Mom-Finds: Porcelain Bowls @ Japan Home Center

Last Friday of the month:  Mom-Finds under P500

Form and function, AND everything at P88!

SOLD! These gorgeous bowls and plates immediately caught my eye from the center aisle as soon as I entered the store.  I needed a spanking new set so I'm off to the counter in minutes.

If you can see my kitchen cabinets, you'd find glassware and mostly white plates and serving sets. I may not call them sets anymore as a few pieces have already crashed and went. So I wanted to add some punch to my safe stark white sets that wouldn't break the bank.  And voila! I found these super affordable, pretty lookin' porcelain ware (at least that's what it claimed to be) with deep blue floral prints all over.  The look was orientalia at first glance.

They have very limited pieces so after checking for chips, lumps and stains, I decided on a set of four 6" bowls and 8" serving plates. I have to control myself from getting the matching rice bowls with built-in chopsticks holder (holes), but I just needed these soup bowls and plates. There's no denying the P88@ price tag was too tempting!

Didn't let these ramen bowls pass me either so I got two. There, I'm done. Honest.

It's not the first time I shopped at Japan Home Center. We bought quite a lot of stuff for ourselves and for the home ever since we discovered their shop in Greenhills. And then in SM Hyerpermart - Shaw. The store shouts everything at P88.  Some goods with special tags even sell for P66!!! Who wouldn't want to go in and horde?! You're bound to leave the store with something.

Japan Home Center carries an assortment of imported products from household items to school supplies, novelty items and personal care products.

Take a peek (stole a few shots from my mobile phone)...
Got a couple of wooden boards among other kitchen implements

To be honest, not all the items they carry are de calidad -- you'd realize you do get what you pay for.  But most of the items we got did last and still continue to serve their purpose.  Just choose carefully.

So shop, shop, shop --- everything at P88! Happy weekend!

Japan Home Center
SM Hypermarket - Shaw Blvd. Mandaluyong City
Shoppesville, Greenhills Shopping Center

Japan Home Center is NOT the same company as Saizen (Daiso) Japanese shops also carrying similar products at bargain prices.

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Port88 Weekend Bazaar

Do you enjoy shopping at bazaars? Well, there's a big one happening this Saturday and Sunday at Megatent!

Thought you might like to check this out for some great finds. Entrance fee is P50.  FREE entrance for ICAAA and AAXS cardholders.

I am not a merchant here nor am I part of the organizer, which is my alma mater, Immaculate Conception Academy. Just helping pass the word around in my own little way. Check out the poster for details.

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Credit Card Rebates and Rewards -- I LIKE!

Charge and save...does that make any sense with credit cards?

Apparently it does, for a limited time only. And these I 'super like'!

I was reading the newspaper yesterday and this full page ad of Citibank got my full attention with it's latest rewards scheme.  As if the free movie passes were not enough, this one made it more interesting for me:

Simply spend at least P1,500 (pesos) on your Citi Card and exchange your charge slip to get P100 off from purchases at participating Shell stations, Rustan's Department Stores and Supermarkets, Shopwise, Mercury Drug stores, and Store Specialists, Inc. stores!  You can exchange up to 2 charge slips per day, until October 31, 2010!

With Metrobank Cashback Promo, you still have the whole week to earn back P500 in cash for every P15,000 accumulated spend using any Metrobank Credit Card. It started last June 1. Quickly register now:

Text CASH and send to 0918-9636898. Promo runs from June 1 to July 31, 2010. Valid spends should be made within the registration period.

These are amazing offers for all card holders, especially homemakers like me who need to manage the household budget. Cash credits and rebates are the most welcome and greatly appreciated incentives we could receive. And it does make shopping (charging) a little bit guilt-free! :-)))

I only hope this will be a recurring rewards program from these card companies that I partonize.

Check Citibank and Metrobank for complete details.

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Freestyle Friday: Shoe Tales

I love shoes.  Even more than bags.  And my fondness for shoes are now carried over to children's shoes -- the subject of today's Freestyle Friday.

Look at what I found after doing some clean-up of the little girl's closet days ago...

...my old toddler shoes!  Wow, if these shoes could talk!

Can you believe my mother kept this white (now dirty white!) all-leather T-strap walking shoes for more than three decades? She handed them over to me last year and I was ecstatic when my girl tried them on and it fits her perfectly.  For one afternoon she was proud to be wearing mommy's baby shoes and then decided to claim it as hers.  I kept this for posterity.

Just recently, it resurfaced together with some of the kiddos' old baby shoes, inspiring me for this post.

Each cute little pair brought back priceless memories of when my boy and girl first wore them...

...their first booties, first walking shoes, baptismal shoes, birthday shoes, and more significant steps along the way.

I took pleasure in buying shoes for my kids, and I still do. The boy couldn't care less about footwear, while little girl was always giddy and wide-eyed with each new pair.

Here are some of their current batch of shoes reflecting their individuality.  Obviously, the girl owns more pairs. =)

Sorting through these tiny shoes made me nostalgic and realize that, more than their old clothes, it is with their shoes that you can really measure, literally and figuratively, how they have grown.  Reality is, they are babies no more. :-(

Take a peek at my first Freestyle Friday post where I 'executed' a bob-cut on my unica hija.

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Mommy Moments: Kids and Amusement Rides

Tea Cup ride, Carousel, Mini-Ferris Wheel, Crazy Bus. Young kids can demand so many rounds on their favorite amusement rides once they get started. And they want to ride 'em all till they drop!

Here's my share of those fun (and dizzying!) rides with the kiddos for this week's Mommy Moments.

Having a blast, this is the little man's first try at Cosmic Kidz's Sling Shot ride in Kids Universe at SM Mall of Asia. He went for four rounds straight!

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Fun Friday: Blackout Games and Activities

Third Friday of the month:  Recreation

Typhoon Basyang hit the Philippine shores last Tuesday, affecting most of Luzon. Classes were abruptly suspended by noon. And with heavy rains and howling winds blowing across the region, a power outage surprised the populace minutes past midnight.

While power was restored in some areas after lunch, our part of the city was not as lucky. Our whole Wednesday was spent at home sans electricity -- finally getting power back at exactly 12 midnight as we fanned ourselves to sleep. And for the record, this was not the longest we went without electricity caused by a typhoon.

If there was one good thing that came out of this 24-hour disconnection from the outside world, it was the back-to-basics "organic" activities that we have engaged in with the youngsters.  Honestly, it was a fun and refreshing change away from the internet, playing with electronic gadgets, AND being glued to the television. And just in case you find yourselves in a similar situation, I thought I'd share with you how we got through this recent blackout with these fun games and family bonding activities in the confines of our home.

1. Card & Board Games
Out from under the drawers, the old reliable playing cards found their way back on the table again. You would not even notice the time after several rounds of playing your favorite card games. J and I tried to beat each other at Pusoy Dos (a variation of Poker Big 2).

I would have wanted to play Scrabble though. It was a good time to resurrect classic board games like Monopoly and Scrabble which the whole family could enjoy.

2. Arts & Crafts
Whether with crayons, watercolors or clay, kids always enjoy some creative play. Bring out the artists in them with whatever materials you have at hand.  We took out our stash of clay that afternoon and just allowed the boy and the girl to get their hands (dirty) working as we helped them knead and mold.

My boy loves to draw and always seems to find time to do so everyday. Another "masterpiece" was taped on the wall that afternoon. Most young children enjoy drawing and doodling and parents can join them for some quiet time together. Or leave them alone while you take a break ;)

3. Balls and Trampoline
Does it get any more basic than playing with a rubber ball?  Kick, throw, shoot, dodge. The ball delivers some major fun points. We have a basket full of assorted balls, and with nothing else to do that Wednesday morning, my girl just dug for a ball and started playing her version of soccer with big brother. We just let them do their thing 'til they got tired of it. You will be amazed at what the kids can do with a simple bouncing ball!

And they also took turns jumping on and off the trampoline while thinking of better things to do.

4. Pet Play
We have a bunny. A lone, white bunny that eats (and poops) a lot! We gave Skyler (that's the name of our female bunny) it's much needed exercise and playtime. If you live with pets, then by all means play with them.  Feed them, take them for a walk, teach new tricks, whatever you can do with these adorables. They need some bonding time with you too you know.

5. Gardening
It took a power outage for us to finally pull ourselves together to trim and prune overhanging branches and leaves from our bamboo trees and plants. Very satisfying. Unfortunately for my hubby, he suffered a deep cut on a finger in the process. Ouch!

6. Dolls
Lying around on their beds, these stuffed animals proved to be great company for the tykes. It worked up their vivid imagination as they made up fantasy stories with role playing and had endless conversations between them and their "playmates"...
...until they dropped everything and moved on to playing video games!

7. Handheld Video Games
I know, this is not considered "organic".  As much as I wanted to pull them away from video games, I cannot deny the fact that this is one bonding "recreation" for the papa bear and his cubs. And I hate to admit, but those games they play do provide some creative form of brain exercise. Fun and educational, the Nintendo DSi and iPod Touch have kept them company when it was too dark to play anything. Good thing the gadgets were fully charged before the power outage.

8. Read
You might think it's not a good idea to read amidst a blackout, but while there's still some good amount of light, sit by a window and grab a book, newspaper or magazine.  It was clay for the kids and the morning paper for me. I was able to catch up on current events lionizing the newspaper and even browsed through some back issues that breezy day.

Just being together, even while doing your own thing, is a fool-proof way to relax as a family, blackout notwithstanding.

What would you do in a similar scenario?

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Anatomy of a School (Trolley) Bag

Second Friday of the month:  Family Friday - Schooling

No. This is not the girl's bag.  She can't possibly have a bag that's almost as heavy as her! Hers is that little pink backpack on top of big brother's first ever (large) school trolley bag.  She just likes sitting on this wheeled one.

Every since my boy was in nursery, he have wanted "a big bag with wheels" like the ones he saw being pulled (dragged) by the prep boys and graders every morning when we bring him to school. Maybe it's the sheer size of it, or simply having wheels on the bag that impressed him.  If he only knew how cumbersome those trolley bags can be!
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Heavenly Cream Puff Craving

If you were to choose between a cupcake or a cream puff, which one would you rather have?  

Obviously, I'd go for a cream puff anytime. Especially with this one.

Just last weekend, my love for cream puffs was rekindled when I brought home a box of Beard Papa's 'fresh and natural cream puffs' from their kiosk at SM Megamall.

I still remember my first encounter with Beard Papa's from their branch in Greenhills a few years ago.  As I approached the counter, I was in awe seeing these large, fist-sized (as compared with smaller versions I've tried) puff pastry all lined up, while some were being pumped with their signature custard on the spot upon ordering.  This ensures the freshness of each cream puff they serve.  I just gotta have one, or two!

Founded in 1999 by Yuji Hirota, this Japanese chain of cream puff stores only serve freshly made pastries using the finest ingredients like organically grown vanilla beans and with no preservatives.

Each crusty, light and fluffy choux pastry is filled with fresh luscious vanilla custard-cream, and a sprinkle of fine powdered sugar on top. So simple a pastry yet so heavenly delightful, and filling too!  It's like whipped crème brulee in a perfectly baked choux.

Cream Puff : P50@ / Special price for box of 5 or box 10 for only P35@

Beard Papa's also serve the equally scrumptious Eclair Cream Puffs if you prefer yours with a chocolate top. This box of 5 was shared between me, my sis-in-law and two adorable girls who just poked, licked and sucked out all the custard cream and left the deflated, yet still spongy pastry shells to us moms.

Best to consume immediately.
Refrigerate and consume within 24 hours.

Beard Papa's Cream Puffs
Ground Level, SM Megamall Blgd. A
(across National Bookstore)

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Foodie Friday: Homemade Tocino

First Friday of the month:  Food / Mom-Cook

Sweet pork. That's how I refer to tocino for the benefit of the kids whenever we have this viand for lunch or dinner.  Tocino is cured meat, Spanish for bacon.

This tender and tasty red slices of meat, glazed and slightly charred when cooked, is a traditional Filipino breakfast dishTocino is often served with garlic fried rice (sinangag) and sunny-side fried egg (pritong itlog), hence the contraction Tosilog -- used to name this favorite set meal.  Spiced vinegar complements as dipping sauce, and sometimes, you will find tangy achara (shredded vegetable pickles) on the side to complete the course.

This is one of those dishes that the kids actually like (since it's on the sweet side), but unfortunately, not recommended especially for youngsters. Well, like most canned and processed foods, it is mainly due to the nitrates that act as preservatives, plus the red food coloring! Giving in to our tocino craving, I just limit serving this ready-to-cook dish to once a month.

Much to my delight, a recent post from Market Manila has opened my eyes to homemade tocino. Curing my own pork has never occurred to me! Why, oh why, just now? The idea of being able to serve this to my family guilt-free (sort of) really excited me!  And with this very simple preparation, I can finally turn my back on those mass-produced bright red tocino.

The challenge for me of course is to make mine as yummy as the ones I used to buy! (",)  As I've mentioned in the past, I don't exactly measure ingredients unless I'm baking, so below are approximate proportions of this version of sweet pork. Note that there should always be more sugar than salt.

Ready, set, cure!

Homemade Tocino

500 grams Pork tenderloin (lomo), sliced
1 tablespoon sea salt / rock salt (or coarse salt, not iodized)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
ground black pepper
1 teaspoon sweet paprika / Spanish paprika (whichever is available)
Approx. 4 tablespoon pineapple juice (optional)

To cure:
Pat on the salt and sugar mix on strips or thin medallions of meat
Sprinkle ground pepper, and paprika mainly for color
Mix  in pineapple juice if you wish, for extra flavor
In a sealed container, refrigerate for 2 days.

To cook:
Heat a small amount of oil in a pan.
Pan-fry cured meat until it caramelized and cooked through, around 20 minutes.

My first crack at curing pork turned out a bit too salty so I made some adjustments on the salt and sugar, then proceeded to make chicken tocino a week later.  This batch cooked and tasted so much better, especially with the tender and juicy thigh fillets I used (photo below).

Best served with rice and fried egg.
Enjoy this definitely Pinoy fare for breakfast, lunch or dinner. And don't forget the vinegar!

I'd love to know your thoughts on this post.  If you enjoyed this, feel free to share it!
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