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!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

And the baby is a...

We've known for quite some time now but I wanted to keep it a secret. Then my hubby starts a blog and he couldn't contain himself. Click here to find out what our firstborn is!

Meanwhile, I will again rest. I'm actually at work, putting to bed the May issue of OK!. Once this is done, off to bed I go. Need to rest! I have lots of stuff to tell you but, right now, let's get this magazine finished and this body rested. See ya around here soon!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Rest, rest, rest

Hi folks! Been a few days, I know. I just got home from the hospital, after suffering a bout of pneumonia. I'm fine and the baby's fine although I really really wish I didn't get sick and have to be pumped full of drugs!!!

Meanwhile, I am still quite fragile and will retreat to my bed. I know I owe you guys a report on the Johnny Air courier service and the lovely goodies we bought from Amazon. The hubby will do that instead! Go check out his spankin' brand new blog, Third World Nerd!

Vince is a new blogger and he's really cute--excited and all. Go make sure you give him a warm welcome to the blogging world, okay? Thanks! Now I will sleeeeeeeeep...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Worry, worry, worry

If you check out my other blogs (Topaz Mommy and Beauty For A Living), you'll find I've been updating frequently. I've been able to spend a lot of time online this week because I've been stuck at home sick. It's a nasty cough and cold. Being pregnant, I've not been able to resort to my usual pill-popping ways so this bug is taking its slow sweet time leaving my body. And I am miserable.

Well, not too miserable since, in other news, everything's fine and dandy. OK! magazine is doing well, the pregnancy is progressing along okay, the money front is secure, I have fabulous friends, my husband loves me and only me... yep, life is great!

I guess I'm just being a worrywart. I seem to like to torture myself with worry--I spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about my lovely house because a fire or an earthquake might destroy it (I didn't feel the 6.1 this afternoon! That's why when Vince was herding me outside, I was delaying: "Wait, I have to get this and that!"... to his complete annoyance). And that's just one example! If I don't watch it, I'm going to age badly and no wrinkle cream in the world will hide the fact that I'm a worrier!

The Bible says worrying is a sin. First, worriers wouldn't worry so much if they believed that a Sovereign God will see us through everything--good and bad. Second, worriers worry because they've become attached to the temporal things of the world and are afraid to lose them. So you can bet I also worry about this sin!

So I just pray for God to take away my fretting because I believe in His sovereignty (I do! I do!) and I say I am grateful for all the blessings in my life and will accept His will even if it is His will to take them all away. It works, you know. Prayer's like that--it changes me. Slowly, in my case, but there's change anyway.  

You know what else makes me forget my worries? This little creature:

Sad, sick, angry, scared... a little cuddle time with Matilda always cheers me up!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Crazy dinner

The great thing about being adults is you can eat anything you want anytime you want. So for dinner, I made breakfast: crispy honey-cured bacon, grilled cheese-and-tomato sandwiches and frothy strawberry yogurt milkshakes.

To make the sandwich, I slathered cream cheese on the slices then put mozzarella cheese for that melt-in-your-mouth goodness. Then I seasoned the tomatoes with a little salt and pepper (just a little!). Threw into the sandwich maker and toasted them to crunchy, gooey, golden perfection.

This dinner is still kinda healthy actually. Many nights, Vince and I pig out on take out. Or chips and candy and ice cream. And lots of Coke! Yep, that's how we keep our skinny figures.

Of course, with the Jelly Bean's imminent arrival, this means I'll have to start making real meals. Ya know, the ones with all the vitamins and minerals, like vegetables and fruits and fish and liver. I'm excited to cook the nutritious stuff and yet part of me is sad that I'll have to give up our crazy dinners soon for the sake of my child's health.

Oh well, we all need to grow up, I guess. Besides, bacon for dinner? At our age? Suicide! Gotta get healthy for the Jelly Bean! If we don't watch it, we'll be suffering from obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and needing to resort to--not just a healthy diet and exercise--but also liposuction and adipex diet pills! Plus, judging by the way the kid's been kicking about in me, our child's going to be a whirlwind of action so we got to get fit and healthy soonest!

UPDATE: Before the health police get their panties all in a bunch, let me just assure you that I was describing our meals before I got pregnant. Since the pregnancy was confirmed, I've been really eating healthy, with the occasional sinful food now and then.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

What Tagaytay's 8 Suites is like

For Nikki's wedding a few weeks ago, Vince and I stayed at a little boutique hotel with a quite prosaic name, 8 Suites.
The back of the hotel (the front view looked kinda ordinary). 
Can you see Vince waving?

We were supposed to stay in a hotel in Tagaytay Highlands (the wedding guests get discounts) but one look at the rustic-looking hotel and I looked somewhere else. Nothing against log furniture really but I prefer clean and elegant to organic and shabby.

The hotel sits on the edge of a steep hill that slopes down to Taal Lake. We can see the lake from our room but you have to climb down to the garden if you want to see the volcano.

Vince and me at the garden

And here's our room--all done up in chocolate hues. The rooms are large, with big beds and really fabulous pillows that I wanted to stuff into my suitcase and bring home. No worries--I'm no thief! I never could bring anything from the hotels I've stayed in. And I always fix the room before I leave--fluff up the pillows, fix the sheets, wipe down the bathroom. I know the staff cleans up after every guest leaves but I just can't bear the thought of people thinking, "What a messy bitch!" while I'm on my way home!

Here's breakfast! Quite good but nothing special. What made it great was the fact that we ate it just outside our room, with the fresh breeze and sunshine seasoning our food with extra yumminess. When you live in the middle of Manila, fresh air and sunshine are pure luxury.

I wanted to show you a photo of Vince enjoying his breakfast but the background was bad—the room next to ours had an extremely loud party the night before and they left an awful mess outside their room (you can just see the soda can past Vince's left thumb). So I had to crop out most of the mess.

Aside from the fact you share balconies with other guests, what I didn't like about the hotel was the noise level. You can hear everything--doors slamming, people walking by, the staff talking to each other, and, worse, people partying! I was so angry, I called the front desk to complain only to be told that the offending party was the owner's kid and his/her friends. This, of course, made me angrier! As the owner's kid, he/she should be even more considerate of the hotel's guests. I definitely gave them a piece of my mind and soon enough, the party toned down. Yup, I'm a huge killjoy, folks.

So. much as I liked 8 Suites (the design, the food and the view, although the last isn't their doing), I think that's the last time I'll stay there. They really should fix the noise problem!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Want to go to New York City?

Just read today that in the United States, nurses earn more than doctors. I have a few friends who are nurses, most of them are in the U.S. already earning gazillions. The ones who are left here are all dreaming of working in the land of milk and honey, too.

There's a ton of nursing schools here in the Philippines--from state universities to a few floors in a crappy building. No surprise there since a lot of Filipinos are aiming to be nurses in another land. I wonder if all these nursing schools--especially the ones that look dubious--are actually good. When I was looking at online writing degrees, I found that you can actually study nursing online, too. Imagine that! I wonder if an online nursing degree from an American online university is better than a Filipino school which has the advantage of practical application of the stuff you learn in the classroom. I think the latter should be better but then again you can't beat a crisp diploma with a shiny American seal on it, right?   

When I was in high school, I asked my Papa what he thinks if I become a nurse. That way, I not only get to help people in need, I can get tons of money at the same time. Papa said he doesn't want me to be a nurse, no matter what. "Nurses just sleep with doctors," he barked. Don't worry--he said the same thing about stewardesses ("They sleep with pilots!"), secretaries ("They sleep with their bosses!") and a host of other professions. Papa just wanted me to be a housewife so I end up sleeping with just my husband. But I became a writer and guess what? I sleep with a writer! My Papa's so wise.

Speaking of writers, are you one? Because if nursing is something you just can't do but writing for a magazine is a dream, then grab the March issue of Cosmopolitan now! Cosmo, together with Pond's, has an exciting contest: Search for the Next Cosmo Intern! Three very lucky people get the chance of a lifetime to work in the biggest women's title in the world! It's not as easy nor as glamorous as you think, folks. Magazine interns are slaves but if you work really hard and do really well, the world that opens up to you is nothing short of amazing. Oh, and the grand prize? The winning intern gets a free trip to New York City!!! He or she will get to meet the editors of Cosmo U.S. and get to see how the magazine is put together.

Sigh. Even I'm tempted except, of course, I can't join. For one, I'm too old to join and I'm already an editor-in-chief of a celebrity title! But I used to want to work for Cosmo. It was my Mama's Cosmo that she allowed me to read when I was 13 that made me want to join the magazine industry. So naturally I wanted to work for Cosmo. But things worked out better for me since I love OK! magazine super!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

24 years later

Interesting to observe that a little more than two decades after the fall of Marcos and the rise of the Aquinos, it is the Marcos scion who has done more for the country than the Aquino son.

Bong Bong


Noynoy


Like his sister, Kris, Noynoy is still brandishing about his parents like a weapon and a shield. Very powerful, I must admit. But I prefer Bong Bong--you can't argue with his achievements: harnessing wind energy, bringing in tourism, supporting farmers (take that, Hacienda Luisita guy!). And yet he has the Marcos name. Very damning, I must admit.

Sad. We're judging these two men based on what their parents have done--idolizing one while condemning the other. If you just look at them, just them, the other is obviously much much better. 

That they both have infantile names is sad, too.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Plans to save the planet just went down the drain

Remember we sold our truck last year so that we can lessen our carbon footprint? Well, so much for saving the environment. With a baby coming soon, we're looking to buy a new car... and a truckload of new things.

Joanna advised that we'll need to buy a huge car. For the stroller, the car seat, the bottles, the milk, the diapers, the sterilizer, the everything a little person needs. My goodness, for such a tiny thing, it sure contributes to a lot of environmental waste! Oh, and by the way, here's our photos of Joanna's kid when Paolo was christened last December 5.
Bernard and Coni check out the little guy.
 Here's the chubby one!
Nikki, Joanna and her little Paolo, Coni, me, Kabbie and Lana

Joanna says that that baby carrier is the best thing ever. Well, I guess we gotta add that to the list of things to buy for the baby then. To be honest, there's no existing list yet. Even now, as people giddily ask what we're buying for the nursery and the baby, Vince and I just say, "Huh?" Nope, we haven't bought anything for the baby, except the camera--and that was on the to-buy list even before we got pregnant, so the Olympus EPL-1 is really for us not Jelly Bean.

But today we were at a car showroom and almost bought a car! At the last minute, we stopped ourselves and said, "We'll think about it," but we know we'll be back soon to buy anyway. I guess we're still fooling ourselves that we don't need a car for the baby.

Nope, not this one! That's a crazy car so we had to get a pic!

We're thinking of the new Mazda 2--cute like the
Jelly Bean, but in green!

It's kinda weird really, having to swallow all our drivel about being enviro-conscious: "The earth is overpopulated! Save energy! Stop using cars! Walk! Commute!" We really tried, folks. But we'll still try by breastfeeding, accepting hand-me-downs from my sisters-in-law, trying out cloth diapers, etc. And we really don't want to get the baby stuff--I think it can be done; after all, both of us grew up with few clothes, toys and stuff. And we turned out okay.

While we are not interested in getting anything for the baby yet, we have been talking about other things, like how I'm so excited to teach it to read and Vince is excited to introduce the kid to music and sports. I've also been concerned about our health care so I'd browse medical and term life insurance quotes online sometimes. Vince, on the other hand, has begun wondering about good schools and tuition. We're very keen on the baby's education and welfare. But shopping for it? Not yet.

We figured we'd buy as we need, and I know every parent reading this is shaking their head and snickering, but if our parents were able to raise us with no strollers and fancy clothes and fab toys, I guess we can do the same with Jelly Bean, too. After all, Vince and I are very smart and sensible people. And we've gotten quite far using our heads. Right now, our heads tell us the baby shopping can wait.

Well, maybe we'll get the car anyway.    

Friday, March 12, 2010

REPOST: Have you read Vince's Life: The Wedding?!

Weddings have been filling up my world lately, even in the books I'm reading! I just finished Vince's Life: The Wedding. It's the last book of the Vince's Life trilogy and, OMG, guys, you gotta gotta read it! I am sooooo in love right now. I am sooooo happy with how the story turned out.

Actually, I didn't know how the story was going to turn out because things were happening so fast and you never really know what's going to happen next and you're just sitting on the edge of your seat, turning the page as fast as you can because you're just dying to know how it's going to end! Ahhh, that Vince Teves, he really knows how to make girls hang on to his every word!

Get your copy of Vince's Life: The Wedding now. Available at all bookstores nationwide. I'm trying to get an interview with Vince, by the way! He's just very shy right now. Maybe if y'all buy his book and The Wedding makes it to Powerbooks' Best Seller list again, he'll grant us all a chat!

SPOILER ALERT IN COMMENTS SECTION. DO NOT LEAVE A COMMENT UNLESS YOU'VE READ THE FINAL BOOK!

Thanks for the blog love!

I've been telling you guys about my house in the newly revamped Female Network but I failed to mention that FN has included Topaz Horizon in its list of Blogs We Love! I know my screen cap is tiny but I swear to you that my blog is the very last on its list (it's alphabetical!) so do visit FN if you need convincing!

This blog also made it to All Women Stalk's list of 7 Best Blogs By Women. Wow! And I'm the only Filipina there! I feel like it's my birthday, people!

Thanks for the love. Now I have to make sure this blog gets better so your acknowledgment won't go to waste!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

We bought these instead

The home plan this year was to buy a new sofa. The sofa we have is from Vince's days as a bachelor. When we got married, I had it reupholstered and it now looks like this:
Thing is, when Vince bought the sofa from Our Home in 2002, it cost him just P10,000. When I had it reupholstered in 2007, it cost me P12,000. Vince thought that was ridiculous (but, hey, it looks much better!) so he's been bugging me to approve the purchase of a new sofa. The problem with the current situation is my husband's taste has vastly improved--Our Home just doesn't cut it anymore so he's been lusting for the contemporary sofas in BoConcept. Starting price for sofas in Bo's? P120,000! So I've been saying, "No, no, no!"

But the last time we visited Bo's, he fell in love--and I kinda did, too--with the Largo sofa above (the one we saw was a dark gold). It's this plush comfy sink-in-heaven sofa that also came with a price tag that was just unbelievable. Unbelievable! But... we decided to buy it anyway! Then the rising costs of my pregnancy and the realization that the baby will be one expensive critter made us rethink the sofa. So... good-bye perfect sofa!

Feeling very deprived is not a good feeling, however. So we logged onto Amazon and bought these instead:

Olympus PEN EPL-1--the camera Vince has been wanting to buy since we found out about Jelly Bean!

We bought it with the Panasonic LUMIX pancake lens, too.

Then Vince just had to buy this horrible thing: the BioShock 2 Big Daddy plush doll. It really gives me the creeps!

And I just had to buy these fantastic books:



I'm so excited for my books! They're all hardcover editions--and they're huge books! I can't wait! And, yes, they're for me, not for the Jelly Bean. Not to worry, if the Bean is anything like us, it will be devouring the books in the library in no time!

We used Johnny Air to have the stuff shipped here. We bought from Amazon before, you see, and the package of books Vince bought ended up in the post office some 20 weeks later. When we got it, the package had been tampered with and the books had been definitely looked through. So much for security.

But when I used Johnny Air to buy a few pairs of shoes, the shoes were delivered to the New York office in 3 days then to the Megamall office in 12 days, totaling 15 days from purchase to delivery. My package was also untouched. Fast and secure!

I'll give a report as soon as the stuff arrives--I'll tell you guys if the gadgets especially arrived safe and sound. Chuvaness told me that Johnny Air can be trusted absolutely (she buys her cameras from Amazon and uses Johnny Air, too!) so we're really keeping our fingers crossed that things will go well with our delivery. If so, then good-bye shopping malls!

*our sofa pic from Female Network. There's an annoying comment there left by someone who clearly does not believe in marriage. Argh!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Behind-the-scenes at Mariel's wedding

So many cute photos from Mariel's wedding so here are more!

The night before the wedding, maid of honor Kai Morales and matron of honor me trooped to Mariel's suite to go over the details of the big day.

Then all of Mariel's friends came by to help with the souvenirs. We all had to fold boxes for the candy bar and guests can just scoop all the candy and chocolate they want into the boxes!

Next morning was bright and sunshiny! Vince and me at the hotel lobby, gathering with all the other guests to board our coasters that will take us to the church.

Outside the church, we wait with Kai. It's breezy in the shadow of the cathedral but inside, ooh wow, it was hot!

The reception was held on the beach. This is my first beach wedding! It's very relaxed and happy. What I really like about Mariel's wedding was it still looked so fabulous! A lot of beach weddings I see in magazines are so... blah. 

Gorgeous guests: photographer Monica Barretto, Martha Stewart Weddings Philippines editor-in-chief Tata Mapa and makeup artist Marie Calica.

I really should put all these nice pics in a USB stick and plug it into our unused digital frame that we got for free when Vince bought his computer monitor last year. Yep, we have a really nice digital frame that we aren't using! But with all the pics I have now, I think it's time to fire it up.

Oh, for more on Mariel's wedding, click here and here.

Photos by Monica Barretto.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Welcome to my new readers!

Blogging for this new year is off to a good start. My visitors are steadily increasing. Hooray!

Here's Nuffnang's report for the last 2 weeks, an average of 518 unique visits a day:

Here's SiteMeter's report for the first three days of March, an average of 535 unique visits a day:
March 1
March 2
March 3

So I'm basically averaging 530 readers a day, and these days the daily visits are actually at 600+. That's a pretty good number, considering that just a little over a year ago, I had about 100 readers. It sure took me a while to get those readers, though! Here's what I did:

1. Make an interesting blog! Good grammar, correct spelling. Lots of photos. Fun topics!
2. Leave good comments on other people's blogs. None of that stupid "Hey, great blog" and "Love your blog" and "Care to exchange links?" nonsense.
3. Promote on Facebook!

Oh man, that was a lot of work and I really just started promoting Topaz Horizon around October 2008. So that's about a year of hard work. Now I usually just do Step 1 because if you make a good blog, people will come back for more and maybe they'll like it enough to tell other people about it.

Thanks for reading, old friends! And to the new folks coming around recently, I hope you like what you read and come back soonest!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

The gift that rocks!

Someone, impressed with my husband's gift-giving skills, asked me why I didn't blog about Vince's Christmas gift to me. Well, because by the time December and January came along, I was in the midst of that first trimester madness and totally forgot that my Christmas--despite all the morning sickness, sleepiness, fatigue, etc--was extremely happy and blessed!

So what did Vince give me for Christmas? Actually, we gave this to each other because we both wanted it and since it was kinda not cheap, we both decided it'll be perfect for us both! We got ourselves this:
 Just look at that smile on my face!
 Unwrapping giddily. I'm the guitarist. I'm really good at it!
Vince is the drummer. He's really good at it, too. 
Me? I can never get the hang of it!

Happiness! We totally love Rock Band 2! Super funnest game ever! Ya, I know the girls reading this are disappointed ("A video game? WTF?!") but you have to understand I'm a geek and I'm really good at some video games. That would make me every guy's dream girl, right? But Vince doesn't even want to play with me sometimes because I can get fiercely competitive. It's not about having fun for me, it's about annihilating the enemy (and if you're the other guy, that would mean killing you). Worse, I'm a sore loser. I don't take defeat lightly at all, which makes playing games with me totally not fun. 

But Rock Band is just fun. Fun! Fun! Fun! I've never had so much fun playing with others--we've even done Rock Band parties because it's the kind of game that just makes everyone happy.

Friday, March 05, 2010

"Sex... Great medicine!"

So decreed Henry VIII in the fourth and last season of The Tudors!



It looks like an exciting season! And they brought the sex back! Well, they'd have to because Catherine Howard, the teen queen, was beheaded for her indiscretions. Poor girl--her past really came back to haunt her in a huge way. I mean, not many women had to pay for their past with their heads! This Henry is just too eager to kill off his wives. If he had lived today, I'm sure he' d have asked for free life insurance quotes on each wife before killing them off! He'd have profited from four of them (okay, Catherine of Aragon and Jane Seymour died of natural causes but he kinda still had a hand there)! Scary!

Soooo excited to watch this. Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Henry Cavill look yummy even with the facial hair and receding hairline. Tamzin Merchant looks awfully young and naughty--perfect for the role of the tragic queen. Joss Stone as Anne of Cleves is cute so I hope she has more exposure.

I was kinda hoping they'd go for a few more seasons. It is, after all, called The Tudors so I thought they'd also do Edward, Mary and Elizabeth. But this will be the last season because, understandably, everyone's fascination of that family's history centered on that great and terrible king!

Here's a behind-the-scenes peek:



Can't wait for April 11!

Thursday, March 04, 2010

More photos of Nikki's wedding

The bride. Glorious in a Rajo Laurel creation. That skirt is just incredible, Nikki! I want to hear all about the creation process or maybe we can feature it in a bridal story in OK!. What do you think?!

The groom. Looking dashing in his three-piece suit. Looking very serious, too! Bernard, I prefer you when you're smiling--you look like a smiley face! I think that's what got Nikki hooked!

The entourage. This photo is so surreal, like it was for a fashion magazine! And, unlike a fashion magazine, this photo is not Photoshopped, so yes, the ladies really do look like they're fans of Stimerex ES--although they aren't! Those svelte bodies are the result of good ol' exercise and diet.

The guests who can't keep their hands off each other. Someone tell these two to save it for the bedroom. Really! Look at where all this affection got that girl--pregnant! I think this was the part the candle kept going out and I found it funny and Vince didn't.

The OK! girls. Everyone's here except Joanna, who was occupied with domestic matters (she is a new mom, after all, and traveling can be stressful). These are the women who make each issue of my magazine fantabulous each month! We're a happy bunch who likes Hollywood happenings and eating, eating, eating! We love swooning over love stories, too, so this was definitely a night to remember.

Photos (except last) by Pat Dy