2020 Year End Review

Thursday, December 31, 2020

Photo credits

It's the last day of the calendar year 2020 and looking back, it feels like forever but also very fast at the same time. I can't explain what I meant haha but maybe because a lot of things have happened despite the quarantine and the lock down. Internally, I feel like I have changed so much from the beginning of this year.

To begin with, I started off venturing entrepreneurship. At first it was just a personal development thing wherein I thought I should wise up financially after being hard hit by enormous debts. Like a child with a new toy, I was obsessed in the beginning. Gradually though, I realised that I wasn't after entrepreneurship per se, but finance management as a whole. Why and how is a different story altogether but I am laying low with business ventures and focusing more on family and employment. Being financially wise is a long journey and I shall keep learning as 2021 comes.

2021 reading list includes this new book 💗

If I have to assess this year, I would say it had been extra difficult - not just because of the outside circumstances like bush fires and COVID - but in terms of relationships, I had to learn lessons the hard way. Sometimes, you need to distance yourself with unhealthy relationships, even if they are family, before they end up becoming toxic. In time, everyone learns about the value of respect with one another. I know I have and to be honest, the pain is still there but I am ready to make amends if need be.

However, the saddest of all that happened this year was losing a loved one. Our beloved tito Rudy was finally called by God. Indeed, it was with a heavy heart that we accepted his fate. For me, it was hard to let go of the plans I had. As the holidays were approaching, I thought about sending him and Tita Angie some parcels as gifts. They have helped us significantly when we migrated in Australia and it was the least we could do to repay their kindness. But God has a different plan. Late in November, we travelled back to Morwell after 5 years to be with our relatives.

A place where we have so much bitter-sweet memories of...

My Dad was extremely unhappy too. Tito Rudy was a well loved and respected older brother. However, I'm quite thankful that they were able to spend quality time with each other in the last couple of years. And now, Tito Rudy is resting in peace.

But 2020 isn't all about the sadness and trials. There were birthdays to celebrate of course, of Darla turning 2, Daisy turning 11 and Demi turning 13 (officially a teenager now!). Never mind mine and hubby's ages hehehe. But we thank God for giving us another year again. It is also a year of celebrating the loved ones that we still have with us. Each and everyone of them - family and friends.

Then there was also the dramatic CPA examinations, which I passed thanks be to God. It was dramatic because I invested not only time for this examinations. Tears and sanity too. I just realised how hard it was to go back to study sleep deprived. Ever since Darla was born, the hardest for me was to commit to schedules. She still wakes up every nth hour at night. True enough, on the day of the exams, Darla decided to wake up at 2am - and wanted me to be with her. So I took the exams with a splitting headache and crushed spirit. It's a miracle I passed - that's worth celebrating!

But the best feat I thank God for was finally moving to our new home sweet home. I think we really need this space after 6 years at the old house. It was such a breath of fresh air for me. We didn't buy our dream house yet but since we have had Darla, the new blessing in the family, we needed more space - I, especially.

Now I am able to pursue my hobby all the more - here on my crafting desk where the magic of cardmaking and sending paper hugs take place!

At the end of it all, I am just thankful that my loved ones were kept safe and well, for the good and the bad things that shaped me for who I am today, and for having true and good people in my life right now.

Wishing everyone a year full of happiness and peace!

#happymess 😆
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Blaxland Riverside Park - A Nice Place For Family & Friends

Sunday, December 27, 2020

One of the things we learned from tita Joy and tito Rudy, our family friends in Morwell, was to spend as much time outdoors with the children and if possible with other family friends too. Tita Joy and Tito Rudy shared this advice as they recall their experiences during the prime of their lives. 

It makes sense. Our children becomes more and more independent as they grow older and I dread that age when they will find it better to stay at home with their gadgets than enjoy the nature with us.

Lucky, our friends organised to meet up one Sunday. We were supposed to hit the beach but the weather that day was cloudy and a bit cold so we went to a park instead. We stopped at Soria family's house first and drove by convoy to Blaxland Riverside Park where the Dumaog family were already waiting.

Darla with the adorable twins while waiting for Soria family to get ready 

It was fun! We set up 2 beach tents and the grilling plate where we cooked meat and sausages. While waiting for the food to cook, the children went to the playground which was a bit far but still within eye's reach. My lovely girls took Darla with them so I had a bit of time to myself.

Later on, the Borbe family joined us too. The more the merrier!

The children having fun on the hill

After eating, we went about on our own for a bit and took Darla to the water park. She loves playing in the water so I made sure to bring her swimming suit and change clothes too. Soon after, the others joined and the Dumaog family had to leave so we packed up our tents. We spent the rest of the afternoon looking after the kids while they had fun in the playground.

Darla loves the water

Meanwhile, the girls finally got over their being shy and were catching up among themselves. They used to be always together as little girls but it's been a while since they last mingled. So it was really great to see them warming up again.

Then we had dinner over at the Borbe's house of what was left of the barbecue plus Thai dishes care of sis Lau and bro Peter. Thanks to the lovely couple for such a nice and relaxed dinner.

Darla playing with her friend on the sand which she calls the beach

Finally, at 8 past, we had to leave and call it a day. It's not fun to separate not knowing when we could all catch up again but nevertheless, we had to rest too hehehe.

Indeed, it's a great idea to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends and Blaxland Riverside Park is the perfect place for families with young children.

Darla with her friend enjoying their walk at the park

Thanks be to God for a great Sunday! How did your Sunday go?

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Easel Cards With Calendar Tabs for 2021

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Ever since I have been exposed to the joy of cardmaking, I could not count anymore the number of cards I have sent out.

That's the beauty of this hobby. The reason why I really strive to continue despite not having enough time is because the happiness is just incomparable. 

Knowing that you were able to make someone's day a bit brighter or just make them feel special are but simple things that could also make me happy. I know how it feels to be taken for granted (so much so that I've learnt how to shrug off the pain) and it's not a good feeling I tell you. With one simple card, at least someone feels cared for.

Here are some of the cards I made for the holiday season. Right now, I just wanted to share the final outcome. Maybe, some other time, I will post a tutorial for those who love cardmaking too. :)

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Simple Pizza Recipe From Scratch

Our home made pizza, hot and fresh from the oven - yum!

This is a recipe I chose to make with my children for our family weekend bonding. As I have always said in my previous posts, we're not experts in baking so I particularly chose this simple recipe because it only has 4 ingredients, not including the pizza toppings:

  • 1 3/4 cups self-raising flour
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup boiling water

Our choice toppings

To make the pizza base, follow these steps:

  1. Combine the self-raising flour and parmesan cheese in a bowl and mix them
  2. Make a well in the middle and add in the vegetable oil and boiling water. 
  3. Stir with a fork to mix all of the ingredients. Be very careful as the water is boiling hot.
  4. Knead the mixture to make the dough.
  5. Set dough aside to rise. Prepare the toppings and start preheating the oven at 210⁰C.
  6. Roll out the dough onto the pizza trays. You can make 3 pizzas if you double the recipe and probably even 4 if you make the bases really thin.
  7. Spread pizza sauce - ours were sauced to the edge. Yum hehehe.
  8. Then add mozzarella cheese and toppings of your choice. We used pepperoni, ham and mushroom on ours.
  9. Bake for 15 minutes or until cooked.
The girls making the dough by themselves

While making the dough, I noticed that there is an appropriate way of kneading to achieve a good texture. I discovered this because we doubled the recipe so we made 2 mixtures.

The first mixture was kneaded by Daisy without any problems. My husband tried to knead the second mixture but it kept sticking onto his hands. Even when we added more flour, it was still sticky. At this point, Demi took over to knead with the same results.

Expert hands - Daisy folds the dough and kneads it to perfection

Then I had an idea to let Daisy do it and sure enough, she managed to make the dough texture perfect without adding any more flour. Too bad I wasn't able to video it but next time we make pizzas, I will keep in mind to capture the process on camera and update this post.

Anyway, Daisy used to love playing with slime so she learned the skill of kneading hehehe. During 3rd grade in school, she was chosen by her teacher, Ms. Downes to be the class slime expert. All the students came to her and she helped them make perfect slimes. 

Waiting for the dough to rise - start preheating the oven

It's amazing that she was able to use this skill for our baking adventure today. Great job Daisy!

Meanwhile, Darla was also busy mixing her own recipe hehehe...

The master chef

The girls did their best to put the toppings on generously. It pays to be playing pizza making apps on their gadgets, I guess. Hahaha. Kidding aside, that's actually me and Darla playing the app all the time.

All done and ready for baking :)

It was Daddy's turn to put the pizzas inside the oven. A+ for family team work!

Finally, time to enjoy the our masterpiece. Darla was taking a nap by the time the pizzas were cooked. Oh well, the master chef can judge it when she wakes up.

Time to eat the fruits of your labour guys!

The pizzas turned out really well! It was the best dough I have ever had and not because we did it hehehe. It was soft but not rubbery which is what I don't like with most store bought pizzas.

I think next time, we might try making the dough with herbs minus the parmesan cheese. We'll also make the dough thinner and probably heat them up a bit before adding the toppings to make a crispier crust.

Thanks to Australia's Best Recipes for this recipe. You can also check it out here.

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Evolution of Sassy Girl - My Spirit Character

Sunday, December 20, 2020

I just realised that I didn't really tell the story of how I changed myself from "Sara Crewe" to "Sassy Girl." So here is a long overdue update from 10 years ago when I wrote my intro.  

I had a happy childhood. I grew up in a middle-class family and Dad never lacked in providing for us while Mom was the one doing everything from cooking, to washing and everything else in between. It was a very sheltered life but my small circle of friends and relatives was more than enough to make me feel extremely lucky.

My world was safe and I made it a point to share this privilege, by being kind to the weak and poor. I was more keen to be associated with the quiet ones in school, like Sara. 

Not that I was high and mighty like her. Sara, despite all the power of having everyone at her feet in a whim, chose to befriend the weaklings. It was this trait that I coveted from her.  

However, there was a point in my life when I was betrayed and all of a sudden, these strong and ugly emotions were eating me up from inside. That's when I thought that I can never be Sara because of the monster living in me. Sara underwent tremendous hardships in life too. The big difference though was that she wasn't betrayed by the very people she loved. 

The people she loved remained loyal to her.

I have to admit, I lost my self in the process and I became this reclusive person. I was afraid to invest in friendships afterwards and I think to this day, I adapted that trait. Fortunately for me, I already have a best friend before this happened (thanks Bes, you know who you are) and another one earned while I was being burned (you know who you are too). These people are the ones I can say "I will trust my life with."

At the time I watched "My Sassy Girl," I haven't experienced all these things yet. I was a great fan but I could not relate much except for the sassy part. I've always had the talent to burn guys who showed interest in me hehehe. Perhaps, not the physically abusive part but when a guy gets too cocky, I can kill his pride in an instant with my dark humour and sarcasm until he rans away like a dog with his tail between his legs - harsh! 

Cocky guys end up with a dead pride hehe

But it worked like a charm, ask the living proof, my hubby hehehe?

It was after I rose up from rock bottom when I began to associate with her. Sassy girl fronted a mix of spirited but nonchalant attitude because she was hiding her true hurting self. 

I thought so too...

If that was her way of protecting herself, I don't know (she was a fictional character after all) but the concept was appealing to me. In this manner, I can still face the future even while my heart was still healing from the hurt.

And it certainly was so much better than revenge, which was my initial motivation to continue facing life.

And so it was decided. Using the popular metaphor nowadays, Sassy Girl became my spirit animal (or rather spirit character). To even fortify that my choice was appropriate, Sassy Girl was a big part on how I met my soulmate and ended up with him.

That story, however, would have to be told on another time and post.

What about you? Do you have a spirit character too? I would love to hear your story. 🥰
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School Holiday Activities for Kids - Save $100 on Rebates

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

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Hi lovely parents! It’s school holidays again and while we feel excited to spend time with the kids again, some may be apprehensive because it also means we have to keep them from being bored.


School Holiday Activities For Kids

I’ve got some idea to share with you (which we have actually started since last month) on how we can spend time with our kids without making it feel like a task.

  • If you like baking, search up for simple recipes so the kids can easily cope while you do only supervision. Here’s a simple muffin recipe I can share with you – the girls and I had fun making them!
  • Depending on the weather, you can spend the entire Sunday outside at a park or at the beach. You can organise one with family friends to be social too.
  • Invite friends over for lunch or dinner – both adults and children can catch up.
  • Or every once in a while, let them stay at home, do whatever they want – you know – unlimited screen time (well, not really unlimited but just a chill day for all you where you all can enjoy personal time).
  • Or enrol the kids in sports or creative activities.
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Basic Skills You Need As An Entrepreneur

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

So you want to start a business but you're thinking: am I cut out to be an entrepreneur?

Same here... I have always wanted to be. There's something inviting about it: the flexibility, creativity and if sustained, the self-fulfilment and security. In the end it all boils down to giving yourself and your loved ones a much improved quality of life.

But entrepreneurship is not learned in school. So naturally, we are not confident as to whether we have the skills to become one, much less succeed as one.

But did you know that you don't have to be tech savvy or an expert in finance to become an entrepreneur? These skills are a bonus but they don't guarantee your failure or success.

I have seen this proven. There's this community of entrepreneurs I joined where we can help each other out in terms of strategies and inspiration. The number of successful people came from diverse backgrounds: working from different industries, stay at home, parents, single, young, old. So that makes one think, what do these people have and do I have what it takes too?

Here's the good news. The basic skills you need are already in you. Probably not used, but if honed properly, it's there. You have the guts to succeed as an entrepreneur.


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Year End Reflection

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

2020 has been a really challenging year for many of us, and before this year ends, it's an excellent time to reflect on our achievements and learnings.

Last year, I decided to start making time-capsules for the whole family. It's a fun way to look back at how our year went and also realise how we have grown as individuals over the year.

This year, we'll be opening our time-capsules from last year and then make new ones to read for next year.

If you want to try this out with your family too, here are some of the year-end reflections that you could use:

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Blueberry and Choc Chip Muffin Recipe for Beginners

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Choc chip blueberry muffin easy
It's muffin time! Photo credits by my talented daughter Daisy.

If you are looking for a recipe that's really simple and easy to make, you should definitely try this blueberry and choc chip muffin recipe. I specifically chose this recipe because we don't have a lot of baking tools. This recipe also requires minimal ingredients which is perfect for beginners like us.

I was excited to engage the kids (now young ladies) with baking again. The last time we tried it was way back in 2017 during the summer school holidays. I got time off from work so we had a line up of recipes to make. Sad to say, they were all failed attempts hehehe. But that was because we had to guess the temperature every time we baked. Over the years, the labels on the knob of our previous oven were gone and we didn't have an oven thermometer. Certified beginners! 😁

So, last 2 Sundays ago, we made this Blueberry and Choc Chip Muffin - my daughters said they turned out great! A bit crusty on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. 

So without further ado, here is our recipe!

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Moving House

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Our humble abode for years to come...

After more than a month, I finally got the chance to write about our latest house move. For the last 6 years, we lived in a small 2-bedroom unit on the ground floor which was brand new when we got it. I'm not complaining. The girls were very little back then so the space was just right for us. I will never forget their happy faces when we first took them there and showed the backyard where they could play. It's a sweet memory that's etched in my mind forever.

6 years ago when we just moved in our previous house

We've made a lot of happy memories in our previous home, so I had mixed feelings when we had to leave. But with an additional member in the family plus the 2 girls growing up (they're as big as us now!) we need another bedroom and plenty of space. 😁

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Mom's Day Out Turns Into A Guilt Trip

Saturday, August 29, 2020

After 5 months of working full time from home, today was the first time I got out of the house to go to the office again. My laptop was having issues connecting to the monitor so I had to take it to our IT for bios update.

In the morning I was finding it hard to get up and get dressed but once this routine was over, it actually felt good to dress up again. I'm so glad my work clothes still fit hahaha.

Leaving the house wasn't too bad. Darla cried but only for a little bit. I felt free being just ME minus the little toddler.

Commuting with my high school daughter never seemed more fun.  The funny thing was, I used to always guide my daughter where to go. This morning, she was the one leading us. I was very impressed!

Another funny story was when I arrived at the building, I forgot what floor we used to be in so I got off at 26th. I only realised that I made a mistake when after more than a minute, nothing still seemed familiar. Not that I didn't get confused when I got off at 27. I stood at the foyer for about a minute before I finally figured out which way to turn. To make sure I was on the right floor, I went to try my locker. Surprisingly, I remembered this one without problem hahaha. 
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Tax Time!

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Before I proceed, let me just disclaim that I am not a tax expert and I don't work as a professional tax agent. I just wanted to share some information that I have come across while preparing my own tax returns which may also be applicable to you. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of us had been forced to work from home (well, I really love working from home so it's not forced hehehe)... you probably get what I mean. :) As a result of the change in circumstances, we also incurred expenses related to our work such as purchase of monitors, printers, office desk, chair and all others that are work-related.

Normally, I don't have a lot of deductions to claim as the nature of my work is office based and pretty much everything is provided by my employer. So without further ado, here are some expenses you may want to keep in mind when lodging your tax returns:

Working from home

If you have purchased office equipment and furniture related to work-from-home, such as monitors, laptops, printer, keyboard, mouse, office desk and chair, headset, calculator, etc. then you may claim these expenses as Tools, Equipment and other Assets - as long as that they were not provided by your employer and you have kept the receipts for these items. If you don't have the physical receipts, you may be able to retrieve the information from your email, bank account or if you bought it online, usually you'll have a trail there if you created an account with the vendor. As long as you have a record, then you may claim the expense as deduction.

One thing to keep in mind though, if you are using these equipment and furniture for both work and personal purposes, then claim only the percentage you use for work.

If you want to read more, you may refer to the ATO website here for this particular expense.


If you're working from home, you may claim additional running expenses such as electricity, phone and internet. The short cut method is to claim 80 cents per working hours during the period you were working from home. This already covers phone, internet, electricity and gas for heating as well as decline in value of equipment and furniture, if applicable. This is only applicable to the period 1 March 2020 onwards. So if you have work from home arrangement before this date, you will need to use a different method of calculating home office for that. 

This is the easiest method and it can apply even if you don't have a dedicated working space, however, if your circumstances are different, or if you're looking for a different method, you may refer to the ATO website here.

Other expenses to keep in mind

These are just the expenses that might have changed under the current circumstances, so I am giving emphasis on those. Check if there are others that apply to your circumstances too. Examples are below:


If you took up studies during 2020, then you're entitled to claim self-education expenses provided that the course was work-related. So if you're working as an engineer or accountant and then you decided to enrol in online baking classes or dancing classes to fill up that extra time due to working from home, this is not the self-education that ATO was talking about. ;)

Your work-related self-education expenses may include enrolment fees, textbooks, cost of printing, calculator, stationery, etc. These are the basics. However, if your company reimburses you for the enrolment fees, then you may not claim this expense as deduction. You may still claim the other ones though.

For a thorough list of what you can and can't claim, refer to the ATO website here. They've got a pretty extensive list of what you may claim.

If you are a member of a professional body related to your work, make sure you are also claiming the annual membership fees you are paying them. Again, keep in mind that these expenses were not reimbursed by your company.

The above deductions are not exhaustive. Deductions that can be claimed varies greatly from one job to another so make sure you consult the ATO website if you are attempting to lodge your own tax return. The ATO, through MyGov, has got a pretty good online form that I have been using for years and it's very easy if your income stream is just coming from employment. The platform applies whatever tax offset you are entitled to based on the information you have provided, so it's very user-friendly.

If you are also running a small business as a sole trader, you may want to lodge your tax return with the help of a registered tax agent, that way, you can get advice on how you can manage your business income and expense to your utmost benefit. 

In my case, I lodged my business income and expenses myself because my circumstances are still very simple. My business activities are just in its early stages so it's easy to report them under the same individual tax return. However, I'd still recommend going to a tax agent and I might do so in the future, if the benefit of maximising tax benefits outweighs the cost of managing my tax affairs. :)
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Free Krispy Kreme Donuts TODAY ONLY!

Monday, July 13, 2020

Today I am postponing my diet plans again because Krispy Kreme is offering a dozen glazed donuts for those whose birthday falls in between 13th March to 13th July. 

Photo source

That's me and my hubby too! Yehey! I checked the criteria and fortunately for us, Penrith is one of the few participating stores. So here we are at the shop drive through while waiting to claim our free donuts. 

If your birthday falls in between the period above, be sure to check your nearest participating store NOW. The free donuts are only valid for today and while stocks last. Don't forget to bring your ID! (",)

Thanks Krispy Kreme! :)

Find more about their promo here.

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3 Easy and FREE Self-Care Tricks!

Friday, July 10, 2020

As we all begin to ease in into the “new normal,” I realised that it’s the perfect chance to find some spare time for self-care. I remember the last time I looked at myself in the mirror and didn’t recognise myself. Inside I felt young but the face I’m staring at in the mirror didn’t look young at all. It looked tired and beaten. 

This was mostly due to lack of sleep. Before I gave birth to Darla, until now that she’s over 2 years old, I haven’t slept for a stretch of at least 5 hours. She’s such an alert baby and she still wakes up in between her night sleep, sometimes for as many as 5 times!

But then it’s also because I haven’t been very caring for myself lately. So I decided to establish a self-care routine that’s easy and most importantly, free! 😊


Face wash routine

When I wash my face in the morning, I like to use cold water. It’s supposed to slow down the aging of the skin, prevent it from being stripped of its healthy natural oils and I can feel like my skin tightens when I use cold water to wash my face.

However, my before bedtime routine is a bit different. I would use lukewarm water first to wash off the daily dirt and grime and then finish off with cold water to tighten the skin.

You can use any facial wash that suits your skin condition. For me, I use Atomy Deep Cleanser and sometimes I follow with Atomy Foam Cleanser. I have very dry skin at the moment from lack of sleep, so I try not to use the foam cleanser regularly. So far, I’m quite happy with these 2 K-beauty products as they’re very mild and affordable too. 😊


My go-to skin care products - mild and safe

Natural exfoliating mask

Once in a while, I would also exfoliate to remove the dead skin cells. Normally, I would use Atomy Peeling Gel when I don’t have much time but when I do get the chance to indulge, I would prepare a face mask recipe that I have been using since I was a child: Lemon-Milk Mask. I have learned about this facial mask from my THE teacher and out of boredom, I remember taking my time in the bathroom to apply this mask. I used calamansi because we didn’t have lemon in the Philippines (it was very expensive to buy them from the shops too) so you could also substitute the lemon with calamansi and it will still work.

It’s just very simple to make this:

Just squeeze a spoonful of lemon juice onto a bowl and add a spoonful of milk too. The lemon juice will make the milk curdle therefore it’s easier to apply it onto your face. Leave it on for just a couple of minutes then wash it off with water or if you have a water filter like ours, you could choose the pH level 6.5 (beauty water) to match the pH level of our skin. Lemon has ingredients that were found to be good for melasma too.

Just some precautions though, do not use this mask if you will be going outside because the lemon will cause the skin to become sensitive to the sun. I suggest using this before bedtime just to be safe. And don't overdo this just like you won't overuse other exfoliating products.

For final touches, I would mist my face with grapeseed oil infused in beauty water just to rehydrate the skin because exfoliating could make the skin dry.


Smile more often 😊

This is something I have just recently discovered: facial exercises makes the facial muscles firm thus preventing it from sagging. The idea behind this is that, the face is made of muscles too and facial exercises make the muscles firm.

The easiest facial exercise is smiling and while it does wonder to our facial skin, it also does a great deal on our heart because a happy heart is a good medicine. 😊

However, if you want to step up and do more exercises, here is a good book I recommend. It’s got good reviews and could help you target facial areas you want to improve on. It's not free but it's very cheap and you can use this as reference for a lifetime. 

For now though, remember to smile often! 😊

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Today Is A Day Filled With Gratitude

Friday, June 26, 2020

Photo credits

I have been preparing myself to face the worst today but I was blessed with yet another unexpected gift... again. I'm beyond thankful because no one will believe when I tell them this is a miracle. But I know my capacity and I can tell anyone in all honesty that it wasn't I who did it. So I wouldn't want people to tell me, good job, or you did it because I couldn't accept that. I just want to give the credit to where it is due, and that is thanks be to God. I am not deserving of this, in terms of either ability or attitude (hehe).

I do not want to rant even if it might sound like so if I retell now how extremely difficult a journey the past half year had been. Imagine going back to full time work after more than a year of hiatus from maternity leave. Plus my not-so-ordinary toddler still keeps waking me up at night, not just once if I may add. Sleepless and rusty, my brain is far from well functioning and in fact I forget a lot of my daily tasks. Not to mention that my baby is clingy like glue which left me with no time for myself at all.

To say the least, the past half year, I had to let go of a lot of things but personal time was icing on the cake. Not that I had much to begin with. But I had to let go of this remaining "luxury" because of responsibilities. That is what made this journey so difficult to bear and I could no longer remember how many times I broke down. I was so burnt out. And whenever I did, I was far from the deserving person. It was more like a mad kind of break down. So, was I deserving in terms of attitude? Far from it. In fact, I was too embarrassed to even pray about it.

So today I am reminded that I was merely graced with mercy despite the despicable me. This good news was for the neverending heartaches I had been through the past half year. So thankful 😭 all my tears paid off after all 😭 Only 2 to go, willing.

Thanks be to God because the things I let go, he gives back tenfold.
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3 Attitudes You Need to Ditch In Order To Succeed

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Success is relative to each person. For one, it may be the idea of getting married and having children. For another, it may be achieving the peak of his career. It may come in different forms for every person but the common ground for being successful is the feeling of fulfilment and happiness.

I have heard too many times before that successful people are the ones who were born talented or gifted but I think that talents and gifts are only a small factor in someone’s success. To me, character will mostly determine whether you will win or fail. If you have the right attitudes such as integrity, humility and accountability, success shouldn’t be too difficult to achieve.

However, there are 3 things I have adapted on my list to avoid doing and whenever I catch myself in these behaviours, I stop myself as quickly as I can:

Photo credits 

1.         Self-entitlement

Self-entitlement is the belief that everything you have in life is a right therefore, you fail to appreciate the things that you receive. This creates a lazy mentality and people who are self-entitled tend to blame others for the inadequacies they experience in life rather than taking accountability. Instead of pointing the finger and waiting to benefit from other people, look for ways you can improve yourself and exert more effort in making your life better.

2.         Laziness

No matter how intelligent or talented you are, you won’t get anywhere if you are lazy because let’s face it: life is 90% work and 10% reward. The cake that you ate took several hours to bake but only 15 minutes to gulp down. You save up for months to take that 1-week holiday. It took you years to practice violin before you got that standing ovation on a 10-minute recital. All things are difficult before they become easy and life is a constant series of hard work.

If you are lazy, you won’t achieve anything in life because halfway through, you’ll get tired and quit. It’s like being impatient. You want things to come to you easily and blame others for your circumstances. The reality is, when you’re lazy, you get a lot of “rest” and “slack time.” That’s already your reward. You trade your dreams for easy life.

If you want something in life, you have to work hard for it. Instead of being complacent, keep working on your dreams. If you don’t quit, your hard work will pay off eventually.

3.         Arrogance

A healthy does of self-confidence is good but having an excessively high opinion of oneself is dangerous. Arrogance is characterized with feelings of being high and mighty to admit one’s mistakes. As a result, you will never learn and grow. When you are arrogant, you tend to be stubborn and you fail to accept that your actions sometimes result to your failures.

Instead of being stubborn when you realise your mistakes, try to be accountable of your actions. Perhaps, change is really needed. Being flexible and resilient are qualities that should replace arrogance because these characters will help you grow as opposed to being resistant.  

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Are You Qualified for Family Energy Rebates?

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

I think by now, all of us are being affected by the COVID-19 in many ways especially financially as most companies and businesses are hard hit too. If there's any way we could save up, then we should because we don't really know when this pandemic will last.

This year more than ever, make sure you submit your online application for Family Energy Rebate. The deadline for submission of application is on 18 June 2020, 11pm, so if you haven't submitted, might be a good idea to sit down NOW and do it before you forget doing so. It happened to me once and it was a great deal of savings lost to the household.

There are criteria to assess whether your household qualifies or not but no need to worry as it's all stated on the website.

You will need your energy billing/invoice with you, the Centrelink Reference Number of the energy account holder and your basic details.

Sample billing: NMI is usually located at the back

To submit your application, click here.

This is for NSW residents only. You may have to check with your local state for similar programs by typing in Family Energy Rebates and your state in Google.

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When Family Relationships Hurt

Sunday, May 10, 2020

For so many months now I have been troubled about what I did: I blocked my family members on Facebook. I cut the only practical tie I had with my original family, now that I live many miles away from them. This means I no longer see what goes on in their life and they no longer see mine. For now, I have to content myself with prayers that despite the distance, they are all kept in good hands.

I have always thought that we have close family ties. Growing up, our holidays were spent in a huge celebration of extended relatives, every single year. This made my childhood days memorable and I owe so much happy memories to my parents for that.

Family is an integral part of people. To me, it is my core foundation, my history, my upbringing and values. Who I am in general was because of my family. I have always regarded my parents, brothers, sister, cousins, aunts, relatives and in-laws as my sanctuary. 

My parents especially were the biggest motivation for most of my achievements in life. Seeing them happy is like a reward for me.

But as I grew up, I experienced the most hurtful relationships from my family. The most recent one made me decide to finally cut ties. Coming up with this decision was not easy especially when there's a lifetime of emotional investment involved.

I only had 2 choices: to fight for it or walk away from it. But since it takes two to tango to fight for a relationship, walking away seemed like the only choice left.

What is family?

Family is defined by the dictionary as, 

"a group of one or more parents and their children living together as a unit."

In simple words, family is us. It is where our first relationships were, and also where our core beings were formed because the past makes up a significant part of who we are now.

But there are interesting aspects to a family, and not all family are cut the same. Moreover, not everyone in the family have the same personalities and character even if they grew up together.

At the time I was hurt from a recent fall out with some of my family members, I was looking for self-help articles that could help me deal with the emotional turmoil caused by my decision to break ties.

I came across Lizett from wehavekids.com, who wrote in her article

"An interesting aspect about families is that people can tolerate more bad than good,"[sic] 
"Families can simultaneously be the ones to cayse you distress, but are also there by your side in tough spots."[sic]
"These relationships, when stressed or tense, are the worst to endure because family means so much to us personally and within our culture/society."

I couldn't agree more with what she wrote. I mean, this isn't the first time I've had fall outs with relationships, but it's hardest when the one involved is your family. It's just easier to walk away when there aren't too many strings that attach us.

My family is everything to me. I had a happy childhood and I have so much fond memories of my family.

Sad to say, I witnessed how our relationships started to fail. Despite being physically together, I felt that the members became more and more disconnected. 

Now, I barely see the shadow of the family we once were. My family, which used to be a picture of a bright and happy home, was no longer the same as I used to know it.

My family was no longer the same as I used to know it (photo by Elias Schupmann)

Strained family relationships

I have been away from them for a long time (since I moved overseas with my husband and kids). During those years, I was mostly unaware of what goes on with their life. There's usually just one side of the story I was allowed to see: the sufferings and bad ones.

It wasn't healthy, of course. Imagining my family suffer made me feel anxious for a long time. I often felt guilty over things I had no control of which led to feelings of frustration. My mood was often agitated because I forced myself to accommodate an extended responsibility of helping my family rise up from their situation. 

There were times when I dreaded showing any signs of happiness because I didn't want them to feel left out knowing that I was unable to provide all their needs as well. Sometimes I even felt guilty just because overall, I was living a more abundant life here.

It took me some time to realise that just like my life wasn't always dandy, their life wasn't always miserable either. I just wasn't allowed to see the happy parts because the painful realisation was that, when they were well and happy, they didn't remember me.

I denied this realisation for a long time but the more things unfold, the more I realise that I probably am not loved by my family in a way that I love them and expect from them as a family.

For years, I've been craving to see them again, but now I realise that this feeling might not even be mutual after all. For years, I tried to help them but it still felt like I was always lacking. For years, I had always included them in my plans but no one welcomed my suggestions. For years, I tried to reach out but it still felt like I was a stranger.

And the accusations I've heard were just plain hurtful: I was stingy, selfish, proud, greedy, insensitive. I was all these things to certain members of the family.

Cutting ties are never easy

I love my family, my siblings. My love for them extends to the ones they love too, partners, spouses, children and all.

But there comes a point when you get tired. I'm tired of feeling guilty for the things I shouldn't even be. I'm tired of being criticized all the time where everyone is quick to jump at my faults but nobody appreciates the things I've done. I'm tired of feeling like a stranger.

But mostly, I'm tired of feeling like I have to choose between my original family and current family.

It took me some time to come to terms with what I did but eventually, I had to CUT TIES for these reasons:

History tells it all

  • Historically, there was a point when I felt ostracized from the family in favour of someone else. Dating back to my cousin's wedding day, the day my mom decided to choose my cousin over me, and so did the rest of the family, I believe I had lost my place as a member.

They say past is past, forgive and forget, and I have. But these circumstances bring up such an impactful turnover in my life. On the night before the dreaded wedding day, when I was deliberately made to feel an outcast, I begged my sister-in-law not to go, she and her family at least.

My pleas fell on deaf ears. I was on the brink of suicide but nobody bothered. Whenever I am reminded of that day, desperation is all I see. To them, it must have been a happy day.

For everyone's best - at no one's expense

  • In terms of who will be much affected, definitely not them. Assessing the relationship, my family lives together overseas. They can look out for each other. My loss wouldn't be felt much less noticed.

How do they feel about me? I'm the villain here as always. Losing me wouldn't be an issue. They can think I'm dead and not shed a tear and that's how I want it to be. No dramas.

Enough of the stress 

  • I have been stressed long enough. This has been going on for years. I'm not saying everyday I get to deal with it because most days everyone's just quiet with their own merry ways. But quiet does not mean peace. There is an ugly wound that's covered. It festers and rots in the long run.

And I can't live thinking that anytime, something could explode. I was falling in out of the stress cycle and I finally had to do it.

It hasn't been fair to my husband and children as well, to be at the receiving end of my frustrations. It's not fair that my husband, who appears callous on the outside but was actually supportive to my family, gets dragged into this hatred. Not especially when his family never treated me uncompassionately.

Cutting ties hurt, but is sometimes necessary

I have set boundaries before, but I realised that sometimes, the only solution is letting go. It hurts A LOT and I can't tell you the number of times I cried at night, or the weird places I'm at when I couldn't control my tears and people would see me. It came to a point when I decided, enough and with tears pouring out my eyes, blocked them all, every connected person, one by one.

It hurts A LOT because I know not everyone in the family hates me. I know the few ones who still truly care but are silent about it. 

And if anyone accuses me again for what I did, so be it. I am angry and hurt, I won't deny that. But at the bottom of these all, I know I will still pray for my family, even the ones who dislike me and my most sincere wish is that they all live a happy life.

I may never become part of that happiness anymore but that does not matter to me. Just to have my sanity intact is more than enough for me and so it's time to say goodbye for now...

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Darla's 2nd Birthday!

Monday, May 4, 2020

Darla adores the pretty cake and was excited to blow the candles!

Last Saturday, we successfully celebrated Darla’s 2nd birthday. She turned 2 last Wednesday, 29 April, but it was too gloomy that day, so we decided to postpone it for the weekend. I’m so glad we did! The weather last Saturday was better, sunny albeit windy and cold. Plus, we were also able to invite over a close family friend despite the quarantine. 😊 Just right on time, visitors of 2 adults with 2 children under 18 were allowed from Friday on wards.

Thanks be to God for a successful celebration of another year for Darla.

Our lovely visitors

The master chef with his critic 😂

Darla with the pretty twins, ate Chloe and ate Claudine 👧👧

This year’s theme was Emma Wiggles. Unlike last year’s Under The Sea theme of purples and teals, Emma Wiggles is more of bright yellow and white colours. I tried to keep the decoration low-key this year. It was low cost too. I used fabrics I found from my old stash, a couple of wide yards of white and just enough yellow satin, some confetti and yellow balloons and a number 2 handmade with paper daisies.

I enjoyed making this! I wish I used yellow background though instead of hot pink

Thankfully, the birthday celebrant had a good nap around noon time so I was able to set up the party decoration peacefully. I had assembled the balloons early in the morning and the table skirt was a breeze. However, propping up the balloons was a challenge because the wind kept toppling them over the edge. I had to replace the clear glasses I used because they were too thin and tall. They didn’t hold much strength even when filled with water. I had to use sturdier 2 litres drink bottles. They ended up not as “aesthetic” as I wanted it to be, but it solved the problem ha-ha-ha.

The not-so-aesthetic drink bottle 😂

I don’t want to be biased about myself but I think it turned out just fine. 😊 Here are some of the photos from the party.

The initial set-up

We had to add another table on the side for more space 😁

Meanwhile, the food was a hit. The very devoted Daddy woke up early to start cooking. On the menu was stir-fry noodles, fried chicken and crispy pork-hock, crispy noodle salad with Asian dressing and Korean barbecue of prawn and different meats. For dessert, we had fruits and a matching Emma-themed cake made by my exceptionally talented friend, sis. Karen.

After the decorations and food were set up, we started to dig in even when the celebrant was still asleep. We were all so hungry from all the hard work. Besides, I’d be better off eating without the baby tugging at my sleeves anyway hahaha.

The Korean barbecue was yummy, hands down. It’s so much cheaper to do it at home too. All of the meat were thin and they cooked real fast and tender. The sauces made a good complementary flavour to the meat too.

We bought the meat and sauces at various shops in Strathfield.

Crispy pork hock, fried chicken, salad, prawns and Korean barbecue meat

The sauces were ssamjang, cham sauce, sesame oil and sesame seeds

2-stove with wide plate for only $69 at Kmart

The crispy noodle salad was yummy too! It replaced the rice for me, while the stir-fry noodle replaced the rice for the kids.

At 2pm, sis Karen and bro Wendel with their toddler twins came by with the home-made birthday cake. Finally, the main attraction made it to the table. This time, I decided to wake Darla up so we could start singing and she could blow the candles. Of course, Darla had to change to her Emma dress and shoes too!

Very pretty cake, thanks to sis Karen 💓

It was good to see you again, Soria family!

Finally the highlight of the party, here is the very posh celebrant holding fried chicken on one hand and champagne glass on the other 😂

She loves her chicken and fake champagne glass 😂

It was a great afternoon and everyone had a great time!
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