Monday, October 19, 2015

Mommy me time: For the love of coffee

People who know me know that I cannot live without coffee.  It started with my grandmother who herself is a coffee lover.  Every time we slept at my their house, she would always make us a cup of coffee with a whole lot of milk.  I loved the aroma and taste of coffee.  As early as elementary days, I was hooked on coffee and enjoyed mornings with grandma who seemed to make the perfect cup every time.  Taster's choice was her brand back then and that was the only brand that I knew of.

Fast forward to the late 90's when Starbucks came into the picture and I was in college, designer coffee never tasted so good.  But there comes a point in your life when your preferences change and while I still enjoy flavored coffee with all its sugar from time to time, I found myself looking beyond Starbucks and CBTL.  With the entry of Third Wave Coffee a few years back, I could not be more happier.   

That perfect cup of Cappuccino.

My love affair with this drink has span more than twenty years.  And when I came across EDSA Beverage Design Studio's workshop offering on Coffee, I had to enroll myself to get to know my beverage of choice better. I enrolled in the Specialty Coffee Fundamentals class which covered three modules:  Intro to Specialty Coffee, Tasting & Cupping, and  Brewing 101.  The class is every Saturday and if you take all three modules, it will be for 3.5 hours.  In case you are interested, I suggest you take all three in one sitting rather than taking it one at a time.  Total cost for the class is P1900. 

Introduction to specialty coffee and Brewing 101 EDSA Design Studio.

I am no coffee expert but enrolling in this class made me a little knowledgeable of the different varieties of coffee, how it is processed and how it should be prepared.  I honestly did not know that poor water will lead to poor coffee!

My first cupping session.

I also had my first cupping session.  Similar to wine tasting, deciding on the best beans can be complicated and follow the same principle (Yes, you also have to spit it out and the noisier you slurp the better!).  There are several aspects that you have to take into consideration like fragrance, aroma, acidity, body, flavor, aftertaste and overall impression. 

After learning all the theories, we also had a hands on activity wherein we had to grind and brew our coffee ourselves.  The Baristas judged who had the best tasting coffee afterwards.  I unfortunately did not win.  How I poured the water impacted my brew. Lesson learned, just like baking and cooking you cannot hurry the process because it will affect the end product.

Preparing to Grind and Brew.

There was a contest on the perfect brew.  Everything you do affects the taste of the coffee!

With my fellow coffee enthusiasts and our teachers.  That sign we made was their advocacy on NO TO BAD COFFEE.  It is also not a coincidence that our eyes should be closed, I just was not following directions, LOL
After this class, I appreciated coffee more and I suddenly tried to stay away from 3-in-1 coffee and was more conscious in not putting too much of milk and sugar in my coffee and enjoy it as it is. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Staycation: Marco Polo Ortigas

For my birthday and wedding anniversary, we just opted to stay in Manila because of the weather.  I have been wanting to try Marco Polo in Ortigas.  The pictures looked enticing and I loved the fact that it is a new hotel.  We were able to book on the same day via Agoda.  Since I have an Agoda account, I accumulate points.   For this staycation, I got a discount of PhP1300, not bad.  So we just had to pay around PhP6,000 for our stay.

Everything about the hotel was good, with the exception of the parking.  If you have a huge car you might find it difficult to traverse the steep and tiny way to the parking.  But that aside, we would definitely go back here.
The Lobby is situated in the 22nd floor of the building.  From the parking you need to transfer to another elevator that will lead you to the Lobby.  To go to the rooms, there is another set of Elevators.
My favorite part of the room - huge and comfy bed!

R was quick to pull out the chair, stationed himself in front of the TV and watched his favorite Disney Jr. shows.
Bathroom with a view.  A big plus is that each room has its own tub.  Something that a lot of 5 star hotels do not offer.

The bathroom is very spacious.

For the coffee addict like me, having our own Nepresso machine was a real treat!  No 3 in 1 coffee!
R enjoyed swimming in the indoor pool.  This was around 6pm and almost everyone was gone.  But when we swam in the morning, it was jam packed that it was pretty hard  to really swim if you want to do some laps.
Breakfast was at Cucina.

The buffet breakfast had pretty much a little of everything.  They had their own Bibinka and Puto Bungbong station that R just adored.

Monday, October 12, 2015

September to remember

A few weeks ago, it was my birthday.  No fancy celebration whatsoever, just had a quiet dinner at home with my family over take out Chinese food.  I took a half day leave and accompanied R to his first field trip during the day and was so exhausted by the time we arrived home in the afternoon, having only two hours of sleep. 

We went to two venues in Rizal.  The first was in YAB design in Antipolo and the second was in Sweet Harmony in Taytay.  It was a joint field trip between the Katipunan and Marikina branches of FMP. 

R's first field trip and first time to ride a tourist bus.  He was beyond ecstatic!

At YAB design checking out the Treasure chest and pretending to be Jake the Neverland Pirate.
At Sweet Harmony, we were all given hair nets, aprons and plastic gloves for our Pizza making activity.

R concentrating in making the dough for his Pizza.
Mommy and R's finished product.  We got to take it home and eat it.  R was very proud of his pizza that he at it on the way home!

The kids got to go inside the bakery while the parents watched them from outside.

There were really some big and fat ducks and chickens in Sweet Harmony.

This was his first time to play hopscotch and he was so excited to give it a try.
Last activity for the day.  The kids played Cat and Mouse.

It's no joke juggling work and motherhood.  I am thankful that my parents are both willing and are still able to help us take care of R while my hubby and I are working. Honestly, I don't think I would not last this long if it were not for them.  A lot of days, I wish I could do more and there are many instances wherein I wished I could stay longer and be with R and teach him.  My days and nights are totally opposite from his.  My only consolation is that at least I am still there when he wakes up in the morning, prepare his breakfast and bathe him and bring him to school. Weekends are super sacred to us because that is really the only time that when we are together day and night.  

I try to be present in all his school activities and as much as possible. It's a good thing as well that with the current company I am with, they are understanding and we are encouraged to take our leaves. That really makes a huge difference.   At the end of the day, you just really look for ways to make things work.

Pre-school home activity: DIY moveable alphabet

R is four years old and is already learning to write, spell and read.  Writing has been a challenge ever since.  He refused to practice at home.  Even his past evaluations indicated some resistance.  But what I love about the Montessori way of teaching is that they let the child take the lead.  They are not forced  into something that they are not ready to take on.  They would be introduced to it, but not to a point that it is mandated.  A few months back, he struggled a lot writing his name, but lately he would already take the initiative in pulling out the writing board, write his name and would even ask me if he could spell my name.  Now I know he is more accepting and open to writing, spelling and reading.
One of the materials used in a Montessori set-up is the Moveable alphabet that cultivates spelling, reading and writing.  There are different approaches on this, depending on the child's skills.  When I observed R last week, he was asked to choose 5 pictures and then his teacher pronounced the words several times.  R took the queue and spells the 3 or 4 letter words using the moveable alphabet and writes the words in a piece of paper.  At this level, correct spelling is not the objective. 

R in action in school.  Before beginning, he spell out his name.
I love this concept of the moveable alphabet.  Actually, I  have been waiting for the day that we would be doing this at home.  To my eagerness, I initially bought Melissa and Doug magnetic wooden letters a year ago.  We did play with it but not as much.  It was quite costly, so when the time came that I saw that R was ready for this activity, I just thought of making a DIY version.  I bought the DIY kit from the Montessori Print Shop for a fraction of a cost.  I just printed the materials in white card stock paper, used contact paper instead of laminating the letter, and found a plastic case from SM department store that was a perfect buy. 

For storage, I bought 2 plastic cases to fit  all the letters and pictures.  Here he is spelling the word POLICE.  Currently he is fixated with Police cars and ambulance.

Remember that the goal here is not to immediately correct the spelling.  R here asked me if he could spell out WATER.

I try to make this activity interesting every now and then.  Sometimes, I ask him to choose from the pictures to spell out, sometimes we just have a free-flowing spelling activity and at times we do spelling and writing depending on his mood. 
This activity will go a long way and you can use this even until he can spell out more complicated words.  Always remember to take the child's lead to make it more fun and enjoyable.






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