Monday, November 29, 2010

Shopping

I got to go out for 3 hours this afternoon to do some personal shopping. It's been a while since I was able to go out and buy something for myself and when I got home, I'm reminded again of why I don't usually do this.

I left at around 4:30 pm, just after I got Swe-cha down for his nap. I figure, if his nap goes well, Daddy should have a leisurely 1 to 1.5 hrs ahead of him. When I got home at 7:30p (picked up dinner on the way home), I opened the door to a crying Swe-cha and a very irate Daddy. Whatever it was that transpired in the last hour, it made Daddy so mad that he was nagdadabog. I didn't like how he looked, I swear, I was so relieved that I got home in time to calm everybody down.

As I write this post, I look back to the moments when I was out shopping and try to relive the pleasure. Given what I went home to today, I don't think that I will be able to go out and leave Swe-cha alone w/ his Daddy, not while the baby is teething (again, sigh!) and very irritable. Hanggang imagine na lang muna ako.

I really can't stand it when both boys are irritable. I had to scold hubby that I can only handle 1 sungit guy at a time and it doesn't really help if I am trying to calm down a screaming baby and all he does is grumble about the screaming at the same time (trans: nagse sermon). As if Swe-cha will and can listen, no. Ka-asar.

Aside from that episode, I had a good day. We started the day well (Swe-cha woke up smiling and comfortable w/ no teething pains) and ended the day well (Swe-cha, Daddy and Mommy hugging and making lambing in bed). My shopping also went well, I got a few new pairs of shoes and a few pairs of skinny jeans. I amazed myself in the fitting room because I fit in size 4 jeans! I haven't been a size 4 in more than 10 years. The super skinny jeans fit me just right (snug) and the skinny jeans were a bit loose in the waist area. *smile*

Funny lang because I got size 6, 8 and 10 jeans when I went to the fitting room and had to go out and get a smaller size. I've gotten so used to wearing my fat pants, hindi na ako sanay.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Black Friday and Saturday

Swe-cha and I watched Daddy clean and vacuum the master bedroom yesterday. Swe cha had fun watching Daddy and wasn't bothered by the noise of the vacuum cleaner anymore, in fact, he kept straining forward so he could reach it. Afterwards, walking on the carpet (still warm from the vacuuming) on my bare feet reminded me of how great it feels.

Daddy also had a lot of fun during Black Friday because he spent a lot of time alternating between cleaning and checking out deals online with his computer. He kept pointing out this 26 inch TV (LCD) that's perfect for Swe-cha's bedroom. I told him to hold off on that as our wallets are still on recession-mode.

We did purchase a few items - diapers, wipes, milk storage bags, .. okay, so these aren't exactly black friday deals nor are they exciting purchases... so we got a wireless mouse that Daddy has been eyeing for months and am about to check out this really cool smart battery charger to replace ours that recently got broken. For a few minutes, we were also tempted to get a portable dvd player for the car - it's not like we're planning any long drives soon anyway. But as with all the other non-essentials, we're going to pass on this for now. But looks like the store is out of the dvd player anyway so I don't feel too bad about not getting that.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving leftovers

We've got a lot to be thankful for this thanksgiving:

- the gift of life (Swe-cha!) and a lot of other babies born this past year
- our family who is always there for us
- friends that we can always depend on
- having Thanksgiving dinner with friends & getting to take home leftovers w/c sustained us for another day *smile* (no need to cook the next day)
- our health
- and even though our wallets are coming up dry, our hearts and lives feel rich



Sunday, November 21, 2010

Christmas Shopping

Our Christmas shopping is almost done.

I say almost because we have 1 MOCPLG gift left to order and when that's done, we only have to find gifts for my nephews and hubby's niece and we should be all done for Christmas. I wish we had the budget to get our friends and cousins gifts for Christmas too but I've been jobless for months and while I do enjoy the time I get to spend taking care of my son, we are really feeling the loss of income. I really have got to start working soon (pls pray for me).

The last time we got a bunch of gifts, we were able to score a good China wholesale deal from an online shop. I haven't been able to find a good one this year and with the sudden increase in the MOCPLG kids this year (5 new kids this year alone!) and again, the drastic change in our income, I don't think we'll be able to give out stocking stuffers to the families. Sad, no ?

The past few years, shopping was so enjoyable because I wasn't *this* budget conscious. This year, it's still enjoyable especially when I think about how the kids will look wearing the clothes we got them or how they will enjoy the books and the toys but I am not looking forward to next month's credit card bills.

Oh well! It's not like we do this all year round. Christmas and Swe-cha's birthday only comes once a year after all.

We'll tighten our belts after the holidays.

Coffee date

Hubby and I (and Swe-cha) had a Starbucks date this afternoon.

Okay,.. it was more of a drive-by-and-order kind of thing but I'd call it a date anyway - I'll take anything I can get right now :)

I saw a post on Fatwallet this afternoon about Starbucks' Share Event of Buy 1 Get 1 any holiday coffee and the promo ends today so I really made kulit hubby that we drop by today. Thankfully, Swe-cha (sort of) cooperated and we were able to go.

It's so hard to get Swe-cha to sit facing the rear now and would fight and buck and arch his back and kick and stretch his legs - basically, anything he can do to make it difficult for you to strap him in. He wants to face the front and see where we are going. I can't wait till he turns 1 and we can legally face him forward and position his car seat in the middle where he has a very nice view.

Updates

We got a few more items accomplished this weekend, double yay for us all!

here's an update:
- Christmas gifts for MOCPLG kiddies, only 1 gift left to order
- Christmas gifts for nephews and niece
- order and install new tires for car
- replace weatherstrip on windows
- seal windows w/ silicone
- *new* Buy Buy Life Insurance or Term Life Insurance for hubby, update life insurance information (mine), hopefully, we can get Life Insurance No Exam needed so it'll be faster and we can get a policy in place asap
- replace axle assembly on car
- bring car for inspection (DMV)
- renew AAA membership
- buy caulking / silicone gun
- buy and install baby gate on stairs
- *new* car seat for California

And for Swe-cha's birthday:
- birthday outfit
- book photographer and videographer *new* booked, but need confirmation
- order cake and cupcakes (?) *new* booked, but need confirmation
- finalize decorations, souvenirs, prizes and loot bags *new* booked, but need confirmation
- go over program details w/ host
- finalize headcount and confirm ribbon / tablecloth scheme w/ caterer

I've also talked to a good friend asked for the favor of driving us to the airport for our trip to California in a few weeks and for him to pick us up when we get back. Thankfully, he does not have any activities planned for those days yet and he agreed to pick us up. I'm relieved that we were able to get a friend to drive our car for us to/from the airport so we can use our own car seat for the baby, he's gotten into the habit of eating / licking / chewing the harness and buckles of the car seat and i don't want to rent one for him that's sure to be full of germs.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pakiusap

S chatted me up last night and this was how our conversation went:

S: Uuwi na kayo diba ?

Me: Yes

S: Sige, mag iisip ako kung anong papabili ko.

Eh ? Na stump ako doon sa sinabi nya, parang ang daming mali sa sinabi nya.

Una, hindi ba dapat tinanong nya muna ako kung pwedeng magpadala o magpabili ?

Pangalawa, wala pa pala siyang kailangan ipabili, so please, hindi naman kami nag ma maka awang magdala ng gamit mo kaya wag mong pilitin ang sarili mo kung wala kang importanteng naiisip. Ok ?

Pangatlo, naisip mo ba na kung saan saan pa mamamasyal yang padala mo ? Ilang beses pang paulit ulit naming bubuhatin ang mga maleta at kahon na kinalalagyan nyan ?

- bahay hanggang sasakyan (nasa 2nd floor ang tinitirhan namin)
- sasakyan hanggang sa check-in sa airport (NJ)
- pagdating sa CA airport, papuntang sasakyan
- galing sa sasakyan papasok sa bahay ng kapatid ko

- mula sa bahay ng kapatid ko papuntang sasakyan
- sasakyan hanggang sa check-in sa airport (CA)
- pagdating sa airport sa Maynila, papuntang sasakyan
- galing sa sasakyan papasok sa bahay namin

Yan e kung maipapasok namin sa bagahe namin na pang-check in. E kung ma overweight pa kami ? Edi bubuhatin na lang namin para hindi kami mag bayad ng additional na fees, tandaan mong pamahal nang pamahal ang bayad sa bawat karagdagang bagahe na ipapadala sa eroplano.

Kung hahawakan namin yan, aba, edi mamamasyal pa yan sa stopover namin sa Atlanta!

Kaya sige, kung importante ang ipapadala mo, walang problema sa akin ang magdala. Gamot ba yan ? Mga bagay na hindi nabibili dyan ? O kaya's sobrang mahal pag sa atin binili ? Pero, kung di naman talaga kailangan, pakiusap lang, wag ka nang magpilit na magisip ng ipapadala para lang merong maipadala. HINDI KAILANGAN, ok ?

Hindi talaga.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Teaser

I've been blogging on and off about that online store that my partner and I are starting. We were able to get a lot of steam built up at the start but things have kind of slowed down this month - my partner is pregnant and is due to give birth soon. She moved nearer to the hospital in early November and lost her internet connection, she'll get it back when she moves back home. Along with her lost internet connectivity, we lost our communication as well.

In the meantime, I'm trying to do as much as I can on my end - I'm the technical person and she's the business & marketing person. Thankfully, she got a lot of the write-ups done and sent them to me before she went on temporary hiatus.

With what limited photoshop skills and imagination I had - and with a lot of help from the husband - we were able to come up with a logo. I can't wait till we officially launch our shop so please watch out for it!

I wish we could've come up with a cuter logo but this really embodies what our shop is all about - savings! We're all about the goodies and all about the savings. So this will have to do in the meantime. Now, I wonder if we'll have to come up with some sort of Mobile Wallpapers to advertise our shop when we launch it (hopefully next month) ?

Updates

Checked the status of my order for tires at Costco and it looks like they've arrived at our local warehouse. All that's left is to set aside some time to get them installed and we should be all set for our inspection at the DMV. We still have not figured out who's bringing the car for tire replacement and inspection.

Stroller-wise, it's still a tie w/ 1 vote pro stroller (Ninang A) and another vote (Meekerz) against bringing it. Mag-ask around pa ako.

Was also about to put in orders to purchase gifts for 2 more kids. 8 kids down, 6 more to go. With 3 more weeks to go before our Christmas party, I'm feeling pretty confident. Yun nga lang, the remaining kids are big kids na and it's so hard to shop for them w/o knowing what they like.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Stroller

Hubby and I cannot decide if we're bringing our stroller with us when we go to my sister's place. We have this umbrella-type stroller but it still weighs in at 19 lbs and the basket underneath the seat is too small to be really useful when travelling with a lot of carry-ons.

On one hand, it may come in useful because it reclines completely and it is quite comfortable to sleep in and on the other hand, the baby isn't really the type to be content and just sit quietly in his stroller. He likes to be carried and prefers the view from up there.

So it brings the question to mind, what are the best baby strollers for travelling ? Or specifically, what are the best baby strollers for our trip? We're thinking of just leaving ours at home (and jut bring our front-to-back baby carrier) since the stroller is a hefty 19 lbs w/o the accessories and just buy one of those cheap umbrella type strollers that you could get at a baby store for $10 to $15. Yes, the (sort of) throw-away type. But then my concern is, my baby is barely 1 years old, are those straps sufficient to hold him and keep him seated ? And... our stroller does come with a lot of accessories w/c might prove to be useful in certain situations - it has a sunshade, raincover, and even a sleeping bag (a covering for cold days).

What say you ?

Weekend in Review

We got a lot accomplished this weekend. To recap:

here's an update:
- Christmas gifts for MOCPLG kiddies
- Christmas gifts for nephews and niece
- order and install new tires for car
- replace weatherstrip on windows
- seal windows w/ silicone
- *new* Buy life insurance for hubby, update life insurance information (mine)
- replace axle assembly on car
- bring car for inspection (DMV)
- renew AAA membership
- buy caulking / silicone gun
- buy and install baby gate on stairs

And for Swe-cha's birthday:
- birthday outfit
- book photographer and videographer
- order cake and cupcakes (?)
- finalize decorations, souvenirs, prizes and loot bags
- go over program details w/ host
- finalize headcount and confirm ribbon / tablecloth scheme w/ caterer

We were able to cross out a couple more items from our list over the weekend and well, we did add a few more as we remembered tasks that we need to accomplish but that is to be expected.

Had a really really bad experience at Babies R Us this afternoon. Went to buy the baby gate for our stairs and the cashier - who happens to be Asian (she looks Chinese but I am not sure - was VERY VERY RUDE to me. She was so nice to the couple in front of me and as I was able to observe when I went back and waited for the manager so I could file a complaint about her, she was nice to others as well. Anyway, she forgot to give me a coupon book and I asked for it when she finished ringing my purchase, "hi, can I have some coupons ?" She got one from the top of her stack, threw it at me and said "next customer!". I was taken aback and I couldn't believe that she just did that to me. I didn't say anything and just left.

While that was happening, hubby was with the baby by the benches near the door. I didn't realize that he had witnessed the whole thing until we were on our way to the car and he said "what was that about with the cashier ? ang bastos, no ?" That's when it sank in.

I decided to go back and talk to a supervisor. The supervisor promised to talk to her, I told the supervisor that this girl has no business being in that line of work with that kind of attitude. I don't care if she was in a hurry or having a bad day, there's no excuse for that kind of attitude.

I'm not done yet. I will fill up this online survey connected with my transaction, hopefully, management gets a hold of her.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Forwarding Company

This is a shoutout for forwarding company recommendations.

We need to bring some items from Manila to the US, mostly heavy or bulky items that we do not want to bother family with by asking them to bring a little at a time whenever they come to visit (e.g. hubby's comic book collection, etc).

The last time I was in Manila, I was able to check with Johnny Air Cargo and got a quote of $100 for each balikbayan box to be sent from Manila to New Jersey. Unfortunately, this offering seems not to have take off because I have not been able to confirm its existence recently.

Sending stuff from the US to Manila is easy and relatively cheap! Balikbayan boxes cost $65 and forwarding companies charge affordable rates too as we found out last year when my uncle built his house and ordered his fixtures from a light fixture showroom and had us send it over to him in Manila.

Let me know if you have any information, okay ? We need this by December :)

Boxing time

The Pacquiao vs Margarito boxing match is on tonight! Can't wait.

Our friend E has invited us over to watch the PPV coverage but we haven't confirmed our attendance yet. Still have to do what we can to complete that checklist.

here's an update:

- Christmas gifts for MOCPLG kiddies
- Christmas gifts for nephews and niece
- order and install new tires for car
- replace weatherstrip on windows
- seal windows w/ silicone
- Buy Life Insurance
- replace axle assembly on car
- bring car for inspection (DMV)
- renew AAA membership
- *new* buy caulking / silicone gun
- *new* buy and install baby gate on stairs

And for Swe-cha's birthday:
- birthday outfit
- book photographer and videographer
- order cake and cupcakes (?)
- finalize decorations, souvenirs, prizes and loot bags
- go over program details w/ host
- finalize headcount and confirm ribbon / tablecloth scheme w/ caterer

Christmas Shopping

I always dread this time of the year.

You see, when Christmas time comes around, I always have a hard time shopping for gifts. I feel so much pressure looking for the something that the recipient would love and be able to use. Unfortunately, I have to admit that it is still a hit-or-miss for me.

I also find it much harder to shop for my family. I don't think I've ever heard Mom or Dad mention wanting anything - they never ask anybody for anything, they work hard at being self-sufficient that way - so it's super hard to get them gifts. This year, I'm sort of winging it and am getting them a multi-handset cordless phone. They do go through those a lot because we're a talkative family. We got them a 4 handset model, let's see if Mom can use up the batteries on all 4 handsets in one night. From past experience, I know that she can use up 3 batteries *smile*.

For my sister, something for the house might be in order as she's still decorating, even though they've been in their house for two years now. She didn't want to spend too much during the first few years and wanted to prioritize their mortgage payments so they only got the basics when it comes to furniture. But she did start buying decorative pieces early this year. A howard miller clock would be a good gift if I only had the $$$, I just saw the perfect grandfather clock while I was browsing through the website and it will go with her floors and her furniture.

As for my brother, he's always been the easiest to give gifts to. Just ask him what he wants and he will tell you. Honest and practical and I love it! I got him John Mayer heartbreak stickers and a book that he wants.


Husband & Wife Conversation

After putting the baby to bed, I decided to go down to do some "swiffering". I go into the closet, take out the swiffer and rummage around for the swiffer refills.

Hubby: I wish we had a walis [broom].

Me: Ha ? Walis ? What do you mean ?

Hubby: The kind that we have in the Philippines.

Me: You mean, the walis-tambo ? [You can check out a picture at this link.]

Hubby: Yeah, a walis-tambo. Our floors will be so much cleaner if we had one of those.

Me: *smirking* It only works if you use it, you know. If someone would just take out this swiffer and push it around a few times,.. [then I lift up to show hubby the bottom of the swiffer]... see ? it does the job as well.

Hubby: I still think that a walis-tambo works better.

Me: If you promise to clean the floors (sweep) regularly, I'll buy you one.

Hubby: How & where will you buy it ?

Me: That's my problem. I'll hand-carry it all the way from Manila if I have to. So, do we have a deal ?

Hubby: [thinks hard] Swiffer na lang.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Job Hunt

It's been a while since I last worked. While I consider it a blessing that circumstances were such that I am able to stay home and be with my child during these months, I do miss working - especially the income that comes along with it.

There are times when I see so many job postings that match my qualifications to a tee and there are times, like now, when I check out job postings and I find nothing. Just this morning, I was checking out a job site and I found several want ads for programmers for financial companies but they all require experience on something specific such as options trading.

If push comes to shove, I can claim some sort of "financial background" - with emphasis on the double quotes - given that our company's biggest client is a financial services company and I worked closely with them and their reports for several years. It got to the point where I could easily find portions of their reports, match reports to their code names, and I even got the company codes (identification codes) memorized. Unfortunately, that is where my knowledge ends. I have no idea how to interpret the data contained in those reports.

Sad, no ? I never really got interested enough to learn.

Milk Stash - Nov 2010

Guess who has reached a milestone ?

We've officially breached the 100-bag mark on our frozen breastmilk stash. That's 54oz per bag. And at 100 ziploc bags, we have 5,400 oz milk frozen to date.

Of course, our freezer contains much much less than the 5400 oz as we have been constantly giving milk away as the freezer nears its full capacity.


To Do

Eep. While cleaning up that bookshelf downstairs, I found the software that A lent me for drafting wills (Sorry, A, I'll return this to you ASAP, promise!). It's been months since she lent this to me and I have not gotten a chance to use it yet. If you don't already know, "free time" is very rare in our household.

This also brings to mind that we still need to Buy Life Insurance for my husband and my own policy I purchased years ago also need to be updated to reflect not just my married status (I told you it was outdated) and new surname, I also have to change the beneficiary to include my husband and Swe-cha.

So our to-do list for November currently reads as follows:
- Christmas gifts for MOCPLG kiddies
- Christmas gifts for nephews and niece
- order and install new tires for car
- replace weatherstrip on windows
- seal windows w/ silicone
- Buy Life Insurance
- replace axle assembly on car (scheduled for tomorrow)
- bring car for inspection (DMV)
- renew AAA membership

And for Swe-cha's birthday:
- birthday outfit
- book photographer and videographer
- order cake and cupcakes (?)
- finalize decorations, souvenirs, prizes and loot bags
- go over program details w/ host
- finalize headcount and confirm ribbon / tablecloth scheme w/ caterer

I hope I am not forgetting anything.

Eggplant and Pork

We love eggplant.

We love pork.

We love eggplant and pork dishes. One day, I decided to look for the recipe of one of our favorite recipes and found a Szechuan Eggplant and Pork Recipe on Food and Wine.com. I followed the recipe exactly with the exception of the chili bean paste, I substituted salted black beans instead.

We loved it so much, we cooked this three times in one week. Then we realized it was excessive :)

Life at 10

My son is 10 months now and while taking care of him has become easier in some aspects, it has become much harder in other ways.

For starters, he's sleeping much better now during the day, taking naps on almost-predictable times. You could say that he has a regular schedule. Night times are still iffy because he still wakes up crying occasionally when he's feeling gassy and while he sleeps through* the night already on most days, he still wakes up at 5:30a to snack.

During the day, he usually demands a lot more of my time. When I leave him alone in his play yard, he climbs his yard fence (check out previous post) and he would shake and rattle it with his whole body much like a monkey in a cage. It would be so amusing, if it weren't so scary for me to watch. Anyway, I don't go far from his play yard because of that.

This afternoon, I found some time to organize and arrange his jars of food in the cabinet (they've been accumulating on the kitchen counter as we don't have time to make space and rearrange the cabinet) while he happily played by himself in his play yard. I was also able to set aside a bit of time to check out webhosting reviews for when we get our (my partner and I) online shop launched and officially move to a better hosting site. And, hey, I also got a few minutes set aside to post an entry here, didn't I ?

After I hit "publish" for this post, I will be moving on to dismantling those shipping boxes (all those things I ordered online since September) and getting them off to the recycle bin. Then I need to get to that stack of paperwork accumulating on our dining table. I need to scan then shred. Sigh.

My ultimate wish for Christmas is to have a not-so-cluttered home.

---
*sleeping through - defined by 5 hrs of straight sleep

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

My Son, The Escape Artist

My son has started climbing the fence of his play yard now. It's yet another item added to the already long list of reasons why I cannot and will not leave him alone for more than a few seconds.

Weeks (or months) ago, I was lamenting to my friend, R, that I could never get anything else done at home. "How do you do it?" I asked her, and she told me that I should learn to let go and not hover so much.

When he was climbing that fence last night, his Dad and I were having a discussion...
- that, maybe, we shouldn't be encouraging his climbing
- that, maybe, we should flick him or raise our voice to show him that it's forbidden

But we thought he was cute and we let him climb. More importantly, we decided that it was best that he be able to practice and gain confidence while we're there to supervise and make sure that he does not hurt himself because he will surely find other ways and opportunities to climb and I'd rather that he be more stable when he attempts it by himself.

In any case, here I am, lamenting stating the fact that I still won't be able to do any housework in the near future. I figure, we could live in a disorderly house but if something happens to my son while I'm cleaning the house ? I wouldn't be able to forgive myself.

My dream is that when I'm back working and we have the added income, we should hire a nanny or a housekeeper to help out.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Pouring

Once again, we are testament to the adage that when it rains, it pours and in our case, it is partially literal too!

(1) In the early part of October, building management asked to check out my windows. The unit downstairs had been reporting a leak coming through its walls and management has exhausted all other options and decided to check the walls on my part of the building. Sure enough, there was a crack on the outer wall and water was getting in because the weather strips around my windows were worn out and water was getting in and pooling around the crack. Bldg management will take care of sealing the outer wall crack but we now have to replace all the weather stripping on our windows. Cost to replace weather strips, including tax and shipping: $40 (not bad).

(2) This afternoon, the super came by to seal the outer wall crack and he noticed that our windows need to be resealed too in the area where the glass meets the frame. *sigh*. Estimated cost of sealant (needs to be same color as the frame): $10 ?

(3) This item on the list is what concerns me the most. Our bathroom ceiling has been leaking on and off for the past two years. Each time I report it, the bldg super either just replaces the vent cap on the roof or repairs the roof over our part of the bldg by pouring some sort of sealant or compound. Two nights ago, it started leaking again and what worries me is that it's dry out. It wasn't even raining! So where was the water coming from ? There are no units above us.

The thing is, we have a textured finish on the bathroom wall ceiling. If part of the paint has to be stripped out to see what's underneath, the entire thing needs to be stripped and refinished. And if the whole ceiling is to be redone, I would prefer that the entire bathroom be redone as well because it really is outdated. So this is sort of a cascading expense.

Part of me wants to ignore for now if the leak stops (super has promised to reseal our part of the roof) and part of me wants to strip it and see if mold is growing underneath but the latter option scares me because of the cascading expense it might start.

estimated cost: $10 (for mold testing kit) all the way to $5k - $7k for a bathroom remodel

The next items concerns our old(er) car:

(4) New tires, there's really no way around this. Cost: $600-900, depending on brand and model of tires.

(5) Right inner axle boot cover is ripped. Subaru is charging $286 + tax for just the boot cover replacement. I called different repair shops to get estimates:
  • Midas: $305 + tax for just the boot cover
  • Meineke: $135 + tax for just the boot cover but they recommend replacing the axle as well because if dirt / grit got in already, then damage has already been done. The entire thing will cost $185 + tax (only $50 more).
  • Aamco: recommends replacing the entire thing as well, estimates $180 - 190 + tax.
Looks like we'll be going w/ Meineke and will have the whole axle assembly replaced. We decided to go with Meineke over Aamco for the simple fact that Meineke is open on Saturdays while Aamco is M-F only.

(6) November is property tax time again. We pay every quarter so our next payment will be in February, 2011.

(7) And last, but not the least, Christmas season. It's the season to be jolly and the season to spend... add that to Swe-cha's upcoming birthday celebration. Eek.

Hoping that 2011 will bring lots of blessings and good karma, especially on the job front. If expenses keep mounting up like these, we're going to need the income.










Monday, November 1, 2010

Craving

I have a craving for cake. I want yellow / white cake with sickly sweet vanilla frosting.

I'm thinking that since it's getting awfully chilly here at home, it might be time to break open that box of Betty crocker instant cake mix and crank up the oven. I'm just feeling lazy to take out the baking pans.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Battery Stockpile

Guess who got carried away on the panic-buying and stockpiled a bunch of batteries ?

For those of you who have kids, you'll understand why I felt that I needed this much - with all the musical toys and other electronic gear, plus the fact that I also need to get batteries to run my Medela breastpump for when we travel next month.

Having to go to 3 different branches before finding the batteries also contributed to my panic-buying spree. The first 2 branches we went to this afternoon were out of AA batteries - the brand & packaging that was on sale - that I wanted. So when we finally got to the 3rd branch, I have had enough and decided to stockpile.

Oh, I also figured that we could always get those AA to C or AA to D battery converters instead of buying specific sizes. I did buy some D batteries though, Swe-cha's projector might need fresh batteries soon.

*sheepish grin*

Someday

We attended a friend's housewarming party at the beginning of this month, it was an exciting time not only for them, but for the entire group as well. We're all happy for the couple and wish them well in their new home.

Looking at their new home makes me hanker for one of my own as well. We love it here in our cozy condo but we really do need (want!) some extra space. Swe-cha's toys and gear are really taking up a lot of space and add that to the fact that I like to stockpile diapers and supplies when there is a sale, there are times when all that just leaves us with a very narrow path to walk in around the house.

One time, the building superintendent knocked and asked to look at our window because a downstairs unit reported a leak and he wanted to check it out, I was so embarassed to let him in because I had 8 boxes of diapers stacked near the window area - I had to let him in anyway.

But, I digress... so let's go back to talking about houses. I figure, it doesn't cost anything to dream, right ? We - my husband and I, and my Mom too - dream about having a bigger place some day, a place with a backyard (this is mostly me, hubby does not look forward to the idea of mowing the lawn), or maybe even a place with a pool (this is mostly hubby, even though we both do not know how to swim). Mostly, I dream about a place with nice looking furniture and not the hodge-podge that we currently have (seems like such a waste to get rid of stuff right now, I figure we'll just throw these away and buy new things when we move.. eventually).

Someday.

But first, I gotta have a job first.

Chicken Yakitori

I made chicken yakitori for dinner today, I picked it up from the homecookingrocks.com. I wasn't really skeptical but since the recipe didn't call for marinating the meat, I wasn't 100% sure about the results either.

And I got the ultimate compliment(s) from hubby:

- I cooked the usual amount of meat which, on a normal day, would give us enough for 4 servings so we'll both have our baon for tomorrow. Pag ginanahan, this gives us 3 servings. Tonight, ubos! We polished off the chicken and bitin pa.

- While eating, I heard him mutter under his breath (I don't think I was supposed to hear this) in a very sarcastic tone, "what a day to start dieting". Yun pala, he decided to start dieting na. heehee.

Almost there

That new baby I talked about a few posts ago ? The online shop that I'm starting w/ a partner ? Well, we're almost there. I've only got to order a few more items before the box is filled up completely and ready to be sent out.

In the meantime, my partner is doing her part back home, she tells me that she's going to have someone check out auspicious dates for our official grand opening. Keep us in your prayers, okay ? Please pray for our success. I told my mom about this venture and she's excited for us as well.

I was browsing around this morning, looking for ideas to spice up our online shop and came across good deals for personal business cards and to be honest, I'm tempted to order some but it might still be too early. After all, this is only a startup and it's an online shop. We'll probably order some when business officially opens so that we can start handing them out to friends and when we attend shows. It'll be good advertising and since it's small, you can easily tuck them into your wallet or purse and bring them out when you need to buy something.




Thursday, October 28, 2010

I'm an "Ate"

Yesterday, the guys from the balikbayan box company came to pick up our bbox and when they arrived, this one guy started calling me "Ate".

"Ate, eto po yung bagong box, ilagay ko po dito ?"
"Ate, pwede pong pagamit ng CR ?"
"Ate, pa pirma po dito"
"Ate, ano pong phone number ?"

Each time he called me "Ate", it seemed to grate on my ears... On my end, I was about to call him "Manong", my usual title for older Pinoy males, but it was then that I realized that he didn't look old enough to be my "Manong".

Shucks.

When did I suddenly become old ? Or more importantly, when did I start thinking that I was old? since when did I calmly and silently accept being called an "Ate" by strangers?

I just hope that I am able to get back to work soon - before I reach retirement age ;)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Neighbors

We have got to start being more sociable to our neighbors, especially those who live in our hallway. You see, there's this family - a couple, an in-law (Mother-in-law) and a toddler - who live next door and we see them all the time. We exchange a few words and even a few stories but up to now, I do not know their names. I see the names on their mailbox but they're distinctly Spanish (and none that I've encountered before) so I have no idea how to pronounce it or even if they have shorter nicknames.

Hubby and I have taken to calling them "Ayie" after our friend (they look alike). So we might say, "I saw Ayie today.." or "Ayie's husband was out w/ D today" (we know the son's name) and though we both know that we're referring to the neighbor and not our friend most of the time, there are also times when this causes confusion. I might say, "I saw Ayie and the baby today" and hubby would be surprised, "ha ? They're here ?", thinking that our friends drove all the way from MA to NJ on a weekday. I'd be equally confused because they live here, where else would they be ? And it usually takes several minutes before things get sorted out.

Gulo, no ?

Unfortunately, we've been talking to each other in the hallway for a year or two now. It just seems awkward that we'd only ask for their names NOW. But then again, I'm sure they don't know our names either. How to proceed ? Hmm.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

baby woos

Sigh. I have an almost-10 month old on my hands and he is quite a handful, especially during feeding time.

Anything I put in his mouth, he spits out. Sometimes, I'm quick enough to catch it in the spoon so I put it back in his mouth again and he eats that but more often than not, it goes to waste because it falls on his bib. I suspect that he discovered how fun it is to push food through his teeth & gums out of his mouth ( come on,.. admit it, it does sound like fun, no ? ), much like playing with mud, I think. But I do worry sometimes because what if this isn't just a phase ? and I don't want to have a picky eater on my hands. Sigh.

My parents tell me that he's got my genes. I get the feeling that they're having quite a laugh about it because I was a very difficult child. I must have eaten several hundred jars of Gerber's "egg yolk and noodles" because that was the only thing I'd eat. Dad tells me stories of how the combed through supermarkets and all the stores they could find in Metro Manila - and sometimes, even went all the way to the nearby provinces - just so they could get it and hoard for fear of running out and me starving.

This must be Karma knocking on my door :P

Oh wait. I was also told that I never got past 4oz when drinking milk (note that I didn't give up drinking infant's formula until i was 7 years old and yet, i never drank more than 4oz) and until recently, Swe-cha didn't get past that too. But thanks to his Ninang A & Tita R's encouragement and support in training him (as chronicled in our baby blog), we're past that and we're drinking 5, 6 and even 7 oz now. HA! Get that, Karma!

I'm always grateful for the little blessings :)

---

p.s. to Karma - joke lang ah, I don't mean to challenge you. *smile*

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Good deals

... come to those who wait.

I've been waiting for a good deal on cordless phones for a while. Our current phone setup is a bit messy in the sense that we have a lot of gadgets just for our phone service alone. First off, there's the cable modem (yes, we do use this for internet access as well so this and the next item shouldn't be included in this list), then the network router and then the VOIP adapter.

Physically connected to the VOIP adapter are 3 phone units - First is a cordless phone that has 2nd handset that we have plugged in downstairs, next is a corded phone (I find this very useful because we tend to use the phones a lot and we run out of juice), and last is another cordless phone w/ a built in answering machine.

Now, the thing is, that dual handset cordless phone set ? Both charging cradles work but we are only left w/ 1 handset now, the other one's broken. And that one w/ the integrated answering machine ? The machine works but the handset is just about to retire. Even when fully, charged, the battery doesn't last long anymore and the LCD has died a long time ago.

Then recently, there have been lots of cordless phone deals at Staples, but I have not been able to get one. I kept hemming and hawing and eventually, they run out of the unit that I want. Not to mention that hubby wants me to get one set for his mom too. And then there's this coupon that I've been saving - a $25 off $75 purchase - so it means that I had to get something that was $75 or more after instant savings but before easy rebates. Hay. It's not easy, I tell ya :P

So now, after 3 weeks, I did get my phone and I did get a 2nd set. Both are 4-handset Unidens with integrated answering machines. We don't need all 4 handsets but I figure that with the way that these things go in our households ? Having 4 of them means that we have a few backups on hand when they start breaking down. So long as the main unit remains functional, this should last us a long time.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

New baby in the house

I just worked out an agreement w/ my friend to partner with each other and start an online store in the Philippines. We plan to stock up on a few essentials first and expand our product line based on how well the initial stock sells and on customer feedback & requests.

So, friends, watch out for the official announcement, okay ?

In the meantime, while we plan to set up shop in Multiply initially (for a quick setup), I've also been working on an official website as a personal project. Aliw lang that I get to brush up on my web programming skills and am finding out about other applications & gaining skill using them as well (web servers, MySql, text editors, photoshop, etc). It's nice to have something technical to do again. It has been oh-so-long since I last had something like this to do as I've mostly been doing administrative tasks in the recent years.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

God's perfect timing

Last week, Swe-cha and I were out and doing our rounds of the supermarkets to purchase the on-sale items that we needed to replenish our food pantry. That day, I counted 14 consecutive traffic lights that turned yellow just as I was crossing the intersection - I was on a roll! I patted myself on the back for my great timing. Amazing how these little things can make me so happy.

It got me to thinking how timing plays a role in our lives, specifically, God's perfect timing. We got married (was able to process hubby's papers along w/ my permanent residence application even though this wasn't a factor when we planned our wedding), hubby immigrated (and got his permanent residence card months after he immigrated), we got pregnant, and I've become a SAHM - all in perfect time. Not all of those events were planned that way but God knows what is best for us and steered us in the right direction.

I've always considered myself a very lucky person because everything in my life - even those events that seemed unfortunate at the time (everything is a blessing, we just have to learn to recognize them for what they are) - have all worked out and turned out to be the best option for us. But I need to correct that misconception, we're not lucky,... we're blessed.

I am happy. Tired and veiny (veins popping out of my hands na!) but happy.

May God continue to bless our family and may our eyes be opened so that we may recognize and acknowledge the blessings that He showers upon us.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Move

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of PlayStation MOVE. All opinions are 100% mine.


We saw an ad in a magazine for the Playstation Move the other day and hubby went "oh, wow!". He turned to look at me and immediately, I knew what he was thinking.

Playfully, I raised an eyebrow and asked him, "So if a genie were to appear suddenly and grant us a Playstation *and* a Playstation Move, when were you planning to play ?" By this time, hubby knows me so well and could recognize a loaded question. If he gives me a time, I would counter by saying that he could use that time to help clean up the house. If he claims to have no time to play, then I would counter by saying that we don't need yet another gaming system in the house. See ? It's a no-win situation for him :)

But seriously, I know how much he's been wanting his Playstation and I plan to either gift him with one or let him buy one (he does not read this blog so it's a surprise) as soon as our finances get better and the new Playstation Move w/c only costs $99 for a bundle will definitely be a huge plus because it means that I will enjoy playing with him as well. I can almost imagine our little family having game nights in a year or two, we'll probably have to get Swe-cha his own controller as he'll surely be battling us for a turn. Hubby will surely want to play Resident Evil while I will "claim" to want to do some exercise and play a sporty type of game.

My boys and I playing together ? I really cannot wait!



Visit my sponsor: PlayStation®Move

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tired

We're in the middle of training Swe-cha. First we trained him to use the Playtex disposable nurser bottle so that we could bring less when we travel - didn't realize that he started hating those, he used to be very flexible when it comes to bottles because we had a variety. He took to it after a few days of crying & screaming.

Now, we're trying to eliminate his night-time feeding and his sleep association with the bottle. Ang hirap! I'm currently expressing breastmilk now - 3a is one of my usual times to do this - and I am so sleepy and tired. I do not remember being this tired in the recent months. We had a minor victory this evening, we got him to sleep w/o using his bottle as a pacifier, it took about 40 minutes and I was actually quite surprised when he finally stopped shouting. I kept wanting to give in & just give him a bottle at the 30 minute mark - his shouting is hard on the ears - but what friend A said before kept coming to mind, "you have to be committed to this, if you give in, sinayang mo lang yung iniyak nya earlier" and so I persisted.

Salamat sa encouragement, A, pero super nakakapagod talaga.



Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Sneaky

We've been trying to transition Swe-cha to use Playtex nursers (w/ the disposable liners) for our upcoming trip. We wanted to bring as few things as possible and the disposables will bring us so much closer to that goal.

It just occurred to me how sneaky manufacturers are. When you buy Playtex nipples, they come in packages of 2s. When you buy the extra retaining rings and caps, they come in 3s. See the difference ?

They pull you into a cycle of buying. You buy a pack of nipples and a pack of rings/caps and you end up with an extra ring / cap so you want to just buy more nipples w/c will bring you w/ an extra nipple. To end up utilizing everything you'll get pulled into buying 3 packs of nipples which will give you 6 and 2 packs of rings/caps which will give you another 6.

Sneakyyyyy!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Dream vacation

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Kissimmee Tourism. All opinions are 100% mine.

Having a baby changes everything - your priorities get jumbled around, your activities (especially those w/c last late into the night) get curbed, and now that I'm still breastfeeding, even what I eat undergoes careful scrutiny. One of the things that remains unchanged is my dream vacation to Kissimmee, Florida.

I've always wanted to go to Walt Disney World and Sea World and now that Universal Studios has that new Harry Potter theme park ? I'm even more stoked. In fact, I've wanted to go to Kissimmee for so long that I've discussed having this trip long before hubby and I had our son. In fact, I've been talking about this so long that it was probably even before we got married!

I've always envisioned myself staying at the Disney Magic Kingdom resort, but since seeing some pictures of my friend's stay at the Animal Kingdom resort ? I changed my mind and want to stay at the latter instead. My son, Swe-cha, would enjoy looking at the animals over our balcony. He would love watching the animals - those he has only seen in videos so far - come to life. It would be a sight the whole family would love and enjoy. Imagine waking up to a view of giraffes walking just below your windows and a family of them feeding a few yards away or how about being on a real safari and be able to see animals at close range ?

Wow.

I can't wait till my son is big enough to travel (without too much baby gear in tow) and appreciate these sights. I would also love it if my sister and her family (especially my nephews) could come along this trip with us. It'll be a riot!




Visit my sponsor: What's Your Kissimmee Story?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Love declarations

A guy-friend and I were talking and he tells me that his girlfriend (his first, he started this relationship early this year, they are both in their 30s) asked him one day, "Hon, how would you feel if I told you that I can't wait to spend the rest of our lives together?"

His response ? "Duh, dunno."

Needless to say, he spent the next few days trying to appease a very unhappy gf. He tells me that he should learn the art of pambobola lest he spend a significant portion of his life in the future trying to appease and/or get his lady to forgive him.

So this got me thinking... and I was challenged - and I do love challenges! How does one answer this question without compromising oneself?

Guy friend says, he should've answered back, "I can't wait to live with you," and that would've cut the conversation short.

And I tell him that while it gives the impression that he does want to marry the girl soon, it still does not sound right. And he expected the conversation to end at that statement ? On the contrary, that would've sparked even more conversation - one that leads to something he may not be ready for yet - because if I were the girl and I were in a mood to get a ring on my finger, I would've responded with a "I'm glad we're on the same page, I want to marry you and live with you too. Let's start wedding preparations," and with that sentence, he'd just (sort of) proposed because how many good girls live with their guys w/o the benefit of marriage ?

How would I have answered the question ? Guy is serious about their relationship and want this to end in marriage eventually, not now. So I would've answered with honesty but I would've thrown the girl a bone to make it less brutal, something like:

"You know that I've liked you for more than 20 years, right ? Every day when I wake up, it still amazes me to think that you and I are in this relationship. I still cannot believe that you are my girl, that I am your guy and that, finally, after all these years of quietly loving you, you now love me back. So please forgive me if my brain cannot process and answer your question yet, it's still trying to catch up with my racing heart.

O diba ? Mala-pelikula.

But girls... really, we should know not to ask leading questions like these unless we're quite sure of the response. Otherwise, you just might not like what you hear. Okay ?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Mommy is Sick

There is no reprieve for Mommy when she gets sick. Daddy tries to do more than his share of babysitting & chores, but when Mommy sees him get irate when baby is fussy, it's Mommy to the rescue again.

Sigh. There's no rest for the weary.

But I have to admit that being a mommy, even a sick one, does have its rewards. Last Thursday was when this all started and I felt the worst, Swe-cha cooperated with me and let me snooze a little bit more when he woke up from his nap. Instead of crawling away, as he usually does when he wakes up, he sat beside me and just played with his teether and pacifier. He would turn around to look at me and / or touch my face every now and then and make little mewling sounds as if to say, "mommy, hope you're feeling better". He did that for a good 10, 15 minutes before he decided that it was enough and he wanted to go crawling. By then, I had had a good rest and was able to go chasing after him until Daddy got home that night.

Teaching

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of USC. All opinions are 100% mine.



My career in software development has been hiatus for 9 months now and sometimes, I feel like I may need to consider a career-change and go into some field that is more stable, if not more lucrative. Times like these make me remember the career paths that I have considered when I was younger one of which was to be a teacher. I used to teach in my former high school as a scouting instructor and I loved being able to share and impart knowledge with my students.

I wonder, how about if I consider checking out the program information at USC Rossier School of Education MAT@USC and see if I can maybe pursue a Masters of Arts in Teaching degree online ? This school has been ranked #22 in the United States and #9 among private Universities by US News and World Report. They offer an innovative combination of highly-interactive online teaching techniques and local area experience. They also have a ground-breaking tuition fee reimbursement program for MAT@USC graduates.

What do you think ? Would you be interested in going for a teaching degree online ? As for me, I can be a teacher... I think. After all, I used to be the demo dolly (haha!) for our company a few years ago. I'd be asked to teach others - customers and our own consultants - how to use and set up our product and while it made me nervous to be in the spotlight, I did enjoy knowing that in the end, I was able to impart the knowledge to my audience.

Visit my sponsor: Master of Arts in Teaching degree online from USC

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Twincesses

We went to visit Ninang A and the twincesses today. Swe-cha pooped on the way so we borrowed the gehl's changing table. Then Swe-cha started crying... which started one of the gehls crying...

Anak, nakakahiya, boy ka pa man din. In fairness, Swe-cha was sleepy when we visited the gehls.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Sleeping (again)

So I've been reading books and gathering ideas on how to sleep train your child. As it turns out, there is no pain free way. There is the Cry-it-out (CIO) method, a Pick-up-pick-down (PUPD) method and there is the Ferber way too which is supposed to be less stressful on the baby and the parents.

We tried the cry-it-out method months ago but gave up after 1 night. Swe-cha cried so much that he lost his voice. Poor baby, I felt so bad that I was willing to not sleep myself just so he would be happy.

These past couple of months, he seemed to be getting better on his own. He's sleeping longer and has 1 long stretch at night. He's also not getting up so much due to gas. So I thought we were home free. These past few nights, however, have not been good. Swe-cha has been waking up every hour or even half-hour sometimes. Last night, hubby tried to let him go back to sleep on his own (w/o rocking him), but he would just toss and turn and sit and roll. He changed position so many times and moved all over the bed and still couldn't sleep. Eventually, we held him and gave him a bottle and he falls asleep in seconds. Don't really know what to do at this point. My friend, A, is right. It takes commitment from the parent and if you're not committed to following this through to the end, better not start because you just subject your child to unnecessary discomfort and stress.

Oh well, let's just see. I think I'll just observe him for a few more weeks and hope that he sleeps better and longer on his own.

In the meantime, I'll have to check out Teen Book reviews and see what teens are reading nowadays, I want to get my nephew a book and I don't have any idea what to get him.

Sago pudding

I was cleaning out a cabinet and found half a package of tiny, small sago - remnants from long ago. I remember buying a pack ages ago but I don't even remember what I used it for.

I suddenly found myself craving for that mango sago dessert that is so popular in Chinese restaurants. We had some almond jelly in the pantry so I prepared that and refrigerated it, I also dropped by our neighborhood Asian store one day and bought a bottle of pureed mangoes.

I cooked the sago this afternoon and they came out overcooked. I wasn't able to pay as much attention as I was supposed to while cooking it because I was on nanny-duty (hubby had gone out for a haircut).

I mixed it up with a little pureed mangoes but my puree turned out a bit on the sour side - this bottle was probably produced with out-of-season mangies, *boo*. So I rummaged on the cabinet some more and came up with a can of coconut cream, "we're in business," I thought.

Steps:

1. Cooked sago - cook according to package instructions. I didn't have the instructions but this was what I did: boil water in a pot, pour raw sago and let boil till they're partially cooked but still have white centers. Turn off the fire and cover the pot and let it cook some more till the centers are clear, this means that they are already fully cooked. Make sure to stir constantly to prevent the sago from clumping together.

2. Pour sago into jelly molds or little ramekins and let chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.

3. To serve, pop sago shapes out of the molds onto a plate and drizzle with mango puree and coconut cream. I have a bit of a sweet tooth so I was very very generous with the coconut cream.

Ang sarap!

I can imagine this combination - sweetened mango and coconut - on some malagkit or suman already. Methinks I'm going to look for a suman recipe next.
I also poured the overcooked sago into little ramekins and popped them in the refrigerator. A couple of hours later, they had set into the molds.

To serve, slide out the sago (it will retain its shape) onto plates and drizzle with mango puree and coconut cream.


Big boy

Nowadays, Swe-cha can almost always be found standing whenever I leave him inside his play area. He never sits down for long and would pull himself up to a standing position by holding onto the enclosure.

A few times, he would look at me, smile and then let go. He'd eyes would be sparkling as if saying, "Look, ma! No hands!" Sometimes, he'd still have enough strength and balance left to stand for a few more seconds after he lets go but other times, he'd just fall flat on his cute butt (and I'd reach out at the same time to make sure he doesn't hit his head on anything). Thankfully, he seems to know not to let go when I'm not in the enclosure with him.

Time has gone really fast. At about this same time last year, hubby and I were still looking for childcare classes we could attend. We have not bought a single item for the baby, much less bedroom furniture, that would come much much later (a few days before my scheduled c-section, actually). And look at where we are now, our son is pulling himself up and can stand without support for about 2 seconds before falling down. Pretty soon, he'll be walking and running all over the place. So fast!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Chicken Katsu Don

This chicken has been sitting in the refrigerator, already defrosted, since yesterday and I didn't want to keep this till tomorrow. Not having had the chance to do anything beforehand - marinade, etc - I knew that I had to go for a dish that requires little in terms of ingredients and preparation.

I dug through our pantry and found a new bag of panko bread crumbs, so I decided on chicken katsudon.

Ingredients for Chicken Katsu:
boneless skinless chicken thighs
garlic salt
pepper
flour
egg (beaten)
panko bread crumbs
hot oil for deep frying

1. Prepare chicken by pounding or slicing into thin fillets. Season chicken with garlic salt and pepper.

2. Dredge chicken in flour, dip into the egg and then coat with panko bread crumbs

3. Fry chicken in hot oil, note that panko bread crumbs burn easily so do not use too high heat.

4. Slice the chicken pieces.

Sauce for 1 serving (1 bowl of rice) of Katsudon sauce taken from Angelica's food blog.:
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp cooking wine (I used rice wine)
1 tbsp mirin
2 tsp sugar
1/3 cup chicken/vegetable stock or water (I used water and added some chicken powder)
1 egg, slightly beaten
spring onions

1. Mix soy sauce, cooking wine, mirin, sugar, water and chicken powder together.

2. In a small pan, pour the sauce and let it boil. When boiling, put sliced chicken in the sauce, pour the slightly beaten egg on top of the chicken, sprinkle with spring onions and let it boil till the egg is cooked. It may help to cover the pan.

3. Pour on top of a bowl of rice - chicken, broth and all - and serve.

This turned out great. My chicken was crunchy on the outside and moist and juicy inside. And the sauce ? PERFECT!

Weekend Stay

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Hampton Hotels. All opinions are 100% mine.

Hubby's brother (the 2nd one) will be arriving for a two week stay this weekend. We're all very excited as we have not seen him since we left for the US after we got married years ago. We're also very excited and look forward to Swe-Cha seeing another uncle for the first time.

We have not decided yet where we would or could bring DiHya around but I'm joining the Hampton Chain of Friends Sweepstakes in the hopes of getting a free weekend stay at any Hampton hotel. It'll be fun if we could all go for an overnight trip, especially over the labor day weekend. Winning a free weekend stay mean big savings for us because that's usually where the bulk cost of a trip lies - hotel costs. I'm thinking that a short trip out of state might be a good idea, maybe somewhere in Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, maybe ?) as Washington, DC might be too far a trip for our first overnighter with the baby.

If we don't win (see how I am referring to our win as a sure thing ? that's how optimistic I am, haha!) it in time for DiHya's visit, we can always keep it on hand for future trips. We plan to travel more when our baby gets older - I can almost imagine our future trips to Disneyland, Disneyworld, Seaworld and other theme parks. I wonder how old our son has to be to start appreciating these trips ? My nephew was a little over 1 year old when we started bringing him abroad for trips and he seemed to enjoy himself.

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Visit my sponsor: Win a free Weekend Stay

Monday, August 23, 2010

Chicken fillets with hoisin sauce

I bought several packages of boneless skinless chicken thighs from Costco today and decided to make a chicken dish for dinner. As I usually do when I'm in the mood to try something new, I drop by my favorite food blog, HomeCookingRocks (formerly pinoycook.net), and chose a dish for which I have the ingredients on hand.

Tonight's choice was a slight variation from chicken fillets with hoisin sauce and Szechuan pepper.

I also had to make slight variations on the seasoning as I had more chicken than the recipe called for, this was what I prepared:

5 boneless chicken thighs
5 tbsp lite soy sauce
cornstarch
cooking oil (for deep frying)
hoisin sauce
toasted sesame seeds

1. Slice chicken thighs into small strips, season with lite soy sauce and let stand in the refrigerator.
2. Coat the chicken fillets with the cornstarch and deep fry. When cooked, let the oil drain on paper towels.
3. In the pan, heat a dollop of hoisin sauce, add toasted sesame seeds and toss the chicken fillets to coat them with the hoisin sauce-sesame seed mixture.

Note that I prepared a small batch for tasting first and purposely did not coat the chicken evenly and completely with the hoisin sauce. Both hubby and I prefer it that way to preserve the crunchiness of the chicken and we preferred not to have that strong of a hoisin sauce taste.

Boost

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Boost Mobile. All opinions are 100% mine.

Today, I'm writing about the new cellphone service provider, Boost Mobile. It's a new no contract, prepaid, unlimited cellphone plan which has a Re-Boost program which allows you to either pay online, pay in person, or pay by phone in order to reload your account. If your friend or family even wants to gift you with service, they can even pay for your account by any of the Re-Boost options I mentioned above. Alternatively, you can also sign up for automatic payments so you won't have to worry about forgetting your monthly payments and getting your service interrupted.

My favorite part about Boost mobile is their Blackberry unlimited monthly plan which gives you unlimited nationwide talk, text, web and email for only $60 a month. This is a huge difference compared to the other leading cellphone providers.

If you're not a blackberry fan, you might want to check out the i1 phone by Motorola, it looks pretty spiffy to me. This has me seriously considering switching to Boost mobile because all my friends are able to connect to their Facebook pages and update their status from the mobile phones (everybody, that is, except for hubby and me). It would be useful to be able to have access to the web all the time as well, especially when we're out playing tourist in other places and have no web access, being able to get to the internet from our phones will be handy for those last minute research that you usually have to do. I can't wait.

Oh, and before I forget, I'd like to remind everybody that Christmas is just around the corner. We're only a few months away and if you do want to get some Christmas shopping done, why not get a Boost mobile plan for that special someone ?

Visit my sponsor: Reboost

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Braised Short Ribs, Korean Style

I had some short ribs which had been sitting in the freezer for a long time now and I wanted to cook it to make baby food. When I took it out, it was then that I realized that beef short ribs wasn't really appropriate for making soup meant for baby food as it was too oily.

I really should name this dish "Short Ribs Surprise" as the ingredients and seasoning was really more of a "taste & see" [translated: tantiyahan] so I won't be able to post measurements here for now.

Ingredients:
Beef short ribs
water
spring onions
sugar
soy sauce
salt
ginger
garlic

New school

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Charter. All opinions are 100% mine.



My nephew will be going to a new charter school in California. Unfortunately, the applicants were too many and slots too few that the school eventually had to pick their students by lottery. My older nephew got picked but his younger brother was (and still is) waitlisted.


I figured that since this was a new school and all, that it's supposed to be way better than their previous public school and that it's a brand new school which will be holding classes and occupying a previously vacated school building (school w/c closed a few years ago), they'd sure welcome some new laptops if they do get picked on laptop-a-day giveaway by Charter cable.

Aside from the laptop giveaway promotion to schools, I also passed along the info to my sister that if she ordered any Charter cable service, then she automatically gets a chance to win and get up to $300 cash back.

If you have a Facebook account, you might also want to "like" Charter on Facebook and pass the word along. I just nominated my nephew's new school for the laptop-a-day giveaway and I invite you to do the same and nominate your favorite school. I'm sure that the school and the students who will get the benefit of the laptops would appreciate your gesture and your taking the time and making the effort to nominate them.



Laptop1

Visit my sponsor: Charter is giving Free laptops to Schools

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sitting still

I've been reading the Sites I Read list from my previous blog in Xanga and I read a post by one mother who has a son who is one week younger than mine. She says "my son can sit still for 30 minutes now" and I'm like "Huh ? She can get her son to sit for 30 min?" I can barely get mine to stay put for 5 minutes.

Swe-cha is always moving around and making me chase after him. One factor could be that he learned to crawl weeks before he learned to sit so he really didn't get a chance to sit still because he already knew how to crawl.

Management Consultant Services

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of Lillilooloodotcom. All opinions are 100% mine.

It's been a while since I've been able to try out new work-related online services so it really excites me to share this new discovery about Lillilooloo and talk about the features that they offer.

First off,Lillilooloo is the only online website that serves the management consultant community. it offers thousands consulting templates and also has a new book called "Succeeding as a Management Consultant". Seeing as how I'm sort of in-between-jobs right now, this might be a good time to start exploring the management consultant field. After all, I do have a little experience in this field as I've worked with lots of management consultants on various work projects before. And I have been checking out opportunities to get certified as a project manager by the Project Management Institute - just as soon as I am able to get a breather from mommy duties.

Document templates are also available from their template store, if you do not happen to have the specific template that you need. Or, worst case ? You could even have their research team prepare your documents and professional presentations for you! This feature would not only be helpful for newbies like me but I'm pretty sure that even seasoned veterans like my friend, S, would find this useful as well. I wonder how he would rate this site and its services ? Hmm, check this site out and give me a holler or drop me a line, S, I would love to hear what you think.


Visit my sponsor: Review the website Lillilooloo.com

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Stuffed Fuzzy Squash

This is one of the dishes I learned from my mother-in-law when they came to visit us last month. The steps and ingredients are pretty simple but it becomes complicated because no recipe exists. Everything is a mixture of little bit of this and that - as my mother-in-law puts it, "konti toyo, konti asukal, konti asin, masarap na!"

I did exactly as that and seasoned the pork mixture as per my taste & imagination. I figured, we could always adjust the measurements later. This turned out great!

Ingredients:
ground pork
carrots
corn starch
sugar
salt
soy sauce

fuzzy squash



1. Peel the fuzzy squash and cut into disks.

2. Mix ground pork with carrots and corn starch and season with soy sauce, sugar, and salt


3. Pan-fry and sear / brown the fuzzy squash. When a little bit browned, brush with a little bit of cornstarch on the surface and put a dollop of the ground pork mixture on top. Pour some water in the pan, just at the level of the fuzzy squash, cover and let it steam.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lost super power :(

I think I may have lost my post-partum weight-loss powers. I started losing weight (without really trying) after I gave birth to Swe-Cha. I lost all the pregnancy weight. Then I lost some more. The pounds just kept going away until I was back to the least weight I've ever had in my adult life.

Oh, and during that time, I've also been shedding hair. Hormones, that's what they say.

Recently, I noticed that I've started growing baby hair. Lots and lots of them. So much that my head kinda looks bushy when I have my hair tied down. Whatever it was that caused my hairloss before is obviously righting itself now.

So I decided to check my weight and I swear, if I hadn't gone to Inpost: San Diego Lasik some time ago, I would've doubted my eyes,

*Gasp* It wasn't a pretty sight. So I guess, no more snacking on chocolate chip cookies.

Pearl Powder

Gave Swe-Cha pearl powder with his dinner a few days ago. Pearl powder is a traditional Chinese medicine that is believed to calm one down, among other things. We're hoping that this will help him sleep more soundly. Parang lagi siyang nagugulat eh.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Got diapers ?

Yes :)


These are the size 3 & 4 boxes of diapers that we have on stock right now. Looks like someone's afraid to run out of diapers :)

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On another note, I recently signed up for an account with Blog Copy. This service monitors your blog and lets you know which posts are being copied by others. I'm thinking this will be a very nifty tool to find out which of my posts are attracting more attention and / or which posts other people find informative and helpful.

This'll help me develop my blog and attract a wider audience.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Homecoming

So I've been telling whoever cares to listen - friends are good :) - that I have my heart set on going back to Manila to celebrate Swe-cha's 1st birthday.

I felt the urge exactly 13 days ago and immediately started looking around and doing research - basically, checking to see how feasible a December vacation will be for our family. It occurred to me that there would be lots of factors involved and that they have to all fall in place but I am hopeful that this will push through.

Among our considerations, the most major are:
- award tickets from PAL (if we do not get the award tickets, it doesn't make sense to fly during that time because of the costs), we're currently priority waitlisted* for a couple of dates and just plain waitlisted for a few more dates.
- award tickets from Delta (not a requirement but would be great if we could get award tickets for NJ to CA tickets for maximum savings)
- a stopover in California (a must)
- leave from work
- trans-atlantic travel with a one year old (eek!)

and with that...
- which baby gear to bring along
- pumping breastmilk and all the parts to bring along & sterilize (unfortunately, my son does not direct feed from me)
- feeding bottles and nipples

Milk-wise, we're going to go with disposables as much as we can so the Playtex nursers are going to get a lot of use. I'm just iffy because our Playtex nursers (premium set) are made of plastic that is easily cracked unlike the older ones, I still prefer the original.

Secondary considerations - and the most fun, if I may say so:
- 1st bday party venue (check, Mom is taking care of this)
- caterer & food (Mom / brother are scouting for suppliers)
- decorations / venue dress up (found recommendations thru n@w)
- entertainment, souvenirs and prizes (found recommendations thru n@w)
- photographer & videographer (found recommendations thru n@w)
- clothes!

Luggage wise, I'm thinking that we could assemble a balikbayan box (for personal supplies and pasalubong) and have this sent ahead to our home in Manila. This should reduce the amount of luggage we have to bring with us.

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* I asked the PAL booking agent what "priority waitlisted" meant and was told that it means that there is a big possibility that our seats will be confirmed.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

happiness ...

... is a slice of cake

... or a Jollibee chickenjoy

... or a cup of iced coffee or sweet tea

... or a bowl of ice cream on a hot summer day

... or a nice cool bath or a long warm bath, depending on the season

... or a massage or better, a day at the spa.

But today, happiness is getting to change Swe-cha's diaper. He had 3 huge loads of poop and 2 w/ skid marks throughout the day. It made Mommy very happy because he did not poop the past 2 days.

Updates

We've been invited to a pool party this Saturday. Looking forward to Swe-cha's first swimming experience, hope he's up to it. We did a dry wet run last night in the tub, dressed him up in his swimsuit and put him in the bathtub. He was plenty excited - unlike the first time he was put in the tub, he cried!

I'm also glad that he's liking his suit already because when I first put it on him, he cried too! I'm guessing it must have been the tags poking him and bothering him because he didn't cry till I closed up the zipper (and the back part with the tags must've pressed on him already). I tore off the tags so they won't bother him anymore.

A few weeks ago, we met up with friends, Swe Cha was okay at first but then, some time later, he cried too!

Whenever I run errands nowadays, he shouts from the back of the car (from his car seat). He also shouts from his stroller - he used to be content so long as he's moving and so long as he hears me. But not anymore.

There's a pattern here.

My son - the happy baby that he is - is iyakin now. Hope this isn't an indication of how he will be in the future. I'm thinking that maybe he's uber lambing now because he's not feeling too well (teething).

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Snack Attack!

This is a Sponsored Post written by me on behalf of ampm. All opinions are 100% mine.


Without a doubt, breastfeeding is best for babies.

What doesn't always get mentioned is that breastfeeding is a very good weight-loss tool for the mommies too. I've blogged about losing 40+ lbs since I gave birth (and only 20 lbs of that is pregnancy weight) even though I eat like a pig all the time. While I have not lost any weight in the last two weeks, I'm very happy to not have gained any weight at all so I'm happy.

I mentioned that I eat a lot, right ? You see, I find myself ravenous a lot of the time and craving a lot of different things. Sometimes, it's something healthy like green veggies or fruits, sometimes, I find myself looking for sweets and other times, I just can't get enough meat.

And during those meat-eating phases, nothing satisfies the cravings better than a huge chunk of meat in ampm's Towering Inferno as offered in their secret menu tab on Facebook. Hubby has the same favorite but he likes it without the sauce as he is not a fan of spicy foods.

Check out that page and let me know which one is or could easily be your favorite, don't forget to go back on 7/26, 8/2, 8/9, 8/16, 8/30 to check out the new yums that are coming out on those dates.

And make sure to not miss coming back on 8/2 because you get to make your own concoctions! I know I won't miss it :)

As for me, I can't wait. Thankfully, ampm is just around the corner, about two miles from where we live.


Visit my sponsor: ampm Secret Menu Items