Projects of the Mrs

I seldom blog forwarded messages or solicitations but the letter I’m about to share with you is from one of the members of the Philippine Dragon Boat Team

Please Help Save the Philippine Dragon Boat Team_32230374_4420879_o

Kurt is one of our good friends from Manila and we had the pleasure of having a coffee date with him during our recent vacation.  He shared with us the wonderful journey of the Philippine Dragon Boat Team and their achievements.  Hearing Kurt’s stories would make any Filipino proud.

The Philippine Dragon Boat Team has been featured in TV Patrol.  As the team is getting ready for another tournament in August in Florida, USA, they are hoping for the Philippine Government’s support.  Hence, the email from Kurt below. 

Please Help Save the Philippine Dragon Boat Team
Dear President Benigno ‘Nonoy’ Aquino,
I would like to seek help from your office to give immediate attention and guidance to the current situation of the dragon boat sport in this country.
The Filipino dragon boat paddlers under the supervision of the Philippine Dragon Boat Federation or PDBF brought home numerous international awards in this sport, defending WORLD CHAMPIONS and WORLD RECORD HOLDER to name a few, yet the Philippine Sports Commission do not recognize the federation, stripped down all its rights as member of NSA without any clear or justifiable reasons, and created a separate dragon boat national team under the Philippine Canoe Kayak Federation or PCKF.
Current statistics show that PCKF has around 40-50 members only compared to PDBFs more than a thousand members. PDBF is the ONLY RECOGNIZED dragon boat association in the Philippines by the International Dragon Boat Federation or IDBF. From the latest letter of IDBF President to PDBF, only paddlers recognized by or members of PDBF will be allowed to race in local, regional, continental, and world dragon boat competitions for as long as it is governed or supervised by IDBF.
By stripping down the rights of PDBF from the NSA, PCKF will take over all of the existing rights and properties of PDBF including government funding to the WORLD CHAMPIONS, the Philippine Dragon Boat National Team.
And at the end of this month, PCKF will get ALL the dragon boats parked at Manila Bay and will make PDBF dragon boat paddlers unable to train for the upcoming competitions this September in Florida-USA for the World Championships and SAVA Sprints Singapore wherein FILIPINOS ARE THE DEFENDING CHAMPIONS.
As a paddler, a public relations practitioner, and as a Filipino, I am asking for your utmost consideration to look at the current situation of the sport where we excel, and help save Philippine dragon boat from doom.
I hope that you can lend the federation your liberal ear to discuss this important matter with you and help our athletes defend their WORLD TITLE. 
Respectfully yours,

Kurt Urbanozo
Member, Philippine Dragon Boat Federation

My Dear Friends, Blogmates, Tweetmates & Plurkmates,
Please help support this cause by sharing Kurt’s email via your blog/s, twitter, facebook or plurk pages.  If you would like to link this blog entry up, please feel free to do so.  The Philippine Dragon Boat Team hopes that thru the power of the internet, their voices will be heard and that the support due them will be given by the government.
Thank you very much,

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At the start of the year, I mentioned that one of my immediate goals for 2011 is to get back into exercising once again.  And that’s what I’ve been doing lately.  I’ve gone back to exercising, slowly but surely.  While I think that my body is ready for more strenuous workouts, I pace myself to make sure that I’m not doing damage to my body.

I’m not aiming to be reed thin.  My goal is basically to get rid of unwanted fats I gained from the past year that I wasn’t able to regularly exercise.  I mainly want to go back to my old and normal lifestyle when my food intake is proportional to my physical activities.  

Other than going back to my usual lifestyle, getting fit would be futile without some goals and here are mine:
(1) lose 3 kilos
(2) go back to having a waistline of at least 27 inches
(3) get used to exercising regularly

And I hope to achieve all those in three months.  

There are so many exercise programs to choose from but since I know my body well, I’ll share with you some of my ways of getting fit.

Exercise Gadgets.  an Elliptical Strider, a skipping rope (not in photo), light hand weights and a hula hoop.  Everyday I get on our Elliptical Strider and lift hand weights everyday for a 10-15 minutes.  The hula hoop and skipping rope I do them once or twice a week only. 

Back To Exercising Again

Brisk Walking.  Monday to Friday, I average about 30-40 minutes of brisk walking.  I love walking!  Other than a source of physical activity, walking is also a spiritual thing for me.  

Dance Workouts.  I have a copy of the Crunch Cardio Dance Blast and I do this at least once or twice a week, usually on days when I don’t have work.  I love this DVD because the steps are easy to follow.

Crunch Cardion Dance Blast!

Wii Fit and Wii Just Dance.  I use Wii Fit for my Yoga, Boxing, and Running exercises.  For Wii Just Dance, obviously for dance exercises.  These may just be simulated games via a console but I swear, they give me a good sweat after a few minutes.  

So those are my basic physical activities in a week, my very own exercise programs!  I vary my routine every time I exercise because I tend to get bored easily so I find it handy that I have exercise equipments, video games and dance videos that I choose from.

What about you?  What are your exercise routines these days?

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There are so many things to be grateful for since I moved here in Sydney.  Last month, I celebrated my 5th Sydney-versary and although I nearly forgot about it, in my heart, I’m celebrating the blessing of being here.

Living here has given me the opportunity to explore interests I never thought I would have time for like blogging and photography.  Never in my wildest dreams that I thought I’d be able to develop a website, share my stories and photographs and find friends in the blogosphere.  From the time I started “A Wife’s Charmed Life” it has grown immensely and I’m so grateful to everyone who has supported me and my site.

In September, I received an invitation to write for a community-based newspaper for Filipinos living in New South Wales called “Ang Kalatas“.  The publisher found me thru “A Wife’s Charmed Life” and had taken interest on the things I share online.  After a few exchanges of emails, I was IN!

While I only started blogging just to update my parents and friends back in the Philippines, as the years go by, the passion to share information became my motivation in maintaining my site.  I figured that being part of “Ang Kalatas” is an opportunity and a blessing to be of service to Filipinos here. 

For the second issue of “Ang Kalatas”, my column “Life Down Under” ran its debut article entitled “Making This Home Too“.  Seeing my first ever published article in print was like “Wow!”.  Until now I still cannot describe how elated I am with the birth of my “new baby”.

Ang Kalatas (Vol.1 No.2)

Ang Kalatas (Vol.1 No.2) Life Down Under

Ang Kalatas” has a website and you can subscribe to us by entering your email address on the right side portion of the webpage. 

If you want to read my article, the online equivalent is HERE.

I have shared this news in my FB, twitter & plurk and I’m truly grateful to everyone who congratulated me, took time to read the article and leave sweet messages on my wall.  It was also nice to hear from friends who migrated to other countries that they can relate to my article. 

Maraming maraming salamat po!

Know more about “Ang Kalatas” by clicking this.

Yesterday, marked the last day of our “No Going Out, No Spending Month” that started on 8 August.  After 29 days (a total of 4 weeks), my Husband and I are so happy with how we managed this challenge.

For a recall on our No Going Out, No Spending Month Project, please read this first.

Results of Our Project

No Going Out
: We didn’t attend parties.  We declined road trips.  We didn’t have dinner or coffee with friends.  No meet-ups with online friends. We didn’t watch any movies. 
We only went to grocery stores to buy stuff based on a list (no more, no less).  We stayed home on weekends.  We didn’t hung out in malls.  I missed a couple of events in Sydney that could have been used for articles in my blog (I was kinda sad about this but I needed some rest from attending and covering events anyway).

During the four weeks, we made 1 exception to this rule and that was when we attended a Christening reception of my longtime friend’s daughter.  It was very fortunate that the reception took place at a restaurant two blocks away from our place.  We sneaked out of the house for only two hours.  What drove me to decide to attend even if we are going thru this project was that it is more important to be there for friends, even if only for a while. 

No Spending
: We didn’t spend!!!!  I mean, we didn’t spend on things we didn’t need like clothes, shoes, bags, gadgets.  We didn’t even spent for car petrol.  We spent for the usual groceries and bills and didn’t go over our budget–it was actually the opposite, we were able to save a couple of dollars because we became conscious of sticking to our budget.

: We were able to rest, as in really rest.  Our days spent at home were so relaxed.  We didn’t think much of time (or catching up with time).  We were able to catch up on much needed sleep. 

We Feel Healthier :  We’ve been cooking and eating at home more since there really is no reason to eat out.  We’re now back to our usual meals that consists of more veggies, fish & fruits.

Other Things: We were able to de-clutter our home and we were able to catch up on our photography projects.

Challenges, Strategies and Realizations
Our strategies and realizations are based on the challenges we’ve gone thru during this project. 
Challenge 1 :  Busy, hectic long days at work.  Incidentally, the Husband and I had the busiest four weeks at work that resulted to going home late.  The temptation to dine out after work is so huge.  Can you imagine being all tired and hungry and then going home and still prepare food? 

Our strategy:  We did batch cooking (cooking in bulk) every weekend so that when we arrive home during weekdays, we’d only heat up dinner.  I also try to go home early every chance I get so I can cook dinner at home.  Another thing we did was bring crackers to munch on while we’re inside the train going home.

:  Batch cooking not only saves time and energy but it saves us money.  It doesn’t make us dependent on eating out knowing that there is food at home.

Challenge 2 :  Food cravings (with an “argh!”).  Whether it was because I’m hormonal or the Husband misses a certain food, this was one challenge for us. 

Our strategy:  We didn’t linger in places that offer our “cravings of the moment”.  My Husband and I talked sense to each other whenever we’d have cravings.  We gave each other support and pep talks in getting over one’s craving especially when what we’re craving for was something unhealthy. 

:  The great thing we learned from overcoming this challeng
e: whatever big or small project my Husband and I get into it really helps when we work as a team—an optimistic and “sees-the-positive-effect-of-a-challenge” team.

Challenge 3
: Sales (both online and in malls).  There are sales everywher
e, anytime of the year.  There are several good deals that come out every day.  My Husband and I are members of online websites that gives big (like 70% off the original price) discounts.  We receive emails of these online sales everyday.  This challenge isn’t as difficult but when one sees a good deal, we know that it can be very tempting.

Our strategy
:  Simple…whatever email about sales we received, we deleted
them right away.  We didn’t open it anymore. 

: A few realizations, (1) We have no urgent need for any materi
al thing, we have what we need inside our home and in our lives; (2)  When we are determined not to spend, we don’t get tempted; (3)  We shouldn’t spend on stuff just because it is on sale [believe me, if you missed it, it will go on sale again, probably on a much lower price].

Challenge 4
: Dinner date on a (AUS)$20.00 budget
.  We underestimated this challenge.  We forgot to take into consideration that we don’t usually eat fast food, that we also need to order drinks and that we also deserve to have dessert!  Yes, we can fi
nd small restaurants or decent stalls in food courts that offer meals cheap but there are times when I would really like to be served a good meal.

Here’s a summary of our cheap $20-dates ($20 x 4 weeks = $80.00):

13 Aug (Fri) = $0.00
I invited the Husband to a coffee date so we used my coffee “me time” money of $10.00, hence, we decided to go home after coffee since we’re not hungry yet.  We had dinner at home instead.

20 Aug (Fri, our monthsary) = $26.40
Since it was our monthsary that day, we hung out at Chinatown and had streetfood dinner.

Korean Rice Cake (small)=$5.00; Chicken & Prawn Dimsum=$5.20; 2 Pork Buns=$4.00; Pork (Shanghai) Dimsum=$5.00 and Bottled Water=$2.20(the cheapest bottled water we could find) 
Total = $21.40

Then the Husband saw Japanese Cakes which said he misses already and we thought, we haven’t had dessert yet.  So we bought 3 pieces for $5.00

27 Aug (Fri) = $12.50
I wanted Sweet and Sour Pork for dinner so we went to the food court of Myer and had Chinese food.  Food courts in Australia have the food on sale when the clock strikes 5pm (some of them earlier).  Some meals are usually half price.  So my Husband and I went to the food court at 5:30pm. 

What we ate: Sweet and Sour Pork with rice=$4.00; Fish Fillets & Chicken with Veggies and Rice=6.00; Bottled Water=$2.50. 

2 Sept (Thurs) = $28.50
I left work late and I wasn’t able to have my coffee “me time”.  The moment I met with my Husband, I was so hungry.  I wanted to just sit down and eat anything.  Since I didn’t use my weekly coffee allowance, I added that to our $20.00 dinner budget.  Then we thought, “Pizza!”.  So we went to Pizza Hut and shared a large Meatlovers Pizza and Chicken Wings.

Grand Total of Dinner Expenses for 4 weeks = $67.40 (not bad huh?)

Our strategy:  We just had to be creative.  And we just had to find enjoyable places that serve good food in Sydney like Chinatown on a Friday night. 

Realization:  (1) When you’re creative, things become fun!  While we were looking for food in Chinatown, we felt like we were contestants in Amazing Race with a challenge and all.  We really had fun!  (2) It doesn’t hurt to spend a bit more to get quality food.  We may have saved a lot and it can be fun finding cheap eats in Sydney but in my heart, I believe we deserve a weekly treat more than $20.00 for all the hard work we did.  So next year, we plan to increase our weekly dinner budget (that has yet to be decided).

In a nutshell:
We are so happy to have managed this project well.  One of the best learning we’ve had during this period was that it is okay to say “No”–no to spending and going out especially when we think that it is not worth spending money on things we don’t need or going to events that we know will happen again and again.

Some tips if you want to do a project like this:

1.  Commitment and teamwork from the whole family is very important. 

2.  When planning this project, don’t just focus on saving money. Focus also on the values that each family member can learn from this project.  If you have little kids at home, this would be good practice for them.

3.  Try doing this for a week.  Then next time, do it for two weeks.  The following year, make it three weeks.  That was how my Husband and I started.  That’s why it wasn’t too difficult when we made this project official for four weeks.

4.  This project would be easier if the family members (or at least one family member) cook.  When there are home-cooked meals at home, there would be less (or nothing at all) reason to dine out.

5.  You don’t have to take away some important things to each member of the family.  For example, we never took our coffee “me times” and weekly dinner date out of the equation.  Those two things are not just about loving coffee and food but those are things that keeps us sane throughout the week.  There are some activities that you can still do, you just need to make the rules clear.  Also, this project is meant to teach values, not deprive a person.

6.  Make your own rules as each family is unique.

To end, We would like to thank everyone who supported us and wished us luck on this project of ours.  I hope you learn a few things from our experience.

A Project of the Mr & Mrs
From 8 August to 5 September, the Husband and I will officially have a “No Going Out, No Spending Month”.  Last year, we hibernated for three weeks right after our parents left for Manila.  We called it “hibernation” but in actuality, we avoided going out and rested our pockets from spending.  It was the first time that we were able to observe not going out for three weeks.  In earlier years, we have tried this project for a week…then two weeks…then last year, three weeks.  This year, we are officially tagging this as one our household projects and we’re leveling up to four weeks (!!!).

Let’s Define Things, Shall We?
No Going Out means no parties, no eating out, no dinner out with friends, no road trips, no movie dates.  We will still go to work (just had to clear that hehe) but we will avoid hanging out at restaurants and shopping malls after work.  Also, no overstaying in supermarkets.  My Husband and I sometimes have dates inside Woolworths on Friday nights and before we knew it, we find ourselves at the counter paying for stuff we don’t need yet.

No Spending means we will only spend for the usual monthly expenditures like groceries, bills and maintenance/repairs in the home (if ever something does come up).  It is very critical that we stick to our budget for four weeks so we have both agreed that we won’t shop for unnecessary things (read: things we DON’T REALLY NEED) and we won’t give in to sales (which is usually the culprit–those freakin’ tempting sales).

Reasons That Turn Into Goals

We want physical rest. Initially, we planned this project for the whole month of June because we thought it would be great to re-charge in the middle of year and at the same time get ourselves ready for the 2nd half of 2010.  However we had to postpone it because my mom arrived in June for a short vacation.

We want rest from eating out.  We want to stay away from restaurants for awhile and just observe eating in.  Sort of like a detox.

Exercise the discipline of not spending for unnecessary things.  Last year, one of the things that we learned from not going out and spending for three weeks was the things we have are the things we need and there is no need to buy things just because it is on sale.  Sometimes we want a certain item is one and found out that it is on sale, we immediately think “We’ve got to buy this, it’s on sale already!”  But the truth is, we don’t really need it.  This doesn’t happen all the time but this project is a good reminder to my Husband and I to always count our blessings and always ask ourselves “Do we really need this?” before purchasing stuff.

We want to de-clutter our home.  We have the usual weekly de-cluttering at home but we’d like to do more de-cluttering in the next four weeks.  We plan to sort out our clothes and shoes, pack up some of the things we don’t wear or doesn’t fit and give them to church.  We want to box up some things that we don’t use in the meantime and store it properly.

We want to finish up on our photography projects.  We will take this opportunity to finish up on two events we’ve covered. 

A Bit of Preparation

1.  We checked our calendar and made sure we don’t have family or friends who will be having parties. 

2.  We informed friends about it.  We also announced the project via twitter and FB.   It is of great help when people around you know that you have a project like this.  We really appreciate all the positive reactions and support we got from friends (thank you!).

A Little Provision

The Husband and I are still entitled to a little breather and small pleasures.  The last thing we want is to splurge and pig out as soon as the project is over.  So we have agreed:

To have dinner at least once a week —take note: with a budget.  The dinner should not be more than AUD$20.00, and that covers both of us (so that’s AUD$10.00 per person).

That I’ll still have my weekly coffee “me” time.  I will work on a budget of AUD$10.00 or less per coffee date with myself. 

That the Husband is also entitled to coffee “me” times when at work.  His coffee at work is only AUD$2.00-3.00 a cup so in a week, he will only spend about AUD$10-15.00, which is about the same cost as my weekly coffee time.

A Feeling of Excitement

The moment we decided to make this project official for four weeks, we had a bit of nerves about it.  Who wouldn’t, right?  Four weeks of avoiding temptations seems kind of overwhelming.  But we are really excited about this project.  We have faith in each other (teamwork to the max!) and in this project.  We are very positive that we can do it because we really want to rest most of all. 

Wish us luck!  Since this is an official project, I will be taking notes and will share on how things turned out for us.

Thanks the Husband for the very cute logo he created for this project.