Friday, December 16, 2011

More Christmas Gift Ideas

     In a previous post I've mentioned how I started putting together Christmas gift ideas in August. I felt if I started looking out for sales many months before the holiday, buy a few things here and there every pay...its not a tough as trying to buy everything for everyone the entire month of November and December. I prefer to give presents I don't mind receiving myself  :)

     The pictures below is not all I got since August, just an example of what I have and what I did with them. I found out that when you buy stuff from Bath and Body Works (BBW), you can ask for their clear plastic bags, tags and ribbon...its free!! So every time I shopped at BBW, I asked for a few bags, tags and ribbon. Perfect for last minute gifts. 

     Oh, the ribbons used below are my own...I wanted them used up. These are going to be Teacher presents!!!

 from left to right: be Enchanted body lotion (2oz), Cranberry Woods (1wick) candle,
and a Mrs. Clause Apple Pie scented hand sanitizer (1 oz) 

 The things in this picture is same as the first one except the candle is Cranberry Pear Bellini (smells YUMMY)
and lastly the candle on the left is Apple Crumble (1wick, smells YUMMY), with a Vanilla Cookie scented hand sanitizer (1oz, smells like real cookies!) and the body lotion is Charmed Life (2oz, discontinued)

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated in any way with Bath and Body Works, nor am I compensated for this. I love their products and all opinions made are my own.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cooking in Bulk

     As a busy mom, cooking in bulk is one of the ways I save time. It could be anything. I could buy 10 pounds of ground meat, brown all of it with chopped garlic and onions. Let it cool and split it into one or two pound packs and freeze it. That way when I feel like making a dish that requires ground meat, all I have to do is toss a pack in the pot/pan and cook with sauce (like spaghetti). Since the meat is already cooked, it saves me so much time.

     Another way I do is making big batches of pancakes (see below). I figured since I have my griddle out to make pancakes,  I'll make a big batch of them and freeze. I do not mix the chocolate chips into the pancakes as I think it would make them too sweet. I prefer to put 5 pieces of chocolate chips in each pancake. I usually end up making about 50 pancakes, which depending on my kids moods, can last almost two weeks. I'll let them cool, bag them up in a ziplock and the kids can get their own pancakes from the freezer and microwave them for about 30 seconds each. They have pancakes for breakfast during the week and sometimes as snacks. What a way to teach them some independence!

My griddle has space for 5 regular sized pancakes 

with enough room for me to flip them over

cooling them down while waiting for the rest before bagging and freezing

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Angel Tree

     'Tis the season for giving and this year my family has decided to participate in the Angel Tree program at our church. Every year around Christmas time a tree is set up in our church lobby decorated with paper-shaped snow men, trees and angels. On the decorations are wishes from families and children as well as instructions on how to 'deliver them'. We picked three tags. One is for a 10 year old boy, another is for a 7 year old girl and the last wish was toiletries for women. The requests are to be placed under the tree unwrapped with the tags (seen below) attached to them about a week prior to Christmas.


     I was able to get some shampoo, soap, toothpaste, toothbrush and deodorant to go with the women's toiletries tag. A Disney princess art set that Ali picked went with the girl tag and another regular art set that Matt picked went with the boy tag. I sure hope our recipients like them!    

     I felt it was a good way to celebrate the spirit of Christmas, to show our children how to be charitable. It makes them realize that not everyone is as fortunate as we are and it is a way of making someone else happy. Christmas is not just about receiving something, it's also about being thankful that we have enough and sharing our blessings with those in need.

Friday, December 2, 2011

I Love Weekends!

     I love weekends, especially the ones where we plan to do nothing. I can sleep in if I want (as much as Sofi will let me of course), I really enjoy times when we 'play by ear' the things our family will do.

     As Ted works long hours at times during the week, weekends are a great time for us to bond as a family. We cook and eat meals together. It's when the kids get to play with daddy, or for us to watch movies on cable together. Ted is pretty good about caring for the kids while I get a much needed break and watch my shows in our bedroom or even nap. I am always so thankful.

     I don't know what this weekend holds, but I sure am looking forward to it!!

Home for the Holidays

     We are heading home for the holidays....YAY! Where is 'home' you may ask..New York! I am soooo excited to fly back east. I met hubby in New York, our two older children were born there and my immediate family still lives in the east coast of the United States. We've relocated to the west when Ted was offered a position here. I hope and pray this is I really miss the east. It's in my blood :)

     I've done some Christmas shopping for family and friends here in Los Angeles and hoping to be done wrapping everything a week before we leave. We have two weeks before we leave for the holiday and it seems whenever we are going somewhere, the last week is always so hectic. I am also loading up a few goodies to give to my own family and friend in New York. It will be so cool to spend time with my parents, siblings and friends. I am thrilled to have my children and my sisters children together this holiday season. All the kids are older now and they're always doing something or saying something funny.

     I am beyond giddy with excitement! I love the cold weather, I love the snow, even if little old me has to shovel it. I love, love, LOVE being home for the holidays!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Ideas for Christmas

     'Tis the season for giving...and I've started putting together ideas to give away as gifts to friends and family not to mention those who teach my kids and make sure they're safe while in school and away from me. In the past I've baked goods like Amish Friendship bread, and muffins. Last year it was Oreo balls and something called a "poor mans" turtle, I put them in a decorated mason jar and viola! instant present.  The jar in the bottom was supposed to be decorated more, but I thought less is more hence the simple multi-colored ribbon. I made Oreo balls on a stick to look like a lollipop for Matt and Ali's class too.

Oreo Balls on a stick

Freshly made chocolate covered Oreo balls

The 'poor mans' turtle

Oreo balls and Turtles in a Jar

     I think as early as August I've started planning, and every year I want to be better, more creative than the previous year. This year I'm not cooking/baking anything. This time I am giving myself a so called break. I've decided people are getting candles, hand soaps, and body care products. As a budget conscious mother and wife, I like to get my moneys worth when I buy stuff. I like good quality stuff, I also like to give what I would like to receive. So my eyes were always peeled for sales....even better if an item is on sale and I can use a coupon! I buy things here and there from one of my favorite stores, Bath and Body Works...BBW for short. Even my children love this store.

     I think I have enough things  for gift giving, I will be looking for ways have them all prettied up for the presentation, I mean I can't just hand them over all shoved in a bag, right? I've looked at little metal pails, some baskets and still haven't decided how I want the goodies packaged. I will keep you posted.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

My Busy Thanksgiving Weekend

     Where do I begin? It was first discussed by family that we will be celebrating Thanksgiving holiday at my brother in law's place. One family was bringing ham, another would have some type of soup dish and egg rolls. The request was for us to make shrimp tempura as it was a hit during the Pacquiao fight. My cousin and his family were bringing dessert. Plans were slightly altered when Ted received a call from another cousin inviting ALL of us over for the holiday...the more, the merrier!

     I skipped Black Friday this year. For those that don't know Black Friday is the Friday after Thanksgiving (which always falls on the last Thursday of November). It is time of the year when stores offer the biggest discounts on electronics, housewares, clothing among other things. Instead of opening at 3 or 4 in the morning, stores decided to open at midnight. We decided to sleep in and put up our tree after breakfast instead, with the children doing most of the decorating.

     Saturday found us going to Santi Alley in downtown Los Angeles. It's a market place where goods are sold at low prices. We have never been and just wanted to see what it was like. Matt got a remote controlled car, Ali got a pair of pretend eyeglasses and a toy dog while Sofi ended up getting a baby doll.

     It was around 3 pm by the time we were done walking around, our late lunch was at nearby Philippe's Original for some french dipped sandwiches...YUM!

     Sunday was just laying around, watching football on tv. After the busy few days, it is always nice to do 'nothing' :)



Monday, November 14, 2011

It's all Pacquiao's fault!

     What a busy weekend it was! On Saturday we were having people over for the Pacquiao-Marquez fight. A great reason to party. We don't always have people over, it's nice to entertain from time to time. Let me make it clear that while our home can be a little messy and cluttered at times, but never dirty. It shows that kids live here by the occasional toy on the floor here and there. The older kids were excited about their cousins coming over that they were asking what they can do to help clean up...hhhmmm, maybe we should have people over more often!

       As Ted requested the shrimp tempura, he said he would help me peel and clean shrimps. The kind I got on sale was nice sized but it still had its head on, good thing Ted was true to his word. With the shrimp I also had broccoli and sweet potato tempura. The dish has turned out great every time I make it that it's going to be added to my list of favorite dishes to make!

     I already got the ingredients for shrimp tempura and pigs in a blanket a few days early, along with soda, plastic plates, cups and cutlery as well as napkins. I have a case of beer purchased on sale a few weeks ago, as well as a big bottle of pomegranate margarita (YUM).
     Sometime after breakfast we slowly started getting our place ready for the evenings fight. I love that people won't be over till late afternoon/early evening. I didn't feel stressed with cooking, cleaning up. Ted is the neat one in my, not as much and I always point out I can be messy, but never dirty. There's a difference! Hahaha

          Family started arriving around 4pm bearing dishes of their own. Ted's cousin had korean style barbecue ribs called galbi and his brother has korean style noodles called jap-chae (not sure if I spelled it right) and a vegetable dish. The grown ups decided to let the kids have dinner first at 5:30, that way once the fights starts, it will be the grown ups turn to eat and watch the fight while the children either watch movies in our bedroom or play in their own room. Great food is always a welcome bonus at our gatherings.

     After all the pre fight stuff, the main event started at 6. The fight was a really close one with all of us cheering on Manny Pacquiao of course. We did notice he didn't fight the way we're used to him boxing, it didn't feel as exciting as his previous fights. In the end Pacquiao won, though it was a close fight.

     Sunday was a late breakfast for us and then church at noon. We got to relax at home before heading to my aunts house as she is helping us with Ali's school project (which would be another post). As we headed home from seeing my aunt, all three kids fell asleep. Just as well because there's school the next day.

     That sums up our weekend, busy and's all Pacquiao's fault! :)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ted's Day Off

     Ted surprised me last night by telling me he is taking today off. I am thrilled to spend the day with him...doesn't matter what we do, long as it's spent together. After dropping Matt and Ali off at school, we headed straight for Manila Express, a local filipino restaurant, for breakfast as that's what Ted was in the mood for. He had what's called Tap-si-log, Tapa ( a beef jerky like dish usually eaten at breakfast), sinangag (fried rice) and itlog (egg, in this case fried egg). I had fried rice, jeproks (crunchy dried salted fish) and sisig (seasoned chopped up meat). Sofi was taking bites of food between her daddy and me.

     Since Ted decided to spend today with us, our (mine and Sofi) schedule was of course thrown off a bit. Sofi still got to watch Elmo and Barney when we got home, after which she had a nap. And Ted and I got to watch a movie on cable...Oceans Eleven. That's one movie no matter how many times we watch, we are never tired of.

     Soon it was pick up time for Matt and Ali...which daddy does with lil Sofi. I am thankful for what little alone time I have. It's usually Sofi and I during the days that she is very attached to me, I think it even hurts Teds feelings sometimes that she prefers me over him. So anytime we are able to arrange her going with him is good, I get a little break and he gets to bond with her. It's good for Sofi to realize that her daddy can meet her needs as much as I can.

     Overall it was a pleasant day, I truly enjoyed spending it with my husband. We didn't spend a lot of money and still enjoyed ourselves. I look forward to the next time he surprises me by taking another day off...they are few and far between but always soo worth it.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Update on Desktop Down

     As previously posted, my desktop was having problems and I called on the help of my cousin (and his wife). Cousin G said I can do a 'system restore' on my desktop, to a week prior to when I noticed my desktop was acting up. And viola! The family desktop is up and running!!!! Woooohoooo!!

     Again thanking my cousin and his wife (who was relaying messages and just being super cool) for saving my family some money and having me learn something new in the IT world. hahaha! As my sis said to me, it's like I have my own personal IT in my cousin. We plan on using this desktop (a 9 yr old Dell) till it dies. Someday we will be upgrading to another laptop as they're easier to lug around, but in the meantime our beloved desktop is serving our family well.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Desktop down, desktop down!!!

     During the week, Matt and Ali are allowed use of our desktop for school work. On weekends they can surf the 'net, or play games if they wish. Unfortunately Matt decided to 'search' stuff he is interested in ninjas, rappers and what have you. As of Friday afternoon, he calls out to me, "Mom, Mom...something's happening to the computer..". I check and it shows my hard hard drive is wiped out...supposedly. I did the anti virus scan as well as a boot scan which showed me my stuff is still there...just files might be corrupted. Agh!! Matt couldn't explain where he went or what he did...all he said was he clicked on 'something'. I know some may say go get it fixed, but why pay if I can fix it myself? I figured I'll try and use my resources, ya know...Google, cousins, friends who are in the know. LOL! I'm thinking if they can tell me what to do, I can do it. I am a computer major after all, even if I haven't used my degree.

     I ended up sending my cousin (actually his wife with whom I regularly exchange messages) who lives overseas a message as to my dilemma. I consider my cousin's spouses my cousins as well, even if its through marriage, they are now part of our family and thus MY cousins as well. My cousin G is married to C, who is now 'my' cousin C..have I lost you yet? haha! Anyway, cousin C was kind enough to pass my "mayday" message to her husband, my cousin G. And G was pretty quick and replying to my questions all the way from the Philippines. Oh and I'm using my laptop at this time. Thank goodness for this thing called technology!!

     I have yet to do what G told me I should do, as I cannot get work done when my young'uns are around, too distracting :)

     I will however, keep you posted :)

Busy days..and Halloween

     Finally have time to do another post. The past week has been busy, well my usual busier days are Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Tuesdays is early dismissal at the older kids school (1:30pm instead of the usual 2:30pm), and Wednesdays they go to religious education classes from 4-5:30 pm. Those are the two days during the week where I sometimes feel like a chicken with its head cut off. Sofi and I run our errands while Matt and Ali are in seems like we're barely done and it's time for pick up.

     After drop offs at 7:40 (when the school gate opens), Sofi and I usually go home for a quick breakfast and for Sofi to watch some Elmo, Barney or the Wiggles before heading out at around 9am for food shopping or whatever errand needs doing that day. Sofi will have a two errand max till shes itching to go home for her nap, so I like to do the more important stuff first...that way if she starts getting cranky, I'm usually done or getting done by around 11 am. On the non busy days, I'll take her to the mall to check out the fountains which she loves throwing pennies in and play in the play area. Other times I'll take her to a nearby library to check out books.

     This years Halloween fell on a school day, Monday. Matt decided to be a ninja, Ali wanted to be a vampiress and lil Sofi is a bumble bee. Ted and I decided he will take off work early to take the kids out trick or treating, but we will do so in the neighborhood instead of somewhere far. There is a Halloween parade at school, after which the kids and I can come home for some snacks and some rest before heading out for trick or treating when Ted comes home. We went a few blocks away from where we lived, most houses were elaborately decorated and they are giving out a pretty good amount of candy. Some people were giving out full sized bars...which us grownups appreciated as well!