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Christmas Eve 2021

Would you believe that we just finished taking down all our holiday decorations today?! Yes, we’re nearing the end of January but Andi kept refusing to dismantle our Christmas tree! Whenever I would tell her that it’s time to pack it away, she would plead: “No, Mama! You can’t put away the Christmas tree. Just keep it in my play room.” Whenever I explained to her that it’s not Christmas anymore, she would insist: “But it’s Christmas!” I was finally able to change her mind today!

Christmas is over but I thought I’d just share a little bit about how we spent our Christmas Eve.

Normally, Mike, Andi, and I go to my mom and sister Alexa’s place for Christmas Eve. But last year, Alexa was still inside the Pinoy Big Brother House so my mom came over to our house instead.

Twinning with my Santa Baby

When my mom saw the Christmas outfits that I bought for me and Andi, she said: “Naku, mukhang mamaya pa tayo kakain ng Noche Buena. Mukhang may photo shoot pa na magaganap eh!” (“Uh oh! It looks like we won’t get to have our Noche Buena ‘til later because there’s a photo shoot coming!”) She knows me too well!

I ordered these cute matchy Santa dresses from @calliesophiacloset. Adorable!!! My mom said: “Siyempre may pa-andar ka nanaman!” (‘Of course you have a gimmick again!’) Haha! I always comes prepared!

By the way, Mike was not in the photo because he had an upset stomach. Thus, it was just Andi and Mama! Good thing Andi was so game. She loved her Santa outfit as much as I did!

Noche Buena

We had an amazing feast for Christmas Eve! I am the Mother of ‘Just In Case’ and even more so on Christmas Eve. I ordered from three different food shops JUST IN CASE one of them failed to deliver or just in case one of them couldn’t book a rider to send the meal to our place. Thankfully, we got all of our food on time!

A few months back, a food business named Mango Grill sent some food to Alexa, and we fell in love with everything they sent us that we already started thinking of when the next special occasion would be so we can order their food again! When we first tasted their Truffle Blanca Foldover, Alexa and I agreed that “this is the best bread ever!” I mean, how can anything with truffle NOT be delicious?! And when you partner that with oozing cheese, large bacon strips, and flaky puff pastry, well… you’ve got a winner right there! Mike’s only complaint was that there was too much bacon. He wished there was more of the puff pastry because he thought it was really nice. (Sorry, I forgot to take a photo of what it looks like inside!)

We also got their Shrimp Arabiatta. They said it’s good 3-4 persons but I think it could feed 7 or 8! Actually, when the rider delivered the food to our condo, he said “Ang bigat po, Ma’am!” (“It’s heavy, Ma’am!”) I absolutely love shrimp, and I’m happy that they were very generous with the baby shrimp. They also heeded my request to make it a little less spicy for the biggest noodle fan in our family – Andi! The first time she tried it though, she had the spicier version, and she devoured it! Anyway, we had so much leftover food from Mango Grill that we were able to bring most of it to our family Christmas gathering the next day – and our relatives seemed to enjoy them because they were WIPED OUT!

We also had Angus Litson Baka and Classic Manok (Chicken) from Mang Cesar, which is located in Pioneer Street Market in Mandaluyong. When I bit into the Litson Baka, I thought, “Damn! That’s the juiciest and most tender litson baka I’ve ever had in my life!” It came with beef drippings and gravy, but it was already well-seasoned that I forgot to use the sauces! If you’re watching your cholesterol, though, you might want to go easy on this because it’s extremely fatty and drenched in oil!

I was already so full that I didn’t get to try the Classic Manok anymore!

Our last ‘backup meal’ was Cheesy Beef Meat Loaf from Maharlika Meatloaf. I’ve never heard of this food business before but hey, it’s always a delight to discover small businesses! I almost didn’t order from them because they ‘seen zoned’ me… TWICE! But after I called them out on it, they were very apologetic and one of the owners even took the time to give me a phone call to show that they were sincerely sorry for (unintentionally) overlooking my messages. I really appreciated that.

I decided to give them a chance, and I’m glad I did, because my family loved their meatloaf! Just looking at it is enough to make you drool! I’ve had meat loaf before, but this is the first time I’ve had meat loaf that’s filled with cheese and swimming in cheese! You could really get full from it with just a few bites. They don’t use meat extenders and MSG so it’ pretty healthy. It’s also nice that it’s served with a side of vegetables.

For dessert, I just got a Merry Berry Jr. Cake from Banapple. It’s a 6” strawberry custard cake with buttercream frosting. I just decided to buy a small cake since we already had too many desserts at home, thanks to all our friends and family who gifted us with sweets during the holidays! I’ve always liked Banapple’s cakes so I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed with this one. It’s very light and moist, and it wasn’t too sweet. The Christmas wreath design is also simple but classy.

I was pretty satisfied with the cake… but not so much with my experience with them. They could work on being a little more responsive on Instagram. I also encountered problems regarding my delivery. It was specifically noted in my order that the cake was FOR DELIVERY, and the store was insisting that it’s for pickup and told me that all their riders were fully booked already. I sent them a screenshot to prove that my order was supposed to be delivered. In the end, their store manager finally found a way to have the cake delivered to my place, as it should have been.

I also displayed some Christmas-themed Cadbury chocolates on our table just to make our spread a little more festive! My mother-in-law brought these from Australia. So cute!

Unwrapping of Christmas Presents

After our noche Buena, it was time for Andi’s favorite part of the evening: the opening of gifts!

I’d say that 80% of the presents under the tree are hers – both Christmas and birthday gifts. The remaining 20% are for both me and Mike combined, and out of that 20%, maybe only half is from family and friends and half is from my brand sponsors. Haha! Fact of life: as you get older, you get fewer presents!

Anyway, Andi had SO MUCH GIFTS that it was already 2:00 in the morning and SHE STILL WASN’T DONE! She had to leave some presents unopened and told her to just open them on New Year’s Eve because we were already tired and sleepy!

The next day, we got more presents at our annual family Christmas party! We were lucky enough to have had the chance to spend Christmas Day with our family before Alert Level 3 happened.

It was definitely a happy Christmas in House Smith because we had one another! I hope you all had a magical Christmas!

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