Monday, September 29, 2014

Divisoria Day

I finally had a chance to go to Divisoria with the mission of buying prizes and giveaways for Skyler's 1st birthday party! It's all the way in January next year but I don't want to go there when the Christmas season really kicks in. I'm sure it will be packed with more people plus the prices will definitely go up.

We made sure to get there bright and early to avoid traffic and get good parking. We got there at 7:30am and parked in Lucky Chinatown Mall. Although take note that parking here is quite expensive! We didn't know it was P50 for the first 3 hours, then P20 per succeeding hour. We ended up paying P110 since we went home at 1pm na! Well, it was also my first time there so I was excited to check it out.

The mall opens at 10am so we went first to 168 mall which is just a short walk from there. As usual, I got so overwhelmed with all the cute stuff, especially notebooks, book wrapping papers, stamp sets, wallets and other trinkets I know I don't need but just want to have!!!

After, we headed back to Lucky Chinatown Mall and we passed by some party supplies. Everything you need you really can find here in Divisoria! There were so many to choose from, nakakaloka! ;p

On the way home, we were able to pass by other stationery stalls and as usual, I couldn't resist all the cuteness! Bought Christmas gifts as well here. :)

Sorry wasn't able to take note of the pasilyo numbers. But you can really just find practically the same items in the different stalls. Just go around and you're bound to stumble on what you're looking for. :)

Lucky Chinatown Mall is really nice btw! I wasn't able to take pics inside, but everything's still so new and there are lots of stores and restaurants to choose from. I think I can convince hubby to go back with me to Divi and he can just wait for me here and watch a movie or something hehe. I definitely feel bitin and I think I'll have to plan another trip here this October. Will post my shopping loot soon! ;p

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

DIY Fruit Pops

My kids are picky when it comes to food so I try to think of ways to make it more interesting for them. Miley and Sabe are not so fond of fruit so I thought of making these cute popsicles which are fun and healthy at the same time. They're so easy to make and your kids will enjoy eating them too!

Just choose whatever fruits you like and cut them up into little pieces. I had kiwi, pineapple, papaya, and oranges.

Then fill your popsicle mold with fruits all the way to the top. Miley even had fun dividing the fruits, making sure each mold had equal amounts. :)

Then pour enough water or juice into each mold to cover the fruit. I used coconut water, but I'd like to try using a different juice next time (maybe orange or dalandan?). I guess depends also on the combination of fruits you used and what would taste good with it.

Then insert the popsicle sticks into the molds and place in the freezer until solid.

It was a bit hard getting the popsicles out of the mold though! I had to wait a few minutes and make it melt a little since it was really stuck at first. But it was so exciting to see all the frozen fruits! So pretty and refreshing to look at. :)

The kids were so excited to eat it, even little Skyler had a bite! :)

This really is the perfect treat to cool off especially when the weather is really hot, don't you think? Fun, fresh and fruity! :)

Friday, September 19, 2014

Food Galore at the Fairmont Hotel Gold Lounge

During our staycation at Fairmont Hotel, we were upgraded to a Gold room, which meant we now had access to their exclusive lounge also on the same floor. The Gold Lounge served breakfast and snacks, plus unlimited tea, coffee, juices and soft drinks the whole day!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Our staycation at Fairmont Hotel Makati

For my birthday last August, we just decided to book an overnight stay at a hotel, which the kids really love.

Good thing I found out about a promo for BPI cardholders (BPI Gold MasterCard, BPI SkyMiles Platinum MasterCard, BPI Amore Visa, BPI Amore Platinum Visa and BPI Corporate MasterCard) where they are entitled to 50% OFF on best available rates on weekends at Fairmont Hotel in Makati (available from August 1 to October 31, 2014). Since it was also my birthday month during our stay, they also offered a free upgrade to the next room category.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Traveling without baby: How I pumped & brought my milk home from Korea

I just got back from Korea where I tagged along with hubby on his work-related trip. Like I said in my previous post, my main concern was leaving my 8-month old baby Skyler since he is still exclusively breastfeeding. I definitely had a lot of worries - will the expressed milk I left for him be enough until I get home? Will he drink my expressed milk in the bottle the whole time I was gone? Will my milk supply go down on this trip? Will I be able to bring home my pumped milk? Will he still want to nurse from me when I get back?

I read a lot of articles about traveling without your baby, and I was greatly reassured by other moms that YES it can be done! I was initially thinking of just pumping and dumping my milk, but after more research, I made up my mind to bring home my breastmilk. I was thinking of getting a Fridge-to-Go, but then I asked Jenny of Chronicles of a Nursing Mom and she said that an insulated cooler and frozen ice packs would be enough since Korea is just 4 hours away.

Our entire trip lasted 6 days, so I didn't have to freeze my milk since freshly pumped milk is good for about 7 days in the refrigerator. Of course, I had to double check if our hotel room had a fridge and thankfully they had one.

Before we left, I actually tested how long my ice packs would stay cold inside my cooler. I placed the bag inside our bathroom (so no air-con) and was happy to find the ice packs had thawed but was still slightly frozen after 8 hours. I checked again after 12 hours to be sure and although they had completely melted, it was still cool.

The flight to Korea is only 4 hours, but you have to take into account the total duration from the time you leave the hotel to go to the airport until you get to your house - in our case, about 9 hours.

I use the Medela Swing Pump which is really convenient to carry around inside my bag because of its size. It's an electric pump but can still be battery operated when you're using it outside. I hand carried this with me so that I could pump in the airport and also on the plane.

Other things I brought:
- 2 storage bottles
- breastmilk storage bags (ziplock type)
- rechargeable batteries (Eneloop) for my pump
- nursing cover / shawl
- liquid detergent for cleaning the bottles & pump parts (then I'd sterilize by pouring boiling water using the electric kettle in the room)
- plastic container / tupperware to store the bottles & pump after washing

Since this was a working trip for hubby, we didn't really have the whole day to go around sightseeing and shopping. We would spend about 6-8 hours a day exploring, which was fine with me since that meant I only had to pump once or twice outside. I would pump right before we would leave the hotel, then usually when we'd take a break and eat. I'd just cover myself with a shawl and pump away. I don't think naman it was noticeable e, parang nilalamig lang ako haha! ;p

pumping in Hongdae
pumping while eating in Myeongdong

But there will be times na alanganin talaga and I'd really have to stop wherever, whenever. Even if just for 15 minutes coz I'd feel really uncomfortable with my boobs so full. Parang breastfeeding lang, strike anywhere hehe. So of course I had to make sure to wear clothes that were easy access for pumping too. ;p

in Dongdaemun Park

My limit for taking the pumped milk back to the hotel was 3-4 hours. I didn't have a cooler so if I felt it was out for too long (it was also summer in Korea so it was pretty hot outside), I'd just have to throw the milk away to be on the safe side. I didn't want to risk it din if the milk was spoiled already.

And even though I'd be so tired from walking the whole day and would just love to sleep in, I'd still get up twice at night so I could pump every 3-4 hours. It was more important for me that my milk supply wouldn't decrease on this trip.

Hand-Carry or Check-in?

I had a hard time deciding if I should hand-carry or check-in my milk. Based on forums I read, most moms prefer to hand-carry their milk since they feel it will be hot in the airplane's cargo. And I guess they feel safer having their breastmilk close where they can continuously check on the temperature. Maybe you can even ask for ice from the flight attendants or ask them to place your milk in their chiller (if it fits).

My main concern with hand-carry was that I didn't want to get hassled at the security checkpoint if ever. Although based on this TSA article, you can definitely bring breastmilk on board the aircraft. If you're planning to do so, I guess just print the document and have a doctor's certificate that states you're a breastfeeding mom to be sure.

I talked to my friend who's a flight attendant and although she never had an experience dealing with breastmilk on a flight, she recommended that it would be better in her opinion to check it in. Apparently, it's cold in the plane's cargo which I didn't know about. The hottest it can get is 21°C, which is the temperature when there's pets/animals on board. But if there's none, temperature is 7°C! 

After hearing that, I finally decided to check-in my milk. We asked the hotel a day before our return flight if they could put my ice packs in their freezer, which was no problem. Getting my frozen ice packs from the concierge and packing my milk was the last thing I did right before we left for the airport. I placed the milk storage bags inside big ziplocks as well, just in case any of them burst (none did). We had a hard case luggage and I placed the cooler on the very top of our things. To be on the safe side, we also put a sign on the outside of the luggage that said "THIS SIDE UP".

my liquid gold

Total duration from the time I packed my breastmilk at the hotel in Korea until we arrived at our house was 8.5 hours. And when I got home, I was delighted to find the ice packs still 75% frozen which meant my precious milk had made the trip safe and sound. When I placed everything in the freezer, I was happy to find 3 remaining packs of breastmilk from the stash I had left for Skyler. Super sakto!

Now I was worried Skyler might not want to breastfeed anymore when I got home since he might have gotten used to the bottle. I nursed him immediately, and he seemed hesitant at first since he kept stopping and looking at my face! It was as if he was thinking "Mommy, is that really you?" Awww... Well, I'm so pleased to say that we're back to regular programming folks. He's back to nursing on demand and it's like I never left. :)

I'm glad everything worked out in the end and I was able to bring home the best pasalubong for Skyler. Since we're direct feeding, I don't know if he'll be able to drink all of the milk I brought home. But at least I didn't lose my milk supply and I'm now back with my babies who I missed so much! :)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Qiwellness Living Tagaytay: the Tea House

I've already showed you the Bath House part of Qiwellness Living in Tagaytay. Now let me focus on the Tea House, which is the dining area of the place, as well as our 8 course Yin Yang degustation dinner.

The Chinese Tea House

Traditionally, a Chinese tea house provides a tranquil place where one can meditate while sipping tea and enjoying a natural scenery such as lakes, mountains, and forests. At the teahouse at Qiwellness Living, you dine against the stunning backdrop of the Taal lake with a perfect view of the Taal volcano.

This is the Dining Hall which is equipped with Ming Dynasty 2 meter high chairs and a one piece rectangular table over 20 feet long. This is the more formal area that can seat 20 or so guests, perfect for family banquets or even corporate events.

Check out this gorgeous area which is just a few steps away from the spa. They can set up a romantic dinner for 2 here, overlooking the Taal volcano. Wouldn't this area be perfect for maybe a proposal, with the sun setting over this magnificent view? ;p

Going down the steps from the Dining Hall is the more casual dining area where our bloggers' dinner was held.

with my date for the night
with my fellow bloggers, all gorgeous ladies inside and out :)

Qiwellness Living's dishes are inspired by the traditional Chinese medicine’s principle of “yin” and “yang” and utilizing classical and modern culinary techniques with western and eastern ingredients. Their 6 and 8 course Yin Yang menus are multi-course degustation menus that changes seasonally, over spring, summer, autumn, and winter, inspired by China’s four seasons.

For our dinner, we had the 8 course Summer menu, which you can see below:

Here's the food which all tasted delicious and were presented beautifully.

Fried Mantou bread to start the meal
Money Bag of Foie Gras and Green Apple with Chestnut puree
Tuna Tartare with Pineapple and Pickled Shallots
Lettuce Soup with Poached Egg and Shitake Dumpling
Endive, Roquefort, Walnut, Roasted Pear Salad, Pomegrenate Vinaigrette
Pan-Seared Sake-Marinated Scallops, Avocado Puree, Ebiko
Pacific Black Cod in Buckwheat Noodles, Orange Teriyaki Glaze
Beef Striploin, Sichuan Pepper Spatzle, Snow Peas, Truffle Jus
Cardamon Custard, Strawberry Sorbet, Crumble, Soil

It was an amazing experience from start to finish. And add to that the loads of chika from my fellow bloggers which made it so much more fun! I'm so glad hubby was able to join me since it was nice to get dressed up and go on a "date" hehe. ;p

Again, thank you to Patty for the invite and also to the amazing staff of Qiwellness Living who took care of us that night and made us feel so special. Good work guys!

So if you want to have a romantic date with your loved one, celebrate a special occasion, or maybe just want to have good food with a beautiful ambiance, then Qiwellness Living is the perfect place to visit. :)



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