Boodle Fight Night

Boodle Fight Night

I had my first Boodle Fight meal. I can’t believe that I have never engaged in the style of eating before, especially since I am Filipino. It was a great and delicious experience.

Boodle Fight is a Philippine military style of eating a meal. It’s a style of eating that celebrates camaraderie and brotherhood (or in our case, sisterhood). Banana leaves are laid out on the table  (usually a long table) and food is served in a pile in the middle. No plates are used. You use the banana leaves that are on your side as your “plate”. You also don’t use utensils. You use your hands to eat which is called Kamayan. Kamay is the Filipino word for hand. Traditionally, Filipinos eat food with bare hands which is a a centuries old practice. It’s messy but fun.

So how did this Boodle Fight Night come to fruition? Well, every year, my friends and I get together for our birthdays. This year, we decided to do wine and game night which later turned into seafood night and eventually turned into a Boodle Fight night. As you can see, we added wine to our Boodle Fight.

We had king crab, shrimp and corn on the cob. We also added some roasted garlic to the pile. The sauce was delicious and even a little spicy.

There were only 5 of us. Boodle Fight is best when done with a big group of people. However, our little sisterhood of 5 women  was perfect for this night. We had plenty of food and even some leftover shrimp and corn.

What a great way to celebrate camaraderie with your friends.

Today I am grateful for sisterhood, camaraderie and Boodle Fight Nights.

Our afternoon tea tradition

My best friend from high school, Marylisa, and I have a tradition of trying new places for afternoon tea. We have been to many places for afternoon tea together. In the San Fernando Valley, there was a place called “The Guilded Rose”. It was a purple house and inside it was like an English cottage. They served afternoon tea and that was always our place to go. Unfortunately, they closed down and that is when we started looking for other places to go for afternoon tea. The places we have tried in the past were the Huntington Library, the Four Seasons, the Chado Tea Room and the Elle C Garden Cafe in Santa Clarita.

Cute tea cup and saucer

This year we tried the Madeline Garden Bistro in Pasadena. This restaurant had a very European feel to it because of it’s decor and atmosphere. It was tres chic.  We ordered the Royal afternoon tea and it was very different than the usual tea sandwiches,  scones and dessert. This tea offered a soup or salad, a hot tier, a cold tier, scones and dessert. For my tea, I ordered Earl Grey. That was unusual for me because I usually like to order teas that I haven’t tried before and that have an unusual combination. I still enjoyed it and as usual, I added milk and sugar to my tea. Delicious.

The first course came out and it was actually the scones. We ended up saving that for later and then our soup and salad came out. I chose the tomato soup.

You say tomato, I say tomato…soup

Then the tiers came out. The first tier was the hot tier which included steak, potatoes au gratin, a hot crab salad and shrimp.

the hot tier

We started on the hot tier, of course. Then the next tier was the cold tier.

so cold

This tier included the tea sandwiches that I always look forward to. The sandwiches that were included in this tier were the salmon and butter tea sandwich and the  cucumber and cream cheese tea sandwich. There was also a caprese salad skewer and a shrimp cocktail.

Since we saved our scone for later, after our cold tier, we decided to eat our scone with the clotted cream and jam. The waiter said it was a Christmas scone so it had pieces of dried fruit in it, like a Christmas fruitcake.  It was pretty good.

The dessert tier was next. It was very elegant. It had creme brulee, a macaroon and a chocolate brownie with frosting and peppermint sprinkles on top.

I really enjoyed this experience. I liked the European decor. Our table was set nicely. We sat on elegant couches with cute fluffy pillows. On this day, there was a guitarist playing music in the background. I would definitely go here again. They also serve tapas and champagne brunch. They have very good service and are very friendly and accommodating.  Interestingly, our royal afternoon tea came with champagne but our waiter forgot to give it to us. They apologized and gave us a discount on our bill. I think it would have been fun to drink champagne with a high tea. I will try that next time.

Paris, baby

During our trip to London, we planned a weekend getaway to Paris. We took the Eurostar which was a 2 hour train ride to Paris. When we arrived, it was already late at night. The next day was our first full day and it was raining!

Rain in Paris

Our first stop was to a restaurant that Sabrina really wanted to try. This restaurant only serves steak and fries (steak et frites). Sabrina really enjoyed the food at this restaurant and the experience was so Paris. It was also Josh’s first time eating steak and he thought it was delicious.

We then took a walk to see the Eiffel Tower and on the way, we passed the Arc De Triomphe.

On the way to the Eiffel Tower, we also stopped at the stores to go shopping. We also bought macaroons at Laderee.

Inside the Laderee boutique

Our macaroons

My choices for the macaroons were orange blossom, vanilla and rose. Even though vanilla is a basic flavor, it ended up being my favorite because it was the most flavorful.

We finally made it to the Eiffel Tower.

The next day, we took a walk to see the Louvre. On our way, we passed the Eiffel Tower again and this time, we had crepes for breakfast.

Chantilly Crepe for breakfast under the Eiffel Tower

We finally made it to the Louvre.

Unfortunately, we didn’t go inside.  We were talking about seeing the Mona Lisa. Maybe next time. Afterwards, we went inside the Carousel De Louvre to go window shopping.  While there, we stopped at McCafe and ordered cappuccinos and macaroons. They weren’t as good as the Laderee macaroons but it was fun  to buy macaroons at McDonalds in Paris!

McCafe coffee and McMacaroons!

I loved visiting Paris and I will certainly go again.

 

 

London, baby…

We spent our Thanksgiving holiday week in London with a weekend getaway to Paris. The reason for our visit? To visit my daughter, Sabrina, who is living in London currently while she works on her Master’s degree in Public Policy and Management at Kings College.

The original plan was for my son, Josh and I to stay in her flat. She lives in student housing. She shares a flat with about 7 flatmates. She has her own room with a bathroom and they share the kitchen and common area. I was really excited to stay with her in her flat even though it is a small room and we would be very crowded. It turned out that it wasn’t in the plan and instead, my daughter got us an Airbnb in Bermondsey. In Bermondsey, we were right by the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. On one of our days in Bermondsey, my son and I spent a day at the Tower of London while my daughter was in class. I think his favorite part of the Tower of London was learning about the knights, seeing their armor and touching the chain mail and seeing the weapons that they used. We walked on the Tower Bridge to get to the Tower of London and then afterwards, we did more strolling and sight seeing.

Josh strolling through London with the Tower Bridge as his view.

Josh at the Tower of London

We also spent a day sight seeing with my daughter. Living in London, she knew all the places to go and how to get there by walking (which we did A LOT of) or by taking the tube. Our first stop was to eat fish and chips at Fish! Kitchen at the Borough Market.

We then took the tube and our stop was Westminister to see Big Ben and Westminister Abbey.

Big Ben was under construction at the time of our visit so I didn’t get to really see it. We thought that was funny since it was one of the attractions I really wanted to see. We then took a walk to to see the London Eye and then another walk to Sabrina’s school, Kings College.

Sabrina at Kings College

At night, we went shopping at Oxford Street.

The next day was spent taking a brisk (one hour) walk to Sabrina’s school. We had a lot of fun walking and Josh had a great time running and jumping through the crunchy fall leaves.

While Sabrina was working on a project at school, Josh and I went to Somerset House to go ice skating. I think this was Josh’s favorite part of the trip. He was so excited! The ice was great and the weather and scenery was delightful.

We also went to Winter Wonderland at Hyde park at night. We had fun shopping for candy, playing games and walking around the park.

Our first few days in London was fun and exciting. It was a wonderful experience. Our next adventure was a weekend trip to Paris. Stay tuned…

Book Review: My Happy Place by Sheleen Lepar and Helene Pam

Purplesplashstudios.com

I was given the opportunity to review a wonderful children’s journal. “My Happy Place” by Sheleen Lepar and Helene Pam is a self reflection and personal growth journal filled with creative exercises, activities and inspiring quotes. This journal will take your child on an exciting journey of self-discovery.

By engaging in the activities and exercises in this beautifully illustrated journal, your child will have an opportunity for personal growth and self reflection. They will have a chance to creatively express themselves through writing, drawing and coloring. In addition, each exercise will give them an insight of who they are. It will empower them and give them an awareness of their importance in this world. They will have a chance to discover their dreams and reflect on their accomplishments. In turn, this will build self confidence which leads to a better relationship with themselves and with others. It will take them on a path to happiness by teaching them the habits of happy people.

A true happy place is a place deep inside that bubbles and glistens and glows. It grows from the seed that we plant in the world when love and our gratitude flows. In our happy place, we will treasure all life and love and embrace who we are. We’ll nourish our minds and nurture our souls and radiate light like a star”- Helene Pam

There are 4 sections of this journal. One is self reflection. The exercises in this section will help a child discover their inner beauty, reflect on the things that they like about themselves and the things that make them happy as well as express their dreams and things that they are grateful for. The next section is school and hobbies. This section helps them to write out their achievement and goals. Family and friends is another section in which they list the people that they love and how they can express that love to them. It helps them to reflect on the deeds of love and how to be more thankful. The last section is helping the world and how to help the community in big ways and little ways. It gives them ideas on how to take care of our earth and enjoy nature.

At the end of the book, the child will receive praise on completing the book along with a beautiful poem written by Helene Pam part of which states that:

Our world is connected; that’s something we share and love and compassion can spread everywhere”- Helene Pam

In reviewing this journal, I can tell that a lot of love went into the making of this journal. That it is the passion of these two women, Sheleen Lepar and Helene Pam ( a mother daughter duo) to spread happiness and inspire young minds. This journal is also well thought out. The exercises and activities contained in this book provide well researched techniques of personal growth and happiness. Not only were the exercises and activities well thought out and researched but they have a positive vibration which is important for a child. The quotes throughout the book help with self reflection. They are simple enough for a child to understand and deep enough to inspire self reflection. The two poems contained in the book and written by Helene Pam are beautiful and touching. The illustrations are beautiful and whimsical, perfect for a little child (or child at heart person) to enjoy.

The message that I received from this book is a message of love- a love of self and a love for others. When I used this journal with my 8 year old son, it made him smile throughout all the exercises. He had a great deal of introspection and then afterwards, a feeling of satisfaction as well as empowerment, confidence and happiness when he was able to see all the achievements, dreams and goals that he accomplished. My favorite page to do with him was the gratitude tree. It was enlightening as well as introspective to talk about the things he is grateful for everyday. His favorite page was the goals page. He had a great time listing his goals and taking pride in them.

My Happy Place journal is beautifully made. The colors on each page are vibrant and bold. The illustrations are beautiful, cute and whimsical. The book itself is excellent quality. In addition, the pages are of good quality. My son was able to use marker to write in his journal and it did not bleed through. This book makes a wonderful keepsake of your child’s thoughts, dreams, goals and wishes. I will treasure his writings forever.

I highly recommend this journal for your child to build self confidence, learn the habits of happy people, develop and exercise self reflection and self expression and in turn, increase empowerment.

Most importantly, the message of a love of self and a love for others is in this journal and I believe that is the best message of all.

Please visit purplesplashstudios.com/my-happy-place to check out and order this book for your child. You can also check out other wonderful books by Helene Pam and Sheleen Lepar at purplesplashstudios.com/books

Also at Purplesplashstudios.com, you can find some fun extras, such as these wonderful printables:

Don’t forget to check out Purplesplashstudios.com

on Instagram: @purple.splash.studios

on Twitter: @PurpleSplashS

on Facebook: @purplesplashstudios

on Pinterest: @PurpleSplashS

Today I am grateful for wonderful opportunities to be a part of something beautiful and inspirational. Thank you Sheleen for this wonderful opportunity to review  the “My Happy Place” Journal. 

Stay tuned for my review of the “My Gratitude and Dream Journal” also by Sheleen Lepar and Helene Pam.

Cristy’s Pride

 

My family and I attended the First Annual Cristy’s Pride Fundraiser on October 15, 2016. Cristy’s Pride is an organization which provides tutoring and nutrition to impoverished countries and communities. Below is the speech that was written for this event. It was written and given by Sabrina Shahawi, Cristy’s sister. 

Hi Everyone,

First I would like to start off by saying thank you so much for coming to our first ever annual fundraiser for Cristy’s Pride. As many of you may know, today is Cristy’s birthday and she would have been 28 years old. What a great way to celebrate her life by holding this fundraiser which was started in her honor.

I would like to start off by talking about Cristina. She was a daughter, a sister, a niece, a cousin, a friend and a very special person who made a positive impact on every person she touched while she was present on this earth. For those of you who weren’t able to meet her, know that she had a heart of gold. She sincerely cared about everyone. It was her mission to make someone’s day, week, minute and life better.  Just this past weekend, her college sorority held their annual walk in her memory. They held this walk to raise money for the scholarship that they created in her honor. It is truly amazing to see how her memory continues to live on even when she is no longer with us in the physical world.

We first founded Cristy’s Pride in 2013, the year that she passed away. Prior to her passing, she was working towards a career as a teacher. Specifically, she wanted to work as a teacher to low income areas and to offer free tutoring to her students who wished to advance their knowledge, but whose families did not have the means to do so.

We founded this organization in her honor to continue the work that she was doing here on earth. I am so happy to say that we are now serving over 400 students, across 6 different schools in our tutoring centers located in Barranquilla, Colombia. Our organization aims to prevent children from dropping out of school by using innovative teaching strategies to tutor them in mathematics, reading and writing. We work towards empowering them to reach their highest potential and to raise their self esteem in order for them to achieve their goals and dreams.

The children whom we are serving live in very poor conditions. Many of them do not have shoes and have to share their shoes with their siblings. In Colombia, schools are separated by morning and afternoon sessions. So some children go to the morning session for school and then run back home to give their shoes to their sibling so that they can attend the afternoon session of school. Since they need to go home to give their shoes to their sibling, they cannot attend our morning tutoring sessions. Today, your donations will go towards new shoes so that these children can go to school and go to tutoring. They will also go towards backpacks, school supplies and tutor funding.

We are hoping to expand our organization in either Tijuana or San Diego this upcoming year. It fills me with such happiness to see all the support present here tonight. From the bottom of my heart, I truly appreciate everyone for coming out and supporting an organization that means so much to me and my family.

To learn more about Cristy’s Pride, please visit the Cristy’s Pride website at http://www.cristyspride.com/. You can also visit the Cristy’s Pride Facebook page at Facebook/Cristy’s Pride or the Cristy’s Pride at Twitter.com/CristysPride

Today I am grateful for helpful people and the ability to help others.

Today and everyday… I am grateful for FAMILY

Halloween party food ideas

If you are in need of some ideas on how to decorate Halloween food and tables,  here are some examples of our award winning Halloween food and decorating contests from years back:

We made a Jell-o “brain” and put candy eyeballs on cupcakes. 

We made spaghetti, put candy eyeballs and used a hot dog cut in half lengthwise for a tongue.

We took some wire to string cheese cubes, salami, beef jerky and tomato. We used this to decorate a witch hat. It was alot of work to string all that food. But it was also alot of fun creating with friends. 

We took some mini saugsages, wrapped them in tortilla “bandages” and dipped them in ketchup to resemble bloody fingers. We made more fingers using string cheese. We scored the cheese to create knuckles and then put the skin of a pepper for a fingernail.

We made cupcakes and to decorate them to look like a witch fell through it, we used a peppermint patty, a hersey’s kiss and some fondant for the witch’s hat. For the witch’s legs, we used a chocolate covered pretzel stick and more fondant for feet and stripes on her stockings.

For a cornucopia theme, we used tablecloths in fall colors, fake fall leaves, baskets, and pumpkins to decorate our table. 

For a darker theme, use black cloth, skulls, lights, candlesticks and necklaces to decorate the table.