Monday, December 31, 2007

An hour of Pleasure, A day spent in Bliss

2007 is a trying and emotional time for me; it is also my busiest year, but I survived it. I always believe in the power of prayer, every endeavor I do I always ask the Lord to guide me to make the right decisions and never leave me during my darkest hours.

Another thing that I do is treating myself every now and then to some “perks” like pedicures, facials and spas. It helps me recharge my batteries so to speak. I don’t consider shopping a perk because as my husband put it, it is my favorite pastime.

This time my gift to myself was visiting my favorite spa, the Red Bamboo Spa at Riverbanks, Marikina City. I regularly go there maybe 3 to 4 times a year as a reward for a job well done be it in teaching or in business. It’s a good way to de stress and sooth the soul. I went there with my mother(its my Christmas gift to her) and we spent an hour of pleasure, being pampered like princesses.

During the hour that my body is undergoing Swedish massage, my mind is clear and this time I let all the pain and disappointments I encountered during the year flow out of my heart and let hope, my dreams and goals energize me for the coming year.

After the spa, we spent the day window shopping and eating my favorite pasta dish. We then went to Gateway Mall after going over the shops at Riverbanks, it’s the only time I can shop in leisure.

I even got myself a souvenir for my day of bliss, I finally bought my new Nike Free 5.0 shoes and I even got it at a discount in Gateway Mall.

Recharged for the new year ahead but I am also thankful for this 2007 it made me who I am today.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

A Memorable Christmas

Our Christmas this year can be considered “uneventful” or simply quiet, meaning this year we got to spend the holiday with just the family, no relatives from the province visiting or cousins stopping by. It was the time where you can just relax and bond with each other. The usual Christmas season for us is one big family reunion where relatives from the province arrive before Christmas and stays with us till January and our relatives here in the metro drops by to see them at any given time.

I consider this Christmas season very memorable, it is when I got to bond with every member of the family during the Noche Buena preparations, each one has prepared a dish and for the whole day we work side by side while cooking.

I also gave in to my son’s request to bake goodies, we made chicken empanada and boy he got to really got his hands dirty but enjoyed every minute of it, my parents prepared our favorite asadong baka, while my husband prepared a prawn dish which he calls “shrimp ala cham” (it was really prawns thermidore), my brother was in charge with the drinks while they all help me prepare for my 2kg roasted garlic chicken. The prawns and roast chicken recipe came from the Yummy Magazine November and December issue.

We decided to make our feast healthy buy removing the rice and replacing it with bread, fruits and Caesar salad, even our drinks is just combination of pineapple and fresh oranges.

Even gifts exchanged were also simple but the laughter and cheers were priceless. While tidying up my brother remarked that our Christmas this year is one of a kind for this was the only year that we changed all the food we make for Noche Buena but he really enjoyed it, we all did.

Making Christmas Feasts not just delicious but also healthy as well is one practice I would like to make as our family’s tradition, plus encouraging everyone to help prepare it makes Christmas really memorable.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sending Love this Christmas

Many say that Christmas should be spent with your family. In our case where many families are apart due to economic reasons, many of our countrymen are abroad to earn a living for their families, Christmas can be a sad event. I am very fortunate that my husband does not have to go abroad anymore to earn a living, but it can’t be said of many families in the country.

Luckily there are different ways for families to be together and keep in touch, there are the mobile communications, online chat and or emails and IMs. Keeping touch with each other is not difficult anymore, love ones are just a text message or phone call away.

Technology today is also keeping up with the needs to the people, OFWs abroad can now send a Christmas gift to the Philippines through online stores. You can make your families feel loved by using these stores where you can pick products for them and have them delivered at home even if you are not in the Philippines.

This kind of innovations enhances the relationships families have even if they are apart. We can see more and more products emerging from the market to suit the needs of OFWs and their families in the future.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Importance of True Friendships

A friend of mine called me up last week just to say hello, it was both a surprise and a delight to talk to her again. She was my classmate in High School, we’ve been only classmates for a year then I was moved to another section for the remaining three years. We have been close then but lost touch after high school; we met again in a school reunion four years ago and became close again since.

I lost touch of her two years ago, and was regularly trying to contact her mobile phone ever since so it was really a surprise when she called. She entered a monastery to be a nun two years ago, I know of her plans and accompanied her in some of her search for the right order for her. I just did not know what order she had chosen and when is entered.

Today she is out of the monastery for a mandatory period of soul searching to help her decide if she really wants to be a nun. I am so happy for her and can’t wait to meet her again.

In reflection, friendships are like gift of jewels in our lives, they come and go in your life, they fill you heart with happiness and even at times that so don't see them often, that deep in your heart they never really gone because they are part of you.

In this holiday season let us cherish our friendships, even if we are physically apart we can reach out to them though phones, chat or emails. I have many friends abroad and miss them too, a simple email with pictures attached maybe just the thing I need to be with them this Christmas.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Lessons Learned in Joining my First Tiangge

One of my dreams was to join a tiangge or bazaar, I was supposed to join one last November but it did not push through due to problems on logistics. I was lucky to join one this week at PSBA, they are celebrating their foundation day. The tiangge runs for four days and my brother who is studying there help me manage my booth. I did not earn much but I treat it as an important lesson for my business.

Lessons Learned:
The most important – study your market very well and make products that they will likely buy. Since my market was mostly students I had to price my products low and have products that appeal to them.

Pick a location that has a lot of foot traffic.

Make your booth attractive so that it easily attracts customers. Put tarpaulins, posters and make colorful decorations that reflect the products you are selling.

Have fliers ready to be handed out to interested buyers, so that they can contact you if they want to purchase from you even after the bazaar is over.

Have friendly and helpful sales people. One of my advantages is having my brother and his friends mind the booth, since they are of the same age bracket as the customers it was easy for them to make a sale.

Lastly, have your objectives on why you are joining the bazaar and evaluate it after so you can check if you have achieved them. From there you can make a list for improvement as guide for your next bazaar.

As for myself I joined this bazaar to give me a first hand experience on what goes on in bazaars and what aspects of my business needs to improve before I join again next year.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Managing MyLittleBaker

The Christmas season is the peak season for my home based business and it keeps me "very- busy-that-there-is-not-much-sleeping-anymore" kind of busy but what I realized is that in making your business grow, you have to grow with it too.

I started with just making chocolate lollipops seven years ago to having a whole product line that can hardly fit a short bond paper. Things can get complicated really quickly especially when you have deliveries scheduled. With all of this happening I have to develop business management skills fast.

Supplier sourcing alone takes a lot of time and money. Looking for low price cost on my supplies like nuts, baking supplies and chocolates is done in October. Encountering out-of-stock supplies at this stage is nerve racking. Even remembering where to buy flour that cost the lowest can sometimes be a dilemma specially if that information is not readily available or I can’t remember where I bought it. I have three stores where I buy my supplies and I easily forget things when I am tired or preoccupied.

So as my busiest season draws to a close I decided to do the following information systems when I have some free time on my hands. I would like to develop my own inventory system and a business directory.

The inventory system is already a necessity for me for I have so many ingredients in stock and I need to keep track of them, maybe I can include a shopping list feature so that I won’t forget a crucial ingredient when I’m buying my stocks. Maybe I’ll add a recipe list also so that I know what ingredients I need if I want to bake or cook something. A Business Directory is also good, where I can put all my contacts and suppliers, I can also put all my prospective clients in that directory too so that when I do marketing and sales pitch with ease. I would also like to advertise my business more, maybe join Business Directories too, like Asian Business Directory. I can’t wait to make it big in this business.

I do have a computer degree and I am computer instructor too, so I have to practice programming once in a while so that my skills won’t be rusty. Looking forward to using Visual Basic again after all this baking going on. But before that even happens, my kitchen awaits as I am preparing for my tiangge in PSBA this week.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Preparing for the Christmas Feast

My parents are great cooks, maybe that is why I am so keen on learning to be a great one also. During the Christmas season I make it an effort to prepare something new for the whole family to taste and judge for themselves.

Many of my products on my online store MylittleBaker comes from these recipes, they are tried and tested by my tough testers that only the best ones make it. On the picture above there are my work of love, the Tipsy Leche Flan, Minicakes and The Fruitcake.

The Tipsy Leche Flan. I love leche flans but I only eat them during special occasions same with a little alcohol drink. So last year I decided to experiment a bit and put this two together and to my delight I was happily tipsy and it also help me control eating leche flan meaning I eat a few spoonful every meal to savor not like eating the whole llanera full.

The Minicakes. I love cakes and what better occasion I can share my love for them than on Christmas season? During these times we have many visitors during different times of the day, so I serve them these home baked goodies. I now have chocolate cake, carrot pound cake, cream cheese cakes and carrot cake all in mini. I have found recipe for mocha flavored ones that I am dying to try this Christmas.

The Fruitcake. I started making fruitcakes last year, and I am proud of them they taste so good. I lovingly brush brandy on them regularly so that when you eat them they taste just right. I even have them in minicake version so that you can eat one anytime you want without the hassle of cutting from a big cake.

This Christmas, I am trying my hand in roasting turkey who know I might make a perfect roast bird on my first try.