Monday, June 30, 2008

So Cool!

I just want to share what I've found from blog hopping. I've transformed our plain studio photos into this:

Torres family portrait at a museum

Reese's virtual rubix cube

You bet, I didn't do it on my own, so here is the link. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Picture of Us

We occasionally take pictures of our family at home, especially of my daughter, to capture some moments and see how much she has grown. Most of the pictures are candid, smiling & just wearing plain house clothes.

Last weekend, we finally had our first studio-taken family picture. I’ve wanted to do this for the longest time but was worried that Reese will not smile seeing the unfamiliar face of the photographer. She usually frowns or make a straight face whenever introduced to anybody she saw only the first time. That’s why I’ve waited until her 11th month, just few weeks before her 1st birthday to make this happen.

On the photo session day, we dressed up a bit and wore color-coordinated clothes, all with touch of peach. Then, upon entering the studio, Reese started baby talking so loud! She was pretty amazed and excited seeing those huge images of babies and children hanging at the wall. I thought she would keep that mood, but when the photo shoot began, seeing strange faces made her frown once more. So the photographer, her assistant and Tita did everything they could, doing all those funny things just to take a good shot of my little girl. I knew they were funny coz I caught myself laughing too. After tons of trying, their efforts paid off! And here are the evidences:

Torres official family picture

Gillian Reese Torres wearing her best smile!

I would have opted for multiple poses, but the photo studio charges “so much” per sheet (frugal spending in mind). And of course, they don’t give softcopy of the image for free, so I had the images scanned as an alternative. Although I am happy with what I got, but next time I’ll do more research and comparison. And if I could find a photo studio that sells the image softcopy at a reasonable price, I’ll definitely go for it. Our target is for Reese to start walking on her own before taking the next one.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Dora on eBay Philippines (Post No. 2)

Since my first eBay transaction was a success, I became more confident doing my 2nd one, this time with eBay power seller Ann from Antipolo. After few email exchanges confirming my order, I deposited cash through BPI on Friday. The items where partially delivered on Sunday and the rest arrived Tuesday the following week since Ann had to wait for the gift bag to be completed. Prior to that, Ann & I were constantly texting updates and that gave me more assurance that I did the right choice. The whole process was pretty easy and salvaged a lot of time & effort compared to visiting Divisoria and wandering all over the place just to find cheap but nice stuff. Now I got Dora gift bag, whiteboard with pen & eraser, coloring book, crayons and button pin, all from eBay.

That completes the lootbag I prepared for Reese’s upcoming 1st birthday! For simplicity and practicality I decided to make the lootbag gender neutral and favored educational things over toys. Next item on my “to do” list is to print and distribute the Dora inspired invitations which were edited only in Powerpoint. :p

Monday, June 16, 2008

Family Reunion

It’s been years ago since we had our family reunion with relatives from my mom’s mother side. The occasion was headed by Tita Zeny (mom’s aunt) who came home from Chicago to spend time with her four elder siblings. Their age bracket is around 70s-86, that’s a lot of bonus years from God! And would you believe that at their age, all of them are fond of SMS? Since they don’t see each other that much, that’s their way of keeping in touch.

The reunion was planned just a week before the event. My sister booked the venue at Malolos Club Royale in Bulacan. I don’t know how the communication spread that fast, maybe the grandmas and grandpa did the massive texting. Here comes Sunday, and the reunion was on stage, there were 55 of us who were present at the event.

After the prayer lead by Tito Cardito (grandparents on my mother side are usually called Tito or Tita), few introductory words by Tita Venice (mom’s cousin), we had lunch at 12:30. Among the buffet dishes, my favorite was lechon kawali. I wonder if that needs to be removed from the menu, because hypertension runs in the family, especially with the elderly age 40 and up. So I already warned my Mom not to take any on her plate.

After having a scrumptious meal, each family was introduced on stage sequentially, from the eldest to the youngest sibling of my grandmother. Some were saying funny stuff; others were saying their family member’s work, achievements, looks and so on. But when our turn came, the stage became full. My grandmother’s family was the biggest among those who have attended!

Everybody was beaming with joy. It was truly a blessing to be able to spend time with family & relatives and get in touch with them. I may not be able to memorize their names, specially those little ones, but I am hoping that when our time comes, we can gather the family once again like what the elders are doing.

More power and good health to Mama Tonie (my grandma), Tita Zeny, Tito Cardito, Tita Sion (the eldest at 86) and Ninang Bebe!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Photography 101

It was a company sponsored photography workshop held last June 11 which was lead by Jeryc Garcia, the founding editor of the Philippine edition of Rodale's Men's Health magazine. The workshop was joined by the first 30 employees who were the fastest to vote via email. When I received the registration email, I quickly replied with a DSLR vote. Luckily I made it! Reason for joining is to see what does it take to become good at photography, or even simpler, how to take better pictures.

I brought a Canon 450D at the session. Admittedly, I do not know anything how to use it. All I know is that if I set it at “Auto”, everything will be fine. :p It is my husband who is more fascinated with photography (alright… main reason also why I joined). He’s also a newbie and is trying to find time to learn more about this craft. Once he get used to the functionalities of a DSLR, he plans to engage on actual workshops.

The workshop which lasted for 3 hours had lectures on the camera parts and functionalities, exposure modes, composition, and the best part was the techniques on how take amazing photos. Jeryc showed several photos he has taken before and explained the elements and ways of how he did it. Even though some of the subject is plain simple, but everything looks marvelous on his pictures! According from Jeryc, the techniques become innate to a photographer, especially if he is doing it already for years. So all it really takes is practice, practice practice! (enough said)

We also got the chance to have our previously taken pictures evaluated too, one for each participant since we already ran out of time. I’ve learned that you can take pictures of the shadow or reflection in water and on a shiny floor; to do away with unnecessary elements like people who should not be part of the background; to use flash even at daylight to reduce shadow; how to apply frames and leading lines and a lot more.

Here are some of the photography tips take a way:

1) Know your subject – decide on what you would like to take photo of

2) Capture a moment – photography is like freezing moment as it happen

3) Back off and show the terrain (land)

4) Get closer – Make your subject appear not too small, but just right

5) Watch your background – make sure not to include unnecessary elements in the picture

6) Check the edges

7) Try different angles – the view might be better taken at a different angle

8) Put people in landscapes - when taking a photo of landscapes, it's good to include people because it serves as a measure how vast the scenery is

9) Shoot at sunrise / sunset - not to be mistaken as making sunrise and sunset to be your photo subject always ;-)

10) Keep your camera still - if you can't be still, use tripod

11) Hold your camera properly – keep arms close to the body

12) Blur or stop the motion

13) Keep your gear simple – keep basics, and avoid the urge to accumulate gadgets just to show off! The camera should be able to take pictures the way you want it to be.

14) Use fill flash in shady forest and spotty sunshine

15) Protect your memory card – it will not make sense to protect just the camera if you will lose all the nice photos you have taken!

16) Tell a story – the photo must be able to tell a story no matter how simple it is!

Special thanks to Jeryc Garcia for sharing this wonderful craft and to the People focus team who organized this work-life balance activity. Cheers!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dora on eBay Philippines (Post No. 1)

My 1st birthday preparation and hunting for Dora the Explorer stuff is still far from over. And since I don’t have the extra time to visit Divisoria, I tried eBay Philippines instead. I found a lot of Dora party items that are reasonably priced and here are some of them:

  • Dora party hats (12 pcs) -> 40 php
  • Dora coloring book -> 10-15 php
  • Dora crayons 6’s (set of 2) -> 15 php
  • Dora small white board with pen -> 30 php
  • Dora button pin (40 pcs) -> 260 php
  • Dora transparent gift bag -> 15 php

On top of the item cost, the sellers usually charge 70-90 php for the shipping fee within Metro Manila.

Although, I was hesitant to do the transaction on-line and knowing that I don’t have the luxury of Time, I took the risk. Keeping my fingers crossed, I purchased Dora white board and button pins online from seller Kym of eBay. After few email exchanges confirming availability of my order and payment mode, I deposited cash to the BDO account provided by Kym on Wednesday. Within the same hour, I immediately inform the seller of the deposit I made, but didn’t get any confirmation after that.

The feeling was uneasy, and somewhat I was becoming paranoid… I think it was just natural to feel that way. But going on with my instinct that my order was being processed, I decided to send another message to the seller on Friday morning and got a quick response apologizing and saying she’ll follow-up. That same day, the items were delivered! Here are the samples:

It was a relief to know that the transaction was for real! Thanks to Kym for being true to her words. The items are in good condition and she even included some freebies! You can check out her items at eBay Philippines (those that start with “kym: “)

If you have plans of buying items on eBay, here are some tips to make shopping successful:

1) Canvass price of the item desired at the nearest mall (for convenience) so that you have a good idea of the actual price. Bear in mind that even it could be cheaper from eBay, there is shipping fee charged on top of the item cost.

2) Know the seller; it’s best to look for the Power Seller icon beside the seller name. This means that the seller has a good record of positive feedback from previous customers.

3) Ask seller questions first, assess the way the seller response to questions.

4) Mode of payment is usually through Gcash and bank deposits. But if PayPal is available, this is the best choice and most secured.

5) Consider the amount of risk you can take, it will be best to start with smaller transaction. This way, in case it’s a fraud, you won’t lose that much.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

1st Bday Prep

My daughter’s 1st birthday is fast approaching. I tried to avoid the rush, but we had a hard time deciding on the venue. My husband and I wanted something different, a nice venue where guests could enjoy the party and food and a play area where kids could roll on their tummies and have fun!

Yesterday, we finalized most of the essentials at SM Mall of Asia:

Venue: Kidz Republic
  • Package includes venue, sound system, party amenities, lootbag, balloons, invite, and light snacks for 20 kids. And the best of all, 2 hours of play at the Kidz Republic huge play place!
  • Available upgrade from party host to magician.
  • Affordable kiddie food package
Food: Kenny Rogers
  • Reasonably priced! Adult meal is composed of: ¼ roasted chicken, rice, cookies and cream muffin, chicken macaroni salad & FREE drinks courtesy of the branch manager! :-)
Cake: Character cake from Goldilocks
  • Affordable cake, with cute cake topper for souvenir
For the theme, I chose Dora the Explorer. Kidz Republic has a jungle theme and the main character is Kookey the Monkey, I found Dora to be the perfect fit for the theme. Dora items found & still wanted:
- Dora party hat at 3 pesos each from Matt Balloons, Bulacan.
- Dora party banner at 30 pesos from Matt Balloons, Bulacan
- Watching these items from eBay Philippines: Dora white board with pen, Dora stationery & pencil set and Dora transparent gift bag

I hope to find Party Costumes as well:
- Still on search for dress with Dora print (wala sa SM, Podium, Greenhills) 
- Buying a pink shirt is quite easy, but I’m hoping to find orange shorts first to imitate Dora’s outfit for my daughter.
- Dad & Mom costume is still a challenge! Can’t find a Dora & Diego shirt!

After walking in Greenhills for almost 4 hours, the only Dora thing I got was the Dora printed crocs.

I am still scouting for Dora tiangge items at St. Francis in Ortigas since it’s near my office, but the selection is limited. I wish I still have time to visit Divisoria Mall. I’ve heard there are quite a number there, and must be a lot cheaper. My weekends are fully booked, hope I can make time. Ciao!