Food

Quality over Quantity: Unlimited Steak, Lamb, and More at Impressions

Yesterday was my husband’s birthday, and so as usual, we celebrated with a feast. For the first time, Casey received a birthday dinner treat from my dad! As I mentioned in my post about my birthday last month, this special privilege was previously reserved just for us daughters three. Now that Casey has been accorded the same treatment, I can say with confidence that he is a member of the circle of trust. Haha.

The birthday boy loves his steak, and so we went for BBQ Madness from the Grill, an unlimited selection of grilled items offered by Impressions in Maxims Hotel, Resorts World Manila. For P888 per head, one can indulge in endless servings of ribeye steak, lamb chops, duck breast, salmon fillet, tuna steak, and tiger prawns. While Casey had eyes only for the ribeye (See what I did there? ๐Ÿ˜‚), I was looking forward to the lamb and prawns.

We were ready to feast as soon as the restaurant opened for dinner at 6 pm. We were given three kinds of bread on the house. While my sisters and niece eagerly partook of the loaves, my dad and I restrained ourselves. We shared a look, and he knew what I was thinking before I said it. Bread! Carbs! Part of the ploy to fill you up so you don’t eat too much of the good stuff! Haha. The bread was quite yummy, according to my sister, Jica. It was only later on in the meal that I confirmed this by pinching off tiny morsels of each type of bread, careful to save my precious stomach space for what really mattered!

While the bread made its rounds, the waitress took our first orders. You can choose to order each item one by one, or you can order several at once. Casey immediately ordered his steak, while I ordered a sampler plate of all the items, so that I could decide which ones I would get more of later on. My dad did the same. Casey requested a medium rare for his steak, even though he really prefers a medium. He told me it’s because he expects the steak to be overdone. I requested medium for my steak, lamb, and duck breast.

After all orders were taken, we were served pumpkin soup (all part of the ploy). The serving was just enough though to whet our appetites, and so I ate my share.

When our first orders arrived, I noticed that the steak cut was very thin. I also saw that Casey’s assumption was correct. His steak was cooked to a medium, while mine was terribly overcooked, with burnt edges. My lamb and duck breast were well done. I pointed this out to the waitress, yet still ordered a medium throughout the evening, hoping to get exactly what I requested. Alas, my steaks were always medium well to well done, and so was my duck breast. The lamb, however, came out perfectly medium from my second plate onwards, which was good enough for me since lamb is my favorite meat. Meanwhile, Casey kept requesting medium rare and kept getting the medium steaks he really wanted. He also requested for thicker cuts, as ribeye was the only thing he was ordering. Only on his last order was a medium rare given. It was unfortunate that Casey didn’t enjoy the last steak that much (because he really prefers medium), but it was not a big deal as he was already stuffed by then.

One major downside of our dinner was the tuna steak and salmon fillet. They were both not fresh at all, and they made my dad’s lips itch. I did not even taste these items, because I couldn’t risk getting sick, as I have to care for Wolf. We decided not to get more of these items.

However, the ribeye, lamb, and prawns really made up for the fish. The meat was seasoned very well, with the steak so tasty that we did not need to add the sauce that they provided. I did pair my lamb with the mint jelly, not for lack of taste, but simply as a matter of preference. The prawns were fresh and plump.

Each plate was served with mashed potatoes and ratatouille, which complemented the mains quite well and added balance to our dinner.

The service was good, with the waiters always ready to attend to our needs. The place was a bit warm, and when we mentioned this, they brought in an evaporative air cooler, which we highly appreciated. When there was a fly, they were quick to bring out candles.

We asked the waitress to sing Casey “Happy Birthday.” She came out with a cake on the house, and sang.. alone. How brave of her, yet how awkward! Haha. So we happily joined her in song, and Casey blew out one candle for his 29 years of life! The cake was chocolate mousse, and it was really good. Even my dad and my sister, Melay, who are normally not fond of cakes, enjoyed this cake. As the cake was being passed around, everyone wanted to get the strawberry but apparently whispered among themselves that it should go to Casey. When he gave me the slice with the strawberry, they all thought it was so sweet.. until I told them that he doesn’t eat strawberries. Haha.

After four servings of succulent ribeye steak and a delicious slice of chocolate mousse, our birthday celebrant declared it a happy birthday indeed. Our sponsor also enjoyed immensely, and the rest of us were only too happy to benefit from the birthday treat.

THE VERDICT

Peso Damage: P888 / head (unlimited grilled items)

Value for Peso: 4.5 / 5.0

The unlimited grill offer of Impressions is definitely worth it. Don’t go in expecting a huge variety. Although the dishes are limited, most of them are excellently seasoned and cooked well. Their chef is not an expert at meat doneness, but you can always send back your order until it is to your liking. The dishes are cooked as you order them and served to your table. The service is excellent. I’m not giving a perfect score because of the fish that was not fresh and because of the issues with meat doneness, but otherwise, it was a great dinner!

The saying “jack of all trades, master of none” can be applied to food. I’ve eaten at many buffets that offer an overwhelming variety, but with most of the food being mediocre, I end up stuffed but not satisfied. In the case of Impressions’ unlimited grill, they focused on just a few items, yet nailed most of them, particularly the ribeye steak, lamb chops, and prawns. It was a pleasurable dining experience that we would definitely want to repeat. We were, without a doubt, impressed!

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Parenting, pregnancy

Elin: The Best Online Shop for Maternity Wear

Last week was World Breastfeeding Week! I joined a celebratory promo hosted by my favorite maternity clothing brand, Elin. I posted a photo of my favorite items from Elin and captioned it with a description of how Elin has made my motherhood journey easier.

Here’s the photo:

This was the caption:
Back when I was still pregnant, at first, shopping for new clothes was a nightmare. I scoured various maternity sections yet always left empty-handed. I wondered why maternity clothes were so expensive yet so horribly designed that they made you want, not to buy them, but to burn them. ๐Ÿ˜… Then I stumbled upon Elin, and the search was finally over for classic, flattering pieces that I could wear during and after pregnancy. My wardrobe is full of Elin clothes now, and pictured above are my two favorite items–my red New Sydney Tee for casual dates with my two boys, and my black Patrice Nursing Dress for elegant formal affairs. Breastfeeding in public is a breeze as long as I’m wearing Elin. Whether I’m running errands at the mall or attending a wedding, Elin has got me covered (pun intended). ๐Ÿ˜‰ Every day is an Elin day! Thanks, Elin, for making us mommies look and feel fabulous! โค๏ธ #elineveryday #elinph #worldbreastfeedingweek

I was delighted to find out a few days ago that my photo was chosen as one of the winners! The prize was P2000 credit to spend on more Elin clothes. Oh yeeeaah! As soon as I woke up this morning, I went shopping! Elin is an online store, so it’s super easy for moms to purchase clothes.

Wearing the Marta Maxi Nursing Dress while eight months pregnant
The Marta Maxi Nursing Dress featuring six-month old Wolf!

I have several tops and dresses from Elin, and on the whole I’m very satisfied. The styles are timeless and elegant. No garish prints or tacky designs here! The fabric is also very soft and cool on the skin, suitable for our humid climate. However, because for some items, the fabric is on the thin side, it is better to hand wash or use gentle washing machine cycles on the clothes, as they are quite delicate. I learned this the hard way, when two of my dresses got worn down in the wash. Another downside of the fabric’s thinness is that for some items, the hemmed openings for nursing access cause visible creases in the top layer that covers the openings. Although I think this is no longer an issue for their most recent arrivals.

Minor issues aside, Elin is the best option for moms who want to look good and feel good. Mommies, especially those who are pregnant and nursing, no longer have to make do with unflattering wardrobe choices.

Here I am in the Carmen Nursing Dress just a week before my due date (39 weeks)! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ
Carmen Nursing Dress at four months post-partumย 

You know how people can throw offhand comments about how women during or after pregnancy “let themselves go?” Especially in our country, I hear a lot of comments like “Mommyng mommy na talaga siya” (She really looks like a mom already). When people say this, they are often implying that the woman wasn’t able to shed the baby weight or that the woman looks haggard or run-down compared to their former state of youthful bloom. People are so quick to make such insensitive comments. Now that I myself am a mom, I know that I would hate to be on the receiving end of such statements. So next time you think of hurling that veiled insult, I suggest that you compliment the mom for doing a great job raising her child. Baby pounds are really difficult to lose, and a mom has more important things to prioritize when caring for a newborn! Also, a mom who looks careworn is most probably a mom who was up in the wee hours soothing an upset baby. So share love, not scorn.

A mom who has put on pounds from pregnancy or who is exhausted from taking care of a baby does not choose to experience the negative effects of those circumstances. But she can look and feel better in clothes that help her focus on her baby without compromising aesthetic appeal. As much as I myself don’t usually enjoy buying clothes, pregnancy and breastfeeding forced me to update my wardrobe. With Elin, one of the biggest advantages is they can be worn even when no longer pregnant or nursing, unlike other maternity clothes that should carry this warning: “Caution: Highly Unflattering! For Pregnant and Nursing Moms Only, to Make Them Look Even Worse than They Feel.” Don’t know what I’m talking about? Visit any department store’s maternity section. ๐Ÿ˜‚ But if you’re a preggy mom in the Philippines, save yourself the wasted time and effort. Go straight to elin.ph. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’m wearing the Patrice Maxi Nursing Dress here. I was nursing Wolf in this photo! When I’m wearing Elin clothes, people usually think he’s asleep, but he’s actually breastfeeding. ๐Ÿ˜„
Parenting

Sweet Dreams

I once dreamt of becoming the president
Ruling the land with grace
Benevolent toward my people

I once dreamt of becoming a saint
Leading thousands in worship
Singing hymns and making miracles

I once dreamt of becoming an astronaut
Voyaging beyond the unknown
Saving the future

All those dreams
remained figments of my naivety
Worlds away from the reality
of growing up

All I dream about now
are tiny shoes and cribs
and my fair baby
falling down

I am jolted awake
and he is safe in my arms
breathing softly, thank God

He stirs and nestles against me
Smiling in his sleep
as I kiss his forehead
It's so quiet
yet overwhelming

Is there anything more profound?

Parenting

Wolf’s First Solid Food

Today marks Wolf’s 7th month! To celebrate, we decided to let him have his first taste of solid food. Although he is not yet able to sit up well unsupported, he has been eager to participate during meal time by avidly watching me eat and sometimes even grabbing my spoon. He has been showing interest in food, and so I wanted to let him have a taste to see how he takes to it.

Wolf is patiently waiting for his food. โ˜บ๏ธ
A healthy humble offering to his Little Lordship!

 

I decided months ago that his first solid food will be fresh avocado. Why avocado?

  1. Avocado is a super food and is even said to be “nature’s perfect food,” as it contains healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals that aid in developing baby’s brain, strengthening his immune system, and supplying him with essential nutrients.
  2. Avocado tastes good but is not overwhelming. It is soft and creamy, with a very subtle hint of sweetness. It is advisable to start with a bland food so that baby does not reject bland food later on (ex. If you start with mango, baby might want that level of sweetness all the time). Avocado on its own is not too flavorful, and that’s why many people eat it with sugar or condensed milk. I enjoy eating it alone though. I can think of no other fruit that is more similar to milk than avocado, and so I surmise that it is an ideal first solid food.
  3. Avocado is natural and unprocessed. One popular first baby food is infant cereal, but these are usually heavily processed and may be more difficult for baby to digest. As much as possible, I want to feed Wolf fresh, whole, and natural food.
  4. Avocado is the only natural baby food I know of that contains more fat and calories than breastmilk. Many people think that once babies begin eating solids, they will bulk up faster. Most of the time, this is actually not the case, because breastmilk has more calories and fat than most food given to babies. I constantly monitor Wolf’s weight to ensure he stays within normal range and doesn’t lose weight again. As much as possible, I want to give him solid food that’s high in good fat and calories. Avocado has more than twice the amount of calories and around four times more fat than breastmilk, and so I think avocado will help Wolf continue his healthy weight gain.
  5. Avocado is in season during May to September, which coincides with Wolf’s 5th to 9th months, the time of his first exploration of solids. It’s best to go with what’s in season when feeding babies (and adults too). This way, you get a variety of healthy, fresh food, just as nature intended.

 

Wolf’s first solid food, yummy avocado! โค๏ธ

So how did Wolf like it? Well, I can say that for now, he still prefers breastmilk. Haha. He did eat without making any fuss, but he ate just less than a tablespoon before losing interest. Granted, I nursed him before feeding the avocado, as is advised for babies below one year old. After he warms up to the activity of eating solids, he’ll gradually increase his appetite for them. Baby steps!

We mashed the avocado and mixed in a bit of breastmilk.
Wolf anticipating the feast ahead!
His first bite!
Nom nom nom
I’m sorry for the mess, Mom!
Just kidding. I’m not sorry at all! Mwahahaha!
Parenting

Aller Plasma Toy Sterilizer: A Must-Have for OC Moms and Dads

The joy I have felt being a mom is incomparable to any of the previous highs of my life. However, the expense of raising a child is also, unfortunately, unparalleled. Wolf is not yet even one year old, yet I already feel like I’ve spent more on him than I have on myself for my whole 27 years of existence. Haha. God is just so good that He continues to provide for us. So far, we are able to afford the things we need and want even without me working full-time. 

I suppose, being a low maintenance girl, it’s a bit difficult for me to get used to spending on someone extremely high maintenance. Babies really need so many things! Buying stuff for a baby is especially tricky, because many fancy products that are marketed as must-haves may not actually be necessary. Parents have to be discerning about where to allocate their hard-earned cash. Does the baby need a crib with built-in music and vibration, a crib with a changing station, or can he just sleep in a cardboard box like the babies in Finland? Haha. Do we buy the stroller with 360 degree wheel rotation, the one with newborn support, or the one with a detachable bassinet? There are really so many options, but compromises have to be made when we purchase big-ticket items, if we are to set aside money for the future. 

One thing though that I do not compromise on is Wolf’s health. His vaccinations are always up-to-date and administered at a private hospital, Asian Hospital (we could actually save a lot by getting them at government health centers for free, but the brands of the vaccines used in those health centers have been known to cause unwanted side effects). I invested in a double electric breast pump, because I am exclusively breastfeeding Wolf and plan to do so as long as he desires it. When it is a matter of health, I am ready to fork over the cash. And so when my cousin and fellow mommy Roxanne suggested we check out the Aller Plasma Toy Sterilizer for cleaning Wolf’s toys, despite its high price, we purchased the sterilizer without a second thought. It’s a must to be fastidious about sanitation for Wolf, especially because diarrhea is very common among babies his age, as they tend to put everything in their mouths. 

Aller Plasma Toy Sterilizer in blue
The sterilizer comes in blue, pink, or white. I would’ve preferred the white one, but only the blue and pink ones were being sold at a discount. Boo.

The Aller Plasma Toy Sterilizer uses plasma (ionized gas) to quickly and safely sterilize items at room temperature. This type of sterilization is the same type used to purify water and decontaminate surgical instruments! Because the sterilization process does not involve heat, water, or chemicals, it is safe to use to sterilize any type of material. The Aller Sterilizer is really handy for sterilizing irregularly shaped materials that are difficult to clean manually (as are many of Wolf’s toys). It is especially nifty for sterilizing battery-operated stuffed toys that cannot be washed, such as Wolf’s favorite musical seahorse. It can be used to sterilize other stuff too, such as make-up brushes, towels, and even cellphones! The sterilization process takes just 15 minutes and consumes just 3 watts per session, and so toys can be sterilized before every use.

Aller Plasma Toy Sterilizer in blue
Spot Mr. Seahorse! โค๏ธ
Aller Plasma Toy Sterilizer in blue
The sterilizer doubles as a toy box too. I love how it keeps Wolf’s toys clean and organized!

I am quite satisfied with my purchase. I don’t have to worry about Wolf exploring everything with his mouth, because I can ensure that all his toys are squeaky clean, down to the molecular level! There is only one minor inconvenience, and that is the design of the lid, which can be tricky to close without getting your fingers caught, as the grooves are inconveniently located in front and at the back, and not at the sides. With practice though, one gets the hang of closing the box without self-injury. 
Aller Plasma Toy Sterilizer in blue
Placing the grooves at the sides instead of the front and back would have made placing the lid much easier!
Aller Plasma Toy Sterilizer in blue
Just plug it in and switch it on. It shuts off automatically (signaled by the light going out) after sterilization. It’s so convenient!
THE VERDICT

Peso Damage: P7,750 (promo price, discounted by P1,000)
Value for Peso: 4.75 / 5.0

For OC moms like me, the Aller Plasma Toy Sterilizer is worth spending on, because it gives me peace of mind. I can let my baby explore freely knowing that all his toys are stripped of disease-carrying germs. I see the device as a necessary investment, as I’d rather spend a few thousands now than tens of thousands later on hospital bills. As they say, prevention is better than cure, and better safe than sorry!