Daily Pack of Goodies

No sighs, no buts and ifs as we say goodbye to 2021… it should just be a grand thank you for all our blessings. It is definitely not an easy year but know that we are blessed.

As we welcome 2022, let us continue to live a simple life with a grateful heart. We don’t have to make gigantic step at once to make a difference, small daily pack of goodies can mean a lot. I got some to share with you. 🙂

It’s not always about you. Learn to be more empathic and caring for others.

We can’t fathom the burden of everyone and sometimes the best way to be around someone is by listening wholeheartedly. Drop the gadgets, resist constant checking of messages, ask relevant questions, keep the eye contact.

When all that matters in the conversation is the label of your shoes or the topic is always about how to shed weight…

Anyone that can cause negativity, move away. Don’t give anyone a luxury to judge and belittle you.

Find solace that you have enough. We cannot have everything and so let’s appreciate what we have. 

Resist the urge to compare with other people’s good fortune versus ours, we are love by God equally. Be thankful. Work hard, aim to succeed in good nature and never at the expense of someone else.

No reason to linger in the past or worry too much with what’s going to happen tomorrow. Be present at this very moment.

Enjoy the holidays! Let us welcome the new year with a better perception in life while bringing extra care and love for others.

This We All Know, The Virus is Still Here

Please, let’s do our part to protect each other. Since Metro Manila is downgraded to level 2, many of us are behaving as if COVID-19 has disappeared. Remember, it has affected almost 3M Filipinos and has taken the lives of 48,000+*… and who knows the real figure!

These are numbers equivalent to someone we know, someone we love. Aunts. Uncles. Friends. Colleagues.

And then just when we are starting to loosen up, here comes another variant (known as B.1.1.529 and to be named from the letter of the Greek alphabet**) from South Africa that spreads fast even in Hongkong.

It appears to be a never-ending horror and war story.

What do you feel when you see groups of people at the mall, streets, or riding jeepneys and they are too close AND some are not even wearing masks? Like terrified? Yes, more terrifying than watching Sadako crawl out of the TV monitor.

But what can we do?

Live with the virus. Yes, it seems that this is what we must do now to survive. Although   it does not mean that we will ignore the protocols. Let’s admit that we can’t do things like before. We can dine out now but be extra cautious in using the restaurants’ utensils, make sure to sanitize the table, and adjust even the way we talk, no loud conversation or intense laughter as this action spreads saliva that may contain a virus.

Wearing a mask is a sign of courtesy nowadays. No one likes it but if this is our way to shield ourselves and the people around us with COVID-19 then let’s do it with consistency and with no hesitations. And this effort comes with the very basic hygiene of washing our hands properly all the time and spraying alcohol.

Vaccination is not a guarantee that we’ll not get infected but studies tell us that it can drastically lessen the percentage of a worse scenario and hospitalization. For the love of humanity, line up, get it, and complete the doses.

Save the tight hugs for later. We’ll surely get over this but while we are at it, live and let others live too virus-free. Stay safe.

Source:

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COVID-19_pandemic_in_the_Philippines

** https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/25/world/variant-south-africa-covid.html

Small Things Still Counts

The world has been filled with so much negative energy and “being positive” nowadays may not render the same impact pre-COVID time. Perhaps as people learn to cope, many have become too engrossed of themselves and have forgotten to really listen—to discern what really matters. And maybe happiness has been considered as something of value—How rich you are? How much money in the bank?  How famous? How relevant is your connections in the industry? What are your professional achievements?

When a lot of distractions and noises stick around, it is okay to just stop. When you start doubting what is important in your life and you feel miserable because of the confusion, just stop.

Hold your ground and let us not be swayed by the environment filled with digital and material influences. No one can dictate what matters in our lives; it is for us to define it.

Let’s keep our faith on top of everything. Jesus is always with us. Always be thankful. For whatever is happening, let us remain in full gratitude. Saying “Thank You” feels way better than asking “Why?!”. See the bright side in every situation including the hardest times. Dive and be happy with the tiny details of life. Not everything going on is worth the headline but it does not mean it is non-sense.

The pandemic has affected all of us; it has been really challenging. But let’s try not to drown in the process. We all have our means to stay afloat no matter how strong the current is. Begin floating with the simple, even mundane, every day activity. Then probably you’ll ask, like what? Can’t think of any now! Me too. Until I browsed the photos in my phone and realized that yes, there are just so much to be thankful for. Simple things mean so much every single day if we see it in a more optimistic angle and if we don’t base it with the approval of others.

Sharing those I’ve captured, sharing happiness.

Surprising Mama with her favorite food
Surprising Mama with her favorite food
Taking random photos with the kiddos while working
Taking random photos with the kiddos while working
Lounging at home with the Gingers in a box
Lounging at home with Gingers in a box
the joy of eating fishballs and the memories that comes with it
Frying a childhood after-school snack… the joy of eating fishballs and the memories that comes with it!
cup noodles with hotdog and chicharon! Yum!
Adding hotdog and chicharon on a cup noodle—it is actually edible and yummy (surprise meal prepared by my Son)
view from sctex
Appreciating the view without filter (taken from SCTX – Subic-Clark-Tarlac-Expressway)
flowers
Receiving a flower bouquet on a busy, uneventful day (thanks Hubby!)

Go ahead, check your mobile photos or stop for a while and recall things that made you feel better this month. Appreciate every one and every thing. While writing this, I’m grateful to have a good cup of coffee every time I NEED it without leaving the house.

Stay within your happy zone. 🙂

can't leave without coffee
Drinking freshly made coffee anytime of the day!

Surviving the Noise in Our Home Office

When there is just so much noise around the corner of your home office and you know that it’s not just the sound of a barking dog or a passing motorcycle; it actually reverberates even louder.

Do you sometimes feel the need to disconnect to your emails, social media, and messaging platforms in order to keep your sanity? To breathe for a moment and detach from all things happening on your smart phone and laptop?

Noise in our Home Office

How do you organize your thoughts and keep the normal rhythm of your work without being bug by the many virtual voices? I have explored hundreds of ways to remain focus and it takes real practice to make it go smoothly without a side-glance. Reality creeps in and there are still days that I can’t refuse to jump into the noise and linger for more than I hope.

Devotion to refuse is what we probably need. We all have different approach on how to discipline ourselves.

I’ve been working home-based even before Covid-19 hit the world and have learned and re-learned techniques. Sharing some here.

  • Spend a few minutes in the morning to browse, to chat, and to answer emails not related to work. Be conscious of time and stop a few minutes before the formal work begins. Drink coffee, eat breakfast. Create an imaginary login time so you can start at 9am and finish 11am, for example. Allot  your uninterrupted two to four hours in the morning to be just be about work. REFUSE the temptation to read Viber messages not related to the task you are currently doing.
  • Take a break and enjoy lunch without your phone. Talk to your family members, kiss the kids, play with your dog, feed the cats, or maybe quickly fix the snack counter.
  • Resume work after an hour or two then set an imaginary time again. Login at 2pm and finish at 4pm with specific to-dos on the list. I would normally work on client A in the morning, client B in the afternoon, and client C after dinner. All other work is inserted in between breaks and I try to make sure to deliver fair time as agreed.
  • Before or after dinner, spend an hour or less just jumping to randomness. Catch-up with friends, read news, leave comments on FB groups, play app games, take a zoom call from relatives, check what’s on Grab Food!
  • Aim to finish at a specific time; say I should be done, finish or not, by 8pm. Laptop cover down then hands up. This is quite challenging to achieve and I have always failed on this part but strict implementation is necessary or you will be working until wee hours without you knowing it (Argh!). Keep on trying consistently every day.
  • Own your weekend. Say no to deadlines or extra assignments. Rest your mind and hold back to the act of refreshing your email or reviewing your notifications. There will be weekends that you must work but it cannot be every week. Don’t let this weekend activities burn you, say no if it gets too frequent. You have all the right to do so as you protect your zen. No client or company is worth keeping if it does NOT respect your own welfare.

Continue with the effort and persevere even harder if the temptation to look at your phone and your other gadgets is stronger than the need to pay attention at work. This is one of those easier said than done act but maybe it is better to do something than to drown completely, to become unproductive, and to be less enthusiastic with our jobs. Set our own flare while working from home.

Camping Thoughts while Camping

Quarantine has made us even more creative in finding our happy spot. I like the spirit of many of us who refuse to fall into sadness and depression and continues to stay around their bright aura. As it goes, find an activity that delights you! What’s on your list?

We were able to sneak our first two camping trips before ECQ season 3 (August 6 to 20, 2021) and it was an amazing experience especially for first-timers. It is a good escape from the routine, an ideal way to sneak to a new setting away from the corners of our rooms. A realization popped, camping photos are always cozy and a sure delight to see but there are so much more going on there.

Get ready for a long list of preparations – What food to buy? What utensils to bring? How many gadgets to use and where to charge? For the newbies, putting up a tent or setting up the portable stove might even require some online tutorials.

Align your mindset – It is not going to be like staying in a hotel with room service just a call a way. Bed cushions are not as soft (or maybe no cushion at all). Bathrooms are far from elegant. You might find a corner to unwind with mosquitoes spoiling your me-time. And you have to take out, fix, and clean your mess… every bit of it. No one is going to do it for you.

It is also frustrating to see people not tidying up after they share a moment with nature. Our second camping trip was in front of the beach and we have seen garbage just about anywhere.  My son was so sad to see the thrash and we decided to walk on the shoreline to pick what we can; this self-assigned task is a tiny effort yet we need to do this small part to clean up.

Check the weather – It might be too sunny in the afternoon then will rain hard in the evening. It’s not very ideal to be in the middle of bipolar weather while camping. It can be nightmare to wake up with your tables and breakfast damp in water or gone with the wind. Align your trip with PAG-ASA or AccuWeather. Don’t hesitate to reschedule if strong rain is in the forecast.

Start with a collection of camping stuffs – Some are really pricey but you don’t have to buy everything. Good to be creative and improvise. But if there are only 3 things you need to purchase, consider investing on a water proof tent (around Php2500 for two people in decathlon), chargeable/solar camping lamps (around Php200 in Shopee), and portable power station (around 4,200 in Lazada).

Avoid the weekend – Imagine the crowd on theme parks during the payday weekend or holidays.  Remember how overloaded the parking lot looks like… something like that is bound to happen and there is no serenity in such scenario.

Let’s not forget courtesy – We all go out to camp bringing our special goals (find ourselves, hear the waves, smell the nature, weekend runaway) and we deserve to create our own space to nourish our stay but let’s not forget others. Perhaps high-volume rock music at 7am or loud laughter like you are in a bar at 11pm are things to avoid. Courtesy.

Think about storage – Will you need additional storeroom? Once the camping is done and you are back home, where will you safely put everything and easily drag what you need for the next round. 

There are more stories beyond the fun of hooking a tent, cooking a meal on limited fire, and sleeping outdoors. It’s not as easy as it looks but it sure is worth doing.

Dining Al Fresco – 12 Parking Lot Stops a la Picnic in the Car

It has been more than a year and bet every kid would love to freely dine out again as we keep the family bonding of eating outside together. Why not bring food-from-home, have a drive-thru or take-away then find a picnic place while in the car? We have been exploring parking lots with cozy and safe corners around South since the pandemic and discovered ways to enjoy al fresco dining.

Since then, Hubby and I have been randomly posting our picnic-in-the-car escapades on Facebook and we are starting to get messages from parents saying that they like to do the same since their children have not been out that much since COVID-19.

Here are some spots to consider when planning your dinner outside home with kids:

*WARNING: Pardon seeing much of us on this blog; not every month I put on our faces. 😊

SLEX Gas Stations

South bound (from Skyway Ramp)

1. Shell before Susana Heights Exit

2. Petron Before Carmona Exit

3. Caltex before Sta Rosa Exit

Northbound

4. Shell SLEX Mamplasan

Nuvali Parking

5. Eton City (beside McDonald’s)

6. Solenad Ayala Mall Parking (near Fiesta Market)

Alabang Parking

7. Molito

8. West Gate

Tagaytay

9. Robinson’s Supermarket (in front of Starbucks and beside Summit Ridge)

Makati

10. Paseo Center

Taguig

11. Crossroads BGC

12. When raining

Inside the car with a good + safe open space slot and just about anywhere.

We took this photo while parked in Ortigas Technopoint.

Tagaytay’s Sip n’ Brew

The moment travel restrictions around Metro Manila and nearby provinces ease up, going to Tagaytay became the urge of many (and that includes us!). It is a quick escape from quarantine routines we all deserve to have. The breeze, the view, the places to eat… the anticipation of being in a slightly cold, foggy, and sometimes windy late afternoon vibe. Other than the vista and the weather, we also look forward to eating al fresco and drinking coffee!

A new take of filling up over caffeine while loving the panoramic sight of Taal means coming to Sip n’ Brew – Miara Cafe Tagaytay. Imagine sipping a cup of americano with such breeze and scenery?! It is on the stretch of Mendez Crossing West and very accessible (and wazable). The Café also offers milk teas, snacks, and desserts. Proper health protocols are being observed in the vicinity. Fifteen years old and below are not yet allowed but they have a gorgeous venue place beside the shop where kids can roam, enjoy the fresh air, and simply love the amazing sight.

Driving to Tagaytay is consistently our go-to place when aiming to destress. The road going up is equally refreshing, our favorite routes are via Cavited-Laguna-Express Way aka CALAX (exit in Greenfield City, Mamplasan) and Casile Road (exit in Silangan). So many great reasons the trip is always worth it!

Summer Activities with Kids while still on Quarantine

It is finally the end of Online Distance Learning (ODL) class. May is the start of the new summer break and my pre-teen is too excited to play on his computer. We let him do that for about two hours a day and for the time being, it is his only means to play with friends virtually for now. Other than online games and gadgets, there are many activities to explore while our country is still on COVID-19 quarantine. It may vary depending on the interest of our children but the important thing is to have fun!

Sneak to walk

Quick walk around the neighborhood in the late afternoon and evening has been our activity since pandemic and I’m hoping to extend the minutes to an hour this summer. Parks around BGC offers a vibrant walking moment, too.

Learn to drive (and properly wash the car)

Learning around the secluded area of the village can be a good start. He basically knows the foot works, the steering wheel is something else while the skill in washing the car is becoming reliable.

Get back to board and card games

Other than Monopoly, Exploding Kittens is another game that we started to love.

Encourage to read

He has been drawn to Diary of a Wimpy Kid and I’m hoping he can jump to Harry Potter, Narnia, and Little Prince. All those books are on the shelf and waiting for him.

Start writing

Keep an updated journal or publish a blog… although he is more driven, like most kids, to create video contents for YouTube.

Explore Editing

Since creating video is his fascination, good if he can pursue in improving his editing skill.

More time with the pets

We have a dog and seven cats that are persistently demanding for attention!

Back to badminton

We used to play badminton in the afternoon but it stopped with his school works piling up. Now is the time to go back.

More back-of-the-car picnics

Dining in restaurants is still not ideal with kids and that means more dinner time at the car!

This long, overdue quarantine is taking a toll on the mind of many Filipinos but I always encourage family and friends to stay on the bright side. Let’s create a good memory to remember and share later on! If our grandchildren would ask, “how did you spend the pandemic?” I can’t wait to say, “It has ups and downs but more so, WE ROCK IT! Despite the restrictions, being together had been a blast.” What are your summer activities?

One Year with Pesto Made Fresh

Like in most jobs, online selling is equally fun and challenging. Last month, we celebrated the first-year anniversary of Pesto Made Fresh. It is a real blessing; a weekly escape from our main work and yet it has been equally fulfilling!

Pesto Made Fresh

We started the journey with the support of family and friends then orders came from people outside our circle. We continue to produce in small batches every week to keep the fresh and home-made guarantee; truly grateful to get a sold-out in every production. It is not always an easy path and we do have our own share of challenges but our family is glad to have taken our road to #PestoMadeFresh.

  • We aim to always deliver freshness so we’d rather not produce a Pesto if the basil supply is not of high quality. This is particularly tough when there is an ECQ or typhoon with transportation/delivery from Baguio to Manila becomes a major drawback. We tried planting our own and we were able to harvest and sell initially but typhoon Rolly last October 2020 brought down our small basil farm.
  • We have also encountered a few unfriendly groups who would demand a free shipping fee, would disappear after confirming an order, would not answer the phone when rider gets close to the address, would insist to get an unreasonable discount, and prefer to converse rudely.
  • There was an instance when our printing provider did not follow our instruction and sent our stickers without following our brand guideline.
  • There is this bottle supplier that delivered to us bottles that did not match the caps. What more, they refuse to replace the boxes!
  • We ordered and paid for a specific paper bag but a different size came.

The joy of preparing Pesto Made Fresh is much more important and gratifying than the issues encountered and we were able to manage in finding better partners as we continue to improve our  product. Seeing people love our Pesto and allowing us to be part of their meal/snack time makes us feel ecstatic. We aim to stick with our commitment to serve clean, delicious, home-made, fresh Pesto in every bottle for this is what our buyers truly deserve.

Pesto Made Fresh

Keeping the Optimism

Refusing to dwell on the bad vibes around us, how do you keep the optimism?

There are people who are just born negative; their presence seems to emit dreadful energy. There are also scenarios in our everyday lives that can poke grim feelings. Some random message and call can tweak a good mood. Sometimes even the sound of Outlook or Viber can become a drag. What are your hacks to stay uplifted? 12 months with the pandemic and I’ve learned 12 ways to stay afloat.

  1. Resist gossiping.
  2. Practice gratitude.
  3. Go away from a rude group.
  4. Spend time with those you love.
  5. Think of ways to help and act on it.
  6. Ask people how they are and listen.
  7. Be the kind of friend you wish to have.
  8. Prefer kindness and flash a genuine smile.
  9. Avoid those with the I-Me-and-Myself Syndrome.
  10. When sudden dark thoughts plague the mind, pray.
  11. Find an activity that you enjoy and make sure you allot fair time to do it.
  12. Be forgiving and nice to yourself. Laugh if you wish even if it distorts your face. Take a break if you are tired. Sleep if it calls you.

There are days way tougher that the other and it can become a real struggle to remain on the bright side of things. At times it may even feel like a battle—who do we wish to win? The buoyant or the melancholy version of ourselves? It is our choice and choosing who’s who may require daily work and validation. Aim to stick on the positive space no matter what and if it becomes a challenge (as it normally does for me), I randomly picked one from my 12 hacks; my favorite immediate action is always #10. While in the gloom, dive into that corner of our hearts and discern what makes us spark.

keeping the optimism and finding our spark