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!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

What a busy (and expensive) week I had!

It was the deadline week of OK!. The last week is always deadly for me and my staff but I made it more stressful by penciling in my OBG and facial appointments, too.

The pregnancy is going very well and my OBG prescribed these new vitamins that are so frakkin' expensive but are supposed to have all the vitamins and fatty acids and minerals my baby and I need. Then I also have to do birthing classes, a 4D ultrasound and the usual lab tests. Drain my blood away now, why don't you? It's a good thing the hubby and I have jobs!

So even though I'm already spending a lot on this pregnancy, I went shopping! Bought three dresses from Tango, a dress from Warehouse, sandals from Celine, new eyeglass frames (they're red!) and yet another dress from Kamiseta. It's so adorable! But I have to bring it to the seamstress because the shoulder straps are too long. Will have a decent photo taken as soon as that dress is ready.

Oh, and I bought a new cellphone, too, from the Big Sony Sale. It really is a big sale! I love my new phone. Had to buy a new one because my old Sony Ericsson is more than 5 years old and it's dying on me. Will write about the phone soon.

Oh, and I finally put the Facebook Like button in my blog! It's soooo cool! If you wanna know how, let the Third World Nerd teach ya...

And you can also join my Facebook fan page. I'm meeting a few "likers" tomorrow--they won my FB Fan Page raffle. So fun!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

To the students who read this blog, do check out this school diary

I know from the regular commenters and from my blog's fabulous Facebook page that my readers are mostly women in their mid-20s to mid-30s but in case you're younger than the demographics and are still in school or you have sisters and nieces still in school, you just might think this journal is uber cute and useful:
The Campus Journal from Belle de Jour for SY 2010-2011

You can paste your pretty picture in the box

List down your goals for the school year

Fill those charts up with straight As!

So you never forget the birthdays of your friends/classmates/teachers

This is so you know when to practice safe sex!

Because even though you feel young and invincible, you oughta prioritize your health!

So that when vacations finally come, you'll be ready for them!

Meanwhile, get busy with schoolwork and extra-curricular stuff

And let your days be filled with studying, friendships and fun

Of course, every BDJ journal comes with discount coupons--from shoes and dresses to spa services and the best acne treatments!

Which can really help you save money while look great at the same time!

The Campus Journal is filled with pages upon pages of neat stuff that can help you sort through the busy life of a student! Make sure you grab one (or two or three for your barkada!). Order online by sending your name, delivery address, email address, mobile number and number of planners you want to sales@belledejourpowerplanner.com. Or you can just check out the bookstores! I think it's P348 in bookstores but online, it's P320.

This is not a press release, by the way! It's just a big thank you to my BDJ friends Darlyn, Kat and Em, who send me my yearly BDJ planner and now my Dr. Mom journal, too.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

SATC 2 premiered in Manila last night

Last night, OK! managing editor Lana Chan and I attended the Sex and The City 2 premiere at Power Plant Mall. It was thrown by Solar Entertainment and I had a lovely time seeing old friends.

You see, unless my job requires me to go out (for example, to an advertiser's event), I haven't really been socializing since I got pregnant. Three reasons: I'm terribly sleepy, I had really bad acne in the first trimester, and I'm more susceptible to infections and diseases. When I got pneumonia, for example, that happened a week after I attended an advertiser's event. So I'm pretty much cloistered lately.
The fifth girl is what happens when you have sex... and the city gets overpopulated! 
I'm wearing a sequined maxi dress from Warehouse, Celine gold sandals,
an Evita Peroni headband, and carrying my Gucci tote.

So last night was fun. There was a plethora of style--I had fun checking out dresses, bags, jewelry, heels, boots, hairstyles. Really, I think I've been cooped up too long! Thank goodness for Facebook (and this blog!), people I haven't seen in months (some, years) were not shocked to see me pregnant. We were all pretty much up to date with each other's lives!

The lady DJs of 99.5 RT look as good as they sound.

Mariel, busily introducing people around, while her hubby Alvin watches

Me and Mariel. Should've asked her to remove her jacket so you can see 
the printed turquoise mini dress from Kate Torralba that she wore.

I didn't go in the theater to watch the movie, however. I always seem to get sick when I'm in a crowded enclosed space! So I bid my friends buh-bye and went off to Sango to buy my yummy husband his dinner. 
Vince and I have always loved Sango's burgers, but after two pregnancy-induced nausea fits, we haven't had any. Thankfully, last night, my nose was cooperative! When I got home, Vince just also arrived from work (and he was soooo happy to see me! So cute!) and we had a grand time munching away happily.

So that was my night! How was yours?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I am loved (in very sweet ways!)

Last week, Mariel made me the most delicious carrot cake in the world (read why in my Topaz Mommy post). Just look at it!

Yummy yummy yummy! Even Vince said it was amazing and Vince does not eat vegetable confections!

Then a few days ago, Nicole sent me red velvet cupcakes that she also baked for me! Wow! These were such a lovely and tasty gift.
Coni, Mariel and me enjoy our baked goods

Truth to tell, my OBG will send me off to get a colon cleanse if she ever finds out I've been stuffing myself with sweet stuff. Because, contrary to what people say, pregnancy is not the time you can eat anything and everything you want. This is the time to eat healthy and in small portions throughout the day. Which is driving me totally crazy because I want to eat, eat, eat all the sweet, fat and salty food in the world and I can't! That is why I am not a fat pregnant woman, by the way, because I am really trying to follow my doctor's strict diet regimen of vegetables, fruits and other yucky healthy stuff.

But how can anyone resist the goodies above? And the love of friends? I mean, they didn't buy those cakes--they baked them for me! Thank you, Mariel and Nicole. You are the bestest friends a girl can ever have!

*Mariel posted her carrot cake recipe

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Shocker: SJP loves HP! - UPDATED!!!

I don't believe it! I wasn't part of the hordes of women who watched HBO's Sex and The City but it was such a huge pop culture hit that I knew Sarah Jessica Parker, or rather, Carrie Bradshaw may have worn a different fabulous brand every week on the show but she used just one and only one computer on every episode: a Mac!

From the very very beginning, Carrie was a Mac user...

... and till the show ended (and the Apple logo went right side up!).

But for the upcoming movie sequel, Carrie will be typing out her thoughts on a--gasp!--HP Notebook.


Well, I'll be honest with ya--it's pretty much discombobulating. It's like watching Transformers and seeing Bumblebee is now a GM, not a VW! Weird. Hewlett-Packard's marketing department did its darndest to partner with the franchise (and successfully so) but I dunno. It's just not right!

The Mac is the computer designed for creative people--that's why we all have Macs at the editorial department (mine is a mighty impressive iMac). Macs are used by musicians, photographers, copywriters, art directors, fashion designers, writers. I really can't explain why (I'll let the Third World Nerd do that) but Macs just seem to be designed in such a way that creative people intuitively know what to do with it. I knew from the moment I switched one on that a Mac and I had something beautiful going on. It's like love!  

So writer and design-crazy Carrie Bradshaw and the Mac were just the perfect partnership. They made sense. But Carrie and HP? Hmmm. This I gotta see.

Of course, I'm not putting PCs down at all. I am, after all, typing this blog post on an HP Mini. I got a Mini because it was cheap. And I wanted to keep my computer-related stuff at home simple--surfing, blogging, photo storage, emailing, eBaying. I didn't want to take work home--which is what the Third World Nerd does, hence his MacBook Pro, iPad, iPhone. He has nothing against PCs, too, since he also used one for gaming and downloading. I chose a PC for home because I wanted my online doings at home to be simple, no fancy stuff. After all, that's the HP promise: The computer is personal again! But when it comes to doing creative things (from simple to heavy duty!), there's only one baby for that job: a Mac.

Read more about this shocking new partnership from Popeater and The Guardian UK.

UPDATE: It's not what we think! Spot.ph has the story here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My fake past rears up its ugly head again

You know how your parents always told you that you have to be careful with the decisions you make in your life because one small mistake can haunt you forever? Then how do you deal with stuff that you didn't do, were careful not to do and still it bites you in the ass?

If you've been reading this blog long enough, then you know that some nasty people in my high school had spread lies about me long long ago (if you just stumbled here, here are the back stories: "On real and made-up reputations" and "Misunderstood"). If you had known me then and if you know me now, you'd know those rumors were beyond ridiculous. That's why I never go to our high school reunions. I don't see the point of seeing useless and malicious people again.

Well, a long-lost guy classmate emailed me last night that at a recent mini-reunion, apparently I became the subject of conversation. Apparently, they discussed how I'm pregnant... again! Like, they don't even know how many pregnancies I've had. Well! Just to clear things up, this is my very very first pregnancy and because of my endometriosis, I never even thought I could become pregnant so if any of you hear that this is my nth pregnancy, please laugh your head off.

I wish I could laugh my head off. I used to be able to. But now that I'm going to have a kid, I don't want some stranger telling him that his mom had many pregnancies or had a wild past. It's okay if it were true but since it isn't, it's just cruel.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Thinking of shopping again!

If you've visited my husband's blog lately, you'll know that we have an exciting new gadget in the house, which is driving the Third World Nerd crazy happy. He's so cute really.

This, of course, means we should slow down on the purchases with the impending arrival of Mr. Jelly Bean. Actually, that would be "purchases unrelated to babies" since I just got a list of stuff we supposedly need for a kid and that list is mighty long. I've already looked at how much things cost and am seriously upset.

For example, an Avent electronic breast pump is about P13,000 here, but if I buy from the US, it'll just cost me $140, or P6,200. Same goes for a lot of baby stuff--they're cheaper from online shops so I guess this means we'll use Johnny Air again.

We really really love Johnny Air! I think from now on, we'll buy our things from the US because Johnny Air ships absolutely anything and everything for an inexpensive shipping fee! We've already bought books and toys and gadgets and we really love the service. Although, we bought small and light stuff so maybe for big stuff, like a Sony or Samsung HDTV, we'll have to get from here!     

So there. Must save money now. And yet, I still want to buy this yellow topaz ring I saw in a jewelry shop last week. It's been haunting me every day! And we also saw these cute puppies for sale from Project Lightning!
Awwwww! Cute little critters! I can totally see my son with a beagle! Vince wants Jelly Bean to own a dog. Research has shown that children who had pets were more responsible, healthier, more compassionate and--this is the interesting part--were less likely to get pregnant/get someone pregnant out of wedlock. Well! That's a good enough reason for me! Thing is, we live in an apartment. With a rabbit. So maybe we'll get a beagle in 5 to 7 years' time, when we'll maybe live in a house with a big garden!


*breast pump photo from Philips online shop. Puppies photos from Project Lightning's Facebook page. Don't forget to "like" Topaz Horizon's FB page!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Topaz Horizon is 4 years old!

I just realized that when the GoDaddy reminder came in my inbox. Time to pay for another year's domain use!

While this blog has been up since May 24, 2006, I actually started blogging via Friendster in May 2005. So I've really been blogging for 5 years now. But my blog used to be too honest, too raw, too... me! Har de harhar, not that I'm saying I'm fake now; just saying that I've learned to edit myself and not to spill every little emotion on cyberspace. That, my friends, is a very bad idea, and I can say that with conviction because I've hurt a lot of people and got hurt myself just because I was careless.

Anyway, on to the present! To celebrate, I created a Facebook page!!! I really dunno if I did it right but this link should get you there. If not, just type "Topaz Horizon" on your FB search and the page should come out. Pleeeeease like me!


While I've been blogging for a while, it's only now that I really feel like I'm a blogger. For one thing, bloggers now are recognized as the new media. Events and press conferences now aren't complete without bloggers. I feel a bit weird sometimes because I'd get two invitations to the same event addressed as "Frances Amper Sales, OK! editor-in-chief" and "Frances Amper Sales, Topaz Horizon" (or "Beauty For A Living")!

I'm glad that my blogs are getting popular. I feel like I'm being recognized as a person. What I mean by that is, as an editor of a magazine, I'm usually addressed in the context of my work, usually very politely and in a very business-like manner. With my blogs, people see me as a wife, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a homemaker and now a mom-to-be. People see the person behind the editor-in-chief, and this is really okay with me. Because when I'm no longer editor-in-chief (let's face it--this gig can't last till I'm 60!), I don't cease to exist in people's minds because they already know my other roles. And that's a big relief! 

How about you? How long have you been blogging? And how do you feel about blogging as the new media?

Lazy Sundays are love

Weekends are much more precious now. In a few weeks, it won't be just Vince and me anymore. There'll be the baby, the maids, the friends and relatives... That's a good thing, of course, but Vince and I happen to be loners. We're quite anti-social although when we're forced by our work/family/friends to attend events, we do try our very best to be friendly! So the prospect of not being alone for the next 20 or so years is quite mind-boggling.

So today, one of the last few Sundays where it's just him and me, we spent it just reading, playing videogames, eating and chatting. Such fun! When the kid comes, we'll have to spend more time with family and the community. Weekends will be spent for the kid's entertainment--educational trips to museums and zoos, fun trips to amusement parks... I'm already tired just thinking about it.I am not being resentful here, not at all. It's more of I'm marinating in the time Vince and I have alone but, at the same time, anticipating the little one's arrival. It's so strange and scary and happy all at the same time!

Speaking of family trips, here's one we had last November at Tagaytay:
 
Here are Vince's nephews and niece, after dinner at Antonio's. This trip was to celebrate my in-laws' wedding anniversary. Antonio's served us the most fabulous dinner. Sorry I don't have photos of what we ate but, believe me, it was beyond amazing! 

We also visited a zoo. I forget the name but there were mini horses, cows, goats, ducks and other sorts of farm animals.

Speaking of ducks, I had one for lunch. This was quite delightful. I was very hungry the entire time we were at Tagaytay--I blamed it on the fresh air and the kids. On hindsight, it could really be because I was already pregnant!

We stayed at One Tagaytay, a ridiculously small hotel. It's a big building but the rooms are tiny. Everything's tight and narrow, and the walls are so thin! We could hear everything the guests in the next room were doing. However, Vince and I really enjoyed the beds--fluffy pillows and soft sheets. We fell asleep straight away! Which now convinces me that the best sleep aids are fresh air, hearty meals and a day spent playing with kids!

That weekend was fun, I'll admit, but we were exhausted. And we weren't even the ones taking care of the kids! I can't imagine how it's like to be a parent! Well, I'll find out soon enough!
 
We can, of course, just carry on the way my parents did: Weekends were spent doing chores and visiting the grandparents--that's it! I remember being bored out of my mind just staying at home. We didn't even have TV! That was why I turned to books, daydreaming and writing. Which now makes me believe that it's good for kids to be bored--it forces them to entertain themselves by either reading, drawing, playing, making their own toys.

Can't wait for the Jelly Bean to arrive... and I can't wait to see what he'll do when he's trapped in the house with nothing to do! Our hope is he does what Vince and I did--fall in love with books and enjoy his own company. God help us if he's nothing like us!   

Friday, May 14, 2010

My electric bill has doubled... but I'm okay with it

I found two really cool gadgets online today (scroll below). And this reminded me of another issue concerning us Filipinos--our energy bills.

I've been keeping quiet about my electric bill even though every Filipino I know is raising a huge fuss about theirs... and with good reason. The bills people quote are shocking! How on earth did their bills get that high?? I just nod and agree and say, "Yeah, my bill doubled, too." What I don't say is, "My bill doubled from P900 to P1,900." Yup, I have shoes and dresses that cost more than my spiked bill.


The Power Aware cord, by Magnus Gyllensward and Anton Gustafsson. The cord visualizes how much power is 
being drawn: For example, getting more intense when you turn up your stereo. 

I know why my bill went up--it's because my energy consumption went up. But Vince and I have always been energy-savers so what we consume is probably less than the average Pinoy household. Here are just a few things we do:
  • All our appliances are energy-efficient. They cost more when you buy them but they really do pay for themselves. Every month, I see the proof in our electric bill.
  • All our light bulbs are energy-efficient, too. 
  • Our window panes are tinted to decrease the strength of the hot hot hot sun. When that fails, we have triple-lined curtains to block the sun out. These curtains cost more than regular ones but they instantly cool the house.
  • We open our windows. There's no need to turn on the A/C or even the fans because the winds that flow around a high rise are quite cool and powerful. We just open the windows a crack and the entire apartment is like a wind tunnel.
  • We turn off and unplug everything in the house when we're not using them (except the ref!). It's an extra step when we do want to watch TV, use the computer, etc but we think every little thing helps!
  • Oh, and baby powder helps big time! I'm usually powdered everywhere because the heat is unbelievable but baby powder saves me from getting sticky!
Another tip I can share--though this isn't mine--is to call an electrician and have your meter and wiring checked. My parents used to get huge electric bills no matter what they do. When they finally called in an energy auditor, they found out that there was a "ground" so the appliances were continually using energy even though they weren't in use. The electrician fixed the ground and the bills went down.


The Energy Aware clock by Loove Broms and Karin Ehrnberger. The clock would chart electricity use in 
real time and lets  you track your energy consumption over time.

In this terrible summer we're all experiencing, it's really difficult to think of saving energy when the heat is enough to drive us insane. To be honest with ya, I've been turning on the A/C almost every night. It's just too hot! But energy can be saved--invest in new energy-efficient gadgets, find ways to cool the house without using electricity, dress in light clothes and use baby powder!

Photos and product descriptions from FastCompany.com's article: Can Designers Save the World?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mother's Day makes me sad

Thank you to everyone who greeted me a happy mommy's day. That really amused me since, technically, I'm still a mom-to-be but, gee, I already am taking care of a little one in my tummy and a fat rabbit in the utility area so yup, that makes me a mom! Thanks!

Happy Mother's Day to you, too--moms of their own kids, pets, nephews and nieces--as long as you're taking care of someone, I salute you!

Anyway, I've been avoiding my darling blogging community the last few days because it was Mother's Day weekend and I just didn't want to read about how happy you are to have your moms around. Makes the emptiness in my heart just a wee bit more hollow, you know? But that didn't mean I didn't think of Mama--though I did try not to so I wouldn't be sad, but hey, maybe sadness isn't too bad. So today I finally allowed myself to wallow.

I was thinking today of this huge irony in my life: Mama had always wanted a nice house in a nice neighborhood. Our house used to be nice but decay had set in and we didn't have the money to do repairs so the house just became... well, not nice. Also, our once quiet neighborhood had become a den of thieves and peeping Toms, the kind that needed tall fences, dead bolts and driveway alarms, so Mama always talked about moving to another place.

She loved looking at the Crown Asia subdivisions in Antipolo--Maia Alta, Cottonwood--pretty little communities nestled far up in the hills. She'd say she'd buy a white car so she can visit us and she'd plant a pretty garden because Mama had an awfully green thumb and she can make dead things come to life.

So when I started working, I promised Mama I'd buy her a house in Cottonwood (it was nicer there, I thought). Vince knew this dream and agreed with me--we were going to buy Mama a house! Of course, a house and lot (and that white car) don't come cheap so I really spent the last decade just slaving away. I had a day job and then I had many other projects--PR writing here, web content there, and magazine articles, too. I seemed to be endlessly writing and never sleeping. Mama said she understood whenever I couldn't see her. I was just too damn busy, yes, but it was all for buying her that house! I hardly saw her the last few years of her life but I was getting there, getting closer to our dream.

On February 14, 2008--her 63rd birthday--I told her that with the way things are going, Vince and I would most likely buy her her own house and lot as her 65th birthday gift. She was so giddy. She died a few months later.

A few months after we buried Mama, I got a big raise. I remember looking at that piece of paper and just feeling... nothing. Just this vast emptiness that threatened to swallow me up and never spit me out. I think I went on a shopping spree for me, Vince, my sister and my nieces. I don't really remember.

Do I regret working too much when I could've spent that time with her? Sometimes I do, most times I don't. I did it for her, you see.

Sure, I may not have been able to get her her house but I was able to do this one thing for her... When I got married in 2007, and Mama walked down that aisle looking like a queen, I was so happy for her. When the wedding came out in the society pages and the people who had put her down and sneered at her all those years for being poor and unlucky began calling her up and wanted to be friends again, I was happy for her. She had a daughter who made her proud, and I was that daughter. I gave her a reason to lift her chin again. And I am never going to regret that.

Still, when Mother's Day comes rolling around, or her birthday, or mine, or the holidays, or when this whole motherhood thing crashes down on me and I get terrified at becoming a mom myself, I do wish she were still around so that I don't have to be so strong and so brave all the time. Because really, most of the time, I don't have any idea how life works and it would be so nice to have a mother around. Even for just a little while.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Style Bible just included me in their Pregnant & Pretty list!

This is just so fabulous!!! Considering I mostly dress for comfort (except when it comes to shoes) and that I hardly ever know what's the latest on the runways, to be included in their feature is definitely most unexpected and appreciated.

Everyone else on the list--Daphne Osena Paez, Amina Aranaz-Alunan, Kerri Zamora and Issa Litton--are not just celebrities, they're also such fashionistas! I'm just an ordinary girl!

Giddy, giddy me! Click on this link to read my interview and on this link to read the entire story--this I suggest most because the other women are much more stylish than I am and have more advice to offer you than I do. Yey, what a way to usher me into motherhood! Thanks, Style Bible. I think this is a fantastic first Mother's Day gift!

Saturday, May 01, 2010

I miss my belly button...

I was squinting at the mirror today, realizing my eyes need to be checked because my glasses are more than a year old and need changing. At the same time, I also know that pregnancy changes the shape of the eyeball so my increasingly blurry vision may just be temporary. I did think of getting cheap prescription glasses to tide me over till when I give birth in August, then I figured, what the heck, with all the changes in my body, I might as well wait out these last three months.

Three more months and then I'll be confronted with the real damage to my body. People have been warning me about stretchmarks, varicose veins, darkened skin, saggy breasts, swollen abdomen, stubborn fat... Well, I don't really mind. Really! Stretchmarks and dark skin can be bleached away, veins can be lasered off, fat can be exercised away, etc. What really has me sad is my belly button.

I'm only vain about two things--my nose and my belly button. I think that those are the only two perfect things in my entire body. Everything else (sparse lashes, myopic eyes, huge ears, big teeth, long face, thin flat hair, flat chest, bony fingers, stubby toes, flabby everywhere) is just okay. Despite enumerating all that, don't worry--I have pretty good self-esteem because I have friends and family who love me absolutely!

So anyway, everyone warned that pregnancy will wreak havoc on the body. So far, so good. I do feel insecure sometimes when I look in the mirror and see a different body. I check for changes--and there are many already--but the ones I'm most concerned about are the enlarged nose and the protruding navel. My nose is still the same, thank the heavens, but my belly button? Well, today, it is officially the same level as my tummy. Yes, it is no longer in its perfect deeply sunken, perfectly round state. And that means in a few weeks, I'll have a nipple in the middle of my belly.

I know it's so shallow but I feel a little grief over the belly button. Mommies tell me that the belly button will recede into the tummy again when the baby's out but that it will look stretched and tired. One said, "You'll just have to work extra hard to have a flat belly so that your navel may look ugly but because your tummy's perfect, it won't look so bad." Great, that's a big comfort to me! 


My husband already misses my belly button and it's upsetting me. In many ways, my belly button is a metaphor of my body-before-baby and I worry not really about what I'll look like after the baby but how my husband will react to the after-baby body. I know he'll still love me and want me but he misses the belly button already and I worry that he'll miss the pre-pregnant body, too.