Mid-week Bake Break

Hello, all!

Last week, J and KK had a long mid-week break. Thanks to QC Day, Ninoy Aquino Day and the PTC day scheduled in between, my little ones had a nice long hiatus at home.

As expected, by Day 2, big brother J was bored already and asked me to bake with him. Nothing too complicated, one of our usual baking mix concoctions, but it's always a fun time for J. For KK? Well, the fun is in the finished product.

We usually make banana bread, but we were all out of bananas. The only box mix left in our pantry was a Maya Kitchen brownie mix, which is a new one for J, so he was really excited to try that out.

What I love about using a baking mix is that it's pretty simple. Just a few extra ingredients and you're good to go. Plus, there are simple, graphic instructions in the back, which J can decipher for himself, and makes for a great lesson in counting and following procedures.

My handsome assistant, holding the extra ingredients we need.
The first step in the instructions called for using creamed butter, not melted, so if you're hankering for some brownies, make sure to leave the butter out before you start baking to soften it a bit. In our tropical climate? Ten to fifteen minutes should be enough to get your butter all gooey.
Busy greasing the pan, while Mommy was mixing the batter.
Greasing the pan is one of J's usual tasks, because he likes to pretend that he's painting. I, on the other hand, was so busy talking to him that I forgot to take a picture of the batter. Anyway, it ends up a lot more viscous than the banana bread mix, so it gets a bit heavy after a while. Here's a picture of the batter all spread out in the pan. The instruction called for a smaller baking dish, but this was all I had, so our brownies turned out a lot thinner than expected.
Gooey, chocolatey goodness!
We loosely covered the dish with foil and popped it into the oven, but silly mommy forgot to make sure the dish could fit in the oven before pouring the batter into it. Of course, it was too big for our oven, so we had to bake it for twice as long because the oven door was left open. It still turned out pretty well though.

The finished product, as it cooled down on the kitchen table.
Sadly, I wasn't able to get pictures of it all sliced up, but it was good enough for my picky little eaters, who had it for their snack. Because we used a slightly larger baking dish, our brownies ended up a bit crispy on the outside, but still soft and gooey on the inside, which for me, is the perfect combo.

Best part is, aside from the baking dish, this is all we had to wash after we were done.

Clean up was a breeze!
I have to say, so far, Maya Kitchen mixes have yet to fail me, so they're a staple in our pantry. Pick one up on your next grocery run, so when the sweet tooth craving hits, you'll be ready.

That's all for now!

Cleaning Out The Closet

Hello all!

Thanks to a sudden lull in the deadlines for work, I found myself with some time on my hands during the long weekend. Of course, I jumped at the chance to check off one of the things on my never-ending to-do list, which is to clean out the closet.

A few weeks ago, my loving husband C sent me a gentle reminder of this task when he pushbullet-ted (yes, pushbullet is now a verb for me, just the way google is) me an infographic on how to, pardon the term, unf**k your closet. Now, I just want to clarify, that this is actually the name of the infographic, and not some profane term I made up, although it is very appropriate. Anyway, here's the infographic.

C got this from Life Hacker, but the credits on the photo say
And here are the before pictures of my closet and dresser drawer.

This is my dresser drawer, which contains mostly shirts and shorts.

And this is my closet, where I keep dresses and all the things that need hanging.
One of the main reasons why I kept putting off this task was because it seemed like such a gargantuan thing, you know, where I expected that half the day wouldn't even be enough to get things done. But surprisingly, with the help of the infographic, I was done in a little over an hour. Unless your closet is the size of a movie star's, I'm guessing it will take you right about the same time to check this task off your list.

So here's what I came up with.
The "donate it" pile
The rest of the "donate it" pile
The maternity pile
The first thing I did was to take everything out of the closet. Then, as advised on the infographic, I made piles for each category. The infographic identified three categories: hang it, toss it, and donate it. But in my case, I added one more pile, which is maternity. See, because I was pregnant or nursing for what felt like four straight years, I had accumulated quite a stash of maternity/nursing friendly clothes. I was actually proud of the fact that some of the clothes I had were so basic that I was able to wear it through three pregnancies. I have to admit though, by the time I stopped expressing milk for KK, I was dying to get a whole new wardrobe because I realized that I'd been wearing the same set of clothes for almost four years! But anyway, I digress. Once I finished, I realized most of my stuff was in pretty good condition, so there was nothing in the "toss it" pile. Almost all of the clothes were in the donate it pile.

Another tip to make the task faster. Don't remove it from the hangers, just in case it goes in the "hang it" pile. I only removed it from the hanger when I decided to toss or donate something.

The finished product? Voila! I managed to free up around 25% of my closet so, yay for me! As for the dresser drawer, those are the clothes that I wear on a daily basis, when I take the kids to school or run casual errands, so most of those clothes are in the keep pile.

My clean closet!
My dresser drawer.
Side note. I couldn't find the infographic anymore, so I had to google it to give credit where credit is due, and I stumbled across this wonderful tumblr account called Unf*ck Your Habitat. It's a tumblr account that shows you before and after pictures of people who applied the same method shown in the infographic to declutter their homes, and I have to say, I was inspired. Once I get this post out, I will be working on the black holes that are also known as my desk drawers. I'll take pictures and let you know how that works out.

Till the next!

Mom-and-Me Activities for Gloomy Days

Hello all! The weekend is but a few hours away. With the monsoon rains pouring, it's been a gray and gloomy Friday for us, and I'm hoping the coming weekend has brighter days in store. If you're like me, who turns sluggish with the rainy weather, here are four pick-me-up activities you can do with your kids to inject some sunshine into this otherwise sullen day.

1. Whip up something sweet in the kitchen. It doesn't have to be complicated. J and I usually make homemade banana bread, which we make with overripe bananas and a box of Maya Kitchen Banana Bread Mix. Just follow the recipe in the back and you're good to go! I would suggest substituting butter for the oil in the recipe though, which makes the flavor richer, and fills the house with that yummy freshly-baked-goods smell. This is great because J loves to help me out in the kitchen, and the tasks for this activity are perfect for a toddler helper. Clean up is quick and easy because you're using very few ingredients and tools. Plus, the results are surprisingly yummy.
Since I was unable to take pictures of any of our products, I had to grab this photo from, who also tried out the Maya Baked Mix and loved it, according to her review.
2. Build a fort. Or at least as it's called in our home, a tent. When the weather is nice and cool, we flip Daddy's TV chair over and drape it with a ton of towels. I give big brother J free reign on how to build the fort, which encourages him to get creative. I love seeing what he comes up with, and KK is always a fan of his brother's structures. The two kids crawl inside and giggle themselves silly, which instantly brightens up my day. They love it when I pretend to knock and ask, "May I come in?" I have the best conversations with my son when we're in his tents. Most of the time he tells me about school and his classmates. At the moment, KK isn't much of a talker, but I'm hoping someday soon, I can have tent conversations with him.

3. Get artsy. It doesn't have to be something worthy of Pinterest. All you need are some sheets of scratch paper and various coloring materials. I keep a box of art materials here at home, complete with a ton of coloring books, sketch pads and scratch paper for the boys to scribble on. On lazy days, or when the boys get restless, we just grab a bunch of stuff from the art box and it will occupy them for quite some time. Once they're done, we post their work on our closet doors for Big C to see when he gets home. But I would advise investing in Crayola washable markers, because in my experience, they're the easiest to wash off from furniture, walls, clothes and little boys.

4. Blow bubbles. I don't know what is it about kids and bubbles, but after the first stream of bubbles float out from the wand, my boys are already laughing and screaming like crazy. It doesn't matter whether the boys are the one blowing the bubbles, or I blow bubbles for them to pop, they always have a great time. On rainy days like today, we blow bubbles in the garage, where the roof keeps us dry and we can enjoy the breeze that comes with the rain.

So there you have it! Happy rainy Friday to us all, and here's to a sunnier weekend!

P.S. This is a non-sponsored post. I actually do love to use Maya baking mixes and Crayola art supplies. :)