Monday, December 31

Food: Arroz a la Cubana

Arroz a la Cubana, or Cuban-style rice, is a popular dish in the Philippines. Not to be confused with the Spanish version, which only has white rice, tomato sauce and fried egg (and sometimes fried banana), the Filipino version has meat.

I always, always get requests for this dish every time from my husband. He claims my version is even better than that of our cook's. True enough, he eats like a horse whenever I cook this for him.

I really don't have a written recipe for this one as I developed it only from taste. But I really want to share it with you guys because I think it is super simple and yummy that your family and friends will loooove it.

Okay, here goes nothing.

What you will need:

* 1 kg ground beef -- Get 85%-90% lean ground beef. It's not too fatty but it's fat enough to have that yummy moist taste. Oh, and if you can find those vacuum-packed ones, get them because they are obviously cleaner and easier to handle.
* 2 big russet potatoes cut into 1/2" cubes -- soak them in water right away after cutting to avoid discoloration
* 3 carrots cut into 1/2" cubes
* 1 big box of raisins -- I prefer the Sun-Maid brand, they are sweeter and they absorb moisture while cooking so you get that plump look. It doesn't matter if you get the golden raisins or the dark ones. It will taste good either way. 
* 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
* Tomato ketchup -- Heinz all the way.
* Soy sauce -- I like the Kikkoman brand. 
* salt and pepper
* Not-so-secret ingredient: sugar

What you need to do:

1. Put oil on a deep frying pan under high heat. Add ground beef. Sprinkle a little bit of salt and pepper. Fry until you can no longer see pink.
2. This is when you squeeze your tomato ketchup on the beef. I usually put in 3 round-the-pan's worth. I'm guessing that that is about 1/4 cup. It's just enough to give the ground beef some coating.
3. Do the same with the soy sauce. 3 round-the-pan's worth, or about 1/4 cup. Mix and fry. The beef should have that brown glaze (see picture above).
4. Mix in your potatoes -- just the potatoes, not the water. Leave for about 5 minutes.
5. Add in the carrots. Fry until the potatoes and carrots are soft.
6. Put some sugar to taste. I usually put 1 tablespoon.
7. Finally add your raisins. It's really up to you how much raisins you want. Keep cooking until your raisins are plump.

You can enjoy this with rice already. But if you want it extra special, fry some sugar-coated plantains (saba) and fry some eggs too while you're at it.

Alrighty, time to make some for the party! I hope you have a Happy New Year folks. xo

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Sunday, December 30

Drink: Mimosa Recipes

Back in the corporate world, the ad agency I used to worked for always served mimosas during special occasions. That's 10 o'clock on a Friday morning. Haha.

Mimosas are bubbly drinks that have two basic ingredients: bubbly base (sparkling wine or champagne) and orange juice. That's to us ordinary people. But for the pros, mimosas have one more ingredient, and that is the triple sec.

I read somewhere that mimosas are not about how expensive your champagne is, but it's the kind of orange juice (or any fruit juice) you have. If you ask me, my favorite orange juice is Tropicana, and I always use that or go fresh. I figured mimosas would be a good addition to any party. Here's a collection of mimosa recipes that I'm sure you'll like. Enjoy!
Photo via
[1] Basic Mimosa from -- half champagne, sparkling wine, cava or prosecco + half orange juice + a splash of triple sec

[2] Rachael Ray's Mimosa from The Food Network -- 1 part orange juice + 3 parts champagne + splash of triple sec + orange peel garnish

[3] Pineapple Mimosa from That's the Spirit -- 2 parts pineapple juice + 3 parts champagne + pineapple spear for garnish

[4] The Perfect Mimosa from Esquire -- 2 parts orange juice + 3 parts Brut champagne
   * For a 5 oz drink -- add 1/2 tsp grenadine for Buck's Fizz; or add 1 tsp of Grand Marnier for a true mimosa

[5] Mango Mimosa adapted from Country Living -- 2 parts mango puree + 3 parts champagne (Mumm Napa or Brut Prestige) + skewered mango cubes for garnish

For mocktails, replace alcohol with sparkling white grape juice or ginger ale.

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Friday, December 28

Holiday: A Very Merry Christmas

We spent the long holiday weekend at the farm. Our road trip started Saturday morning. It was pretty smooth sailing on the way there except for a couple of traffic jams. We still ended up making it in time for lunch.

We stayed at the guest house (and not at the loft of the master bedroom), mainly because it was just our immediate family who is staying. So there's space in the guest house. I must say it was way more comfortable. And less awkward. And cooler. And more peaceful.

Or so I thought.

There was a party held for the workers that first night. My mom's year-long project was done. She had a "12 days of Christmas" light display done all over the garden. The one nearest the main house was that of the 12th day -- about the drummers.

My mom had a feast prepared for the workers, complete with lechon (roasted suckling pig) and caldereta (stew -- oh em gee, it was sooo good!). Her 12 days project was all lit up. I took a few more pictures, as I figured I will just take them the next day when there was no crowd anymore.

Swans by the pond.

Our day started very early that day, and we slept very late the night before, so we were dead tired at 8 pm. We decided to call it a night and went into the guest house. Allie slept with the grandparents in the main house, so it was just us in the guest house bedroom. While Daddy E was looking for somewhere to charge his gadgets, out came hopping a teeny tiny frog. Eek! It was on the wall screen. We didn't know what to do. We were a couple of urban jungle junkies, and frogs don't rock our world. Haha. I went out and asked for help. God knows I can't sleep when I know that a tiny frog is out loose in our bedroom. Can you? Kuya Ron (one of the workers) easily caught it with his bare hands and let it go outside. Ang galing.

All the glass doors around the room were shut, as well as the roller blinds. While trying to sleep (I think it was around 11 pm), we heard a loud boom/bang, whatever you call it -- and the air conditioner and the lights (all 12 days of it) were turned off. Yes, folks, the huge transformer on the road was broken. I was grateful it was December, and the air was cool enough not to have any a/cs on. After an hour or so, I woke up, suddenly remembering that I forgot to bring one gift! Yikes. I had a backup gift, kaya lang I still had to get it from the nearest mall. So plans were made for the morning, thinking that it would take a while for the electricity folks to fix the problem.

Sure enough, the next morning, we had no electricity. So off we went to the mall and bought the backup gift. We bought na rin a small gift for Allie. It's this dragon bubble maker wand that she always held on to whenever we go inside Toy Kingdom. I'm sure you mommies and daddies out there with toddlers know what I am talking about. Daddy E got a white hat to use for the 'Prom Night' Christmas party theme at my in-laws' on Christmas day. I took my time going around the Ladies' wear section at SM getting clothes here and there to try on. Ang sarap palang mag shop sa SM nang walang tao! Every one was on the second floor in the toy section. You can hear kids having fun, some were crying too.

When we came back to the farm, my brother and sister just arrived from Manila. Aside from the mall trip, it was a pretty lazy afternoon. We just ate and slept and ate again. I probably gained a few pounds and it wasn't Christmas yet. Oh yeah, still no electricity, but they turned on the generator, so it was okay. At least the lights, the fridge and the water heater were working. Allie was still happy.

That night, in the bedroom of the guest house, we had an unwelcomed guest (yet again). I screamed when I saw it on the wall near the bathroom door. The workers probably heard me. It was a HUGE spider! It's not the small spider with thin, long legs you know. But it's not as big as a tarantula. Think the middle. It took us 30 minutes (or more), two tries, lots of screaming and lots of courage (from dear hubby, lol) to catch the spider using an empty transparent box and get it outside. Hahaha!

I think I can't take any more unwelcomed guests in our room. (lol) I would have had a heart attack had I seen a snake inside the room. I will gladly sleep inside the car right then and there.

Come Christmas eve, there was electricity already, although only temporary power. That means still no a/c and all the 12 days lights can't be turned on. Bummer.

After breakfast, my sister and I went to the garden and did a photo session for Project Happy. We didn't even bother moving the two grapefruits on the table at the garden. Haha.

Looking around, I realized there were so many Christmas trees. Well, there are no pines in this farm, but it doesn't mean there can't be Christmas trees here.

The drummer was placed on the main Christmas tree we had last year. It's prettier at night.

Some more trees...

With orange ornaments. They may be red. I'm not sure.

And yet another one. Oh, what a lovely poinsettia.

I prepared some instant Pad Thai for merienda, because we were going to hear mass during our usual dinner time. I made arroz a la cubana (special request from the hubby) when we came back from church.

While waiting for midnight, we watched Taken 2. We were so into the movie that we almost forgot the time! Haha.

We had some family photos taken near the drummer.

Look at Allie. She looks surprised. Haha.

Aww. Poor kid. She looked confused.

For the most part, I love going to my parents' farm. But Allie always ends up getting tons of mosquito bites, and she is allergic to them -- they get really big after a while. It was during those days that she got the most bites. She looked like a polka dot doll. Sigh. My poor baby. She was so kawawa.

We left Christmas morning -- after breakfast, so we can catch the afternoon/evening party at my in-laws.

The theme was 'Prom Night' and ladies were supposed to wear cocktail dresses. I was wearing my mint green one-shoulder BR Monogram dress, with a gold rope belt. Allie wore a cute shimmery fuchsia dress, white tights and matching fuchsia glitter mary janes. Yes she is wearing a tiny crown. Haha. Daddy E was so decided to win this year's costume that he completed his look with a vest, a bow tie, a white hat and a shawl. He said 'isn't this the way young guys dress up for the prom?' Uhmm. Well, we won by popularity vote. Ka-ching!

I photoshopped Allie's mosquito bites here.

But then again, I figured, nah, it takes away a bit of the story.

 I hope your holiday weekend was filled with joy and adventure too.
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Stationery Love: Isabel Gatuslao Paper

Let me start by saying that I have a collection of note cards in our house. I bought most of them because they were on sale, but some were received as gifts.

The first Isabel Gatuslao Paper I had was her artichoke wrapping paper. I got it at Kish. I used it last Christmas and I posted about it here. The paper was really thick compared to the wrapping paper you get from the local department stores / bookstores.

When I heard that she was launching note cards, I knew that I was going to get some. I got two boxes of each design. 

The sets came in acrylic boxes adorned with the Isabel Gatuslao logo. All her designs in these sets are black and white, and each one has a patterned back and a black envelope.

Let's go to the designs one by one. I know you're in it now that you saw the whippet up close.

Pero wait lang. I'll show you the other ones first.

Here's the Chevron. Obviously the pattern at the back is chevron. The front reminds me of a shield. Very regal. I am a sucker for chevron patterns, so this is my favorite of the bunch.

The next one was inspired by Sherlock Holmes, and is named Pipe. The pattern at the back symbolizes smoke and is inspired by the fret, according to Isabel.

And the whippet called Agador, named after her friend's pet.  It comes with the very appropriate houndstooth pattern. How adorable no?

So much pattern! I am in heaven.

A box doesn't come cheap, but it's not super expensive either. P475 for a set of 10 note cards, 10 black envelopes and 10 seals. 

Just look at how thick each one is.

I can't wait for the next set of designs.

Find them at:

National Book Store Alabang
National Book Store Glorietta 1
National Book Store Greenbelt 1
National Book Store Quezon Avenue
National Book Store Rockwell
National Book Store Shangri-La
Powerbooks Alabang
Powerbooks Greenbelt
Powerbooks Shangri-La
Powerbooks Trinoma
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Wednesday, December 26

Shopping: Another Dress for Another Wedding

I hope you guys had a very joyful Christmas, first of all. We spent it at my parents' farm (as always), but we came back just in time for the in-laws' family Christmas party tradition. I'll fill you in soon. But right now, I'm feeling all shopping-y. For a dress. Yet again.

So I picked this gown to wear for my friend's wedding.

But I ended up wearing my purple ML Monique Lhuillier Bridesmaids mid-length dress (sorry no photo). I felt it was too warm that day to wear a long gown to an outdoor wedding reception. Sabi ko, I'll just wear the long gown for my cousin's wedding next year. I was part of the entourage, and I have to wear blue. Perfect na diba? Bummer though, she recently requested to not have anyone besides herself to wear a one-shoulder piece. Haaay.

Now I have to get another gown.

If money were no object, I'll probably get this one by Carolina Herrera. Nice no? Even with its print, I think it's formal enough.

Carolina Herrera Hand Painted Silk Organza Gown
Copyright Neiman Marcus

Or maybe this by J. Mendel.

J. Mendel Lace Sheer-Overlay Gown
Copyright Neiman Marcus
Looks too manang ba? Check out the back.

J. Mendel Lace Sheer-Overlay Gown
Copyright Neiman Marcus
Okay, enough dreaming. Haha.

Here's an option from J. Crew, that's a fraction of the price. It has a Grecian-inspired skirt too.

J. Crew Arabelle long dress in newport navy silk chiffon
Copyright J. Crew
A favorite label of mine -- ML Monique Lhuillier Bridesmaids.

ML Monique Lhuillier Sleeveless Ruched Chiffon Dress
Copyright Nordstrom
This one by Watters is cute too. Can you imagine this with a low-cut back? Wow.

Watters Tawny Soft Satin Dress

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Thursday, December 20

Gifting: Alphabet Rubber Stamp Sets

I'm not yet done with my Christmas shopping. Sobrang photo finish ata ako this year. Grabe.

Good thing, there's a bunch of cute things available at Project Happy. Buti nalang I can just call my sister up and buy stuff from their stock. Haha. But you know, even if it's not ours, I think Project Happy's items are really affordable and cute. Like these alphabet rubber stamp sets. Look!

Alphabet stamp set in Schoolbook uppercase --

In lower case --

If you want something with a handwriting font, Project Happy has it too!

Now this one comes in a lockable box. Galing no?

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Crafts/DIY: A Quick Wrapping Idea

If you haven't had the chance to wrap your Christmas presents yet, here's a quick one from Project Happy.

You can use a brown paper bag, make a bag from kraft paper, or maybe reuse some old newspaper. Then punch a hole on top.

As for the topper, use different colored paper cutouts and fasten them together with a single hole fastener. Here, Project Happy used a single hole fastener painted using nail polish. Fabulous!

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Wednesday, December 19

Giveaway: CPK Gift Certificate Winner

Thank you so much for joining my mini raffle for a P1,500 CPK gift certificate prize.

The winner is ... (drum roll please)...

Peachy Bautista Ramos.

Congratulations Peachy! :) I hope you enjoy the good food from California Pizza Kitchen. Happy Holidays!

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Hallelujah (The Voice)


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Tuesday, December 18

Gifting: Bookmarks for the Booklover

You still remember physical books right? Haha.

Me, I will never grow tired of reading books where you can flip the actual pages not just by a swipe of a finger. It's just -- different. I do have e-books but they will never replace the feel of the 'old' books.

Here are some cute bookmarks up for grabs from Project Happy. You can choose from different designs, and they only cost P80 each. They'd make the perfect gift for the booklover.

Which one's your favorite?

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