Monday, November 29, 2010

Head Bang

This year has been tough on me, physically. I caught flu twice, and had a UTI attack once. And just last week, I had to go and see a doctor because I was having frequent terrible headaches.

But among my trips to the ER this year, the most recent one was the worst. I was so nervous because the doctor ordered a CT Scan the same day. Now i know a lot of hospitals take advantage of the health insurance coverage of their patients by ordering several procedures that they don’t necessarily require, but I don’t mind at all especially if that procedure is needed to rule out certain illnesses.  However, it’s not reassuring to hear that you’d be subjected to a CT Scan when you’re suffering from a massive headache that isn’t going away.


that hospital tag
Here’s how the intimidating machine looks like:



It didn’t take that long but I was super nervous the whole time.  I asked my boys to go home and leave me there because I didn’t want them to wait that long for the procedure and results.

I was relieved when the doctor told me my CT Scan results were negative.  Diagnosis was migraine, and I was asked to see a neurologist within the same week for follow up. The neurologist said the same thing but he was able to point out why I get my migraine attacks, and it’s all because of stress.  I also have tension headaches to top it all off.  I now officially belong to the group of people suffering from this incurable, debilitating curse. This is karma’s way of letting me know that migraine is serious, and shouldn’t be used out of context.

Just the same, I'm so glad it’s just migraine and not something else. I'm quite thankful it can be prevented and is easily manageable with the right meds, healthy diet (goodbye chocolates, Chinese food & cheeses) and proper sleep.


I just hope there'll be no ER trips again for the rest of the year and the coming years, as well.  I cannot afford to get sick again and I don't ever want to have this kind of scare anytime soon!



Friday, November 26, 2010

Dade's 1st birthday supplier ratings

Warning: this post is a long read one.  Unless you do not want to be bored to death by my opinionated post, then I suggest you go to another post because believe me, this will take a while. 

It took me a long time to finish this because of the number of suppliers I booked for the little fella's first birthday party. So pleased that I was able to finish this before Christmas, whew!

Anyway, if you've decided to go on ahead and read this, well, just remember that I warned you, ok? :P

Here goes my super duper delayed supplier ratings.  Hope this helps.

Venue:  Northeast Greenhills Clubhouse
Location: #21 La Salle St. North East Greenhills, San Juan City
Tel No:  7260550
Capacity:  150 - 180 pax
Peso power:  P8,000 + P8,000 refundable bond
Additional charges:  P500 per power outlet usage
Inclusions:  use of the clubhouse for 5 hours (3pm -8 pm) & sound system
Rating:  5*** (highly recommended)

entrance to the party

We love this venue! I'm am relieved that the place was still available when I called last February because someone cancelled their booking (thanks to you, whoever you are!) The contact person, Ms. Marily was very easy to deal with.  She pencil booked us and gave us a week to pay the downpayment of P4,000.  The remaining balance and bond was paid a month before the event.  

When we were discussing about the decors, she even gave us options on how our party planner could start decorating given that the event fell on a Sunday and the clubhouse was being used for the Sunday mass.

A week after the party, we went back to refund our bond, and we were happy to learn that she only charged us for three power outlets for four foodcarts and one photobooth. Yay!  What we liked about the venue is that the place has high ceiling with beams that could be used to hold the swags and balloon drops. Natural light freely comes in, too because of the glass windows and glass doors at the end of the room.  It also comes with a stage, which is ideal for me because the guests at the back could easily watch the goings on in front during the program and games. There's also a park with playground, and most importantly, there is ample parking space with a security personnel to assist the guests.  For it’s price, definitely sulit!

Party planner: Partyboosters
Website: http://partyboosters.multiply.com/ (Update: They now have an FB Page)
Tel No: 6922366 / 0917 8985227
Peso power: reasonably priced (just ask Jacque for a quote)
Package: Booster Package
Booster package inclusions: 1 pair of 6 ft. balloon pillar for stage (mylar balloons on top), 1 entrance arch, 1 cake arch, 10 mylar balloon centerpieces, balloon stage decors, 18" balloon burst, floating balloons for size of venue good for 150 pax & up and swags
Add ons:  backdrop & standee "Dade's Party Is Here" plus 2 centerpieces
Rating: 5*** (so highly recommended)

venue decor & centerpiece
stage area

Jacque has never failed me…ever.  The first time I hired her services for my son’s baptism, everything was more than ok.  Even my referred clients were quite happy with her work.
She delivered beyond expectations during Dade’s party.  The place rocked big time – super colorful & lively!  There were also free add ons like the additional balloons for the balloon drops plus the buffet table’s arrangement. All I had to do was provide her the plush toys in the morning of the event, and when we came in the afternoon, it was all arranged.  She also supervised the event with so much ease.  She coordinated with the host/magician, and also made sure that all the prizes and give-aways were in proper order before we came to the venue. When Jacque saw the melted icing on the cupcakes, I think she was more upset than I was. At one point, I even saw her trying to clean up the icing on the cupcakes to be displayed using a spoon because she said they would look bad in the pictures, haha!  Talk about being OC -- like me!
For an event like this, it really is important to have a party planner whom you can trust. And I say Jacque did very well.  We are so pleased we hired Partyboosters for Dade’s party. It was a wise decision indeed.

Caterer:  Verleo Catering
Tel No:  3653315 / 3675082 / 4470896 / 3619379
Peso power:  P290 for adults / P130 for kids
Adult menu: 
Mains -- Japanese Fried Rice, Braised Birthday Noodle with Quail Eggs, Chicken ala Pobre, BBQ Spareribs, Steamed Fish Fillet with Soy Sauce (my favorite), Stir-Fried Assorted Vegetables
Desserts – Mango Crepe / Peach Almond Fruit Cocktail
Kiddie menu: Baked Spaghetti, Chicken Fingers with Garlic Mayo, Hotdog with Mallows
Dessert - Brownies
Rating:  5*** (highly recommended)


I’ve read a lot of rave reviews in n@w and in another group I've looked into so I did not hesitate to book them for Dade’s party. And boy, am I glad we did!  Most of our guests were very satisfied with the yummy food they served. The generous portions of food laid out on the buffet table gave us more than enough to take home, too.  They were able to accommodate my request on the colors of the table linens to be used. Two days before the party, my AE Angel (who is truly heaven-sent) called us to check up on last minute requests, and she even volunteered to deduct P30 for each table since we are not using their centerpieces.


They may not have fancy buffet table set up or special centerpieces to match our theme but they delivered beyond our expectations. The waiters were in proper uniforms and were polite to the guests.  Oh, and I also loved the fact that they don’t charge corkage fees for the cases of softdrinks (courtesy my friends, Mr. & Mrs. F of Coca Cola Tigers team) we brought. They happily served them to the guests during the party.

All transactions were done via email and YM – totally fuss-free.

Host: Flooch
Contact person: Jacque of Partyboosters
Peso power: please contact Jacque for the rates
Rating: 5*** (highly recommended)

kids, do not try this at home!

While planning for Dade’s birthday party, I only had one host in mind to book – and that is Flooch.  Imagine, you already have a host, magician & ventriloquist in one.  Lots of savings indeed!


His games, magic & ventriloquist show was quite a hit to all our guests.  I never wanted to leave my seat while watching because it was so amusing. Hubby & I particularly liked the games for the kids. They were unique and well thought of.  We also liked the part where he gave out prizes to all the kids making sure that none was gonna go home empty-handed.
We were also delighted that he used a gorilla for his ventriloquist act.  You see, we fondly call our little boy “monkey” (he was dressed up as a monkey during last year’s Halloween) because he loves bananas.  If you want a Class A host with a good command of English and an excellent rapport with both kids and adults, you can bet your money on Flooch.  Worth every peso paid!

Invitations: Business Shoppe
Contact person: Lhoelit
Tel No: 9973072
Peso power: ranges depending on the style and quantity of order
Inclusions: 2D pop up invitation with red, blue, green &yellow envelopes & sticker for sealing. Minimal additional fee for map.
Rating:  4***

Dade's invites

I never thought finding a supplier for a pop up invitation is that difficult.  I scoured the net high and low for a supplier in Manila for weeks, and was so close to giving up.  It’s either the suppliers’ prices are super expensive or they have a minimum quantity that is more than what we need.  Good thing I stumbled upon this supplier who gave the most reasonable quote and lead time.

Despite the negative feedback I heard about the contact persons in Business Shoppe, I took my chance and thankfully never encountered any difficulties when I chased them for layouts and delivery of invites. All transactions, save for one, were done via email.

I want to give them a 5 star rating, but because they printed the invites in glossy paper, I just have to give them a lower rating.  It was too late to ask them to reprint the invites so I just settled with what they delivered. The invites looked great anyway, and we received a lot of compliments from people who received them.

I carefully chose the wordings for the invite, and made sure that I incorporated phrases commonly heard in Sesame Street. The invite reads:

The Sesame Street Gang says,
“B" is for Birthday and "P" is for Party!
Come on over as we celebrate
Daniel Jayden Erix’s 1st Birthday
on Sunday, 1st August 2010 at 2:30 pm
at the North East Greenhills Clubhouse, San Juan City.
We hope to see you there!
This invitation has been brought to you
by the letter “D” and the number “1”.

Cake:  Les Sucreries
Website:  http://lessucreries.multiply.com/ (Update: They have an FB page)
Contact person: Veronica Ngo
Tel No: 0917-8566186
Peso power: ranges depending on the size. please do note of additional delivery fee & layout fee (layout fee is deductible from the total price of the cake).
Rating: 5*** (so highly recommended)

cutesy Sesame Street cake with Cookie Monster!
Let’s be honest, most people order birthday cakes for posterity purposes.  The cake’s design is the priority and the taste is just secondary because we rarely serve the cake anyway.  And because of this, we ordered a 3-layer cake, with two lower layers that are dummy.   We wanted our son’s cake to be extra special and different from his fondant baptismal cake so this time we opted for the “star icing tip” type of cake.  The cake is topped off with a large 3D Cookie Monster & lamppost next to it.  We know it’s usually Elmo who takes the limelight in every Sesame Street party but not for us. Hubby and the little boy are more fond of Cookie Monster so we decided to choose him for our 3D topper.

One can never go wrong in choosing Veronica as their cake supplier.  She delivers really well. Dade’s cake looked super spectacular!  We were so happy with the details!  The cake was also delivered early so when we got to the venue, the cake’s already there.  Special thanks to Dade’s godfather, Nick who paid for the cake as a gift.

The only comment I have with Veronica is that she takes a while to reply to emails. She replies immediately to YM when she’s online though.

Cupcakes & cookies: Cuppy Klyde Bakeshop
Website: http://cakesbycuppycake.multiply.com/ (Update: They have now rebranded to Sumptuous Cakes and they have an FB & IG page)
Contact: Jane Reyes
Tel no: 0908 5570277
Rating: cupcakes – 3*** / cookies – 5*** (highly recommended)

the cutest & yummiest sugar cookies in town! 
cupcakes with melted butter cream icing

Cuppy Klyde is the same supplier we had for Dade’s baptism cookies. I am very happy with how Jane works on the designs of the cookies.  They look like they’re done with passion – not just for the aesthetics but also for the gastronomical delight of whoever pops them in the mouth.


I originally ordered for cupcakes only, but hubby, at the last minute, suggested that we add the cookies. Good thing we did because when we opened the boxes of the cupcakes, we were disappointed to see that the icing has melted.  We picked it up on the same day at Megamall Megatrade Hall since Jane is an exhibitor in the wedding fair.  We suspect that the icing has melted during transport from Cavite to Mandaluyong.  It was a mistake that I didn’t check the boxes after we picked them up because we were in a hurry. 

I wasn’t able to taste the cupcakes, too, so I couldn’t tell how they fared but I guess they were yummy because they were all gone before the party finished.

Photographer: Warren Camitan
Website:  http://warrenjcphoto.multiply.com/ (Update: He now has an FB page)
Peso power: P7,500
Inclusions: 2 photographers (labor only), 2 locations – maximum of 5 hours, minimum of 250 hi-res photos stored in in DVD with custom cover and label. free 25 pieces 4R print (edited – photographer’s choice)
Rating: 4.5***

Warren’s a very easy person to deal with.  Polite, accommodating and super patient. I swear, when we picked up the DVD’s from our meeting place, we were late for almost 3 hours because Dade was running a fever that day, and he didn’t even complain!


What I personally liked about the pictures are the candid shots Warren & his 2nd photographer took during the party. The kids looked like they truly had a grand time!  It really meant a lot to me that they were able to take numerous candid shots because the pictures looked like they were telling a story.


It's also good to note that they were on time when they arrived at the hotel for the preps. They were also quick at delivering the pictures.  Less than two weeks after the party and we already have the pictures in DVD.

I wanted to give a perfect 5 star for them but because they failed to take a picture of the details of the invitation, the gifts & registration table with the registration sheets I made, I thought of deducting half a star. I'm a sucker for details eh.

For more pictures, please click here.

Videographer: Thor Productions
Website: http://thorproductionkids.multiply.com/ (Update: They now have an FB page)
Contact:  Thor & Carmela
Tel no:  0919 6752473 / 0915 9711901
Peso power:  P8,500
Inclusions:  4 hours video - one location, 1 Dvd copy of edited video with personalized cover and casing
Rating: pending

I couldn’t say much about our videographer because I haven’t seen the video yet, not even the teaser.  We booked Thor Productions because they’re the same team we got for Dade’s baptism and we were happy with the teaser.  More importantly, we booked them because of the quality of the videos they produce.  We wanted nothing less than hi-def, and we’re very sure this Thor & his team can deliver.

Guestbook:  Mediamonsters Productions
Website:  http://mediamonsters.multiply.com/ (Update: They now have an FB page)
Contact:  Liza Que
Tel No:  02 5159017 / 0917 5421717
Peso power: P2,000 (old rate for repeat customer)
Inclusions:  layout & printing of 20 pages photo guestbook with free pen/marker
Rating: 5*** (highly recommended)

lovin' this guestbook & the precious notes inside

Dealing with Mediamonsters is a breeze, as usual.  I just provided them the pictures, the cover & layout I want, and they did it in a jiff!  Layout of the pictures was nicely done.  Can’t ask for a better supplier.


Photobooth: Say Cheese Ph
Contact:  Zandro Gonzales
Tel no: 02 4374170
Peso power:  special rate for me since I’m friends with the owner but you can check their website for the rates
Inclusions: projector & screen, stop time, unlimited photo prints, custom photo design, online photo gallery, DVD to store images
Rating: 4.5***

caught on cam 
The photo booth is just as I imagined it to be. They have cute hats, wigs and other props the guests can use to take wacky pictures of themselves. The layout is also what we had in mind. Special thanks to my SIL & BIL who helped with the backdrop tarp!

Now you ask why i only gave 4.5 stars.  It’s not actually about the photobooth but more on the projector.  It had a few glitches which caused some minor stress to me & our party planner.  We really wanted to play Dade’s AVP created by his Ninong Armil.  I’m just so glad it still worked out in the end.

Guest name tag: Printbox
Email: printbox888@yahoo.com
Contact: Cielo
Peso power: P2.50 per name tag
Rating: 4***

Getting the name tags was a last minute decision. I ordered them a couple of weeks before we flew in to Manila.  They’re ok and they’ve served their purpose. I'm just happy that my request for various characters per name tag was accommodated.

The name tags were printed in a plain matte finish sticker but I wish I chose the glossy material.  When printed in matte, the colors looked dull and flat although the supplier suggested that based on experience, the ones printed in matte come out livelier.

Lootbag: Personalized Picks
Website: http://personalizedpicks.multiply.com/ (Update: They now have an FB page)
Contact: Catherine Manzano
Peso power: P105 / bag, minimum of 10 pieces per design
Rating: 5*** (so highly recommended)

colorful & useful lootbags

It took me months to decide on which lootbag to get for the kids but I found myself always checking out this particular kind of snack carry bag they have on their website. I decided that among the options, it was reasonably priced, useful and just about the right size. And so after several email exchanges on the design and all, the items were shipped to my in-laws in Manila a few days before we arrived.


I was super impressed with their work the moment I've seen the lootbags in real life.  They look like they were store-bought!  They didn't look cheap and the materials they used were the ones I had in mind. I didn't have the lootbags printed with Dade's name because i want the recipients to use the carry bags again. I mean, seriously, who would use a bag that has another kid's name written on it, right? Instead, we just made thank you tags that we individually placed on each bag to give them a personal touch.

Oh, and I just have to mention that when I told Catherine that one of the bag's zipper was damaged, she refunded me without hesitation. Excellent customer service indeed!  That's why I eagerly referred her to my friends and family because I know she will be able to deliver.

Foodcarts: Polkadots Events
Email: polkadotsevents@gmail.com
Contact: Jhoanne Paris Henson
Tel No: 0919 8047006
Peso power:  please contact Jhoanne for the rates
Rating: 5***
Foodcarts: NYFD, Waffle Time, Big Chill & FIC



The foodcarts were a hit!  I am so glad we were able to get these foodcarts at the last minute through Jhoanne. She was very easy to deal with and she pleasantly accommodated our queries. Quick to respond to emails, as well.


Bubble bottle sticker: Yooprints
Store location: National Bookstore Glorietta 5
Peso power: P3.00 per sticker
Rating: 5*** (highly recommended)

Although the bubble bottle stickers ended up being more expensive than the bubble bottle itself, we were still happy to have gotten their services. Fast and easy and convenient location. The staff who attended to us was kind and very patient. I think I changed my mind more than 3 times but her face didn't even show any sign of wanting to complain. The print outs were just as I wanted them to be -- they were perfect! All I needed to do was bring a picture of Sesame Street and give the wordings.  They worked on the stickers in no time, and within less than 30 minutes, they were all done.


Unfortunately, we don't have any picture of the bottles :(

Save the date: SIL Kaye
Peso power: free -- labor of love
Rating: 5***



My SIL is very creative! I knew that I could depend on her for something like this, and I was right. The way she's done the Save-The-Date was how I wanted it to look like.  She even made various options to choose from.  Big thanks indeed to her for the fab lookin' Save-The-Date for Dade's birthday!

******

There you have it -- my long-overdue supplier ratings.  Ok, next one is the Dubai party supplier ratings.  Wish me luck i finish it before Christmas...hahaha!

Thanks for taking time to read :)


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Quick Catch Up

My goodness! It's almost mid-November and I haven't even had the chance to blog about anything since the month started.  Am I that busy?

Anyway, as the world watches Pacman & Margarito fight today, I'd take a few minutes to write something short about how we are doing right now.


Dade's newfound friends

Last month, we visited Bessie B's new apartment, and we were thrilled to have finally met the dogs she's babysitting for her friends.  At first, we were concerned about Dade getting near the dogs because even if they're generally small in size, they could still knock him over, you know.  Good thing both Fritz and Alma are more on the gentle side.  It took Dade only a few minutes to warm up to them, and before we knew it, they were friends already.


three stoogies


We'll be hanging out at B's place tomorrow 'cos our long holiday is coming up (Eid Al Adha), but we heard from her that she already returned the dogs 'cos their Daddy has already come home.  Sadly, no doggies tomorrow to play with but we'll go swimming instead :)


The favorite toy

Dade's best buddy is Ernie.  My SIL bought this plush toy when she shopped for prizes and give-aways for his birthday party.  He loves this toy to bits!  It's so cute whenever we see him walking around the house lugging Ernie around.


little bub & Ernie

Oral hygiene

When Dade had his 15th month vaccination, his pedia reminded us about the wee one’s oral hygiene.  We were happy to tell him that we have been brushing his teeth since the first ones erupted.  Now that he’s a bit bigger, I got him a more befitting BPA-free toothbrush from Mam from the Softlanding.  We got the toothbrush cover from Babyshop, and his Earth’s Best toothpaste from Healthy Options in Manila.


oral care

I’m glad the little boy has no qualms about brushing his teeth.  In fact, the other day when I was changing his nappy from his “command center”, he grabbed the toothbrush, took out the cover and almost put the toothbrush in his mouth.  I just hope he’ll have the same enthusiasm when it’s time for him to face the dental chair the first time.

flowers, swan and a halloween pumpkin

Balloon makingMy husband has this thing about balloons.  Last month, our godchild, Zoei celebrated her first birthday here in Dubai, and we helped make some balloons for the ladybug and bumblebee party theme.  While practicing at home, these are what he had made so far:


And for the party, this is what he’s done:


ladybug


I'm proud that the hubby also has this artistic side in him.  It makes me happy that I have a supportive partner when it comes to my arts and crafts.  Truth is when I stumble upon a road block while I’m working on my arts and crafts stuff, he’s always there to suggest a solution.

Starbucks ice cream
yep, you heard that right.  Not only does Starbucks venture into creating coffee concoctions, but they also sell ice cream under their famed name. But these creamy-licious sweets are only available in supermarkets, stocked right next to Ben & Jerry’s, Baskin’ Robbins and Haagen Daazs.  We tried the caramel macchiato flavor which rocked my tastebuds the first time its first spoonful laid into my mouth. Yum-o!!


ice cream heaven!

Christmas shopping
I am proud to say that we’re 95% done with our Christmas shopping.  We started real early, like around August if I remember it correctly.  We took advantage of all the promotions we’ve seen around the malls, and we’re pretty lucky we scored a lot of pretty good stuff, especially for the kids.  Last week, we’ve also sent our cargo box for our families back home. I hope they come in time for the holidays.

Now all I need to do is put up the Christmas tree so I can start wrapping ‘em gifts. But first, I need to find 800 white rice lights for my tree.  And so the hunt begins!

********

So there, a bit of an update from my side after weeks of being so quiet. I have so much stuff to blog about, and I hope to be able to do that during the Eid break. We’re getting 4 days off so that’s a very long weekend for me…hooray!!

'Til next time, folks!  Take care.