Friday, January 23, 2015


Our family had a couple of firsts this past Christmas:

We had our first Christmas tree... and what made our first tree special was that it was a real tree! It took us until the week of Christmas to finally get one and I'm so happy we did. It smelled so good and fresh especially right after it was cut, and when we set it up at home, it looked sooooo pretty even before we decorated it. I did get scratches all over my hands and arms from putting lights around it and I had this silly thought that a squirrel might poke from somewhere in the tree while I was doing it which made the experience quite memorable for me. Hehe! Anyway, after we're done dressing it up, and the gifts went under it, I felt inspired. It looked a lot like Christmas in the Valencia household then ;)

We celebrated our first Noche Buena as a family at our first home. Since it was just the three of us, we only prepared a simple dinner of baked macaroni with meat sauce and mornay sauce, maja blanca, roasted pork butt, green salad and fruits. We finished dinner right around midnight and then proceeded to open presents.

So what did we get for Christmas? ;)

Vonn Kaleb got books - lots of it - and flash cards, some jammies, toys, Amazon gift card, and a blanky. I'm so happy when I saw his new loot of books! The little one has been learning a lot from the books we read him every night at bedtime. He loves being read to, and at times, he'd grab books and flip pages himself as if he can actually read. The flash cards we previously gave him also helped him learn the alphabet, and so for Christmas, we gave him a couple new sets of flash cards. It was apparent though that his favorite of all his Christmas presents was the toy CAT truck/back hoe that our friend from church gave him. That was the first gift we opened and he didn't care so much for the other presents after that. Hehe! Vince and I got gift cards from his clinic staff and baking/cooking gadgets from friends. We did get a few more presents from friends which unfortunately I couldn't remember what now #seniormoment. Vince did get a dress shirt and tie, a Levi's button down shirt, a Levi's sweatshirt, and boxers from Vonn Kaleb and me. I'm excited to see him wearing those, particularly the boxers... ooppps! #R18 #maturereadersrequired Hehe!

Me? I only wanted a DIY fireplace makeover for Christmas, which I got ;) Okay, I'm not gonna lie... maybe in the deepest recesses of my heart, I wanted to get another Louis Vuitton purse or a Burberry, Chanel or Prada... just maybe. LOL! Or maybe that's in my birthday wishlist for next year along with another trip somewhere in the Caribbean again. Hehe! So anyway, my dear husband spoilt me with an iPad Air 2 and a Versace perfume for Christmas. I wasn't expecting he'd get me a tablet as I'm very much content with our old iPad 3, but yeah, now I have a new toy, and I'm loving it... but not as much as the one who gave it to me ;) Thanks again, love!

We finished opening the presents around 2am and went to bed soon after that. We slept in on Christmas day and pretty much vegetated except of course for Vonn Kaleb who kept himself busy playing with his new toy truck. Hehe! Vince didn't have to work on Christmas day and spending the whole day as a complete family, for me, was the perfect way to celebrate the holiday.

And that, my friends, was how the Valencias spent their Christmas. I know this post is a little too late but I hope you had a wonderful Christmas yourselves☻

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


One thing I never really liked in our home was our wood burning brick fireplace. It was hate at first sight. If I had a choice, I would have preferred a modern (or ultra modern better yet!) electric fireplace with a neat looking mantle and hearth, probably something white and bright, which of course is the total opposite of the one we have. Our house was built in the '90s, so among other things that are dated and needs updating is the fireplace. Adding insult to injury was the previous owner of the house who wasn't too keen in home upkeeping. When we moved in the house, the fireplace still had ashes, burnt firewoods, soot, creosote and stain, and had a shabby fireplace screen. Altogether, it was an eyesore sticking out like a sore thumb in the big living room. Ugh! We thought of having it professionally revamped or even re-did but it would cost us thousands of dollars to get it done. With all the other more important fixes our home needs, needless to say the fireplace renovation got pushed down the bottom of the list. Sigh!  

One fine dandy day, out of the blue, I just decided to do the makeover myself. Yeah, right! The not-so-crafty me who had not done a single home DIY project. I couldn't watercolor paint let alone brick paint, what was I thinking!? It started with me searching the Internet for fireplace screens, which then led me to fireplace doors, followed by electric logs, and next thing I knew, I was googling for ways to clean and paint brick. Wow! I sure did have a lot of time in my hands that day. Hehe!

Anyway, I found Brick Anew paints online. The testimonials and reviews from their customers including the before and after pictures posted in their website gave me some hope in prettifying my fireplace without having to shed a good chunk of $$$$! What really got me into trying the product though was reviews that say how easy it is to use the products even for first time DIYers like me. "Cool!," I thought.

Well, before I could even get to the painting stuff, I needed to clean the fireplace first. To me, this was the hardest part in the makeover. As I said above, the fireplace was a mess when we moved in the house, and since I hated it, I pretty much left it as is and didn't touch it until I was ready to give it the makeover. I had to get rid of the burnt woods, grate, and the shabby screen. I swept and vacuumed the ashes inside the firebox. I was on my knees and eventually on all fours scrubbing and steel brushing soot and creosote build up in the firebox. I used up bottles and bottles of different brick cleansers. Anyway, after days and days of scrubbing and brushing, I gave up.  Soot had already stained the bricks, and though I didn't get to where I wanted in terms of removing as much stain, the fireplace was clean enough to be painted on. Some battles I just couldn't win but life has to go on, so onto the next step: Paint!

First, I watched the instructional DVD included in the Brick Anew paint kit I bought. I also read the written instructions and tips it came with. Then, I gathered all the self-confidence I could muster, breathed, and told myself, "I can do this!" :D Next, I put painter's tape on the surroundings and prepped the area once more. Then, I picked up the paint brush and went into the zone.

The finished product? I guess I would just share pictures of my fireplace (before and after makeover) and leave it up to you to decide if I have achieved something ;)

I hated how our old fireplace looked like. So much so that I didn't bother taking a picture of it before the actual makeover. So, here I'm sharing an old picture that was taken last year during Vonn Kaleb's first birthday. Behind me, you can catch a glimpse of what the fireplace looked like when we first moved in. The ugly fireplace screen, black soot in the firebox, ashes, burnt wood and grate. That's what I was talking about!

From drab... fab!


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