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Festive Menudo Recipe

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And just like that Christmas is over. You must be ready for the New Year.

Well, as for me, I'm not. Still contemplating whether to go or not to go to see the NYE fireworks in Burj Khalifa in Downtown Dubai. (Oh oh! here we go again)

...and still working on our new years eve menu while trying to finish all the leftover food from last Christmas dinner.

We still have some of this delicious Menudo in the fridge. I cooked about a kilo and that's a lot for a family of four but it was actually done on purpose.


Menudo is Philippines traditional meat stew. It can be pork, beef or chicken. Unlike its counterpart in Mexico that uses tripe and chili, our Menudo dish uses lean meat, some pork belly, and liver. Menudo is not an everyday dish. It is mostly cooked for special occasions like birthdays, baptism, fiesta and yes Christmas or New Year.

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Beauty Night at Vivaldi by Alfredo Russo Sheraton Dubai Creek

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It's a pity that I'm not able to attend many wonderful events lately. Not that I don't want to, but because I can't.

but...

there are some fabulous events that fit perfectly with my schedule like the one I attended just recently at Sheraton Dubai Creek.


It was an event I wouldn't want to miss.

I could not help but to feel festive as I enter Sheraton Dubai Creek.

Giant Christmas tree at Sheraton Dubai Creek entrance
Up until I reached the entrance of Vivaldi by Alfredo Russo, fully dressed up in pink baloons and silver ornaments. Suddenly my mood shifted, to more of a ladies night party mood.


The event is nothing if not the fanciest, after all...


it's the sixth and grandest edition of #SheratonDXBeautyNight hosted by Vivaldi by Alfredo Russo Restaurant and Lounge.

View from Vivaldi by Alfredo Russo's Terrace
It was a beauty night dedicated to all ladies from Dubai, inspired by beauty lifestyle.

It was a wonderful night made exemplary with the attendance of beauty ambassador, model, make up artist and fashion blogger Dina Akesbi and evening host Ghizlane Cherqaoui

Hair show by Mikeandjack hair & beauty salon

Mike & Jack in Action
Fashion show by Aya Al Jawhary

Latest and trendiest Abaya Collection
Aya Al Jawhary with her darling
and some live entertainment by Dubai Drums.

All through out the night, ladies were treated to some make up touch up and beauty treatments

Bourjois Middle East has put up a make up station where ladies get a free makeover or touch up on their make up for that selfie-perfect shot or mini fashion photoshoot by Hamza El Ghazy

Shiela and I at Bourjois makeup station



Glamour nails salon & spa are the ones who did my beautiful rose gold chrome nails. Perfect for the holiday season so you can, instead of shine, sparkle.


Rose Gold Chrome nails
Beauty On Click app was also launched. Available on App Store Store and Google Play. Ladies who downloaded the app during the event enters a raffle draw and get the chance to win fantastic prizes. I got lucky to received a notification and won a beautiful set of Kardashian Beauty Haircare products.



The night was livelier as guests swayed and danced to the beat of Dj Amer Sallah R&B and HipHop remixes while free flowing beverages are available for ladies.


Thank you and Congratulations to Vivaldi by Alfredo Russo and Sheraton Dubai Creek! It was a lovely evening of glamour and beauty.
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Inn The Park: Dubai's Newest Neighborhood ''Green'' Cafe

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Al Khazzan Cadillac Park was built in the 1980's. It's one of the few community parks that Dubai, Satwa rather, has back then that offers greenery for relaxation with the 40-meter high water tank that serves as it's landmark. The old park was demolished a few years ago and was rebuilt to become the first "zero energy" park in the emirate

It is easy to locate it as it is just exactly opposite City Walk. Just think of blue water tower.

The all new Al Khazzan Park

The new Al Khazzan Park runs on full solar energy, thanks to the solar energy collected from the sun through an area of more than 400m2 of PV panels. The energy collected provides electricity for the building, automatic irrigation systems and park lighting at night.

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Dubai Water Canal by Night

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When we learned about the permanent closure of Jumeirah Beach to make way for the Dubai Water Canal Project, we were saddened. It's one of our favorite beach parks in Dubai.

Fast forward to today, we are happy to see the project came to being and now has become another popular (still shaping up) and newest destination in Dubai. Knowing that Jumeirah Beach is undergoing re-development makes us all the more excited. I am sure it's going to be bigger and better than ever.


Dubai Water Canal Project is an extension of the Deira Creek linking Business Bay to Arabian Gulf. The part where you can find the pink waterfall is called the Crystal Lagoon and the land soon to be developed along the canal is called the Public Realm.

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Ice Cream and Desserts at Morelli's Gelato Dubai Mall

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We found ourselves at Morelli's Gelato Dubai Mall branch the other night with a big appetite for ice cream and decadent desserts waiting to be satisfied.


Morelli's Gelato is an ice cream parlor with the white and unmistakable violet decor at the lower ground of The Dubai Mall with a beeline of giddy ice cream lovers.


Morelli's Gelato is an institution. Founded in 1907, they've been serving Italian ice creams for five generations. In Dubai, we are lucky to get three branches. The other two is in Mall of the Emirates and Jumeirah Beach.

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Palawan: Casitas De Az Pension l Budget Accommodation in Puerto Princesa

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While I was booking our hotel in Puerto Princesa, Palawan for our vacation last July, I asked my friend who owned a travel agency who also arranged the airline flights and guided tour for us, to give me several options. As thorough as I know he is, he came up with some of the luxurious hotels as well as cheap / budget hotels in Puerto Princesa for me to chose from. I know that we will be mostly out and about exploring so budget hotels are a great option for me. It was a family trip with my mother-in-law (MIL) so I wanted a budget hotel without compromising the cleanliness, location, comfort and service for our 3 days 2 nights stay.

I read good reviews about Casitas De Az Pension that's why I didn't hesitate to give it a go.

Reception

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10 Camping Essentials l Al Qudra Lakes Dubai Overnight Camping

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One of the favorite things we like to do in this time of year here in Dubai is to go on a desert camping.

Imagine full day sun, clear blue skies, cool breeze, .00001 percent chance of rain while in a beautiful desert landscape. It's a camper's dream.


Same time last year, we camped at Al Aryam Island in Abu Dhabi, also a perfect camping spot. This time around, we didn't go far. We drove just 45 minutes to Al Qudra Lakes inside Saih Al Salam Desert, on the outskirts of Dubai.

Al Qudra Lakes is a man-made lake that spans up to 10 hectares and home to more that 100 species of birds including migratory birds. A wonderful place to camp with family and friends

We used Waze app to get there. The only problem was, once you reach the area, it was difficult for the app to help you navigate. We were already going in circles, good thing we luckily found our friends who came early to set up camp. It was dark as there is no lamp post, there is no signage either so it is easy to get lost. It is advisable to come before dusk and if you are in a convoy, be sure to stick together.

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Going Vegetarian at Govindas Jumeirah Dubai

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I discovered a new dining spot with some seriously delicious Indian vegetarian fare. They are in Umm Suqeim 2, Jumeirah, on the Beach Road!

It's called Govindas!


They have a branch in Karama which has a 15-year successful history. Well known among the huge Indian community in Dubai. We aren't vegans so I guess it's one of those restaurants that we would not normally look for but thanks to this dinner invite we discovered a gem. I also didn't expect vegetarian dishes to be this good and satisfying compared to its non-vegetarian counterparts.

Now, if I'll be asked where is the best vegetarian restaurant in Dubai, I would definitely point fingers to Govindas.

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Cavite: Motorcycle Road Trip to Kaybiang Tunnel via Tagaytay & Nasugbu Road

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Ferald and I went on our first motorcycle road trip together when we were in the Philippines last July. It was a spur-of-the-moment kind of trip. We were only supposed to visit his dad's grave in Taal Batangas but what I didn't know was he has other plans and that I was in for a road trip I've never done before.

Feralds brother is a seasoned rider in the Philippines. With the growing traffic in Metro Manila, he chose to ride their motorcycle on a daily basis rather than to commute and use the public transport. On weekends and free days, he used to go with big riding groups to places like Baguio, Cagayan, Rizal, Cavite, Batangas and many other wonderful places.

This idea of traveling by motorcycle thrilled us both. Just in time, his sister got herself a brand new motorbike. A Yamaha Mio-Soul 125 CC. Ferald borrowed it and took it for some sort of test drive to Batangas with me as his back rider. I've never been to any far-flung places in the Philippines on a motorcycle. This was the first.

We kicked off from my in-law's house in Laguna past 8:00 am. From Cabuyao, Laguna, we rode via Tagaytay without stopping and reached Taal, Batangas roughly around 11:00 am. I only managed to take this photo of Taal Volcano whilst on a moving motorcycle. I promise to take you around Taal if you read on.

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Seafood Sundays and more at Millennium Plaza Hotel Dubai

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Millennium Plaza Hotel Dubai recently introduced Epicurean Nights. It's a journey of discovery of some of the finest cuisines from across the world.

Embarking on this epicurean journey, I was invited to try their Seafood Sundays. 


Metro! is the hotels all day dining restaurant located on the 5th floor. The floor to ceiling windows gives you sweeping views of the busy Sheikh Zayed Road and all its skyscrapers. It's bright green furnishings gave accents to the clean white wall finish.


The dinner service starts at 6:30 pm but the invitation I received says 7:30 pm. I decided to come half an hour early to be sure I can have a good look at the spread as well as take photos while everything is still intact but I guess the good stuff are not meant to last.

Steamed Grouper Fish
but there are far better things if you know where to look

Live cooking station and fresh seafood
the live cooking station was the highlight of the buffet. Freshest catch of the day in a bed of ice where you can plate your pick and the chef will cook it for you.

There was not a time that the station got vacant so I settled for nevertheless equally delicious and satisfying dishes on the spread

chef preparing the seafood dishes at the love cooking station
the cold seafood station has succulent prawns, muscles, crabs and lobster ready to eat. Have it plain or build a salad. It's all up to you

cold seafood station

smoked fish

smoked salmon mousse
I started my dinner with some hearty seafood minestrone soup followed by some seafood ceviche uniquely served on a shell and different smoked fishes.


then there's my plate of everything else. I took small portions of each so I can have a taste. There's cheese sambousek, steamed fish fillets, steamed vegetables, mixed vegetables, prawns, grilled salmon with mint sauce, beef medallions, potatoes and beef kadhai.


Every single dish on this plate was delicious but the one that really stands out was the fish I got from the almost finished steamed hammour. No wonder it was the first to go but I wonder why it was not replenished during the service.

We're not so keen to queue at the live cooking station just because there was no chance. Every time we come to choose, there were so many people that beat us to it plus the main dishes on the spread was enough to satiate our seafood and meat cravings.


The husband indulged and dug in seafood literally.


I let the kids chose their food. Prince ate prawns and crab from the cold seafood station with some steamed rice while my daughter who ate very little these days watching her waistline had prawn tempura, beef medallions, and potatoes.

For dessert, we had some exotic rice pudding which I find very comforting because it is somewhat similar to one of our native sweets back home. Then my favorite sweet cheese rolls and some fresh fruits from this beautiful arrangements.



The service was exceptional. I was happy with our server, she speaks English fluently, she was pleasantly chatty, attentive and clears our table quickly; the chefs, knowledgeable of their dishes. We are also pleased to meet the Management that night and was able to thank them for having us.

Metro has different themed nights so make sure to check them out, chose your favorite foodie destination and have dinner with your friends and family

You can dine around the world without leaving Dubai at Millennium Plaza Hotel Dubai's Epicurean Nights

Seafood Sundays - Enjoy a mouthwatering variety of the freshest seafood delicacies including crabs, oysters, prawns and other treasures of the sea. The ‘catch of the day’ is prepared at a live cooking station with indulgent desserts offering the perfect end to the meal for AED 159* per person with unlimited soft beverages from 6.30pm – 11.30pm.

Mediterranean Mondays Delight your senses with an irresistible array of Mediterranean tastes and indulge your appetite with an extensive buffet complimented by a live food station and salad bar for only AED 129* per person with unlimited soft beverages from 6.30pm – 11.30pm.

BBQ Nights – Every Wednesday and Thursday Step into the weekend with the BBQ Nights as the air fills up with aromas of irresistible charcoal grill featuring the best of Asian, American and Oriental flavors with a succulent selection of delicious barbecued seafood and meats for AED 139* per person with unlimited soft beverages from 7:00 pm to 11 pm.

Far Eastern Fridays – Every Friday Embark on a timeless journey to the Far East and savor flavorful delicacies from the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and China for only AED129* per person with unlimited soft beverages from 6.30pm to11.30pm.

Family Brunch Saturdays Kickoff your Saturday with a cheerful family brunch buffet featuring a sumptuous selection of the best dishes from all of the epicurean nights. Gather your family or a group of friends and head to this fabulous brunch venue and enjoy discounted spa voucher giveaways while the little ones enjoy exciting and fun activities. The Family Brunch is priced at AED 159* per person with unlimited soft beverages from 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm.

Millennium Plaza Hotel Dubai
Sheikh Zayed Road Dubai,The United Arab Emirates
191055 Dubai UAE
T +971 4 387 7777Accessible via Emirates Towers Metro Station
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SOUQ.com White Friday SALE

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Mark your calendar guys and get ready for the biggest 4-day shopping festival happening from the 23rd - 26th of November coz it's SOUQ.com White Friday sale once again.

SOUQ.com is the largest retail and online marketplace platform in UAE, KSA and Egypt. If you love shopping SALE like me and if you like shopping  online, this is the best time to do it to bag the biggest deals and discounts.

White Friday Launch

Speaking at the launch held last nigh at Ritz Carlton, DIFC was SOUQ.com's CEO and Co-Founder Mr. Ronaldo Mouchawar and I quote ''After smashing all online shopping records during a momentous White Friday 2015, this year we have prepared for the C with an anticipated 1 million item expected to be sold via our website and mobile app during the four-day extravaganza."


It was such a wonderful event. Kris Fade - Virgin Radio's DJ was the host for the evening. Guest were given each a selfie stick and who ever takes the best selfie wins. Games were played and prices were given courtesy of course by SOUQ.com


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The Palm and Burj Al Arab Sightseeing Boat Tour with Xclusive Tours Dubai

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It is not every day that we see the whole of The Palm and Burj Al Arab from the other side of the city, from the seaside. There's just one way and it's to go on a Dubai sightseeing boat tour or on a yacht cruise around The Palm islands.

Xclusive Tours Dubai offers a 90 Minute The Palm and Burj Al Arab Sightseeing Tour and a 30 Minute Dubai Marina Tour

The Palm Jumeirah is an artificial archipelago in the United Arab Emirates, created using land reclamation. It is one of three planned islands called the Palm Islands (Palm Jumeirah, Palm Jebel Ali and Palm Deira). However the smallest, it has many beautiful hotels in its branches with Atlantis The Palm Hotel, a major attraction located at the apex of the Palm Jumeirah island.

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Batangas: Family Day Tour at Tierra Mercedes Nature Resort

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When I am in the Philippines, I like to immerse myself into lots and lots of greenery and nature tripping for I know that when I'm back to Dubai, I will miss it so much.

When we were looking for a place to treat the family during our last vacation in the Philippines, we found a beautiful mountain resort located in Cuenca, Batangas, the province where my husband Ferald grew up.

We found Tierra Mercedes Nature Resort. It is a beautiful property by Mt. Maculot trail and it has 7,000 sq. m. of resort space.



photo credit

We left Laguna early to be at Cuenca Batangas by 9:00 in the morning. We wanted to maximize our time to enjoy the facilities and to do as many activities as we can.

Before heading to the resort, we stopped by the local market of Cuenca to buy some fresh seafood. There are grilling facilities at the resort so we were able to cook the things we bought from the market.The resort has its own restaurant but they allow guests to bring in cooked meals. We brought with us some of our favorite Filipino dishes like chicken adobo, longanisa, and salted egg mixed with tomatoes. We grilled some aubergines, milkfish stuffed with onions and tomatoes, tiger prawns and pork marinated in barbecue sauce.

All this for our boodle fight style lunch later that day.
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Our First Flying Experience with Philippine Airlines

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Our first flying experience with our national carrier Philippine Airlines was our flight from Dubai to Manila last July of this year. It was a good flying experience for us with just a few reservations. If you will ask me would I book with Philippine Airlines again? Yes, I would. Flight PR 659 Manila bound uses Airbus A330-300 if I'm not mistaken and it is quite a big airplane, however full with passengers, it was a quiet flight for us.


Few days before our flight, the kids were dreading the nine-hour flight (we don't fly often) and the nonexisting in-flight entertainment of Philippine Airlines or so we thought. I planned on bringing some activity materials for the kids but I was too overwhelmed by the things I needed to complete at work before our vacation plus just thinking about packing for a month-long trip was exhausting. I didn't have time to work on that plan so I just relied on the available games on the iPad hoping it would entertain them. I chose a night flight so we can all just go to sleep after we ate our food and when we wake up, we will all be in the Philippines.

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Fun Friday Morning at Splash N' Party Jumeirah Dubai

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There's a new aqua-park exclusively built for kids in Jumeirah here in Dubai and we had the chance to visit it a couple of weekends ago.

Splash N' Party is an amazing place and we all had a wonderful Friday morning spent with them. It's a one-villa compound developed to a unique recreational playground, aquatic park and a party venue in one.

Splash N' Party is an ideal place for the whole family. A safe and great place for our little ones to have a splash to their heart's content.

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Legoland Dubai: Sneak Preview of The LEGO® Movie™ 4D A New Adventure

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Legoland Dubai is due to open on October 31st, 2016. That's by the end of this month or just after 10 days!

We are all excited to see Legoland rise up from the sands of Dubai and I'm sure all the kids can't wait. Every day my son would tell me about Legoland.

My kids lighted up when I told them we are going to Legoland Dubai. While it is not open to the public yet, we were invited to a sneak preview of the Lego Movie 4D The New Adventure and this 4D movie is exclusively shown at Legoland properties worldwide. The movie is 3D combined with the physical effect that occurs in the studio such as rain, the wind, snow, strobe lights, and vibration effects making the experience unforgettable.

Arriving at Legoland Dubai, the children had a meet and greet with Emmet and Wyldstyle, the main characters in the Lego Movie.


 John - Legoland Operations Manager welcomed us all before the movie starts.


Yup, that's right, LEGOLAND® Dubai’s ‘First to Play’ Annual Pass families are basically the very first guest of Legoland Dubai.



Watch a video of the final tour around LEGOLAND® Dubai before opening day on 31 October 2016 here

"LEGOLAND® Dubai is the ultimate world of year-round LEGO® theme park adventures for families with children aged 2-12. It will feature over 40 interactive rides, shows and attractions and 15,000 LEGO® model structures made from over 60 million LEGO® bricks. LEGOLAND® Dubai will feature six themed lands - LEGO® CITY, ADVENTURE, KINGDOMS, IMAGINATION, FACTORY and MINILAND - each unique in their design, entertainment and playful learning experience. 

Located adjacent to LEGOLAND® Dubai, LEGOLAND® Water Park is the only water park in the region designed specifically for kids aged 2-12 and their families. It will include over 20 water slides and attractions.

Opening in October 2016, LEGOLAND® Dubai and LEGOLAND® Water Park are located at Dubai Parks & Resorts."
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