4 Clever Styling Guidelines For Small Bedrooms

Small spaces are a challenge to style as it is — but having to deal with a tiny bedroom is even harder. Aside from having limited floor area, it can easily look dark and cramped, keeping it from being conducive to rest or sleep. To help you avoid this dilemma, here are some styling tips from interior designer Van Acuna-Solana that you can try:

1. Keep clutter hidden.
In case there’s not much space for additional storage units, Van dishes out this trick: “Ang pinakamagandang tip para hindi makita ang clutter is to cover it na lang!” Try using the curtain trick for things you can’t avoid storing in your home.

READ: 5 Unexpected Uses For Curtains

2. Go for sleek furniture pieces.
According to Van, you should avoid setting up storage too high. Stick to low console tables or drawers, and always make sure there’s room for the dweller to pass and move around.

3. Repaint furniture if needed.
Para di magmukhang another furniture, ginagawa ko s’yang same color as the wall para may continuity lang,” Van shares. If you have a lot of built-in pieces, consider painting them in one color for a unified and streamlined feel.

4. Go for just one color.
“Light colors lang dapat, monochromatic para hindi separate tingnan yung walls.”Using too many colors can make a space look too busy and distracting. Consider going for more subdued tones to create the illusion of a larger space.

Read the original article (Ho-hum to Hotel) in the February 2014 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App. Log on to summitnewsstand.com.ph/real-living for more details.

This story originally appeared on Realliving.com.ph.

* Minor edits have been made by the Smartparenting.com.ph editors.

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How 3 Moms Grew a Facebook Group to a 20,000-Member Trading Hub

Manila Furniture is a buy and sell Group on Facebook specializing in furniture and other home furnishings

Garage sales are passé. These days, if you want to sell a used item, snap a photo and share it with friends on social media and online. In fact, Internet platforms have sprouted just for this very purpose. There’s homegrown Sulit.com, eventually acquired by OLX, and a young startup called Carousell from Singapore.

But Facebook has also added features that have turned it into a marketplace, perhaps in a bid to keep users from leaving the platform. In late 2015, for example, Facebook introduced the Buy, Sell, Trade group type, allowing members to easily find an item’s price and pick-up location.

Thanks to these features, full-time moms Marta Luque, Christina Boonsirithum and Maria Rodriguez discovered Facebook groups as a convenient marketplace when they were looking for ways to sell furniture they no longer wanted after decluttering their homes. The trio set up the Manila Furniture Buy and Sell Group on Facebook to sell some items they no longer needed.

“The group was started around June 2015. I wanted to dispose of more expensive pieces of furniture and found that the buy and sell groups that were active [on Facebook] were mostly for smaller trinkets,” Luque told Entrepreneur Philippines. “I’ve always been an online shopper and a big ‘Facebooker’ so this was a great way for me to shop and sell.”

The three women were the first administrators of the group that now has 20,000 members. The group is a community of homeowners who wish to sell used furniture and related items such as bed frames, chandeliers and even paintings and vintage collector pieces.

While items posted are usually used, they don’t necessarily come cheap. A designer dining set could still fetch almost a hundred thousand pesos, especially when it’s in good condition. Some items, such as a four-seater dining set, however, can be sold for as low as Php2,000.

Manila Furniture has become a hub for people looking to get rid or acquire slightly used furniture

“I love Facebook groups because it’s easy to browse. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure,” Luque said.

Liz Lam, a member who joined the group in late 2015 and performed administrator functions until recently, finds the platform similar to the Yahoo groups of yesteryears. As a wife to an expat in Manila, Lam found a niche Yahoo group composed of an estimated 300 young moms who would post about some items they wish to sell before leaving for another country.

“Often it [Yahoo group] was also used as a platform for expat moms to sell items their babies had outgrown like cribs, prams, carriers, and new moms could benefit from them. I got a barely used baby car seat for Php500 then,” she shared. “I would say it was such an awesome way of getting things I needed as a new mom without having to invest heavily on things my baby would outgrow in less than a year.”

Not to be confused with the Facebook pages of establishments and online shops, which are open to the public (even for non-Facebook users), groups are accessible only to members approved by the administrators.

Usually made up of volunteers, these administrators are the glue that holds the Facebook groups together. What starts as a part-time hobby could grow into a virtually full-time job, albeit unpaid, policing the posts of members and processing the applications of those who wish to become a member of the group.

People can buy the items by commenting Sold on the Facebook post. Whoever comments first gets it

With their group membership still growing, the female administrators, now six, have to enforce and update the group’s rules and regulations, which now run to six pages, to keep the group “happy and positive.”

“We knew from the start that we’d need rules to maintain a group as we already saw the issues that arise from a lack of rules in previous groups,” Boonsirithum said.

Sellers, for example, would have to limit the photos used per post to five, to keep the page organized. The item must also be with the seller already, thus, “pre-selling” or taking orders on the page is prohibited.

However, early this year, the administrators decided to allow “professional” sellers or retailers to sell to members provided they paid a posting fee of Php1,000 a year. “This keeps them honest about their products and conscious about their reputation to sell good items,” Rodriguez said in a post in the group.

For popular items with several interested buyers, the group adopted a simple rule to determine who gets to purchase the merchandise. The member who comments “sold” first after the item is posted for sale gets to buy it.

Boonsirithum credits the administrators’ friendship as a key factor why the group has thrived. “As long as the admin are actual friends you can work through most group issues. We vote on changes in the group,” she said.

Manila Furniture is a Closed Group, meaning people need to be approved by the administrators in order to post items or see the merchandise

Because of growing complexity of the rules, enforcing them and managing the group can be taxing on the administrators who are all unpaid volunteers. The demands on their time can be staggering especially with the big number of notifications they have to keep up with on their Facebook accounts.

Yet, the administrators don’t make money from the job of administering the group. The posting fee they collect from professional sellers is donated to charities.

What keeps the three women going as volunteer administrators is the knowledge they are making a big difference in the lives of their members. It helps that alongside the disputes and complaints, they get messages of gratitude from members.

“I know what a big help selling sites can be in disposing and acquiring articles you need but don’t want to invest too much cash in. It’s a satisfying feeling knowing you have provided people that platform,” Lam said.


Elyssa Christine Lopez is a staff writer of …read more    

Biggest PH Book Fair Will Have an Entire Floor for Children’s Books!

September is just around the corner and that means the Manila International Book Fair will soon open its doors once again. Now on its 38th year, the country’s biggest book fair becomes even bigger…literally.

The exhibit space will occupy two floors of the SMX Convention Center at the Mall of Asia Complex from September 13 to 17. This expands the area from 9,130 to 11,980 square meters filled with rows and rows of bookshelves. The entire second floor will be dedicated to children’s books and young adult books, allowing more space for the young ones to find old favorites and discover new ones. Hours will be from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Over 100 exhibitors and about 150,000 visitors are expected to participate in this five-day affair. Aside from books on sale, there will also be book signings, author meet-and-greets, and special contests.

The Manila International Book Fair is from September 13 to 17, 2017 at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City. For updates, follow Manila International Book Fair on Facebook.

This story originally appeared on Spot.ph.

* Minor edits have been made by the Smartparenting.com.ph editors.


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This Millennial Opened a Cafe to Raise Autism Awareness

The world is finally waking to the needs of special people.

Ramps in establishments to accommodate wheelchairs are just one example.

Activities such as the paralympic events are proofs they can have a life outside the confines of their impairment.

There are humane workplaces employing people with learning disabilities and those with neurological disorders, enabling them to interact with “normal” people.

A cozy shop in Quezon City is doing its part to give individuals with special needs a place in society.

The Puzzle Gourmet Store & Café owned by Ciab Canoy and her family opened three years ago with eight adults with special needs as part of the team.

Today, the café has 22 employees, and only three are neurotypical or “not affected with developmental disorder” as defined in Merriam-Webster online.

FAMILY PROJECT. Puzzle Gourmet Store & Café started as a “family project” for Ciab’s brother, Jose, who has autism.

The idea was to give him a place where he could apply the things he learned from therapy and SPEd classes.

In chat via Facebook Messenger, Ciab shared with PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal) that her family jumped into the café business without completely knowing what they were getting into.

She told PEP, “Our brother Jose was turning 21 years old at that time.

“We knew and accepted early on that he wouldn’t be able to have the same opportunities as any typically developing individual.

“However, we didn’t want this to be a reason for him to not do anything, and not be able to make use of all the skills he’s worked hard to learn from Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, SPEd classes, etc.”

Interestingly, Ciab, a 24-year-old Child Development graduate, revealed that “no one in our family studied restaurant management or culinary arts.”

She added, “The first few months were really our experimental phase, in all aspects…So I guess you could say we were ‘winging it!’”

But the willingness of the staff to rise above their condition has motivated them to keep on going.

“We saw how it affected them [the individuals with special needs].

“Being given the opportunity to work, our staff were just so eager to learn, eager to work.

“So, we made sure that we were doing everything we could to improve everything—from appearance, menu, and our selection of gourmet items.”

THE MEANING OF PUZZLE. It was Jose who gave their shop the perfect name.

“We came up with a list of possible names that he’d like and ran it by Jose.

“Initially, when we would ask him, all he would say was ‘Waffles’, ‘Coffee’, ‘Cafe’ because he finds it difficult to process anything abstract like being asked to name something.“

Jose chose the name “Puzzle,” and the moment was serendipitous.

Ciab remarked, “It was such a happy accident that the puzzle piece was being used as a symbol for autism awareness.”

She said doing picture puzzles is one of Jose’s favorite activities, “He’s very skilled in completing big puzzles too. 2000-, 4000-piece puzzles.”

BREAKING THE STIGMA. The main goal of Ciab and her family has always been to correct the misconception about autism.

Ciab underlined, “We’d like to show that autism has many faces.

“There’s a saying that goes, ‘If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.’

“Having the same diagnosis does not mean they’re the same person or that they express their autism in the same way.”

She was proud to say Jose has shown vast improvements since they started their café.

“From a teacher’s standpoint, it’s really evident how much Jose’s social skills have improved.

“Beyond his expanded vocabulary, he approaches customers himself, he is now able to carry a conversation as well.

“As a sister, this venture has allowed my family and I to understand Jose so much better, and it added so much to our understanding of Autism and special needs.”

The café has also helped other families in the same situation as the Canoys.

According to Ciab, “We get a lot of customers who are parents to newly diagnosed kids.

“They ask a lot of questions and often don’t know what to do.

“This gave us the idea to have monthly learning events, discussing different topic’s about special needs to help parents have some guidance.”

Her family has also organized learning workshops in partnership with schools and NGOs.

Ciab explained, “For our staff, we would often partner up with college orgs, who are interested to get to know our staff and learn to be sensitive around them.

“They’re basically interactions. We do baking activities and have them play games together for an afternoon.

“This also helps our staff get desensitized to being with other people. It helps them socialize and work alongside others, too.”

Seeing the positive ripple effects of their “family project,” Ciab would like to believe that people are slowly changing their perception of individuals with special needs.

“They have deficits, but they have strengths, too.

“There has to be much more emphasis on their strengths, otherwise we will just continue on with this stigma that people with special needs will not amount to much in life.”

Ciab is also thankful that the café has made her family realized they are a team.

She intoned, “I can definitely say it brought our family closer. This is our project together.

“We work hard on it as a team for the love of Jose.”

This story originally appeared on Pep.ph.

* Minor edits have been made by the Smartparenting.com.ph editors.


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Nikki Gil Is Pregnant, Shows Off Her Baby Bump!


Nikki Gil is pregnant!

Although the singer-actress has not made any formal announcement, her baby bump was in full display in a photo she posted on Instagram yesterday, July 15 (see above).

Nikki’s photo showed her bonding with husband BJ Albert and her friend Patty Laurel-Filart.

She captioned the post, “Saturday bumming with our fave people plus Theo my love who doesn’t love me back Hahahaha”

Theo is the son of Patty.


In turn, Patty also posted the same photo on her Instagram account and hinted on the pregnancy with this caption: “Our very beautiful friend @nikkigil got even more beautiful-er-er-er!!!”


Nikki’s Instagram followers, including celebrity friends Camille Prats, Nikki Bacolod, and Erich Gonzales, then sent her congratulatory messages in the comments section.

Nikki has yet to reveal details about her pregnancy.

The former ASAP host got married to BJ in November 2015. Since then, the actress took a break from showbiz.

This story originally appeared on Pep.ph.

* Minor edits have been made by the Smartparenting.com.ph editors.


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The New Unimart in Greenhills Is Now Open and Your Inner Tita Will Freak Out

For old-timers, a visit to the Greenhills Shopping Center will never be complete without checking out Unimart. While you may have grown attached to their old look (after all, they’ve been around since 1969!), you’ll fall in love with the new Unimart’s brighter and sleeker look! It reopened on July 2 and now stands along Club Filipino Avenue (just a few steps away from their old home).

The iconic signage is still there, but the new Unimart boasts shinier floors and more spacious interiors, so weaving in and out of aisles to get your pantry essentials is easier than ever. Unimart’s new building also houses additional parking spaces so you don’t have to spend time looking for an empty slot when you could be stocking up on fresh produce and unique finds instead.

Unimart is at Club Filipino Avenue, Greenhills, San Juan City.

Photos by Laurie Reyes-Blay

This story originally appeared on Spot.ph.

* Minor edits have been made by the Smartparenting.com.ph editors.


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Fresh-Smelling Fragrances You Can Wear to Work

We are aware that strong scents are a big no-no in the workplace. It’s a distraction, and it may even be a health hazard to some officemates (Have you ever heard of allergic rhinitis?). This shouldn’t hinder you from being a smart-scented gal. Below, we suggest the freshest-smelling fragrances you can wear at the office.

1. This bottle has a wonderful mix of fresh citrus notes and warm amber, which makes it a great unisex scent.

Calvin Klein CK All Eau de Toilette, P4,598/ 200ml, P3,398/100ml, and P2,498/50ml, at department stores

2. If you’re into fruity scents, this one has a sophisticated, light whiff of fruits and florals.

Dior J’adore In Joy Eau de Toilette, P5,500 at department stores

3. A crisp fragrance with pear notes with a non-overbearing musk (it’s vegan!) as a base note

The Body Shop White Musk L’Eau Eau de Toilette, P1,295/30 ml, P1,595/60 ml, and P2,395/100ml, at SM Megamall

4. A long-lasting cologne that will remind you of freshly cut flowers and sweet candy without smelling too youthful.

Jo Malone Star Magnolia Cologne (Limited Edition), P3,780, 30ml Cologne, P7560/100ml, at Greenbelt 5

5. A delicate, classy sampaguita (our very own!) scent that will last on your skin for a whole day.

Aerin Ikat Jasmine Eau de Parfum, P6780/50ml, P9,490/100ml, at Esteé Lauder branches starting July 2017

This story originally appeared on Femalenetwork.com.

* Minor edits have been made by the Smartparenting.com.ph editors.


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4 Ways You’re Ruining Your Towels Without Knowing It

Bath linen is more important than you think. Whether it’s Egyptian fabric or generic cotton, it’s vital that you take care of your towels and bathrobes — they don’t come cheap, after all.

To make sure they last a long time, make sure you don’t practice any of these bad habits:

1. Not washing them frequently enough.
Washing them once a week is not enough to keep your towels clean! Since you use them everyday, try washing them more often to keep dirt from staining them permanently. Every three to four days should do the trick.

2. Using too much detergent.
Being heavy-handed with detergent can result to a film residue over your towels. This makes them scratchy and rough over time, which cannot be a good thing. Remember to use just the right amount of detergent and being more careful with the actual washing.


3. Using the wrong fabric conditioner.
Strong fabric softeners can affect a towel’s absorbency or leave a waxy buildup over the fabric. Since you’re supposed to wash towels often, it’s best to skip the conditioner all together.

4. Not being careful about the products it comes in contact with.
Are you wondering why there are white specks all over your colored robes and towels? Although you don’t use bleach, you can still get discoloration from acne-fighting face washes or whitening toothpastes.

Source: Apartment Therapy

This story originally appeared on Realliving.com.ph.

* Minor edits have been made by the Smartparenting.com.ph editors.


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My Kids Usually Have Zero Homework. Here’s How They’re Learning

In my children’s school, there is no cafeteria, gym, or football field. There are, however, shelves and shelves of books, open space to play patintero in, and lots of trees.

It took my husband and me, products of traditional schools from start to finish, a while to adjust to this non-conformist approach to education, the blended learning method. (On the other hand, it took our kids about a day.) But I was drawn to this method precisely because it was different from how we thought kids were supposed to be taught.

First, a backgrounder: Although the school my kids go to is called Blended Learning Center Manila (BLC), the school doesn’t subscribe to the usual definition of blended learning, which is a mix of face-to-face and online instruction. At BLC, they “veer away from the use of [online instruction],” says Zeena A. Pañares, BLC’s head teacher. Instead, they focus “on blending character, values, and life experiences into the academic curriculum…We’re evolving into a different approach towards education.”

Yes, it’s as un-traditional as teaching methods go.

No one is taught to be afraid to say or ask the wrong thing.

For one thing, the classes are conducted in free form. Students are encouraged to ask questions and voice opinions. And because the classes are small, it never turns into a circus. The kids, with their teacher, sit around a table and discuss whatever is on the syllabus that day; learning happens as a group. The air around the table is open — no one is taught to be afraid to say or ask the wrong thing.

This set-up was what got me on board. I remember painful days in my school when my classmates and I would squirm in our seats, petrified that the teacher would call on us, and we’d make a mistake. There’s none of that in my kids’ school. The use of discussions over lectures has even carried over into our meals at home. When they went to traditional schools, my children didn’t enjoy talking about what they learned in school. Today, they like talking about the solar system and solving math problems in between talking about Pokemon and Harry Potter.


There’s also little homework. Probably because the classes are small, the teachers can make sure that each student understands the lessons well enough not to need extra studying at home. But when homework does get assigned, it’s usually the more practical kind: learn how to cook something; wash the dishes; plant a vegetable.

Less — or usually, zero — homework means the kids have more free time after class. It is here where it becomes a bit complicated. On the one hand, it’s good that the kids don’t have to spend two extra hours a day hunched over their desk, studying, and instead be able to do other things that interest them. On the other hand, having all that free time brings on endless negotiations about screen time — at least in our house, it does. We are lucky that I can work freelance; I can be home and deal out the boredom when imaginations need to be stretched, and eyes need to rest from gadget use.

My kids like talking about the solar system and solving math problems in between talking about Pokemon and Harry Potter.

Blended learning is a hands-on approach not just for the teachers but everyone involved in it, especially the parents or guardians. There are scheduled parent-teacher conferences every semester, but there can also be quick huddles with the teachers other times. That way, parents don’t have to wait until the end of the semester to find out what’s happening with their kids in school.

As with any school, it takes commitment to stick with a different method of learning for our kids. My husband and I have had to un-learn some things that, up until we enrolled our kids at BLC, we thought were school canon. We grew up thinking that kids need to be in a classroom setting to learn—one day, the BLC kids went to watch a mini-concert at UP’s Abelardo Hall; that was their lesson for the day. We also studied in places where distractions were frowned upon—my kids’ school’s Labradors occasionally join classes that, I imagine, are especially interesting for them. I believe the dogs’ presence further relaxes the class, opening up the opportunity for more learning.

I understand that the blended learning method—just like any other learning method—isn’t for everyone. Each student, each family has their preference. But for my family, using this method has not only lifted our hopes for education. It has also made all four of us better students.


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5 Simple Tricks for a Smooth, ‘Walang Masungit’ School Morning

Get everything ready the night before. Sleep and wake up earlier. These are a few morning routine tips you may have already heard before, and are maybe even tired of hearing. If you’re looking for suggestions that require less changes to your routine, but are just as effective, read on:

1. Wake your child up with a snuggle.

Children are hard to wake up early in the morning. Worse, when they do, they can be in an awful mood. To avoid this, experts recommend starting the day right by reconnecting with your child. “For kids going to sleep at night means they are on their own,” Betsy Brown Braun, a child development and behavioral specialist, told Parenting. “I look at the morning as the oasis after the drought.”

Try waking up your littler learner with a snuggle in bed and soft but cheerful conversation. Say good morning, tell her what you’ve made for breakfast or remind her of something fun she’ll be doing at school today. It may take away a few minutes in your morning routine. However, it’s absolutely worth it if it makes everyone’s happier and more cooperative in the morning.


2. Motivate — don’t dictate.
Keep in mind: your aim is to get everyone ready and out the door, but your child may not share the same goal. He doesn’t feel the need to dress quickly or make sure he eats his breakfast. And, barking orders at your child to hurry up may just make him more reluctant to do so. The solution then is to motivate and not to dictate.

Your presence, motivation, and help will move things along. When he’s sitting down at the table but reluctant to eat breakfast, say something like, “Hey, why don’t you try mixing your own bowl of champorado this time?” When he’s putting on his shoes, comment on how good he is now at tying his laces.

3. Keep cool.
Have you noticed that when you start to stress that’s when everything seems to go wrong? You’re not just imagining it. “The more you rush in the morning, the slower your kids will move,” said Kirk Martin, a behavioral consultant. Your child won’t be happy in the morning if you’re not, so stop what you’re doing and take a breather. Signal to your child that the both of you will work together to get things done by making eye contact or gently touching her arm. This will re-establish that much-needed parent-child connection in the morning. “Once we connect with a child, compliance follows,” said Martin.


4. Be smart about the time.
If you know that fixing your child’s bag in the morning puts you both in a frantic and sour mood, then place the task as a to-do the night before instead. Morning routines hinge on how well you manage the limited time you have. Be smart about it and move around morning tasks to make your routine more efficient. If you have trouble thinking of what to make for breakfast and baon in the morning, decide on it the night before too. And, if your child doesn’t like taking a shower as soon as he wakes up, maybe it will be better if breakfast comes first.

5. Play music.

Here’s a simple trick you can try: play feel-good tunes in the morning to set the mood for a wonderful day ahead. Pick a few songs that you know your child loves singing or dancing to and play it while she’s getting ready. It may just surprise you at how willing and cooperative she’ll be while “Happy” from the Despicable Me 2 movie or “Can’t Stop the Feeling” from Trolls is playing in the background.

Source: Real Simple, Aha! Parenting, Parenting


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