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Making Fudge Brownie Using Dehydrated Potatoes (A Giveaway from Potatoes USA!)

Potatoes USA Giveaway

I’ve been spending more time in the kitchen ever since the pandemic began. Aside from being home all the time, we are also trying to minimize our trips outside the home. That’s why I would bake sweet treats rather than buying them in the store, and if I have time, I would even make our own bread!

Like many households, we also like keeping a supply of food items with long shelf life in our pantry. Apart from the usual staples, did you know it’s wise to keep dehydrated foods, too?

Dehydrated standard potato flakes and dehydrated standard potato granules from Potatoes USA Philippines

Dehydrated potatoes, in particular, are known to have a shelf life of 18-24 months. In my opinion, they should be a staple in every pantry. Here are 5 reasons why:

  1. Made from 100% whole, high-quality U.S. potatoes
  2. Loaded with the same nutrients as fresh potatoes
  3. Versatile and can be used to make many recipes
  4. Less prep time need, can be used straight out of the package
  5. Good value, with one kilo making approximately five kilos when rehydrated

In other words, U.S. dehydrated potatoes are a delight to use in the kitchen!

I personally love having U.S. dehydrated potatoes in stock because they can be used in a lot of recipes, whether savory or sweet. Yes, you can totally use dehydrated potatoes to bake bread and pastries!

This is why I got super excited when Potatoes USA sent me a package containing U.S. dehydrated potatoes, cooking essentials, various merchandise… and cookbooks!

New cookbooks!

All those and more inside this bag ^_^

Of course, I immediately perused the baking cookbooks (with recipes by Chef Miko Aspiras). There are so many things you can bake pala with dehydrated potatoes! The first recipe I followed was the Fudge Brownie, which uses U.S. dehydrated potato granules.

Potato Fudge Brownies

Do you know what I immediately noticed when making the recipe? It only requires 30 grams of dehydrated potato granules. That’s less than ½ cup, if my conversion is correct. A pack of dehydrated potato granules would definitely go a long way!

Oooh, fudgy!

The brownies were so fudgy and chocolatey. The consistency was moist and rich, which is perfect if you don’t like dry and cake-y brownies (like me). I’m excited to try the other recipes in the cookbooks next.

But wait, there’s more.

 

Giveaway time!

Potatoes USA actually sent me TWO packages: one for me and another one for a lucky reader! The gift pack contains the following:

  • 1 travel bag with multiple pockets and compartments (including a laptop compartment)
  • 1 pack of Potatoes USA Dehydrated Potato Flakes
  • 1 pack of Potatoes USA Dehydrated Potato Granules
  • 1 khaki apron, 1 oven mitt, 1 whisk
  • 1 hardbound notebook, 1 pen, 1 phone pop socket, 1 mouse pad
  • 1 hardbound Heirloom Collection cookbook
  • 1 Street Food cookbook
  • 3 Bake cookbooks

Here’s all you need to do to win:

  1. Share your own potato recipe using frozen and dehydrated US potato products.
  2. Share it on Facebook or Instagram and tag me and Potatoes USA-Philippines.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/maanlx/ and https://www.facebook.com/PotatoesUSAPhilippines/

OR 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marie_angeli/ and https://www.instagram.com/potatoesusaphl/

That’s it! The package can be shipped anywhere in the Philippines (we will shoulder the shipping fee.)

Where to buy US Potatoes:

  • US dehydrated potatoes are available in most baking supply stores. You can also message Potatoes USA-Philippines to order from the comfort of your home.
  • US frozen potato brands like McCain, Simplot, and Lambweston are available in the frozen aisle of grocery stores nationwide.
  • US table-stock and fresh potatoes, which are seasonal, are available in the produce section of your favorite supermarket.
Homeschooling Parenting

Homeschool Classroom Tour

Hello, hello! We are fresh out of sembreak and we’re currently in the middle of the 2nd Quarter of the school year. We are about to take our second monthly exam for the quarter (there are 2 per quarter + 1 quarterly exam) next week, so we will probably enter the 3rd Quarter of the year come December. Ang bilis!

I’m still pleasantly surprised at how well our homeschooling year is going. Truth be told, there’s 80-90% chance that we are still going to enroll with Chosen Homeschool  next school year. We are loving the laidback, low-stress setup and the balance between structure and flexibility.

(I hope the low-stress lifestyle meant having more time to blog, but a lot of my time is eaten up by managing the household and juggling two part-time jobs. I am trying, though. :P)

Anyway, I’m showing you our homeschool classroom today! Our classroom used to be the home office, but because nobody was using it anymore, it became sort of a stockroom. In other words, bodega haha. When we made the decision to homeschool this year, it was clear that we were going to convert the office into a classroom.

It’s a very simple, no-frills classroom. I had the walls repainted as well as an old rattan dining set. We spent days cleaning the space. Oh, and I did not buy a single piece of furniture. The only things I bought were our actual school supplies like paper and ring binders. Okay, enough, talk, pictures na. 😛 Continue Reading

Parenting

Straight From The Experts: Useful Tips for a Healthy Toddlerhood

NIDO® 3+ Todo Expert Tips

We had a nice break from our regular quarantine routine last week when Nido sent us a package for an indoor picnic! Yuri and I had fun setting up the indoor picnic (and eating the nibbles Nido had so kindly provided) in preparation for an online talk with Nido experts to guide parents of toddlers.

NIDO® 3+ Todo Expert TipsNIDO® 3+ Todo Expert Tips NIDO® 3+ Todo Expert Tips

Admittedly, I no longer have a toddler, but my child is still growing up and I need all the help I can possibly get! Read on to know more about Nido’s Todo Expert Tips.

NIDO® 3+ Todo Expert Tips

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Homeschooling Parenting

Why We Decided to Homeschool This Year (Grade 3)

Why We Decided to Homeschool This Year (Grade 3)

We have been homeschooling for almost a month now!

It does not even feel like a month. Sure, homeschooling has its challenges, but for the most part, Yuri and I have been enjoying it, looking forward to our class every morning.

The last time I homeschooled Yuri was when he was in preschool pa so I am definitely no expert when it comes to homeschooling. Also, preschool homeschool for us was more like un-schooling. We did not enroll him to a regular preschool. Instead, I taught him whenever I can (I still had a full-time job back then) and supplemented with sessions at Eye Level. But despite the lack of routine, Yuri did learn a lot during that year, thank God.

Yuri’s compost in a jar

This time, because Yuri is already in Grade 3, he needs to have a consistent routine. He is also very used to traditional schooling as he has been going to a traditional school since he was in Senior Kinder. He has no problems with school whatsoever and, in fact, is blessed to be the Top 1 student of his grade level (thank you, Lord!). He also gets along with everyone and has a lot of friends both in school and at home. So why did we decide to homeschool?

Job and I talked about it and both of us agreed that the best option for us right now is homeschooling. Obviously, it has a lot to do with the fact that we are in a pandemic right now, and with distance learning options available, children are very likely to spend this school year safe at home. Yuri’s old school, for instance, offers three options: online schooling, printed modules, and a mix of both.

But while I support these options, I thought, if Yuri is going to stay home anyway, I could just teach him myself. Knowing Yuri, he will not stay still in front of a computer screen for a long period of time (unless it’s a game or a show he likes). He has a short attention span and easily gets distracted. I was not looking forward to using thick modules either.

Leaning odd and even numbers using our four-in-a-row game

With homeschooling, though, I can give Yuri face-to-face lessons and because he is my only student, the lessons can be tailored to fit his interests. Plus, our schedule will be much more flexible, which would be handy just in case we ever have the chance to go on a vacation, God-willing.

Also, homeschooling, for us, provides the perfect opportunity to lead Yuri closer to God, which I think is true with a lot of other homeschoolers worldwide. Yuri loves our Bible lessons, and we are able to incorporate what we learned from the Bible to our daily life. Oh, we have made household chores part of our “non-graded curriculum,” too, which made Yuri a lot more responsible!

When it comes to practicality, homeschooling, when you are enrolled in a provider, is not free. I think it is also worth saying that if we decided to keep Yuri in his old school, his tuition fee would have been free since he was the Top 1. However, weighing all miscellaneous expenses, we were still able to save money by homeschooling.

Yuri’s tuition fee, if we kept him in his old school, would have been free, but not the other fees. We enrolled in Chosen Homeschool, and all we need to pay for the entire year is P15,000. We also did not need to spend on a new laptop or a new computer set dedicated for daily online classes. You see, I have a couple of freelance jobs so we wouldn’t be able to share one laptop between us. But with homeschooling, my own laptop is enough for 2 weekly online sessions (1 hour each) with Chosen Homeschool. For discussions, we watch a few videos here and there, but that’s it. There’s no need to get Yuri his own laptop or desktop computer.

We often use textbooks and worksheets

Of course, I did spend a little bit of money to convert our old home office into our homeschool classroom (future post), but let’s charge it to miscellaneous fees 😀 Also, the home office was due for a redesign anyway!

And these are the reasons why we decided to homeschool this year. What mode of learning did you choose this year?

Personal School

Earthquakes and Christmas Breaks

I suddenly have some free time to blog because Yuri’s school just (at 8pm) cancelled classes this week and declared tomorrow to be the first day of their Christmas break.

Eh yesterday was the first day of their 3rd quarter exams (class last Monday was cancelled because of the 6.9 magnitude earthquake last Sunday) and tomorrow’s supposedly the second day. Kaya bloody ang pagre-review namin ni Yuri because their subjects for tomorrow’s exam are Math, Filipino, and Mother Tongue. Okay lang yung Math; it’s the 2 other subjects that are bloody hehe. 

Yuri was already set to sleep when I received a lot of messages from fellow parents. I wasn’t checking Facebook (where the school makes announcements on its page) so I was really surprised to learn that the exams — and the Christmas party — will be postponed to January.

At first, I was upset. We spent the whole afternoon studying na eh, nasayang lang. But now that I think about it, since the strong (strooong) earthquake last Sunday, there have been numerous aftershocks felt. Not to mention no one can predict earthquakes. So cancelling classes altogether seems to be the best decision to make for the children’s safety.

Not to mention having Christmas parties seems to be in bad taste given the lives lost and the properties damaged  in Davao del Sur because of the earthquake.

Yun lang, tapos na akong magbalot ng gifts ni Yuri hahaha. And we’ve been looking forward to attending our respective Christmas parties (students inside school and parents outside school lol). Oh well, I guess they’ll have to wait until January!

(Good thing I didn’t make my gifts for my fellow parents yet. Yan pala ang advantage of homemade gifts hehe.)

Now, about the earthquakes…

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Recipe

Cocoa Overload Overnight Oats

I’ve had quite a tough week last week. There were so many items on my to-do list, I forgot to pay the electric bill (don’t cut off our electricity yet, Davao Light!), and on top of that, there were a few challenges that came up at work. What a nice way to begin the month of April!

I may be working from home, but the sad reality is that none of my days are “easy” or “comfortable.” My schedule is also hectic and it can be overwhelming sometimes. This is why I always need to begin my day with a healthy breakfast!

Segue: I tried intermittent fasting but it’s impossible for me to give up breakfast. I start my day really early (6-7 am is our call time at work) and I can’t focus when I’m hungry.

Right now, I’m really loving this cereal which I pair with my favourite brand of rice milk:

This Kölln Yogurt Raspberry muesli is my current favourite!

It’s a quick fix. However, when I know I’m gonna need some extra boost the next day, I prepare my cocoa overload overnight oats the night before. It’s very easy everybody can do it! Plus you can add or remove ingredients according to your needs and preferences. Here are the stuff that go into mine:

  1. Rolled oats (I buy Robinsons Supermarket’s brand, Healthy You)
  2. Chia seeds (any brand will do)
  3. Cacao nibs (the ones from The Superfood Grocer is hands down the best for me)
  4. Cocoa powder (I used to use Bensdorp but I didn’t see a difference in taste when I switched to a much cheaper local brand)
  5. Rice Dream rice milk (you can use whatever kind of milk you prefer)

The Healthy You brand of rolled oats is cheap. That is a big pack (I forgot the exact weight but it lasts me months and I consume oats regularly) and costs less than P65 if I remember correctly. The cocoa powder is also cheap and you don’t need much every time. Chia seeds cost around P150 for a small pack but it goes a long way. My cacao nibs from The Superfood Grocer, if I remember correctly again, cost around P250. However, they’re a worthwhile investment if you’re a chocoholic and trying to avoid unnecessary sugar!

I think the only truly expensive (at least for me) is the rice milk at around P160-P180 but I can’t drink cow’s milk so… Soy milk is cheaper but I can only tolerate it when it’s chocolate-flavoured, which defeats the purpose. Almond milk is more even more expensive and I’m not a fan of the taste. So it’s rice milk for me!

Okay, enough talk, here’s how I make my Cocoa Overload Overnight Oats:

My “paraphernalia”

First I put less than a tablespoon of chia seeds. I prefer putting them first so they’ll absorb all the liquid (I think, lol)

Then I add half a cup of rolled oats. It seems little but the oats absorb the liquid and increase in volume

And then I add another half cup of milk. I make sure all the chia seeds are covered in liquid

I mix in around a tablespoon of cocoa powder. Sometimes I go crazy on the cocoa hehe (it is low in calories anyway and has no sugar added)

Finally, I add the cacao nibs. Since these are already coated in coconut sugar, I don’t need to add sweetener anymore

I put it inside the fridge overnight and in the morning, my breakfast is ready! So even when I’m rushing, I’m never out of something healthy to eat. I add bananas for extra energy — plus bananas and chocolate go so well together, right? Then I add just a few more cacao nibs for positive vibes *wink*

What is your favourite thing to eat during breakfast?

Kindergarten School

Farewell, Kindergarten + What I Learned About Schooling

It’s been a full 9 days since Yuri’s Moving Up ceremony, and I still can’t believe the school year is finally over! It’s been an awesome first year of regular schooling and we’ve made a lot of new friends. I also saw my son develop good study habits and self-discipline. But the highlight of the year, for me, was probably seeing Yuri do things on his own, meet people — both kids and adults — on his own, get along with everyone, and realising that he will do just fine.

As for me, I’m amazed that I’ve been able to keep up with preparing a healthy baon everyday. Yes, it’s a big deal for me! They were not as bongga as the ones I made from scratch and lovingly arranged in his container in June, but at least there were still fruits, cheese, and the occasional homemade food. It’s still an achievement for me, but that doesn’t mean I’ll stop striving for better.

Going back to the Moving Up ceremony, Yuri got three awards: With Honors, Star Reader, and Enthusiastic Learner. I mentioned quite discreetly in my last post that we were involved in a little drama in the days leading to the ceremony; it had something to do with the awards I mentioned above. I don’t think about it anymore and I’m just hoping it wouldn’t happen again. After all, it’s already been resolved so move on na!

Yuri’s Learning Style

No one in his class got an award higher than With Honors because of the school’s grading system. It’s not a big issue as long as the educators fairly assess each child as a unique individual. You see, Yuri doesn’t struggle with academics but he’s timid and is not a performer. He performs when needed (e.g. when he was made Joseph in their Christmas play) but he’s not as comfortable in the spotlight as other kids are. He prefers being in the back or being in the corner, quietly doing his own thing. Which is okay!

He certainly didn’t inherit this trait from me because I am epal lol but I relish in Yuri’s uniqueness. He is a doer and whatever he puts his heart into doing, he tries his best to do well. Unfortunately, this can mean being pitted against the performers, the speakers, and those who just shine effortlessly — which I try to understand because there’s more than 30 kids in his class and comparison is unavoidable. Good thing he aces his examinations, even the on-the-spot Stanine academic assessment done by the school.

Yeah, I am fully aware that this is a strong argument for homeschooling, but Yuri’s gonna be kawawa if I push on homeschooling since I really do not have the time it takes to be a full-time educator huhu. Because formal schooling is our best option, I’m just hoping and pushing for the “reserved” kids to also be recognised fairly. 🙂

Moving Up Ceremony

Anyway, here are more pictures of Yuri’s Kindergarten Moving Up ceremony! Theirs is very special because they are the first batch of kids ever to use the school’s newly built auditorium. As in they were still finishing it less than two weeks before the ceremony. It was exciting to see the kids sing and dance. After all those rehearsals, I could only imagine the relief their teachers felt — they can finally breathe now!

Before the program started, with his friend Christopher

From the school’s official Facebook page (my sister insisted on going upstage, too, because she’ll never have the chance again haha – she’s graduating, too, but they’re not going to use the auditorium)

From the school’s official Facebook page

From the school’s official Facebook page

With his classmates (right) Jhia and Isabella, and AM batchmate (left) Zoe

With his classmate, Carl

With his classmate, Toffy

And with his best friend (“bro,” he corrected me), Antoine

With Tita Angel, their teacher aide

With Teacher Han, their substitute teacher

With Teacher Lorraine, their adviser who just gave birth in December, and Isabella

With Teacher Dinah (left), their Christian Living teacher, and Teacher Grace, their prefect of discipline

The ceremony ended early in the afternoon, and after taking pictures with virtually everyone we see inside the auditorium, it was time to go. We’re scheduled to have a more formal graduation + birthday celebration next week so we just ate an early dinner at Bistro Selera.

And the boy was treated to a giant cotton candy!

It was a very fulfilling year, and while I’m feeling a bit nostalgic, I am glad that kindergarten year ended on a high note. I am looking forward to another fun-filled and learning-filled year. First grade, here we come!

Lifestyle School

Messy Life Lately: Moving Up and House Renovation

OMG, I thought I would be able to blog once final examinations are done. Well, Yuri has had his final examinations done for more than two weeks now (the last day of their exams was last March 2nd pa), but I barely blogged. I didn’t know I would be even busier after final examinations!

I’m such a noob school-mom. I had no idea there would be so much to do after the final exams and before their Moving Up ceremony. Costumes, rehearsals, schedules… I was not prepared at all!

For starters, the PM kids (us) had to adjust their body clock again because they had to go to school in the morning to be with the AM kids. And because they only had a total of 8 days to prepare for their Moving Up (and we are talking about 5-7 year olds here), for the final week of rehearsals, they were expected to be in school for the whole day. It was a major adjustment for us since we’ve never had to stay in school for more than 4-5 hours.

I appreciate that they didn’t make the kids wear intricate costumes (part of the school policy), so at least there’s less hassle on our part as parents. However, no matter how practical, we still had to buy costumes and their Moving Up attire.

Moving Up

But finally it’s done! Yuri’s class had their Moving Up ceremony last Thursday, March 15th. I’ll be a bit cheeky here and mention that there was a bit of drama that happened to us at school, but that was already resolved — all’s well that ends well. Special mention to my friends, George and Yankee, to whom I vented. Thank you for listening!

The ceremony itself was bittersweet. It was so much fun watching the kids sing, dance, and perform. It was truly a culmination in every sense of the word, and we were filled with pride watching how much our children improved. Of course, it was doubly fun witnessing the ceremony with my co-parents who also became my friends.

I’ll stop here because Yuri’s Moving Up deserves a different post, but I’ll show you some pictures!

These kids were the first group of students to use the school’s newly-built auditorium

Grabbed from the school’s official FB page

Grabbed from the school’s official FB page

With my pretty co-parents 🙂

Renovation

But more than the preparations for Moving Up, the thing that’s been bringing me a lot of hassle is this:

This used to be the back part of our house. It had housed our washing machine and the clothesline. We don’t do our laundry at home anymore — in fact, our clothesline was barely used and our washing machine had been unused for the past 2-3 years. So we decided to take the wall down and convert the unused space into a new, more spacious kitchen. It’s exciting but when there’s a renovation taking place inside your own house, it’s very stressful because it’s messy, it’s dirty, it’s dusty… Lahat na!

In fact, because our current kitchen is virtually covered in cement dust (cleaning is futile because once they start working again, it’s going to be covered in dust again), we’re relying on food delivery 75% of the time. And because it is so uninspiring to stay in the kitchen, I have stopped making healthy food. I’m back to eating carbs (because you can’t make me wash veggies and make salads in this condition) so I’m just carefully watching my portions na lang.

I can’t wait for this renovation to be over!


On the brighter side of things, I can now finally say that it is officially SUMMER VACATION! We’re gonna be busy, busy, busy, but the nice kind of busy. My planner is going to be full… I can’t wait regretting enrolling Yuri in different summer classes and complaining about hectic schedules! 😅

School Summer

Hello March, Hello Summer!

Raise your hands with me if you also can’t believe it’s already March!

Wasn’t it just yesterday when Yuri was starting kindergarten? I still vividly recall how frazzled I was during the first day (I ironed everything…down to Yuri’s socks — now I know better!), how I looked forward to the orientation and the first PTA meetings, how we made friends in class… Of course, it wasn’t that long ago, only 9 months ago, but you know what I mean!

In fact, just earlier this morning, I went to the school’s PTA General Assembly, the second for this year (the first one took place in July). As usual, I got out of the general assembly feeling more stressed than usual (loooong story), but it’s okay. I’m just rejoicing because Yuri’s final exams are finally over!

Yes, they had their final exams last week. Ang aga, ‘no? I am not complaining at all! It’s been terribly busy for the past two weeks, with all the work + real estate commitments and studying with Yuri for his finals. I’m so glad it’s over. Tomorrow, they’re going to start rehearsing na for their Moving Up ceremony. We’re still going to school but at least, no more stress na (at least for this aspect).

While I love taking Yuri to school, I’m looking forward to summer break when I don’t have to dress up and get out of the house. I can almost taaaste it. On the other hand, I want Yuri’s summer break to be productive, and we’re already starting to plan for it. Here are some of our plans:

1. Swim School

I’m waiting for Red Cross Davao to make their announcement regarding this year’s summer swimming lesson schedule. We missed last year’s so now I’ll make sure to enrol Yuri in their program as early as possible.

2. Jollibee Mini Managers Camp or McDonald’s Kiddie Crew

Isa lang, not both! I’ve heard good things about either two. I like McDo because the nearest location to our house is more convenient. However, I think Yuri prefers Jollibee because he likes the uniform better. Whichever works, honestly.


Apart from this two, I’m also thinking of enrolling Yuri to a music school. Yes, I’m still not over this ambition! However, while I want our summer break to be productive, I don’t want it to be hectic. Still, if I can find a sweet spot in between to achieve a balanced schedule, I might as well take it (with Job’s consent, of course, since he already vetoed last year LOL).

What are your plans for summer?

Kindergarten Lifestyle School

School is Almost Over!!!

I can’t believe it. There’s only 1 week of formal classes left for Yuri! After this week will be their final examinations, and after that, practice for moving up. The weather is chilly right now, but I can almost smell the sweet scent of summer (break).

Guess who needs new jogging pants?! Ang ikli na!

With two of Yuri’s classmates

(By the way, their jogging pants don’t look like that ha haha. I just erased the name of the school. You know na, mahirap na)

Funny because I still have several school-related posts sitting in my drafts, which I never got to finish. I guess I’ll  have to wait until the next school year to work on them again… LOL I’m so bad at this, I often wonder how come I’m still blogging! (Speaking of pending posts, I’ll probably be able to post them all once school’s over, so yay!)

From our school’s FB page

Yuri’s class hasn’t had formal classes for about two weeks now — actually, the whole school. They spent a week rehearsing for their Sama-Sama, which is the school’s culmination event for the year. I remember my first Sama-Sama back in 1996… or was it 1997? I was new to the school, a transferee, so I had no idea what Sama-Sama means. The school celebrates its fiesta every August, so what could this event be?

Imagine my glee when I found out that aside from the field demonstrations and food stalls, there were carnival rides in the campus! I didn’t ride on the big rides because my parents didn’t allow me, but I did have a great time trying the other attractions.

But that was more than 20 years ago. There’s more regard for safety now and regulations are a lot stricter, so there wasn’t any single ride at school. Actually, there hasn’t been for a long time. Instead, the students — and the parents — enjoyed the food stalls (bawal junk food!) and the program. There was even a magic show, which was fun.

Oh, and the kids danced, too!

Formal classes will resume this week, and by next week, they will be having their final examinations (paulit-ulit haha). I will be busy again with making worksheets and studying. And then we will all be busy with the preparations for moving up. But after that, freedom! Hurrah to the last stretch of school year 2017-2018!

PS: I’m planning to enroll Yuri (and myself!) to a swimming school in the city, but let’s see what happens. What are your plans for summer?

Kindergarten Parenting

My Child Doesn’t Like Reading Storybooks…And It’s Okay (Plus a Few Finds from Booksale!)

I was raised a reader. I probably spent the most part of my childhood and early teenage years curled up in bed or in the couch, reading a book. I also don’t believe in keeping books looking pristine and like brand new. You would know which of my books were my favorite: they look tattered and full of dog-eared pages. I tried to stop this habit in high school because a lot of my friends were very careful in handling their books. But it wasn’t me. I preferred (and still prefer) having books that look like they were read.

So when I had Yuri, you bet all I wanted was to raise him to be a reader, just like me. When he was a baby, I bought more books than toys and made sure he was surrounded by them all the time. I gave books as presents. I even wrote about his books constantly in my old blog (this was how his library looked like 4 years ago – the collection’s grown a lot bigger now). We read all the time and I religiously read him bedtime stories.

Until he lost interest in the classic story books I bought. He refused to be read books and only wanted to play.

I wasn’t really devastated — I just accepted that maybe he just wasn’t into books as much as I am. When he finally learned how to read when he was 4 years old (thanks, Eye Level!), I thought it would spark his interest again. Well, he liked reading alright… only he preferred to read road signs, car models, and things written on walls. Books not so much. Our books remained unopened and I didn’t buy any new story books for quite a long time.

Instead, I bought him maze books and activity books, which he devoured! I just thought I shouldn’t push it because he might see reading as a chore. So I let him be.

On his fifth birthday last year, his Tita Hazel (aka his Tita Girlfriend lol) gifted him with a thick science book. It was a great addition to Yuri’s ~untouched~ library. I left it in the bedroom with full intention of transferring it to the bookshelves, but life happened, and I completely forgot about it.

It wads ~thicc~

One day, Yuri discovered the book by himself…and by 11 pm, I had to force the book away from him because he didn’t want to stop reading! Continue Reading

Lifestyle Planning

Review: Design Your Life Back to Basics Planner

Last week, I posted this on my Instagram and Facebook and got a few positive feedback about the planner I’m using…

Guess which one among the six planner options I ultimately chose?

If you think it’s Design Your Life’s Back to Basics planner, you’re right! I was planning on buying it myself, but when my group of friends’ gift exchange came up last Christmas season, I decided to have my Secret Santa buy it for me lol! Thank you, Hazel, for fulfilling my wish!

As I mentioned, I got quite a few comments on both my Facebook and Instagram posts about the planner I am using. A former professor of mine even commented on how rare it is to find planners with vertical orientation. Actually, that’s perhaps 85% of the reason why I chose this planner. At first, I really wanted the Limitless planner. I loved its classic black cover and I think it really fits me. Even now, I still think it’s very pretty.

However, I will not be using the cover to plan, right? The actual planner pages are faaar more important than a pretty cover. So far, I’m loving my Back to Basics planner. I’ll show you why!

Design Your Life Back to Basics Planner

Barely a week since I started using it and the cover is already dirty. I accidentally placed it over a piece of paper with wet marker ink…

Design Your Life Back to Basics Planner

Happy to have big writing space again. Here the planner page compared to a personal size planner insert from my Kikki K!

A pocket plus the set of stickers the planner comes with

Opposite side of the pocket page with moooore stickers plus some Instax photos and the page for personal info

Back to basics!

Design Your Life Back to Basics Planner

Contacts, obviously 😀

Design Your Life Back to Basics Planner

I already edited the planner “manual” with my own legends and codes, but the personalization really is up to you

It also comes with this bookmark which you can use as a ruler

2017, 2018, and 2019

List-gasm! Two pages of lists <3

I’m loving this “Last Time” page. What better way to track haircuts and dentist appointments!

The “Monthlies” page. I don’t have regular monthly appointments or events so I’m using it for bill tracking

Design Your Life Back to Basics Planner

A sample of the monthly planning page. I love that it has a “Pending” section for tasks you weren’t able to accomplish last month

Design Your Life Back to Basics Planner

And a sample weekly planning page. Vertical orientation FTW! Here’s how I’m using the divisions: first row for personal stuff, middle row for Yuri stuff, and the third row for work-related stuff.

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Lifestyle Parenting

A Grandmother’s Wisdom

It’s back-to-work day! And I am savoring the remaining days before back-to-school day. I just want to share with you a simple thing that happened today. It was a very simple thing, but I admit I’m hoping it will never happen again!

While eating lunch, I didn’t know that Yuri was playing with a stray thread from his shorts. He knotted it twice and thrice and accidentally wrapped it around his finger tightly. I didn’t notice it at all because he didn’t want to show what he did.

I only discovered it when I noticed that he couldn’t lift his hand all the way to the table. I looked at his finger and it’s already swollen because of the thread wound tightly around it. I wasn’t able to take a picture anymore because, hello, action first siguro. Anyway, it really was swollen I was afraid a slight nick would cause the finger to bleed. It was also stressful because there’s no room for a pair of scissors to fit in the gap between the thread and the finger. I also didn’t have time to go look for the seam ripper which I don’t even remember when I last used.

The offending piece of thread (sorry for my dry, dry hands. I went swimming the other day and they haven’t recovered yet haha)

I wasn’t at the point of panicking…yet… but I was having trouble figuring the solution out. Until I called my mother. She simply told me to use the nailcutter. Brilliant. Very carefully avoiding the skin, I was able to snip at the thread and set the swollen finger free.

I’m embarrassed to admit that such simple solution didn’t occur to me. Then again, there’s another level of wisdom only grandmothers know, which could only come from experience. Who knows which one of us siblings led her to this kind of knowledge? Teehee.

Lifestyle Planning

My 6 Initial Choices for My 2018 Planner

I finally found some downtime! I am actually on vacation — have been on vacation since the 23rd of December actually and I don’t need to be back until January 3rd.

Everyone who knows this thinks I’m very lucky. Well, I am, not everyone is given a full 11-day vacation by their employers. But the truth is I have only been able to rest for one day, Christmas day. The rest of my “vacation” was spent working on other projects + chores. I haven’t gone to a single reunion or outing… I couldn’t even catch up on blogging duties!

At least Christmas is over. I love Christmas with all my heart and I am very grateful for Jesus’ birth, but celebrating Christmas as a mother is plain exhausting. I still don’t know how I was able to manage to get gifts for everyone haha!

Now that it’s almost 2018 — woah, wasn’t it just 2015 yesterday??? — I am off to a new personal agendum: a new planner! The tangerine Kikki K ring binder that Job gave me last year (I bought it myself, he just gave me the budget lol) is still pretty as ever. I am amazed that it still looks beautiful when I used it every single day.

However, I am not someone who can use the same planner two years in a row. After two years of using ring binders (Webster’s Pages and Kikki K), I am itching to try a new planner system. So I’m keeping my Kikki K for future use and decided to just get a new planner to scratch the itch.

I already have my 2018 planner with me. A big thanks to my Secret Santa, Hazel, for fulfilling my wish! But before I reveal it, let me show you the planners that made it difficult for me to choose just one. Here were my initial choices for my 2018 planner!

(And no, I never planned on getting a coffee shop planner since I can’t tolerate coffee…)

1. Keepsake Planner from Filed

Via Filed website

I have never had a planner from Filed despite it being popular among people I know. My bestfriend George, in particular, gets it every year and loves it. So I decided to try it and see for myself. I waited for them to officially release their 2018 planners, and when they came out, I decided I wanted the Keepsake planner.

Buuuut I never saw a single mention of trackers, which are very essential to me especially the finance trackers. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I checked. It’s not in their website, not in their Facebook page, not even in reviews. The planners are relatively cheaper, but I cannot give up my non-negotiables. Maybe next time!

2. Limitless Planner fro Design Your Life (CNS Designs)

Via CNS Designs website

Design Your Life is another planner brand I’ve been wanting to try though I’m not a fan of their flagship planner. It’s too girly for me and the designs, too crazy. I need something reliable and organized. Good thing they have other designs, such as the Limitless. This year, I found out they’re releasing two Limitless planners, one in horizontal layout and another in vertical hourly. I never liked horizontal layouts — they just don’t work for me — so I was pretty excited to see the vertical hourly!

Well, I tried having a vertical hourly layout in my Kikki K for practice, and guess what. It didn’t work because I don’t have a fixed schedule every day. Also, I prefer bullet marks and ticking them one by one BuJo style. So back to square one!

3. Back to Basics Planner from Design Your Life (CNS Designs)

Via CNS Designs website

I really, really covet the vertical layout of Back to Basics, still from Design Your Life! Unlike the Limitless planner, it’s not hourly so you’re not limited to designing your day by the hour, which doesn’t work for me. On the contrary, the layout is similar to the classic Happy Planner’s and Erin Condren’s. I love being able to divide my day into categories and listing away! Plus, it has all the trackers I need, which is great.

The only thing I didn’t like about this planner is the cover. Boo. It’s not that I hate it, it’s just not me. I really wanted the minimalist cover of Limitless. Hopefully they can come up with a planner that has the classic minimalism of Limitless and the layout of Back to Basics…

4. 17-Month Medium Agenda from Ban.Do

Via Ban.Do website

I love the covers of Ban.Do planners. They’re fun but don’t look disorganized and all over the place (unlike the DYL flagship planners…). I especially like their classic “I am very busy” covers, but their florals are very me, too! The covers look young and fresh but not immature.

I thought I could get past the horizontal layout because of the other features (cool cover, graphics, stickers), until I found out that it also lacks the essential features that I need. It has nice add-ons but none of the trackers that are important to me (as described in number 1). In other words, it’s all fluff. Not to mention it is cheap in the official website ($28) but is so much more expensive when bought locally.

5. Discbound Planner from BDJ

Via I Love BDJ website

BDJ planners were my first real planners. I think I had them from 2012 to 2013? I didn’t know how to make the most out of planners then so for two years, I had planners that were barely used. I considered going back to BDJ this year especially as they came out with a discbound planner. The thing with discbound planners (like Happy Planners) is they are customizable! You can rearrange the sheets, add sheets, remove them… It’s a super idea.

One thing I can’t get past BDJ planners though is how the print looks, I don’t know, washed out? Perhaps it’s done on purpose for the boho vibe, but I don’t like it (I don’t like boho, too). I like my colors vivid and sharp! Also, I’m not a fan of the motto on the cover. What does that even mean?

6. A bullet journal

Via Bullet Journal website

It’s a very first world problem, but choosing a planner is always a dilemma for me. There are non-negotiables and pros and cons and we’re not even talking about the price points yet. For the first half of 2017, aside from my Kikki K, I did BuJo for my work-related stuff. I just used a cheap dotted notebook and it worked very well. Which reminds me, I haven’t even blogged about my bullet journal!

Anyway, yes, it worked for me for the first half of the year. Almost. I think I was able to do it until the first week of June? When the school year was about to start, bullet journalling started to become a lot more difficult than it was without school-mom responsibilities. And when classes did begin, it became impossible. I considered going back to bullet journalling to satisfy my OC-ness, but I remembered that it’s just going to remain impossible for me with all my responsibilities.

Which one do you think I chose?

Health and Fitness Lifestyle

Of Tonsillitis, Flu, and The Vitamin Dilemma

I haven’t blogged in almost half a month!

That’s a record for me not counting the hiatuses… Actually, my hiatuses were even shorter than this one! I wasn’t meaning to not blog. I didn’t have a choice, really. First, Yuri got sick with flu. Then, got sick with flu and tonsillitis. In between our sicknesses, even though I had time to blog, I just didn’t have the energy to do so!

Yuri’s Flu

A couple of Fridays ago, Yuri went home feeling lethargic. I thought he felt warm, too, but he always had relatively high temperature, so I got out the thermometer to be sure. Ayun na, 38 degrees. Our consolation was that it was a Friday and he had the entire weekend to recover.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t a simple case of cold. Based on his symptoms, I’m pretty confident to say it was a full-blown flu. I decided that if ever his temperature goes higher than 39 degrees, we will go to the doctor na. Good thing it didn’t. It did go as high as 38.8 degrees on Saturday night, but it consistently went lower after that. I didn’t feel like we needed to go to the hospital as everything seemed manageable. I just gave him paracetamol round-the-clock and let him rest as much as he needed to.

It also helped a lot that he drinks a lot of water. On a good day, he drinks maybe more than 1.5 liters or 6-7 glasses of water (5-year old’s only need to drink 1 liter or 5 glasses in a day). When he got sick, I think it doubled! He was drinking literally every minute and was peeing every now and then. By Sunday afternoon, he was already feeling better and was well enough to go to school on Monday. I didn’t let him go to school, though, to make sure he has already recovered 101%.

His loyal Thermos always at his side

My Flu… and Tonsillitis!

Everything was well… until last Friday when started feeling lethargic. I was already sure I caught Yuri’s virus, whatever it was, because I was already coughing. I didn’t expect to get the whole flu (the works) though because I rarely get fever. My token illness has always had something to do with the gut, not fever. When Yuri was sick, I even announced that I don’t remember the last time I had fever. I shouldn’t have said that haha!

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to use that weekend to rest (which I should have done). Yuri has upcoming exams and there were deadlines to chase so I had to work overtime. I did rest whenever I found time to do so, though it wasn’t plenty.

I also had really sore throat. At first I attributed it to the fever and cough. I mean, sore throat is common when you have fever and cough, right? But it grew really sore and I couldn’t eat anything but soup and lugaw. I had the sense to check my throat on Monday when I was feeling well enough and saw that my tonsils had white spots. Eek! On top of that, I had severe dry cough. I was so afraid I’ll cough my tonsils out, LOL!

I went to see the doctor Monday afternoon. I went to MDMRC (Metro Davao Medical and Research Center) instead of San Pedro Hospital (which used to be my go-to hospital). MDMRC is a new hospital that is a lot nearer, and since it’s new, the clinics were also new. I love it! I’m contemplating on switching doctors for Yuri, too. I actually saw a family doctor (I love her, too!) so maybe I can take Yuri to her instead and we’ll have the same doctor.

It’s a Friday again today, and I’m feeling a lot better! No more cactus in my throat and I can eat normal food again. No more lethargy!

By the way, happy first day of December!!!

On a positive note, I lost a total of 2 kilos that weekend! Now that I’m eating normally again, I gained some of the weight I lost, but it was still amazing. I’m going to do a lugaw diet again and hope to lose weight again hahaha!

Anyway, I’m rethinking the vitamins we’re using. Yuri and I are both taking chewable vitamin C (a generic brand) and ever since the rainy season began, we’ve been doubling our dosage. But obviously, it didn’t work. I know not all vitamins are the same so I’m thinking of switching to Kirkland. Does anyone take Kirkland vitamins? How is it?