Since moving into a house in January of last year (before that we were staying in a much smaller townhouse), I have learned a lot more things about how to organize and decorate the home, do minor repairs here and there, and prepare what I need to entertain guests (yes, we’re finally having people over). Living in a house means you have a lot more space, so there’s actually more to manage which can be challenging, but it can also be fun because like I mentioned, you can have people come over. I’m still slowly learning as I go, and so far there has been a fair share of good and somewhat bad experiences. But living in this house has definitely been a blessing, as it has allowed us adequate room for us to pursue our different interests. For instance, Carlos finally has a place for his two giant aquariums (he loves fish, shrimp and all kinds of aquatic life) and an area for his plants, vegetables and fruits trees (we’ve been harvesting our own dill, lemongrass, lemons, mulberries and papayas); while I have my own office (for blogging, of course) and Tristan has his own room/play area. What’s been difficult has been: (1) how to organize the little things that somehow find their way into the weirdest nooks and crannies, (2) how to find lost things (somehow related to the first thing I’ve mentioned), and (3) how to do minor repairs that don’t necessarily require a carpenter (I usually bug Carlos for those things but lately, I just search it on YouTube).
Thankfully, I am finally learning how to do things easier and quicker, which has definitely made my life less stressful. And so I’ve decided to share with you these little conveniences so you won’t have to stress like I did when the time comes. Here are the my best home discoveries from 2017!
1.) Saumon Caviar Cake.
This is an easy fix when you’re having people over and you don’t really know what to serve them. You can just order this a few days in advance (they do home deliveries) and serve with crackers and you’re good for pica-pica. Of course, I am not talking about having people over for dinner–that is a different topic on its own. This is just having friends over for merienda or maybe while the kids are having a playdate the moms can eat and make kwentuhan. It is also a good cake to bring to a friend’s house if you’re doing a potluck lunch or dinner! The 4.5 x 3″ cake costs P1,300 while the bigger 7 x 3″ caviar cake is P3,200. You can follow and order from Saumon Caviar Cake through their Instagram account: @saumoncaviarcake.
2.) Pottery Barn Glass Vases.
For the longest time, I was on the lookout for large glass containers where I can put fresh or dry flowers, cork, potpourri, eucalyptus branches (they make the room smell so fresh) but I couldn’t find ones that were well-made or that fit the design of my home. Well, it took one trip to the Pottery Barn and I found exactly what I was looking for–these glass vases are just gorgeous! They really do make the house look homey, which is why I love them so much! And every few months I change the contents of these vases and instantly, it becomes new again. These are must-haves for every home, and make great housewarming presents.
3.) A California King-Size Bed from Blims
One thing Carlos and I never bought when we got married was a bed! We just continued using my queen-sized bed from when I was still single, which was perfectly fine, until we decided to co-sleep with our son. So, okay, until now he still sleeps with us and our problem with our old bed was that we didn’t have enough space! Having a two year old in between two adults in a queen-size bed can be a challenge, especially since Tristan and I move a lot in our sleep. I used to wake up in the very edge of the bed, and so did Carlos, until we decided to finally do an upgrade. And so we got a California king-size Uratex Cozy Latex Mattress Bed Set from Blims and it has been so heavenly. Seriously, we all slept in an extra hour or two during the holidays, which never happened in our old bed! One thing you need to do when you finally have space in your home is to invest in a king-size bed. Especially if you have kids, because then you can all hang out and play in bed, even if they don’t sleep with you. It is so worth every peso, and I only regret not doing this sooner.
4.) Serene House UFO Pod Warmer.
I never really believed home fragrances made a difference in the home until I tried this one. All you have to do is plug it in, and switch on the power and the UFO’s powerful heating element will create a cloud of pure natural fragrance in a matter of minutes. I love the shape of this little gadget, and how unassuming it is–it combines a silky matt glazed porcelain that comes in either white or black, with a corona-like light beaming out from the gap between the cover and the base. It keeps our living room smelling wonderful, and we love that the fragrance is made from natural oils so it is safe for the whole family.
5.) Feast with Me by Stephanie Zubiri Crespi.
This is really more than just a cookbook, it is the life and travel adventures of Steph on paper. It explores her favorite countries through memorable anecdotes, life lessons, and of course, recipes. I always, always get intimidated by worldly recipes–I feel like I am not a good enough cook to even attempt to do it, but somehow this book makes it feel easy and doable. The recipes are carefully curated and organized, which I love, and the best part is that she also does wine pairing with her dishes which I feel is so hard to do. If you are looking for a gift for a newly-married friend, this is so it. Actually even seasoned homemakers will love this book–grab a copy and read for yourself.
6.) Don Timoteo Smoked Vinegar.
Since starting on the Ketogenic Diet, Carlos and I have found a love for vinegar. Apart from using it as dip for our favorite chicharron, we also use it for cooking and flavoring our dishes, so the more variations we have the better. This is a new discovery and it is so tasty and flavorful. You can give it a try, it is unlike your usual vinegar in the supermarket and it is all-natural. Order through their Instagram page: @dontimoteoallnatural.
7.) Electrolux Induction Cooker.
I never really understood how induction cooking worked, until I finally Googled it and discovered that is uses an electric current that runs through a coil and generates a fluctuating magnetic field, but there is no heat on the burner itself. This makes it safer for cooking as there is no flame to begin with, and the heat is apparently more stable. The only thing is you cannot use your regular pots and pans with this burner–it has to have its own pan because of the magnetic field. We found this one from Electrolux, and we’ve been using it as an extra burner. I love that it has a 180-minute timer, which allows me to leave sauces, soups and stews to simmer for a long time, a pot detection sensor which automatically switches off when there is no pot in place, an auto cut off and child lock for added safety, and it comes with a free Induction Cook Pot.
8.) Note and gift cards from Paper and Print by Unico.
These are always useful to have in the house, especially since we regularly give gifts for birthdays, anniversaries, and weddings. These are personalized and so pretty, which is why I always go to them to have these printed. I think it is a great touch for any heartfelt, thoughtful present. Plus, the paper is so nice to write in–I can’t never get enough of these paper products!
9.) Bizu Sugar-Free Chocolates.
Hands down, these are one of the best-tasting sugar-free chocolates I’ve ever tried. I seriously can’t get enough of them, and I love them so much I gave them as gifts for Christmas. These are unbelievably creamy and delicious (believe me, I know my chocolates)–so worth the try, especially when you’re on Keto or are cutting down on sugar.
10.) Philips SceneSwitch LED Lightbulbs.
I never thought about lighting before I moved into our own home, and I have to say, it really makes a huge difference. Lighting creates the mood in your home, and if you have pleasant, relaxed lighting then you will follow suit without thinking about it. I’ve been a fan of Philips LED lights for years, since I discovered that it is the most efficient, most long-lasting lightbulbs you can find. It saves me so much in electricity, and their SceneSwitch option allows you to have 3 different light settings in one bulb without having to install a dimmer. It is pretty amazing, and you can do it all by yourself.
Do you have more home discoveries of your own that you might want to share? I’d love to read your comments.