Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Crepe Party!

make your own crepe combos
My friend, Kitsie, hosted a crepe party at her home last weekend. She came from Melbourne and will  be going to Babuyan Islands tomorrow for a month. We've been talking about having our a crepe party through Skype for a couple of weeks.

C and I also slept over at her place afterwards since he didn't want to feel left out, haha. Slumber party!

Kits prepared everything (I helped sautee), made crepes and lángos (the fried stuff in the photo above).  Lángos originated from Hungary and it's deep-fried dough topped with sour cream, garlic, and shredded cheese. I'll try making it myself soon!

Crepes are very versatile. You can put in anything you want (in our case, we had sausage, all kinds of cheese, ham, spinach, capers, sour cream, bananas, jam, Nutella, maple syrup, and different kinds of condiments) and can be a main entree or dessert, depending on what you put in it. You can also fold your crepe in different ways - folded in half, fold over the edges to make a rectangle ala Cafe Breton, or just roll it like a shawarma wrap!

Pretty much anything goes during a crepe party and making your own combinations adds to its appeal. Just add drinks, good music, and fun friends!

Friday, February 24, 2012

{weekend files} Art in the Park

Last Saturday, my friends and I went to Salcedo Village to check out Art in the Park, an annual event where different art galleries, colleges, and foundations sell art pieces for Php 30,000 or less. It's a mix of known and up-and-coming artists using different mediums.  Here are the photos I took there, I wasn't able to note down some of the artists' names to give them credit but leave me a comment if you know them :)

not part of the fair, but beautiful nonetheless


One of our ninongs, Pete Jimenez, displayed his works. He makes sculptures out of scrap metal he found in junk shops. We love the playfulness of his works and I can imagine them springing into life just like Autobots.

See what I mean?

I only got to buy a bunch of postcards from the Ang I.N.K booth. The ones above were twenty bucks each and are made from scrap paper. I asked the girl who made this to sign them at the back :p

postcards = instant art

All that art made us hungry and after dinner I made my own "artwork:" dark chocolate gelato with salted caramel macaron from Bar Dolci! 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

{travel files} Tips for the Philippine Travel and Tour Expo

Last Friday, I took a half-day leave so we can go to the Philippine Travel and Tour Expo in SMX. It was our 3rd time attending the expo but I still got overwhelmed by the volume of people and variety of promos to choose from. We arrived at 9:30 am (gates open at 10am) and the ticket line already snaked around the building! Good thing C's client gave us free tickets so we were able to get inside and line up in front of the hall entrance. 

Since I had to be in the office by 1pm, we only lined up in one of the airline booths and booked two flights. We didn't have enough time to go around and compare prices since it took us almost 2 hours to go through the whole process. Although compared to last year's experience, this year was less of a hassle because we already had a rough game plan and a list of places we want to visit. The only boo-boo we had was we forgot to book a flight to Cebu so we can finally get to use one of our wedding gifts! 

Going to the expo is only half of the battle. You should already be prepared at least the day before going there because you need to have a strategy or else you'll just end up with a pile of flyers and no purchases.

So here are some tips for surviving the travel expo next year:

At least 1 day before going to the expo

  1. List down the places you want to visit - Have a top 10 list of your preferred domestic and international destinations. 
  2. Visit airline websites to check their flight schedules - Knowing the flight schedules to your preferred destinations helps you plot out travel dates.
  3. Prepare the things you need to bring to the expo:
  • Passport - or note down your passport number, date issued, and expiration date. Note down your travel companions' details as well
  • Planner/Calendar - to see when's the best time for you to travel. Also note down holidays and special occasions. 
  • A pen - for signing charge slips and taking down notes
  • Credit card/s and a valid ID- safer to bring a card because it gets really crowded
  • Some cash - you can pay for your travel tax of Php 1,620 here and some only accept cash for this.
  • Water and snacks - it's not fun to faint from hunger
  • A companion or two - to take turns with when lining up :)

Before entering the hall

  1. Note down the stall numbers of the booths you want to check out - they provide maps but it only shows the lay-out of the area and not the booth names
  2. Grab a copy of the map if you can - it's quite easy to navigate through the halls since they are divided by letters

Inside the expo
  1. Go straight to the booths you really want to go first - line up or get someone to line up for you 
  2. Do not get all the flyers that are handed out to you - first, you waste paper. Second, it's harder to look for the flyers that you are actually interested in if you need to manage more than a handful of paper
  3. Drop by the country booths - sometimes they give away free stuff like food and booklets
  4. Check out travel agencies for their promos - yes, I have to admit, travelling with a group is more convenient than making your own itinerary (but I still like making my own)

After the expo
  1. Give yourself a pat on the back - you survived!
  2. Keep all documents in safe place - most probably you'll only leave after a few months so it's best to store them properly
  3. Note down your travel dates in your planner - also file for vacation leaves already if needed
Going to the Travel and Tour Expo is really worth it. Next year, we'll definitely be there again!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Valentine's Day at Il Piccino

The last memorable Valentine's Day date we had was 7 years ago in House of Minis so I got excited when C asked me out for V Day. We went to Il Piccino in San Juan, which is ran by our chef friend, Natalia (who trained in Italy!). 

They usually only accept reservations for a group of 6 or more but for the month of February, they accept reservations for two.

Here's their Valentine's Menu, which is available this Love Month:

risotto and mahi-mahi

calamansi granita and lambchops

pralines and hot chocolate

It's definitely a far cry from our last date! We enjoyed the food and the ambiance of the place. We just regretted not getting the ravioli but good thing they also supply in Connie's Kitchen. Will probably get some soon to cook at home.

photo c/o Cris and Carlo

If you're looking for a different kind of date place or you really just want to enjoy delicious food, you can check them out on Facebook or contact them at 0917-8291900 / 02-9648034 for questions or reservations.

Monday, February 20, 2012

{fitness files} running for beginners questions

Last time I shared why I like joining fun runs and a few days later I found out my running time, which was a few minutes more than my time when I joined my first 5k almost a year ago.

at the starting line of my first 5k run

On March 4, I'll be joining the Unilab Run United 1 under the 5k category and I've been preparing for a few days now under the supervision of Coach Chappy Callanta (aka C, the husband) because I want to finish in 40 minutes and shave a minimum of 5 minutes off my time. I'm really not a competitive person but I want to improve on something I've done before.

Although I'm married to one of the finest (and hottest :p) fitness coaches in the Philippines, I'm pretty much a noob when it comes to physical activities. I grew up surrounded with books, food, and quite a number of invisible friends and doing physical stuff was the least of my priorities. Even growing up, I only worked out because my friends joined the gym and I wouldn't want to be left out. Now I've been trying out different kinds of activities and is currently attempting to regularly attend pole classes (to no avail..).

My greatest weakness is doing cardio and I've resolved to get better at it. I asked C a couple of questions and some follow up questions which pretty much exasperated him (to quote him, he said in his last e-mail about the topic: "Oh. My. Gulay." - a statement which he only uses when extremely annoyed at me). Yes, the reason why he's really good at what he does is because he has a whiney wife who asks a thousand questions before doing one exercise =D

I digress.

Anyway, here's our Q&A exchange on beginning running and I hope this helps others who also want to begin running - whether for fun or for health reasons :)

Ze Coach
Chappy: "I'm not a running coach. I am a student of movement however, so I will rely on that to answer your hard-pressing questions along with my biomechanics, physiology and anatomy training. :)"

What preparations do I have to make if I want to start running?

First of all, you have to understand that not everyone "knows" how to run properly. It's so easy to mess running up and with the repetitive motion of running and the impact that your body takes with every single stride, injuries are very easy to come by. Make sure that you have no prior injuries especially on the ankle, knees, hips, and lower back. Then make sure that you learn the proper form or you have someone actually teach you the proper form.

How can I increase my endurance while running?

This one's easy. Just run more. bwahahaha. But seriously, as you run more, or practice whatever skill, you get better at it right? Running is a skill, once you learn and master that skill, you conserve your energy with the movements and you get to run more. Your cardiovascular system also increases it's capacity so your breath, so to speak, increases. Aside from that resistance training increases the local muscular endurance of your muscle groups. It increases the glycogen in the muscles which is one of the fuels for activity.

How can I avoid side stitches?

Side stitches may be simply muscle cramps on your abdominal region. Proper running form will decrease this as well as proper movement preparation and pre-movement preparation like the trigger-point system. Make sure that you don't eat too much sugar and carbohydrates also before a run. Try to have your last full meal an hour before your run.

I'm flat-footed. Any special considerations?
Yes, you should get specially designed in-soles if you plan to take up running regularly, Just go to an ortho or a PT clinic or if you're strapped for cash, some stores like Toby's and Chris Sports have these. Best though if they are custom-fitted for you. Some exercises for the foot are also good like the towel and marble gathers (gather the towel or the marbles with your toes) and spelling the alphabet with your big toe while the heel is on the floor. This will strengthen you arch.

My goal is to join a 5k run in less than a month and I want to finish it in 40 minutes or less. Is that possible?

Yes of course! If you train smart and learn the proper form, you'll break even 30 in no tiime!

Which is better: to train with or without music?

It's a matter of preference although some studies suggest that playing music that you prefer or choose (not necessarily fast-paced) improves running time. So that's something to think about.

How important is it to hydrate while running? Do I have to bring a bottle of water whenever I run/jog?

Hydration is important but hydration before a race is much more crucial. If you are properly hydrated before a race and that includes liquid carbs, then the muscles will have more fuel for the activity. During the race, it will also be an advantage although it is important not to drink too much since this might cause stomach problems.

Monday, February 13, 2012

last weekend

...C had a TV rack made, now we only need a living room set to match it

...we went on a Japanese food binge and watched The Chronicle (welcome back, Kitsie!)

...we got stuck at home because it was our town's fiesta and the streets were full of people

...the neighbors gave away suman for the fiesta, which goes well with mangoes, cheese and brown sugar

...we had a green tea party - complete with seaweed animal crackers and bus ticket origami cranes!

how was your weekend? :)

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

{food files} Truffle Oil

Available in Terry's Selection Podium
Real truffles are very expensive and most probably mid-range restaurants only use white truffle oil in their dishes. White truffle oil is synthetically made and some turn their noses up at it (like the Masterchef judges). But if you're just a neophyte like me and just want to add a pungent kick to your food, then this is something you'd want in your kitchen. Mine was a gift from C and I often drizzle it on creamy or cheesy dishes especially if I want to feel a little fancy. Aside from using it in pasta, you may also add it to popcorn along with parmesan cheese and your choice of herbs. Also try it with fries or any potato-based dish! Buying your own bottle is more economical than ordering a "truffled" dish in a restaurant. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

I ran for the mangroves! (Why fun runs are fun)

prettiest medal ever
Yesterday, I joined the Condura Skyway Marathon Run for the Mangroves along with C and some friends. It's the biggest marathon I've joined so far and even got to run/walk through Skyway! They are fun for me because of these reasons:

You have a motivation to exercise. I'm not fond of running because I hate the feeling of getting side stitches but whenever I join fun runs, I get motivated to run more often during weekdays. Thankfully, I have a very patient fitness coach who cheers me on and gives me praises whenever we run (yes, I can be a kindergarten student sometimes).

You help a cause. Marathons are a good way to help out your favorite causes while receiving something in exchange, be it a healthy body or a certificate. It's a win-win situation!

You can compete with yourself. You can take note of your previous records and strive to beat it the next time you join another run. So far, my best time is 42 minutes for 5k and I hope I can get to sub 40 by the end of the year.

You get to eat a yummy breakfast. The most rewarding part of joining a run is the after-race breakfast! I swear, breakfast tastes way more delicious after you do something tiring.

These are my personal reasons why I join fun runs, what are yours? :)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Food Files

Creamy Chicken Pasta with White Truffle Oil

Perfect with butter and jam

I'm surrounded by people who makes good food so it took me this long to start learning how to cook and bake. As seen in my previous posts, my creations do not look perfect and sometimes I wish they could taste better. But I learn new things whenever I try out new recipes and I take each to heart. Some people say that you could taste the cook's emotions in what she makes. Your sadness translated to the salt you put in, your happiness wafting through like the different aromas coming from the pot, your anger let out by kneading dough. It's very therapeutic for me but I wish I could be less messy!

My proudest moment so far is when my grandmother complimented the biscuits I baked. She's a really good cook (and was a nutritionist until she retired) and often gives me advice whenever I make her sample what I made. When I made the lemon yoghurt cake she said it was a bit dry and burnt so she gave me scientific tips on baking. But when I let her taste the biscuits right after baking it, she happily munched on it and asked if she can have more because it's a perfect afternoon snack. Such a big deal for me, coming from the person whose cooking skills I admire the most. :)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Book Report: January Edition

"I like books because they don't annoy me." - niece of one my best friends

I completely agree with her, the only books that annoy me are the ones I was forced to read when I was in school.

I don't mind waiting for hours in line as long as I have a book with me. They're perfect companions because they don't complain.

When I feel miserable or sad, they always know what to say to make me feel better.

I'm not saying that I prefer the presence of books over humans but there are times that I just want to seek
solace in stories and information.

This year, I will take note of the books I've read each month and some of my thoughts on them.

1. Trese series by Budjette Tan and KaJO Baldisimo

I discovered this in a bookstore while hanging out in a hospital(yes). It's a graphic novel series featuring Alexandra Trese, a modern day heroine who keeps Filipino supernatural beings in check. I'm now a fan of this series :)

2. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

I always feel melancholic whenever I read his novels. Confession: I haven't read any Jane Austen novel. Jane Austen is like the ancestor of all romance novelists.

3. JPod by Douglas Coupland

Super funny book. I always thought I'm an expert on task avoidance but the characters here take the cake.

4. You Can Never Find a Rickshaw When It Monsoons: The World On One Cartoon A Day by Mo Willems

Mo Willems made one cartoon a day while backpacking around the world. Mo Willems is not playing for L.A. Clippers, that's Mo Williams.

5. Pretty Little Liars and Flawless, both by Sara Shepard

Thank you Tin and Enzo for giving me copies of this series :) It's officially my guilty pleasure, hehe.

What books did you read last month?