2011: A Year in Review

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I failed to work on a newsletter that would go out with our Christmas cards. When I found a format I like, it was already too late as I needed to mail out the cards right away. And with the format I wanted I had to learn a little bit of Photoshop which still confuses me.

For now I will do a simpler version of of what happened to me/us in 2011.

HOME:
Will always be wherever we three are.
But for this year, home has been Bangkok, Thailand.
We moved to our place early this year so it's the our first spending the holidays at our home. 

HIGHLIGHTS:
Jed and I have been married for 4 years!!
Javi turned two years old and is now officially  a toddler.
We found our church and met awesome friends!

PLACES TRAVELED:
We finally went around Thailand and visited Pattaya, Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai and Phuket.
Jed went on his business trips to Australia and China.
We went back to the Philippines and went back to our favorite places such as Boracay and Tagaytay.

NOTABLES:

Jed
Still working for the Shangri-La group. Attended his very first small group/bible study. Plays the keyboard in church on some Sundays. 

Irma
Mastering the art of being a full-time homemaker and mother. Blogging when I find the time. Belongs to a mommies small group. Loving my time here in Bangkok.

Javi
Hospitalized for the first time. Learned how to walk, run, hop and jump. Still in the process of learning how to talk. Is just the most adorable kid to mommy and daddy. Charms mommy every single day. Finished his first swimming class last summer. Attending a weekly Kinderjam class.

MOST AWESOME THINGS I DID:


EVERYTHING ELSE:

Jed and I went on "date nights"/Watched the Hillsong United concert./Started our Sunday evening "movie night" tradition./Got wired this year with our BlackBerry and iPads./Had more visitors and people to meet up here in Bangkok than Cebu./Survived the flood crisis in Thailand.

Watch out 2012, we are welcoming you with open arms!


So how was your 2011?

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Simplifying My Journal

Keeping a journal is my thing. When life was simpler, I used to write down my thoughts every night before I sleep. Then I got married and Jed would tease me about my habit. Life happened. I quit my job, moved cities, had a kid - in short, I could not write religiously as before.  

So what did I use as a journal?

My journals


I had no problem redeeming a Starbucks planner as toffee nut latte is one of my favorite drinks. When I wasn't too happy with the Starbucks planner, I discovered those girly Belle Du Jour planner. Then I realized the BDJ planner is not mommy-friendly so I stopped using it. 

I finally owned an iPad which means journaling turned digital. I now use an app called Chronicle to write down my thoughts and prayer. It's still what I use up to this day.

Until I discovered this excellent idea through Pinterest.  The main idea is to write down just the highlight of your day in an index card keeping it as short as possible. This will go on for the next years until the card gets full. I like the concept. It's simple and if I write everyday it would fun to see what I had been doing a particularly day when I write down my entry the following year. 

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But of course, I had to customize and create my own version of the great project. Instead of index cards, I looked for a small notebook with enough pages. 

I found just the right Moleskine notebook. Moleskine proved to be sturdy so I did not mind spending a little more if the notebook will last me years. 

Look what I picked - Moleskine Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince) edition 

My new Moleskine journal

Now that begins the first of my many projects for 2012.

What do you plan to start this new year? 

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Print Your Own 2012 Calendars

Gone are the days when I would troop to the local bookstore and buy myself some nice yet expensive calendar. Since I no longer work, I do not get those freebie desk calendars. As a stay-at-home mother, my needs have changed and while a desk calendar may look pretty, I need a more functional monthly calendar that I can write on.

A big thanks to blogsphere and sites such as Tip Junkie, I found several free printable calendars that would suit my every need.

To those who has not gotten their 2012 calendar yet, I am sharing with you those that I love.

Please click on the link of each caption to direct you to the website where you can download the calendars.

Year At-A-Glance

From Creative Mama
 
From Clementine Creative

From Red Stamp
From Home Life Weekly

Monthly

From Tricia Rennea

From Home Life Weekly

From Creative Mama

From Tom Kat Studio

From Tip Junkie

From Clementine Creative

And I found this really pretty Birthday Calendar from Elephant Shoe Love via The Pretty Blog

From Elephant Shoe Love
The other thing I love about printing your own calendar is you can adjust the size and print just the right one for your needs.

Happy printing! May we look forward to 2012 with so much hope. 
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Restaurant Discoveries (Bangkok Edition): Somboon Seafood and L'ulivo Bangkok

I know we are settled in Bangkok when we now have our favorite restaurants to dine. Yes, it took us longer to find our favorites. To begin with we were absolutely clueless and the language difference posed to be a bigger challenge. Unlike Manila and Cebu, restaurant recommendations would be from friends through word of mouth and from the reputable food bloggers. 

A big thanks to social media, we are slowly threading our way to the best restaurants in Bangkok.

Somboon Seafood

We pass by this restaurant every week on our way to church. And then I read this article on CNNGo.
41. Best crab curry in all of Asia
At Somboon Seafood on Surawong Road, you’ll find a plate of their famous crab curry on every table in the joint. Surrounded by a thick, sweet sauce, the juicy chunks of crab ensure there’s hardly anything for the waitress to clean up. According to legend, one fan from Singapore actually jets up to Bangkok just to get his monthly fix.

I love crab. It is probably my most favorite ingredient. My face brightens up and my eyes light up when I see crab being served to me.

When my family recently visited us, we decided to bring them to Somboon.  True enough, CNNGo was right. 

We are finally here!
Somboon's fried curry crab

The BEST fried curry crab there is
Eagerly awaiting our food
 The other dishes we ordered were equally good. We only took photos of the curry crab. It's the star of the restaurant. Jed and I will definitely be back. Next time, I will just order the fried curry crab and seamed rice. Yum!

One great thing about this is the proximity to where we live. It's right at the beginning of our road. My siblings and I walked after dinner. It took us about 20 minutes.

69/7-11 Surawong Road, Silom, Bangkok
Phone: +66 (0)2 233 3104


L'ulivo Bangkok

For our fourth wedding anniversary, Jed found a newly-opened restaurant for us to have dinner. It's called L'ulivo Italian Cuisine. He accidentally saw it while walking and was recommended to him by one of the chefs at the hotel.

Be still my heart, the restaurant exceeded my expectation.

L'ulivo is an Italian word for olive tree. The chef owner Danilo Aiassa is Italian. The restaurant reminds me Lolo Dad's Cafe by Chef Ariel Manuel in the Philippines. They both have a homey feel to their restaurants which are categorized as fine dining. Another similarity is their open kitchen.

The facade of L'ulivo

The welcome drink

This next dish was not on the menu. Chef Danilo asked what we wanted for Javi. We asked for spaghetti with meat sauce and he served us this yummy dish. Jed and I couldn't help ourselves. We had more than a few bites.

Javi's meal - an excellent spaghetti with meat sauce

Risotto with foie gras

According to their restaurant manager, Carlo, this cod fish dish is one of their best-sellers.

Cod fish
Sea bass

And we thought we were full, then Chef Danilo sent over this ravioli dish. It was excellent.

Ravioli with spinach
This was actually on the house!

Javi's tray of desserts

Chef Danilo asked us what dessert we wanted and we left it up to him. This pie was pretty special.

Our special dessert

I think Javi was the only kid in the restaurant. And boy our two year old has all the energy in the world. In order to keep him busy, the restaurant provided him with crayons and some coloring pages.

He truly enjoyed his time at L'ulivo. Maybe a little too much.

Happy 4th to us!

Jed gave me flowers. He hates giving flowers.
But he loves me and I love flowers.

What a great way to celebrate our fourth anniversary. New Italian restaurant. Excellent dining experience. Service was impeccable. The chef, restaurant manager and staff were all very accommodating.

And the best part is we only have to cross the footbridge to get to the restaurant.  We can actually see L'ulivo from our balcony. 

I told Jed I wanted to go back to L'ulivo for his birthday. 


43 Soi Naradhiwas 7
Naradhiwas Road
Sathorn, Bangkok
Phone: +66 2 6775756
Facebook page: L'ulivo Bangkok


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End of the Year Update of my Starbucks City Mug Collection

I started seriously collecting Starbucks City mugs this year. From my one and only Cebu mug at the beginning of the year, I now have 17+1 in my collection. At first I wanted city mugs from cities I have been to, but a fellow collector convinced me to collect from the rest of the cities. I particularly like the current style so might as well collect and collect. Got into thinking that when I visit the other cities someday, the current collection may no longer be available.

You may wish to read my previous posts on my collection here.

Special thanks to my husband, siblings and best friend for collecting for me and lugging my mugs in their checked in baggage and carry ons. 

After my trip to Manila, I have 9 more new cities.  It's either I bought them personally, or were given to me as gifts.

Bacolod
Boracay
Manila
Pampanga
Tagaytay

Jakarta
Singapore
Tokyo - the odd man out



Below is an updated list of the city mugs I now own (as of 26 December 2011) --

1. Bacolod
2. Bali
3. Bangkok
4. Boracay
5. Cebu
6. Chiang Mai
7. Jakarta
8. Manila
9. Melbourne
10. Pampanga
11. Pattaya
12. Phuket
13. Shanghai
14/15. Singapore (2 versions)
16. Sydney
17. Tagaytay
plus Tokyo

I am open to trading. I can source city mugs here in Thailand. You may send me an e-mail message at irmaloveslife@gmail.com.

Here's to more travels and friends/family who travel willing to buy me mugs in 2012!

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It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!



May you all be blessed this holiday season.

Thank you for a wonderful year!

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There Is No Place Like MANILA

While we call Bangkok our home now, Manila is a place I want to go back and settle sometime in the future. This is our first trip home after moving and three weeks definitely were not enough.

It definitely was the busiest three weeks of my life, and boy it took a toll on me. There would be days when I'd tell Jed I'd rather stay home that day. We stayed at my family's house in Bulacan so my mother could spend more time with her only grandchild but this means we had to commute to Manila every day. And with a toddler who is also adjusting to a different environment, taking him with us is a challenge.

Since he was reunited with his car seat, some days went well.

Sitting happily in his car seat while watching Barney

I had been wanting him to ride that carousel at Shangri-la Plaza mall. I just didn't think it would make me dizzy.

Round and round...and round and round.

Javi gets his best haircut in Manila.

Finally enjoying his haircut

My sister loves playing with Javi.

Showing his new toys to Tita Via

For two years in a row, our visit to Bulacan/Manila coincided with All Saints' Day. For Filipinos, it is a tradition to visit your dead relatives in the cemetery. It was that time again to visit Tatay's tomb.



On our visit to my mother's siblings, they threw a small get-together for Javi's second birthday. I miss those birthday cakes from Red Ribbon. And the pancit from PAsig is always the best.

With our relatives from my mother's side of the family


Very happy to set foot in my favorite places.

Hello Ayala Avenue and Serendra


Friends Meet-Ups! Sadly, the photos I have are less than half of the people we met. It was too chaotic for me to pull out my camera and take photos. 

With Neyza and the gang at Serendra

With the Atienzas at LJ's The Lollicake Factory

An absolute MUST: Lunch with Cheryl at CIBO

Oh, diet was thrown out the window. I was an eating machine. So many food I missed - from the taho vendor and lugaw from Tita Pining's to excellent food at Antonio's. I created my own rule of eating those that I missed but definitely no to second servings. There's is no room for seconds when I have a list of what I wanted to try.

New restaurants. Sweets. Old favorites.

I ♥Filipino food. And Vietnamese. And the others.

I had to have my haircut in the Philippines where I could explain what I want to happen and the stylist would get it.

Thank you, Ogie Rayel and TFE parlor in Balagtas

We checked out new places such as the Ayala Triangle. So much has changed in this area. This used to be my constant view when I was still working and the embassy held office in Allied Bank building. I love every minute I spent with my family.

Brunch with my family at the Ayala Triangle before we head to the airport

Presenting our mini sari-sari store in our luggage.  Wish I could have brought more. But those cans of Purefoods items and bottled sardines are heavy. My happiest times during our visit was going around the local supermarkets - SM, Landmark and Waltermart.

Yes, you are coming with us to Bangkok

Filipinos celebrating Christmas way too early was an advantage for us. We definitely felt the Christmas spirit.

Early Christmas in Manila

My apologies to friends and family we did not see. We really wished we could clone ourselves and meet every single one of you. There's always our next visit.

Looking forward to visiting Manila next year.

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