Monday, November 29, 2010

Rustic Italian Dinner

A few weeks ago, to celebrate a special occasion, I decided to transport myself – along with my family -- to a breezy trattoria for a "Rustic Italian" dinner.  
photo borrowed from the web
While thinking up the dinner menu, I allowed my thoughts to wander to the sun-drenched seaside town of Positano along the Amalfi Coast.  It was a tactile experience for my mind.  I imagined myself slowly walking along its rugged terrain, thoroughly taking pleasure in its scenic beauty and picturesque towns.  I could  hear the Italian vendors in the marketplace sell their wares.  I catch a whiff of the robust scent of the dusky earth from the freshly-picked produce as I walk by baskets upon baskets of vegetable and fruits.  This is where my mind lingers till I have satisfied my senses - and completed the menu for dinner.

Here is the menu that I served for the night.  Wait for another post that will have the recipes on it.

Similar to the Chinese Lauriat Dinner, the Italians traditionally observe meals as a time to spend with family and friends instead of immediate sustenance; thus, daily meals usually consist of 4-5 courses and are longer than other cultures.  
(Italian Meal Structure taken from Wikipedia)
 1. Antipasto:
Antipasto  means "before the meal" and is the starter course of an  Italian meal. Traditional antipasto includes cured meats, olives, roasted garlic, pepperoncini, mushrooms, anchovies, artichoke hearts, and various cheeses (such as provolone or mozzarella). 

2.  Primo Piatto.
The primo is the first course. It is hot food and heavier than the antipasto, but lighter than the second course. It usually consists of non-meat or fish like foods. Examples of things which would be eaten at a primo could be risotto, pasta and spaghetti, soup and broth, gnocchi, polenta, crepes, casseroles, lasagnas.

3.  Secondo Piatto.
The secondo is the heartiest and main course of an Italian meal, sometimes called the piatto principale or the main course/meal. It is made up usually of poultry, meats and fishes.

4.  Contorno
All along the meal, there is the contorno, which are the side plates.  This, usually, are simply prepared vegetables, cheeses or cold meats to accompany the secondo.

5.  Dolce. 

Buon compleanno!  Cent'Anni!  
Happy Birthday!  To One Hundred Years!

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Monday, November 22, 2010

What's In A Day?

I stumbled upon this article in The Washington Post.  It was written a few years ago, but I want to share it here because I am sure a lot of moms can relate to it.

Tell Me About It by Carolyn Hax
The Washington Post.  Published: 06.05.2007

Dear Carolyn:

My best friend has a child.  

Her: Exhausted, busy, no time for self, no time for me, etc. 
Me (no kids): Wow. Sorry. What’d you do today? 
Her: Park, play group . . .
OK. I’ve done Internet searches; I’ve talked to parents. I don’t get it. What do stay-at-home moms do all day? Please, no lists of library, grocery store, dry cleaners. . . . I do all those things, too, and I don’t do them every day. I guess what I’m asking is: What is a typical day, and why don’t moms have time for a call or e-mail?
I work and am away from home nine hours a day (plus a few late work events), and I manage to get it all done. I’m feeling like the kid is an excuse to relax and enjoy — not a bad thing at all — but if so, why won’t my friend tell me the truth?
Is this a contest (“My life is so much harder than yours”)? What’s the deal? I’ve got friends with and without kids, and all us child-free folks get the same story and have the same questions.
— Tacoma, Wash.

● Dear Tacoma:

Relax and enjoy. You’re funny.
Or you’re lying about having friends with kids.
Or you’re taking them at their word that they actually have kids, because you haven’t personally been in the same room with them.
Internet searches?
I keep wavering between giving you a straight answer and giving my forehead some keyboard. To claim you want to understand — while in the same breath implying that the only logical conclusions are that your mom friends are either lying or competing with you — is disingenuous indeed.
So, since it’s validation you seem to want, the real answer is what you get. In list form. 

When you have young kids, your typical day is: constant attention, from getting them out of bed, fed, clean, dressed; to keeping them out of harm’s way; to answering their coos, cries and questions; to having two arms and carrying one kid, one set of car keys and supplies for even the quickest trips, including the latest-to-be-declared-essential piece of molded plastic gear; to keeping them from unshelving books at the library; to enforcing rest times; to staying one step ahead of them lest they get too hungry, tired or bored, any one of which produces the kind of checkout-line screaming that gets the checkout line shaking its head.
It’s needing 45 minutes to do what takes others 15.
It’s constant vigilance, constant touch, constant use of your voice, constant relegation of your needs to the second tier.
It’s constant scrutiny and second-guessing from family members and friends, well-meaning and otherwise. It’s resisting the constant temptation to seek short-term relief at everyone’s long-term expense.
It’s doing all this while concurrently teaching virtually everything — language, manners, safety, resourcefulness, discipline, curiosity, creativity, empathy. Everything.
It’s also a choice, yes. And a joy. But if you spent all day, every day, with this brand of joy — and then when you got your first 10 minutes to yourself, you wanted to be alone with your thoughts instead of calling a good friend — a good friend wouldn’t judge you, complain about you to mutual friends or marvel at how much more productively she uses her time.
Either make a sincere effort to understand, or keep your snit to yourself.

Heaven knows how many times I have felt guilty over not calling or visiting friends often enough.  How meeting-up for a simple lunch or an afternoon shopping trip need to be planned in advance.  So, yes, I am thankful that I have friends who understand.  More thankful, still, that I am in the good company of  like-minded moms whose primary focus is the family.  We understand and do not keep tabs on calls that are not immediately returned, or the e-mails that are not answered right away... because we are all guilty of it at one point or the other. wink! wink!:)

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

The secret of staying young is to live honestly, eat slowly, and lie about your age. 

- Lucille Ball

I celebrated another birthday this week. As always, I delicately side-step questions that have any direct reference to age. After all, lying about my age has now become easier since I really forget what it is. I stopped counting at 28, and believe me, after a while – what you think, you are! Wink!

Just to clarify, I am not scared of growing old. What I am scared of is looking old. Remember my thoughts on looking like someone's middle-aged mom?

Let me own up and admit that there are times when I look in the mirror expecting to see a dewy-skinned woman, only to see a face that is starting to get lightly tainted with a few creases here and there ( and please, let me put the emphasis on the word lightly ). When I notice the arms that used to be toned with years of carrying three babies in succession have slowly started to show a slight waggle. When the tiny waist that I showed-off years ago has slowly grown - inch by inch, I regrettably tell you - closer to infinity!!! Haaay! These are the moments…

And yet I am in my happy place, I am pleased with the person that I am today! I am thankful for what the years have brought me – a loving husband whose firm hands have tenderly held mine for the last 15 years, whose generous spirit have indulged me in my numerous whims and wants; tight hugs and sweaty kisses from my three kids, who are my inspiration for continuously wanting to be a better person; a healthy body and a grateful spirit to enjoy the countless blessings; a big God up there who is continuously watching over my family. Like everyone else, there have been a few rough bumps along the way, but this verse always inspires:

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

-Jeremiah 29:11

And so I look to the future with HOPE because I trust my LORD.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Ipanema: Philippine Fashion Week Spring Summer 2011

I can’t wait for summer.

After viewing the Spring Summer 2011 resort collection that Ipanema presented in the Philippine Fashion Week, I am counting the days until summer gets to our shores.

The top Brazilian footwear brand has perfected the summer look from head to toe as they collaborated with fashion designers such as Anthony Nocom, Ramon Favila, Ricky Abad and Simon Ariel Vasquez among others.  The exclusive show presented resort and lounge wear paired with Ipanema’s chic and fashionable resort sandals; instead of heels and leather, models graced the catwalk wearing the most comfortable and super stylish Ipanema sandals.  

Here are some of my favorite looks from the runway:

I can definitely see myself wearing this number. This is a perfect cover-up on the beach for this mother of three. 
A hint of sexy, but covers the essentials (read: tummy). The length is perfect, and I love that it is slightly elongated at the back.  I just love the floral details on the flip-flops, too. .... now, to get myself those cheekbones...

This is another one that makes me want to book a plane to Boracay.
I love the yellow-purple color combination and how relaxed the fabric flows. 

For a complete listing on where you can find Ipanema products, log on to

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Ba-boom! Ba-boom! { I listen in as my kids strum their heartstrings }

B is vocal and outspoken about what she thinks; and is pretty direct in talking about her crushes, too. I feel so privileged that she finds me worthy to openly confide secrets to. When she candidly opens her heart to me, it validates that C and I have established a valuable and open relationship with her, and her openness in talking about young love is a natural extension of that.

In the early months of this year - in the summer months, to be exact, she has been telling me about this certain little boy who swims with her. Since they see each other in the pool on most days, they have apparently both talked about crushing on each other. It was a good thing I was seated, too, as you can just imagine the upheaval I felt within me.

She comforts me, “but we are not marrying each other, ha! Just boyfriend and girlfriend lang.” Haayyy! Though I do not react, in truth I feel panicky over her disclosures. That very night, at my incessant urging, C stayed longer in the kids’ room after their night time prayer, extending the bedside talk till the topic reached this dreaded topic.

He started by telling stories about his own childhood experiences. He shared his most embarrassing moment which had all the kids rolling with laughter; his own childhood crushes and how he thinks girls should wait for the boys to make the first move. The latter launched B into a series of why’s.

“Why should boys always make the first move, daddy?” “Why can’t girls do it, huh?”

C wanted to segue that girls should not be aggressively seeking boys out, but he just could not find the right words to use to make a seven-year old understand his point. I do not know what C was thinking when he said, “because boys find it more challenging - it is more fun that way, if the boys pursue the girls.”

He found his hand scratching his head when B said, “It’s ok, Dad. I don’t mind. I want to have fun, too!” Ay-ya-yay!

But just a few weeks into the start of school, on our drive home, she casually opened up the topic that she had broken off with him.

Really? What happened?” I prompted her to divulge more, my voice sounding freaked-out than I wanted to let on.

“It’s okay, mom, don’t worry I told him off nicely. I did not want to hurt his feelings, eh, so I told him that we stop being boyfriend-girlfriend, and just be friends – (after a long pause) good friends – (after another elongated pause) really good friends na lang."

Just as rapidly as viruses and bacteria spread, ideas and behaviors spread speedily as well. Even J, the normally placid one, has discovered her attraction to the opposite sex in the course of the last three months. Yikes!

We were in the car and just like that, she casually opened the topic, “Mom, guess who my crush is?

Expectedly, the rabid spread of the L-O-V-E virus doesn’t stop until it imposes itself on everyone. Not even my li’l man is spared as he goes crushing on a swimming team-mate. But for now at least, it is just a kiddy crush — R’s true love is his mommy.

I am going to marry my mommy because I love her,” he explained, wrapping his chunky arms around me and drawing me closer for a kiss.

Which got a quick reaction from the daddy, “Go find your own wife to marry. Mommy is already mine!”


Friday, November 5, 2010

Discipline and the Bible

HONOR your father and your mother, as the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

Deut. 5:16
The page on the bible where this verse is located is often paid a quick visit during our night time prayer session, most especially if I feel that the kids have been difficult far too often than usual. C, who always leads the session, usually starts with a Bible story and ends with any of the parenting verses from the Bible; and I, just for good measure, always emphasize on the promised benefit … so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

For parents who wish to raise their kids with obedient hearts, this above mentioned Deuteronomy verse can be the center force of their discipline routine. In my case, I make it a point to stress that this is the only one among God’s Ten Commandments with a promise - the only one. The verse says, so that you may live long and that it may go well with you in the land the Lord your God is giving you. (Go ahead, get your bible and look it up.)

While this verse surely tow-in my kids in for a few days, I certainly hear grumbling in the next few days that follow about how it is unfair that he/she is the only one who is obeying.

I constantly remind them that each one of them is accountable to God and to a lesser degree - me. I tirelessly remind each one that God will bless their obedience. And true enough, God convicted their hearts; coming out of the Sunday service a few Sundays ago, B blurted out that they discussed the verse: “So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the right time.” (Galatians 6:9)

The Bible also says, "He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him," and plenty of Christians interpret the passage literally. Our senior pastor at CCF believes that spanking is OK when it's done right.

Yes, I believe in spanking. In my household, disciplinary spanking was effective and beneficial when my kids were younger, around ages two to five. A quick smack on the butt was given after a short discussion with the offending kid. We always assured them that the reason we are spanking them is to discipline them because we are motivated by love to keep them from future harm. We use a flat wooden stick that we called “spanking rod” which we bought at a Christian bookstore.

There are numerous opposing views about corporal punishment. One of them being that spanking promotes aggressive behavior in kids. I believe this only happens when the spanking is done as an overly severe punishment by a parent who is angrily out of control. As opposed to appropriate spanking wherein the parent only takes one or a couple of controlled taps on the buttocks, and never done in anger. It is important that disciplinary spanking is used in the context of a nurturing parent-child relationship. We discipline them because we love them.

Nowadays, we have kept the rod out of sight; mostly because the kids are already of the age where reasoning with them is better than corporal punishment, but also because there is less need for it. A quick look from me is all they usually need to behave themselves. Still, they are not perfect. During times when they do need to be disciplined, punishment comes in the form of with-holding privileges, like the use of the DS or Ipad/Iphone. And for the tech-savvy kids of today, that is the worst punishment of all.


Monday, November 1, 2010

Freebie: Longchamp Handbag

 I saw an ad in the papers last night, and it got me excited...

While I admit to having a deep love for fashion, I also have a rather long-standing attraction to freebies.  So let me just be clear by saying that this promo so calls out to the freebie-lover in me.  You have to admit that this is hard to resist.  A Longchamp Metal Handbag - FREE.  It would surely be a most welcome addition to my bag boudoir.

My current Le Pliage in red is also a freebie; I got it as a gift.  I bashed it initially here and later when I ended up being the grateful recipient of one, I took back everything I said. After getting one as pasalubong, it quickly made me a convert and I extolled its merits here

The bag to be given away by Citibank and Rustan's is made of lightweight nylon in coated cotton and screen printed fabric, matched with a tone on tone cowhide leather handle.  It is a sophisticated version of the Le Pliage.  I love that the main compartment comes with a zip opening. The interior of the bag also has one flat pocket in front. 

Briefly, here are the mechanics:

Approved Citibank Rustan’s Platinum Card
Approved Citibank Rustan’s Gold Card
New Citibank Credit Cardholder One (1) FREE Longchamp LM Metal Handbag.
Purchase one (1) Longchamp LM Metal Handbag at 60% off on SRP of P8,650 and pay only P288 per month at 0% PayLite for 12 months.
Existing Citibank Credit Cardholder
Purchase one (1) Longchamp LM Metal Handbag at 45% off on SRP of P8,650 and pay only P396 per month at 0% PayLite for 12 months.

For more info, go here.

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