to be better for me?
7. Are my children coming home to a house filled with warmth or do they find themselves always tensed up when they are home?
8. Am I careful with my words? or do I often choose to say things that cuts like a sharp knife?
9. How often have I allowed my emotions to rule over me? over a sound judgement? 
10. Do I allow myself to hurt my chidlren physically and verbally?   Have I said something to my children that may harm them for life? Or have I always chosen to say things right?

There are so many more in my thought bubbles...but these are the ones that I am more concerned about. 

Being a mother is a responsibility! It is not only by choice that we become mothers but a calling! And just like any other vocation, this calling definitely make us responsible for our actions. Because in the end, we will not only be held accountable for how we fared as a mother, but also how we handled our children. 

There's so much things to change, so much lessons, not to unlearn, but to improve on. I want my children growing up confident of their abilities, determined, undaunted. I want them unafraid to share their opinion and always true to themselves. I hope my children will not be mere reflections of me and my husband but the kind of persons they want to be.

I have simple dreams for my children because I know that the role of dreaming big would be theirs. I am here to guide them not to pamper, not to ridicule, not to underestimate their abilities. I am their mother, and I know I can do more when my hands become an instrument to guide and not to hurt. A mother with fingers that can point them to the right direction, not fingers that will always point out and enumerate their mistakes. Arms that will hold them close whenever they are hurt or when they are victorious in even their smallest triumphs; not arms that will push them away...

borrowed image from
"A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials, heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine, desert us when troubles thicken around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts." ~ Washington Irving ~

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Hubby Birthday!

This is the 2nd year that we get to celebrate my husband's birthday as a family! When he left for Saudi Arabia 3 years ago, we celebrated his birthday without him. But thanks to technology, he was "electronically" with us, as my children and I shared the dishes that I prepared back then. I'll forever be so thankful that we are together because by being so, we do not merely celebrate my husband's birthday but celebrate the fact that we are no longer apart. 

To my SM (because You've got it all), my Metrobank (because I'm in good hands), my Meralco (may liwanag ang buhay), our Philippine Airlines (with us, you're always number 1), and my Lucky me noodles (Lucky me...but Luckier you! lol).....

So to you, my husband....

Need I say more?

Fondant wishes

A month ago, my husband requested that the cake I bake for him should have icing  made of fondant. Making fondant icing was only something that I dreamt of doing after getting formal lessons. But because of my husband's request, I knew it was something that I had to do. So for about a month, I searched online for the easiest and never fail fondant icing. However, I procrastinated and it was only the other day that I got to try out the first fondant recipe. I thought that it was rather easy but it turned out very oily and hard to shape. Putting it inside the fridge, I was hoping that it would harden a bit hence,  easier to roll like clay. I was wrong! So just last night (as soon as hubby fell asleep) I searched online again, and this time I tried doing the fondant with marshmallows, this recipe on the other hand turned out a bit hard to form. With little time on my hands, I was already getting worried that I might not be able to finish the cake on time. So what I did was combine the two fondants and voila! The combination turned out perfect! It rolled, formed and shaped well!

I wanted to surprise my husband as soon as he wakes up. So not being able to get even my forty winks was fine as long as I get to finish doing the cake. I wanted the cake to be a good representation of my husband. A couple of weeks back I came across a photo of a laptop cake, and yep, that's what I did. Mine though, was not as detailed as the one I saw online. My laptop cake was not upright, it was closed and was a crude image of a small MacBook.

My cakes are anything but remarkable when it comes to its shape as I think there's something wrong with my oven as it always turns out lopsided but hey! not complaining! :) This oven has done a lot for me and my family since my husband bought it for me over a year ago.

Anyway, I baked two flavors, I made Devil's food cake to represent the laptop and a Golden velvet cake as base. I also made Chocolate buttercream frosting which would act like a glue for the fondant. The first time I laid the flattened fondant I was already on edge, as my cake was  not turning out quite the way I imagined it to. But my passion got the better of me as I continued to make the cake look a lot better outside than how it really looked inside hahaha. It was a good thing that I thought of putting the fondant styled ala ribbon so that worked well.

Not my best work but it's the first and I know that there will be a lot more to learn. All I need to do really is, to try. If it works, good; if not, I know I can always try again.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

FB is the place to be or not

borrowed image from
I've once said that the social networking site, FB or Facebook has helped me so much in finding and reconnecting with long lost friends and relatives. While this is true, most will notice that FB has also been made into a battleground of sorts where some people bashed others and destroy their good name. Honestly, I may have clicked a few likes and even commented on posts that points out a particular truth. Am not saying I'm perfect because I'm not, but there has been some realizations over time... So, I came up with the following which is, once more, a product of my thought bubbles..

"Let Facebook be a venue to inspire people, to reconnect with long lost friends and relatives, to rejoice a milestone or the successes of friends, and even a place to promote one's craft. All in the spirit of good will.

On the other hand....

Let it NOT be a venue to damage spirits by destructive criticism(s), a place to wash your dirty laundry, to crush bridges, to lambaste, to promote havoc and wreck other people's lives.

Always remember that to be struck by a double-edged sword is better than to be destroyed by a double-edged tongue! For wound heals almost immediately, while painful words will always reverberate in one's mind even as you have forgiven the person who has spoken such."

Swell Summer!

I'm enjoying my summer vacation with the kids, though am not really sure if they'd say the same  hahaha :)  Since their respite from the last school year, my children and I agreed that the household chores will be divided amongst ourselves. I'm in charge of preparing food, doing the laundry, ironing clothes, and cleaning the bathroom, while my eldest daughter is in charge of the dishes, cleaning the floor, and folding the clothes; my two sons share in the task of keeping their sleeping mats and folding the blankets, setting the table, clearing the table tops, and also helping their sister in folding our clothes.

Such delegation of work is good training for the children. I don't want them to grow up indolent and without even an iota on how to handle responsibilities at home. My children, when they were a lot younger, has already been trained to fold their blankets and fix their beds as soon as they wake up in the morning. Am glad I started them out early. I love the idea of having armed them with life's essentials. 

I also have a white board where I write down their daily tasks which ends with a simple yet meaningful phrase: "Work hard! Work smart! Work diligently with a happy heart!" 

It's sad though that I have a month left before school starts (am sure they're already excited to go to school hahaha). But at least I can look forward to swell summers from now on. :)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Gone too soon...a tribute to a friend

Just today I found out that I've lost a friend to cancer. Not only am I in disbelief but I keep wondering how  someone like her could have lived a short life. Her passing away is a great loss to her family and to us her friends. She was such a lively person, someone whose smile can brighten even the murkiest mood! She sang with us in Church, and I was always amazed at her high pitched voice. We went out together, shared bits and pieces of our lives; we always had something to talk about. 

Some years back, we bumped into each other in a mall and because we were both in a hurry, she asked me to give her a call so that we can chitchat and schedule a meetup before she goes back to the US. Unfortunately, I was not able to make that call as my work took precedence over all my other affairs. Looking back, I should have made that one call because I regret not having talked to a good friend...and now there can't ever be another chance to do so.

Anne, I know that wherever you are, your resounding laughter will fill that vastness as it has done when you were alive. Thank you for your friendship and for the memories. Thank you for being such a good listener, for having such a tremendous sense of humor, for the friend that you are. We will always remember you with fondness. God speed Anne! Farewell and rest in peace my friend...

..."Like A Comet
Blazing 'Cross The Evening Sky 
Gone Too Soon

Like A Rainbow
Fading In The Twinkling Of An Eye
Gone Too Soon

Shiny And Sparkly
And Splendidly Bright
Here One Day
Gone One Night

Like The Loss Of Sunlight
On A Cloudy Afternoon
Gone Too Soon

Like A Castle
Built Upon A Sandy Beach
Gone Too Soon

Like A Perfect Flower
That Is Just Beyond Your Reach
Gone Too Soon

Born To Amuse, To Inspire, To Delight
Here One Day
Gone One Night

Like A Sunset
Dying With The Rising Of The Moon
Gone Too Soon

Gone Too Soon..."

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The sweet life

While I was preparing the Chocolate Pavlova a few days ago, a thought struck me ~ my children's taste in food is getting more complex as time goes by. When we were new here at Saudi Arabia, during weekends, I'd often prepare pancakes, french toasts, homemade potato chips, french fries, mini sandwiches, or steamed cakes using instant cake flour for "merienda" (afternoon snacks). Now they want to be surprised and I oblige because their need for the "mystery snack" is as exciting to them as it is for me. I love surprising my family with good food because I'm not only rewarded with their oohs and aahs and wows! I, too, get their hearty laugh and some good old burp along with it. At least now I have good memories to leave behind. I know that when they are all grown ups and have lives of their own, they will always remember me and my busy kitchen; And how much love I put into the food that I prepare for them. Still too much of this is not good for their health...however...

One of the best dessert that's gotten their undivided attention is this particular recipe that a friend of mine shared with me months before ~ Chocolate Pavlova.  I was too scared to try recipes that involved meringue, so I delayed every opportunity to make one. That day I decided to go on with it, with just one goal in mind; to keep trying in every given opportunity. The same reminder that I was advised by the same friend who shared the Pavlova recipe. Such called for raspberries or any berries for toppings but I had none in stock so I substituted it with chocolate chips, white chocolate morsels and coconut flakes. 

Chocolate Pavlova

Anyway, my thought bubbles tells me that although being able to conquer my fear in trying out different recipes is good; I am also reminded not to overindulge and feed them with too much sweets.  Anything in excess is not good. So I control their intake, although I need to experiment and do and re-do recipes. I know I need to put proper pacing and make them understand that eating healthy food is still the better option. So I balance our diet by buying fruits as well.

For now my family's simply happy that I can make their own birthday cake and make their merienda and family occasion more special with the food that I am now able to make. :)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Twice Cooked!

Last night, I originally planned to cook soy chicken for dinner. It's a simple dish that involves simmering half or a whole chicken in soy sauce and sesame oil. I remember getting excited whenever my mom cooks this for lunch or dinner on a weekend.

I tried a different approach to this simple dish though. I want to surprise my husband; oftentimes, after a long tiring day at work, it is always good to come home and find good food on the table right?

So let me share this flavorful dish with you. For this wonderful dish you'll need the following:

1 whole chicken or half (my family is only able to consume half)
1 pc. 5 star anise
3-4 tbsp soy sauce, Kikkoman is best  (adjust as needed)
3 tbsp sesame oil
4 cloves of garlic, pounded
1 whole onion, skin removed
dash of ground pepper

1. Prepare the chicken, clean it very well, scrub the skin with salt and wash with running water. Do this twice to ensure that the chicken is clean before you put it in the pot.
2. Cut the chicken in the middle make sure it looks this way. Rub the chicken all over with a little salt and pepper.
3. Arrange the garlic, onion, and 5 star anise at the bottom of the pot.Let the chicken lie face down on top of the garlic, onion and 5 star anise.
4. Pour about 1 cup of water or until the chicken is completely submerged in the water.
5. Tip in the soysauce and half the amount of sesame oil and simmer. In between simmering, invert chicken so that it cooks the other side as well. You can add water don't let the chicken go dry, but at the same time adjust the taste by adding a bit of salt or soy sauce. Add 1/2 tsp of sugar as well,. this will make such a huge difference in the taste.
6. The next process would be roasting the just simmered chicken. Do not throw out the sauce as this will come in handy later.
7. Dry the chicken of it's sauce by hanging it upside down until most of the sauce have dripped down the pot.
8. Place the chicken on a baking tray and roast in in the oven for about 10-15 mins or until the chicken is a bit crispy.
This will now go into my oven along with my potatoes

9. Thicken the sauce that you've set aside by putting cornstarch mix when it reaches boiling point. You can pour some of this over your roasted chicken. 
10. 9. When the chicken is done, transfer to a clean serving tray. Garnish with green salad or lemon. Serve hot with rice, dinner rolls or just like what I did, baked potatoes.
Dinner is served! Buon Appetito!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Have one's cake and eat it too!

This is the 2nd month that salary is delayed and I feel that it will always be this way. An unwelcome reprieve most especially where celebrations like our son's birthday is concerned. It's a good thing I know how to bake  (or so I thought) and that we had enough baking supplies that I was able to use for yesterday's occasion. But I guess that's part of our life here in Saudi Arabia. Unlike Henry Sy's, SM (We have it all for you!), our tune is more towards..."we can't have it all..."

Anyway, I was so excited about baking a cake for my son yesterday. I had no design in mind because for one, I've no background in cake decorating. Second, I've never done a 9" round cake. Third, I've no idea how my oven would treat the cake mixture I was about to prepare. And lastly, I haven't tried doing the recipe that I saw from Rachel Ray's website.  I didn't want to disappoint my birthday boy so I promised myself that I'll have to decorate the cake as attractive as possible. How? I dunno... All I know is that I have a bag of flour, 3 types of food coloring, red, green and yellow, 2 kinds of candy sprinkles, marshmallows, sugar and eggs. Smiley Face

I decided to bake a Chocolate mocha cake with Mocha was actually a good idea. I guess my own excitement got the better of me because surprise!!! My cake turned out lopsided and I was supposed to do 2 of them so that I can fill the cake in between with mallows and nuts. Both turned out lopsided and mushy at the center. And.... to top it all,  the second half got broken! The cake without the icing looked like a big Molten Lava cake. I was panicking because I still had to cook pasta and prepare green salad. So when my son asked me, I told him the cake is actually his favorite Molten Lava cake. While telling him this, my guardian angel was poking at me and reminding me about Easter Sunday which, was a day before my son's birthday. Already guilty! and just after the Holy week! haaaay.... Smiley Face

first half of the cake lopsided but
I was able to save it by
covering it with frosting

I tried to salvage the cake by covering every nook and cranny with the mocha flavored frosting that I made. But this went bad too! Why? I was so intent on fixing the darn thing that I forgot to let the cake cool down first. Hence, this made spreading the frost quite difficult to do. It's a good thing I was not on a Food network challenge or else I would have failed miserably...big time! I still went on though, and just covered the ugly spots with marshmallows and the edge of the cake with his birthday candles. So when it was done, it looked better. I felt bad though because I wanted my son's cake to look fabulous and taste fantastic!

When my son saw the birthday cake I made for him, I was surprised at how his face lit up! He beamed and was so happy to see that it was done. He told me excitedly, how he has the best birthday cake ever!

That the cake he has now is far far better than all the cakes he has had during his past birthdays! I was consumed with an overwhelming emotion! My worries just flew out of the window! I was no longer a bundle of nerves. I was a mother impressed by my son's unconditional love! 

Thank you son! Your dad and I have no gift for you (refer to first paragraph of this article for the reason). Yet you gave me the gift of Encouragement. This will be my guide in every cake I will be preparing from now every new recipe I still have to try, and in every new road I have to take.  I love you!

Monday, April 9, 2012

My Birthday boy!

As customary, I always prepare a birthday poster
on the eve of my children's birthday to make
the occasion extra special. I want their birthday
mornings to be greeted by a birthday poster.
This time I made a string of paper buntings. 

A Son is adventure
And action and wonder,
Excitement and joy all in one,
A heartwarming mixture
Of mishief and kindness -
He's everything special and fun.
A son helps remind you
How lucky you are
Each time you are warmed
By his smile-
And when he's as fine
And as special as you,
He's someone to love
All the while!

It's my son's birthday and this morning I was brought back to the time I found out that I was pregnant with him, the time I carried him inside my womb, and finally gave birth. Coming from a family of girls, and already having a daughter, there was nothing I wished more but to have a son. But other than that I was hoping to give birth to a healthy baby. Alloy's coming to our life was akin to a breeze of wind. He was my "now you see me, now you don't" miracle!  One pregnancy kit led to another and all proved negative then one pregnancy test later, I was told that they could see a sac (just a sac and nothing else) and the result of my ultrasound showed that it can either go through or just melt away. I don't recall being afraid because that particular moment, I knew that the sac was already a promise!  I didn't have a difficult pregnancy with Alloy, but it was different compared to his Ate (older sister). While pregnant with Alloy, I was lethargic, and was always craving for Pepsi blue. I recall being able to finish off 1 liter easily. 

Nine months later, on the 9th of April, which coincides with "Araw ng Kagitingan" (Day of Valour or otherwise known as The Bataan death March). I was on induced labor for more than 12 hours but did not feel pain, I just felt very uncomfortable lying down the whole time. It was finally decided that I undergo caesarean section due to my baby's "failure to descend." I only got to see my son the next day and I instantly fell in love with him. I was asked a couple of times if my husband is a foreigner. My son was the biggest among the babies inside the nursery room and he was pinkish! I kept saying "ang guwapo ng anak ko (my son is so handsome)..." over and over again. I was beaming with pride and my husband, though without sleep, was a picture of happiness too! 

(...back to present time...)

Today son, you celebrate another birthday! And look at you! You've grown taller, brought me so much pride, and continue to make me feel that I'm the most beautiful girl you ever know! Thank you for coming into our life! May you always grow in faith! Don't worry about your teeth, that will change beautifully in time. Be more patient with your little brother! Eat faster and dream bigger! Be the best that you can and challenge yourself to be greater and do better! May you never run out of kisses for me and your dad...and may your hugs be more tight even as you grow older!

We love you so much Alloy! Your dad named you after their school's beloved founder, Msgr. Aloysius Schwartz.  I pray you look up to him as your role model and live the life that he has lived. In his humble wish to be of help to the poor.

Happy Happy Birthday!

Dad and Mom
Ate Ally and Allen