Official Turn Over of Our New Home

18 December 2014

I have to say, my husband worked hard for this and our partnership made everything run smoothly.  Everything fell right into place. Several sacrifices were made. In terms of monetary, we gave up on a lot of things including out of the country trips just to be able to save up for our home.

The feeling is unexplainable, unbelievable and way extraordinary... very rewarding.

I didn't really have any idea that the official turn over was going to be this soon. As always, my husband planned for it as a surprise for me. Well, I kinda spoiled the surprise this morning, which explains why I'm wearing "pambahay" during the turn over. (see picture below)

We were placed in a situation that we had to go together for our errands. All I know was my husband needed to bring our car somewhere for maintenance (his excuse) and I on the other hand, needed to fetch our eldest son from school. Although, handing me the keys on Christmas Day is something special, I guess God still wanted me to come along to experience the whole process of the turn over.

It's a good thing I was there because it's a must to inspect our unit and the agent gave us final briefing on some important house rules we need to take note of, especially we plan to do home- improvement (add- ons, repainting, stuff we want to install)  after the Holiday Season.
It's officially ours!
After the tour, we went to the turn over room and a "welcome sign" greeted us. Some papers were signed and we were given a gift basket from Domex.

We chose Ayala Land because we trust that they put great value on their properties and  their clients. They make sure that the over- all environment is safe, the community is family- friendly, the staff is well- managed and the facilities including the buildings are maintained.

It was with the Ayala Land agents when we didn't feel rushed or pressured. They are not pushy, they don't shove flyers on prospects and once an inquiry's made, they're very courteous and accommodating. We also heard a lot of good feedback from our friends who got their own properties from Ayala Land.

On making an investment, make sure it's long- term, it's worth every cent, get what you really want and go for the best.

A week before Christmas Day, I received the most valuable gift ever... a new home. Today, Ayala Land Company formally handed the keys to our new condo. Praise the Lord for this wonderful blessing.

I Go Back Home...

16 December 2014

I am very grateful for the wonderful blessing of having a lovely home to go back to... My parents decided to relocate 5 years ago... Moving to another place means change for us. Change means new beginnings, a refresher and a dip in different color is healthy.

With a fresh start, our own home, a new house (finally!) we made sure that the house itself sits in a place far off the chaotic city life, away from the main road where we can only hear the tapping of  rain drops on the roof, birds chirping and our laughter through the roof.
Over the weekend, with my 3 boys and our Beagle, we decided to head home to relax and spend quality time with my parents and the rest of the family. Our mom will always be "the mom" of the house. I really enjoy moments when she cooks for us. She prepares scrumptious dishes and I miss her as somebody who you'll always find ready to sit and chat with you. Whatever she's doing, once she sees any of us, her children she'll stop working and she'll keep us company.

Our stay was very timely because they just got the 8ft. Douglas Fir Tree (fresh tree from Oregon). The tree has that sweet, pine scent that filled the house instantly. We've also set the menu for our Christmas celebration, games and other gimmicks  to make the Holidays extraordinary.

Yes, it's Christmas time!
The Lara Home stood out once again. The signature blue door was lighted with ornaments and Christmas lights.
The weather was perfect as well. It's cold and windy... before, we find time just to go to Tagaytay City and embrace it's climate. Now, we don't need to because we're enjoying the very same chilly temperature.
Every time I'm in need for a quick break from city life I go back home. Home is where I grew up as a child and blossomed into a lady. Home is the strongest foundation which my parents built to overcome life's adversities and celebrate the glorious moments as a family. Home has always been the center of our hearts.

Another Rewarding Performance

From the last weeks of October to the first weeks of November, we have been very busy with school practices for the foundation day presentation of my son. Every 2 years, the school prepares for a huge musical play and of course, the guests of honour were us, the proud parents. 

This year, they performed an adaptation of Ibong Adarna. It was nice to watch and refresh my mind of the story which I last read when I was still in high school.  At the same time, seeing my son perform once again is joy to my heart. His performance in this adaptation has leveled up. He led the group to a dance interpretation of a certain role from the story.

The show was held at the Meralco Theater. The production was bigger than the last show 2 years ago. This time around, Frankie's younger brother was present to enjoy and appreciate this colorful and lively performance on stage. He was dancing as he watched which was clearly a sign that he is ready for school this coming year. 

Here's to another milestone! I guess, the next celebration is going to be hectic but more fun and memorable simply because both my boys will be performing on stage together.

04 December 2014

Praying for the safety and well- being of our brothers and sisters in the Visayas and Mindanao regions as the Philippines prepare for another super typhoon (Hagupit) expected to hit this weekend. May God's mantle of protection make this devastating force to recurve and vanish before it hits another land.

Happy Shopping with ZALORA

-not a paid post -

Online shopping isn't a regular thing for me, but there are times when I do buy stuff online, especially those that aren't found in a regular shop or at the mall.  I study everything from the mode of payment, over- all security of my information and the item and shipping.

I've intended to go online shopping with ZALORA for quite sometime now. I browse through the website a lot. I've read posts and reviews from other bloggers too. Everything posted or shared online about ZALORA are all attractive and interesting to look at. 

One reason that got my attention with ZALORA was the Cash on Delivery mode of payment. Here's the thing, I don't use my card that often... as much as possible I pay on cash basis even for big items. On the other hand,  let's face it, as a woman, it's normal to have that urge to shop for what you think you deserve... To make the long story short, I found the heart of online shopping with ZALORA, I enjoyed my shopping experience with ZALORA.

Convenience, security, accessibility, availability, affordability, ideal customer service and satisfaction guaranteed, it's ZALORA. 

ZALORA brand itself holds the chicest, loveliest items a girl could ever have. 

My first purchase was a Pink Strappy Flat Sandals With Laser Cut Details 699php
- Synthetic upper
- Elasticized band for secure fit
- Synthetic insole with brand details
- Synthetic outsole

The colors available for this particular design are Grey, Pink and Brown. I chose pink because it's the shade close to nude and I love nude because I can match it with everything. Shoe size will depend on the no. of items on stock. But most of the time, with just browsing, I noticed, sizes are available.

This was my first time to purchase a footwear online. I don't shop online for shoes because I wanna make sure it fits me and it is comfortable. If fitting is an issue, ZALORA has a size chart that can be used as guide. If the shoes doesn't fit at all, you can always return it to ZALORA within 30days.
  • The process begins as soon as you have picked the item/s of your choice (including the chosen color, size and design), add it to your "virtual shopping bag".  
  • From there you check out and a form to be filled out (for new customers) will appear. 
  • Choose the mode of payment.
  • Enter code if you have a discount coupon/ voucher.
  • Double check the entire order form, click "Order Now" once done.
  • You will receive an email confirming/ track your order. 
I'm in Metro Manila so I'm expecting my order to come in 2 days at least. But my order was delivered within 24 hours which was very impressive. Not only that, the delivery guy was very courteous and he looked neat and presentable. 

I love the packaging, it made me feel that my order was really taken cared of. The sandals were in good condition and with individual dust bags.

I'm thinking of buying some Christmas presents for my sisters and friends from ZALORA. From tops, bags, accessories, make- up... there's so much to choose from. Thank you ZALORA for making online shopping easy and fabulous. As for a stay- at- home mom on a budget, I've never been this so excited and happy. Now, that I have an option to pay in cash and treating myself to something functional and stuff  I want is going to be with a snap of a finger.

Women's Debonair Oxford by Christian Siriano for Payless

02 December 2014

There's a lot of Oxfords shoes, but mostly comes in patent leather or canvas. Every time I go window shopping, I go inside almost every shoe store just to check if I'll be lucky to see a pair of leather Oxford shoes. I want leather because I see Oxfords as a classic piece. It being leather with the orb detail and wingtip style,  makes it timeless.

In between my search, I've also prepared myself that if I find an Oxford according to the traditional look, it may probably be more expensive. But this concept changed when I paid Payless Shoesource a visit.

So, I was out with my mom last week, the usual mom and daughter bonding. We had lunch then we went window shopping. As I waited for her, I decided to go to Payless to check what's new. There I  browsed, browsed and browsed through shoes in my size. I found a pair of slip- ons but it didn't fit me, so I went to a different shoe rack. To my surprise, I saw this pair of leather Oxfords by Christian Siriano. It feels like I hit the jackpot.

 Women's Debonair Oxford by Christian Siriano for Payless

 At long last, my kind of Oxford shoes... it has been awhile and thought I'll end up with nothing as I almost gave up in search of a leather Oxford shoes.

Features perforated orb detail, wingtip style, padded insole for comfort, 1" stacked heel, and a durable outsole. Manmade materials. -source-

Christian Siriano created a stylish, elegant and affordable line for Payless. First time I wore it, I was out walking with my friends the whole day and it rained by the way. I didn't feel tired and my feet didn't get any blisters from walking which is common when wearing brand new shoes. Talk about fashion and comfort as well.
top: Uniqlo
bottom: Tiangge sa Greenhills
bag: ZARA
shoes: Women's Debonair Oxford by Christian Siriano for Payless

Take note ladies, this is a limited offer. As always, availability will depend if this particular pair of shoes is still on display in your shoe- size rack at any Payless Shoesource branch.

Leyte 2013

14 November 2014

November 8, 2013 Typhoon Haiyan struck the Visayas Region with sustained winds of 315 km/h (195 mph) (unofficial) making it the most powerful to hit land.

A week after the typhoon struck, we were given a chance to help those who were badly affected by the devastation. The company where my husband works arranged a relief & medical mission, rescue & relief mission. There were 3 groups sent via land, air and sea all equipped with relief goods, medicines and extra transport particularly for the relatives of the employees who resides in the affected areas.

My personal contribution was to gather clothes and food that can last for months. I asked my family and friends for donations and my husband was the one who personally assisted with the repacking and of course, who went to Leyte to extend a helping hand.

Please bear if I didn't mention any names, particulars even the town's location, this is in respect to the privacy of the individuals involved in this mission. Let the pictures tell the story of my husband's life- changing experience when he joined a team of experts for this trip.
Relief and Medical Mission: Haiyan 2013

Briefing by the Mayor in one the towns of Leyte

The people gather at the town's park at night.
The municipality was able to preserve some fuel to run a generator that gave light around the small park where the residents gather. This was also for security reasons since there was no electricity, and  at that time, in other towns, there was rampant looting.

Medical Assistance

Haiyan may have destroyed houses and other structures that served as shelter and security to the people.

The only source of livelihood --- gone.
With the immediate help that came from the private sector and aid from around the globe, the people of Leyte and other affected provinces was given a chance to start all over again.

There's Hope

Time To Rebuild

A New Beginning Awaits
I know God will never let the Filipino people down. Even if reconstruction is slow, in our hearts we've already stood up the moment Haiyan left the country to build a stronger foundation and keep faith as a firm source of inspiration. Moving forward.

Collecting Legos

06 November 2014

My husband and I began collecting around 8 years ago. We feel like it has been that long because we were already buying Lego toys for our eldest son. Then comes the Duplo for our youngest. Frankie is very fond of Lego because he can literally create things with bricks without following any instruction manual. Watching my son build and create what he once imagined brings an amazing feeling for a mom like me.

From then on, we're on the look for Lego sets, mostly boxes of bricks. Since it's for playing, there are times when we lose bricks, and that's when we buy another box until the collection grew bigger. Our love for Lego expanded as we meet people with the same interest, and that's how we found out about PhLUG and other Lego items for collecting--- Legos for the young at heart.

Next on our list are Lego Books which we can display in our new home. We just found one or two that can also be useful in creating stuff, but we didn't buy it yet.

When The LEGO Movie came out, that's the time when we just want to gather what we feel we need to  collect. What we have is nothing compared to those who have been doing this for years.
The Lego Movie mini- figures was a set that's a bit hard to complete especially that toy stores here in the Philippines doesn't sell mini- figures as much compared to other countries. But we have our sources and we even got more than what we expected. There's a batch to be kept and there's a couple of mini- figures on display.
This is a must! An original The LEGO Movie: Everything is Awesome Edition (Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet Combo Pack + Exclusive Minifigure + Exclusive Content + Bonus Blu-ray 3D)
We bought our copy from a Lego collector. I drove all the way to UN Manila early in the morning  just to meet up with this guy. I was with my husband of course and we know the guy, so safety on meet- ups (check!)
 1980's Vintage LEGO Spaceman in Red, White, Yellow and Blue
We're now looking for a black classic spaceman.
 Benny the Blue Spaceman in The LEGO Movie
The Blue Spaceman is said to be the last color to be released. Benny is a special character in The Lego Movie representing the 1980's Classic Space Astronaut. Only, Benny's suit is scratched and his helmet is broken and has an excited turn- around face.
Lego sets from The Lego Movie
These were the first box sets we had from The Lego Movie. We only purchased one from a mall, the rest were ordered online from fellow collectors.
 Shell Station has released a new set of Shell V- Power LEGO Collection. The rules state that for every 1,500-up worth of Shell V-Power Nitro fuel you can buy a toy from the set for 150php each and you can only purchase 1 toy for every receipt. That's a full tank for most cars. You see, we can't burn fuel just to be able to fill up our tank again and buy another toy. So I asked my dad if we can take turns and whoever will go first to gas up a car, must buy a toy until we complete the set or even get 2 sets of the whole collection. We did this with Shell's previous promos. So, our car's tank is full and we got the Lego Shell Station. My dad messaged me and he got gas too and bought the red Lego car. In a week, we now have 2 from the 2014 Shell V-Power Lego Collection.  Ha!

The fun of dressing up your Apple gadget. I particularly love this Original Belkin Lego casing for the iPad Mini 2. How I wish that they also have something for my old iPad 2... and sorry I need to emphasize on "original" because sad to say, fake items are everywhere in our country.
A Lego piece from Japan. For some reason, anything from Japan is always something to look forward to and worth collecting.
We're part of The Philippine Lego Users Group

We became part of PhLUG through a friend who is a super LEGO collector and enthusiast. My husband visited their exhibit once and he continued until he made friends and became part of the community. On a regular basis, the group organizes an exhibit where fellow collectors can display and sell their items for a more reasonable price compared to the ones being sold in malls. Some are from travelers who intentionally go abroad to buy Legos and other collectibles. 

It is a wonderful community. So if you're in search of some hard- to- find Lego items or any Lego set here in the Philippines, try PhLUG. It's a fun way to buy the Lego toys you want and at the same time, make friends.

Growing Hydrangeas

05 November 2014

To be able to grow this flowering shrub has always been our dream. We had several attempts before and the plant won't survive after a week. At last, my mom's green thumb on growing Hydrangeas is finally working. First off, they bought the Hydrangeas near our place in Antipolo, Rizal. With that, the plant itself have adjusted to the climate and the total environment of the province. Unlike before when it was still being purchased from Tagaytay City, once the plant lands in Manila, it shrinks and it won't continue to grow anymore.

By the way, these were just bought from the marketplace (palengke). I must say that it's quite a find  for a public market. My dad bought a couple and to our surprise, it produced another flower and it continued. So they went back to buy some more.
The blue, lilac, and pink Hydrangeas were planted in front by the porch. The Hydrangeas we have are the "mopheads" and are branching out. Hopefully it turns into a Hydragrea bush, just like those in magazines and countries with cool conditions.

I have been doing a lot of research on how to grow Hydrangeas properly because I want them to last and I want this flowering plant to be healthy all the time.

Some things I learned:
  • Hydrangea thrives with half sun and half shade treatment.
  • It blossoms if the soil is fertile and with just the right amount of water and sunshine.
  • It is not advisable to plant Hydrangeas near trees. 
  • The color of the petals will vary with the pH level of the soil it's planted in.

Growing Hydrangeas here in the Philippines is not common except for flower farms which are located at the far off regions of the country. If you see a Hydrangea in full bloom from a local flower shop in Manila, that was probably ordered abroad. I'm just saying... and that's what I often encounter everytime I make an inquiry.
This particular Hydrangea was planted in a huge pot. It has blossomed a couple of times already.
These were the first ones that were used as basis if it will grow and survive in my mom's new home.
For the past month we have been feasting our eyes with the beauty of this wonderful plant. Of course, it made my mom very happy, because one of her dreams was granted again. Imagine, growing Hydrangeas in a tropical country!

Hydrangeas are so pretty. It's attractiveness is often linked to vanity with it's round shape and colorful petals. But for us, it symbolizes grace, serenity and simplicity. 

He has made everything beautiful in its time Ecclesiastes 3:11

Home Project Now Rolling

26 October 2014

Moving forward towards happier times. One of the things that's been keeping me away from my regular routine online is furniture shopping. Finally, the moment has arrived when we get to choose the stuff for our new home. Personally, I don't want fill our unit in an instant. I want to do it slowly so that we can also get the furniture that is perfect for each room. And of course, we can't afford to buy and change and buy new ones again and again. I told my husband that if we're to rush things, everything else might go bonkers at some point.

It turned out that my husband had that same thought in mind. Planning was made easy because my husband and I are attuned with the same ideas, stuff we want to put in and certain themes for our new home.

The only request I have was a signature chair for myself. A high back chair. You know the idea, when guests will see that chair, they know it's mine and I own that small space in our home. Same goes with my other half, he requested for a LaZBoy, I didn't argue because he granted mine and I want him to get his too.

My chair was an easy find. SM Home World is now selling sleek chairs, home decor and other furniture. I was in heaven when I saw the line of high back chairs on display. It comes in different sizes, designs and colors. But it's a different story with my husband. Since a LAZBOY costs so much, he's still on the hunt "for the worthy recliner".

So we've settled our chairs, this afternoon, we went through the list of kitchen appliances we need. As much as possible, we want to go for things that are economical, environment-friendly, safe and easy to maintain. It's our own home, it's new, so why not make a good investment.

Still Coping...

The last time I found myself in this very position was when my father-in-law passed away 6 years ago. It has been weeks since we lost one of our most treasured friend. Life had to continue as if nothing happened, my husband tries his best to proceed with his daily tasks at work even if he is grieving inside. It's hard, very hard... 

For us, we didn't lose a friend, but it feels like we lost a family member. 

There are moments when we look at old photos, we reminisce the old times, how this wonderful person has affected us through his principles in life... For some reason, the passing of this friend of ours was the hardest thing to accept. Maybe because it was very sudden and that until his time was about to end, he was still there thinking of our family's welfare and he stood strong being a mentor to my husband.

Maybe it will take a few more months to finally accept the reality that he is gone... but we will never forget the things that he has done for us...

09 October 2014

This entry is going to be emotional...  for the first time I am pouring my thoughts and feelings out on this blog on how 2014 was made sad for me and my husband. Better this way, than writing about it when a new year is about to begin. 

It may look that I don't have friends or a "barkada" to hangout with... I do have friends and there's a handful whom I treasure simply because of their extraordinary way how to bring friendship a level higher than the usual. Same goes with my husband. 

We are surrounded by people who have accepted us for who we are, people who embrace every moment we spend with them, people who will never forget, kindhearted individuals that became family to us. I don't need to mention each one... We know how important we are to them and how special they are to us.

2014 began with the death of an old friend of mine. His passing was very sudden... I don't want to go into details, but few of us knew why and how his life was cut short. Second quarter came with the death of one of my husband's close workmate from a previous company. 

When I say close, even if they don't work under the same roof anymore, they still make it a point to keep in touch even with their busy lives. Knowing somebody is not just physical or through his/ her everyday life. We look deep inside on what makes up this kind person.

Following the losses was the passing of another... Mikah... 

It feels like for every quarter of this year, we lose somebody. We don't attend parties, we go to funerals instead...

And the latest news was the most devastating... Remember my post on owning a Volvo... Our friend who wanted to give us his car joined Our Creator last Friday... I haven't shed a single tear yet, though my heart's been crying since I found out about it... I'm still in shock, in denial... It feels like we lost a big brother. My husband's working off his feet just to be able to move on. I don't know how my eldest son will take it. My heart feels so heavy right now.

We owe our big brother so much... We wanted him see our new condo... he was a brother, a mentor, a friend... He is THE MAN! Nobody will ever take his place. He has always been there for us. He was the life of every party. He was the sunshine and rainbow in every gloomy heart.

It's such a great loss. The Holiday Season will never be the same again... our summer will never be as hot, fun and exciting... 

As his last words to my husband... "Whatever we have here on earth is temporary. Do or get whatever that will make you happy. At least when you go, you know that you enjoyed your stay, you made people happy, you're happy."

His life was very colorful. He lived a beautiful life. We know him for being happy, fun and adventurous. Now, life continues with him watching over us all the time. We move on as we carry his legacy to inspire others. Share his wisdom and inspirations, his love for gaming, his passion for work and his truthful side on being a good friend. 
Cheers to that!

We lost 4 of our good friends this year... I hope it stops there. Yes, we now know that we should give value to what we have in life and what matters are the moments we share with each other... but we pray Lord not to give us meaning by losing another good person again...