Thursday, May 17, 2018

How a great vacation can inspire your home décor

My favorite holiday ever will always be in London, UK. First, it's the first country I traveled to all by myself. A solo trip—even though that trip was for work—is always unforgettable. Second, it's the city where Vince and I spent our honeymoon. That's why London will forever be my favorite foreign city, and I like to keep mementos of my time there around my house. For example, these throw pillows that baby Piero is resting on.

Everything in this picture sparks joy!

This is a guest post, by the way. I think my working mama readers will like this topic because Filipinos are such tourists and we love putting souvenirs of our travels all over our homes. Enjoy this little post!

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If you are someone that likes to travel, you may already be intertwining your travels and memories with your home décor. Traveling to different countries can be an excellent source of inspiration. People have varying ideas and cultures that may make their indoor spaces unique and invite. By taking some of those ideas home, you can incorporate your memories and experiences into your living spaces and, ultimate, your lifestyle. Here are some of the things that you can do to let your vacations inspire your décor. 

During your vacation, you may buy some items or artifacts to remember your trip. Naturally, you would want to put these items on display. By adding some relevant décor, you can accentuate the personality and atmosphere your souvenirs provide to your living space. If you, for example, bought a little replica of the Statue of Liberty during your time in New York, you can draw some attention to it with a framed photograph of the Manhattan Skyline.

There are many different cultural aspects to interior decorating that you can apply to your own home. Feng Shui, for example, originated in China and claims to harmonize you with your living space. You may gather some ideas that you may like that are engraved in a society’s lifestyle and use it as inspiration for your décor. 

Prominent features or export products like oriental themed décor and patterned rugs can transform your room into the place that you came to know and love. 

As far as décor is concerned, you can hardly go wrong with some plants. It is also the perfect way to use your vacation as inspiration for your décor. If you spent some time at, say, a tropical beach, you may find a nursery that sells plants that grow in those areas and use them as décor in your living room or even your home office. You can also compliment the plants’ presence with wallpaper that has floral or bamboo themes or even a souvenir that you bought like a lay or a portrait of a fish or a beach landscape.

Many countries have decorative patterns that are unique to their societies and lifestyles. Scandinavian pine tree patterns can, for example, easily be incorporated into your interior space’s features and décor. Simple patterns like squares or V-shaped patterns may seem conventional but can change the atmosphere and personality of a room completely. One of the best ways makes patterns part of your décor is to make use of rugs, wallpaper, or curtains. 

Functional décor 
One of the more practical ways your vacation can inspire your décor is with functional pieces such as serveware, woven baskets, or racks and hooks. Trays, bowls, and plates can be the ideal way to bring your vacation into your décor. Some countries have little teaspoons that many people like to collect. Storage accessories such as wine racks or hat stands can also traditional to a place that you visited during a holiday. 

Color schemes 
Sometimes, interior spaces are dominated with the same color scheme. If you like a particular color scheme or hues, why not use in your room’s decorations? Tropical destinations with ocean views and sandy beaches have typical blue, light brown and sap green elements that you can easily bring into your home with natural elements. 

You may also have to use features that are already available in your interior space like a window with a view over a garden or a big piece of blue sky. By simply adding one or two additional decorative features, it can establish the color scheme that you saw and experienced during your vacation. 

Interior decorating styles 
There are many different interior decorating styles all over the world. Whether it is mid-century modern, industrial, minimalistic, or Scandinavian, chances are that you will find a style that has prominence at the place where you had your vacation. The French are known for their love of shabby chic, and when you do a little research, you may find a lot of attributes to a particular style that looks familiar and inviting. 

Many times, modeling your décor to a specific style will inspire you to incorporate the things you experienced during your vacation into your interior space.

*This is a guest post by Clarissa Caouette. To place a guest post, email for my rates. 

Monday, May 14, 2018

How I deal with mommy guilt

I had a long day. That was my excuse, but all moms have long days so is that really an excuse to lose my temper and be unkind to my children? All my days are long yet I can usually hold my exhaustion at bay, at least until 9 p.m. when the last kid finally dozes off and I can also relax. 

On this particular day, however, I was worn out because we were on vacation. The kids were too excited about the new environment, and I was worried about my deadlines. We may be on holiday but my work didn't care about that! It was way past the boys' bedtime in a new room at a new place and I was feeling old and stretched thin. Without warning, I snapped. 

I yelled and then I cried. They were stunned. In that silence, I knew instantly I was wrong and I apologized. As soon as I said, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean those bad words," my sons hugged me and cried in relief. I didn't feel relief, however—I felt even more guilty! Waking up the next day greeted by love letters decorated with flowers made me feel even worse. I felt like a bad mother.

Many moms wrestle with that thought. "Am I a good mother? I got mad at them—am I a bad mother? I gave them junk food. I didn't give him a bath. I fed her formula milk. I gave him the iPad. I let her watch TV. I hired a yaya. I work. Am I a bad mother? If I'm not a bad mother, why do I feel so guilty?"

Let's talk about guilt first. The dictionary (Merriam-Webster) defines guilt as "the fact of committing a breach of conduct especially violating a law and involving a penalty." Guilt means we did something wrong. Guilt is a fact, not an imagined offence. 

In many cases, mothers don't do wrong when we make decisions we feel are best for our family. Whether that's being a working mother and hiring household help to skipping a bath (because the baby's not dirty anyway!) and letting the kids watch TV (because you need some peace and quiet). Yet even though we didn't commit a crime, we still feel guilty. 

I do. I feel guilty all the time. But I can easily squelch that guilty emotion when I remind myself of two facts: (1) I'm doing my very best, and (2) I love them so much! Everything I do is because I love my kids and that alone makes me a good mother.

Then that day happened. The uncalled for yelling and the cruel words that broke my kids' tender hearts. Yes, I was doing my very best giving my kids a holiday (so they can have fun) and trying to meet deadlines (so I have their tuition money). And yes, I love them very much. But I was wrong to say what I said. And I was definitely guilty.

When I commit a real offence—no matter the reason!—there are only two ways to deal with the guilt: (1) Apologize immediately and sincerely, and (2) forgive myself.

I hope saying sorry shows my kids that their mama makes mistakes and realizes it immediately. I hope they see that by sincerely apologizing and not blaming them for my mistakes, I admit that I'm not a perfect mother but I try so hard to be a good mama anyway. Lastly, I hope they see that I will always try again and again and that I won't ever give up being their mommy. That means I need to forgive myself when I do wrong so that I can get up and give motherhood another go.

I'm lucky my kids are the most forgiving people in the world. They are so quick to hug me and say, "It's okay, Mama! We love you!" Their love makes me realize I'm not a bad mommy. A flawed one definitely but a good enough one nevertheless. And I shouldn't feel guilty about that.

*This was published in for Mother's Day 2017.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

How to get your start up off the ground

I have a confession to make: I really want to sell something! 

When you're a mommy blogger like me, lots of little mommy businesses ask for help in raising awareness for their brands. I'm always happy to help. As a mompreneur myself (my business is blogging), I know how it feels to want to financially contribute to the family, scratch that creativity itch, and be with the kids all at the same time. It looks great from the outside but it's not so easy to do. So whenever mamas ask me to help them by posting about their product on Instagram or on Facebook, I help. 

But back to my confession. I will confess that starting a brand that sells beautiful and useful things for working moms is a huge dream of mine. Whenever mompreneurs approach me about their brands, I always feel a twinge of envy. Not envy in a bad way, but envy in a "Look at all these amazing women putting up their businesses. When are you putting up yours???" way and sometimes it makes me sad. But then I have to remind myself, "No! You will be inspired! One day, you will finally put up that working-mama brand. One day!" I call this my "inspired envy" emotion. It's a good emotion because it drives me to work harder!

So I've been slowly learning about starting a brand. Not just the flowery and inspirational parts of it because everyone talks about following their dreams but no one talks about funding and BIR and taxes, right? I remember going to a workshop before and this mommy who sells baby stuff was the speaker. And she goes, "Well, I really love expensive things for my babies and no one was selling [this brand] here so I decided to sell it myself." And someone asked, "How did you get funding and the rights to distribute that brand?" And she said back, "Oh, I don't know. My dad took care of everything." 

Sorry but sobrang negative infinity points na siya sa akin. Not inspirational at all. Not encouraging at all. Not helpful at all. May asawa't anak ka na, umaasa ka pa rin kay rich dad for everything. So, in that case, I didn't feel my usual "inspired envy" at all. 

Thankfully, I know more women who started their businesses from their own savings, from asking for a loan from the bank or from their family and friends, or they used their money from their retirement. That's how I started my blogging business, by the way. I relied heavily on my retirement pay from the magazine industry.  

Nowadays, you'll find even more people who can help you start your business. That's because more and more people are turning to running their own small businesses rather than following career paths of employed positions in other people’s businesses. It’s not all too surprising. At the end of the day, who doesn’t want to be their own boss? Plus, the success of online only stores (which are a whole lot cheaper and easier to set up than traditional brick-and-mortar stores) is inspiring, especially to us mommies. So, if you’re planning on creating a start up of your own, there’s no better time than the present. Here are a few things that you will need to cover to get the ball rolling in the right direction.

Funding Your Project
The first thing that you need to secure when it comes to setting up a small business is funding. After all, without cash at hand, how are you going to get the ball rolling? Everything requires investment and ideally you should be able to access the cash quickly rather than having to wait on gathering savings. If you don’t have money behind you from the start, you should consider a business line of credit loan. This will give you access to money within your credit limit as and when you need it, allowing you to pay the sum back in smaller installments down the line!

How do you get a nice bank loan? Well, you must establish good credit. How does one do that? Well, a bank account is a good start. A credit card or two that's always paid in full and on time helps a lot, too. Plus, a good business plan. 

Of course, I'm talking about regular people. There are many other people who have tons of money to throw around and funding is never a problem. If you have friends like those, you can ask them for help. Just make sure you can pay them back!

I'll just make kwento. I was attending a women entrepreneur seminar, and a woman shared how she started her business. "Oh, I went to China and I was bored so I went shopping and charged everything on the credit card and then just told them to ship it home. One month later, my husband called. 'Customs is asking about this shipment! What did you buy that cost me 600,000 yuan?!' [That's P5 million] Haha sorry I don't understand Chinese so I just said yes yes yes to the shop owner. And that's how I became a businesswoman because I had no choice but to sell all those things I ordered!"

Buti pa siya. For us regular folk, we'll have to work harder to get funding. Thankfully, a lot of home businesses don't require a lot of money to put up. You can sell mobile phone load cards. You can buy stuff from Divisoria and sell them online. You can bake extra cupcakes. You can buy extra woven bags from your bakasyon grande sa probinsya niyo (or whatever crafts your hometown is famous for) and sell those. 

If you don't want to get into debt just to start a business, you don't have to start big and expensive. Whatever your funds at hand can buy, then that's what you sell. Just be patient! 

Taking Care of Legal Business
There are all sorts of legalities that come with becoming a small business owner. Depending on where your business is based and where it intends to operate, laws will differ. But generally speaking, there are a few things that every business will require. 

Making Your Biz Legit
When you're making at least P5,000 a month from your business, it's time to register with the BIR. Okay, no one likes paying taxes. I don't know anyone who is thrilled to part with their hard-earned money and give it to a corrupt government. But pay taxes we all must. 

On the bright side, when your business is BIR-legit, it's easier to get more and bigger clients, raise more funds, to scale up, to rent an office/warehouse. When you also pay taxes, it's easier to get visas if you need to travel since an ITR is one of the documents needed to get a visa. As you can see, there are more benefits to paying your taxes so register your business with the BIR and pay your taxes (let Taxumo* do that for you!).    

Business Address
When you register your business with the BIR, you will need an official business address. Ideally, this shouldn’t be your personal address, as it may be required for correspondence and could also be distributed publicly. If you don’t have a commercial property to start with, there are plenty of packages out there that allow you to purchase a physical business address or a PO box. This gives you more privacy.

My business address is my home address but this year, our homeowners association changed their rules and now I need a new business address. It's been very stressful! So if you're about to start a home-based business, look for another place to register with the BIR. Even if it's okay with your condo/village/etc now, it may not be okay in the future and you don't want to go through the hell I'm going through now. Your options are you can ask a friend who has a brick-and-mortar store for help. Just ask her if you can rent a table. Yes! The BIR accepts that! If you don't want to inconvenience a friend, there are virtual offices who offer this service. They'll be your business address and they'll even accept mail and packages for you. 

Open a Separate Bank Account
It’s also likely that you will need to open a business bank account. These accounts offer you the same services that you will be used to with your personal account, but they allow you to deal with more withdrawals, cash more checks, and deal with a generally increased cash flow in and out of your account.They also have the benefit of helping you to separate your personal finances from your professional finances. This makes processes such as tax returns at the end of the year a whole lot less complicated.

Protecting Your Intellectual Property
By the time you’re ready to start selling, you will have put a whole lot of time and effort into creating your brand and products. So you want to ensure that they are protected from theft and reproduction. Protect your intellectual property by copyrighting and trademarking as much of your intellectual property as possible.

These are just a few things that you should consider when you plan to start up your own independent business. But taking care of them sooner rather than later will make the whole process a lot more smooth and simple! Good luck, mamas!

*Use my code FRANCES when you sign up with Taxumo.

**This post contains affiliate links. Photo from Pexels.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Here are 4 things you can do at home to boost your income

Dear mamas, did you know you could use your home to increase your income? As a work-from-home mom, I always get asked by my readers over at my blog's Facebook page, "I'm a housewife and I want to earn, too. How can I be a working mom but still stay home with my kids?" Well, you can turn your home into your very own office!

Okay, we're not going to talk about renting out your garage or your spare room (but you can do that, if you wish!). We're not even going to talk about upselling your home or putting it up on the real estate market (although you can do that, too, if you want to!). Instead, we'll talk about how  everything you could do in the privacy of your own home can be used to maximize your earnings.

My desk at home! Styled for Real Living. In reality, I work over at the dining table haha

Your home offers a variety of opportunities, and it’s fair to say that you will find ideas for everyone, whether you’re a finance specialist or a DIY craft lover. Even though I've been working from home for over 5 years myself, I'm always on the lookout for more ways to earn money without leaving my house! So let me share a few tips:

1. Turn your hobby into a business.
Everyone has a hobby. But when you begin to spend a lot of time on it, it might be time to consider a way of making your hobby a financial actor of your future. For a lot of people, however, the main issue is to figure out if your hobby is worth the time investment. Sometimes, it’s more of a hunch than anything else. But ultimately, as the saying goes, if you choose a job you love you’ll never have to work a day in your life. That’s precisely what a lot of bloggers, crafters, and artists have embraced to build their career. After all, you can spend time doing what you love and getting paid for it! 

2. Improve your skills.
Perhaps you’re satisfied with your career choice. But you just wish you could land a better-paid job. How about acquiring more competences with online studies – if you’re looking to boost your healthcare career, see more options here on the best online nursing studies, for instance. As a rule of the thumb, online studies can be pursued at home, in the evening or the morning while you’re not working. Thus you can maintain your job while investing your spare time at home into boosting your career. 

3. Downsize your belongings.
If you’ve read articles about the Feng Shui philosophy for your interior decor, you’re probably aware that too much clutter can damage your peace of mind at home. The thing is: Who doesn’t own too much stuff? Everyone has clothes they don’t wear, books they don’t read anymore, and sports gear they haven’t used in years. Everyone has too much stuff, and that’s precisely where your financial improvement lies. You could make the most of a decluttering action to sell all your unwanted, unused and unnecessary items.

This reminds me! I promised my Facebook community that I'll sell my maternity and breastfeeding clothes soon! I still haven't decided if I'll sell on eBay, on Instagram, or exclusively to my blog readers on my Facebook page. What do you think is my best-selling platform?

4. Start investing.
Contrary to the common belief, you can start investing in Index Fund with as little as $1,000. There is no need to invest large sums of money to see positive results. Besides, starting small means that you will be taking fewer risks and are more likely to learn positive lessons on the way without breaking the bank. Indeed, by working with a discount broker, you can start investing with very little money. Additionally, you can also directly buy from a company through DSPPs, which allow you to start with as little as $100. 

But before you get into investing, ask yourself first if stock market investment is for you?  My husband and I know a lot of people who have gotten rich from their buying and selling of stocks. This is still something we don't understand but really really hope we could get into so that our money will make us even more money without us doing any real hard work!

So there you go, mamas! A quick list of income-generating activities you can do from your home. Imagine that—your home can become the HQ of your financial rebirth! From creating a stand-alone home business to using your home savings to invest in the best stock markets, you have plenty of opportunities to grow your income significantly. Lots of people are doing this now. Why don't you try it, too? Good luck!

*This post contains affiliate links.

Saturday, May 05, 2018

How to grow your backyard business in a hot market this summer

My childhood home in the early 80s! It still looks like that but no more trees. 

When I was a kid, summers meant halo-halo from my childhood best friend, Marlyn. We were maybe 9 or 10 years old when she started selling halo-halo. She would rise up early to cook the saba, monggo, sago. She would wait on their doorstep in the dark for the block of ice to be delivered. Then at just 8am, she'd set up a little rickety table, arrange her jars of cheerfully colored ingredients and wait for customers to pass by. I'm always her first customer. I always insisted on paying full price so she always insisted on adding more leche flan and saba and sometimes langka (if she had it). Minsan, kung mabagal ang benta, I'd just ask for more evap milk.

Anyway, because Marlyn was so entrepreneurial, I was inspired to be a summer businesswoman, too! Nung una, ayaw ng magulang ko but when I was 13, pumayag na rin sila. At first, I sold cookies and chocolate mallows but hindi masyadong mabenta. So I sold tocino, tapa and embutido. Yun ang malakas! I put my wares in a pail of ice and iniikot ko yung subdivision every morning, knocking on doors and ringing doorbells. Naka-lista usually and then on Saturdays, that's when I collect payment. I thought I was really clever! When I got really dark because of this, my parents told me to stop because colonial mentality, you know. I still insisted on my business but I finally agreed to stop when a neighbor set her dogs on me kasi ayaw niya nagbayad ng utang. Grabe, I was 13! How could she have done that to a child??? Okay, patay na siya so let's not wish her ill anymore.

Anyway! I'm making this kwento because my old blog sponsor Jolly sent me a nice article that I want to share with you. It reminded me of the good old days when summers were hot and lazy and my friends and I climbed trees, hiked up hills, stared up at the clouds floating in a magnificent blue sky and dreamed of making money when we grew up. I hope this article inspires you, too!

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Filipinos are some of the most fascinating and persistent entrepreneurs in the world. They are remarkably optimistic: More than half of the population believes there are business opportunities in the Philippines and nearly 70% say they have the capabilities to become entrepreneurs1. At the heart of their entrepreneurial spirit is creativity, amplified by the drive to build and succeed amid all odds.

This is best seen among microenterprises, which comprise 9 in every 10 businesses in the Philippines. A residential block is not complete without at least one sari-sari store. Pop-up tiangge stores are scattered around during fiestas. And who will forget about summertime when halo-halo and mais con yelo stalls sprout in every street corner?

Marilou Acuña, Fly Ace Corporation Group Product Manager for Jolly, says, “Every summer, we see the Filipino entrepreneur spirit thrive to turn the summer heat into an opportunity. With the right mindset, tools, and ingredients, microentrepreneurs can grow their business and take it to another level."

How can microenterprises ramp up sales this year? Here are five tips from Jolly Corn:

1. Location, location, location! 
Due to logistical convenience, microentrepreneurs usually set up their pop-up stalls in front of their homes. However, unless their houses are in front of a school or along a busy street, owners must think carefully about their area’s foot traffic and compare it with the potential sales that could be generated by locating to a more strategic place.

2. Leverage on influencers.
Entrepreneurs should identify who the influencers are within the community. By inviting these key individuals to try the product, entrepreneurs encourage good word of mouth from credible persons within the neighborhood.

Microentrepreneurs can then support this good word of mouth through easy-to-do promotional activities such as community bulletin board, flyering, and social media.

3. Sell during community events, cater to groups. 
Microentrepreneurs can hold pop-up stalls during community events such as the annual basketball game and Santacruzan. Another opportunity is catering private groups, such as prayer meetings or the birthday of a neighbor. If all goes well, these events will provide a great platform for referrals and exposure for the business.

4. Avoid too much credit. 
Cash is the lifeblood of the business. Microentrepreneurs should avoid allowing too much credit since they still need cash to buy supplies and sustain operations. If offering credit cannot be avoided, microentrepreneurs should find the right balance and understand its limitation.

5. Find the right partner to perfect the product. 
Product quality is integral to the success of microenterprises. If the product is excellent, people will follow. Quality also includes the health benefits of the product. These days, even microentrepreneurs venture into the healthy food segment as more people become conscious of what they eat.

In the case of mais con yelo, Jolly Corn provides microentrepreneurs with cream corn packed with the same wholesome sweet goodness of freshly harvested corn.



1 425g Jolly Cream Corn, partitioned
1 can Jolly Cow Condensada, partitioned
6 cups shaved ice, partitioned
1 cup corn flakes, partitioned

1. Scoop 3 tablespoons Jolly Cream Corn in a tall glass.
2. Add 1 ½ cups shaved ice. Leave an empty space on top for the toppings, about half an inch.
3. Top shaved ice with 3 tablespoons of Jolly Cream Corn, 2-3 tablespoons condensada, and corn flakes. Serve immediately.


JOLLY is a canned fruits and vegetable line marketed and exclusively distributed by Fly Ace Corp. For more updates, visit or like its official Facebook fanpage or follow via Twitter and Instagram (@jollyeatsph).