Why, hello there! I hope you still remember me!
I know, I know, it’s been more than a year since I’ve written anything on this blog, and there are many things I’ve wanted to write about since but never got around to it. But after spending a fun and relaxed brunch with a few mom bloggers last week, I think I was touched by just the right amount of inspiration to actually sit down and write again ;)
When Michelle of Momma ’N’ Manila invited me to Mothers Who Brunch, a monthly gathering of moms she is organizing with Sabrina of Sinfully Sabrina at the Viking Range showroom, I said yes for the following reasons:
1. Michelle was cooking.
2. Michelle was cooking.
3. Michelle was cooking.
If you’re even just slightly acquainted with her blog or her Instagram account, you will know that this lady is awesome in the kitchen. Plus, she was co-organizing it with Sabrina, another kitchen superstar…I mean, really. There was no reason to say no.
Viking has been around for 30 years, and has built a solid reputation for bringing professional-quality kitchen appliances to the home. I’ve always like the very macho, sexy look of industrial kitchens, but Viking has successfully incorporated timeless design that softens it just enough for the home.
At the end of the brunch, we were sent home with some really awesome stuff:
Thank you, Michelle and Sabrina, for a lovely Saturday brunch!
I apologize if you are reading this bundled up in sweaters and scarves, but in this part of the world, summer has made its presence known! And for me, there's just no better summer snack than popsicles!
D has loved popsicles ever since he first tasted them at the first Balik Bukid fair in Sta. Elena in 2012.
He was enjoying that popsicle so much you would have thought it was the last popsicle in the world!
A few weeks ago, he asked me, no, begged me to buy him ice cream. The thing is, a lot of the 'ice cream' here doesn't even contain real cream, just a bunch of thickeners and stuff I can't pronounce. So when I found a brand of locally made popsicles which described itself as healthy ice pops, I had to pull a box out from the supermarket freezer and take a closer look.
I don't remember what the ingredients were anymore, but I don't think there were more than two or three, and all of them I was familiar with. I'm not sure I remember right, but I think the main ingredients were only fruit juice and prebiotic fiber. I was sold! I bought a box of 12, and I thought they were quite reasonably priced.
But at the rate we were going through those boxes, costs were adding up. Good thing R remembered that our friend Rheea of Rainy Days and Mom Days gave us some popsicle molds a few Christmases ago, and said it was about time we put them to good use:
I have to say that these popsicle molds were well thought out. The cup catches whatever melts so there's no mess, and there's a straw from which you can sip the melted popsicle juice or whatever you call it. I have to be honest though, we've never really used the straw because the popsicles are gone long before it has a chance to melt into the cup!
After a couple of tries, I finally got my proportions right and we've been enjoying our juice pops a lot. They also make for a great pre- or post-dinner activity with the kids, since most of its freezing time takes place while we're all asleep.
My daughter N loves making these with me because she gets to drink up the extra juice-yogurt mixture! Yumyumyum.
Do let me know if you give it a try!
A friend posted a photo of an air fryer on Instagram today, gushing about how she LOVES her Valentine gift from her husband and her adorable kids. I was so happy for her I almost cried.
No, it wasn’t because I wanted an air fryer (the kitchen is my husband’s turf, thank you, Lord!), but because today it made me realize how different one’s view of romance is colored by the things for which you are grateful.
Now I’ll be honest. Sometimes the internet makes me hate my husband. I know it’s not just me, because someone actually blogged about it, I almost thought it was me talking. In this day and age of elaborate and Youtube-ready wedding proposals, the idea of a guy getting down on one knee sounds so…boring. So not worth uploading or ‘sharing’. And if it isn't worth 'sharing', really, what's the point?
When I see these wedding proposals on social media, it makes me think of my own. I think if it happened today, it would hardly merit a ‘like’. My husband R proposed to me in the gallery I used to own. (What? No romantic setting? No candles or roses? Where are the cameras???) He got down on BOTH knees and said ‘Mia, I love you so much I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Will you marry me? Will you be my wife?’ (That’s IT?!? No elaborate spiel? Both knees? It was supposed to be just one knee! And get this: NO SERENADE?!? This is wrong! All wrong!) And then he fished out from his pocket a little container with a diamond. (No, I didn’t inadvertently leave out the word ‘ring’ from the previous sentence.)
All I could manage to say was ‘OH NO OH NO OH NO OH NO’ over and over again that he had to ask me if I meant yes. (I cried and I guess I managed to nod or say yes, because I now have two kids and I wake up next to him everyday.)
It took me two days to tell my closest friends I was engaged, and when I did it was only because R felt hurt that I hadn’t told anyone yet. Honestly, I felt like I was hit by a truck. R was big on romantic gestures all throughout our courtship that each time I thought that was IT, he was GOING to pop the question…but he never did. I think I figured it out by the seventh incident, and after that I just gave up expecting. I’m not sure how I thought he would propose, but certainly, a simple one seemed out of character. So when I got it, BAM! I was out for two days. But that is our story, and I won't have it any other way.
Our first Valentine date had him setting up a lounge, yes, a lounge, on the roof of his house. The area was lit up by hundreds of Tivoli lights, there was a sofa and a rug, and a little kitchen setup where he could heat the food he had prepared earlier that day, so we could enjoy it al fresco. Today, thirteen Valentines later, he and the kids were in bed by 8 after a fairly regular day of work and school and a TGIF snack at the nearby Pancake House, but it was a great day because of a really good start: this morning, I found a pair of earrings—my surprise Valentine present—carefully placed beside the toilet.
(Yes, let us take a moment to pause and reflect on how much thought went into that gesture.)
(Let me help you: it is a notch higher on the romance scale than having me fish it out of the bowl, and I am grateful he didn’t get creative that way.)
(See what I mean about one’s view of romance being colored by the things for which you are grateful?)
I think that the proposal was the beginning of the end of romance as I knew it or thought it should be. And I’m glad that the years have shown that while the love letters, flowers and grand gestures are always welcome, romance can take on many forms: a long, tight hug before breakfast; an afternoon movie with the kids; a well-prepared dinner every evening; a gentle squeeze of the hand in the middle of the night; difficult and honest conversations at 3 in the morning.
And so I bid this day of hearts goodbye with this nugget of sweetness I found on another friend’s Instagram post:
And so today
My world it smiles
Your hand in mine
We walk the miles…
If the sun refused to shine
I would still be loving you
When mountains crumble to the sea
There will still be you and me
This easy-listening-, pop-loving gal googled it and was stunned to find that it was from Led Zeppelin.
Romance, indeed, is where you find it.
Happy Valentine’s Day, R. I'm sorry I didn't get you a card.
Our decision to use essential oils to scent our soaps and other products came from the desire to keep them free from toxic chemicals.
When I started making soap five years ago, there were not that many choices in terms of scents. Sure, there was a wide variety of fragrances available, but I couldn't find anything that was certified phthalate-free. (Phthalates are the components in synthetic fragrances that have been found to disrupt the endocrine system, especially in young children, among other scary things.) So it was essential oils, or no scent at all. I was perfectly happy with that!
And then I started to wish there was a way to have citrusy soaps without its scent fading so quickly (citrus essential oils are the most volatile, meaning they evaporate quickly)...or creamy vanilla soaps...
So you can imagine how excited I was to find certified phthalate-free fragrance oil I could use for my soaps!
Fragrance oils are synthetic fragrances that are more stable in skin care products. The scent stays on a bit longer, and they allow me to have scents not normally available as essential oils.
Because it is our policy to be transparent about the ingredients we use, this is what you need to know about our phthalate-free scents:
1. They are not usually natural. Some of them may have natural components, but formulas for synthetic fragrances are trade secrets, and so their manufacturers are not required (and I'm sure not inclined) to disclose the ingredients. All I can tell you is that they are free of phthalates, the component which made me decide to keep away from synthetic fragrances to begin with.
2. I cannot guarantee you will not have an allergic reaction to it. While some people think synthetic = allergenic/bad, it's not necessarily so. Some people react, some people don't. Same with essential oils. I've had clients tell me that they prefer using essential oils or natural products because they are hypoallergenic. Please remember that pollen is natural, and people all over the world are allergic to it. Natural products are just generally considered less likely to cause reactions.
3. I would use them on my kids. Keeping true to the SoTrue promise of using ingredients we would willingly use on or around our kids, I certainly wouldn't think twice about using them :)
I'm very excited to have you try them, because I'm sure you will LOVE the new scents we will be offering. They're not going to be regular offerings (unless you demand that they be so!), so for now they will be available seasonally and in limited quantities.
Have an awesome week!
It's a prince!
I woke up this morning to the happy news that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been blessed with a son. It's always such a joy to hear of new additions to the family (royal or otherwise)!
To say that having a child changes you is an understatement. It changes your whole world. Some people embrace it as soon as they find out they are expecting. For me, it took about a month after N was born.
(Ok, this wasn't where I was planning to go with this post, but let's go there and see where this takes us.)
Don't get me wrong. I was excited about having a baby! I just wasn't sure what to expect. Finding out I was pregnant was a shock in itself, it took a few days for it all to sink in. I loved being pregnant. (But not the 50lbs that came with it.)
N was already gorgeous, right there in the delivery room. I found out later that the nurses in the nursery nicknamed her 'Baby Beautiful'. And, like all babies do to their mommies, she just got more and more beautiful.
Then we took her home. My mom and mother-in-love were there to make sure my transition to mommyhood would be as smooth and as stress-free as possible. Bless their hearts for their intentions, but obviously, it had been a while since they had little babies, and I'm not sure if the addition of any newborn into a family can ever truly be stress-free. As they cooed and gushed over their granddaughter, I felt like was put in a washing machine of emotions ('rollercoaster' doesn't quite cut it, because a rollercoaster can be fun), sometimes feeling like I was trying to get my bearings as I was swished around while hanging upside down.
I was happy, but I was exhausted. I felt a lot of love and tenderness towards N, but I also felt that she, innocent and beautiful as she was (how could anyone fault her for anything?), took away my life as I knew it. I remember just staring at a wall as I nursed her one night, not really looking at anything, and feeling completely overwhelmed at the responsibility of caring for this person, this human being for the next two decades of my life. (Well, now we know it doesn't end at 20.)
I felt a fantastic new bond was formed with my husband, but at the same time I felt very lonely. I resented him when I had to get up several times at night to soothe N and nurse her, while he snored away. Don't get me wrong, he was wonderful and supportive, and did what he could (but he drew the line at nappy changing), but my hormones were having a party to which I wasn't invited, and they let me know it.
Now I know this is what they call the baby blues, or a mild form of postpartum depression. I know that I didn't have it as bad or as long as other mothers did (and do), but it was still a lonely place to be. Everyone around you is ecstatic about the baby, and you feel all this love and excitement when they are around you...and then it's a screaming kind of quiet when they leave. (And I have no idea why I'm crying now. Anyway.)
If you are reading this post and finding yourself in the same situation (or worse), please talk to someone about it. Also, postpartum depression doesn't just happen right after giving birth, it can happen up to a year after delivery.
Looking back, I realize that there were quite a few things that helped me keep sane.
1. I spent a lot of time in prayer. And I mean, A LOT. I spoke them, I sang them, I thought them. Never, ever, EVER underestimate the special blessing that God gives new moms. One of my favorite Bible verses is found in Isaiah 40:11, which says that God gently leads those who are with young. I truly and wholeheartedly believe it. There was no way I could have survived all those sleepless nights without getting sick!
2. I had support. I found a lot of this in my husband. I remember how at the lovely baby shower Ayen and Franco threw for us, Franco said that a great deal of the strength that a new mom will need will come from her husband. This was SoTrue!
There were times I would cry on R's shoulder and I could feel his helplessness. He didn't know what to do with me. We were going through all of this together, and for the first time. I found a lot of strength in the words he shared with me while I was still at the hospital, unsure of how to deal with motherhood. He said, 'Mia, it's just like me before I have to do a show.' My husband is a singer and an extremely shy person, FYI. 'I just step onto the stage and open my mouth and trust that God has put me there and He will see me through it.' So yes, while there were times I glared at him in the dark as I walked to N's room to nurse her in the unholy hours, I still think my husband rocks.
I also leaned a lot on my mom. She moved in with us for the first five weeks after N was born (my husband is an angel), and she was great. I had all my ideas about how to take care of a baby, and SHE LET ME BE. She stepped back, even when I knew that the things I was doing were completely opposite what she would do. She had gone through a difficult time postpartum, too, and swore that if her daughters went through the same thing, she would be there for them. And she was. But you know what, she didn't really know that I was going through it, she didn't know I would cry to my husband at night while she watched over N in the next room. What was important is that I knew she was there.
I had a friend. If you are pregnant, I suggest you find a friend who is pregnant, too. If you don't have any, make friends with someone who is. I cannot tell you how big a help this will be. For both pregnancies, that friend was Rheea of Rainy Days and Mom Days. Both our kids were born within six months of each other. So if I was up at 3am, I could always count on Rheea to text back when I texted her. With D, my sister Georgia and I gave birth to our babies just nine days apart, so you can imagine how many hundreds (possibly thousands) of text messages were exchanged between us!
Our texts wouldn't be heavy or emotional or anything. It was just to let each other know that someone else was there, doing the same thing at the same time. You find great comfort in little things.
3. I am an info junkie. I like to read, read, and read. My husband cannot understand how I can spend hours on the internet, just reading about anything and everything. And so, even before I gave birth, I already knew my hormones would be out of whack. And when they finally went out of whack, it helped that I had somehow expected it, and that I could tell myself that a big part of what I was feeling was caused by my horror-mones, and that things were going to get better.
By the time D came around, looking like this (an old man):
I was a lot more chill as a mom. I had a major cry one night at the hospital, and after that I was fine. (Again, this may not be the case for everyone, so please, I repeat, talk to someone if you're feeling even just a bit blue.)
Let me post a photo of D here, just so you know he turned out looking okay:
Going back to the royal birth.
I am so happy for the Duke and the Duchess of Windsor! Hooray for babies! I truly wish them the best in this new journey.