Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Hotdog Bento and Pork Hate

This is a special request from my elder daughter. You know, I never bought hotdogs for her in the past because the hotdogs I normally see in the market is made from pork meat, something that her father doesn't allow her to eat. Hubby was born and raised in Turkey, a country with majority of the population is Muslim, so he isn't used to eating pork meat and or anything with pork in it. As a matter of fact, you can never find pork meat or products with pork as one of the ingredients in Istanbul alone.

Anyway, during one of our trips to the grocery, a salesperson approached us, offering a free taste of Filipino-style hotdogs under the brand called Virginia. Hubby said, no thank you, I don't eat pork. The salesperson replied that it doesn't have pork in it, then I remember Askim's request to have hotdogs for her baon. She said her closest friend at school always brings rice and hotdogs for snack and she wants it, too. End of the story, we tasted the hotdogs, liked the flavor, and included a pack to our cart.

Now here's the bento lunchbox I created for my grade-schooler with rice and cocktail hotdogs.

I added tomato slices and buttered mixed vegetables for her side dish.

Hubby and I agreed to avoid always giving our kids with processed meat. As much as possible, we will limit buying hotdogs and sausage to once or twice a month. As for the pork consumption, I do have the freedom to eat it, though sparingly, thinking that too much fat is unhealthy. On the other hand, hubby is strict about not giving them to kids. With respect to his personal choice of not eating pork and applying it to kids, I agreed. However, when kids are all grown ups, they will be given the freedom whether to have or not to have pork in their diet. Hubby now allows our daughters to consume pork. One day he was having fried chicken, he saw our baby daughter following his every bite of that crispy meat and it all started from there. The kids are allergic to chicken and egg, they can only have it once a week or nothing, now they are given pork or beef other than fish and some seafood as a source of protein. Yey! :)

Thursday, September 25, 2014

My Girls, My Blessings

The fact that my baby daughter turned one last month while my firstborn is celebrating her 6th birthday today reminds me of how blessed I am as a mom and a wife. I know myself.. I am not a perfect person. I made wrong choices in the past and mess up every once in a while, but Heavenly Father is a forgiving God and so His blessings lingers in my home. I am grateful that I have a hardworking and understanding husband, more grateful that I have two sweet and beautiful girls as daughters. Almost everyday of my life, I can't help but wonder how amazing God is for giving me this life.

My dear Suna and Askim.. please don't grow up too fast.
Mama loves you both so much. I cant' imagine living without you.

I hope that God gives me more health and strength to take care of you.. witness your every milestone.
I will to see you go to school, earn a degree, get married and have babies of your own.

I didn't grow up with a mom beside me so I promise that I will take care of myself for you.
Mama will press on and endure everything for your sake.

Ate, how cute you are when you are smiling that way with your dimples showing!
As we celebrate your birthday, I wish that you stay healthy, smart and cheerful.

Bunso, well, look at you.. already walking with confidence at the age of 1.
You started with 2 to 4 steps when you're 10 months, now you can even run.

My heart is full. Truly, I feel humbled that I could not ask for more.
With a lot of hugs and kisses. Love, Mama.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Easy Spinach and Feta Cheese Börek Recipe

Börek is a popular Turkish snack made of thin layers of dough with vegetable or cheese filling. It can be served anytime of the day as breakfast or as a full meal. My husband has been telling me to make some börek at home. So far, I made potato börek several times in the past, but never tried spinach and feta cheese börek . I once saw my mother-in-law preparing this during our one of our visits in Istanbul, thought it was easy, I just wasn’t really sure how to prepare the spinach. That time hubby was spending his 3 weeks in the army, MIL cannot speak English, I was just pretending I understood her instructions. Silly me. Anyway, I finally found understand the recipe, so here I am, sharing to you what I was able to whip up, using the available ingredients in my own kitchen.

1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
2 cups chopped spinach
1/2 cup yogurt
2 eggs, beaten
3 tbsp. olive oil
1/4 cup milk
4 pcs. filo pastry*

Combine eggs, milk, yogurt and oil. Mix well until smooth. Coat a rectangular baking dish with oil. Arrange the first layer of filo pastry, brush it with the egg mixture, top it with spinach and crumbled cheese, then cover with another layer of filo. Repeat the same process to create 3 layers. The last layer should be covered with filo pastry and brushed with the remaining egg mixture. Slice the pastry into desired size. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Serve.

Yield: Good for 4 people.

Note: Add chopped onions and black pepper to spinach if desired. Salt is another option.

I used local ingredients for this dish except for the feta cheese which is Bayernland Balkankäse Peynir. It is available at S & R. The spinach is from SM Supermarket. I got one pack for P69. Very expensive, yeah? *I used lumpia wrapper as alternative for filo pastry because I don’t know where to buy it, don't know how to make it either. Glad that lumpia wrapper worked the same way, though. In fact, hubby said my first ever spinach and feta cheese borek is so nice. Or maybe he haven’t eaten this specific pastry for a long time and that’s why he said so. Haha.

That's it for now. Next thing to try is pogaca, a kind of bread similar to dinner rolls! :)

Monday, September 08, 2014

Sweet Bento

I was supposed to put chocolate pudding bento as title of this blog entry, changed my mind after noticing that everything I prepared were all sweet. You know, I always make sure that my elder daughter gets a balanced school snack, so I surprised myself with this one. I am sure I did this unconsciously while in a rush. I mean, why would I want Askim to get all sweets? That's not me, not at all. Still sharing it, though.. my not so healthy snack bento.

Grapes - fresh but so sweet
Homecooked gelatin - less sweet
Character donut- store bought, very sweet

Chocolate rice pudding or champorado with powdered milk - homecooked, sweet

I didn't use evaporated milk for the champorado to avoil a spill.

PS. Sorry for the bad quality of photos. When preparing my gradeschooler's school under time pressure, I don't mind bringing out my EOS 60D anymore and I just use my cameraphone to take photos, sometimes my Sony Cybershot.

Friday, September 05, 2014

The Lighthouse Marina Resort Subic Bay Review

Our family spent the long weekend holiday in Pampanga, particularly Subic and Clark, to unwind and relax. The original plan was to stay in Subic for 2 nights. Things changed as we realized something about Lighthouse Marina Resort. It was April of this year when I did an online reservation of an aqua terrace room for August 23 to 25. I heard that it's the best hotel in Subic, so we didn't mind the rate, thinking that the long ride will be worth it, the hospitality and service of the hotel would compensate for the price.

In the afternoon of August 23 while we were swimming at Fontana Water Park, I received a text asking about our expected arrival time, I said we'll reach the hotel most probably between 5 to 6 o'clock. I inquired if they could give us 2 double beds, they said they were fully-booked so my request was declined. I said okay, no problem, I'll just get an extra bed upon check-in.

This is the single king bed where hubby and I and our kids slept (after the kids jumped on it). All of their rooms are good for two with breakfast. They allow maximum of 4 persons in this kind of room. Extra person rate applies upon registration, while kids 6 years old and below are free of charge. All rooms are non-smoking. If you really wish to smoke, I guess you can use the small balcony provided that you shut the glass door in order to avoid the cigarette fume entering the room.

An aqua terrace room has a floating bathtub and glass encased shower as seen in the photo. It also features coffee & tea making facilities, a mini bar, 42" LCD TV, and an iPod dock w/ alarm. While most hotels have free wifi anywhere in their premises, Lighthouse Marina provides limited internet to their guests for 3 hours only, which is a major turn off in this selfie era.

This is the view from the terrace in our room. It says in the website and I quote, "Enjoy an ultra stylish retreat with a stunning view of the peninsula and the foothills of the city". I couldn't believe it. I thought it was a joke. Honestly, I'd rather book a room at Pico Sands Hotel with the same rate but way better when it comes to scenery and location.

Along with the view of Zambales mountain range is this. Tell me, stunning or not? No way I am staying longer in this hotel worth P7,000 a night, plus tourism tax and a few more extra charges, promising a very good stay yet you were given a room with this view then experience a couple of disappointing incidents.

Upon arrival at the hotel that Saturday afternoon, we were told by the receptionist to go to Sands restaurant for our complimentary afternoon snack. Feeling hungry traveling from Clark to Subic, we decided to check whatever they are serving. I approached one of the servers and told her that we came for the afternoon cocktail as mentioned by the receptionist. She said, okay ma'am, please be seated, we'll serve you some. To my dismay, we were given only water to drink and then fish quiche served in 4 ceramic spoons, fish quiche with a size smaller than a matchbox! There were 4 of us on the table so I understand it was 1 fish quiche each person. My cousin and I made fun about it afterwards, but I swear it was quite embarrassing. Hubby and I were convinced that we better leave Lighthouse Marina the next day, drive back to Clark after visiting Zoobic Safari, and once again stay at Prism Hotel for a night.

That night before heading to a grocery to buy diapers for Suna, we told the receptionist that we were checking out the next day, canceling our 2nd night at the hotel. They were supposed to charge us for a cancellation fee equivalent to one night of stay, making us pay for the entire 2 nights even we stayed for a night alone. I told them the real reasons why we were checking-out earlier as planned and that's when they agreed not to charge the cancellation fee and extra mattress anymore. Thank you to the manager, I forgot to get her name, but thanks, really.

Oh, about the second incident.. it was when they called our hotel room that the same night, offering nightcap drinks with a choice of coffee, tea or hot chocolate. I ordered 3 hot chocolate and they said it will be delivered in a bit. That time, I was breastfeeding my baby daughter to sleep and I was sleepy myself so I didn't notice the passage of time. Both my girls slept and when I check the time, it was already pass 10 in the evening. I didn't bother to follow up anymore, but Askim looked for her hot chocolate in the morning.

Things that I like about the Lighthouse Marina:
-Location inside the Subic Freeport Zone
-Welcome drinks and fresh fruits upon check-in
-Breakfast buffet in the morning
-Bath and shower
-Turndown service
-The considerate manager :)

Things that I don't like:
-The smelly carpet in the corridor
-Limited internet connection
-Failed afternoon cocktail and nightcap drinks
-Unpleasant view from the hotel room
-Fading paint of their iconic lighthouse. My plan to have a photo taken with that thing in the background didn't happen because of that.

Do we have plans of going back to this hotel in the future? No.

The Lighthouse Marina Resort Subic Bay
Moonbay Marina Complex,
Subic Bay Freeport Zone,
Zambales, Philippines
Telephone # (6347) 252-5000 or (6347) 252-7545
Manila Number: (632) 711-0019

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Native Filipino Costume

August already passed and Buwan ng Wika is over. I just have to share this second DIY project that I made after the baro't saya I sewn for my elder daughter. Remember I said I originally wanted to make a T'boli costume for my her? As for my second choice, I was thinking of an Igorot or Mountain Province costume, too. Again, I tried to look for a fabric that resembles a T'nalak from South Cotabato or loin cloth from Benguet and I was lucky enough to find one.

I am not sure which ethnic group was the inspiration of this fabric but I bought anyway. I love the zig-zag design and the color combination of dark pink and blue. I paid only P70 for it.

This is the finish product of my DIY project as worn by my daughter over black leotard and leggings (from last year), paired with pink sandals of gold accent and colorful wooden bead accessories.

This gradeschooler can be very active, so instead of a headdress, I made a matching headband to keep her hair to the sides. I thought it's more comfortable that way.

She liked her new ethnic costume. She wore it without any complain. In this photo, she's pretending to dance the Kanyao, spreading her arms with open palms.

My goal for next year's Buwan ng Wika is to find the real deal. By hook or by crook, I should be able to come up with a T'boli costume. Just kidding. Hahaha! I mean, I'll find a way, a smooth and legal way, okay? I want to create something that I can be very proud about, and of course, it should be complete with accessories like the headdress, necklace, and belly chain. The beads are easy to find, I am sure I will be able to DIY each piece of accessory. As for the fabric, should I go to Mindanao for it or find a person to get it for me, I don't know yet. Perhaps I can start hunting for a T'nalak-inspired fabric as early as now. Friends, help me!