Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Officially Empty

Popcorn: 0, Checking Account: 1

"Haha!" said my checking account.

I recently blogged about our finances. Specifically, I talked about how we're running on fumes.  Anyway, the fumes have officially run out now. My heart gave a leap - poor heart, it keeps getting startled nowadays - when I checked both credit card accounts and sorted through ouor recent mail this morning


$$ for card 1 due on the 14th.
$$ for card 2 due on the 7th.Add Image
$ monthly condo maintenance fee at the end of the month 
$ Car insurance payments due on the 9th
$$ life insurance premium
- utilities

I crunched the numbers and no matter how much I've been saving and scrimping, there's no way we're gonna be able to afford to pay off the total without dipping into the supposedly-do-not-touch* account - which, by the way, is also almost depleted. There's really nothing to worry about because we're still at the $0* debt level, except that the "do not touch" backup account is $0 balance too. Haha!

I'm not complaining. All these purchases were legit - half of card 1's total is part of the new car'sdownpayment. We maxed out the amount that we can put on the card as per the dealer's policy, we did this so we can maximize the cash-back rewards on our card. Card 2's balance is mostly my family's plane fare for their July visit. I did get back the charges that I disputed last month, but that barely made a dent in the statement total.

I've been living in America for several years now but this is the first time I realized how easy it is to get buried in debt. Today is the first time that I can truly say that I can empathize with those who owe so much. I've always made it a policy to pay off my bills at the end of the day and I've always thought that this was enough to curb our spending.

Hindi pala.

This month just proved to me how easy it is to go through your money, no matter how kuripot you are, no matter how much you watch your cents & dollars and no matter how hard you think about your purchases. 

I hope this doesn't come as too much drama because we're still a long way off from being destitute but to those who are struggling to make ends meet, I know how you feel.

*Edit:  I just realized that we're not at the $0 debt level because we just took on this auto loan for the 2nd car. Sigh. So correction, we're at the $ xx,xxx debt level. For now.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Congee Village

Hubby has been looking forward to this trip. Family friends recommended the Congee Village a long time ago, but they only remembered the Chinese name so we didn't find this place until we accidentally walked past it during my brother's visit a few weeks ago.

Bro took a picture and this was what it looked like when we walked past it. Needless to say, we didn't even want to try. Note that they have a sort of waiting lounge inside, there were too many people and they spilled over to the sidewalk.

We dropped by again on a weekday night and the wait was better - 15 minutes. We ordered rice baked in bamboo, sliced pork and century egg congee and fried squid with salted pepper.

The baked rice wasn't what hubby expected but the squid and the congee did not disappoint. The congee came sizzling hot and the pot was filled to overflowing, I had been craving for congee and I loved it.

Note that they also serve my favorite shark's fin soup but as I'm staying away from shark right now, I'll probably put a hold on that craving in the meantime.

My take on the Hayden - Katrina videos

So Hayden Kho's sex videos are still popping up the internet and everybody has his thing to say. Politicians and all sorts of (women's rights) groups are coming out and HK is being condemned. I thought I'd come out with my thoughts too.

I'll start off by saying that HK is a pig. He is vermin. Filming intimate moments w/o the other party's consent has got to be one of the vilest things that one can do. It's a violation of other people's rights to privacy. He deserves a good hard kick in the privates - and hopefully, a video of that gets circulated on the net too.

On the other hand, I find it hard to be sympathetic to Katrina because after all, she was in the wrong for being in that relationship in the first place. If HK is a pig, then Katrina is the vilest sort of woman on earth because by going on with HK, she is betraying another woman - someone she personally knows, who employs her - a sponsor, and someone who is supposed to be her friend. Ang kapal ng mukha that she can openly look at, talk and meet with Belo with the knowledge that she is doing Belo's man behind her back. KAPAL!

Having videos of intimate moments publicized seem like a very harsh punishment for KH, but then again, it does seem appropriate for the situation. She takes up and has sex with someone's man so now karma has caught up with her and dealt her with a harsh blow - she and everybody else finds out that the man is a pig. 

If you think about it, Katrina brought this upon herself when she made the decision to take up with someone else's man. She's sexy, pretty, popular. Is there even a shortage of men? Why take someone else's guy? 

I find it unfair that KH is now portrayed as a victim. After all, wasn't she an accomplice who later on got betrayed? The only possible victim or loser here is Vicki Belo and I say "possible" because,  from all accounts, she seems to have gotten back with HK despite all the things that he's done. VB must not see herself as a victim after all if she's willing to overlook Hayden's indescretions.

As for Hayden, while I would probably watch with glee if women were to line up to kick him in the badoodles, I am totally opposed to the politicians & Katrina's requests to PRC to have his medical license revoked. What does filming sex acts have to do with his skills as a doctor? Isn't that up to his patients if they'd feel comfortable seeing him or would rather see someone else?

Why revoke his license? Let the public decide if they want to see him or not.  

Remember that sex video of Mahal that came out a few years back? I don't remember PNP asking anybody to come in to answer questions. I don't remember Bong Revilla coming out to defend Mahal. heehee. Unfair, no ? *grin*

Now, I wonder, why did Belo take HK back ? He's probably very talented ;-) 

Gotta look for those videos.

Monday, May 18, 2009


I was asking a friend who recently started a new job how things were. He said "eto, okay naman, nakakapanibago na parating merong laman yung checking account namin," and that made me want to check our checking account too.

So I log on. 

and gasp.

and faint (almost).

and I checked our credit card statements.

and almost fainted again.

We always make it a point to pay off our credit card balances when the statements arrive, this way we don't carry any debt. Our CC bills for the past few months have been ginormous because we've had to pay for some extras that we charged to the card:
- the bath lights and exhaust fans my uncle ordered (uncle paid me cash already)
- bro's purchases (bro paid me cash)
- Business travel expenses (company reimbursed me already)
- theater tickets with bro / hubby and pasyal expenses
- plane tickets for bro's visit (mom reimbursed me)
- plane tickets for mom, dad, achi & 2 boys' tickets (mom reimbursed me)

And then for that recent DP on our car purchase, I maxed out the checking accounts.

Oh, and let's not forget those fraudulent charges that were made to my account all the way from Spain. Unfortunately, I've been charged for these (I'm on automatic payment) even though they're being disputed. 

For those items that I've already been paid for, the money either went into my wallet or into a separate account so the account that normally funds the credit cards is feeling the burden.

For now, we are running on fumes and there's this delicate juggling act. Hopefully, the fumes last us till next payday and I won't have to touch any of our savings.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Out of the mouth of babes

I have this aunt who is very inquisitive (translation: chismosa). She likes to be in the thick of things and would always ask around and fish for information.

So yesterday, she was pumping my brother for information about a cousin's wedding. My brother, not wanting to get in the middle of things, played it safe and just said "i don't know" to all of the questions.

- Who's making the entourage gowns ? I don't know.
- Why are they getting for hosting services ? I don't know.

You get the point :)

Eventually, aunt got exasperated and said to my brother "how come you don't know ? He's your cousin!" and my brother replied "e you don't know it either and he's your nephew!".

So Aunt changed the topic and asked about me. How is Popcorn ? How does she look ? Is she fat ? (tingnan nga to, kelangan pa talaga tanungin kung mataba ako. bwiset.)

This was when my nephew - my precious, oh-so-lovable nephew - jumped into the conversation and said "Aunt S, why do you like asking questions when you already know the answer ? You just saw my A-i when Aku was not here yet." 

My nephew was referring to our visit to California last December. Everybody saw us, even aunt. Onga naman, why would she ask my brother how I looked (chismosa talaga, grrr!) when she just saw me herself a few months ago ?

Aunt was supalpal and didn't ask anything else. She said "smart talaga si Lyle". 

True :)

Friday, May 15, 2009

On Temptation

My brother has been here in the US for several days when we heard the bad news.

One of his office staff didn't come in to the office one day but left a confession letter. She stated that she stole the missing cash (a lump sum of a little over P50k was missing) and that she was very very sorry. The auditors would later find out that this girl has been skimming from their funds for a long time.

Her parents, equally apologetic, said that their daughter has not come home and they have yet to hear from her.

Now, the question is, what to do?

My uncle, who heads the enterprise, was reluctant about filing a police blotter. Kawawa raw and the parents promised to sell some things in order to generate the cash to pay for their daughter's theft anyway. If not for my Mom's persistence, a complaint (police blotter) would not have been filed. Mom hates to be the bad guy but really, if you don't prosecute these offenses, what kind of message are you sending out to the rest of the company?

Brother, not surprisingly, was much affected by this because he feels responsible. I couldn't resist pointing out that command resposibility aside, he was really partly to blame becase he was too trustful of his employees and could've implemented stricter procedures, especially when it came to handling cash.

Bro tells me that he trusted this girl because:
1. she's religious (Christian), very active with Singles for Christ
2. been with them for years
3. is a cousin of my brother's secretary (so at the very least, there's a hiya factor involved)
4. her monthly salary isn't small and the amounts she's being trusted with isn't that much larger than her salary (salary at P2ok, stolen lump sum was at P50k)

To which I replied:
1. Aren't Christians supposed to be forgiven anything so long as they repent? I don't want to get into a religious discussion  but I'm just pointing out that a person's religious beliefs does not necessarily prevent them from sinning.
2.  Oo nga, she's been stealing for years too.
3. Poor secretary, am sure she's really embarassed. Sa totoo lang, I'm just trying to stop myself from commenting on her (the one who stole) friendster page na "ikaw ba yung magnanakaw?".
4. A person's income doesn't really matter when they're in a bind. We once had an employee who stole P200k in cash, she earned a monthly salary of P50k and was in her mid 50s (i.e. it would be difficult for her to find a new job if she got fired). The thing is, the people who steal don't really expect to be caught - well, except for this girl who left a confession letter, haha! She probably did not expect to be prosecuted.

If it were up to me, cash / money matters should always be treated seriously. Because so long as everybody knows that you're vigilant when it comes to the accounts, nobody would even dare contemplate stealing from you. So when you're being lax, you're actually tempting people to steal, in a way, diba? 

If people are in a bind (translation: kapit sa patalim) and you make it so easy to steal from you, who wouldn't be tempted ?

Dad and I talked about this when shoti left for California and I tell my Dad that I hope that this serves as a lesson. Bro should be more attentive and not be so lazy in checking up on the accounts because this "lesson" didn't come cheap. Besides, he wouldn't want to tempt another person into stealing, would he ?

Ewan ko nga why brother is so trusting. Maybe it's because I'm not and he's sort of the yin to my yang. You can't blame me for being skeptical because I've suspected and actually proven theft a couple of times in my professional life. Hindi nakakatuwa.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Bro 2009

It's my first day back to work after a week's vacation and there are so many things to catch up on. But it shouldn't be too difficult as I've been watching and following email threads while I was supposed to be out anyway. 

I decided to take a short celebratory break right now because I finally remembered my password. I was so frustrated this morning when I couldn't log in to my work computer - the desktop server in my office - remotely. I've been using the same password for years and I also pride myself on my good memory but apparently, forgetfulness can strike anyone. Sigh. 

Bro's visit went well, we were able to put in just the right mix of pasyal, shopping and rest throughout his stay here - I liked that we have the convenience of having our own vehicle to drive around in, no more waking up early to drop hubby off at work and rushing back to pick him up at night. I liked our routine - waking up mid-morning, having lunch at home, then pasyal or shop immediately after lunch, then home for a short nap before having dinner.

My mom's worries that I'd get too tired showing my brother around were not only unfounded, they turn out to be so hilarious as well. My brother knows how to relax and I cannot remember having a vacation this relaxed before.  Even when I was taking time off in Manila ? I'd always be harried for time and would try to squeeze in as many activities as possible para sulit. Rest has always been a myth during all of my vacations, until now.

We were also able to get tickets to Wicked, the Broadway musical, even if the upcoming shows were all sold out. Unfortunately, we had to settle for tickets in 3 separate areas as there were only the single seats available but the show more than made up for the seats. Galing!

The next visit would be Mom, Dad, Achi and the 2 boys this coming July. I'm sure the entire experience will be a huge contrast to bro's visit. Full house kami by then. Here's to hoping that I keep my cool and that we will all enjoy ourselves because frankly, I'm scared :P I love my family but the thought of hosting them (so many noisy people) for 2 weeks really really scares me.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mothers' Day

Happy Mom's Day to all :)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Rain rain

We've had three straight days of rain and frankly, I'm tired of getting drizzled on when I step out to check up on my plants (I'm a newbie gardener, am excited about my plants everyday).

I never thought I'd say this before - and my friends would agree - but I kind of miss the sun already. It's not that I want sun out shining down on me full blast but I would appreciate some rays if it means that I could have nicer and lush plants like the ones in this landscaping for Arizona gallery.

Little bro is arriving tonight - I know, I keep mentioning this, am so excited - and I'm hoping to get some dry weather (note, I said DRY, not HOT) so that we can go out and shop or see the sights. A little warmth would be okay too. 

Swine Flu - Pooh

This image has been making its rounds all over the web, I've seen this posted on FB, on Friendster and even on Multiply.

Thought I'd share this to my blogger friends.



Hubby has been avoiding our dentist like the plaque (intended) because the last time we were there, he was told that his wisdom teeth were impacted and that he would have to have surgery.

I've done all that I can do to make (force) him to go twice a year for cleaning and checkups and I cannot imagine how we're going to handle going in for surgery. Hubby, obviously, isn't so fond of dentists to put it mildly.

This evening, I was browsing through my calling card files and noticed that our dentist's calling card is missing. Aha, sneaky husband. As if stealing the calling card is going to prevent me from making an appointment!

I could always search the web for the information or even find a Sacramento Dentist, if I want to. Haha!


I've always believed in prayers. 

Even during the hardest times of my life, I never felt abandoned. I would just take a moment to pray and raise my concerns up to the Lord and afterwards, I'd feel as if the burden has been lifted off of my shoulders - if not totally lifted off, then alleviated at the very least. After every prayer, I feel at peace with the knowledge that I've given up control and God has the reins and that He would never let anything bad happen. I know that whatever does happen to me is for the greater good.

On a different note, I've never really known how hubby felt about prayers. He was never the church-going type until we became bf-gf, and even then, he'd attend church with me but never when I'm away.

When we were talking marriage, I was kind of thankful that he's agnostic. I was not willing to let go of my faith and my church and I didn't relish having to argue my way to church every week. 

And with that background information, let me segue into the main inspiration for this blog. Every now and then, it has always been my habit to remind hubby of the things that we need to pray for - either in thanksgiving or in supplication. 

"Pray for a baby ah"
"Pray for our stability"
"Give thanks for the "

And always, he would answer me yes. 

I was pleasantly surprised last weekend when he added, "I always pray for our friends too."



Bro's eyeing something on ebay and he didn't want to tell at first. So, being the curious older sister that I am, I wheedle and cajole him until he tells me.

Turns out he's looking to buy a $10k watch. He says it's cheap because it really costs $12k retail.


And now I'm thinking, he works for the family enterprise... how much is he getting paid? Because really, he bought himself an expensive SUV last year and now, this.

Maybe I should start thinking about the career path I chose. I deliberately steered away from working for the family because I wanted to make it on my own and apparently, pride doesn't come cheap, haha!

Now, I'm showing bro this new site www.bestoftime.com which sells genuine Rolex watches at great prices. I figure that if he has the budget for a $10k watch, then he should probably just spring for a new Rolex anyway- and these are sure to appreciate in value anyway. 

Monday, May 4, 2009

Treasured Award

A tag and award from Berry


Let me share this Irish Blessings’ friendship proverb:

“May there always be work for your hands to do, may your purse always hold a coin or two. May the sun always shine on your windowpane, may a rainbow be certain to follow each rain. May the hand of a friend always be near you, may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you.”

Am giving this award to all my readers, hope that this post fills you with joy and blessings :)

Swine Flu

So mom calls me up, panicking, and ask that I get some N95 masks for hubby and me to protect ourselves from the swine flu or the disease that's more appropriately known as H1N1.

And my response was, "what? walk around with a mask? And look crazy & paranoid ? No way."

Unbeknownst to my mom, I had already asked around my circle of friends to see if anyone was buying or wearing masks. Two families admitted to having N95 masks still stocked up (from the time that the SARS virus first came out) but no one has started wearing them yet.

Anyway, so Mom pressures me into getting masks at the very least. And again, I respond by saying that masks can only do you good if you wear them. If I had no intention of going out in a mask, why should I even buy?

And this is the link that she sends me from www.flufashion.net  Click here to view mask designs

Apparently, there are now N95- rated masks which are designed to be fashionable. What more could I say ? I had no more excuses.

Check out their designs:


I found myself a wonderful new product a few weeks ago.

Having (proudly) maintained a one-car household for more than a year now, I find it so tedious to have to squeeze in errands and trips to the salon during weekends because that's the only time that the car is free.

My eyebrows have been sorely neglegted - I have to admit that I never used to pay attention before my sister brought me to her eyebrow-waxing place during my visit in California last Christmas, so drama lang to, haha! - because I've had a hard time plucking out stray hairs one by one.

Aliw lang when I found this hair gel wand for $9.99 and the tip is perfectly shaped and it's so easy to spread the waxing gel over the areas that you want to target. So last night, I waxed my own eyebrows.

Charing! --> I've been wanting to use this word for a long time, I don't even know what this means, but it just seems appropriate to use right now.

In fairness, my eyebrows look even.

And no bald patches... uh, except for the tip of my left one. Tolerable.

The middle area of my brow (between my eyebrows) is clean. Nice.

Scary at first, but really aliw in the end when you start seeing the results. Of course, nothing beats the feeling of primping and getting dolled up at the salon but if you can't ? This is the next best thing.

Which reminds me, I used up most of the 10 strips that came with the package. Apparently, you can buy 100 small muslin strips for $2.99 pala. Not bad.


It's been raining a lot these past few days and I can't help but relive my days as a student. I remember wishing for a typhoon just so classes would get cancelled and we'd get the day off from school. 

Haha, those days are long past now and I'm really amazed at how grown-up my younger cousins are. A couple of cousins graduated from high school this April and one is looking into going to university in the US. I believe that he has already been offered a scholarship to a private college somewhere in Massachusetts but his parents are having second thoughts about letting him go there because they found out from college review sites that this particular school had liberal policies.

Now, I hear that he's seriously looking at another Ivy-league university but since he has no scholarship offer for that school, he's thinking about looking at student loans to see if he can afford to go to school. When I first heard my cousin talking about student loans, I was like - DUH? His parents can certainly afford to send him there. Apparently, there's been some issue about this because my aunt is having second thoughts about letting him attend school in another country.


Anyway, I'm hoping that 

(a) he gets to go, it'll be great to see him spread his wings and try to be independent.

and ...

(b) that if does need to get a loan for his tuition, that he gets a good one with good terms and rates. 

6 unimportant things that make me happy

The rules are:
1. Mention the person who nominated you.
2. List 6 unimportant things that make you happy.
3. Tag 6 blogs, state the rules, and notify them with a teeny comment on their blog.

This is a tag from Berry. I had to think hard to come up with things that I can live without (unimportant nga eh) but give me so much pleasure and here they are:

1. Coffee - I'm not a regular coffee drinker but I do adore flavored lattes (especially caramel ones, iced coffees and fraps.

2. Library books - books that you can read for free, can't go wrong with that.

3. Wireless Internet Access - Free wifi from a local cafe, from the hotel, or even if you subscribe to a cellphone carrier's Wireless Internet Access or data plan. Gotta love them.

4. Discounts and/or coupons - need I say more?

5. Ice-cold Coke - I can go without soda for a long time but there are times when nothing quenches your thirst like an ice cold Coke.

6. Personal blogs, websites, and online photo albums - easy to share and easy to maintain, helps me keep updated with what's going on with my friends' lives.

This is such a late post so I'm not tagging anybody anymore but feel free to snag this if you're interested in sharing your 6 unimportant things that make you happy.

Web Hosting Review

Last weekend, a car salesman - yes, you read it right, a CAR SALESMAN - started talking to hubbby and me about e-commerce websites when he heard that we were both in IT.  He told us - and he sort of winked at us as if we were conspirators - that he'd be calling us over the weekend to talk to us about this web hosting service that he knows of. I get the feeling that he is moonlighting as a web-services reseller.

So with that thought in mind, I decided to do some research and check out web hosting ratings. I was interested to check out the prices too as I wanted to find out if this guy was straight or if was the type to take advantage ( I think it's more of the former because why would he think about trying to pull an IT-based scam on a couple of IT professionals ? )

Not surprisingly, the prices I saw on the web hosting review site differs so much from the prices that he quoted us. He was trying to sell us $200 / year services whereas this website lists web hosting services that cost an average of $10 a month. I also love how they provide articles that help out people who may wish to start their own websites such as How to Avoid the Five Pitfalls of Domain Registration.


It's been weeks since I last updated this blog and so much has happened since then.

Our lives have gotten an upheaval in the past few days that it has taken me a while to get a breather and a chance to blog again. I have a couple of tidbits that I would be sharing in the near future and I'll start with one now.

A couple of weeks ago, Mom delivered the happy news that she and Dad have decided to join my sister and her kids for their visit this July. This is good, except that this sent us scrambling around looking for a 7 or an 8 passenger vehicle for our second car, rather than the sedan that we were thinking about.

Considering that my not-so-little younger brother is arriving for his annual visit next week, we thought it would be prudent to just purchase the 2nd family car now rather than later. I didn't want to have to juggle our schedules again.

I've always dreaded car hunting. You see, I get impatient easily and having no idea about prices, I do hate to haggle - especially with car salesmen who try to slip things past you and talk you into signing up for extended warranties and prepaid service contracts that would turn out to be impractical later on.

Thankfully, I did manage to get a few days off of work and I spent the time looking around for price estimates, dealerships and promotions. We thought that we had armed ourselves with enough information and had our hearts set on getting the Mazda CX9. A 7 seater, 3 row full-sized SUV with nice looking interiors and comfortable 3rd row seating. It didn't hurt that Mazda was currently offering 0% APR for the next 3 years for the CX9.

Unfortunately, we discovered during the test drive that the 3rd row does not have AC vents - a big no no because my nephews would be occupying those seats in the summer and they get carsick easily, the AC helps them stay comfortable. And asking around some more, we heard comments that "Mazda's AC has always been weak". Hmm, not good.

This discovery sent us running off to Toyota to check out the Highlander, another SUV. The Highlander, which I remember as being nice from our visit to the dealership last year, was so disappointing. The thing with Toyota is that the base model is really a base model. It's cheap-looking and lacks the bells and whistles that make the other vehicles so desireable.

I'm sure that the more expensive trim would look so much better, but the one we saw at the $32k level (same price level as the CX9 that we looked at earlier) had manual seat adjustments for the driver & passenger seats and really cheap dashboard material. Did I mention that the CX9 had the upgraded Bose sound system w/ 6 cd changers already ?

So while the Toyota's AC was satisfactory, the interior of the vehicle left us very disappointed.

The same day, we also checked out the Honda Pilot and we didn't fall in love with it.

While still not entirely happy with the Mazda CX9, it seemed like it was the more sensible and practical of the two (vs the Toyota Highlander) and in the hopes of sealing our decision, hubby asked to drop by Subaru to check out the Tribeca and I agreed. We wanted to sort of check out and eliminate all the other options before we move forward and buy the CX9.

And so we found this baby. Ours isn't exactly the one in the picture, but it looks like that one in silver (hubby does not like the red). Will post new pictures soon.

I wasn't really expecting to get another Subaru because our current car is already a Subaru and with AWD (All Subarus have AWD), the gas mileage isn't really very good compared to a 2WD vehicle.

But gosh, it handled really well during the test drive. I was mildly surprised to find hubby - who had so many complaints about the gas pedal and the steering during the test drives - smiling. He was actually smiling! and happy!

We switched places and I loved it too! When we got back to the lot, we whispered to each other and agreed that this is it. 

3rd row seat - comfortable.
AC vents for all passengers - yes!
steering - perfect

Two hours later - well past the dealership's closing time - we brought home our 2nd car. Di na ako kulong sa bahay and we're happy :D

Photos taken from www.MazdaUSA.com, www.toyota.com and www.subaru.com