Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas without Indulgence Isn't Christmas

Two parties down, 3 more to go!! This week I attended two Christmas parties we organized ( with employers) for our household staff. I am so happy to see house helps really enjoyed it. In the first one, the principals contracted a caterer to prepare a lavish dinner and organized games with prizes for the staff. We also asked the staff to invite their families to join the party - it was nice meeting their spouses and children! In the party last night, it was the employers kids who played game masters and judges during the parlor games!! Funny thing is the kids coach their nannies to get the correct answers!! Ahahaha...

In both parties, the staff were so happy apart from the good food and gifts and prizes, by the affection of their employers organizing a party for them and joining them for the dinner and even being emcees and game masters for them to enjoy the night.

We in the service industry -more particularly in the private service-, are all very busy these days I know! I've got more than dozens of parties and dinners and lunch and breakfasts ( we run out of dinners days) with guests to prepare for principals families, friends, company employees, high school classmates, MBA batch mates, club mates, politicians, even bishops and seminarians! And I see the excitement ( buying new serving shoes) and the adrenalin rush (from preparing centerpieces, broiling the lechon de leches (broiled young pig) and endless cleaning and washing table linen... How do we survive Christmas!

Indulgence during this festive season is more enjoyable when it comes in the form of caring and giving affection and time.. Gifts and prizes, material rewards like gadgets and clothing and good food give color to the season, but love gives it warmth that goes through the heart and is manifested in the twinkling eyes..

And rightly deserved by the people who care for us daily!!!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Asian Center for Household Management - Journey from Home to Rome

Asian Center for Household Management offers Program of Household Excellence, a professional household management course that is oriented to caring for family well-being . Our people, systems and courses are focused to create and nurture the warm familiar environment of varied Asian and International Households.
Our Household Management Course is a personal training that enhances and combines innate talent with correct work attitude, science, art, and professional skills needed to bring the warmth of home through a silent and seamless service.
Asian Center for Household Management also offers  Private Homes Management, developing household systems to fit changing lifestyle while respecting family traditions.
On November, ACHM has organized a two week Home, Culinary and Culture course that includes immersion in the centers of Culinary Culture - Paris and Tuscany.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


To all the great women 
whose silent and often unrecognized dedication to 
caring for our well being makes the world go round..  
Happy Mother's Day !!

Monday, May 7, 2012


Dear Lord! I was so shocked when I opened the butler pantry and found the silver items as you see below! The last time I checked it was a month ago which is our monthly cleaning of the butler pantry and they were still well "silver".  We recently renovated the caregiver room and converted it to a butler pantry where shelves were installed to contain the formal dinnerwares, silvers and the party pieces. All the glasswares, dinnerwares and silver items are on the shelves. The room is ordinarily locked and is opened when we do the cleaning and polishing. 
We've been experiencing very hot and humid days the past month with temperature reaching 37C and humidity making it feel like 41C.  But this is soooo extreme right? 

What causes silver to tarnish is exposure to sulfides and moisture.  It is humid in my country but where does the sulfide come from? there is naturally occuring hydrogen sulfides in the air but is our room supersaturated with it such that it resulted to extreme discoloration? Think, think, think!! google, google!! and bam!! Found out that white pigment used in paints are from lead sulfates! The room and newly installed shelves are all painted white. What more?  Butler room is located above the garage! Even if our windows are closed, it is possible that amounts of sulphates emitted by the car engines add to it. No wonder!!

We cleaned the silver pieces with recommended commercial silver polish and silver wash by manual rubbing.  This site gives good tips on caring, cleaning and storing silver pieces: Jeffrey Herman  (http://www.howtocleanstuff.net/how-to-clean-silver/).

Yes, it brought back the luster but we have to protect these items by sotoring them inside the anti tarnish cloth bags that came with each item.  Never use polyvinyl plastic bags. Authentic Silvercloth contains embedded silver particles will catch the sulphur gases that would otherwise tarnish the silver articles inside, causing the brown fabric to discolor to various shades of brown. 

Sterling silver, stored properly, can be worn often and with minimal cleaning required making it very easy to care for.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Owning up and rockin it!!

Are you alright? Is anything the matter with you? Naaahh.. am just growin old . Change is uncomfortable, there is some anxious resistance to the new, some kind of attachment to the old. Predictability isn't me, change is my cup of tea and it comes so naturallly, at times accidentally or beware,  even impulsively.
Case in point: my recent butler training exposed me to the awesome professional butler world and I'm lovin it totally. And I came back home a changed soul - owning up to the outlook and the look of a new me who's been hiding in my bohemian skirts and gypsy tops.
Ive been in search for a defining work uniform and been unsuccessful perhaps because I couldnt't define myself too. Once I found my definition, I found the ONE, combined with the right updo and clean shoes- it's been calling all attention from the bosses, staff, friends, romans and countrymen lend me your eyes!! They all like it and I rockin like it too!!
Some resist wearing uniforms because their self expression is stifled by looking like just one more and they lose themselves while wearing it.  Outfits are like fairy wands, it transforms the princess and the ugly duckling, it effects a change in the person and in those around him. It's almost magical.  Likewise, work outfits shouldn't be fancy, it must be defining, exact responsibility, command respect, motivate and inspire awe.That must be the reason why its called uniform - it gives a vague and amorphous common one distinctive form and structure.
Yea am growin old and rockin it too!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

I Got Served!!

I GOT SERVED!!  Yes folks I got served! not a subpoena but a very personal and disinterested service.. its priceless. I was on a long road trip this morning at the expressway northbound when I had to stop by the gas station for toilet break. The powder room girl opened the door for me with a huge smile on her face and a booming good morning Ma'am. She noticed that I was looking for some toilet papers, so she readily hands me a pack. She also lead me to the vacant cubicle which had enough space for my bags. While  I was inside the toilet, I could hear her greeting the other guests coming in in the same way. It felt good, she made my day, I gave her a tip when I left and will commend her to the gas service station for such good service.

On my way back home from the trip, I was cruising sounthbound direction in the same expressway when  I noticed the car's temperature gauge was beyond the normal range so I stopped at the nearest emergency stop to check the radiator water, It was a very hot day and my car was parked for 3 hours under the heat of the noonday sun. The highway patrol came to help soon as they saw my flashing lights, true enough, the radiator needed some water refill. They assisted me and made sure I would reach my destination without the car over heating.  The team chief also gave me their emergency number should I need help. I wanted to give them some tip but the guys politely declined saying it was their duty to assist road users. Wow, two inspiring service experiences today, priceless.

I thought they were very personal and disinterested service and that made the difference. They attended to "me", they were happy to assist me, they were talking to me and looking after my needs as if they had been waiting there for me and just for me. Great, mabuhay!!

Caring for Suitcase

Love to travel?  Invest in good quality suitcase, and know how to care for them.  Suitcases come in all sizes and colors and styles! Choosing the right suitcase is a very personal one – (1)  I would give priority to weight, less than 3K would be good, I just came from a month trip to Australia and you bet how I appreciated light weight suitcases!!; (2)  quality comes next, I mean secure zips and sturdy wheels and handles; (3) then shape, I prefer rectangular ones than the duffle bag-types because packing is easier,I also do not want too many outer pockets, I don’t need them;  (4) size will then depend on how long my trip is, although I am not inclined to get the big ones, I am a travel light type.

Immediately after a trip, clean - disinfect your suitcase even before carrying them inside your room. Handling and cargo storage in the plane mean dust and dirt and bugs and pests and germs deposited onto your suitcase. Although they may not pose health danger, you do not want to bring in bugs and insects into your homes with your luggage! It is no rocket science to clean and disinfect bags- thoroughly wipe the outer surface with cloth moistened with disinfectant.

After unpacking, check all pockets to remove all your stuff and damp wipe interiors. Check for damage – zips, wheels, handles, lining. Many good quality brands have 5 years to lifetime warranty to replace worn wheels, broken handles, mend tears etc.
Then you may want to leave some freshening cloth inside your luggage to keep them smelling fresh while stored. Have a safe and fun trip always!!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Australian Butler School Experience!!

After two years of analyzing the pros and cons of the different butler schools plus other factors worth considering (acquiring a visa..), I finally decided to go to the Australian Butler School for my Household Management Certification. Inspite of several questions/doubts in mind- there is never an ideal situation- I flew to Melbourne to participate in the March 2012 batch of the ABS.
It was a worthwhile trip and value for money! Days of serious classes and nights of assessment-completion made up an intense 4-week integrated course that makes every participant capable and confident in running a household. I admit, I didn't go there "tabula rasa" (blank slate) I came equipped with formidable experience in household administration. My expectations were high. My 4-week experience gave me the refinement I most wanted in every skill I thought I knew well. I didn't expect to learn many new things (although yes I did..), I didn't expect to know the latest technology involved with household management, all I wanted was to learn the art of butler service- "silent and seamless" as the motto of the Australian Butler goes. Every class and assessment taught me the history, the science- with a smothering of common sense, the art and the joy of every skill and life of a professional butler.
I fell more in love with my work, with this service in the home, with the industry I belong to. Vale la pena.. It is worthwhile. Thanks to the Australian Butler School!!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Patron for House Work

"A lighted lamp  tells the story of Dora del Hoyo,  a woman who entered domestic service in the 1940s as a servant in a private home. She came to see that God was calling her to follow Him in her chosen profession, and she asked to join Opus Dei as a numerary assistant. She thus became the first of many women who would, by means of their work, spread the idea of the sanctification of ordinary work around the world and to every level of society." (doradelhoyo.org). The book is written by Javier Medina Bayo, based on the testimony of Dora's family and those who lived with her. 
All the testimonies about her life affirm that Dora carried out her domestic work with the competence of a first-class professional. She mastered every aspect of that work and exercised it at the highest level. Below is a favor granted through her intercession.

 I have four children who are 8, 6, 5, and 3 years old. For two months I had been looking for someone to help me with the housework and the children. Discouraged, I told my mother-in-law that the next morning I was going to call a girl without any references. She gave me the prayer card and she told me, “Ask Dora and she will help you.”  Not very convinced, I did pray to her that night. The girl turned out to be an excellent worker, educated, willing, cheerful, patience and affectionate with the children. I am very grateful.
P.S. In my city it is very difficult to find someone who can care for a home responsibly and, above all and most importantly, who is good with children. Many thanks!    L.S.F.  Argentina


I myself received a favor from Dora. I prayed through her intercession for my Visa application to be approved and be released in time for my flight. I lodged my visa application at the last minute due to completion of required documents. I was told that processing time will take a month, which meant it won't be out before my flight booking!! (I grabbed the airine Chinese new year sale and booked my flight ahead). Three days before the flight schedule, I called the Visa center and was told that my application was still being processed. I asked Dora to help expedite it since I am going to study to become a professional butler which was her profession. I also promised her that I will disseminate her prayercard. The next morning, I got a call from the embassy that my visa application has been approved;  and was delivered on the same day!! I love Dora and I believe she should be canonized as patron saint for all who work and care for the home!!

Home Renaissance Foundation International Conference: Renewing the culture of home

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Fluffing Couch Cushions

Cozy sofas are so loved that at end of day they get really tired and look this way! If only they can talk, by end of day they must want to retire already.

So i always recommend that at the end of day, we allow these to rest and retire as shown below.

After a good night rest, we are assured that the cushions are alert and ready for another days' hugging and resting for kids and adults alike.. Do not forget to make sure that the zippers are not exposed when the cushions are replaced back into position..

Friday, February 17, 2012


Grey Water Recycling System Drawing

Grey water room housing the filtration System. The green grass coers the underground system.  The cistern has a manhole for emergency trouble shooting.
Shown are the activated granular carbon filter (to remove contaminants and impurities) and the multi media filter (to Reduce the level of turbidity and suspended particles)

A glance at the opened cistern of grey water

One of my clients wants a green house. Initial plans were incorporation of solar roof, green roof, and recycled water, lots of ventillation, sun, etc.. With the cooperation of the Architect and experts,  we were able to execute everything xcept for the solar roof which turned out to be not feasible. (See  Our Rooftop farm and Vertical Garden )

Grey waste water recycling seemed too technical when I first heard about it. I though it would be too complicated to include in the renovation works in my client's home that I was skeptical - sanitary plans, multi media filter tanks, cisterns, alternate pipes etc. It all sounded complicated on paper but turned out very simple after the installation.

Our grey water source are  from the laundry, bathroom and rain water from downspouts (we have lots of rains throughout the year) and the backwash water coming from the main filtration system of the house - all of which have low level contaminants ( Note: we didn't include the sewer pipes). These pipes go to an underground cistern measuring 3x6x3 meters. The cistern has an overflow pipe in case we have too much grey water. Water then is pumped through a multimedia filter, then a carbon filter that purifies it from the contaminants. The resulting recycled water is used to water the garden and cleaning of outdoor areas. This filtration type does not make this water potable. (NOTE: some references do not recommend use of recycled grey water for some type of vegetable gardens due to possible contamination of laundry detergents or chlorine).

The grey water collected in the cistern must be consummed within 24 hours to 2 days to prevent putrefaction which can really smell bad. Maintenance requires two times a week backwashing, twice a month disinfection and replacement of filter every two months. These maintenance procedures must be strictly followed or the known complaint of developing foul smell of the resulting recycled water.
Maintenance Checklist posted inside grey water room

Maintenance Guidelines posted in grey water room
Benefits are lower water bills due to reduced fresh water use, healthier garden due to added natural nutrients in the recycled water, and of course responsible contribution to the environment.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Our Rooftop farm and Vertical Garden

My favorite part of the house is the rooftop farm. We initially planned to have a rooftop garden in order to save energy, cool the house, and contribute in our own small way to the greening of our earth. However, botanist introduced the idea of making it a functional garden - a vegetable garden at the rooftop! We have never grown vegestable and couldnt even imagine it in the rooftop.  Here are photos of our newly installed vertical rooftop garden. It was installed in December and we are now harvesting from it. 
Botanist Drawing of rooftop garden

Staircase to the rooftop garden

Facing the street, deorative plants grow, but inside the roof garden is an herb garden and on flat beds are mixture of salad greens, hot peppers, carrots and fiesta variety.

Our botanist used his own soil composition

Carrots, hot pepper, lolo rossa and green lettuce will later sprout from the flat beds 

Choco Mint

Spearmint.. i love this

Manual Drip irrigation coming from our recycled water tank \
(See grey water recycling  in my blog)

Sweet Basil

Rectangular flat bar structure holds the plant basket made of jute material that served as container for the soil medium


I have always seen amazing gardens in magazines. i never thought, I will enjoy one myself. Come and see!!

How to Treat Library Molds

We found molds in the basement library!!  My first instinct was to wipe them clean with rag moistened with anti molds cleaner. After a week or two, we found them again and upon closer examination, I found the molds had attacked our library books collection!! The solution I thought of was to install a dehumidifier to control to moisture inside the library. But then, we thought better and and dug deeper to solve this problem:
1. Find out what is causing the molds growth and eradicate it
a. Molds experts we consulted found there was more moisture content in the library than in the other rooms in the basement. Upon check up, the plumber found a leaking pipe supplying water in an adjacent bath. 
b. They also found rubbish inside the ceiling of library that was left by a contractor that reapired the ceiling several months ago. 
The excessive moisture content in the environment plus the rubbish served as growing medium for the molds to flourish in the area. See pictures below.



2.  Treat the affected areas and items
 After the repairs were completed and the rubbish cleaned, we sprayed the mold affected surfaces- inside the ceiling, library shelves, walls - with TIMBOR. Solution formula is written in the label. It is important that staff performing treatment wear protective outfit - mask and gloves- to protect from molds exposure. Note that the chemical leaves white spots on the sprayed on surface. Don't worry because they can be wiped off once dry.
Next we treated the books, one by one, dabbing the molds treatment solution on the affected areas carefully, so as not to spread them any further. Wear the protective gear just the same. 
This was a huge task that requires a lot of patience and carefulness because we had to check hundreds of books one by one, carefully checking the cover and pages of each book. It was nooticeable that molds like the bookprint copies more than the glossy pages. We had to carefully apply chemical to the spine, inside covers and each page affected. Afterwhich we let it dry indirectly under the sun. The weather was even unfortunately uncooperative that there were days of intermittent rains so we had to delay the job and work only when the sun is out. The whole job lasted one month.
Used for books                               
3. Control Humidity
Next, we installed dehumidifiers since the library is located in the basement and was not provided with any window for ventillation, there is a danger that molds can recur. These dehumidifiers now collect about 2-3 liters of water twice daily, that is how much moisture there is in the room. One of the staff is assigned to dispose collected water two times per day. The room is noticeably warmer as the air blown into the room by the unit is warmer.
4. Optional: Protect the books
This time, we have learned to place books at least a few inches away from the shelf wall to allow air to circulate within the shelves. But as an added protection, we wrapped each book in clear plastic case to prevent moisture from setting in and molds from recurring.

I haven't noticed any recurrence of molds after a month of treatment. Hopefully, with better awareness, we may be able to prevent recurrence and save the precious investment.