Monday, January 24, 2011

cardboard kitchen

After 2 years of living with a toddler, there are two things I've learned:
#1 Toys, no matter how big, colorful, cuddly or loud, will inevitably lose their appeal in a couple of days or few weeks at most.
#2 Boxes are just as interesting.

This morning I had an inspired idea. I brought out one of our moving boxes and with a little imagination I made Bud a cardboard kitchen with a sink, dishwasher and a microwave. It was a real hit! He didn't mind at all that it was so crudely made. It kept him busy most of the afternoon. It was so amusing to watch him pretend to cook and wash dishes.

My only regret was that I should have done a little research before making the kitchen. Anyway, I found creative ideas to improve our crude kitchen from here, here and here.
Have a fun-filled week, bunnies!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

happy weekend

Somebody was over the moon when P came home last night bearing not just one but TWO Pillow Pets.

Bud was so overwhelmed. We was hugging and wrestling them. He couldn't decide which one he wanted to play with first so he just held on to both. His reaction was priceless. My heart just melted. Thank you, P.

It's so easy to spoil our children, right? Oh, what we wouldn't do just to see those little eyes light up with excitement. But before we get carried away, here are some practical tips on how to discipline our toddlers.

For those of you who are planning to eat out this weekend, check out the 20 worst restaurant foods here and order wisely.

Happy weekend, bunnies!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

weekly dose of saccharine

Have I ever mentioned how much I love dessert? I love it as much as I love shoes. I need to have my daily dose of saccharine treats like a baby needs milk. I'm not exaggerating. Ice cream and cookies are staples in our weekly grocery list. On occasion, I bake my own pastries just so I can control the amount of butter and sugar I consume.

This week I've had the pleasure of indulging in these sweet delights.

I received a box of Sprinkles Cupcakes with Red Velvet, Coconut, Black and White and Banana flavors from my Aunt who lives in LA. Heaven in a box! I've always wondered what all the hype was about and now I understand. The cupcakes were dense, moist and generously frosted. Each flavor perfectly concocted - not overly sweet. My favorite would be the Red Velvet. What's yours?

My Aunt (bless her) also sent me a box of macarons from Paulette. Her Christmas present arrived a little late but I'm not complaining, not at all. These macarons may be small but they pack a punch of flavors so even if it's a bit pricey per piece you still get your money's worth. The pistachio and columbian coffee are my favorites. I'm already mulling the idea of sending myself a box of these delectable bites on Valentines.

Last night I baked two pans of blueberry loaves to take to our playdate this morning but only one pan made it to the playdate. Guess what happened to the other loaf?

Somebody couldn't keep his little hands off it. This hand is too small to be mine. I reckon I'm not the only sweet tooth in this family.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

weekend highlights

Hello, Bunnies! How has your week been so far? I know for most of you it's already the middle of the week. Me? I'm still trying to get back into our routine after a 3-day weekend (happy birthday, MLK!). Here are some of the highlights of our weekend that was filled to the brim.

We jumpstarted our Saturday with a relaxed brunch at D. Brian's deli where they serve food with all organic ingredients. After a healthy meal of soup and sandwich, we headed to the Minnesota Childrens Museum for an afternoon of discovery.

Bud finally got his cash register fix at the pretent grocery store.

He also manned the cash register at the mini restaurant, drove the bus, got wet and had his face painted.

After hours of exploring and playing, we parked ourselves at the mezzanine for some downtime and snacks.

On Sunday, we indulged in some traditional Italian food for dinner at Bucca Di Beppo after sweating it out at the community center. If you ever find yourself in Bucca Di Beppo, I highly recommend their Eggplant Parmigiana and Fried Calamari. Their food is just simply delicious - very flavorful. The place is family friendly too. In fact, you probably need to bring a big family to work on the huge portions of food.

This photo does not do justice to the mouth watering Margherita Pizza.

Monday afternoon we went sledding at Staring Lake to burn off the hearty Italian dinner we had the night before. We took turns climbing back up while pulling Bud on the sled. Oh my, it was quite a workout but seeing Bud's big smile as he was sledding down was worth every bead of sweat.

Today I allowed myself to take a break and rest. I joined Bud in his mid-day nap which extended to 3 hours! What can I say, I guess we were both tired from all the activities last weekend.

Here's to a great rest of the week!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

a bud's life

Yesterday Bud decided he didn't need his mid-day nap so the 2-hour break I was looking forward to the whole morning never came and instead turned into this and more.....

We made a snowman with some glue, cotton and a little imagination.

We tried out this recipe for homemade playdough. Guess what we made? A little playdough snowman , haha!
When arts and crafts finally lost their novelty, he monkeyed around the house, literally.
What do you do with a toddler who doesn't want to sleep? I need your ideas, please.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Baby Signing Time

I've read quite a number of articles warning parents against the "dangers" of letting our babies/toddlers watch tv and videos. As with everything else, I believe watching tv in moderation is fine. What's really important is screening what our children watch. There are a lot of shows and videos out there that are really educational and entertaining. One of my favorite set of DVDs is Baby Signing Time. It's great for teaching our little ones how to communicate through sign language while they're not able to speak yet. Believe me, it works! We've watched several signing DVDs and the Baby Signing Time format has proved to be most engaging and effective. It's a sing-along video that showcases different babies doing the signs so it's very encouraging. Don't expect your baby to learn all the signs in one sitting though. It takes time but with repetition (and persistence), they'll learn. I'm a huge advocate of signing specially since it's Bud's primary language at the moment. Bud is not speaking yet and so signing allows him to express himself even without words. What really amazes me is even if he can't speak yet, he's learned to always say please and thank you.

Monday, January 10, 2011


I was channel surfing tonight when I came across Kendra on E! and was pleasantly surprised to see that thay were in Minnesota! Apparently her hubby, Hank, is now playing for the Vikings and is currently residing at the SWS Condos, the same condo where Bud had his 2nd birthday party. What a coincidence, both Baby Hank and Bud celebrated their birthdays at the same venue only a week apart. I must say though, our party seemed more fun than his, haha! Here are more photos of Bud's clubhouse party.

The banners were designed by my cousin, Mikko

The balloon arrangements and risers were all DIY projects. I taped the balloons to chopsticks and used some empty bottles, which I wrapped in printed tissue, to hold them up. The risers were empty shoe boxes that I also wrapped in printed tissue.

Since it was too cold outside, we setup tents, tunnels, balls and mats in the venue for the kids to play with.
I also prepared white shirts for all the kids to personalize and decorate with paints and markers (and lots of help from their moms).

We had sandwiches, hotdogs and lots of sweet treats for the kids and a full buffet spread of Pinoy food for the mommies and daddies. Special thanks to my husband for preparing all the yummy food. After this party, I think P can seriously consider catering as an alternative career.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Apple Raisin Loaf

Every morning I find myself online looking for inspiration for fun activities Bud and I can do together. It's becoming more challenging these days with the temperatures outside dropping like crazy. We've been spending most of our days at home (boo-hoo).

One activity that's been a real hit with Bud (and me) these days is baking. Today, we tried this recipe for Apple Raisin muffin from Paula Deen which we tweaked a little bit to this:

step #1: In a sauce pan, combine 1cup water, 1 cup brown sugar, 1 cup grated apples (approximately 2 medium apples), 1 cup raisins, 1tsp ground cinnamon and 5 tbsp butter; bring to a boil. Remove from stove and let it cool. I omitted the nutmeg and cloves from the recipe since the boys are not too keen on spice.

step #2: In a bowl, mix together 1 3/4 cups flour and 1 tsp baking soda.

step #3: Stir in the sugar mixture with the flour until well blended.

Step #4: Preheat oven to 350f, grease 2 loaf pans (i used the lanera for leche flan) and pour mixture. Bake for 20 mins. The recipe only tells you to bake it for 15mins but since this is a loaf, I had to bake it 5 more minutes to make sure it was cooked through.

The recipe was very easy to execute, specially for an amateur pair like us. What's more, this recipe doesn't call for any eggs so I don't have to worry if Bud sneaks a lick of the batter (specially since it smells soooo yummy). Does it taste as good as it smells? Yes it does!

Bud could not stop eating and P, who is not really big on pastries, said it could pass for something bought from a bakery.

Yes, that's Bud trying to shove a handful of apple raisin loaf into his mouth!

Have a yummy week ahead!

Friday, January 7, 2011

november & december to remember

2010 ended on a high note. Despite being away from home for a over a year now, we were fortunate to have spent time with family in November through December. Here are some highlights of the last two months that I've been "silent".

We flew to Northern California for a fun reuinon with P's mom and siblings and their families.

visited the touristy sites in SFO: Golden Gate bridge, Fisherman's Warf, Palace of Fine Arts

had our fill of decadent Filipino food at the Pinoy hotspot, Intramuros, in San Bruno

savored grown up conversation over wine at Robert Mondavi in Napa Valley

had a lovely picnic lunch at Taylor's in Napa Valley

Bud was just happy to be reunited with his bg cousin again

We were still hung over from all the fond memories from our Northern California trip when my parents and brother arrived in time for Thanksgiving.

Our whole family spent Thanksgiving with our foster family here in Minnesota

A couple of days after Thanksgiving we celebrated P's birthday. For a change, my mom took over the kitchen and prepared a feast for P. We also took advantage of the extra set of helping hands and went out on a date without the little boy.

Then came the BIG event (the real reason why my parents were here), Bud's 2nd birthay party!

There's nothing like time spent with family to make the holidays more special.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

holidays are over

After hours of playing, feeding, cooking and cleaning I finally get the chance to sit down, drink my tea and open my blog. I know I have been deliquent with the updates. It's mostly because my brother was vacationing with us up until yesterday and P was also on leave from work most of December.

As I type now, I am overcome with nostalgia and solitude. The first few days of being away from family is the hardest and it doesn't help at all that I just put down all the yultide decorations. The holidays are truly over.

a photo with my brother taken on New Year's Eve

I found that the best way for me to deal with separation is through cleaning. It's geat distraction plus all the reorganizing helps me get back to my routine.

How do you deal with goodbyes?


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