Tag Archives: occasions

hinting on the holidays

another family milestone: setting up our very first tree..

A day that I should have devoted to writing for a paper that would be due in a few days was spent instead on rearranging furniture and getting excited for the holidays! We can smell Christmas at home. The kids are like, “Is it Christmas? In December? December 25? Then we’ll open the gifts? When the guests are here can we open them?” Continue reading hinting on the holidays


a pizza feast for my favorite baker

i am both proud and mortified by the fact that my grandmother is the greatest cake baker of all time..

It was my grandmother’s seventy-nth birthday and we threw a pizza party in her honor. Too bad she didn’t have a birthday cake to blow that day. I dare not get her some store-bought cake that she would only pretend to like, and all the more could I not bake her a cake that pales in contrast to her own masterpieces. I still don’t have the guts to pull that off, although I know she would appreciate it if I do. Maybe next year.

Continue reading a pizza feast for my favorite baker

celebrating good life in puerto princesa

Puerto Princesa City is as straightforward as it can get. So much like haggling for south sea pearls.

My brother and I are not twins, but we were born on the same day. This makes for one unique, ultra-special birthday celebration come September each year. This year, we spent our forever-shared birthday on a short vacation in Palawan.

Continue reading celebrating good life in puerto princesa

a feeling called Christmas

As we lulled our party-tired children to sleep on Christmas evening, Turo and I were in agreement, “parang mas masaya ang pasko ngayon. hindi. parang mas totoo ang saya.” It is this year that I experienced the most fleeting Christmas feeling I’ve ever felt in years. Times are indeed tough. I mean, c’mon, I’ve never been as broke, as tired, and as sick as now during Christmas season. BUT, it’s still my favorite time of the year. And no matter how fleeting, my Christmas feeling this year is the most meaningful I’ve ever felt it to be.

photo from a hand ensemble peformance of Christmas carols

Despite all the traffic, endless schedules and unfinished Christmas shopping, and even when the holidays seem much less fancy this year, yuletide gladness felt so real to me. The love from family is just so overwhelming.

lighted anges along Policarpio St.

2010 was a tough year for us: a cancer case, a couple of deaths, relatives migrating. But there were upsides too: Uri getting cleared of hydrocephalus, culmination of the libel case, birth of The Garden Kitchen, deciding to move to LB. Celebrating Christmas is such a fitting ending to one big year. And heck, after and in spite of everything we’ve gone through the previous months, we’re still here to party.

Best of all, my kids wear the most genuine, happy-iest smiles on their faces. And it’s not even the gifts. It’s the wonder that Christmas brings to people’s hearts. I can feel it in them, especially these past days. I look forward to the time when they are a bit older and we can share and compare our Christmas feelings. Mine gets better and more profound each year. I wonder how theirs would be.

a chorizo christmas

It’s early in the morning on Christmas eve. I just finalized the Noche Buena menu and shopping list. I will be starting a cooking marathon in a bit but first would like to share a sneak peek into our upcoming Noche Buena. We’re going Spanish this year and below is our full menu.

Tapas bar

Chorizo al Vino

Potato and chorizo tortilla

Pan de sal and Chicken liver pate


Cauliflower with warm ham vinaigrette


French onion soup (okay so it’s not Spanish)


Roasted stuffed peppers

Pastel de lengua

Pasta de sardine


Strawberry flambe

We’re also stuck with bottles of French wine as I decided to forego our usual Chilean favorite. Too bad I shopped for wine way before we decided to go for a Spanish menu this year. Good thing somebody thought of buying a bottle of Fundador. At least brandy has more Spanish appeal.

We’re also having guests this year, a break in our tradition of having Noche Buena just by ourselves. More pressure for the Christmas cook. Note to self: I can pull this off. Cooking and cleaning and prepping my kids, and maybe do a little laundry and some last minute Christmas shopping. Why can’t I take a vacation on Christmas eve? Oh well, it’s still my favorite time of the year. Nothing beats.

Off to the kitchen now and into chorizo-land. I hope I have time to shoot food photos tonight. Happy Holidays everyone!

chinese chorizo for a spanish feast

last minute entertaining

Still hazy from the holiday gatherings, I can safely say I’ve managed to gain some expertise in entertaining guests, putting up simple décor for the dinner table, and serving dishes and drinks that are easy to prepare and lighter on the pocket.

Party hosting entails a great deal of planning. No less than a month for major parties, such as first birthdays or family reunions. The more time you have to organize and prepare, the less money you’ll spend. Most of the time, and I’d like to say this with some air of authority, the biggest cashouts are those made for unplanned and unforeseen expenses. So if you’re planning to host something major this year, you better grab your pens and start listing stuff down.

Here’s my list of foolproof ideas for making party hosting a seamless act.

Continue reading last minute entertaining

eating the holidays away

My holidays officially end today. You’d think three weeks of christmas vacation would be enough but it hardly was. On some days i’d be dead tired cooking and serving food to guests, other days i’d be dead tired cleaning up after the mess that party guests left. And just this week i was tired day after day looking after my incredibly active little boys, then sneaking up on some cooking, cleaning and laundry while they sleep, just because i sent yaya on vacation (househelp deserve holiday breaks too). Despite the exhaustion, christmas remains my favorite season. I can’t believe I keep looking forward to such a tiring time of the year.

So how were your holidays?

I probably gained a few pounds from eating too much holiday food. Heck, I don’t keep cooking just to watch all the good food disappear in front of my eyes. I also eat what I cook, y’know?

And before I forget them, I’m listing down some of the great holiday menus I came up with for this year. A lot of seemingly fancy but very easy to prepare food fare for the most special of your guests.

Continue reading eating the holidays away