All Things Wonderful

In the past month, hundreds of thousands of gifts might have been opened from all over the Philippines alone. This opening of gifts has been a long-established tradition not just in the Philippines, but all over the world. Here in our country, as early as September (or as soon as stores go on huge sale!) people start hunting down gifts perfect for every person written on their Christmas list. In other words, the exchanging of gifts on December is prepared for a long period of time.

The preparation also involves looking for wrappers and packaging. Since there is a wide assortment of these things in the market, even wrapping gifts requires decision-making on the part of the giver. Oh, the strains and stress this holiday brings!

Today is the first day of 2020.There still might be gifts under your trees – either waiting for you to open them or waiting for their owners to receive them. Whichever the case, this is not our stop sign for the gift-giving season. It continues, and it must continue.

As we start the New Year, as soon as all the noise and the festivities are gone, let us spend some quiet time to reflect on the past year and on the past decade.

I’m sure the gifts you received did not come wrapped in fancy papers all the time. Gifts come in many form, and it takes keen eyes and grateful heart to be able to recognize them. It comes in the form of people, of events, of answered prayers, in unanswered prayers, and many more.

In the same way, you may also have given gifts which need not be wrapped in paper.

This thought draws me to a post I had in Instagram a few weeks back, when I shared that organizing my husband’s things for his business or leisure trips is something I do for him ever since. It is me sending him all my love when he has to go on business trips without me and the kids. Organizing for him is my love language.  

In his book The Five Love Languages, Gary Chapman enumerated that words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, quality time, and physical touch are five ways in which we can show our love for our significant other.

Organizing falls under the acts of service. With it come time, careful attention, sacrifice, and love – the very same things we involve when we choose a gift and wrapper. Organizing involves a lot of dirty work though, but you become more than willing to do all these dirty work anyway because you don’t focus on it; rather, you focus on who you’re doing it for.

It’s truly amazing how serving others work: you do things for others, yet you yourself learn big along the way.

In the last 10 years, I’m sure you’ve had a facial, a massage, a spa, or a mani-pedi session to calm yourself from whatever reason there might be. In the last decade, more so in the last few years of this decade, self-love has been widely established and campaigned. Why not? We all deserve some time off from our busy schedules and lives.

After a facial, a massage, or any of our pampering activity of preference, it would greatly help to organize or re-organize our space, our schedule, our thoughts. I find organizing therapeutic. I hope that somewhere along your journey of pursuing a life with a calmer schedule and an organized home, you find organizing therapeutic too.

While organizing is a beautiful act of service you can give to others, it may also be a beautiful gift that you can give yourself, if you haven’t yet, this New Year.  

As we welcome the New Year, we also welcome a new decade. I know this sounds scary to some as it is exciting for others. As we look back in the past 10 years, it would be helpful to ask ourselves, “Has everything looked the same to me and my family since this decade began?”

I believe that we all have our fair share of highs and lows, of wins and losses. If you are in the middle of stress right now or you feel stuck in your career or family life, I hope you find the strength one day to shift your perspective. Where you are right now is not the end.

I’m sure you’ve encountered this quotation somewhere in Instagram or Facebook:

“If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.”

A little change in perspective, a little movement to the year- or decade-old closet, will do a lot of difference. Have you tried looking at your home or your life from a different angle? Maybe it’s all you need to jumpstart what you need to do for the year.

Maybe you’ve spent so much time and money last month.

Maybe you’ve focused too much on something that burned you out.

Maybe you’ve confined yourself in the comforts of a box.

Maybe you’ve said “yes” too much to work, and “no” too much to opportunities.

The New Year offers us a lot of things new and wonderful. It is up to us to believe, plan, and move. After all, Christmas or New Year or whatever time of the year it is, not only gifts abound. Blessings do. We just have to recognize them.

In turn, we are asked to give, and give generously… not necessarily with things that can be wrapped, but with all the intangible things we are endowed with – skills, passion, time, service, and love.

When was the last time you gave someone a gift which cannot be wrapped in paper?

Happy New Year, Neatropolis! May we all be blessed with all things wonderful!

“Serve one another in love.” Galatians 5:13

The One with a Home within a Home

As the year comes to a close, people (myself included!) begin to look back on the year that just passed. For me, this is a healthy habit, most especially when we do it to count our blessings.

All of my Neat Projects have been blessings to me this year. After more than a year in Neat, I still get excited whenever project is booked, more so when we’re about to enter our client’s home on the actual day!

I’m writing about a special #NeatProject because it’s from my hometown, Batangas City. It’s actually a two-part project. We did the storage and kitchen on the first part; now, let me take you through our experience in the second part of the project.

Before (storage project)

After (storage project)

My client’s room sits modestly on the second floor of their lovely new home. There’s really no assuming anything because its door looks exactly like the rest of the doors in their house. From the staircase, it looks like we’re only just about to enter an ordinary room, until we set our feet in.     

The door leads to a reception area with pink, green, and gold accents which are chic and sophistication in visual form. It’s put together exquisitely it could pass as a set for a photo shoot! Beside this area is a little preparation area furnished with a sink, so a little party or gathering may be in order! The room has its own stairs leading to the bedroom and the walk-in closet. On the way to the room, you can’t miss the reading nook – even if it’s smaller compared with the reception area, it has its own function, personality, and class. The room is definitely a home on its own.

This home within a home speaks so much of its owner. When we got to her room in preparation for our walk-in closet project, her bags were already lined up on her bed. The rest of her things were brought in an orderly manner. The instructions she gave us were very clear. She knows what she wants, but she never let us feel she was superior. On the contrary, she was very hands-on and cooperative, she was gentle and trusting; she sorted her things with us and even wiped the surfaces of her shelves. She asks us what we need and she doesn’t mind if she gets them herself. She is independent, but she is very open to ask questions and to ask for help.

She even trusted us to fill her walk-in closet.

The empty walk-in closet was a sight to behold. The feeling of looking at it is like that of a child looking at a fresh page in a coloring book: the child studies the outline of the photo, imagines the combination of colors, gathers the right materials, then colors away!

What’s really nice about this particular walk-in closet is that it is a product of a well thought-out plan. There were closet spaces made specifically for dresses or long pieces of clothing. The shelves were roomy enough to accommodate bags and shoes without having to squeeze or force them in. The drawers were wide and perfect for shirts to be file folded; the smaller drawers were just right for the small pieces of clothing such as swimwear and undergarments.   

If this were a child’s coloring book activity, the crayons are the right fit to the thickness of the lines and the width of the spaces that no color will ever be out of the lines!

In truth, when we were at the sorting phase, our client was hesitant whether all her clothes would fit in her closet. She thought she had too much that the space cannot accommodate anymore.

It’s really amazing what thoughtful planning can do!

Because our client was sorting with us, she encountered pieces of clothing and footwear she rarely uses. She pulled them out of the pile and placed them inside a box. Her huge help made our work such a breeze (and bought her even more closet space!)

On the right side of her closet was her showcase area for bags and shoes. Because we had the luxury of space, we had the liberty to display her bags and shoes without having to cram them – walking on this side after made it feel like we’re walking in a department store!

After hours of working on this project, this walk-in closet became home to items which were temporarily stored in boxes and luggages when we started. From empty shelves and drawers, it also transformed into a home within our client’s home.

“Home” is such a beautiful word, as it connotes a feeling of warmth, comfort, and permanence. Many houses may look the same because of its parts, but the feeling of home is what makes them completely different. Home is where you step your foot in and feel calm and loved, where breakfast is served in the most inspiring way, where even the most common objects mean something, and where your kids, your pets, or your plants – in this case, your reception area, reading nook, and walk-in closet – greets you with a “welcome back” smile or embrace that no other place could offer.

May you feel at home wherever you are this Christmas season.

May you be the home for people you love.

Happy weekend, Neatropolis! Stay Neat!

Making Room with Makeroom

How ready is your kitchen for the holidays?

With the season of get togethers and reunions fast approaching, it’s best that we prepare the field where the battle for food preparation in our home takes place.

We know how it feels when we go to class or work unprepared. We get jitters all day, and we wish we could turn back time just so we can squeeze in a little bit more reviewing and revising. Also, when we are unprepared, we tend to forget and leave things behind, making us lose focus and composure altogether.

Can you imagine with me for a moment what our beloved kitchen would say if we send it to a holiday battle unprepared? Think: expired ingredients, dusty serving dishes, and “missing” what-have-you. If our kitchen could only speak, it would surely tell us it’s a lot more stressed than we are.

How do we send our kitchen to the holidays in full battle gear?

***

On Saturday, October 26, I had a great time bonding and sharing my time with homemakers who attended my Organizing Workshop in Makeroom, Bonifacio Global City. In this particular workshop, I shared the importance of placing an efficient system in the heart of our home.

I call the kitchen the heart of the home because this is where all the meal preparations happen. As I’m writing right now, I am transported to my younger years when our house is filled by the aroma of my Inay’s dish for the day. As much as this aroma signals the coming of mealtime, it also sends my mother’s love through the hard work she puts in while cooking for us. It goes without saying that the kitchen is also the place where our family gets to bond through getting what we need to set up the dining table.

When my husband and I moved in to our own house, I made it a point that everyone in the household, including our house staff, knows my standard for keeping both the kitchen and the bathroom clean everyday. My explanation to this is very simple: these parts of the house are prone to bacteria and molds. Not placing a standard on these areas of the house will compromise everyone’s health.

You might have seen and read my Instagram post about how my kitchen looks in the morning and at night.

The kitchen may bear evidences of food preparation and of my kids enjoying their meals the whole day, but the kitchen must return to how it looked like in the morning before we all go to bed. This way, we wouldn’t wake up to a dirty kitchen, complete with uninvited guests such as running roaches. Imagine the stress it will cause first thing in the morning if the sink was left full with dirty dishes the previous night.

While we are preparing our Christmas lists and Christmas menus, it wouldn’t hurt to also include re-examining our very own kitchen and list down what it needs so it performs its best on days we need it the most. Here are some tips that I also shared in the workshop last Saturday:

Make your own kitchen.

The best kitchen you’ll have in your life is the one that completely displays your personality and your preferences. Before moving anything in your kitchen, you may list down the things that you actually do in the kitchen. Do you cook everyday? Do you bake often? Do you prepare your kids’ baon? Answering these questions will help you identify the spaces that you need to allot in your kitchen.

If you feel like your kitchen is not big enough the way you want it, it’s time you embrace the space that you have and work on it! Focus on what it can do instead of thinking about what it cannot and what it doesn’t have. After all, if you are able to perform the tasks you need in your kitchen, then it’s doing its purpose in your life. Now it’s time to thank it by making it an efficient space.

My mantra has always been this: implement a system that works for you. Understand the structure of your kitchen and think about the flow of movement you and your household have in it.

Love it, and it will love you back.

Sort items thoroughly.

One of the ways we can check if our kitchen is at its prime is when we can easily identify where the items are. The kitchen is very tricky to organize because unlike in other areas of the house, the kitchen houses items so diverse that if not sorted thoroughly would cause harm and danger to the people living in the house. Imagine if these items are just beside each other in the kitchen: food, beverage, cleaning materials, cleaning agents, plates, utensils, trash bins, room deodorizers, placemats, and the list goes on. I’m sure you get the idea.

For those of you with kids, you may sort the food items further by separating your kids’ snacks and drinks. With this, you wouldn’t spend much time looking for something that your kids can have at the end of their long day in school.

It would also be best if we start to identify our serving dishes, utensils, place mats and plate chargers. This way, we wouldn’t spend too much time traveling in our kitchen and opening all the shelves when all we need at the last minute is just one more serving spoon or one more place mat to complete the setup.

Store your items systematically.

The kitchen is not an exemption in the prominent “a place for everything and everything in its place” organizing guideline. When we already finished sorting the items in the kitchen, we have to make sure that these items are strategically placed – that no cleaning agent or material shares the same shelf as items that either touch our mouth or items that we take in our body.

One of the culprits of food expiring in our kitchen without us knowing is storing these food items in a place we cannot easily see or pull out. If your kitchen shelf is like mine that you can squeeze in as many grocery items as you have without proper system, chances are, you will keep buying the same food item you already have until such time that the others will already expire.

Devise a system where you can monitor your food items. In my case, I begin with grocery shopping. Because I go to the grocery on a weekly basis, I make sure that I only buy what is needed in the week. If I overbuy, I won’t have space to store my groceries, and I will suffer from spending on food that will not be eaten anyway because they already reached their expiry dates.  

Also, I cannot stress enough how important it is that we label our decanted food and ingredients properly, complete with their expiration dates, to avoid mix-ups and confusion.

***

There’s nothing more fulfilling than gathering people in your house and serving them to your heart’s content without having anyone run to the nearest grocery to buy just one item you forgot or missed.

Having an organized kitchen for the holidays is a fool-proof plan to just enjoy the get together and celebrate the heart of the season. When our kitchen is in full battle gear, it relieves us from all the stress and extra expenses that the holidays may bring.

As in any area of your home, make room for the items in your kitchen that fills and warms your heart.

Have a great week ahead, Neatropolis!

The One with the Mudroom

Do you remember the first time your teacher asked you to draw a house on a sheet of paper?

Most of the houses we drew then were made of four elements: a small box and a small rectangle which were both inside a huge box, and a triangle on top of the huge box. These serve as the window, door, wall, and roof, respectively. Back then, this was quite the masterpiece we can produce, although admittedly, it looked like everybody else’s.

Who among us even drew a tree beside this house and a sun on the upper right hand side of the paper, with the requisite puffy cotton candy-like clouds to finish?

Such were times when conceptualizing a house was as easy as putting together a few shapes on paper.

In our respective Home Economics classes in elementary and high school, this task became more challenging as we were asked to enumerate and draw the parts of the house. This time, we drew the living room, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and dining room the best way we know how – like the ones in our own houses.

*

A few weeks ago, we found our way to our very first #NeatProject in Laguna. It felt so refreshing to finally head South, as most of our past projects are Northbound.

The house sits in a vast area where it’s all so quiet and peaceful, you’d really feel you’re out of the metro. We enjoyed the moments where there was little to no traffic, and the air was fresh. Little did we know we were in for a more pleasant surprise:

The house looked like it was pulled out straight from a magazine.

Before I move further, allow me to mention that the house is organized to begin with. Items were already sorted. The owner just asked us if there’s still a way to improve the way things are stored in the house.

In today’s generation where professionals have the option to work from home, we can’t help but build specialty areas in our homes where we can fulfil our tasks without compromising the movement in the other areas of the house. Good examples of these specialty areas are home offices and homeschool areas. I wonder how many specialty areas a Home Economics teacher encounters from children’s drawings nowadays. Some outputs may even bear a father’s man cave, a mother’s she shed, a sister’s reading nook, a brother’s car or collectibles museum, or a family’s entertainment room.

In this dreamy house in Laguna, there were a number of specialty rooms, but the house did not feel crowded at all. As we were spending the day in it, I realized how impactful it is to have a well-thought of space. The house spoke volumes of how mindful its owners were, because they know what they want and they live within their ideals. What was initially drawn in their heads and on paper came to life very beautifully.

A specialty area in a house is a functional room, assigned a specific task the way a kitchen is for food preparation and a dining room is for dining; needless to say, it should not consume a precious space in a house to serve only as a decoration. It is a physical translation of the owner’s personality, hobbies, and priorities that the owner actually uses and benefits from.

I couldn’t choose which specialty area, or which area in this house for that matter, is my favorite. But let me tell you that their mud room really caught my attention.

BEFORE #NeatProject

While this mud room is picture-perfect, believe me: it’s more functional than it is aesthetic.

A mud room, according to Merriam Webster Dictionary, is “a room in the house designed especially for the shedding of dirty or wet footwear and clothing and located typically off the kitchen or in the basement.”

Although this particular mud room we are talking about is neither in the kitchen nor in the basement, nor does it have any wet footwear on the day of our project, it serves the purpose the family intended it to have nonetheless.

AFTER #NeatProject

Because of the shelving, the family’s shoes are properly housed. Because of its strategic position in the house, the owners would not find it difficult to look for shoes whenever they will step out of the house. Items which are needed everyday or needed to be grabbed before the owners step out their door are in this same area: shoe cleaners, coats, hats, sports accessories, and pet accessories. Like in every part of this house, this mud room has its own scheduled cleaning, too.

It was all properly planned, and the proper planning displayed by this area extends to the other parts of their home, too.

PANTRY

OFFICE

BEDROOMS

When closets are not full to the brim, drawers can easily be opened, things have a designated space – it is easy to execute a system. When there’s a system in place, your motivation to do the things you need to do is set to high. Imagine:

You easily identify things in your storage bins.

You locate the board game you need in a few seconds.

You know which drawer to open when you look for coffee in the kitchen.

You instinctively look at the right shelf where a particular book is located.

You know which file case to grab when you need a specific document.

Your mind is put at ease.

Your heart is more inspired to go beyond the things that need to get done.

*

Do you have a specialty area in your home?

Having a specialty area in your house helps define who you are. It gives a more personalized touch to your house. Like what I always say, adding that dream space in our house is always possible. All we need is imagination and drive to execute the dream space we always wanted in our homes.

I think I also have to highlight here that some specialty areas do not really require their own room. If your space allows that your home office is right inside your bedroom, then go for it. However, you have to make sure that you are comfortable and happy with this decision, and you also consulted the other members of the household – your spouse or your kids – regarding this.

*

Our Home Economics teachers do not just want us to familiarize ourselves with the parts of the house just so we can tell them apart. They also taught us how each of these rooms function. In hindsight, this small activity on drawing the house and its parts laid the very foundation of homemaking in our young minds.

Whether or not we thought of drawing specialty rooms back then, we thought of a place to go home to and customized it the way our freedom of imagination allowed. Back then, it was enough. Right now, it’s time to make those dreams happen, not necessarily by purchasing things or by renovating the entire house, but by a little rearranging, imagining, and organizing… in truth, these three things put together go a long way.

When these dreams come true, we go back to the people who initiated the tasks that bridged our young minds us to the very things we want to achieve in life.

This may be weeks late, but I believe it is always relevant:

Thank you, teachers, for the contribution you made in our lives. You helped us draw our own dreams, and encouraged us to live the life that is not just a copy of everybody else’s.

Happy World Teachers’ Day to one of our favorite superheroes most especially to MY WORLD’s best teacher, my Inay. ♥️

Celebrating Gracefully x Neat Obsessions

#CelebratingGRACEfully

How fast does time really go that we’re already in the middle of September? Before we all know it, we’ll be saying goodbye to another year…

Before that happens, I just want to take this moment to thank God for every opportunity He gave me and He planned for me this year to reach out to more homemakers. To those of you who have been with me from the beginning, you know very well how speaking in front of a group of people in an event makes me all nervous… I must say that God responded to that particular fear by giving me more speaking opportunities, a rather beautiful way of Him telling me that I must face the music in order for me to grow, and for this homemaking advocacy to also grow and spread…  

The speaking opportunity He gave me last Thursday, September 12, was one for the books. The event was made of pure generosity that participants (that includes me!) profusely expressed our gratitude from our preparation days, to the day of the event, to days after the actual event.

Let me take you to that beautiful afternoon.

I had the honor to share that afternoon with Kimi (@kimilulifecoach) and Grace (@thespoiledmummy) as they held their sixth #CelebratingGRACEfully workshop at Arton, Rockwell. It was a learning-filled afternoon that even when I was given the task to hold a workshop, I felt like I was a participant too based on the lessons I took home with me, both from my fellow speakers and from our participants themselves.

The 3-hour workshop was designed to be interactive and experiential. At the onset, when the participants were asked their intentions for the workshop, many expressed that they chose to be there to learn more about home management and being organized, to get more inspired, to boost their self-worth, to meet people, and yes, to have a break from their everyday routine.

The afternoon turned out to be more than just a break from our lovely homemakers’ daily routine.

In this experiential workshop, participants were divided in three groups of 8 members each. Each group is given time to learn from each of the three speakers.

In all three batches, I delivered the same talk, but the discussions and realizations were notably different. I am surprised and overwhelmed by how the participants were very willing to share a piece of themselves and their homes as they explained their wins and struggles in homemaking. What warmed my heart even more is that they also gave each other encouragement and advice.  

With their willingness to share, I learned about a homemaker whose lifestyle is shaped by regularly moving places (every two to three years!), a wife whose husband holds on so much to his possessions, and a mom who desires a good storage room for her kids.

With all these and more, I realized how the huge task of homemaking becomes lighter when a community of homemakers are open and generous. To share one’s struggles is not an easy feat. It always requires a humble heart to be able to do that. To share one’s best practices at home, on the other hand, is a true mark of being generous, because in truth, you reached your best practice by figuring things out through trials and errors, and by not giving up on those moments that you think you failed.    

I must admit that the way the participants engaged with me in discussion helped a lot in shaking all my nervousness away.

***

It’s the first time that I sought support for an event, and I was blown away with the generosity of the sponsors. Special thanks go to

Landers (IG @landersph),

Pac and Go,

The Kiddi Company,

Linen and Homes,

Marca Piña,

for giving us their all-out support without thinking twice.

I would also like to thank the following sponsors. Without you, our workshop wouldn’t be as meaningful!

Taste by Grace (IG: @gracehomemanila)

The Arton by Rockwell Showroom (IG: @theartonbyrockwell)

Booths Republic (IG: @boothsrepublic)

Carmen’s Best (IG: @carmensbest

Holly’s Milk (IG: @hollysmilk)

Kurin (@kurinwater)

Coco natura (@ilovecoconatura)

Cascade (IG: @cascade.philippines)

Label Me Yours (IG: @labelmeyoursph)

Easy Cures (IG: @easycures.ph)

Cocoon Studio (IG: @cocoonstudioph)

Food Czar (IG: @foodczar)

***

Of course my sincerest thank you to Grace and Kimi for allowing me to share my advocacy in their Celebrating Gracefully workshop. I am truly honoured to be part of this wonderful gathering of women.

I continue to thank God for the people I meet, those who assisted and helped us with the event, my ever so reliable team, (Hi Ria and Shally, thank you!) the opportunities He gives, and the lessons I learn from each, such as, a little generosity goes a long way.

Stay Neat, everyone!

Up and About

The past few weeks were somewhat different. I am thankful for so many things in my life, but for some reason I felt something was different. So many things are happening that a normal person would consider as bad. There are problems I hear other people are going through or some illness that some friends or family are battling with, which honestly are quite distressing. Have you ever felt the same feeling? A feeling that you cannot fully explain. Somehow you feel concerned, anxious, and lonely at times. It may have been the mother’s instinct kicking in, but it was really weird…

As for me, I was rushed to the emergency room twice within a span of a month!

I’m ok now. Don’t worry. I am just writing this blog post contemplating on what I feel about it. I am thinking of the many things that could have or would have happened if not for my strong gratitude of life and what it offers. God is truly great in everything that I do and in what I am. God was beside me in these both times. In both cases I have been struggling to find the strength to push forward and be successful at what I do.

I was down for 5 days from the most recent trip to the ER. I got to think of so many things. Let me share with you a couple of thoughts I got during this “break”.

You Are Not Alone

Have you heard of this song entitled “You Will Be Found”? Originally sung by Ben Platt and other artists on one of our favorite Broadway musicals called Dear Evan Hansen. My husband and I were sobbing the entire show. We both loved it and wanted to watch it all over again during that time we were in New York. In fact, a dear friend of ours watched it over nine times already! This song is also a favorite of my son. I think it uplifts his spirit too.

Such a good song! Most importantly, this one helped me realized that whatever you feel, whatever you are experiencing, either sick or resolving a problem, you are not alone. God is there guiding you, through your prayers or through someone else. In my case it was my husband and my children.

My husband was beside me during both times I was in the hospital. I know his mind may be in a different place at times thinking about the many different problems he has with work. But my husband somehow always manages to see the positive side of things. He would always try to smile and be playful so that I would smile too. He would always want to say sweet and corny things just to make me feel awkward and smile. He would hold my hand or stroke my hair to make me feel good. Believe me, it’s definitely hard to feel comfortable in the ER. I was there for more than ten hours waiting for a room in vain. We had to go back home because we could not get the care that I needed.

Actually, being home made me feel more comfortable. Seeing my kids hastened my recovery. They were the ones taking care of me with their sweet good byes when they go to school or by checking on me as soon as they come back home. Heading straight to my room, just to check how I was doing. My little one’s chubby cheeks and silly dance made me a thousand times more happy! During that time, God really worked His wonders through my family. And I felt it.

For my readers who are feeling the same. Let me share with you the favorite part of the song I mentioned to you about.

Well, let that lonely feeling wash away
Maybe there’s a reason to believe you’ll be okay
‘Cause when you don’t feel strong enough to stand
You can reach, reach out your hand

And oh, someone will coming running
And I know, they’ll take you home

Even when the dark comes crashing through
When you need a friend to carry you
And when you’re broken on the ground
You will be found

This song hits the spot for me. It’s so relatable that it even mentioned something I can associate to the time where my husband took me home after getting frustrated with the hospital and carried me to bed to make sure I feel well taken cared of.

I hope and pray that whatever you are going through right now you will be able to find God through prayers or through other people. Continue to be grateful with what you have. Be thankful for the life that you were given. And know for a fact that you will be found. You may feel lost or lonely at times, but life is so wonderful that whenever you feel down, you will be lifted up to the heights relative with the same depth that you felt when you were feeling down. Or lifted even higher… because you are loved, by God and by the people who you hold dear to your heart.

Your Strength is Your Heart

The other realization was just from last night. I posted on Instagram about how happy I am for finally getting back on my feet and doing the very things that I love, being a mother and a homemaker.

Getting better doesn’t just mean recovering form an illness. More importantly, getting better should mean being stronger and more positive. Find that very thing that inspires you to be better and do more!

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!

My lemonade is composed of the little things I do at home – managing bills, taking care of my kids’ homework, making sure that all the requirements in their school are taken cared of. That’s what refreshes me. These little things give me little successes which in turn gives me so much joy.

I wish you the same happiness. It’s not easy looking for it at times, but may I suggest for you to try and go back to your purpose. Your purpose would direct you to who you are and what you really need to do. And this will instantly give you a sense of peace. With it you will have enough room for positivity and, hopefully, the happiness that you have been looking for. My purpose is my children and my husband. I find joy in seeing them happy. And just like what my husband would tell me, being a good father (in my case, a mother), requires you to be good to yourself too. So in the process of helping my family be the best they can be, I need to be good to myself too, it’s my responsibility to take care of the body that takes care of them.

Life is tough, so be strong for your purpose. If there are days that you think that make you feel that you don’t have any purpose at all, pray and ask for clarity of thought. Do something different, like travelling, or considering a new job, just to get a different perspective of life. This exactly happened to me when I was looking for my passion, and now having Neat Obsessions as my profession. Another possibility is to look for inspiration from the very talents that you may have. You’ll never know and you might just surprise yourself. As you do all these, always remember to be grateful to God. Be grateful that you are alive. Be happy because you get to experience the little things in life. In the process, I hope you will discover that your strength is just in your heart. Find your strength in your purpose in life.

Let me leave you with some more of You Will Be Found lyrics.

So let the sun come streaming in
‘Cause you’ll reach up and you’ll rise again
If you only look around
You will be found (You will be found)
You will be found (You will be found)
You will be found

Out of the shadows
The morning is breaking
And all is new, all is new
It’s filling up the empty
And suddenly I see that
All is new, all is new
You are not alone

It’s a good day today, Neatropolis! I am up and about now, so let’s conquer the week ahead, together!

Mindful Living for a Modern Living

When we were younger, or during our early years in writing, we were taught to properly space our letters and our words so what we wrote can easily be read.

When we grew older, we learned the value of keeping a good amount of space between us and other people; this is one of the ways to show our respect.

When we started learning how to drive, we were taught to maintain distance between our vehicle and the one directly in front of us to avoid accidents.

In the process of becoming effective homemakers, we should understand how space is such an important element in our homemaking, that a careful study of our space will lead us to move and act more efficiently everyday.  

I receive a lot of inquiries regarding home organization in compact spaces. While it is a challenge to organize a huge space, we homemakers face a different kind of challenge when we only have limited space: how do we fit just about our whole lives in one box?

Living mindfully has been a topic of many books and blogs in the past couple of years. For me, to live mindfully is to be aware of what we have, to be conscious of what enters our homes, and to be responsible in being stewards of whatever we have so we maximize their use and purpose.

If you consider living in a compact space or if you are living in one, here are tips on how to live mindfully in the space you have:

  1. Know who you are.

It’s very important that you have an understanding of yourself, your personality, and your preferences; when you know who you are and what you need, you wouldn’t buy things you can’t afford just to make your place look nice, or things which won’t add value to you. Living in a small space will encourage you to buy appliances which are multifunctional, or those which can be mounted on ceilings or walls so that they will not eat much space.

Condo living taught me and my husband that before we buy things, even if we need them, we should also consider if there’s a space in our home for it; otherwise, it will either end up as an eyesore or as something hidden in the wrong places. When we moved in to a bigger home, we brought this philosophy with us which greatly helped us in both saving money and maintaining an organized home.

  • Assess your relationships with people.

If being economical is your goal and you don’t mind sharing your space with a roommate, then consider having one so you can split your bills and other responsibilities. On the other hand, if you wish to live on your own but you are the type who usually accommodates relatives or friends at home, then consider buying sofa beds or beds with pull outs. Doing so is like hitting two birds in one stone: you maximize your space, and you make your guests feel you thought of them while you were conceptualizing your home.

  • Build a good relationship with your home.

Whether your home is big or small, it’s never your goal to fill up every space there is. When there’s a space left in your home, allow it to be a room for breathing, or a room for more beautiful things to come. Don’t be pressured to buy things just to fill a bare space. Make your home a place for you, and for the people and the things you love – not of those which will just accumulate dust as time passes.

When you put so much thought and care into your home, you will feel how it will love you back – it will give you refuge and comfort at the end of a long and tiring day.

How do we build a good relationship with our compact space? Here are some organizing and cleaning tips:

  • Keep only three sets of linens and towels on rotation. You don’t really need a lot, most especially when you are living alone. It will also teach you to be mindful about attending to your laundry.
  • Avoid buying big, bulky things that you won’t be able to find space for in your home. Always ask, “do I have a space for this?” when purchasing an item.
  • When doing grocery, avoid buying in bulk. Your goal is to consume everything you buy, and not let them sit at the back of your cabinets for months to wait for their expiration dates. Buying what you only need in the next week or two will help you closely monitor your food.
  • Cleaning your space should be part of your daily routine. Go around your space everyday to clean, wipe, and sweep, so dust would not accumulate. When you go through every part of your home everyday for cleaning, it also becomes your time to check whether you already have something for repair or replacement.
  • While cleaning is a daily habit, deep cleaning should be put on schedule too – once every six months. Deep cleaning is shampooing and vacuuming your curtains, sofa, and mattress, so they do not become a breeding ground of bedbugs and dust mites.

As a homemaker who aims to live mindfully, we should have a deep understanding on who we really are and our relationships with people in relation to the space we have. Also, living mindfully is not a one-time big time event. Though it kicks off with a firm decision, just like any other processes, it takes daily commitment to be able to maintain a home reflective of a mindful person.

It is a common misconception that our homes will be more organized if only we had more space, or we had a bigger closet or bookshelf, or we had a bigger home. The space available to us right now is the best space for us to learn how to be organized and how to live mindfully every day.

Have a good rainy day Neatropolis!

Stay Neat Everyone!

Here’s a vlog about how to live mindfully in a compact space. #livebig

Rica Peralejo-Bonifacio’s Home Classroom and Library

A Neat Project with Rica Peralejo Bonifacio

Helped out a super momma during her nesting period. What a fun #neatproject it was. Really happy that we were part of this special time in Rica’s life as she prepares her home for both for Philip and Manu. Special thanks to Landers Superstore for all the organizing materials that we used in this project and to Ninjamadeph for helping us clean the area.

This is one of my favorite Neat Projects knowing that we get to improve Rica’s space and utilize the previous storage to something more useful for her children. The reaction of Rica says it all. Hope you like this one as much as I do.

Here’s Rica’s video of our awesome Neat Project together. Thanks for watching Neatropolis!

Rica Peralejo Bonifacio’s Closet Makeover

A Neat Project with Rica Peralejo

It’s always a great feeling helping out a nesting momma. I can totally relate on having mixed emotions. Grateful also the for the trust the Rica gave me and my team to help her prepare become a mommy of two. Watch our quick #neatproject session in her walk in closet. Biggest congratulations again to the Bonifacio family as they welcome Manu in their lives…

The heartfelt and inspiring video of Rica gave me a lot of moral boost. This gives meaning to what I do. Whoever the mom is, I always find joy in helping out moms who have different struggles in motherhood. But I know for a fact that even without me, every mother pulls through and makes a way for their children. Nevertheless, every little help that a mom gets is a blessing that every mom appreciates. A mom for moms…