Saturday, February 17, 2018

A Day at Grand Rapids

A day at Grand Rapids, MI would afford you the opportunity to visit parks, museums and watch a show at gigantic Van Andel Arena! 

"Travel is like love, mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end.” 

A day at Grand Rapids, MI would afford you the opportunity to visit parks, museums and watch a show at gigantic Van Andel Arena! 

Just like any other couple, my husband and I normally get so entangled with the hustle and bustle of life. It is through our little travel that we find enjoyment the most. 

So, David decided to book us at Hampton hotel in Grand Rapids, a city about an hour from where we live. We planned on visiting museums and just going around the city. A day before our travel, we learned about the ‘Disney on Ice’ show so we decided to watch it as well. 

Saturday morning when we left and of course, we feel bad for our little dogs who would be home by themselves. Alice knew something was up so she tried to snuggle a little bit longer in the clothes of my husband. Zoie was seemingly unaffected but Dani started barking nonstop. 

First stop was shopping at Burlington Factory. I heard a lot about this store and I told my husband to give it a try. Of course, we decided not to shop anywhere else realizing how much branded clothes are cheaper there. 

At Rockwell restaurant with my new pair of eyeglasses. 

On the way to the hotel, we saw EyeglassWorld. David immediately decided to get a pair for me since we’ve been planning on it for a long time. They have amazing technology and customer service. We didn’t have any appointment but they were able to immediately attend to us. I got two pairs and it was an amazing feeling to finally be able to see again at a far distance. I could not believe how much I needed it!

At Gerald Ford museum. 

Then we were off to the first museum, Gerald Ford museum. The place was very inviting and filled with his memorabilia. It was an amazing glimpse to the man who was obviously highly revered at Grand Rapids. A documentary was shown about the time when he was a naval officer and the ship where he was in faced a storm near Philippines. I became so intrigued with the Watergate scandal so I decided to learn more about it.

Then we decided to check in our hotel and had dinner before the ‘Disney on Ice’ show. The restaurant, Rockwell, was recommended by the staff of the Eyeglass World. The food was acceptable but nothing spectacular. It was loud and far from the kind of dinner that David and I were looking forward to. We were hoping for a cozier romantic dinner but we decided to just stay since we didn’t have much time before the show at 7. 

Disney on Ice was phenomenal. I have never watched anything similar to this so I was in awe. I felt the magic, the shivers ran through my spine, there was tingle on my toes, and my heart was filled with fun and enjoyment. Even David actually enjoyed it. The songs were beautiful and brought back so many memories back when I was a kid. When we left Van Andel arena, it was snowing heavily and everything looked magical. It was definitely a night to remember!

Friday, February 09, 2018

I love snow but…

Nothing beats the feel of cold fluffy flakes gently falling on your face. The bitter cold is forgotten while looking at the captivating scenes especially when everything is blanketed in pure white. That exhilarating feeling while sledding or that mesmeric sound of crunchy fresh flurries while walking makes my heart feel warm. It is simply magical.

My husband and I would often drive out when it is snowing pretty hard just because we both love the enchantment that snow brings! While we worry about zero visibility roads at times or the car sliding, we always get enthused being enveloped by the white stuff while enjoying the picturesque sceneries.

However, just like the chapters of every story, no matter how beautiful it is, you can’t wait but to reach and read the end. Just like a good old movie, you can’t help but wish for the happy ending.

I love snow but it’s been months since we were basking on inches and inches of these white flurries! Snow came early before Halloween and I was the happiest then but more than three months of nearly freezing temperature makes me think of the years I have spent in two tropical countries. I am getting tired waking up in the morning putting on several layers of clothing and trying to get in the car and the door would not open. I love snow but I also love the sun!

So, I’m kind of looking forward to reach the last chapter of this winter’s story. I’m ready to welcome spring!

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

My Husband’s Reaction to Filipino Foods

Filipino food is probably the touchstone of the culture and tradition that I grew up with. Though essentially influenced by Western culture (fries, burgers, steak and the like), there’s this part of Filipino cuisine that I wanted to share with my American husband. As a child, I heard of horror stories where families of Filipino immigrants received complaints of neighbors because of the strong smell of some Filipino dishes- most specially bagoong or anchovies which is a condiment partially or completely made of either fermented fish or krill with salt! So, here’s some interesting stuff I found out about my husband regarding Filipino cuisine.

Pork Binagoongan/ Ensalada with bagoong, kamatis, manga and itlog na maalat (Pork Flavored with Anchovies/ Grilled Eggplant with Tomatoes, Mango, and Salted Eggs)

It was only recently after over a year that I bought bagoong or anchovies. I had no intention of asking my husband to taste it when I prepared them. I was too worried regarding his reaction about the smell that I was constantly checking on him while I was cooking. He survived the dinner even though the smell was so strong! As for the ensalada or grilled eggplant with anchovies and mangoes, he tried to have a sniff of it in closer proximity but of course he didn’t try it.

Pork Barbecue and Isaw

I still feel guilty about this. Isaw or chicken liver skewer is not something that I would want my husband to try since I knew what he feels about exotic food. We were having a dinner at a Filipino restaurant while he was visiting me at Jakarta when he had a bite of this on ‘accident’. We ordered pork barbecue and he liked it so much so we asked for another serving. Unknowingly, ‘isaw’ which was ordered by one of our friends was included on the platter and my husband took a bite of it. My friends and I looked at each other and nobody said anything. I knew my husband noticed the difference so he immediately put it down. I was so guilty that I decided to tell him the truth. In fairness to him, he didn’t over react and simply said he knew it tasted different. He did not have another bite of barbecue that night.

Lumpia Shanghai (Similar to egg rolls but fillings are ground pork and other Filipino flavors.)

Lumpia is probably one of my husband’s favorite. He could easily wolf down several pieces without batting an eyelash! He loves that it's crunchy.

Pancit (Egg noodles flavored with veggies, pork and shrimp)

I put too much veggies on it that my husband would simply grimace whenever I ask him to take a bite so obviously it’s a big no for him. He had a bite (After removing all the veggies) of the last one I cooked though!

Filipino spaghetti

What makes Filipino spaghetti different is its sweetness and the addition of hotdogs on it! I only cooked it once since I’m starting to prefer the recipe here and my husband obviously didn’t like it.


Probably the most famous Filipino dish. This is becoming a regular here at home and he likes this with his own version of rice (white rice with cinnamon and sugar).


Disclaimer: This photo is not owned by the site owner. 

I have never tried cooking this but my husband and I were watching a TV show when they showed the whole pig roast on the table. He almost threw up! I guess no lechon for him when we visit Philippines in the future.

Not all Filipino cuisines are exotic or crazy however you want to label it. Thankfully, my husband and I have a lot of common grounds. We both like pork chops, fried chicken, meatloaf, steak, and of course bacon!

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Highly Recommended Manipulatives for Young Learners (Reading)

Raising a precocious reader takes more than letter writing practice, phonemic awareness games, learning simple vocabulary, and answering questions about stories. The use of manipulative is greatly commended to engage children in hands-on learning. This educational technique banks on the idea that learning is enhanced when students acquire knowledge through active processes that engage them (Hartshorn and Boren, 1991) and this is also supported by both learning theory and educational research in the classroom.

Aside from the strong foundation it provides, learning becomes more fun and it also offers ample opportunities for kids to be challenged. Here are some of the highly- recommended manipulatives for young learners. I also provided links on the title for more product info and prices.


These are textured letters to stimulate and enhance memory of the written language. These language symbols are an important pathway to learning how to read and spell.

Support alphabet awareness by recognizing letter sounds and shapes. Also builds early vocabulary, oral language, sorting, and fine motor skills.


Provides focus on foundational skills and concepts that are easily practiced at home. Engaging puzzle format disguises learning as fun, with immediate feedback for self-checking.


It is a manipulative-based phonics program that supports essential components of reading first and is a distinct hands-on manipulative to teach literacy. Color-coded, interlocking language manipulatives is the ideal supplement to all phonics and reading programs.

An essential word building manipulative that can be used in any reading program.


Set of 48 CVC cards with picture and color guides for building 3 letter CVC words with CVC Tri-Blocks® Tub. Children follow the progression as they learn to sound out and build words. 3 levels to follow: blue, orange, violet. Teach phonemic awareness, synthetic phonics, spelling. Cards are self-checking with answers on back.


Make hundreds of sentences with these color-coded dominoes featuring nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, and prepositions, plus punctuation marks. 

Familiarize kids with different words while developing mathematical skills. Tiles feature upper and lower case letters along with illustrations to add to the matching fun.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Filstop Review- A Filipino Online Store

Today, I finally received my online order from Filstop. I chanced upon this online store through a Facebook ad. 

Today, I finally received my online order from Filstop. I chanced upon this online store through a Facebook ad. I’ve been looking for a more convenient way of shopping for Filipino foods and Filstop was the answer. For somebody who lives thousands of miles away from familiar cuisine, it’s a joy to find this. I used to shop at the Asian store about 35 minutes from where we live but the number of Filipino products at Filstop was just amazing. Here’s a review about my first order!

Web Usability:
The presentation of information and choices was clear and concise. The buttons for ordering were easy to understand and there’s no ambiguity since they also provide information about the products. Check- out was also stress-free and I was able to navigate the whole process without difficulty. Several clicks and I was done.

Product Price and Availability:
I personally think that price of the products was fair enough. Comparing some of their products to Amazon, it shows that Filstop is way cheaper. In terms of product availability, I guess it exceeded my expectation. Who would have thought that I'd find ‘itlog maalat’, ‘alamang’, ‘Bagoong Balayan’, and even ‘Quizon pancit’? I was too excited whenever I type the name of the product and they have several choices available. There are some products marked out of stock but it also happens even in other online stores. I removed my frozen products order when I saw that there’s a charge for special frozen package.

Delivery Process:
I placed my order January 22 and received an email confirmation the same night that my order was completed. Several days after that, I tried checking for an update but heeded no info when I tried typing the order number. On January 27, I received an email informing me that a ‘Fedex label was printed and order awaiting pick-up’. Expected delivery was late in the afternoon of Wednesday. Using the tracking number, I was finally able to check for updates of my package until I received it though FedEx today, January 31, Wednesday, 9:40 a.m.

Packing and Completeness of Ordered Items:

Packing was excellent. There were no broken bottles and all my items were in perfect condition. I received all my ordered items and the arrangement was meticulously done. I am a bit disappointed that some products like Argentina corned beef and sandwich spread were not made from the Philippines but I think it’s not really a big deal.

Is it worth the wait (January 22-31)? I think it is. Nothing beats the taste of food which reminds me of the Philippines. After enjoying my pork ‘binagoongan’ tonight, I am definitely going to have my monthly order.

Note: Filstop is more than an online store. Check their website here for more info. 


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