Surprise Cupcakes

When Bea was younger, she was such a joy to feed because she would eat everything we gave her. Travelling to Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam was no trouble at all because we didn’t need to lug around bottles and formula, and she ate everything we ate. Shortly after she turned a year old, however, Bea suddenly became the pickiest eater. Pasta without sauce, meat and rice, no soup, and certainly no vegetables. She will turn her nose up at anything she doesn’t recognize. I used to be able to hide little pieces of veg under the rice and meat in her spoon but eventually she could taste the difference. There are some fruits she will eat, but she won’t have them every day.

I was flipping through my Weelicious cookbook and there was a recipe for Chocolate Velvet Cupcakes with a secret ingredient: beets. Aha! I could get Bea to eat her vegetables after all! So I made them one weekend and even made the cream cheese frosting pink, thinking that the color would entice her to eat a cupcake.

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Boy, was I ever wrong! As soon as I presented her with a cupcake, she said, “But I don’t like pink icing!” What a letdown. There goes that idea. She did eat a couple though, with only sprinkles and no icing.

I shared some with my in-laws, and told my father-in-law that they had beets in them. When I told Julio, he said that his dad HATES beets. He refuses to have them in russian salad. The next morning, my mother-in-law came over and asked if it was strawberry icing. I had to confess they were beets, but I’m glad she couldn’t taste them! Turns out, my father-in-law liked them because they were not too sweet. Julio asked him, “You know what the secret ingredient is?” and he answered, “Strawberries?” Either he didn’t hear what I said when I put the plate of cupcakes the table, or he wasn’t listening. My mother-in-law gave me looks across the table, warning me not to admit that they were definitely not strawberries. Oh well, at least the cupcakes were a hit with someone!

DIY Furniture Newbie!

One of the bloggers that really inspired me to start DIY-ing furniture is Ana White. I’m so amazed at all of the things she’s come up with. She lives in Alaska with her family, and one of the most recent things she (and her husband) built was a cabin. A CABIN, for crying out loud. How can I not admire someone who builds one with her own bare hands? Plus, she has loads of free plans on her site – several of which I want to make! Anyhoo. It took me a while to start on my first project. It’s not like we have a Home Depot in the Philippines, or easy access to power tools. Normally, we leave the carpentry work to, well, the carpenters. But I’ve always wanted to give it a try. My dad looked at me like I was crazy when I told him a few months ago that I wanted to build my own dining table. He said it was easier to just buy one. True, but it wouldn’t be as fulfilling. This project took about a month and a half to complete, only because I only spent a couple of hours working on it at a time. Initially, I just wanted to make a little rolling side table to put next to the couch. I went to Wilcon and picked out the wood I wanted. I bought several 2×2’s, some 1×4’s and a couple of 1×6’s. They delivered the wood to my house a few days later, and only the weekend after was I able to start on my project. While waiting for the delivery, I decided to make e a bar-height desk. My house is a little small, so I wanted a table that wouldn’t take up too much space. I designed it myself and made a crude drawing of how I wanted it to look, and wrote down the dimensions.

First I measured the pieces of wood, then I used my circular saw to cut them. I read somewhere that in order to cut wider pieces of wood (because the maximum width is 4 inches), all I have to do is place another piece of wood under and make the cut as usual. i had to put the saw on the floor and do my cutting there, because we don’t have a work table.

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Here are the pieces, all cut, and treated with Solignum (to prevent termites). Please disregard the ball and sack of sand – my husband was trying to make his own medicine balls.

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Next I used my Kreg Jig to drill pocket holes in the middle plank for my table top, which is 5 feet long and 18 inches wide. I’ve had the jig for over a year but used it for the first time for this project. And apparently, I used the wrong measurements to drill the holes but it’s a good thing they turned out fine!

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Here we are, screwing the base together on our makeshift work table. Not the safest thing to do, I know. A work table is also on my list of things to build. Please disregard that little finger on the right. Our daughter took our photo while we were working. Fine, I asked her to take our picture and she ended up taking loads. Julio’s job was to pre-drill and put the screws in, because I wasn’t too confident to do it myself.

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Bea saw us (Julio, mostly) nailing the table top to the base and wanted to give it a try.

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Here is the table, sanded and with holes filled.

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And here it is, all done! I stained it with a color called Red Mahogany.

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I wanted to buy stools to go with it, but I couldn’t find any that I liked so I decided to build it myself. I got these stool plans from Rogue Engineer, and they were pretty easy to follow. I ran out of 2×2’s though and needed a 1×12 plank so I went to the hardware store close to my house to buy them. Let me tell you, Wilcon is NOT the place to buy wood. It’s incredibly expensive! Although, I have to admit that the quality of the wood is superior to that of the smaller hardware stores. This new batch I bought needed a whole lot of sanding and seemed to be a softer kind of wood. But if you’re on a budget, go to your neighbourhood hardware stores. Your wallet will thank you for it.

Here’s the unassembled base of one stool. I had to make the foot rungs for one stool higher, so it would suit my height.

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And here they are, waiting to be primed and painted.

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I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before but the paint colors you can get in Manila are pretty limited. I bought Rust-Oleum spray paints instead, in Cardinal Red and Orange. The orange one is Julio’s and mine is the red.

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I gave them all a coating of polyurethane, left them out to dry for a day, and put them along one wall of our ground floor. The stools were a good idea, because I can just push them under the desk if I need a little more space.

Not bad for first-timers, huh?

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Mama’s Day Out

I love my kids and husband to bits but sometimes it’s nice (and necessary!) to have time away. I had much needed me time today. Just a few hours though, because I had only one bag of expressed milk for Paco and had to be home before he needed a second bottle.

So what did I do? Not get a mani-pedi, although my nails are in a sad state. I went out and ate.

First stop was SM Aura, where I had churros from Churreria La Lola. The churros is perfect, crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. It’s nice and quite big, unlike the Dulcinea churros which is a little on the scrawny side. At La Lola, they fry it in front of you, but it isn’t too oily, then they dust it with sugar. Mmm-mmm-mmm-mmm-mmm! I always order chocolate to dip it in. It’s warm and thick, not too sweet, and coats the churros just right. There are six pieces in the medium box (they don’t offer a small though) and I can finish it all. Oink, oink! I’d have taken a photo but I thought of writing this blog post only after I had wolfed it down.

I paired it with a flat white from Toby’s Estate.

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Man, is that coffee g double o d good! The first time I ordered it, I knew it would be excellent because it didn’t look at all watered down. It was thick and caramelly and just seemed like the perfect cup of coffee. I’ve been hooked on it since! I seem to be craving good, strong coffee lately and have been drinking two cups a day. I didn’t spend too much time in SM Aura. I also bought a swimsuit but let’s keep that between us, shall we?

Next, I went to Bonifacio High Street for The Gourmand Market.

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It’s an outdoor food fair and I believe this is the second time they put it up. It was quite nice, with wooden picnic tables around where you could sit and eat whatever food you bought from the stalls. There was all sorts of food – uncooked meat, ready to eat meals, drinks, ice cream, cakes and cookies.

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I had every intention of having lunch there but nothing called out to me. Instead, I bought a couple of bottles of cold brew for Julio and some monogrammed hand-woven napkins. Lunch was so-so sushi from Marketplace, where I also bought potted herbs. I considered having a nice, leisurely lunch at TWG but I had lingered long enough and it was nearly time for me to head home.

Shortly after I got home, Julio and I went to an Aussie surplus store called Aussie Surplus (haha!). I’d been meaning to stop by to canvass for a circular saw or a jigsaw. That place was cheap! I ended up buying a compound mitre saw for only P1,100. It normally sells for more than P10,000 brand new! The owner of this brand must be Pinoy, because Ozito = Aussie ‘to. Hehe.

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This purchase I was beyond excited about. The whole ride home, I kept mumbling, “Cool… Cool… Cool…” and wondered what my first project would be. My husband probably thought I was nuts. But, yeah, I’m so super excited – this will take my DIY-ing to a whole new level!

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Ate Bea

Bea has quickly gotten used to having a sibling.

While we were in hospital, Bea stayed at my parents’ house. I decided that it would be best for her not to visit, because she could catch whatever sickness if she did. So she and my mom fetched me and Paco from the hospital on the day we were discharged. I didn’t want her to come home to find a strange baby in the house, although we prepped her months before. Julio and his mom rode in another car. I was sitting on a wheelchair by the hospital driveway, holding Paco in my arms, and suddenly there she was, standing a few feet away from me. I’ll never forget the look on her face. She was incredibly excited to see me, but she was apprehensive about the little bundle in my arms. Her Manang Gina brought her closer and I hugged her as best I could and told her I missed her. Then I introduced her to Paco. In the car, she sat on my lap and Gina held Paco. Bea was curious but didn’t want to come any closer. When we got home, she asked to hold him so I made her sit on the couch hold out her arms, and put Paco in her lap. After less than a minute, she asked, “Can you get him na?”

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Bea loves to nuzzle her little brother and always pulls on my arm when I’m holding him so I can bend over and she can rub her nose against his cheek or give him a kiss. She used to pinch her tummy while she drinks her milk but now she’s taken to rubbing either one of his fingers or one of his toes.

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We co-sleep (trying to move her to her big girl room is for another blog post!), and the first couple of nights after Paco came home were difficult for her. I was afraid it would go on that way for a while! The first night, I put a pillow between the two kids because I was afraid she would roll over him in her sleep. That was the least of my worries! Paco would wake up crying, wanting his milk, and Bea, not used to the noise, would also wake up but kicking and screaming. I had to tell her several times not to kick because she could accidentally kick Paco but in her sleepy and muddled state, she couldn’t/wouldn’t comprehend. Julio had to restrain her and she soon fell asleep again. So instead of nursing side-lying like I would have liked, I had to do it cradle-hold and hold Bea with my other hand to calm her down. The second night, the same thing happened but she kept kicking out so Julio picked her up and put her on the floor. That made her livid! She screamed louder and cried harder. I talked to her and told her if she was ready to stop kicking then she could come back up. Otherwise, she’d have to stay on the floor. After a while (it seemed like forever), she quieted down and climbed back on the bed. Since then, she and Julio have slept through Paco’s wails and I’m the only one who wakes up!

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Enrique Francisco Veloso

Baby Paco is 2 months old! Enrique Francisco Bengzon Veloso was born on September 10, 2014 at 10:20 a.m.

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Julio and I went to the hospital the night before. The admitting process was an ordeal in itself! The waiting time was crazy. When we were finally brought to my room, they put an IV in. Let me tell you, it was not easy wheeling the dextrose to the bathroom every time I needed to pee!

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The next morning, the nurses prepped me for my c-section. In the OR, one of the nurses made me lay on my side and contort my body to expose my spine so the anesthesiologist could give me an epidural. When the anesthesia kicked in, so did my anxiety. They placed blankets on my torso and tied down my arms. Then I started to panic. I couldn’t feel anything below my chest but I knew the doctor was prodding and pulling. I suddenly felt claustrophobic – I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t move my body, the blankets were too heavy and I was too warm. The nurse placed an oxygen mask over my nose and mouth and told me to inhale deeply. Soon after, I heard my baby cry. Then they showed him to me. It felt like one of those times when you order wine at a restaurant and the waiter brings you the bottle and pours you a teeny bit to taste. You take a sip and have no idea what it is you should be tasting but you nod and smile anyway and the waiter pours the wine for the rest of the party. When they brought Paco to me, I looked at him and smiled a little and said hello. Honestly, I don’t want to sound like a bad mother but I didn’t feel anything for the infant who was on my chest. I knew he was my son but there was no sudden outpouring of love for this child. It wasn’t instantaneous with Bea either.

They took Paco away to clean him up and check him before they brought him back to me to nurse him. The embarrassment of having my breasts exposed for the male nurse, who was holding Paco, to see was soon replaced by my coaxing Paco to latch on. I watched him as he suckled away, waiting for the emotions to hit me. We were both brought to the recovery room where I alternated between trying to move my toes and feeding him. I wanted to go back to my room, to my husband, and I knew that being able to wiggle my toes meant that the anesthesia was wearing off and they’d let me go. It was a while before I was finally brought to my room though. That night, I barely slept. Paco wanted to nurse every hour and the nurses kept coming in to check my temperature and blood pressure and Paco’s too. And that night, I wanted to give up breastfeeding. I didn’t have any trouble with Bea, but with Paco it was excruciating. We’ve kept at it though, and it’s now much, much easier. As I type this, he’s fast asleep in my arms but latched on and sucking intermittently. He still keeps me up at night, waking up almost every hour!

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Going back to my confession. I was very protective of Paco but I didn’t love him. Not yet, anyway. When I would look at him, there was no warming of my heart or feeling of tenderness towards him. About a week later, it just hit me. I was looking at him and all the emotions came out. Suddenly he turned from just a baby to MY baby boy. The space in my heart that I thought I had given all to Bea expanded to make room for Paco, and my love has multiplied to encompass them both. It’s amazing how that’s possible. And it’s absolutely wonderful to watch him grow and develop. He has started to respond with coos and smiles when we talk to him, and it makes me melt every time.

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Hello Again

Why, hey there!

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? So much has happened since my last post, which was back in December. Seven months of silence on Spoon and Hammer. Wanna know what else is on its seventh month?

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Yep, baby #2 is on the way! Julio and I are ecstatic, and so is Bea. She’s always asking what the baby is doing and insists on kissing and hugging my belly goodnight. Sometimes, when I’m putting her down for a nap, she’ll lift up my shirt or dress and rub my bump. Hopefully she doesn’t get too jealous of the baby when it’s born. I’ve already asked her to help me with the baby – help me take care of it, give the baby a bath, teach it to sign (it’s cute – she started watching Baby Signing Time again to refresh her signing skills!), teach the baby the songs she knows, etc. And she seems pretty gung-ho about it!

So… what is it? We’re having a BOY! I’m a little worried. I realized I have no rapport with little boys and have no idea what to do with one, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’ll be as easy as his big sister was. Bea wanted a baby sister because she finds her male cousins a bit too rowdy for her taste. I told her she can help teach him to behave, and that warmed her to the idea of a baby brother. She now goes around saying she also has a baby in her belly, and she’ll have two baby brothers. Oh boy.

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My Week in Photos #13

Checking out the new coffee shop, Craft, down the street from my parents house

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Digging the reclaimed wood furniture

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Split pea soup for dinner (recipe from David Lebovitz) – my first time to make it!

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Yogurt, granola and strawberries makes a healthy-ish breakfast

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Waiting for my turn at the cashier

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Christmas display at Shangri-la Plaza mall. I wish I had brought Bea along to see it!

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Drove to Anilao for the weekend. Two lolos (grandfathers) vying for the little one’s attention

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Sorting the shells and corals

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Look at that face!

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Wrinkled fingers from soaking in the water too long, trying to get Bea accustomed to swimming

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Siesta time!

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Blessed to be able to wake up in a place with this gorgeous view

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Life in the middle of stones and dead corals

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Missing the husband, who stayed home

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More photos soon!

Sig

My Week in Photos #12

A sunny break in between the downpour that started the week.

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Someone finally slept the whole night in her bed! Unfortunately, she was back to climbing over me and into our bed the next night.

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Waiting for my turn at the endocrinologist’s clinic. The doctor said I have to have a lifestyle change because of my borderline diabetes. In other words, time to move my butt and exercise!

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Breakfast at Pi to celebrate my father-in-law’s 76th birthday. Anyone notice how often we’re at that restaurant?

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I had Eggs Sammy, or eggs benedict with smoked salmon instead of ham. As usual, I preferred what Julio ordered – caramelized spam with kimchi rice.

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Just a few more weeks, and it’s Christmas already! I decided to put up our holiday decorations so that the 2 months or so that they’re on display will make it worth the trouble of putting them up.

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Dusk at the Veloso household, with all the Christmas lights on

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More next week!

Sig

30 Off! Week 6

Trying to lose weight is so difficult. I wish it were as easy as swallowing a pill and having your excess fat just melt away. But maybe then everyone would just binge-eat and take those pills and be completely unhealthy. It’s definitely mind over matter but, more often than not, the mind isn’t very good at asserting itself.

Exercise? What’s that? I’ve been seriously lacking in that area. I must go back to that workout program Julio gave me.

I do the cooking in my house and have absolute control over the menu, but there are just so many recipes I want to try out! Our bookshelves are taken up mostly by my cookbooks, with a “healthy” cookbook shoved in here and there. I have been trying to eat much better this week. I consciously have to make an effort to spoon a smaller serving of rice onto my plate and a bigger serving of vegetables. It’s been tough saying no to dessert, and having just one serving if I can’t.

And what do I have to show for it? One pound less. I suppose that’s much better than one pound more! I have four and a half months to lose 24 more. Putting it that way, I have a long way to go!

Current Weight: 126 lbs.

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My Week in Photos #11

Wow, November’s going by pretty quickly! Here’s what I was up to the week of November 11 to 17.

Cooked pad thai for the first time. It’s definitely worth a repeat but next time I’ll add more hotness to it.

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Got stuck in traffic. I should have known better than to drive down Katipunan on a school day, close to dismissal time.

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Someone got a treat for dessert!

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Attended a homeschooling seminar. Bea’s only two years old but we have to start thinking about her education. I’ want to choose homeschooling over conventional school but am getting A LOT of opposition.

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Bought my little girl two books. I used to read Sally’s Secret in the school library when I was a kid.

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Here in the Philippines, there’s a saying that you should stop somewhere else on your way home from a wake so that the spirit of the recently deceased (or any other spirit, for that matter) won’t follow you home. Being the scaredy cat that I am, I was more than happy to stop for coffee! Although, in hindsight, the peppermint mocha I had probably contributed to my inability to fall asleep right away that night.

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Dutch baby pancakes for Sunday breakfast. This recipe called for apples but I only had pears so used those instead. It turned out so yummy! I really liked the gooey-ness of the honey at the bottom of the pancake. It has to be served upside down, which I forgot to do so the plates were quite difficult to clean after.

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One of the several graffiti walls at The Collective.

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Another wall at The Collective on Malugay Street, Makati City.

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Wings for lunch at Wingman

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A great way to end the weekend – a foot reflexology massage at Footzone!

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