Sign of the Times

My nephew turned 1 this month and we wanted to give him something he’d consider “fun”. So as I was perusing through the toy aisles, I came across this gem. I say “gem” because I had never seen a toy quite like it before. I realized that only in this day and age would they come out with a toy “Taco Truck” that lights up and has hydrolic motions to the sounds of a DJ scratching! The Hubby and I were in love with all the little details including the “menu”.  

Advertisements

Not So Extreme…But Pretty Darn Good…Couponing!

Some of you may have heard of or seen the new reality show Extreme Couponing. Well, this post is dedicated to my girlfriend who loves the show. The domestic goddesses in this show save hundreds of dollars, and while I can appreciate that, I’m not willing to go to extreme lengths just so I can have a stockpile of mustard on hand. However, I will use coupons to save where I can on things that make sense in MY life. When I wasn’t working, it was my mission to clip manufacturer’s coupons, retail coupons and read those darn sales ads to see how I can maximize my savings.  I believe the MOST I had saved in coupons was something like $15 which felt like a victory. This didn’t include the membership discounts – just coupons.  Here is a recap of how much I saved just this weekend alone:

-Photo Book from Blurb.com: Coupon Code saved me $8.19
-Lunch at Buca Di Beppo: Coupon saved me $10
-Bath & Body Works: Buy 1 Get 1 Free Coupon gave me a Free Body Lotion ($12 Savings)
-Matinee Showing of Bridesmaids: Saved me $8 for two tickets
-Grocery Shopping at Fresh & Easy: Coupon saved me $5 off of $25 worth of groceries
-Kinect Game Zumba: Saved me $25 with their Thank You gift card from a previous purchase – we only paid $13 out of pocket for the game!

$68 in savings – not bad at all! We were able to watch a movie, have a delicious meal, get a free item, and pay less out of pocket simply by making smart decisions and taking advantage of great deals. Always search coupon codes online – they almost always work out and you save a few bucks!

My Dancing Queen

Little Miss Ella is officially enrolled in Ballet and Tap Dance! I am so proud of her – she surprised me with her energy, her excitement and her courage and will to try something new with people she didn’t quite know yet. I can say that it’s not such a favorable situation even for an adult sometimes, no less a 3 year old. But she impressed me and I am hoping she will only grow to enjoy and even love the arts even more with every class. I cannot wait to see her perform and to make little tutu’s for her. :)

Top Five: GUILTY PLEASURES

1. Magazines – I am a bit of a magazine hoarder. I love love love the inspiration, ideas, articles, and recipes that live in a colorful publication. This is probably why I’m not a stockbroker who reads the newspaper and why I’m a graphic designer who reads magazines. I need color, illustrations, interesting type faces, photographs…you get it.

2. TV – Once I’m wrapped into a series or a movie, I’m glued. I used to not have the time for TV but recently have been drawn to different stories, fiction or reality based.

3. Alone Time – As much as I love my children and my dear sweet Hubby, I do enjoy the time I have to myself. This can be a few minutes in the morning with a cup of coffee, my time running errands, or just being alone in our bedroom while the family is off doing their own thing in another part of the house. It gives me an opportunity to center myself and it gives my mind a break from running through the laundry list of things I need to get done.

4. Eating Out – I love going out to eat with my friends and especially with my Hubby. Going to a restaurant that serves delicious food is an adventure.

5. Rest – I should know better – rest shouldn’t be a guilty pleasure. It’s necessary. But if you’re like me, having a day to just veg out and be ok with not being productive is like giving my body, mind and soul a vacation. These restful moments don’t come around too often because as you know, I can’t sit still. But when I am able to, it is truly considered one of my guilty pleasures.

Huge Sigh of Relief

Today was my big presentation to the Director of Marketing (who happens to be my manager) and the Senior Marketing Manager of our company. I had been preparing for the past several weeks to put my best ideas forward. I am relieved to say that my ideas were well-received. I was praying for the best but ready for the worst. Feedback sometimes can be brutally honest – the not so shiny side of being a creative I guess. But you gotta take the good with the bad, and consider the bad “constructive” – how’s that for marketing?

Whew – I can breathe easier now. I had been working non-stop at bringing my ideas to fruition. This is just the first step towards some pretty exciting changes, and I’m glad I was able to contribute to that. Plugging away…

Happy Thursday, everyone – the weekend is near! :)

Mommy & Me Date With Ella (2011)

Yesterday, I took Ella to one of our city’s famous places – The San Diego Zoo! She was so excited to go that the first words out of her mouth when she woke up Sunday morning were “Can we go go the zoo now?” We headed over a little after the park opened. It was perfect zoo-weather which means a bit overcast. Although the parking lot was filling up pretty fast, the zoo didn’t strike me as overly crowded – could be that it’s so big that everyone was just spread out. I did appreciate how the sidewalks weren’t crowded and Ella and I were able to just take our time and enjoy the animals we got to visit. The one animal she wanted to see was…The Panda! So our goal was to navigate through half of the zoo to get to Panda Canyon. Snacks were packed in the backpack (gotta love the zoo for allowing us to bring food and drinks into the park), she jumped in the stroller and off we went for a day at the zoo. We managed to see several animals which she was able to identify for herself – monkeys, bears, elephants, birds… My favorite moment was after visiting with the pandas, we stopped into a gift shop. She kept asking me for her backpack so I gave it to her. After she unzipped the backpack, she began to place the little panda trinkets in there. I explained to her that she can pick what she wanted but we had to pay for it first. Oh the innocence! She was so excited. She picked a little panda bear and kept it in her pocket all day long. See if you can find it in the pictures below. Enjoy!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Surprise Kudos

Recently, my manager startled me by saying “Congratuations!” I turned around in my creative cave (aka cubicle) and replied “Oh, did I get that project?” referring to an earlier conversation I had with her. She clarifies by telling me she had entered one of my brochures in a Medical Marketing Competition and it won Silver. Wow! I was both surprised and happy, as I had no idea she entered one of my pieces in this competition and as the cherry on top, I felt that she valued my work. How does this make me feel? Valued, appreciated, noticed and it reminded me that I am pretty good at what I do — well, good enough to place Silver in The Aster Awards that is. I say that humbly of course. :) I don’t usually pat myself on the back, but with the support and encouragement of my family and Hubby especially, they reminded me that I truly deserved the kudos even though I wasn’t looking for it. Those are the best kudos if you ask me — the ones you don’t expect or ask for, and the ones that surprise you when you least expect it. I share this award with all of my fellow marketing and creative geniuses. Proof that we’re not sitting at our desks coloring all day. *wink*

http://www.asterawards.com/winners.php

Ella’s 3rd Birthday: Hello Kitty & Keroppi Theme

3rd birthday last Saturday was a delightful success! Throwing a party in general takes a lot of work and most of all, preparation. But what makes it all fun is taking care of all the little details.

  • My sister-in-law kindly took the time and creativity to make Ella Hello Kitty and Keroppi cake pops — she did an awesome job!
  • I created a personalized coloring/activity book that went inside the goodie bags.
  • With the help of our 10 year old, we created baggies of M&Ms (in Hello Kitty colors of course) complete with a personalized tag.
  • What is a Hello Kitty party without little bows to wear in your hair? These were fun to make.
  • I baked cupcakes that were adorned with easy-to-make wrappers. I used a basic template and added Hello Kitty & Keroppi’s faces.
  • We played a group game that was fitting for the toddler and pre-schoolers. The older kids stuck paper bows (as in Hello Kitty’s bows) all around the house and patio (some even got stuck on a few Daddies – LOL) and like a scavenger hunt, they had to find all the bows. Their prize was a goodie bag.
  • We found a perfect Keroppi-green frame that was lightweight enough for the kids to even hold and used it as a prop to take colorful, fun pictures!
  • Gotta love the Asian-market finds – Ella and her friends each had their own Hello Kitty Yan Yans as a sweet treat.

Top Five: FOOD (SAVORY)

I’m starting a “Top Five” series of blog entries. Thought I’d start with the most delicious topic – FOOD. Having had several of my absolute fave foods in the past few weeks, I want to get this entry locked in before it slips my mind.

1. Mom’s Kare Kare – Nothing beats anything Mom cooks but THIS HERE will make me forget about any diet or healthy eating I’m in the middle of. I will happily throw it out the window for Mom’s Kare Kare over a plate of warm white rice and a side of bagoong (shrimp paste).

2. Thai Go Combo Fried Rice – I do not know what it is but this fried rice can’t compare to any other. Believe me, I’ve tried to find a replacement, especially something that is closer to home. This one can be found at Thai Go in Carmel Mountain (San Diego) which is really only 15 minutes away from me. Something about the sweet Chinese sausage pieces, chicken, and shrimp mixed in with the perfectly flavored rice, which is seasoned with one of my favorite ingredients – fish sauce!

3. Hubby’s Pot Roast – I knew I was going to marry him after tasting his pot roast. I didn’t grow up eating pot roast so it was a pleasant life-changing surprise to my taste buds! Tender meat and veggies, and lots of flavor. I’m Filipino so you know this goes over rice. :)

4. Noodles (all kinds) – I couldn’t narrow this one down so I had to be general. One of my earliest childhood food memories was eating Top Ramen. Poor Top Ramen, it receives so much flak for being the “starving student’s” only source of nourishment but it is admittedly something I still crave to this day. It’s one of my comfort foods. I also LOVE pansit (Filipino) especially the bihon and canton styles. And you almost always see me ordering chow mein (Chinese), pad seeyew (Thai), pad thai (Thai), or yakisoba (Japanese) when dining at any Asian restaurant. Noodles to me are what bread is to some.

5. Mom’s Macaroni Salad – It’s not a surprise that two of my Mom’s dishes made the cut. Even I cannot duplicate her mac salad and I have tried…many times. The salad is both sweet and savory, and just delicious. I can eat plates and plates of this, and this is a dish I request my Mom to make for almost all of our hosted parties.

My How Time Flies…My Ella is 3.

It seems like just yesterday, I was pushing my baby girl in a swing at the neighborhood park. She was only 10 months in this picture, had a few teeth, was in diapers, was only crawling, and only said a few words at the time — Dada, mostly.

Today, My Ella is 3 years old! She is talking up a storm and I mean full on sentences! She is officially potty-trained and has a mind — and personality — all to her own. I fall in love with her more and more every day. Happy birthday, beautiful girl. Mommy loves you so much.