Healthy Cooking for Happy Kids: A Review

I owe my kumareng Leirs this review. I had given her a copy of this short piece after I had come back home from Japan (and before my Dad got sick), but with all the things that have happened since then, I had been unable to attend to my blog to post this. So Mareng Leira, this comes with a lot of love and appreciation, as also my apologies. Thank you for sharing the cookbook with me. And thank you to Josh for “signing” my copy.

healthy cookingOne of the things I learned last as a married woman was cooking. Until I had children and, by necessity, had to learn to feed my family, my culinary experience was limited to a few specialty dishes that came in handy for impressing the occasional family guest. As the kids grew up and demanded a heartier-and healthier- fare than Spam and rice, I learned to work on my kitchen skills mostly by way of television cooking shows (Alton Brown was one I could easily relate too, being a geek myself). Then too, a library of cookbooks, and, later, recipes drawn from the Internet helped add to my self-acquired knowledge. Cooking was always a joy, although it was also often a hit-and-miss experience.

If there’s one cook book I hope every parent would have in his/her library, it would be Healthy Cooking for Happy Kids by Katrina Ripoll and Lara Saunders. Having read it and used it as a guide for my menu planning these past couple of weeks, I am glad to say that it is one great resource for parents on the lookout for healthy but easy ways to feed their kids. As a mother to almost-grown men (one is 21, the other, 19), there is still much the book offers even to those like me who’ve been kitchen cooks for the last two decades. The recipes are remarkably simple to prepare and follow; most do not require extraordinary ingredients but ones readily available at your local market or supermarket. And because they are simple and fuss-free, they don’t strain the household budget.

I like that the recipes are organized into sections that feature the main ingredients, but makes special the categories of breakfast and merienda, which, incidentally, is a lot of help as Filipinos are huge on great breakfast fares and snacks. The Chicken and Beef & Pork sections come very handy in spicing up our rotating menu. The chapter on Vegetables is a little thin but then again, other vegetable dishes can be found sprinkled in other sections. My favorite section would have to be Sauces and Marinades because those can be used in more ways than one can imagine and on just about anything!

Healthy Cooking for Happy Kids inspires parents like me to think outside the box when it comes to feeding our kids. Eating healthy is always a choice, and it is best we remember that our children’s choices begin with the ones we make for them.



Hello… Again!

If you’re wondering where I’ve been these last few weeks, well, I’ve been traveling with my husband.

Kittymama in LondonOne was a surprise trip that had me gobsmacked and chuffed to bits, the other was planned since last year, with tickets that were amazingly yasui (cheap). Still, they came so close to one another that we barely had time to shrug off jetlag before we were up and away again. In between those two trips, my husband and I had to attend to our duties at work (him) and at home (me), making sure the boys would be well-provided while we were gone. We rushed our errands, paid bills, did grocery shopping, and bought medicines and last-minute necessities to keep the household running smoothly.

We didn’t really encounter a major problem when we left the kids home, thanks to my sister’s babysitting expertise. However, she reported that after a few days, Alphonse started having nighttime issues. He would not turn in early most nights and would fight sleep to wait for us to come home. When I imagine him sitting in the garage all those nights, waiting for the gates to open to signal we were home, it still makes me Kittymama in Osakafeel horribly guilty that we could not bring him along. Alas, those sleep issues will haunt us for a while, I know, as we re-condition him to having us around the house again. Wish us luck!

I’ll have more stories when our lives get back on track. I have a bit more pictures to upload and resize from my camera and my phone. Till then, cheerio and arigatou gozaimasu!



AFK…Not Anymore!

Kittymama blushing copyHas it been a month since I last wrote anything here? It’s shameful… tsk…tsk… but I have no excuse.

The truth is I got too caught up in real life that living a virtual life didn’t seem half as fun as before. I guess I shouldn’t be embarrassed to say that I was actually “living my life,” and yet, not being here makes me feel a little bit sad too, like I’ve lost a connection I once had with all of you. But hey, nothing in life is ever permanent, and I suppose that goes for virtual lives too.

Just in case you were wondering what I had done in my absence, I could name a few:

♥ I made new friends. Real, live ones, cross my heart! And they are some of the most awesome people in the planet. Thanks to Stacy, Justin, Jai, Jay, Ivan, Domz, Laser and Marge, my world has gotten a little bit bigger and a whole lot nicer. 🙂 (Apologies to anyone whose name I’ve forgotten, I am getting old, I know.)

♥ I learned new dishes and perfected the recipes for them. I didn’t really learn how to cook until I was married and with kids, so trying out new things is a fun way to expand my kitchen knowledge. The best part of it is a lot of it is easy to learn these days, what with YouTube and websites like Bok Choy and Broccoli aiding even the most novice of cooks.

♥ I started a new collection. 🙂 Up until four months ago, I had never thought of myself as a doll collector. But A♥ started it with a gift of a lovely Barbie silkstone and now I am totally hooked. I will be working on pictures very soon and maybe add them to this site as well.

♥ I read books I had been meaning to read, watched new movies in theaters, and traveled a bit. I just came back from a very brief out-of-town visit to a lovely place and I hope to be able to blog about it soon. 🙂

Less the number of days I was sick with the flu, I guess I didn’t waste away too many days. It’s been a lovely month away from the keyboard but I’m glad to be back. See you again soon!

For Bok Choy and Broccoli

bokchoyandbroccoliMy friend Boots and her son Joshua of Kuya’s Notebook is launching a food blog and I wanted to give my wholehearted support for their joint project. It’s called Bok Choy and Broccoli and will feature vegetarian dishes kitchen-tested by mom Boots and approved by Josh and the whole Cobler family.

I have to say upfront, though, that I am an omnivore. As an “all-eater,” I have eaten plants, animals, algae and fungi, often without thought to how they got on my table. But Boots and Josh’s campaign to get more people eating fruits and vegetables, as opposed to meat, is a wonderful step to reducing our dependence on animal protein. I may not completely go vegetarian but I am willing to modify my diet to make it as healthy and as cruelty-free as possible.

And so this morning, I share with you this video, and anyone who has ever had second thoughts about vegetarianism will agree that this makes an absolutely strong case for it.

This is for Boots and Joshua, and for Bok Choy and Broccoli.

I wanted to put this in, a quote attributed to (I couldn’t access the site to verify) and which came from the Mail & Guardian Online article penned by Haji Mohamed Dawjee: “It just goes to show, compassion towards all animals doesn’t have to be taught. It is only untaught.”


Update: I changed the source of the YouTube video because it inexplicably disappeared. Bok Choy and Broccoli is up! 🙂


I was trying to post this last week but something strange kept happening- the text kept disappearing on this post! If you noticed the post on Timelines, all I had were pictures and that was not even intentional. 😦 For some reason, I kept trying to put up words and each time I saved my draft, the words disappeared. Today, I am hoping my words will stay put where they belong this time, as this next post has been waiting for quite some time.

I felt compelled to write this after I received this message in my e-mail from a certain “Jessica Rabbit”:

I visit your blog often and I’d like to ask if you were you paid or did you receive gifts and freebies to review things (your Kimmidolls, for example), food (Mr. Donut?), events and places? I feel that disclosure is necessary to make it clear to your readers if your posts are “commissioned and paid for”. Thank you.

Let me give you a direct answer to a direct question: No, I am not paid to write my reviews and I do not receive freebies or gifts to review things.

Okasaneko Chronicles is not a monetized blog, and as such, I have no sponsors and patrons. I do not carry advertising. Although the opportunities to create revenue and blog-for-pay have presented themselves quite a few times, I have not decided on taking this path yet. I pay for what I review so that means I only review things I really like and buy. Yes, I buy all my Kimmidolls. Yes, I buy my own Pon de Rings. And yes, I buy my own Clinique. No freebies.

Sometimes, however, I do get invited to special events and in such cases, I freely state that I was there by invitation. This is often the exception and not the rule, so unless I state otherwise, everything I review on this blog is paid for and mine by choice.

I blog to write, to keep my middle-aged brain going on days when the blood circulation gets seriously sluggish, and to document memories that may be lost to age. I also blog to connect with people with the same interests and passion, and that is exactly how I have found my circle of autism friends. It is also how the local Sylvanian Families community, PH Sylvanian Families, really got started.

Kittymama meme2 copy

Thank you for that question, Jessica. When I started writing this, I really didn’t feel like I had to justify anything to anyone, but now that I am done, I am glad you did. Writing this has got me thinking of what this blog means to me. There may be some days when I stand on my soapbox with tumbleweeds as my only audience, but I don’t mind. Six years of doing this have opened my world to tremendous people and wonderful experiences. When I think about the most important pay-off of blogging, and that is, making new friends, I feel like I’ve “earned” more than I have given already.

Because I Only Live Once…

Kittymama Inquirer graphicI wasn’t going to post this but A♥ encouraged me to. I’ve never been one to blow my own horn or bring my own pedestal or magbuhat ng sariling bangko (a Filipino idiom which translates literally to “lifting my own bench”). That’s never been my style. Still, we all live only once and you’ve got to take happiness where you find it. And sometimes, it isn’t just in the big things but also in the little things that add up to make it even more worthwhile.

Let me tell you how I found out.

One Saturday morning, on the way to the salon for a quick hair fix, I got a message via Facebook. Here is what it said.

Kittymama Inquirer notification

I blurred my friend’s name and certain details from our FB message so as not to give her identity away. But this message, coming from one of the most popular, most accomplished, and most distinguished members of my Pisay class was really what made my day. 🙂

And then, because I couldn’t find a newspaper late in the day anymore, someone else sent me pictures via email! Yay!

Kittymama Inquirer 01

It feels great to be recognized for the little that I do. And as wonderful as it was to find a little photo of myself in a national paper, it feels even more gratifying to be noticed and validated by friends and people who love and care for me. I actually read that very same paper at Starbucks Megamall that morning and I didn’t even notice me! What were the odds someone else would?

Kittymama Inquirer 03

Hmmm…. Top Hello Kitty blogger *blushes*…. I can definitely drink the Kool-Aid on that one. 🙂 But I think CUTE Hello Kitty blogger would have been better!

Wake-Up Call

I didn’t realize it was Wednesday all over again till I sat down and found corned beef at the breakfast table. Corned beef is always Wednesday morning’s breakfast, the same way tocino (sweetened cured pork) is on Sundays, or boneless tinapang bangus (smoked milkfish) is on Saturdays. Everything is downright predictable in this household, save for some rare days when someone wants French toast made from old raisin bread with a generous dollop of apple cinnamon marmalade (that someone is usually me), or a less imaginative but always hungry young man wants fried crisp Spam with garlic rice. Regular days with regular schedules keep this household running smoothly… until something goes wrong, that is.

I wanted to share the details of Alphonse’s most recent misadventures, but on advice from my better half, decided against it. A feels that Alphonse deserves a bit of privacy to his life and that as Alphonse turns older (he will be 16 in exactly 14 days) I will have to be more discreet about the things I share about him with the public. I should have realized that much earlier. That Alphonse has autism and that he still is very much a young child in terms of cognition and experiences should not take away his right to privacy. This is most important now that he is on the cusp of manhood and on the brink of a new self-discovery and voyage. Some things- not all- will have to be just among the family.

I write about my children often, that cannot be denied. When they were smaller and my world revolved around parenthood, every single moment of my life was about them. It would have been impossible then to separate the writer from my person as a mother, seeing how my history and experiences of the world were almost always seen through this particular perspective. And yet, now that the kids are beginning to pull away from my apron strings, I will have to let them speak of their own lives themselves and choose what they want to share with the world or keep to themselves.

The truth is, it’s difficult not to see Alphonse as a baby, not when he is dependent on us for almost everything. From morning till night, his world is the world we built for him. Even as we help him discover new things in the world, this home, this life, and this family are the things that keep him grounded to us. We look at him and still see a child when the whole world already sees a young man. I guess that’s where the lines are sometimes crossed, when I share too much of his life that may not be mine to share anymore.

I won’t stop writing about my kids, but I will be more discerning when I do. I will keep in mind that these are young men, who regardless of their abilities and/or disabilities, must always have a choice on who and what they want to be. It won’t be long now before they test their new wings. As a parent, all I can do now is to let them fly.