FEATURED, Spiritual Family

Christmas Traditions 2

Victory Alabang’s November 18 Christmas Traditions event was such a fun, informative and inspiring time. The bibingka. The decor and the ambiance. The music from the choir. The home schoolers’ bazaar on the side and the younger home schoolers’ musical number. My Father’s House kids’ blessing trees. Prizes and giveaways.

Not only did we learn what Christmas traditions to start, how to start them and why we do them, nor did we just pick up gift wrapping and table setting tips, we also learned some simple delicious holiday recipes from Chef Len Santos-Ding!

4 servings
200 g glass noodles (sotanghon)
hot water
1/4 cup carrots, grated or cut into strips
¼ cup red bell pepper, cut into strips
2 Tbsp green onions, minced
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
¼ cup toasted chopped peanuts
½ cup oyster sauce
6 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp calamansi juice
2 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp Thai fish sauce
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp grated ginger
pinch of chili flakes or fresh chili

Put noodles in a heatproof bowl, cover with boiling water, let it stand until just tender; drain and set aside.
In another bowl, mix all dressing ingredients together.
Toss noodles with the dressing, vegetables and herbs, leaving enough vegetables for topping. Arrange on a plate. Top with the rest of the vegetables and chopped nuts.
Salad may be served hot, room temperature or chilled.

Rub mixture: (good for about 4 kilos)
2 Tbsp cinnamon
1 1/2 c brown sugar
½ cup instant coffee powder
2 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp Garlic powder
1 tsp Ground black pepper
2 Tbsp salt

1 k chicken thighs
¼ cup canola or vegetable oil

Mix ingredients for the rub mixture and keep at room temperature in a well-sealed container.
For 1 kilo chicken pieces, use ½ to ¾ cup of rub mixture. Rub the spice mixture on the chicken pieces. Add canola oil. Marinade for about 2 hours or even overnight.
Preheat the oven to 400 F. Arrange chicken on a baking tray, skin side up. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and cook for a further 10 minutes, or until the chicken is golden-brown and cooked through. Baste occasionally with the pan juices. Remove from the oven and set aside to rest for five minutes before serving.

Yield: 2 cups
1 bar cream cheese, room temperature
¼ cup all purpose cream
2 cans bangus in oil (or Spanish style)
fresh herbs like basil or dill (optional), to taste

Separate bangus meat from oil (do not throw away bangus oil). Remove skin and bones from bangus if any. Mix softened cream cheese, cream and bangus together. Mash well with a fork. You may also use a food processor. Add chopped fresh herbs. Keep the mixture refrigerated. Serve with crostini or crackers.

6-8 servings
1 1/3 c fresh milk
1 cup heavy or all purpose cream
1/2 c sugar
3 tsps Knox gelatin
1 tsp vanilla
1. Prepare and measure all ingredients and equipment.
2. Mix the gelatin with 1/2 cup fresh milk.
3. Combine the rest of the milk, 1 c cream, and 1/2 c sugar. Cook over low heat until simmering.
4. Add fresh milk and gelatin mixture until completely dissolved.
5. Strain.
6. Cool for about 10 minutes. Add vanilla OR other flavors.
7. Pour into molds and chill (or freeze).
8. To unmold, dip in warm water.
*can be chilled (covered) for 1 week or frozen for 1 month.

Mango Sauce

1 cup mango juice
6-8 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch, dissolved in water

Boil mango juice with sugar. Thicken with cornstarch. Cook till it boils again. Strain. Cool. Transfer into a squeeze bottle. Serve as a topping for pannacotta.
*use within 1-2 days



Great Tip to De-Stress Your Life!

Before our 10-day stay in hospital, it has been 4 months of not having a permanent helper at home and about 2 months of having a weekly cleaning lady and weekly laundry woman. I would have to cook our meals, which I have said here that it’s not something I am used to, OR we would have to order out, which is totally unhealthy and expensive. I have learned to cope with our situation, doing minor cleaning myself 6 days a week, and drying & folding clothes after laundry day. I realized that it was the cooking that would stress me out the most, and so we had to come up with a plan for when we’d get back home. I could already foresee what I would be up against because unlike in the hospital where there are nurses 24/7, ready regular meals including snacks delivered to the room, and the housekeeping staff to clean the room & bathroom, I would have almost no help at home, not even from King because he’s still recovering — taking care of the kids, bathing them, taking them to the bathroom, bringing Danae to and from school, washing dishes, vacuuming, even the simple act of picking up something on the floor or grabbing King’s shirt in his cabinet…..you get the picture. And so I thought, to lessen my work (and stress), I need someone to cook many meals for us, so that I could just reheat them. I wanted clean, healthy, home cooked meals. My friend Chef Len Santos-Ding came to mind.

I immediately messaged her if she would be willing to cook for us in bulk — food that we could put in the freezer, then reheat and add fresh vegetables as needed. Being my friend and a woman, she completely understood me. She was on board immediately, telling me that she has been wanting to provide exactly this kind of service for women like me. We came up with a possible menu that suited our liking, but I told her that it’s up to her since we knew that we would love whatever she cooked for us. It’s been six days since we got our food and we have been enjoying our meals! I’m not pressured to cook and I can have our meals ready within 30 minutes, as opposed to an hour or two, including prep time (yes, I am slow). Everything has been delicious and we still have loads in the freezer! We’ve consumed the baked macaroni & cheese, beef stew with mushrooms, meatballs with mushroom sauce, 2/3 of the beef nilaga, half the chicken teriyaki, half the chicken pineapple stew, half the one loaf of embotido. We still have 2 kinds of spaghetti sauces, adobo, sinigang, chicken estofado, another embotido loaf, and more meatballs. I didn’t have to do anything but pay as I picked up all the food. She even gave me tips for left-overs. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner. Seriously, this is one of the best tips I could give you, if you want to de-stress your life. I can’t wait for our next batch of food. I see delicious, home made arrozcaldo, tocino, longganiza, lasagna and kaldereta in our future! 🙂

FEATURED, Spiritual Family

Ladies’ Night

This July, I got to work with a group of wonderful women in planning for and teaching in one of our church events for single women called Ladies’ Night. What a blast! Not only did I learn from their wisdom, their convictions, their life stories, but I believe our bonds were forged in an even greater way. I had so much fun talking, coming up with and exchanging ideas, laughing, and EATING (hahaha) with them. What an honor to be co-laboring with these women to teach, to encourage, to connect with the single ladies of our church. I’m so grateful that I am surrounded by women who are real — imperfect and humble enough to admit that they need God every second of their daily lives, just like everyone else. Women who are strong — not immune to huge trials but endure through them because they love & trust God and because they surround themselves with people who love God as well, who encourage, support and pray for them. Women who are secure — vulnerable but unafraid to stand for their convictions because they know who they truly are. Women who are wise — know much but also know that they don’t know everything. Women who are grateful — “old” christians but are still overwhelmed by God’s love for them and by how He is continually making them new.

As we teach, others learn. But as we teach, WE also learn. These women never claimed to be experts on womanhood, in honoring their families, on finances, on relationships. But they do claim, we do claim….we testify that God has worked miracles in our lives that are worth sharing to anybody who would listen. Kudos to these ladies who made a great impact on many lives for 2 consecutive Thursdays! Kudos to Ptr John and the leaders heading this event. Kudos to all the staff and volunteers who helped us. I honor YOU, my dear friends! 🙂

My Kids, Parenting


My girls’ summer has been full of activities! They’ve gone to a number of swimming parties, play dates, and the like. Noelle started her summer workshop in Danae’s school Kidvantage Learning Center, while Danae is learning ballet in the pink class with TEAM Dance Studio, and has joined OLPMC’s free cheer dance class being handled by Eureka! She also recently finished the 3-day workshop with Chef Len Santos-Ding called Tiny Chefs.

Noelle is 2 years & 3 months old. It was her first time to attend school last Friday. She cried a few times and still needs me or King to stay with her, but I think she did okay. I can’t wait till she opens up, becomes comfortable with her classmates & her environment, and participate! She did enjoy playing with the materials in school. I have complete faith in T. Millet, Danae’s Nursery teacher, to help Noelle this summer. It’s going to be good practice for her when she really enters nursery in June 2012!

Although she’s learning 2 different and opposite dance styles, Danae’s enjoying both classes. Movement & rhythm come naturally to her, so it’s like she’s just playing. She’s the smallest & youngest in her cheer dance class but her teachers tell me that she can follow quite well. I’m so proud of her! She still doesn’t have the stance of a ballerina but she is having loads of fun and hopefully she will want to continue ballet classes till year-end or even further. I’d love to see her dance on stage in TEAM Dance Studio‘s annual December recital!

Tiny Chefs was a blast! This was Danae’s second time and there were more recipes this year, and maybe because they’re older (mostly 5  or 6), they did more grown up stuff! They sliced apples on their own chopping boards, cracked and beat their own egg, mixed their own ingredients, and so on. It was great for us moms too who were there to taste their creations haha. Yum!

I’m so thrilled with what my girls are learning, and doubly thrilled that they’re enjoying themselves!



The month began with a plan. We wanted to hold a party for this home for orphaned kids called My Father’s House. We, the youth staff and I, could have taken the easy route — organized, planned and executed everything ourselves — but we didn’t. We wanted the youth involved. We did not want to just bless the orphaned kids, we wanted our youth in Alabang to step out of their own worlds and give of their time, energy, and talents. We wanted them to learn from the experience, and even teach each other during the whole process. We wanted to give them an opportunity to bond with each other and with the kids of My Father’s House.

We called the event LOVE IS IN THE HOUSE. It was a post-valentine party held last Saturday in My Father’s House’s grounds and the theme was LOVE. We put up 6 teams (Food, Program, Games, Logistics, Music & Dance, Documentation) and gave the volunteers their respective assignments. We can proudly say that everything we did for My Father’s House was the hard work of our youth — from planning, to marketing, to cooking (special thanks to Chef Len Santos-Ding for opening her kitchen to us), to packaging, to setting up, to marshaling the games, to distributing the prizes and gifts (special thanks to Victory Alabang and Cong. Ruffy Biazon), to dancing and singing, to just sitting and spending time with the kids. We made sure that during lunch, each table had at least one of us there to talk to the kids. I even saw some of our youth helping the little kids cut their chicken and feeding them. It was truly a heart-warming sight.

We did not allot time for a full preaching because we didn’t just want to tell the kids that God loves them, we wanted to show them by serving them. They were blessed by our efforts, and we were blessed by their smiles, their joy in singing to God, their excitement in participating in the games and in winning prizes, their gratefulness for our visit. I even got a couple of random hugs from the kids!

We also asked the kids ages 11 and up to make a drawing of what God’s love means to them. The top 3 were asked to explain their work. One boy’s simple but beautiful work said that he is a son of God, and I guess he felt that was enough to explain that. Another boy’s equally beautiful work said that God loves us because He gave us a “home.” I was touched when I saw it. He explained that God created the whole world for us. One little girl’s work was more intricate and we were intrigued by her drawing. She explained that even when we make mistakes, God still loves us. We gave her the grand prize, a gift certificate from Yellow Cab, courtesy of Ms. Faye Bonifacio.

I believe our party was a success! We got the youth involved — they did the work, they served others, they built relationships, they learned, they shared, they taught, they gave. We got to bless a wonderful bunch of kids and we were blessed by the whole experience as well. What a great way to spend the last weekend of the month. I am so proud of our youth and their work! Plus it was my first time to organize an outreach like this haha! On to the next project, woohoo! 🙂