Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Fruits and Trees in the Garden

I grew up in a house surrounded not just with tropical flowers and plants but lots of fruit-bearing trees. So, imagine my delight when we arrived here in Turkey in the month of May and saw trees with summer fruits thriving. Our apartment complex has a big space for a garden compared with the rest in the area.

Look, a watermelon as big as a couple of golf balls! Hope it matures before autumn comes and the cold blankets this place.

And another just a few inches away. These fruits are growing real fast, I swear.

We just harvested this one 5 days ago, and boy, it was so big and sweet. We were able to share a slice to each neighbor in the building.

Here is a photo of our peach tree before we harvested them more than a week ago. Too bad I didn't witness the harvest time. My in-laws took all the fruits while I was in my nap.

They are not the sweetest variety of peach but no complain here because this single tree alone gave 8 bags of fresh fruits to us. Hence, we delivered 2 bags to each neighbors and a few more extra to friends.

We have grapes here, too. And cherry and nectarine that are both spring fruits.

Here is the orange tree with fruits still green. They'll be orange by winter.

Here is pomegranate that is very nutritious. The fruits are big and already heavy. Beside this tree is a lemon tree that carries a lot of fruits as well.

Have you seen olive fruits in a tree yet? Here they are. A few steps away from this olive tree is a pear tree as well. No photo though. Will share it in IG next time if I remember. Haha.

We are planning to move out of this apartment and get a house with a garden by next year. Hopefully, in a place with a huge space for flowers and plants and most of all fruit-bearing trees. I want to have an apple tree, peach, cherry, orange, lemon, pear and maybe more if there is enough land to cover it.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

Homemade Granola Cereal

Before coming to Turkey, I made sure I had packed my favorite Mornflake granola cereal that I could eat for weeks or months. I have been eating Mornflake cereal for a while now since I started weightlifting in PH. I used to buy them from the imported section in the supermarket. I like them so much because they are great alternative to ulam and rice because of the protein and fiber content. Anyway, it's already August and my 6 packs of Mornflakes are all gone.

I have searched local groceries here for rolled oats and nutty seeds in the hope of making my own granola cereal, and yes, I was able to come up with a granola cereal of my own that has less sugar and fat, thus more healthy than the store bought ones. Now I don't have to force myself eating Turkish breakfast everyday. Cold cuts, cheeses and olives are not really appealing to me. I also don't like raw veggies in the morning all the time. So, to those who are a little health conscious and love some high protein breakfast to maintain some muscles, I say try this recipe. It's time to make your own granola cereal to add to your weekly meal prep!

What you will need:
-1 kilo rolled oats
-handful of almonds
-handful of pumpkin seeds
-handful of chia seeds
-handful of raisins
-handful of sunflower seeds
-4 tbsp coco sugar
-2 tbsp honey
-1 tbsp butter
-1 cup water

Here's how:
Combine the last 4 ingredients in a pan. Make it boil, stirring constantly. When bubbles, pour the rolled oats all the rest of the ingredients. Keep mixing in lowfire until the oats change into a golden brown color. Let cool then transfer to a tight container.

To enjoy as a breakfast treat, transfer a couple of handfuls in a bowl. Add some more fresh fruits or protein-rich seeds like chia.

Add the type of milk of your choice. Soak in overnight or eat right away. Perfect morning fuel before hitting the gym. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Living the Turkish Life

Hello again after a long time! I am feeling really lazy lately that I just wanna sleep, wake up and go to bed again. I am a little stressed out but I really do not have a choice but to get up, cook for the kids, feed them, blah blah blah, until it's sundown and it's bedtime again. So, instead of complaining and posting all the rants in IG or FB, where I can right away get a reaction from my friends or relatives in PH, here I am sitting down in front of my computer and updating my blog. Just so you know, our life here in Turkey newly started and is finally sinking in to me.

To keep my sanity, I will be blogging again about both the uninteresting and interesting things in my Aegean expat life. I knew I will be blogging again when I am already here in Turkey, the reason why I kept this domain and waited until today. I will be using this platform to air my daily struggles and whatnots.

My family arrived here in May and just as I expected it, life in this part of the world is not easy. We we've been visiting every summer for like 5 years straight, but not a lot of people here can speak English which is very important if you are a foreigner and starting anew. Aside from the hard to find ingredients that my palate is longing for, I also have a problem going around the area since most places are ideally reachable by car or bus. Though hubby already bought me a car and I learned driving here, I still can't go around freely for safety reasons. You know, typical things if you are a foreigner and a woman and alone. You can get catcalled or worst harassed.

Happy to share that I met a Filipina here over 2 weeks ago. She is from Davao and is married to a Turkish guy who grew up in this district. Their small family used to live here but moved to Istanbul. They come here only to visit her in-law and for summer vacations. So we met a couple of time and it was like a breathe of fresh air. I also met 2 young Indonesians working in a hotel nearby. They noticed my sis-in-law and I were talking in English that's why they approached us. They were so cute. I knew from their accent and looks that that they were Indonesians. I met Indonesians in Hong Kong before in early 2000s.

Anyway, it's hard to find ingredients like I initially mentioned. Not a single Asian store is within the district. While shopping at Kipa last night, I finally found coconut milk and it got me so giddy. Turkish food is yum but also I want a taste of home so I have been searching for coconut milk for weeks now. Although they have fresh coconut here in Migros, they can't clean it for me. I don't have the means to extract the milk by hand as well. No coconut grater here. So in October, when I'm back to PH for a short visit, I will definitely hoard coco milk powder and many more Asian stuff.

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Refashion: Adding Sleeves to a Sleeveless Dress

I did this project last month and thrilled to achieve the look that I wanted. Honestly, I was a bit nervous when I bought the fabric for the sleeves. I was afraid that it won't be matching and would later look awkward when worn. I am happy that this project turned out well so now I'm sharing how I did it.

The dress that I refashioned is this fitted peplum dress in berry which I bought from Zalora, my favorite online shopping store.

Anyway, I purchased a lace fabric that is very close to the color of the dress. Sorry for the quality of photo here because it is a little dark and unedited.

But I think you can see the colors are matching. The trimmed lace is positioned and ready for sewing.

I started and finished this project under 2 hours one afternoon while my girls were away playing.

I think you saw my holiday post wearing this berry dress. If not, click HERE to view.

Here's another shot taken during Christmas Eve.

I love this dress so much because it looks so cute. The color is from the shade of pink but it's dark so it's okay. It fits perfectly well. And most of all, it is peplum which is kind of awesome and can hide bulges if you accidentally indulged into an extra slice of cake. Hahaha.

Note: Source of 1st photo is zalora.com.ph

Saturday, January 27, 2018

New Year in Boracay 2018 x Henann Regency Resort & Spa Review

For the first time as a family, we spent the last few days of the year 2017 and celebrated the coming of the New Year in Boracay. I actually grew up in an island very near Bora, but never been to this paradise since birth. I know some people from my province who frequently travel to and fro this place for work. Not to mention my relatives and some neighbors who visit this place anytime of the year and tell various stories about it.

Did I ever dream of going to this place before? Not very much because we also have lots of nice beaches in my province in Romblon like this one HERE. Anyway, I gave in to the thought of spending a few days in Boracay with hubby and kids just so we can say we've been there before. I know, I've been asked a lot of times in the past if I ever stepped a foot in Boracay and I say 'no' then people would feel sorry for me. Not anymore, folks!

Where we stayed..
We stayed at for 4 nights at the Henann Regency Resort & Spa at Station 2.

Things that I like about Hennan Regency..
The location of the hotel is beachfront and it's next door to D'Mall and lots of bars and restos. They have 4 separate pools and a jacuzzi, one of the pools has a bar. Henann Regency is a very good place to stay for couples and families alike if you want easy access to crowd and the beach. The overall look of the hotel is updated though the layout can be confusing. I suggest keep the hotel map on your 1st day and memorize it to avoid getting lost. They have a gym but not really updated and really small. Some staff are really friendly and polite, others are not. Love the buffet food, the kakanin and the ulam selection in the morning and the meat selection at night are very good. The gala dinner was very nice during the New Year's Eve 2018 party. The live band, the singing chefs and the fire-dancers all nailed it!

Things that I don't like about Hennan Regency..

There are only 2 things that I don't like about Henann Regency. First, they don't clean the room regularly. They only make the bed and replace the used toiletries. We didn't notice the dirt right away since we always went back to the room tired and sleepy. On our 3rd night, I realized how dirty they were when I saw the accumulated hair on the floor, smelt the stinky washroom. I felt disgusted yet too late to complain. We'd  rather rest and wake up early for our morning flight instead of call for a cleanup and wait for them to finish and retire to bed!

About Henann Regency Resort & Spa's customer service..
Hubby got really pissed off when they couldn't give us a table during the gala dinner. We stayed from December 29 to January 2 and as per hotel policy, everyone who had a booking that falls on the New Year's Eve should pay extra for the gala dinner, additional to the basic nightly rate. Alas, the gala dinner came, kids were so excited about the fireworks and all. However, the ladies at the gala tent didn't accept us. Turned out, we didn't reserve ourselves a table. Wait what? Why, Henann? You should have known how much people are checked-in your hotel that night and estimated how many tables to prepare per group in order to accommodate everyone, right? Why do we need to reserve a table when you can easily designate it on a first come first served basis? You charged us extra for the gala dinner so obviously you can expect us coming. Plus, you didn't inform us about table reservation upon check-in. You just told us to reserve a seat for our 9yo to which we paid extra. Who is going to be happy with that kind of service? We were not given a table until hubby started raising his voice, complaining of the poor service. I just kept my cool there cos I didn't want the situation to ruin the entire night. I pity those foreigners who talked to them before hubby. They looked disappointed but couldn't argue more I think because of limited English. They just led them to the usual buffet area for the supposedly special dinner instead of the beachfront gala tent where a live band is playing and a special buffet is waiting.

Lesson learned from this booking..
Read all the reviews in booking.com before paying for your hotel. Booking.com has this feature of showing mostly the pros in their review section. Hover until the very bottom page of the hotel at booking.com and you will find the entire content of the review. There you will read both the pros and cons of the hotel as reviewed by the people. Mind you, most reviews talk about the cleanliness as an issue for Henann Regency. Something that I regret not knowing beforehand.

So, based on this experience, we will most likely not choose Henann Regency again or any other Henann hotels in the future. I could've booked a better hotel in Station 1 if only hubby didn't insist we stay at Station 2 'where all the fun is' as he described it. Next time, it's either a 5 star hotel like Shangri-la or a no star bed and breakfast nalang para walang reklamo.

Fun things we did in Boracay as a family..
-Window shopped at the D'Mall
-Walked from Station 2 to Station 1
-Watched some live bands play
-Looked at the pretty sand castles made by locals
-Tried different restaurants
-Had a New Year Ever gala dinner by the beach
-Did a lot of swimming and some sunbathing
-Ate loads of buffet food at the hotel

Things that I liked about Boracay..

-The white powdery beach. Super!
-Many places to eat.
-Very near the main island, boat travel is quick.
-You can't miss Manila much. Fastfoods and brands are all at Station 2.
-The place is alive even at night. So many tourists.

Things that I don't like in Boracay..
-Poor sewage system. There some parts of the beach where you could see the stinky kanal flowing to the sea. In general, the beach is great in January but I heard that it gets really dirty during peak time in the summer. Hope the local government do something more this.
-Some vendors sell overpriced products. P3000 for a budyong or helmet shell? Wow, ginto!
-Tricycle charges double for a ride from the jetty port to anywhere in the island.

Our activities sounds a little boring, no jet-skiing or any water sport, ATV around the island, etc. But it was windy and the sky was a bit dark on our first day. On the last day, it was already stormy. Plus, we are a family with 2 young girls. Activities can be very limited talaga esp. my kids do not like the idea of getting sand in their toes (I know, weird) and they can't swim yet. Hope to go back to this place maybe 10 years from now if this place is still okay and when my girls are all grown ups; so we can do more fun things together.

Now, have you been to Boracay, the island paradise of the Philippines? Where did you stay? What are the things you did while on the island?

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Smartie Suna

My lovely younger daughter is now very witty at 4 years old. I can't believe how she matured from that small little baby I used to hold in my arms. Here are some notes from our recent travel to Boracay (will blog about that later) for the New Year.

In the airport shuttle heading to our plane..
Suna: Mama, knock.. knock!
Me: Who's there?
Suna: Um, Jackie.
Me: Jackie who?
Suna: Jackie Jill.
Me: Hahaha. That's a good one!

In a boat going to Caticlan from Boracay. She was sitting on our luggage, me holding her hands..
Suna: Mama, are you sure I won't fall down?
Me: I am sure cos I am holding you.
Suna: You know some kids fall down in the boat because no one is holding them?
Me: (Switched from holder her hands to holding her lower body. Lol.)

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Christmas Traditions Worth Keeping

There is no doubt that one of the best holidays is Christmas. It is the season of love, gift-giving, and merry-making. The very season we celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.

For my girls, spending Christmas at home is what they prefer and that is now hard to negotiate with. They look forward to me setting the Christmas tree as early as November. They get very excited with Santa and the gifts they are about to receive from him, as well as presents coming from friends and family.

This is us during our special dinner on Christmas Eve. I prepared a variety of food for our family to share and enjoy. I made the traditional buko salad and garden salad. I cooked grilled lamb with potato wedges on the side, baked penne, taghilaw, a Romblomanon dish, and garbanzo rice. We also had leche flan, mango bravo cake and baklava.

I remember Christmas at my maternal grandparent's house. My grandmother would always prepare ginataan. Auntie Jo normally makes gelatine, buko salad, spaghetti, and other meat dishes; then we had a mix of local and imported fruits on the table like oranges, apples, grapes, dalandan, bananas, pomelo, papaya, etc. We used to sleeping early just to wake up at midnight for noche buena. Also, grandma or Mama Beding as we fondly called her would have a bucket of biscuits and candies for apos and other children asking for pamasko in Christmas morning after church.

Now I hope to continue these Christmas tradition that I grew up with in my own family. I prepare a table of delicious foods on Christmas Eve, bring to the kids church then go home to gifts and treats.

Happy holidays, everyone!