Sunday, August 26, 2012

United we stand

This may be too late a post but I just wanted to share this video I stumbled across in Gulf News. You may have heard about the recent calamity that has hit the Philippines, there was an 8-day period of intense rain and thunderstorms which was actually not caused by a typhoon but of a strong Southwest Monsoon resulting floods that has submerged several towns, provinces and even some parts of Manila - the Philippines Capital City. When I heard of the calamity on the news of course my first concern was my family and I am thankful that they are well and safe. My father even planned to join some rescue operations using his big jeep if he was not down with fever. Here in Abu Dhabi, it did not strike me to start a relief operation campaign, I am willing to volunteer if there was one but I guess I found out too late. I salute the organizers of this campaign and here's hoping that they never get tired of helping our fellow Filipinos and praying that the Philippines will see sunny days ahead.

Friday, August 24, 2012

relaxing the asian way

It has been a stressful kind of week - what with the piled up transaction over the long holiday
and the pending online course that we have to finish as part of our staff accreditation program
 - the pressure was getting on to us that my office mates and I decided to blow off steam
by meeting for dinner and drinks at Cho Gao in Crown Plaza.
They have a 50% discount on drinks during happy hour (from 5-7 I think) and because
we decided to meet at 7, the early birds smartly made advanced drinks orders to be
served out during the course of our stay. I have got to say that I love Cho Gao's dimly
lit interiors of paper lanterns, dark wood and dispay panels showcasing vases and
other asian inspired items - it giving us a cozy, relaxed and intimate vibe as we sipped
cocktails feeling the stress slip away.
The menu consists of a variety of Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese and Indonesian cuisine
and we ordered our way thru asia with dumplings, roasted duck with pancakes, beef
rendang, pad thai and vietnamese style spring rolls. Served hot and fresh, everything
we ordered was flavorful, we readily digged in before I remembered to take photos.
Being a dessert person - the dessert selection was too few for me and though the
presentation was dazzling the dessert itself lacked oomph, it whet my sweet tooth alright
but fell short of satisfying it.
Overall it was a good dining experience, I recommed it for drinks and a light meal.
It isn't your typical family restaurants but is great for getting together with friends
for some drinks and appetisers.

happy hour cocktails

a drink aptly named 'after work'


roasted duck with pancakes - a personal fave


surprise! it's the bill

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

back to work

*sigh* the Eid holidays are over, the three days are over in a snap *sigh*. Going back to work after a holiday always feels kind of depressing, in my case I end up cramming last minute activities just so I could feel a sense of satisfaction knowing that the vacation didn't go to waste and that I did something sort of productive.

What saddens me is not the going back to work part - I sort of missed work, but the fact that it feels like my free period is being cut short as we are back to out normal eight hour work schedule. I guess I liked and gotten used to leaving home late and coming home early and the perks that goes with it - no rushing in the morning but a slow and steady pace where I am able to cook and have a full breakfast when before I leave holding my sandwich in one hand and my blazer in another. Oh I am sure going to miss these laid back days.

Remind me that I have to leave home at 7:30 max tomorrow - I had better set my alarm clock...

*image credit to

Monday, August 20, 2012


It has been sort of a tradition for us to kind of 'update' the look of our home during Eid, probably because we have time and (some) money to spare - what with the three day holiday and the advanced crediting of the salary.

Nothing big mind you - just some small additions, some decluterring and some sprucing up. Small changes really, but it makes for a brighter and cozier home perfect for lazing around during these long holidays.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Eid Mubarak!

Eid Mubarak to all our Muslim friends!!!

Today has been declared the last day of Ramadan and the three day holiday marking the conclusion of the month long fasting starts tomorrow.

Here is hoping for a meaningful, fun and carefree holiday ahead!

*image credit to

Thursday, August 16, 2012

garlic flavor

One of the best things you can get in groceries here for cheap is garlic paste. The first time I tasted this I was hooked, it is great with grilled meats, for dip and makes an easy way to infuse flavor to butter for sautes and garlic bread.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

baby booties

I just realized something about myself today - I realized that if I made something that I am proud of I tend to look for excuses to make it again.Whether it be baking, crafting and cooking - if something turns out better that I expect I for sure will find ways to make or bake it again.

I previously posted about trying my hand at making a diaper cake for a baby shower - I was really happy at how cute it turned out and so I made another one - a mini diaper cake from the left over nappies that I had - this time I will be giving it to a coleague who works for a different depeartment.

this time I used baby booties as a topper - aren't they cute?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

boy oh boy!

I have always loved giving out hand made gifts. There is just something satisfying about working at an idea and making something nice and cute out of simple things.

For my flatmate's baby shower, I tried my hand at making a diaper cake. It was an impulse idea because I could not find that perfect gift to give, so I had to go from one store to another just to get all the materials I needed and boy am I glad I found everything, whew!!!

It's made from rolled up nappies, onesies, ribbons and a teddy bear... I wished I had more baby toys to decorate with but I didn't have time to plan ahead so...  anyhow I am quite surprised at how cute it turned out that I am sort of wishing I get invited to another baby shower just so I'd have an excuse to make one again!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

precious time

I must say, in all of seven years that I have lived here in the emirates I have 'enjoyed' this month of Ramadan the most. I don't mean to sound insensitive and 'enjoyed' does not mean I got to party hard while most of our fellows are fasting it just meant that I had the most use of precious time this month by spending it with friends and family, catching up on my reading and working on my hobbies.
With the shortened working hours and the now more effecient work system in my department, we are able to finish work and clock out on time. I am able to reach home early, finish my usual kitchen and cleaning duties and thus I have more spare time to do the things I have dismissed before in favor of the coziness of my bed and fluffy pillows. 
I am now into the first chapters of a popular (e)book series that I have downloaded following a curiosity that has been piqued by continous trending and social networking discussions. I have also tested more of the recipes that I have discovered thru the internet and though my waistline isn't too happy about it, my palate certainly is. I have also begun some DIY projects that I am hoping to give away as 'just because' presents. Most important of all, I am able to spend more time with my family back home via web chats.

There is a few days of shortened work period left before we go back to the usual 8 hour work shifts. I sure am going to miss having all this free time.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

chocolate cravings

I confess to having the biggest sweet tooth ever!!! I could not go a day without a bite of something sweet. I love them so much evidently that on a dare my brother offered me a cash reward if I could lay off sweets for a month - I know I could not do it so I didn't even bother trying.

Anyhow, one of the cheapest, most sinfully rich chocolate cake ever available in a fast food joint would have to be KFC's chocolate cake. I swear that if this slice is taken out of its plastic box and plated nicely with all the trimmings it would be at par with 5 star hotel chocolate cakes. It is moist but crumbly, made with dark chocolate it looks almost black in the shadows and is not overwhelmingly sweet that I could devour a slice or more and not get sick of it.

This is hardly an advert for it, just sharing a golden nugget of information you can use when you have that big craving for some decadent chocolately goodness but don't have much money to burn for it!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

turning Japanese

Over the years I think my palate for Japanese food has developed into a more sophisticated one - I am now able to appreciate the subtle flavor of sushi, sashimi and the various handrolled nigiri when before I would not dare touch anything with raw slices of fish no matter how appetising they looked, beautifully laid out on a platter. I would only take fried tempura and crabstick and vegetable rolls not realizing I am missing a lot.

I don't really remember what how it happened but I had a change of heart and am glad I did. Japanese Cuisine is an art. From the preparation to presentation, everything is meticulously prepared. What I like best about Japansese food is that the flavors are very subtle so you can savor the freshness of the seafood, the slight tang of vinegar flavored rice, the sea saltiness of the nori and the intense heat of wasabi. There are no overpowering flavors that mask the real taste of the food.

Whenever we have a hankering for a taste of Japan, our go to place is Samurai. Samurai offers a variety of good quality hand rolled sushi nigiri, bento boxes, ramen and other noodle and rice dishes at very affordable prices. My favorite part of dining at Samurai is getting to cook my own yakiniku. There is something so authenthic about grilling your own meat japanese style, all that is missing is the tatami mats and performing Geishas and it would have felt like I am dining in the land of the rising sun.

how cute is it that they provided me with a pink cherry blossom decorated plate set?!

they have a ramen/ sushi bar too, this is where the chef hand makes all the sushi and nigiris

my lamb yakiniku set complete with rice, appetizer, salad and miso soup! heat up the grill!

seems like I started picking up the contents of my sushi platter and popping them into my mouth before taking pictures so you have to trust me when I say Samurai is one of the best Japanese restaurants in Abu Dhabi