Monday, August 28, 2017

Tetra Taste Test Macao Edition

Whenever I travel, I always find myself looking for the city's version of 711.  I'm such a snacker and being a nightowl, I often have limited budget-friendly options.  Leji has been a fan of straw drinking even before she could eat solids (she has always preferred the straw over the baby bottle); and now she drinks milk and juice straight from cartons whenever we're out. 

Here are the top5 drinks we enjoyed at a convenience store:

1. Dutch Lady

This reconstituted milk from Malaysia is a top pick.  It's creamy and delicious; for us it tastes better than milk from Kowloon Dairy (although some would argue that milk from the latter is fresher).  But we prefer the low sugar variant of Kowloon Dairy Dark Choco over Dutch Lady Choco.  I dunno, probably it feels comforting that it has less sugar.

the little menace having her fill of Macao's famous egg tarts with Dutch Lady before bedtime while lounging on Sheraton's silk sheets

2. Deli Fresh

Ooh we love this brand! I had to keep it chilled because it doesn't contain any preservatives but I could easily finish a bottle in one sitting.  It's naturally sweet and inevitably addicting. If I didn't have to worry about my heavy belly at the time we were at the HK port, I would have bought more.  Mixed berry and Pink guava (with yummy pear) are my top picks.   

Deli Fresh helped me forget about leg fatigue for a while
 3. Kagome Vegetable Fruit Juice Drink

More tart than sweet, this mix from Japan helped my potty training toddler poop in the hotel room after a day of not being able to do so (because she's not used to not having her cushioned potty before bedtime).  She only took this in small gulps; probably the fiber from the veggies helped.

4. Vita Apple Jasmine Tea

Jasmine tea has less caffeine compared to black tea.  This apple jasmine combo did a great job in perking me up after exploring Parisian Macao with a sleepy toddler who didn't like her stroller.  It's not too sweet nor too floral; I think it's great to have this when you're bored with water and wary about energy/sports drinks.

5. Vita Hongkong Style Milk Tea

No bubbles or crystals in it, but this blend is exciting just the way it is! Some say it's Hongkong's iconic drink.  I had to remind myself to limit my intake to just one carton though :/

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Product Review: UV Care Family Toothbrush Sterilizer

It's Project Mommyger's blogversary and I'm so happy to be one of her UV Care raffle winners :) 

Hassle-free delivery! A welcome addition to our new home

We've been using UV Care Family Toothbrush Sterilizer for a week now and I must agree that sanitizing our toothbrushes has never been easier. It can sanitize all our toothbrushes in one go; sometimes I even pop my plastic night guard in! 

Here are the Top 5 things I love about the UV Care Toothbrush Sterilizer:

1. It has been tested to kill harmful bacteria and germs circulating in the bathroom air/water that may get into your toothbrush.  My toddler who's obsessed with toothbrushing still can't spit properly so she gets to ingest some of the toothpaste/water on her brush.  Now I don't have to dip her brush in hot water anymore and wait for it to cool before brushing.

2. It has UVC lamps that will last up 8000 hours and comes with a 6-month warranty. The germicidal ultraviolet light promises to significantly reduce up to 99.9% of the germs it comes in contact with on toothbrushes and I was surprised you don't have to keep it lit the entire day.  

3. Our toothbrushes smell nice and clean when they come out of the sterilizer :)) Somehow my gum bleeding has been reduced after using it. Swollen gums, which may be sore and more susceptible to bleeding, are common during pregnancy. According to the American Pregnancy Association, this type of gingivitis is caused by the hormonal changes that increase the blood flow to the gum tissue, making it more sensitive, irritable, and swollen.

4. It's portable and lightweight; even my toddler can carry it up to her bathroom if she wants.  For travelling, you have the option to use batteries with it.

5. It's easy to operate.  The lamp will switch off automatically after seven minutes of cleansing.  Or if for some reason you have to leave asap and postpone the sanitation process, you can just press the same button and switch it off.

I'm really impressed... we'll try the multipurpose sterilizer soon for my newborn in November!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

RIP Ms. Amelyn

I'm grateful to God I've had the privilege of working with some of the best in of those is Ms. Amelyn Veloso.  The niece of beautyqueen turned newscaster Cathy Veloso-Santillan, she shared that at a young age she knew she wanted a life in broadcasting too.  It was her calling.

Amelyn & Aya. Amelyn always joked she could pass as one of my sisters.
I first got the chance to work with her in TV5's daily noontime program Balitaang Tapat with Raffy Tulfo.  She always came in early, sometimes even earlier than the makeup artist! I could still recall the clean scent of her shampoo (I couldn't help but smell it when she had her hair blowdried while I retouched my eyeliner) & makeup brush cleansers in the dressing room. She was very particular about neatness and the products that she used.

Despite being a neat-freak, she never complained about the stuff that she had to do on-cam or the sacrifices she had to endure in the process of getting good stories and producing interesting segments. I remember she had a segment before where she had to cook awesome budget-friendly meals in challenging locations.  It was amazing how she could make it seem like a breezy ad for corned beef and noodles even without the aircon and diva lights.

Busy veteran anchors seldom have the time to talk to weather girls but Amelyn often managed to compliment me when I'm wearing something flattering or when she chanced upon one of my early morning segments. Aside from work, she freely gave advice on clothes, colors, feng shui, party planning, dieting, travelling, acupuncture, education.. basically everything under the sun.  I actually miss hanging out in the makeup room with her.

Here are the top5 things I will never forget about Amelyn:

1. MTRCB warnings

We were instructed to be careful about what we wear and how we dance (yes, dance) in some of our segments in the morning.  Our producer would usually issue a warning slip or memo whenever we do/wear something that is bordering on being obscene.  Amelyn joked about it and said: "Bakit ako pag naka plunging neckline hindi binibigyan ng memo? Sasayaw din ako next time sa segment ko parang sa Willing Willie." 

2. F and P

One of my haters online mentioned an imagined speech problem, saying I have a problem with Fs and Ps.  Amelyn thought it was so funny "Fat Pernandez faano pan mo siya?!" and we kept laughing about it.

3. Her roommate from Pampanga

Amelyn often shared snippets of her college life: from how Karen Davila's jeans have always been the object of envy of her peers to how naughty boys from the other wing of their UP dorm tried to catch her gorgeous roommate from Pampanga naked (she's from a prominent business family). Without makeup and in jeans, Amelyn actually looked like a teenager while telling these stories.

4. Banter with Sir Jing on Daybreak

She's quite careful with her image on-cam and there was this instance where she was put on the spot to talk about girls and cars. It was so funny how she hesitated for three beats and blushed after saying something with a double meaning. But everything appeared wholesome when it was Amelyn so no one really noticed.

5. Sweets in the Ref

She bakes gluten-free bread and makes almond milk. When I shifted to evening news, she gave me a cake as a farewell present.

She was really always cheerful. Until one day I noticed her skin was peeling; she sort of avoided me and focused more on work. I asked her why she had to wear a wig and why she had grey circles under her eyes; she said she just felt it was fashionable and the discolouration was just the effect of trying too many beauty products.  She never admitted to me how grave her condition was; she probably knew I would easily get upset and cry over stuff.  Everytime I got colds, she would hand me a mask and advise me to take more fluids and rest.

The last message I ever received from her was a compliment on how great I was in managing my weight & breastfeeding.

She will be sorely missed.  Angels in heaven are lucky they'll get to party with her.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Cotai Jet vs. Turbo Jet

To sail or not to sail, that is the question.

We had second thoughts about riding the ferry from HK to Macao and back because:
1. I'm pregnant & I might throw up/ experience contractions
2. The toddler might not like it
3. My mom-in-law who volunteered to chaperone us on our quest in making my daughter's 23rd monthsary (& our babymoon) memorable has a history of seasickness
4. We have a huge luggage that my husband had to manage on his own

Yet despite all these, we still pushed on with our ferry ride arguing that it's better to see the Dreamworks Parade and the Eiffel of Asia compared to HK OceanPark at this point in our lives.  I've been to OceanPark before so I don't really mind delaying my second trip to the theme park :p  We thought it might be better to visit OceanPark and the Peak when the kids are much older and when the weather is much cooler.  (August is super warm & humid ugh)

I've tried Turbo Jet before but Cotai Jet had a promo for full paying adults when you purchase tickets in advance via their new app.  The app offered a bigger discount compared to their Mastercard and senior citizen/infant promos so it was more practical to buy 4 adult tickets through the said app.

We were happy with the discounts but my mom-in-law wasn't too pleased with the boat ride :/ She really felt queasy as the ferry was relatively smaller to that of Turbo Jet so you could actually feel the rough waves as you sail.  But lucky for me and my little one, we were able to sleep for most of the trip so we didn't feel much of the seasickness. Chewy ginger candy and chocolate milk also helped distract my little one.

We landed in a neat port in Taipa (where some Macao planes also land) and easily my mom-in-law's dizziness melted away. Leji said byebye cheerfully to the blue jet and we hopped on to our free bus to Cotai Strip.

Going home though, we committed several mistakes:
1. We failed to book in advance through the Cotai Jet app.  We didn't know weekend tickets sellout faster than weekday tickets even on a ghost month. Even Turbo Jet advanced tickets were sold out on Klook (or probably their cutoff was earlier than 12 midnight :/)
2.  We weren't able to avail of the Mastercard promo.  Even if it says on their fliers that you could purchase discounted tickets via the Sheraton ticketing booth/ concierge, on the day itself they refused to honor the said promo (well I checked the flier and I noticed the disclaimer in small print that they could cancel the promo anytime:/).
3. We thought we could avail of the direct ferry route to the HK airport. Good thing hubby was able to read online that that port only had access to PAL and Cathay Pacific flights not Cebu Pacific :(
4. We assumed that there was just one Macao port and we thought we could ride there going to Tsim Sha Tsui port (to visit the HK Science Museum before heading to the airport).  We rode the wrong Cotai bus and landed on the less baby friendly Outer Macao port :/ We availed of the senior & baby discounts (15% off) on the Turbo Jet counter. We found out there were no Cotai Jets for that port. When we got to HK, it was so challenging to find the train with the luggage and a stroller in tow. The taxis wouldn't let us ride to Tsim Sha Tsui because they say they could only service mainland routes.

Turbo Jet was also stricter with the weight of the bags; we had to pay extra for carrying souvenirs in our luggage even if it was just one luggage for the four of us.  Hubby didn't have to worry about it though during the boat ride and my mom-in-law found it more pleasant that the boat was relatively bigger compared to Cotai Jet.

We wasted so much time scurrying for the elevator we didn't have time left to explore the Science Museum. Unlike in Singapore where the elevators are usually in the middle of things, in HK you have to search from end to end to be able to find the right one.

We ended up in the wrong side of Tsim Sha Tsui--HK Peninsula side where they are doing so much repairs it was quite scary to take the baby there:/ We found out that the HK Space Museum only catered to Cantonese speakers that afternoon and ended up buying food in the Food Truck Festival outside near the construction area blocking the Victoria Harbour. We used our luggage as a mini table as the person in the Space Museum concierge would only accept luggage if you avail of their actual tickets; they don't care if you buy souvenirs from their store that could actually cost more than the ticket itself.

We were too tired and frustrated we didn't have energy left to explore the Arts and Culture building nearby. But we were amused to see so much people with kids outside despite the construction and the heat in that area.  They weren't eating so we figured they might be into Pokemon Go or something.
After our brief meal (in fairness, the burgers were juicy and tasty) we decided to take an Uber to the airport.  We were too flustered for another train ride.

Looking back, I should have just booked a direct flight from Macao to Manila so we could have skipped the ferry going home.. that Cebu Pacific flight on a weekend wasn't worth all the trouble.  I guess it's really better to plan the itinerary ahead before booking.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Chasing Penguins in Macao

After our brief encounter with Disney characters in Hongkong, we decided to take a CotaiJet to Macao to chase after DreamWorks' lovable mascots.  Weekday tickets purchased through their android app were discounted :)) too bad we weren't able to get our weekend tickets going home through that app :/ They do it on a first come first served basis.

Afterwhich, we took the free hotel bus to Cotai Strip.  They have a meet and greet session around lunchtime in Paradise Garden where I got to hug penguins from Madagascar and more :p

Leji was scared of the penguins but I was just beaming with glee. haha!

with Pinoy Vikings!

Leji loved identifying the colors of the flowers in the garden

She recognized some of the characters from the movies we've seen

There's also a dance parade of the characters daily at 4pm inside the mall's premises.  Leji didn't mind being roused from her afternoon nap with all the lively music and excited kids.  The characters all danced with so much energy all throughout the stretch especially Po the Panda and Alex the Lion. They even handed out free balloons; it was pretty amazing.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Leji's 23rd at Hongkong Disneyland

Leji loves Disney Junior.  For her first birthday, we decided to have a Minnie Mouse-themed Boracay escape at Jony's at Station 1.  Seldom do I get to have vacations with my family because of our schedules. The last time I went to Boracay with my mom was 2003 when I passed the UPCAT & it was my sister's birthday; my in-laws on the other hand have never been there. Cancelling all my shoots/events was worth it as we enjoyed our island hopping immensely. Leji rolled in the hotel bed everytime she craved for it as the hotel was conveniently just across the beach!

For her second birthday, we decided to take her to Hongkong Disneyland. We only visited Oceanpark when I joined a leisure tour back in college; and for Ms. International 2008, we were too busy with dinners and shoots for HKTV so we didn't have time for theme parks.  It's also my first time in the most toddler-friendly Disneypark in the world.

My toddler loves trains & she was totally ecstatic that we allowed her to carry her Korean handbag on our way to Disney.  
We chose to have it a month ahead of her second birthday so she could enjoy her free ride via Cebu Pacific (infants younger than 2 ride free!) I'm also approaching my 7th month of pregnancy so I guess it's safer to travel this month than next (my OB mentioned that my 2nd might also be born a preemie just like Leji).

Since it was a really hot summer day with occasional showers, we opted to run to the airconditioned part of the park.  We decided to see "It's a Small World" first & it didn't disappoint.  

It was heartwarming to hear the dolls sing in Filipino in a bahay kubo!

Our favorite Stitch!

A well-lit pastel display for the finale
Leji loved the attraction so much, she requested us to do it again!

Candies from 711 helped keep us going despite the heat and rain.
Next, we joined the Lion Festival in the safari themed theater.  The characters were superb singers & the floats were spectacular; but Leji needed to nap.

The dimly-lit theater was perfect for her to rest.

Jungle animals!
We purchased our meal via Klook where we were able to get discounts & we enjoyed our ice lollies under the banyan tree serenaded by the playful birds.

Choco-coated Vanilla Mickey, Choco-crusted Strawberry Banana Minnie & Blueberry Stitch! Other food items from 711 outside Disneyland.

Dinnertime was magical too after watching Mickey's storybook show, strolling across the enchanted gardens & sailing with Pooh before the afternoon parade.
castle-themed foodcourt with international cuisine!
Leji finished everything on her plate!

We capped off the evening in Tomorrowland where Daddy got to enjoy his Star Wars ride.  Leji loved the orbiting planets and was amused with the red humidifiers.

At 9pm, I was so tired & sat on the pavement; Daddy and Lola were left to chase after hyper Leji. The waiting was all worth it; the fireworks display made me so sentimental I cried. Here's a snippet of it.

We left Disney icky and sweaty but with our hearts full.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Brush Your Teeth!

Leji loves Elmo. She started watching Elmo's World and Furchester Hotel even before she had teeth. And I'm very fortunate they have this music video of the lovable red furry creature brushing his teeth (or should I say black gums?) every day and every night. It's one of Leji's favorite songs.

Elmo: Brush Your Teeth!

Her first tooth erupted quite late at five months with the help of pedia prescribed fluoride water.  She hated tooth wipes & the teethers/pacifiers. Just like the baby bottle, she hates stuff which make her look like a baby. She finds them insulting :/  The song helped her to be comfortable with the idea of us massaging her swollen gums with a baby toothbrush and strawberry-flavored Sans Fluo.

We tried having her sit on a dentist's chair several times but she still wouldn't open her mouth in front of the dentist.  It's fortunate that at 23 months she's still partially breastfed; breastmilk helped keep her teeth healthy despite her love for juice and chocolate cake. I'm also grateful to the composer/artists/musicians behind Elmo's music videos.  I believe You Tube could still be helpful to toddlers when it's used under strict parental supervision.