When it comes to saving my husband relies on me the most. I can say I had a good training with my mom when I was a kid and handling some side business growing up taught me a lot how to be frugal and be a spender at the same time. Oh yes I can splurge when I want to shop and once I start there's no stopping me. During this tight economic time we have to be smart with our spending and find ways on how to save so I'm really keeping that in mind.

When I came here I noticed hubs has a big jar where he dumps all his coins. I took the initiative and continue putting change there because in time we can just exchange those for bills using the coin machines here. It was a boring day just us relaxing at home, hubs busy doing computer stuffs and me just chilling out. I thought of counting all the coins (quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies) just to pass time. Call me weird huh? Well not me alone, look who got curious with what I was doing and counted the sorted coins as well! Though he didn't join me sorting out the coins and stacking it per dollar.

Now here's the fun part.....can you help me count how much we saved in the jar? Btw, this was done few months back that's why I'm separating the new sets of change we get and count it before I put in the jar. You can see how I stacked the coins, one stack is a dollar so you just need to count how many stacks are there. Believe it or not, keeping your change this way is a good way of saving money too. It may not be that much but in time you'll see how much you saved already. I like training kids this way by giving them coin banks and teaching them to save there so they can get something they like later on. I also do this kind of saving with loose bills, whenever I have extra I just keep it. That serves as our emergency money at home, no need to rush to the bank just to get some cash.

But lately I haven't been putting much change in the jar because I haven't been really doing much groceries being busy with other things and therefore not carrying much cash doing my usual purchases. Hubby is the same, he just gets the allowance he needs for the week from the bank and there were even times when we go out without carrying any cash at all. I know it's not good to do that but those times we're really out and about thus forgetting to pass by the bank to get some cash. good thing we always carry our debit cards which covers our cash needs whether we eat out or shop. We're not too reliant on credit cards and only really use it when needed. Call it cashless days! It's very common here anyway and you can actually even get those reloadable Prepaid Debit Card, Prepaid Mastercard or Prepaid Credit Card in local stores and other establishments.

In cases that you don't want to use your debit cards for security purposes there's a safer and more secured means of carrying cash through the reloadable AchieveCard. With this you don't need to use and expose your bank debit card or atm making your accounts protected from hackers and identity thieves. (hubs was once a victim, somebody got a hold of his number and good thing he noticed about $300 loss, tracked with bank's help but we still can't believe how it was done so be careful purchasing most especially online with less established stores) It can be used easily in any location as long as it accepts Mastercard for your purchases in store or online. Same time you can watch your budget since this Prepaid Debit Card is reloadable, you can easily set the cash limit that you want to use. Efficient don't you think? I even used used this method back there in the Philippines when they introduced those express pay cards but honestly I prefer to use cash still since I tend to spend more not seeing my bills flying away! =P Like I said earlier, once I start, I can't stop! A piece of advice to all before I end this long post of mine, may it be cash, card or checks make sure you spend wise. It's still best to save up for the future.

After all the reading, back to my question... how much in total? Also, what are your money saving tips? Mind sharing?

Poema de la vida (Poem of Life)

La vida es un lugar de parada, (Life is but a stopping place,)
Una pausa en lo que va a ser, (A pause in what's to be,)
Un lugar de descanso a lo largo de la carretera, (A resting place along the road,)
Para la eternidad dulce. (To sweet eternity.)
Todos tenemos distintos trayectos, (We all have different journeys,)
Caminos diferentes a lo largo del camino, (Different paths along the way,)
Todos estaban destinados a aprender algunas cosas, (We all were meant to learn some things,)
Pero nunca la intención de quedarse ... (But never meant to stay...)
Nuestro destino es un lugar, (Our destination is a place,)
Mucho mayor de lo que sabemos. (Far greater than we know.)
Para algunos el viaje es más rápido, (For some the journey's quicker,)
Para algunos el camino es lento. (For some the journey's slow.)
Y cuando finalmente termina el viaje, (And when the journey finally ends,)
Vamos a reclamar una gran recompensa, (We'll claim a great reward,)
Y encontrar una paz eterna, (And find an everlasting peace,)
Junto con el Señor. (Together with the Lord.)

--author unknown

...y descansar en la paz eterna querido hermano...

(may you rest in eternal peace dear brother)

Enoc's my dear husband's half bro (from papa's previous marriage before he met mama). Hubs had some chance to spend time with his older brother when he came back here in US sometime 2005. Enoc even stayed in his apt for awhile. This photo was taken here at home when papa brought Enoc for a visit before he went to El Salvador and during this time he was already very ill. I didn't miss the chance to snap a shot of all of us so I set the cam and I'm glad I did. My husband and I knew this time might not come anymore. I thought this past week won't be as stressful as the later week but so much things happened in a week's span after he's brought back here in California by his hermana. Last Friday hubs received a call from his hermana saying it might be his last day so we came in rushing. It was indeed the last, me and hubs witnessed his last breath. It's a very painful moment for my husband seeing his brother go as he was holding his hand tightly. Our only relief was seeing him go without struggle, pain, seizure or any suffering and we saw his face happy. I bet he is now, being free of pain and free to see and go back to his wife, kids even merely as a soul. He can now watch over them now despite the absence of his physical body. Que nuestras oraciones con usted Enoc...

...Here's a little tour to our humble abode...

Hubs moved to this apartment unit early 2006 after transferring to a nearby office here. A bit old and no up-to-date features but he could care less, all he wanted was a convenient place near office. No more tiring commutes or long drives. I prefer it that way better so I don't really have to worry much and I know this place has a good neighborhood from where he lived first when he's back here 2005. The spaces are good enough for a couple provided with 1-bdrm with t&b, living room, dining and kitchen. Our bedroom though is quite full since we use it as work space too, my home office for now. having 2 work/computer tables, bed and bookshelf sure take much space we have.

Before I even came here we seriously talked about getting our own place instead of renting apartment. I knew it will be hard for me to keep moving from place to place since I've lived in our home there in the Phils. and never really rented. We finally decided to pursue for that house after much talks and considerations and most especially now that we're about to have a new addition to the family. Of course the researching part is my duty so ever since I've been browsing and searching the net. We love it here where we live but that doesn't restrict me from scouting all the way to the other side of the coast.

I came across Bruce Germinsky and they have variety of choices from commercial, retail and high-end residential real estate in Monmouth County. I know this is way too far from where we really are now but who knows, right? We have to be more flexible with choices since we also want to have a home office to establish our own business. Bruce Germinsky even has professional & medical class A office space, retail & shopping centers. No big time thinking like this though, a home with an office will be ideal for now.

This house hunting thingie makes me reminisce, I remember having daydreams with my brother that we hope sometime in the future we can have our own island or at least a beachfront property as our retirement place. New Jersey Real Estate has all these oceanfront luxury condos and waterfront homes. Not even limited to that alone including retail leasing, site & real estate development, landlord and tenants services. This makes Bruce Germinsky, Realtor like a one-stop shop for realty needs.

It would be so nice to have such properties in time!

I'm still archiving and at the same time organizing my HD files because I want to clear some space too to give way to my new images. My office projects and personal projects consume a very big portion of my HD so it's about time to dump some unnecessary files. I can say we were lucky to get the chance to practice and work in our former office Ole Naval Architects. Boss was exceptional, not somebody who would push you aside but someone who would want you to excel and achieve something in your career. A great mentor and architect! He taught us many things there and molded us to go further up our career, never selfish about sharing his knowledge. He was never judgmental about me and my hubs since we worked in the same office. Boss knew from the start that we're together and still he was not barred by that fact. When he needed an addition to the office and knew my hubs' qualifications, he didn't hesitate to hire him without further personal questions (we submitted resume together in all offices since we were looking for a new employers). We didn't have problems in the office since we observed professionalism and people around us never even hinted our personal deal. It was even boss who spilled the news about us being together later on! Our relation with boss didn't end when we left the office, he was one of our godfather on our wedding. =)

...proposed privacy enclosures for visa booth area...

Oh what a recap! Now back to my projects. Like I was saying earlier, the office gave us great opportunities there handling our German projects. Those projects weren't easy and quite delicate because Germans are very meticulous. So much things to learn about their systems and planning more so we're working on a new embassy project. It was really scary to handle such a delicate project but it's all worth because I learned so much from it. The German Embassy was my starting project there when i first came in so it's a total shock for me. I had the privelege to go in an out of the embassy with ease during inspections (security's really tight). The other German project, Goethe Institut was given to my hubs who later on passed it to me when he left to go back to US.

...goethe institut, manila...

Security features and planning was very essential for this project but one thing that played a big role is the communications systems. Being new to this system made me confused too because you don't do these things in ordinary residential projects. IP (Internet protocol) / PBX (Private Branch Exchange) system was given high conideration for the communications efficiency of the projects. It's a business telephone software based system designed to deliver voice or video over a data network. Working on the electrical and auxiliary plans was not joke at all that time.

Just when I thought I can get away with electrical layout and anything about it after leaving that electrical contractor office I was in before and now I am more exposed to it! I admit it's for my benefit since this is really part of our work scope. High Speed Data and Structured Cable Design were also covered. These kind of projects need to have efficient system connection to keep the workflow good. Just like when boss went to Germany and left me the responsibility to attend to the German's queries during boss' absence, we exchange emails aside from the usual phone calls.

Not only with electrical and auxiliary systems but other fields like mechanical and lots of detailing were done. Surveying, measuring and many plan revisions were made prior to project completion. Right now I don't want to do those things anymore, simpler projects are fine and i think I'll enjoy more. Those kind of projects sure are big time but also mean more stress. That's the least that I want now from work. I just want to enjoy designing and doing other things now and nothing too heavy.

I wish you all a pleasant weekend! Enjoy!!
I was looking for some of my project images and came across this one. It brought back some office memories and I clearly remembered how much pressure I had with this project. I know it looks really simple and you might be asking why get an architect to do a simple hotdogs on sticks unit. I admit the project is way so simple compared to all others I handled there but what gave so much challenge with this one was the fact I had to come up with layout plan with presentation image and boss even stood right there beside me (call that pressure) as we go through the finishes and colors within an hour time. 1hr to come up with a presentation is not joke at all, yes even as small as this needs so much detailing with the equipment and all. Honestly 1hr can be just right getting through concepts and initial layout. But we had this demanding all-time-client and we couldn't say no. Location wise targeted to be in the well known (one of the biggest) SM Mall of Asia made it a lot harder than usual. Very strict planning and design restrictions limited us with everything.

One thing I had to consider most here is the crowd control. We had to anticipate the draw of customers and things will be so chaotic if everybody will just be ordering here and there without any system. Stanchions (an upright pole, post, or support) were given high consideration with the queing of orders to maintain a system and be more productive with the space. Wouldn't it be best if these things are considered right away, do you agree?

Actually there are many kinds of barricades that can be used for certain designs or needs according to the space and occasion. Lets say this one being just a regular commercial unit we can suggest the use of a rectractable belt (some even can be custom like a sign line banner or printed belts). Can you see the 3 red poles with black retractable belts by the counter? Velvet rope however is not too appropriate for this kind of design. We usually see it in museums, hotels or exhibits which obviously falls under more formal in appeal.

These crowd control products help maintain order for people to stay in line most especially for high traffic areas like concerts, banks, events and the like. One very good use of these stanchions that I can think of is in movie theaters or cinema ticket booths. Imagine those people trying to cut the line and trying to find their ways! I hate people who try to get away from lining up and making all that fuss! Providing such barricades can control traffic thus giving more privacy and security to all may it be indoor (pipe & drape walls) or outdoor (fence barricade & traffic cones).

Oooops this post reminds me of the local opera (Manon) and concert (Starwars in concert) me and hubs we'll be attending this Sunday and sometime Oct. I hope it will be really orderly there because I don't want to be squeezed in by the crowd, oh no no bad for baby!


I miss this cute little girl! Mom told me they went shopping and she spotted a heroin costume and asked them to buy it. Mom said she was getting the cheaper priced but dad wanted the better quality even if it's 2x the price! hahaha so spoiled with the grandpa! The little Darna won over the grandparents getting away with a costume shopping!

Are you a stamp collector? If you are then you might want to add this to your collection! After seeing these stamps which I purchased from the post office I thought of making a stamp collection. Well, I'm still thinking about it. =D We just finished our stamps stock so I needed to get a new set. Cute, don't you think so?

I've been terribly busy this week going back and forth for my check-up and laboratory tests. I missed a lot of days for work and blogging as well but I had to do things, I guess I can't complain at all. Aside from the clinic matters I am currently in-charge of my younger sis-in-law bringing and picking her up from school while (their) papa's there in El Slavador. Some days me or hubs give driving lessons to bro-in-law. I wish next week won't be as crazy as this week, I'm exhausted! Haha, what am I ranting about here...sorry about that. I get to sneak a little blog time tonight and I'm so glad it's Friday here now. I can finally sleep a little bit longer than usual for the weekends. Ooops, I better go.... *yawn*

Anyway I wish you all a happy weekend!

ooops, this isn't a post about the baby I'm carrying right now but my original big baby =)

...boracay tropics hotel restaurant...

Happy Birthday!!!

Have you ever gone fishing?

Last Saturday night (here) I was able to chat a bit with my family. I saw my cutie Elisse who kept on dancing with her favorite tunes, talked with my dear brother, my mom had some crying moments (she said she misses me) and dad proudly showed me his big big catch!

My dad always goes fishing, almost weekly. This time around her caught his first record of 10kls fish named Apahap. Dad told me he had another catch but his rod snapped and lost it. It's ok since they pay their catch per kilo so he spent quite a fortune that day. In that fish pond you can have the option to buy your catch or leave it there for other people who wants to take home some fresh fishes. Of course dad won't let his chance pass not bringing home this great catch, he paid Php1,500 for that fish! hahahaha that's too much! It can buy a good amount of entire groceries already for a family. He told me he was given a big discount since it was weighed for Php2,000. I'm fine with his decision, just looking at his photo with a great smile makes me smile too. I asked him to send me a photo of his catch and here it is. I saw his fish when he excitedly brought it up my room (at home) to show me on cam as we chat! He can barely lift it. This photo doesn't give full justice with the fish size, it's actually bigger if you see the fish in full length.

I miss that place where dad goes for fishing, went there several times with Elisse and one time with my husband. Maybe I should blog about it next time since I have nice photos taken there. It's a very relaxing place where you can just stay there by the nipa huts by the pond and have some picnic or w=even take a good nap. The air so fresh but expect the hot sun. You'll definitely get a tan if you spend the day there. Who cares if you can have more fun fishing, right? I had the chance to try fishing but I'll need more practice for a good swing. I know blogger Bengbeng loves fishing aside from photography since he had some fishing series posts.

Do you have any fishing experience? How do you think about this as a hobby?
I was in the mood one day for dumplings so I decided to make some for our dinner. I can't really share the exact recipe measurements because I don't follow measurements instead cook according to my taste. How about you, do you cook as instructed or you are such a kitchen scientist like me? =)

ingredients: ground turkey meat, minced onion, chopped garlic, salt & pepper
(optional: pinch of sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, chopped rosemary & other herbs)

Mix all ingredients, scoop a teaspoonful or spoonful filling (depends on your dimsum wrapper size) and using your finger dab the outer rims of the wrapper with water or beaten egg to seal. Be creative! design your dumplings as you wish =)

See how much I made? We finished all! Yum Yum!!

You may simply steam the wontons / dumplings and dip with soy sauce & lemon or simmer in a casserole to make some wonton soup. A dash of roasted garlic and lemon / lime juice will ass some zest with the soup. For those who like springs onions, this goes well with the soup too. =)

I'm leaving you with a soupy wonton treat for the weekend! Have a pleasant one!


Do you think the squirrel can finish the apple?

Happy WW!

...photos courtesy of nycgo.com...

My mind has been flying all over places since I wrote my post about our Hong Kong trip years ago. I've always wanted to travel same with my husband so we're excited to get started with our future travels. Thinking of places that we should visit here in US I have listed down the Big Apple, New York. How come? I can give few reasons why and I am sure those are good enough to consider this place for our travel. We love watching live shows, theaters and the likes so there's Broadway in NY. Shopping and dining completes my trips together with sight seeing, parks and museum visits. All in New York? Yup! But it's not all about just fun because i told my mom in time we will visit her bestfriend (a close family friend) there in NJ. Looking at all the reasons a trip to NY will be worth the cost.

...photos courtesy of nycgo.com...

Many might think NY is not for people who loves to embrace nature other than city life. I also thought at first this can't be my vacation place but as I checked on other possible activities and places to visit through their local info, I found out places to go like South Beach which is just more than an hour travel from Times Square where you can enjoy sun, sand and swim or ride the waves. Dining by the beach is great too so you can always hit up the boardwalk for a beachfront dining experience. For a more relaxing escape from the city, a side trip to the Wave Hill countryside will be the best option approximately an hour and twenty minutes travel. This place has lush greenery and bountiful blooms to excite your senses. Adventure seekers who are more inclined to trekking, bird watching and nature explorations can also enjoy this experience in Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. All these things I learned about makes me more eager to fly there anytime possible.

...photos courtesy of The Latham Hotel...

Part of my travel that I never fail to check is hotel hunting. Budget is very important and I am not the type to throw all my money to such luxurious hotels. I love comfort but I'm not that picky either to choose luxury over practicality. Did you know that there are Hotels in New York City for less than $100? Sounds too good to be true? Well just check it out. Of course it's always easier to find higher priced hotels everywhere but why go there if there are places right there in Time Square NY for under $150 per night.

...photos courtesy of Days Inn, Hicksville LongIsland...

Most hotels provide packages with breakfast meals which is a must for us since we always eat breakfast and other free services like parking, wireless internet connection, coffee & tea are mostly covered. Going places won't be too hard from the hotels since it's usually strategically situated within the center of city's activities and events. Just make sure you choose the right one for your needs and itinerary to make the most of your time and money not being wasted on travels and transport services. Hehe I talk as if I'm really travelling to NY anytime soon, that's not likely to happen because hubs used up all his 2009 vacation when he went back to the Philippines. We'll have to wait til 2010 to have a fresh new start with his vacation leave. It also works better that way so we'll have the chance to save more for the trip. =)

...photos courtesy of Econo lodge, Macarthur Airport...

As I was exchanging comments with fufu who just had his backpacking trip in China all the way HK, it made me reminisce about my trip with my older bro & younger sis. I went to search through my HD if I have some digital photos with me. I'm glad I found some and I think it's enough to make for this post. The trip was our first without parents and I can say it was fun despite the fact that we were quite restricted during the trip having it booked as a group. We were grouped with fellow Filipinos and luckily most of us became friends and formed good bonds later on.

It was my younger sis' 18th birthday celebration and she chose travel instead of traditional debut. Of course she won't be allowed to be on her own so older bro and sis had to chaperone her! haha! Our first destination was Shenzhen China and from there we took train to HK but I'll just tell about it next time. Our first destination was the harbour and it was just a quick stop to take photos. Our tour guide didn't give us much free time to do things so we were tied up with the group no matter what. I think we were the last to come back to the bus and she was scolding us for taking too long! Hahaha what can she do we're bunch of teenagers who love to break rules! just kidding! We were just caught up taking photos =)

I can remember she brought us to shopping places and not to certain must see spots. We all felt like cheated somehow that time but that's part of the pains having a group trip booking. Mom and dad were scared to make us fly on our own and getting lost there. that's why they decided for us to be in a group trip. Yes we kind of look like Chinese but we can't speak their language. which concerned them even more. Later on that afternoon we were just brought to our Hotel (Rambler Oasis Hotel in Tsing Yi), no complains with the accommodation except the location. We had to take shuttle ride to the subways to be able to reach the main city.

We explored the Hong Kong subways from Tsing Yi to Tsim Sha Tsui and off to yau Ma Tei. From there we explored walking all the way to Wong Tai Sin. We were a bit scared being so intimidated with all the writings that we can't read but luckily there were so many friendly Filipinos who helped us through the subways. They gave us tips in buying and told us places that we should be cautious of snatchers or pickpockets. Of course we didn't miss to try street foods there for those are the tasty treats. Sis being a sweet tooth, bought caramel strawberries. It's a long stick of berries dipped in caramel. She was forcing us for a bite but we're not much into sweets. Just a teeny weeny bite to make her stop stuffing it to us. We tried bunch of dumplings and dimsums and shopped for some souvenirs too. After the tiring activity, we headed back to the hotel.

The whole experience was great. I enjoyed quality time with my siblings and met new friends too. Next time going to Hong Kong, I won't book for a group trip anymore. I will explore more places like the ocean park, disneyland, big buddha and Macau most likely. How about you... do you usually make friends on your trips? Do you prefer to have your itinerary done as a group or simply go on your own?

Trailers of movies we have seen on the big screen!
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