Friday, August 10, 2012

Summer Break 2012

In the Philippines, the summer months are April-May. But because we teach in an international school, our "summer" break is June-July which are some of the wettest months of the year.

It's the first time in awhile that Eric and I both decided not to teach summer school and was probably one of the best decisions I've/we've made in a long time. We spent most of the break in Subic with a few visits to Manila. It was great to have the time together and we got to do things that we normally wouldn't have the time for.

In no particular order, this is what I/we did:

1. Read, read and read some more.

Eric has the complete series of Game of Thrones and week into the break I settled down with the first book. And kept going and going until I finished it all. It was glorious! It got to the point wherein I would put off reading texts/emails (uh....obsessed much?) and sometimes ignore my demanding toddler (What's that son? You need food? Go ask Daddy.)

While I was off in my own world (Eric once left me in a restaurant with whatever book I was reading and bottomless sago/gulaman while he went around the mall...I was a happy camper) Eric picked up the last book in the Christopher Paolini Eragon-Inheritance series.

2. Brought Pablo to the zoo.

We are not the most get-up-and-go kind of people. Ouch. That was painful to say. I've always thought that we're extremely flexible and ready to dash out at a moment's notice. When I moved to Subic I had visions of hiking in the nearby trails, running around the village or biking up and down the hills. We even got a dog who I thought would accompany me/us in all our outdoor adventures.

Five years later, I've only gone out once my bike. Never gone hiking. Walking has been reduced to a two block radius around our house. Hubby won't get up in the morning and neither will our old dog (she used to come out with me at 5am). And with a toddler that freaks out when he wakes up and I'm not around, I am reduced to puttering around the house to calm my need to move.

I think things would be easier once Pablo is older and he learns to stay strapped into his car seat. But for now all excursions have to be planned events because I need hubby to drive so I can keep Pablo safe in the car. So I was over the moon happy to be able to bring him to Ark Avilon last month.

The size of the animal enclosures freaked me out a little (too small!) but it was cool to see the animals up-close. I didn't know hyenas were so big and I could've spent more time looking at the big cats too. There was a funny orangutan but Pablo was having none of it. He was more interested in the feeding area upstairs.

Here's how to feed the goats. 
Pablo's turn
Need more food! 
Here you go!
I got a carrot!
Such a crazy boy.
Big Boy and Baby Boy (and a whole lotta Rhinos!)

3. Got a printer.

This is a big deal in our house. A number of printers have come and gone but for the last couple of years or so we've been printerless. We gave away our monochrome laser printer and never got around to replacing it. For some strange reason I got it into my head that I did not want to go another 3 months without a printer. After much hemming and hawing, we got ourselves a snazzy little printer. It's not a high-end photo printer (which Eric really wanted but would cost an arm and a leg) but a cut above your basic one. It spits out good quality photo prints (with the right photo paper) and has a handy dandy document feeder to scan page after page of documents.

Photo from the Canon Philippines website. Ordering was a breeze with free delivery to Subic!

4. Printed and framed photos.

What does one do with a printer? Print photos!
My shutterbug of a husband spent many a sleepless night studying and calibrating our printer. He bought different types of photo paper (in different sizes) and busied himself with printing, testing and tweaking until everything was just the way he wanted it. There were mornings when I'd wake up and find him haggard but happy; he'd show me his latest version then collapse on the bed and sleep til noon.

We finally have framed pictures around our home and in our parents' houses. I also have a nice one sitting on my desk at work.

5. Become best friends with my oven toaster.

I loved baked goods. Unfortunately, the stuff offered here in Subic isn't quite up to the effort required to get to the store. Some of our friends will bake from time to time and we've been happy recipients of homemade cookies the occasional cinnamon roll.

I, on the other hand, have a weird relationship with our oven. I like to bake, but the thought of pre-heating our oven doesn't sit well with me. It also takes a whole lot of time and effort to get it up to and maintain it at the required temperature. I even bought a digital thermometer to reduce the guesswork involved but it just wasn't working out for me.

Then one day I was hit by an obsession for homemade chocolate chip cookies. And no friends to make them because they were all out on summer break (not that I would ask but I'd probably drop a few hints). So I whipped up some batter and readied myself for the superhuman task of firing up the oven (I really do not enjoy that oven especially with a toddler loose in the house).

Then I noticed our quiet little oven toaster. Hmmmm....

And 15 minutes later.....

Weren't there 4 cookies?
There it is! Mmmmm....
 So far it's seen us through cookies (my favorite recipe is from here) and a really yummy chocolate sheet cake. I've always thought that I had a really sweet sweet tooth but I find myself reducing the amount of sugar or changing white to the less sweet brown sugar because most recipes are just too sweet. Is it just me or is the sugar here sweeter than the sugar in the States?

One of the things that I enjoy about using the oven toaster is that it allows me to prepare small batches. This method works best for our little family (keeps us from over-eating). Another plus is that there's no pre-heating involved. You also don't feel a whoosh of hot air whenever you open the door and it doesn't heat-up the kitchen.

You do have to keep an eye on things because the heat is quite intense and the heating element is so close to the food. There's a bit of jumping around with which heating elements to use (both on/down only/up only) and I have to rotate the pan every so often. But it's all fairly manageable and I've never had to bake for more than 15 minutes which is a far cry from the 30 - 45 minutes that I used to need to do on my big oven.


  1. Oh my. Pablo's so big na! I think it's great that both you and Eric didn't have summer school, more time for yourselves and for Pablo :)

    Game of Thrones is the best! I'm only in book 3, but I am looking forward to Season 3 on HBO.

    Happy weekend!

  2. I think I agree with the sugar being sweeter in the Philippines. Hell, everything's sweeter in the Philippines. ;D BTW, someday maybe Pablo can come to the Singapore Zoo! Then he can get his arm licked up by a giraffe while he's holding a carrot! :P