Monday, January 30, 2012

What to do when your luggage was damaged?

Our trip to Mallorca, Spain in 2008 was something unforgettable. Not because it was a wonderful experience but because that trip had us suffering almost every traveler's nightmare.

First, there was an almost six hour delayed flight, we used Thomas Cook/Condor, which resulted in us cooling our heels in an airport hotel and spending midnight in the airport while waiting for our flight to be called. And then arriving at our hotel at 6 am when the kids, who managed to sleep in the bus ride to the hotel, cant sleep anymore.

And then the flight back which was horrible for MC as she was only throwing up during the two hour flight. And then our luggage ending up so damaged that my husband had no choice but to spend more precious time complaining about it. The grip was completely broken (see photo) and the locks, too. Good thing we had a luggage belt to keep our things in tact!

Well, since we don't really have any idea on what to do about it and MC is still weak from the flight -- I had to wait for my husband alone with two cranky kids.

What did we discover when it comes to reporting damaged luggages?

1. Go directly to the airline counter where you are booked.

2. Report the damage, show them the bag.

3. Don't forget to keep your record of the flight -- number, seats, date and time. And don't forget to ask about the name of the person you talked to.

4. In our case, the person told us someone from DHL would call to pick up the damaged luggage in a few days time. They would have to look at it and consider if it could still be repaired or if we could get a replacement.

5. After a couple of days, DHL called and said they are ready to pick up the luggage. Well, they arrived the same day, too.

6. After a day, a call came to us saying that the luggage cannot be repaired so that we would be getting a new luggage that would more or less be the same size as the one that was damaged.

7. And then another day and our new luggage arrived! It was better, bigger and lighter than our old battered one.

Let me tell you, we were really surprised how fast they handled it. Just so sorry that their airplanes can't bring us as fast to our Mallorca vacation.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Walking to School on a Rainy Day does NOT Hurt

We know it would rain today. But should that stop the girls from walking to school? Of course not. Raindrops doesn't hurt at all.

The girls were dressed for the weather: warm and water-proof jackets with hoods, their school bags protected by waterproof covers.

When they left home, it was not raining at all. Then, a girl decided to join them in walking to school, bringing with her a big umbrella.

In the middle of their journey to school, it rained. They continued to walk. School is not too far away.

You'd think that's all? No. The mother of the girl (with the big umbrella) who walked with my girls decided to cruise around with her car and look for the girls. She saw the girls in the corner near the school and told the girls to jump into the car.

And she told MC, 'your father also have a car. Why don't he drive you to school in this rain?' MC just shrugged.

Of course, she informed us of what happened. My husband was irritated and wanted to confront that mom with these words, 'a few raindrops won't hurt your kid.'

I simply asked my girls, 'what do you think about walking to school in the rain?' Both agreed it is okay to walk to school.

Both agreed that it is fun walking to school. Why? Because they meet up with friends along the way. Because they discuss and exchange stories along the way. Because they usually see interesting things along the way (they usually see squirrels, moles, raccons, etc). Because the air is fresh out there. Because sometimes they sneak time to play, too. But most especially, because walking is healthy!

We don't understand the worries of walking to school in the rain. Unless of course, a child is too weak to walk. But even the weak needs to move, too, right?

We told the girls: as long as you keep safe, walk to school all you want -- rain or shine.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Gift: The Girls' Crispy Baked Potatoes

Remember the gift list given by 10-year-old MC to us last Christmas? Well, it was time to collect; to tick-off one from the list.

She decided to cook something for us; her little sister IC volunteered to help her. As usual, they went through all the rituals before cooking: no jewelries, aprons needed, hands washed, hair tied, dish cloths ready, ingredients ready, and since the kitchen counter is too high for them -- stable mini chairs.

The menu? Their specialty and their all-time favorite: Crispy Baked Potatoes.

They learned this recipe from school. This is simple and is always a hit with kids and adults, too.

Ingredients for Crispy Baked Potatoes (4 Servings):

7-8 pcs. potatoes , cubed (700 g)
2 tbsp olive oil (any cooking oil)
1 tsp salt
a handful of chopped dill or chives


Put the oil, salt and dill/chives in a big mixing bowl. Mix well. Add the chopped potatoes. Again, mix well.

Cover the baking tray with a baking paper. Pour the potato mixture evenly on the baking tray. On a pre-heated oven (200 degrees), bake for 20 minutes.

The Crispy Baked Potatoes is served with freshly baked pretzel sticks with butter and cream cheese.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Smiley Plates

One of the reasons I am always excited to see the photos whenever I download them... those shots I didn't know about. Like these smiley plates taken by one of the girls.

I think our meal for that day is composed of beef steak-Philippine style, with some boiled eggs, adobong kangkong, rice, vegetable salad and for dessert, fruits.
Using the chopped beef steak
 for the hair...
Chopped boiled egg for the eyes...
A cup of rice for the nose...

Some lettuce leaves for the ears...
And of course, the banana gives the emotions...

I don't know why the banana is there...

And here's the whole menu... now they've added some more hair using the kangkong leaves.
As for the banana, it's been chopped into pieces but still smiling :-D

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Why I am not buying that Monster High Bed for my girls

The first time I encountered the Monster High brand was when my girls and I visited a book store. MC grabbed a Monster High book while IC chose a Monster High friendship book.

I asked them if they really want those items. They said yes. I browsed the book, I checked the friendship book. It seemed ok, just a bit of  'monstery' words added which I guess is the reason the girls are interested. After all, books are there to expand our imagination, right?

Then they started asking me for Monster High dolls which they want for Christmas. They had to show me what they looked like. Of course, the dolls are as goulish as they are 'monsterific.' I said I had to think about it. (I did give in and bought them those couple dolls just because were they were on sale and just because they are dolls).

Then they dragged me to the Monster High accessories and proudly showed me the Monster High bed. A bed coffin? That shouldn't surprise me but it did. After all, the brand is about monsters, right? But...

I might be old fashioned in my view, but a coffin does not belong to a toy box of any child. Never mind if it's pink or could turn into anything cute!

'I will absolutely not buy that coffin bed for my girls!'

I explained my reason to the girls: 'Would you like to sleep on coffins?' And they said no. Well then, I told them, don't let your dolls sleep in coffins, too.

Plus, it is best to play with things that makes you feel good. Would a coffin, even if it's a toy, make you feel good? You tell me.

And no, I don't try to keep them from the realities of life. But come on, in most reality, you don't find a coffin as bed in most homes, right?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

It's more FUN in the Philippines!

I am joining the FUN!

The Philippine's Department of Tourism's campaign: Wherever you go in the Philippines, it's the Filipinos that will make your holiday unforgettable. Just ask anyone that's been here. In fact Lonely Planet Guidebook calls us 'among the most easygoing and ebullient people anywhere.'

Photo by Roland Benzon

Find out through photos why it is indeed more FUN in the Philippines! Check out more photos here...

Even English author Neil Gaiman, who has visited the Philippines thrice, joined in on the fun and tweeted, "#itsmorefuninthephilippines hashtag is a true one. They applaud loudly and hug you a lot."

Here I am, joining the fun together with a photographer friend, Gerard Boragay.

Photo by Gerard Boragay

Photo by Gerard Boragay
Thanks for the great photos, Gerard!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Du stinkst! = You Smell!

MC arrived from school.

She marched straight into the kitchen where I was cooking lunch and said:

'Mama you know what, a girl told me that I smell,' MC said with a voice filled with surprise.

I looked to her little IC to signal her not to laugh; and I tried to catch my husband's eyes.

What did you do? We asked her. 'Nothing. I simply walked away,' she sighed.

She proceeded to explain that that particular girl might be angry with her because her friends shoved her during playtime at school.

'But I did not touch her at all,' insisted MC.

She added, 'Anyway, I ignored her because I don't care if she thinks I smell because I don't smell, right?'

I think my MC smells good. Real, real good.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Oma's Red Cabbage Recipe

Something I didn't think I would love to eat nor would learn to cook -- Oma's red cabbage.

This is one of my husband's favorite food, and he had to do without it in our table for more than 10 years because I always said I don't like it. Just like my girls, I already disliked the rotkraut (red cabbage) just because; when actually, I haven't tasted it.

But when we had guests the past few week and my husband decided to serve it, it was a turn-around for me. MC loved it. I loved it, too. Our guests so loved it, that they asked me for the recipe (as if I know how to cook it.) Good thing my husband's got Oma's recipe and I am sharing it, too.

Oma's Red Cabbage

1 pc red cabbage
some bacon, diced or schmalz (lard)
1 pc onion, chopped
9 tbsp wine vinegar
1 c water
2 tsp sugar
6 pcs cloves
2 apples, peeled and chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Chop the red cabbage. Fry the chopped bacon. Then add the rotkraut. Then mix the onion, essig, salt, pepper, cloves and sugar.

After a few minutes, add the apple to the mixture. Let simmer on low heat for around an hour or more.

We love it best when served with cutlet or schnitzel and mashed potatoes. But this Christmas, we served it together with turkey and it was great, too.