Baby Food Making Tools

When I had Baby J, I was determined that I would be not feeding him Cerelac or some other crap you buy in your local grocery that passes as food (especially not after all the food product scares from China). And the ‘organic’ stuff that are available are too expensive to get, and only viable for emergencies.

So I decided to make my own. At first I was tempted to get those baby food devices and realized they were expensive and given the issues with Customs here, if I had ordered my Baby Cook from Amazon, I’d have expected to cost me double. I also lived in a tiny 36.5 sqm apartment and space is premium. So no baby food maker devices for me. Thankfully though, you don’t really need one.

Baby Food Tools!

Didn’t add the knife and cutting board, that goes without saying

When you look at most baby food recipes, you realize the tools you need them are either things you already own or can easily borrow from your parents (or eventually buy later). It’s not fancy, but it does the job and in the end that’s what matters. Also, baby food makers are notoriously hard to clean, unless you own a dishwasher. In fact, the hardest clean in this whole set is the ice cube tray (or the ziplock bags if you plan to reuse then, which I recommend).

Sauce pot & Steamer

Most baby food recipes usually involve steaming. And since you’re not cooking for adults, you’re not expected to use up the same amount of food in cooking for baby. Hence, sauce pan and steamer. In my case, I’m using a Chef’n Steamer I bought from Howards in Greenbelt a few years back (Howards is gone, but you could try looking at True Value). When I’m not steaming baby food, we steam some of our veggies in it. It’s very handy and easy to clean.

Osterizer Blender

Baby hates the sound of the blender

When I shopped for a blender for my new apartment, I knew I was getting an Osterizer. I also knew I was getting *this* particular model of Osterizer. This is the blender of my youth: of summers of having Avocado Milk Shakes and Melon shakes. When my stick blender died due to motor failure, this beauty made my cream soups. It is also so easy to clean. One tip to follow, is that when you clean your blender, make sure to do it right after you’re done transferring the food out. Don’t let the food sit, get cold and be near impossible to clean without getting a scraper. And if it gets too grimy, just bust out the bottle cleaner brush to scrape off the grime.

Now why blender? Because this is the tool you use when you need to puree baby food. You could use the stick blender, it has a small blender option for baby food. Or a mini food processor like the Cuisinart Mini Prep. A 14-cup food processor is way too big for the job and won’t give a smooth puree. Another option to use is a Magic Bullet if you already own one, or one of those blender smoothies maker. Those can work too.

Baby Food Storage!

Before I get to discuss storing your baby food, I want to mention the small spatula. If you’re blitzing your baby food in a fine puree, you may want to consider in buying a spatula, particularly a small slender corner spatula made of flexible silicon. You will need this because you are going to be doing a lot of scrapping and you don’t want to use metal or wood on your blender. Using metal means you’ll end up damaging the blades of your blender, plus a scraper is excellent in evening the tops of ice cube trays.

Now why, ice cube trays. When you store baby food, it’s easier to be able to just grab an ice cube sized food to reheat and serve than say a 4 ounce cup. Also it makes it easier to serve your baby different flavored purees during meal times. I was told that a baby with a lot of exposure to different flavors and food, will be less of a picky eater when they’re older.

You can see I’ve got a lot of different ice cube trays. The white trays were from Daiso (Japan Home). So it’s fairly cheap. If you’re feeling whimsical, like I did when my baby first explored solid food, I packed his food in jewel shaped ice trays. They made for pretty instagram ready photos.

When Baby J got older, he needed to eat more food. But sadly my freezer cabinet isn’t big enough to hold his food alongside ours (even gave up the ice cream space for his meals). My bro-in-law sent me a Tovolo Ice tray as a gift, and it was exactly what I needed.

Tovolo Ice Tray

Now what makes this little tray special is the fact they make the perfect cube ice, each cube is 1 ounce. Which makes estimating the size of baby J’s meals much easier. Right now, with Baby J at 1 year old, he’s eating at roughly 3-4 ounces, or roughly 3-4 cubes a meal.

The other benefit of this particular tray is the perfect cube shape. That means you can stack them up like little blocks in your fridge if you want to take advantage of every bit of space in there. It certainly made storing his purees a lot of easier when you know you can play Tetris with his food.

There are also 4 ounce cups I use for food that don’t freeze well in ice cube trays, food like pasta, congee, and even bolognaise sauce for baby. The Glad Quart Freezer bags are for storing your frozen cubed purees.

Cleaning all of this stuff may seem daunting but it’s not any more different had I used a Baby Cook. The knife and cutting board will have to be washed, the device have to be cleaned, but it’s hard to hand wash it since dish washers don’t exist here. As my husband wisely noticed, whenever something says they can take away a step in cooking, it just adds one more step in cleaning.

After six months of making my son’s food, I’ve come to appreciate my set-up: it’s economical and it got the job done. For moms out there, what are your tools for the baby food making trade? If you got suggestions, feel free to leave a comment or a link.

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A C-section Mama Birth Story

My son just turned one year old, and Christmas has come and gone.  A lot has happened since my last post in 2013, one that I regret not writing about. I would have been novel to write down my thoughts on my pregnancy, of becoming a mom and all the hopes and dreams and even Pinterest inspirational photos of all things baby. But things never really work out that way, no matter how much you try or want it.

Continue reading

Mommy Loot Bag Review!

A lot has happened, and suffice to say I’m a mom now–more detailed write up on that later–and the past year has been one giant experience for all of us. Now part of that experience is apparently is acquiring things for myself and the baby. Though mostly for baby, whatever benefits I get as a mom is either related to hoping to make my life easier

Last October, I went to my first Mommy fair, called Momzilla Fair at the Rockwell Tent. The Rockwell tent isn’t very big, so it felt a little cramped considering that your customers coming in don’t come alone. Meaning, if you’re catering for Moms, rest assured they’d be followed by their husbands, the nannies and the kids. It makes for a cramp space just a few hours after opening. It was a stormy morning so you can imagine just how terribly humid it was inside after just an hour. The other downside to the location is lack of breastfeeding station that was quiet (there was a massive speaker inside it playing), comfortable (it was so very hot that Baby J could barely drink in comfort and was fitful) and no privacy for people coming and going into the room. There isn’t a real place to change diapers either. You’re better off going back inside the mall and look for a diaper station there.

Despite that, the vendors for the fair was totally awesome and had a lot of fun. People were mostly very nice and helpful too! I’ll be showing off some of the loot I acquired over that weekend. Now I know it probably took more than a month to blog but at the same time it took me a while to test it and have an honest feed back over the stuff I got.

Now let’s take a look at our Mommy Loot Bag:

Shopping has been done

Shopping has been done!

1. Chunky Chewelries – These are silicon (the kind used on bottle nipples and the like) made necklace used in a line of accessories for Moms (and Dads too). Basically what they are, are chunky necklace accessories. One of the things I noticed  when we had Baby J, was that I couldn’t wear any of my jewelry anymore, not when you’ve got a little one that’s a little to eager to yank at anything that catches his interest and shove it into his mouth. Which makes me sad because hubby J, gifted me a the most beautiful bib necklace ever and I can’t wear it since the last time I did, Baby J decided to try and eat it. Well no fear, Chunky Chewelries is your answer! You get to accessorize again and have something for your baby to gnaw on when you’re carrying him. Win-win situation right there! This works awful good when paired with a babywearing carrier.

Now what I didn’t like. Now it’s not “bad” per se, but more of an inconvenience really and something you can avoid by choosing a different design. The problem I had was that hair tends to cling to silicon tightly enough, that pulling it over your heard without thinking can be a very painful experienced. You can avoid this by buying a necklace that only has a few silicon beads as opposed to using an entire rope of silicon beads. Learn from my mistakes!

Visit Chunky Chewelries instagram account for more designs! https://www.instagram.com/chunkychewelries/

2. Seve’s Mom Cloth Nursing Pads – Okay, I’ve got mixed feelings about this particular product. Few things I did like is it’s pretty. Unlike most nursing pads you’d get, they only come in white and with granny lace. No one likes granny lace, not even granny.

The nursing pad is made of fleece, which is good because it actually feels nice against the nipple. Cracked, sore nipples are common in breastfeeding, so having something soft and nice against it is a plus. The brand also carries a variety of design that are absolutely adorable.

The thing I did not like about this product is the fact the nursing pad is very thin. I tend to let down a lot of milk when breastfeeding (or when boobs are way too full and sore), and the nursing pads don’t do well absorbing the let down, which left me with a soiled bra and blouse. A work around for this is to wear nursing bras that are thicker or have padded inserts to avoid soiling your blouse, but still. The whole point of a nursing pad is to not let that happen in the first place.

Price wise, it is a little bit more expensive compared to the reusable ones you get in baby and mom stores, so I can’t really recommend this one. However, it does make a nice face buff pad (or so I was told by the sales lady). Personally, I’m not the type to even use a face buff pad to begin with. So yeah, sorry can’t really recommend this.

3. Bumkins Waterproof Splat Mat – Splat mats are great to have when you’ve got babies. They make for great cover on floors and tables when baby is eating or playing with anything that can lead to messes. I’ve used it once on a project and was quite happy with it. But it is rather thin and can be easily blown away by the wind if you don’t weight it down. If you got carpet floors, and more than one kid on the mat it would be a good idea to have another fabric you’re going to throw in the wash, under the splat mat. It would be good to also tape it down with painter’s tape (which is cool to have at home btw. I have one from 3M and that stuff is GOLD, no icky residue).

The other good thing about this, is that you can take it with you. Pop it in your diaper bag and you’re good to go. Very useful if you have to go to reunions. Also doubles as a changing pad you can use over public diaper changing stations.

4. Boba Stretchy Wrap – This was the first item I bought at the fair, mostly because I am not a fan of very bulky carriers (plus those are darn expensive!) and I wanted something that would give more support and ease the pain on my back (Aprica is not my favorite brand for baby carrying). I’ve got no complaints with Boba, the wrap is soft, though I think I may have been better off getting a solid color wrap. The print is nice but the underside of it is not printed. It makes the wrap unsightly after a while of use (not every one can do the wrap so perfectly to hide the underside, so if that bothers you, I would suggest going for block colors rather than prints. The wrap comes with it’s own matching bag. It folds well and is easier to carry into your diaper bag as compared to other carriers. The downside (or upside depending on where you live) is that this is very warm to wear for both you and the baby.

** If you got questions about babywearing, from the benefits to the types of carriers that’s right for you and your baby, please check out this link for more info.

“Sugary goodness in my veins!” – Charmaine

Last but not least, is a special mention of the stuff I actually got to eat at the Momzilla Fair, and Donut Poppa was the one thing I wish I brought enough cash to pay for more than just one box. These scrumptious tiny morsels of donut goodness comes in a lot of flavor variants and eye catching enough to be used as company giveaways or even as presents this coming Christmas.

And yes, I put up a picture of an empty box because I never had the presence of mind to take pictures of food when they come in all pristine like. Besides you’d know I didn’t like it as much if I had left overs, so it’s fairly indicative of how delicious I found these when I realized too late to take photos.

I don’t know if they have a physical store somewhere but if you’re interested give them a try.

Donut Poppa
donutpoppa@gmail.com
+63927852955

Well this wraps up the first of my Mommy Loot Bag reviews. I’ll post more soon~!

Cohen Recipe: Roast Chicken

I’ve been doing Cohen for a while, and I’ve picked up a few cooking recipes to make this diet tolerable. One of them is this dish that was adapted from a recipe I previously picked off a cooking magazine somewhere.  The fun part is that all ingredients used in the original recipe are all allowed within the Cohen diet, it’s merely a matter of portions as the original recipe calls for a lot of chili powder for that kick–it’s also why I omitted the “spicy” from the recipe name.

Roast Chicken

Ingredients:

  • Skinless chicken breast fillet (protein allowance)
  • salt and pepper (spice allowance)
  • chili powder (spice allowance)
  • 1 tsp low fat mayonnaise

 

Procedure:

  1. Pre-heat your oven or air-fryer (I used a Philips Air Fryer and had mine pre-heated at 180º C for 5 min)
  2. Butterfly the chicken breast, this is useful to ensure even cooking
  3. Season the chicken breast with salt, pepper and chili powder on both sides
  4. Coat the chicken breast with mayonnaise (1 tsp is enough to coat both sides)
  5. Put into oven or Air-fryer and cook for 5 mins per side. Make sure you don’t over cook the chicken or it will come out very dry!
  6. Serve with a salad made out of your vegetable allowance on the side. I prefer mine with plain cucumbers or garlic cauliflower rice.

I hope this helps in making your Cohen diet tolerable. Happy Cohen Dieting~!

~ ♥ ~

I’ll be following this up with my second part otaku post. Just couldn’t write anything last week due to another bad bout of the sniffles. 

When the Otaku in You Grows Up: Part 1

I spent much of early puberty soaking it up watching anime and playing video games, a reality my parents had to give into when they uprooted their only child from our old home in the suburbs where we had the security of a village and neighbors with kids. I actually had a childhood that I spent running around outdoors, learning to ride a bike, had grand (mis)adventures. But when we had to move to the city, the child who would be impossible to stay indoors was suddenly forced to stay put…with no where to go, and no one to play with.

Guilt easily set in with my parents (mwehehehehehe) and I was suddenly granted my first gaming console, and exposure to cartoons from Japan (thanks to the local networks and Laserdisk rentals). Though I’ve watched some anime in the ’80s, nothing really stuck to me in the way YuYuHakusho, Sailormoon, Slayers, Ranma 1/2 and a host of other titles did. I became an Otaku, a term that didn’t exist back in the ’90s here in the Philippines but best described me then.

But now I’m older and in my early 30’s (with the responsibilities of adulthood taking priority over my hobby) the amount of anime I watched has dwindled in the years. As my taste changed, I stopped being enthusiastic for the new shows that came out and realized to my dismay that very few anime shows appealed to me anymore. I won’t go on an angry rant on the state of anime shows now given how it is aimed at the much younger generation than I am, but lets just say that the direction the majority of anime shows are taking is not the direction I’m all too willing to follow.

Thankfully, there are still some anime shows that are worth picking up on for those whose taste in anime’s matured (as our age) beyond frenetic sword princess school girls, blatant fanservice and random stupidity.

This is my anime list, starting from shows aired in 2005, around the time when I was 24 and working full-time (and taking care of a cancer stricken parent), and I felt showed how my tastes in anime were beginning to change. Understand that this list is based on my preferences, so I don’t expect people to fall in love or enjoy them the say way I did, but I would still recommend them none the less.

So lets begin!

001 FMA Brotherhood1. Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood – The story revolves around the Elric brothers search for the Philosopher’s Stone, an alchemical artifact said to be able to amplify the powers of an alchemist. They need this artifact in order to restore their bodies, lost or damaged due to an alchemical accident. In Edward Elric’s case, he lost his right arm and left leg, and his younger brother Alphonse had his whole body taken, his soul now bound to a suit of armor.

A previous anime was shown with the difference is that Brotherhood follows the original manga to its conclusion. As a series (both animation and manga) this comes highly recommended. The storyline, the character development, writing and even animation and voice acting are all top-notch. It’s a series that shows Arakawa’s skill in creating a believable world and people you can ultimately relate to and cheer for. And if you watched the previous Full Metal Alchemist, I guarantee Brotherhood will blow you out of the water.

Episode Aired: 2009-2010
Total Episodes: 64
Status: Finished

002 Mushishi2. Mushishi – Is an episodic show that chronicles the travels of Ginko, a Mushi Master (Mushi-shi) as he travels the Japanese countryside as an expert studying and helping people who encounter the Mushi, a mysterious creature that is neither plant, animal but simply a “basic form of life” found and thrives in nature.

It is a series that explores mankind’s relationship with nature, the fear of the unknown and how it shapes society and lives. As an episodic show, this is something you can watch casually from time to time if you don’t have a lot of free time to watch entire series any more, as each episode can be watched independently from the other. The series sports fairly good and consistent animation and music.

Episode Aired: 2005-2006
Total Episodes: 26
Status: Finished

003 Mononoke3. Mononoke – The series started as a spin-off of the Bakeneko story arc of Ayakashi – Samurai Horror Tales. It follows the story of the mysterious man known only as the “Medicine Seller” as he deals with various spirits or “Mononoke” in feudal Japan. The Medicine Seller, is merely a front as he is actually an exorcist that travels the land investigating supernatural events. But in order for the exorcism to happen, he needs to know the following things: Shape/Form (Katachi), Truth (Makoto) and Reasoning/Regret (Kotowari).

What makes this series interesting is that it’s presented in a traditional Japanese storytelling. This is evidenced in the closing and opening of the shoji doors to denote Acts or Scenes, and taking into account the art style used, and the fact that the Medicine Seller acts as the bridge between audience and the play/story.  As one fan puts it, it’s likened to an Agatha Christie mystery in the style of traditional Japanese theater/storytelling. The series is also steeped in a lot of interesting Japanese cultural symbolisms, which makes this series of a treat to those who also take interest in Japanese culture.

Like Mushishi, Mononoke tends to be episodic in a sense that each story can take place independently from the other. The only difference is that each story takes 2-3 episodes each. Despite the length, I never felt horribly bored with it, as the dialogue, music and animation had kept my interest enough to finish the series.

Episode Aired: 2007-2008
Total Episodes: 12
Status: Finished

004 Bartender4. Bartender – Bartender was an adaptation of the manga of the same title, which tells the story of the bar called Eden Hall, and the genius bartender named Ryu Sasakura. What makes this a little different is the fact, that unlike the manga which also tells of the Sasakura’s personal story, little is shown in the series and focuses instead of the stories of the various clientele that visit Eden Hall.

The series are also episodic and fairly independent from the other. However, the various narrators who tell the story are they themselves the people previously helped by Sasakura in previous episodes. It’s a nice touch, but still watchable without needing to watch the entire series. It’s part slice of life, part drama and part instructional video.

Over all it’s a very pleasant short series to watch, not to mention educational (ending with a real bartender showing you how to mix drinks during the ending credits is a nice touch). After watching this series, you’d wish you had your own Eden Hall bar to visit.

Episode Aired: 2006
Total Episodes: 11
Status: Finished

~ ♥~

I plan to keep this list short for now, as it allows writing them much manageable. I’ll have follow-up articles as there are a few notable series I want to list.

Author’s Note: Other than FMA: Brotherhood, the last three series I watched later than the time it was aired in Japan, roughly 1-3 years after it was aired. 

Oh. My. Gawd. What just happened?

Time certainly flies! I’ve been recently remiss, and I blame it from the revolving door of colds and flu, along side asthma and allergy (mild to bad stomach upsets) attacks the past few months.  It’s been largely one misadventure of stubbornness, much cajoling, annoyed and frustrated doctors, medication, more medication and acquiring two air purifiers. Needless to say it was not the most pleasant of months.

Now that I’m finally feeling better and determined to get better due to a trip to HK already paid for and slated for September 23-26 of this month! That said, I was pretty bummed out instead of being excited, mostly since because I got sick, the doctors told me to drop my diet (Cohen is no joke when it comes to dieting) and eat, the more nutrients are in my body the faster I’d get better, but that also meant my weight wasn’t moving at all. I was still heavy, and I can’t wear anything I bought on my previous HK trip.

Being bummed, I’d thought I’d pamper myself first by going to the Nail Spa last Friday. I don’t know if I mentioned it before but I’ve got some wicked in-grown nail problem. The worst of it has been dealt with my previous pedicurista (pedicurist), a woman of considerable talent and skill. But she recently retired and I’ve not been able to contact her. Discovering Nail Spa after several tries from other salons was nothing short of a miracle.

And that miracle was topped with an icing of having one of the most wicked nail polish collection I’ve seen. I usually bring my own, but the last few visits has me trying some more of their higher end brand polish–nail polish is admittedly one of my biggest girly-girl guilty pleasure. Brands like Zoya, Butter and O.P.I’s Collection  series.

One such series of polish caught my eye was O.P.I.’s Euro Centrale collection. I had been curious regarding it, particularly “A Woman’s Prague-ative,” an orange-bronze shimmer type polish and “Oy-Another Polish Joke,” which is a gold glitter shimmer polish, both of which I just *knew* would be absolutely flattering for my morena skin tone. Thing is, it wasn’t for sale since it was part of a collection and most likely imported. However, I could have it done on my nails. My only problem is what color do I try first?

I'm no hand model so bear with me

I decided that I will have *both*!

I’ll admit the effect it gave was a lot nicer than expected. I had initially thought the Prague one would be a darker bronze, but it came out lighter..more like pumpkin. And Oy came out with a more subtle and less tacky gold than I would have expected. Once dry though, I noticed the Oy came out with a slight matte type finish compared to Prague, which isn’t noticeable until you run your fingers against it. Over all, I like the look so much I had it done on my toes as well! This is definitely will be on my must-buy list when we visit Hong Kong!

Speaking of Hong Kong, it’s unlikely I’ll be there to acquire clothing. My reasons for that would be is that a LOT of the fashion brands are already showing up here in Manila. So unless I find something unique and fitting my less than Asian ideal figure, shopping for clothes will be at the bottom list of priorities, topped by cosmetics or beauty products, followed by shoes.

That meant I needed to shop my clothes now before I leave for my trip. Due to my weight gain and the last few clothes I purchased were literally bought a year ago from Hong Kong during our honey moon, I needed clothes STAT. Shoes too were an issue, since my last shoes I bought that wasn’t the rain boots (or cheap ass flats from Payless which make my feet hurt after just one hour of walking) was before I even got married, during my pre-Cohen weight (after my diet, I lost a size and a half).

Uniqlo GoodiesThat brought the Husband and I to Uniqlo in Glorietta 5 yesterday, the closest Uniqlo store in my area. I was really lucky that we got there and there was a sale on selected items, from pants to wireless bras!

I bought three shirts, two of which were the tunic style shirts. I got one of Uniqlo’s latest shirts from House Industries in gray at Php 790. I followed it with Melange A-Line Short Sleeve tunic in Orange at Php 790 and a Karen Walker Short Sleeve shirt at a sale price of Php 590. All three were very flattering, and went well with some of my pre-existing leggings and the Denim Cropped Leggings pants which I also got at discount for Php 790 (original price at Php 990).

They also had wireless bras for sale and swiped two printed styles at Php 690 each (original price an easy Php 990). I can not say enough that these are a STEAL, given how light and soft the darn things were. Packed items like bras and underwear can’t be fitted, but they do have display items for you to try on to figure out what size suits you.

I topped off my Uniqlo shopping spree by buying a pair of cherry red hipster clear sunglasses. Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of it last night. Given my ‘uggh’ attitude to anything hipster, what brought me to buy the darn thing was that it was (1) pretty and (2) reminded me of the glasses worn by Jeanne, my favorite character from Bayonetta.  The glasses cost Php 590, and was also the last glasses of it’s color on display.

The Husband didn’t go empty handed either, and bought a pair of jeans, regular fit, straight cut color jeans in Green. The nice part is that Uniqlo does offer alteration on jean lengths, and it’s free if the jeans cost Php 990 and above (you pay for Php 100 below the price and a little extra if you want special stitching). Since the husband’s jeans were at Php 990, we got the alteration for FREE and pick up was a measly 30-40 minutes waiting time. Perfect time to get a spot of lunch or a snack before picking it up.

Once done, we both headed to Sebago for some sensible and pretty foot wear. If there’s one thing I like about Sebago, is that it doesn’t mind getting wet and that means practicality considering I was living in a country where half the year it’s underwater.

Shopping 02I was able to procure two pairs, a pair of boat shoes called the Felucca Lace in blue/red/ivory at Php 3,600 and a pair of sandals called Somersworth Slide in red/dark brown at Php 3,000. Not bad considering I got two shoes for what I’d normally cost me one pair of Fitflops at Php 5,000 – 6,000 a pair.

I had the chance to wear the sandals that evening when we brought my bro-in-law for dinner at the Old Swiss Inn in Makati and it was very comfortable to use. The leather did not chafe my sensitive onion skin, and it’s actually comfortable enough to use it while driving as well.

The slides would also be positively wicked for my bohemian chic look I’ve been meaning on experimenting and the boat shoes would do well for all my casual jeans and capris look.

The husband was also hoping to score a pair from Sebago, but unfortunately the boat shoe style and color choice he wanted was not available in his size..and apparently was unavailable elsewhere (a quick phone call from their equally disappointed sales staff confirmed that it was unavailable in Greenbelt, and SM Megamall branch). The sales clerk offered to give us a call just in case there was a delivery that comes in.

Once the shoes were done, we were on to the last item on our shopping list, and that was getting those roll-up vacuum bags. Now this is important, especially if you ever end up visiting places who are very well known for shopping. Roll-up vacuum bags should be in every woman’s luggage bag. It’s made to lessen the space in your suit case so you could cram more stuff into it.

So we went to visit Lock and Lock store in Glorietta. Much to our luck, they were selling some Roll-up vacuum bags (sized 320 mm x 420 mm) for half the price! This was because during the last deluge (the one that turned most of our streets into angry raging rivers and put certain parts of the Metro underwater for days), their store room had sustained a leak and some of their items apparently got leaked on. Not destroyed but they got dirty.

The Lock and Lock Roll-up Vacuum bags were one such product. Mind you these bags normally cost Php 429.75 per pack of 3, but it was on discount for 50% so we grabbed two. We got lucky and found that they were clean and undamaged from the inside as only the outside packaging that looked really ratty.

Over all, it has been a wonderful weekend. I rarely get the chance to indulge on shopping lately due largely of a lot of a lot of adult responsibilities, but at least I really get to appreciate the times I have time and money to do so.

~ ♥ ~

All pictures were taken using the Husband’s Samsung Note 2. My camera was on loan so I had to use his. 

A Housewife’s Vanity: Part 2

Part of being married is sharing space with some one else. And even if you live in a big enough place that would allow you to have a space for all your things, no space is ever big enough to have *both* and this is true when it comes to stuff in the bathroom.

We live in a 36 sqm studio condominium unit, the toilet and bath is a tiny cramped space with no shelving space in which to put toiletries (save for the tension caddy in the corner of the shower stall). And as a woman. we can get to accumulate a lot of toiletries over time.

I did a previous downsizing of my bathroom vanity, and again after my husband’s visit to the dermatology had required him to own a few of his own medicated cleansers and sunblock. It wasn’t a bad thing, downsizing allows you to be more aware of what you’re using, what you can both share to use and therefore save. Less also means more, the less you need to buy, the more you can invest on better quality products on stuff you do use.

vanity stuff 02

    1. Moroccan Argan Oil, The Souq Organics – This is one of my must-haves in my bathroom vanity. This bottle replaces the moisturizers for night and day, and my eczema treatment lotion. It’s effectively replaced three bottles in my bathroom vanity in one go. The best thing about this product is that I found this to be far more effective than my standard moisturizers and helped alleviate the skin eczema on my upper arms. I’ve (and my husband has also noticed) felt and seen improvements on my skin from the use. The nice part of this, it’s also unisex.
    2. Id Lotion: Sweat Acne & Over all anti-bacterial  monolaurin gel, VMV Hypoallergenics – This was recommended to me by the store to help alleviate my back acne, and help dry out the pimples in my face as well. It’s also useful as a disinfectant for hands and feet and for minor wounds–essential since we own cats and scratches are the norm here. As an added bonus this can be used for Shine control and can be applied before make-up for a matte finish. Also unisex.
    3. No Time To Shine Oil-Absorbing Mud Mask, Formula 10.0.6 – This is a hold over from the cosmetics I bought prior to my getting married. I’ve had problems with oily skin on my face and I realize that using this once to twice a week helped alleviate it. Although I do plan on changing this to a different formulation in the future, like something that helps deal with my black heads and white heads.
    4. Alcohol Free Toner, Neutrogena – I tend to have sensitive skin, so I’m very partial to Neutrogena and Celeteque for cleanser and toner products. As a toner though, I usually go for Alcohol Free.
    5. Deep Clean Facial Cleanser, Neutrogena – Same reason as above. I try to go for cleansers that don’t have perfumes and friendly on my skin without necessarily breaking my wallet.
    6. Shea Cashmere Leave On Spray for Dry Hair, Schwarzkopf – This product was bought for hair emergency purposes when we were on Hong Kong last year. HK’s weather causes my hair to frizz oh so magnificently and this leave-on spray has proven to be useful in dealing with it. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if this product is ever available here in Manila.
    7. Argan Oil Shampoo & Conditioner – This is a sulfate free shampoo. When I had a Brazilian blow out done on my hair, they recommended me to use a sulfate free shampoo. Since I refused to buy the ones sold on the salon, I went to the organic store and found this instead. Both Shampoo & Conditioner contain Argan Oil, and it has helped in dealing with my frizz as well. The best part is that the husband uses this as well, finding that this shampoo helped in dealing with his really oily hair. This is available in Sessou (Market Market Taguig, & Glorietta Makati).
    8. Studiomakeup Pro Make-up Remover – This is my all time favorite make up remover. It smells and feels pleasant and clean on the skin. It’s can effectively clean off the make-up on your face with ease. Bought at the Beauty Bar.
    9. Natural Deodorant, All Organics – Truth be told this is not my go to deodorant. It’s just that, it’s the closest I’d get to replace for my usual organic deodorant (whose bottle I had thrown away and couldn’t photograph anymore). I like that it can deal with bad odor and so far has not irritated my skin, but I am not a big fan of the smell of the deodorant itself.
    10. Nivea Sun, Immediate Sun Protection SPF 30+ – Since the husband had been told to wear sunblock, and my moisturizer has no sunblock, we decided to share a bottle of facial sunblock. Nivea Sun was a good choice to use for both of us. It’s affordable and unisex.

~♥~

Here’s a list of the stuff I didn’t get a photo of–I got lazy mid-way–so I do apologize for that. Still I suppose it’s just as good as these should be something a lot of people would be more familiar with by now.

    • Dove Soap Bar – My husband and I actually use the same type of soap. We both prefer the classic one; no perfumes, whitening or whatever. Classic is best and by far the most friendly to my sensitive skin as well.
    • Oracare No-Sting Mouth Rinse – This is our everyday mouthwash. Efficient against morning breath.
    • Bactidol Medicated Mouth wash – It may seem redundant to have two types of mouthwash, but we’re both prone to sore throats due to the weather, and this helps a lot when either of I gets the itchy-throat.
    • Pyralvex Solution – This is what we use when incur blisters inside our mouths or help dealing with injuries when we accidentally bite our tongue or the inside of our cheek. Must have in the bathroom.
    • Lactacyd Feminine Wash – It’s feminine wash, I don’t think I need to explain why this is necessary right? Though I usually use Eve, I’ve decided to give this one a try see if it’s any better.
    • Modess Ultra Thin All Night w/Wings (Cottony Soft) – This is by far my best discovery in terms of feminine napkins. As a heavy bleeder, I’ve formerly relied on Whisper products. My biggest problem with Whisper is that it doesn’t make me feel dry as they’ve advertised. Modess though, does the job and does the job well. It’s got better coverage and leak control and does feel more comfortable than Whisper. I can not recommend enough for heavy bleeders like me.

~♥~

This is all I have for now. In the future I’ll be making updates on products, because definitely this list of products will be updated as products change and new ones come in. Until then, thanks for reading~!

House Shopping: Day 1

My husband and I are currently living in a tiny studio condominium unit in the heart of Makati City. It’s a small space, just enough for a newly wedded couple. It is not a bad place though. We’re in the middle of everything: the mall is practically across the street, and we’re businesses and hospitals. There are restaurants and bars littering my street and the few streets over, not even counting the ones in the mall.

There are so many reasons for us to stay. The convenience is one. How many people can say that crossing the street will bring me to one of Manila’s most vaunted malls? Or how everything from cleaning service, to repairs is but a quick phone call to the building admin’s office?

And yet at the same time there are far, far too many reasons not to.

Our studio unit is at 36.5 sqm, enough for a married couple but barely enough for us *and* two cats. Now add a baby and you’re looking at sardines-in-a-can scenario. Finding a bigger place here is crazy expensive and totally out of our budget. I mentioned our street is littered with bars and that meant that once the sun sets, the streets take on a very sleazy tone.

Pollution and the atrocious traffic here walk hand-in-hand. Given that this is a very busy city lacking in greens and not lacking in vehicles with bad exhausts, the air quality here can be very bad for anyone with pulmonary ailments. And goddamnit, I want a baby soon and our place is clearly not going to be any where near family friendly in the near future.

Hence the road trip~!

One of my cousins worked with real estate and knew some places he could recommend us further south where we currently live, to be exact it’s around 40 km far south. That means driving on a good day would take 50 minutes more or less, which is funny because this is how long it takes me to pick him up from work (driving him to work usually takes us 30 mins on a good day). Now consider that his office is a measly 3.6km away.

My cousin first brought us to Venare, mostly to show us around the lot his dad bought there. I will say this…that place is gorgeous! Being part of the Alveo properties made this an upper mid-range property and it shows in the lay out, the size of the lots and the club house has a very strong resorts feel to it. I’m not surprised this area sold off rather quickly.

View from the tower

View from the tower

Which is good I guess. This place is way past our budget anyway and only sold lots. So we were off to visit Avida’s two other projects: Settings and Ridgeway, both of which sold house and lots.

nuvali theaWe visited Settings first, I’ll admit I wasn’t too impressed at the outside facade of the model houses, it seemed blocky and smaller than it appeared. A good interior designer can do wonders here, but the space was a little too cramped for my liking and moving from between parts of the house means bumping into something.

The finishings on the house look fairly average, but I had issues on the flooring particularly used on the second floor and on the stairs. The stairs are a bit more narrow and a little more steep than what I’m comfortable with and the toilets are just cramp as the one in my studio unit.

The village itself already had occupied owners. Though the lack of fences on the property surprised me–a practice that is uncommon here in Manila–though I suspect it was more of a financial based decision than a personal one.

We don’t have the details on the costing yet but the expectations is that the place would be a lot cheaper compared to a lot of Avida’s other Nuvali properties.

Our next visit brought us to Avida’s Ridgeway.

Meet Daphne

Meet Daphne

The village is less populated than Settings though we did notice some of the houses standing were already occupied. The houses were spaced a little better than Settings in my opinion which made it feel a little less cramped. The house designs in Ridgeway were much better designed, and felt less bland and blocky compared to Setting’s.

The two houses that caught my eye were Daphne and Jasmine. Jasmine’s usable are is at 117 sqm while Jasmine had a usable ara 129 sqm. Both have a carport that can support two cars, if I recall. Design wise, Daphne has a better kitchen in terms of lay out and design. Far much room to move around in a kitchen and give it enough tweaks you can have your own island inside. The maid’s quarters looks comfortable and can be easily converted into a decent sized pantry and laundry area. It also has it’s own bath and toilet which looks fairly sizable.

Daphne’s second floor reminded me quite a bit of the husband’s family home. Once you hit the landing you’re immediately led to the corridor to the master’s bedroom and two more bed rooms and a toilet. The master’s bedroom has it’s own toilet and bath so that makes it a total of 3 toilet and bath and a powder room (located at the base of the stairs).

nuvali jasmine

This is Jasmine

Jasmine was the one that really caught my eye in their website and I was a little bit more eager to see it in person. The layout of the ground floor felt more spacious. At the entrance you’re met with a small L-shaped foyer which leads to the powder room at the base of the stairs and further along leads to the living room and dining area.

They were big and spacious enough not to feel like you’re bumping into everything certainly. Like Daphne, Jasmine has a provision for a maid’s room and toilet & bath. My biggest issue with the lay out was the kitchen. The stove and overhanging exhaust was blocking the kitchen bar that despite the open kitchen concept made it look more cramped in comparison to Daphne’s closed off kitchen.

Thankfully these feel more like aesthetics that can be fixed. But what I love about Jasmine best is admittedly the second floor. Unlike Daphne, Jasmine had an area allotted for the family den as you can see in the lower half of the picture. Since I’m planning to turn the living room to double as the family den anyway, I wanted an area I can dedicate into a home office & study area.

Both houses sport at least above average finishings, and comfortable enough stairs to climb on without tripping.

Over all the trip to Nuvali is hopeful. It has everything we would want as a new family except that…well the biggest con in this entire thing is the distance. We are going to be far from everyone, including from my dad and my in-laws and considering the traffic and flooding situation in Metro Manila, going home can be an excursion in itself. And yet I had to wonder if it’s any different if we had lived nearer. If only our infrastructures and public transportation could be better this would have been a no-brainer decision.

Still it’s too early in the game to be making such decisions and we still have properties to check out, this time in Quezon City. 🙂

Why I’m Saying No to ‘Yaya’

Let me start by saying, I have nothing against Yayas (stay-in Nannies/nursemaids) in general. Being a Yaya or a Katulong (maid) is a profession worthy of respect, as like all service oriented professions it is one of the hardest (and sadly the most exploitable and least professional–at least here). My issue, is how we take to the use of Yayas and Katulongs in general.

As someone who grew up having both a nanny and a maid in our household, one would think that I’d be more open to the idea of hiring one in the future. The opposite can’t be more true, if anything my experiences had taught me some very valuable lessons and guidelines when it comes to hiring, which unfortunately translate to: hiring one for long term is a VERY BAD IDEA. Continue reading

A Housewife’s Vanity: Part 1

When I was single and working, owning make-up was natural. My mother encouraged it, a woman known for her style and classic make-up. I would remember when I was little, I would be always admiring my mother’s vanity which was chock full of bottles of perfume, and case upon case of face powder and eye shadow and kits of mascara and eye liners. Never a weekend passed when my mother and I would visit Rustans Makati (and other various make-up/toiletries stores like Watson) on Saturdays and look over the plethora displays of perfume and make-up.

That said, owning and using make-up was something no one questioned when I was a single office lady. That was…until I got married and become a housewife. Now people assume that once you got your man, wearing a make-up was no longer as necessary as before you were single and trying to make the perfect smoky eyes to compliment the ‘come hither look.’ And when I became a housewife, the idea I would even be wearing make-up at all was suddenly illogical.

Just because you’re married or your work place is the same place you can run around in your PJs all day without anyone caring, is not a reason to abandon your make-up kit only to be unearthed on special occasions. There is nothing wrong in wanting to feel a little prettier. Absolutely none. Continue reading