Tuesday, 3 October 2017

A House Warming That Warmed Our Hearts

It has been a busy week in mid-September that climaxed in Antipolo on a Sunday,  the house warming of our niece and nephew-in-law.  

     Their house facade

At dawn on that Friday before was also the arrival of my sister's friends and neighbors from Florida who came to attend her milestone birthday celebration.  

                  Jim with Ben and Alessandra

We welcomed them with a Filipino breakfast.  

Mary Grace is becoming a must-go-to restaurant for tourists and balikbayans.  Jim and I brought them around town while we made the final preparations for the birthday party happening that Saturday night. 

Like I said earlier, it takes time to really enjoy pleasurable moments with our favorite people and in our case the good times happened one after the other within the month.  That's why this blog is a bit late.  I just needed to set aside these thoughts about the house warming because I wanted to focus on the succeeding events with my children in Singapore the following week. 

Back on the house warming

Their new place is on the other side of town but my niece was thoughtful to send over a van to get us and bring us back.  We were in luck traveling that route on a Sunday, on other days it would have taken us 3 hours, and even worse during peak hours. 

But I'd say it was worth all the long trip.  Their house is very serene, an open-concept living room, dining and kitchen area made more relaxing with neutral shades all around.  

I have to give it to our niece and nephew-in-law to want such a house that calm the soul with its elegant and pleasant atmosphere.   This couple work so hard to start, expand and sustain their business; such a formidably difficult feat in this day and age in our country. 

"You've got a great place here", I told my nephew by way of making conversation, while we were served  drinks with baked oysters and other hors d'oeuvres I didn't recognize but delicious. 

"This is so relaxing, I'm sure you really must enjoy it after a hard day's work", I further said. 
"Yes Tita, we love it too, it is quite relaxing after driving through traffic almost the whole day".  
I'm so happy for them, they really deserve this restful haven for their family. 

Our hosts: our niece and nephew-in-law with Alessandra

The day was a happy event, there was dancing, too.

I have to commend my niece who went out of her way  to include her cousins, the children of our siblings who live abroad.  

It was a happy reunion with nieces and nephews.  In as much as we wanted to stay longer, we had to leave since we still need to bring back my sister's guest at their hotel. They needed to pack and rest for the next day of shopping before leaving for the airport.  

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Last Two Days In Singapore

I'm not inclined to watch tv on board a plane.  I'd rather read a magazine or a novel from my iPad.  On Singapore airlines flight back to Manila, I read an article from Women's Weekly, "how to find joy" where Psychologist Fred B. Bryant was quoted saying that:   "we don't automatically feel joy when good things happen to us, it's the way we reflect on those experiences that determines how happy we are".

I believe that's true.  Here  I am, a week after I left my children and their families in Singapore, yet I'm just reminiscing the numerous happy times I spent with them.  Looking at pictures I took and putting them along with the memories in a blog makes me savor the joy more.

Our younger daughter's new home in Singapore is beautiful. Their place overlooks an impressive wide open space at the central area where trees, shrubs and ground covers abound.  The pools are big and the water features are all lighted up gaily at night.   This condo unit is just right, in fact very spacious, not tight like you would expect of one, especially in Singapore where properties are relatively pricy.  

Our daughter also take a leave from work whenever we visit, but this time even our son-in-law took a leave as well.  How thoughtful of them to welcome us with a big platter of fruit, cheeses and crackers.

Since their place is on the other side of downtown, near the airport, it makes sense to lunch at a nearby place where one of the best ramen in town is served. 

On queu to be seated at Tsuta, a ramen house

Waiting to be served while we watched two chefs prepare our ramen. 

Our hosts wanted to bring us out to dinner as well but we felt like staying in, so my daughter prepared a sumptuous meal.  I loved her salad of leafy greens and fruit with a just right vinaigrette dressing.  Her baked chicken flavored with lemongrass is something to write home about.  

Roti or naan with assorted dipping sauces of butter chicken, palak paneer (goat's cheese) and chickpea completed the meal.  I enjoyed the butter chicken best of all..

The next day they invited our son and his family for lunch.  She prepared beef rendang, a Malaysian recipe, and there was duck, white chicken and veggies, and of course: 


This well-decorated decadent chocolate cake made our grandson pay attention.  He immediately left his puzzle on the floor and came up  to blow the candle meant for my sister who has been celebrating her milestone birthday since the week before. 

On that last night, back at our son's place, our daughter-in-law wanted to treat us yet again to cocktails and dinner at a resto bar but this meant leaving our grandson behind; so we stayed in instead.  

It turned out to be cocktails, dinner and nightcap. 

This delicious, smooth-and-silky-melt-in-the-mouth cheese cake was presented mid-way while our grandson was still up and lively.  Who else would blow the candle but my sister and our eager grandson. 

Pizza and pasta night is becoming a tradition for our last night.  We stayed late into the night telling stories, laughing, eating and drinking.

From family visits here or there in Singapore, I learned that it's not enough just to be physically present, hugging and kissing  family;  it is by sharing our thoughts and feelings, our present challenges, our plans and dreams that make us feel that warmth and really enjoy that awesome feeling of togetherness. 

It seemed that our visit was not quite enough for the very next day after our arrival back home, our son called:  "book a flight again as early as now mom,  maybe for January" (coz we may see them here for Christmas).  He paused, "or even November". 

Well, life is short, we're not wasting anytime, not at all. 

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Our First Two Days In Singapore

It's never "as usual" with us whenever we go to Singapore. There are always new roads, new structures and new places. Our children make sure that bringing us around is always a new experience. 

When Singapore airlines flight 915 touched down on Changi, I messaged my son that we just landed. Since he took two days off from work, he said he was getting us from there. 

While driving out, as always, our son asked what and where we like for lunch. "It's up to you, we're not really that hungry", replied my sister who joined us on this trip. 
"Oh, so you want ambiance?, he asked smiling. "Okay, I'll give you ambiance". 

"The House" is one of the many restaurants in Dempsey,  formerly barracks of American soldiers converted to bars, restaurants and shops. We've been to Dempsey three times but there are just so many bars and restaurants there that it's our first time in The House..

We couldn't resist going out of the glass walls and take pictures.  

My son and my sister has a great connection, having been so close way back when he was a toddler while my sister was doing college and stayed with us.  This is a toast to this special reunion.

The ambiance was really great but the food took the spotlight, especially Jim's order, 

This meter-long sausage served on a bed of crunchy arugula leaves occupied the whole diameter of the round table. 

Not to be outdone, my burger with bone marrow served with onion rings and veggies was picture perfect.  It tasted great as well. 

We had a sumptuous lunch,  another place another great experience. 

 At the Tower Club situated on the 62nd floor, our daughter-in-law as well as our younger daughter and son-in-law joined us for cocktails after work. 

The place has spectacular views and tastefully decorated that  my sister and I couldn't help but explore the place and take pictures. 

Second Day 

Our grandson skipped school to spend the day with us, after all bonding with him was the prime purpose of our visit.  First order of the day was breakfast at the American Club

At 3 1/2, our grandson loves cars, fast cars, so much so that he stayed up late the weekend before to watch the finish off Formula One race.  He is patient in completing puzzles and has interesting idiosyncrasies.  

 Foremost is his tendency to contradict.  If you give him a square plate, he would say: "I want a round plate".  If you sit him on a yellow  chair: he'd want the blue.  If fruit is given for snacks he will say:  "I want something nice", meaning chips or his favorite biscuit. 

Before lunch, he needed to go to  the toy store where he plays often though he seldom asks to buy any. 

The whole day was pleasant and interesting especially when we went to the park surrounding the M social hotel designed by the famous French designer Philippe Starck.  

Here our grandson showed how good he is in riding his scooter.  He can cope with his dad's speed and he enjoys going up and down a slope. 

What did my sister and I do?  Had cocktails while watching.

Having mojito and Long Island tea

Father and son sharing a French fry drizzled with truffle oil. 

We also explored the premises surrounding M social and posed for pictures. 

The day ended by going local with dinner at Newton Circus, one of the biggest hawkers in town. 

We were tired and happy as we rested for the day while we anticipated the next day to be with my younger daughter and son-in-law in their new home. 

Sunday, 17 September 2017


Organizing and preparing for my sister's milestone birthday party was just as fun as the party itself, (at least to me, though others may find it a hassle); but as they often say,
"it's not the destination but the journey".    

This time Jim and I with the support of my daughter, my neice and nephew came up with a party fitting to my sister's good taste. 

My sister, the celebrant

My sister, my daughter, my granddaughter and me

We're in luck that my daughter introduced us to this party venue

There was no need to decorate, putting more stuff would be over-doing it.  The New Mexico and Spanish-inspired colorful interiors and arches led to more spaces with interesting surprises.  I'm not one knowledgeable enough to fairly critique art but my layman's eye says that the paintings are really impressive, is putting it mildly.   Add those to the creative artsy-crafty touches of Cynthia (the owner), made up the elegant, wholesome and cozy party rendezvous.  

The pictures below show the beautiful and unique interiors. 

I posed my sister along one wall of the yellow room

My nephew and his wife with the celebrant standing by this arch showing a good view of the main room 

Nieces and nephews

My sister, Jim and me with guests

My sister, my brother and me

My sister with her childhood bestie, Venus

My sister with Ben and Alessandra. The couple are her friends and neighbors who came all the way from Florida for the weekend just to join the celebration. 

That's me with my daughter and my sister 

The ladies on my side of the family

My sister and me with cousins, Luz and Lilia. 

In the brick room where the buffet was set up

It was a fun-filled night with singing and dancing and lots of laughter and tears of joy.  It was a gathering of special people close to my sister, who else but family and close family friends? 

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

A Great Lunch At The Artist Gallery Cafe

Our son who lives abroad said he will bring his family over for a visit but he didn't want me to bother preparing lunch.  So Jim suggested we try the new restaurant that we recently discovered. 

What a wonderful find!

Last week, Jim and I were desperate looking for a venue for a 60th birthday party next month.  We learned that our initial venue had to close shop due to unresolved issues with lessors.  Fortunately our older daughter saved us when she suggested we check out the Artist Gallery Cafe.  

While I was busy with my Sunday chores, Jim couldn't wait to take an initial look, he then drove up to the place and the facade alone gave him a good impression.  He happily told me that it looked great from the outside. 

Late that afternoon we went to see the place and talked to Cynthia, the owner.  We had her block off our party date on their reservation calendar.  I immediately called the celebrant and she readily agreed to have her birthday party there. 
"If you say that it's great, especially that Jim says so, then go ahead and put in a reservation", she replied. 

"Check out their Facebook page: 190 Artist Gallery, and see pics of previous events", I told her.  I believe she was impressed with what she saw.

Our lunch went well today because the food was great and the place amazing.  Because it is a gallery, isn't it fitting to name the items in the menu after an iconic painting and famous painters?  

Who wouldn't love the crunchy Mona Lisa cheeks?  The Raphael's pork barbecue was so tender, but the kare kare de Amorsolo is the favorite of my daughter-in-law, the Monet chicken curry just fell apart from the bone with a touch of my fork.  We ordered the  Da Vinci's spaghetti for my grandchildren.  We didn't have anymore space to try the native sausage ala Juan Luna as well as the rest in the menu. 

The interiors, more than the facade is colorful and tastefully decorated. Cynthia said her inspiration is not only Mexico but a blending of Spain as well;  but her own ingenious creativity and her personal touches were clearly visible.  Every corner is uniquely and interestingly decorated; if it were a photo shoot one just need to move any which way and find that the  background is consistently amazing.   

Check out our pictures today.  I'm not a professional photographer so I hope I gave justice to the beauty of the place.  

My son, his wife and son

Jim and my granddaughter 

My grandchildren

My granddaughter and I 

My granddaughter

My son and family in the function room over coffee. 

In one function room waiting for our lunch to be served. 

We only took pictures on the main room and one function room where they served lunch but the place is so much more, there are other function rooms on the main floor and there's a second floor as well which I plan to see on my next visit.