Friday, March 31, 2023

Foodie Friday: Pink Pasta with Scallops

I am absolutely in love with pink pasta. I had this favorite resto in Singapore, but they strangely removed the dish in their menu. It only got replaced when I went home and discovered Presko Coffee. They serve the most amazing seafood pink pasta. I super love it, but can only indulge once in a while since it's quite pricey. 

Chanced upon Chef RV's recipe on YT. He showed how easy it is to make. He made it with canned sausages, but suggested you can put anything on it. I managed to buy some scallops, so thought that would be a good alternative to vienna sausage. I wanted to try the recipe using seafood to curb down my craving for Presko's dish (it's the kuripot in me). 

Chef RV was right, it is easy to make. The only tricky thing I did was to make sure I cooked the scallops correctly. The scallops I got were tiny since that was the most affordable. It was good to use in the end because it provided more meat to chew on. 

Here's the video of how Miggy and I cooked the tomato and cream scallop pasta (pink pasta):

Full recipe on:

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Throwback Thursday: A Look-back at The First Quarter of the Pandemic

We were in Singapore when the lockdown started to happen. We were trying to extend Miggy's stay, but since things were getting fuzzy our application was denied. He managed to get home just a few days before the lockdown started in the Philippines. The strict movement kept us apart for almost 2 years. We've always done things together and those 2 years were very hard. I jumped out of the van to hug him when we finally arrived. 

Work from home era

I started blogging daily in 2020. It was supposed to be a one month challenge. I extended it because of the unusual circumstance. I looked back at my posts that marked how things were during the 2+ years when movement was restricted and our lives changed completely.

  1. February 13, 2020 - Re-aligning Plans
  2. February 16, 2020 - Did You Panic Buy
  3. February 17, 2020 - Mad Monday and Thinking About Immunity
  4. February 29, 2020 - Living in the Time of the Coronavirus
  5. March 11, 2020 - How to Enable Distance Learning for Your School
  6. March 12, 2020 - How to be a Homebody
  7. March 13, 2020 - The Situation in Our Homes: Manila and Singapore
  8. March 16, 2020 - We Will Bear this Cross Together
  9. March 18, 2020 - Your Survival Guide to Working at Home
  10. March 19, 2020 - Online Grocery and Online Medicine Delivery Service
  11. March 23, 2020 - The Last Stretch of March
  12. March 24, 2020 - I Did the Dalgona Challenge
  13. March 28, 2020 - What is Mother Nature Trying to Tell Us?
  14. March 29, 2020 - Keeping Safe: Staying and Working from Home in Singapore
  15. March 31, 2020 - Goodbye March, Hello April

Just before movement was restricted, I was still able to attend a friend's wedding. It's the last celebration I attended before the lockdowns started (called circuit breaker in Singapore). Mask wearing was soon required and we were advised to work from home. I didn't know that last day at the office would be the last time I'd get to go inside it. 

I was grateful though to work from home because I was having breathing issues and working in a huge office was challenging. Sweetie and I had to work out a dynamic on how to work at home together. I was pretty noisy all day with so many meetings, so he used Miggy's bedroom. We were also bent to move to a new place and spent the month of March looking for a new place. 

Thought I'd look back at what transpired 3 years ago. Things seem to be going back to "normal", but while people are adjusting back to pre-pandemic norm, I'm still at the fork of the road, thinking about what my next steps would be. 

Have you gone back to pre-pandemic norm or are you following the new normal?

#BeKind #StaySafe

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Wellness Wednesdays: How to Deal with Chronic Illnesses

The first thing you'll feel when you are determined to have a chronic illness is frustration. This is what new members of our patient group usually post about. I remember the frustration as well after I had heart surgery, my first PE and my second PE. My energy diminished through the years. 

The biggest mistake I did was think I had the same energy. I did not slow down and even increased my pace. My doctor was so shocked when I climbed the Borobudur Temple almost four months after OHS. I felt I had to prove myself. I even told a colleague I planned to run a marathon. It has remained a dream. 

As much as malling is my cardio and my favorite thing to do pre-pandemic,
it's just been very challenging for me. 

I had fun for five years after mitral valve repair, then I strangely had a huge blood clot in my lungs. It was left unnoticed by doctors for a year. It was only found by a doctor I insisted to see for a second opinion. He was trained in Cleveland Clinic that's why I got lucky. If I waited any longer I probably wouldn't have made it. 

Despite being found sick, I still flew to Rome to complete a commitment. I almost missed my flight because I had tests done before heading to the airport. Ended up bleeding when I got home. I don't regret going. My doctor grounded me after that and I missed a lot of trips. When I felt better, I was at it again. 

The lesson here is to know when to stop and accept your new reality at the right time. I kept pushing myself and this eventually led to frustration, then depression. It took me years to accept that I'm not the same and I have to embrace what I am already. Honestly, it was only this year that I finally accepted that I have to carve a new path. 

Instead of calling myself "retired" I think I'd rather call myself a hobbyist. My hobbies include: sleeping, wellness, a bit of exercise, and ah quilting, gardening and cooking when I have energy. My bottomline is to create more happy memories with my boys. :) 

*PE - pulmonary embolism

OHS - open heart surgery

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Creative Happy Tuesdays: Make Your Own Blackout Curtains

Custom curtains are VERY expensive. We requested for a quote for curtains for our living room and we were shocked! It would cost a whopping 50k+ if I had curtains made. Installing blinds would be cheaper, but it would not look good in our living room. Since I don't have that kind of money, I'll stick to making the curtains myself. 

Last year, I ordered 14 yards of Philipps fabric at PhP99 per yard and 10 yards of lace embroider fabric at PhP95 per yard. The fabric was thick and a bit more difficult to sew. I just took one photo of it (the one below) since I think there's a lot to improve in my handiwork. Anyway, the blackout curtain does a good job at keeping the sun out during summer. 

With amihan gone, I asked Miggy to change the curtain last night. I noticed that it's less hot now. We'll use it until the season changes again. I'm experimenting on different types of fabric for curtains. I've so far used linen like polyester, gina, katrina, and lace embroider. I have swissdot fabric lined up for my next curtain project. 

Zoey linen like polyester fabric (pink) and lace embroider (white)

I was inspired by my MIL to make curtains. Sweetie said she made all their curtains. I know in time I'll get better. I'm just focusing for now on the living room curtains because they need to be custom made. Compared to paying PhP50k+ for customized curtains, I think we can survive with my homemade curtains. I saved PhP47,500+ since I just made the curtains. 

Here's a quick tutorial on how I make curtains. It's the simplest way to do it. 

P.S. Also decluttered curtains last weekend. Gave my excess to my Mom since she has a lot more windows <3

#BeKind #StaySafe

Monday, March 27, 2023

Home on Mondays: How We're Lowering the Temp in Our House

It's been an inferno the past week! The cool winds brought by amihan (northeast moonsoon). We closely track the temperature at home because of my condition. The boys so far don't allow me to go out of the room until late afternoon. A friend did notice that the house was pretty warm when he accompanied Miggy to view it. 

Told Architect Wansi it was one issue I wanted to resolve. From watching vids by architects (i.e. Architect Ed) we learned that there are a few options on how to lower the temp in your house:

  • install more air-conditioning or a ceiling fan or buy more fans (more a/c, more expensive electricity bill!)
  • have windows close to the ceiling you can leave open. Also need to make sure that there are enough windows for cross-ventilation. 
  • install roof vents
  • install a whirlwind on your roof
  • add more natural vents in your home
  • use block curtains or blinds to keep the heat out (here's a tutorial how to make curtains)

Heat has been a bane to my existence, so it was a priority for us to lower the temp at home. From our condo I observed that there were houses that had a whirlwind. It didn't look as overwhelming as those in factories. Architect Wansi said there are sizes available for home use and they can paint it to match your roof. I knew it would look odd, but I don't care, I just want the hot air to go out of the house. 

Architect Wansi introduced us to a supplier and they inspected our house. Our roof though didn't have vents and they advised we needed to have vents installed. When I had my Mom's roof repaired last year, they also installed vents across the house. It helped reduce the heat. 

Finally got vents installed last week and I got to see the team up close. I was honestly nervous for them since the roof was quite high. They were unfazed and quickly finished the work in two days. The heat today has been very hot, but it was noticeably less scorching than other days. I hope the whirlwind will be installed soon. 

Stay hydrated!

#BeKind #StaySafe

Sunday, March 26, 2023

Sunday Miracles: Dealing with Trust Issues

The past week has been very challenging. Aside from food poisoning we had to deal with some adulting issues. It felt like a barrel of worms was let loose (yes a barrel, not just a can).

I've been suffering from PTSD since my medical issues escalated. Dealing with the thief last year made it worse. It made me more cautious and picky on who I trust. 

I thank God that the issues that cropped up the past week didn't drag on. It just took me awhile to work out a solution. I feel God has been testing me because I've been praying for Him to heal me both physically and mentally.

The issues took up a couple of hours to resolve. I know I stressed out Sweetie when I was working through the issues (he and Miggy have been my rock). For both issues I went back to what Dad taught me when he was grooming me to be a lawyer* - seek the truth with facts and don't be overly emotional. Easier said than done when you have PTSD. So I asked myself, what would Daddy do?

So that's how I dealt with the issues that involved trust this week. Seek the truth and get help if your gut tells you otherwise. And pray. 

Thank you Kaley Boo the Cat for slow blinking me even though you haven't seen me for a week. You're truly a sweetheart for calming me down.

#BeKind #StaySafe

*a half baked one since I didn't pursue law, but I was his "legal secretary" for two decades

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Plantita Saturdays: Bottomless Spring Onions Grown from Kitchen Scraps

Friday night last week I used some spring onions for dinner. It had roots so I thought I'd give planting spring onions again. I soaked the roots in water overnight and planted them on Saturday afternoon. My previous attempts at doing this always ended in disaster. 

The biggest mistake I did before was I soaked it in water for a few days. This time I immediately planted it the day after. This probably prevented it from rotting. 

Day 1 - planted it in soil with some composed. I made sure to wet the soil properly so that the plant would be encouraged to grow. I placed the pot beside the kitchen sink so I could keep an eye on it.

Day 2 - I was surprised to see it grow almost an inch overnight. Watered it a bit since it was a hot day.

Day 3 - I had food poisoning so Miggy took the photo for me. Jay said he sprinkled some water on the plant after washing his hands.

Day 4 & 5 - I was so sick I forgot about everything else.

Day 6 - feeling better I managed to check on the plant. Soil was pretty dry so I watered it well, making sure to let the excess water drain out. Also moved it away from direct sunlight since it's been so hot the past few days.

Day 7 - not entirely sure if I'm over watering or under watering. Will use my soil test gadget to check whether to water or not. 

Hopefully I could use it for cooking in a few days. I might buy another batch to make another pot.

#BeKind #StaySafe

Friday, March 24, 2023

Will AI Outdate You?

There's been so much news about artificial intelligence (AI) the past few months because of ChatGPT. Some are excited about it, some skeptical, some worried and some just don't care about the hullabaloo. 

Outside the tech industry there's been much talk about it because of plagiarism. Students have been caught having their homework done by AI. I have a friend who caught two job applicants who submitted AI written essays. That's the "popular" way so far of using AI, but it's actually been integrated already in many of the things we are using/experiencing, ie automated traffic lights, magic eraser on Google Photos, self driving cars etc. 

My career focused on introducing technology to the masses since I graduated. I was always challenged to think about how to introduce new things to the market. From what I experienced in the last 25+ years, there are new things that the market easily adopts to and there are things that are just really hard to integrate. 

There's still so much that tech has to do to really define how their product will be useful for our everyday lives. I read an article that it could also disrupt  white collared jobs. I immediately thought about the work I used to do. I was a program manager and what I did changed almost everyday, so I think my job would have been safe from AI but probably from the randomness of getting laid off. Well, I've retired and that's something I don't need to worry about.

Adoption of new technologies takes years and will never reach 100%. If you look back at history, the introduction of machines was a major disruption. The market adjusted and other types of jobs were created. What I think big tech should think about is how to use AI for good because it's the best way to use something powerful.

#BeKind #StaySafe

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Throwback Thursday: That Time I was a Fairy

While we were sorting our stuff when I saw the fairy dress my beloved Gaylas made for me. They dressed me up as a fairy when they surprised me during my 40th birthday celebration.

I had so many nicknames through the years. People picked up the nickname Winston gave me, Ms. Google Earth Philippines because of the mapping program I initiated. A few years later, the Gaylas started calling me FGM, fairy godmother, haha. It stuck and they still call me FGM until now. 

So that's probably where they got the idea to dress me up as a fairy with a crown to boot! Haha.

Love you girls ❤️

#BeKind #StaySafe

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Wellness Wednesdays: Dealing with Food Poisoning

Food poisoned twice thus month. The first one was probably due to a salad I ate at a resto. I was better in less than two days, but still took it easy with what I ate for a few days. I'm still dealing with the second one. It was likely caused by a bite I took from the salmon omelette Sweetie ordered from a cafe. He was also downed by it, but recovered faster than me.

My tummy is usually strong. I can eat anything outside my restrictions (grapefruit and anything too salty). I can still enjoy a cup of coffee a day and sometimes milk tea if I feel like it. I'm just usually careful with the water since that's where my tummy is picky. 

I didn't worry the first time I had food poisoning. I just rested and hydrated a lot. Thought it would be the same the second time around. It was unusual for me to still be having symptoms after three days so I decided to consult a doctor. He confirmed I have infectious diarrhea due to what I ate. He prescribed antibiotics and told me to drink 4 liters of water a day to make sure I don't get dehydrated. I'm not fond of running to a doctor, but I knew the issue won't resolve by itself. It's really important to know your body and seek help when needed.

Reported the issue to the cafe. Told them I hope they could check the food since it may happen to others. No response so far. Not surprised since their service on ground was very dismal.

#BeKind #StaySafe

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Creative Happy Tuesdays: Resting

I had the misfortune of being food poisoned again. Again because it's the second time it's happened this month. I guess I'm still recovering from the first one, so the second one brought me down hard. Gaaah.

Well, I had good few days last week and I was able to organize my craft room a bit. I was able to arrange some of my quilting books on a shelf. I removed the fat quarters from a box, but still thinking about how best to organize it. 

Thought I'd be done with the kitchen curtains by now, but I have to rest for now. Anyway, I could imagine what I'll do to my craft room while resting.

Hope you're having a great day.

#bekind #staysafe

Monday, March 20, 2023

Home on Mondays: We Hired a Coach to Help Us Declutter

It's been almost 15 months since we moved in our new home. We suspended unpacking all our boxes because we didn't have storage. We only got to install proper cabinets after 12 months. Works on the house was extended though since some serious issues needed to be addressed. 

Merging two households is hard. We decided to get help from a decluttering coach because it was too overwhelming. It was also very stressful to see towers of boxes in our living room. We haven't invited anyone over because it's ugly to look at. 

Our architect introduced us to Ally Canita. She is the founder of Align Your Home and has been working with us for a few months now. The journey started with some introspection on where we our in our lives. She advised it will help us while we sort through our things. True enough, we were able to donate 7 boxes of books, clothing and kitchen stuff just before Christmas.

After we finished addressing the issues, we finally had our first 2-day session to deal with the boxes. Ally and her team sorted the boxes, cleared out space for storage and organized our kitchen. I had been working on organizing our kitchen since we got back in February. It was helpful to have Ally's expertise since she was able to put in a system in the kitchen. I just told them how I moved around in the kitchen and then they took care of organizing it. 

There were more boxes and bags behind the counter before Ally's team organized the kitchen.
It was a huge mess! (*Backsplash being replaced).

The contents of the boxes were sorted out. They found 7 boxes of bags (hand bags, eco-bags and travel bags)! They reduced it to three boxes after categorizing the bags.  This is where I really trimmed down. Kept only a few bags that would fit in my closet. I even let go of bags that had sentimental value for me. I knew I wouldn't use them anymore and knowing where I am in my life made it easier to let go. After some overnight sorting, we sent out 7 boxes for donation. 

The journey isn't over yet. Sorting items takes a lot of time. We sort in the evenings when it's not so hot. It's going to take time to finish. We will have another round with Ally to organize the items we decide to keep. At least the kitchen is now organized. Ally said we'll finalize how it was organized when they come back. Just need to see first if we're comfortable where everything has been placed. Still a long way to go for the rest of the house. 

#BeKind #StaySafe

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Sunday Miracles: Kaley Boo the Calico Cat

Yesterday afternoon, Kaley Boo, a stray cat who's been frequenting our home hung out with us for awhile. It was Grey the Cat who introduced her to us last December. By February she was noticeably very pregnant and we panicked at the thought of having more kitties. My doctor had prohibited me from having pets, so having Grey and Kaley was a a good compromise. They only come to eat and they run whenever we come close. They are our socially distant pets, haha. 

My friends who have been rescuing stray cats and dogs advised that we should bring them to the vet to get spayed. We've never dealt with cats since we've only cared for dogs and smaller pets (hamster/fish). Much as we'd like to bring them to the vet, they never come near us and we're scared to try to catch them. The cats also seem to have trauma from humans, so the most they do is hang out to eat. 

A friend advised that stray animals come to you when you need them. Grey and Kaley Boo came when we needed them the most. They allowed us to show them some love by feeding them. We were originally scared about the thought that we might have to care for more kittens, but I realized it will come if it's meant to be. I thought we could get help from friends who are used to rescuing strays and then get them adopted. 

We set up a bed for Kaley Boo to give her a safe space to give birth. Last weekend she was anxious and we knew she was about to give birth. We watched a few videos to understand how best to help her and to know if she would need a vet. She was gone for two days and showed up on Tuesday, visibly thinner. She looked like she didn't finish giving birth yet. She just came and asked to be fed and then left immediately. It was later in the week when she looked like she finished birthing. Unfortunately, we don't know where the kittens are.

Found her yesterday afternoon peering through the glass door. I opened it to greet her and then gave her a treat. Miggy gave her some food and she ate in her usual makalat way, haha. After eating she settled in for a nap and watched me while I planted some spring onions. The highlight of the visit was she slow-blinked me. Cat experts say that a slow blink from a cat means they love you. Awwww. 

Kaley Boo watching me do some gardening. 

We welcomed Grey and Kaley Boo in our home even though they are strays. We protect them when other feral cats try to attack them (yup, have witnessed scary fights!). Much as we'd like to pet them, we respect that they want to stay socially distant. Well, maybe in time they'll feel safe and allow us to pet them. 

#BeKind #StaySafe

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Plantita Saturdays: My Garden Turned Into a Desert

My garden badly needs a lot of TLC. All the grass died and the bamboo and shrubs all looked thinner. It was Miggy who pointed out that concrete was peeking out from the soil. I always wondered why the grass died despite the fact we watered it frequently. There wasn't enough soil apparently. Architect Wansi explained that the soil likely went into crevices. 

I held off gardening for a few months now because nothing was flourishing. We also need to install proper drains in the garden, plus have the base properly filled up. Work is about to start to fix our exteriors, so I got the help of the boys to gather up my plants. We have to organize them to make space for the work. 

Ornamental plants. They're gonna get a trim in the next few days.

The only thing that survived all the movement at home are the ornamental plants my Mom and Ate Rose gave me! There's probably something in the soil my Mom uses that's kept the plants resilient. I've just been adding some soil when needed and I spray neem oil once a week. They are very low maintenance. Sadly some of my ginger and tumeric dried out. I'll just plant new ones soon, but will check if any of the roots survived. 

It will take a couple of weeks to fix the drainage. Architect also advised to fence off the bamboo so they don't grow wayward. We'll also add soil since the soil has thinned out a lot. We're looking at using turf grass since that would be easier (and cheaper) to maintain. TBH I've browned my Mom's grass a couple of times already, so I definitely cannot be trusted with grass. Even the lemongrass turned to cogon grass under my care! Tsk tsk tsk. 

I'm not giving up and will continue to work on my garden! Praying for good air quality so I can stay outdoors :)

#BeKind #StaySafe


Friday, March 17, 2023

Foodie Fridays: Pork Sinigang sa Mustasa

My mustasa plant was very prolific when we were in Singapore. I had to think about what other dishes to use it on. We usually had it with our favorite beef mustasa taco-like dish. After some research I found out you can use mustasa for sinigang. It was hard to find some of the usual ingredients so I just replaced gabi with radish. 

It turned out well. Sweetie and I enjoyed the dish especially since the mustasa came fresh from our balcony garden. This is something I hope I could successfully do again here. Will try planting mustasa again soon. 

Here's how we made the pork sinigang sa mustasa -

Full recipe here:

#BeKind #StaySafe

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Throwback Thursday: Bag Memories

We've been working on decluttering our home. Our coach had 7 boxes of bags sorted by her team to make it easier for us to decide which to keep and donate. We sat down the other night to go through all the bags. Much as we'd like to keep some as souvenirs there's just a lot. So I thought I'd write about some of the interesting ones I've used through the years. 

Here's a few I managed to take photos of. Most of it has been sent for recycling. 

Thought I'd mark some that hold special memories. I finally gave up my super favorite backpack. I don't remember how I got it (haha), but this one traveled the world with me. It carried all the laptops I used for work for over a decade. I loved it because it was light and sturdy. It had a few tears, but I think it's still going to be useful for the Lalamove driver who picked up the boxes for donation. Goodbye Mr. Belkin, enjoy your new adventure.

Startup Weekend Davao schwag bag. It came with a mug and I'm still using the mug! I super enjoyed attending this Startup Weekend. Don't remember though whether I mentored or judged, haha. 

The only schwag that Yahoo every gave me, an eco-bag and a handkerchief. I think this was a freebie from an event. The hanky was given to me by Jonas. It's still with Sweetie. 

If you're a blogger from the 2009/2010 era, then this bag would be very familiar for you. The huge Geiser Maclang schwag bag was a staple for a lot of bloggers. We got all sorts of goodies with this bag. It was pretty sturdy too and we used it extensively to bring stuff around. 

Do you remember Lola Techie? Well, this I think was a giveaway during the event when they launched the character in 2009 (see here). That was a super fun campaign. 

I'm going to review the ones we decided to keep. I think we could downsize more and let others enjoy the pre-loved items (especially the cloth eco-bags). I didn't take photos anymore of the hand bags I gave up. I just kept a few since I rarely go out, plus I think others can benefit and enjoy them more. It also gives me the opportunity to make some new ones! 

#BeKind #StaySafe


Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Wellness Wednesdays: Anchoring Self-care Routines

I have lazy bones. Never really liked sports. My Dad was an athlete and was always moving (tennis, basketball, jogging with friends). I never saw my Mom workout though. Yes, never. She would do gardening everyday until now. She's 87 and still does the same thing everyday. 

To make sure I complete my 40-day self-care challenge, I anchored the routine to something I do regularly so I don't forget. I do some stretches before I get up. Skin care after my morning shower and drink my pre-breakfast meds before going out of the bedroom. Wall push-ups while I'm preparing coffee. I do the leg up wall yoga pose after brushing my teeth. 

Part of my self-care challenge is to move more. There are days I do only 800-1,000 steps. Moving more helps give me more good days. There's still a lot to organize at home, so I anchored my movement to a daily target to fix something. Sometimes I overdo it and end up flat on my back the next day. I just rest until I feel better. Sweetie reminds me not to overdo things. 

I've been more productive since I started the challenge. There are still bad days and I think I can still improve. It's just been hard to get an appointment from my doctor. My aim for now is to stay stable and be at least 1% better than the previous day. Anchoring my "program" on something I do regularly has helped improve my well-being :)

#BeKind #StaySafe

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Creative Happy Tuesdays: Harry Potter Lap Quilt

I have collected some character fabric over the past few years. When I was about to leave Singapore I made lap quilts for some of my friends. A friend collected Harry Potter books, so I thought I'd make a Harry Potter lap quilt for him. It would be unique and one of a kind. 

Made the design simple to make sure I finished it before we left. I matched the fabric with solid colors to make it eye catching. Quickly pieced the cut fabric together and worked to finish it for a few days. I focused more on the sewing and actually forgot to take a proper photo of the finished work, haha (also why the video tutorial is very short).  

Gifted the lap quilt the day before we left. The next day my friend sent me photos of Lily, his pet dog. Lily had commandeered the lap quilt. She looked so cute on the quilt. He said she's a Harry Potter fan. I'm glad she liked it and hope she's still enjoying the quilt. 

Here's how I made it -

More about how to make the lap quilt on my sewing blog -

#BeKind #StaySafe

Monday, March 13, 2023

Home on Mondays: Condo Renovation Tips

The best time to customize your condo unit is before you move in. We were first time home owners when we received our unit and we thought what came with the unit was enough for us. Well, we didn't really know what we wanted and just used bandaid solutions through the years. It made living in our unit a bit harder. 

We finally got around to renovating our unit after 10 years! It took so long because we lived in Singapore for awhile and contractors required the unit to be empty. Eventually got around to emptying it and by that time we had a good idea what we wanted to do.

Here are some tips for those intending to renovate or customize your unit:

  1. Make a list of all the issues you want to be resolved, i.e. sink is too small, need more storage in the bathroom. Do this by room. We used this list to pick the brains of our architect for solutions to our problems, i.e. resolve heat issue in living room.
  2. Have a general idea for a color scheme or theme that your architect can work on. We're not very visual people, so we ended up describing to our architect that we wanted the unit to feel like a vacation home. 
  3. Have a budget and stick to it. Keep track of all payments and receipts. 
  4. It's good to know a bit about construction materials so you can tell your architect/contractor if you have preferred materials. Add'l tip: don't use flat latex, always go at least for semi-gloss. 
  5. Research! There's so much info you can find on practical design ideas on Pinterest which can be useful for you. It also helps to read and watch videos on home makeovers. 
  6. Make a detailed list of what you agree to work on. Use this as a check-list and it is best to use the unit after the renovation so you can make sure it's livable. Your condo property management office will also probably send their engineer to check on the unit. We had some items fixed post-renovation, i.e. had to add holes in the oven cabinet and some electrical work had to be fixed. Also had to have some things tweaked and covered post-renovation. 
  7. Make sure everything works, sockets, plumbing (no leaks!), any built-in items like your stove and oven. We had to have the aircon frame done again because they locked in the aircon unit and the cleaners had to destroy the frame to get it out. It was replaced with a velcro frame. 
  8. Replace appliances/gadgets and furniture only if necessary. 
  9. Salvage any materials if still useful.
  10. Your contractor will probably do some cleaning, but it would be better to get professional cleaners to do a post-construction cleaning.
I covered in separate blog posts everything we had fixed in our condo unit. Here's a list in case you want to check out how we went about it:

#BeKind #StaySafe

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Miracle Sundays: You Can Always Come Back to Him

It is not easy to be good. It is very hard to resist temptation. Succumbing to what we want is far easier than being frugal. It is easier to gossip than to hold your tongue. It is easier to keep everything we have to ourselves than to be generous. We all fall into sin one way or another. 

I have had trouble sleeping for a few years now. It is a side effect of my illness and the medications I take. On good days, I can fall asleep by two in the morning. On bad days, it stretches to 5 and even 7 in the morning. Falling asleep late means I wake up late. Waking up at 11 is early for me, noon to 1 p.m. is normal. 

I've been trying to correct this for a few years now. It only works when we're on vacation somewhere. It is frustrating because it means I spend less time with Sweetie and Miggy. I also end up being unproductive. Less movement has resulted in my condition getting worse. It also means I'm not meeting any of my goals for the year.  

Today's Gospel is about the prodigal son. It is a good reminder that no matter how bad we get, Our Father will always welcome us back. With open arms and even a feast. I knew it's up to me to push myself to correct the issue. For this Lent, I resolved to do my daily exercises and work on moving more. It also means I have to wake up earlier to meet my goals. 

I prayed for guidance and the will to complete my Lenten sacrifice. I must admit I haven't really asked God for much. I have fallen wayward and it shows in my health. The Lenten goal is one of my steps to go back to Him. I have so far been waking up an hour and a half earlier the past two days. 

I tied waking up earlier to specific daily goals I want to accomplish. An additional push for me is to make sure I finish what I need to do before the temperature hits 31'C. I have to move to a cooler place before the temperature rises because heat is bad for those with CHF. Who knows maybe in time I can be a morning person again. :)

#BeKind #StaySafe

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Plantita Saturdays: Learning How to Make Soil Healthy

One of the things I learned about my failed gardening attempts is to make sure that I have the best kind of soil for my plants. It wasn't enough I added compost and coco peat/rice husk to it. I realized the soil I had in Singapore was a ready mix. The soil I have needs extra work so I could grow healthy plants. 

I've been reading and watching videos on soil preparation. I haven't planted anything yet since our garden will undergo some work. I think it's also too hot to plant anything at this point. Here's what I've picked up the past few months about making soil healthy -

  • Hot Water - pour hot water in soil that has been infested with pests. This will kill them and the eggs. Alternatively, you can also let the soil dry under the sun, the effect should be the same. 
  • Hydrogen Peroxide - another way to cleanse the soil is to pour water with hydrogen peroxide to it. 
  • Charcoal - I just learned that you can add charcoal to your soil. It will help keep the soil moist. I think I'm going to do this before I plant anything since I expect it's going to be a very hot summer. 
  • Compost - I've been composting the past few months. I look forward to adding it to my soil before I start planting again. 
  • Rice husk or coco peat - rice husk or coco peat acts as a soil conditioner. It helps keep the soil moist and adds nutrients as it decomposes.
  • Rain water - we collect rain water whenever it rains because that's what our plants prefer. During  the hot season, we use water that has rested for at least a day. 
  • Fertilizer - adding fertilizer is important. This is probably one thing I missed doing when I got home. In Singapore we used rice water at least once a week on the plants. I remember also pouring banana peel tea every so often. It helped the plants produce more flowers. 
#BeKind #StaySafe

Friday, March 10, 2023

Lakwatsera Fridays: Angrydobo

Sweetie voted to dine at Angrydobo when we headed out for errands last week. Last time we just had takeaway during a staycation last year. We went at an odd hour to avoid the crowd. 

I've tried the adobo twice already, so I thought I'd go for something different. The dish kaldedobo caught my eye. It's kaldereta and adobo combined together with cheese on top. I have not come across the dish and thought it would be interesting to try. I don't have the right words to describe it. The dish was flavorful and just simply delicious. Make sure to try it at Angrydobo

Sweetie had the Angrydobo chicken thigh.

Miggy ordered adobo flakes.

The ripe mango shake was perfect for my order since it was a tad bit spicy. Sweetie had the tamarind iced tea. He loved it so much he got a bottle for takeaway. I like the branch at Westgate much better since it's more spacious and there's a lot of parking spaces around. You can also get some items for takeaway. 

#BeKind #StaySaffe

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Throwback Thursday: San Francisco with the Boys

A few years ago we tagged along with Sweetie when he went to the US for an event. We were in San Francisco for a few days and since it was Miggy's first time I thought it would be a good idea to bring him around. 

I still have some fuzzy memories of SanFo from my childhood. I was 4 the first time I went. Tito Mon had a house there where we stayed for a few days. I remember visiting Fisherman's Wharf because it was so cold. I wanted Miggy to experience it, so that was our first stop when we arrived. We ended up dining at The Franciscan Crab Restaurant where we had seafood. We walked around for a bit after and we enjoyed the breeze from the bay.

After that we met up with some friends to visit a pumpkin patch. It was a fun experience for Miggy because I similarly visited a pumpkin patch with my scout brothers before. After that we hung out with our friends at a Vietnamese restaurant and had milk tea after.  

The next day Miggy and I walked over to Ghiardelli Square. We had fun going in and out of shops because they would sometimes give free pieces of chocolate. Took a break at Lori's Diner then headed to the Presidio National Park. I wanted to see the Yoda fountain and walk around the Palace of the Fine Arts.


By early evening we headed back to the wharf to explore it a bit more. It was fun to hang out in the area because of the wildlife. There were a lot of birds and sea lions. Dined at Bubba Gump just to experience it and then met up with Jay. We checked out the Musee Mechanique. It showcased a lot of 20th century arcade games and artifacts. It reminded me of the Tom Hanks movie, Big

We only spent a few hours going around the city. The only thing memorable was seeing a huge warship docked in the bay and walking around the Embarcadero. It was a quick trip. Maybe we'll get to go back someday :)

#BeKind #StaySafe

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Wellness Wednesdays: How Decluttering Made My Life Lighter

Yesterday, I shared about how I made a cover for a medical device I own. I only use it when needed and don't like to be reminded constantly that I own one. I created a colorful cover for it. The colors give me good vibes every time I see it and I realized that's something we should all do -- surround yourself with items that make you happy. 

It's very much what Marie Kondo advised all of us to do, keep things that spark joy. We've been working on decluttering for awhile now and on top of keeping things that spark joy I've also been asking the question, "Do I/we need it?" "Would it be useful for someone else?"

We gave away 14 boxes of pre-loved items last Christmas. Our decluttering coach, Ally Canita, helped us send it to three charities. Some were books, some kitchen items and clothes. It's much easier to part with things when you know it will go to those who really need it. 

Ally taught us that the first thing you have to do is assess where you are in your life. That would help you know what items you need. In the past two months we've been going through the painful process of sorting through our things. I'm still working on the kitchen, but I've been making a lot of funny discoveries. I've amassed 14 spatulas, 5 peelers, several sets of knives, countless tupperwares and probably over fifty mugs (not counting those we've already donated). Quite obvious, that I need to downsize that number to what we'll just use. 

I think I now just have a third of my wardrobe. I just kept the ones that I use and need for now. I set aside all my "work clothes" last year, but I think I will review it again soon. I don't see any need for it in the near future and it will just decline in storage. 

Just having what you need is bliss. Not having too many things makes it easier to keep them in proper places. The process though is hard and I work on things based on my energy level. We're still getting some help to unbox the last 30 boxes. Getting things in order is taking so long and we want to finish soon so we can finally enjoy our new home. 

#BeKind #StaySafe

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Creative Happy Tuesdays: Huge Home Appliance Cover

My rainbow colored fabric always gives me good vibes. The color is just so happy so I thought it would be nice to use it to create a quilt cover for my oxygen concentrator. It's a huge medical device my doctor required me to have and I didn't realize it would be so big. It was parked beside my side of the bed. I use it when my O2 goes below 94. 

I haven't used it for awhile and it looked odd in our bedroom. I also don't like to be reminded I have a medical device. To relive myself of the constant reminder I quickly put together a cover for it. The cover was huge, so I simplified the process and just cut up squares to make up the whole project. 

I didn't have a pattern and made a mistake with my measurements. I made up for the size gap by adding a strip of fabric. I had fun piecing together the cut fabric, but assembling the whole piece got gnarly. Good thing I had a lot of clips to hold it together. I also did temporary stitches to make it easier to bind. 

Turned out pretty well. I realized just now I need a second one because I need to wash the cover every so often. I think I'll make a monochrome one next time so it doesn't clash with my new blinds. 

Tutorial and pattern at:

#BeKind #StaySafe

Monday, March 6, 2023

Home on Mondays: Condo Common Bathroom Makeover

I almost forgot to feature the makeover we did for the condo common bathroom. It was used as is when we moved in and we just added a few fixtures through the years. The biggest complaint we had for the bathroom were the toilet and sink. The toilet was smaller than standard. It was quite uncomfortable. The sink was also too small. Of course, the bathroom did not come with any cabinets installed so even with the shelf add-on, it looked messy. 

Here's what we changed in the common bathroom:

Removed the old sink, installed a new bigger one

Removed the old toilet, installed a new standard sized one

Added a cabinet under the new sink

Changed the mirror to a cabinet 

Changed the ceiling light

Updated to a new exhaust fan

Kept the tiles and just repainted the walls

The space looks so much better now and got good reviews from it's original user (Miggy). Of course, don't forget to check for any leaks when the contractor turns over the finished unit to you. 

#BeKind #StaySafe