DIY Menu Board and Meal Planning

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Stella eats solid food twice a day these days, and it’s a challenge to have food ready when she’s ready to eat. Before I organized her meals (and made my DIY menu board), we would prepare her meals on the spot. We would scrounge around for whatever vegetable or fruit is available, boil or steam it, then mash or pureee, then wait for it to cool. The entire process would take anywhere from 15 minutes to half an hour. Sometimes it’s not a problem, but sometimes the meals would just be too close to her next feeding schedule. Which means she won’t be drinking as much milk as she should. Which, of course, isn’t ideal, as the primary nutrition of babies up to 1 year is still milk.

In a nutshell, there was just zero method to the madness. There was just absolutely no system in place. And I learned early on that when it comes to babies, there needs to be a system for everything.

And so, after one too many rounds of “Anong kakainin ni Stella?” “Ano bang meron?!””Kalabasa nanaman!” I decided to sit down and figure this thing out once and for all.

I needed a plan. I needed a schedule of her meals AND a schedule of grocery shopping to make sure we won’t have to scrounge around anymore or “steal” food from the pantry that’s meant for other people in the house. After several rounds of deliberations, some hits and misses, I came up with the following:

Grocery: Do the grocery every weekend for the following week’s meals. I originally wanted to shop for two week’s worth of meals but when I did that I ended up with several rotting pieces of vegetables and herbs. Sobrang sayang. Grocery once a week after work just for one whole week’s meals is enough.

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DIY menu board: I’m pretty proud of my DIY menu board I made, considering I have absolutely no arts and crafts bone in my body. I just got a white board, a round of extra strength adhesive tape, and several colored markers, all from National Bookstore, alphabet letters from the toy section of the grocery, and a roll from my mom’s sizeable washi tape collection, and ta-da!

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Simple menu board. I wanted to make sure the lines were straight and even, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how to calculate the spaces. So… bahala na si batman. Pwede na yan!!! As long as I can write on the board and as long as Weng, our housekeep, can read it (she helps prepare Stella’s meals), ok na!

I plan Stella’s meals for the entire week every Saturday or Sunday and go grocery shopping with the husband after. We’ve been using this system for a while now and it saves us a lot of time and energy. I don’t have to rely on food jars bought from the supermarket. I can make baby food using fresh vegetables and fruits. And not to mention, no more scrounging around for food! I highly recommend sitting down and making a plan for when your baby’s starts eating solids. It’s apparently not one of those things that you can do on the fly. Well you can, but why on earth would you want to?

Homemade ice cream

Everyone who knows Jaime and me knows that I can’t cook to save my life. Except for perhaps the usual adobo, tinola, and sinigang, and maybe fried eggs. I have never been and I doubt if I ever will be the domestic goddess of Jaime’s dreams. Jaime, on the other hand, one of his passions in life is cooking. That is literally the first thing he thinks of in the morning, and the last thing he thinks of at night. Not me, his darling, devoted wife, not anything else. Food. He told me himself. Ganong level.

I remember back when Jaime and I had just begun dating, he cooked this superb Chinese feast for my dad’s birthday. He prepared sweet and sour lapu lapu, steamed brocolli and beef, pork ribs, chow mein, the works. And in spite of themselves, I think my parents were thoroughly impressed. As for me, I think that’s when I first thought, hmmm… this boy, marunong dumiskarte.

During the pamamanhikan, my mom said “You do know na hindi marunong magluto itong si Mia, no?” My mom needn’t worry. I told him early on. Mabuting magkaalaman na habang maaga pa. He stuck around, so I assume that means my lack of domestic skills won’t be too much of a problem.

Thankfully, he still cooks for me (and for friends and family on special occasions) to this day. I’m only too happy to leave all the cooking to him, and I’m only too happy to be the guinea pig in his kitchen experiments.

So today I introduce to you a new category in my blog. Table for Three! Jaime’s homecooked dishes and their recipes.

First up, homemade ice cream, made without an ice cream maker. Very easy to make, even I can pull this off!

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Ingredients:

1 box whipped cream
1 small can condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 pcs Oreo cookies, crushed

Procedure:
1. Chill whipped cream for at least 24 hours
2. Manually whip the cream using whisk for 5-8 mins until cream becomes stiff
3. Add vanilla extract and condensed milk and whip until well combined
4. Fold in crushed oreo then freeze overnight
5. Serve

And voila!!!

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Home for Christmas

My husband and I live in a tiny one-bedroom apartment in the middle of the city. We love where we live. There is a mall right across our building, which is perfect if you get a sudden late night hankering for milk tea and beef burritos (like I did during my first trimester). Nearby there’s a small park with enough space and security for us to go jogging any time of day. When we’re bored and there’s nothing on TV we can always check out the shops and pretend we have a lot of money. It’s the perfect neighborhood to sit down and watch people. Or watch dogs, which can infinitely be more interesting than people.

Still, it’s a small apartment. We share a closet and there’s never enough room for our shoes. Our dining table can only seat 4 people, and that’s on a good day, when the chairs are not overrun with bags, jackets, mail, what have you.

I’ve been looking for tips on how to decorate a small space for Christmas. There is literally no room in our unit for a Christmas tree. Unless that Christmas tree is a foot tall, like our tree last year. We placed it right on top of our TV console, right beside the books, the phone and the remote control. Cute, but definitely not the Christmas tree of my dreams.

So for this year, I decided that I will decorate our tiny apartment, no matter what. There’s no reason a tiny space like ours can’t have some Christmas cheer! Here are some of my pegs. It takes just tiny decors here and there (a tiny Christmas tree, candles by the window, throw pillows on the sofa, a wreath on the front door) and tadaaa! We’ll have our own Christmastime at the Martinezes.

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One Christmas day, while we’re mulling over the lechon and fruit cake sprawled across our 10-seater dining table, I hope we’ll be able to say “Remember when we were just starting out? We lived in that apartment that was so small, hindi man lang tayo makapaglagay ng Christmas tree?”And we would stop chewing on our lechon and go “Hmm…yeah. Fun times!”

September favorites

1. My Amazing Blow Dry Secret

I am the ultimate consumer and I love products with outrageous claims. Some favorites: “Dramatically Different Moisturizing lotion,” “Hope in a jar,” “Hello Flawless Oxygen Wow” and “Ultimate Miracle Worker Night Rejuvenating cream.” Take note, dramatically different. Not just “different” or “somewhat different.” Dramatically different. And not just “night rejuvenating cream,” but THE “ultimate miracle worker night rejuvenating cream.” My Amazing Blow Dry Secret Quick Dry Shake n Spray, I’m happy to discover, is no different. Amazing ba talaga? Well, in a word, yes. The product promised to cut my blow drying time in half. That is no easy feat, considering I have long, thick, wavy hair, which isn’t code for “healthy” so much as “annoying” or “unmanageable.” Not that I blow dry my hair every day, but on the times I do, this product did manage to speed up the entire process. Yey for products that deliver on their promise! The only downside is that it doesn’t leave my hair with that nice, fresh scent. Unlike my trusty Vitress Hair Protect serum . It’s quite pricey too, again unlike Vitress which retails for less than 30 bucks.

2. The Wet Brush
I am, shamelessly if I might say, so easily swayed by advertisements, cute names (see example above), and I believe everything that advertisements tell me. Whiter teeth in 7 days? Yes please! Lose 10 pounds in 1 month? Where do I sign up? I’m naturally curious and I am horribly gullible. Doesn’t always make for the best combination. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it doesn’t. The Wet Brush is supposedly “Kendall Jenner’s favorite brush.” Yes, that’s exactly how they advertised it. I’m not a fan of the Jenners, per se, but if something is some celebrity’s favorite, well, then there goes all my sensibility out the window. It’s Kendall Jenner’s favorite brush! It makes her hair beautiful, and if she’s beautiful enough to have the most liked photo on Instagram EVER, well, the girl must know what she is talking about.

In all fairness to the product, The Wet Brush is truly the softest brush I’ve ever used. It does detangle my hair and it can be used for either wet hair or dry hair. I use it for both, although I enjoy it more when I use it while my hair is wet. I plan to give this to friends for Christmas. I imagine thrusting this into their hands and saying “This is Kendall Jenner’s favorite! And it will be yours too!”

3. K-Palette Lasting Two Way Eyebrow Pencil
Doing my eyebrows is my favorite thing to do in the morning. I don’t always get it right. Some days it’s acceptable, some days the right brow looks better than the left. Some days both brows are a mess. But I enjoy doing it just because I don’t know exactly how it will turn out. This product has given me more “good days” than bad days. It’s easy to use too. I just line my brows with the pencil, fill it up using the eyebrow, and I’m done. I think it’s safe to say that this little thing shall remain in my kikay kit for the time being.

 

4. Bad Bird Umami Fried Chicken
This was a discovery Jaime and I made on a casual Saturday afternoon date at Hole in the Wall, Century City Mall. I wasn’t actually sure if umami was safe for pregnant women, so While waiting in line, I had to Google “umami safe for pregnant women.” Before my pathetic 3G internet worked, we were up next and I decided, fuck it, bahala na. So I went ahead and got this umami fried chicken with 2 pcs sweet potato waffles with miso butter and maple syrup. Susmio ang sarap. No regrets whatsoever. Jaime got the Dirty Plate, which consisted of the fried chicken, fried rice with bacon and chicken liver, and kimchi. Delicious as well.

And if you’re wondering if umami is indeed safe for pregnant women, yes, it’s generally safe for pregnant women and children. Ha!

5. Akemi Suprelle Ultra Quilt duvet
I have searched high and low for a duvet that isn’t too heavy, too expensive, too thick, etc. We would love to have goose down feather duvets, but alas, no tengo dinero. The ones I previously purchased were too thick that we ended up sweating, even with airconditioning on. The one “feathery” duvet we had was hand me down, and it was so worn out that we literally had to sweep feathers around the bed every morning. Not fun. Akemi’s Suprelle Ultra Quilt comforter is the best duvet I’ve ever had. Really soft but provides just the right amount of warmth. It was warm when you want to be warm, and cold when you feel like being cold. Yes to technology! And if that doesn’t make sense to you, you will have to get one and see for yourself.

Sacred

When I was young, we lived in a house with a big altar facing the top of the stairs, so when you went up, the first thing that greets you is this massive altar with large, looming statues with eyes that seemed to follow you everywhere. Now that I have my own home, with my husband, I wanted a space for a simple, uncluttered altar. After all, we can make space for books, make up, televisions and gadgets, so why not carve a space that reflects our faith? So, with the little space that we have in our tiny apartment, I made my side table my little prayer corner. If there is one thing in our tiny apartment that remains, shall we say, immaculate, it is our altar.

Altar inspirations I found on the world wide web.

Altar inspirations I found on the world wide web.

It houses my book “The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything,” a figure of Mother Mary, St. Patrick (the patron saint of Ireland, a place that is dear to my husband and me), an angel from Montserrat, which my mom gave to me as a reminder of our vacation in Spain, a framed photo of the Sacred heart of Jesus, a candle and pretty flowers that hopefully will not die soon.  On top of the book is my rosary, placed on our wedding ring holder that says “I have found the one whom my soul loves” from Song of Solomon 3:4. Also on top of the book is a figure of the Sleeping St. Joseph. The story says if you write a prayer or a wish and put it under the figure, St. Joseph will “dream about it” and interecede on your behalf and make your wish come true.

Our own altar. Pwede na diba?

Maybe I’ll put in a little lace tablecloth, and add a real Bible, but for now pwede na diba?