DIY Peanut Butter FUN-whiches

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Recently, Marco and I have discovered the magic of Fresh Thyme‘s freshly ground almond, cashew and honey ground peanut butter (our personal favorite). They literally have the actual machines that convert your peanuts into butter right in front of your very eyes and the best part is you get to do it and you get to sample it as well, I don’t think it gets FRESH-er than that. If you don’t think that’s cool,well you can always grab an already packaged one.

Anyway, I wish I could say the same for my 2.5-yr old, Cassie. To those who follow me on IG, I know I’ve expressed how picky my child can be and unfortunately she has decided that she doesn’t like peanut butter without even trying. So, in efforts to change her mind I’ve created some “FUN-whiches”  with the help of some of her favorite fruits, hopefully she will want to try out one of these.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

bread, peanut butter, bananas, grapes, strawberries, apples (honestly you can pretty much improvise)

BEAR

(bread, peanut butter, bananas, grapes)

CAT

( bread, peanut butter, grapes, strawberries, apples)

OWL

(bread, peanut butter, bananas, strawberries, grapes)

MONKEY

(bread, peanut butter, bananas, grapes)

CHICKEN

(bread, peanut butter, bananas, grapes, strawberries)

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RANDOM SILLY FACE

( bread, peanut butter, grapes, strawberries, apples)

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…And here’s the fun-which preparation after-math, I had to get some peanut butter for myself too. And just in case you’re thinking it.. NO, I didn’t double dip. haha.

~Rhea

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Destination: New Orleans, Louisiana

June 13 – 15, 2016

Marco and I looked for a place close to Texas for our 2nd (Church) anniversary, somewhere that would not entail flying since we were bringing Cassie with us. I’ve been wanting to take him to New Orleans even when we were still dating because I knew he’d enjoy the food there but we got a lot of feedback saying it wasn’t child-friendly. People have this notion of New Orleans as just a “party place”, especially Bourbon street during the Mardigas season so when I looked up “Things to do for Kids in New Orleans”, google came back with just quite a few ideas. Marco and I decided to just go for it and wing it, besides we   had our trusty Rav4 with us, I was sure we would be able to manage our almost-8 month old baby.

One downside when you plan months ahead is not knowing what mother nature has in store around the time you travel and by the time we finally looked up the weather forecast, we found out that we were expecting a lot of rain showers and thunderstorms—guh-reat, another challenge having to look for things to do indoors.

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Day 1

Houston to New Orleans by car was roughly a 5 hour 30 minute drive, we set it at 6 hours considering any need for a stopover. Marco drove and I stayed in the back with Cassie, she was generally pleasant during the drive but I think I ran out of toys and songs and shows to entertain her with, she got bored with them and started crying at one point. We also encountered heavy rains close to zero visibility; rain and crying baby = not good. Our ETA was around 11am if we stuck to the plan of leaving at 5am but we left Houston close to 6am and arrived in New Orleans around 12 noon just in time for lunch so our first stop was Camellia Grill. 

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Cheap grub with high ratings and people raving about it online convinced us to have lunch there, we went to the original branch by St. Charles Ave (the other one is at the French Quarter) and was pleased to see a small line outside the place. Wow, pretty busy considering that it was a Monday; food must be really good here. They finally took us in and everyone there was pretty friendly, we had to wait for awhile inside and they finally seated us in the middle section. This place was a landmark diner; picture Pop Tate’s from the Archie comics.

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In terms of being kid-friendly/ baby friendly, this place was not so much that (no high chair or car seat holders), Marco had to strap Cassie to him using the baby carrier and when she started to cry I had to carry her and put her on my lap but the food was amazing.

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Marco sliced my food up and I had to eat it with a fork while I carried her with the other hand. He ordered the Doc Brinker’s special (double meat cheeseburger with melted american & swiss cheese, grilled onions on toasted rye with cole slaw and chili..YUM!) and I got their infamous Pecan Waffle and they both did not disappoint.

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We tried to make it to the walking tour we bought from Groupon but it started raining hard so we decided to save that for another day and headed to the French Quarter to try to see if we could check-in at our hotel earlier than 4pm. The French Market Inn is where we decided to stay, it was small, quaint,historically beautiful and it was right smack in the middle of the places you’d want to visit in the French Quarter.( Warning: To anyone doing a road trip to Nola, take into consideration parking charges. If you plan to stay in small hotels like we did, parking fees are not included in the hotel charges and may cost $25/day or more excluding taxes). Their staff was friendly, very welcoming and considerate; seeing that we had a baby with us they allowed us to check-in at 1pm.

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We toured the French Quarter, visited the New Orleans Voodoo Museum, quickly stopped by Voodoo Authentica and had afternoon beignets at the famous Cafe Du Monde. You cannot visit New Orleans and not have their beignets, in this case we had it 3x during the entire duration of the trip, Marco ended up loving it so much.

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Masquerade masks.

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A beautiful handprinted dress at a gallery that we happened to pass by

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And since we couldn’t really drink anything alcoholic with Cassie around, Marco and I decided to try weird tasting sodas from a shop right across Cafe Du Monde. Marco got bacon flavored soda and I got the cookie dough flavored one, Marco’s drink sucked big time.

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As for the Voodoo Museum, its just 2 small rooms and a hallway filled with the history of voodoo and other voodoo historical artifacts. It’s worth the $5 entrance fee just because it was very precise and informative, although kids could come in for free I wouldn’t advise to take them there just because it might be a bit eerie for them (its a bit dark with voodoo chanting soundtrack playing in the background, if I’m not mistaken) and they’ll probably end up asking you a lot of questions that you aren’t prepared to answer after the museum visit. Cassie was just quietly looking around and would once in awhile make loud noises but she was more visually stimulated more than anything, if there was a next time I probably wouldn’t take her there. People without kids, by all means go ahead and visit…I think its worth visiting.

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I don’t think she really wanted to go in…

After resting for a while at the hotel, we headed back exploring the streets of the French Quarter and found ourselves in Bourbon street, bright, interesting and very entertaining.We were actually trying to avail that walking tour we bought from Groupon but we couldn’t find the venue for the meet up so we decided to do it some other time (again.)  When we started seeing topless women Marco came to a conclusion that we might be nearing the red light district and decided to get off Bourbon street.

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We looked for a food place nearby and ended up in Oceana Grill, another food place with high ratings and a line outside. Marco got their Alligator sausage po boy and I got their blackened Catfish both were delicious but I liked mine better. At this time Cassie was kinda getting fussy and I couldn’t really enjoy my meal.

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Blackened Catfish for me

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Alligator sausage po boy for Mr. Mendezona

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A photo of me and Cassie outside our hotel room before going in.

Day 2

Rain showers were in the forecast today so our first stop was the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum, literally a 3 minute walk from our hotel. Entrance fee was $5 and babies were free, it basically gave you a history of early medicines and what people thought were cures for early ailments and diseases. They also exhibited what medical instruments looked like in early years and Marco being able to tell the difference then and now enjoyed the museum immensely. I honestly found it interesting and also fell in love with the apothecary jars and the vintage packaging of medicines. Cassie was strapped again to marco, most of the duration of the museum tour, she minded her own business and was pre occupied with her snack.

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Attended the 12:05 pm mass at St. Louis Cathedral for our Anniversary but before that we got a quick morning snack since we didn’t get to eat breakfast and ended up at Cafe Du  Monde again.

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During mass, Cassie was pleasantly eating her baby mum mum, half way through she started being loud and I had to head to the back a couple of times and even feed her…thank God for breastfeeding, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. Marco and I got married in Cebu, had our first anniversary mass in Manila and we’re now celebrating  here in St. Louis Cathedral, New Orleans. Where to next year? 😀

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When mass ended we headed back to the hotel to rest since it was also raining and decided to drive around the area. We found ourselves at this high rated gumbo place that Marco found online called Gumbo Stop…I thought I disliked gumbo but this one made me change my mind, we also tried a Louisiana local beer.

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After our gumbo, we headed next door to try out this thing called Cheesecake Stuffed snowballs from this place called Sno-la, it was refreshingly one of a kind. Marco liked it so much and to think he doesn’t really like fruity flavored snowcones.

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 Marco and I headed back to the hotel and we took the time to take pictures around since its one of those haunted historical ones within the French Quarter.

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When it was around 6pm, Marco and I started preparing for our anniversary dinner and when we were ready we decided to take an 11 minute walk going there.

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EAT New Orleans is a very small quaint place that almost had me doubting if they would take in kids but they were nice enough to let us in. Friendly staff and everything…literally everything we ordered that night was beyond my expectation. I’d say it was a modern New Orleans fusion place, very different from the usual vintage, historical, cajun vibe most of the places have there.

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Happy (church) Anniversary to us my love, good job picking this place for diner. I really really enjoyed my meal and Cassie slept through the eating part too. Whew!

Day 3

Check out time was at 11 am but since we still haven’t availed of the walking tours that we availed from Groupon we had to check out early to make it to the Garden District Walking Tour scheduled at 11 am.The meet up place was at the Garden District Bookshop and we got there 5 minutes before the tour walked in. Our tour guide was Elizabeth and she was pretty organized in gathering everyone to one corner of the book shop. She asked who did reservations and online and who purchased Groupon tickets, the rest bought their tickets cash on the spot.

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Our first stop was the cemetery, I had the mistake of dressing up Cassie in a long sleeve onesie, I assumed that it was going to rain like the past few days. It did but the sun was still out and it was very humid, poor baby was sweating badly and I had to unbutton the back of her onesie. She started getting fussy during the walking tour and started crying. Dealing with her crying was very trying for me and Marco, we had to stay behind our group or ahead of them just to make sure we weren’t bothering anyone who wanted to listen to the history of the Garden District. We also couldn’t bring the stroller since some of the pavements weren’t really stroller ready so we resorted to the baby carrier again.

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Cassie’s crying was getting out of hand and I had to make her latch to soothe her. She was hot and probably hungry, so I was literally feeding my child inside the cemetery while the walking tour was ongoing, talk about multi tasking. That was probably one of the weirdest things that I’ve done as a mother. When she fell asleep, Marco carried her in his arms until she woke up a few minutes later.

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The remaining part of the walking tour consisted of the history of New Orleans specifically the Garden District and houses of famous people such as Nicolas Cage, Sandra Bullock, Ann Rice and Peyton Manning to name a few.

After the walking tour, Marco and I planned to drive straight to Houston to make it in time for dinner but we were both famished..literally FAMISHED. He googled this place close by and found a hole in the wall with good reviews called Bayou Hot Wings, one of my husband’s best decisions ever on this trip, when I walked in I wasn’t even sold a hundred percent because the place was so tiny and I wasn’t willing to give it a try because a lot of people were in there in that small cramped place. I haven’t fully recovered from the struggle we went through dealing with Cassie’s fussiness during the walking tour and I wanted some place spacious where I could plop her down a high chair or something but I’m really glad we stayed. The owner himself took our orders and made sure it came out perfect…and it was. If you happen to be in town, this place really deserves a stop over.

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We left New Orleans with happy tummies… Happy Mommy, Happy Daddy and happy baby. Even with the rains, you were wonderful New Orleans, thank you for making our anniversary trip special. We’ll definitely be back, maybe with more additions to the family.

~Rhea

Destination: Osaka, Japan

May 26 – 31, 2015

When mami said we MIGHT go to Japan for vacation, I’m not going to lie, I was pretty excited but then the more I thought about it the more convinced I was that I was just going to stay home. #1.) I was more or less 4 months pregnant, I wasn’t sure if I could handle walking the entire day and #2.) Even If I decided to go Marco couldn’t because he’s in the middle of studying for the STEP 1 USMLE, who’s going to assist me? Well, when I talked to mom she said its okay for me to come even in my current state and they were going to help me out so why not, right? And besides it was the first time I’d be traveling with Marco’s side of the family ever since we got married. I think the last time I traveled with this bunch out of the country was back in 2008 when Marco and I were still dating.

Day 1

All set for Osaka—Mami, Nacho, Pauline, Yaya Dids, Pilica, Mikel, Anya and pregnant me. Today was spent on traveling and settling down in our Hello Kitty apartment courtesy of Mika from Air BnB.

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Pops of red—I ended up matching Pauline’s luggage. Haha

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Love this passport holder, thanks so much Ninang Ito.

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Japan and their trains. I just love their railway system, it pretty much gets you anywhere just as long as you know how to go about the machines and deciphering which lines to take. We had mami and Pauline on top of that, thanks so much for figuring out the trains, the map, the itinerary and pretty much everything else.

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Pauline and Nacho’s area

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Mikel and I got this room

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Good Lawd…princess Mikel. Haha

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Even the bathroom and the kitchen (not in the picture) was stocked up with pink Hello Kitty products, from soap to shampoo to earbuds to towels. I am no fan of Hello Kitty but I couldn’t help it, I was loving the place. It’s very well organized (she had a welcome note for us with a map and btw the pocket wifi was already included in the room rental), the place was clean, the sheets were very plush and comfortable, it felt like our home in Japan.

If you’re planning a trip to Osaka and are interested to check out the Hello Kitty place, Mika has a bunch of these apartments all over the place, please click on the link below.

Air Bnb Mika

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We stayed close to a grocery, a 7eleven and bunch of food places. This one in particular was our go-to one because they had pretty good gyudons at very affordable prices. I understand Sukiya is a restaurant chain all over Japan, we were joking around saying its the Chowking of Japan (of course their food is a lot better)

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My Travel OOTD

(TOP:Loose navyblue shirt/ LEGGINGS: black/ ACCESSORIES: fedora hat c/o Pilica, kisses scarf, red round-frame sunglasses, MINTED jewelry necklace/ SHOES: red flats)

Day 2

UNIVERSAL STUDIOS JAPAN

I just want to clarify that I did not go through any of the rides, I was pregnant bound to a wheelchair and I enjoyed my visit to Universal Studios Japan by just being there. I had fun  eating, taking pictures and buying stuff. Oh yeah, I also enjoyed the Magical lights parade. Thanks so much family for pushing me around the theme park especially Pilica. I really felt like a burden…super sorry.

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Tourists on the go

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Obligatory photo with the rotating Universal sign

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This pregnant woman gets a wheel chair…the only ride I could ride

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awww…young groupies

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Replica of San Francisco’s Fishermans Wharf

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Minion-crazy

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Hanging out at Sesame Street

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Marilyn and Mikel

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The infamous Butterbeer (which I think is overrated btw)

(Butter) Beer for me and Butter beer for the baby

Pilica was nice enough to come with me check out this Hello Kitty museum-ish. Oh, did I mention we got to meet Hello Kitty herself. Haha

The day ended with a Magical Lights parade that I extremely enjoyed.

…And a trip to the Anime store just outside Universal.

Day 3: Kyoto

Tenriyu Ji Garden and Temple / Arashiyama Bamboo Groves / Kiyomizudera Temple/ Fushimi Inari Shrine

I can’t drink Green Tea but I think Green Tea Ice cream is perfectly fine

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The Bamboo Groves. Finally we made it!

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We just turned Japanese. 😀

Thanks mami for buying us our kimonos and allowing us to play dress up that night. It was fun literally walking the streets of Japan and even getting on the train wearing our colorful kimonos. They did a pretty good job covering my baby bump, btw.

Day 4

Osaka Castle/ Dotonbori

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Just because everyones convinced I’m getting twins due to the size of my bump. 🙂

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For my eyes only…CRAP!

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Day 5

Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan/ Shopping in Shin Sai Bashi

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Thanks so much Tita Gands and cousin Rei for meeting up with me and treating me out to dinner.

It was really hard to go through all 1,000++ photos and pick a bunch for this entry but I sure had fun reliving Osaka by looking at them, hope you had fun going through this photo diary. I promise to come back, Japan, and next time I’m taking Marco and Spriki with me.

~Rhea

Chateau Hestia

Chateau Hestia,a small hidden garden restaurant nestled in Cavite was where my husband decided to bring me for our Valentines date and the ambiance that night was perfect— just a mixture of quaint and romantic all rolled up into one. Shout out to Jiro for telling Marco to take me here (haha, he told me he asked advise from you).

Had to change into flats, it was really slippery heading to the main dining place since it started raining

Marco reserved a place for us outside with the night sky ambiance while having dinner but it was raining that day so we ended up having dinner inside which turned out to be such a wonderful experience.

The set menu for the night but we were feeling quite adventurous and opted for our own picks from the menu

I just love dating this guy. I’d date him for the rest of my life…haha

The start of our romantic night, candle lit path.

Even the lighting inside was quite romantic.teehee

Yep, we were early birds. No one was there yet.

Something I have to get used to being married to Marco….people constantly messing up our last name. I’ve had Mendez, Mendoza but never a Mendoxa, I’d have to say that this is a first. We were Mr. and Mrs. Marco Mendoxa for the night.

Just outside the loo… I doubt you’ll ever get confused.

A little nook of random things and such

Here’s the set-up downstairs

It’s all in the details

The receiving area downstairs just outside the deli

An alcoholic’s logic..haha

Handpicking wine for dinner

For the love of cheese…

Marco did the handpicking of the cheese

Mr. and Mrs. Marco Mendoxa… I mean Mendezona. haha

They were handing out Hanuta hazelnut chocolate to the women before leaving the place. A good treat to end the night.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Valentines celebration!

~Rhea