For almost ten years now, lemons have been a staple item in our household. Apart from its usual use as ingredients for cooking, making tea and juice, we use it for our daily lemon water.  Dear Hubby and I started the habit of putting lemons to our pitcher of water when we learned that it actually helps clean toxins out of our body, not to mention it has Vitamin C content and can help in weight loss (well, well, well!).  Commercial alkaline water can be expensive and I think lemon water is the closest and least expensive alternative.

When we moved to Jakarta almost three years ago,  we discovered other variations of detox water and incorporated it with our usual lemon water fix.  We added Cucumber and Mint Leaves and we liked the fun twist on it!  I recommend that you try it and make it a habit.  Enjoy!


Health Benefits:
*source: energiseforlife.com,

  • Lemon: Lemon water makes for a powerful detox drink; lemon juice helps to cleanse and alkalize the body.  It has excellent digestive properties and can ease heartburn, bloating and other digestion problems.

Lemons are  loaded with Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, which aids the body in weight loss. Antioxidants are known to remove toxins (such as fat cells) from the body, which is why lemon water is such a good aid in weight loss.

Additionally, Vitamin C found in lemons is known to boost the immune system.

  • Mint: Mint adds a touch of sweetness without the sugar, and it also helps settle your stomach and aids in digestion. Mint is also loaded with strong antioxidants found within the leaves and stems, as well as vitamin A, calcium, folate, potassium, and phosphorus…making it a helpful aid at preventing disease and illness.
  • Cucumber: Adding a few slices of cucumber to your water makes for excellent rehydration, and cucumber contains anti-inflammatory properties.

And while you’re at it, here’s a couple of suggestions on how to creatively store your lemons and mint leaves.

Instead of the usual fruit basket, try using clear vases to store your lemons in.  It makes a great center piece too.

Instead of the usual fruit basket, try using clear vases to store your lemons in. It makes a great center piece too.

Supermarket-bought mint leaves can be placed in a watered vase.  It gives longer life for the leaves and it decorates your kitchen counter.

Supermarket-bought mint leaves can be placed in a watered vase. It gives longer life for the leaves and it decorates your kitchen counter.



My old Blackberry with its perennial white screen... sometimes it's black.

My old Blackberry with its perennial white screen…

Dear Blackberry,

I fell in love with you the moment I laid my eyes on you.  Your perfect keyboard helped this large-thumbed woman create perfectly spelled texts every time.  You and I knew each other so well, I didn’t have to think which punctuations or emoticons to use.  We’ve been through a lot together. We made travel arrangements, sent messages to family and friends, read news (and gossips) from across the globe.

That’s why what I’m about to say is very difficult.

I’m breaking up with you.

I know there’s no easy way to say it but you’re all business and I wanted to cut the chase.  You seem to be powering down a bit… no, a lot, lately.   My daily routine of rebooting you has caused my entire phonebook to go kaput. It was fine, I just had to update all my contacts manually. I’m a very patient woman.  But must you make me do this everyday? I didn’t give up on you but I gave up updating my phonebook and handle the embarrassment of  sending out a “who you?” message.

When you asked me to upgrade my Facebook to version tra.la.la,  I said yes.  But you conked out again and made the whole app disappear.  You know very well that Facebook, together with Twitter and Instagram, are my connections to the “outside world”.  I need them to stalk, uhm, to keep up with everyone.  You didn’t have Instagram but I remained devoted to you.

And because of my fondness on your alarm features, I let you sleep on my bedside so you’d be the first one I would see when I wake up.  Why did you choose to stop working and sleep like a log on the morning that Little Boy had a performance in school?! Had we not made it on time, I wouldn’t have forgiven you.

Out of respect for you, I’m telling you that you’re being replaced by the iPhone.  Dear Hubby gave it as a present to me on Mother’s Day, who says no to that?   I’ve flirted with the iPhone on my mind but you know that  I’m a Blackberry in a world of iPhones.  Please believe me when I say, “It’s not you, it’s ME.”


I’ll terribly miss you even when others made fun of you.  You know I hate those fingerprints on my screen!  This new guy is pretty intimidating, I hope it will be just as patient with me as you were when I was just learning which buttons to press.

I hope we can still be friends.  I’m putting you in a safe box and shall bring with me anywhere a new sim card would be required and we’ll still reconnect.  Thank you for your years of service and dedication, I will always treasure our time together buddy.

Thanks again,


I know, I know… One might wonder,  I have long been away from the corporate world and have become a housewife so what would I need a home office for?  Guess what. I’m not “just” a housewife or a “stay”-at-home mom, I’m a WORK-at-home mom.  Yes, we work and you know as they say, “Every mother needs a cockpit”.

This is where we run the show, our very own mission control center where we make our grocery lists, prepare the weekly menu, update budgets, pay the bills, write our blogs, and a gazillion other things that a mother like me are preoccupied with.  When I work at home and I hop from one work area to another (our dining table, the living room, my bed, the guest room), I can’t help but daydream of having a space like this…

image courtesy of Houzz.com

image courtesy of Houzz.com

Isn’t this the sweetest home office you’ve ever seen? I can’t help but lust over this, look at those walls!  And the color scheme, feminine but not juvenile.  I’ve always been drawn to fun and bright spaces, white furniture and chic chairs.  Such a perfect place where you can clear your mind, gather your thoughts and just be creative.  It’s a sanctuary.  But I must admit, I might not do actual work in this space but just look at it the whole day admiring this beauty… and do a lot of cleaning and organizing in this understated glamor.

I really really REALLY want to have a space like this.  If men can have their man-cave and the kids can have their study area, I need my glammed-up cockpit as well… and I will have it.  I’m saving up for it.  Someday, this home office will no longer be a daydream. Someday :).


andres solo w cakes

The last time we threw a birthday party for Little Boy was when he turned one.  They say turning seven is a milestone to any child because this signals the start of  “growing up” hence, a party.  With barely three weeks to prepare and a specific theme as a guideline, I began flexing my event-planning muscles.

This should come easy for me as I’m used to organizing and supervising big and small, corporate and family  events.  From product launches, sales conventions, weddings, birthdays, etc.  Yes, it should be easy…. IF we were in the Philippines… where I knew the right people to call and the right places to get most bargains from.  BUT we are in Jakarta, a galaxy far far away, and therein lies the challenge!  How do I throw a simple party in a country where its wealthy families stage lavish kiddie parties that are more expensive than my wedding?!

Push the right buttons, you can’t do it alone.

Mary Ramba (which I think should add ANGEL to her name), my co-mommy since kindergarten, had been a lot of help.  She made our personalized Star Wars pillows for giveaways despite the short lead time.  Her workshop is located in Bandung but shuttled every now and then from Jakarta to oversee the production.  She also made the customized cupcakes that were a hit at the party.  If she didn’t become busy entertaining visiting guests from abroad, she would have made the birthday cake as well, but she referred me to a very reliable cake maker.star wars pillows

pillows jorjacupcakes.pyramid


Dominique (Monique) Sanda of Sugamom Cakes was my “it” girl for the cake.  It was originally her partner Herawati  who I first called but she was out of town and graciously referred me to Monique.  I never had a difficult time dealing with her because first of all, she speaks good English and secondly, she was willing to work around our own idea and design.  If there would be any issues, she would communicate them with me right away.  I also appreciate her resourcefulness when, on the day of the party, her delivery guy didn’t show up and she delivered the cake herself.  That was the only time that I met her in person, our communications have always been thru emails or BBMs only but she got my instructions to the dot. The cake was exactly how I envisioned it to be and tasted heavenly!

His toy as a cake-topper brings a personal touch to his birthday cake.

His toy as a cake-topper brings a personal touch to his birthday cake.

These girls can't resist the chocolate fondant cake!

These girls can’t resist the chocolate fondant cake!

Happy with their dessert.

Happy with their dessert.

Dear Hubby designed a special birthday banner for the Little Boy but the challenge was to look for a supplier who can print it well.  I came across Snapy when I was dropping off Little Boy to school.  It’s easy to find a Snapy center in Jakarta because it’s everywhere!  In fact, there are two branches just along Jl. Mampang Prapatan, I picked the one closest to the school for convenient logistics.  My 225cm x 300cm vinyl (tarpaulin) banner was done overnight and without any revisions needed.

We maximized this banner by making this a photo wall too.

We maximized this banner by making this a photo wall too.

With our Pinoy friends.

With our Pinoy friends.

with Pak Dahryanto and family

with Pak Dahryanto and family

An ideal place for playdates, Tamani Kafe is also a perfect venue for birthday parties.  The indoor playground provided enough space for kids to run around which made me decide not to have parlor games anymore.  Based on experience, kids wouldn’t want to get pulled out from the playground just to join in some boring games and watch the scary clown do his tricks.  We just let the kids play while the parents are free to catch up and/or get to know each other.  Andriani, the party coordinator in Tamani, was very helpful which makes all these party preparations quite easy for me.

climbing 2natw & daisy


boys will be boys

boys will be boys

girls know how to have fun too!

girls know how to have fun too!

kids eating

nate.andres.liambambino momsmoms

tamani 1

tamani 3

Thank God for friends (and friends of friends) and reliable suppliers! Because of them, the first birthday party that we ever had here in Jakarta, Indonesia had been stress-free.  I’m grateful too for the presence of Little Boy’s closest friends. We didn’t need a grand celebration, just their gift of friendship made everything more fun and memorable. Thank you everyone, may the force be with you!


HP:  +6287 8851 41640
email:  maryramba@gmail.com

HP:  +6281 8855 992
BBM pin: 2355F579
Facebook:  Sugamom Cakes

Click here for the list of their branches

Open: Wednesday to Sunday, 11:00 – 18:00
4th floor Jl. Kemang Raya No. 5
Mampang Prapatan District,
South Jakarta 12730
Tel. No. (021) 719 8077

TRAVEL DIARIES: Free Fun & Cheap Thrills In Santa Monica

Body clocks adjusted, suitcases unpacked, routines revisited.  Much as I didn’t want our long holiday to end, everything gets back to (crazy, fun) normal. And before my blog site gets stale from being away for too long, let me share with you my travel diary of our first U.S. trip as a family. Heck, MY first U.S. trip!

Dear Hubby was scheduled to do a photo shoot in L.A.  and since it was Christmas season and December is a special month for us (it’s our wedding anniversary and Dear Hubby’s birthday month), Little Boy and I tagged along on this trip and later on headed to two other cities for some more adventure.


At the risk of sounding overly emphatic, I have to say this… I absolutely looove this part of L.A.!!!  I like the relaxed vibe in Santa Monica, it makes you feel that you’re in a REAL vacation.  I don’t know about you but I have this thing about scheduled tours that stress me out, the crowds, the long queue, high ticket prices, etc.  We never felt that in Santa Monica at all! No crowds, no tourist traps,   and best of all, it’s FREE FUN! This is such a big deal for us cheapskates :).

You can just chill around the famous PALISADES PARK which is right across our hotel… It is a laid-back beach community within a major city attracting both families and single people.  While Dear Hubby was working on location,  the Little Boy and I explored this area and fell in love with it instantly.  It would’ve been a shame if Dear Hubby didn’t get to see this gorgeous site, I’m glad he extended his stay for a couple of days after his official business to get around Santa Monica with us.


This is a great walking path on the edge of a cliff, overlooking the ocean.  Great view of the Santa Monica pier.

This is a great walking path on the edge of a cliff, overlooking the ocean. Great view of the Santa Monica pier!

Amazing view, gorgeous path, and fresh and crisp air. What’s not to love?

santa monica viewpalisades.tree-lined path

You’ll see many locals running, walking, biking, working out, or simply just hanging around enjoying the sun and the view. Lots of people stroll along this park with their dogs too. In my case, I had a grand time people-watching :).

palisades park.bikerpalisades park.relax on the grasspalisades.frolic

Little Boy never hesitated making friends with the dogs' owners just so he could play with them.

Little Boy never hesitated making friends with the dogs’ owners just so he could play with them. He did this the whole time and this “trick” never failed!

Palisades Park is also a perfect place for picnics. It has table sets around the park that give you a breathtaking view of the beach and the ocean.

Palisades Park is also a perfect place for picnics. It has table sets around the park that give you a breathtaking view of the beach and the ocean while enjoying your packed lunch.

palisades street sign

On days that we’re in for some more walking, we would take the steep trail going down the Pacific Coast Highway to get to Santa Monica Beach.

sta monica trailSince going up and down this trail is quite a workout (think 4kms on an inclined treadmill), we made this stroll at the beach part of our regular morning routine.

But you wouldn't mind the long walk if you have this as your view, would you? Eye on the prize!

But you wouldn’t mind the long walk if you have this as your view, would you? Eye on the prize!

Finally, ze Beach!

sta monica beach.birds

A few more steps and you'll reach the famous Sta. Monica Pier.

A few more steps and you’ll reach the famous Sta. Monica Pier.

sta monica beach

 Although California doesn’t exactly have a freezing winter in December, the temperature at that time was at 16°C.  To any Asian who comes from the tropics, you would be crazy to be at the beach in this weather.  But I guess we’d be more crazy if we miss the California beach experience. Besides, 16°C was to be the warmest temperature we would face in this entire U.S. trip so we might as well.

Little Boy had been nagging us for a swim, he backed out because of the freezing water.

Little Boy had been nagging us for a swim, he backed out because of the freezing water.

If you're not into walking, there's the famous Perry's bike rental shop to help you get around the stretch of Santa Monica Beach.

If you’re not into walking, there’s the famous Perry’s bike rental shop to help you get around the stretch of Santa Monica Beach.

This beach is a perfect spot for frolics, packed breakfast and even making out.  See? Free fun and cheap thrills!

sta monica beach.frolickssta monica beach.picnicsta monica beach.kissing

‘Til my next post, see ya!


Living in a Muslim country has somehow made us shy away from pork for a while, something our arteries have to thank us for.  Out of respect to our help’s religious beliefs, we never serve pork in our household or if ever we do, it’s got to be on a weekend when she’s on a day off.  There would be times when  we would go to any Chinese resto and break this self-imposed pork fasting just to satisfy our sinful cravings.

So when our Pinay friend Phoebe invited us to a Lechon Lunch for only 250,000 IDR which includes lechon, drinks and desserts, my reply was “You had us at LECHON”.  Who can say no to a chance to see our Filipino friends and of course the authentic Pinoy lechon  which was prepared by a Pinoy chef!  So off we trooped to Alex’s in Kuningan to taste the three little pigs.

The superstars of the lunch were three little suckling pigs slow-roasted in the oven at 75°C for 16 hours(!) then re-roasted in wood-fire oven just minutes before serving.  The latter is the essential step in making that crispy skin layer good enough to give you multiple porkgasm. The crackling skin and the tender succulent meat seasoned with just the right herbs and spices just melt in your mouth. It was so good I think I died and went to swine heaven.  Okay, a little exaggeration there but any lechon lover will get what I mean.

And the FUN begins...

And the FUN begins…

This little piggy went straight to our tummies

This little piggy went straight to our tummies

saladside dishpizza

Thanks to the gorgeous Phoebe of Asian Tigers Mobility for the overflowing wine!

Thanks to the gorgeous Phoebe of Asian Tigers Mobility for the overflowing wine!


THE COMPANYfriendsnew friends1new friends2

I’ve always known Raj Abat as a New York-trained Filipino chef who is now based in Jakarta.  He’s a cool guy who warmly accommodates us when we dine in his previous resto posting.  He would join us and the other Pinoys for some beer and potluck and would watch the Manny Pacquiao fights with us.  He and his lovely wife are expecting their first baby soon.  This was all I knew about Raj until I Googled him for some info in this blog entry.  Whoah, I didn’t know there was a rock star in our midst all along! Check out an excerpt of what I found.

“At a glance, Raj Abat’s lean, austere and tattooed appearance might trick us into thinking that he’s chief of some gangs. Well, a bunch of gangsters indeed, but these are experts with knives, laddles and forks, and their territories are not the streets, but the kitchens. If you didn’t know Raj Abat, you would probably never guessed that he is a Filipino-born New Yorker and is a Corporate Chef who has a long list of experience working in some of the most desired celebrity chefs’ kitchens like Jean-Georges in New York City and Pierre Gagnaire in Paris. ”
Culinary Bonanza

If you’re a Pinoy in Jakarta or a pork-starved food lover, or all of the above, it’s a shame not to sample Raj’s specialty.  He’s currently a Corporate Chef at the Alila Hotel (of the Alila Chain of Properties) but you can visit his Facebook page, RAJ ABAT COOKS to check out what’s cooking and when his next Swine Feast will be.

Unassuming cool guy.  No toques and uniforms, just a bandana.  No bad temper, just badass tattoos.

No toques and uniforms, just a bandana. No bad celebrity chef temper, just bad-ass tattoos.


I’ve lost count how many times this annoying flu bug has bitten me this year. It sucks when you’re stuck in bed with your itchy throat, runny nose, fiery eyes, sore body and worst of all, conked out taste buds!  Thanks to this tried and tested combination of meds and massage,  I was blissfully knocked out in coma for a few days and hardly minded any pain:
Bioflu (from the Philippines), Berocca (double dose),  and a wintergreen hilot (traditional massage).  The latter is my favorite as I am a sucker for massages and I’m happy to share with you one of our best discoveries here in Indonesia: Balsem Otot Geliga.

We fondly call this badass babe “Otot”

Our Indonesian helper uses this on her joints every night and once had me try it during one of my migraine attacks, that was the beginning of our love affair with Geliga.  It’s actually an ointment for muscle pains but it somehow has magical effect on me when used as a massage ointment for my headache, even Dear Hubby keeps a bottle on his bedside table because it relieves him of muscle pains from his sports and workout.  Now this may sound funny to the Filipinos as “otot” has a different meaning to us, it may mean “muscle” in Indonesia but it means “fart” in the Philippines.  However it elicits a smile on our face every time we mention the word, this mean babe is everything but a joke.  It means serious business and we swear by it.  It feels hot(!) when rubbed on your skin but eventually gives that soothing cool feeling afterwards.  Any massage with Geliga leaves me in deep slumber and gives me a refreshed feeling the next day.

At a risk of this blog entry sounding like an advertorial, I still highly recommend it.  If you’re in Indonesia and suddenly felt a need for your good old Katinko or Vicks but don’t have it, pick Geliga from the nearby drugstore for that guaranteed body ache relief.  It’s the best smelling “otot” too :).

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