Thursday, January 31, 2013

Phenomenal Tip: Ways to Re-Purpose Your Child's Old Crib

I have long donated all my maternity clothes; my baby stroller and car seats have been given away as well; newborn onesies and booties have found new owners, too.  I've given them all away since I don't have any more plans to get pregnant - ever again. (saying this with fingers crossed... in both hands.  hahaha!)

If you are lucky enough to have managed to hold on to your crib and crib mattress, I found several photos that show the many ways on how to repurpose old cribs and mattresses.  The projects look so dreamy, you'll be tempted to make one yourself. 

Here is the crib re-purposed into a toddler arts and crafts table.  Just take out one side of the rail, add some chairs, hang some supplies, and your kids now have their very own crafts center.  I wished I had seen this earlier, when my kids were younger and easily impressed.  This is a really efficient and cheap way to repurpose the crib.  No additional hardware or carpentry works necessary. 
It could also just be repurposed into a simple toddler study desk... because good study habits are easier taught when kids are younger.  I love the chalkboard tabletop, where kids can doodle all they want without the parents having to worry about the walls.

The photo below shows a grown-up take on the repurposed crib. I would love to have one like this. 

Cribs can also be made into a love seat, with a few carpentry works required.  The crib matress also doubles as cushion. 

Love the "princess and the pea"  look of this multi foam sofa.  Perfect for a little girl's playroom.
with a few modifications, the crib frame can even be a hanging daybed

Should you go ahead and convert the crib into a toddler desk, the crib mattress is not a lost cause as it can also be used alone   As you can see, it easily converts into a two-seater daybed.  

This one looks right at home in a Japanese minimalist home

And even that crib bumper pad, can be repurposed into a bench cushion.  Just cut the bumper pad in half and put the two halves alongside each other and tie together.

I bet I have you looking for that old crib and mattress.:)

*double click on the photos for the source
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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Posh Nails Magallanes

After all the last minute shopping for gifts, meeting up with friends and family reunions that I did last December, it was really such a treat for me to experience the pampering treatment at Posh Nails Hand & Foot Spa - Magallanes

When I entered the spa, I immediately felt relaxed for it was painted in soothing shades of of white, pink and lilac. The place looks so feminine and comfortable, especially with its soft couches and plush pillows.  The chandelier at the center of the room also gave the room an added touch of fancy.

I just love the quatrefoil pattern on the divider - certainly added to the chicness.

"Posh Nails Magallanes offers ultra luxurious pampering packages for both hands and feet. Among the most in-demand services include the hand spa, hand and arm scrub, foot scrub, foot and leg mask, foot spa, reflexology, Posh spoiling, Basic Refresh, Green Tea pedicure, Coffee pedicure, eyelash extension, Paraffin dip, nail art and waxing.
Posh Nails is the first spa chain in the Philippines to offer themed manicures and pedicures such as Green Tea, Coffee, Chocolate lovers, Margarita, Cremee Brulee and Citrus. Themed manicures and pedicures differ for each month to keep clients excited and up to date with nail salon services all across the globe. Posh Nails Magallanes also offers cocktail drinks, coffee, tea, hot cocoa along with the themed service."

The first thing I noticed as soon as I took me seat on the couch, was how immaculately clean the place was.  My attendant made sure to sanitize her hands before she started my treatment.  She said that all the instruments were sterilized with a disinfectant after every use.   She also shared that should you have the desire for instant pampering, and finding yourself dressed inappropriately (read: skinny jeans), Posh Nails Magallanes also offers the use of shorts and robes so you can avail of their services comfortably. The staff of Posh Nails Magallanes are very friendly and well-trained.  My attendant made my experience even more comfortable by offering a robe and drinks.  

After washing and soaking my feet for a few minutes, my attendant rubbed a mixture which looked and felt like a brown sugar scrub.


Once it was all washed off, she began to apply this peppermint mask.  

I had the hand and nail treatment, so I felt like a princess for close to an hour.  Thanks so much Posh Nails Magallanes for this luxurious treat!

The nail spa offers an all imported nail polish selection.

Check out the affordable rates below!

Like Posh Nails Hand & Foot Spa -Magallanes on Facebook

Posh Nails Hand & Foot Spa -Magallanes
3/F Unit 308 The Gateway Center, 
Paseo De Magallanes, Magallanes Village, 
Phone (02) 703 6517
Hours Mon - Sun: 10:00 am - 8:00 pm

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Bento Mom

Back to school after the long Christmas break is usually an effort for me... back to waking up early to help the kids get ready for school, back to helping the youngest one with his lessons, and back to thinking of what to prepare for their lunch baon.

But for one of my mommy friends, back to school means that she is back as the resident cool mom, as far as her kids and their lunch-mates are concerned.  You see since the last quarter of 2012, she has been churning out one creative bento lunch after another.  Her kids have been the star of the school cafeteria, and even the lunch teachers have been looking forward to the daily bento creations.
I have known Che for as long as my youngest has started pre-nursery.  We started out as co-parents and started talking, along with the rest of the other moms, as we waited for our kids to get dismissed. When our kids moved on to different big schools, we kept in touch with occasional breakfast dates, and our group's annual dice game and Christmas party.  

This mom is as gorgeous as her bento box creations.  And of course, her "hard work" pays off as she sees her kids' lunch box wiped clean at the end of the day.  To complete her happiness, the creative bento lunches have also encouraged her daughters to try a wide variety of foods that they would otherwise have turned their noses up: fresh lettuce, uncooked carrots, cucumber slices that serve as garnish for the bentos are now being eaten - without any fuss.  And that, for her, makes all the effort worth it!

Here are some samples of her creations, there are a lot more posted  on her Facebook wall.
And one of my favorites... the Japanese girls.

Here is a short Q & A with Che:
1) How long have you been doing bento lunches? What made you start in the first place?
 - I started doing bento lunches just recently, sometime September this year. I was prompted to try it when I saw a post from my friend in Cebu who was creating bento lunches for her kids. They were really cute and healthy. So I told myself, maybe I can do it for the kids too.

2.) How long is your prep time? How does the entire process go? Any tips to speed things up?
 - It takes me about an hour and a half to make two sets. A longer time would be ideal so you can enjoy making it. Haha! I start at 4AM and I end or have to end at 5:30 since I have to wake the kids up and give my little one a bath. I usually begin by steaming the rice early. While it is in the cooker, I cook all the other food like the meat and the veggies. I also boil the carrots and fry the eggs, which I mostly use to decorate my bento. When the rice is cooked and cooled, I mould them using a rice mould or with a cling film in whatever animal or character I have for my design.  

- To speed things up, I usually boil the eggs the night before if I need them for the bento. I just warm them on top of my steaming rice in the morning. Sometimes, I pre-cut hard designs at night and stick them on cling film like the ninja’s bangs in one of my bentos. I called that one a challenge because I used tomato skin for the bangs, and it was very difficult to cut. Also, a well-planned design should be ready at night. I draw my designs at night and label everything as to what I’m going to use for each part. If I’m not sure how it looks, I sometimes colour my design. So come morning, I know exactly what to do and what I need for my bento.  

3.) Where do you find inspiration for your intricately designed bentos?  
- There are dozens of bento makers on the internet. I get inspiration from them. I also get ideas from the kid’s toys, books and other stuff. When I’m out and I see something cute, it automatically becomes a part of my bento list. J I am always on the lookout for ideas. Everything becomes an inspiration.  

4.) What are the essential props and where do you get them? 
- The most common bento items that are needed are lunchboxes of different shapes and sizes, rice mould, food cutters, dish cups, and food picks. Locally, I get them from Japanese stores like Daiso, Japan Home and Saizen. But since there isn’t much bento supplies found here in the Philippines, I bought a few online from Bento sites.  

5.) What kind of food do you include in your bento? Is the food temp still a concern for you/your kids? Do they take their food hot/warm/cold? 
- There are a variety of foods that can be included in a bento. Mine consists of some part meat like tender cuts of chicken, beef and pork , seafood like shrimps and fish, vegetables ( beans, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, etc.), pasta ( not tomato based ), egg, fruits and a little sweet treat. The kids take their food in room temperature. Since I make it very early in the morning, the heat doesn’t last till lunchtime. It’s a good thing that the kids are already used to taking their lunch in this temp even before I started doing bento lunches. Actually, bento lunches can be heated on a microwave oven but the school canteen has no provision for that.  

6.) Are your kids the envy of the lunch room? How do they show their appreciation?
 - Haha! Yeah, they are already the talk of the school canteen. J Some teachers take photos of their lunch box. Even if it’s not my schedule to make bento lunch, the kids ask if I could make again the following day because their teacher will take some photos. The kids love their bento lunches and they show me their appreciation by “trying” to finish it. And I can see also that they are more open now to trying out new food. They make me happy when they say they’ve finished their veggies or even simply by trying out a slice of carrot. My daughter learned to eat fresh lettuce too, even if I just used it for lining the lunchbox. Kidding aside, they remember to bring back my decorative props and not give it out to their friends. Haha!

Che, this post serves as a reminder that Iam waiting for your tutorial on DIY Bento Lunch.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Iloilo: Where To Eat & What Pasalubong To Buy

lloilo sits on the southern shores of Panay Island; and the city itself is just across the Guimaras Island,  so naturally, fresh seafood is in abundance.  I've been to Iloilo before, a very long time ago; but I still remember those seaside restaurants serving fresh seafoods with fondness. Coming to Iloilo this time around, I was expectedly looking forward to reliving those memories.  And this trip had a lot of those deja vu moments of food glory.

Just a few hours after our plane landed, a swimming co-parent who hails from Iloilo whisked us off for an early lunch at Tatoy's Manokan.  It is an unassuming and rustic-looking restaurant, but is one of Iloilo's best seafood restaurant.

Ordering is easy, just point to whatever is on the display stand.

We had our lunch in one of the nipa huts across the street, which offered us a wonderful view of the sea and Guimaras Island further across.

At Tatoy's, I simply can't get enough of the fresh oysters dipped in spiced vinegar, the baked scallops, lechon baboy, lechon manok (house specialty... it's Tatoy's Manokan, after all), and the best grilled Managat.  The Grilled Managat is one of the best tasting dish I have ever come across during my visit to Iloilo.  The fish is very meaty and sweet.  Their Baked Scallops is among the best I've ever tasted.  A lot of restaurants have these on the menu, but the seasoning of Tatoy's is different; the mixture of calamansi, butter, garlic and cheese is just so yummy my plate was full of scallop shells when the meal was over.

The kids were amazed that fresh buko juice is served with the husk, and so a flurry to take instagram photos ensued.

Still, another seaside restaurant that is one every visitor's must-visit list is BreakthroughThis restuarant is similar to Tatoy's, but the seashore is more conducive to walking around and the view  more scenic.
 I had another taste of my favorite, Grilled Managat.
Another dinner was hosted for us at Bauhinia, located within the complex of Smallville.  The family of one of our swim co-parents own the strip of restaurants located at The Avenue, within the lively Smallville complex.  We were able to sample an array of specialty dishes in the buffet dinner prepared for us that night.  We got to taste the ribs that Mojave Grill & Steak House is known for.   Dessert that night was from Tinapayan BakeshopThe Banana Cream Pie and Mango Pavlova was a worthy excuse to pile on extra calories. 

The Smallville complex also has a hotel within the vicinity, the Smallville 21 HotelSome of the swimmers who stayed in this hotel liked the accomodation.  While I haven't seen the interiors, the hotel is relatively new so I am sure the rooms are very comfortable.  It is located in an area that is known for being the premier entertainment and dining center in the city.   I can safely assume that because of its proximity to the dance clubs and KTV family bars, hotel guest can expect some noise especially on weekends. 

Of course, no visit to Iloilo will be complete without having the Lapaz Batchoy.  We ate at Deco's Lapaz Batchoy because it was also conveniently beside the pasalubong store.  Just to be honest, I did not find anything spectacular to rave about, but maybe it's just me.

I did all of my pasalubong shopping at Deco's Pasalubong Shop.  After the group had lunch at Deco's Lapaz Batchoy, we went next door to buy our pasalubongs.  It made shopping for pasalubongs so convenient since all of Iloilo's most famous delicacies are now housed in one store.  

The products include the famous butterscotch, barquillos, biscocho, crispy squid rings, preserved foods and pinasugbo from Biscocho Haus, Panaderia de Molo, and Trappist Monastery Food Products, Wewins, JD Bakeshop, Rosy's Delicacies, PJ Delicacies, Deocampo Barquillos Mama's Kitchen and Mrs. Fudge. 
They can even put it all in a box for you to make sure that all the yummy treats stay in its original condition and can withstand the airplane transport.

Tatoy's Manokan and Seafood Restaurant
Villa Beach, Sto. Niño Sur, Arevalo, Iloilo City
Villa Beach, Barangay Sto. Niño Sur, Arevalo, Iloilo, Philippines

Bauhinia Filipino Cuisine and Mojave Grill and Steak House
Smallville Complex, Diversion Road, Mandurriao District, Iloilo City

DECO'S Lapaz Batchoy
La Sallette Bldg. Valeria St. Iloilo City

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Iloilo: Where To Stay

I initially planned to do a travelogue on the province, thinking that our 5 day stay there for the Batang Pinoy National Championship would provide sufficient time to squeeze in a city tour; but quickly realized after having spent half-day cheering my daughter on by the poolside, under the humid Iloilo sun, I was too pooped to actually go around the city.  Nevertheless, I was lucky to be in the company of some great people who managed to make our stay there fun and super-comfortable.  So even if I can't share city sights with you, you will still be getting the dish on Iloilo's must-visit restaurants in my next post.  

We took PAL's first flight out, and got to the province at the first crack of day.  Typhoon Sendong was making its arrival the same day, and expected to make landfall early evening.  While, it did spare Iloilo from its wrath, the other provinces were not as lucky.  News reports days later tagged Typhoon Sendong as among the deadliest cyclones to hit the Philippines.  So lucky for us that the typhoon's path spared Iloilo!  Look at the flooded streets of the nearby province of Cagayan de Oro.

Anyway, to move along...  For now, I will post about where we stayed.

We stayed at the Days Hotel, and booked the classic deluxe room, which we found roomy for its class.  Our room had two double beds, which could easily have accommodated a family of four. 

This is how the classic deluxe room looks like
image source
This is how the modern deluxe room looks like.
image source
The classic deluxe room wasn't as pretty as the refurbished room, which they called modern deluxe room, but I figured if I took out the tacky green duvet, the room won't look as bad.  And I am right!  Save for the headboard, lamps, duvet cover and the outdated upholstery, the rooms are seemingly identical.
look at the difference it made to the room with the tacky duvet half-drawn down

While the rooms are clean and well-maintained, the lighting could be improved on.  If you've read my blog post about Swissotel @ The Stamford when we celebrated the holidays last 2011 in Singapore right here, you'd know my preference for a bright room. Nothing that a request to housekeeping can't fix.  The true gem of Days Hotel is clearly the wonderful and accommodating hotel staff, all armed with that distinct Ilonggo hospitality.  The housekeeping staff quickly provided my room with bulbs of higher wattage and even added a floor lamp.  It also has a sitting corner and an office desk, which we found very useful as J needed to review/ do advance study after the day's competition to make up for the long absence from school.

Our room came without window views; I opened up the curtain to a blank wall.  But the lack of view did not really matter to me.  The bathroom is adequately sized, with the toiletries being refilled everyday.  We brought our own body gels and shampoos, and just used up the hotel's hand soap, but the staff kept refilling the hand soap each day with a new one. The open closet was provisioned with several hangers. And there was even a safe where to put one's valuables in the comfort of the room, though I did no bother to use this amenity.  They claim to offer free wi-fi, but the signal was choppy, at best.  

Our hotel stay came with daily complimentary breakfast.  There are a lot of food choices, but I am a creature of habit;  if available, I usually start my breakfast buffet with congee.   One of my best Iloilo memories is having authentic Filipino/Ilonggo breakfast while watching the early morning traffic from the window across my table.

Days Hotel is right at the heart of a very busy commercial area.  This three-star hotel's layout can be confusing initially as it sits on top of the Atrium Mall, with the hotel lobby at the fourth level of the mall, and the guest rooms on the fifth level.  The first to third level house a mini mall which includes a grocery, and food court.  
The hotel lobby.  image source

If I would go back to Iloilo next time, I would definitely stay here again.  The room rates are very affordable, and the hotel's location makes for convenient travel for everyone:  the grocery store on the first floor, the steady stream of cabs on the street fronting the hotel, the free breakfast buffet, the food court on the lower level.  And not to mention that SM Delgado is just a few walks away. 

Days Hotel Iloilo
Address: :  4F The Atrium Mall, Gen Luna St., Iloilo City
Phone:  63-33-3373297