Category Archives: Out Of The House


Dessert Buffet Styling 101

Fact: I’ve never been very good at making things look pretty. I’m simply not wired that way, which is why I became a writer instead. Trust me, I can make anything seem beautiful using the right words, but don’t make me style a flatlay or decorate an area for you. (You will see photo evidence of my design handicap throughout this post.)

This explains why, a year after our big move, our bare white walls are still bare and white. A tour of our house will also reveal that our furniture is a little bit mismatched. That’s mainly because 99% of them are hand-me-downs from different homes, but it’s also because I can’t figure out how to change things up to make them look like they belong together. 

Honestly, I’m afraid to permanently install or remove anything from our house because it just might not work out. And then we’d be stuck with ugliness for a really, really long time. Lol. The struggle is real!


Obviously, it’s good for me to attend classes and workshops on styling because I need help. This is why I really made time to be at the Dessert Buffet Styling session by School of Styling Philippines at Evia Lifestyle Center. This particular workshop was perfect for me, actually, because the output is simple, manageable, and not at all permanent. In short, keri ko to.

The super talented Indy Ycasiano was our teacher that day. Here are some styling tips that learned from her at the session. 

#1 Plan ahead

Indy suggests creating a sketch of what you want your table to look like before you get to work. You can also make a mock setup before the day of your event or party so that you can be sure that you have everything you need, and that everything works well together.

#2 Flat is boring. 

Case in point. Flat = boring. This table isn't even fully setup yet, but you can clearly see that everything
Case in point. Flat = boring. This table isn’t even fully setup yet, but you can already see that the elements seem to be falling in line, from the serving dishes to the birthday greeting on the wall. Hindi pa naka-center! Lol. Told you I’m no good at this!


To make things look nicer, play with levels when you arrange items on your buffet table. You can do this symmetrically, with a focal point at the center, and other items arranged similarly on either side. Symmetrical doesn’t necessarily mean identical. You can display different items on either side of the focal point, but make sure that they are similar in height so it looks balanced.

Another option is to go asymmetrical, where things are not set up in a mirrored fashion. This is much harder to pull off because you will really need to move things around until everything looks like they are in the right place. Jedi-levels of styling required here, so trust that you won’t see me working on any asymmetrically-styled dessert buffets any time soon. 

Here’s an example what a symmetrically-styled table should look like, as styled by Indy.


#3 Don’t bring out all of the desserts that you have, all at once

Just display a few of the your sweet treats on nice plates, trays or jars, then fill in any awkward spaces with decorative items. Things like food labels, objects related to your theme, flowers and party favors are great space-fillers. Don’t go overboard, though! Too many things can make for a cluttered table. And don’t forget to refill your desserts whenever needed.

As you can see, I displayed all of the cupcakes we ordered. I also did not use a plate or tray. Am I hopeless?
As you can see, I displayed all of the cupcakes we ordered. I also did not use any plates or trays. Am I hopeless?


#4 Add height

Playing with high and low elements can help make your table look more appealing. You can use various things to add height, such as cake stands, tiered stands, boxes, crates, and even a stack of books. The treats you choose can also give added height. Cake pops, candy canes, push-pops, and basically any treat with a vertical element can work. 

My friend used a cupcake tower to add height to her daughter's birthday dessert buffet.
My friend used a cupcake tower to add height to her daughter’s birthday dessert buffet.


#5 Embellish

Here’s where having a whole stock room full of nice props comes in handy. But if you don’t have that magical room filled with plates, bowls, linens and buntings, here are a few basic decorative add-ons that you can use.

  • Fabric – A few yards of nice fabric can be used as a table cloth or runner, and can make a huge difference! See (above) how boring the blue cloth used in our party was? Learn from my mistake, guys.
  • Printables – These are great because you don’t need to store them. You can just design and print things like buntings, signs and labels every time there’s a special occasion. 
  • Buntings and garlands – You can make these using felt balls, pompoms, ribbons, tissue, fabric, small toys, crocheted motifs (which I plan on doing for Christmas!), etc, etc, etc.
  • Backdrop – Adding a backdrop to your dessert buffet helps extend the theme of your party to the table. You can use a plywood panel, canvas, or drapes for this. 
If you’re hardcore like my mama, a blank wall can be your canvas, and you can create whatever design you want using Manila paper, art paper, tape and markers. She did just that for her kids on many of our birthdays.


#6 Always take a step back to view your table

Walk away and check your work from a distance every once in a while. You’ll get a better perspective of your buffet table this way. Assess then continue your work until you’re done and happy. 

Towards the end of the workshop, attendees were split into two groups and tasked to decorate our own buffet tables. Our group created a glamping-themed buffet. I love our final output. 

You likey?


I had so much fun, and I really learned a lot at the workshop. Now I’m excited to start setting up pretty buffet tables at home. But first, I suppose I need to get a buffet table. Lol! Time to go shopping! 

*Follow School of Styling Philippines on Instagram and Facebook to find out when their next sessions will be. Maybe I’ll even see you at one of them!


Things To Do at the #OishiSnacktacular 2016

I don’t go to mall events often because I had my fill of them when MrC and I were working for retail. Yesterday, though, I made an exception, and headed off to the SM Mall of Asia Music Hall for the #OishiSnacktacular 2016. I’m glad I did because it really was so much fun. Plus, by chance, my friend Camille and her son (my godson!) Lucas were there as well, and so it became an impromptu bonding day for the three of us, too.

Hanging out with Lucas and Camille


When I arrived yesterday, the first thing I noticed was how colorful and exciting all of the booths looked. This year’s event has an 8-bit inspired game, and it felt to me like I was in one of those video games I grew up playing. You even walk over a giant “Press Start” button when you enter.

Oishi Snacktacular Pass to Wow. Entrance is FREE, and then it’s pay to play from there.


So what’s there to do at the #OishiSnacktacular 2016? Here’s a quick rundown of the booths and activities.

Take a photo at the Oishi Pack & Pose. Don’t forget to post it online with the hashtag #OishiSnacktacular.

Go to the Make Your Own Snack booth where, for only P20, you can have a customized bag of chips and snacks made just for you.

All of your favorites on one bag. Yum!


Make sure to line up for the Oishi Snack Catcher. For P200, you get strapped on to a harness, and lowered into a giant pool of snacks. Then, you grab as much as you can, and whatever you get is all yours! Too bad I had to skip this because I was in a dress, but if the boys were with me, I’m sure one of them would have gone up. 


Cool down with some Oishi Choco Chug ice cream at the Oishi O-Twirl booth. Don’t forget to add toppings to your cup of ice cream for extra yums! All this for only P20.

The Oishi Snack Shack was my favorite activity. Here, you get to fill a 2ft tall Oishi bag with all of your favorite snacks! I loaded mine up with Bread Pan, cereal, Sponge Crunch, Wafu, and a lot of other treats. And the bag is really big, super sulit at P295! I got a lot of stares as I carried it around the mall.


As if you hadn’t already filled your bags with enough snacks at this point, there’s more to be had at the Oishi Cuckoo Blaster. For only P100, you get to put on the Cuckoo Bird suit, and catch as many balls as you can. 1 ball = 1 snack for you!

After all that activity, treat yourself to a Smart C+ slushee for only P20 at the Oishi Slush C+ booth. The calamansi flavor is super good.

And, before you leave, check out the different Oishi snacks from all over Asia at the Oishi World of Wow area.

Durian-flavored Oishi Pillows? Masarap!


The #OishiSnacktacular 2016 is open until July 17, which means you still have a day and a half to go there, enjoy, and snack-attack away! Enjoy!


Food, Fun, and my Favorite Ketchup

Realization: We only have a little over two weeks left of summer vacation.

What?! The weeks seem to have gone by so quickly! Before you know it, I’ll be back to my usual morning routine of packing baon. 

Chicken nuggets + ketchup. Yes, you’ll definitely see that in my son’s lunch box.

I know that a lot of moms, especially those with younger kids, are gearing up for another school year of bento baon fun. I, personally, don’t do the whole bento lunch box thing because my kiddo is big already. He prefers to have simple, straightforward packed meals. Still, I love learning new techniques and designs, coz you’ll never know when these may come in handy!

I’ve attended bento classes before, and last month I was given the chance to sit in at another one. This time, it was a class by Kat Maderazo of Bento by Kat, in partnership with Heinz, my all-time favorite ketchup brand! Trivia: Kat is a Japanese-certified bento box maker. Galing, right?

Kat Maderazo of Bento by Kat, and Heinz Brand Manager, Rae Guinto

Before I show you guys what we made at the event, I think that I need to tell you about my relationship with ketchup. Ketchup will always and forever be my condiment of choice.

Ever since I was little, I have been putting ketchup on my food, whenever possible. Fries, burgers, fried chicken, and even adobo would not be the same for me without my little dish of ketchup on the side for dipping. It’s a love affair like no other.

Okay, now I’m ready to talk bento.

Friends, I present to you, my Kelly Ketchup. 

It only takes a few easy steps to make this cute baon box. Start by getting some cooked rice and smothering it in ketchup. My Kelly Ketchup looks a little pale, so I think I could have added a little more Heinz.


Next, shape the rice into body parts. Use cling wrap, a plastic bag or plastic gloves when you mold the rice to keep the food and your hands clean. Then, assemble inside your lunchbox. Kat taught us to use bits of spaghetti to connect the body parts to one another so that they won’t come apart. 

Once the body is formed, make a dress for Kelly using thin sheets of scrambled eggs. Then, add face and hair details using nori and cheese.Finally, use more ketchup to decorate the dress so that it’s extra pretty. Don’t forget to give her shoes, too! 

I did my best with this one! As you can see, I’m not very artistic.

Add some fillers like chicken nuggets, veggies and fruits, and you are done. Ta-da! The finished product. Mine may not be as cute as the other moms’ bento boxes, but I love it all the same. 

Expectation vs reality

I love activities that allow me to have more fun in the kitchen, specially since I’m always in the kitchen. I totally agree with the Heinz team that meal time so important in most Filipino homes. It brings the family together, and gives homecooks like me an opportunity to share love through food. 

Food is my love language, and, as they said at the event, #YourFoodDeservesBetter. Heinz makes every dish extra special. I can’t wait to play with the amazing Heinz products I took home from the event. Especially the ketchup. Ketchup is love.

Class picture! (Photo by Heinz Philippines)

Confessions of an Occasional Germophobe

I don’t like dirty things. Sure, I can be messy, but messy doesn’t necessarily mean dirty. Just because things look out of place or cluttered in a space doesn’t mean they aren’t clean. Does that even make sense to you? Because it does to me.

The truth is that I constantly worry about people around me getting sick because of germs. This is, most likely, the effect of having lived with a doctor for 32 years. Because of this, I have a set of cleanliness-related rules that I try my best to enforce at home. 

First, I make sure to choose antibacterial soaps for our laundry, dish washing, and baths. We have been loyal Safeguard users for many years. 

Not just for bath time – Our dishwashing and laundry soaps both have Safeguard in them.


Also, I absolutely will not allow anyone to sit or lie down on their bed wearing clothes that were worn outside. I just think it’s gross that MrC’s office shirt, for example, which comes into contact with a tricycle seat, a van seat, his office chair, various walls, tables and other surfaces, and even other people throughout the day, will come into contact with my pillow, blanket and bed sheet. 

When people come visit our home and sit on the bed wearing clothes they’ve worn outside, I change the sheets before we go to bed. I’m not kidding.

The boys and I do not walk around the house in shoes. We use our house slippers when we are home. We also ask people to remove their shoes and slippers before going up to the second floor of our home. When upstairs, the boys and I go barefoot, too.

We make hand washing a must before meals. I even have bottles of alcohol and hand sanitizer in our living, dining, and bedrooms just in case. I have a slight alcohol-obsession (rubbing, not drinking,) and I usually clean my hands with the stuff in between tasks, when hand washing is not possible.

The list goes on, and on, and on. I could bore you to tears just talking about this.


Did you know that sanitation issues are largely responsible for illnesses like diarrhea, which is a leading cause of child death in the Philippines, right next to malnutrition, pneumonia and injuries?


So where is this conversation going, you may be wondering?

Well, recently, Little MrC and I attended UNICEF and Safeguard’s first Health Watch lecture in celebration of World Health Day. We learned a lot at the session, and a lot of my germy-worries were addressed and validated. It’s good to know that my cleanliness rules are actually good for something.

Intervention should be the priority. Health comes first. I feel like these are the most important lessons we learned that day. Instead of waiting until someone gets sick to do something, we should instead aim to reduce the risk of illness, especially within the home. This can easily be done through proper hand washing with soap.

This handwashing demo was really useful. It surprises me that not a lot of people know how to properly wash their hands, but this is a reality.


Here are some simple tips to make sure that you are washing your hands well enough:

  • Start by wetting your hands well.
  • Lather well and scrub thoroughly. Don’t forget to scrub in between your fingers, and all the way to your wrists.
  • Scrub for at least 20 seconds. You should be good to go after two rounds of the Happy Birthday song. Singing out loud is optional.
  • Rinse well, and make sure that there is no soap left on your hands and wrists.
  • Dry off using a CLEAN towel. Emphasis on clean. I think you know why.

As a final note, we were taught some first aid basics by a representative from the Philippine Red Cross. I love that my son already learned most of this during a father and son camping session that he and MrC attended. At least I know that if there’s ever the need for emergency response at home, my boys are ready to save me. Lol.

Bandaging wounds 101.


As moms, our family’s health and safety should be on top of our list of priorities. Do you have any tips for keeping your households safe and germ-free?