Thursday, November 12, 2009

Are You Money Wise???

photo from Foto S.A.

I don't think I am, but I'd like to be. You guys probably have an idea of how much I take home from my pay being a technical support rep at a call center. And with a communications coach husband working for the same company, you may be thinking we're a large money making couple. But where does all our money go to? Here's a sample of a monthly budget:

Rent 7000
Electricity 3000
Phone and Internet 2000
Helper 3000
Market Expenses 3000
Grocery Expenses 3500
Milk and Diaper 5600
Water 300
Work Allowance 6000
Everyday Vegetables 500
TOTAL 33900


Extra money goes to Drew's speaker business and family bonding. And because Drew's speakers sell out one by one, then we usually get to spend it's earnings on extravagant unaccounted things! No wonder we find ourselves losing money as the next payday approaches!

As a young couple with a beautiful and bouncy baby girl, we really find it hard to save. We find ourselves spending like there's no tomorrow! Having a *relatively high salary at our age is just too overwhelming ! (*Relative to how much generations before us could be earning when they were the same age). But we do have plans for the future and if we keep spending the way we do, we might never come close to our dream life. So how do I go about it? Here's what I have done so far:

1. I joined Home Credit. Home Credit is a subsidiary of the Insular Life which aims to provide a savings plan for the working class with a future goal of getting their own homes. A certain amount will be deducted from your salary every payday and goes to your Home Credit fund. It functions the same as PAG-IBIG, but you have the option to withdraw your money with an 8% interest at the end of your term.

2. I increased my PAG-IBIG contribution to the highest possible member contribution. I just recently found out that PAG-IBIG can finance a house up to 3M provided you are paying an increased amount of contribution. Imagine living in your own dream home after 24 monthly contributions! Check this file for more information.

3. I applied for a passbook savings account without an ATM card. One will always have the urge to spend, especially if money is on ATM or a piggy bank at home. Saved money documented on a passbook can only be withdrawn in the bank branch you applied the account from. It would also help if the branch you applied from is not easily accessible from your home. Moreover, because passbook withdrawal would, more often than not, require your personal appearance, you would shy away from frequent withdrawing because the tellers would most likely remember you. (Works for me!) You can also enroll such bank account on an auto-debit function from your payroll account to ensure regular savings!

4. I applied for all the loans I'm eligible for. I am guilty of promising myself to save a certain amount every payday and break that promise.
If you're looking into saving a target amount until a specific time frame, why not loan that amount and pay by salary deduction?! If the purpose of the loan is for a material thing, then you get the thing right away. If it's for saving purposes only, then your money is already earning interest in the bank. Even though such loans have interest, with the kind of spending we do monthly, would I be able to save such amount when my projected time comes? I don't think so. I just applied for loans with little interests though, such as SSS and my company's employee loans program.

Think: If a large amount of my pay goes to salary deduction, then there would be just enough to spend for important things and only little will be left for unimportant things.


I know, I may not be successful enough to provide proof that what I've done so far works. But at least you have an idea of the principles I thought of on each bullet and study if it would suit the kind of financial manager you are. Happy saving!

How about you? Especially those who can consider themselves financially stable...How did you become money wise?

Love lots,

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

To Let Go of An Angel

One of the most hurtful things a parent can experience in his/her lifetime is to outlive his/her children. Can you imagine being born, growing up, learning, finding and loving someone enough to bear kids, and live to see the day your kid or kids pass away before you do?!


I have. And I can only wish it's just my imagination because I am actually remembering my son's passing on it's 4th year today: November 10, 2009. In line with this, I'd like to share a tribute I made for him years ago...






I've been with him for 1 month and 5 days while seeing him suffer like that. You can see how it hurt then, but it was all calm and peace when he left until present.

Before, I thought that it could've been easier for me to send him back to the Father if I we were able to at least spend more quality time together. Others thought it was easier the way it did because I don't have too many happy memories of him. But when death takes place, we realize it's not how long we've been our kids, it's not how many memories we've shared with them...it's the love us, parents, feel for our young that makes it difficult to let go.

With that in mind, I'd like to extend my condolences to Dii's parents and loved ones. Remember Drew's friend from this post? She passed away on November 8 and it was then that I knew how bright her future was supposed to be sans what happened. I feel for her parents' loss so much. May the Lord open His loving arms wide to welcome Dii home.

For any of you who has experienced or have been experiencing such loss or know of anyone who has or have been, you can try referring them to support groups such as The Compassionate Friends. Other people can never force parents to talk about their feelings and what happened at these times... But if these parents get their own initiative to talk about what happened and indulge in the grief, then letting go and moving on will come in place.

On a lighter note, it's Sesame Street's 40th anniversary today! Happy Birthday Sesame Street Gang! :)

Love lots,

Recipe of the Day: Beef Samba

Ingredients:

1/2 kg beef, cut into small pieces
1 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp pepper
1 heaping tbsp cornstarch
1 whole garlic, minced
1 whole onion, chopped into bits
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup vinegar
1 tsp pepper
1 cup sugar
1/4 kg tomatoes, cut into small pieces
spring onions cut into very small bits


1.Place beef in a sauce pan with enough water to cover the meat. Add 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar and 1/2 tsp pepper. Let boil, then cook under low fire for 1 hour. (This is if you don't have a pressure cooker like I do.)

2. When the beef is tender, drain it and allow stock to cool. By this time, much of the water have evaporated, leaving around 2 cups amount of stock. Mix cornstarch with cool stock.

3. Saute beef on a very small portion of the minced garlic and onions. Add the cornstarch-stock mixture, soy sauce, vinegar, pepper and sugar. Stir until sauce is very thick.

4. Fry the minced garlic and drain from oil when brown.

5. Serve saucy beef with tomatoes, fried garlic and spring onions on top.



Now I have to really work on my presentation because this one doesn't look too delicious even though it really is (I swear!!! Haha!). It's just that it was my first time to cook this since regularly eating it at one of the little cafe's near UST back in my college days. I just tried as hard as I can to remember the flavors I tasted back then and came up with this recipe!

You see, I'm not good with measurements, because I cook by palate...Meaning, I taste the food every once in a while and find out what's missing. I tasted the saucy beef and it didn't quite taste the way it did at UST. Fearing I failed, I had to mix all the toppings in procedure #5 with my saucy beef before serving so I can test if I got the flavor I was looking for. And I got it! I was right all along! So for a better presentation, you can just follow procedure #5 and let your tasters do the mixing.

Love lots,


Monday, November 9, 2009

Got My Dream Planner: Belle De Jour Power Planner

I have always been a planner kind of girl. I wanted my time and everything in my life to be managed well. In fact, if things don't go the way I planned they would, I get upset! Yeah! I'm OC like that.

I've loved the Starbucks 2006 planner when it was given to me by my good friend, Kara. However, I don't find their beverages fancy enough for their prices. Thus, I see no reason to keep drinking just to collect stickers and redeem planners year after year.

I heard about the Belle De Jour Power Planner when 2008 was about to end. Since then, I have wanted to own one. However, I didn't think my hubby would agree about buying it, especially if he knew how much it was. So I settled for notebooks I'd draw calendar layouts, write headers about "Things To Do", "Budget" and "Goals", and basically plan the rest of my year on. (...Have I told you I'm OC?)

Now that I am more financially liberated, I browsed the BDJ website once more and realized that Php 598 doesn't cost too much for a very detailed, stylish and organized planner. I was determined to get it. I even placed it in the "To Do List" of my notebook.

I registered for the BDJ circle and found out they are giving a 5% discount for members who buy the 2010 planner. There was a button that says something about claiming the discount and I clicked it. It asked for shipping information but I was having second thoughts then. I haven't consulted Drew. I quit the page, not realizing that it was submitted anyway, until I received a confirmation earlier.

I asked Drew and he said we can't afford it at the moment because he needed to sustain his speakers business. So I had to reply to the mail, informing BDJ sales about the mistake I did on their website. I was almost in tears until Drew came to my workstation with this:

Isn't he the sweetest?!!! Now I'm excited to end the year. It hasn't been a good year for our friends
anyway.

Love lots,

A Second Thought on Stripit Hair Removal Cold Wax Kit

I was addicted about online shopping a year ago that I began browsing online sellers directory of the Philippines and came across Stripit! I was sooo excited to try it out that I ordered the largest jar as soon as my next salary came.

The first time I used it, I was sooo surprised at how effective it was. It took all the hair on the my legs and the same strip can still grip and remove hair up to 3 times for me. Not only that, the color of my skin after stripit was obviously a tad brighter than it's color with hair. I was soo happy with the results that I decided to share my jar to a colleague who is as kikay as I am. Unfortunately, it wasn't in the same condition when she returned the remaining wax.

The wax was moist and watery and it doesn't adhere to the skin anymore. I thought my friend accidentally spilled water over it or kept it in the fridge, but she didn't. I called the seller and was advised to try to microwave it but it didn't work. My husband teased me a lot about it so I decided to put off waxing using that same kit for a year.




Fast forward to yesterday. I was so happy to receive my second order of hair removal wax kit from Stripit. It's even better now because they offer more products like the Crushed Berry Lip and Cheek Tint and Aloe Vera gel which is supposed to calm irritated skin after waxing. I tried it again and it worked just as well as it did a year ago. The Aloe Vera gel did wonders for a part of my legs that turned red and was almost about to show bumps.

Halfway through my wax session, I noticed that the wax mixture is getting a little moist. I realized that was because the electricfan was in full blast at the time and the room temperature was kinda cold (...ber months 'ya know). I remembered not turning the electricfan on the first time I tried doing this because I have no experience and I don't want the wind blowing my cloth strips away. I think my friend did her waxing on an airconditioned room and never replaced the cover the entire time she's waxing her whole body (She's the kind who'll wax everything, unlike me who will only wax a few parts of my body...).

...my waxed legs (don't mind my cellulite! LOLz)

Ergo, the wax recipe was prepared perfectly that the consistency and efficiency will change if there is additional moisture. You may have to keep replacing the cover of your jar every so often while you're waxing if you've experienced this.

Overall, it is a great product considering it's price: Php 160 for 150g trial size, Php 200 for 200g medium size and Php 295 for 350g largest size. It is available online through the main website, through resellers or certain stores. The wax is composed of sugar, honey and calamansi, which are all natural. The mixture is water soluble, meaning you can clean your cloth for future use by just soaking the strips in water until the wax dissolves and hang them to dry. You may say that skin should really be brighter waxed than it is with hair...But I've tried waxing using Veet and it doesn't brighten/exfoliate my skin the way Stripit does. If you are unsure about properly keeping your wax in a place where it doesn't catch excess moisture (...or ants, LOLz), then I suggest you get it in small jars. The mixture retains same consistency while the jar is unopened anyway.

Love lots,

Bangus with Tofu and Tausi (Black Beans)


Ingredients:

1 whole Bangus, cut into serving pieces and salted
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small onion, cut into thin strips
4 blocks of tofu, cut into bit-sized square pieces and fried
1 can black beans, drained
5 tbsp cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 cups water
1/4 cup tbsp vinegar
1 tsp salt

1. Fry Bangus and set aside.
2. Saute black beans and fried tofu in onions and garlic.
3. Add soy sauce and sugar. Stir for 5 minutes before adding cornstarch mixture.
4. Stir until the texture of sauce is thick. Add vinegar.
5. Add more salt and sugar sparingly until you get the right taste.
6. Pour sauce over Bangus and serve.


Love lots,

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Procrastination

I remember having read a free-verse on my big brother's school paper entitled "Procrastination". It sucks that I never got to keep a copy of it and only the last line was retained on my mind: "Seize the day and have no regrets."

"Procrastination refers to the deferment of actions or tasks to a later time." -from Wikipedia


This seems all the more meaningful for me now than it ever was during the time I read about it. I don't want to think about the ma
├▒ana habit people brand Filipinos with. Work postponed for later doesn't mean as much as people we failed to express our feelings with...and then it's too late.

Why does it mean more to me now? Because I'm old enough to understand that people will really pass away...some sudden...some expected. Yet I will never ever be prepared...never mature enough to take each blow.

Drew lost a friend just months ago from a certain disease. Now, Lara, one of my very best friend's dad, is battling stage 4 cancer of the liver at Makati Medical Center. Dii Conde, another friend of Drew, is now comatose at the Medical City with Lupus.

These people are good people. Drew's friend was just about his age (early 20's). Mr. Sureta didn't have a vice. Dii was a pretty lady who never looked unhealthy. But we can all see where they're heading now. We should know better that the D word doesn't really choose by preference. It can strike on anyone at any given time...And the best way we can prepare is to just make anyone who matter in our lives feel how much they mean to us if later never comes.

My heart and prayers go to the people I've mentioned and to those who have already left me to join the Father such as my dad -Beng Huat Lim, my grandpa -Zosimo Panganiban, my grandma -Pacita Callera, and my son -Matthew Angelo. And I hope that whether you know these people or not, you can join them in your prayers too. Miracles would be very nice, but for the Lord to give peace to them and their loved ones would be more than enough.

And for the people who matter most to me, especially my mom, big brother Paulo, little brother Ian, tita Len, tita Tina, my ever-loving hubby Drew, my wonderful daughter Ella, the girls I consider my very best friends named Tetot, Lara, Bernice and Velika, my niece Lilay, my other relatives, their loved ones and everyone who have touched my life...super mahal na mahal ko kayo!!!

Love lots,

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

B.E Weather Everything Eyeliner Sealer Review




I bought BE's Weather Everything Liner Sealer because I felt that it is a good investment for scrimps like me. One drop of the liquid is enough for both eyes and would make any color of eyeshadow turn into an indellible eyeliner.

I got someone from ebay.ph who sold it to me for 750 + shipping, something I find very affordable if you consider it's purpose. I checked Lise Watier Metamorphix Liner Sealer at Marionnaud and it costs a little over Php 1000 (if I'm not mistaken...).

At first, I thought I failed at this purchase because when I mixed my mpm's with it, it gives them a flaky, plastic finish on my eyes...much like the effect those cheap liquid eyeliners have. It is by accident that I learned how to properly do my lining just as I was about to post a review about it.

I was too lazy doing my thing with mixing liner sealer and mpm for photos sake. So, what I did was I wet my liner brush, dipped it on a dash of mpm that I already separated from the container and drew long lines on the back of my hand. After the lines dried up, I swiped BE's Weather Everything Liner Sealer on the UPPER HALF of the lines I made to show a comparison. I was in awe when it didn't bring out a flaky plastic finish. In fact, it gave more vibrance to the colors, especially to my Ellana Ethereal mpm which gives off a silver-black color instead of plain black when wet.

(with flash) Ellana Grace, Dazzle, Sensational and Ethereal mpm's

(without flash)

It's not entirely "weather everything" though. Definitely not the kind I'd wear for my wedding! I have very oily lids and teary eyes. And even this eyeliner sealant did not prevent the colors on the corners of my eyes from transferring to my tissue! Lolz!

Over all, I think it's not too bad of a product unlike the BN gel liner that I really can't use. (Can you imagine trying to seal that gel liner with this sealant and it still doesn't work?). Will I purchase it again? Maybe...For sure, I wouldn't splurge on using it so that the contents would last long.

Now if I can get my hands on Urban Decay 24/7 Super Stash...that's a different story.

Love lots,

Care for Dry Skin


When I was younger, I thought that having dry skin is better than having oily skin because the former would only require more moisturization while the latter would require blotting papers, antibacterial and pore minimizing products and whatnots. Now that I know better, I realized that I was wrong. No one skin type is better than the other. All you have to do is find out the best routine that would work for your skin type to bring out the most beautiful you!

Moreover, for a person who has very dry skin, everything else would be practically dry too...hair and lips included. Now you wouldn't use the same moisturizer for every part of your body would you? At the end of the day, it's as rigorous a task to keep your skin moisturized as to keep it oil-free!

I have already posted about keeping the hair healthy instead of dry. Now I'd like to share a few things I learned about moisturizing skin...

1. Stay away from moisturizers that contain mineral oil or mineral oil derivatives like paraffin and petroleum jelly. While some would work for certain skin types, it's not really advisable to use, especially for excessively dry skin. Mineral oil acts as plastic that traps water inside your skin, making it seem moisturized.

2. Use products that are plant extracts and essential oils based rather than water-based products. Come to think of it, it's not a very pleasant sight if your skin absorbed water while you're swimming eh? While most of the water will evaporate, plant extracts such as aloe vera gel and oils such as emu oil will definitely get into the skin as well as all the other important ingredients that come with their products.

3. Exfoliate before moisturizing. I'm sure most of you would agree that it's not very flattering to apply lip balm on broken and extremely chapped lips. Same goes for moisturizing dead skin.

4. Time your moisturization. You can't just apply moisturizer when you want to. You must know when your skin would absorb the products more, and that is when it's damp. Apply body lotion/oil right after you pat your skin dry from the shower...lip balm after you drink water...facial moisturizer and eye cream after you wash your face...and so on. You may want to turn to this post to find out which products should come first in your routine.

5. Don't over-cleanse your skin. This tip also goes for the oily skinned ones. Whenever your system notices that your skin had been washed off it's natural oils, it would make double effort to let more oils out. On the other hand, if you have dry skin, your system will have a very hard time replenishing the naturals oils you washed away.

6. Try to avoid the sun especially during the peak hours 10 in the morning to 4 in the afternoon. And never forget to apply sunblock with a minimum SPF of 15. The sun's heat will dehydrate your skin, not to mention the harmful uva and uvb rays you're at risk of.

7. Avoid products that contain alcohol, sodium lauryl sulfate and sodium laureth sulfate that may aggravate the condition of your dry skin. Find alternatives that are more organic or natural. To find out what certain chemical ingredients may cause to your skin, click here.

8. Some dryness may be caused by your skin's reaction to an allergen. Avoid the things you are allergic to either by isolating the issue or consulting an allergologist/dermatologist.

In line with that, did you know that your baby's skin is more prone to dryness than your skin? That is because baby skin is thinner and more sensitive than adult skin. If you notice that your baby's skin easily bring out dark spots after an insect bite, it's time you apply these tips on him or her too!


Love lots,


Monday, November 2, 2009

How Do You Remember Those Who Passed Away?

It's All Souls Day. When I was young, my grandma would always initiate a reunion of all the living members of our family. They would make "kakanin" in the form of suman, biko, or ube and place small amounts of these food on saucers to offer to those who passed away. Sometimes, the food will also be whatever the deceased was fond of when he/she was still alive. Nanay would lead a very long novena for the deceased. She raised everyone of us to believe that if one dies, the soul goes to purgatory until it is cleansed of it's sins. The more people pray for the salvation of this soul, the faster is it's wait to go to heaven.

Now, that grandma's gone. We still make an effort to get together, cook traditional food, and pray...even though we don't have a copy of the original novena anymore. I don't think God measures anyone by the number of people who care to pray for them when they passed away, because that would not be fair to all. However, I still like to pray for the deceased members of our family, if to at least make God tell them how much they are loved and missed.

On a lighter note, it's a good thing that the Philippines is slowly acquiring the tradition of trick or treating on All Hallow's Eve. It gives my little daughter something nice to look forward to every 31st of October!

...Lilay and Ella, both eating candy at Startek's Halloween event

So how about you...what do you do during All Saints and All Souls day?

Love lots,

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Human Heart Nature is Loving Ella's Hair

In comes Human Heart Nature with shampoos for kids and babies. Ironically, this is the first product I've ever tried from this line when I accidentally found it at the MomExpo at The Rockwell Tent. I don't know why it took me a while to post about it. Oh well...

Ella's hair has fine strands. I took a long time for her hair to grow longer because it's curly. I'm not complaining because it seems to look very good on her... I am surprised she got her grandma's curly hair and not Drew's nor my naturally straight hair though.

Now with the pressure that came with super straight haired shampoo models here in the Philippines, I am now in a conscious effort to help Ella maintain her beautiful wavy hair as she grows up. I want her to know that she can stand out with the kind of hair she was born with.

Human Heart Nature supports me in this goal. I used the other variants before but Aloe Vera and Chamomile really stole my heart. I pour around 3 tablespoons of the product on Ella's bath tub and pour water from a high position to make bubbles. Ella enjoys bubbles too much. I use the same water in the tub to wash her hair.

Every weekend, I nourish Ella's hair with the Mango Butter Nourishing Conditioner in Mandarin.

Just look at her hair now...

...without flash

...with flash


Soft, beautiful curls with natural brown highlights! I hope it stays that way!

Love lots,

A "Greener" Way to Cure Cough

It's inevitable that Ella catches the usual cold and cough every now and then because of constant weather changes and her ever so hyper energy (--read KALIKUTAN). When we bring Ella to the doctor for a check up, we would usually be adviced to give her Asmalin or Solmux.

I never really liked the effect those medicines have on her. Asmalin causes short of breath while Solmux forces Ella to expel cough by throwing up. Both don't give her peaceful sleep at night which makes her all cranky in the morning. Thus, she loses appetite and weight.



The last time Ella had a terrible cough, I decided to buy Ascof Lagundi without prescription, thinking that she's turning 2 anyway. I followed the recommended dosage and guess what? No more coughing in 5 days! And no messy and stinky vomit at that!

Did Ella learn to spit phlegm properly? No! I believe Ella got rid of phlegm through poop, which is the 2nd way children her age expels them.

What I'm most happy about that decision to let Ella take Ascof Lagundi is that it's all natural. I feel like it's just a concentrated and flavored version of our grandma's Lagundi concoction back in the days! Now, I don't have to worry about Ella losing weight again, especially because she's going to celebrate her birthday in a month's time.

Love lots,