Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Treasure Hunt

Why haven't I shared this Christmas idea before?! Bad, bad, motherblogger!

We have this little tradition every Christmas. Instead of the usual gifts under the tree or the typical post-dinner exchange gifts among family and friends, we do gift-giving with a little challenge. We do treasure hunting!
The boys wake up on Christmas morn to a map I've carefully drawn some clues on. When they were younger, the clues were more direct. I drew a washing machine, so the gifts were in the washing machine. This year, I've employed a little devious misleading. The Christmas ball would let them think the gifts are behind the tree, but they're actually in the Christmas ornament box in my husband's work shed; the Disney Infinity logo would let them think the gifts are somewhere near the wii console, but they're actually in the car where they put a Disney Infinity sticker early this year.
Next year, I plan to add puzzles and maybe some challenges to the treasure hunt. Maybe like jumping through hoops of fire or something. Lol!

And did I say this Christmas hunt makes for one of the most awesome family bonding? :)

For extra Christmas fun, add a little spice to your gift-giving with a little treasure hunting. I guarantee, that present will be one your kids will treasure forever.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Papier Macheniacs: Universal Fun!

First day of the Christmas break and we're already taking on the world! *tu-dug... tsss!*

Presenting, completely in 3D, a papier mache Universal Pictures logo! Kenji has a thing for logos, specially when he's making one of his epic home movies. :P

This, by far, is our messiest creation yet. Mainly because we had to sculpt the letters. We didn't need to, but we like to challenge ourselves. We love getting down and dirty, too.

First, we did a pencil draft of the letters on a flexible cardboard. Huge emphasis on 'flexible'. You're going to need to bend this on your globe later on. If you're as lazy as me, you can do this freehand.

Then, the letter-sculpting. We dipped paper towel strips in glue, and shaped them ever so messily to form each letter. Very tricky. And drips everywhere! Be ready with a damp wash cloth to quickly wipe them away before they harden on your furniture's surface. You can tell my kids love this part.

Once you're happy with the shape and uniformity of your letters, stick the board on a plastic or rubber ball. For that 3D treatment we were going for, we used cut and rolled newspaper taped on the ball and the letter board to give both items distance from one another.

After that --you know the drill. Papier mache time! Remember, use tough paper towels and good, spreadable glue. And really, really work in between those letters' nooks and crannies.

Painting time is definitely my boys' favourite part (second to making a mess with letter-scuplting, that is). The ball rolls away so you have to put it on a stand. We used a simple plastic cup to sit the ball on while painting.
We followed some of the essential parts of the Universal Pictures' globe, but since this is 3D, much of the back part we did out of whim.

See? Philippines, represent! However geographically incorrect. Lol!

So there you have it --our very own Universal Pictures' logo in 3D!
I'll make sure to post Kenji's home movie soon. In the meantime, Miro is planning our next Papier Macheniacs project. Stay tuned for a crafty holiday!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Sparklelab's YULEanda

We've been huge fans of the Sparklelab Toy and Game-making club since it opened its doors to all creative kids out there.
But yesterday, that fan factor went up another notch. The kids were making toys to be given as Christmas presents to the young survivors of Yolanda. What a brilliant idea!

Thrilled with the concept of creating and giving, my boys set off to complete the task at hand.

Kenji was making a school bus.

Miro was making a rocket. No, a robot. Wait... a ray gun! Or, or a telescope! Miro was having an idea overload. lol!

2 hours later... just WHOA...
It's cool how with a whole lot of imagination in that packed room, simple household materials transformed into these.

Kenji's bus had a drawable surface, "So the kids can draw passengers!", Kenji excitedly said. But... he ended up drawing the passengers himself. Haha!

Out of his gazillion ideas, Miro chose to make two toys. A toss-and-catcher, and a pair of goggles. The lenses of the goggles turn. "So the kids can choose if they want to see in focus or to add shine, like when they're watching stars.", he says.

Cue proud mimi moment here. :)

I call this a successful event!
Thanks, Sparklelab for giving us a well-spent Saturday.
And to the young Yolanda survivors ...A HAPPY, PLAYFUL CHRISTMAS FROM ALL OF US!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Harina, Haven for the Breaditarian

WARNING: Drooling on your keyboard can be dangerous to your wealth.

With that out of the way...

Harina, a quaint little House of Flour in White Plains Quezon City, sits where Monsee's used to be. The very spot where I was Foodie for a day and given a tour de devour of their best bread-based fare. This blogger was immensely pleased.

The tour started with what I would call the best BREADSTICKS in the land. It comes with dips of cream and chocolate. But it's perfect even on its own.

Then, the tour went big --with the mammoth serving of the BLOOMIN' BREAD. Crusty pull-apart Italian loaf filled with basil puree and an assortment of melted cheese, and partnered with a dip of balsamic vinegar and extra virgin oil. It's the kind of goodness you'll love to share.

Next came the CHICKEN CAESAR SANDWICH. Grilled Cajun chicken and lettuce in Caesar dressing topped with poached egg,bacon and parmesan cheese in a bed and blanket of baguette. Rich and tasty with delectable texture.

Time for a sweet breaker. Say, a STRAWBERRY-CHEESECAKE STUFFED FRENCH TOAST. Cheesecake-filled brioche hugged by whip cream and strawberry preserves. YUM is an understatement.

The ideal follow up to that came in a fine and filling flaky pastry called the WALDORF SANDWICH. Filled to the brim with chicken, red and green apples and chopped walnuts in mayo, it gives a Summer-y warm feeling in every bite.

Okay... breakfast time! :P Harina serves all-day breakfast and this BREAKFAST TART is that treat you'd like to have any time. It's a puff pastry shell generously covered in cream cheese, spinach, baked tomatoes, bacon, and eggs. For a guaranteed good morning... or good night.

The tour ended on a sweet note with PEANUT BUTTER, BANANA AND CHOCOLATE STUFFED FRENCH TOAST. To die for. Seriously. Wheat honey walnut French toast stuffed with creamy peanut butter, sliced bananas and chocolate spread. It was an utterly lovely finale.

But, just like any top-billed concert, Harina just had to have an encore. Always have room for even more desserts, I always say!

To keep us overjoyed, Harina served STRAWBERRY CREAM CHEESE BROWNIES!

And then plates upon plates of BLUEBERRY, PEANUT BUTTER, AND CHOCOLATE LAMINATED CRONUTS, just so we never ever come down from Harina heaven.

I promised to come back with my family in tow. We are a 'bready bunch' so we will definitely feel at home here.

Oh, and look ... school 'baon'! :)

There are all these and more at the Harina Artisan Bakery Cafe, where bread is simply made better.
But why take my word for it when you can come over and have a glorious taste yourself? You might even go for seconds. Or thirds.

Thanks for having me, Harina! This delicious day just made me want to switch to food blogging. *burp*

Friday, November 29, 2013

FROZEN: Plot Twist Extraordinaire!

You have been warned...

What is that one thing we loved about Disney's Frozen? PLOT TWISTS!
I mean, like always, you walk into a Disney movie with your kids thinking, "Oh, this is gonna be a love story... princess meets prince... they fall in love... evil appears... prince saves the day... kissy-poo... yadda-yadda... happily ever after." It's the time-tested, child-loved, money-making formula and Disney isn't about to break that!
Or so we thought.

With Frozen, all manner of rule-breaking was made to give families a spanking new taste of kiddie movie awesomeness!

First off, we knew Princess Anna had to have a love of her life (because that's just how it's supposed to be!). So Disney went on misleading us into believing it was...

PRINCE HANS. The first person to ever fill the void in this innocent yet love-struck girl's heart. It was a whirlwind romance. Yet we didn't question it.

But then there's also... KRISTOFF. Ice entrepreneur, mountain man, deer impersonator, and troll friend. He had googley eyes on Anna the whole mountain trip. It even warranted a lavish song number!

And... OLAF.
"Some people are worth melting for..." --this tear-jerker of a line made us all think Olaf, the naive snowman, might just have a shot at a love affair with Anna. Then we took a step back, shook our heads, and said... "Naaah..."

Who would've thought that LOVE doesn't have to be the usual 'guy meets girl' kind of love. Love can be SIBLING LOVE! And that totally blew us away! Boy, you had us there, Disney!
It totally sent a good message to our children, too. About loving each other because someday, they won't have anyone else but each other. A movie with a sincerely fresh and relevant message. Fabulous.

Another genius twist was naming the real bad guy in the movie.

Was it QUEEN ELSA? Uber powerful, snow-wielding freak of nature.

Was it the DUKE OF WESTLETON? A trader made mad with greed, power, and thugs.

Was it PRINCE HANS? 13th son of... OK, HANG ON! The number 13 is the most obvious clue in this riddle. 13! Bad luck! Duh. He's the bad dude! Geez.

But seriously, my boys were all, like, "WHOA!" the whole time in the theatre. In this day and age when nothing seems to surprise kids anymore, Frozen shattered our comfort zones with impeccable storytelling and pacing.

There's only one way to deliver the coolest plot twists in animation. Mittens down, it's FROZEN.
If you haven't seen it, do so. If this post ruined it all for you, sorry though. :P

Monday, November 25, 2013

Papier Macheniacs: CIRCLE TIME (feat. Wheatley)

Another Papier Macheniacs entry right here!

When it comes to papier mache weekends, the ball is in my kids' court. They decide what project we're going to pull. But for this session, I thought I'd make a little game out of it --since the character they chose actually begs for it. :P

Wheatley is a Portal 2 video game character created with an intimidating British accent, and constructed with predominantly circular shapes. As you know, we don't stick to paper when making papier mache sculptures. What can I say --we're rebels. Lol! So, I challenged my boys to hunt around the house for ready-to-throw-away circular objects which we can re-purpose to be parts of our very circular Wheatley project.
Secretly, this means getting rid of a lot of junk we accumulate in this hoarder household. And, the task teaches them to recycle. Sweet strategy, doncha think? PARENTING SCORE!

Excitedly, my boys went on the hunt!
They were pretty good! You'll see how their stash came into play in our Wheatley papier mache sculpture:

They talked me into giving up a couple of my ancient bangles. I gave in. I had to be fair. :)

To wrap it up, here are this week's Papier Macheniacs Tips:
1. Don't stick to paper materials. As long as it's light, kid-friendly, and glue can stick to it, it's usable.
3. Make a game out of it. Have fun! Or, should I say... Have a ball?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

#YolandaPH: How can your kids help

Us parents will always have the tendency to shelter our children from the ills of the world. That's natural. But at some point, you will have to allow them to realize that life is not all unicorns and rainbows. You will have to open their eyes (in a PG kind of way) to real issues that happen around them. Specially those where they can actually make a difference.

We showed photos of the Yolanda disaster that befell Tacloban, Philippines to our boys. And told them that they can help the little kids who have lost their homes. And their toys. They were more than willing. These are simple ways, but they do go a long way --for the kids in Tacloban and for your kids as well.

1. Your kids can help by deciding for themselves which of their old toys they're willing to donate.

2. Your kids can do the sorting. One box for baby toys, another box for older kids' toys, and so on.

3. They can personalize, like the photo above. This is just a touch that my boys wanted to do and I think it adds a ton of heart to the effort.

4. If your kids are big enough, they can join their school's donation repacking drive for Yolanda victims. This usually happens in school after classes or over the weekend.

These may look like little things, but they're huge for your children. That sense of responsibility and compassion to help others in need is just bigger than anything else.  Plus, you've made a bunch of other children smile.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Imagination Doors

And now a word from my son.

Sometimes it takes an honest, compassionate child's view to make us see something in a totally different light. No high-falluting scientific terms, no medical horror stories, no psychological drama. 
That's how you understand a condition, that's how you understand a person.

Adults, specially those in authority, should take some cues from children. Who knows, maybe you're using too much logic that you've totally lost out on heart. For a different perspective, maybe it's time to open our own doors.

PS. And yes, I am very, very, overwhelmingly proud of my boy. :)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Lowdown on Nickelodeon Takotown

The Nickelodeon Halloween Event is like our holiday mecca. There are other Halloween parties we attend, but THIS is the big thing we look forward to. It's like Octoberfest. But with candies.

This year, Nickelodeon billed its event as TAKOTOWN, the Pinoy Halloween.
By Pinoy, this meant...

A creepy welcoming committee of demonyos, impaktas, tiyanaks, and aswangs perched at the gate --throwing bags and bags of candies at you. This was the bomb!

An array of game booths called Sari-sari store (which has you hitting targets on shelves using a slingshot --FUN!), Vulcanizing shop (which has you tossing balls through tire hoops), and Barberya (which has you donning bald dolls on barber chairs with wigs while blindfolded --how whacked is that?! Lol!)

And one of the hosts wearing a barong.

Other than those, this Nickelodeon fest is still what it's always been.

Long lines of fantabulously-costumed kids.

Hefty loads of sweets! We got a lot from Kinder Joy and Lipps --my boys' favourites!

And a dance number by --no, not Spongebob this time-- THE TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES!!!! Yes, they're there! You just can't see them much because... DOY! They're ninjas.

Now, the lowdown. While Takotown gave us better access to treats than last year's Fright Fest, Fright Fest was a lot more festive in feel and decor. Takotown's walls were a little bare for my Halloween taste. So I guess Nickelodeon's 2011 Planet Scream still rules our Nick list. See why here.

Don't get me wrong. We still had fun. But it could have been ...you know, FUN-er. Here's hoping for a Planet Scream Repeat next year! Woohoo!!!