Three New Skills You Should Learn in 2014

learning new skill, welding, woman weldingA new year means new experiences, and what better way to start off the year than by learning some new skills. Something about the beginning of a new year makes us motivated to learn new things and enter a new phase of life. If you’ve been thinking about learning a new skill, now is the time. Not quite sure what it is you want to do? Here are some ideas to get you started.

Gardening

You may think it’s simple, but there is a whole lot more to gardening that just planting things in the ground. Not all plants are the same, and they need different conditions and levels of care. By researching the different families and varieties of plants, you can help yourself become more acquainted with the needs of the different species. Start off by purchasing some easy to care for plants, if you don’t know what these are, your local nursery will be more than happy to help.

Over time you will realize the differences between plants. You can start growing vegetables, herbs and fruit. If you’ve got a creative side you may even want to landscape your garden. Get down and dirty and dig up some flower beds. Separate them with a simple plank of timber, and use spare bricks to build pathways through your garden.

Building

Perhaps you promised your kids you would build them a cubbyhouse? It’s time you learned how to build. This isn’t an easy thing to learn, but the more practise you have, the better you will be. Talk to somebody who’s in the know, and start on small, easier projects. Build yourself a box and get acquainted with the tools you will need before you start on bigger projects. Over time you will become more and more confident. Only when you know you’re capable should you try the harder jobs.

Welding

Similarly, if you’re looking to learn to build, you should probably learn how to weld. Building isn’t all about wood, and you will need to learn how to work with different kinds of metal. Unfortunately, welding is one of the much harder things to learn. It’s important that you do as much research as you can. You should never assume that you can figure it out, as welding can be dangerous. Get some lessons from a professional before you try anything too soon. It’s important to be cautious and aware. At the same time, if you’re going to weld you need to make sure that you have the right safety equipment. You will need a mask, goggles, solid work boots and clothes that cover you from top to bottom.

It’s always a great idea to learn something new, especially when you can put those skills to use on something creative. But make sure you take your time, learn all that you can and have the appropriate safety equipment before you begin. 2014 is your year, so invest yourself in a new project. For more information about learning DIY skills visit http://www.welding.com.au .

Image credit: reporternews.com

How I Enjoyed a Live Football Match

I am a sports fan and I won’t deny that. My brother was a big influence on my love for sports. I played volleyball in high school because of him. I love watching basketball. The thrill in the action and physicality between the players and even the passion of the fans make me enjoy the game.

For those who do not know, football (soccer in US) is the prominent sport here in Germany. Since we came here I began watching football games on television. Actually hubby is more oriented in the game than basketball. I’m not familiar with the rules of the sport. Honestly, I used to get bored watching football. Seeing the players running back and forth on the field and taking too long for them to score, I found the game less exciting. I feel their exhaustion, actually.  Yesterday we had the opportunity to watch a live game courtesy of the school where the kids are going.  Free tickets were distributed to the kids. The Scholz Arena where the game was held is just a walking distance from our home. Knowing it would be difficult to find a parking space we opted to walk and enjoy the sunny weather.

Aalen vs. Frankfurt, 2. Bundesliga

The match is between our city, VFR Aalen and FSV Frankfurt. Actually I just learned last night what VFR means. Haha! I will not delve into the technical details of the teams or the league coz I really don’t know much. Anyway, when we got to the arena we found out that our place was behind the goal. It would have been better if we were seated on the sides but nevertheless it was okay. You can’t complain when your tickets are free, right?

Chants and flags adding excitement to the game.

I was entertained by the non-stop chanting of the fans. I may not understand what they were saying but still I got carried away by the “noise”. It made me so excited and really enjoy the game. I can’t imagine how a football game would be without this chanting from dedicated fans…

Tor!!!!

It took a little over 30 minutes when Aalen made the first goal. The crowd just went crazy and of course there’s the chant again. I was amused when Zyc was also doing the chant. I didn’t even know he knew it. I was hesitant at first to let Zyc watch a live match. I didn’t know if he could stand the noise made by the crowd. I remembered when he cried during a live basketball game we watched in the Philippines. I guess it helped that the venue was an open air and of course if he is familiar with the game and players.

First half ended and we hoped Frankfurt would not make a goal anymore but they did. Since they are the visiting team of course no noise was heard. Hehe… Good thing Aalen scored a goal again a little over the 60 minute mark and soon the game ended. We won 2-1. :)

I realized it’s not hard to appreciate this sport. I think the excitement relies on the challenge of taking away the ball from the opponent and making a goal from any part of that wide field. Really not an easy sport. I admire the energy and stamina of the players in this sport.

Käsespätzle: Let’s Dig in

The main reason why we let the kids have their lunch in school even if it means we have to pay 3.50Eur every meal for each of them is to get the kids familiar with the staple here in Germany. They stay the whole day in school thrice a week and dinnertime of those days we would start our conversation with the question, “What did you have for mittagessen (lunch)?” So they would enumerate what they had, from appetizer to dessert.

kaesepaetzle

One of the food they liked was the Spätzle. It is a type of egg noodle and has many variations. The kids liked particularly the Käsespätzle. Spätzle normally accompanies meat dishes. I would like to think it is the “rice” here although it can be eaten alone. Käsespätzle, as the name suggests has cheese in it.

I haven’t tried to make the noodle from scratch. Based on some instructional videos and cooking sites I’ve seen, it’s pretty simple to make. But me having a little patience in following instructional videos, I just buy those commercially available. :P

I’ve tried to make the Käsespätzle but I guess I didn’t meet my kids’ expectation. :P Emmentaler and gouda are just two of the popular  types of cheese used in this noodle. The noodle is cooked (based on the packaging instructions). Caramelized onion and ham, cut into bits (I prefer bacon, though) are added to this spätzle variation. The grated cheese is put into it and baked. I have read it’s the version of macaroni and cheese here.

I have yet to taste the “real one”. Not really a fan of cheese but for my kids, I will give it a try. I plan to look more closely and follow politely to the instructions to get my kids’ approval next time. Hehe..

Image credit: chefkoch.de

Five Essentials For An Outdoor Party

outdoor partyNothing beats sunshine, fresh air, and the wind blowing through your hair. But the last thing you want for your outdoor party is to have your guests swimming in their own sweat or peeling from sunburn the following week. When you are planning that big outdoor party in advanced, it can be difficult to predict what the weather is going to be like. If it is not the possible scorching heat, it may be the pouring rain, either way, you do not want to be scurrying everybody inside to hide from the elements. Avoid all of that drama with these five essentials for an incredible outdoor party.

Ditch the tent, it’s marquee time.

For a long time, the words “outdoor party” and “modern” were mutually exclusive. Nobody would ever think beyond flip flops and a barbecue. But there are some movers and shakers that are truly changing the face of outdoor parties, the celebration experts from Modern Party Hire are certainly doing their part in bringing classy and sleek to the backyard. Say bye to the old boring tent, if you really want to have your guests talking about what a great party it was, have a look at one of their crossover or hexadome marquees.

Say cheese.

Make it a party to remember for everyone and be sure to grab a photo booth with all the extra dress up fixings. Let your guests pose and shoot away without having to constantly pull out their phones. Getting a professional photographer makes it difficult to ensure everyone gets a shot from the party as well so having your own photo booth means instant memories for everyone to take home with them.

Dance the night away.

Whether you are doing the Macarena or busting out a bit of Gangnum Style, avoid the broken heels and messy shoes and be sure to get yourself a dance floor. If you’d like to go one step further, consider getting an LED video dance floor that will project your  name, photographs, lyrics, and even your own video. There won’t be any need to head out to the clubs afterward with a quality dance floor. Definitely a must.

I’ll be back. The Kegerator.

Nothing is more frustrating than running out of ice for your drinks, or having to run into the refrigerator every half hour to stock up on drinks. Pick up a portable kegerator unit that will serve your favourite drinks straight from the keg. Station these at various locations around your party to make sure nobody’s cup is ever empty.

Live entertainment.

Keep the buzz happening and give you guests a welcome surprise with some live entertainment. Invite your favourite local band or musician to rock the party away and bring all the neighbours over. Want to really get everybody talking? Wow your guests with some fire dancers and fire eaters, you may even want to bring in a magic show. You definitely want to make sure the night does not drag on with boring conversations. Some live entertainment will surely keep any boredom from getting anywhere near your outdoor party.

Singing Those Familiar Songs

I have not gone to Mass ever since we came here. Yes, we attended Mass on Christmas eves but that was it. We came to church and hear but never understood anything. Having studied in a Catholic school all my life, I know the importance of listening, living and spreading God’s message. But by just going to church was not enough and meaningless. I have learned so many things when I was in school but I won’t delve in too much about them here. We have our own faith and we express them differently so I’ll just ask for everyone’s respect as I respect yours.

Today I have just attended a Filipino-English Mass in Stuttgart. It was organized by a group of Filipinos based there and I was invited by a Filipina friend through Facebook. The venue was in Marienhospital and is an hour drive from home. Thinking we just came there for the Mass, we went straight inside the chapel. Two women said hello to us as we found our seats. No familiar faces and my friend nowhere to be found.

As the lyrics of the entrance hymn flashed on the wall I got a bit excited! “Yey, I know this song!”, so I thought. Indeed they played all the songs in the church which I grew up with. From entrance hymn, the Kyrie, Gloria all the way to the communion songs, well except for one.  I really felt good and sang my heart out. They say singing is the next best form of prayer especially when you do it wholeheartedly.

I asked hubby to take a few shots of the Mass. :)

After the Mass was an announcement of activities for the following months. Another one is scheduled next month and I hope we could attend again.

One of the best parts in going to such “occasions” is meeting people whom you have many things in common, on top of which is the language. Immediately after the final blessing from the priest, the two ladies who said hello talked to us. They were a bit amused seeing new faces there. They asked us where we came from and what were we doing there. We did say we just went to Stuttgart to hear Mass. So we met a few of them and became acquainted. Funny, hubby met someone who previously worked in the same company where he did. Although they were from different offices in Laguna (hubby’s from Cabuyao and the other was from Calamba) they have common acquaintances from their workplace. It is really such a small world. They are all encouraging us to transfer to Stuttgart and I just found it funny. Well, who knows? We might find a better opportunity there…

I was glad we decided to go to that Mass. I have so much to be thankful for. I know we can express our gratefulness everywhere but I guess the venue made me more realize what I have been failing to appreciate all these years.

Caring Tips for Nonstick Cookware

As far as I remember we’ve never owned nonstick pots and pans when we were still in the Philippines. We consider them too costly so we’re accustomed to cooking using metal ware. When I came here in Germany I saw that hubby had bought a nonstick pan for his cooking.

nonstick, nonstick cookware, nonstick pans, caring for nonstick cookwareThere are plenty of nonstick cookware available here and you can just choose which one to buy based on your brand preference or budget. I’ve been here for three years and we’ve bought at least 3 pans of different sizes. The first I bought was by Tefal. It really was an amazing product and lived up to our expectations at first. However I was a bit disappointed when it didn’t last very long. A thought just came to me now wondering what have we done wrong that made the product’s life shorter than usual. This made me search on how to properly care for nonstick pans and here’s what I found out:

Prior to First Use. The pan must be rinsed and dried and rubbed with a paper towel with a little oil on it. Any kind of oil will do.

Before Use. Rub approximately a teaspoon of oil or butter on the cold pan. The reason for this is the pan or any other cookware still needs to be lubricated despite having the name “nonstick”.

How to Use.

  • It is not advisable to just pour oil or butter and spread it around. This causes the oil to be absorbed by the food rather than the oil sticking to the pan. The result? Oily/butter-soaked pancakes and soon food will start sticking due to no grease.
  • Do not put the pan on a high heat because this causes the coating to crack and at the same time doesn’t cook the food the way we want it. Use lower heat.
  • Don’t use metal or sharp objects (this is really basic) since they could damage/pierce the coating.

Cleaning. Hand-wash nonstick pans using soft sponges. Never put them in the dishwasher (did this and I think it added in ruining my pans) because harsh detergents and high heat can damage the coatings.

Storing. If you plan to nest your pans, make sure to put a napkin between the pans to prevent scratch.

There are some articles that came out about the health benefits of using nonstick cookware but at the same time can also be a health-hazard if not properly taken cared of. Make sure to read directions when you buy these kinds of cookware. This will help you and make your nonstick cookware last longer.

Embark on Brilliant Adventure for Schools Trips with your Students

School trips and tours can be great fun for students, and also very valuable too. If you want to treat your students to a trip then make sure that you go through a company that specialises in putting on these trips – they can do all the hard work for you and
make sure it is a smooth and fun experience.

As a kid there was no better feeling than going on a school trip, as you get to spend some time away from the classroom and with all your friends, and for many young students it is the first time that they spend any lengthy period away from home. This makes them valuable experiences and important ones, but they are also great fun for the students too, and something that they will talk about for a long time and cherish forever. As a teacher though, the idea of organising one will no doubt cause a lot of stress and anxiety, as taking away a whole class of excitable kids under your responsibility and introducing them into a new place does not seem too smart! This should not put you off however, as you should know that there are companies out there that can do all of the hard work for you.

These companies will have expertise in planning and putting on fun, valuable and educational school trips and tours. They can do all of the hard work for you, and this will allow you to enjoy the trip with the students and get to know them all a little better, and you are sure to have a great time on the trip because of this. Of course with any trip or tour with students safety will be paramount, and you can rest easy because these companies understand this and the worries that it may cause, and they do everything they can to make sure it is completely safe at all times.

adventure school trips, school trips
There are all kinds of fun and valuable trips and tours to go on, including ones to exciting places all around the world. These can be particularly helpful if they are learning a foreign language, as it will really improve their confidence trying it out in an environment that is not in the classroom. It will also inspire them to learn more – they will get a better understanding being around the language and culture all the time. It is not just trips abroad that these companies can offer; there are also lots of adventure for schools trips to consider too, and these feature a wide range of fun activities for the students to try out. Of course all of these activities will be perfectly safe for them, and they are sure to have a great time trying some of them out.

You will find that after these trips it will have a great impact on how the classroom is on your return, as the students will feel happy that they got to have some fun and spend time away from school, and the whole group including yourself will have bonded. They will also greatly appreciate what you have done for them, and this will certainly help too. These companies can do all of the difficult work for you, and you are sure to be impressed with the amazing trips that are available to the students.

Get Studio Experience in the Best Recording Studios Glasgow has to Offer

The recording studio is where the magic happens for a musician, as you go in the door with an idea, and then out the other side with a completed piece of music. You can get an insight into what life is like inside the studio with some studio experience, and you’ll hopefully come out with your first demo.

recording studioThere are countless classic albums and singles out there that have quite literally changed the world, and this is a real testament to the power of music. Despite the idea of what popular music sounds like changing every few years, music is still something that everybody has some interest in – everyone has their favourite albums that they can listen to over and over again. All of that amazing music that you listen to on your computer, on your iPod, through a CD player or on a turntable all starts in one place: the recording studio.

For many musicians the recording studio is their favourite place to be, as this is the place in which the songs that they have in their heads become a reality. There are many famous recording studios around the world where some if the most influential albums of all time have been recorded with a lot of infamous studio stories, and despite the fact that each studio will differ from the next, they all have the same thing in common: this is where music is made for the masses. You go into the studio with an idea, and come out the other side with what is hopefully a great piece of music – there is no better feeling for a musician, whether you’re a member of a local unsigned band or you’re in The Rolling Stones.

Anyone that is a budding musician will have a desire to get into a recording studio and learn the ins and outs and get to record something – this is an experience that anyone can have. Whether it is for you or a gift for a friend, a recording studio experience will be a fascinating insight into what life is like in the music industry, and you will get to see first hand the entire recording process. This will give you even more appreciation for all those brilliant albums that you love, so it will certainly be a memorable experience and something that will give you a new look on music and the music industry.

Those living in Scotland should check out the best recording studios Glasgow has to offer, as there are some truly fantastic studios here. You can get studio experience here and even record your own music, something that all musicians aspire to. No matter your experience level you will find great inspiration as soon as you step foot through the door, so it is certainly a worthwhile experience for anyone interested in music and how music is made. If this sounds like something that you would like to experience, or if you have a friend or family member who is a huge music fan then consider booking them in for some real life studio experience, and you can be sure that it will really open your eyes and give you a new found appreciation for music.

My First Trip of 2014: Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic

We’ve been used to making new year’s resolutions, I guess for some. I remember when I was still a kid we used to list down our new year’s resolutions as a seatwork in school but I don’t recall any which I have successfuly fulfilled.

This year I’m making one.. It’s not actually a resolution but a plan. Long before I have realized that I’m in a country which is home to fascinating, historical, magnificent and I don’t know what other else can describe the places here. And living here gave me easy access to other European countries which are as well gorgeous! So my plan is to go to as many places/countries as I want to, of course given the opportunity and money. Another one is buy a postcard from the place. (Because I don’t normally buy one and just take pictures.)

The postcards I got. :)

Thankfully we opened the new year with a trip. We drove to Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic. When the place was mentioned to us by our friend I really had no idea what to see there. I didn’t research or anything. I just looked for a place where we could stay. :P

Cesky Krumlov is an almost 5-hour drive from our home. Cesky Krumlov is known for their state castle. It is listed in the UNESCO World Heritage and why shouldn’t, all its building development from the 14 to the 19th century is well-preserved in the original groundplan layout, material structure, interior installation and architectural detail.

We chose to book at Penzion Gardena. There are actually many hotels in Cesky Krumlov and strategically located in the town center. I was even a bit disappointed at first when we’re not able to book a hotel near the castle. But eventually we realized we made the right decision. Only few of the hotels in the center have their own parking spaces. Penzion Gardena has private parking which is monitored and locked so you’ll feel secured while you are out walking around the town. Besides our place was just less than 10 minutes walk to the  center.

We arrived at Penzion Gardena around 4:30 in the afternoon and first took some time to rest before eating dinner. We were really surprised with the place. We didn’t expect it to be that simple and elegant. It may be ordinary for some but it’s our first time to stay in such a place.

Penzion Gardena, Cesky Krumlov

Our room at Penzion Gardena

After settling and unpacking our things we already went out to meet my friend and her family for dinner. Cesky Krumlov at night is just amazing. The little town was well-lit up for the tourists to enjoy the view of the castle. We found a restaurant just as classic as the town itself. When we entered we were immediately awed by its decoration. We saw different stuff hanging on the ceiling which obviously date back to I don’t know when. :P They created that old atmosphere and gave the guests the feel of its rich history.

Cesky Krumlov

Like Germany, Czech Republic has also any breweries and of course, many beers. One of them is this. It has a sweet taste unlike the beer that I got used to drink. They say beers are supposed to be sweet to say it is “delicious”.

Kruzovice beer, czech republic beer
The food were served in big plates as usual so we ended the night with a stroll and enjoyed the sight of the lit-up castle.

Cesky Krumlov at night

Cesky Krumlov Castle

This was only the first day er… the first night of our trip and I would say coming here is worth the travel.

Our Short Stay in Belgium

One advantage of having a husband who does business travels as part of his work is to have a chance to tag along with him. Last Thursday morning, I suddenly received a call from him informing me that he has to drive to Belgium the afternoon of that same day. I asked if we could come since Friday will be the last day of the kids before they go for Christmas break. Soon I was packing clothes for our supposed to be an overnight stay.

The trip to Belgium was a bit tiring for me. We traveled for 5 and a half hours before we reached Leuven, where hubby chose to book a hotel. We passed through Netherlands which is just an hour or so away from Belgium. Funny, during this travel I thought of a very nice domain name for a travel blog. But upon checking in GoDaddy, it’s not available anymore. Anyway, back to our trip… I was just glad I get the chance again to cross another border. Really nice to have an opportunity to go to other countries just by car. No hassles in the imigration and everything. Unfortunately I didn’t get to have a photo of me standing beside the sign just like what I did when I crossed Austria. It was already late at night when we arrived in Leuven and the planned overnight stay became a two-nights as we decided to stay longer so we can still explore the place a little more.

belgium, leuvenIt seemed Friday is a market day for the city of Leuven. As I went out with the kids that morning while hubby was already in the office of their client, the streets were full of stalls selling almost all kinds of food, clothes, leather goods, home items, etc. I looked through some clothes and leather items but I found them expensive considering they were sold on the streets.

While strolling, a tall structure with a very unique architectural design caught my eyes. While taking picture of the top of it, a stranger talked to me and informed me that it is the Town Hall.

Leuven, Leuven Ton Hall

Leuven Town hall, Leuven Belgium

A closer look…

The Twon Hall is of late-Gothic style architcture. Looking at it closely, you will see around it statues of different people representing prominent scholar, artist or noble from the city’s rich history.

Opposite of the Town Hall is the St. Peter’s Church (Sint-Pieterskerk), which is the oldest Catholic Church in Leuven. When I first tried to enter I was wondering how could I open the door. I was surprised when it suddenly went ajar only to find out it has motion sensors. Hehe… A church door with motion sensors, so modern. :) A big art work caught my eyes as I came in.

This puplit was made by Jacques Berger in 1742 for the Premonstratensian abbey in Ninove. It was bought by the board of St. Peter’s Church in 1807. Its front shows the fall of St. Norbert who founded the Premonstratensian order. The back originally represented St. Augustine but when the pulpit arrived, a cock and a key were added, thus converting the figure into St. Peter.

Since Leuven is the home of the oldest Catholic Univeristy in the world, most of its citizens are students. Main mode of transporation is bicycle and you will see most if not all the students use it to go to their classes.

You will find a parking lot for bicycles under the bus station and parking is for free.

Late in the afternoon, the kids opted to stay in the hotel so hubby and I took the chance to wander around the center to see the city at night.

Leuven City at night.The lights that surrounded the Town Hall made it more attractive and the giant christmas tree in front added beauty to the night.

We also went to the city’s Christmas night market and checked if we could buy some stuff. Sroes feautre some nice products but we find them expensive. Hehe…

I found these decors really cute. You can place candles inside for the ones on the right. Honestly, I can’t remember what they are made of. Some also represent actual buildings and houses there. :P

Our night ended trying out what Belgium is famous for, the Belgian waffle. It was really good but my daughter, who loves waffles by the way, didn’t like it. I wonder why…

And of course, who would miss buying authentic Belgian chocolates when you’re in Belgium?

I would have wanted to go to other places the following day but we needed to go back since hubby must return the car the office rented for him by 3pm.

a Filipina mom's journal of new experiences, discoveries, travels and everything else as she adapts to a new life in the land of sausages and beers.