Saturday, September 19, 2015

Eat Pray Love

Garden by the Bay

There were a few things that had happened the past two months. First, I'm no longer doing the lunch catering business because the people at the company are rarely eating at the office. I was actually expecting that to happen even before they mentioned it. Second, I got sick, then the little one followed. I thought it was just a minor cough and cold for both of us but it lasted for 2 weeks. Nate experienced fever for a few days before having the cough while I continued getting sick for more than a month dealing with dry and itchy throat and coughing at the same time. 

It's really hard to get sick most especially when medications are already needed. I also have to send Nathan to the other house for 6 days when I started taking antibiotics. I couldn't take care of him anymore. The fever and the cough was just getting worst.

With Rev. Edmund and Pastor Ann Chan
Even after getting Nathan back, I wasn't 100% well but I have the energy and the stamina to take care of him already. At that time, I was looking forward to our trip to Singapore. A kind-hearted woman sponsored our trip to attend the IDMC (Intentional Disciple-Making Church) Conference last September 2-7. We were already booked almost a year ago and J and I planned to stay longer after the conference. We were able to book another 2 extra days but I thought 2 days were not enough to explore Singapore and their food. I was right.

AT Madam Tussauds
No matter how well we plan in advance, there were things that will not turn out the way we want it. Sometimes we have to bend ourselves to mold and fit into the situation. After the 2 day conference, what J and I all did is to travel, walk and eat. Since were were staying near the airport, travel time is much longer to get into the city. Exploring the city means we get lost once in a while and get back on track to where we wanted to go.

It has been more than 15 years since I visited Singapore with my family. All I could remember was the Raffles Hotel, Jurong Park, Sentosa Island and how discipline the citizens were. I can't remember anything about the food. I am truly blessed to go back there to learn about God's word and to taste the food at the same time.

The hawker center is what Singapore is known for. We were able to try a few but we weren't able to visit the restaurants and cafes on my list. The trip was tiring indeed but with the help of an app that J downloaded on his iPad on how to get from one place to another really helped. It saved us time. Our extra two days was meant to find inspiration in food. The food was good but I haven't found anything that would jump start what we really wanted to do which is to have our own home-based business. Although I really want to continue my desire with healthy and plant-based foods, I think it's also not the right time for us. 

Even if we can concentrate with other food ideas, I want to be with the little one as much as possible more than the business most especially he is still very small. The formative years are very important to me. I had the little one in mind during the trip. I was hesitant to leave him for another 5 days (in addition of the 6 days I was sick) because I know that at this age, he will pick up bad habits and behaviors that are difficult to undo . It's the same thing when you have a stay out nanny who take cares of Nate while J and I have our Dgroup. It's not always possible to have him with me all the time. I also need some time off from him yet I want to fully trust Him that whatever happens, J and I will always the Nate's home and safe haven.

Universal Studios although not part of the itinerary
Worries aside and whatever bad things that creeps into my mind, J and I continued with our food pilgrimage. Rather, more of a walking pilgrimage exploring the streets and transferring from one train stop to another. I rarely fall asleep right away here at home but during our trip to Singapore, I was already asleep within seconds the moment I hit the sack and waking up early while  the sky is still dark to prepare for breakfast and the conference.

Although J and I just wanted to eat, we were encouraged to visit the Sea Aquarium and the Night Safari. That's what we did for the first 2 days.  Now that I was able to visit it, I don't need to go back unless we have Nate with us.

At DB Bistro and Oyster Bar 
A trip to 

Singapore is not the complete without visiting the iconic Marina Bay Sands and the hotel. Actually, we went to the Esplanade one Sunday afternoon to eat at the Makansutra Gluttons Bay and order some chili crabs but it was closed during the day because there's no roof to protect us from the scorching sun. So J suggested that since were are already here, why not try the No Signboard Seafood Restaurant for the chili crab. It was expected the crabs are expensive but I was still surprised with the bill amounting to 226. I didn't know that they charge for everything - the house tea, the towelette, the peanuts that we didn't eat and there's a service charge too. We only ordered 4 pcs of prawns and 1 piecce of crab and I thought, it was just an ordinary crab dish. We were still in a "what a waste" mode when we tried DB Bistro and Oyster Bar by Chef Daniel Boulud  at The Shoppes at Marina Bay. They might not have the best mushroom soup or duck confit  but the price was reasonable and the first that I ordered was superb. We could have also tried Bread Street Kitchen by Gordon Ramsay instead of the No Signboard. At least now we know that we can move on to other restaurants or even Hawker centers to try the chili crab the next time we visit.

That same night, after our dinner at DB Bistro and Oyster Bar, we also went to the Gardens by the Bay. We didn't go there to check out the gardens. We went there to try the Sate by the Bay. It was a long walk from were we came from taking long the route. I'm about to give up but since we're already there, we just moved on until we found it. We only ordered the satay and I thought there must be a better satay out there. It's tempting to order more food from other stalls but we were still full. 

Wild Mushroom Soup
Duck Pate en Croute
Mediterranean Sea Bass
Duck Confit

I'm glad we extended for another two days instead of going home right away after the conference. We do miss the little one but some quality time with J is important for me. Sometimes we do get carried away in taking care of Nate and being parents to him that we forget that we have each other in the first place. We were so tired from the trip with aching feet and knees including back and shoulders. We haven't recovered even after 3 days of being back in Cebu. The important thing is we are together and we have our little one back with us.

Now, it's time to get back to my pending projects and make a business before we travel again. 

Sunday, August 2, 2015

How I Maintained Weight and Physique on my Wedding Day and Beyond

Quinoa  and Arugula Salad (with yellow bell peppers, tomatoes, edamame, dried cherries, capers and spicy almonds) tossed with red wine vinaigrette

I’ve never written about how I was able to fit on my wedding dress while still working at the culinary school. But I’ve realized that it’s important for me to write about it. This is not only for the purpose of looking your best on your wedding day but to really understand that diets don’t really work unless you are an athlete. I hear people say I’ll go on a diet (for a few days or weeks) and it never happens. The truth is, it never will and it will never work. But how does one find the motivation to eat healthy, lose the excess bad fat and maintain a healthy weight? It’s one question with so many answers that leads us to many different ways of doing it. 

No-Oil Sauteed Mushrooms with Herbs and Marsala Wine

One thing I usually say is ditch the word diet (as a verb) but change your bad diet to a healthier diet (as a noun). Dieting (verb) will not work if you don’t change your diet (noun). It may sound simple but doing it is the complicated part for most people. 

When J and I set the date for our wedding day, I never really had the motivation to exercise and eat properly. J keeps on telling me that we need to exercise but we only jog at the park once. But prior to meeting J, I was already in the habit of going to the gym and exercising. I was already eating healthy even with occasional binge. I was already at my healthy weight and body frame. Why in the world do I need to maintain my weight and figure on my wedding day? I have to because at a certain time, I stopped my membership at the gym when J and I are going out more often. Going out more often means eating out more often as well and that includes the dessert. And I find the paying for the gym membership is way too much for my budget already.

Roasted Cauliflower, Arugula, Avocado and Tomato Sandwich

So, what did I do?

I started exercising 2 months before the wedding (because that was the only time I had the motivation to do so). I downloaded Barre3 videos on my Ipad. My friend gave me a code and the website allows you to watch it for free for a limited time. I was hooked on Barre3 so I did it until 2 days before the wedding. 

I still eat the same food but in small amounts but with increase consumption of fruits and vegetables.

I ate fewer sweets and other simple carbohydrates. 

I drank more water. 

I don’t count calories. More on that later.

Most importantly, I stopped sweating the small stuff over the wedding preparations and details. A wedding is only for a day (or even only half a day) while a marriage is for a lifetime.

Noodle Plate of Soba Noodles, Grilled Shishito Peppers, Bakes Tofu, Grated Carrots, Sauteed Msuhrooms and Tao Miao Sprouts (with Citrus Miso Dressing)

Actually, in my case, I didn’t do much because I believed I was eating properly already. My body frame was proportioned and I don’t consider myself fat. But what I really wanted to change is that I wanted to have more lean muscles and still maintain the figure. We’re talking about the arms and the waist line. Although I didn’t develop really defined long, lean arms, it didn’t sag either.

Zucchini Noodles, Soba Noodles, Japanese Mizuna and Sunflower Sprout Salad with Mango and Soy Tofu (Lemon-Shallot Vinaigrette)

When I got pregnant and gave birth, that was another story. I ate whatever I crave for when was I pregnant and ate sweets in moderation. My cravings are more on the salty, sour and spicy foods than on the sweet side. After I gave birth, I was just too lazy and also too tired to exercise. I did a few times, maybe 5, before Nate turned one. Most of the time, when I’m done with work and household chores, I just want to rest. Again, the motivation to exercise is not there. Although I still eat normally like I used to, how my body feels and the energy is different after the baby came out. I just felt that my body is dragging me down. Yes, gravity is what you call it, Now, I’m starting to get back in shape and lose the excess 15 to 20 lbs that my body is carrying. I'm a size bigger but I still fit into my old clothes yet who doesn't want to lose the excess pounds just to feel better?

Two things: Exercise and Healthy Lifestyle

Roasted Beets, Arugula, Kale and Walnut with Mango Vinaigrette

I’m still doing Barre3 because I can do it at home even with limited space. My motivation to get back in shape is not really to look good, although that is a plus factor. My main reason is I want my body to be functional and efficient again and to move with flexibility, grace and strength, and definitely more energy. The exercises were designed with a purpose so that we can move better with our everyday activities such as picking up things from the floor, reaching for things from the shelve or carrying groceries or the baby. Pilates is great but a teacher is required to do the movements properly and correctly. So Barre3 has been very helpful now. 

When it comes to food, I make sure that I eat whole and real foods most of the time except in emergency situations. I’ve heard this before many times and I still hear it again. People would go on a diet from Monday to Friday and would indulge during the weekend. They would have their cheat days on Saturday and Sunday. It might work for a short while but it will not establish healthy eating habits. I still like the 80/20 rule. You eat 80 percent healthy foods and indulge with the 20 percent. So, it means to eating whole and real foods 80 percent of the time focusing on foods that are mostly home-cooked, using healthier cooking methods and incorporating more plant foods into your diet. Then, you can have a bar of dark chocolate or a piece of cake shared with your loved one or maybe some bacon into your salad or soup. For me, the 80/20 rule works better overtime because you’re not depriving yourself of important calories and nutrients that you’re not getting from the 5-day calorie-counted/2-day indulge cheat day diet.
Losing the excess weight is hard after I gained my pregnancy weight, what more for other people who have gained so much? With a husband, a home and a baby to take of, the challenge is even more difficult most especially that Nate and I have been sick for almost a week. Priorities have to be redefined and time has to be managed well. In, the age of technology, knowledge is disclosed to everyone but with too many information these days, what should we believe in. I think we need to go back to the basics of what healthy food is. That would be a great article to write next time. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Three Things

Long before marriage entered my mind, there are three things that I desire to do with my child. This is my journey so far.


It happened for a few months with a lot of struggle, sleepless nights and a lot of crying. We also spent thousands of money just for breastfeeding. I even attended a breastfeeding talk twice. One was when I was only 3 months pregnant. Second was when I already on my last quarter of pregnancy. I don’t know what went wrong. Maybe I didn’t have the same determination or perseverance that other mothers have. And because I wanted to purely breastfeed Nate and not giving him any formula, he became dehydrated and totally lacked feeding. At first, I blamed my husband but in the end I blamed myself. Even after he was hospitalized and almost had a blood transfusion, I was still stubborn. Nate has to be breastfeed. But I knew before we went to the doctor that something is not right. Nate doesn’t look healthy at all. I wondered if he will even get fat because I kept on looking at his legs and wondered why there are so frail. We were confronted by the doctor so we mixed fed after that. But after a few months, my milk is not enough to keep him full so he drinks more on the formula until he’s no longer taking any breast milk. When J would mention that his friend’s baby is fat because of breast milk, sometimes I become envious or when his relative would tell me that the more the baby will suck the more milk you will have. Those were the days when I wish people would just remain quiet. I got used to it after awhile and just surrendered the outcome to the Lord. Although Nate eats home-cooked meals most of the time, it’s not as easy as people might think. But I want to make sure that he’s well-fed.


I’ve been taking care of Nate for the past 12 months. It was tiring but that’s already a given. It’s expected and  I was prepared for it.

I was told that you will become dull if I take care of Nate 24/7. It was a good statement. In fact, it was a valid statement. It made me think and reflect on what I’m doing for the past year which taking is care of Nate the whole day. I was not angry with the statement but it made me think. That statement or whatever comments people would like to blurt out (there were lots of them) is just the tip of the iceberg. And many people don’t know what’s underneath the surface. I may be the “babysitter” of Nate because there is no one else. But remember I am also the mother. Aside from giving him a bath, feeding him, putting him to sleep or watching over him, I also read to him, I play with him, I laugh with him, I cuddle with him, I watch him grow, I see his development and milestones. Looking back, I might have regretted resigning from my job, but now I don’t regret it in exchange for spending time with Nate. No, I don’t feel that I’m getting idle from taking care of him 24/7. In fact, I’m actually learning something new every day. I may have missed the opportunity to work and connect with other people or hone my skill and upgrade as a chef, or even expand my small unstable, God-given business. I’m okay staying at home and still be sane. I took care of dad for 7 years remember? And I’m still sane. I thought the business can wait. Nate will need someone to look after him. For me, it’s not the babysitter, but it's me, his mother. The first few years are very crucial for me. I heard a lot of parents telling me that they miss their sons and daughters who were once a baby. I know I will miss it. I might as well be with him as much as I can. You can’t turn back the clock. When this day is over, it’s over.

I was able to travel and lived abroad. I was able to work. I was able to get married. And now, I was given the chance to be with my baby. But there were many days when I cry out to J telling him my regrets in life.

I should have been the first person doing that. 
That was my idea few years ago. 
All the ideas that I have before has been materialized already.
She has gone far with her career.

And J would remind me not to compare myself with other people and that I only have one audience which is God. I have no idea what other women are going through. They might even want to have a family and take care of their own baby .

Maybe that business is not supposed to be yours. 
When people say that you should be doing this, do you really want to do it? No.
Then, maybe God has something better for you. 
So, while waiting on the Lord, just continue what you’re doing right now. 
Reflecting on it, I’m blessed to be able to spend time and see Nate grow and can still work at home. Some would say that you might lose your identity if you stop working. If I'm no longer the chef instructor, then who am I? Oh, you’re a full-time mom, but what do you do at home? I believe that my identity is not based on what I do but for who I am in Christ alone. As I’ve mentioned before, motherhood is seasonal. It changes as the baby becomes a toddler. Sooner or later, he would be a teenager. I know what some women are thinking, whether you are single or married. You’re thinking that we not doing enough with our lives. We think that we are a failure. You might be finishing your master’s degrees and pursuing a career in an international bank or you could be studying for your board exam or you just opened your own coffee shop. But despite all these accomplishments, we worry that we’re not doing enough or we felt that we’re failing in life. I am guilty of this do. I’ve decided to be a full-time hands mother but on the sidetrack, I kept thinking, I should be the one doing this or that instead of them. I’ve beaten myself up with those negative thoughts by constantly measuring myself against other people's progress but that’s not supposed to be the case. We are unique because God created us Himself.


Don’t even get me started. I know the first question that you’re going to ask. What about socialization? Well, I thought, I went to a traditional school and it didn’t help me with my socialization skills either. I would hide inside the room whenever we have guests at home. It didn’t help me to interact with other people wherever I go or wherever I might be. I thought this is ambitious. Can I really home school Nate when the truth is I’m already having patience deficiency with him sometimes? That’s why God placed us in a situation where we can learn more about being patient. And it gets tougher most especially when people ask you WHY? It’s a question with a lengthy answer but if you’re thinking it’s a 9am-4pm sit down scenario where the child sits on his table and you’re in front with a blackboard, then you are completely mistaken. I believe it’s more exciting than being in the classroom the whole day thinking that you’re exposed to the real world. Instead, the world is their classroom and that’s where the real experience and learning is.

When we talk to other people, we always compare. The three things I’ve mentioned above are very common. If you breastfeed your son, that’s great. If you formula feed, that’s great also. With yaya or not, homeschool or not, only son or 2 kids, that’s the parents’ decision. Many times we try to impose on parents what to do instead of giving suggestions or advice. We are tongue-tied because it’s either we want to defend our decision or we just want to be kind by remaining silent. There are also many instances where we feel ashamed because of the things we didn’t do. And in some cases, we feel that we didn’t do enough because they did more than enough. But as we learn to grow from this experience, we have stories to tell and share to other people. There’s kindness and understanding and even compassion and sympathy. Yes, we share because we care but share with gentleness and warmth without being so proud that we are right. Every child is different, every experience is unique and every situation needs a different approach and decision.

The journey continues..