I'm just a small fish in a small corner of this big Laguna, and this is how I've been swimming it

28 October, 2011

SMB Oktoberfest

   The San Miguel Oktoberfest is kicking.  Started with fireworks. I can hear the bands, the yelling and all. Oh, this isn't a tweet. I'm not even there. I'm home. Oops.  They're in Greenfield, right along the Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay highway.

"Surplus" shops in the area

     There seem to be more "surplus" shops around here.  One, SAM'S is in Binan, on the national road toward SM Sta. Rosa.  We couldn't resist the peek, especially after seeing a mini-bouncy castle set on driveway, plus a children's tractor toy to ride on, and other motorized cars (which I disagree with for toddlers, but that's for the mother blog).  Then, towards Tagaytay, we passed a small space with a crude "Australian surplus" sign outside.  Further on, a "European" surplus sign at Treffpunkt deli. 

    There were some amazing things in the Binan shop, but closer inspection revealed damage labels, clearly indicating the reason the thing was "dumped" (really, isn't that what it is, dumping) here.  There was a nice  trampoline with handlebars, similar to the one in Gymboree.  I was all excited until I read the label saying the mat was torn.  Well, trust the handy Filipino to be able to stitch it back, right? That's also why those things are "dumped" here. We have this ability to repair and recycle, out of necessity.  Most of the appliances, though, are damaged in ways that would cost more to repair than replace. Like, a waffle maker that "does not heat up" according to the label.

   Then there's HMR Philippines.  Some months back, I learned that not many of my equally-thrifty neighbors know that a big HMR warehouse store is right across Toyota Motors Phils along the national highway.  Now I'm not so sure I ought to share the secret, but who's reading this anyway...
Even without my sharing, the place can sell!  

   Today we stopped by, having come from Brentville without a Greenfield sticker.  Turns out, for this long weekend, a motherload of TOYS had been displayed.  In the past years I've purchased kids outdoor furniture, tents, toys from Australia, all at great prices. As of a few weeks ago, there was nothing worthwhile (for me at least). Today, I went crazy and couldn't focus. I hardly got to inspect everything, because I was picking up too many toys to check.  By worthwhile, I'm talking toys not sold in the regular stores, or expensive toys. At HMR, the items generally are not damaged. Only the packaging is, sometimes.  Sometimes the toys appear dirty, but there are also enough stocks to inspect. Sometimes, a small piece of the toy is missing, and sometimes, it's something you can live without (like a headlight decal on a toy car or something). Most times, they are NOT old toys, but current or recent season toys. And I have so far not found anything I was interested in to have had a product recall warning.

   Of course I do my homework.  Safety is priority!

   If you know these toys, you know they're a bargain at HMR:
Playmobil and Sylvanian Families.  Loads of them.  Maybe I shouldn't spread the word about the Sylvanians because I want to return for some.

   The toys that drove me crazy, though, were actually the wooden toys. Again,
this should be in the mother blog...if you know your toys, you know how expensive wood toys are, too.  There were lots and lots.  Still expensive, but of course cheaper still than regular price. AND they were toys not really available in Metro Manila.  There's a sole wooden toy piano near the entrance. The keys were good. I skipped it, you might want it...I still think of it! Versus the wood toy pianos on display in a popular Manila store.

    Lots of amazing finds today there. But I didn't have my Christmas list, nor Christmas money.  And I would have to find those in good boxes for my godchildren. So I just got gifts for my kid. I am SURE by tomorrow, the store will be wiped out.  It always does during holidays like this weekend.

    If you're on your way here this weekend, stop by HMR and then tell me about what you found!  Share a pic, maybe! 

P.S. not just toys for the kids, but toys for you, too. I just didn't get the chance to even look beyond toys today.

26 October, 2011

Natural Life

    I found a January 2010 issue of Natural Life Magazine in Booksale last year.  I had earlier found a Mothering magazine.  I didn't know the two were published by the same company Life Media of Canada.  Anyway, I reread the mag yesterday and just got a digital subscription to access the back issues.  I really prefer holding print copies,but it's cheaper this way and more environmentally friendly I guess.


   I'm not extremely into unschooling, nor have I been very successful at ''green living" despite believing in it and trying for more than ten years.  But actually subscribing tells me I'm determined to really be on my way towards the goal. I just enjoyed reading and rereading it. Something tells me many readers who find their way to this blog (haha, MANY? there might not even be one) will be just as attracted to this magazine. 

  Another Booksale find is Brain, Child magazine.  Very cerebral, very entertaining.

23 October, 2011

The windows have been shut

     Now I can make up for all my ranting about the Asian neighbor man and his midnight breaks. (I think he works in one of the 24 hour companies).  Ever since I made my disgust felt (read the past posts in April), he has kept that particular window shut.  The curtains are still sheer, but I also, after my posts, started focusing on getting a life and stopped looking/listening/minding the neighbor! So what if anywhere from 9pm to 2pm some girl picked up from somewhere is in there. It doesn't mean I already condone this activity. It's just that I have come to realize things could be worse, like...

    Having next door neighbors with full houses and many cars; people who like to party in their garages frequently; noisy people; houses with stinky noisy dogs!  I am grateful that, nobody lives across us; next to us, there is just a couple with one child and they are very very quiet we don't even know when they're there (the ones who give me fruits from their yard); and the other side, also a practically empty house. Nobody next to us has a pet.  As for this man, the subject of my anger just when I started this blog; well, he is now more discreet.  Also, the house is empty during the day; the maid is quiet.  Perhaps it was she who advised him to shut the windows.

   I grew up in an apartment strip, in a military base, where I got used to the noise levels of next-door neighbors. Now, even if we are still in a small house, I'm not so sure I can tolerate a noisy neighborhood. I appreciate the classical piano music coming from across the street, I appreciate that we are on a relatively quiet street.  I don't even mind when the wind carries the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday Jams from Paseo to here.  It's a pleasant place.

   Now I understand why, before leaving our Metro Manila apartment, our neighbor across the street worried about "who will move into your place".  It can become worrisome, after all, over there, next to us, a family stocking and selling LPG tanks out of their back laundry area moved in.

  How easily I had forgotten.  How easy to feel spoiled by a wholesome, pleasant Sesame Street-ness down here.

Tropical Hut is GONE

     It was gone from its spot in Paseo last weekend.  On the other side of Yellow Cab, Gusto Italiano was gone too (moved to Laguna Bel-air, I heard).  On the glass windows, we read permits saying Mang Inasal is moving in!

Shopping in Makati first time in 2 years

   So, here's the only reason I had to go to Rustan's Makati.

   Rustan's ATC had no booster car seat for the 3 year old (15kg) and above, and the sales lady wasn't interested in helping further after finding zero stock in the stockroom. After all, everything they had was for infants. Phone calls to SM Megamall and the Landmark, Mothercare Shangri-la and Greenbelt, and desperately, to the distributor Europlay, Inc/Richwell brought me back to my 7th pregnancy month of "Graco Pack and Play" adventures. Apparently, the car seat choices I Googled are not available anymore and even the distributors are never sure what they're gonna get/when the next shipment will be.  

  An hour later, after dining at the Via Mare Landmark (where I was surprised/comforted? to find the same tall waiter Larry still serving), I saw the same model upstairs.  But since nobody was interested in selling it to me there, in contrast to Jerome and Vincent of Rustan's, I went back to Rustan's for it.  Well, okay also because that's where we parked.  Anyway, I was led to Rustan's Makati after calling and having Jerome confirm that Chicco Ultrafit was gone a long time ago; that I might be interested in the Graco Logico LX Comfort.   

  Ay, wait.  This doesn't belong in THIS blog. I have yet to start posting on my other one, Manila Older Mother.  I am sooo delayed.  Well, will move to that one and say more there...about my initial preference for Britax or Chicco; and this one being a good quality low to mid-priced option. Yada yada yada.

  I do have a lot to talk about there; and I am certain there are pregnant women or first-time mothers just Googling away for info.  I know many blogging mothers have helped me with their posts.  I'm giving back! Soon! I've started the mom blog...

22 October, 2011

Makiling versus Makati

   I hate to be redundant...but today was one of those achingly bright, blue, sunny, beautiful days.  And as with many photo-perfect days, I did not have a better camera with me than the phone's. This view from Kingbee is still, thankfully there. But for how long? If you can ignore the power post and lines, and try to imagine what the camera could not capture, there is Makiling, ridges visible, and the mountain verdant. verde. green.
   It was around 3pm but the usual line up of vehicles coming down from Tagaytay was to arrive around an hour later.
   I spent the past week, day and night, in Paranaque City.  I went to the Glorietta mall in Makati on Thursday, and I have to say, I was overwhelmed.  By the stuffy, crowded air, the crowds, period, and the "noise and haste".  You see, I had not been there in two years.  Prior to that, the place was like a second home, being ten-fifteen minutes from home.  I could navigate its confusing zones, knew by heart which streets in Salcedo and Legaspi Villages were "One Way" only. 

   I knew Glorietta when it was still the center open 'stage' area of the QUAD arcade.  As a child in the '70s, I shopped in the first, small, shoes-only Shoemart (SM).  Our suki ice cream parlor and its coiffed owners were comfort places, and we watched movies in the Rizal Theater (now where the Shangri-la hotel stands).  There's more, I can go on...

   But I'll just say--not being OA ha, it's for real--I felt like a true probinsiyana or country bumpkin emerging from Rustan's Supermarket to face a solid mall building I confused with..6750? What on earth was here before? Where's the Starbucks?  My mother helped shake my brain...that was the parking lot, between here and The Intercontinental! The rush of cars and people; wind from moving cars and not from grassy fields just screamed CITY. As in New York City (for some reason); the gray new building, Singapore, maybe. OA, I know.  Just try it though...live in Santa Rosa for two years without ever going to the Makati Commercial Area.  Then go one day. Things can happen to you like,

   Having sensory overload from all the shopping choices.  We have SM, we have Alabang, but really, the pickings are slim in these parts, of many non-essentials. Nice to haves, like toys, clothes, shoes!

   Catching a cold, getting dirty toenails and skin from the pollution there. 

   Possibly wanting things you can live without again.

   Realizing how much you have not really missed, how few are the things you actually need to live.

03 October, 2011

Solenad 2 NOT an outlet mall

Solenad 2 shops facing Solenad 1. Beaming along Nuvali road and the highway.

Just a quick note, my husband gasped wondering at the prices in one of the shops there.  He asked, "these are outlet prices?".  The sales associate clarified that these shops are BRANCH stores and not outlets.

Remember, outlet stores are in Paseo de Santa Rosa, run by Greenfield Development. Solenad 2 of Ayala Land, which also has Bench stores, Payless, Nine West, and some others that are in Paseo, is not meant to be an "outlet" shopping mall.

Just gets a bit confusing because the outlets in Paseo generally display their merchandise in 'regular store' fashion. Except I guess in places like the Bench Depot where Charles &Keith shoes are in bins and piled on the floor; Brand Smart, where clothes tags are trimmed but are obviously Zara brands (and possibly knock-offs, really); and where discounted prices are boldly displayed on shelves.

All this info isn't really essential to life; just fun I guess.  And forgive my husband for his retail ignorance.  He's a simple man who isn't aware of retail merchandising.  Can't quite make the link between a display that looks expensive marketing-wise, fashion seasons, and price. The bottom line is what speaks to him of course. 

LZM Restaurant Solenad 2

Ack! What an irresponsible/impulsive/slow blogger am I.  I posted on "Solenad 2" that the restaurants there are "the usual".   I said something to the effect of not having any unique fare in the area like "Kanin Club's". I KNEW I saw a packed "LZM Restaurant" the two times I was at Army Navy burger...I KNEW I saw photos of Filipino food somehow. 

It took FOOD magazine's October issue to correct my Solenad 2 dining impression.

In it is a photo of what they deem to be their favorite daing na bangus.
I recalled LZM were the initials on that Filipino restaurant's sign.  He would not believe my saying he didn't have to go to the Tagaytay nor Silang branches, as it was right there in Solenad 2.

My husband quickly called the number listed and voila LZM is indeed in Solenad 2.

We didn't have to, but Googling LZM just makes me wonder where we have been in the Tagaytay dining scene. Turns out LZM in Silang and Tagaytay are "hidden" holes-in-the-wall type of places famous people like Marketman of Marketmanila love.  I read a 2007 post that said theirs was his favorite daing na bangus.

When we arrived early last night, the only customers happened to be---a cousin of mine and his colleague.  HE had known this "secret" in Tagaytay all along, and has been having his bulalo dinner regularly in this Solenad branch ever since it opened.  They work in Batangas and travel this route thrice weekly.  He says they prefer this bulalo over Rose & Grace's (located across Paseo), which doesn't have as much gulay.

Anyway...again, I'm no food blogger.  I'll just say, the bangus is extra large, plump, light and very very very delicious. It was rainy last night, and the sinampalukang manok was both comforting and tasty.  I try not to eat bulalo, I'll take my cousin's word for it.

This daing na bangus is also sold marinated frozen, for frying at home.  Basta, I can't describe it...it's just good. And LZM is dangerously going to become our next special lutong bahay place to eat or order from, just a few minutes from home.  The owners were there, and I wonder if they know how this early, their investment will surely pay off.  There still are other imported franchises out there playing it safe--Chicken places, pizza joints...   I wonder if they'll ever come.