3 Ways to Save this Christmas

Christmas is really near. I have already put up my Christmas tree last week.  I picked white decors for the tree.

I had all-white decors on tree because the slipcovers in my living room are all red.

I did not buy those decors. I borrowed from my neighbor, my aunt! We swapped some Christmas decors.  You really do not have to buy new decors. You can borrow! I am lucky the my aunts had pretty ornaments.

I still have not gone full force with the Christmas spirit as I have not done any Christmas shopping for my godchildren.  I am thinking about getting creative with my gift wrapping. I can do small boxes using origami. I bought these origami papers from a Japanese store. You may use old magazine pages as origami paper.

If you have small items as gifts, you can create origami boxes like this.

If you have not bought anything (like me), try buying online.  You can avoid crowded malls and the inconvenience of traffic.

Personally, I like giving books as gifts for another person and as a gift for myself.

I just came from a seminar that deals with numbers. I have math degree and  I have not used it much other than simple arithmetic.  The seminar gave insights on analyzing tables and learning how to use them to understand certain phenomena. I checked my college textbooks and it seemed that I no longer have them.

Good thing there is Slugbooks. It is a portal by which you can search for textbooks and the search results would give you the list of sellers where you can buy the book.  With that, you can compare textbooks at slugbooks.com  and pick the amount where it can give you value for money.

How about you? What are your tips to save money this Christmas?


The Reading Backlog

I sometimes wish there are more than 24 hours in a day so that I have time to read books.

I’ve been reading George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones series since August 2011and I am happy to say that I am already reading the 5th book,  A Dance with Dragons.

But there are still a lot of books I wanted to read. Next in line is the Steve Jobs biography and  Tina Fey’s Bossypants.

In my Kindle (desktop version), I downloaded as much free books as I could. Two books I bought are Samantha Sotto’s Before Ever After and Miguel Syjuco’s Ilustrado. Hurray for Filipino authors! ( I still have not read Ilustrado.)

I have ‘Pride and Prejudice’ by Jane Austen and ‘Crime and Punishment’ by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. In high school, the thickness of his ‘The Brothers Karamazov’ discouraged me from reading it. HA! With Kindle, I will not notice how thick the book is. There was a time that I just thought I should read a book from a Russian author so I started reading Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy but I never finished it.  Maybe I should start with J.R.T Tolkien’s ‘The Lord of the Rings‘. I have not seen the movies but I know it is good. Oscars said so.  The book must be very good because the book is usually better than the movie.

Good thing I have read these books before they were made into movies or else this backlog list will be longer.

I also want a dose of light and fun reading. I still have not gone through Melissa Senate’s books and this guilty pleasure. 😀

Maybe I should stop listing them down and go back to reading.

Today is Day 11 of the 30-day blogging challenge.

Before Ever After- The Movie

No, the movie is not in the works. Not that I know of. Not that I would know first. Come to think of it, that would be another awesome feat if the movie is being made just a little over a week after the book was released.

In my previous blog post, I wrote about asking Samantha who she thought would make a good Max and Shelley should the book be made into a movie. She said that she wants people to pick their cast.  Thus, I am writing this post.

Kat’s first picks: The Odd Bunch (but I will justify my picks!)

Sean Bean as Max. I know. He’s a bit older. He’s 52 while Max is 32.  I was watching ‘Game of Thrones’ while reading Samantha’s book so he came up first on my list. I do not even think Sean Bean has done a role where he is as funny as Max. He is always the serious type.  There is always a first. Who knows? He might say yes if I offer him the role. (Anything is possible in my fantasy world.) And the age? He played Eddard Stark in ‘Game of Thrones’ in his 50’s when the book states that Eddard is 35.  This is a make-believe world. Plus, Sean Bean is British!

Here’s a video of Sean Bean in an interview.


Paula Peralejo as Shelley. Shelley is 26. Paula is in her 20’s so age is not a problem. I do not remember how Shelley was described physically. All I know is that she has aquamarine eyes, dark lashes and beautiful. Paula can wear contact lenses. Filming the movie requires traveling to off-beaten paths, doing unique activities, diving, climbing, etc. Paula can do all those without hesitation. (Now I sound like Paula’s agent. Ha!)

I cannot find a youtube video of Paula so just google search and you will find plenty of photos of her on the web. If you’ve done your search, what do you think? Isn’t she lovely?

Patrick J. Adams as Paolo. I am guessing you would ask, “Who is Patrick J. Adams?” Like my choice for Max, I was watching ‘Suits’ when I thought of him as Paolo. ‘Suits’ is a new TV series about a very intelligent college dropout who ends up working as an associate in a law firm (pretending to be a real lawyer). I just like him to be a part of this fantasy movie. He’s got the right age. It is just that the book says Paolo looks like Max. Err.. he does not look like Sean Bean, my choice for Max. Hahaha!

Here’s a video of Patrick J. Adams being interviewed by Associated Press:

Second choices

From my first picks, it clearly shows I will never be a good casting director. (But in my fantasy world, I am the best there is! LOL! I rule in my own world, of course. ) I choose people based on my recent interaction with them through TV shows I watch and celebrities I tweet.

So let me think about other choices. Think, think, Kat! Max and Paolo look alike. The first look-a-likes that come to mind is Tobey Maguire and Topher Grace. (I am laughing at my choices right now.) I might as well get Kirsten Dunst as Shelley. What is this? Before Ever After- Spider-Man Edition? Max is not only immortal but he has superpowers. Haha! Samantha won’t be happy about the changes in my movie.

Here’s a video of Tobey Maguire and Topher Grace interviewing each other:

Third try

Like other casting directors, choices can change at some point. Top choices may be unavailable to film the movie so they look for other actors. If Wikipedia should be trusted as a source of information, Julia Roberts was not the first choice for the role of Vivian in Pretty Woman. So, these three actors should not be sad that they were not picked first.

Taking cues from the book, Paolo looks like Max. Max has amber eyes, brown hair and some hint of a cleft chin. Shelly has aquamarine eyes and dark lashes. Paolo and Max are 32 while Shelley is 26. Tada!! This is the best this lousy casting director can scout using google search and google images. I realize that it is hard to look for actors with amber eyes and brown hair.

Johnny Knoxville as Max. He is a comedian so I hope he can be as charming as Max. He can still look like a 32-year old man. Please try not to be a jackass (get it?), Johnny. Or I’ll fire you. LOL! As if!

Here’s Johnny Knoxville on Jimmy Kimmel Live:


Josh Duhamel as Paolo. He looks like Johnny Knoxville. (And he can be funny! Hmm. Should I cast him as Max, instead?)

Alexis Bledel as Shelley. She is in her 20’s and beautiful. She has dark lashes and eyes with a shade of blue. I dunno if her eye color will qualify for aquamarine.  This movie can catapult her to super stardom like Julia Roberts did in ‘Pretty Woman’ so she should say yes to my offer. Ha!



This has been a fun exercise but casting people for a role is difficult when you just browse thru photos. My choices can be odd and serve only me. I should call for auditions next time. 😉

See you till the next casting call in my fantasy world!

Samantha Sotto’s “Before Ever After”

I first heard of Samantha Sotto from Chuvaness. Her story is inspiring. She is a mom who had three hours to spare while waiting for her son’s dismissal from school. In those three hours, she kept herself busy by writing a book. In the coffee shop, she conjured up stories with her vivid imagination by drawing inspiration from her travels. Her path to becoming a published writer sounded like a story of another favorite author.  Thus, it further piqued my interest but because I live in city with no decent bookstore, buying the book was not in my to-do list for the moment.

That was July 25, 2011. As I write this post, it is August 8, 2011 and I finished reading the book yesterday. I never thought I’d get my copy this soon. The book was released in August 2, 2011. When I started following Samantha Sotto on Twitter, I learned that there is a kindle version of the book. I did not think twice in downloading it. I got Amazon credits and I am amazed how easy it is to download. I do not have the Kindle device but there is a “Kindle for PC” application from Amazon that can be downloaded for free.

Tweeting Samantha

Like what I have experienced before, Twitter helps me connect with people, including authors I am interested in. When Samantha’s tweets showed up in my timeline before, I just read them like any other tweet- read and move to the next. It did not catch my fancy until Melissa Senate’s name was mentioned. That name sounds familiar. I think I have read her book before. A quick Google search told me that I did read her ‘See Jane Date’ book which was made into a TV movie starring Holly Marie Combs. I made a quick tweet about it and I got replies!!

Melissa Senate replied, too! This is just awesome!

Oh, Melissa has other books written after “See Jane Date”.  I must get copies of them.

Samantha sent me a link on Amazon where Melissa wrote her thoughts on “Before Ever After”. (Click this link if you want to read what she wrote. Buy the book, too!)

It was this tweet that got me to thinking that if it is on Amazon.com, there might be a Kindle version of this book. I need not wait before I’m in Manila in September! I have installed the Kindle-for-PC application and downloaded some free books from Amazon before.  And I still have Amazon credits so I quickly bought the kindle version of “Before Ever After”.  I am amazed how quick the process was. With a few clicks and less than 10 seconds later, the book is already in my Kindle application.

See my books list in case you might be interested in reading some of them. (Note: Ilustrado is not a free book. I bought that, too!)

I was too happy with my purchase that I tweeted:

Samantha was gracious with her replies. What a nice person!

And she’s funny, too!

Oh, I am sooo getting my post-it signed!

I love all the tweeting that I was so tempted to tweet her as I read the book. I controlled myself from doing such so as not to spoil the story to those who have not read the book yet. Like me, Frances Sales (editor of OK! Magazine in the Philippines) also had a lot of questions for Samantha. So I tweeted that I am writing down all my questions so I can post it in this blog once I am done with the book.  Samantha replied:

There’s nothing to be scared of, Ms. Sotto.

The Preview

Too bad I did not know that she had a blog before she became this big. I would have loved to be part of her campers. She had a blog which chronicled her journey to becoming an internationally-published writer.  It also showed snippets of her writing process.  That said, it is never too late to become a camper.  Her website is up and she updates her blog. When I have the time, I will retrace her steps in this wonderful writing journey.

Here are some of teasers to the book:

Baked eggs played an important part of the story.

The virtual tour of the book:

Boracay, Philippines

And to top all these:

You can read the first 30 pages of the book.

Click to read.

When she shared the excerpt, I already finished reading the book. I thought it was the excerpt for her 2nd book!  Haha Fan-girl mode!

My review (There might be spoilers. You have been warned.)

I posted my review on Amazon.

Read the other reviews here.

Since I tweeted Samantha that I created a document  for all my questions, I feel compelled to create a substantial review with coherent sentences which explore the book a lot more than what I have written on Amazon. I can’t. Words escape me.  So just allow me to just post the contents of that document.

—————Start of Document——————————-

1. How do you know all these places? That graveyard in France was not a regular tourist destination.
-Then, I found your old blog. You’ve been traveling a lot.
2.. Wow. Red roses =‘I love you.’ Pink carnations say ‘I’ll never forget you.’ And purple hyacinths, well, they say ‘please forgive me.’ How do think of these things? Nice touch on the the crumpled purple hyacinths.
3. Thank you for including the Philippines in your book!
4. I like the line: “Guilt left a fishy aftertaste.” Never heard nor read that line anywhere.
5. Where did you research all this “historical” stuff? Samantha, are you some kind of the history buff? You have an encyclopaedic knowledge. Historical is in quotation marks because I am too lazy to verify the itty-bitty details of the stories if they had parallel accounts in world history.
6. The vinegar and alum thing. Amazing. I might try that one day

If this was a real book (tangible, i mean, as opposed to a kindle version), I would have finished the book in one sitting. I bought a kindle version because I wanted to read the book immediately. However, I do not own a kindle, laptop or any portable devices that will  allow me to read the book while lying on the bed- the most comfiest position for reading. I own a desktop and had to sit upright staring at the computer screen. Add to that the distractions of twitter, facebook and tv shows. (I just start watching ‘Game of Thrones’ and it is a very engaging series. ) As much I would like to finish the book, my eyes can’t. It is good that the book is composed of different mini-stories meld together by a group tour which is a flashback. It is a series of flashbacks within a flashback. The mini-stories intricately woven to complete a puzzle. The book cover reflects such theme. It is a book cover in a book cover!

Photo credit: Not mine. This is a screencapture of the book cover on the Kindle application.

It is amazing how she conjured up all these stories. She has a way with words.They sound to like lullabies that sweetly lulls me to dreamland.

Back to Q1: I checked your new site. I now understand your vast knowledge on Europe.

—————End of Document——————————-

Haha! I am such a lazy blogger.

I asked Samantha another question and she replied:

That is something I should think about. Hmmm. ..who would I like to play Max and Shelley in a movie? This deserves another blog post.

You may get yourself an awesome Kindle!

Buy Samantha Sotto’s book here:

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