January 31, 2012

Let's Choose to Smile

We cannot have everything but that shouldn't stop us from being happy, right?

I have always admired people who can write so well. Sometimes I envy them. But I realized however I try hard to make my posts so well-composed they still lack the magic the real writers have. So I stopped trying hard. Instead I focus on things that I am good at. Like organizing and planning things. I am really good at that. And to be honest, I am perfectly happier now than ever.

Happiness really is a choice. Challenges and trials are always there. It's all up to us how we face them.

I was talking to a friend over an impromtu coffee date yesterday and she said that it's a little hard to smile lately. I told her, you just have to. Choose to smile than to frown. And don't forget to count your blessings instead of counting your misfortunes.

Today, instead of going gaga over elo touch that I can't have, I am counting my blessings and things that have made me smile lately:

~ EJ discovered that fried garlic is yummy, he eats them like chips!
~ I have lost a total of 12kgs over the past 5 month (or is it 6 months?)
~ Hubby has followed my lead about living healthy, he's lost more than 5kgs
~ EJ loves fruits more than chips
~ Our good health
~ Our love for each other
~ Reduced electric bill (last month)
~ Opportunities to help and share
~ Luck with renting out our condo units in Manila

Let's remember that life is a blessing itself and so is our good health. Let's cherish and take care of it.

Happy Tuesday my dear bloggers all over the world!

January 27, 2012

Brussels' Mini Europe

It's getting hot in Phnom Penh now. I miss last month's 20-22 degrees temperature. I even miss (just a tad) Paris' and Brussels' cold. Nahh..not really. Hehehe. I just miss travelling. I wish we could travel again soon.

Here are some of our pictures when we were in Mini-Europe in Brussels, Belgium last November. Can you name the monuments in the pictures?

Mini Europe is a great way to see Europe in a few hours. EJ had a great time going through each monument. He particularly loved the working models.

January 25, 2012

How to Cook Sushi Rice

A friend asked me how I cooked the sushi rice after I posted a photo of my homemade sushi in this blog.

This was my first sushi. Messy but tasty. LOL!

I got the instructions on how to cook sushi rice from the back cover of the roasted seaweed I bought at the grocery. I forgot which brand.

3 cups Japanese rice
1/3 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt

1) Wash the rice well and cook by rice cooker with water.
2) Prepare Sushi Vinegar: combine vinegar, sugar and salt in pan. Use low heat and cook until sugar dissolves. Cool the mixture.
3) Put the cooked hot rice into a wooden bowl by spatula.
4) Sprinkle the Sushi Vinegar over the rice and gently fold to combine.
5) Cool and remove the moisture of the rice well, use a fan as you mix sushi rice. This will give sushi rice a shiny look.

I never thought it's that easy to make a homemade sushi. Now that I know how, I am sure I'd be experimenting with sushi recipe again soon.

January 24, 2012

Playdate at Home

I am having visitors later today. EJ has a playdate with his classmates and I have invited the moms to come over as well.

I am going to serve my guests (Korean and Japanese) some Filipino snacks. I bought halayang ube at a Filipino store yesterday and I have some Cebu dried mango as well. I just wish I have a keurig b60 coffee maker so I could serve them fresh coffee. Since I don't have a coffee maker, either I will serve them instant coffee (LOL) or I could offer them my green tea.

I hope they'll like the halayang ube and dried mango. Both are my favorites.


Life is much interesting with little uncertainties on the side, isn't it? Well, that's just me looking at things on the positive side.

It's a busy day today so this is a quick post. Have a great Tuesday everyone!

Please Hurry, April

Yesterday, hubby and I were discussing our planned holidays this year. One that I am looking forward to is the one this coming April. We are going to Philippines!

We will be there for three weeks only. That is so short a time when you're talking about a vacation at home!

So I asked hubby if EJ and I can go home earlier than him so we'll have more time in the Philippines. I assured him, we'll do video teleconferencing everyday until the day he joins us. LOL!

I can hardly wait to go home. I am planning our itineraries now and I would like to squeeze in a short stay at Davao. I have a couple of friends who have been inviting me to visit them. And I loved Davao! I want to see what's new in there.

Hubby on the other hand wants to go to Baguio. I'd like to go there too but I am not sure we have enough time because we are still going home to Surigao. I am excited to attend our town's fiesta again. Plus, there's going to be another mini-reunion with my highschool classmates. Well, I hope.

I wish it's April already.

January 23, 2012

My Homemade Sushi

My love for Japanese food has already penetrated into our home. Hubby likes Japanese food now. And I am hoping EJ will soon follow the lead.

Last night, I prepared a homemade sushi for dinner. It was my first try. So please don't laugh at my efforts. LOL!

Here it is.

It looks messy, I know. But for a first trial, the taste was okay. Just never mind the presentation. LOL!

I only used chicken, carrots and egg so EJ could eat as well. And he did. He said it was yummy.

I also prepared a french onion soup. Yup, it was an international cuisine for dinner at home last night. LOL!

I had fun preparing these food and I am happy that my boys eat whatever I serve them. I try to cook as much as possible now and avoid delivery and take away because we're trying to eat more of the unprocessed food. We want to eat healthy together as a family.

We eat more veggies and fruits now. Our bread is whole wheat and we're trying to shift to brown rice. For now, hubby and I eat brown rice sometimes. Hopefully, we will all eat brown rice.

This conscious healthy eating has made me lose more than 20lbs now since August of last year. I've been doing exercises too. Hubby just joined me last December and he has lost about 5kgs already.

A healthy us is what we aim for this year and beyond.

January 21, 2012

Sea Residences Condominium for Rent

Here is a shameless plug from me. If you're looking for a place to stay in Manila, particularly in Pasay City's Mall of Asia Complex (MOA Complex), look no further.

My brother's 1-bedroom condominium has been beautifully furnished and is now available for short or long term rent.

Please find rates below:
Daily Rate
1 to 7 days - P1,700
8 to 15 days - P1,500
16 to 29 days - P1,300
**Note: Utilities (electricity and water) are not included in the above quoted price.
Monthly Rate
1 to 2 months - P25,000
3 to 5 months - P23,000
6 months up - P21,000
**Note: Condo Dues and Utility bills are not included in the above quoted price

Lobby of Sea Residences

1BR Unit
1-bedroom unit with toilet and bath and balcony

Dining Area
Dining area

Bedroom with a flat TV

Balcony with Makati view
Balcony overlooking Makati view

Toilet and Bathroom Area
Toilet and bathroom area

This is definitely cheaper compared to staying in hotels. If you want to reserve the unit, please email my brother, Jed, directly at jedinktoner (at) yahoo (dot) com.

Thank you so much!

January 19, 2012

Our 6th

Yesterday hubby and I celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary. We had a hard time deciding where to have our dinner. So we asked our little man where he wanted to celebrate the occasion with us.

EJ chose La Coupole at Sofitel Phokeethra Phnom Penh. I knew it! He's been saying it's his new favorite restaurant. I know why. It's because of those unlimited sweets and pastries.

Since hubby and I were ambivalent as to which restaurant to go to, we went along with EJ's choice.

I am glad we went to Sofitel because as it turned out, I was craving for salmon sashimi and dimsum. I had an overload of salmon sushimi last night. LOL!

After dinner picture

Happy Anniversary Hon! Everyday (except when I am mad, LOL!) I thank God we found each other in Maldives. I believe we're perfect for one another. You are patient, I am not. You bring in the bacon, I cook it. You are smart, I am smarter. LOL! And lastly, you are pogi and so am I. Hahahaha!!!

Kidding aside, thank you for loving me. I know I have nagging tendencies and a whole lot of craziness but you still love me. I can feel it in my gut that we are gonna grow old together. I love you.

Cheers to more happy and blessed years together!

January 18, 2012

Hotel Review: Suite Novotel Mall of the Emirates

I am always lucky with my hotel choices. Or maybe it has nothing to do with luck. You see, I always do my research before I book a certain hotel. And so far, all the hotels we've stayed at are quite nice and conveniently located.

For our Dubai stopover, I booked our hotel at Suite Novotel Mall of the Emirates. I chose this hotel because it's near Mall of Emirates. Second it's a lot cheaper compared to Kimpinski and Pullman Hotel which are also near Mall of Emirates.

The rate I got for a 1-bedroom suite was $130/night without breakfast. I thought it was a really good deal because the room we got was big. And it had two flat screen TV.

Suite Novotel (photo from their website)

Suite Novotel (photo from their website)
 These pictures are from their website. I was happy that these pictures were the same with the actual room.

at the lobby 
At the lobby. You can see the Reception desk at our back.

at the hotel's entrance 
This is at the hotel's entrance. We were on the way to the mall.

What I like about this hotel:
1) Location. It's walking distance to Mall of Emirates.
2) Good rate. Actually, the rate of the other hotels in that area ranges from $300-1000/night.
3) Big room
4) Easy to get a taxi

What I did not like:
1) We checked in past midnight (due to delayed flight from Paris). I expected a swift check-in but we waited for almost an hour to get our room. The receptionist was inefficient. He demanded a full payment because from their system our reservation was not paid yet. I showed him my copy of the voucher which clearly stated it was a prepaid booking. Still, it took him several minutes to sort out the problem.

2) After a whole day out, I expected a clean room when we got back. But I had to call housekeeping because the room wasn't cleaned yet. After the housekeeping girl cleaned the room, she said "please call tomorrow if you want your room cleaned because we are really busy". I had to laugh at her audacity. LOL!

Anyway, these two minor "bad" experiences did not really ruin our stay. We still had a perfectly good stopover in Dubai. I just hope Suite Novotel also invests on training their staff.

My Japanese Snack

EJ had a playdate with his classmate, Osuke in Osuke's house yesterday. On his playdates, I sometimes stay with him and have a chat with the mom. Sometimes, I also just leave EJ. He's at the stage where he doesn't need me to be with him 24/7.

Yesterday, I stayed in Osuke's house and I had a lovely time with Yuki, Osuke's mom. She served me sencha tea and red bean cake.

I love sencha or japanese green tea. I always drink it everyday. But nothing beats an authentic sencha served with an authentic red bean cake from a Japanese herself.

Oh, I was in tea heaven! And the red cake was so yummy! I love japanese food. And I hope I am going to experience japanese culture and authentic japanese food in Japan this year.

January 17, 2012

Batch '95 Reunion in Dubai

After our Paris trip last November, we dropped by Dubai for two days and two nights. If only I knew there were so many things to do and see, I would have booked our stay one or two days more.

What made our Dubai stopover more fun is that I got to reconnect with my highschool friends who are now based in UAE. Some are based in Abu Dhabi and some in Dubai. It was a reunion of sorts!

We all met at Dubai Mall for a dinner at Thai restaurant.

With batch '95 - Elvie, AN, Peter (cousin and a classmate), Hadz and Cathy.

Thank you so much guys for the dinner. We love Thai food! And the location of the place you chose was perfect.

EJ enjoyed the water fountain and light show!

Burj Khalifa at the background

After dinner, I went with my classmates to their hotel room while hubby and EJ went back to our hotel. The hotel they booked was near ours. Perfect thinking!

The night just whizzed by! Words continue to flow and laughter reverberated from one corner to the other.

It was a really great night! We would have continued our exchange of stories but it was getting late or should I say it was already early morning and they still had plans of touring my family around that day. So we ended the fun at 3AM.

Later that day, they brought us to Souk Madinat. I love this place! I wished we had more time to explore this place.

We also went to Atlantis...

...and inside The Lost Chambers Aquarium (will make a separate post for this in my travel blog). Atlantis photos courtesy of my cousin/classmate Peter.

And we ended our day with a dinner at Chowking in Jumeirah Walk.

It was so great catching up with you guys! Thank you so much for your hospitality. I wish we could have another of this again soon. I am all game for another mini-reunion this coming May. I hope it happens. I can't wait.


Whew! I finally finished disposing some of the items at home which we haven't been using anymore. Thank God for the yahoo group here in Cambodia. I sold our iPad2, computer cabinet, Canon digicam and some other knick knacks in a flash! What's funny is that people still email me if the items I posted for sale are still available. Hello, I sold them on the day it was posted. Yup, that's how fast it was. Now, I am thinking of selling my designer bags. If only I could convince hubby I don't need those bags anymore.

January 16, 2012

My Son and His Future Cravings

Please meet my current favorite snacks...

Sugar coated cassava with coconut.

Ever since I "discovered" this in Lucky, our local grocery here, I haven't stopped buying this. Sometimes, I feel guilty because it is loaded with sugar. And I mean, lots of sugar!!! By the way, they call this "sugar coated yam".

This has really become my guilty pleasure almost every afternoon. I buy one small pack which costs 50 cents and eat half only so I won't feel too much guilt. LOL! And then I eat the other half the next day. So that's 25 cents per day for my afternoon snacks. Not bad. LOL!

While growing up, we always have lots of rootcrops in our home. There's always cassava and sweet potato. But when I was young, I would rather eat chippy or cheese curls than this organic rootcrops.

But now, a bite of a cassava feels like heaven! I am now always craving for food which I ignored when I was young. Actually the craving now is more intense because cassava is not really so common here. I actually haven't found any cassava in the produce section. Only this cooked one.

Sweet potatoes don't come in truckloads either. There was one time, I was really dying to eat a kamote cue and when I went to the grocery, I could not find a single kamote. I even went to the local market but could not find any!

Last Saturday, while savoring my last bite of the sugar coated cassava, it got me thinking..What food will EJ miss the most from his childhood when is grown up already? What food will he crave like the way I crave now?

EJ is not a picky eater. He eats lots of fruits and veggies. He just sometimes doesn't like eating meat because it gets stuck in his teeth. LOL! But other than that, I can almost make him eat anything. But just like any kid, he loves ice cream. I always have an ice cream in our ref. Don't get me wrong, he eats ice cream maybe once or twice a week only.

Hmmm...so will he miss or crave for a certain flavor of ice cream when his grown up?

If I have my choice, I want him to miss or crave for my home cooked meal. Hahaha!!! Sounds selfish of me, right?

Well, I am just saying that when I am gone, I hope he remembers me for all the right reasons.

Ski Dubai, Must Try

Have you been to Dubai? What about Ski Dubai? My son loved it there! Don't ask me though. I only stayed inside for a few minutes. It's because I couldn't stand the cold. LOL!

Our Ski Dubai experience was awesome, that's according to my son. He even wanted to go back the following day for another snow fun.

Ski Dubai is located inside the mall - Mall of Emirates or MOE to Dubai residents. Here are the prices and opening times information:

Adult 120AED
Child 110AED

Sunday - Wednesday: 10.00 am - 11.00 pm
Thursday: 10.00 am - 12.00 midnight
Friday: 09.00 am - 12.00 midnight
Saturday: 09.00 am - 11.00 pm

The entrance fee already includes the suit and the shoes. But if you're like me, I advice you to bring your own gloves and a bonnet for extra padding against cold. The temperature when we were there was minus 4 degrees. So it was really freezing. But if you're used to the cold, then this temperature will be nothing to you.

If you forget to bring your own gloves, fret not. You can buy new ones at the shop right next to the Ski Dubai.

Here are some of our pictures.

At the entrance

Excited to ride the sleigh

So happy
And there you go...weeeeeeee!!!

Sooo cold
It was soooo cold. I only lasted for 10 minutes inside. LOL!

January 13, 2012

Taekwondo..You Can Take it Slow

EJ has several High 5 DVDs and this blog post title is derived from one of the songs in the series. It's stuck in my mind. LOL!

Anyway, I had EJ try one class of Taekwondo yesterday. It's one of the afterschool program offered by their school.

I thought it's good for him and I'd have another 45 mins of free time. LOL! Seriously, I wanted him to have other forms of fun and exercise.

With the Taekwondo teacher

First day of class

I hang out for a few minutes and made sure he was okay. He kept glancing at me and giving me a thumbs up sign. Wow, good start! So I told him, I'd go out and come back later to pick him up. He said okay.

I actually just went to a nearby cafe and bought a blueberry smoothie for him as I knew he would get thirsty after the class. I went back to the school immediately.

The class was finished after 45 minutes. EJ was smiling when he saw me. I asked him if he enjoyed the class. He said yes. Do you want to go back next week for another class, I asked? No, it wasn't really that fun came the reply. Uh-oh.

I will talk to him again and see if he changed his mind.

January 11, 2012

Where to go in 2012?

I got this link from my cousin's tweet the other day. It's an article from New York Times. Of course I clicked the link. I am such a travel junkie. Let me share with you the places they mentioned. Here it is....

45 PLACES TO GO IN 2012:
1. Panama
2. Helsinki, Finland
3. Myanmar
4. London
5. Oakland, California
6. Tokyo - Hopefully we will be able to visit Tokyo this year. It's in the plans.
7. Tanzania
8. Chilean Patagonia
9. Lhasa, Tibet
10. Havana, Cuba
11. Moscow
12. Glasgow
13. Puebla, Mexico
14. San Diego
15. Halong Bay, Vietnam - Been to Halong Bay. It's mesmerizing!
16. Florence, Italy
17. St. Vincent
18. Moganshan, China
19. Birmingham, England
20. Space - Hmmmm... I am not sure I'd like to go to space. LOL!
21. Kerala, India
22. Paraty, Brazil
23. Koh Rong, Cambodia - I wanna go here!
24. Vienna
25. Chattanooga, Tenn.
26. Dakhla, Morocco
27. Maldives - Lived in Maldives for three years.
28. Malacca, Malaysia
29. The Algarve
30. Tahoe, California
31. Wales
32. Antarctica
33. Uganda
34. Ukraine
35. Samana Peninsula, Dominican Republic
36. Dubrovnik, Croatia
37. Chiloe Island, Chile
38. Jordan
39. Crans-Montana, Switzerland
40. Montpellier, France
41. Nosara, Costa Rice
42. South Korea
43. Lodz, Polanda
44. Dalarna, Sweden
45. Portovenere, Italy

I am a little sad that Philippines is not included in the list. There are so many beautiful places in Philippines that are just waiting to be discovered.

Of the places mentioned, we have been to two places only - Maldives and Halong Bay. Those that are in bold letters are the places I want to visit this year, IF I have the money. LOL!

What about you, which places mentioned above are your priorities to visit? For the complete article, click here.

Leap Frog DVDs

I just said in my last post that I wish I could instill in EJ the love of numbers because he seems like he's not too keen with numbers. But I think I was getting ahead of myself.

Last Saturday, we bought a Leap Frog Math Circus DVD for him along with other educational DVDs.

Leap Frog Math Circus

It turns out EJ loves watching it just as much as he loves watching his Leap Frog Learning to Read and Story Telling DVD. And he's having fun with it.

There's this game in the DVD where they are asked to answer addition and subtraction quiz. Surprisingly, EJ answered them all correctly. He did use his fingers to count. But it doesn't matter. I mean, I only learned addition and subtraction when I was in Grade 2 already. Might I hope EJ is a genius? Hehehe. Just kidding!

For a parent, I have high hopes for my son. But what's important for me right now is that he knows and feels that his parents love him. I think that is a very important thing for a kid to know while he/she is growing up.

January 8, 2012

Encourage Kids to Read Early On

Yesterday, we were all over town running errands and doing some shopping. We actually have no plans of going to Monument Books (they also sell toys) but EJ requested to drop by. Since I was going shopping at Mango (they have a big sale of up to 70% off until 16th of Jan!), it was only fair that we do something that he likes.

But before going in the store, I told him we're not going to buy any more toys for him. Last month, he already bought several toys, not including our gifts and Santa's gift. I said, he could play with the display toys but no shopping for him. However, he could buy one book if he finds something he likes. He said okay. With books, we always stretch our budget.

True to his word, we left the store without any toys but with one book he chose. When we were home, he did read the book right away.

I am so proud of him because at five years old, he can already read. Hubby said, the teachers must be doing a good job of teaching the kids how to read. But I pointed out, not all the kids in his class can read like him. In fact, during our last Parent-Teacher meeting, the teacher was impressed that EJ can read well already. She said, EJ is an early reader compared to his classmates.

I told hubby, we should give credit where credit is due and that's ourselves. We did start reading to EJ when he was about 6 months old only. I can quite remember the exact time but I know I read to him when he was less than a year old.

The older he gets, the more books I read for him. I remember, I was already sleepy and EJ would say "read more, read more". I had no choice but to read more or ask hubby to read for EJ.

Even now that EJ can read on his own, hubby and I still read books for him especially if he requests us to read it for him.

I do love to read books. I used to read a lot. But the older I get, the less books I read. It's a pity really. But I plan to change that.

So, if you want your kids to love books, I suggest you start early. Habits formed early on are hard to forget. Also, let your kids see you reading your own book/s. It will encourage them to read more.

I am happy that EJ is a reader. Now, if only I could instill in him a love for numbers. LOL!

January 6, 2012

New Year Plans and Others

I thought by blogging first thing in the morning of 2012, I'd be blogging non-stop or at least I'd be blogging everyday.

Unfortunately, it's not the case here. The first week of January is almost over and I have only blogged once. So this post is about trying to make up or add at least one more post to the first week of January 2012. LOL!

How's the start of your year, so far?

If the last quarter of 2011 was crazy hectic for me, now it's a little bit slow the beginning of the year. I am still busy with the usual stuff - managing the house and some online work.

Hubby told me we should get some help, at least with the cleaning of the house and ironing the clothes. But I think I can still manage. I just have to manage my time well and make sure I don't get too tired, otherwise, it's hello migraine for me.

I am also finalizing our travel plans. There won't be a lot of travels this year as we are trying to save more. Our travels this year will just consist of 2 travels to Philippines and 1 travel to another country. We still haven't decided which new country it will be. But I guess, it's just within Asia.

And also I am trying edit our things. I just realized we have too much gadgets in our house. I am going to sell some like an iPad2 and a couple of my bags. LV Monogram Mini Lin Speedy, anyone?

So yeah, that's what I am busy with lately. I still have to post about our Brussels trip and Dubai trip. I need to be more efficient really with my time management.

January 4, 2012

Brussels: Mini Europe

How was your holidays, everyone? I hope you had a fabulous time with your loved ones.

Moving on, I'd like to finish posting about our last trip. It's already 2012 and I'm not finished yet. LOL! I still have Dubai and a few other tips to write about.

Anyway, here's our trip to Mini-Europe in Brussels.

Mini-Europe is just at the foot of Atomium, so we bought a combi ticket: Mini-Europe + Atomium for €22,70/adult and €14,90/kids (less than 12yo).

Mini-Europe showcases Europe's famous landmarks through miniature models. For a whirlwind tour of Europe and for the kids, this park is recommended. My son loved looking at the miniature models. Some of the models have interactive capacity or working models making it a more fun discovery for the kids and the kids at heart.

Here are some of our pictures.

Mini Europe Entrance
Entrance at Mini-Europe Park

With the Mascot

Leaning Tower, Pisa
Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy

Dover Castle, Ireland
Dover Castle, Ireland

Brandenburg Gate, Berlin
Brandenburg Gate, Berlin

Plaza de Toros, Seville
Plaza de Toros, Seville

Eiffel Tower, Paris
Eiffel Tower, Paris

House of Parliament, London
House of Parliament, London

Hoensbroek Castle, Netherlands
Hoensbroek Castle, Netherlands

Tallinn, Estonia
Tallin, Estonia

Trelleborg, Denmark
Trelleborg, Denmark

Berlaymont, Brussels
Berlaymont, Brussels

Veves Castle, Belgium
Veves Castle, Belgium

There are approximately 300 models inside the park. Unfortunately I couldn't name all of them and hubby wasn't able to take pictures of everything. I also wasn't able to see and explore all the models as I was cold and needed a coffee in my hand. So I left my boys in the park while I went to look for a coffeeshop, which is just right before you exit the park. Perfect!