Saturday, November 9, 2013

Hello Happy November!

I have had a pretty exciting early November that I feel like celebrating! I'm bound to do exactly that on my sister's birthday (Hey, it's free!), which is just around the corner. Oh, November is my best friend's birth month, too! Double celebration!

What is there to celebrate? Well, I just managed to recover from a dry spell, make friends with chaos and get back on my feet. There is a lot to be thankful for.

As a freelancer, work has been both challenging and rewarding as always. Failing internet connection, interruptions and worries about not getting a life/earning enough always bother me. These challenges go away eventually so I try not to dwell on them when I can because I have more important matters to attend to and think about. One is, of course; taking care of Isha.

Part of why I am happy lately is because I have already checked off some of my TO DOs concerning Isha;

☑ Try relaxed homeschooling with her
☑ Get her to attend a Halloween Party
☑ Transfer her to another preschool (She used to attend Day Care)

I spent the last few weeks of October homeschooling Isha. Not the kind of homeschooling where I assume the role of a teacher but the kind where I get to practice to become a real supportive mother. Don't get me wrong; I have always been supportive of her but I just realized that I wasn't doing it right. I seldom let her do things on her own. To change this; I bought her coloring and drawing books, which she enjoyed completely (I just found out that she loves drawing!). I allowed her to help me in the kitchen by letting her season her own instant pancit canton and stir our original recipe Yakult Tea. I respected her learning pace. She now writes A, B, E and L legibly. She draws images (not sticks!) of herself, me and her Dada. She insists on calling me 'Mom' (correct pronunciation), too. She responded very well to relaxed homeschooling. I am happy.

As a reward, I signed her up to join Jollibee's Halloween party. The purpose is to let her enjoy with other kids (I still don't let her go out to play. We invite her playmates in but don't let her out on the streets to run freely. I just don't think it's safe). She enjoyed watching but not participating. I wasn't very happy; of course. I want her to be as playful as other kids under my watch (at least for now). This is the reason I decided to transfer her to a preschool where learning is facilitated with a combination of classroom discussions and interesting activities. I figured this kind of school is perfect for her academic and social needs.

Scouting for preschools in this category wasn't easy. Many preschools in our locality are traditional. Modern/Progressive schools are either too expensive or too far. It is just hard to find a good school! Anyway, after two weeks of search; we have finally found our match. Isha is now attending preschool at St. Thomas Montessori School of Meycauayan.

These are Isha's pictures on her first day at St. Thomas. We knew she'll like it there the first time we set foot on the school. The environment is smart and friendly. Exactly what we're looking for.

Notebooks and P.E. uniform
Her daily uniform is still not available. I can't wait to see her on them!

Baon on her first day
She immediately hit it off with her new classmate/friend

I also love that I can get some work done at the school's waiting area. They have very comfortable seats and tables I can use. =)

Life is still not perfect. There are times when I still get thrown off by challenges like looming deadlines, clutter in the room and lack of sleep. What can I do? They are a part of my life. What matters is now. We're trying to be good parents. We're enjoying our humble, little successes. I never thought checking off TO DOs and getting things done can revive my light.

This is Freelancing Mommy signing off with a smile!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Coming Soon: Facebook News Feed Redesign

A redesign on our Facebook News Feed will roll out slowly in the coming weeks. The new design is expected to be more visually appealing; boasting of larger images for photos and longer blurbs for links shared. Options to filter what comes up on your News Feed will be made available, too.

Both of these are updates that freelancers will find useful in their networking and marketing efforts on Facebook. I personally love sharing photos of my daily activities as FreelancingMommy, and though the way photos are presented on the site now is already OK; it wouldn’t hurt if it gets better. ^_^ I am also excited to see how links would look like with bigger accompanying images and longer blurbs shown. I hope this upcoming change will translate to more visits to my blog!

For freelancers, other online professionals and advertisers, the News Feed filters are the somewhat tricky part of the redesign (We’ll surely like everything else!). With these filters, Facebook users will be given the option to only display feeds from people/pages they choose, and if they choose to leave you out on their feeds; then the chances of you getting your message in front of them will be less likely (unless they change filters).

All in all, I believe we’re all in for some great surprise with this Facebook redesign. The disadvantage of the increased possibilities that users will opt out to seeing our updates can be easily counteracted with quality and useful content. The key is to simply keep our audience in mind as we write our blog posts and share our thoughts, news and stories.

To see how it will look like and be on waitlist to try the new News Feed; click here.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Take your grilling FLAVOR to the next level

I need to take MY grilling to the next level! I recently found out that I have severe hypertension and that I have to follow a low fat, low sodium diet. For many, this would mean sacrificing flavor, but I refuse to give in to the same thinking. I love food and I’m just learning how to cook. It’s just unfair!

Despite my protest; I didn’t really have any other choice but to heed my doctor’s advice so I started searching for recipes that will suit my new diet. I found out that grilling is the best cooking method to use in order to avoid fat. This is good news because I am a big fan of anything grilled. Aside from reducing or completely removing salt and soy sauce from my marinades; there seemed to be no other challenge in grilling my own food— or so I thought.

Eating grilled food while everyone else is enjoying fried chicken and adobo is not fun. It would have been nice to see our entire family eat the same food even just for a day! Unfortunately, my partner and daughter seem to favor fried over grilled (probably because my grilled food is not as flavorful as their fried), but I intend to change that! How? It should be as easy as 1-2-3.

Learn Better Grilling
I started with grilling by grilling! Ideally, I would have started by knowing the basics. It's never too late to try to  know the basics and find out what I have been doing wrong though. And what’s a better way to learn how to grill other than to watch and taste errr learn? This is exactly the experience McCormick is bound to share to participants of its event, McCormick Grill Nation, on April 7, 2013 at Bonifacio High Street, Lane O cor. 9th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. I am particularly interested in the cooking demos and sampling of different grilled meats, but their lined up games, live entertainment and freebies sound exciting, too. Interested to join? Let them know on Facebook.

Spice Things Up
Since I can’t have too much salt or soy sauce in my marinades; I have learned to use spices to make my grilled meat tasty but not salty. I use onion, garlic, paprika and cumin powder in lemon/calamansi/pineapple juice as a rub on chicken breast fillets most of the time. When it feels right; I also add Thyme and lots of ground black pepper. Considering the refusal of my family to try my grilled meat; I believe it's high time I use McCormick Grill Mates Pepper Steak to spice things up.

Recipe for Marinade: Form a paste using Garlic, Onion, Paprika, Cumin Powder and Lemon/Calamansi/Pineapple Juice then rub on towel dried Chicken Breast Fillets

Each pack of McCormick Grill Mates Seasoning Mixes (Pepper Steak, Hickory Smoked, Cajun, Steak a la Pobre, and Korean BBQ) gives you a wonderful blend of authentic McCormick herbs and spices. And since McCormick is really the flavor expert; I am sure that the spices in this seasoning mix are top quality, fresh and aromatic— a perfect marinade for Grilled Chicken Breast Fillet or Chicken Kebabs sans the hassle of flavor guesswork!

Taste Test
I plan to grill chicken on my next weekend cooking using McCormick Grill Mates Pepper Steak! I'll make sure to prepare Bunch and Isha a meal that they will be crazy to deny!

Its promise: Spice up your grilled beef or pork with McCormick Pepper Steak Seasoning Mix.  Made with pepper and garlic bits, it will surely give your grilled meats a flavor boost.

And since garlic and pepper are both good for people with hypertension; I can probably take a quick break from my low sodium diet to enjoy Grilled Chicken Breast Fillet/ Chicken Kebabs with my family ^_* .

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Spanking, Guilt and a Blessing

I can now truly identify with Charlotte in this scene in Sex and the City II where she cried because her kid stained her vintage white skirt while they were busy making cupcakes. You can just imagine how frustrating it must have been for her because she absolutely cannot hate having kids considering she's had trouble getting pregnant before and had always wanted a family.

I don't have a vintage white skirt nor the skills to bake, but yesterday I cried because I hated myself for spanking Isha when she spilled her milk on the floor while I was working. I've always warned my Nanay, Tatay and sisters not to spank her because I believe that it's wrong to introduce 'violence' to kids as consequence to their mistakes and faults . I felt bad for violating my own 'parenting rule' and I felt awful for spanking her for being who she's supposed to be-- a kid.

In my defense, it has really been a very busy and stressful week for me. I had freelance dry spell in the past two months and am just on my way to recovery. My 5-10 hour workweek suddenly turned into a 40-50 hour workweek! You can surely imagine how difficult such a transition can be!
I knew better than to complain though. I've always loved my job (even during the time when I was not earning enough).  Besides, projects and tasks from new/long term clients are a blessing!

My new project. A blessing!

Being a mom and a freelancer presented me opportunities to continually grow as a person. The freelance famine that I've recently encountered made me feel even more grateful of new and long term projects I work on. My daughter, on the other hand, teaches me to be more patient and loving everyday. I may have failed to display patience yesterday, but it's a lesson learned. I am just really happy and proud that my daughter is very forgiving. I explained why I had to spank her. I felt so guilty I even promised to buy her a new toy on our next trip to the mall!

Moms, how do you discipline your kids? Is spanking acceptable? How do you keep a balance between freelancing/work and parenting without losing your patience? I'm looking at hiring a nanny (again!), but while I can't find one yet; please share your thoughts to help busy FreelancingMommy! TIA!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Who wants to be a... freelancer?

Dry Spell. Freelance Famine.

I used the above title to appeal to the curious minds of the many people I know who have expressed interest to start a career from home. I have been asked to explain the nature of my job too many times; I've already lost count. Truth is—it's not easy to explain what I do. Freelancing is not just a job. It is also a business, a lifestyle and more.

I know many of you are eager to find out what freelancing is, but it's not like defining freelancing can get you anywhere (Believe it or not; I started freelancing 3 years ago relying on context clues!)—real work that goes beyond curiosity does.

Freelancing is not easy to define because it's different every time! Every project and every client brings in to the table different work requirements, which redefines freelancing from an entirely different perspective. One project may not require you to have a fixed work schedule, but another might! This doesn’t mean that defining freelancing as work with a flexible schedule is incorrect—it's just not always true. So let's not bog down ourselves with such a difficult task of trying to find a definition for everything. Read on and I'll tell you exactly what you really need to know about freelancing.

Freelancing is not a get-rich-quick-scheme

I know a lot of freelancers who have made a fortune out of this business by working really hard to achieve their goals. Two words: working and goals. While it is true that pay ranges for freelancers are above minimum; it takes work—loads of work—and discipline to be able to earn more money than a regular employee would. Contrary to what others may think; working from home isn't that cheap especially if you want to live life. You have to set aside money for leisure and bonding activities with family and friends, and socialize from time to time to avoid burnout. A change of scene by working from a coffee shop, restaurant or a public library can boost productivity so you may want to allocate funds for work away from home, too. Freelancing is a business with operating costs. You have to pay for your Internet connection and electric bill. If you hired a nanny for your kids; then that's an added expense, too. Again, it's possible to achieve financial independence through freelancing, but just like any other jobs; you have to work hard for it.

Freelancing is not just about writing

Aspiring freelancers find it difficult to break in to freelancing because they often go for freelance writing even if it's obvious that they can't string words together. Freelance writing may appear to be the easiest way in, but it's not. It may be true years ago, but not anymore. There are just too many writers out there already, and if you're just starting; the chances of you getting drowned in competition is high. This is not to say that you can no longer offer freelance writing services. If you have a knack for words, then please use it to earn some cash! If you don't; that's OK. Depending on your skills, education and work background; you can break in to freelancing as a web designer, personal assistant, call center agent or a voice talent. You can even start out as a data entry professional and work your way up as you develop new skills and learn new things. Keep an open mind and know your options.

Freelancing is not full time employment

In freelancing, the advantage of being able to choose your projects based on your skills and interests has an equivalent disadvantage. As a value provider, you need to truthfully assess your abilities and only apply for jobs that you can satisfactorily complete. But what if you are not a good fit to any of the available positions in the marketplace? This is just one of the many scenarios that can bring a freelance career to the dreaded dry spell or freelance famine. Freelancing can't guarantee you constant stream of work as full time employment does so you have to make an effort to secure your finances the moment you begin working from home. Save.

I am not exactly the right person to talk about financial independence, but let me try. I took a break from freelancing before because of freelance famine. I was without a job and no savings. I learned that income from freelancing can’t be relied on at all times. I’ve learned this the hard way, and I'm still coping with this truth at this point. I'm still a work in progress. I'll blog about my journey through financial independence in the future.

This is a considerably short list of misconceptions about freelancing. There are a lot more, but I only listed those that you may need to know before you even think of getting started. Not to scare you or anything, but working from home is not for the faint of heart. I have had my own challenges as a freelancer, and they can be nerve-racking (Think of trying to beat a deadline while taking care of a toddler). Freelancing can offer you a rewarding career though. You just have to be willing to work hard, offer value in your services, and be ready financially and emotionally for freelancing challenges such as the dry spell.

Now, who still wants to be a freelancer? Can you handle the truth?



Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Late Goodbye to 2012 and A Warm Welcome to 2013

I know that this may seem like a very late new year entry, but what can I do? My holiday vacation has been extended because of family gatherings and bonding activities. My computer needed some rest, too. So that's what happened:  I had computer problems and my schedule got messed up. 

Well anyway, it's better late than never. As soon as I found the courage to face the pile of work on my desk; I pulled up Evernote from the computer and started writing this post. I wanted to start my year expressing gratitude for all the blessings, challenges and experiences I have had in 2012. I know that if I'll look back; I'll find my much needed inspiration to get started with work!

Interesting enough; I remembered 2012 as a challenging but enjoyable year. Much like being in a roller coaster ride where one can't help screaming because of fear, but still ends up smiling after an unforgettable experience. 



Pictures from our Family Day(s) last year

I read a part of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and if there's one thing that I learned from it; it's the fact that building and strengthening relationships should be my life's top priority at all times. My relationships, particularly with my family, had been put to test last year. There were disagreements, a ton of them, but at the end of the day; we managed to win over them. 


My career as a freelancer had been exciting last year. I faced a couple of challenges, but they were overshadowed by the new experiences I gained as a freelancer. In fact, my role as a freelancer evolved from being a freelance writer to becoming a personal assistant. My managerial skills had been put to use, too. A part of my role as a personal assistant required me to hire and manage contractors. I even paid their weekly bonuses! And before the year ended, I decided to put up Happy Freelancing! (oDesk Agency) to help my clients with their staffing needs. 

I've always loved food. Last year, I started loving food preparation and cooking!

Last year had also been a time well-spent on figuring out my passion. I tried many things. I dared to think outside the box. As a result, managing life has become so much better. I realized how cooking can be both enjoyable and relaxing. I also found out that I'm good at events planning! There's just so much to do with very little time, and it adds up to the  pressure and excitement that I feel inside me. I wanted to fight the pressure and just keep the excitement going, but I guess a creative comes out best in the presence of both. 

These experiences and challenges led me to do better at parenting and housekeeping. Having a constant stream of work helped me support our daily needs (and some wants). My new found love in cooking allowed me serve good food to my daughter who now loves to munch on apples and oranges instead of junk food.



I brought home based work away from home! 

2012 had been a balancing act for me. I needed to find a good balance between parenting/housekeeping and freelancing-- a balance between life and work-- and I found it. It had been challenging and difficult but I decided to not complain and do something about it instead. I brought home based work away from home! I made both life and work more exciting by spending more time with family and friends. And now that I finally figured out what works; I want to stick it. I will continue to think outside the box though!

Christmas and New Year 2012
I welcome 2013 with a smile. I know things can only get better. I have plans. I plan to continue to strengthen my relationship with God, my family, my friends, clients and fellow freelancers. I plan to do better in everything I do. Life is better planned than left to chance, hence; I am confident that I'll be all smiles throughout this year!


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Coffice and Homemade 'Starbucks' Coffee

I love it that I finally found my 'coffice', but I hate it that it's too far from home. I have to spend P150.00 just to get there, and P500.00 for coffee, food, etc. Pretty expensive.

So though I already fell in love with Seattle's Best in Trinoma; I am still forced to explore and find a new coffice. I'm not close to finding one yet, but I found a way to improve my 'coffice' experience at home.

Terrace as Home Office

I now live in an 'unattractive' house. Our house was burned to ashes back in highschool, and we lived in a fire damaged house since then. This is not our own. It's my aunt's so my parents haven't really thought about restoring the house because they know that we will just temporarily live there. Anyway, my sister from abroad recently bought a house for my parents so they no longer live in this house. As for myself; I was advised to move out of my apartment and live in my aunt's property. I followed my parent's advice in order to save money.

First few weeks had been tough. I had no idea where to work! My old apartment is small and organized. Now I live in a house where there's more clutter than my own stuff!

It's been weeks now since I relocated back to this house. I like it because it's spacious, but there's a ton of work that needs to be done to make it a pleasant dwelling. I have plans of improving the place, but while I'm still waiting for funds to become available; I needed to find 'that corner' from where I can work with minimal distraction. This spot is the terrace.

The house's terrace is still in good condition. Except for damages in its roof (that prevents me from working in  the terrace when it's raining); everything in the terrace is just perfect. I've been using the terrace for weeks now, and so far; everything's OK. In fact, Isha also brings her toy laptop and pretends to work in the terrace from time to time. =)

Homemade 'Starbucks' Coffee

To complete the 'coffice' experience in my 'home office', I decided to search the Internet for  'homemade Starbucks coffee recipe'. I found one and followed its instructions to the letter. I can no longer find the original source of the recipe (this blogpost should have been written a week ago); so please know that this is not my own. Some genius blogger posted this on their blog. I just followed their how-to and the result was-- AWESOME!

This coffee is sinfully delicious. I had three 'venti' of this while working. I had chest pain after so I guess I won't be making this again for quite some time. =(

As a freelancer; I learned that what you get done without a boss around completely depends on you, hence; you need to be creative to keep yourself excited about your work and to stay motivated. It's bad enough to not have co-workers with whom we can share work-related concerns and stories; so let's not make matters worst by denying ourselves of things like a distraction-free workspace and a cup of coffee.