Sunday, November 3, 2013

More Costumes anyone?

I'm posting more pictures that I finally managed to take out from my phone.  This was taken at Madison's Halloween Parade at school.  Just want to show what a big deal Halloween is for American kids.
How cute are these girls? esp that rainbow monster costume of her friend?

Madison with her classmates from school getting ready for their Halloween parade...she is the tallest among them!

Here they are waiting to take their turn to go around and show off their was one sunny day!

Everyone is on their best behavior so far
Until Madison spots her mom and her brother in the crowd!hehehe
In the end, it was well worth it for Mommy calling in sick from work to witness all the festivities of Halloween.  It was great to be able to be there for my little girl.  Times like these fly by fast and I don't think I will get to enjoy this as long as I want to.  Ten years from now, I will never see my little girl be goofy and excited for Halloween.  They just grow up so fast and I try to enjoy every moment of it no matter how life gets so crazy.

Happy Fall Back!

I thought I was going to get an extra hour of sleep today since it was officially Fall in California with the time moving back an hour for daylight savings time, I guess not.  My little boy has no concept of time whatsoever and decides 6:30 AM is no different than 7:30.  Anyway, I did promise to post our Halloween photos and blog about it but silly me, I got so busy preparing dinner and getting the kids ready for trick or treating that I forgot to take my camera and take pictures! Oh well.  We had a great time and that's all that matters right? Here's whatever pictures we managed to take during our fun Hallow's eve.

Our house number decked out in goofy pumpkin stickers

Our front screen door with a fuzzy tarantula

My daughter and I also made some arts and crafts of witch's hats, bats, a mummy and scared pumpkins to adorn our windows.

Pumpkins we carved and painted and glittered, we have one each for each member of our family :)
We were dressed as a skeleton's two of the cutest skeletons in the planet!

We had some friends over that we invited for dinner and game night, we ended playing Junior Taboo with them and the kids had a blast!
Here with her best friend Isabel dressed as a spider

And of course the main treat for the kids, a pot full of goodies that they collected from our neighbors, this is just for one kid! Craziness....
I feel bad I didn't take all the pictures I could have taken.  I took out all the Halloween decorations we put up today and got ready for Thanksgiving....
One of the two scarecrows we left out that can stay until Thanksgiving
I hope everybody had a great Halloween! 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween 2013

Hello everybody and Hello November!
But  before we can truly welcome November let us not first forget Halloween.
I must admit I wasn't  prepared for this year's Halloween. As mentioned  in my previous post, I had the week before with my hand's full on the DIY bedroom makeover. To make it even busier,  I had to do the necessary catching up with my house chores and laundry (ironing as well) that piled up during the DIY days.
But of course, we just could not let Halloween go by just because of my DIY.

What Halloween wouldn't be complete without some pumpkins!
Carved the night before in a  such a haste but was still a very surprising and pleasant turn out and made my Little Girl  very happy and excited.

Which graced our front door along with my friend pretending to be the vampire!

Left with not much time to decorate but just to have a quick Halloween atmosphere in the house (apart from the front door decor) buntings helped achieved the easy trick.
Living Room Halloween bunting 

Another thing about the Halloween excitement is the dressing up (which I just leave that part only to my little girl ). Every year I make it a point that she gets to dress in a new outfit different from the previous ones.
Here she is in her past Halloween outfits!
A pretty witch in pink at 10 months old for her first Halloween (left)
A very cutie spider the year after (middle)
And a sulking little white lady last year (right)

As my little girl is already old enough this year to understand Halloween I let her choose her outfit.
Her outfit choice didn't surprise me at all as she was into pirates lately.
Here is  my very lovely, naughty pirate!
My darling Captain Emilia!

I  mentioned in one of my recent posts about my plan of hosting an afternoon tea to my friends at my newly finished dining room before we do the trick or treating.

Here are a few pictures of our Halloween afternoon tea.
One happy occasion to bring out my chinawares
Small pumpkins and Halloween printed paper napkins as placemats set the tone for a Halloween table setting
Biscuits, chocolate cake, scones, tart jams, sandwiches, cupcakes, sausage rolls served with a very warm cup of tea made up our Halloween afternoon tea at home

Once full and ready to venture the cold outside we proceeded with the trick or treating part of the afternoon.
I'm glad we started it early and got back home just before the rain started pouring again and were able to marvel  and enjoy the other trick or treaters who kept our door bell very busy that night.

My little trick or treater was more into the fun of going round different houses and knocking doors than the sweets she gets to have. Her friend was more than happy to take home her bucketful of Halloween treats.

Until next Halloween and a very good night everyone!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Little Girl's Bedroom Makeover

I had to put on my decorator suit one more time as the  DIY makeover bug had struck me again.
This time it directed me to my little girl's bedroom.
The before makeover photo of Little Girl's bedroom
A Disney Princess themed room just decorated by yours truly 2 years ago

The past week therefore was all about wallpaper stripping, wall painting and wallpaper hanging.
Wallpaper stripping this time was uncomplicated. Even wallpaper solution was no longer needed.
I just simply tried the corner of the wallpaper, loosen it and peeled it with my hands or with my putty knife.
Sometimes the whole paper came off in one piece or  just the surface layer with the bottom layer still in the wall. This,  I just sponged it with a warm soapy water and most of the time it just peeled away by hand or with the aid of my putty knife.
Wallpaper stripping in progress.
Allotted 2 hours a night when little girl was asleep in our bed

As soon as all the walls were bared ( side walls stripped with the wallpaper and the feature wall mural removed) came the wallpaper and paint colour selection and finalisation.

This time I wanted to decorate my little girl's bedroom with something she can grow into.
I scoured for different wallpaper prints in the internet. Once my top choices were narrowed down I let my little girl picked the one she likes best.
Next came the paint colour selection. Her old room was very pink so we made sure it wasn't in the list of choices.
With her new wallpaper in mind I know green would be the perfect match for the side walls.
But never did I imagine colour Green could have so many shades it could possibly get!
In the end we settled with Guava Green by B&Q for the side walls.
Bare walls ready for decorating.
Several shades of paint testers on the wall.

Finally,  after a week long  of hard work with sleepless nights spent on painting, re coating and wallpaper hanging, I can finally share with you my little girl's bedroom.

Here is my little girl's green and pink vision of an owl themed bedroom with white furnitures.
The pink and green owl on a white background wallpaper is from A.S creation.
The matching Duvet set and the pink novelty owl shaped cushion are both from Just Kidding.
They were all ordered from Amazon.
(Just a warning though, an extra £3.50/per roll on the wallpaper was charged for p&p).
Her furnitures are the same ones she had previously except for the bed.
Since she travels a lot while asleep we decided it is best if she sleeps on a double size bed this time.

I wanted to keep her bedroom simple, cosy, feminine, inviting and relaxing yet still in keeping with her age at the same time.
I also wanted the feature wallpaper as the focal point of her bedroom so keeping the side walls simple and barely decorated would be fundamental.
Fabric bunting from a local toy shop with her name on it.

Furnitures for storage necessity as a basic for every girl's bedroom.
Windows dressed in pink roller blind with a matching soft pink curtain with flower details on it by Mothercare.
And a dress that serves as a wall decor yet perfectly spells the theme of the room - pink and green!

Books for bedtime reading decked her drawer chest.
Royal Doulton Bunnykins wall clock to help her learn in telling the time

The view from the opposite end of her bedroom

I only allowed her doll house and a baby in the cradle wooden toys in her bedroom to instill in her the idea that bedroom is for relaxing and sleeping only.
I don't want her to get into the habit of playing before bedtime.
There is her adjacent playroom anyway for her toys and study materials which is topping my list for my next DIY makeover projects.

Halloween is just 2 days away and I am still very busy catching up with my laundry and ironing  that piled up during the makeover days.
Pumpkins are still uncarved but hey at least as I still have tomorrow to get the house Halloween ready.
My little girl is loving her new bedroom and that's the most important thing to me at the moment.

Happy Halloween everyone.

Friday, October 18, 2013

My first online grocery with Redmart

'Ding dong' just went and a kind man, with a trolley and plastic bags of my essentials just delivered my monthly supermarket run...Thank God for the online grocery shopping making my life easier...

It was my first time doing online grocery shopping with Redmart most of the time, I shop at Giant and arranged for a delivery. But with Redmart! It was just wonderful! Being a working mom is tough-- it's hard to divide my time from unending work, baby and husband. Though I love shopping is often my worst nightmare as I have little enough time as it is..since we do it every Saturday. The whole family (Yves, Nanny, Me, and hubby) have to travel to the supermarket, jostle with crowds, wait in long queues for payment and bring a lot of plastic bags at home..

Shopping online enabled me to have a coffee and a bite to eat while selecting my goodies. If I couldnt remember what I needed, I just walked into the kitchen and looked in my cabinets. Not only did it save me time, but it saved me money as I didn't spend my money on things I didn't need.

Let me share how easy to use this Redmart. This website is easy to navigate. Delivery is free for orders over $75!
And if you need help using the website at any time, you can simply call them-the number is prominently published at the top of each page

1. Go to
2. Shop and put everything in the cart
3. then pay and the good thing is because I am a first time customer, I have 10% discount!

The only thing that I hope that redmart has is that I cannot use my Passion card to earn points..
so hopefully, they will have a loyalty card soon or free gifts as well (yeah I love free stuff hehehe)

But I will certainly be doing this again...

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

On Upgrading & Upcycling (The Kitchen Edition)

Since I just posted regarding room makeover, I may as well share the recent works we've done in our kitchen. This happened sometime in July this year.
It wasn't a makeover really.  It was more on a simple upgrade.
Our house being relatively new ( barely 10 years old) is still in very good condition.
Our kitchen although till very structurally sound yet we feel the need to improve on some things to make it cosmetically more appealing and in return addresses our needs better at the same time.
I am talking about the worktop surface.
We were not happy with the old laminate worktop.
We did not like the colour, the  texture and the overall effect it had in our kitchen.
And while we were at it, we decided to have it replaced as soon as possible.
Dearest Husband and I both agreed on a solid  oak worktop.
(Isn't it obvious that we really have a thing for solid oak?!)
We also agreed not to purchase it from the common DIY shops but rather search around and we came across Worktop Express where its selection of beautiful worktops displayed in good taste at its showroom just impressed us as well as its overall service afterwards.
And it wasn't a DIY but professionals instead. Just the very thought of the cost of the solid wood worktops is more than enough reason not to risk it.

And just like the dining room makeover, I also forgot to take a before photo.
But here's a snap anyway while the upgrading took place.

It was a two day job as we have a long L shaped kitchen worktop and the attached utility/laundry room was also upgraded.
Since it is wood it therefore requires sanding and varnishing afterwards that needs drying overnight.
I am thankful for the nearby recently opened KFC that fed us in those two days while the work was going on.

And here are the finished photos of our kitchen with its new solid oak worktop.
My lovely potted anthuriums are still blooming lovely despite it being there in my kitchen window sill  from early summer
Displayed on top of the top cabinets are wooden decorative plate stands with pictures of lechon and Philippine tricycle respectively - a touch of my Filipino heritage in my Kitchen decors.

And the up close photo of my new worktop

I am  very satisfied and happy with the outcome.
The oakwood really complemented my existing kitchen cabinets, kitchen accessories and the kitchen table as well. It also brightens up the room.

Part of the upgrade was also changing the kitchen sink.
I was very unhappy with the old stainless steel.
It was very shallow that causes easy spilling  although I was more irritated with the easy staining.
I initially wanted a Belfast sink but unfortunately, the depth of it won't fit in our existing kitchen unit. I had to go  with the large white ceramic sink instead which surprisingly, came out more beautiful than I anticipated.
My new gorgeous white ceramic sink with its new tap.
Has a large deep bowl that solves the spilling problem and cleans easily as well.
Both sink and tap are from Reginox

I can never have enough storage in my kitchen so we added an extra kitchen cabinet as well.
Here is my new solid oak kitchen cabinet purchased from Solid Wood Kitchen Cabinets.
More storage for my Le Creuset stonewares and Cath Kidston storage jars

That looks really good from the opposite end of the kitchen

I have above mentioned that we also upgraded our utility/laundry room.
Here is a photo of our revamped laundry room!
 Basically this is just really a small space attached to our kitchen that serves as storage for our laundry appliances, welly boots and kitchen bin.
We only changed the worktop into solid oak and added hanging shelves from Ikea to have a more organised cleaning stuff and hopefully, laundering won't be that boring anymore.

Sitting prettily on top of my solid wood kitchen worktop is this beautiful wooden wine rack.
This wasn't like this when bought. This one just went through a makeover just a couple of weeks ago and this is where the upcycling part of the post title comes in.
A charity shop bought solely intended for upcycling experiment purposes.
This way if it comes out as a disaster then at least I wouldn't feel so bad as this just costed me £5.
Just like the dining room makeover Dearest Husband was also apprehensive and generally unsupportive of the idea. He finds the item ugly and worth throwing out.
Of course I didn't listen to him and carried on  instead what I really had in mind.

The top left photo: Before the makeover
Bottom left : 3 hours after manual sanding
Top right: After painted with Dulux Blue Babe
Then it was left to dry overnight , varnished, left to dry again for 4 hours then 2nd varnish coating applied then left to dry again overnight.
Bottom right: The finished photo of the makeover

Had I listened to Dearest Husband then I wouldn't be enjoying this beauty now.
He did appreciate it afterwards and even encouraged me to start thinking on our other furnitures that might benefit on a little bit of upgrading. Further on, he even told me that his dad actually has an electric sander that I can borrow. How very helpful of him indeed, not!

After the dining room makeover and the kitchen upgrade I am now happy with my ground floor rooms (well except for Little Girl's playroom that I am intending to revert back to a study room) and move her playroom upstairs next to her bedroom.
I am now obviously hinting at my next DIY projects.
But there is Halloween yet to think about where I want to serve high tea to my friends in my newly finished dining room.

Good night everyone.

Monday, October 14, 2013

D.I.Y Dining Room Makeover

I have been very busy in the past three weeks challenging my very best in the interior decorating department.
Thankfully, I came out triumphant as the outcome was more than satisfactory than I originally expected.
My project was my Dining Room Makeover.
A Do-It-Yourself undertaking in its truest sense as Dearest Husband was initially unsupportive.
I could not blame him. After all,  I have none/or  very little experience in the decorating aspect especially in stripping down wallpapers or painting the wall.
But as I have often told him, I wouldn't know unless I've tried. So try I did!
There are the professionals anyway who can do the job properly should my DIY turn out a disaster but at least I gave a try.

Here is the before photo of my dining room.
My apology as this is the only before photo I have.  In the midst of the all the preparations and chaos I just forgot to take a before photo.
My dining room at Christmas time last year

The old wallpaper is beautiful with its lovely print.  Unfortunately, it is not a dining room wallpaper.
It is more of a bedroom or living room feature wall.
As soon as the wallpaper was up I just knew straightaway that it was the wrong wallpaper choice.
It overpowered and dominated the room as an average size as it is. Worse, it was even on 2 walls.
I thought that perhaps a new set of furnitures might just remedy it but sadly it still didn't.
Fed up and been unhappy for a time already,I finally decided that its about time it should have its long over due necessary makeover. This whether by a professional or by myself which ended in a DIY by yours truly.

As above mentioned, I have no prior experience in stripping down wallpaper.
A bit of research and a few episodes of home makeover TV shows did the trick for me.
It does look easy on the TV and on Google but the truth is far from it.
It requires the right tools and lots of patience and time.

The first wall  took me about 3 hours and I was so amased and proud of myself as it went on smoothly with barely visible scratches although some paint peeled off together with the wallpaper.
As soon as I found my way of doing it properly,  I then allotted an hour or 2 in the evening when Little Girl was already asleep or at daytime when she was at school.

Then came the hardest and tedious part.
Cleaning the wall by removing the residue is the most laborious part.
Some tiny bits of the wallpaper were so stubborn it didn't peel easily. This was a very necessary evil though because if left, it would only produce an unsmooth surface once the wall is painted.

And here is the clean walls finally stripped off  its wallpaper and ready for painting.
Floors and furnitures were covered and glasswares/chinawares were emptied out from the cabinet.
Skirting boards to the floors and around the windows were also taped.

And here's me in action!

Painting sounds easy but surprisingly, in reality it actually did.
It is the preparation that is the tiresome part. Paint colour selection is not even easy to begin with.
Since I stripped the wallpaper off, I wanted to revert it back to its original colour to match the two untouched walls. Now, the problem lies on which shade.
We had no idea what brand or shade was used when the walls were originally painted. We even had to refer to the house manual but there was nothing there to suggest any help.
We bought several paint testers in the end  until we found the closest.

Finally,  here is the collaged photos of my finished Dining Room!
I simply carried on the theme and colour scheme of the living room - cream and chocolate brown with solid oak furnitures.
This way, should it happen that we would finally decide to take down the wall between the living and dining room, at least there is already a continuity between the two main rooms.

Here is a photo of our living room (which the dining room makeover design is inspired by).
Cream and chocolate brown colour scheme
Solid oak furnitures all from the Winchester Collection by Furniture Barn
Accessories/Furnishings are Filipino woodcraft mostly from Kultura Filipino mixed with Wedgwood collectibles

Of course I understand that the above collaged photos of the makeover are not that appealing so here are the bigger, individualized versions.
Dining room photos from the different angles of the room.
Floor lamp by Next bought 2 years ago which has been discontinued so I could not find a matching ceiling shade anymore
Table runner by  SM Home Accessories in the Philippines
Wooden candle holders from The Range
New Ceiling Shade from Dunelm Mill

I am very happy and surprised of the finished article.
It came out so well put together considering the furnitures and the soft  furnishings were bought at different shops at different times.
The makeover made the  room bright, cosy and spacious.
The curtain was even a last minute second choice as I was originally eyeing  for the Debenhams Lucille curtain but had to return it as the chenille material  is not appropriate for a dining room.
A light material is essential so as not to overpower the  room as there are big solid furnitures in it.
In the end I settled down with Como Printed Curtains by The Range at almost half price and much closer to my living room wallpaper print.
The only new things we have  in this makeover are the clock, the ceiling shade and the curtains in which Dearest Husband happily put it up for me as he observed and realised that I was doing well with the makeover.
Even bragged to his colleagues how good I am with the decorating!

Here are a few of the accessories in closer details.
As with my living room, I want my Filipino heritage evident in my home furnishings.
Top left :  Big Statement Clock by Edinburgh Clock Works Co.
(colour to match my mirror and dining chairs)
Bottom left: Large brown twig Balls from Kultura Filipino in a large clear vase with lead crystal decanters on both sides.
Upper Right: Giant Wooden Spoon and Fork from a native shop in the Philippines
Bottom Right:  A Filipino frame picture from Gaisano home accessories

I forgot to mention that I also bought a new display cabinet to accommodate my ever growing bone china collection and crystal glasswares courtesy of mother-in-law and her sister
Left photo: Large solid oak  glazed display cabinet bought more than 2 years ago from Marks and Spencer
Right photo: A similar smaller version but still solid oak glazed display cabinet bought at Home Sense at a bargain price of £199.99!

Here is a closer look at my chinawares/glasswares!
Left photo: Royal Doulton in Regency Gold collection courtesy of mother-in-law as wedding present
Angela Collection by Wedgwood from aunt-in-law
Right Photo: Some Royal Doulton glasswares from mother-in-law 

the rest of the different types of crystal glasswares and decanters all from aunt-in-law
Tea Set Revelry Collection by Coalport purchased by myself

Angela Collection by Wedgwood
Some of the crystal glasswares from aunt-in-law
Tea Set Revelry Collection by Coalport

The makeover is not truly finished yet. I still want to put a brown rug underneath the table and a mini cupboard or a wine cabinet by the floor lamp, all funds permitting!
I apologise for this very long post but I just want to share in details what went through my dining room makeover as I put too much passion and dedication in it.
Indeed, it was a labour of love.
It was physically exhausting and made me even poorly over the weekend yet the result was just simply rewarding.
Above all, it made me realise that there is actually an interior decorator/designer in me!
Would I do it again? Yes of course! In fact, another room is in mind. And that will be in one of my future posts, hopefully!

Good night.