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Embracing the woman I am today

“The most rewarding things you do in life are often the ones that look like they cannot be done.” – Arnold Jean Palmer

I stepped in the building of my first corporate job at  the age of 19 yrs, surrounded with career woman looking gorgeous and powerful in suits. I wanted to be just like them.

Why? Because I saw how lost my Mama was when she became a widow with three kids and living with her in laws. Growing up, my mom did not have much authority on us because she had to rely on relatives help to financially get by. She worked so hard to finally be on her own and even manage to buy us our own house with her salary as a government employee.

I want to be the woman who does not rely on anyone to pay her meals, travel or go out and have fun night on her own.  When friends and I discuss family life, I stand strong to my ideal life of still having a career of my own and not depend on my husband.

I was that woman for 8 years.

Fast forward…

Today, I hold the title “expat wife” and stay-at-home “mom” to two kids. I am completely dependent to my husband to pay for my needs – clothes, meals and my weekly salon visit.

It was an easy decision to make, I want my son to grow up with his dad and I want our family to be together in one location. Where my husband go, my kids and I go when possible. The first year was difficult and I struggled to be fully dependent on my husband.

I am happy with the woman I am today. I am raising two beautiful kids in a multicultural environment. I look back to the woman I was before and will always be proud of her.

What once seemed a life I do not imagine is the most rewarding one I have today. I’m happy to be devoting the whole of me to raise my kids. Grateful every day that we get to be an expat family here in Dubai.

 

This post is part of the ‘Quote for Thought’ Blog Hop hosted by UAE Mom Bloggers.

See how other bloggers have been inspired by this quote:

How my study abroad experience helped meStars In The Desert

The dilemma of expat parenting Sand In My Toes

Freshly Foods – My Emergency Food Stash

Do you have those days where you just don’t have any idea on what to feed your family?

I have plenty.

I try my best to plan our weekly menu but sometimes life as a stay-at-home mom gets in the way. Why? I wear several hats – a chef, blogger, main cleaner, teacher (my eldest it seems have exams every week), playmate and referee…are just a few hats I wear. It is overwhelming.

As much as I want to prepare fresh cooked food every meal time for my bunch (kids + husband), I sometimes just don’t have the energy (and time) to do it.  So I rely on store bought frozen food a few times a week (specially for lunch box) to get by. Choosing the right one is quite a bit of a challenge because I have to make sure that it is not made of junk and that my kids will eat it.

Freshly Foods Products

While shopping at Lulu Hypermarket we chanced upon the tasting booth of Freshly Foods  a company that prides itself for producing premium and MDM free food products. My kids loved everything at the tasting booth that they kept going back for more – it was already a Mama must have product in my books.

What is MDM? It means “Mechanically Deboned Meat”, which basically means that machine crushed bones is mixed in your food (eww!). Freshly Foods does not do this MDM stuff, they only use 100% pure chicken breast. As a parent who try my best to provide the healthiest possible food I can afford for my kids, this is one product I need. It is convenient, affordable and taste really good too.

Freshly Foods Chicken Shawarma Lettuce Wrap

One of our favorite Freshly Food product is the Gourmet Chicken Shawarma Meat. Here, I gave it a twist by serving it as a filling to a Chicken Lettuce Wrap drizzled with garlic yoghurt sauce for Kuya V’s school lunch box. All you really need to do is pan fry meat on a little oil since it has been pre marinated already.  

I will be using some Freshly Foods product in the coming weeks, so be sure to watch out for it on our Instagram account.

Meantime, to learn more about this amazing find visit them online here and here.

 

Disclaimer: I have been buying Freshly Foods product even before I was contacted to do a sponsored post for them. As always, all opinions are my own.

Birthday Blog Hop with Pretty Paper Studio: Gratitude Project

Pretty Paper Studio 5th Birthday Blog Hop

Pretty Paper Studio turned FIVE this month and we are celebrating via a Blog Hop with some of the best bloggers in town!

 

Thank you board

 

To celebrate Pretty Paper Studio’s birthday we were asked to make something around the theme “GRATEFUL” which I think is perfect because along with every celebration one must also always remember to give thanks.

A lot of ideas flooded my mind when I opened my box of goodies from PPS – a photo binder, a scrapbook, a framed collage and a lot more. To make something with one instruction that is to “be creative” scares me A LOT, I honestly wanted to send the box back to Neelu. Then… LittleMiss C opened the box and exclaimed “Oh mommy! So many pretty things, I want to make something with you.”

So we did.

Thank You Board

I am a visual person, for a project to be effective and memorable it has to be something that I (family) can use and see every day. Last Christmas, I made “Count your blessings” sticks where we get to pick a random popsicle stick and answer questions like “How many shoes do you own?” I wanted something similar and came up with “Be Thankful” board.

Be Thankful Board

Designing the board was a struggle for me because I wanted to use all of the craft materials provided. Every single item I laid out did not looked disorganized. I have a tendency to overthink things which ultimately leads to unfinished task. I stepped away from the board and asked the kids for help. Thank God for my kids creative genes.

Thank you board

At the end of the day each family member will write down or illustrate what they are thankful for that day. Simple. I hope that by doing this daily we all remember that there is so much to be grateful for like a cup of freshly brewed chai.

Are you ready to blog hop?

First, find a favorite spot and grab some snacks too because this will be a fun and creative blog trip. The creative team of Pretty Paper Studio along with some fellow bloggers have worked hard to share this projects with you. Visit each blog listed below and show some love by leaving genuine comments.  Next, make sure you follow all Instagram accounts (links provided below), like Pretty Paper Studio on Facebook, follow them on Instagram and Pinterest, subscribe to the YouTube Channel, and join Facebook Group. Once you are done, simply leave a comment on the main Blog Hop page to let us know that you have followed the instructions.

For being so generous of your time and spreading your love to every one on the blog hop, YOU will have a chance to win an amazing prize! Make sure you follow all the steps mentioned above.

Blog Hop Prize

 

 

Pretty Paper Studio Blog Hop

One winner will be picked randomly and will receive a Silhouette Cameo 3 Electronic Cutting Machine worth AED 1250. Simple. International entries are welcome too! You got to follow all the instructions to stand a chance though – that’s the only condition.

Blog Hop Winner Announcement

Blog Hop ends on May 1st, 2017 and a winner will be announced here on May 5th, 2017. In sha Allah.

Alright then, hop on!

You Are Here —} Cuddles And Crumbs (Abigail Caidoy)

Now Hop on To…

Designs With Donna Espiritu

Explore With Mafaza (Mafaza Haleem)

Handmade With Love (Ujjwal Gupta)

Mummy On My Mind (Zeyna Sanjania)

Papermade by Ing (Ingrid Lim)

Pretty Paper Studio

Quill And Punch Works (Hussena Calcuttawala)

Follow Guest Blogger Mummy On My Mind on Instagram

Follow Guest Blogger Cuddles And Crumbs on Instagram

Follow Guest Blogger Explore With Mafaza on Instagram

Like Pretty Paper Studio’s Facebook Page

Follow Pretty Paper Studio on Instagram

Follow Pretty Paper Studio on Pinterest

Subscribe to Pretty Paper Studio’s YouTube Channel

Join Pretty Paper Studio’s Facebook Group

Pretty Paper Studio reserves the right to final decision regarding the judgment method and winning Entries. This contest is not sponsored by or affiliated with Silhouette America.

Recipe for Spaghetti and Meatballs

Kuya V spent an afternoon at a professional teaching kitchen of The Chef’s Palette by Gaggenau  in Fairmont The Palm where he learned how to make Spaghetti & Meatballs under the fun supervision of Executive Chef Kyle Grant.

Chefs Palette Fairmont The Palm

 

Watch the fun afternoon we spent getting messy to cook something yummy.

Chef Kyle shared his recipe for meatballs and tomato sauce below.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Meatballs

  • 1 Lb. Ground beef, 20% fat
  • 1 Whole Egg
  • 1 Cup breadcrumbs
  • ½ Cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 Tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped shallots
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, shallots and garlic. Add the eggs, grated Parmesan and olive oil. Add the breadcrumbs a bit at a time to make sure that the meatballs mix just holds together. Add the seasoning and make sure the ingredients are mixed well. Don’t over mix them or else the meatballs will become tough.

Tomato Sauce

  • 5 pounds tomatoes
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • 1 basil sprig
  • 1 bay leaf

Method:

Cut tomatoes in half horizontally and blend in food processor. Put tomato pulp in a low wide saucepan over high heat.  Add salt, olive oil, tomato paste, garlic, basil and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Reduce the sauce by almost half, stirring occasionally, to produce about 2 1/2 cups medium-thick sauce, 10 to 15 minutes. Taste and adjust salt. It will keep up to 5 days in the refrigerator or may be frozen.

Spaghetti & Meatballs

Heat pan drizzled with olive oil. Pan fry meatballs till brown. Pour tomato sauce, simmer on medium heat. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook pasta according to directions. Pour meatballs and sauce over pasta, grate fresh parmesan cheese. Enjoy

Details of the class below.

FEED YOUR LITTLE ONES IMAGINATION WITH OUR CULINARY CLASSES

• Enroll your little ones in our famous Kids Culinary Classes via
palm.dining@fairmont.com or +971 4 457 3457
• 9 weeks course starts on April 30 and ends on June 25, 2017
• Classes take place every Sunday from 4:00pm – 6:00pm
• Other days are optional too, if a minimum of 8 kids register
Disclaimer: Kuya V was invited to attend the preview of the Kids Culinary Class. It was a really fun event and we wanted to share it with you all. 

A visit At The Top of Burj Khalifa

One of the things tourist look forward too when they arrive in Dubai is to see the tallest building in the world (2017) which is the Burj Khalifa. As expected when my Mama and Auntie Bing came to visit us this was one tourist request that was non negotiable.

A second visit for the kids and I, we first went to the top last 2012 with my relatives from Australia. LittleMiss C was still 3 months old, she was just happy sleeping.

We bought tickets online at burjkhalifa.ae and chose At the Top + Dubai Aquarium promotion that costs AED 185 per adult (12years +) and AED 155 per child (3 – 12 years) as of February 2017.

At the Top of Burj Khalifa

The journey to the 124th floor of Burj Khalifa begins at At The Top reception located at the Lower Ground Level of Dubai Mall. We arrived 30 minutes before our scheduled time which was 8pm since a long queue is always expected.

At the Top of Burj Khalifa

At the Top of Burj KhalifaArriving before your scheduled time will give you enough time to read all the information available; a series of photo on its construction with descriptions stating why and how it came to be.

Burj Khalifa

It was cold and windy that night which made it difficult to stay outside and take decent photos.

Burj KhalifaFrom the top we got to watch the Dubai Fountain, it was beautiful.

For souvenirs, the kids chose to have a creative photo’s taken of them. I think it costs around AED 200 for one printed picture and access to a high resolution downloadable photos online. We did not buy any miniature Burj Khalifa structures since a cheaper version is widely available outside.

 

Would I want to visit the Top of Burj Khalifa again? YES! but would choose either the sunrise or sunset viewing.

At The Top admission fee (as of April 2017):

Non-prime hours – 8:00 am to 3:00 pm

General Admission: AED 125 – Adults and AED 95 – Kids

Prime Hours – 3:30 pm – 7:00 pm

General Admission: AED 200 – Adults and AED 160 – Kids

*Advance online booking is necessary.

For more information, please visit Burj Khalifa website

Cooking Demo with De’Longhi MultiFry

An invitation for me to host a cooking demo came as a surprise, I coordinating a Mother’s Day event for the #UAEMomBloggers when suddenly the question if I would be available to host the event came. I said YES without hesitation thinking that I will be standing in front of people I know (well mostly just online) and have had a chance to talk too.

I did a demo with my kids as audience at home and prepared two recipes I was going to present that day a few times.  My kids were tough critics to please! One thing I know for sure is that I have been using the MultiFry for the past two years now and it is one of my favorite kitchen gadget.

Daniela from Twister Communications ME assured me that I have nothing to worry about, the whole team from De’Longhi and Jashanmal Home will be there to assist me should I need it.

De'Longhi MultiFry Demo

I arrived early to familiarize myself with the place and talk to the Jashanmal & De’Longhi team. Every thing that I could possibly need was just an arms reach, we were after all inside Jashanmal store.

Machines were in place along with the ingredients and other materials needed to make Mushroom Risotto and Italian Sponge Cake.

By this time, I was chatting my nerves away. Even forgot to use my phone to update my social media.

De'Longhi MultiFry Cooking Demo aInvited bloggers arrived tagging their families along, it was nice to see familiar faces and personally meeting some I have only chatted online. All of them were excited to learn more on how the machine works, which made me somehow comfortable.

De'Longhi MultiFry Cooking Demo cShowing the attendees and shoppers what the machine can do and how useful it is came naturally. I believe I have answered mostly all the questions they had, shared my personal experience and tips on how to use the MultiCooker.

Italian Sponge Cake made with De’Longhi MultiFry MultiCooker

Mushroom Risotto made with De’Longhi MultiFry MultiCooker

I let out a happy sigh of relief when the dishes came out the way I imagined them to be and it was also delicious. Our guests were surprised that the machine can do more than just frying, so happy that I have delivered the message we wanted to convey.

De'Longhi MultiFry Cooking Demo

A Saturday morning I will always cherish with these lovely ladies. Yes, I would do it again if another opportunity comes by.

Thank you De’Longhi team, Jashanmal Homes and Twister Communications Middle East for the opportunity to host the event.

Photo credit to Filsan Lamberang, MJ Serrano and Hena Jacob.

DUKESY Beach Brunch at West 14th

We found ourselves driving to the Palm for a brunch last week, our invitation came with a promise of a lazy river, tons of kids activities and beach access. While good food is an essential part of brunching, the question if my two kids will have fun tops the list.

FUN is an understatement of how my kids describe the DUKESY Family Brunch.

I asked Kuya V and Chloe to tell me why this could be the best family brunch in the UAE…

Water Fun

Both the beach and pool was just a few steps away from the restaurant area, which is awesome according to Kuya V because he can just easily go back and grab some food. Guests are welcome to enjoy the beach and pool from 10am – 6pm. It is included on the brunch deal. Beach towels are available for all guests to borrow, free of charge.

Lazy River

LittleMiss Chloe (5yrs old) was tall enough to walk around the lazy river pool. Three lifeguards were on watch to make sure every one was safe. Swim rings both for kids and adults are available for guests to use for free.

Infinity Pool

Water in this pool is heated which made it more inviting, it is unusually cold here in Dubai at March. Pool is deep that I myself need to tiptoe while carrying Chloe in my back, I forgot to pack her swim vest.

Beach

After enjoying dessert we headed down to enjoy sunset by the beach. Plenty of lounge chairs were available as well. Both kids hurried to the water, Chloe singing to “How Far I’ll Go” while Kuya V was looking for seashells.

A toddler pool is also available for young swimmers just outside DUKESY Kids Club.

Shower and changing rooms are available, toiletries such as shampoo and soap are not available so pack some. And bring some floaters and life vest for the little ones.

Kids Entertainment

If swimming is such a hassle, worry not because kids can enjoy various activities such as bouncy castle, an outdoor play area, kids club with qualified nannies, movies and a lot more.

 

Activities may vary every week depending on the theme, from superheroes and princess to pirates.

  • 31st March: Movies and Cartoons Characters
  •   7th April: Superheroes
  • 14th April: Fairytale and Princesses
  • 21st April: Mermaids and Pirates
  • 28th April: Movies and Cartoons Characters
  •    5th May: Superheroes
  • 12th May: Fairytale and Princesses
  • 19th May: Mermaids and Pirates

Pack some extra clothes, kids are guaranteed to have fun.

Food

A wide range of food is available for all to enjoy from Arabic, vegetarian and seafood, plus live cooking stations of pasta and stir-fry vegetables. They had a wide array of appetizers and freshly baked breads to snack on in between all the entertainment. Food is served from 12:30 pm to 4pm.

A kids have a dedicated buffet with ample seating just beside the movie area. During our visit, they had assorted sandwiches, pizza, pasta and colorful pancakes made upon order right in front of them. My kids however preferred to have some freshly grilled chicken, steak and lamb.

Good Value for Money

With all the entertainment for the whole family to enjoy, I personally think it is worth every dirham spent. Remember that all the stuff I mentioned above is included in the brunch cost, arriving as early as 10am and leaving till late at 6pm gives you 8 whole hours of fun with good food too.

Complete price list below.

0-5 years old Free of charge
6-11 years old AED 97.50
Adults – with soft drinks AED 195
Adults – with house beverages AED 369
Adults – with unlimited bubbles (including signature drinks Piña Colada and Mojito) AED 419

We do think Dukesy Beach Brunch is one of the best family brunch available in Dubai.

A shout out to Mr. Tauseef for making our brunch experience extra special. 


For Reservations: Call 04 447 7601 or email reservation@west14th.ae.

All activities are subject to change and guests are advised to visit the West 14th social media pages for updates in advance of their visit. For more details, visit West14th site, Facebook page and Instagram. Available every Friday from 10am-6pm.

 

 

 

Disclaimer: We were invited for the launch of Daycation Brunch at no cost and no obligation to write. It was wonderful Friday brunch for our family that we just had to share. As always all opinions are my own.

#LetsMakeLunchFun for our Family

I have been using the hashtag #LetsMakeLunchFun on Instagram for a while now, with an aim to challenge myself and inspire others to prepare healthy fun lunch box food for our kids.  Last September 2016, I invited my IG followers to use the hashtag and join me in my little campaign.

The challenge to pack a healthier school food began when my son asked me to pack extra food for his friends. To make things clear, all his friends bring packed lunch in school but it consist mostly of sandwich, cupcakes or cookies and a juice box. Absolutely nothing wrong with the food they have but I think what makes our packed lunch different is the way it is prepared.

#LetsMakeLunchFun is not limited to lunch box packing, it can be any meal – breakfast, snack or dinner. Remember that our goal is to make our family eat healthier, one meal at a time. If you have eventually managed to make your child eat a food they usually avoid is a big achievement.

quinoa meatballs bento lunchboxI like that you have a lot of food to choose from.”

My kids are good eater but they are selective of the food they want to eat, it is however different when they are in school. Teachers have big influence with kids so when “teacher” says to eat a fruit or vegetable they will take a bite, this “trick” however only works for nursery and kindergarten kids. Another trick is to make fun shapes, a heart or flower shaped carrots is much more fun than strips. I have also adopted a meal time rule “Try a spoonful of what is served on the table” before you decide.

Cuddles and Crumbs reached 2000+ followers just as we welcomed the new year. Do check out our facebook page as well and if you are a UAE resident in need of more lunchbox inspirations, look up #LetsMakeLunchFun lunch packing facebook community . We would like to say THANK YOU with this little token - a Yumbox Panino which will be personalized by @kilanikreations This is not a sponsored giveaway, just us showing our appreciation to you. All you need to do is tell us who will use the box and tag 2 friends. Winner will be announced on January 20. Open to all UAE residents. This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed, or administered by Instagram. ••• •• #giveaway #thankyou #uaemombloggers #contest #competition #dubaibloggers #uaebloggers #mommyblogger #yumbox #lunchbox #lunchboxideas #cnclunchbox

A post shared by Abigail Caidoy (@cuddlesandcrumbs) on

#LetsMakeLunchFun now have 1,039 posts on Instagram which also means that we have a over a thousand of packed lunch inspiration. We also now have a lunch box packing group in Facebook.  Thankful to every one using the hashtag and who are contributing to the group even when I have been slacking.

I hope you can join me make better and healthier choices with the #LetsMakeLunch campaign. Every Sunday, I will share four meal inspiration on our Instagram account.