What are Your Home-Made Adventures while (still) on Quarantine?

What are Your Home-Made Adventures while (still) on Quarantine? Such a painful reality: even if Metro Manila is on General Community Quarantine, it is still not safe to frequently go outside. For our peace of mind and if not a matter of importance, it is a must NOT to leave. Home is a real refuge at this time of COVID-19 pandemic. The many ways we keep ourselves sane during the indefinite long haul at home is very important. It may be a struggle at times feeling stuck but as optimism calls for it, stick on the bright side. Perhaps now is the ideal time to do what we have been hoping to accomplish (but we could not since we have always been out of the house).

I’ve seen some people adding more stress to the scenario by digging on the fact that they are not as productive as they should… yet I insist, better stay optimistic. As long as we don’t sleep all week, lounge in bed for days then maybe let’s just be thankful for what’s there is and that we are healthy. The activities we dive ourselves into may come as spontaneous and may not always mean a major task. To get by, yes. Or better, to make use of this time for things we won’t otherwise prioritize to do.

How are you spending the community quarantine?

Clean the closet. Paint the wall. Fix the garage.

Netflix marathon. We are now a big fan of anime especially Spirited Away,  Demon Slayer, Tales from Earthsea, A Whisker Away, Ponyo, Castle in the Sky, Arriety, Howl’s Moving Castle, From Up on Poppy Hill and the list continues…

There is more time now to exercise or dance or even hula.

Relive an old hobby and/or find a new one. Writing is my first love and other than doing that for work and on my blogs, I am recreating some personal notes lately… things I used to do every day in my younger years.

Learn a new recipe. Just went back to cookie baking after ten years and now exploring banana bread and other sweets.

Homemade cookies by WriteNowNa

My freshly baked choco walnut cookies and dolce gusto hot americano

Attend a webinar. There are many free virtual online trainings happening now, take a pick and join what interest you the most.

Bring out the entrepreneur in you. Think of how many FB friends you have that started their small online business… selling cakes, korean chicken, masks, and almost everything else. Support them if you can. This is a small way of helping each other to financially (and emotionally) survive while the virus is persistently around.

Drop the gadgets once in a while and play board games! Jenga, Monopoly, Snakes & Ladders, Scrabble are the oldtime favorites. Now we are equally enjoying Spot It! and Exploding Kittens.

What are Your Home-Made Adventures while (still) on Quarantine? Play Jenga

What keeps you going? Would love to hear chunks of your home-made adventures, too! 🤩🥰

Home Quarantine and Delivery Food

Many of us are still fortunate to be spending home quarantine with a happy tummy. Thanks to home-made food and delivery service. Several small entrepreneurs and foodies have found their way to offer their special recipes and products of all kinds patronized by the local market. The fact is, food quality is equally good or even yummier versus the huge franchise. Our family prefers to order from online sellers or nearby neighborhood stores especially during this hard time; a simple way to show support to the community hit by COVID-19.

What are your favorites? Here’s my top list fresh from the South!

Take Eat Away (BF Homes)– Too much Kdrama on Netflix soars demand for Korean food so many entrepreneurs are making the most to address the Pinoy cravings. This one is new and already getting series of orders! Hearty meals on tray with servings of KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) and Moksal (Porkloin) on top of yummy kimchi fried rice and cheese dip.

Take Eat Away BF Homes

OK Chicken (BF Homes) – One of the best Korean fried chicken in BF Homes! It also comes with a real good radish as side dish. But let me warn you! When you call them, the person taking the order is constantly not OK. She will write your order and address wrong, will not listen properly to what you are saying, will not recap the order, will forget to get your name and give your total bill. Be patient. The agony of ordering is going to be worth it when you take a bite of their chicken. No app or official FB page so you got to give them a ring at 8842-2020!

OK Chicken BF Homes

Eliesan Cakes and Pastries (Las Pinas) – Make sure to order here in batch of chocolate cake, banana bread, and cookies! Everything on the menu is really satisfying! The process is also hassle-free and the Chef (also the seller) is very accommodating.

ElieSan Cakes Las Pinas

Moist Chocolate Cake c/o Lembest (Paranaque) – Your search for moist and soft choco cake on tub is over, this is the answer. Not sure if they still deliver but it should be available on Lembest Lechon Manok Aguirre, BF Homes and Greenheights Subdivision branches or via parahero.app.

Moist Chocolate Cake

House of Sansrival Ph (Paranaque) – First bite made me nostalgic! This is the exact version (or maybe even better) of Burger Machine’s sansrival years ago, remember that? This a must-try.

House of Sansrival

Our Pesto Made Fresh (BF Homes) has also been producing bottles every week since March 4, 2020 and now sending deliveries to many homes in Metro Manila. We have also found more ways to enjoy our Pesto with other local brands, check this out!

Callie’s Dips (Paranaque) – This offers a unique take at dipping! I’m not really a fan of truffle but this one is an exception. It put forth the right combination of truffle and cream that is so good with Pesto mix, crackers, Lays, or Ruffles!

Pesto Made Fresh and Truffle Dip

Callies Dip

Alamoba Coffee (Las Pinas) – With ECQ still a huge part of our reality, it is a struggle to find an open coffee shop. To have a fresh bean delivered to your home is a delight! Breakfast time comes better with Benguet or Sagada dark roast.

Pesto Made Fresh and Coffee

alamoba coffee

To order, simply click the names and go directly to the available page of each seller. I would also love to know your favorites so our family can try it too! 😊

Community Quarantine Brought Us Back to the Basics

What did you realize during the implementation of Enhanced Community Quarantine? We have probably been contemplating the point of COVID-19 pandemic and how it disrupted the lives of everyone… trying to make sense of what is happening and still eyeing on the bright side.

What are your random realizations?

home quarantine realizations

  1. Life can be made simple.
  2. Finding a good spot at home is vital to keep that level of sanity.
  3. Now that we are stuck at home, good relationship with our family is very important.
  4. You get to validate who and what you really miss (eating ramen with good friends and drinking a dine-in espresso Frappuccino with extra shot), and
  5. You get to validate what you don’t miss at all (driving on a heavy traffic).
  6. Netflix is a good form of escape but you can get lost (in time and become lazy in the process) so resist the drive to watch too much.
  7. More appreciative of the small things like seeing huge egg in the market or a stock of fresh coffee beans. Even the sight of an isopropyl alcohol bottle in a grocery store is now a delight!
  8. Find things that connect old form of activities to momentary leisure. Mine would always be scribbling on a physical notebook and reading a chapter from a paperback book.
  9. There are always a lot of things to do from keeping up with work, cleaning the closet, finding new recipe to cook, and even longer bonding with pets. Boredom should not be an option.
  10. Air is clean. When turning on the skyway ramp from Sucat to Makati, you can have a glimpse of the windmills of Rizal. The view used to be blurry, not even a good look of Laguna de Bay.

We have all been bombarding heaven for coronavirus to stop spreading but while we are on it, let’s do what we can to help out and remain hopeful that all these will come to a better end.  Stay at home and be safe. God bless us! 🙏🏻

Stay at home and pray during covid-19

Pesto Made Fresh

How we started (pardon the indulgence but this is exactly what happened):

The premise that brought Pesto Made Fresh from our home to  your table.

  • I have so much love for Pesto that I can eat it every day.
  • Hubby makes the best Pesto for more than 20 years and I have always been his number one fan. My Mom is an avid supporter too!
  • I also enjoy tasting pesto from various restaurants and have tried several bottles sold in the market BUT nothing comes close to Hubby’s creation—again, pardon the statement but this is part of the story. 😄
  • Even our son enjoys it and agrees that his Dad has the best version. 😋
  • The family has been exclusively enjoying Pesto pasta for years.

Then just last month (February 2020),

I purchased a Php300+ bottle of pesto on a branded store in Taguig and was so dismayed; I was very particular with the taste of basil with a hint of garlic and nuts but it was not there.

To appease me, Hubby promised to make some over the weekend and apparently, he made a lot! I told him why not bring some to work and send more to friends who are also pesto-lovers then request them for a review. These are people who can be  brutally honest giving feedback and we need their insights.  To our delight, the Pesto received high marks and sudden orders!

Over the next week,

We began sourcing for the best ingredients and reliable suppliers while working on the branding. All things coming together, we have released our first batch on March 4 with a series of production thereafter. The preparation process has become like a family affair with every member participating; the effort is still a work in progress and we aim to continuously improve each serving. We guarantee fresh, clean, and properly-handled products. It has no preservatives and would be good to consume within one week.

The number of reservations and repeat orders is overwhelming, huge thanks to the support of everyone on Facebook with 500+ fans in less than a week. With recommendations coming in, we are also starting to get orders from people outside our circle.

To maintain the superb taste of our Pesto, we do not mass produce and we appreciate the patience of people who are in the queue. Each bottle is delicately filled with quality ingredients by a few sets and on a random schedule for the meantime (because we have our other work too!).

As published on our FB page:

What’s inside Pesto Made Fresh? Basil, olive oil, parmesan cheese, nuts, garlic, and more basil!

Initially shared with friends and colleagues, they loved it then started to request for orders. Now we are ready to bring a bottle of Pesto for everyone to enjoy!

Order Pesto Made Fresh

To order in advance, please send us a private message! We will be happy to hear how you take a moment with #PestoMadeFresh. 😄

Surviving the Chaotic World of Work One Step at a Time

Delivering the best service to our bosses and clients is a must for every professional whether we work as a full-time employee or as a freelancer. But a lot of us are working way too much—eating stress over lunch and stressing over the entire weekend. Yet we know that too much stress will not allow us to gain the excellent result we wanted to achieve.

At one point, here’s what is going on—the sound of Viber already freaks you out? Seeing the names of Clients on the inbox immediately drains your energy (without reading the emails yet!)? The ring of the phone can simply ruin a good mood? When you are too easily distracted with what’s trending on Twitter but sluggishly irritated to begin the tasks for the day?

Sound of Viber or Skype

Working hard may not necessarily mean skipping lunch with friends or excusing weekend trip with family, right? It is not meant to consume our energy and reach the point of losing enthusiasm. With all the digital communications made available today, it is impossible to skip anything related to work even if we are entitled not to work.

Our stress can truly go above the head and we just need to pause for a bit and tweak our activities to improve the scenario of doing our job…one day at a time.

  • Set your boundaries and be firm implementing it – No calls over the weekend? Do not reply to Viber beyond 9pm or change/mute it to avoid that freaking sound? Sometimes I am tempted to address client-request on a Saturday BUT I try to refuse work on Sundays; it is not a sin to consider Sunday to be ideally exclusive for Church day and Family bonding.

Define Your YES and NO

  • Commit to a realistic deadline – There is no NOW unless you have no other obligations to deliver. Introduce an acceptable process and timeline to clients. If they wish to apply an abrupt revision to an already approved content plan, let them know that there are steps, and to some agencies even formal protocols, to follow.

realisic deadline

  • Brush off distractions – Focus on the current tasks and resist the idea of browsing the internet even if we assume that checking our Facebook feed will only take a minute; by experience, it is never just a minute. This procrastinates the load and we get even more stressed realizing that time has passed and we have not accomplished anything significant for the day.
  • Take it easy – If you are nice and understanding to your officemates and colleagues then why can’t you treat yourself the same way? Email sent with typo error, forgot to return a client call asap, cling to cup of coffee longer than expected, extended lunch break for a refreshing walk… don’t feel guilty.

take it easy

  • It is okay to stop and momentarily indulge to what makes you happy – When it’s break time, sneak a moment to drop anything about work (and that may mean no looking on our phones) and enjoy the moment while sipping cold tea with pearl, reading a chapter of a book, talking to a friend, watching an episode on Netflix. There is more to life than work, explore it.
  • When it’s vacation, mean it! – No bringing of laptop, no replying to emails or taking Skype calls. Assume to be on “Off Limits” about the many projects in the office. Vacations do not happen all the time and let’s make the most of it. If work is persistent and unavoidable like for most freelancers, maybe just allot an hour or two to work in a nice out-of-the-country coffee shop but don’t let the entire tasks consume your break.

Enjoy vacation and try not to work

Issues toward the many complicated aspects at work will not disappear quickly, it may even take a long while to sort out but it is better to take a stride positively than get stuck in the sad moment.

Bangkok Street Food Overdose

Enjoy the visit to the Buddha temples. Feed the giraffe, watch the dolphins and elephants shows at Safari World. Experience the fast Tuktuk ride. Dive into some shopping splurge. Appreciate the hospitality of the local people but get ready to manage the really rude few—either way it is always fun to witness other cultures and behaviors. But what makes the visit to Bangkok worth the travel is their street food! You can just find a corner in a random alley and get an affordable yummy meal from the many carts or open-space resto!

Favorite Thai Food

Happiness in one table!

Tom Yum – hot and sour Thai soup cooked with shrimp and other seafoods

Pad Thai – stir-fried rice noodle dish with shrimp, chicken, tofu, peanuts, scrambled egg and bean sprouts

Kao Pad – Thai fried rice mixed with egg, pork or shrimp, and other spices

Thai Pork on Skillet – this is like porkchop and good for kids, the one and only not spicy on the table

Glimpse of the Thai Street Food

Seafood Noodle

Seafood Noodle

Vegetable and Shrimp Roll

Halfway Finished Vegetable and Shrimp Rolls

Thai Dessert

Thai Desserts

Iced Coffee on the Street

Jai Fai in Action

Jai Fai in Action

If you wish to try this tourist-famous restaurant called Jai Fai (Bangkok’s first street food stall with Michelin star award in 2018), get ready to spend hours  lining up. We did for more than 3 hours but crab omelet (the must-eat dish) run out so we decided to leave. We also noticed that the staff are really unpolite—we’ve seen these two old lady servers shooing guests from their table just because they are drinking soda or iced tea from the outside to think these people are not yet dining, they are waiting for their turn while in the humid weather; considerations and empathy must have been fried there. “No outside drinks allowed” can be requested nicely and with respect to their waiting-hungry customers.

 But reviews said that the food is really to-die-for so if you wish to pursue, here’s a tip to secure a table:

Book months ahead via email. If already fully booked, go there in the morning and list your name for the dinner schedule later on. If you are going to Wat Saket (aka “Golden Mount”, one of the top places to visit in Bangkok), drop by in the morning at Jai Fai to get your queue before climbing up the temple. It  is just a block away and about 5-minute walk from the restaurant. Depending on the number that you will get, go back to eat late in the afternoon or evening. Be there when your number is called or your spot will be forfeited. Picture this: Our number is 61 and we stayed there until 6:30 and they were only serving 46…

Good luck and enjoy the food wherever you decide to dine! 

What’s on Your 2019 Christmas Wishlist?

With all the festive lights and Christmas mood around us, we keep busy buying gifts for others. But remember, once in a while we deserve to give a present for ourselves too! It’s not being luxurious or careless with money but simply getting that chance of morphing our hardwork to reality that we can enjoy completely. We don’t need Santa Claus, right? We have as they say, the “fruit of our labor” to convert the holiday wishlist to reality.

What’s on your lineup? Travel. Experience the snow again. Escape the city. Staycation in a fab hotel. Oh, that elusive Kate Spade bag. This new coffee machine. And the Harry Potter Pandora collection! Whatever is on your list, just pick one (or two) then dive into it guilt-free!

This Holiday 2019, there’s a special treat for us Titos and Titas! What if your favorite rockband is coming to the Philippines? Perhaps that changes the perspective of your ideas of what to give yourself? It is a once in a lifetime event and would be too painful to miss…

U2 is coming next week (December 11, Wednesday)! Thanks to MMI Live for bringing the Irish Rockband to the country granting the wish of many Pinoy fans.

U2-Joshua-Tree-Philippines-MMI-LIVE2

“The Joshua Tree Tour” celebrates the release of “The Joshua Tree” album back in 1987 and will be rocking Manila with all the hits! To hear Bono go live with I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For and With or Without You will surely bring a perfect chill. Can’t wait.

WriteNowNa Wishlist!

It is also the first time we are watching at the Philippine Arena! Seeing its grandiose view via the SEA Games coverage makes being there more exciting.

Are you now shifting the yuletide wish and eyeing on attending the concert at PH Arena? There is still time, give in to the U2 holiday craving! #BookYourExperience now.

U2-Joshua-Tree-Philippines-MMI-LIVE

Dine Quietly at BF Homes’ Tropical Avenue

President and Aguirre Avenues are famous for Southies as one of the best food hubs around the area. It represents various cuisines suited to your taste buds and specific budget.

The effect of this comes heavy traffic, crowded restos, and a struggle to get a good parking slot especially during dinner time on a weekend, holiday, and payday.

If you wish to go away from the chaos and craving for Italian food anyway, I suggest that you go straight to Tropical Avenue for a choice of Mama Lou’s or Altrove. These are Italian restaurants hidden from the rush of the busy corners of BF Homes.

Trattoria ALTROV’É

Address: 858 Tropical Avenue, BF International, Las Piñas

WriteNowNa at Altrove BF HomesFamous for its signature crafted, wood fired brick oven pizzas from El Nido Palawan. It  eventually extended a branch in the South. The resto has a cozy resort-feel to it! We particularly enjoyed the Pizza Bianca and Pesto Pasta. Other food on the menu like salad, steaks and chicken fillets are promising.

Just get ready to eat on bare-foot as you will be asked to remove your shoes while dining inside. Service needs to be improved and our server perhaps needs to be more acquainted with the details of their entrees.

Mama Lou’s

Address: Block 1 Lot 36 Tropical Avenue corner Palace Street, BF International, Las Piñas

WriteNowNa at MamaLous Bf Homes

Mama Lou’s was born out of a real kitchen in BF Homes by founders Richard and the late Malou Tremblay, the restaurant opened their doors to welcome guests in 2010.

What started as a passion for serving home-cooked dishes has now become Mama Lou’s Group with ten plus branches across the Metro and continuously growing. Our forever order is the Quatro Formaggi Pizza to pair with pasta (but Pesto Pasta just okay here, you don’t really get to taste the basil there) or Risotto Pesto Al Pollo. The service is not superb though and they need to push on making their staff show some warmness to diners to keep their promise of a homey vibe “…comforting, memorable experience of coming home to warm food prepared by a loved one.”

Overall, it is still a real delight to eat in either of the two and we are always happy to be back. Buon appetito! 🙂

Photo courtesy of Facebook fanpages

 

That Moment Stuck in Metro Manila Traffic – Plan Your Own Survival Kit

That moment we are stuck in traffic can really lose with what’s left of our remaining sanity, don’t you think? I hardly go out now and I don’t drive as often just to avoid the horrendous, mindless battle on the road. There are many people who would rather hire a-day driver or get a Grab to lessen the stress of driving or suffer PUV commuting.

Imagine a 1.4km distance from our house to my son’s school can take 30 to 40 minutes one-way?! While a drive to Greenbelt Makati that is only 12km away from home eats up two hours every morning?! What a real waste of time and emotion.

This is not a passing stage that is dependent of the season; it is a matter-of-fact Christmas-carmageddon every single day for Filipinos. Perhaps there are many people to blame and point-finger to—delayed government projects, no discipline of drivers, weak implementation of officials, road closure due to constructions without proper rerouting plan, poor zoning strategy, over flowing number of cars, slow road maintenance or no maintenance at all when mostly needed… list can go on forever but what can we really do? What could be a sure fix here? What can we contribute to ease the problem?

No immediate solution. No guarantee if any of the current effort of various government agencies will work. What now? Hibernate. Migrate. Escape. If we can afford it, maybe. But what about us who are meant to stay and live this chaos on a daily basis? What can we do?

We are even ranked by Waze as the #1 Worst place to drive! 😦

Waze worst place to drive

This is a personal battle; even the most buoyant mind setting can lose track. This is a trap scenario for most of us—we just have to find a way to deal with it somehow. Maybe make our own how-to-keep-sane list when outside. Inhale, exhale. Breathe. Think of happy thoughts? The latter might not always work well especially being stuck in a not-moving traffic for 30 minutes but let us aim to push the  positive idea, personalize version of a unique survival kit.

  1. Create a feel-good playlist on Spotify.
  2. Get into the ARK (Act of Random Kindness).
  3. On random, call someone via speakerphone.
  4. Don’t go out of the house unless it is a must.
  5. Keep the courtesy even if most are not applying it anymore.
  6. Buy your favorite chips or nuts. I would love to bring a cup of coffee but that is diuretics, so NO.
  7. Once in a while to change a routine, explore other options like the P2P bus, shuttle van, or car pool.
  8. Tune in to your favorite radio program. DZMM’s SRO of Alvin Elchico and Doris Begornia is a real companion when in Edsa between 7:45pm to 9pm.
  9. Treat the moment as your “me-time” on the wheel. This blog was drafted while feeling miserable on the driver seat. Some good ideas pop during odd times, welcome it.
  10. Talk to Jesus while inside the car in a conversational level. We mostly pray in whisper or just in our head but talking to Jesus in a normal voice that you can actually hear yourself is a special Christian experience.
  11. Look forward to what’s waiting for you at your destination—that sofa bed with my boys watching Netflix and munching popcorn. Consider the chances of not arriving safely if we are careless and mad on the steering wheel.
  12. Rather than being pissed with all the constructions going on (well hello there Alabang viaduct), let us focused on the long-term result. I remember when LRT 1 was being constructed back in the 80s and it was a total mess along Rizal Avenue, Manila. My Father traveled to/from Blumentritt to Baclaran and it was a very hard commute. But he remained optimistic saying that in a few years, the trip will be shorter and better. It did, somehow.

We just have to wait patiently and make use of this time to remain hopeful even on top of the struggle.  Yes, without a doubt what we have now is a real crisis but let’s try not let the terrible Manila traffic consume our good soul. Still a happy trip to us all!

photo credits @JKAustria

What to Do on Your Tanay-Laguna Roadtrip?

It was a tough start of the week—so much work load while all of us down with flu. Hubby and I agreed that if we get better over the weekend, we would do a road trip. And thank you Jesus! After taking Tamiflu and doing nebulizer for my son, we slowly got okay. And as planned, we did the Tanay-Laguna route last weekend! Build-up of traffic happened only at the foot of Tanay because of jeepneys loading just about anywhere and crazy motorcycles going out of their lanes… once up, the drive was smooth and scenic. The next heavy traffic was at Pagsanjan Laguna then Pansol but still not that bad. The whole day drive was a good escape to the chaotic city dailies.

Treasure Mountain – the place offers a good climb and a beautiful view of the mountains. There were a couple of campers and an upcoming cottage for rent, perhaps good to visit again for an overnight stay. Imagine coming here without gadgets and just unite with nature! Entrance fee for a day visit is Php150 per head.

Address: Sitio Maysawa Brgy. Cuyambay, Tanay, 1980 Rizal

Treasure Mountain

Treasure Mountain

Lutong Pugon – Wood-fired pizza is really good here! While dining, awesome to see painters on the work as it is also an art gallery. Having patrons coming over after a long drive, I do hope they can improve their rest room—worse than public CR considering their restaurant is pricey.

Address: Sitio Masanting, Sampaloc, Tanay, Rizal

Regina Rosarii Institute for Contemplation in Asia (Regina Rica) – About 2km drive from Lutong Pugon is a religious site with an elevated path leading to a chapel beneath a gigantic Mama Mary carrying baby Jesus. Take off your shoes and go up to our Mother, appreciate the greens then pray at the Adoration Chapel.

Address: Marikina-Infanta Highway, Tanay, Rizal

Regina Rica

Regina Rica

Lake Caliraya – After a solemn visit at Regina Rica, get ready to fill your eyes for a 73km cruise to Lake Caliraya along the urban settings of Rizal and Laguna. It is a man-made lake that is 1,200 feet above sea level situated in the municipalities of Lumban, Cavinti, and Kalayaan. Either you jump into the many water sports/outdoor recreation OR simply enjoy the scenery.

Caliraya Lake

Caliraya Lake

We were supposed to have early dinner with halo-halo for dessert at the iconic Filipino cuisine that is Aling Taleng’s but arrived at their closing (6pm). So we ended up with a hearty meal at Balai Ilocos—bagnet, pinakbet, sisig, gambas!

Pagsanjan River

Pagsanjan River

Full and happy, we are all set to go home. But just need to do one quick stop along the way at Los Banos for the Orient – The Original Buko Pie Bakeshop. This has been the all-time favorite buko pie of Hubby!

It was a whole day of weekend fun drive with family and keen on doing it again! Where’s your next getaway plan?

#NoFiler photo courtesy of JK Austria