Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Liebster Award: Spreading some Blogger Love!

I recently received an award, a Liebster Blog Award from one of the beauty bloggers I'm following, Shayne of Queen of All You See. This blog award aims to promote great bloggers who have less than 200 followers.

Here are the rules:

You give a Liebster Award to bloggers whom you think deserves to have more readers because you appreciate their blog. You must link back to the person who nominated you. You must answer the 10 Liebster questions given to you by the nominee before you. You must pick 10 bloggers to be nominated for the award with under 200 followers (in GFC) . You must come up with 10 questions for your nominees to answer. You must go to their blogs and notify your nominees.

Here are the bloggers I'm nominating for the award (notice there are only 8 nominees):

1. Noelfy of Noelimits - Travel blogger
2. Mustachio of Mustachioventures - Another travel blogger
3. Allen Zan of The Allen Zan - Food blogger
4. Fred Aries of The Exaggerated Zeal - Food blogger
5. Gene-use of REAlity Bites - Personal blogger
6. Justinne of Babe for Food - Food blogger
7. Jo-ann of Food Wanderings in Asia - Food and Travel blogger
8. Cheryl Love of Whatever + Wherever - Food and Travel blogger

Here are my answers to Shayne's questions:

1. Describe your blog in one word:

2. When and why did you first decide to start your blog?
I started my blog back in 2009 to keep an online account of things that I'm interested in, places I've been to, restaurants I've visited, and food I've tasted. Unfortunately due to my uber busy schedule, I could not post regularly. This is the only year that I've posted consistently for about 5 months now. I hope I can keep this up, because I'm seeing an unusually busy life in the next few weeks ahead.

3. Who are your favorite bloggers/vloggers and why do you love them?
My favorite blogger is hands down Rose of The Londoner. She is living the best kind of life and she's not haughty about it. She's very down to earth, happy, grateful, very grounded and fiercely loyal to her friends. She is also unapologetically enjoying a carefree life while working hard as a freelance social media consultant.

Rose of The Londoner

 4. Do you like Thor aka Chris Helmsworth?
Ehh. He's ok.

5. What is your favorite high-end and low-end makeup brand?
I don't own any high-end makeup products, but if I could afford it, I'd love to have YSL's Touche Eclat.
My favorite low-end makeup brand is L'oreal and my favorite product is their Lucent Magique highlighting pen.

6. What boosts your self-confidence?
Being prepared all the time - I need to know what I'm talking about all the time (this is related to my job)

7. What's in your makeup bag right now?
Human Nature Perfect Coverage Mineral Foundation
Human Nature Body Butter Cream in Mango Passion
Human Nature Tinted Lip Balm in Flame Tree and Island Kiss
Maybelline Colorsensational in Summer Sunset
Avon ExtraLasting Lipstick in Always Rose
Stabilo Highlighter
Light pink untangler comb
Couple of pens
Taxi receipts
Mother Teresa's image
Couple of hair pins
Colorful post-it notes

It's quite obvious I don't clean out my makeup kit, non?

8. What is your beauty philosophy?
Take care of your skin first, and eat the right kinds of food that will make your skin thank you

9. If someone gave you a million dollars, what is the first thing you will buy?
House and lot - for sure!

10. Suddenly there's a zombie invading your room, the first object you see on your right is a weapon. What is it?
Harry Potter's wand

Questions for my Nominees:
1. What is your three most favorite things to do?
2. Which actor/actress plays in the lifetime movie about your life?
3. It's your birthday. What's for dessert?
4. What are three blogs you read everyday?
5. What was your holiday wish list as a kid?
6. Do you have a former favorite outfit that you're now embarrassed of?
7. Who is the most interesting person you've ever met?
8. What is at the top of your bucket list?
9. What is the best and worst about blogging?
10. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? Why?

I had a great time answering the questions from Shayne, and I hope YOU will find the time to answer MY questions. Looking forward to your response! Lots of love! xx

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Mediterranean Affair at Gusto Urban Cafe + Wine Bar

One of the things I love about blogging is creating and meeting new friends from different walks of life. Last Friday night, we had a blogger meet-up at Gusto Urban Cafe + Wine Bar. I was with a couple of blogger friends and we met Joann, one of my favorite bloggers in Cebu.

It was a fun night full of fun, laughter, food, conversation, and yes you guessed it, pictures!

Here's a groupie:

Cebu bloggers
Cebu Bloggers (Allen Zan, Fred Aries, Joann and Shee)
Having declared myself a food and "lifestyle" blogger sometime ago, I decided to post outfit shots and not talk about the food. If you want to know what we think about the food and everything we ordered, head on over to Fred Aries' blog by clicking HERE.

Now, for the outfits. Girls' pictures were taken in the restaurant, while boys' pictures were taken somewhere else.

First off, Joann of Food Wanderings in Asia:

 striped peplum top, straight cut denim, turquoise flats

Next, Allen of The Allen Zan:

Blazer, graphic tee, skinnies, quirky shoes

 Fred Aries of The Exaggerated Zeal was also there:

Striped Bossini top, Orange jeans, loafers

 And then there's me:

LBD with cherries, gold and brown flats

Obviously my dress was a little too big for me, but I don't mind. I bought my dress online and I can't find it anywhere now. I bought my pair of shoes from a thrift mall in downtown Cebu.

See you soon and God bless! xx

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Skydreamer Eats: A Healthier Lifestyle with Salads

Just recently, I've had several health issues like minor back pains and occasional headaches. I've also been diagnosed as pre-hypertensive because of my sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits. I'm really scared about being sick and unhealthy so I took it upon myself to be more active and eat healthier.

The first thing I did was walk more often. Currently, I make it a point to walk at least 20 minutes total in a day. If I need to go up/down a floor in a building, I use the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Instead of riding a cab from the front of our apartment's gate, I walk to the corner of the block where I live (and it's a fairly big block) and wait for a cab there. I try to stretch every now and then, and I also make it a point to play outdoors on weekends with my son and husband.

Aside from being more active, I've also started to incorporate eating more healthy food in my diet. That means less white rice (which is full of carbohydrates with little to no amount of nutrients) and more fruits and vegetables (and desserts too, I admit - lots of sweets!). I always try to do the 80/20 rule which means that I eat healthy food 80% of the time, and all the naughty food 20% of the time. To know more about it, check Rose's blog (click HERE) for inspiration and ideas.She calls it the Anti-Diet, and I usually follow her tips about maintaining an 80/20 balance on food and activities to be healthy. I don't actually follow everything to a T, but I do my best in keeping up.

With that said, I'm going to share a couple of salads that I have created over the weekend (again, this is to make sure I'm eating more greens and less grains).

Mediterranean Salad
I call my first one, the Mediterranean salad mainly because a lot of European Instagrammers inspired me to come up with the mix.
For my greens, I used kale, baby arugula, lettuce and alugbati (a type of vine spinach).
I added a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, and a dash of salt and pepper.
I tossed it with homegrown tomatoes.
I added a few slices of prosciutto di parma and gruyere.

mediterranean salad at www.diningincebu.blogspot.com
Skydreamer's Mediterranean Salad

Greens - Pre-packed, purchased from Rustan's Fresh, Ayala Center Cebu
Prosciutto Di Parma (Parma Ham) - Purchased from the Deli Section of Rustan's Fresh (I only bought 100g and this is just 1/3 of the ham I purchased)
Gruyere - Purchased from Rustan's Fresh, 100g for about P100 - I only used 1/6 of the cheese I purchased

What I Think: I loved this salad! It's savory, and the parma ham complemented the earthy taste of the greens and the nutty taste of the cheese. This one's a keeper, and I'll probably make more in the coming weeks.

Tropical Salad
This second salad's dressing was inspired by Patty Laurel's Instagram picture. I can't link it here, but you can look for her in IG @pattylaurel.
For my greens, I used the remaining ones from the pack I bought in Rustan's.
I topped it with homegrown tomatoes and seedless grapes.
For my dressing, I used a teaspoon of olive oil, a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, half a teaspoon of brown sugar, and a drizzle of honey (Patty used balsamic vinegar and I substituted mine with apple cider and brown sugar as it was readily available from our pantry).

tropical salad at www.diningincebu.blogspot.com
Skydreamer's Tropical Salad

What I Think: I didn't really like the sour/vinegary flavor. I mean, what did I expect, right? I added vinegar after all. It's ok, I guess. I was fine with the honey, but not so much on the vinegar.

I think I'll stick with the Mediterranean salad.
But you take your pick.
Try both of my creations or create your own salad with your preferred toppings/meat/fruits and your favorite dressing! Either way, let me know how it goes! xx

Monday, July 22, 2013

Skydreamer Dines in Cebu: Cafe Sarree

Yesterday, li'l sister-in-law wanted to take us out to dinner, along with Ate Yvette (also known as Yvette Yzon, a Filipina actress) and family friend. Since I was just gushing all about Pizzeria Michelangelo last week, I naturally suggested that we have dinner there; however, sis-in-law had other plans. She wanted us to try Cafe Sarree, located right next to my favorite pizza place in Escario Central (*hint hint* - beside Pizzeria Michelangelo). She has been forever raving about this place even before she moved to the States but I never found the time to drop by.

The place is homey, but seemed too small so we decided to stay outside.

cafe sarree
Outside where the air is fresh

yvette yzon
He won't let go of Ate Yvette's hand
While waiting for our order to arrive, we bought some fluffy looking ensaimada from Brioche, a bakery just across Cafe Sarree. We opened it excitedly, used our forks to take small pieces, and -------- silence.
Too dry, no hint of cheese. And this small pack cost us P240. Too much, it's just too much. Tsk tsk.

brioche ensaimada
Ensaimada from Brioche - DRY
With the ensaimada forgotten after that disappointing first bite, we got a little too excited when they served our cheese pate. It was to die for! I am seriously addicted to it. It had a little bit of everything, and my baby boy kept coming back for seconds. When we ran out of melba toast, we used Brioche's ensaimade to mop up the remaining cheese. This is seriously one of my favorites and I'll definitely be back for this!

cheese pate
Cheese Pate - Serious YUM!
Spicy cheese with pesto and sundried tomato, served with melba toast
They thoughtfully served our Apple Lemonade after serving the cheese pate to wash down the creaminess of our chosen appetizer.

apple lemonade
Apple Lemonade modeled by the As
It started to rain so we had to move inside, but not before ordering capricciosa from Pizzeria Michelangelo. I was really really determined to let them try my new favorite Italian place. :D

adobo flakes and pork schnitzel
Adobo Flakes - Shredded, crispy adobo with rice
Pork Schnitzel - Deep fried, breaded pork cutlets with mushroom sauce

baked mac from cafe sarree
Baked Mac and Cheese Burger -
Pasta smothered in cheese sauce, topped with burger patties,
and baked with more cheese on top (SOOOO GOOD!)

Capricciosa from Pizzeria Michelangelo

jambalaya from Cafe Sarree
Jambalaya a la Mama - Spicy sausage in a rich
tomato stew, with Jambalaya rice
We were so full from all the food we ordered, and our stomachs had no room for dessert. *burp*
After dinner, the rain stopped thankfully and we were able to chill and relax outside while the others finished their food and the As paid for dinner. :D (thank you!)

Daddy and Seth goofing around
Chillin' with Seth after dinner
Family picture - waiting for the others who were still eating
(you can see them in the background)
Check them out if you like fusion dishes - they are seriously one of the best. xx

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Skydreamer Eats: The Best Mug Cake EVAAH!

I grew up with a mom who bakes the most amazing homemade cakes. Almost every afternoon, at around 3 or so, we could smell wafts of something really good baking in the oven. I lived for those days. All throughout my childhood and even when I started working, she would make her famous baked goodies. Yellow cake, chocolate cake, pineapple upside down cake, birthday cake, chewy brownies, papaya brownies, cream cheese brownies. And how can I forget her tiramisu? If blogging was available in the 80's, my mom would have rocked as a food blogger.

With that said, I wanted to try something easy in the cake department. I do not know how to make cakes, cupcakes or anything of the sort. I started and stopped at mango float (you know, those yummy homemade refrigerator no-bake cakes). Now that I'm a mom, I wanted to whip up something sweet in my (microwave) oven in under 15 minutes - and make my son smile.

That's ambitious.

So I researched, researched, researched (in Pinterest) until I came upon THE MUG CAKE.

Good for one.
Very easy.
Uber cheap.
Ridiculously good.

There were a lot of different recipes out there, and I had a lot of trial and error sessions. My first ever mug cake was an epic fail. But now, I'm finally ready to share this with you!

Ready for this? The best ever mug cake?

homemade mug cake recipe
Gooey chocolate mug cake

Then this is what you need to do.

In a regular mug, mix well together 2 tbsp all purpose flour, 1 tbsp brown sugar, 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa, 1/4 tsp baking powder, a pinch of salt.
Now add 2 tbsp fresh milk or water and 1 tbsp vegetable oil to your dry ingredients and mix well together.
Take 1/3 of a regular sized banana, and mash it well. Add it to your mixture and blend well together.
Add a few chocolate chips, mix again.
Now, here's the fun part - take a look at your pantry. Check if you have nutella, peanut butter, cookie butter, or any buttery/chocolatey spread. You're good? Take 1/2 tbsp of that and add to your mixture, pushing it to the bottom. *Please make sure that your spread is at room temperature*
Next, put the mug inside your microwave and bake on high for 1 minute (50 seconds for me).

Take it out, smell that wonderful cocoa.


freshly baked cake in a mug
Fresh from the oven
Get a plate and transfer the cake to it, upside down. It would look like this:

mug cake recipe
That cookie butter looks really good on top of my cake

Restrain yourself from eating everything all at once because you're not done yet.

Now, take a look at your freezer. Got some ice cream? Good. Add that on top of your cake and you have yourself a winning dessert. Good for one. Or you can share with your son (if you're feeling selfless).

Mug Cake with ice cream and shaved chocolate

It's moist, gooey, chocolatey, buttery, and all those good things. It's like a cake but not really. It's not a brownie too. It's almost like a cupcake, but really it's just the best ever mug cake.

In less than five minutes I made my son smile and laugh and now he's bouncing all over from all that chocolate and sugar. *sigh*

Go on, make some. I'm excited to know what you think! :D

Monday, July 15, 2013

Skydreamer Dines in Cebu: Pizzeria Michelangelo

Once in a while, you "discover" a place and fall in love with it. This happened to us with Pizzeria Michelangelo. Oh, I know a lot of Cebuanos have declared their love for this homey Italian place and this is definitely not a secret place, but its charm and warm good food seduced us and convinced us that this is our new go-to place.

We woke up late Saturday afternoon with hungry stomachs and huge appetites for food. Without changing into anything nicer, we went out in our house clothes - shorts, shirts and flip flops. We headed to Escario Central with no particular restaurant in mind. We figured that if we couldn't find a place to eat, there's always Mcdonald's nearby.

We first checked Cafe Sarree because I heard a lot of good things about this place, but right beside it was Pizzeria Michelangelo Ristorante Italiano. A quick glance at their simple menu, and specially their prices hooked us in.

Here are the dishes we ordered:

gnochhi al tartufo at www.diningincebu.blogspot.com
Gnochhi Al Tartufo - P320 - OUR FAVORITE!
(Black Italian Truffle Sauce, Cream, Cheese)

robertino pizza at www.diningincebu.blogspot.com
Robertino Pizza - P360 (15")
Tomato, Mozzarella, Farmer's Ham, Bacon Strips,
 Egg, Arugula, Parmesan Cheese
Alla Carbonese at www.diningincebu.blogspot.com
Alla Carbonese - P260
Bolognese + Carbonara
*Please take note that prices are subject to change. The prices also exclude a 10% service charge.

Gnocchi - We loved the black Italian truffle sauce, but didn't really like the gnocchi as it was too chewy for me.
Robertino - Sometimes, arugula tends to be a bit spicy, and I don't like that variety. The ones they used were perfectly nutty and did not have a hint of spiciness. Love!
Alla Carbonese - Pasta was al dente, and they used fresh parmesan. We thought it was a little bit too salty for our taste, though. But that's just us.

Oh, and one more thing, the servings were HUGE! Pasta servings are good for 2-3 Filipino people with normal appetites. The pizza is a whooping fifteen inches for a little over P300. How crazy is that?
If there's one thing I think they should invest on - a couple of high chairs for children. We weren't the only family with a kid there and the nannies had to keep on holding to the wee ones.

Here are some more random pictures:

pizzeria michelangelo at escario central
The place - LOVE at first sight!

The food - LOVE at first bite!

Reasonable prices? Check
Awesome food? Yep
Great customer service? You bet!
Should you check it out? Go, now! xx

My husband went back to buy gnocchi al tartufo and alla carbonese to go. The attendants were very friendly and gave him lots of extra focaccia. When I ate their gnocchi at home, I noticed that it was very soft and buttery and not as chewy as the first time we tried it - great job! :D

Friday, July 12, 2013

Skydreamer Eats: Insta-Breakfasts

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and we shouldn't skip it. It helps fuel and start you up whether you have a busy day ahead or if you're just planning to lounge the entire day.

Here are some of my breakfasts the past couple of weeks that I uploaded in Instagram:

First: Sauteed Asparagus
This one's easy to make, and a keeper. Just cut your asparagus to your desired length using your hands.
In a non-stick skillet, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and add about 3-4 cloves of chopped garlic.
Add your asparagus, stir a bit for a minute.
Turn off the heat, and season with a bit of salt and pepper. You may add just a little bit of butter if you wish.
And, that's it!
Easy, ultra fast, and verrrrry healthy. My son loved this, and kept asking for more. :D

sauteed asparagus at www.diningincebu.blogspot.com
Sauteed Asparagus

Second: Herbed Corn on the Cob
I love corn on the cob - they are so easy, healthy, keeps you full longer, and only takes a few minutes to make. I cooked my sweet corn by boiling some water with a bit of salt and a teaspoon of sugar. Once the water was boiling, I added my corn and cooked them for 3-5 minutes.
While I was waiting for my corn to cook, I made my herbed butter. I got a big chunk of butter, and mixed it with dried tomato, basil and oregano. Now, the thing about herbed butters is that it's better when you use fresh herbs like parsley or basil leaves. I substituted it with the next best thing - dried, and it's still great!
I placed my herbed butter on top of my corn and ate them like there's no tomorrow. So, so good.

corn on the cob at www.diningincebu.blogspot.com
Corn on the Cob with herbed butter

Third: Eggs in a Basket 
I got this idea from Joan of Food Wanderings in Asia, one of my favorite bloggers. If you've never heard of eggs in a basket, it's called that because it's supposed to look like you cooked your egg in a basket. This picture does not do justice to the ones that Joan made, so head on over to her blog to see her culinary expertise in action.
First, I gathered what ingredients I had on the fridge. I had some ham, tomatoes, cheese, eggs and sliced bread. Perfect. She made hers using ramekin, but I didn't have one so I used a small plastic bowl instead, thus making it look like this. I placed a slice of bread at the bottom of the bowl, and chopped some ham, tomatoes and cheese. I placed that on top of the bread, and cracked open an egg and just laid it on top of everything. I cooked it on high for 1 minute and 30 seconds in the microwave, and voila! I instantly have the best breakfast ever!
Thanks Joan for the idea! :D

eggs in a basket at www.diningincebu.blogspot.com
Eggs in a Basket

Fourth: Whole Wheat Pancakes
This one, I definitely cheated with. I just bought a whole wheat pancake mix at the store, and prepared the ingredients according to the instructions in the box. The only thing I did was add some chopped strawberries and chocolate chips while I cooked them. Done and done!

whole wheat pancakes at www.diningincebu.blogspot.com
Whole Wheat Pancakes with Strawberries and Chocolate Chips

Fifth: Favorite Ham Sandwich
To make two, I cooked a couple of sweet hams in a non stick pan for about a minute, then placed one on top of my sliced bread. I spread a bit of garlic ranch dressing on top of the ham, added a couple slices of cheese (emmenthal/emmental would go great with this) and a few sliced tomatoes. You may eat them as they are, or add another sliced bread on top and heat in a sandwich maker. 
This is my kind of ham sandwich and if you don't like the dressing, you can totally skip that. Totally refreshing and delicious!

ham sandwich at www.diningincebu.blogspot.com
Ham Sandwich with garllic ranch dressing

If you try any of them, let me know! :D

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Out and About at La Vie Parisienne

I posted about my favorite French macarons here.

Yesterday, I finally stepped inside La Vie Parisienne, a French bakery in Lahug, Cebu. For readers in Cebu, you might have passed this on your way to IT Park and it's right before you reach the Mormon temple. It was exactly how I imagined it would be - cozy, warm, and very homey.

When we got inside, their famous croissants were still baking so we headed to the general area of the bakery where we saw different French breads (and brioche, which I had been looking for to try out a new French toast recipe), cheeses, quiches, macarons, olive oils, beers and everything else.

la vie parisienne bakery in cebu
breads, olive oils, jams, beers at La Vie Parisienne

french macarons at la vie parisienne
french macarons

After checking out the place and deciding to wait for their croissant, we went inside their Wine Library. It was very impressive, but basing on the other bloggers' pictures, I actually thought it was bigger than what it actually is. 

We had fun checking out the wines, and their prices. They range from affordable (P200+) to expensive (P11000+). When you order your wine here, it has to be by the bottle. There are only two types/kinds of wines that can be ordered by glass, but since I'm not a wine connoisseur, I can't remember which.

wine library at la vie parisienne cebu
wine library at la vie parisienne

wine library at la vie parisienne cebu

A few minutes inside the wine cellar, baby boy got fussy. He doesn't like enclosed spaces too much, so we headed out into the sunshine. It was lovely and in the eyes of my child, it was perfect. He was all smiles and was in a really great mood.

garden at la vie parisienne
outside where the air is fresh

garden at la vie parisienne
loving the garden

la vie parisienne cebu
I love it here, ma!

garden at la vie parisienne

The attendants served our croissants and we ate them like there's no tomorrow. It was gone in a flash. My son could eat one big roll all by himself. Proud of you, babe!

croissant at la vie parisienne
warm, buttery, flaky croissant

croissant at la vie parisienne

Now that the buttery rolls were in our tummies, we headed to La Maison Pink House (which was just next door) to check out the place. There was a small fountain that looked like it came out of a French magazine. It was very magical, indeed.

la maison pink house restaurant
La Maison Pink House

fountain at la maison pink house
a fountain that captured my son's heart

After checking out the place and taking some pictures, we decided to head back to the bakery to buy more bread to go, and ended up buying one of their sandwiches. I first wanted to try their goat cheese and honey, but decided on deli sub which had mortdella. We ate them at the wine cellar.

mortadella sandwich at la vie parisienne
Deli Sub - Mortadella, tomatoes, lettuce and butter on a baguette

happy with the selected sandwich
The sandwich was great and next time, I'll definitely order their sandwich with goat cheese, onion jam and honey.

simple menu of sandwiches and drinks at La Vie Parisienne
We had a great time there and we'll definitely be back! xx
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