Posts in “Food”

5 days of fun school lunches for kids

Saturday, August 10, 2019

This post is sponsored by adidas. All my opinions are my own.

We have a child who is entering kindergarten this month! With all the busyness before the first day of school, wearing comfy tops like this one to do some errands or cooking in the kitchen certainly helps me in more ways than one. For today’s post, I’d like to share these five school lunches for kids with a twist of fun and creativity! If you’ve been a reader of my blog or been following me on my Instagram stories, you know that I love art and design and I sometimes share some creative lunches for my kids since I’m a stay-at-home mom. I thought why not apply my art background on food so my son will get more excited to eat them. 

Thankfully, my kids are good eaters. It takes practice, lots of patience, and training to turn our kids to one. Credit goes to my husband who has a background in Child Psychology 😉 Anyway, scroll down and enjoy these five days of fun and homemade school lunch for your kids!

Lunch: Cheese Sandwich with Pepperoni 
Theme: School bus

When my kids think of school, one of the first things that comes to mind is a school bus! Here’s how to make an edible school bus: grab a knife and trim the top left and side of two sliced of bread to create a curve. Make three small square holes in the front as bus windows. I added a few pepperoni as wheels and a stop sign that says ‘K” for kindergarten. I threw some steamed broccoli, almonds, raisins, and cherry plums for a fruity treat.

Lunch: Avocado Cheese Quesidilla
Theme: Fish

Tortilla is a hit at home especially for my kids. I grabbed a fresh tortilla in the grocery to make this easy and healthy avocado cheese quesadilla. After I made them, on the same iron skillet pan, I fried corn and black beans with oil, some cumin, and paprika for a few minutes. The other side is sweet pepper (as fish skin), more avocados, and fresh mangoes.

Lunch: Mini Bagel Pizza
Theme: Owl

One of the easiest lunch that I actually give to my kids is pizza bagel. The best part of it is that my kids can join and help create their own. You can make these bunch and freeze it for later after you baked them. I think this will be my eldest son’s on-the-go lunch!


Food: Pasta Salad
Theme: Writing K for Kindergarten

Another easy and healthy lunch idea is pasta salad. I know, I know.. salad for kids? Well, the good side of pasta salad is that you can experiment with ingredients — olives, cube cheese, zucchini, cherry tomatoes. For protein, we usually use marinade chicken but this time, summer sausage as it’s easy to chop and add on the salad. The adorable cheese pencil I got from Pinterest! You can add apple sauce and some crackers as side dish.

Lunch Idea: Koren Beef with Rice
Theme: Bear

This 30-minute korean beef that I found in Pinterest is one of the meals that my family loves. You can throw some veggies like broccoli, carrots, green onions, and red peppers. Since I’m from the Philippines and my husband spent some time living in Asia, we love having rice at least once or twice a week! And yes, we love leftovers so it doesn’t go to waste! Any left is what I will pack for my son’s lunch.

I hope this post inspires you to create your son’s lunch with a twist. Whether you want a creative lunch or just a simple one, the important thing is the effort you make for your little one(s) and that it comes from the heart <3

adidas kid’s shirt (similar one)

blue tank top

Feel free to share with other moms. Happy weekend!


CATEGORY DIY, Family, Food

Easy Brewing with Hamilton Beach® FlexBrew™ Coffee Maker (+ Thanksgiving GIVEAWAY!)

Thursday, November 8, 2018

This post is sponsored by Hamilton Beach. All opinions are mine alone. easy brewing with Hamilton Beach® FlexBrew™ Coffee Maker - giveaway 3

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Moving to a different city is never easy let alone a country. I couldn’t be more thankful for my friends in Houston. I came from the Philippines and hardly knew anybody. They were friendly and welcoming, which made the transition to a new home easier for me. I think having a good support system to share your feelings or discuss the challenges of motherhood is essential to a healthy and balanced life.

Since it’s Thanksgiving season, some of our friends came over to our house to spend some time together to give thanks and to celebrate the gift of our friendship. Our friends really love coffee that’s why we make sure we always have a fresh batch ready. Thankfully, Hamilton Beach® FlexBrew™ Coffee Maker has options whether it’s quick single cup of coffee or a full pot brewed coffee for our visitors.

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Hamilton Beach® FlexBrew™ Coffee Maker is flexible to customize how you want your coffee. There are two ways to brew your own coffee, option one is to brew a full pot with your preferred coffee grounds on the carafe side while option two allows you to make a cup for yourself using a Keurig* K-Cup pack or grounds. You can also use a mug or a tumbler since the lower part can be removed like this:

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You can choose from two brew strengths, bold or regular. I also like that I don’t have to guess which brewer does not have enough water. Each has its own reservoir and has a water window. Cleaning is easy as well. I don’t have to worry about clogging or breakage. If you’re always in a hurry, you can set your brew time 24 hours in advance – coffee ready when you wake up! – and it instantly shuts off with a 2-hour keep warm cycle. No unnecessary stress on whether or not you left the pot on.

While I don’t normally drink coffee, this certainly makes it easier for me at home whenever my husband wants a fresh cup of joe. No fuss and no mess. It’s almost Christmas and the Hamilton Beach® FlexBrew™ Coffee Maker is a perfect gift idea to your families or friends who are addicted to coffee.

Do you want one? Join our giveaway to win a Hamilton Beach® FlexBrew™ Coffee Maker! Head on over to my Instagram for mechanics.If you simply cannot wait to own one, Enter 10FLEXBREW for 10% off on Amazon.

easy brewing with Hamilton Beach® FlexBrew™ Coffee Maker - giveaway

What’s your favorite cup of coffee and what do you usually make at home?


Summer Backyard Grilling

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

This post is sponsored by Adidas. All my opinions are my own.

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There’s something about spending time outdoors that no mall or gadget can offer. I have three boys and I like exposing them to different kinds of activities such as painting, reading, and sports. From time to time I introduce new things that spark their interest. One of the fun and family outdoor activities that we have recently been doing is playing Frisbee. While this makes my children happy and healthy, it also makes them hungry! I decided that a great after-Frisbee dinner would be simple and easy-to-make Shrimp Skewers for us to enjoy.

I grew up in the Philippines where we love to grill seafood such as milkfish, tilapia, squid, and shrimp. One of my favorite dishes is sinigang shrimp. But since it’s summer here, I went for grilled shrimp instead. Shrimp is a good source of protein, and with a little marinade before grilling they taste amazing.. They’re perfect for delicious, healthy eating!

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This Shrimp Skewer is easy to prep and make.

All you need is the following:

2 tablespoons of minced garlic

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon of Sriracha hot sauce

1 cup oil

1 teaspoon of parsely

½ teaspoon salt

Dash of pepper

Jumbo shrimp (1 lb, no shell)

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  1.     Preheat grill on medium high. Soak barbecue sticks in water to prevent them from burning easily while grilling.
  2.     Combine all of the first seven ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir well. This is your marinade.
  3.     Set aside half of the mixed marinade.
  4.     Mix the shrimp in the medium bowl with half the marinade. Leave the shrimp in the marinade for up to 2 hours to add more taste.
  5.     Place shrimp on soaked wooden skewers and place skewers on the grill over medium high heat. Cover the grill for 2-3 minutes on each side or until the shrimp turn pink or opaque.
  6.     Brush marinade on the shrimp occasionally while grilling to keep them from drying and to add flavor.
  7.     Remove shrimp from the grill and brush marinade on the  cooked shrimp again.

8.     Serve with sliced lemon on the side, or make a simple green salad of your choice.


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These are so easy to make and prep time is a breeze. It’s a simple recipe you and your family can enjoy on any occasion.

Also, big thanks to Adidas for my activewear! I love that my top is comfortable, light-weight and well-fitting at the same time. The shorts are a breeze to wear, too. They’re made from sweat-wicking fabric that helps keep me dry and sweat-free even when I’m busy. Finally,I love wearing hats   when I go out, especially in the hot Texas summer! This strap-back hat is so comfortable to wear and fits perfectly. My son is also wearing one, which you can find here.

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Are there any activities you’re looking forward to this summer?

If you happen to make these Shrimp Skewers, of if you discover any ways to improve this recipe,, please let me know. Happy grilling!



Lego Birthday Theme (My son is 3!)

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

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Today I’d like to share my second son’s birthday theme for his third birthday celebration, which is – wait for it – Lego! He and his friends had fun playing with water guns, slides, and making candy necklaces in our backyard. For his past two birthday celebrations, we had a Sailboat and Fish theme respectively. 

My kids are big fans of Duplo ever since Brent and my mother-in-law surprised them with their own set. To be honest, I was never really a fan of Lego or Duplo. It’s incredibly messy and painful especially when accidentally stepped on. But eventually, I learned to love it. It can keep my kids occupied and entertained for hours while honing their creativity and imagination. They love to give me pink Legos or something that they created with pink Legos and I make sure to keep them with me all the time. They really are the sweetest kids!

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Here’s the board I made for my son’s birthday. lego birthday theme hello island mama 4

I have Pinterest to thank for helping me out with this idea and that I was able to pull through. I’m not really good with baking, so I’m extra grateful for ready-made fondants you can buy at the store. I used them to design the cake and cupcakes for my son’s birthday. It wasn’t as hard as I thought. The fondants were quite easy to use, too. I never realized how relaxing and calming it was to design until I tried it.

Instead of buying Lego decorations, I used Duplo blocks to decorate the table, Brent helped design the cupcake tower.

Since our kids are half-American and half-Filipino, I decided to make Philippine and U.S Flags as fondant toppers for the cupcakes. I also made a Texas flag because we currently reside here.

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Here are the Lego Duplos set that my kids love to play and some of the sets I used to help decorate the Lego-themed birthday  cake:

My First Cars and Trucks

Town Around the World (they love this set, gifted from Grandma!)

My First Playhouse (I think these are their first Lego Duplo Set)

Push Train (This is the set I used to design around the cake)

World Animal Jungle Set (where I got the alligator Lego)

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I love that the colors worked well together. They really look like Lego!

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Happy Birthday my sweet little boy!

I thoroughly enjoyed the process and preparations for my son’s birthday. When it comes to DIY, the result is always something to look forward to. It can be a hit or miss situation and it takes a lot of work – but seeing my son and his friends happy makes all the work worth it. Every time.

Do you or your kids love Legos?

Don’t forget to pin your favorite image on Pinterest <3


Fun breakfast bunny pancakes

Monday, March 26, 2018

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Easter is fun for kids and, with a little creativity in the kitchen, can be fun for parents as well! I’ve been wanting to do something for my two eldest boys to celebrate Easter early. However, I don’t want to give them too many sweets (because I’d end up eating a lot of them myself!). ). So instead, I made them these fun bunny pancakes and they loved them! It’s a fun Pinterest hack that is perfect for breakfast!

Here are what I used:

Pancake mix

1 Banana

1 Apple

1 Orange

2 Craisins

I Piece of stringcheese

You can use other fruits or food to recreate this look if you want. For example, you can use a strawberry for the nose instead of cutting an apple. I just used what I had at home!

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First, make the pancakes. Make one big rounded pancake and two additional small circles  for the whiskers. I used a small measuring cup so it was easy to pour a circle shape for the pancake. You can use pancake mix or make your own pancakes from scratch.

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Second, while waiting for the pancake,start to cut bananas for the ears and eyes., Cut the string cheese for the whiskers and front teeth, and cut the apples for the nose. Set aside.

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Once is everything is ready, arrange all the items as shown the picture show. You may also add a bow using orange and string cheese like I did. Marshmallows are okay for the teeth as alternative to string cheese.

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That’s it! Surprise your kids with this on Easter and I’m sure they’ll love it!!

Hope you have a blessed Easter Sunday, my friends!

God bless!


CATEGORY DIY, Family, Food

Flashback to Thailand and Thai Food

Thursday, February 8, 2018

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If Brent and I were given the chance to choose where to be right now, we’d probably both say, “Thailand” because of the food!! It’s a place that is dear to my husband’s heart because he spent a few years teaching kids there. For me, this particular trip is special because it was my first time traveling outside of the Philippines. We traveled back to Thailand together a few more times after that, but we can’t wait to bring our kids along. We want them to explore the nature, beaches, waterfalls, caves, and of course, we want them to eat a lot of good food!

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If you’re traveling here for the first time, you’ll be surprised at how cheap the food is. Don’t let the price fool you though, it is delicious and served fresh. When we traveled together to Thailand for the first time, Brent and I liked to eat dim sum for lunch. They have a variety of dim sum and it’s totally delicious!! I can eat these all by myself…

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You can also enjoy eating dim sum outside with a sunny and beautiful day. People here are friendly and accommodating, it feels like home in the Philippines.

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When I came to Thailand for a visit, Brent introduced me to a variety of Thai foods. If you know me, I’m not adventurous when it comes to trying new foods, but Brent helped me explore and realize what food I was missing out on!

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We always ordered Som Tum (Papaya Salad) as an appetizer. Oh boy, this is so delicious! It is made of fresh, shredded, unripened papaya and is crunchy and spicy. You can request to have it not spicy, but it’s better to have it spicy… It’s worth the taste! It also has some peanuts, garlic, green beans, tomatoes, and some fish sauce.

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My absolute favorite Thai food is Pad Thai. Whether it’s shrimp or chicken, the flavors are really delicious. This is the dish I always ask for when we eat out at Thai restaurants. Pad Thai are soaked rice noodles with fish sauce, chopped firm tofu, eggs, chives, tamarind pulp, and other condiments like bean sprouts, chili pepper, roasted peanuts, and limes. Again, I always ask to have it spicy!

hello island mama thailand travel railay 12 If you want have some curry, don’t forget to ask for sticky rice too!

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The cool part of traveling in parts of Asia like Thailand, is that there are plenty of street foods that will satisfy your stomach. Fresh fruits, drinks, and some desserts are my favorites.
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If you are looking for drinks, you should try our favorite pick: Chai Yen (Thai Iced Tea). You can buy it pretty much everywhere in Thailand. My husband also knows how to make this drink and we pair it with the homemade Pad Thai he cooks.

Has anyone who visited Thailand? Do you have any favorite foods from Thai cuisine?


CATEGORY Food, Travel

Easy, Moist Banana Muffins

Thursday, October 19, 2017

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These easy, moist banana muffins are one of my favorite recipes. I love to bake them for breakfast (eating them with some scrambled eggs and bacon) or just for a snack. I rarely share recipes on this blog about my home-baked food, but if I do, it because it is something that I absolutely love the taste of. It took a while for me to learn how to bake, because in the Philippines, my family never had an oven. I’m so thankful that I learned. Now, I don’t need to buy muffins at the store. Instead, I can make it on my own. Here are the ingredients and instructions on how to make it. Enjoy!


1 ½ cups of all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

⅓ cup of butter, melted

1 egg, beaten

3/4 cup white sugar (I sometimes use less ¼ cup and add ¼ cup of applesauce)

3 large ripe bananas

⅓ cup of greek yogurt

¼ cup of dried cranberries (optional)


Preheat oven to 375 F degrees. Stir flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. Microwave the butter in a medium bowl for 30-40 seconds. Pour the beaten egg into the bowl with melted butter. Mash the ripe bananas together into this bowl as well (I like doing this with a fork). Add white sugar and stir well with a baking spatula. Combine with the dry ingredients in the large bowl. Fold with greek yogurt and dried cranberries. Scoop the mix into the muffin pan. I use muffin liners, but you may also coat the muffin pan with oil to keep them from sticking. Bake for 20 to 25 minute

Let me know if you try it and how it turns out!

P.S Also check out my post for Filipino chicken empanada!


CATEGORY Food, recipe

My Easy Fried Rice Recipe

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

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Before I came to America, I had been eating rice every single day; for breakfast, lunch and dinner. However, when Brent and I got married, I compromised with the food we eat for our meals. It’s not that he doesn’t like rice (he loves it together with other Asian foods!), but of course, I want to serve meals that he likes from his culture as well. When I do prepare rice, I sometimes want to make it more special, instead of just plain, white Jasmine rice. Today, I want to share how I make my own fried rice. You can find the ingredients easily in the grocery store, or you may already have them in your fridge. The good thing about this recipe is that you can add as much veggies as you like. We also like to eat this alone and sometimes add chicken to it. My toddlers love it!


3 Tablespoons​ of cooking oil

2 beaten eggs

3 cloves of garlic (minced)

1 medium sized onion (chopped)

½ cup of water

1 teaspoon chicken bouillon

¾ cup of carrots (chopped)

4-5 cups of cooked rice (2-3 days old is better than newly cooked. See instructions below)

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup of broccoli (optional; you can also use cauliflower)

¼ cup of chopped green onions (optional)

¼ cup of green peas


Other ingredient ideas that I like to use are:

Cooked chicken







  1. Using a wok (we got ours in an Asian market, similar to this one here), heat 2 tablespoons of oil in medium heat. Pour beaten eggs to cook. You can move the wok to move the eggs around and widen its size. When it’s starting to become solid, flip it over and cook the other side. Start to break the egg apart into medium sized pieces using a cooking turner (similar to this). Remove from heat and set aside.
  1. Pour 1 tablespoon of oil into the wok and start to cook the minced garlic and chopped onions, until onions are translucent.
  1. Pour water and add chicken bouillon. Once it’s starting to boil, add chopped carrots for 2-3 minutes.
  1. Add cooked rice. I love to use leftover rice (2-3 days old that I refrigerate). It is perfect for asian fried rice like this, since new cooked rice tends to get soggy and mushy. It’s common that rice can stick onto the wok. Just make sure you mix the rice often while making this. After you fry the rice, you may add salt and pepper to taste. You can also add garlic powder if you’d like.  
  1. Start adding other veggies like broccoli, green peas, and green onions. Stir the veggies with rice. Let it cook for 5 minutes and stir occasionally underneath so the rice won’t stick to the wok.
  1. Next, add the beaten eggs back with the rice and stir with all the cooked ingredients. Serve it hot!


Let me know in the comment box below if you try it! Enjoy!


Welcome to Hello Island Mama! I love to share about motherhood, makeup, DIYs, home styling and faith. Based in Houston, Texas. Originally from Philippines. Thank you for your time to read and don't forget to subscribe above! - Em

"I can do all things through him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13

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