New Year in Hong Kong and The Upper House

The number 4 is considered unlucky in some Asian cultures. That’s because the word for 4— 四 [sì]—sounds similar to the word for “death” (死 亡 [sĭwáng]).
2014 was not a good year for a lot of people, myself included. The first two quarters were hell for me, but I started to see the light in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, God gave us a special gift: we received Christian’s birth certificate. That meant we could get him a passport and get away for the holidays.
We were able to rush a passport for him and our helper Mariza, and book tickets to Hong Kong.
On December 29, we left the house at 5 AM for an early morning flight.
Let me tell you the kids really love it when we leave the house while it’s dark. It’s an extra treat for them.
We checked in seven pieces of luggage


Christian settled into his seat and imagined he was the pilot.

Christian's first plane ride

We were lucky to get two upgrades, so we let Ben and Markus sit in first class.


I’m really picky with hotels. I knew that this season in Hong Kong would be crazy and I wanted to spend quiet time with the family. So I booked two rooms at The Upper House.

The Upper House
The Upper House
The Upper House

The rooms were 80 square meters each. I’d say half of it was the bathroom.

The Upper House bathroom
The Upper House bathroom
The Upper House bathroom
Upper House toilet

I like The Upper House because it feels secluded. There is no bustling lobby and you are not likely to bump into people you know if you want to get some rest, which is exactly what I needed this December.
The nearest mall is Pacific Place, which is probably the most boring mall in Hong Kong, sad to say.
But since shopping was not my goal, that was OK.
Luckily there were a couple of stores I actually like (Céline and Joyce), so quota na!

Gift from my dad

The boys loved the Nike store in Wanchai, which was a ten-minute walk from the hotel.

Nike at Wanchai

The Upper House is known for pampering its guests with the best cookies and milk in your room, among other treats

Cookies and milk

Thank you James!

Best milk and cookies at Upper House

and the best pancakes Café Gray

Upper House pancake

Next stop: Hong Kong Disneyland

How many calories in a haw flake?

You may be too young to know this, but in the ’70s, they used to call haw flakes “titina”. I really don’t know why.
Back in the ’70s, haw flakes came in rectangular form. In school, they were sold two thins to a pack under the Laurel & Hardy brand.
I wish I could show you how it looks, but I can’t seem to find any Google images.
This is the most popular form of haw flakes currently in the market.


Some kids call it “body of Christ”.
I don’t really eat this often, but in Hong Kong earlier this week, I saw these huge giant packs being sold at Aji-Ichiban.

Haw flakes

I’m a sucker for packaging, so I bought one and started to eat it for the next five days in Hong Kong.
Each individual pack contains between five to seven rounds or flakes.

Haw flakes

Because of the small packaging, it was not difficult to eat seven packs in one sitting. I love the taste and texture. I got obsessed.

Haw flakes

After finishing one bag, I bought four more bags in Hong Kong for me and for gifts.
I used to wonder why they were called haw flakes. I used to think they were pronounced “how flakes” (rhymes with cow) until I realised they were named after the Chinese hawthorne or hawberry. I still have to get used to pronouncing them “haw flakes” (rhymes with jaw).


I regret having Googled it because once opened, the fruit looks more like an alien’s vomit.


Eaten alone, hawberries should help you lose weight by boosting your metabolism. But in my case I ended up gaining 3 lbs. during the Hong Kong trip. Not sure if the haw flakes did it or all the buffet meals we had.
Somebody please tell me what this calorie chart means, cause I don’t know what KCAL means. I don’t know if the per serving calories refer to one pack of 7 flakes or seven packs of flakes.
Somebody help me because I gained 3 lbs. and I hayrett!!

Haw flakes

So after seeing the alien’s vomit, not sure if I’m going to eat any more haw flakes. I’ll find out in the next few days. Meanwhile, diet starts tomorrow.

What I learned from “Little House on the Prairie” (Part 1)

This year, my Christmas gift to my hubby and I is a delicious 400-thread-count Pottery Barn blanket in all white.
I must admit it took me a few visits before deciding to buy the blanket because of its price. But after seeing our usual blanket look so shabby, I decided to purchase it the day before Christmas with three months to pay, 0% interest. So worth it.
Now my gift to myself is much cheaper—the complete season of Little House On The Prairie on iTunes.
That’s 300 episodes for just $49!!

Little House

Three years ago I gifted my husband four boxed sets (about 48 episodes) of his favorite series, The Love Boat.
He likes watching it because it brings him back to a ’70s cruise ship, which he loves.
I love Little House because it brings me back to grade school, when my sister and I would watch weekly in front of a Sony Trinitron TV and have a crying conetst (first one to cry wins).

Back in the ’70s, everyone in school watched Little House on the Prairie.
It really brings me warm, fuzzy memories of growing up in the ’70s, which I miss so much.
A priest once said in his sermon, when we are young we look forward to the future.
When we are middle aged, we go through a midlife crisis. When we are old, we look back to our past.
Thank God I am past my midlife crisis, but I must be old because I am constantly looking back and feeling nostalgic.

Let me take you back to my Little House memories.
First, watch the opening theme and closing credits of the show.

The Little House series ran on from 1974–1983. The genius that brought the TV show to the Philippines was GMA-7—the only sosy TV channel during that time.
The series was based on the real family of Laura Ingalls-Wilder, who authored Little House in the Big Woods in 1932. She also wrote 205 episodes of Little House during its nine-year run.


Here’s the real life Ingalls family (hindi sila kagandahan, hehe. Love the clothes though)

Ingalls family

and their Hollywood counterpart

Little House on the Prairie

Michael Landon and Karen Grassle played Charles and Caroline Ingalls respectively.
I think every kid that followed the show wished they were their parents.
Charles and Caroline were poor and could hardly make ends meet, but they were very sweet to their children, and slow to anger.

Little House on the Prairie

Looking back I now realize my parenting style was heavily influenced by what I saw on TV.
My children are raised with hugs and kisses and positive reinforcement, just like Charles and Caroline.
Although I have to admit I have been extremely grumpy this past Christmas week, with the boys constantly at my side and bullying each other.

Sadly, Michael Landon died young from pancreatic cancer in 1991. He was 54.
Karen Grassle aged well and lives in San Francisco. She is 72.

Karen Grassle
Karen Grassle as Caroline Ingalls in 1974 and now

(To be continued)

Blast from the past: Tom Sawyer reopens at Tiendesitas

There was a time I could and would eat the same food everyday.
During high school, I ate KFC almost everyday for four years. When I got sick of that, I ate Tom Saywer chicken for two years.
Looking back I wonder how much money I would’ve saved if I didn’t buy all that fast food. I asked Jeroen that question the other day.
“But you ate the food. It’s not a waste,” Jeroen said. And I enjoyed it.
These days I don’t eat as much fast food, but I still enjoy it at least once a week.

Tom Sawyer logo

Back in the ’80s I bought a long red gingham skirt in Tokyo, which became one of my favourites.
And I wore that while studying at UP Fine Arts. One day after school I stopped by Tom Sawyer in Greenhills for my usual takeaway.
Upon entering the restaurant during lunch time, an unusual silence greeted me. The diners stopped eating. The waiters stopped serving. And the cashier stopped counting.
Everyone was staring at me with their mouth open.
I was wearing my red gingham skirt

red gingham

which matched the restaurant’s curtains, table cloth, and napkins.

red gingham

I went in, ordered takeaway, and made a mental note not to do that again.
Tom Sawyer eventually closed and I missed it.
Thirty years later, it’s back and in my neighbourhood! Imagine my excitement when I saw this window at the newly renovated Tiendesitas.

Tom Sawyer

Luckily my friend Rem and I were starving. I dragged her from the car to the store.

Tom Sawyer

Gone are the red gingham country interiors. Instead, a fast food restaurant with just the basics—table, chair, counter, white lights. Nothing Pinteresting or Instagram-worth.

Tom Sawyer

Rem is much younger than me so I had to brief her on what Tom Sawyer was all about in the ’80s.
We ordered all wings. It looks dry. Rem loved the mashed potato with gravy.

Tom Sawyer

The taste is still the same but I was disappointed that the chicken had come out of the heating lamp and tray, unlike the ’80s when we had table service and food was fried to order. So basically it was a blah experience.
Maybe I’ll try again next year.

Found: Great gift ideas at Adora

Four days to go and I’m not yet done Christmas shopping but nearly there. Just a few more family members and I’m done.
Some people are easy to please and some people are really hard to find gifts for, and I’ve found that Adora has gift items for those who have everything.
Adora has a Maison Francis Kurkdjian corner that sells the award-winning perfumer’s line of fragrances, body line and candles, including the Discovery Set Fragrance Wardrobe for Him and Her.

Francis Kurkdjian
Francis Kurkdjian
Francis Kurkdjian
Francis Kurkdjian

Also at Adora are fragrance sets by English perfume house Penhaligon’s. Beautiful packaging that looks more expensive than its actual price.


For ballet lovers, Penhaligon’s Iris Prima captures the spirit of ballet in a bottle.

Iris Prima

I’m in love with Votivo scented candles. This white one greeted my nose at the entrance, so I bought one for myself.
Beatiful, festive packaging too.


Adora has a selection of Anya Hindmarch accessories that are labeled for the organised woman who appreciates quirky luxuries

Anya Hindmarch
Anya Hindmarch
Anya Hindmarch
Anya Hindmarch

The handbag department carries designer brands such Chloe, which offers this boxy Dalston Classic with three zippered compartments

Chloe Dalston Classic
Chloe Dalston Classic
Chloe Dalston Classic

Adora has a Comme des Garçons fragrance bar which has the latest CDG scents, including Pharrell Williams GIRL

Comme des Garçons fragrance bar
Comme des Garçons

I love Rimowa for its sleek design, its light weight, and four spinner wheels. Adora has them and they’re the best gifts you can ever give yourself or someone who loves to travel.

Rimowa at Adora, GB5

Adora is at the second level, Greenbelt 5, Makati.
To know more, like them on Facebook.

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