Manila, Philippines: - As we become a web-centric world, more online opportunities arise and the love for arts is becoming one of the most sought-after activities for kids and kids at heart.

As a response, Eco Hotel Philippines, together with Iris Alonso, came up with an art workshop called "Paint and Sip".

Paint and Sip is an instructional painting lesson that usually consists of groups and is accompanied by wine or other beverages. These kinds of events have increased in frequency rather rapidly since 2007.

Iris Alonso started Paint and Sip in Yangon in July 2017 as a way to raise funds to run a primary school in an isolated village in Mon State. Her event lives on in the Philippines to fund art scholarships and to encourage people to explore their artistic capacities with the help of wine and friends.

We've invited talented and accomplished artists to share their expertise and journey to make the event even more effective and incredible for YOU!

1. Jessica Herrera

Jessica is the main artist of this operation. She worked in AIESEC for 6 years, as well as served as a Partnership Manager for the Asian Development Bank. She is currently a consultant for NGOs in the Philippines and is a licensed Zumba instructor, as well as a certified Spanish teacher. However, her true passion is painting. She started painting at the tender age of 6 and is happy to have finally found a relevant cause for her talent.

2. Iris Alonso

Iris is not an artist, but an art enthusiast, with 6 years of development work experience in AIESEC, an international NGO. Through that, she became a Country Manager and a Global Expansions Coach in Myanmar.

The proceeds from this event will be used to fund an organization and honor Sir Chinggoy Alonso's contribution to Philippine arts and theatre. Chinggoy was a Filipino actor in theatre, movies, and television. He appeared in countless movies during his lifetime. Sadly, last October 2017, he passed away due to cancer.

Eco Hotel Philippines is a company that is passionate about conservation, preservation, and protection of our environment. As a green service hotel, Eco Hotels ensures that eco-friendly processes are implemented from construction to day-to-day operations. This is aligned with its advocacy of minimizing its impact on the environment while imparting practices of sustainability to their staff and guests.

This art workshop aims to impart valuable tips to unleashing your love for arts, just like Iris and Jessica.

Don't miss the chance to attend this greatly anticipated event. Mark your calendars now:

21st of April 2018, 
at Containers by Eco Hotel, 
located along SVD Road, Brgy. San Jose, Tagaytay City, 
4:30pm onwards.

For more information, you may sign up here: https://goo.gl/forms/FTJDyumsJj7oSK5p2, email info@ecohotel.com.ph, or message them on Facebook (@ecohotelph).

See you there!

I've been a work at home mom for close to two years now. When Sofi was just an infant, it was hard. I was always lacking sleep and was taking care of her while working during the day in zombie mode.

When she learned to walk, it was a struggle. I think the only time it was relatively easy was when she was 4.5 months old. For a few weeks then, she was content to sit in her walker and play with whatever was within her reach. Sometimes, she just stared out through our sliding door and/or babbled.

I know, walkers are highly discouraged now, but my frazzled mind only found out recently. Thank God, she already started walking 2 weeks before her first birthday.

Anyway, after those few blissful quiet weeks when she just was content to sit in her walker while I worked, it was pretty much impossible to get any work done. I had a helper who did the house chores, but Sofi and my work were all mine. And boy, was working hard when there's a toddler who's pulling things off the shelves or tugging at you, basically yanking your arm so you'd play with her. Haha! Come on fellow WAHMs, you know what I'm talking about.

At some point, I realized that I was at the brink of a full-blown meltdown. I would go for months without a hair cut or a proper pedicure. My feet were dry and calloused, and in need of some TLC, while my hair was at its frizziest and often went uncombed. A bath was sometimes just an option. I had to get some help. I needed a nanny.

For a lot of people, it was a no-brainer. A nanny was a sure requirement. For me, it wasn't that easy. I basically refused that option until I just couldn't do it anymore. I waited for Sofi for the longest time, and I wanted to witness all her firsts. I wanted to be there for her 24/7 until she didn't need me anymore. But not working was out of the question, and it was impossible for me not to explode if I continued to refuse hiring a nanny. So eventually, I gave in.

Our house help then actually had a great relationship with Sofi. Once I trained myself to not be jealous, we promoted her to nanny and hired someone else who would do the house work.

It was great. I was able to work in peace, I was able to take a long bath, and I was able to use my body scrubs again! Okay, I still go for months without a haircut or a pedicure, but my mind isn't so frazzled anymore.

But it was too good to be true.

One day, our house help asked for a day off. Of course, who am I to refuse her that? Thing is, she never came back. So now, it's just Sofi, me, and the nanny. It was an awfully stressful week because I had a full sched at work and a big webinar coming up. I'm just glad that it happened at a time when Sofi's just 3 months shy of her 2nd birthday. She's so much easier to talk to now and she understands when she's not supposed to be doing something.

Alas, her nanny and I were able to work something out. I take care of Sofi until 9am every morning so she can sweep the leaves from the garden and in front of the house, do some quick chores inside the house, have her breakfast, and take a bath. Then she takes care of Sofi from 9am until around 4pm. Sofi takes her nap around 10am, so our nanny can prep for lunch around that time. I work until 3pm, then workout, take a bath, then I'm back to mommy mode. So it works. We run a tight sched, but it works.

It's hard when her nanny has to go on vacation - like these past few days - but with the help of my parents and in laws, we make it work.

Being a work at home mom is hard. I often wonder how single moms do it and stay sane. I mean, the Memet has not once given Sofi a bath, has changed nappies just a few times, and balks at the idea of being left alone with Sofi for a few hours at a time, but at least we now have a nanny who can help me. (Don't get me wrong, the Memet is still a great dad. Haha!) The grandparents gladly take her off my hands every now and then too. Again, don't get me wrong. I love Sofi to bits, but we all need some time to ourselves, right mommies?

So the point of this blurb? MOMS ARE FRICKIN' AWESOME. We all do what we gotta do. It's hard, but we make it happen somehow.

So here's a big tight virtual hug to all moms out there. And happy women's month to all of us too. XOXO.
This post is actually almost a year overdue. This wasn't really on my editorial calendar - not that I have one - but because I'm starting to plan her 2nd birthday (whut!), I thought I'd write about her first one first.

We didn't have a lot of suppliers. I'd like to think that we only got the essentials. So, here, I'll provide a quick review of each of the suppliers that we got.

The Venue



We knew we were going to have a lot of guests because a lot of friends a relatives were anticipating Sofi's first birthday. While we wanted the venue to have ample space for the guests, as well as sufficient parking, we didn't want to shell out an arm and a leg for the venue.

One of our godparents' live in Filinvest East, so they were able to provide the venue for us as a gift. They didn't want to mention the cost, but based on what I heard from the staff at the venue, rental of the Filinvest East Clubhouse is around 20-25k.

Sofi's Outfit



While there were tons of cute dresses available everywhere, we didn't want to risk our little girl having to experience a "Who Wore it Better?". Haha! So with my eyes closed and my wallet weeping silently, we had her dress custom-made by @babyjane.ph. Her shoes and socks were from the ever reliable SM Department Store.

The Caterer






Our caterer was Queensland Catering. We've had them cater a few other occasions in the past, and they've always been able to deliver quite nicely. The quality of their food is just right and their wait staff are always friendly. I like to hire them for our events because of their affordable rates.

Here's the link to their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/queenslandcatering/.


Venue Styling






I wanted something simple yet very feminine for Sofi's party, so I opted for a garden tea party theme. Queensland Catering also did the venue styling, and while many were quite happy and impressed with how it turned out, I'm going to be totally honest and say that they actually gave me quite a headache.

It was just a few minor things, really. I had to follow-up several times just to see a mood board or their pegs for the venue's styling - this was after I sent them a few pegs of my own hoping they'd show me a mood board using the pegs that I sent. On the day of the event, they did not know where to place things. Lala of Confetti Warehouse was the one calling me and coordinating for them just so they can figure out what to do with their decor.

I mean, they had my number. Why didn't a POC call me and ask me questions as soon as they arrived at the venue? Better yet, they could've clarified stuff before the day of the event. I sent them several photos of the venue and gave suggestions on where I wanted things placed.

Overall, I'd probably still hire them, but just for food. Haha!


Dessert Station








This was one of my most favorite things from Sofi's birthday. Lala of Confetti Warehouse was a dream to work with. They were professional and very creative, plus they were super fun to work with! They asked me what I wanted and delivered. I think the pictures speak for themselves. The dessert station was a hit, and guests were taking pictures with it as their background. Haha!

The cakes were mostly left untouched though, so we had to take them home. In hindsight, 3 cakes was probably overdoing it. Hahaha!

If I were to have another big event, I'd definitely run to Confetti Warehouse again. They also do venue styling, so yup, I'll have them style my venue next time.

Here's Confetti Warehouse's Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/confettiwarehouse/. And here's their username in IG: @confettiwarehouse.

Souvenirs



I'm not a huge fan of souvenirs that end up as dust catchers, because I like my home clutter-free. So when it was time to choose souvenirs for Sofi's first birthday, I was actually on the fence about even having one. But when I saw these cute little cakes in jar in Google, I knew I found our perfect souvenirs.

I had a high school classmate whose wife made cakes, cupcakes, and other desserts for events. So I hit her up, along with other possible suppliers, and was positively pleased when she gave me the lowest quote. Bonus: they live just a few streets away. Haha!

You can find Sweet Treats by Michaela on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SweetTreatsbyMichaela/.


Invitation & Thank You Tags


The invitations and thank you tags (found on the souvenir above) were made by Maicias Invitation & Souvenir. I don't know our contact person's name, but their numbers are on the picture if you're interested. Their rates are pretty affordable. They're from the Taytay area, and they happily met us in SM Taytay to deliver the tags and invitations at no additional cost.

Here's the link to their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/maiciasinvitationandsouvenir/.


Photobooth & Backdrop




We actually had two different suppliers for the photobooth and the backdrop that we used.

The photobooth was c/o https://www.facebook.com/eyenseephotobooth/ and the backdrop was c/o https://www.facebook.com/craftsysweets/.

Both are professional to work with and are very affordable. Definitely considering them for Sofi's 2nd birthday again.


Host & Entertainment






Host + entertainment was c/o Party Craze Entertainment. We got their Sulit Tipid Package which was worth 7.5k. It was their most expensive package, but when you look at all the inclusions, it was actually quite sulit (worth it).

For P7,500, we got a magician host/ventriloquist, 2 clowns, balloon twisting, bubble show, and face painting.

The Memet said he wasn't very happy with the ventriloquist act because the ventriloquist's lips were visibly moving. But, come on. For the price, it wasn't so bad. Plus practically everyone thought he was funny. He was quite a hit with the kids. Hehe!

Here's the link to their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PartyCrazeEntertainment/.


Game Prizes





I didn't have time to go anywhere to look for more affordable prizes, so my best bet was the SM Department Store. Haha! I just went to SM Taytay's department store to get the most affordable toys that they had plus some cute mugs for the adults, and wham-bam, I was out of there in a jiffy with all the prizes that I needed.

Oh, I did stop by Starbucks to get some GCs to add as prizes for the adults. Hehe!


Photo & Video



Photo & video was c/o For Keeps Photography. They were great to work with! Very easy-going and quite discreet so they got a lot of nice candid photos. Their packages are also quite affordable, so I'm definitely going to book them for Sofi's 2nd birthday too. I just hope they're still available. Haha!

Here's the link to their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/forkeepsphoto/.

So There...

Well, there you have it. That's basically all the suppliers that we had for Sofi's 1st birthday. I hope I didn't forget anyone. I was pretty happy with everyone that we worked with, except for the minor venue fiasco with Queensland. But overall, it was a pretty happy day.

I hope I was able to give you some ideas for suppliers if you've an upcoming event!

As for me, I'm off to planning Sofi's 2nd birthday. Just a few months to go, so I'm going to start contacting some of the supplier listed above. Hehe!



Aaaaand I'm back!

After practically a year-long hiatus from the blogging world - and an even longer hibernation from blogger events - I decided to finally come out of my cave and mingle with people. Ah, the life of a work from home mom. Haha!

I'm going to make this blog post short, because I have to get back to work right away... plus the little one is waiting for me to leave my laptop. So without further ado, here's my first food crawl for 2018:

SM Masinag Food Court Food Crawl

When people say "food court", what normally comes to mind is "just okay", sometimes blah, often unexciting food. Usually not instagrammable either. Well, the tenants at SM Masinag's food court sought to change that mindset, and I have to admit, my mind was changed.

We were served different "entrees" from eight different tenants - yes, eight. Burp. Here you go, and you're welcome:

1. Tropa-Res


UL - Kare-Kare; UR - Tapsilog; LL - Pork Ribs w/ Rice; LR - Beef Pares
Chef Carlo Gamboa presented Tropa-res' plates to us. They pride themselves in providing good quality beef - the kind that's not fatty or 'ma-litid'. I had a small sample of everything they served and I have to agree. The beef was tender, the kare-kare was tasty even without 'bagoong' (I'm allergic to 'bagoong'), and the presentation was actually pretty good. Not the typical, old-fashioned food court look.

And their tapsilog? It includes grilled tomato with pesto cheese, and the egg is scrambled with butter. Definitely not your typical food court quality from the olden days.

2. Chica's


UR - Bagnet with Chicharon Bulaklak; LL - Sisig with Chicharon Bulaklak; LR - Tokwa with Chicharon Bulaklak
Mr. Symon Siman, owner of Chica's, presented their 'butok-batok' fare to us.

I don't really eat pork anymore, but to be fair to everyone, I had a taste of what Chica's had to offer. Everything was actually quite tasty, and most especially, crunchy. Pretty good if you're looking for that putok-batok experience. What I loved actually was the tofu in the Tokwa with Chicharon Bulaklak. It was crunchy on the outside, and cooked just right and firm on the inside. (Failed attempt at trying to stick to eating healthy. Haha!)

If you're looking to balance out your meal from Chica's, they also offer Kare-Kare, Ensaladang Talong, and Garlic Kangkong.

3. InasaLaing




I never really paid much mind to the inasal kind of chicken before. But after having tasted InasaLaing's inasal, I think I had a change of heart.

Ms. Andrea Villalon owns InasaLaing, but she was not available on the day of the food crawl, so it was her mother, Atty. Angie De Ramos, who presented the food to us.

Atty. Angie proudly shared with us that they do not use 'vetsin' (MSG), their soy sauce is homecooked, and their vinegar is sourced from their own farm in Quezon. I was amazed.

I had a taste of the Laing and the Inasal, and I was quite positively surprised. The chicken was tender and tasty and the Laing didn't make me itch. Haha! Y'all should definitely give them a try.

4. Rye & Dean's



When it was Rye & Dean's turn to present their food to us, I was awed at the seemingly unending parade of food. They just kept coming!

While the long table was being filled with Instagrammable plates, I quickly asked Mr. Ryan Denosta, owner of Rye & Dean's, what kind of bread they use on their sandwiches. According to Mr. Denosta, they use different kinds of bread ranging from charcoal (the black one) to wheat bread. For their corn puppies (smaller version of corndogs, get it?), they actually use real cornmeal.

I sporadically have cravings for corndogs, so I'm absolutely thrilled that there is now a place I can go to to get some.


Rye & Dean's corn puppies were, hands down, my favorite nom that day. Haha! By the way, if you like it spicy, it's also available in jalapeno flavor.

5. Chin's & Inihaw Express




Chin's and Inihaw Express are owned by the same person, so they were presented to us at the same time.

Just like majority of the food we had that day, it was my first time hearing about Chin's and Inihaw Express.

Chin's has 7 varieties of healthy shabu and some pretty good rice bowls. Inihaw Express on the other hand offers your typical Filipino inihaw food. If that's what you're after, they have just about everything inihaw/grilled. I did not get to taste the hito (the fish in the upper right corner of the Inihaw Express group of pics), but it was quite the crowd pleaser.

6. Mr. Kimbob



By the time Mr. Kimbob laid out what they had to offer in front of us, we were practically filled to the brim. But like good bloggers (haha), we trudged on and tasted their Bibimbobs.

We were offered 3 different kinds of Bibimbobs: beef, chicken, and pork. Of the three, my favorite would have to be beef.

Their Seoul Spice sauce was pretty cute. I actually thought it was toothpaste at first. Haha! Be mindful not to put all of its contents into your plate unless you love really, really spicy food. Go slow and add to taste.

7. Potato Corner



And last but not the least, Potato Corner!

I haven't had these fries in ages, so I was glad I was able to sink my teeth into them again. I love cheese, so you can just imagine which one's my favorite.

What about you? What's your favorite Potato Corner flavor?

Conclusion

Overall, it was a pretty exciting Saturday for me. I'm glad I came out of my blogging hiatus and spent the day stuffing myself with my SM family. Haha!

Can you guess which of the 8 food stops was my favorite?

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Yep, it was Rye & Dean's. Their corn puppies, those cute and yummy little things, managed to snag my heart. I am definitely dragging The Memet there so I can sink my teeth into those yummy corn puppies again. On a cheat day of course. Haha!

So happy to be back! Thank you, SM Masinag for having me. It was definitely a pleasure.



To celebrate my birthday, The Memet, Sofi, and I headed up to Tagaytay some time last week. It was an unplanned trip. The Memet just happened to come home early from work, and since we didn't really go anywhere on my birthday, we packed up real quick and were on the road around 4pm.

With a quick stopover at Paseo de Sta. Rosa, we were in Tagaytay by nightfall. Since we didn't have a reservation, we drove around for quite a bit before finally deciding on Summit Ridge.

Because I packed quickly (too quickly for my liking), I didn't pack any jackets for any of us. It's been quite hot in Manila the past few weeks, so The Memet and I weren't expecting it to be a windy and chilly evening in Tagaytay that night.

Summit Ridge


We booked a room at the front desk while the three of us shivered in the cold. Haha! It was so cold and windy that Sofi shivered even after I wrapped her up in my cardigan.

Here we are all warm in our room with the a/c turned off. Haha! (Sorry, it's just the two of them. I hardly ever have a picture when I'm the one holding the camera. LOL!)



It's a small room with a king sized bed, a couch, a television, a personal fridge, a desk, and a table. There was also a closet, but no bathrobes.

Here's a peek at the bathroom:





The bathroom was spacious enough, but didn't have a bathtub. We wanted one for Sofi. Hehe! But beggars can't be choosers - and it was too cold anyway.

The bathroom had the standard set of toiletries, a hair dryer, but no bidet. I wish all hotels here in the Philippines had bidets.

We enjoyed our stay - even if we were really just there to sleep. We didn't even have a chance try the complimentary breakfast. Hehe!

Before we move to Breakfast at Antonio's, here's a picture of my baby, all fresh from a night's sleep. Haha!


Breakfast at Antonio's


For my birthday, I really just wanted a nice meal at Breakfast at Antonio's with my little family. Yes, I'm at that point in my life when I want nothing but to spend time with my family. Hehe!

It didn't happen on the exact day of my birthday, but The Memet did his best to make it happen eventually.


Sorry. Just had to include Sofi's pictures. Hahaha!

I already shared a post about Breakfast at Antonio's (click HERE) roughly 2 years ago. Although it's been quite a while, the service and the food remains the same. So I guess I'll just share some photos of what we had for brunch:






Good, yeah? They all tasted as good as they looked. But The Meme and I agree that Mom and Tina's still serves the best beef tapa out there. See blog post HERE.

So that ends my short blog post. Gotta go because Sofi's starting to eat her book. LOL!

Thanks for dropping by!