Tag Archives: feature

Baby Haul 1

18 Oct

Aside from cloth diapers, I haven’t bought anything for the baby. But we have almost everything we need in terms of clothes. All of them given by or lent by friends. Mostly pyjamas, cardigans and coats for winter – since I’m giving birth in December. Hindi kaya ng diapers + Guitar sando dito.

But I still wanted to get things for her that I chose myself. Para special naman ng slight.

Good thing the husband and I agree on 1 thing – no pink!! Yes, it’s a girl but no, she doesn’t need to be stereotyped. Naks. It doesn’t make sense but the bottom line is, we do not like pink.

Her nursery will be lilac, light green, light blue, and silver/cream. Her diapers are mostly neutral with uber cute prints.

I like warm colors. No apple green/orange combos please. Let’s leave that on the toys and other stimulating activities and not on my baby.

As you can see, this haul is mostly sober colors and autumn-y.

I love the silver bird detail on this pyjama.

These I got because the striped onesie is cute and they come in 3 packs. I think I paid 9€ for the pack. Not bad.

These I love. Even though they don’t open up in front. The colors are neutral and I love the decals in front of the onesies. They’re sort of seude-ish. Just the right mix of color and style.

A bit boring some might say, but I prefer these than those horrible t-shirts filled with cartoon characters. So un-chic.

 

But who knows, one day the little critter will decide she wants a giant picture of Dora on her shirt and redecorate her room in all pink.

 

For now, c’est moi qui decide!

Cloth diapering in France

21 Sep

Ehhhhh? Say what??

That’s right. We are cloth diapering. Chances are, like ALL of our friends, you’ll think we’re crazy. Adding all that laundry work when you’re a new mom is like suicide, you might say. And then the age old question, “What about the poop”

If you search about cloth diapers on the internet, you’ll find thousands of blogs and videos and reviews on cloth diapers. Why one should cloth diaper, the hardships of cloth diapering, etc.

My mom cloth diapered my last 2 brothers. Okay, that was like 20 years ago and things have changed. My aunt cloth diapered all 4 of her boys, the youngest being almost 2 years old. So that’s pretty recent – and cloth diapers have changed all those years. And they are oh so cute nowadays and easy to use, even for poopophobia’d dads.

So we, mostly I, decided to cloth diaper. Surprisingly, the husband was 100% supportive of it.

I didn’t jump on the bandwagon halfheartedly either. I did a ton of research before deciding to go for it. Here are a couple of things I considered and I found out.

Things I considered

  1. I said my mom and aunt cloth diapered. Well, the difference is – they had nannies to do the nappy changes and more importantly, they had household help to do the laundry. I on the other hand will have to do everything.
  2. We only have a washing machine. No dryer. We only just line dry. Out on the balcony in summer and inside the house in winter. I will be giving birth in winter.
  3. In winter, our bulky clothes usually line dry in 2 days. But the sheets and shirts can dry in a day or so, near the heater or in the bathroom.
  4. After my maternity leave, we’ll leave the baby either in daycare or with a nanny. Will they/she be willing to continue cloth diapering then? This is important so I would know if I should really invest in cloth diapers.
  5. Cloth diapers are expensive when you first buy them and you don’t save money until a few months later. So, how much are we willing to spend considering that we don’t know how long we will be cloth diapering.
  6. The husband is all thumbs when it comes to tiny things – so I had to think about ease of use for him.

So with all that in mind, I went around blogs, forums, YouTube and learned a couple of things.

Things I learned

  1. There less French websites/blogs/videos about cloth diapering that American ones. French moms don’t post their stash nor do reviews on diapers on YouTube. And I like watching more than reading.
  2. Cloth diapers and accessories are waaaayyyyy more expensive here than in the US.
  3. French moms have a slightly different way of prepping and maintaining their cloth dipes.
  4. There are a lot of types and styles and systems of cloth diapers and one can easily get confused as to which system is best.
  5. The most budget friendly system is the prefolds + covers. But it’s so hard to find newborn prefolds in France.
  6. Buying used is less expensive but you have to be careful who you buy from – and also, if you don’t mind used dipes on your baby’s butt.
  7. It’s quite easy to wash cloth diapers but you just need to be careful. It does add a bit to your household chores. But with a newborn, you’ll probably be washing more often anyway.
  8. You can wash dirty dipes with other clothes. It is possible but I don’t think I’d want to.
  9. You’ll need at least 24 diapers to be able to do laundry every other day – that’s with a dryer, I think. I’d need more since I can only line dry.
  10. You need special laundry soap for cloth diapers.
  11. You should not buy too much of one brand/style because if it doesn’t work for you, you would have wasted money on that stash.
  12. You can recover a bit of money by selling the diapers your baby has outgrown or the ones that don’t work for you.
  13. Cuteness factor x 100.

photo source

You’ll surely find more if you google a bit. But these are what stuck to me the most.

In the end, I chose to do mostly prefolds and covers and a couple of pocket diapers. I’ll probably do a post on my modest stash soon. I got most of my information on YouTube videos since it’s more “realistic”. Mostly american/english videos. Although there are a couple of super useful French sites on cloth diapering.

La Bourse Aux Couches Lavables – A very helpful forum on cloth diapering. Moms buy and sell used and sometimes even new diapers for good prices. If you haven’t had a lot of support from your friends then I suggest you go to this forum and talk to a few of the very helpful moms who have cloth diapered and survived. I spent most of my free time browsing through the forum.

Bulle de Coton – The official site of the Association pour la promotion des Couches Lavables. It’s has good information on the types of diapering systems, prepping, washing. It also has a list, albeit outdated, of sites where one can buy diapers, materials for making diapers, and rental services.

Les Couches Lavables.com –  I think this is sponsored by one of the best cloth diapering stores in France, LiliNappy. One can get basically the same information as in Bulle de Coton: types of diapers, washing, a few reviews.

Where to order online

LiliNappy – I love this store. They have the widest selection of brands I’ve seen so far. The site is easy to navigate through and they have a Destockage area where they regularly post discounted diapers. Free shipping from 79 Euros.

Bebe Au Naturelle – A good site when there are promos. But the selection is a bit limited. They sell other organic products for moms, the house, etc. I think the prices are cheaper than lilinappy by like 1 euro or something like that. Free delivery on most items – but at a Colis Relais, not at home.

TimTam Nature – I haven’t ordered anything from them yet since I prefer LiliNappy. Prices are a bit higher as well.

ApiNapi – Prices on this site are uber expensive. The only advantage is that they have a physical store in Paris and that can be helpful for moms thinking about cloth diapering. They also hold introduction classes on cloth diapering and using baby carriers and such.

Melicott – I like this site mostly for the Thirsties covers. They have the cheapest Thirsties covers so far. Though you do have to pay for shipping even if you buy a lot.

Eco-bebe – A wide selection of branded as well as the more affordable diapers. Although I don’t really like them because it seems that they’re selling those china diapers one can get for 4/5 euros at 10 euros.  They do have videos of how each diaper works so it’s very helpful.

There are more sites around and you can get good deals if you wait for the sale season and some sites do offer promos every now and then.

I hope this helped you out a bit. Especially english speaking moms in France who are thinking about cloth diapering.

I’d be happy to hear your point of view on this.

Kyoto: Nishiki market, Pontocho and the “Seine”

24 Feb

The first half of our first full day in Kyoto was spent booking bus tickets for Takayama. We walked from our machiya to the shopping street.

Wow, we spent like 1 hour waiting for the travel agencies to open and another 1.5 hours checking from agency to agency if they sell tickets for the bus we wanted. We ended up getting more expensive bus tickets because that was all they carried. Well, only 1 agency sold bus tickets and for just 1 bus line.  But all that waiting and walking around allowed us to explore the shopping streets of Kyoto. First stop, the Nishiki market.

It’s mostly food and things related to food like designer chopsticks and bento boxes. There are all sorts of pickles, fish (really cheap unagi), candies, pastries, 4000 yen melons. Think of something you’d want to eat in Japan and you’ll probably find it here. We weren’t able to take a lot of photos because we were too busy drooling over the food.

What surprised me is the small temple at the end of the street. It reminded me of going to mass in the middle of the mall in the Philippines. So is that an Asian thing?

Just another block or so from the end of Nishiki market is Pontocho.

The traditional district (more like street) for nightlife (read: geishas and tea houses). It was a nice street because of the cobble stones and of course its history. But nothing much to see here except for geishas going about their work and a lot of restaurants. There’s a kabuki theater here too.

Then we got some drinks for one of the numerous vending machines on the street and settled on the banks of  “the Seine” to people watch. We don’t know what the name of the river was so we just referred to it as  “the Seine”. Looked like other locals had the same idea as we did. We saw a lot of people with their bento boxes enjoying the sun and the river and just chilling out.

It was such a nice, relaxing morning in Kyoto. I still don’t know what the name of the river is but I love it to bits. We felt like tourists but also strangely at home. We felt like we’ve seen a lot but it was only the first part of the day.

If you’re planning on visiting Kyoto and have time in your hands, I definitely recommend this walk.

Uronza in Kyoto. A kyo-machiya.

16 Jan

One of the challenges when traveling to Japan is looking for good but not too expensive hotels. The choices on the Lonely Planet were so-so (and a bit expensive) so I had to google for Kyoto guesthouses. Guesthouses are usually old Japanese houses that they have converted to some sort of bed and breakfast minus the breakfast. Or  you can also say it’s a more adult version of a hostel.

I stumbled upon Uronza’s website one day and decided there and then that this is were we are going to stay in Kyoto. We were going to spend our nights in a Kyo-machiya.

From Uronza’s website:

A Kyo-machiya is a traditional Kyoto-style house in which ordinary Kyoto people live. It has several typical elements such as Koshido (a wooden lattice), and Mushikomado (a windows in the shape of an insect cage). The characteristic layout of such houses, long and narrow, is called unagi no nedoko (eel’s bed). All machiyas were built with traditional construction methods.

Entering a Kyo-machiya, most people feel a sort of nostalgia, the feeling we usually have about the dear old home. Your eye will be caught by the Doma, a long interior passage connecting the street and the inner part of the house. And, after walking one more pace, you will step into the Hibukuro (it’s more than seven meters…about 25ft. high.), a stairwell conveying an inexpressible feeling of openness.

The walls are made of real wood and earth, not plywood or mortar. Partitions such as sliding doors, called shoji and fusuma in Japanese, and folding screens (byobu) create flexible, multi-purpose spaces.

It doesn’t matter if you visit a Kyo-machiya for the first time or have visited many times before, it has always the atmosphere that will make you feel hokkori (a word, used in the Kyoto area, meaning ‘to rest’, ‘to relax’, ‘warm’).

That’s the small garden in the middle of the kyo-machiya.

The set-up is just like a house. So the facilities are shared. But we don’t mind. The place was super clean. They close between noon and 4pm to clean up the place. The toilets are awesome.

The seat is heated, there’s a remote, there’s a toilet seat cleaner and the sink is on top of the toilet’s water reservoir. Very green thinking. You flush using “used” water. Great water saving technique.

This is our first room. It’s at the back of the house just after crossing the garden. We were a bit apprehensive about making our own futons. But the owner showed us how to do it and it was easy peasy.

Taadaa…

There’s no breakfast but there is free tea and coffee. There’s also free internet. The owners also do a tea ceremony every Wednesday night in the living room.

After 2 nights in Uronza, we spent a few days in the Hida region. Then we went back to Kyoto and stayed here again. But this time we were in  a different room. It was bigger and was on the main part of the house, just on top of the living area.

We were just across from our old room. Does the circle window look familiar?

The decorations in the room were sparse but impressive. Not bad for only 2500 Yen per person per night. I read somewhere that you shouldn’t put your bags in these alcoves because they serve as decoration pieces. So our bags were strewn all over the place.

The place is a bit far from Gion and the Kyoto station but it’s just a few blocks away from the Nijo-jo and the shopping streets. So from the station you might want to take a bus to the hotel but once you’re there you can just walk around Kyoto and drink in the sights.

I would highly recommend this place for those planning to visit Kyoto. Especially if you are on a budget.

More info on the prices and on how to get there at the Uronza website.

Touch down and Arashiyama

7 Dec

*Warning: Photo-heavy post.

“I can’t believe we’re really here” was my first thought when we arrived at the Kansai International Airport (KIX). I was half expecting manga characters coming to greet us Youkoso! right off the plane.

But no, it was like a normal airport. Immigration was a breeze, no nasty questions. They took our photo, prints, stuck a barcode to our passports and we were free to explore the land of the rising sun. Sweet!

So off we went to get our JR day pass.

First stop Kyoto. First challenge finding which platform to go to. We reached the right platform just when the train was pulling away. What a way to start the day. We had to wait for an hour for the next train – which made us late for our check in time (our Machiya closes between noon and 4pm for cleaning). So we had to leave our bags at the train station and go straight to Arashiyama. It was the perfect timing for our first day in Japan.

Arashiyama is a small town west of Kyoto. It was like a half an hour (or less, not sure) train ride from the city center. Most people go there to see the bamboo forest. It was a very nice introduction to Japanese ‘culture’ and I’m glad we started our trip with this.

Of course we too went there to see the bamboo forest. Parang Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon lang ang drama.

“Toto, we’re not in Paris anymore!”

A downside of Arashiyama being beautiful is that it’s packed with tourists. When we were there, there were at least 3 groups of students on a field trip and more Japanese (adult) tour groups.

Aside from the bamboo forest, the town itself is super kawaii. There are tons of shops along the street but it still keeps it “old school” vibe.

we called this the ninja tuktuk

japanese school kids

We thoroughly enjoyed our walk around Arashiyama. There are other things to see there aside from the forest. Temples, parks, shops. If we didn’t just come from a long-haul flight we might have stayed longer and checked out the monkey park, the temples and maybe even the boat ride along the Hozu river. But we were sooo tired and we saw what we came for.

And just like that, it was time to go home. And do a bit of “siesta” (read: 6pm to 8am the next day).

Bye Arashiyama!

How to get there from Kyoto:

JR Sagano line from Kyoto station. 15 mins. 230 Yen. Stop: Saga-Arashiyama.

More information here.

Soft cinnamon sugar pretzels

18 Sep

For someone who has self-diagnosed ADHD I sure can’t stop obsessing about an idea that I’ve had in passing.

The other day I saw the unopened can of active dried yeast I bought during my breadmaker obsession days – which stopped as soon as I bought the can of yeast. Hello ADHD. Anyway, I made up my mind to do something with it this weekend. I first thought about doing some moroccan bread with a tajine or couscous dish. But I didn’t have enough spices for the tajine dish I wanted to make. So I searched again. Until I stumbled upon this site: Bretzels Moeulleux. It means soft pretzels in english and reminded me of Aunti Anne’s pretzels back home.

So at 9pm last night I went and fed my obsession.

Although I cut the original recipe in half, made it as cinnamon-sugar (so no salt on top of the pretzels), have a crappy oven, and they did not turn out as pretty as the original ones they did taste very good.

For a first time pretzel maker, I’d say I did pretty well. I probably need more practice in forming them though.

So here’s the recipe cut in half. I was able to make 4 pretzels with it:

What you need:

125 mL warm milk

1 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast

1 1/2 Tablespoon brown sugar

140 g flour – you might need maybe 2 Tablespoons more

1 Tablespoon melted butter

1/2 teaspoon salt

For the water bath:

750 mL water

1/3 cup  baking soda

For the topping

3 Tablespoons butter

cinnamon-sugar mix

What to do:

– In a mixing bowl, pour warm milk and yeast. Wait for maybe 2 minutes and add the sugar. Wait for another 8 minutes just until the yeast looks frothy.

– Add half of the flour, the melted butter, the rest of the flour and finally the salt.

– If you have a mixer with a dough hook, mix it just until the dough does not stick to the sides of the bowl anymore. At this stage you might need to add a bit of flour if you see that the dough is too sticky.

– Transfer the dough onto your work surface. Form into a ball. Lightly oil a big bowl, put dough ball in it, cover with a kitchen towel, put it in a warm place and let rise for about an hour.

– Preheat the oven to 210C. Punch the dough to let the air out and transfer to your floured work surface. Cut the dough into 4 and form them into pretzels.

– Heat the water and baking soda in a casserole. Make sure the water is not boiling. Poach the pretzels and put on the baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden.

– Brush tops with melted butter and dunk in cinnamon-sugar mix.

– Enjoy.

I warned you mine didn’t turn out very pretty. Next time maybe I’ll need to roll them out thinner and form bigger pretzels coz they rise a LOT in the oven.

But I promise you they are really good.

Meet Mr. EColi

15 Jun

For those of you following the news, maybe you would have heard of the EColi outbreak in Europe.

News flash! The bacteria has been found, not in Germany but in France. In our pantry to be exact. Okay, I’m kidding. But there still is (or maybe I should say was) something scary in our pantry. Yes, EColi level scary.

There’s one thing the husband does well at home – and it’s the one thing he only does anyway. That is to arrange our kitchen supplies. It’s funny that for someone who doesn’t care what his clothes cabinet look like (armageddon) he sure is OC when it comes to how we store our spices, food and silverware.

But seems that something has escaped his vigilant OC eyes and hands. Meet Mr. EColi.

yeah, rock those shades, dude!

 

 

Can you guess what he is and how long he has been living in our pantry?