Category Archives: Work and Education

Busy mom reads again

In the many years I was at school, I was an avid reader of fiction. I enjoyed classic novels and detective stories. Rest, for me, meant curling up with a good book. Even when I go out, I’d always have a book in my bag so that I could read during any lull time in the day.

But after graduating, adult responsibilities came, so I had to make adjustments—as would any! Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to do enough leisure reading in the process. I knew I needed to read but I had to get into the groove with the rest of life first.

Years passed, I started a business, married a literature teacher and creative writer, and we had two kids. I’m busier than ever. But I want to pass on my love for reading to my kids. How will I be able to do that if I didn’t read myself? I had to get back to reading for leisure. But how? I can’t handle paper books much because my babies are at the age where they still seek a lot of sensory input, i.e. THEY LOVE TEARING PAPER. Besides, my bag’s already too bulky with diapering items to still hold a paperback. And to top that, I don’t even have time to sip my coffee in a leisurely way, so how am I supposed to even read for a good amount of time?

My solution: have ebooks in all my devices and read whenever I have even a few minutes. My husband writes fiction on his phone in five minute bursts, so there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to advance on reading with the same tools and time period.

I’ve installed the Kindle app on my phone, iPod Touch, and Windows tablet. Amazon has a lot of free classic works on the Kindle store and I could get more from Project Gutenberg. Amazon also holds my ebooks in the cloud and allow me to sync my reading across devices. If I have my own ebook files or documents, I just upload them to my account and then download it to every device. When I have the opportunity to read, like when I’m breastfeeding my kids, I grab the nearest device and read.

But a paper book is still different, you say? Of course. I also find it hard to read for leisure using a phone or tablet, and even more so from a laptop or monitor. These devices can distract me as well because there are other things on them that vie for my attention. So, I went on a hunt for a second-hand Kindle reader. I later found a neighbor selling a first generation Paperwhite.

Our first generation Kindle Paperwhite as I was reading the Alex Rider books

Kindle readers are great for reading because of their e-ink screens. Reading from one feels like reading from paper. Another great thing about them is that they last long, and are still quite useful even if many newer versions have come out. Hubby and I have been reading from this for nearly a year now. It’s still working well! I use it when I could afford to read for longer periods, like before sleeping, or when I accompany my husband to a meeting and our baby’s napping.

When my baby’s asleep in the carrier, I prop up the Kindle like this so I could read easily.

Using this new setup, I’ve been able to read about six entire novels and a few nonfiction titles in a year. Not bad for a busy mom. It will still be years until I could curl up for hours just reading a book, but in the meantime, I hope to pass on my love for literature to our kids by reading from books they can’t tear.

Looking for a Kindle reader? I recommend getting them from either NelsonKRX or Lazada. But if you’d like to buy a pre-loved unit, like I did, I suggest checking OLX or the many buy and sell groups on FB. I’m lucky there’s one for my neighborhood and that spared me from the cost of shipping or meeting up.

https://lap.lazada.com/generator/banner.php?banner_id=5804b1ae066c7

Work-at-home job vs. homebased business

Recently, I’ve been receiving a lot of emailed queries from mothers asking how they could start working from home. Often, the hope is to quit the regular office-based job and replace the office-based income with homebased income.

I’ll say this straight: If you’re looking to replace your office income with your work-at-home income, you should not be looking for a work-at-home job. You need to start your own homebased business. And it is something you should begin to do while you are still in your office job.

Why?

Because often, work-at-home jobs pay much less than a homebased business will. After all, with a work-at-home job, you are just getting a percentage of what your employer gets from the client. If you own the business, you get 100% of what the client pays.

In fact, from my experience, the only way a work-at-home job can equal an office income is if you double your office hours, which means you work 80 hours a week instead of 40.

The downside, of course, is that with a homebased business, you will need to search for clients yourself. But let me tell you this: the process for finding your own business clients is almost the same as the process for finding a work-at-home job you can live with. In both cases, you need to

  • search online,
  • send a lot of application letters and work samples, and
  • activate your social network.

That is why you need to start your search for a work-at-home job or business many months before you quit your office work. It’s no overnight deal.

Perhaps, the reason why a lot of people shrink from starting their own business and look for jobs instead is the fact that a business promises less financial security than a job. It’s true. Client payments get delayed. Clients themselves are seasonal. You need to learn to manage your finances. But whether you have a business or a job, that is a skill you need to learn anyway.

And though a job offers more financial security in terms of regular payments, a business offers more financial rewards in terms of payment volume.

Another problem with having your own business is that your amount of accountability gets magnified. In the case of a writing company, for instance, the writer’s work gets edited and fact checked and proofread before it is sent to the client. If the writer contacted the client directly, the writer would need to be able to edit and proofread his own work and make sure his facts are correct.

If you feel that your skills are not sufficient for you to contact clients directly, then yes, you may need to get a work-at-home job instead of start your own business … but do the job part time, while you are employed, so that your skills can be honed to the point where you can eventually stand on your own.

Then, when you quit your office job, you won’t need to look for a work-at-home job anymore. You can start your own business.

Reposted from Nanay Notebook

Decluttering: 5 Simple Ways to Do It

Every time you go to your closet, look at your books, go to your kids’ rooms, or open your kitchen cabinet, you see that life can be much simpler. Clutter creates stress and when you’re stressed, the rest of the day goes haywire. But you see it every day… so what do you do?

Declutter! Simple? Not really. Some people just rearrange things and that’s just so different from decluttering. Pretty soon you’ll be looking at piles of stuff you’ll accumulate along the way and you’ll be forced to declutter anyway. So how do you do it?

Here are 5 tips to help you get going in the right direction.

organized dishes
Visualize your end result.

1. Visualize – Picture in your head (or draw if you can) what you want each room and each part of your home to look like. Having a picture of what you want something to look like does more than just give you good feelings. It actually forces you to prioritize things that will fit into your vision. When you’re able to see what you want your room to look like, chances are, you’ll be more ready to give up stuff that you really don’t need.

2. Personalize – The only way to make your rooms and spaces consistently clutter-free in a fun way is to personalize it. How can personalizing a room or space keep it free from clutter? When you personalize a room, you’d have to sort things in your head before putting up a new display or item. Having a space that’s personalized creates a theme that will keep you from placing just anything there except those that go well with that space. It also keeps you from buying stuff that don’t belong there as well.

3. Digitize – Much of the clutter you have most probably comes from things that have sentimental value. Your child’s first baby clothes, his singing contest trophy, the tickets from your first date, a gift from your mom, etc., have a way of creating memories that you just can’t let go of them for any reason.

But if you think about it, it’s not really the stuff you have with you that matters, it’s the memories that come along with the stuff. With today’s digital age, you have an opportunity to keep the memories without completely letting go of your keepsakes. Taking digital photos of souvenirs, mementos, family heirlooms, and even special greeting cards will give you the chance to keep them even when you let go of the items. The feeling you get with sentimental items will still be there when you look at their photos as well. In fact, digitizing them will help preserve them more than if you were to keep them. You can even create digital photo albums or digital scrapbooks of them, too.

Digitizing sentimental items makes it easier for you to let go of them and in turn gives you more space in your home.

Boxes
Boxes can help you categorize your stuff into things to keep, things to give away, and things to sell.

4. Prioritize – Whenever you declutter, it’s always good to have at least three kinds of boxes to sort your stuff into three categories: things to keep, things to give away, and things to sell. When you do this, you’re prioritizing everything you see into just three categories which makes it easier to filter them. A case can be made for a fourth one: things to consider. If you’re like me, there are times when you can’t figure out which box something belongs to. Having a fourth box will give you time to consider your options and keep you from making rash decisions.

5. Organize – One of the results of having too much stuff is having stuff that don’t belong together in the same place. After having filled your three or four boxes, it’s time to sort through your things-to-keep box and things-to-consider box. Survey the space you have and then put stuff where they should belong based on what you visualized earlier. Chances are, you’ll have stuff that don’t fit in the space you have but are essential to you.

This time you’ll be needing storage boxes to put all those things that you need but don’t necessarily have to be seen. You can place these boxes in storage rooms, your cabinet, or under your bed for easy retrieval.

Decluttering can be a tedious and stressful process but remember it can’t be done in a day—so don’t even try! It took you months or even years to get to where you are now so it will take you about a week to completely declutter your home. If you follow the tips we’ve outlined for you, decluttering can be fun and fulfilling especially after you experience the functional benefits of your hard work.

This post was written by Nicole So.

Will your child pass the marshmallow test?

You all know about the Marshmallow Test done on children years ago to test their E.Q. If the test were done on my two girls today, they would fail instantly. Cate who eats everything but… sweets, and Reese with her love of.. marshmallows!

Seriously, I believe the best way to up children’s Emotional Quotient is to teach them to sacrifice in little things, everyday. Raise them to be tough from as early as they can remember. I do not keep a military-like home (no offense meant!), but neither do I give my little girls everything that they want. They do get their treats, but these are never stocked in the cupboard. I buy their treats once in a while. And they have to have eaten their meals first before they can dig into their favorite bag of strawberry mallows or bread.

When either child throws a tantrum, I adamantly refuse to give them what they want. I don’t care if they’re making a scene in the mall. Either I explain to them why what they’re demanding for is not good for them, or I ask them to calm down and ask me properly.

A few years ago, I attended a talk on E.Q. given by Dr. Esther Esteban. One of the things she addressed was teaching our children the virtues of temperance and chastity. And she explained something I never forgot. It went something along the lines of, “If you want to teach your adolescents the virtue of chastity, start them young by disciplining them in their love of food.” In short, we should teach our little ones to temper the pleasure they find in food (i.e. they don’t have to eat the whole bar of their favorite chocolate!) as preparation for teaching them later on to control themselves in more important matters.

I love my daughters dearly, and so I don’t want them to turn out to be soft marshmallows. By not giving them all the comforts of life and by teaching them to delay their gratification in the little things, I have great hopes that they will pass the big Marshmallow Tests of life.

This post was written by Meg Murrf Trinidad.

Video interview: Adee Caluag on the beginnings of Agahan

Adee Caluag (Agahan, Metropolitan Ave., Makati)Pinay Lifestyle interviewed Ms. Adee Caluag on the beginnings of Agahan, an all-day breakfast place in Makati which opened in December 2011.  Adee talks about how Agahan arose from her own needs and realizations, and about how some items in the menu came from her childhood experiences.

 

Agahan

G/F Buma Bldg.
1012 Metropolitan Avenue
San Antonio Village
Makati City

 

**UPDATE **

Agahan’s store closed on June 29, 2012, but it continues to entertain catering requests. Please contact Agahan via their Facebook page.

My new entrepreneurial lifestyle

I am now officially an entrepreneur. While many of the employed have romanticized ideas of what entrepreneurs’ lives, I’ve now seen first-hand how it is. Here’s how my lifestyle has changed:

1. I put in more work hours.

If you’re an entrepreneur, it doesn’t mean you dilly-dally for most of the day. It’s quite the opposite: there are many things to be done when building a business, and since I’m just starting out, most of that work goes to me. Don’t start a business just because you want to work less—it won’t happen.

2. My time is flexible.

While I do work more, I get to choose when I will. That means I get to visit friends when they’re in the hospital, run errands at the mall right when it opens, transact at the bank outside the lunch hour, work out at the gym when there are fewer people, etc. I guess it’s my little reward for having to work more hours.

3. I get more of the morning sun.

sunriseSomething tells me I used to be deprived of vitamin D. I’d usually be in the office between 8:00 and 10:00 am, so I wouldn’t get a chance to get vitamin D the natural way. But now, since I occasionally walk around from 8:00-9:00 am, I enjoy the smiling sun.

4. I get heat exhaustion once in a while.

The sun is fine in the morning but it gets bad after that. I’m rather sensitive to heat, so I really avoid going out at midday. But there’s no one else to do the running. I do go out for errands at noon when I have to, and most of the time, that means the heat will get to me. I try to battle the heat by drinking cold juices but in the Philippines, you could only do so much.

5. Wasting time has very real consequences.

When you’re employed, you could get away with being idle once in a while. But when you’re building a business, everything rests on you, so time wasted really means less income. I can’t afford to waste a single minute of my time because it means something in the plan won’t materialize.

6. Money really matters now, and that’s a lot of stress.

I used to take the flow of money for granted because I received a paycheck every two weeks. Now, I have to make the business work, and that means I have to make the income model work. That’s a great deal of pressure. But it really comes with the territory, and I knew that this would happen even before I made the leap to entrepreneurship. I’ve had to come up with ways to sustain myself (e.g. part-time work) so that the money stress won’t kill me.

And last but not least…

7. I get to build my business the way I want to, without having to explain or prove anything to anyone!

When you’re employed, you’d have to have nearly everything approved. We builders by temperament can’t build anything without having to explain so much to our superiors. Since I’m running on minuscule funds from my own pocket and from an angel investor (i.e. my ever-so-supporting mom), I don’t owe any explanations to my bosses or shareholders. Building is simply faster this way—and heaven for people like me! When I go to work, I just go straight to work. I don’t make as many proposals and presentations as I used to 😉

What do you think about entrepreneurial life?

A simple recipe for Ginisang Ampalaya (Bittermelon)

My family loves Ampalaya. It’s one of the few vegetables that my sister actually eats. Since she’s a very picky eater, we usually plan our meals around her favorite dishes. Here’s a simple recipe of Ginisang Ampalaya, especially useful now that it’s the Lenten season and some people would prefer eating non-meat dishes.

Ingredients

Ingredients for Ginisang Ampalaya2 small size Ampalaya
5 medium size ripe tomatoes
Garlic and onion
Some fresh shrimps (depends on the size that are available in the market)
Salt, pepper and vinegar to taste

Directions

I boil my Ampalaya for a few minutes just to lessen the taste of bitterness in them. I don’t overdo it because I still want the crispness of vegetable. I then sauté the onions, garlic and tomatoes. I wait till the onions turn translucent before adding in the shrimps. I have pre-cooked shrimps already, but fresh shrimps are always better. Then, add in the Ampalaya, and season it with salt and pepper. You may add water if the tomatoes are not juicy enough. Then before simmering it for a few minutes, I like to add a touch of vinegar in it. Not too much, just a tablespoon or so, to enhance the acidity of the tomatoes. Don’t mix it yet, cover it for a few minutes then it’s done.

This post was written by Rita Salonga.