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Reunited in London - meeting long-time friends Day 6-7 (Lalaine)

>> Friday, 5 August 2016

This post is long overdue. The continuation of Reunited in London (Part 1)

My family remembers her as the "Chinita" (chinky-eyed) friend of mine - my dear Lalaine or Leny as how RAJGILC fondly calls her. At last, after 20 years, we are reunited and the 2 days that we were together were not enough to fill the gaps. Somehow, we managed to catch up in between sips of English tea and nibbling on delicious macarons and trips to The Stonehenge, the Roman Baths, The Windsor Castle, Cambridge and back to London.  Oh, I suddenly miss my friend.  I just want to recall our short-lived but wonderful moments together during this trip.  Thank you for the warm hospitality, the drive to all those famous places, for a moment there I felt like a princess because I was treated like one. Of course, my blog post will not be complete if I won't mention about the gorgeous pictures you took and the make up tips from your lovely daughter. I love them all. I am proud to post some of our pictures here. as you always say "Love you Bes!"

Do not forget the incident that took everyone at Bath by storm, hahaha. Here on these streets. Scene-stealer!


Love your Spouse challenge

>> Wednesday, 6 July 2016

I accepted a tag on my Facebook account and I was so excited to look for old photos to put in the 7-day challenge. Today is the 7th day and I was kinda sad that I will not be able to show off our photos after today. It is so amazing to see how we look like when we were younger. It made me realize that time flew so fast and we were not as cute as before LOL! I'm a bit nostalgic now making me feel that love your spouse fever more heartfelt. Lito and I have been together for 24 years and been married for 16 years. Like any other couple we have our ups and downs and we are thankful that we are still married until now.

Not all smiles.

Our pictures look good because we are smiling, we are on cam. But the day to day life is not all smiles. We also face similar problems married couples experience. Married life is a journey and it's not always a smooth ride. Last weekend, Lito and I had a Nicholas Sparks movie marathon. We watched The Longest Ride and Me Before You. Both movies were tear-jerkers but exposed real life situations and how relationships should be nurtured. Love means sacrifice, it means thinking more of the other person's welfare than yourself. The real joy comes from knowing that the other person is happy. Enjoying doing things together even one is not into it at first. Compromise? maybe, but it is clear that there is willingness to learn, to adapt, to change or accept.

Three cords are not easily broken.

We renewed our wedding vows last year in celebration of 15 blissful married years. The theme of the Minister's message was about The three cords not easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12). The third cord of course is God. It is written in the bible that God ordained marriage starting with Adam and Eve. It is not just a ritual, not a ceremony or tradition. When we get into marriage, we are asking and letting God join in our relationship to fulfill his promises. "He will never leave us not forsake us" "whenever 2 or 3 are gathered in my name, I will be with them" "in everything you do, put God first and He will direct you and He will crown your efforts with success." Lito and I believe in all these and more. We believe in the Divine intervention, whenever there is trouble, we pray on our own or together and God will do something. That applies too when we have a fight or disagreement, it is always comforting to know that God works in our marriage. We entrusted our marriage to our Lord and He continually bless us and our family.

In one of my posts, a brother said that this is like a chain letter, And my reply was "it's okay if it's showing that marriage still works in these times. We still and will believe that God ordained man and woman to get into and enjoy marriage. It could be a rough ride but with God in it will be smooth.

The pictures I posted for the 7-day challenge are reflections of real joy from our togetherness, our wedding day, our renewal of vows, our travels, when we are dressed up or just lounging around. Our smiles are radiating from our hearts because we know that even if this 7-day challenge is over, we will show and express our "love your spouse" everyday. We Love because God first loved us 1 John 4:19.

Here are the pictures I posted. Keep the love alive, stay married and look up to God.


Our newly renovated bathroom is environment-friendly

>> Thursday, 30 June 2016

Even if the outcome of the finished bathroom project was not as I was expecting, I will try to be positive about it.  Well, we achieved our goal, we have a new bathroom to enjoy and the total cost was within the budget. I will enumerate what we did right and will focus on what is interesting for the readers. I am happy to say that we were able to get water-saving faucets and shower heads.  The Moen faucets and shower sets we purchased are in spot-resist brushed nickel finish.  That means it will not require too much cleaning thus saving water, soap, time and effort.  I also am able to install the auto-sensor attachment to our faucet on the main floor washroom. We used to spend hundreds of dollars for a months consumption of water and i hope with this installation, it will be lesser.  The water will only start flowing when the unit sense a hand under it.  So I hope to save water when we are brushing teeth, washing hands, face etc. Our share in saving water and being good to the environment.  Here is the video of the EZ Faucet after installation:


I was also able to get a good deal in Kijiji for an Umbra brushed nickel flip hook that complements the brushed nickel theme of the bathroom.  I met with someone who had the extra hook and sold it to me at half the price. The niche on the wall also saves some space and money for buying a shampoo and soap caddy.  It looked more organized and modern.  I know these pictures are not worthy to be in glossy home renovation magazines but I want to share how the bathroom looked like now.  You should find the "before" pictures disgusting so these pictures show a better "after the renovation" look.  To top it off, the kids are happily singing while taking a shower and they are helping with cleaning, organizing the drawers and using the squeegee on the glass doors after each shower.  To me, the ROI was already achieved because the real stakeholders are my kids and as long as i hear, "I like our new bathroom Mom" my issues are no longer important.


Learnings from our first renovation project - bathrooms

>> Saturday, 25 June 2016

We have been praying for the bathroom renovation for a long time. Finally, it has been answered. Thanks to God for the financial provision and for giving us the contractor who can understand us on our needs because we can communicate on our first language (or so I thought).  There were lots of items in the exit criteria that were not met or corrected from our end or Lito's because he did it himself. Well, the problem was, it was not clear on the scope, it's unfair to the contractor to be adding or changing order (CHANGE MGMT) for the quote he gave (ESTIMATION in SCOPE MGMT) but he should have told us (COMMUNICATION MGMT) and not let us suffer on the quality (QUALITY MGMT) of the project. You've noticed that I highlighted some items here. These are the concepts of PROJECT MANAGEMENT that I learned in my continuing studies at U of T.

Before the project started, Lito and I and the kids have conceptualized and envisioned how our new bathroom should look like.  We wanted it to look modern and at the same time meet our small budget. We started buying materials when they are on sale and have been looking on the Internet and PInterest for ideas. I printed out the look of our future bathroom and gave it to the 2 contractors who gave the quotes. Both were recommended but we chose the Filipino. In a project, there is always the Stakeholder (Me), the Project Manager (Lito) and the contractor. It is the project manager's goal to always meet the project objectives and please the stakeholder.

Issue no 1: The tiles we bought was the big 12x24 tiles. We also bought the accent mosaic tiles to give it a modern look. The first quality check that Lito made was after the tiles installation, they were installed vertically instead of horizontally, supposedly aligned to the accent tile to give a continuous look and make the room look larger. It should have been checked at the start so the contractor can correct but he was already done with both the tiles and accent tiles that made the project manager and stakeholder argue and later made stakeholder succumb, cannot do anything but cry.  Well project manager was able to check at the start of the tile flooring installation and they finally met the requirement.

Issue no. 2: the drywall and painting was not completed to the stakeholders liking. After they finished painting I had to stick post-its to indicate where they need to do more sanding and smoothing. The paint we chose was in satin finish, because the semi-gloss was not available in the colour and brand we chose for a mould and mildew resistant finish -> Behr Ultra satin paint and primer - Manchester Gray. Imagine if the finish was semi-gloss and the quality is like what we were seeing at the time of inspection, the flaws are more visible and more unacceptable. They did some repainting after we called their attention but Lito had to do more sanding and repainting for some spots missed. We even have to remind them that the color of the door is the same as the wall and they had to change it last minute.

Issue no 3: the picture I've shown has the example of a niche in the wall where the shampoo and soaps are to placed. The accent tiles should be installed inside the niche, well, they installed it but only half was accent and the other half was tile. The outcome was not bad but it was not what we initially wanted. Again, the contractor just made the decision without asking the project manager and stakeholder.

Issue no 4: we bought an electric towel warmer and specifically showed them where and how to install it but when it was finished, Lito will have to move the hooks to be able to hang towels.

Issue no. 5: all the complains above are quality issues, manong contractor didn't meet our standards, it was a mediocre job I must admit but because we paid cheap, we get cheap. That's the concept that I couldn't make my partner believe, that higher value means higher quality.  At least aim for value for money, you always don't choose the cheapest, you find the value added.  If the budget is not yet enough we will wait - delayed gratification to get true satisfaction.

Issue no. 6:  time management - the reason why we couldn't choose the other contractor is because he is not available. The factor we consider was the timeline. Manong contractor said he can finish it in 4 days, but it actually took 10 days.

Issue no. 7: scope management - there were many added items that were not part of the initial plan. The led lights installation to both bathrooms, the towel ring and towel bar, etc.  What's important for manong before he accepts a new job is to clarify the scope of work and give an estimated added cost and time.

I was sad  because I knew these project management concepts but didn't apply them in this project that I consider myself a failure. The issues could have been lessened or resolved right away if these were in my radar at the start. I have an alibi - I am not a PMP yet and will probably wouldn't become one.

Stay tuned for positive outcomes of the bathroom project.


Reunited in London - meeting long-time friends Day 5 (Liza)

>> Monday, 23 May 2016

After I heard the news that I was going to UK, it only took me a few seconds before I contacted my friends based in London.  I was so excited to see two of my closest friends - one is my high school very close friend - Lalaine and my college buddy Liza, both have been in London since their kids were babies. My trip planning was easy because they recommended the attractions I needed to see. This extension of my business trip is already charged to me so I have to scrimp on the spending and as we all know London is one of the most expensive tourist destinations in the world.

Since I already did some touring around the City on my own and with the Sandeman tour, Liza brought me to the places I need to have my photo taken.  The highlights were the changing of the Royal Guards at Buckingham Palace, our Tea time at Harrod's and the rainy photo shoot at the Tower Bridge. She was as excited as I am as we were about to reach Buckingham Palace, we had to find a good spot in order to see the changing of the Royal Guards up close and we were successful.

After being entertained by the marching guards, we walked around to see Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. I had a good time teasing Liza about fearing that we might get lost and her opting to ask for directions, which I disagreed because I had never done it. I relied upon my map and instincts and thank God I'm always able to find my way.


My photos at the Big Ben reflect my happiness as I have a photo in one of the icons of London. Liza and I traveled towards east of London and have caught up with our stories and updates during the long trip. When we reached their place, I was in for a gastronomic surprise prepared by John. I had ginataang alimasag, pakbet and maja blanca for late lunch and early dinner. So busog! I met my godson after more than 15 years I believe and boy was he so handsome and so tall. Liza was saying he is an independent boy and working hard to finish his studies. I'm so proud of you, Nathaniel!

We went back to the city with their little girl - Christine Faith (same age as Candy) and had photo ops at London Bridge or Tower Bridge. It was short lived because it rained hard and we were really wet. Our next stop was at posh Harrod's to have some afternoon tea. This is the only time I remembered to bring out the flat doll that Candy sent me to take pictures with while I was on tour. I had our only picture together with candy's new friend Tin. Heading back to the Victoria station to claim my luggage, it took us longer as it is now rush hour - tubes and stations were so full of people.

My one day with Liza was not enough but both of us had nice stories of God's love, provision and faithfulness in our lives. That is enough for us to be reconnected as we were not only college friends but also sisters in Christ.


My Molson Burton UK Adventure - UK Trip Day 2-4

>> Friday, 20 May 2016

After travelling for almost 3 hours from London, I finally reached my destination.  The Taxi driver toured me around Burton On Trent before I checked in the hotel. I had an appointment for a tour around the Brewery at 3:00 pm and I was late. I still went to see my contact person and after some interview with the Quality staff about document control, OWD and other issues, I was so excited to go inside and around one of the oldest breweries of Molson. 

As expected, I found the brewery very clean and world-class looking and the people all aware of the rules (i.e. PPE). I took pictures for our own brewery to see as inspiration.  Learning about its history and how it transformed to what it is today, I was amazed.

I ended day 2 with dinner at a fancy restaurant - The Dial. Because this week is going to be a string of drinking sprees,  I had champagne on my first night here.

I was excited and nervous at the same time to meet my counterparts in Europe and Canada.  On breakfast time the next day, I met them one by one.  I felt like I'm in a beauty pageant, they are all equally beautiful and smart people and I found myself fitting in.

Day 3 - Today was a get-to-know-each-other day and we had workshop on influencing.  I am so proud of myself that I conquered my fears and broke down the walls.  I easily made friends that on dinner time and the tour (Yes, I went to another tour with them), it was like we've known each other for a long time. we had dinner at The Dial again.  I was so ashamed to face the waitresses because I forgot to give tip the previous night.  The night was awesome. I enjoyed the chatting and the beer.

Day 4 - It was presentation day.  I knew the content of the material but because I thought that National would report for all Canada, I didn't bother preparing, I was told yesterday and I thought I forgot about it while drinking but it dawned on me that it was happening.

So consider this the swimsuit, formal wear and question and answer portion of the pageant rolled into one. Good thing I didn't speak first or last.  I spoke in the middle and I had ideas on how to enliven the presentation.  When they were talking about how beautiful and gorgeous their countries were, I also felt proud that I am from the beautiful nation called Canada. So I took the opportunity to tell them about how the country is not only beautiful with its natural resources but also with its people.  With the diverse population and culture making up Toronto (I am one of the immigrants who moved to Canada) and also we are all people-oriented, it was but timely to say that Toronto boasts of its people from wide variety of cultures. It really felt like how Pia Wurtzbach of the Ms. Universe fame nailed the QA. hahaha. I was glad it went well. I admit speaking in front of an audience is not my forte but I think I was able to relay the message.

Today was the beer champion day and we had lots of beer to taste and match with food.  We were treated like kings and queens at another fancy restaurant by the river and before we started, we took lots of "selfies" in a picturesque setting.  This was one of my most favorite nights because this is where we really shared and connected.  Those I was seated next to were amazing, we shared and talked about government, religion, places, people (kinds of and Molson people whom we knew) and everything under the sun without qualms. I really felt that I belong to a family. Our pictures show how amazing this night was (and how great our beers are).  I intentionally made the photos look small because I didn't want to share my colleagues faces, I didn't ask their permission.





My unexpected UK Travel Story Day 1

>> Monday, 16 May 2016

My first travel on my own this year was just recently when I visited my sister and her family in Mississippi, USA.  I had a good time as a tourist and explored Elvis Presley's Graceland and other attractions nearby.  Last month, I had the opportunity to travel again but this time because of work and it is outside North America -> United Kingdom.  Backtracking two months,  I found out about the Global Meeting through my counterparts in Canada.  My boss was promoted and they thought that while they haven't selected a replacement yet,  I could come and join them,  But of course, I didn't have the nerve to ask my boss because I knew he wanted to go too.  I knew it was impossible but I wished that I will be able to go there and in other European breweries too someday.

On April Fool's morning, I received a call from my boss and asked me a favor, and that is to represent the Toronto Brewery to the Global Meeting.  Of course, I said yes and am very thankful for the unexpected news.  Everything happened so fast, I was very busy at work, have to prepare for the Global Meeting while still attending my Lean Six Sigma course at U of T.  The clincher was when I found out that I had to take my final exams without finishing the remaining lessons and I had to write the test on the day I was flying. So exciting, right?

After I handed in my final exam to my professor, that's when I started to feel relieved and accomplished and the excitement of going to see my global counterparts and long-lost friends started to kick in.  

Day 1 - I arrived very early at Heathrow Airport and managed to explore it to get to where I'm supposed to go - to Heathrow Express, the non-stop train going to Paddington Station which is just across the hotel my friend booked for me.  I was given instructions by my friends from London to find Heathrow Connect - the cheaper version - only 9 sterling pounds compared to 22 in Heathrow Express.  Travel time was only 15 minutes.  There are discounts if you book the tickets early.  This is something to remember when I go back with the family on our next travel goal.  Anyway, when I arrived at the station, I bought the Oyster Card to use for going around the city I did it using an ATM style kiosk, I arrived before 8:00 am on a Sunday and there are few ticket sellers at the counters.

AM - Check-in at Hilton, Attend SCM Service 
I was able to meet my friend at Hilton Edgeware Road and checked-in early.  After dropping off my luggage, I headed to The Shard - the tallest building because that is the landmark nearest to SCM London - My former church family counterpart in UK.  I walked cause they said it was only a block away but then I realized that I've been walking miles and still couldn't find it. The Lord was with me and the weather was great so I didn't mind but then I remember the service starts at 10:00 am.  With God's provision and miracle, I arrived just in time before the Pastor's sermon.  I was so happy to see fellow Filipinos worshipping the Lord.

PM - The London Tube System, Sandeman's Walking Tour and Hillsong London Service
I did some research and I found out about the Sandeman's London Free Walking Tour.  The meeting place was at Covert Garden, this is a market place where there are lots of people - tourists and places to eat.   That's where I bought some lunch - German Hotdog to eat while walking - my schedule was tight and the going around the Tube was "challenging".  

The underground subway stations here are deep. Sometimes, there are more stairs and tunnels to pass before transferring to another line.  I found that walking on the road is cheaper and faster and lots of people and stores to see.  If you are just going from Leicester to Covert Garden - don't use the Tube, This is the shortest distance in the Underground.

Here are some of the busiest or deep stations that I remember and you may want to avoid:
Oxford Circus, King's Cross and Pancras - this is where the 9 3/4 platform of Harry Potter is, Piccadilly Circus, Earl's Court, Embankment, London Bridge, Baker Street and Victoria.  Well, these are the stations that I remembered going to and getting lost in hahaha.

When I reached Covert Garden, it was not that hard to find the free Walking Tour guides because they are wearing red shirts and they wait under RED umbrellas. I was able to eat lunch and register for the tour - again -> just in time.  These are the areas we went to and I found out interesting facts and some history about London:


I knew I was doing the walking tour so I wore comfortable shoes but maybe I lack sleep (because of excitement)  and the change of time - London time is 5 hours ahead of EST and got really tired of walking for 2 hours, I doze off at the Tube.  Before I fell asleep,  I counted the stops to go to my hotel and I thought that that was my last stop.  I ended up going to Richmond on the Green line which is the opposite of where I was going and I had to go back and spend another 30 minutes "touring around" the other zones. What an adventure!  

Finally, after arriving in Zone 1, I went straight to Tottenham Court Road station to attend Hillsong London last worship service schedule at Dominion Theatre.  I had a breath-taking experience, the singers are very close and the service is like a concert.  The songs played were new ones but that they also sang old songs.  I loved Hillsong- always does and I was blessed that night.

Going back to my hotel, I decided to explore and find the famous English Fish and Chips and took it to my room to rest my tired feet and eyes.  Day 1 was amazing.  Thank you Lord.


About This Blog

My blog is about ME as a wife and a mom to Aloysius, Achilles & Alexus. MYSELF as a career woman, and IRMEE as my other roles - a daughter, a sister, a co-worker, a friend and all my discoveries in this wonderful life that God gave. I'll also share my latest finds in food, fashion, gadgets and places.

The rest is anything under the sun, so read on.

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