Chop House

We had out Valentine’s Dinner at Chop House. It’s at the 4th floor of Trinoma, where the Al fresco restaurants are.  We weren’t planning on a V-Day date, so this isn’t really one. That day, we went to Trinoma specifically to buy barong and slacks for the boyfriend. He needs those for a friend’s wedding on Saturday (and I have nothing to wear for that!). It was a successful trip, but it was almost dinnertime when we finished up.

Our first choice for a meal was Cafe Breton, but we weren’t used to having crepes for dinner so we decided to just have milk shakes and then move on.

Can you guess which one’s mine and his? 🙂

So we walked around just enough for the boyfriend to finish a stick of cigarette and then settled on having steaks at Chop House. We hadn’t been there before so this was going to be interesting. But then again, aren’t all steaks just the same?

I have to admit though, I liked their steaks a little better because they were tasty even without the sauce. We both chose the Hickory Smoke sauce, but there were a few more choices being offered (gravy included), and this was served on the side instead of being poured over the steak already.  I had mashed potatoes with mine, while Alfred had garlic rice. The dishes already come with the buttered corn and carrots that one expects with this kind of meal.

First to be served though, were the drinks. Draft beer for him, house blend iced tea for me (the glass was huge!).

Next up is probably what I loved most in the entire meal, their house bread:

I loved their bread so much I had to have an extra order! They’ll give you three pieces on the house, with herbed butter, and you can order two more for only twelve pesos. These were really good, very soft inside. The herbed butter wasn’t that special but the bread’s really yummy.

Then there’s the main course (we didn’t have soup or salad anymore, no dessert either).

This is the US Prime Beef Bistro Steak that Alfred ordered, medium rare. I didn’t think it was enough for him, but having a tall glass of milkshake before dinner kept him full. I like my steaks well done, but this was so yummy I didn’t even mind that it wasn’t cooked the way I liked!

This is my plate of US Prime Beef Minute Steak. Thumbs up! Very tasty and cooked just right. I hardly even used the sauce because it was that tasty. The mashed potatoes were creamy too. Perfect combination. I told the boyfriend that next time we could just share a plate of this (one order of steak) and then just share another plate of either salad or pasta. That way we wouldn’t be eating too much. Haha.

The venture into this restaurant was a success, I don’t regret it. Would we go back? I would, but not so sure about the boyfriend. I guess if he was given a choice between Chop House or Steaktown, he’d still choose the latter. I would too, if we were talking about value for money. Still, Chop House isn’t so bad.

And because it was Valentine’s Day, Trinoma was giving away freebies for people eating in their Al fresco restaurants. So happy to have received mine:

Okay, so I know that maybe some of you are thinking: isn’t Vera supposed to be trying to lose weight? What business has she eating this much?! Haha. I know right? 🙂 Don’t worry I don’t eat this much all the time. I am seriously going to have as much balanced meals as I could, and figure out how to add mobility to my day too. I really think that for me, the key isn’t cutting off too much of the food, but needing to move more (sayang, we can’t use the stairs in the office anymore). That’s probably the key not just to losing weight, but getting clearer skin too. As they say, eating right and regular exercise can be the best acne treatment right?

Lose Some, Save Some

Do I really want to get married in December?

Last night, Alfred commented that it’s me who doesn’t really think of getting married this year. Where’s this coming from? Basically, he’s set the date and has told anyone who asks (okay, not all) of the plan. But I keep on challenging him; playing the devil’s advocate. Will we have the budget to make this happen? That’s my primary concern. I am sure we will still be together by that time, I’m just not sure if we will have the money to make it happen the way we want it. Or the way I want it.

We both are not so good at saving money. The biggest problem: spending the money even before we have it. My credit card allowed for that behavior; it’s a bad habit and I’m trying to break it for both of us. I’ve talked about saving before and even shared what the plan is this year. But I just can’t be so sure we have enough time.

Truthfully, we should have started this a long time ago. Back when I just started earning decently – like when my salary was doubled when I first worked in this company or when his also increased when he moved here, and then again when he moved to where he works now. But we didn’t. Sure I have a savings account, and I do have money in it but it isn’t even half of what my brother has saved up already even after loaning me the dough for getting our (condo) units beautified.

I can save – as evidenced by the two and a half year’s worth of loan payments I’ve already done. If I saved even half of that amount in the previous two years, I’d be well on my way to paying for a grand wedding. LOL. But I can be easily shaken too. When I say I want to buy something but feel like I don’t deserve it, the boyfriend is there to convince me that I actually do deserve the treat. He also tells me, for example, that buying new clothes is actually called for (which is true). Yes I have all the stuff I bought, and there’s plenty of evidence of all the good food I’ve eaten over the years, but there’s just not THAT much to show for the almost five years I’ve worked here. And I still owe my brother some money.

I realize that by blurting these words now, I am admitting a weakness. And it’s not just for myself but for the boyfriend too. That’s not good because I have no permission to do that. He reads my blog and I know his feelings might get hurt too. But I feel like I must get this out. Because I also know that no matter how his attitude towards saving is, there is no excuse for mine. And I can’t blame him for enabling my shopaholic tendencies or encouraging the swipe mentality. We should just both look forward and change the error of our old ways.

You know another reason I’m anxious about a December altar date? I don’t trust myself to lose enough weight to become the gorgeous blushing bride I want to be. That’s another thing I have to commit to actually do, and there is no time to waste. I must lose weight fast! :S


Do you take mini-vacations? You know, weekend getaways. Temporary respite from the hustle and bustle of your life. Maybe a full body massage or spa treatments might even be considered mini vacations. Lol. What are they anyway?

Mini vacations are shorter in duration than real vacations. This could be anywhere from a day and a half to three days. Usually done during the weekends, and not too far from where one lives. For those in Metro Manila for example, this could be a short drive to Tagaytay, Laguna or Batangas, for some fun under the sun, or for a weekend retreat. For many of us who have limited time and budget, this is normally enough to de-stress and prepare ourselves for yet another stressful week in the workplace.

Sometimes, mini vacations tend to leave you wanting for more. More time so you can rest at home after your trip, or more money so you can buy another night of vacation. But it can also leave you in high spirits, looking forward to the next mini vacation. Because they’re mini, they may be easier to plan and easier to save up for. They don’t cost as much as a four-days-three-nights vacay at Bora or Palawan. And there’s no need to burn money for plane tickets.

So why do I bring this up? Because sometimes Alfred and I both feel like our weekends are wasted. We don’t get to do as much because we don’t have the same days off work. It’s really more of a time constraint, but also, we don’t really have the money to spend on extravagant weekends.

I feel bad that I passed off a chance for a mini vacation last week with my former team. They went to Batangas and I saw their pictures and am really envious of the fun they must have had there. They probably stayed up the night gathered ’round the fire (and in fact I saw photos showing this). Here in the Philippines, you’d only find a need for outdoor fireplaces when you’re right at the beach (and they were), or if you’re up in the very cold mountains (Sagada comes to mind); otherwise fireplaces are useless because it’s naturally hot anyway.

But I had to miss it, I wasn’t really feeling too well that weekend and I also had my period. Still, it was a chance to unwind and I didn’t take it. 🙁

It doesn’t look like there will be mini-vacations for us in the very near future. After all, we’re saving up. So I guess I’m just going to have to be a little more creative in finding the perfect activity (and destination) that will fit our time and budgetary limits. 😉

Start Saving Now!

This post is inspired by the article of the same title, from the magazine Entrepreneur, January-February 2010 issue.

Lately, I have been browsing through magazines quite a lot. I even bought some back issues of Yummy and Food magazine, while the boyfriend got himself copies of old Maxim and FHM. I try not to buy too many because I still have quite a number of books that I haven’t even touched since I bought them. Besides, I figured I should try at least one or two recipes from the foodie magazines before I bought additional ones.

Two weeks ago, while waiting for the boyfriend to meet up with me at the 7/11 store outside my office building, I was compelled to purchase a magazine so there’d be something to do while waiting (he made me wait for almost two hours!). There were a lot of showbiz magazines on the racks, but I didn’t want to spend on those. So I picked Entrepreneur.

On page 29 of this issue is an article by Henry Ong, President and COO of a financial consulting firm called Business Sense. In it, he outlines how he suggests one may setup a savings plan.  That’s exactly what I need! Okay, that’s not really the reaction it elicited from me.  Personally, I had an idea for how I could save, and a year or two ago I was really following a budget that I would set every payday. But I’ve fallen off the bandwagon and I want to get on again, and this time take the boyfriend along with me.

So here’s what we’re going to do, patterned after Ong’s advise:

Start immediately. Easy enough. I commit to starting right away so I’ve already transferred the money I got left from my previous paycheck to my savings bank account. Check (did on payday Friday). I signed up the boyfriend to commit to saving as well. He’s onboard.

Allocate savings. For starters, I’ll commit to saving 10% of my paycheck. Ong suggests starting at a lower number and then incrementally ramping up to your ultimate goal. Start with 3% for example, and increase it to 6% after three months. This is to get yourself accustomed to it. Makes sense, specially if a lifestyle change is in order. In my case, I think the need to save is more urgent. I don’t want to have to wait.

The article also mentions that the amount you allocate for savings will also vary, depending on your age. If you’re already 50, perhaps 20% would be a good target.

For the boyfriend, I have asked him to turn over 3% of his next pay. Regardless of how much he gets and how much he needs for his expenses, he will have to give me 3% so I can keep it for him, as savings. Imposing am I not? Yes. We need to do this, for both our sakes. 🙂 He’s agreed. He also expects this to get bigger eventually. We both know it’s doable.

Pay yourself first. The 10% from my paycheck and the 3% from his, will be deducted even before any expenditure is done. This will be deposited to a separate bank account. I have my own and that’s where mine will go. We’ll open a separate account for him.

Contribute more to your savings. We’ll classify our expenses – needs versus wants. I’ll also draw up a budgeting plan. At the end of the two weeks (normally the time it takes until the next payout), whatever is left will go to savings. We each are supposed to get performance bonuses. That’s where we’ll get money for rewards. No bonus, no rewards. We’ll still try to keep some of the bonus and add it to our savings.

Monitor your plan. This is a plan, it may work, but it could also fail. What we have at this point is a commitment to make it happen. We’ll re-evaluate it after sometime. Adjust our goals according to our needs and actual expenditure. In time, if there’s enough to invest, we’ll study our options.

Sometimes it also helps if you have something concrete that you’re saving for: a house, a car, a wedding, or in preparation for a baby. Say for example, you’d like to get yourself some life insurance. First thing to do is to get some information on life insurance rates that would be suitable for you, once you have an idea then you divide that amount by the number of payouts that you have to make up the budget (or for the monthly payable, for example). That should give you an idea how much you really must set aside from your salary. Makes sense?

I hope I’ve helped give you an idea on how to start your own savings plan. Do feel free to share your best practices too. 🙂


Decade Bear

Happy New Year everyone! And a Happy New Decade ahead! 🙂

It seems not too long ago when people were wary of the so-called Y2k bug. I also remember back in highschool, having been tasked to write about where we will be in the year 2000. That is so long ago. 2000 is a distant memory already, a whole different lifetime as it seems.

The beginning of this new decade also marks our tenth year together, Alfred and I. And no, we still aren’t married. And that’s just fine. Really. 🙂 Our anniversary will be on the 19th, and as I mentioned from my announcement post a few days back, I was thinking of running another giveaway. I can’t think of anything to giveaway though… So maybe I won’t be running any giveaway this time. I’ll wait until another wonderful cause or opportunity knocks on my door. It can still be a celebration giveaway – after all, we have all of 2010 to celebrate our ten years. 🙂

Do you still make resolutions? Do you have a To-Do List for 2010? I don’t think I want to have one this year. It’s just been a disappointment so far, because none of my resolutions ever really see mid-year. So maybe I’ll just build a wish-list, and some of those wishes are actually stuff I’d have to work for to get. You won’t see a Samsung HDTV on my list, but I sure wouldn’t send it away if one shows up on my doorstep.

Let’s all look forward to a prosperous 2010 for everyone, and a wonderful beginning for this millennium’s second decade! Thank you for swinging by! 🙂

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