Friday, December 24, 2010

Magnolia's holiday flavors are here!

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The Magnolia ice cream plant-cum-soda-fountain along Aurora Boulevard was a favorite haunt of the family. I remember as kids we'd celebrate quite a few birthdays and other events there. Who wouldn't love the soda fountain, a dream come true for kids where you could have a wide choice of sundaes, splits and parfaits, among others.

The ice cream plant was a favorite field trip destination for schools too. I vividly remember my batch going to the ice cream plant for a tour. We were fascinated by the thought that we were inside Ice Cream Kingdom. Entering the warehouse-sized freezer where the finished ice cream products were sold was quite an experience as we donned heavy woolen coats. Watching ice cream artists put the finishing touches on an ice cream cake was a treat as well. And of course, a field trip was not complete without that one last touch - free Magnolia Delights from a cart greeted you as you finished the tour.

When the ice cream recipe and its plant were sold to Nestle, I remember wondering WHY. After all, Magnolia was the #1 ice cream then. Well, whatever their reason then was, what's important now is that they're back and ready to provide the same, loved Magnolia ice cream to the public.

The new ice cream plant is located in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. And while the old flavors are slowly coming back, Magnolia has introduced three (3) new holiday flavors that will be available till February 2011 in supermarkets and groceries, Monterey outlets nationwide and selected Petron Treats and Shops.

At a recent blogger event, we were introduced to all 3 flavors.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Burritos & Tacos - A Mexican Delight

Guess what! A Mexican restaurant opened very close to home! How close? Let's say it's just about a brisk 10 minute walk from my house.

Burritos & Tacos (called B&T for short) just opened at the Sekai Building along Ortigas Ave., right at the entrance to North Greenhills. It's a short walk from Xavier School and ICA.

Thanks to a blogger friend, Karen, I was able to attend their grand launch.

The restaurant is pretty spacious -- quite unlike my experience at another Mexican place in our area which is a pretty tight squeeze, with overflowing customers having to eat al fresco. The interiors were designed with Mexico's flag colors as inspiration. Modern orange chairs against black tables provided an eye candy contrast and the orange and green walls added to the aesthetic beauty of the place.

View from the outside
Front view
Indoor view

The UCC Beacons of Change Vision Logbook is Here

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Isaac Asimov once said: "The only constant is change [emphasis is mine], continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be."

Change is experienced by everyone. Sometimes it is pleasant, other times painful. Sometimes something to look forward to, other times scary.

I've had so many changes in my life, I've lost count. And they run the gamut of all emotions as well.

But, as motivational speaker Francis Kong says, "What we need to do is to learn how to let go of our fear of change. If we want to consciously bring about change for the good, then that change has to be envisioned and planned."

Change, without direction, is just going with the flow wherever it takes you. Sometimes that works. But at other times, it just leads to a listless, unknown future.

Change, with a vision and goal, is what makes one's life meaningful and purposeful. And this was why Hubert Young, owner of the UCC Coffee concept shops in the Philippines thought of creating -- a vision logbook that can help people bring this change about in their lives.

Hubert Young, holding the Beacons of Change Vision Logbook

To help him develop this vision logbook, Hubert Young brought in beacons of change representing some of the country's top business coaches:

Francis Kong, motivational speaker

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

McDo is now on your mobile phone

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It became such a big convenience when many fastfood outlets and restaurants allowed online ordering and payments. In this age when everyone seems to lead such hectic lives and Metro Manila traffic is horrendous, the advantages of being able to go online in your own home and order lunch, dinner or merienda delivered to your doorstep was obvious.

McDonald's was one of those fastfood outlets known for online ordering. My kids have ordered online not just from McDo but from other outlets several times already and you know what? It beats having to place your order via phone because sometimes, the one taking down the order can make mistakes.

McDo has moved online ordering up one step. It has partnered with Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) to allow ordering via mobile phone to BPI, BPI Family Savings Bank and BPI Direct clients.

Here's how to do it.

First, you need to register at I got these screencaps from My BPI Magazine.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Meet M.A.C. - Your Friendly Meralco Appliance Calculator

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Having friends in Meralco is a boon. For years now, these friends have given our family advice on many things, including the type of appliances to buy so we use electricity efficiently. My friend Alex would even hand out Meralco brochures that give friendly consumer advice on how to save on energy costs. And I remember instances in friends' houses when Alex would spend time explaining to us the impact of how we use our appliances on our bills.

Being web-addicted connected, I long discovered M.A.C. (Meralco Appliance Calculator) on the Meralco website. In fact, the MAC (I've removed the periods just to make it easier as I type this post)  has been on their website since 2003. Unfortunately, not many consumers knew about the existence of MAC. And honestly, while I did tinker around with MAC a bit, trying to put in some info on our appliances and usage patterns, I never really got to use it as a real tool for electricity savings.

Till now.

Meralco is relaunching M.A.C. with new and improved features so that it can really become your electricity budget buddy. Let's meet M.A.C. -

Fig. 1 Portal to MAC

The image you see in Fig. 1 is the first thing you see when you click the MAC link on the Meralco homepage. Before you can use MAC, you need to click on "Agreement" and clicking "I Agree" after reading the terms. The new feature on this portal is the "Formula" link. According to Meralco, they got a lot of feedback from the older MAC version as to how the energy costs were computed so they decided to add this link to the formulas.

When you choose My Appliance Calculator, you get this screen:

Fig. 2 Home screen of MAC
Tabs run across the top (General Appliances, Aircon, Ref, etc.) Clicking on those tabs bring dropdown menus to further narrow down your type of appliance. The average wattage of this appliance is filled out automatically. Put in the number of hours, days and weeks the appliance is used and MAC will calculate for you how much that appliance contributes to your bill per day/week/month. Of course, these are all rough estimates. Wattage can change depending on the brand and model of the appliance. But this gives you an initial feel already which are the energy guzzlers in your home.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Starbucks Coffee 2011 Planner

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(L-R: Wood, Velvet, Steel Starbucks planners)

It's that time of the year again when the Christmas spirit is clearly in the air and the excitement is building up with every day that passes. 

My girls, like many of their friends, are already preparing for the turn of the year by choosing their planners. And there are a lot of planners out there. When I was growing up, the planners all looked the same. Executive type, with the company stamp and company history pages making the only difference in look. Very business-like, especially those with gold-edged pages.

Starbucks was one of those who took planners out of the business mold. Now on its 8th year into the planner tradition, Starbucks has come out with three variants. Each of these variants represents something familiar that you find in each Starbucks store: Maroon Velvet Fabric (their familiar lounge chairs), Cool Clean Stainless Steel (interiors) and Stained Dark Wood Panels.

Being Starbucks coffee drinkers, my kids and I like the way the Starbucks planner incorporates coupons for free drinks on certain dates of the year, plus discount coupons for other yuppie outlets that they can use throughout the year. These coupons alone represent savings for my kids who save up for these services or items with their limited school allowances. But, as my eldest girl once said, there is something about the way Starbucks planners look and how the sections are presented, that suit her active lifestyle very much. In a way, it has also become a fashion statement when seen carrying the planner around as well.

Since November 3, Starbucks patrons could get a Starbucks Christmas traditions planner promo card. With every Starbucks beverage purchased, one is entitled to a sticker to be placed on the card. It only takes seventeen (17) stickers to be able to bring home the planner of one's choice. Nine (9) of the stickers must be Christmas beverage favorites (any of the following): Peppermint Mocha, Praline Mocha and Toffee Nut Latte. The other eight (8) stickers are for any of the core beverages. Buying a Starbucks VIA Ready Brew 3-pack booklet also entitles you to one (1) sticker while the Starbucks VIA Ready Brew box of 12 earns you two (2) stickers.

When one finally gets the Starbucks 2011 Planner, you are also helping Starbucks realize its dream to help its flagship program for early childhood care and development in partnership with UNICEF -- SparkHope. Each redemption of the planner represents a donation to SparkHope.

If you're a Starbucks coffee lover, then remember to have your sticker placed on your promo card. And once filled, redeem the planner for yourself, a family member or a friend. You not only get a wonderful Starbucks gift but you also just helped make a contribution to SparkHope.

Have a wonderful, Starbucks-y Christmas ahead!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Bring Back Family Day Night with Hasbro

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My parents brought us up on board games. I remember playing all sorts: Snakes and Ladders, Scrabble, Monopoly, Cluedo, UNO, Game of the Generals, Mastermind, Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit, Boggle etc. Those were the days when the internet was nonexistent, TV did not have cable yet, and life was simpler. It was a time when family bonding happened around the four corners of a table with family members hunched over a board, intent on making a move, then bursting out in laughter or in groans depending on who was winning. Those were the days...

Nowadays, games have grown terribly sophisticated and individualistic. Almost all popular games are on the computer, played alone or with others on a network. Handheld devices lead to people sitting by themselves in corners, intently maneuvering their PSP, iPod Touch or iPhone buttons. Family bonding is all but an afterthought during brownouts or in places where internet signals are nil.

Hasbro, an edutainment company, thinks that board games are not passe. In fact, there are many reasons why families should continue playing board games:

1. Family bonding - Game play allows kids to learn from you and from each other, encouraging a sense of connectedness and respect among family members.

2. Learning - Deductive reasoning, strategy, importance of money management, simple math are all built into different games

3. Life skills - Games teach kids a lot of important life skills such as patience, teamwork and perseverance. It even teaches them how to take losing and how to win graciously.

4. Laughter - Board games elicit a lot of innocent ribbing, giggles and outright laughter. That's a lot of endorphins that are not just healthy but also breed good, positive feelings among everyone.

If it's been a while since you've bonded as a family over board games, this coming Christmas is a good way to revive it. They say that one of the best things you can give children are loads of good memories. You can always give them money but when they grow up, that is not what they'll remember. They will remember those days when, as kids, the family played exciting board games. For sure they would remember what some would think trivial at the time but which sticks to their memories until they themselves are adults.

Recently, we were introduced to some of Hasbro's board games as well as to their newest release, the FurReal Snuggimals. These Snuggimals look almost like the real thing, but tiny. They respond to your touch, wagging their tails and nodding their heads when touched on the back. I tried touching a brown puppy FurReal Snuggimal and he looked so cute wagging and nodding. This is a great gift for little kids who cannot still have a real pet of their own.

(FurReal Snuggimals, 4-12 yrs, SRP: P429.75)

I plan to buy Taboo which some mommy bloggers and I played at the Hasbro event. You pick a card with a word for your teammates to guess. You can use English words to give clues. The complication is that the card contains words you can NEVER mention while giving them clues otherwise the point goes to the other team. And you have a time limit (an hourglass filled with sand). Take it from one who never played it till now, this game is exciting, stressful but loads of fun for hours!

Comes with 504 cards, card holder, buzzer, timer, scorepad
(Taboo, for Adults, SRP: P1,999.75)

Comes with 50 cards, mini timer & squeaker
(Taboo-mini version, for Adults, SRP: P399.75)