Tag Archive | tips

NBS, My Life Saver!

As much as I prefer to give gifts that have personal touch, I discovered that I have to give up on this ideal. In my previous post, I said I’ve found the perfect DIY xmas gift, but then I discovered, besides being fitting only for girls, it required much time than I thought. I was able to make 15 but that was all.

With the hustles and bustles between juggling official and personal occupation, plus the fact that we are in the process of new residence hunting, I’m afraid I’ll have to modify my mission on DIY gifts. I have to admit, I overdid my gift-giving this year to make up for the last. The previous year was quite a tight one. We’ve just moved house back then so I had to be extra thrifty. It was our first time on our own dwelling and the money had to go to furnishings. So now I’m playing Santa for at least 90 people and without elves to help me (my husband is willing to help but his flesh is weak on arts, hehe) gift making will take forever.

So far, I have only 20 gifts less to worry about. For the past few days, I’ve been brainstorming about ideas but to no extent. I was becoming helpless already so I decided that a little canvassing would help. I asked permission from Nilo to let me browse National Bookstore (NBS) last Sunday and although he’d let me for a longer time, I promised it would only take 45 minutes or so (hehe). It was weekend after all, family time. Fortunately, I followed this instinct and found answers! Thanks to NBS, it never fails to please me. 🙂

While browsing hastily around the store, I have found these cute little wooden key chains with inspirational messages and immediately hoarded 20 of them for my co-office. They’re perfect for close friends or acquaintances, male or female. For the bosses however, I found the hallmark datebooks more suitable. I was on the verge of tears when there were only 4 datebooks left on the ribbon counter. The saleslady told me though, to check on other counters, which was what I did, and was able to hoard 10.

Since I was at the store already, I decided I might as well think about which materials could be used to wrap the tiny gifts. Tiny self-made envelopes seemed like a good idea plus it will give me the opportunity to add some personal touch on the gifts. The perfect materials? Parchment papers and glitter strings. I felt happy having accomplished my task well plus there’s still ample time. I looked around some more and found another perfect gift for Demi, art and drawing materials in a pink case! She’s a lover of arts like me, and this gift was her personal request. Since it was the last stock, I decided that I’d rather not postpone it for later. I didn’t bring enough cash but there’s credit card. Another life saver. 🙂

Finally before leaving the store, I confirmed my loyalty to NBS by availing the Laking National Card. In a month, I’d be able to proudly present my card at every purchase and gain benefits. Not that I’m asking for more. I’d say, NBS helped me a great deal this time around… again. 🙂

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My DIY Xmas Gifts

I only have a few more days left and I haven’t started one gift yet! And I have like 30 people on my gift list! As early as September, I had been brainstorming about what to make for give-aways this holiday season. I even bought blank key chains already and saved the decoration part for future. But until now, I don’t see a more fit deco for these key chains and so the project is still unstarted. This is the trouble with do-it-yourself gifts, nevertheless, I choose to push through with this. For me, gift with personal touch are always the best.

My first thoughts were to make a mini desk calendar such as the ones Papemelrotti sells. I received the same gift from my co-worker last year.

So far, I’ve achieved nothing more than printing the calendars. My plan was to make the stand out of cardboard. I have made a pattern already but haven’t tried it yet. Now that I’m running out of dates, it seems like a lot of work glueing the cardboard together and covering it with coloured paper. At this rate, good luck to me.

My other idea was to give out key chains. National bookstore sells key chains which could be customized. But up to now, I can not decide what kind of theme or style, whether to just print the designs or make it out of miniature craft items like sequence. The latter seemed definitely better but, again, hard work. With constraint in time, I guess I don’t have much choice. But if I would have to sacrifice the quality of my work, I wouldn’t be as happy and I think it’s better to just think of an alternative project.

I’ve been browsing the internet seeking for help and I have to admit, there are endless projects that I’d like to make except that, I don’t have the liberty of time. Among the suggestions, the following are the ones I’ve chosen:

Storage Box

I love boxes! It takes time though to make one. With 30 people to give to and only 20 days left to do it, it’s not possible even if I take the leave from work for the following days to come hehe.

Holiday Coffee Sleeves

Coffee sleeves are not really specific for the xmas season, but then again, so are boxes. With the right touch of decoration, it will sure set the holiday spirit just fine. However, looking for the right fabric such as the one in the picture requires time and I have no idea where to find these kind of items yet.

Candles

Candles are lovely giveaways also if decorated with the right touch. Trouble is, it’s a little too late to look for candles by this month. Making one is hard work.

Tin organizers

I really feasted my eyes on this one but to be able to make it as lovely as the one in the picture, I think I’ll need plenty of time from canvassing for the tins and craft items to making the decorations unique for each tin. Next year, willing, I’ll put this on my list of ideas earlier (wish a procrastinator like me GOOD luck!).

Holiday Magnets
This idea was influenced greatly by Hallmark. I was thinking about creating seasonal designs and pasting them on a cardboard and then glue a piece of magnet at the back. This one’s easy and simple and I was considering this as my only feasible option. But then it was too simple. Tsk tsk tsk…

Finally, I found the perfect gift! Thanks to the blog sites offering self help crafts or this site in particular

Post-It-Note- Holders! Lovely aren’t they? Cost is under $10 and time to complete is less than an hour. Now they’re the perfect give-aways this year. Not only are they pretty but also very useful. Plus, with the limited time I have, they are quite simple to make without limiting my design ideas.

With my mind made up and at peace with the choice, I’m all set up to buying the materials and will soon be posting pics of the final product. Thanks very much!

Brewing Up

I can’t get my mind off the celebration we’ve been planning for the kids for their 2nd and 4th birthdays. I had just spent my lunch time making the decorations. This year, we decided to take the kids for swimming and with their adoration for Ariel, it was the perfect combination to have an underwater theme. With the help of my friend, Rhen, I managed to finish colouring and cutting up several sea creatures, including Nemo and Flounder. The trick about underwater themes is that everything has to be glistening and shimmering like the water. Crystal glitters helped bring out the effect on these little fishes and shells.

I’ve been meaning to make these decorations since weekend but with loads of paperwork in the office, I just couldn’t find the time even at home (I was always exhausted recently, tsk tsk…). Fortunately, I realized I’m starting to cross out items from my things-to-do-list. Besides, I’m running out of time. If we want to celebrate in time with the holidays, I should be wrapping things up by now. Hmmm… It seems that I have a lot more to add to my list like making the letterings and getting other deco supplies, which remind me, that I need to brainstorm first which art materials would be more convenient (and cheap) to use without sacrificing much the beauty of the final outcome. Oh, there are no more excuses, I have to do these things now. So I’m sorry, work, you’ll have to wait ‘til next time. Hehe, of course I was just kidding. Work knows he’s always going to be first on the list although it doesn’t mean he’s priority, hehehe.

Now, I’m having an even harder time trying to focus on work. I can’t wait for shopping time! 🙂

Cooking Lessons

For the month of August, I have learned a couple of meals that are delectable, easy to cook and most of all, very affordable. I am a very thrifty person so the last consideration is very important. The meals to name are Molo Soup and Creamed Vegetables with Egg and I intend to share the menu with newbies like me who might be looking for something new to serve on the dining table.

The first meal, I learned from Yanah’s grandparents, tita Toy and Mam’da when they visited over and cooked for her birthday. Just a brief intermission, Yanah, my niece, turned 11 last August 10, but since it fell on a Wednesday, we just had a simple cake party and had the celebration itself on Friday night. In the morning, Nilo and I offered to get the ingredients from the supermarket. Lucky for us, we got to know the ingredients to this super treat.

The recipe, which was good for 20 people, costed Php230 only which got my attraction primarily hehe. While Mam’da and tita Toy were preparing the food, I invited myself over for a free lesson. I called on Nilo too, since he cooks our meals more frequently than I do (and he’s a better cook, I admit) and while I got lessons from tita Toy on how to wrap the molo meat, Mam’da taught Nilo how to make the broth. A few days later, we gave the dish a try and I must say for first timers, it was a delicious success. It wasn’t as good of course, so I’ll be sharing the original recipe. The ingredients of a molo soup follow:

Molo meat
1/4 kg ground pork
2pcs carrots
2pcs eggs
1pack molo wrapper (the biggest size)

Broth
1/4kg chicken
Onion spring

For the molo meat, mix the ground pork, grated carrots and beaten eggs in a bowl and season to your desired taste. However, for those who would like to skip this tedious procedure, you may buy the ready-made shanghai mix at the supermarket. This was what we did which caused no significant difference in the recipe. Wrapping up the meat is quite difficult to describe so I took pictures unfortunately, virus got to it first (inconvenience of procrastination). First, place a chunk of meat on one corner of the wrapper then fold that corner over the meat so it would look triangular. Then, roll from one side of the triangle until it meets the other side then use water to seal it.

Before proceeding to the broth, it is advised to use a more expensive brand of molo wrapper or if available, Dinks is highly recommended (by Mam’da and tita Toy, that is). On Yanah’s birthday, we used Bambi’s instead. However, to save up a little, I used a cheaper brand when we cooked it and Nilo made me never hear the end of it. He blamed me for being so stingy because our soup didn’t turn out as thick as Mam’da’s. I said though that it was because he didn’t put in all the molo into the soup. We saved a few pieces for frying and they turned out like dumplings, really crispy and worth trying too.

For the broth, boil the chicken in a generous amount of water. Set aside the chicken broth and shred the chicken meat into fine strips, then sauté the cut-up meat in garlic and onion. Afterwards, put in the chicken and molo meat into the broth. If there were leftover wrappers, cut them to strips and put them in too. They add thickness to the soup. Add water and seasoning if necessary and desired. Lastly, sprinkle in the sliced onion spring.

Our finished product did look good although most of the meat got out of the molo wrappers haha. Our very eager first customer was my brother and he must have found the soup really tasty or he’s just starving (hehe).

The next meal, I learned from the same neighbor. This time it was Yanah’s auntie, Tess, cooking for an ordinary dinner meal. It wasn’t the first time I have encountered creamed vegetables but we used to serve this dish only on special occasions. Aside from the tedious shredding of cauliflower and cutting up of the other vegetables, the cream is a little expensive. However, Tess taught us a technique to cut on the expense. Lovely (hehe)! Instead of using cream, she used evaporated milk and cornstarch. The result? Creamier and sweeter taste!

The ingredients of this simplified dish are:

1stalk cauliflower
450gms young corn
2pcs carrots
1can evaporated milk (smallest size)
2tablespoons cornstarch
4pcs eggs

Just cut up the vegetable into small pieces and make sure they are clean and free of vegetable caterpillars (ewwww! hehe). After that, sauté them in butter, garlic and onion and season to desired taste. Simultaneously, boil the eggs in another pan. Once the vegetables are slightly cooked (do not overdo because the veggies might turn saggy), put in the evaporated milk and cornstarch. Cook for another two minutes before finally putting in the cut-up boiled eggs.

It’s funny to realize that although I have often cooked meals for my family since I was in college, it’s always exciting to learn new dishes and I just can’t wait to encounter other simplified ones to serve on our dining table. I must say though, that my first consideration is “affordable” hehe. For now, I have some prospects like bico and maja blanca from tita Myra, although the latter might be removed from the list if it turns out to be costly (hehe). I just hope she visits us soon and frequently too because a slow learner like me could only know a recipe one at a time (:p). Anyway, costly or cheap, I promise I’d be sharing the recipes when I learn them, sooner or later. 😀

Movie Marathon

One day, after my husband met with my co-worker Michelle for a favour I’ve asked him to do because of my bed-rest condition, he came home carrying a copy of The Walking Dead, I’m not sure which series. Because he was looking so happy and excited about it, we decided to watch the movie right away. We both found it a good movie, but I wasn’t as hooked to it as my husband was, who even went through the pains of watching with cell phone headset because the kids started to nap later on. He finished devouring half of the series when unfortunately the DVD started skipping scenes repeatedly from the middle of the 4th episode onwards. He was so heavy hearted. He went back to the store where he got the DVD but The Walking Dead had been out of stock and delivery of other copies wasn’t confirmed. So he was given Piranha instead, which was also satisfactory in its own gory way. It took his mind away from disappointment… for a while. Soon after, he was pouting like a child to get The Walking Dead series again.

I had been suggesting him to watch my favourite Koreanovela aired on Channel 7 back in 2006, but many times he had declined. A Rosy Life, as it was entitled in the Philippines is about a housewife who struggled with all sorts of hardships, the hardest of all was when her husband demanded divorce because of another woman. I used to just watch it whenever I have the chance: when I got off early from a client or sometimes on the buses’ television while on my way home so I secured myself a DVD copy to be able to watch it in full.
Of course I knew that any guy would not be interested with drama but I thought that it was lengthy enough to get his mind off of zombies (hehe) so I offered him again to watch it. Out of desperation (perhaps) he finally gave in. My copy wasn’t dubbed so you really have to watch closely and read subtitles. At the beginning of the movie, I was saying “kung nabo-bored ka, pwede mo nang palitan, Dear.” But because he was a naturally patient person, he gave ample time to watch it until the story reached its dilemma wherein he got a little teary-eyed (he wouldn’t admit it though, haha).

I knew that once he got to the part where Sung Moon announced divorce to Soon Yi, unconsciously on their 10th year anniversary, Nilo would be hooked. I remembered myself crying when I watched that part so I was teasingly observing Nilo if he’d cry too. I’m not saying that he did, but I discovered that he does have a soft spot too (hehehe). After that, he was craving to watch the movie whenever he can and at times was even guilty of unintentional negligence towards the kids and me ;-). All 24 episodes he watched, not missing a single scene. All in all, it took us a week to fully watch it. So I am now recommending this movie as an effective subject for a movie marathon.

A Rosy Life aka Life is a Bed of Roses begins with Soon Yi in the market having a hard time choosing between big and small octopus for an occasion. She was a frugal person who gets her clothes from the neighborhood recycling bins to save a few dollars for her family and she was a dedicated wife who serves her in-laws and stays up late to help her husband earn a few more bucks.

Her troubles began when her husband, Sung Moon, came home to announce he wanted a divorce on the night of their 10th year anniversary. After that, a series of other heart-breaking events happened to her. What’s good about the story was Soon Yi’s bravery to fight for her rights until she had no other option except to give in and accept her misfortunes. Alongside her miseries, her sister, Young Yi, suffered similar heartaches from a beautifully ironic case being the other woman. These and other realistic occurrences in life made us captivated by the story.

Although the story was mainly drama, it was not too heavy to watch the scenes altogether. For one thing, Soon Yi was not the type of person to sulk and be bitter about the world which made her a loveable type of protagonist. Another, the story included silly events from her in-laws and the fraud other-mother-in-law, her father and the old woman from the store who has an eye on her father, and from Sung Moon and Soon Yi themselves. Moreover, there were plenty of romantic scenes towards the end from Young Yi and her suitor, which will melt your heart in a pleasant way.

I can not say whether the ending was happy or not. In a way, I find it sad. But from a broader viewpoint, it ended best for all of the characters whom you will love in the end. Finally, if I am going to recommend this movie for a marathon, I think I said enough spoilers and I might as well end here or I might spill some more. If it worked to divert my husband’s attention for a week at least, it has probably enough charm to captivate others. In the meantime, I’ll be ready to say yes anytime my husband says he’d like to get a copy of The Walking Dead. Who knows maybe in my next blog, I’d be recommending it too. 🙂

NBI Clearance

The last time I took my NBI clearance, their office was still at Carriedo in Quiapo, Manila. Darn, had it been really ages ago? I got mine last May 3 at the new location of course, and for the benefit of those who’d get their NBI clearances too, the address is:

VICTORY CENTRAL MALL, 5th Floor, #717 Old Victory Liner Compound, Rizal Avenue

The easiest way to get there is by the old LRT. It’s walking distance from the Monumento Terminal.

If you’re getting a renewal, you could just authorize someone to get it for you. All you need is the authorization letter, your ID, the authorized person’s ID, and the old NBI clearance. Initially, my husband should get it for me, but I needed to update from my maiden name (I told you it was ages ago ;-)) so I needed to go there personally.

We took Demi with us because ate Edna would have a hard time taking care of the two kids, for I bet it’d take us the whole day almost. It took us two hours to get there. Aside from the travel time alone, we also went to PNB first to update my bank account to my married name too, but that was just about 15-20 minutes.

Once you get to the building, go to the 5th floor. If you have passed by Madam Auring’s massage booth, you’re on the right track! Keep going up, and once at the 5th floor, look around for the signs “STEP 1 to 5.”

STEP 1: It’s quite easy to secure a new NBI clearance. My husband had gotten me the fingerprint card beforehand and I had filled it out at home so that when got there, I immediately lined up for the information check.

STEP 2: Next is paying of Php115 fees. This would take most of the transaction time because of long lines although there were several operational windows already.

STEP 3: This step is the taking of picture. This was quite fast!

STEP 4: Then the fingerprinting. Be ready with 2 peso coins for the wet wipes. You’ll need it to wipe the ink off your fingers afterwards.

STEP 5: This is the last step. You’ll just need to show the accomplished card to the person at the window and should be a fast step except that it is noticeable that some of the windows were idle. Lines are very very very very long.

If you’re name is unique, you most likely would get your NBI clearance that same day. In my case, I was “HIT,” the term they use if your name has more than one owner. Contemplating though, perhaps they should consider taking ALL three names of a person so that there’d be less (or none at all) hits and every clearances issued at the same day. Seriously, travelling to Monumento, if you’re from Cainta is not too easy…

STEP 6: This is the most likeable part, the bonding time! 🙂 Daddy and I took Demi to Inasal (it’s at the ground floor of the building) and perhaps due to fatigue, she surprisingly ate A LOT!

Daddy and daughter moment 🙂

Before finally going home, we went to National Bookstore where Demi bought stencils for herself, and another set of crayons (the nth I’ve bought) for her and Daisy.

“Budol-budol gang”

Having recalled how my birthday went last year, an incident popped into my mind. Two days before, something terrible happened. I was on my way to the office when I got victimized by the “budol-budol” gang. I didn’t really know what these so-called creatures do until after that fearful encounter. The jeep hadn’t driven very far yet when the man seated in front of me told me I had spit on my left shoulder. Sure enough, when I looked, something gluey was there but it was clear so I think it was fake. Nevertheless, it was gross, and I was thinking, should I go back and change clothes? But I was considering the time, I’d be late if I did. The man got impatient with the way I reacted so he brushed the thing on my shoulder with his hand, smelled it, and with a disgusted look, told me it smelled awful. By then I was upset already and I got confused why this man was more worried than I am. Soon the others beside me, left and right, was complaining as well, that they had spit on them too and another one explaining that somebody from the jeep beside ours spew out at our direction. Then the man in front of me was practically hysterical now shouting orders and everything. That was when I realized something bad is about to happen to me because I have heard that these wicked people would stir commotion to put on their racket. He ordered me to get tissue and cologne from my bag, anything to get my hands off it, because I was clutching it tight against me. Anyway, to cut the story short, these bad people succeeded. I was looking at him trying to preclude what he was about to do never realizing that I was practically surrounded by his partners-in-crime, literally that is. In a matter of minutes, all five of them got off the jeep taking away my purse containing all my IDs and more or less 10,000 cash.

I was crying in confusion when they left until concerned passengers helped me. One of them was helpful enough and escorted me to a policeman. So we got off at the junction and there, I called my mom and dad. I had to go to the police station to file a report but I waited for my parents first, and thanks to the helpful passenger, he didn’t leave until they arrived. When mom arrived, she brought me a clean blouse so I could change. As for the blouse I was wearing, I threw it away.

I was really angry at that time but after I accomplished what I needed to do, I just dropped the whole thing off and charged it to experience. At this point, let me share a few pointers when one gets victimized by these gangs:

  1. Never fight back. In my case, I was so confused to struggle, but I thank God it went that way. You’ll never know who are with these people and the worst they could take from you is your life.
  2. If alone, try to tell a friend or relative first about what happened. It is also helpful in calming you down if they could get to where you are. Wait in a safe place.
  3. Seek help from policemen on duty. And though you seriously yearn to get justice, wait for your emotions to subside first before taking severe actions. I was told that these gangs are supported by a much powerful syndicate. Even if you could get one in jail, they could easily bail them out and who knows what revenge will be in store for you, especially if you were recognized by them (which is a very likely case). Still, it is advisable to go to the nearest police station to file a report.
  4. Try to recall, despite your confusion, the things that they have taken from you (if you were unaware). Take note of missing IDs, ATM cards, credit cards and other documents. You will need to include these details in the report most specially the IDs. It is important to indicate that you no longer possess them because these gangs might leave your IDs at a crime scene.
  5. Go directly to the banks where your ATM cards were opened. Even if you have no IDs with you, the bank personnel will accommodate you. They will immediately block the old ATM card and replace it with a new one.
  6. Do not forget also to report to your credit card companies that your card had been stolen so that they may block it instantly.
  7. Do not forget to thank God, of course, that nothing more harmful had happened to you. As I’ve said, the worst they could take from you is your life.
  8. When everything else had been settled, try to relax yourself by doing something that you really enjoy. In my case, my parents and I went to National Bookstore where I browsed books and other loves. That time, I was fascinated with craft arts, so I purchased a few scrapbooking items like the ones below =)

Do not forget also to inform your boss what happened if you could no longer report to the office. Back then, I asked my friend Ethel to tell the incident for me, and thanks to God she had been very helpful and comforting. Although it took only half of the day to accomplish all the necessary things, I decided to just stay at home for the rest of the day. I have to admit, I was traumatized by the experience that I no longer wanted to ride public jeeps afterwards. Eventually, the fear was replaced with extra vigilance. I was so concerned about catching the time that day I didn’t notice that I was already being followed.

Oh and lastly, be ready to retell the story over and over to concerned friends and co-workers. It actually helped me got over the situation quickly by doing so. Plus, it’s always comforting to know and feel that generally, people are still kind and they do care. =)