Category Archives: celebration

Life Happening 10.28.19: Happy Anniversary

This week I had a short work trip to Bohol, our first family trip in the Philippines in 2017 so I have found memory of this place.


Morning view from my room was lovely


I visited chocolate hills again and learned that they receive 1 million visitor per year


as well as the Tarsier Santuary


to be honest, without the kids Bohol is not so fun, especially the second time around.

Last friday was Halloween party in our building


Sofia was actively participating the games while Lizzy stayed behind and ate all the sweets

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then we did the trick and treat together with me losing Sofia for a while

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Saturday I went to get my glasses and bought one for Sofia for TV/gadgets. She looks so funny/adult with glasses.


Sunday was our 4th anniversary. Unlike previous years, I finally planned something for the couple. Our day started super early, 2am! Got the pillows to sleep in the car


we arrived an hour earlier and by 5:45am we got ready


first there was 1 hour ride on the 4×4. I first thought it was just for fun but not really needed.. I was wrong. The road was impossible to go with a normal car nor walk, so many rivers to cross and rocks! Quite a bumpy ride.


then we started our 5km trek at this moon like place


we crossed many rivers. The path was beautiful and quiet in the early morning.

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we were the first to arrive the Pinatubo Crater Lake. This place is a volcano with a major eruption not so long ago, now one of the popular destination for easy hike

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The view is stunning but the facility is very basic, just like many places in the Philippines, amazing nature beauty with minimum if any maintenance. The potential to develop tourism in the country is huge.

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after a short break where we had our packed breakfast, we headed back.


a local mom with her baby joined our ride


We got home around 3pm, really happy to see the girls who stayed with the helper. I know it was not the most romantic celebration we could have, and we didn’t really talk that much on the road either since Tony pace is much slower than mine. Still I loved the experience of doing something together, especially something that I love -being in the nature- and I am grateful Tony tagged along. 🙂 I hope we keep up with the new tradition going forward, maybe a mini trip next year?

This past week was stressful at home. I had to fire our two-year live in helper. I felt so bad to realize how blind I was. I thought she was a reliable and kind lady that I could trust my most precious people to her. It turned out she’s mean, calculated and a liar. So I made the hard decision to fire her (or let her go as she was complaining and threaten to quit) since we rely on her a lot. But sometimes we need to endure the painful transition process for a greater future. So I’ve been going through many interviews, so far no luck yet, but we are finding another solution that might work even better. Finger crossed.

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Sofia turned 7: birthday week

My baby turned 7! I can’t believe how big she is now, not just physically but mentally and behaviorally. Although I am biased, I think Sofia might be the kindest person I know while at the same time the bravest. Our life as expat in Manila has reinforced her flexible, adaptable, amicable, friendly personality. She might seem like shy but she’s actually very confident, easy to make new friends, and have fun quickly with whatever she is doing. She’s smart, quick learner, and is learning that perseverance and hard work pays off at the end.

Her life turned very busy this year as she started first grade which comes with after school activities. Currently she’s doing swimming (after school and private lessons), brain buzz, soccer, mandarin, math, and piano. Everyday she practices 30-60 min of piano after all her activities, and practice mandarin for 10-15 min. Some days when she’s tired, she doesn’t want to, and I always remind/coerce to still do them (maybe shorter time) because that’s part of her responsibilities, just like mom’s work.

She is also a very caring person. Although she fights with Lizzy often, she deeply cares about her. Sometimes she’d tell me that she doesn’t like Lizzy all the time, because she annoys her (taking her things without asking for instance), but most of the times she takes care of her little sister in a daily basis (preparing her tooth paste morning and night, getting her water, or clean up for her). Sofia also cares about our helpers and driver, she’s so sweet with them and when they don’t feel well, she notices before anyone else. Needless to say, she cares about her mom the most. Somedays I’m tired and don’t want to read her before bed, she is always very understanding and next morning she’ll ask me if I had a good rest. She also loves and cares about grandma. Their bound is so strong. It was evident when we left shanghai. After one month traveling Europe with grandma, Sofia broke into cry when we said goodbye to grandma. She would love to have grandma living with us all the time, but she also understands that grandma is happier in shanghai with her friends.

Last year we went to Disney in Tokyo for her birthday. This year she asked for a party so I delivered. It’s so much more work than going on a trip and the final result was worth weeks of planning.

For her actually birthday, I made a vegan chocolate cake to bring to school. It was my first time making a vegan cake and I’m bloom away by the result. Nobody could believe it was refined sugar free, dairy free, and egg free.

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Recipe for a 9×13 inch cake:


  • 2 cups WW flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 cup pitted medjool dates, chopped
  • 1/2 cup warm water

Chocolate frosting

  • 1 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 300g dark chocolate


  • blend dates with warm water, add the rest of liquid ingredients
  • mix dry ingredients and mix with liquid ingredients, do not over mix
  • bake at 350F for 30-35 min
  • To make frosting: warm the milk until boil and pour over chopped chocolate. Mix and refrigerate until semi-solid

Lizzy and I went to Sofia class for the mini celebration

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they are doing the final assembly for the day


then we did the cake


the cake was a big hit among the kids, which is a great sign! 🙂


that night we went out for dinner

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and Sofia picked burger. So we went to Shake Shack



she also made a cake in school

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we hosted the birthday part last Sunday. Minimal decoration but festival enough


her friends arrived on time

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we did few games for the teams. Everyone engaged


some kids are super competitive


the theme of the party was SPA. so each girl got a mani/pedi with massage. What a luxury right? the crew brought everything including those bamboos for decoration and soothing music.


Sofia had a blast


then cake time! Homemade lemon cake


quick birthday song


and they all went back to play

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gift opening at the end


3 hours later… I was voiceless and tired but so happy to have organized this to my favorite person in the world 🙂 Let’s just hope next year she wants a trip. hehe…

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Valentines 2018

This year’s Valentines day felt special because I lost someone that I deeply love, so Tony made sure I felt extra loved on that day.

He bought flowers before we returned just to make me smile a little bit. And on Valentines day, we went out for dinner at Susi, a vegan restaurant that I wanted to try for a while

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they offered a set menu so we just went for that. It started with two soups, one was pumpkin soup with cashew cream, super tasty and rich

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and a mushroom dumpling soup that had very intense flavors

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main dish were spaghetti with “meaty” sauce that was delicious, beyond imagination of how a vegan dish would taste like

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and a mushroom risotto, very tasty too but a bit oily and too sweet for my taste buds

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desserts was two chocolate cupcake with cashew cream frosting

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we had good time together despite everything else

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I felt lucky to have him in my life, being as supportive and caring as he is. He’s not into big words to express love, but rather in small gestures, and I can feel those and valued more than cheap words

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Happy Valentines’ day. All I needed was love and I had plenty.

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