Friday, October 31, 2014

Trick or Treat ;)

A few days ago, my cousin spearheaded the family's participation to the annual trick or treat of the village. This is the second straight year we're participating and I'm looking forward doing this over the next years. I'll let the photos relate everything.

But this is what I really look forward at the end of the day

Food + Family = Happiness

Happiest Memories ;)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Beautiful Sunday #131 - Almost there

The semester break is only a week away! Classes are over but I still have one more task to accomplish tomorrow ... encoding of grades. Tomorrow is our deadline and before I finally welcome the much needed break, I still have one project due before the almost week long break. Before I finally convert to vacation mode, let me recount the few beautiful things that made my past week. 

I was asked to report in Makati before weekend. Whenever I visit the place, I make it a point to meet my dearest friend A. We explored Landmark and Glorietta, the two malls I rarely see.We also passed by the intimidating but lovely Greenbelt ;) After a long day, we finally got to try Mom & Tina's. The food was great and I'm willing to visit again. I only have one complain though. Customer service is not that great. I will not detail the incident but hopefully when we come back, we will have a better experience.

Despite the experience, I took home a tub of sugar free merengue. It didn't last a day at home. :)

Meet my new toy!! - This is another great product that is unfortunately delivered by very poor customer service. I scored this old school camera through Lazada Online Shopping. Lazada is great in terms of prices and product diversity. It unfortunately fails on one important aspect of online shopping; product delivery on time. I'll share this in another post.

One of my favorite fruits is in season again - I swear, I can finish an entire tub by myself.

Almost a week ago, we celebrated the 7th birthday of another kid in the family. Can I just say that kids today are luckier?! The fondant cake is very ideal in the always summer temperature in Manila. The icing remains in the same condition throughout the entire party. We never had cupcakes with frosted icing back then. There's candy buffet and other unique treats that never fail to surprise me. 

My Frustrating Shopping Experience with Lazada

I never had plans of shopping in Lazada. I heard and read all the negative reviews from quite a number of bloggers. My business partner for our candy buffet business also had her own patience testing experience. Most of the negative experiences I encountered, including that of my business partner, centered to one problem: late delivery of the items. I was convinced to never try Lazada. Everything changed when my I saw my dear friend T's Fuijifilm Instax 7 Camera. T purchased her camera through a deal from Ensogo. T had the camera years ago and for sure, Ensogo is no longer offering it. I searched for other local shops that offer the camera for a good deal. My prayers were answered because I landed to Lazada's Philippine site. 

Best about everything, the camera is also offered at a discounted price. So as expected, my shopaholic hormones gave in. I purchased the camera last October 14. Terms and conditions from Lazada stated that they deliver within 3 to 5 working days. Although personally, I find their timeframe too long. Following this policy, I should receive my item by October 21, 2014. I don't have complaints with this timeframe. The frustrating and disappointing experience started when Lazada sent me the series of confirmatory emails.

October 14, 2014 (Tuesday)

I posted my order and it was confirmed on the same date.

October 15, 2014 (Wednesday)

I received a notification via email that my order is set to arrive over the next two days. This means that I should expect my package on October 17, 2014 or Friday. 

I received a text message that my order will be delivered in the afternoon. I thought this will be good news.

The day ended but no signs of delivery.

October 17, 2014 (Friday)

It was already 5 pm at the workplace. No signs of arrival so I made a follow up call. Sadly, the phone call emerged as a futile attempt. The Customer Service Representative documented my concern but no confirmation as to when I should receive my item. 

October 18 and 19, 2014 (Sunday and Saturday)

No signs of the package.

October 20, 2014 (Monday)

No packaged yet. Made a follow up call that ended as another futile attempt.

October 21, 2014 (Tuesday)

I made a follow up call in the morning. The Customer Service Representative did not give any guarantee or specific time and date of arrival. He reasoned that the courier's services is way beyond their control. The resolution given to me, the item will be redelivered tomorrow. This is  already very unforgivable . I demanded that if my item will not be delivered today, I will already seek for refund.

I got this template-ish text message again.

Around 4 pm, the item finally arrived. IT TOOK LAZADA A WEEK TO DELIVER MY ORDER, considering that my shipping address is in Manila.

Lessons from the Experience

Can I just say that Lazada is way inferior than Zalora? Considering that my shipping address is situated in the business district of Manila, I cannot understand why it would take them a week to deliver my item. A suggestion to Lazada's management: please improve and benchmark from Zalora's operations and logistics.  Lazada's courier and operations area have very weak and poor coordination. Every Customer Service Representative I spoke with cannot give me definite answers. This is just so frustrating. Lazada has an extensive collection of items offered at relatively cheaper prices. As much as I want to re-order from them again, the very poor customer service and slow delivery become the trade-off of their cheaper prices. It makes me think that Lazada's cheaper prices are not worth the stress and patience.

My only consolation, the camera comes with free batteries (which I hope would last for a long time) and I'm praying that the item will not have any defects.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Beautiful Sunday # 130 - Welcoming a more relaxing week

The past week marked the end of my last lecture for the first semester. The upcoming week will be final exams, great news for me!!! My much awaited semesteral break is about to happen. I will have more sleep and I'll be more focused with my office work. Next semester, I have decided to decrease my teaching load. Never mind the lesser income, having sufficient rest and sleep are far more important. This also reminds me, my weight and face are the other casualties of my workload. Unlikely adult acne, additional 5 lbs from stress eating and some impulsive online shopping purchases made me the worst. During the semester and holiday break, I plan to jog again. This time, I hope everything will not remain as plans. ;)

Setting aside my shallow and personal rants, here are the few beautiful things that made my week.

Caliburger!!! Prior to meeting my friend T, I searched for reviews about this local franchise. I felt disappointed because most of the articles I encountered posted negative evaluations. Most of the complaints were centered on the limited size, servings and taste of the beef patties. One blogger even said it's like paying for an expensive McDonald's cheeseburger. Despite the negative reviews, I was still interested and even excited to try Caliburger.

And my verdict .... 4 out of 5 stars. It wasn't as bad and bland as I was expecting. Perhaps all the negative reviews conditioned me to lower my expectations. But in the end, it wasn't really disappointing. I ordered the best seller, cheeseburger with bacon and special sauce. The flavor was not too overwhelming. Minus the location, this will definitely be not my last meal from Caliburger.

Thanks for the treat dearest friend T! 

Jollibee delivery for my special brother's birthday. We also had some mac and cheese and nachos for the kids at heart ;)

Treats for the feet - My Friday trip to Watson was the culprit. I was only planning to buy a bottle of hair serum. Everything changed when I saw the discounted items rack. And what do you expect from someone who has a very low EQ? Haha I ended up buying these foot patches, which I first encountered from the cute and dainty Theresa, and a pack of Purederm's foot mask. 

I'm forever clumsy! - Sans rival from Highlands Coffee and Truffle Cake from Mary Grace, almost perfect if my clumsiness didn't ruin the frosting and icing. 

Baking 101 - And yes, I didn't bake. Haha I was just observing and taking photos. These are coconut muffins or in local parlance, macarons from the neighborhood bakery.

Can someone guess the building in the first photo? - Long before SM started regional expansion, this was one of my favorite malls in Cubao.

Went to see the castle again - I accompanied my cousins to Chocolate Lover to shop for some baking goodies. Someone in the family is celebrating his birthday today. Happy Birthday S! 

Dearest namemate, 
I'm having trouble with the linky. I'll fix this as soon as I can. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Rosie and Alex

Someone is too excited for this ;)

Can we really end up with our bestfriend?

Ways to Save in Online Shopping

I have to admit something. Before purchasing anything online, I search for blogs and websites that offer discount codes for online purchases. There are different several ways to search for discount codes. Let me share the few sources I discovered.

The signing up discount is the first and easiest means to secure online discounts. Most shopping sites use this strategy to encourage sign ups and entice first time purchases. If you don't like signing up and filling out those personal information forms, some sites offer vouchers in exchange for subscribing to their newsletters.

Customer service experience surveys surprisingly provide discounts too. Although not all shopping sites do this, there are a few that provide discount codes once the consumer completes the survey.

Look for blog ambassadors. Bloggers who have significant following and influence are tapped by shopping sites to become brand ambassadors. More often than not, blog ambassadors earn through the number of referrals they can bring to the company. These referral are accounted from the unique discount codes assigned to their sites.

My recent discovery led me to websites that provide different FREE discount codes and coupons. I was surprised to learn that there are companies such as Sears who offers exclusive Sears Coupons. Best about everything, these exclusive coupons do not require the lengthy process of signing up, typing your personal information and verifying your email. Everything is readily provided in a click. 

I'm quite familiar with the prevalence of couponing in US. I once saw a feature in CNN on how some households seriously handle the collection of coupons. There are families who really collect and store tons of actual or printed coupons. It appears too tedious and time consuming for me. I honestly cannot imagine myself devoting hours just to arrange and sort coupons. My answer to this saving mechanism is to go paperless and opt for online coupon codes. No need to collect and keep those printed coupons. All you have to do is to regularly check the website and click the offerings you can find useful. 

A few reminders though, coupon codes have expiry dates. The coupon you saw today may no longer be seen or valid over the next days. Some coupons are not valid with other offers. Some are limited to a certain geographic area or demands a minimum amount of purchase.  So before embracing the excitement of experiencing discount and savings, please double check the provision stated in each coupon.

Shopping Online is Saving

My archived posts for this year are living evidences of my unexpected inclination to online shopping. Admittedly, I was reluctant with online shopping years ago. I prefer the traditional shopping where I have to personally see and check the item. I have to try the blouse or shoes  before finally purchasing it. I'm worried with the possibility that I might end up purchasing something that does not match my size, especially with shoes and clothes. Apart from sizing, I'm also after the quality of the items I purchase. I don't buy clothes with loose threads and shoes or bags with minor scratches.

All these apprehensions eventually faded when I started my first online shopping experience. My first purchase was surprise .... a pair of flat shoes. I used to be firm with the idea that I have to see and try the item. What prompted me to break this belief is the promotional offer and discount codes I encountered from other bloggers. The signing up voucher and the additional discount codes on trusted websites were too hard to resist. This is something I would never experience on a regular mall day. I have to wait for the typical 3-day mall wide sale just to experience that little 10% price reduction. 

My first online shopping later expanded to the international level. I acquired my first ever Kate Spade and Cath Kidston through online shopping. I explored international shopping sites and true enough, these discount offerings are also practiced. Nordstorm, one of my dream online shopping sites, is offering different  Nordstorm Coupons exclusive to different brands such as Burberry, Michael Kors, Tory Burch, Coach and other high end brands. Apart from brand specific coupons, Nordstorm Promo Codes for generic items such as shoes and bags are also offered. 

While any form of shopping entails expenditures, I have to say that online shopping facilitates minor saving mechanisms. Online shopping eliminates transportation costs. Everything is done in the comfort of our own home. I can later use my money for food delivery and everyone at home is later happier.

I'm likewise saved from the hassles of joining the crowd of shoppers during a mall wide sale. In my case, I'm preventing myself from catching colds and other air borne sicknesses. Indirectly, part of my income is spared from these medical related expenses.

Aside from the monetary aspect, I become more productive because I can spend my time to other productive activities. The traffic and the long lines in the cashier consume a lot of time and patience. With online shopping, all of these activities are done on a few clicks. :) I have more time for freelance works, family and friends.

With the fast approaching holiday, I encourage everyone to try online shopping. Trust me, it can save and spare you from hassles and problems. If you are concerned with sizing, most shopping sites provide different measures to determine your size. Some even have an online shopping assistant who can answer queries. As for quality, this is something I can personally attest. All items I purchased online come in the best quality. No experience about loose threads, scratches or defects. If everything else fails, you are always protected with the free return and exchange policies.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Beautiul Sunday # 129 - Surprises, Happiness and Shopping :)

This is one of my favorite weeks at the workplace. As mentioned in the previous post, I look forward to the morning Holy Mass we need to attend. After the mass, most of my colleagues spend the remaining hours dining out in the nearby restaurants. The church we annually visit is situated near areas that are known as a hub for the best local restaurants. I used to feel excited with this annual tradition. But when my dearest friend T left the workplace, I was rather feeling sad and pathetic. Everyone is going out, while me? I have to return to the office on my own. I initially planned to visit the nearby mall and use the remaining time to accomplish errands. If time still permits, I might be able to kill sadness by purchasing a new shoes or blouse. (Bad news for me: I think I gained weight from all those stress eating.) What I thought as another sad day changed when two colleagues invited me to join them for lunch. Terra was right. (Thank you for the words of encouragement.) I found unexpected lunch companions. :)

We ate at Cajun and we were the first and only customers they had for lunch. ;) It was my first time to try Cajun. We ordered their pork platter and sad to say, I will not order this dish again. It wasn't so bad but I'm a bit disappointed considering its price tag. On the positive side, I love the interior design and their staff was very accommodating .... minus their toilet that was out of service?! 

It was only this week when I had the license to wake up late. I'm thankful for those days when I have extended sleep and I can still see real sunshine from bed.

Back to the same old task - After the documentation project, I have to return to my routine tasks. Before the week ended, I received my new assignment that brings back not-so-good memories. Sigh.. I have two weeks to do it. And yes, I want it to be done in the soonest possible time.

Lunch breaks on my desk - The rare times I'm pleased with food from the workplace's cafeteria. This makes me miss my dearest lunch body. Another big sigh again..

Confessions of a shopaholic - My love for Anthology shoes!!! Because I have been feeling so melancholy lately, I decided to make myself happy by doing some online shopping. My shoes was delivered in one day! 

Sans rival from Mary Grace - is love! A slice for Php 120 is not so bad considering the fact that the taste didn't disappoint.

J Co's doughnuts - I was surprised to see that there were no long lines in one of their branches. I took advantage of this rare opportunity only to be surprised with the limited choices. The only flavors available are what you can see from my box. My favorite Alcapone was already sold out. Lesson learned, don't be deceived by short lines. :)

Peanut Butter and Strawberry Jam - Seriously? I initially thought that the two sandwich spread will never mix. Surprisingly, their combination impressed my taste buds. Thank you 7-11 for bringing this. Your food selections are really getting better.

Heaven of fatty happiness!! - I have been meaning to try Taco Bell's bucket of nachos. I thought I will be able to finish the tub in one sitting. I ate this for two nights. Haha The only downside of this huge tub, it doesn't come with enough cheese sauce.

I want to have this vertical garden!! - Saw this near the church we visited and was totally amazed!! I'll drop by this place again tomorrow. Hopefully, I'll be able to capture a better photo.

Another confession again - Noticed something unusual? I purchased a pair of heels after n number of years?!? I'll be needing this for a formal event outside the workplace. Hopefully, no pains and blisters after.

How to spend weeknights - I love Mcdonald's delivery! Thank you for always arriving way before delivery time.

Last Friday night - This is how we defined balanced diet. Haha My favorite lanzones, Chef Tony's popcorn and onion and potato twists.

Wishing everyone a great Sunday!

Friday, October 10, 2014

30 Things Life Taught Me #18 - Train Rides

The years I’ve been working also represent the years I’ve been riding the train. In that span of time, I have my own long list of both misadventures and rare happy memories. If only I have taken blogging seriously, I could already have a deep archive of train stories. Perhaps, another blog to begin with.

Setting aside the blogging regrets, here’s a preview of my train experiences over the last years. As much as I want to document my unique and memorable experiences, I’m still organizing and recalling my long list. For now, I’m enumerating the frequent observations I gained from my sleepy, exhausting, annoying, (insert all emotions here) that kept me company in my daily lone train rides.
  1. Around half of the passengers alienate themselves with ear plugs attached to their portable music devices (I include myself with my ever defunct but reliable third gen iPod nano)
  2. There’s always a fellow passenger wearing Chuck Taylor (I wasn’t a fan of Chuck’s not until I discovered that I would feel years younger while wearing them. So count me in now.)
  3. Someone is always sleepy, asleep, about to fall asleep on your shoulders (If that someone is Jeremy Lin, Song Seung-heon, Lee Byung-hun, I wouldn’t mind then. *evil and lustful smile haha*)
  4. There’s always a female passenger sporting a fake Longchamp (Yes, I learned how to spot one.)
  5. Females in full make up, ironed straightened hair and dressed in tailor fitted uniform are wearing slippers or plastic shoes (Count me in on those wearing slippers, but never the glamor to begin with.)
  6. In a span of a week, bad words will erupt from your mouth because someone stepped on your new pair or polished shoes (I only utter bad words in my mind. When I started teaching, I became afraid a student might hear and see me.)
  7. People always block the space near the door’s entrance
  8. While the area in the door’s entrance gets crowded, the middle part of the train can accommodate another flock of passengers
  9. Big men are seated while a frail female passenger is struggling to find balance and exerting her best effort not to make another embarrassing moment
  10. Men also fight and push away people for the much coveted seat in the first station (Hey Ladies, Men are fighting for equal rights)
  11. The humongous K-9 dogs are so tame. Setting aside their frightening built, they appear to me as quiet pet dogs.  Like the one owned by Reese in Legally Blonde.  I almost find them cute not until I discovered that they smell so terrible. 
  12. The staircase leading to the station is filled with huge advertisement from Smart. As I head to the waiting area, the approaching train is entirely covered by ads from Globe.
  13. The irregular escort guard of each coach always carries a hardbound logbook that painfully landed on my feet many times.
  14. Men can’t prevent themselves from staring at fair skinned long legs. (Gentlemen from the Philippines, be thankful because Philippines haven’t fully turned as Thailand)
  15. I can always catch a woman discretely making glances to a tall, handsome and well dressed male passenger. (I’m not guilty)
  16. An empty coach that skipped several stations makes everyone feel that they’ve won something from the lottery. (Especially after a long day at work)

PS This post was originally posted in my other hidden blog ;)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

30 Things Life Taught Me # 17 - I cannot do everything

I have the license to sleep late today because we don't have work tomorrow morning. We are required to attend a Eucharistic Celebration outside the workplace in lieu of our morning work. Over the last years, I always look forward to this October tradition because I usually eat out with my dearest friend T after the mass. To be honest, I'm more excited with our food trip than the absence of work. :) This year, the tradition will be a bit sad for me. My dearest friend already transferred to another company early this year. I'm friendless and alone tomorrow. I guess I have to check  the nearest and trusted shopping mall and dine in to a restaurant that can satisfy my mood cravings. If sadness will continuously attack me, I might console myself with a new pair of shoes, blouse or pants. 

The reason why I'm blogging tonight is not attributed to this loneliness. My intention is to highlight the recent experience I had with a major project at the workplace, which I blogged here. Incidentally, I realized that it was still last June when I last updated my 30 Things blogging series. I already missed two going three months. How can I catch up if I only have less than 3 months? Nevertheless, let's see if I can complete the entire series before my next birthday arrives.

The Major Project @ 30 - Me and my Boss spearheaded and prepared all the critical requirement for this project. The documents were already submitted and over the last months, we were praying that we will be included in the final leg of the assessment. True enough, we were granted with the chance. 

The actual assessment date already happened last month. The experience with the three-day assessment led me to another item in my blogging list. I cannot do everything.

Days before the assessors' site visit, work and classes were suspended because of the heavy typhoon. We lost two days of preparation from our very tight schedule. We have colleagues who supported us and unfortunately, there were those who ignored and worst, contradicted our plans. We did the orientations, laid out all the plans, and the least we can expect from other people is to report for work and lend us some records from their office. Unfortunately, our purest intentions and best effort did not suffice. To say that you cannot please other people is even an understatement. We were not demanding for praises and appreciation. We just wanted everyone to accommodate us and the assessors for three days.  

Oh well, everything is over now. We have done our share. We are leaving everything to the hands of the assessors and the mercy of the Bigger Boss above. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Beautiful Sunday # 128 - First of October

I'm reporting for work today. This is just one of those rare Sundays when I had the need to report for work. While everyone is savoring the long weekend, the opposite happens for me. Yesterday, I even dropped by the workplace to secure some documents that didn't arrive. Hassle! I wasted money and time and I even have to endure the difficulty of commuting to and from Manila these days. I don't want to pinpoint anyone but Manila is getting worst. I often compare Manila to a cup of instant noodles these days. Just add a few water from the rain and your perfect traffic and flooding disaster recipe is done. Last Friday, I failed to catch the train's last trip because of the heavy traffic and flooding. I walked a lot until I was able to find a jeepney en route to home. The ending, I was able to arrive home the next day. So for today, I'm hoping that work will finish early. I don't want to repeat my experience from that Friday night.

Amidst all that hassles, here are the few beautiful things that made my week

Nice message found on a piece of candy :) - Maybe this is another reason to buy Fres Mint candies. The random messages made me happy.

Ventured to another first - I used to clean my eye brows on my own. Because of peer pressure :) I was convinced to try eyebrow threading. I was so reluctant the last minute and I keep on reminding the attendant to simply tidy up my rare and scattered brows. The first attempt didn't disappoint. I'm very satisfied!In fact, my eye brows looked like it received additional hair strands. A very neat and tidy eye brows can make a difference. 

Two types of Nachos - I appreciate both types of nachos in cheese or the classic pork / beef with vegetable slices.

It feels and smells like Christmas! - My Filipino friends can easily explain the violet rice cake topped with grated coconut on the photo.

Seafood bagoong (fish sauce) rice -  Another reason to love Rice in a Box. 

French Macarons - A piece only costs Php 15 courtesy of the in-house trade show at the workplace

Lanzones is love - One of my favorite fruits is finally in season

Wishing everyone a great Sunday!

PS Dear namemate, I'll upliad the link up soon :)