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Friday, November 16, 2012

It's The Time of the Year!

Thirty eight days 'til Xmas!  Yup, I got a calendar and counted it!  :)  So, Petit Blanc and i.m.home are busy once again, preparing for the bazaars!  If you're in Manila, hope you can drop by and check out our beautiful pieces from i.m.home and super cute stuff from Petit Blanc.  Sorry, shameless pluggings!  :)We will be at the Manila Intercon Hotel in Makati on November 25 and at Greenmeadows Clubhouse on December 8 & 9.  Hope you can drop by!    We've started inventory of the new things that just arrived and we're off to packing them in gift boxes to make it easier for buyers (like you!) looking for Xmas gifts.  There's so much I want to share and post but so little time...Maybe next week will be a bit lighter...or not?!  Happy Weekend everyone!

I would love to hear your thoughts!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Dog Love

Dog Love on a lazy Sunday...

I would love to hear your thoughts!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Tablescape: Halloween inspired

It's been a while since my last post on tablescape, so I thought it would be nice to share  something that was very recent...

Our very good family friends were in town and as always, it is a pleasure to host a dinner for them.  And what a perfect way to showcase my newly found piece, perfect for Halloween!  My kids call it the Gates of Haunted Mansion.  And it does look like it, right?  :)  This is a piece found by my partner from the US, that would have been part of the new collection of Petit Blanc.  But of course, when I saw it  while we we were doing our inventory, I just can't let it go.  It's just so perfect for the season!  There is actually a small lever that you can lift to open the gates!  How authentic is that!  So,  sorry for the future buyers, it's only one piece, and i got it!  Haha!!!

This is how it turned out on the dining table.  Would have been nicer if candles were lit, but I didn't have time to take photos when guests arrived...

On top of the Haunted Mansion Gate, I had some gourds and cobs to add to the Halloween feel.  Flatware were folded inside black napkins and tied with orange ribbon and twine.  For the kids' table, I just put all the spoon & forks and napkin in my old orange bucket.  

Another setting for the table outside.  The black fabric was a last minute buy from Kamuning market...30 pesos a yard!  How can you go wrong with that?   A good table setting need not be costly, right?  And the ribbons and twines were actually recycled!  And would you believe those dried cobs are 6 years already?  Yup!  I bought them while we were still living in Singapore and they still look good up to this day.  They've seen 6 years of Halloween at Casa Insigne!

And of course, the kids' can't be left behind.  Since they usually eat and go, thought it wise to keep it simple, but still fun for them.  I threw in some treats, labelled it with their names that served also as their name cards.  

It's always nice to catch up with friends who live abroad.  We all had a good time, not to forget a very sumptuous meal too!  I prepared no-fuss smoked turkey legs (which I got from S&R), so I just dressed it up with a siding of roasted sweet potatoes and whole garlic.  Sure hit during the dinner!  I also made longganisa pasta made from three different kinds of longganisa.  Someone brought the group's favorite lengua and every kid's favorite...Chicken Joy (not in the photo).  Oh, I almost forgot I also made the brie with marmalade which became instant hit!  (Too bad, I didn't even get to take a photo of it.)  The dinner was capped by Krispy Kreme Donuts!  Are you salivating already?  ;)

Kids are on sem break, and we're all looking forward to a short holiday out of town.  How about you?  What's your plan?  Be safe and Happy Halloween!  Here's a photo taken last Saturday during the trick or treat at our subdivision.  :)

I would love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Repurposing Kitchen Stuff

Do you sometimes just buy something even when you don't need (yet!) it or don't know where to use it?  I am guilty of that.  I buy unnecessary things, as long as they're pretty and make me smile  :)  Here are some proof of my thoughtless buying but are now actually serving a purpose!  Yay!

(1)  ceramic pink mug with fleur de lis holds pen and markers  (2)  lacquered bamboo  tray keeps everything organized  (3) vintage depression glass saucer  (remember my post about it here?) holds a couple of washi tape  (4)  mini ceramic planter with legs keeps all the USB and security devices  (5)  egg cups (so pretty!)  holds paper clips and push pins  (6) ceramic dish tray keeps post its, paper clips and stapler (hidden behind post its)  (7) baby blue vintage milk jug (love the bird detail!) holds pencils  (8)  toast holder holds mini memo pads

They're not unnecessary after all!  Right?  They're pretty and purposeful!   :)  And mind you, these stuff are really cheap!

I'm loving how I started my study revamp.  Remember the first time I said I will tackle the study project here?  I  think that was two years ago!  I know, I keep the record on the worst procrastinator!'s never too late.  I did some repainting on the wall , some bleaching on the furniture, etc..  I still need to redress my study chairs but I'm getting there.  Promise to share with you my "new" study soon!  For the meantime, go and check out your kitchen and do some repurposing, upcycling of your   collection!

Have a good week ahead!

I would love to hear your thoughts!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Muffins, Anyone?

I got the family's approval on my very first try to bake banana oat muffins!  Yay!  I'm not really a baker because I don't like following recipes and making accurate measurements.  I cook by tasting.  So if I'm asked for a recipe, I can only give the ingredients, minus the measurements.  That's just how I am with cooking.  But yesterday, I didn't have the heart to throw 3 pcs of Cavendish bananas just because they are over ripe.  So I looked through my cook books (I do keep some, mainly for ideas and photos!  haha!)  and found Gordon Ramsay's Banana Oat Muffins.  It looked easy, so I tried...  and this is how it turned out.

I like the texture, it's chunky and chewy and a bit crusty on top but moist inside.  And I think it's healthier than the usual muffins.  I replaced walnuts with muesli, which gave it more fiber.  I used olive oil, instead of butter and the recipe calls for only one egg and brown sugar; I used raw brown sugar.  So it was not sweet, it was just right, paired with a cup of coffee or tea!  :)

Here is a copy of the recipe.  You should try it.  If I'm able to make it, it must be one of the easiest muffin recipes and anyone can do it!

Banana oat muffins  Heat oven to 180C.  Line a 12-hole muffin tin with paper cases.  In a large bowl, combine 100g oats, 200g plain flour, 1.5 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, 1/4 tsp sea salt and 100g light brown sugar.  Mix well and make a well in the center.  Mash 4 large ripe bananas (I only put 3, becase that's all I have) in another bowl, with a fork.  Stir in 1 beaten large egg and 60g melted butter (or light olive oil).  I used olive oil!  Add to the dry mixture with 75g chopped walnuts (I don't have walnuts so I replaced it with muesli!  Which turned out ok, more chewy!) and fold through until just combined (don't overmix).  Spoon ( I used an ice cream scooper which made it  really easy!) into the paper cases and bake for 20-25 minutes (I'm really stubborn, I was so excited, I baked it for 15 mins only and kept it inside the oven for another 5 mins) until brown and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Makes 12.  I made 13!  :)

I would love to hear your thoughts!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Bit of Styling: Trays

When I checked the stats of my blog, some of the most popular posts were those on "A Bit of Styling..".  The one on cake stands being number one.  I'd like to think I am able to effectively share some inspirations and ideas on how to do a bit of styling, using things that you already have at home.   :)   So today,  I thought I'll share another styling idea...  TRAYS!  I have a long time affair with trays.  Just like plates, cake stands, lamps and bed linens, I can't seem to have enough of them.  I'm actually not sure how many I have but one thing for sure, I get to use all of them.  I'm that kind of collector who actually uses her collection, instead of keeping them  locked in the shelves. 

Take a peek at some corners of my home...

This lacquer tray was from Myanmar.  A gift from my BFF.  It has retired from serving, and now this orange tray keeps some of the coffee table books and a mini mahjong set neatly stacked together on the coffee table.  

Now, this breakfast tray...its been used for it's purpose during birthdays, father/mother's day or when someone is sick in the family.  So it's not very often that we get to use it, so I thought why not make it into a side table?  And the height fits perfectly with my favorite chair!

This one was originally a sand tray, you know that thingy that comes with a stick-like rake that you use to create patterns on the sand?  It kinda calms you down, very therapeutic!    Over time, the sand disappeared so I thought it would be nice to keep my collection of cow bone decors.  And the emperor couple actually looks happy on it!:)  Together with them is an old opium jar and two bells (yup they're bells!)

A lacquer tray from Vietnam holds an Iris plant and some coasters on the dining table.

This one is not really a tray but an Indonesian wooden scoop for measuring rice.  Holds fruits on the kitchen counter and sometimes  I also use it to hold pillar candles!

Three more Vietnam finds...
An eggshell lacquered tray (actually its called a spathe) to hold keys and mail at the foyer.

A ceramic blue and white plate with rattan trimmings on the side holds my pretty white hand towels (from Petit Blanc!..go check our FB site!)

And an irregularly shaped (bent!) bamboo tray is used to hold bathroom essentials.  I used a vase to hold the toothbrushes and a sugar container holds the cotton pads/swabs.  

There are still un-photographed trays around the house, but for the meantime, I hope you got some inspiration and ideas on how to use your own serving trays around your home.  Remember it only takes a bit of styling to create a vignette or prettify a corner.  :)  Your serving trays need not be exclusively kept in the kitchen. :)

I would love to hear your thoughts!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

ELLE Decoration Philippines!

For a home magazine junkie like me, this is a very exciting news!  We  now have Elle Decoration Philippines!  Woohoo!!    I was pleasantly surprised to see it at Fully Booked and immediately grabbed a copy.  My daughter said "Ma, that's impulse buying, I said... No, I need these materials for my job."  LOL!  Grab a copy and be proud of our very own  beautiful  homes!

Another great read is Dwell Asia.  Comes every two months.  Every issue is packed with lots of inspirations!

These are my little luxuries in life!  Magazines, coffee and books!

Have a good week ahead everyone!  :)
I would love to hear your thoughts!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Our new baby... SKY!

Meet the new (actually not so new anymore!)  baby of the family...SKY!  Isn't he adorable?  All white and furry with that cute button nose!     We got him last May as a gift from my Papa.  If you've followed this blog, you would remember that I've posted about Chiqui, the dog that we sometimes borrow from my Papa.  The hubby was not keen on getting a  dog, in spite of the kids' pleading.   But this little pup came to our home on hubby's birthday, so how can he refuse?  And now, guess who's the master?  The Alpha?  It's the hubby!  He even lets SKY kiss and lick him on the face!

A collage of SKY's photos playing in the garden. Cutesy!!!  But he got a dose of scolding from me for chewing on the leaves and destroying some of the plants.  

Truly the baby of the family!

Look how big he is now!  Five moths old and growing!  We got him when he was two months old only.  Yup..this is another proof how long I haven't blogged!  The little pup grew faster than my blog posts!  He's getting bigger everyday and we can hardly carry him anymore.

Look at that smile!  :)

Do you think he is a beautiful dog?  We really find him good looking and charming or maybe all mothers find their kids beautiful?  haha!!!  People usually ask if he is a Lab, and we would answer he's mixed.  Papa said he's mixed Lab and husky.  Hubby says he's just plain Aspin (mongrel).  I think he is part Lab part Aspin.  Oh well, it doesn't matter anymore because we've raised him as our special dog, part of our family now.  And the breed doesn't matter anymore.  We're very happy to have SKY in our family!  I think he came in the right time.  The kids are old enough to take the responsibility of taking care of his needs.  That was the condition we made, they will be the primary care taker, not me.  They play with him, walk him around the village, give him a bath  and has trained him the basic tricks like seat, come, fetch, up and lie down.  Sounding like a proud Mama!  haha!!  So there, that's our SKY bebe!  (that's how we call him!)

I would love to hear your thoughts!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mama Moment: Bullying...A Mother's Nightmare!

Last Saturday, my son's school hosted a seminar entitled, "Bullying by Design".  I went with my son and as I expected, the theatre was full.  I knew that many parents will attend because the topic of bullying is one that poses so many emotions, fear, dominance, hate, depression, and a lot more.  And in one point all of us might have experienced it, witnessed it or maybe we were bullies ourselves.

Photo from here.

As a mother, bullying is one thing that really breaks my heart.  I always pray that no one will bully my children and that they will not bully anyone.  But I guess it's inevitable.  I had my share when my son moved to a new school.  Coming from an International school, he was picked on the way he talked.  He didn’t know Tagalog then (up to now I regret not teaching him the native tongue, even if we lived abroad!) and he had the American twang.  We told him that he is going to the best school, but he thought otherwise.  He said it’s not the best school, the boys are disrespectful and rude.  He said he hurts inside because the boys call him American boy, sometimes Australian boy, and at his tender age of 8, he knows that he is being labelled.  He just want to belong to his new school and make new friends. 

Maybe our case is not as worse as the others, there were no physical bullying that happened, but verbal can be as painful as physical bullying.  By the Lord’s grace and our conscious effort to conduct daily dialogues with him, informing the school about his situation, he survived his first year in his new school.   Though it was a bit traumatic, he managed to excel academically, and soon gained new friends.  It was quite a long process, and it hurt me the most.  There were times when I thought of transferring him to a new school, maybe a progressive school that is more tolerant of each other’s differences.  But I thought that will be escaping from the reality.    I wanted to talk to his classmates, but I knew he had to fight his own battle.  I wanted to contact the parents of the bullies but I knew better than getting myself and the other parents with the boys’ affairs. 

Photo from here.

It’s been three years since, and aside from small complaints, my son has not reported any bullying anymore.  I thought I would share with you some key points on how we dealt with bullying; and how they help in raising good children with skills that they will need until they're old enough to be left alone.

1. Conduct daily dialogue with the kids.  Refrain from asking how was your day or what did you do today.  Instead, you can ask if there were any special things that happened in school.   Or was there anything funny that happened.  That way, he will be more inclined to tell a story rather than the predictable answer of “School’s ok.”   This practice develops good communication skills for your children too.  They will be able to effectively sort and filter things that happen in school with your guidance.

2.  Listen to all the stories and do not take for granted complaints and hurts that they articulate.  Sometimes, we find their stories not very interesting or very trivial, but a mother should be able to read between the lines.  What can be a trivial thing to us can mean the whole world for them.  Communication is two way, so always encourage them to talk and at the same time, listen to them well, not just hear them.  They will replicate this practice and become good listeners themselves.

3. Let them fight their own battles but always be there to give guidance and   direction.  It is so tempting to meddle with our kids’ affairs outside of the home, but as mothers, we should also learn to step back and let them learn how to handle difficult situations.  Instead of telling them what to do, we should ask them “What do you think should you do?” or “How do you think should we handle this situation?”
This is one way of teaching the skill of problem solving at an early age and being independent, not to be easily rattled in future difficult situations.

4.  Inform the school authorities of what your child is experiencing.  The school needs info and data to establish effective measures and system against bullying.   And always make a follow through of your letters to the school.  This practice will make the children confident and secured in their school environment, knowing that the school does not tolerate bullying and rules and regulations are followed.

5. Know as much classmates as you can.  I find this very effective in developing friendships and earning respect from the school community.  If you know the classmates personally, chances are these same kids will look out for your own kid while in school. 

6.  Explain to your child the different domestic situation of every family.  Each family is very different from you own.  I tell my kids that before getting mad at the bullies, they should try their best to understand the bully's situation.  Some bullies are actually bullied at home by their older siblings or even by their parents, that's why they lash out all their frustrations in school and become bullies themselves.  Some lack attention or are always left to the care of the yaya so they try to get as much attention as possible (unfortunately, in a negative way).  And my son even confirmed that most of the bullies do fall in that profile of a troubled home.   By talking to your kids about the different familial situations, they become more understanding and tolerant individuals, key traits in this world that may not be friendly all the time. :)

7.  Assure them of your family’s love and support.  No matter what other people tell them, they should be confident and secured of themselves.  And these traits can only grow in children with a loving and supportive family.  Need I say more?  Love conquers everything.  A happy child is a product of a happy and loving family!

8.  Pray! Pray! Pray!  No matter how much explaining and role modelling we do, we still need the power of prayers.  And what's a more beautiful gift to your child than teaching them to pray at all times, whether they are troubled or they are thankful. I taught my son a chant that goes..."Jesus, Mama Mary, Holy Spirit, stay with me and keep me calm."  He has to recite this three times or as much as needed when he is in a difficult situation.  It teaches him also to be patient, calm, and not act against any situation when he is angry or frustrated.  I think it works!  :)  I myself do this too!

I'm not an expert, what I've shared is what I've learned and have helped us cope with the issue of bullying.  And the seminar has affirmed what we teach our kids.  As a mother, I can only do so much and pray hard that my children will never be a bully, never to be bullied nor be a bystander in a bullying situation (equally important to handle).

How about you?  Have you been in a similar situation?  I wish it against all mothers.  It is a nightmare!

I would love to hear your thoughts!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Kitchen Buddy....the Steam Gourmet

Steamed salmon, carrots and broccoli with Japanese sprinkles for the rice.

Are you like me who still send "baon" to school?  My kids are actually big already and can manage to buy their lunch from the school cafeteria but they both like home cooked food and "Mama's cooking."  So no choice but to wake up early and prepare lunch for them.  Of course I only want the healthiest and  as much as possible, visually appealing because I know it's not hot anymore by lunch time, so at least it should still look yummy for the kids.  

Steamed salmon, broccoli and carrots with a wedge of lemon.  How does that sound to you?  Sounds gourmet right?  This is one of the easiest lunch set I make for the kids.  And it only takes 20 mins to prepare, including chopping of veggies.  Thanks to my kitchen buddy, the Steam Gourmet!  (Sounds like an ad?  :) )

The bottom part is where I cook the fish and the upper layer is for the veggies.  Thanks to my late father-in-law who gifted my son (our little Chef) with this ever reliable steamer.  Now every morning is a breeze! :)  How about you mommies out there?  Any tips on making easy lunch for kids?  

*  Steam Gourmet is available at Home TV Shopping.

I would love to hear your thoughts.
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