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My toddler Samantha is such a joy to feed! She now eats table food and almost everything that I serve to her big sister, Sophia so that means kitchen time is back to easy for me. I no longer make separate food for the tiny one. No more boiling and mashing and storing. My baby foodie now eats freshly-cooked food. Thank God for daughters who love eating as much as I love cooking! It's not always a walk in the park, though. There are days when one of them, or sometimes both, feel like being judgy as if I'd feed them something gross. Well, I've made myself a general rule when it comes to my relationship with food and motherhood—while I enjoy seeing my kids finish their plant-based meals, I still acknowledge the fact that they are humans who deserve to enjoy 'delish dishes'. 


What I mean by delish dishes are food our generation has always loved when we were kids (uhm till now actually). Like spaghetti, burger, fried chicken, pizza, and what-have-yous. Back then, it's every child's dream to eat those on a regular basis. Jollibee was like the god of happiness in the 90s! But not me. As a kid, I was happier to have nilagang baka, pancit and chicken macaroni soup. In fact, I knew my mama, who's a widow, has extra money when she makes us creamy and hearty macaroni soup. She paired it with fried fish or breaded pork chops. It was one of the best memories of my childhood... watching my mother cook for us. Her version of macaroni soup has julienned carrots, shredded cabbage, chicken pieces and sliced hotdogs. I loved my mama's soup but now that I'm a grown-up and have learned the risks of eating hotdogs regularly, I have almost taken that out of our grocery list. Also, pink soups mean there's food color. But guys, this recipe still has processed meat. Why? Duh, bacon!

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Just like how special bulalo is to me because it brings many memories of my father, this dish is also close to my heart. You see, my mama had a canteen near a college school in Quezon City when I was around Sophia's age. During those times, I learned about a lot of different dishes that we don't usually eat at home. And one of them is Sweet and Sour Meatballs! Yes, would you believe that she didn't serve it to us then that I needed to hang out in her canteen to know what it is? Haha, I'm sure she'd roll her eyes dramatically and might say I just can't remember it. Well, please remind me to ask my older sisters to clarify.


Anyway, so in the canteen, she served this dish with big, juicy meatballs and with thick red sauce unlike most cheap eateries where sauce was too orange and balls were small and full of flour. Too sad that she had to close the canteen. I saw how successful it was! I loved hanging out there and helping her with whatever. Many students liked it there, too because of the delicious and generous serving of food (and also, maybe because my eldest sister was an attractive teenager, lol).

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The new year was welcomed well here at home. We began with sorting out our clothes; I taught our househelp to do the KonMari folding. She did it happily 'cause I told her she'd get the ones that no longer look cute to me. We also fixed the kitchen cabinets and miscellaneous shelves. One of my goals as a homemaker is to have a fresh, clean start, which I hope to maintain for the rest of the year. I'm glad I have her onboard with me through all these. I'm not a super mom and I'm so happy God blessed me with a hardworking and kind maid. She's a blessing to our family but I'm aware she cannot do everything. Well, she sweeps and mops the floor every day, she wipes whatever has dust, and she changes our curtains regularly. But still, we felt there was something wrong in our room. Oh, there was one thing she can't do—clean the air conditioner properly! 


Glad I knew about GoodWork.ph. I mean, think of Honestbee for service providers! Amazing, right?


So I gave it a shot and booked a weekend appointment to have our air conditioner cleaned, stat. I knew that the dusts accumulated the past months were partly to blame for the dreadful colds we had. 
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Feeding a growing toddler may be quite tricky given their food limitations and experience. But once you get into the groove in knowing what your kid likes most and what she can eat, serving her nutritious and delicious food can be your second nature. I have three simple tips to achieve that! First, it has to be soft or soupy. Nothing that can choke them or can make their milkteeth hard to chew. Next, it should be a complete meal—think of go, grow glow. Toddlers have unlimited energy and they need well-balanced meals to refuel. Lastly and most importantly, it has to be irresistibly yummy.


Misua con Patola or Almondigas easily tops the list of dishes that we can serve our toddler and the whole family. It's a legit hit especially when it's breezy cool like today. For those who don't know yet, Almondigas came from the Spanish word Albondigas, which means meatballs. So yes, this soup is meatballs-based but loved well if it has patola and misua. There are more savory versions from other countries but here in the Philippines, Almondigas is known to be light and comforting; perfect for sweater weather or when someone's down with a flu.

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Ten years ago, on Sophia's first birthday party, I only had powder and lipstick on. I know I'm more kikay than most women my age but I was really clueless about makeup. Worse, my hair was tied in a tight ponytail. And to make the look more loshang, I wore a headband with it, haha! It was very humid that day, okay. Mother Nature was having her PMS 'cause six days after the party, Ondoy happened. But I told myself that it's not going to happen again on Samantha's first birthday party.


I'm so happy to have hit that vain goal of mine! I may have unwanted fats here and there but at least, I looked polished in each and every photo, candid or not. Beauty isn't a priority for some moms but I hope this post will make you change your mind. I mean, look at the huge difference!

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We never do real time here on my blog, I bet you already know that. So I'm sure you understand why I am only sharing this now when it actually happened a month ago. Okay, before you start saying, "But one-year-olds don't actually know that it's their birthday!", I have said in my welcome speech in the party that we did this for us and the guests and not solely for Sam. And because it was for us, my husband R and I thought of a theme that will be an instant hit to our crowd. We only invited family and close friends. I only had one from college, R had four from the military and the rest are our families. We knew that they will appreciate Filipino 90s theme.


It was around first quarter of last year when we planned out how it was going to be—a party like when we were kids. What was it then? Well, nothing fancy schmancy. The only difference was it wasn't held in a garage but in an events place called Sweet Madie's.

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Filipino values always emphasize family, and taking care of your loved ones should be on the top of any person’s list. There are tons of things to budget and account for when you have a family, such as food, tuition, transportation, and other bills. One of the biggest expenses in a family can be clothing, especially if you’re dealing with kids who are still growing, and it might be tempting to just buy cheap clothes and pray that they don’t fall apart right away. But investing in quality clothing is incredibly important, and here are some of the reasons why.



THEY LAST LONGER

With how much children love to play, sometimes you can’t avoid the need to pull out your sewing kit. Like this article from Quartz illustrates, clothes from good brands fray less, and are usually made of materials that are sturdier and more durable than fast fashion items. This means fewer extra tasks for you, and more freedom for the kids to run around and enjoy themselves.

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After a week and so of trying to balance homeschooling, taking care of a toddler and managing the household while being down with flu, I realized how my one word last year still has its effect on me. Well, it doesn't really apply to my general mood (malalaos ang mga nagro-road rage sa akin haha) but it was when I'm calm that Sophia better understands a Math problem, Sammy loves it when I'm calm and being calm is the best way to keep a hardworking helper. So yes, choosing a word to work on your life definitely gives good results. Hence, still doing it this year.


I've been choosing one word every new year for five years already, except in 2015 when my goal then was to rebrand (from a hot pink Bebengisms to a quieter, cleaner Royal Domesticity) and my process has never changed. I still pray before I finally decide on what to put here. One Word, One Year may just be a blogging trend but for me, it's all spiritual. I always seek for what the Lord sees in my heart. I got stuck for a few days thinking of what word to choose but after I prayed, I knew what it's going to be. 

In 2014, I chose faith.
In 2016, I chose purpose.
In 2017, I chose humility.
In 2018, I chose calm.
And for 2019, I choose GRATITUDE.

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One of the many jobs a mother has to regularly do is to run errands for the family. Aside from tons of chores at home or work in the office, there's paying the bills, setting medical appointments, grocery shopping and a whole lot more. With heavy traffic, high cost of fuel and allergens around—in a perfect world—it's best to basically just do all those at home. Eureka! There were superbly exceptional people who invented apps and services that can make our lives easier. There are online banking and virtual wallets for paying the bills, home services for our basic medical needs and Honestbee for grocery shopping. I mean, of course, we're still not living in a perfect world but we really can use those help. Right?

Shopwise and Honestbee gave me this basketful of awesome goodies last Christmas! Thank you. ♥ 

In fact, I really think that Honestbee is heaven-sent for moms with clingy toddlers like me. Can you imagine how long it takes us to prepare before we leave for grocery day? My little Sammy Bear directly breastfeeds from me; I really can't leave her yet. If I loved doing the groceries before 'cause it's my time away from my then only child Sophia, well now, I dread it. Pushing a heavy cart while carrying a 10-kilogram toddler isn't fun, you know. Hence, when I read from fellow bloggers I follow on Instagram that Honestbee is here to save the day of helpless moms like me, my heart rejoiced!

I downloaded the app immediately and checked how it works. Honestbee has kept on adding merchants from time to time and I'm glad Shopwise is now included! You see, Shopwise offers a wide variety of imported brands that other supermarkets don't have, not even the membership-only ones. So, yass!


If you're interested to know more about Honestbee, you can tinker the app on your own. It's free via Google Play and Apple App Store. You can also read Mommy Pehpot's no-nonsense helpful review here: Honestbee Philippines Review or this informative article by Manila Times: Honestbee expands PH reach. But for more information, visit their website.

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Honestbee but all thoughts and opinions are my own.
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Well, well, well. What do we have here? In the past three years, my first post of every new year was all about looking back the past year. It's not entirely a bad thing but this year, I decided to celebrate our now and maybe get more excited for the days to come. So...

This is TMI but my girls and I haven't taken a bath yet and the sink's still full of dirty dishes from our brunch earlier. Also, as of this writing, our househelp hasn't come home yet from her New Year's leave. I'm kind of expecting the worst already; I just don't want to wash the dishes yet. After all the festivities, from four Christmas parties in the camp to cooking two batches of seafood paella and lechon belly here at home, my skin and bones are yearning for this blog. Like I said in a previous post, I will be blogging for me. So dirty plates, you can wait.

Took this photo inside the camp using my husband's office camera.

Upon checking the Blogger dashboard, there are posts saved on my drafts from 2012, the year I started blogging mainstream (I had an online journal no one has ever read), that I still haven't published till now. Yes, 7 years later, it's still there. What happened, you ask? Simple—procrastination. That giant evil blob of a word has led me to many of my failures, blogging and life in general. It's tough to avoid it but this year, I am seriously hoping to never invite it to my parties. Hence, typing away now like a hired thesis typist. 

I have a few solid plans for this lovely space but basically, I just want you all to know that you'd be reading a lot of my ruminations from now on. As in, like writing in my LiveJournal in 2003! I enjoy sharing hacks, tips and new products for families to try but writing my random ramblings is what I love doing the most here. Kinda sounds selfish, I know but that's my truth. I wish you won't get tired of reading it, though. 

OK. My allotted minutes for the blog are over! I can hear the girls' laughter from the room, don't want to miss the fun. Next post will be my one word for 2019. Laters! ♥
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