Category Archives: Living

12 Shopping Tips For a Merrier Christmas

Christmas shopping at Siam Paragon in Bangkok

Aaah, Christmas. It’s my favorite time of the year. The list as to why I love the holidays is endless but I’m not about to enumerate them.

Yes, we all know that “Jesus is the Reason for the Season”. Still, some people get caught up in all the Christmas rush. You know, shopping, shopping, food, gifts, parties, and yeah, more shopping. Despite the stress, traffic jams, and overdrafts, people still fight their way to the malls and ‘tiangges’ to do their Christmas shopping.

Seriously, it’s one of my favorite activities in the world but because of the recession, I feel it’s time that I be more practical and spend wisely. Better yet, as my husband would put it, “Don’t spend”. But hey, I can’t just change overnight so instead, I made a list of tips on how to shop just a little more wisely this Christmas. Here they are:

1. Make a Christmas list. By this I mean a list of people you want to give gifts to and not your Wish List. There’s a huge difference between the two. The former is more important. Write down those very special people who are dear to you so you won’t miss anyone.

2. Set a budget. This one is also very important. You can’t risk going over your budget. Even if some people say it’s okay to splurge, don’t. Stick to your budget. If you can, pay in cash. Don’t just swipe, swipe, swipe. You don’t want to be paying for Christmas gifts until June, do you?

3. Brand matters-NOT. When buying gifts, don’t shop at designer stores or boutiques. Brand doesn’t matter, really. What’s important is the quality. There’s a better alternative to the malls too. Hello, Divisoria! (And Tutuban, Quiapo, Greenhills, etc…)

4. Buy in bulk. During Christmas, most stores offer promo packages. “Buy one-take one” or “3 for 100”. You’ll be amazed at how much you can save if you buy wholesale as compared to getting individual items.

5. SALE signs are not always godsends. Especially to the ladies – don’t be deceived by the big red signs hanging in the malls. Sure, Christmas is the only time you can justify splurging but remember that there are more important things in life than getting a new dress for you, your children, or whoever. Stick to your list; you don’t have to buy everything you see.

6. Plan your trip to the mall. I would suggest a one-time, intentionally planned ‘trip’ instead of several unplanned, last minute trips. It would be best if you go to the mall just one time and do all your shopping then. That way, you can save on transportation, food expenses, and avoid those terrible, terrible traffic jams.

7. Use recyclable bags. More shopping means more plastic bags which, we all know are harmful to the environment. You can do your share of saving our eco-system by bringing your own paper bags. Better yet, why not use eco-canvas bags? Or, if you have a large bag, use that instead. You can just put all your purchases inside that. After all, that’s what big bags and tote bags are for.

8. Stay safe. It’s no secret that more people get robbed and mobbed during December, especially in the Philippines. Make sure your money is safe. Belt bags are advisable to use when doing extreme shopping.

9. Shop during off-peak hours. Avoid the Christmas rush. Malls in the Philippines are usually crowded during the holidays especially after the 13th month pays and bonuses have been given. If you can, file for a one day leave so you can shop earlier in the day.

10. Shop online. Try eBay or consider the countless online shops in Multiply and eBay. If you’re feeling generous, you can buy from US-based websites and have them items shipped to Manila via Johnny Air. It’s hassle-free and some would even offer free gift wrapping. You can also save on shipping sometimes.

11. Save receipts. Don’t just throw them away as they are the best way to keep track of your holiday expenses. Also, you never know if you might need to return some items.

12. Don’t wait until the last minute. It’s never too early to shop. Avoid the Christmas rush. Prepare weeks before, not the day before. This way, you’ll be more than prepared, you won’t have to fight crowds, wait in long lines, or have to settle for the leftover, limited merchandise. Avoid stress.

So there you have it – Christmas shopping tips for 2012. Remember though that while shopping can be therapeutic (especially during these hard times), the Season is not all about that at all. Remember that the best gift you can give to anyone is still your LOVE.

Merry Christmas Shopping to you!

*wrote this article 4 years ago

House of DuoDeco Studio by Elle Uy

I recently got interested in home, living, and interior design when we moved to this two-storey townhouse two years ago. It was only then that I was given a chance to decorate our place having very limited space before.  Becoming Martha was I guess natural because I grew up with a stay-at-home mom and an Architect dad. I remember I would always look at my dad’s architectural and interior design books when I was young. I found them months ago at my parents’ house and I plan to bring them home with me soon.

For inspiration, I read Real Living Philippines. I usually narrow down my magazine choices to local editions because at least I know I can achieve and afford some of the pieces featured inside. Online, is my favorite website. Locally, my favorite is Switcheroom by Elle Uy. I don’t remember how I stumbled upon Elle Uy’s website but I guess it’s because she’s been featured in the magazine a lot of times already. I instantly loved her style in decorating that I ended up reading all her blog posts in two days!  I like that she’s very transparent with her designs. Simple but stylish. Pretty and fun. What I like best is that any person who is not a professional interior designer can also achieve her look. I know it’s not easy to design and decorate but Elle can transform any boohoo to woohoo (her words…hehe).

I told her I’d want to hire her when we move in to our own house someday. I just wish we’d be able to afford her. If not, maybe consult? Someday.

She also did Jenni Epperson’s kitchen:


Continue reading House of DuoDeco Studio by Elle Uy

DIY Christmas Decors

This year’s theme is Thrifty Christmas for us. Since my husband and I work from home, we don’t receive any 13th month Christmas bonus. While others are enjoying their month’s worth of salary or probably have already spent them, we are treating Christmas expenses under miscellaneous. Hehe.

I haven’t done any Christmas shopping yet. I said I’d start decorating on the 3rd week of November but failed to do so. I only started yesterday. It finally hit me that I can no longer procrastinate because before I know it, Christmas has passed.

I also planned on buying a Christmas Tree this year– a bigger one, something taller because we only have a 3-feet tree.  That would mean I have to buy more Christmas decors from balls to garlands to Christmas lights. That meant I have to spend again. But since doing DIY crafts “relaxes” me, why not make our own Christmas decors? It would require some time but doing such is some form of me-time. I enjoy getting ideas from everywhere, cutting, pasting, etc. I have lots of art materials left from Noah’s Jollibee LEGO Party so I decided to do one each day and so far, I have made these:


DIY Paper Snowflakes Christmas Decor

I’ve always wanted to learn how to do paper snowflakes. I searched for instructions on how to and found the Instructables. It was so easy to do I made a dozen within 30 minutes. I placed these snowflakes on our window.

I haven’t checked if neighbors would be able to see these snowflakes from outside but from our living room, they look really nice. Husband and son both loved the Christmas window decor! Noah said they’re “amazing”. Hihi. The first day.

Next is this ABC Christmas Tree. I was looking at Christmas wall decals for ideas when I thought ‘why not make it educational for the toddler’. This Christmas tree wall art isn’t finished yet because I need to put details inside each card: numbers, shapes, and colors.

DIY ABC Christmas Tree Wall Decor


I posted this on Instagram earlier and a friend asked what happened to the letter “I”. I lost the letter. I must have thrown it by accident. And then I thought it could be a great conversation starter. You see during Christmas time, people tend to be selfish and excited with the gifts that they would receive. But Christmas isn’t about the “I” (that’s you and me) receiving gifts but it’s about celebrating the Real Reason for this Season— His name is JESUS. Actually, not just this Christmas Season but Every Season.

Christmas is a celebration of His birth. Why celebrate? Because He is our Lord and Savior. His birth, His life, and His death and resurrection are reasons to be joyful this Christmas. Without Him, we are nothing.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.

And he will be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

I haven’t decided what to do today but I finally brought out our old Christmas decors from storage. I washed the mini Christmas tree already so I guess we’ll just decorate it later. I put up some decors already, tested the Christmas lights, changed the curtain and pillow covers I scored from ARQ Curtains during the last Bodega Sale.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t be shopping a lot this Christmas, I can’t stop you from doing what you love. Haha! Just keep it to a minimum and think about your purchases, be wise, be practical with your gift-giving, save a portion of your 13th month, and give to those who are less privileged.

Let’s put CHRIST back in CHRISTmas.

Have you started decorating your house for Christmas? Any DIY Christmas decors and tips you want to share? 🙂

And oh, here’s my first Christmas gift to you: Somewhere Over the Rainbow

SM Megamall: Next Level Malling (and Traffic)

I saw this sign while on the way to SM Megamall three weeks ago. As if the “malling” experience wasn’t already exciting, the management of SM still wants to take it to the next level. I was looking for a smaller caption that says ‘Next Level Traffic’ but saw none. Traffic in the area has always been bad as long as I can remember and with the Megamall expansion (yet again!), expect the EDSA-Crossing-Julia-Vargas-Ortigas area to be highly congested. Continue reading SM Megamall: Next Level Malling (and Traffic)

What’s a Washi Tape?

Washi tape? Ano yun? I’f you’re one of the millions asking what a washi tape is…let me tell you it’s just a pretty masking tape. Kikay masking tape.

I first saw rolls of cute washi tape in Bangkok. I bought a few although I didn’t know what to do with them. A roll is a bit pricey but like all cutesy stuff, washi tape is cute. The kind of stuff where you would waste your hard-earned money (like shoes, bags, etc.). I haven’t bought a roll of Washi Tape here in Manila but I’m familiar with a few sellers.

What can you do with a WASHI TAPE?

If you’re into DIYs….Do-It-Yourself not do-it-yaya… you’ll find a roll so helpful. Cut and paste. Tapos.

I saw this on Pinterest:


HOW MUCH IS A WASHI TAPE? A roll costs about a hundred. Medyo mahal. Continue reading What’s a Washi Tape?

Modern Vintage Pillows

I went to ARQ Curtains’ Bodega Sale earlier this afternoon and I went crazy shopping for curtains and pillowcases! I finally completed the Modern Vintage Collection. I bought several pairs of curtains under the CORTINA Line and new throw pillow cases. Why, their P500 pillowcases were down to P100! I’m not kidding! The curtains they usually sell for P1,000 per panel are down to P400….lowest was P150. I think only a few will understand this craziness. Pillows and curtains? Aanhanin ko yun. If you’re a true-blue homemaker, you’d understand. Thank God I have a husband who understands why I love such stuff and appreciates our home. 🙂

I’ll post more photos soon of the Bodega Sale. You can still score great quality curtains at such affordable prices. PS: I got lots of freebies from the sale too. The Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe pillows I wanted to buy were given as gifts from the owner Sir Alex. Thank you, sir!!! I saw the Jackie O. on display and bought one.

Continue reading Modern Vintage Pillows

Keep Calm & Carry On

You’ve seen a “Keep Calm & Carry On” poster, I’m sure. It’s almost everywhere: T-shirts, bags, notebooks, button pins, mugs, phone cases, iPad cases, etc. A government project is currently using it. Remember Keep Calm and NOAH Muna ? But do you know the history behind it? Do you know the meaning of Keep Calm and Carry On? It was a propaganda poster produced in 1939 by the UK government during World War II. Objective was to raise the morale of the British public. (Source: Wiki)

Original 1939 Keep Calm and Carry On Poster

I forgot where and when I first saw the poster but it made me “calm” in a way during those times I was too stressed over a situation that I had to resort to ranting online (which by the way was a huge mistake). I posted it as my profile pic on Facebook, trying to convince myself to have a calm spirit. I failed. Continue reading Keep Calm & Carry On

ARQ Curtains

When I use a brand that’s good, I try to stick to it as much as possible. I’ve recently discovered the local brand ARQ Curtains that sells decorative pillows and designer curtains in Manila. I mentioned how I discovered that its warehouse is just in Mandaluyong.

I’m into decorating and home interiors now. It’s the Martha in me. Oh how I wish we’d have our own place so we’d be able to renovate, install permanent fixtures, or finally invest in quality furniture pieces. I don’t know when but we don’t have any plans to buy a house or condo anytime soon. What we’re doing is pray for a miracle though. Hehehe.

I love the pillows by ARQ Curtains. So classy and yet so affordable. I’ve been seeing the brand name over at Zalora but when I added the company on Facebook, I became more interested. Whoever handling the Facebook page account was kind enough to reply to my queries. I’m excited to see the new collection and finally go to the warehouse for the bodega sale. I know I’ll be spending again but Christmas is near. I can’t pass up this opportunity to buy their stuff at lower prices.

Looking forward to these pillows:

Reminds me of the Tardis…
Ganda! I want all! Architectural Series in Black and White


Merry Christmas!

I saw these pillows when we went to SM MOA. I was inspired by Jenni Epperson. Gusto mo fresh look ang bahay mo? Ayan sige. I quote Jenni,  “change pillows every change of season or during special occasion.” Haha! Enough of the tiangge-bought P50 pillow covers. They won’t last talaga. Buy pillows from ARQ Curtains. Available in Home World and Our Home. 🙂

ARQ Curtains Facebook:

Prepare your work outside; get everything ready for yourself in the field, and after that build your house. Proverbs 24:27


The living moment is everything


Life seems better when you try to look at the positive side of things. This I’m learning every single day and it’s been great. The joy of the Lord is my strength!

I’m starting to live in the moment too. Not thinking so much of tomorrow, the future, and yesterday but just trying to enjoy whatever is in store for me today. This attitude has made me become more grateful of even the small things God has blessed me with. 🙂

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34