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How To Update a Condo’s Kitchen on a Budget

Some condos, like DMCI, will not turn over the unit to the owner until it has been thoroughly finished. The good thing about it is that you can move in right away. But the downside of not having a choice to leave the unit bare is that you’re pretty much stuck with whatever kind of finish they specified for the project. It’s a homeowners’ dilemma because taking down the brand-new cabinets or re-tiling the floor and bathroom is kinda “nakakahinayang.”

When I was asked to decorate my sister-in-law and friend’s unit in Acacia Estate, the first thing I wanted to change was the kitchen cabinets and countertop. The laminate color was too dark for the unit and so the cabinets made the kitchen look even smaller. And since the kitchen is one of the first areas you see when you enter the unit, I want it to have an impact. But both my clients had very limited budget so having custom-made cabinets was out of the question.

Here’s what I did and what you can do too if you want to give your kitchen a make-over. Both projects cost less than P7,


Spot the difference! From vertical to horizontal cabinet handles. Just apply wood filler on the screw holes and proceed with these steps:

  1. Laminates can definitely be painted over. You don’t need to strip it off since it would damage the surface, making the project even costlier. Prep the surface by sanding it a bit using 220 grit sandpaper. Laminates are too smooth for the paint to adhere onto. Even if it is a textured laminate, sand it still.
  2. Next prime the surface using flat white latex (water-based paint). I personally don’t want to use oil-based enamel since condos usually have limited ventilation. Enamel odor takes forever to leave the room and you don’t want that.
  3. Choose any color you want in high/semi-gloss finish. Remember to still use water-based paint.

TIP: Since water-based paint dries much quicker than oil-based one, using a foam or cottom roller would ensure a smoother finish. Paint brush would leave brush marks unless that’s the finish you’re after.

With my sister-in-law’s kitchen (above), the mirror backsplash cost around P4,000 plus the quart of paint for P400+.

kitchen-before1For my friend’s unit, I wanted the kitchen to look clean, sort of Scandinavian-inspired. I initially planned on replacing the cabinet doors with melamine board for the glossy look but I realized that I had to replace the entire cabinet too with melamine board and that would go beyond the budget. So again, I had them paint glossy white.

kitchen-after1aThe glass doors looked great with the back of the cabinet painted blue-green. It might still have looked great if they only had white ceramics as contents. But who wastes precious space for such stuff anyway? So to hide the clutter, (because it really shows through despite the frosted glasses) I had the back of the glass painted too. Not bad, eh?

kitchen-after1bThe black countertop was actually just 60x60cm plain black granite tiles laid over the existing granite. I had the left part extended for a cooktop so the gas and trash can could be stored underneath. It looked more customized like that than just placing a gas range in that spot.

Those white little subway tile-like (30x30cm) cost just P23/pc and the black granite tiles were about P150/pc (tiles were from Floor Center.) For this particular project, we spent no more than P8,000 including the tiles adhesive, grout, plywood for the extended countertop, paint and labor.

I really wish I could take better photos because these kitchens look way better in actual. Hehehe!

If you have similar kitchen and are dying to give it a fresh look, go ahead! P10,000 would go a long way. You can paint the cabinet yourself and just ask the help of someone reliable to do the tiling. Lucky you if you have a handy husband!

A Simple Wedding Gift Idea

A couple of weeks ago, we attended a friend’s wedding in Calaruega, Nasugbu, Batangas. Since the couple won’t be settling down here, they wished for something “light” or something that would help them start on their journey as husband and wife. Gone are the days when wedding gifts are usually basic appliances like oven toaster, electric fan, iron, kettle etc. (unless they signed up for a gift registry). Instead it is now more sensible and practical to give gift certificates or even cash to the newly weds. Who wants to receive five different kinds of iron or a set of china that won’t match your planned dining/kitchen theme?

We wanted to give something that they can save for a special day or event, something consumable because no gift would last forever anyway. So we thought of vintage wine. They can even open it on their honeymoon night… That will definitely “help” them start on their journey, right?

The wine is not yet that vintage  since it’s just six years old, but they can choose to store until their 5th anniversary (making it an 11-year old wine). That can also inspire them to start a wine collection if they are into wine. By the way, they served red wine during the reception and it was good. Thanks, Mark and Madel. I even drank Faye’s share. Hehehe!

But how do you wrap a bottle? Since I hate seeing good wrappers turned into waste, I decided to buy a native box from Crossings Department Store. They can use the box for their other knick knacks so nothing goes to waste.

I made a cushion out of kraft paper then covered it with white tissue. The box was tied with gold ribbon and raffia that I bought from National Bookstore. No gift-wrapping and ribbon-tying skill required! Nothing goes to waste since you can reuse everything especially the box itself.

Here’s the sunset while waiting for the bride and groom. I wish this was the view from our bedroom window. How lovely it would be to have orange light flooding the room everyday…

Of course, we just had to stop by Bag of Beans for a cup of coffee before heading home. Actually, my sole reason was their pan de coco. I am a sucker for pan de coco and they have the best one ever. Unfortunately, at 9pm, it was long gone. Imagine my disappointment!

I so love their laid back interior, so simple and relaxing. I can’t wait to go back to Tagaytay.

The Fatal Truth About Bulalo

* This post has nothing to do with craft or decor but I just couldn’t resist posting this. I might add food to WhatElseMichelle soon. Heehee! By the way, this isn’t a recipe post but rather an exposé.

It’s been raining continuously for more than a week and I am just craving for hot soup. And now with annoying congested nose, Bulalo is the perfect choice. But for me, cooking bulalo requires patience. It’s not something I would cook in the morning and be eaten at lunch. I usually start cooking this late in the afternoon at around 5pm (yes, I have a time and it’s a ritual) so that we can have a hot bulalo soup for lunch the following day.

Why do I do that? Read through.

When cooking any soup based dishes, I always wait for the water to boil especially if the pork/beef have bones. Why? Because of this:

Can you see that yellow, melted butter-like oil under those scum?

Bones release scum, some sort of impurities that accumulates on the surface of the soup. And being impurities, you don’t want that included in your meal. So have an extra patience to take it out by using a ladle or a scum remover. I used a ladle so I could also include the unwanted oil. I had to boil this 3x to get most of the scum out. This is also the reason why I don’t want to use pressure cooker. I’m not in so much hurry anyway.

This is what it looks like scum-free. I usually turn my stove off after 1.5-2 hours so by the time we got to bed (around 11pm), the soup has cooled down and can be put in the fridge overnight. You now probably have an idea why I need to do that.

TAADAA! You got it right, hardened fat. Good morning!

Is it cheese or white chocolate?

This is how heart failure looks like. Really, this is slow suicide!

Never in the world would I let those killers enter my family. Although, honestly, it’s quite fascinating to look at, but totally gross to think about.

Now, this is what you call Mercy…

Okay, I know this is gross but it’s the truth, a fatal one actually especially if you’re eating it with ice-cold drink. I don’t know why recipes do not include placing this dish in the fridge before adding the spices. This is probably the most important step especially for a high fat dish like Bulalo. I love beef shank but not the sebo “lipgloss” that comes with consuming bulalo. So the next time you eat Bulalo and your lips get thick and shiny, think of this picture again.

This is how heart failure looks like. Really, this is slow suicide!

So here’s to make up for the gross pictures above.

These are the only ingredients I use. Onions, onion leaves, ginger, a bit of garlic.

…and peppercorns too.

For the vegetable, I prefer, baguio beans, sweet corn (1 would do), potatoes and chinese cabbage instead of bok choy/pechay

I told you, this is not a recipe post. But if you’re interested, here’s a good one.

Enjoy, your sebo-free bulalo!

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