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.Read More »

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.Read More »

A little update

I’ve been remiss. The past few weeks (month) had been me staring at my screen wondering to put online. What to write? I look at my folder of various pictures of food and a part of me wants to slap myself.

“SC~~” I can hear my inner voice start to whine. “Another goddamn food review? We all know Feng Wei Wee is fantastic, and you’d be a sorry gourmand for ever not appreciating it! It’s also been blogged to death! Does the internet really need to see another picture of what you had for lunch?” 

Look! More Food Pics!
Look! More Food Pics!

Then the process of feeling shame and remorse begins. Considering my last food review post, it was too early to start another one. As much as I do enjoy food (and I do, and I am tend to be very vocal of what I love and HATE about food and restaurants), I didn’t want my personal blog be mired with nothing about me either praising or bitching about food..again.

Also it’s is detrimental. I have regained a whooping 20lbs from just ‘testing’ these restaurants as of late and I need to go back on the Cohen, stat! If I start blogging about food now, I’ll be back to my pre-Cohen weight in no time! Unacceptable! So that will never do. I had to write something else other than food.

At the time I started blogging years ago, I wanted to make a review blog, it didn’t matter what I reviewed…food, cosmetics, or fashion. I was unfortunately flighty, and focusing on just one thing was decidedly unappealing. So much so that at one point, I actually considered a blog for each category. I figured that was my OCD talking and thought better of it.

A little clutter, and a mess wouldn’t be so bad right?

Yes, that’s me in the mirror. :p

Speaking of clutter, I’ve decided a few weeks to start de-cluttering my vanity. I’m a certified little pack rat and I have a tendency to accumulate…stuff. Unfortunately, living in a small space and a kleptomaniac cat means that one has to learn to let go and throw away things.

That said, I spent two hours just sorting and cleaning. The results was one I hope to keep.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the “Before” picture of my vanity. I didn’t think of taking a picture when I started cleaning (nor did  I consider making a blog post about it until it was done). But to give you an idea, lets just say that I had a drawer choke full of cosmetics as old as a decade.

As a housewife, I realized I didn’t need as much cosmetics as I used to when I was working. Less is good after all, and that usually means when I do invest in cosmetics I can afford to invest in good quality ones  instead of cheap stuff that you can pick up at the local drugstore. Though in this picture, I need something else to secure the bottles of hair products, lotions and perfumes on my dresser. The open basket is nice, but I have a cat. And Mochi just loves to start digging through my vanity box because it makes crinkly sounds.

Like every other de-cluttering job, the bigger job is keeping it that way for a long time. It’s so easy to forget and end up buying those little things we think we all need. Next thing you know, the vanity’s a huge mess again and I’ll end up sorting and cleaning out stuff I bought but barely used (what a waste!)

I’ll probably dedicate another post on this particular housewife’s choice of cosmetics and toiletries. I didn’t think there’s so much to consider when you’re married and sharing a small (read: cramped) bathroom with someone else. And this time I promise to take pictures.

Scones and Pasta Saturday

Saturday was a busy morning for me and the Hubby as per usual. It was morning punctuated with prepping the apartment for tonight’s geekery of gaming with friends and much needed grocery shopping for the week. Summer being the current season here has made doing anything outdoors impossible, at least for my husband and I.

We head out for a brunch at Serendra before we go grocery shopping and headed to this Italian restaurant that we’ve been noticing every time we pass by. Once inside, we notice Balducci’s interiors. It was dark and cool in a pleasant way and was actually far welcoming in the noon time heat. The vibe is all wine and dine classy place, with a deli at the side. The staff are attentive, and fairly knowledgeable of their menu.

We were served some complimentary warm bread with butter, liver pate and a tomato salsa type spread. It was a much step up than the usual barely warm foccacia bread with balsamic oil and vinegar dip in some places.

Our first order arrived which was an antipasti. We ordered the Insalata de Mare, a seafood salad. Unfortunately we forgot to take a picture of the dish, it was only when we were half way through with it when we realized I brought my camera with me.

Something to note about the service here is that it’s very top notch. They were attentive to the needs of the customers, the glass is made sure is always full with water, and the dishes arrived in a decent amount of time. Unlike most restaurants where they dump everything you order in your table in one go, and are now suddenly forced to scarf your soup, salad or whatever appetizer of your choice like an animal in vain hopes that your steak would still be warm by the time you’re done…which is always never the case. By now it’s grown colder than your ex’s little black heart and your meal has been turned into a cheap metaphor of broken relationships and Taylor Swift songs.

I was worried for a moment, since I have forgotten to request this from the server. But all my worries were unfounded as the staff was more than educated in serving food in sequential order (Service à la russeso each dish came out at the temperature it was meant to be served in and are therefore presented at it’s best.

My beautiful Arrabiata~♥
My beautiful Arrabiata~♥

I was having a hankering for a spicy pasta but I was disappointed to see there wasn’t any on the menu. The waiter suggested that they could have Arrabiata cooked by the kitchen (whee! Off-the-menu dish!) or choose to make some of the pasta spicier. The Arrabiata was the better choice for me.

Balducci’s take on the Arrabiata has got to be my favorite so far. The spicy is a slow burn that doesn’t overwhelm the refreshing flavor of the tomatoes, basil, garlic. This dish is served with a small dish of chili flakes on the side if I wanted it a little hotter. But for my standards, the pasta didn’t need more heat. I was far too worried of the spice burning the rest of the dish’s flavors.

The serving is fairly good for one person. It might be too much if you made the mistake of gorging on the complimentary bread or having far too much antipasti.

Hubby’s pasta

The Husband ordered the Marccheroni e Salsicce al Profumo Tatufo. A fairly hearty mushroom pasta dish, using truffle oil (and I think it has some truffle slivers) with Italian sausage. It’s got a strong umami flavor to it.

The husband really loves it, and I don’t really blame him. The balance of the flavors is pretty amazing. I was half expecting for the truffle oil to overwhelm everything.

If my Arrabiata was a bright summer’s day in the gardens, this dish is a cool walk through the woods in a lovely afternoon.

I know, I sound corny but I’m no professional gourmand and this was the best I could give as a mental image for the two pastas we’ve tried. My verdict in the ends it that I would not mind ordering this dish for myself next time I visit.

We didn’t stay for dessert though. Opting to try Chez Karine for a change but unfortunately, all blood was at the tummy so I’ve forgotten to take photos….again (I’m also lazy and not really a big fan of photography).

Insalata de Mare was at Php 380
Spaghetti Arrabiata at Php 370
Marccheroni e Salsicce al Profumo Tatufo at Php 480
Balducci is located in Serendra, The Fort

~ ❤ ~

scones part 2
Scones on my second try!

Update on the Scones!

As I mentioned in my earlier post, we were expecting guests arriving for our weekly table-top gaming meets. I was planning to show off my newly acquired baking skills. This time though, the scones came out much better than the first time. I made sure to only use enough of the milk and egg mixture on the dough and didn’t over knead it.

The husband liked this batch better, it was lighter and more crumbly like the scones we’ve had. The other boys were also happy with the scones and made short work of my lemon curd as well (and nutella jar, the two actually went well together too), and I’m more than happy to see that I 1/4 of the mixture is all that’s left.

After all, empty plates is a best compliment a chef or a baker can have. 😀

I can probably tuck away this recipe for future use. I’m a big fan of entertaining and this is perfect for serving for an afternoon tea with guests or something you and a kid can do too.

Whee! Look what my Husband Got Me!

Last week, my husband surprised me by buying me 3DS XL. I’ve been meaning to buy a 3DS XL when it was first announced. I like the 3DS and the DS series, they have a lot of nice games for retired hard core gamers like me who find more enjoyment playing with Facebook games compared to most console games nowadays.

So, if you’re wondering why my posts don’t seem to be making sense chronologically you know this is to blame. 🙂

Unfortunately, it took me this long to get one due to a lot of financial restraints over the past year…the wedding, the honey moon, medical expenses, insurance, taxes, the goddamn car repairs which was *last month* that almost made me cry—I’ve been meaning to save up for a Galaxy S4 or a Samsung 8.0 tablet but those plans got flushed away with the sudden deluge of bills.

Then last week happened. We dropped by the local gaming shop, Data Blitz (the only videogame shop that I know of that sells original games) and I spied a 3DS XL, in pink and white. I stared at it for a good few minutes wondering if I was seeing things. It has come to a point that I’ve given up seeing a 3DS XL that wasn’t red or blue, and I told myself I would only get one should a color alternative like a tasteful pink or lavender or baby blue came out.

Good bye Farmville!
Good bye Farmville!

It was just there. Looking oh so pretty. The husband noticed me sighing at it–as I usually end up doing every time I visit Data Blitz and see a 3DS XL–and asked the sale’s clerk if there was a pink and white unit was still in stock, and they have. I will admit to squeeing like a little girl and showering him with kisses when I found out that he was going to buy it for me along side two games for the 3DS to get me started (part of what encouraged the husband is that we can pay over the unit and games for six months spread out if our bill ends up at Php 10k)

I’m a very big Harvest Moon and Atlus fan, so I got Harvest Moon: Tale of Two Cities and Soul Hackers. I’ll admit, it’s because of Harvest Moon that I got hooked to farming games on Facebook. Though I’ve not played Farmville I used to be a heavy Gourmet Ranch player which is another farming game only prettier.

Harvest Moon will satiate my need for farming games from now on, and my friends list will never have to deal with countless farm requests (you guys are still going to get my Hidden Agenda ones though, at least it won’t be as many as before).

Look how well it fits on my hand!
Look how well it fits on my hand!

Once I had the 3DS XL in my hands, I note how comfortable it is compared to the standard sized DS. The screen is larger too, which is good as a major complaint in my old PSP lite is that the screen felt teeny. Just staring into it gave me a headache. Since this one is bigger, it is expected that it will be heavier, but that’s just fine. The heft is actually comforting, like I’m actually holding a portable gaming device suited to an adult rather than a 10 yr old’s.

I’ve been tinkering around with it, and I do find it amusing it’s got a built in pedometer when you put it on Sleep Mode, which encourages you to walk about with your DS. This is smart for a gaming console to try and reward you with some form of physical exercise as I do earn play coins, 1 play coin for every 100 steps I make.

This is good since I walk to the hospital every day to see my dad for his radiation treatment at Makati Medical Center. It also gives me something to do while I wait (and not think about all the sick people around me….) In any case, if anyone would like to be friends in 3DS/Mii, send me an email, leave a comment or something. We can trade Friend Codes. 🙂

The 3DS XL does have a few cons though, one of which is that the unit uses 110 volts as compared to the local 220 volts. You will need to buy an AC regulator (which if you owned an XBox 360 or a desk top PC, you probably have one of these lying around). The second one, is that it is heavy (almost as heavy as the Samsung 8.0 if I recall) I will have to reconsider the things I put in my bag to take the load off. I’ve got a nasty habit of weighing my bag down with unnecessary stuff and it’s not uncommon that I’d get a sore shoulder. Thankfully it’s not a too big an issue for me, since I can opt to leave behind my book…

Maybe I can just get rid of the plethora of make-up and empty my coin purse instead. (^^);;

I love my books and my games, they get higher priority all the time. I’m more apt to get a new bag to make lugging my stuff about easier. Over all, I am very happy with my husband’s gift. The 3DS XL is a great buy, and Data Blitz is offering quite a reasonable deal. I am looking forward to a lot of gaming time with it. ♥

Eclair Sees the Vet

Last week I noticed a few scabby wounds on my beautiful cat, Eclair. I had thought suspected that this was caused by rambunctious play with Mochi, a very active Oriental tabby. Eclair being a Ragdoll breed tend to be more passive, less active and are very docile. It’s those traits that many breeders encourage keeping their Ragdoll a purely indoor cat, as their genetic predisposition of being the doormat of the cat world makes them vulnerable against people and other cats.

I was worried about the rivalry between Mochi and Eclair as the two never got along, but I noticed after feeling under her fur that she had the same similar scabby wounds. Now I’m no stranger to seeing injuries on animals, so I was pretty sure these weren’t consistent to animal bites at all. I did suspect it was either some kind of skin infection or a fungal infection, the possibility of it bothered me since there’s a chance Mochi could also get infected with it.

This brought bringing both cats to the vet, might as well as the two were also overdue for their shots (I would have brought them sooner but I got sick the past few weeks to take them).

A cleaned fungal site

Mochi was declared okay, but poor Eclair was diagnosed with a fungal infection. She was given some medicated shampoo and we were told to give her a bath once a week and spray her with some medication spray. Upon going home, we realized how that is an impossible mission. Eclair despite her docile temperament would not hesitate to show her displeasure of not just being bathed but also picking at the scabs we were supposed to clean. I have enough scars mind you so we decided to return in the week and sent my husband to take her to the vet’s groomers to do the job (I would start crying if I saw them clean up the scabby wounds, there were so many!)

She was bathed but poor Eclair looked so matty and unhappy. Unfortunately for her, her troubles are only starting.

The vet had requested we quarantine her, or at the very least make sure our hands are clean when we handle Mochi and make sure the two do not share bedding. For once, I’m grateful of Eclair’s standoffish behavior. She and Mochi never really along so it was highly unlikely they’d be sharing the same space or even cuddle.

Her Shower Bedroom
Her Shower Bedroom

None the less better safe than sorry, so I had to make sure the bathroom was dry, clean and set up Eclair’s space for the night (and hours where I can’t be around to supervise the two). Now Eclair is a people cat. She loves to be with company, so any sort of quarantine distresses the poor dear. She refused to eat when I or my husband are not present. She was suddenly more needy.

I took the time to play with her, and gave her a little bit more TLC. Which unfortunately angers Mochi, who is by far the most jealous cat I’ve met.

The times when Eclair would be out of the bathroom, Mochi would hiss at her angrily. She was needier too, more than her usual and would in frustration attack my hair and back. To say I’m a bit overwhelmed with these two at the moment and I have to be vigilant for their care can be a wee bit stressful.

A happier Eclair getting attention.
A happier Eclair getting attention.

It’s hard to be a pet parent sometimes, but I’d never give away my darlings for anything. Eclair and Mochi will always be our little pet babies!