29 June 2014

Satur-Date with Mama

Early this month, I saw that another rom-com movie was going to be shown here in Dubai. I wanted to watch it, but I wanted to watch it with someone who would enjoy the film. Hubby would be willing to accompany me, but I knew he would get bored. Then I had a great idea. It’s been ages since we’ve had a day out just the two of us, and since she finds Coco Martin really gwapo (second to Fernando Poe, Jr.), I asked Mama if she wanted to watch Maybe This Time on one of the Saturdays that I would be off. Of course she said yes.

So after work on the movie’s first day of showing (a Thursday), Hubby and I went to Deira City Centre to purchase the tickets. I was afraid kasi that if I left it to buy them on Saturday, we would run out of seats. 
Saturday morning, our family first when to St. Mary’s Church to attend the 9am mass. Then, on their way back home, Mama and I went down at DCC. We still had some time to spare so we window-shopped for a while.

By 10:50am, we were at the cinema entrance. We had just realized that it was Mama’s first time to watch a movie in a Dubai cinema so I wanted to take as many pictures as possible. Syempre, memorable experience ito! But she was too shy and hesitant, only allowing me to take pictures just once…no “isa pa!” to give me a chance to take a better shot because she was getting conscious =)

Upon seating ourselves comfortably in the chairs, we found that there weren’t that many people at all. Was it because it was the first showing of the day? Or it wasn’t publicized as much? Or the reviews weren’t good? Or the Coco-Sarah tandem didn’t have that many fans yet? I have absolutely no idea. At least we managed to enjoy the movie.  Our seats were on the third row from the top, right in the center...one of the best places to sit for the perfect view of the screen.
However, the voice of Ruffa was just…umm…err…not normal (for lack of a better word). It sounded ipit like she was talking through her nose.

In fairness though, ang gwapo pala ni Coco. And even though his character was jologs and baduy, he still managed to looked decent and be funny at the same time.
As it went on, you could already tell how the movie would end. Parang Starting Over Again with the kind of ending most of the audience wanted. My favorite part was the teasing conversation between Steph, Tonio and Mama Mae: Minekaniko yung makina ni Monica, and later when Tonio asked Monica over the phone: “Kumusta ang makina mo?” Everyone in the cinema was laughing so hard!

We were hungry by the time the movie finished so we looked for something to eat. Can you take a guess where?

Because we just couldn't get enough of Coco! =)
After seeing this shot, Mama said "Parang ako lang ang kakain ng lahat nyan ah!" =)

And to top-off our lunch, we ordered dessert
A slice of Red Velvet cake
Ako naman daw ang pipicturan. Kanina pa daw sya eh =)
We didn’t go home right away after eating, though. Mama is a sucker for cheap finds and she’s wanted to visit the Day to Day store near Union Station since the first time she saw their commercial on TFC that all items were 10 dirhams last month. So that's where I took her…and that’s where she bought some wallets that she said she’ll be giving as pasalubong to her friends and sister in Bicol. According to her, “Kahit tig-10 dirhams lang yun, at least imported; galing Dubai. Hindi makikita sa Divisoria o Baclaran. At lalong wala sa Bicol.” Sige Ma, sabi mo eh =)

Happy with her purchase, we went back to Union Station where we rode the metro and got down in Ghussais where Hubby was waiting for us.

Thanks for the date, Ma! Sa uulitin!

26 June 2014

Germany Getaway: Shopping, German Sausages, and Absacker

The 9th of May was the only day during our entire visit that the five of us were left alone. Dad and Mom had patients to attend to at the clinic, and Michaela had to finalize some things for the wedding. So, armed with directions that Michaela had left us that morning, we walked to the nearby station where we bought day tickets and boarded the tram.
We went down at Essen Hauptbahnhopf where we took a few pictures before looking for a Starbucks for the free wifi.
Blurred selfie of us

We bought some things to eat and drink, of course!
Super delicious Raspberry Cheesecake and Caramel Hot Chocolate
Actually, that’s the time I posted this from our visit downtown days ago.

Hubby and I managed to Skype with our daughters, as well. They were in Ibn Battuta Gate hotel that day, enjoying brunch with Mama, Ate Ning, and Gabe. We were all so happy to see each other!

After our free wifi time had run out and we had uploaded and updated our respective social media accounts, we did the next thing on our agenda: shopping.

There was this black jacket in Vera Moda that I really liked and was on sale (don’t ask me how much because I can’t remember anymore; basta it’s cheap when I converted to dirhams). Since the others were saying that it looked good on me AND I had only brought one jacket for our trip (the other one was Michaela’s which she lent to me on our first night because she kept saying the one I had wasn’t enough…and she was right!), I bought it.

And throughout the day, I made a couple more purchases as well: black shoes and a black handbag to match. Here they all are (taken later at home):
Terno-terno lang!
To tell you the truth, I really never intended to buy anything. But then, well, you know how it is when a woman goes into a shop that has a sale =)

Before we went back home, we had a delicious lunch…of German sausages!

They were soooo delicious and big! And affordable too! Which is why most of us had two each!
Yes, that's the jacket I bought. I wore it right away =)
That's where we bought and ate our sausages...the shop at the back, I mean
And while waiting for the tram, we took a group selfie
That night at home, the men had their usual beer for dinner. But aside from that, we all had another alcoholic drink. Dad said Germans often have a drink called Absacker, which is their version of a nightcap. The beers and Hugo we had before were probably just to prep us up =) So since we were all willing to try, Mom gave me, Irene, and Ate Tess a small chocolate cup each filled with liquor, and Hubby and Kuya Raul had some brandy.
How did I find it? Augh! It was soooo bitter and the alcohol was so strong! It’s a good thing the cup was edible chocolate, so I immediately chewed it after drinking its contents, making it taste much better.

Unlike before, we went to bed early that night. The next day was a special day and we needed to get sufficient rest and our beauty sleep to prepare for it.

25 June 2014

Germany Getaway: Dusseldorf & Hugo

On our 6th day, Hubby and I went with Michaela to Dusseldorf for a bit of sight-seeing, and Leverkusen for an errand.

While trying to find a place to park in Dusseldorf, we saw many Japanese people and restaurants.  According to Michaela, there really are a lot of Japanese there because of the business and offices. 

After parking her car at one of the malls, we headed towards K√∂nigsallee where we saw all these high-end and luxury shops, and this lady dressed as a witch
Honestly, I was shocked to see her.  Halloween was several months away and even Michaela didn't know why she was standing there.  Kinda spooky if you ask me.
As we walked around the city, we found a shop where we bought magnets, shot glasses, a snow globe, a deck of cards, and other souvenirs for our friends and family in Dubai.  The man there was so happy with our purchase, he gave us a boot-shaped souvenir glass and some decors to add to our pasalubong. 
Leaving the shop, we came across the Rathaus, which is the city hall.

There was also this Radschläger (cartwheel) sculpture which I found pretty unique and interesting.
Apparently, cartwheeling is a tradition there, and they even have a competition for it too!

As it was almost 2 o’clock, Michaela took us to a kind of resto-bar for lunch. She initially offered to take us to any of the Japanese and Italian restaurants nearby as well; but we were in Germany, and Dubai doesn’t have that many (affordable) German restaurants. We wanted to eat an authentic German meal, so her choice was good enough for us.
While Michaela had a salad, I had this:
German Sausages with Mashed Potatoes and something that resembled coleslaw
 and Hubby had this:
Pork with Grilled Potatoes
Sorry, I can’t remember the names of what we had, but we enjoyed them; my side dish that looked like coleslaw was a bit sour, though, but I liked it. And Hubby and I managed to finish everything on our plates, so yes, they were delicious.

After lunch, we passed by a confectionary shop to purchase some sweets

Chocolate pasta! Cool!
Countless candies!
Soon after, we headed to Leverkusen to pick up some things that the bride-to-be had printed from one of their suppliers for the wedding.  It was a pretty long drive, and although the traffic had begun to get heavy on our way back to Essen, we didn't get stuck...thanks to Michaela's car that had an app which notified us which roads to avoid, AND the fact that she could calmly drive at 180kph despite the rain!  No worries, though.  She's a really smart, alert and safe driver.

That night after dinner, we all had alcohol to drink. While the men had their usual beer, Dad gave us ladies a special drink that he had prepared. It’s called Hugo, which is a cocktail that’s made of champagne, ginger, lemongrass, and mint. I was hesitant to even taste it because I really don’t like any alcoholic drink, but when Irene told me it wasn’t bitter, I gave in and raised the glass to my lips. And it was delicious! Now it’s my favourite German drink =)
We all practiced dancing again that night. Mom and Dad had taken dance lessons years ago so they knew different steps, and they managed to convince all of us to follow them as well. They were really good! Mom in particular was very light on her feet.
However, since we couldn’t stop laughing at ourselves and of the countless jokes and funny things we would dare to do at the wedding, it was difficult for us to actually remember what they were teaching us.
We all went to our rooms very late that evening, still giggling as we bid each other good night as we thought of what could happen at the party on Saturday. 

23 June 2014

Cupcakes That I Made From Boxed Cake Mixes But Tasted Like Homemade

I know I still haven't finished sharing the details of our Germany trip, but I just wanted to share this amazing discovery =)  I promise, I'll blog about the rest of our trip later...even if it takes me until the end of the year (hopefully it won't take me that long, though).

Since the day of our KFC activity this month fell on a working Saturday for me (ergo, I wouldn’t be able to help out on the day itself), I was given the punishment task of baking cupcakes. Simple and easy, right? Wrong. Because the activity for this month focused on honouring the daddies and there was a special program planned, the number of cupcakes needed to equal the number of kids who would be participating; and on average, the attendance is usually 70 kids (sometimes more)! And then there’s the birthday celebrants of the kids and the service team, so I had to make approximately 100 cupcakes. Yikes!

Even if I worked on them the entire day of Friday, I knew I couldn’t bake that many, so I asked other mommies in KFC to make 3 dozen. And to make my task a bit easier, I got the help of ever reliable Betty Crocker. Good thing there was a sale in one of the supermarkets last week =)

Although it’s not a requirement that they had to be homemade, I just felt like I was cheating somehow because I was going to use boxed cake mixes. Please don’t judge me, though. I’m no expert in making cupcakes, I’ve never made money by selling them or accepting orders, and I’ve never made that many at once, so you can imagine how desperate I was.

But surprise, surprise! The ones I made actually tasted like they were made from scratch! Seriously! They taste way different than the normal ones that are made by using the ingredients asked for in the box.

When I made a batch of vanilla mini-cupcakes to practice, Caila finished 5 at once (and then a couple later that night), Sophie finished 2, and the 30 pieces (I think) that we brought for a meeting on Friday was wiped out in minutes! Then on Friday night after they arrived at our apartment, Gabe ate 3 regular-sized cupcakes, plus 1 on Saturday morning before I left for work. And when I asked Mama if she could tell that they weren’t made from scratch, she was really surprised because they were “malasa and moist” and “hindi ma-crumbs” (her words). Hurray!

What did I do? Here’s my secret. Actually, it’s not my secret. You can check the internet for all sorts of tips; and believe me, there are a lot! But these are the ones I tried and tested to be very effective in improving the taste of the vanilla and chocolate cupcakes I made.

• Add 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
• Replace the vegetable oil with melted butter
• Add one more egg to what is asked (if it needs 2 eggs, put in 3; if it asks for 3, use 4 eggs)
• Use fresh milk instead of water
• Instead of water for the chocolate cupcakes, use 1 cup chocolate milk and 1/4 cup chocolate syrup
• Add 1/3 cup of sugar for vanilla cupcakes, and 1/4 cup of sugar for chocolate cupcakes
• For the vanilla cupcakes, add 1 teaspoon of vanilla
I also mixed in chocolate chips to the batter, but the cupcakes were also fine without them.

And to make sure no one would even think they were made from boxed cake mixes, I topped them up with frosting made from scratch.
Don't they look delicious?!
(L to R) Chocolate Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting, Vanilla Cupcake with Nutella Cream Cheese Frosting, and a plain Chocolate Cupcake
Try it and let me know how yours turn out. I guarantee you’ll be tempted to use boxed cake mixes when you feel the need to cheat *wink*

Kindy Graduate

Our eldest has grown so much from the time she entered those school grounds 2 years ago. She’s learned so many things and gained so many friends, and I can only feel pride at the person she has become.

She may not have experienced shedding blood, sweat and tears to get that diploma, but seeing her in that toga, receiving that rolled up piece of paper, and bowing on stage in front of everyone last Thursday was enough to make my eyes well-up in tears.
Congratulations, Caila!
We're so proud of you.

17 June 2014

Germany Getaway: Veltins Arena

After we had finished up the spaghettieis, we headed to the other side of Gelsenkirchen which became Hubby’s favourite place. Being a football fan, he became really excited when he saw the Veltins Arena.

And to top it off, Dad had booked us for a tour of the entire stadium! While waiting, we walked around the museum and took pictures (of course)

At 4pm, the guide arrived, and once everyone had gathered around her, the tour started. There were about 9 of us in the group and, although the guide could only speak in German, Dad was able to explain to us whatever she said in English. Again, we took a lot of photos, so I’ll just explain or caption those that I remember details of.

Although it’s known to be the home of FC Schalke 04 which is Gelsenkirchen’s football team, the arena has also been used for concerts, car races, and other major shows. In between games, the grass is taken out by a slide out pitch so that it can have its intake of water, sunlight and oxygen. Amazing, huh? It takes 4 hours to take the grass out, and 4 hours to take it back in. That’s the grass you can see at this picture below.
 And here’s how the stadium looked like inside without the grass

view of the roof inside
Again, I felt a wave of nostalgia hit me when I saw the stadium because we had attended a huge WYD party at that same place back in 2005. I remember singing along with the other delegates, and then waving a huge Philippines flag while running around the indoor field after the party with the rest of the crowd.

As we walked around, the guide pointed out these pipes that head straight to the refreshments stands. She explained that more than 50,000 liters of beer are supplied during games through a 5 km long pipeline. Naturally, the men in our group found this fact very interesting.
The guide then led us downstairs where we saw this room that’s like a chapel where the players can have a quiet time to pray before a game.
We also went into the press room where we pretended to face the media.

Then we went to the changing rooms where we saw as well a mini-gym, a sauna, a massage/ treatment room (I think), and the locker room where the coach usually talks to the players before, after and in between games.

This is the tunnel where the players pass through on their way into the stadium. Translated in English, one side says “Blue and White…”
And the other side means “…for a lifetime” which is Schalke’s motto.
The tour ended at the actual exit of the tunnel inside the stadium where we could really see and feel how enormous the entire arena was.
Our day at the arena didn’t end there, though. After the tour, Dad took us to the souvenir shop where all sorts of Schalke stuff were being sold. And because Hubby is such a fan, Dad bought a cap for him as a gift and remembrance of that day.

Standing with the players.
So excited to wear the cap, he didn't want to remove the tag!
Before going back home, we walked towards a big field where we saw several young boys (and girls!) being taught to play football.
Several times, a ball would head over to our spot where Dad or Hubby would kick it back to the kids. I’m sure each time they did, both men would remember their younger years when they used to play and train for the sport.
I may not be a football or Schalke fan, but I really enjoyed our tour of the arena. It was both entertaining and informative at the same time; definitely one of the things to do and experience in Gelsenkirchen.

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