Lazy Summer Days

Wait, what? June is almost over? Can we all slow down just for a while and... eat ice cream? What have you been doing lately? It's summer where I am and instead of hitting the beach (huhu is there a nice one that does not involve a bus and train ride), I'm hitting the sack--- really! I turn on the AC for an hour, grab my Kindle and fall fast asleep on a ridiculously hot Saturday afternoon. But there are times when I also think of things to do- laundry, iron, clean- stuff that do not require stepping out of the house.

Anyhooo. Some life and food updates.

TOCFL exam
I finally had the courage to take the TOCFL (Test of Chinese as a Foreign Language) exam and thankfully passed Level 3. I took the pilot test before the formal exam to know how it is going to be. For those who are required to take TOCFL, I suggest taking the pilot test too. I know it's time consuming (both exams run for 2 hours, a month apart) but at least you'll have an idea how it's done. Visit this website for more information.

Baba Kevin's American BBQ
Meat overload!!! Would highly recommend this to a meat-loving human being. I enjoyed everything on my plate, except for the corn muffin-- it was as dry as the Sahara. Order different sets on the menu so you can try a variety of barbecued meats.
No. 6, Lane 115, Minsheng E. Road, Sec. 2

La Petite Perle 小珍珠烘焙坊
I accompanied my colleague to La Petite Perle last week to buy some pineapple cakes and cinnamon rolls. I've always passed by this quaint bakeshop on my way to Yongkang Street from church, but never really bothered checking it out. Colleague said their pineapple cake is better (and cheaper at 35NT apiece) than Chia Te. I had to try and boy she was right. It does not taste too.... commercialized. They don't bake a lot though so better call and reserve.
No. 25, Lane 243, Jinhua Street, Da’an District, Taipei City, 106 (02 2394 4222)

Philippine Independence Day celebration
Nothing really exciting this year. Well except for the new representative of the Phils to Taiwan Amb. Banayo. And free Carmen's Best ice cream. And sige na nga, the Tanduay Drinks bar. No raffle draw and the food was nothing spectacular (last year was better).

The Renovation Story

It all started with this new flatscreen TV that my brother bought as a gift for my mom. When asked when she already opened the box of her new toy, she simply shrugged and said she has nowhere to place it (wow kung maka first world problem si mother haha!).

So then I thought of getting her a new TV stand, but that would mean getting rid of the old cabinet and emptying it of all the mess on display. And we don't know where to place the cabinet if we dismantle it. I took note of these things and put them on the back burner.

Late last year, I dropped by Ikea after work one weeknight because of my meatball cravings. After having my fill of meatballs, I took a stroll and was just too happy to see all the living room inspirations. Days after, I asked my mom to send me a photo of our living room. It looked so sad, so lifeless. I saved it on my desktop and started pinning designs on Pinterest. 

I went home for Christmas and announced my plan while we were eating our noche buena in Cagayan. I will have the living room in Manila renovated. As expected, our old man protested. There’s no need to do such and such yada yada yada, he said. But I gained strong support from my cousins. My reason was simple- I want a nice place to come home to, even if I'm only home a few times a year. My father did not seem to understand, while my mother was at first half-hearted. 

During my Chinese New Year vacation, I met with my interior designer friend and contractors to discuss the plan. We agreed on the simple re-tile, re-paint and updating of some furniture. I set a budget, transferred it to my mom's account who was the overall manager of this project (THANK YOU SO MUCH MA!!!). Like a jolt of lightning, my mom's interest on this renovation picked up and she cant stop sending me photos of the things she wanted for the living room. I had to remind her of our budget. 

The renovation was in full swing in February. The re-tiling was finished around early-March, the electrical part around mid-March, and the re-painting by end-March. The tv stand, new dining set and others were delivered just before everyone went home for Holy Week. 

Now here’s how our living room looked like before the major makeover. The interior was just too drab. We could not let go of the narra set because (1) it’s tooooo heavy and it was probably my parent’s first set of furniture when they decided to buy a house in Manila in the early 80s--- yes we live in an old building with no elevator so the least we can do is prettify our place huhuhu--- and (2) the couch I want is just way too expensive. Maybe next time.

My problem on where to store the tv cabinet after dismantling (and also the old dining set) was solved by donating them to ReStore by Habitat for Humanity Philippines. They accept slightly used furniture, home appliances, and building materials. They only accept items that are in good condition. I hope some families are now happily using the tv cabinet and our dining set. If you're interested to donate some items, you may inquire through this email and someone from their office will get in touch with you. 

And now, the most awaited "after" photo. In the end, we had the sala set re-upholstered and it came out really nice! I found the upholstery shop online- the most reasonably-priced and friendliest from the 3 shops that I contacted. I highly recommend Capistrano Upholstery~ Search for them on Facebook! I inquired via FB messenger and they responded within the day. 

The curtains- both sheer and solid colors- and throw pillows are all from Ikea. My interior designer friend suggested a mix of yellows and blues- hence the color of the curtain and pillows. He also recommended what colors should be used for painting, and had the final say on all the tiles my mom had earlier chosen. 

I'm happy to report that we didn't go beyond the budget. I also did not touch my emergency fund but I hustled like crazy so I can buy the dining set I've been crushing on. We also set up a work area for my brother. It used to be our computer area when were all in school. The wall shelves, work desk, and dolly chair are from Furniture Source PH. I ordered and paid online via Paypal and had them delivered. They also installed the wall shelves for an additional fee.

The TV stand and the dining set were on sale at Blims Furniture Macapagal Store. I originally wanted a white TV stand from Ikea but when I checked its price with Ikea distributor Furniture Source PH, it was too expensive at Php 15,000 without delivery and assembly fee. This TV stand from Blims was only less than Php 10,000 so I opted for this. It's simple and complements the dining table really well. They also delivered and assembled both the TV stand and dining set for a very minimal fee.

I spent so much time at home during my last visit. Instead of eating out, I asked my mom if she can cook daing na bangus for me for dinner, and she happily obliged. For lunch, we had our favorite porkchops delivered and we ate at home. Dapat masulit yang dining table na yan. It was the most expensive thing next to the labor I paid for re-tiling. Nakakaloka. 

I still can't believe we were able to pull off this renovation project, thanks to the flatscreen TV that started it all. The first time I opened our door and saw our new living room, I remember whispering my thanks to God for making it possible. Thank You, Lord!!!