LITTLE NOTE!

I'm doing a series of giveaways on my Facebook page, dear readers! Just visit my page for a chance to win some fun prizes!

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Velveteen Books

When I talked about my love affair with books, a reader, dear Ranran, asked me this:
Do you keep your books neatly stacked in a shelf, cover them with plastic if it's in paperback, read them them by just opening it slightly so as not to get creases on the bind and lend them ONLY to people who you trust and know that they'll guard it with their life?
Ranran, when I was young, I used to be a lot careful with my books until someone looked at them in their pristine condition and said, "Oh, you collect books as a hobby? When will you read them?"

Since then, I'm the sort who writes on the margins (usually word definitions), underlines favorite passages, dog-ears the pages, punches the paperback covers with my rabbit puncher, reads and rereads them till the covers are curved. I even use the thick books as my pillow on long flights. I also pile them in stacks beside my bed or stash them under the bed when Vince complains of the mess.

I lend books to anyone and everyone. I'm always going around and asking, "Hey, have you read this book? No? Here! Return it when you're done." When I do this, I don't know why people look at me like I'm selling them diet pills. I mean, these are books we're talking about! I want to add that people who read a lot tend to be slim, too, which proves my theory that books are the world's best weight loss product! Oh, and unless the book is a special edition or was a gift, I even give books away! I figure I can always buy a new one.

So, Ranran, I hope I haven't earned your condescension because, yes, my books are tattered. But now they are real.

Talking to pretty girls

My friend Kat Dy is one of the fabulous women behind Belle de Jour, the daily planner specially created for Filipinas--it's packed with useful tips and discount coupons on top of the diary designed to make any girl efficient. I own one but I won't show it here because I write stuff on it that's a wee too personal!
A few weeks ago, Kat invited me to give a talk to the BDJ girls. The topic was how to earn money online. I've been earning a few hundred dollars regularly with my online endeavors and Kat thought I should share some of my online money-making secrets. So last Saturday, I squeezed myself into a blue dress and nervously gave my little talk.

I was nervous because of my dress! When you wear something you aren't comfortable in, your discomfort will most definitely show. And if you're about to step in front of a lot of people and talk to them, you want to focus on the talk and not on how your dress is pinching you everywhere! When my hubby saw my photos, he teased, "Ang lusog!" (How plump!") I wasn't offended--at a 111 lbs, I'm underweight, but when we met, I was a mere 90 lbs.--and swatted him playfully on the arm, but I'm glad I was talking about making money not giving diet pill reviews!

I want to say that BDJ girls are smart, good-looking and very friendly and warm! My nervousness melted away when I felt how welcoming (and forgiving!) they were of my fumbling about. I met so many fascinating women that day--entrepreneurs, housewives, wives, mommies who inspired me to do more, more, more! Thanks, BDJ girls! You made me feel better and so I had tons of fun!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Someone's writing on a Moleskine soon!

Oh, so so many entries to my Moleskine giveaway! What fun it's been reading all your favorite books. So how did I come up with the winner?

First, write all the entries down:Second, cut cut cut:Third, put them all in a box:
Fourth, shake vigorously:Fifth, pick out a name:
Congratulations, Aicha! And from the looks of your lovely blog, you're going to have a lot of uses for those Moleskine notebooks and that P500 gift certificate to Avalon.ph!

To everyone, thank you so much for sharing your books with me. I was thrilled to add to my book list!

Thanks, Jasper Ong of Avalon.ph! To my readers, if you want your blog to be part of the Avalon.ph Blog Hopping Moleskine Giveaways, check out the details here.

If you want to buy your own Moleskine notebook, go to Avalon.ph and enter this coupon code upon checkout: topazhorizon. You'll get a 5% discount on any purchase of the Moleskine Large Cahier Ruled Black Set of 3!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

My favorite books

I love books. Love them. I spend too much time reading actually. I used to make my parents angry because (a) they blamed my poor eyesight on reading too much, (b) Mama told me a girl should fill her days with chores and not her head with ideas, and (c) Papa said men are never attracted to smart girls. This is one time I'm glad I was such a disobedient daughter! Life has happened in such a way that I now know that (a) I'm myopic because of genetics and I do abuse my eyesight with too much TV--on my current gadget lust list is a Slingbox--and, yes, too much reading, (b) Mama may have disapproved but her little girl's head of ideas made me a woman she was proud of, and (c) Papa was, thankfully, very wrong!

So since I'm discovering a lot of books because of my ongoing Moleskine giveaway (deadline is tonight!), I just want to share my most cherished reads:
  1. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There, both by Lewis Carroll
  2. Far Pavilions by M.M. Kaye
  3. Lord of the Rings trilogy and Silmarillion, all by J.R.R. Tolkien
  4. On Writing by Stephen King
  5. Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  6. Watership Down by Richard Adams
  7. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
  8. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  9. Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace
I have just finished reading The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman and I am eager to read the next two books. It's made me extremely fascinated with parallel universes!

I've also enjoyed these over the past year: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, The Vintner's Luck by Elizabeth Knox, the Twilight series by Stephenie Mayer, Watchmen by Alan Moore, The Graveyard Story by Neil Gaiman and Just After Sunset by Stephen King. Oh, and how can I forget Vince's Life: Getting Over Andrea by Vince O. Teves!

I know I've read more than these listed (a lot of trashy novels--empty but fun all the same!) but I'll let you go now. I'm off to read Makeup Manual by Bobbi Brown. I promised to give this book to my friend Mariel but I want to learn some beauty tricks from it first!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Cruisin' on the Pasig River

Kiehl's had a very interesting media event last week--they took us on a cruise aboard the Pasig River ferry. The announcement was met with dismay; after all, the Pasig is one of the world's most polluted rivers. But we all had a wonderful time! I do believe we all agree this is one event that was unique and we came away from it learning a lot.

First thing we learned: The river does not stink anymore. This is actually something I already guessed since I live along the Pasig. Here's a view of the river from our window:
And here's the view of my condominium building (it's the slice of peach in the very middle) and my office, too (the wide one on the right) from the rain-drenched window of the ferry:
I've always wanted to ride the ferry since it was launched two years ago. I'd watch it from my house but Vince would always flat out refuse to ride it. So when I told him that the Kiehl's event was on the ferry, he was amused at how happy I was and, I'm sure, more than relieved I don't have to bug him about it!
Another interesting fact I learned is the river is salty. Yes, you read that right. I found this out when I ventured out onto the bow and I got some river sprayed onto my face. I sputtered in horror, "Maalat!" ("It's salty!") A cameraman laughed, "Kadiri! Malamang ihi ng mga squatter!" ("Yuck, must be all the concentrated urine from the squatters!")

I was relieved to know that the Pasig River is actually a tidal estuary--a body of water directly linked to the sea so that, depending on the tide, seawater flows in and out of it. This explains why I always smell the sea from my bedroom window! And it smells fresh! Oh, this is me just before the spray:
Speaking of informal settlers (the politically correct term), there were still a lot of them along the river but not as bad as I imagined. The Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC) is in the process of relocating them to better communities such as the Cardinal Sin Village, also located along the riverbank:Someone should tell whoever put up that sign to just place all the words together since this just looked ridiculous:
More than relocating informal settlers, the government should also move factories, oil depots and businesses away from the river. They're the ones mostly responsible for pumping their chemical waste into it.
As you can see below, the shanties are being demolished. There were some kids still swimming in the river, which made me worry--they'd definitely need some medical care sooner than they think. Or lawsuits against the factories but I doubt they can afford river-disease/rectum cancer/hepatitis A/salmonella lawyers. Poor things.
While I found myself wistfully hoping that the Pasig River cruise can one day rival the one I enjoyed on the River Thames, I do want to say the view wasn't all ugly. There were pretty parks, nice bridges, modern buildings and, surprisingly enough, a lot of green:

The most magnificent sight of all was the Malacanang Palace, official residence of the President. Sadly, we weren't allowed to take photos of the Palace, which made me retort, "I didn't hear the Queen complain when I took photos of Buckingham Palace!" We did meet Angel Cancio, the man who drew the Palace on the back of the PHP 20 bill:
He also drew the Central Bank Complex on the back of the PHP 100 bill. We were all very thrilled to meet him and we all had him sign our bank notes (I was cheap--I just volunteered a PHP 20!). Another fact that tittilated us was this bridge:
It's called the Lambingan Bridge. I don't know what the word is in English; somehow, "affection" is not quite the word but an English equivalent would be Lovers Bridge. In olden times, young lovers would meet here and do some lovin'. Jilted lovers would also throw themselves from this bridge but no one's ever died so the bridge must really be a tender spot!

Ah, but this was my favorite spot--the station right across my home:

For more on Kiehl's and the products that will benefit the recovery of the Pasig River, check out my beauty blog, Beauty For A Living.

P.S. Don't forget to join my Moleskine giveaway!

New trinkets from a friend in the UK

Laura, the lovely author of the stylish blog Daisy Chain Dreams, sent over these pretty necklaces all the way from Bristol.

This is much nicer than I expected. Really too bad the picture doesn't do it any justice at all. It's big, too, and makes an equally big style statement. The yellow glass and the wooden beads give it a Byzantine aura.

I so adore this White Rabbit pendant. It's almost sacrilegious--it has that religious medal feel but the portrait is that of the fussy bunny from Alice in Wonderland--my most favorite book in the world. This was the exact illustration I used for my wedding invitation's RSVP card. I'm in love with it.

Thanks, Laura! I love them! To my readers, do check out her blog--her handmade pieces range from quirky teapot rings to vintage heart jewelry. I'll be shopping again soon. I have my eye on the Alice-inspired pieces, like the Drink Me bottle pendant.

Speaking of favorite books, you can win a Moleskine notebook and a PHP 500 GC if you hop on over to this post. Contest ends on July 29!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Before August starts, a few requests

I'd like to ask everyone to:

1. Please pick up the July issue of OK! magazine, featuring Robert Pattinson on the cover. Oh, and Brad and Angelina. And the Harry Potter cast! Have you all seen Half-Blood Prince yet?! It's actually pretty good. And the guy who plays Cormac McLaggen is pretty hot. Reminds me of a young and sexier Ryan Philippe! OK!'s features assistant Elaine Natividad writes more about this gorgeous creature in her blog Tralaland.

2. Check out Techie.com.ph! It's my husband's new baby. Vince is the former editor-in-chief of T3 Philippines but there's a global trend now where gadget freaks turn to the worldwide web and not to print media for their technology news. So Vince is now at the helm of Techie.com.ph. It's pretty cool--if you liked T3, then you'll still find the honest reviews on anything from small gadgets like USB sticks and Mp3 players to expensive stuff like laptops and flatscreen TVs. Tech news are updated daily and now it's possible for stuff like movie reviews. There's a Buyer's Guide, too! The site is still very new and Vince is going crazy setting it up but please support! Thanks!3. Join my Moleskine Giveaway! All the details are right after this post! Scroll down now...

I hope you all have a nice day!

WIN! A Moleskine notebook!

CONTEST IS CLOSED

Now, to be honest with y'all, I may love blogging but nothing beats the smell and feel of paper and ink. And the best kind of paper to write down all your precious thoughts on are the Moleskine notebooks, legendary for being the notebooks that artists like Vincent Van Gogh and Pablo Picasso and writers like Ernest Hemingway used. You can't beat history like that!

Vince and I are Moleskine addicts. Some of our friends know this and have given us Moleskine journals over the years. Thanks, my loves--these are truly the best gifts! Especially since Moleskines are so expensive! So now, I'm going to let my readers have a chance to own a Moleskine notebook!

Avalon.ph
--that wonderful online shop for Moleskine notebooks, rare books and other collectible literature--is the generous sponsor of my contest. Actually, it's their contest and they invited me to partner with them. The annual contest is called the Avalon.ph Bloghopping Moleskine Giveaways 2009. This year, my blog has been picked to be one of the participants. Thanks, Avalon.ph ! For this week, Avalon.ph and I will give a Topaz Horizon reader a Moleskine Large Cahier Ruled Black Set of 3.Avalon.ph makes the contest extra special by throwing in a PHP 500.00 online Gift Certificate! You can use this GC for the many rare or signed books on the site. I've found a lot of books I like--they're quite pricey and so I envy the reader who gets this GC!

Here's what you have to do:
  1. Answer this question in my comments box: "What is your favorite book and why?"
  2. You may join as many times as you wish (only 1 book per comment!). One comment/book means one raffle entry.
  3. Want even more chances of winning? Blog about this giveaway with a link to Topaz Horizon and Avalon.ph. Yes, you may grab the photos here. And yes, it can be just a P.S. or a little line. No need to be fancy! A blog post with links entitles you to a whopping 10 entries!
UPDATE! Please leave your full name with your entry. I can't announce "The winner is Anonymous," for Pete's sake! I can't also say "Anna won it!" If you don't want to leave your full name, then make sure you have a link to your blog or email address. I've deleted the entries with unidentifiable authors--and there were a lot of them.

Unlike my other blog giveaways, this particular contest is open only to Philippine residents, per Avalon.ph's request. On a side note, I'm so giddy I've been getting offers to sponsor my blog prizes. One day I hope to give away more expensive stuff, like iPods, mobile phones or even laptops (calling Apple and Sony--the brands I've given so much mileage in this blog!)!

Anyway, contest closes on July 29, 2009, 11:59 PM. I will then pick a winner randomly. The lucky winner of a spankin' brand new Moleskine notebook and a PHP 500 gift certificate will be announced as soon as I had my breakfast on July 30. So good luck everybody!

P.S. Don't trust your chances and you'd rather buy your own Moleskine notebook? Go to Avalon.ph and enter this coupon code upon checkout: topazhorizon. You'll get a 5% discount on any purchase of the Moleskine Large Cahier Ruled Black Set of 3! Yep, your being a Topaz Horizon reader has its privileges!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Behind closed doors past midnight

Vince and I sleep late--around 2 or 3 a.m. is the usual time we turn the lights out. After playing with the rabbits when we get home from work, we have dinner late, this a long drawn out affair of talking about the day, the next day and stuff we read about in the news or in the books on our bedside table. Then it's TV marathon time or a movie even, then feed the wabbits time, then sometimes dessert time. Then Vince cleans the kitchen (I cooked, you see) and it's his habit to put on the kettle and brew some tea for breakfast.

I love our blue kettle. It's so cute! Actually, it looks like one of those Kettlebells. That's a cast iron weight used in a real sport with Russian origins, I believe. Maybe I should get another one and use those for workouts! That way, I won't have ugly dumbbells in the house--I can even adjust the weight! Hmm. Or I can just use them to boil water for tea...

Yep, we like making our own tea instead of relying on the powdered ones. We have many kinds of tea at home. For hot teas, we have this... I really don't know what it is because the packaging is Japanese but it looks like dried grass and rice crispies and it's so good and toasty and full-bodied. Perfect for after meals. I also have this medicinal herbal tea that I only drink when I'm feeling ill.

The rest of our teas we like cold. So Vince brews dried black tea leaves in one pot and cranberry infusion in another pot. Then as we wait for the water to cool, Vince goes to the library to write while I go to the bedroom to blog or write or read. The water usually takes an hour or so to get down to room temperature, whereupon Vince transfers the cranberry infusion to a pitcher and the black tea to a flask then off inside the fridge they go. In the morning, they're super duper cold and refreshing!

And that's your peek into our bedtime ritual. Now I'm off to read Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass. Good night!

UPDATE: The wonderful Bucca just told me that the Japanese tea Vince and I enjoy so is called Genmaicha. Thanks, Bucca! You're a sweetheart!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Blogging awards!

Pink Notes Diary is so sweet. She gave me this Perky Blogger Award. I guess she thinks I'm perky. Gee, Pink Notes, you should meet me--I'm perkier in person, so much so people always ask me if I'm drunk or high. Anyway, Pink Notes Diary gave me yet another award--the I Love This Blog Award. Thanks!
I'm sending this award to my friend Mariel Chua, who just recently completed her 30-Day Blog Challenge. She was bent on blogging every single day for 30 days. Even I can't do that! She did it so well, too. Each post was well written. There's really no point in blogging every day if all one writes is crap and, believe me, there are so many blogs out there that are a pain to the eyes and the mind. So I am in awe at wonderful and prolific bloggers like NY Minute Now.

Another blog I enjoy now is Marie Calica's The Beauty Coach Is In. It's funny, witty and full of beauty tips and tricks. A joy to read. Marie, you are now the recipient of the I Love This Blog Award!

I have another blog I like--Fifi Lapin. Or Fifi the Rabbit. I love it because it's fashionable, clever, funny and its star is a rabbit! Unlike other rabbits--like my own two cuddly wuddly wabbits--Fifi is very slim. I guess that's how she can fit into those covetable sample sizes of the desgner dresses she's always wearing. Perhaps I should ask her advice for diet pills, er diet pellets, since my Galadriel and Matilda are super duper chubby!

I'm really enjoying these awards I've been getting. Thank you so much for appreciating this silly blog! Do tell me what blogs you enjoy reading. I'm always on the lookout for fab reads!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

How to wear black and not look like someone died

This is a post script of sorts to my Sony Vaio story. Vince and I were invited to the Sony Vaio launch last Tuesday and I was excited to go since Vince very rarely attends events. I was pretty keyed up to dress pretty for him and go on a "date." (I know I'm silly!)

Anyway, as party invitations are wont to do these days, Sony's invite said to come in elegant black. Everyone complied with the black part. As for the elegant bit? That's another story. I was a bit disconcerted--it looked like a funeral. Having just watched Michael Jackson's memorial the week before, it gave me the chills.I do want to say that my husband--in a crisp black long-sleeved Zara button-down shirt, slim black Levi's and sleek leather boots--looked quite yummy (sorry for the terrible photo!). Lesson here then is if you must wear a dour hue, make sure it's perfectly tailored and made of quality cloth.

The general opinion is black is a safe color (or non-color) and fashion magazines always tell you to have a little black dress in your closet. While this is true, black can also make its wearer look miserable and common so the lesson here is to choose a style that brings out your best qualities--the shape of your body, for example. One of my favorite LBDs is this H&M number, which I debuted on the colorful set of Juicy. It hugs me in all the right places so even though I'm stick thin, the dress makes me look like I have boobies and an ass!Black can also enhance the color of your skin. Yes, a deep rich black looks marvelous on most skin types--depending on the cloth, my skin looks very white or creamy with a deep black. Some blacks are grayish (makes me look sallow), bluish (makes me look deathly pale) or brownish (makes my skin look dirty). Put the cloth against your face to find out which black suits you. Also, since black is very somber, embellishments like beads, sequins, embroidery or prints can cheer it up.

Oh, and as you can see from above and below pics, another way to make black less serious is to expose skin. Lots of it! The seriousness of the color balances whatever you'd want to show off--be it cleavage, arms, back or legs.
At the Sony event, I wore my Jill Stuart dress with a full skirt and a delicate print of pale pink flowers. Here's a better photo (taken when Nikki and I were guests at Lucy Torres's show The Sweet Life):
It does not look funereal at all. Nikki also makes black festive with a spangly collar and a short hem. Wilma meanwhile chose a dress in silk chiffon making her look soft and feminine.

Wearing black isn't as basic as the fashion mags would have you believe. But there's no need to despair. Just keep in mind the following: cut and tailoring, cloth quality, style. And if this just frustrates you, well, I always believe a bright smile makes black less grave.

Want to learn more about wearing black? Look to Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston. Both women have elevated wearing black to an art. Now if only their taste in men could improve...