Wednesday, October 31, 2012

My bookstore haul

Every once in a while, Vince and I go to the bookstore and go on a shopping spree. No, we don't do it every week or even every month because then we'll just end up buying lots of books and then have no time to read them.

To be honest, we haven't even opened the books we bought on our last book-buying spree. That was in July. Vince and I have been up to our eyeballs in work and parenting duties. Actually, Vince does find pockets of time to read. I haven't been able to. At all. So I figured we won't visit the bookstore until I finish at least one book from the July shopping.

But then came Gwyneth Paltrow on the cover of InStyle's October issue. So off I trooped to National Bookstore, dragging Vince with me of course!
Gwyneth is my ultimate girl crush. She is living the life I want. I admire how she worked so hard to be the best in her field (acting) and then gave it all up for her family. She disappeared for 5 years—an eternity in Hollywood—and then she came back as a lifestyle guru and cookbook author. I want that so badly!

I admit that when Gwyneth quit her career, it seemed to me the most ridiculous thing in the world. But now that I have my own family, I dream of spending all day with my husband and children, of cooking their meals, of kisses and cuddles on demand anytime.

This dream has a deadline, by the way. I really only want to do this while the kids aren't in school yet. I can't imagine staying home forever. I need something outside the family and home to live for but, while the kids are tiny, I'd like to be there for them.

I'm already plotting what I'll do next so I bought this as research:
Cupcakes and Cashmere by Emily Schuman is a book based on her blog. I bought her book because I've been toying with the idea of writing a parenting book based on my mommy blog. But after reading her book, I dunno.

On one hand, she made it look too easy and by easy I mean she made it look like a magazine or, in her case, a blogazine—short articles, mostly street photos, no-brainer instructional guides on how to, say, paint on nail polish ("Apply on the center of the nail first!")—so why should I pay almost P800 for it??? It almost reads like a school project, a very slick school project. Well, she complained constantly on her blog that the book was such a difficult thing to do so okay, cool, I applaud her efforts. But, kids, I've been making magazines for 7 years. I can do this in my sleep. I have to step up the game. Or not!

So on one hand, I think if she can get away with it, I pretty much could do the same thing. Lift stuff from the blog, post photos you've already seen, add a few articles and photos you've not seen to justify your purchase, and make you buy my book. Easy! Or I can actually write a damn good book with really great photos/illustrations about making motherhood work with grace and style! Which is not easy at all. So do we do easy or do we do difficult?

But writing a book is something I really want to do. And a book on mommyhood is perfect because it is what I love best! I just don't know if I can actually do it. Or if I do do it, if anyone would actually publish it! Time to start praying!

The Power of a Praying Woman by Stormie Omartian. I have Power of a Praying Wife and Power of a Praying Parent so when I saw this on the bookshelf, I grabbed it. Praying Wife changed my life. But I'm not done reading it so I haven't started on Praying Woman yet. I plan to use that as my devotional as soon as I turn 36 (which is 7 days from now!).

The Bro Code for Parents by Barney Stinson. Now this one I bought for Vince since I thought it's targeted to dads. We're both fans of How I Met Your Mother (although we wish they'd end the show already and just reveal who the mother is!). Vince was so happy with it and then we both started reading it and realized it's really for parents, as in not just for dads but for moms, too. So it's a book for both of us!

And, because we're parents, we just had to get assorted coloring books and Crayola crayons for Vito. Actually, Vince is always the one thinking of what to get the kids—books, toys, clothes. He's a super daddy that way. I'm more concerned with the supply of milk, diapers and food. When it comes to my kids' education and entertainment, why, it just never occurs to me! Thank God I have a husband!

I was on my way to the cashier when I saw Down the Rabbit Hole by Peter Abrahams. What caught my eye were two things: the cover looked like the cover art of Harry Potter and Stephen King said he couldn't put it down. Ya know, the cover could be all black for all I care but if Stephen King—only the author who influenced me the most!—says he couldn't put the book down, then I must have that book!

I have a lot to read! I should have lots of free time soon so I'm looking forward to curling up in bed with my bookstore goodies. Actually, I've already started (hooray for long weekends!). There's not much you can do when you're breastfeeding except Tweeting, texting and reading a magazine and a book! Enjoy your holiday!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

First birthday gift! Cuzo gift certificates!

I'm turning 36 in exactly 10 days!

Woah. Let me just say that typing that sentence took me completely by surprise. If you've been reading my blog long enough, you'd know that I'm obsessed with my birthday. I usually write a birthday wish list weeks and weeks before the big day so that my loved ones have a shopping guide. But this year? I forgot to make a list!!! I have changed. Either that or I was just too busy these past few weeks!

I don't want to be too busy. Too busy is not a good thing. That's my 36th year Resolution #1: Don't be busy! Frak. So busy I forgot my own birthday!

It's a good thing Cuzo remembered! I've been blogging about this Filipino bag brand a few times recently and Bunnie, the owner, discussed with me the possibility of a design collaboration, a Topaz Horizon bag or maybe a Topaz Mommy diaper bag. So exciting! I dunno if I'll actually do this (I'm a writer, not a designer) but I like to think I will!

Well, for my birthday, Bunnie sent me this:

Oh wow! Shopping! Thanks, Bunnie! I've picked out these bags. Which one should I get for my birthday present???
Herringbone Fabric Tote, P1150

Mica Red Nylon Tote with Brass Accessories and Leather handles, P1150

Jess Coat Nylon Bag with Leather Strap, P1500

Carla Foldable Blue Nylon Tote with Brass Accessories and Removable Strap, P1500

Nina Large Laminated Fabric Bag, P2500

Bettina Black Leather Bag, P3395

Ria Cow-Hide Bag with Horse-Hair Handles, P3495

If you want to give Cuzo gift certificates, head on over to the Cuzo online shop now. They come in a special croc-stamped leather envelope so they make really great gifts for your mom, sister and friends for their birthday and for Christmas, too.

Happy shopping!


UPDATE: I got the Mica red nylon tote. I love it!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Topaz Fashion: What I wore on random days

These are from random days from the past 2 weeks. I didn't post them because they're bad outfit shots. Ya know, bad because you don't see the whole outfit or it's too dark or my face is weird. If Tyra Banks were to judge these photos, she'd say I didn't showcase the products and that's a bad fashion photo haha.

I am never going to be a fashion blogger this way! Not that I even want that but I really should at least try to do good shots, right, if I'm to do this Topaz Fashion feature. Anyway! Let's dive in!

Here I am at the Kiehl's boutique opening at Power Plant. I'm wearing a Forever 21 tank top, a Zara color-block skirt, Lacoste ballet flats and my Anne Klein bracelet watch that Vince gave me for my 30th birthday. My bag is the tan Frances Sales satchel. 

To the office on a regular day (no meetings and events). I'm wearing a Uniqlo dress worn as a top, Guess skinny jeans, Lacoste ballet flats, Karimadon woven belt, Vince's Nautica leather-strap watch and carrying a Fino satchel.


Lunch date with Vince... and Vito! It was just supposed to be Vince and me, that's why I brought out my flirting outfit but just as we were going out the door, Vito rushed to me carrying his Toms corduroy shoes and begged to come along. So the three of us had a nice lunch while Iñigo stayed home napping. I'm wearing an Ojay raw silk blouse, Frou Frou embroidered shorts, Kenneth Cole slingbacks and carrying my favorite Longchamp clutch (hidden by Vito's head).

Playdate at Vito's friend's house then shopping for Halloween costumes at Toy Kingdom. I'm wearing a very slimming Karimadon jumpsuit, Charles & Keith orange T-strap sandals and Vince's Skagen watch. Not pictured is the Cuzo black nylon tote that I use as a diaper bag

Okidoki, that's this week's Topaz Fashion! I'll really try for fashion-y poses and photos and facial expressions, ya know, like deep-in-thought pouts or staring off in the distance dreamily or touching my hair absently or clasping at my heel... Actually, I think I'll stick with my silly simple photos! 

Happy Friday! Enjoy the loooong weekend!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Chow Fun makes chow fun!

The OK! staff loves to eat and when we have a particularly looooong meeting, we have to eat. And Chow Fun Modern Chinese Bistro in San Juan is our meeting place! I was supposed to blog about this fabulous Chinese restaurant months ago but, well, life got busy. But here it finally is!
My team. You all already met them a few posts back. But just to refresh your memory, that's (from left) Red, Elaine, Lana, Joanna, Sandra and Fran (read Frannywanny's review of Chow Fun). Not in photo are Kabbie and Mary Love. Oh, and me!

Here I am! This is really a long delayed post because look at the baby. Let's see, Iñigo is almost 3 months old here. You've seen this photo before, in my Photo Dump! post.

The rest of my photos are of a more recent trip. Here we are on our way to Chow Fun. It's best to arrive early so you can get parking, which is just on the street.
We arrived early! That's us reflected in the mirror.

Okay, I took photos of the food but I was really hungry (plus I had a baby in my arms) so my hand must've been shaking because all my photos were blurry! Sorry, hindi ako food blogger haha but let me make it up to you with my descriptions. I'm pretty good at describing taste!

Anyway, I grabbed photos from the Facebook page of Chow Fun—with permission! The photos are much better than my blurry, dark ones, which is good so you can better appreciate the super sarap menu!

First thing we ordered: the Chinese Fun-due. It's baby squid, radish cakes, fish balls all breaded or battered and served with bubbling hot dips of curry cream cheese (in photo) and sweet chili sauce. This really whets the appetite so if you're on a diet, beware!

Another item on the menu that will ruin your diet? The awesome Shanghai Duck Rolls! I can snack on these all day. Crispy, crunchy then really tasty fillings! And to add to what's already fantastic, the rolls come with the perfect dips of orange sauce, vinaigrette and hot sauce!

Okay, okay, it gets better. This here is the Sour Caramel Pork. Tender pork bites bathed in a crunchy sweet and sour marinade and sprinkled with sesame seeds. I just love the yin and yang of this dish—sweet and sour, tender and crispy, all delicious. I love this. I really truly do.

But I love this more: the Chow Fun Chicken Fry. Best fried chicken ever! Side story: When Vince and I started dating, I've never really gone out. House, school, church—that was my life. So when Vince took me to restaurants, I didn't know how to order! He gave me a really helpful tip, "If you don't know what to get, always get the house specialty. That's the one with the restaurant's name attached to it."

So when I saw that Chow Fun had Chow Fun Chicken Fry on their menu, I had to try it. And yes, their fried chicken does make chowing super fun! I know it's Chinese but I found it very Pinoy—crispy skin, juicy meat, and it's a mix of salty and sweet. Really good. Argh, I got hungry just remembering this chicken!!! Next dish!

I'm a veggie lover. I always try to have my meals with vegetables or else I won't be satisfied. The X.O. Vegetables dish happily satisfied me. The greens are succulent and fresh and there's a generous dollop of... I actually don't know what is that Chow Fun poured over the veggies but whatever it is, it sure added happiness!

Of course, since we're Pinoys, we never eat anything without rice. I'm a plain rice kinda gal but, upon Fran's enthusiastic recommendation, I tried the Duck Fried Rice. Grabe. Kanin pa lang, ulam na! It's generously tossed with lots of chopped up goodies and topped with minced duck sauce.

For the next stuff we ate, I have no photos (there are no pics on Chow Fun's Facebook page either!), which is such a big boo-boo, because much as I loved the kanin and ulam, it was dessert I enjoyed the most! When you eat at Chow Fun, make sure you finish off your meal with their Dark Chocolate Buchi and Reese's Pieces Buchi. OMG. OMG! One serving is three big balls of buchi, and inside awaits a rich hot chocolate sauce that spurts in your mouth when you bite into the chewy, sesame-smothered shell. Absolutely orgasmic! I swear, hindi enough ang one serving. I always order 2 or 3 servings of this!!!

I also order 2 servings of their special Haw Flakes Pastry. Okay, you guys, this Haw Flakes Pastry is the stuff dreams are made of. It's a big square of fluffy pastry filled with melted haw flakes. Then you dip this heavenly thing into a sauce made of five spices. The sauce surprised me because I use five spices for marinating meat. This dessert is just divine.

Sigh! I love eating at Chow Fun! I love their decor, too. I love the generous space and the chairs and upholstered booths. I usually just put Iñigo behind me (haha) so I can eat. Don't fret—I hold onto him!
I'm not posing—I'm holding on to Iñigo! Oh, see the brown bags? They're mine. Take out for Vince!
Bagong gising Iñigo! That's how comfy the seats are. He's almost 5 months old here. 
(My outfit details here!)

You can tell from our photo that we love Chow Fun. So burpy busog!

Chow Fun is on Jose Abad Santos St. in Little Baguio, San Juan. You can see it from Wilson St., it's just right at the bungad. Enjoy!


*all food photos and Chow Fun door photo are from Chow Fun Facebook page, used with permission.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Shop at Beauty Bar!

Online of course! You all know I'm the laziest shopper in the world. I prefer to do my shopping online. Dresses, bags, shoes, books, gadgets, baby stuff—I buy most everything with ease and comfort from my computer. In fact, if we only had an online supermarket, I'd buy all my groceries that way, too!

Now if you didn't know, Beauty Bar is offering that same fun shopping experience. Actually, they've been doing that for 2 years. I signed up when the beauty boutique went live online in the summer of 2010 but I haven't bought anything there yet. Mostly because I get a lot of beauty products from my job. But now that Beauty Bar is launching a new look, I'm getting really excited!

Clean look and so easy to navigate
For one thing, the site has vastly improved from two years ago. It looks more dynamic now. I love how the front page has these boxes that suggest products based on what you need. My friends at Beauty Bar promise a new and improved look soon. Considering that I already love their current design, I'm curious to see what they have planned.
Beauty Bar's old design

Monday, October 22, 2012

Cheeky designer bags!

Well, they're not actually designer bags haha but I think I like them better! Meet Charro y Churro cotton tote bags:




They're so silly! And just P500 each! I found them on AVA, an online shop for Pinoy stylistas. Plenty of fab finds there. I'm seriously considering buying these bags as Christmas gifts for my girlfriends. My friends will find these bags really funny, even funnier than I find them because, well, unlike me, they actually own Birkins and Chanels and Balenciagas!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Must watch my electricity use!

It is so hot these days. Unbelievably hot. I keep looking at the calendar and can't believe it says October. Where is the brrrr in the -ber months??? Our aircons are always on now! Ack!

I blogged a few years ago about how my electric bill is so low that I don't even feel it hurting my budget. That's because we spent a lot of time out of the house working and eating. When we were at home, we usually just read books, watched TV, surfed, wrote and slept. When it got hot, we opened the windows and since we live in a high-rise, the strong gusts of wind took care of the cooling.

But then the babies came. Now we can't open the windows for safety's sake. So the aircons are always on. And the fans, too! Now the refrigerator's stocked up with food and always opened and shut for Vito's fresh milk needs. Less than 3 years ago, there was just two people in the house. Now there are 6! And you bet our electricity consumption went up and so did our electric bill!

In an effort to cut electricity costs, I found the new Meralco app suite called MOVE (MeralcO Virtual Engine). It's six apps that...
1. Will direct customers to the nearest Meralco branch - Meralco Office Directory
2. Will help customers know the different ways to pay their bill and how to find the nearest payment facility - Bayad Center
3. Calculates the amount of electricity an appliance consumes - Meralco Appliance Calculator
4. Give great ideas on how to use electric appliances correctly, thus saving electricity - Bright Ideas
5. Keeps customers updated with power-maintenance schedules - Power Maintenance Schedule
6. Lets customers view their electric bill online, anytime. - e-Meralco Bill

Friday, October 19, 2012

Topaz Fashion: What we wore to OK!'s staff shoot

This is the last of the OK! shoot story! A fashion post so you can see that while we all looked glammed up and red-carpet ready, our outfits weren't on a Hollywood budget!

This is me. "Very Town & Country," Lana said. Haha. You've already met my dress. It's the Anja column dress from Catalogue 63 that I wore to the Esquire Ball two weeks ago. It's just P2,600! I'm wearing Forever 21 crystal drop earrings. And you don't see my shoes (such a shame), which are BCBG gold brocade heels. My lipstick is shu uemura Supreme Matte Lipstick in hot pink.

Lana's shoulder dusters are from Forever 21. Her forest green halter gown is from Tint. I love Tint dresses! They're very simple but the fabric is always nice. The Tint in Power Plant Mall has been replaced by the new Kiehl's boutique, though, so I don't know where to buy Tint bags and dresses now!

Joanna's wearing a Topshop peplum dress, a statement necklace from SM Dept Store and fabulous Stella Luna shoes. I love those shoes! I have this silly thing about shoes, that a woman should have a pair of yellow shoes or purple shoes. For luck. I know it doesn't make sense at all but I've come across stylish women featured in magazines and they always say that yellow and/or purple shoes are lucky. I used to have yellow heels. I have purple ones. Must buy yellow!

On Elaine is a mullet dress from Forever 21, necklace from Yhansy and shoes from Celine. Pink is Elaine's color. She's such a girly girl! And she'll be a bride soon! I wonder what her wedding motif will be. I'm betting it will be pink!


Kabbie's wearing a goddess dress by Pia Gladys Perey and Nine West gold T-strap heels. Pia Gladys Perey has designed for celebrities, the most famous being Angelina Jolie! She's a Filipina designer and Kabbie is so lucky because she bought several dresses from Pia.

Here is Sandra wearing a teal Karimadon one-shoulder dress with CMG heels. Her earrings are Forever 21. Statuesque Sandra! The reason why she looks perfect in anything she wears is because she is so damn fit! She runs and is into sports and stuff like that. But she's very feminine. She always goes to work in full skirts, pretty dresses and flattering shifts. 

I don't know where Red's clothes came from. He didn't say. But he's always dressed like that when he goes to work. Or he'll come in wearing suspenders and a hat. He's very dapper.

I don't have a full photo of Jay! Oh no! He had really great shoes from Salvatore Mann. His shirt and coat are 101 New York, trousers are Maldita Man and bow tie is SM Dept Store. He's sooo cute! I hired him for his looks. I'm not ashamed to admit it. To my great relief, his looks came with writing talent and a sense of humor haha.

Franny looks so adorable in this Dorothy Perkins dress. The purple really made her skin look creamier than ever. Her Yhansy necklace adds edge. Shoes from Payless.

Mary Love is wearing a Forever 21 tangerine dress, an Avon necklace and cage heels from Charles & Keith. And you can't tell from this photo but her lipstick is orange. And she looks amazing with orange lipstick!

What we wore are really from our own closets, or from Kabbie's closets haha. And that's Topaz Fashion this week! See you all next week!