Monday, June 30, 2014

Sleepy, sad music

I'm 38 weeks pregnant. That means I'm exhausted and excited and sleepy and can't sleep. So I'm listening to Bread to relax me before I go to sleep.


The sadness of the surprise at the end. So heartbreaking!


The longing and wistfulness of his voice and the devoted love when he sings, "If I can't have the one I want, I'd do without the best." That's selflessness. That's real love.


Right after my Mama died, this played in a taxi I was riding and I wept, yes, wept right in that taxi. The driver just looked at me and asked, "Ma'am, boyfriend?" I said, "Hindi po. Namatay nanay ko." And he nodded and said, "Masakit talaga yan."


"And when my love for life is running dry, you come and pour yourself on me." I always think of Vince when I hear this line. Always.

Good night!

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Friday, June 27, 2014

This four-eyed girl loves Four Eyes! (Part 2)

CONTEST IS CLOSED.


Remember when I tried out the eyewear online shopping site, Four Eyes, last week? Well, my glasses are finally here!

I picked the Cat Whisperer frames because I looked really good in them! Or they looked really good on me.

After trying out the three frames I picked, I asked for the glasses to be picked up on June 13. They were picked up by courier service Xend on June 17. Again, there's a wait. I finally got my glasses on June 24. So from the time I ordered on June 2 to the time I got my glasses on June 24, it's 22 days. Three weeks. That could've been shorter since I really kept the trial frames for 5 days before I scheduled a pick up.

To be fair to Four Eyes, they never said they'll deliver or pick up the next day. So the process does take time, but if you're in no hurry, I think Four Eyes is much better than going to the optical shop. A big reason why I dislike optical shops intensely is the fact that they hide price tags. So you go around the shop, you pick your frames, you try them on. The sales person says, "Bagay! Bagay lahat!!!" Which really doesn't help. Finally, you pick your frame and then realize it's out of your budget range and then the salesperson looks at you with a sigh, and then you feel small and sad and poor, and then you just hurry out or pick something else that you don't like. Haha, I'm so melodramatic! But I think you know what I mean!

With Four Eyes, I had the convenience of picking out frames at my leisure (it took me an entire afternoon doing the virtual try-out, then a whole five days trying them on at home), and all of that in the privacy of my own home. Then my new gorgeous glasses just cost P3,495! I mean, look at them. They look so chic, not cheap!

THE GOOD CAUSE
Here's another reason why you should totally buy your glasses and sunnies from Four Eyes: The eyewear shopping site has partnered with the charity organization, World Vision Philippines. For every pair you buy from Four Eyes, they will donate another pair to someone in need of prescription glasses.

As someone who needs glasses, I know how vital it is to have clear eyesight. When I was in 3rd grade, my grades started to slip. We couldn't figure out why I seemed to be failing some classes. It was only when a classmate in 7th grade said, "You're actually smart. Maybe you should have your eyes checked," that we went to an optometrist and realized I had been near-sighted all that time! Now that I'm a mom, my eyesight is just as important. I'm always on the lookout for nasty bugs that might bite my babies' tender skin, for example. A huge part of who I am and what I turned out to be relies on my vision. Imagine if we can give that simple but profound opportunity to our less fortunate brothers and sisters! 

Last month, Four Eyes and World Vision visited an underprivileged community in Cavite, where they checked the eyesight of more than 250 adults and kids. Then Four Eyes made eyeglasses for these lovely people. Last weekend, Four Eyes went back to Cavite to distribute the free eyeglasses to the community. I wanted to go, too, actually, since Four Eyes invited me but since my pregnant tummy is about to pop any day now, I regretfully stayed in Manila and missed the event. Jeremy Callegher, business development manager of Four Eyes, said, "All [glasses] were distributed, the event was a success and you can tell so, thanks to the smile of the people from the community."

Buy yourself glasses for just P1,495 and another person benefits from your shopping!
Top right photo shows host, teacher and blogger Patty Laurel-Filart helping distribute the glasses.
New glasses for all! What a happy day!
The World Vision and Four Eyes team with the happy Caviteños!

THE GIVEAWAY!
Four Eyes would love to extend their services to one lucky Topaz Horizon reader!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Your Internet experience made even easier with SMART Bro Dashboard!

My friends in SMART asked me to tell you guys all about their fabulous new Smart Bro Dashboard for Prepaid users. So if you're a prepaid user of SMART, this post is for you. I'm a Post-Paid subscriber so I don't have any experience with this new service yet but from what SMART tells me, I can't wait for them to offer the Dashboard to us post-paid people, too!


So how does it work? Let me tell you the 5 ways:

Sunday, June 15, 2014

This four-eyed girl loves Four Eyes! (Part 1)

Let me see. I've been wearing prescription glasses for my nearsightedness since I was 13. My first pair was this monstrosity of pink frames that cradled thick glass lenses I was forever afraid would shatter.
Me at 14, with my baby siblings Theodore and Jacqui. 

Later on, when I was in college, I asked for anti-reflecting, ultra-thin plastic lenses that have UV protection, too. These were expensive lenses but my parents allowed it because they didn't want me to look too nerdy. Papa said nerdy girls never attract any boys. His fears were unfounded. Boys do make passes at girls who wear glasses! The best boy turned out to be the guy who'd marry me! (Yes, my husband has a thing for girls with glasses.)

Now you all know I love online shopping. So naturally I loved FourEyes.com.ph! Here's my review:

THE ONLINE SHOP
The shopping site is very easy to navigate. It's simple. No bells and whistles. Just the way I like it. You get presented the frames available. You pick the ones you like and you get more product details. You even get to try the glasses on virtually.
Just upload a photo and that's it! I was worried pa nga that I'll need a photo na full frontal, parang passport ba. But even this semi-side, semi-looking down shot of me with my boys was okay because there's a tool that helped me position the frames perfectly. It allows me to make the glasses bigger or smaller and move them around on my face. So easy! So fun! So easy and fun that I virtually tried on dozens of frames! Look at some of them:

I ended up picking Vanilla Wafer, Cat Whisperer and Sing Me A Lullaby. The frames are just Php 1,495 each. Super affordable! Like, crazy affordable! If you pick regular lenses, too (yes, even prescription ones), the lenses are free! But since I'm maarte and my grade is pretty high (which means if I pick out regular lenses, they'd be super thick), I chose the ultra-thin lenses, which is an additional Php 2,000. Still, the whole pair of glasses will come out at just Php 3,495. Still waaaaay cheaper than buying from a shop! You can buy two or three!

Ordering the glasses was super easy. You just fill in the information needed, like if you want prescription lenses or just lenses without a grade. If you need prescription lenses, you'll need to know what your prescription is so you'll really have to see your eye doctor first. Since I have a prescription from last year, I already knew what my grade was, the distance between my irises, and the types of lenses that I like (ultra-thin, non-reflective, with UV protection).

After filling out the info, just tell them if you want a flat-out purchase or if you want to try out some frames at home first. I chose the Home Try-On service.

THE SERVICE
I placed my order on June 2, Monday. The box of glasses arrived on June 7, Saturday. So there's a bit of a wait there.

Inside were a sturdy blue box and the return envelope addressed to Four Eyes. You can keep the glasses for 5 days. I imagine that's enough time to try them out, and ask your friends and family which ones look best on you. After the five days, you're supposed to contact Four Eyes and tell them to pick up the glasses again.

Helpful instructions on the inside of the lid.

My glasses! Which one is really for me?

Let's start with Sing Me A Lullaby.
I picked it because I wanted colored frames. I already have a black one and a red one so I figured I'd try blue. While I liked it, I thought the blue brought out the shadows under my eyes and the blue-green veins on my cheeks. You don't notice it on the photo here because I increased exposure/brightness so that my flaws will disappear. Hehe, vain!

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

All that matters is here in the Philippines



Just saw Jolibee's new ad for Independence Day called #SarapMagingPilipino, and it made me tear up a bit. You see, over at Facebook, a lot of the people I know are on trips abroad and they keep saying things like how horrible it is here in the Philippines. Look, I'm not blind to the ills of our country but if it's that bad, then don't come back, diba.

Whenever I see or hear people talk about how it's so much better in other countries, my first thought is always, "Then help make life better for us here."A lot of us always just talk about how everything is so bad here (and always over cups of designer coffee or something like that!). But it's the same all over the world. There are good things, there are bad things. Nothing is ever perfect.

When I go abroad, I think, "Oh wow, the public transportation system is so efficient. But, wow, the train is almost P80 a trip? So expensive!""Oh wow, the people here are so disciplined but, wow, they're so frikkin' rude, too!" "Oh wow, the streets are just as filthy as Manila's streets but at least here, it's cold so it doesn't stink." "Oh wow, no traffic at all but there's a rule you have to replace your car every 3 years? Kaya naman pala walang kotse nyek."

I'm not saying the systems of other countries are bad. I also believe that the ticket prices of the MRT should be raised way up, just like in other countries, so that the MRT can make money to buy more trains and therefore accommodate more passengers. That's called running a business. But that's also called anti-poor. A lot of what makes other cities in the world so nice and clean is because of their anti-poor policies. Parking in London for a month? USD 950 (almost P41,000 or P1,300 a day) vs around P120 here. To drive around London in your own car? You have to pay GBP 10 (P730) just to enter the city. Kung ganyan din dito sa Maynila, imagine spending P3,650 a week para lang pumasok sa office!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Win Krispy Kreme #JoyInABox!

CONTEST IS CLOSED.

Krispy Kreme asked me (pretty please with candy sprinkles on it) if I'd like to treat my readers to something sweet. Of course I said yes! So if you're in the mood to treat yourself (or your family, friends, co-workers, etc) to a sweet treat with an even sweeter message on top, why don't you give them #JoyInABox from Topaz Horizon and Krispy Kreme?


Yes, my dear readers! I'm giving away 10 boxes of #MessageDoughnuts from my family's favorite doughnut shop, Krispy Kreme! But you get to pick the message you want on it. Here are a few samples:

So without further ado, let's get on with the giveaway!

The prize:
A whole box of doughnuts with the message you want to tell anyone. It can be a "Happy Dad's Day!" to your father, an "I love you!" to your boyfriend, an "I miss you!" to your friends, "Congrats!" to a new mom or a friend with a new job, or encouraging words to your staff at work. Kinda something like this:

The details:
  1. 10 readers will win a box each of #MessageDoughnuts from Krispy Kreme. 
  2. Contest is open to anyone near a Krispy Kreme shop! So this is a nationwide contest! (Philippines only!)
  3. My contest runs from today till June 12, 12pm.
  4. I'll pick the winners on June 12 and announce on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Winners must reply to my announcement by June 13, Friday 12 noon!!! If I get no feedback, I pick new winners!
  5. Winners will then send me their name, the message they want on their #JoyInABox, and which Krispy Kreme store they'll claim the box from. Bring a valid ID to claim your box of #MessageDoughnuts!

How to win:
  1. Like Krispy Kreme's Facebook page, and follow them on Instagram and Twitter
  2. Like Topaz Horizon's Facebook page, and follow me on Instagram and Twitter. Ya, you kinda have to because that's where I'm going to announce the winners! 
  3. On Instagram: Post a happy selfie and say this: "I want to get #joyinabox from @KrispyKremePH and @FrancesASales!"
  4. On Twitter: Post a happy selfie and say this: "I want to get #joyinabox from @hotlightgirl and @FrancesASales!"
  5. On Facebook: Say this: "I want to get #joyinabox from Krispy Kreme and Topaz Horizon!" Make sure Krispy Kreme and Topaz Horizon are tagged!
You don't have to post on FB, IG and Twitter. Okay na ang isang beses lang. Promise! Para di kayo at ako makulitan hehe.

That's it! Good luck! Mwah! Mwah! Mwah!

*This is not a sponsored giveaway.

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Monday, June 09, 2014

Heels hurt? Ni-QUA's fun foldable flats to the rescue!

I'm pregnant so I haven't been wearing heels for a long while now. It's not safe, I know, so don't worry about me! But I'm writing this post because I still remember how it feels to be on heels all day and then your feet start to swell up in pain and suffering, and all you want to do is wear comfy flats.

Yung tipong pumuputok na ang mga ugat sa paa mo na pain.

Here's a cute solution from proudly Pinoy brand Ni-QUA: the Ella Foldable Flats!

I love that it comes in a big nylon pouch. Kasi other foldable flats in the market come in these tiny pouches, which begs the question: Saan ko lalagay yung heels ko??? With the roomy polka-dot pouch, that's not an issue.
Kasya heels ko!

Of course, the best thing about the Ella Flats is it's very comfy. The sole is flexible but it's not super thin. Other foldable flats have soles that are super manipis so your feet have no protection from the ground. As in, nararamdaman mo lahat ng groove, crack, bato at basura when you walk around. So sure, you may not be in heels anymore but yung paa mo naman is in another kind of pain.

Look at how relaxed my feet are! Super comfy and really fun on my feet. I love it!
No more ugat!
The Ni-QUA Ella Flats come in neon pink, neon orange, neon blue, neon green and neon yellow. If you're not into blinding brights, the Ella Flats also come in brown and red, capped at the toe by animal prints. Really cute! Shop now!

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Friday, June 06, 2014

Looking back in gratitude


When I was told I was going to lose my job in August 2012, I had a toddler and a new baby. Vito had just turned 2, Iñigo was just 3 months old. I was so scared. The company offered me other positions under certain conditions, none of which made me happy. In fact, to be truly honest, I was no longer happy anyway, but I was seriously contemplating accepting any of their offers because I was a mom and I was frightened of not having regular income. 

Then I saw this quote on my Facebook feed one miserable day and it was like someone slapped me. I didn't need my job. I just needed me and to believe in me. I also needed to believe in the God who gave me my talents and abilities and to trust in His promise to provide for all our needs. 

Well, fast forward to two years later and I'm in such a good place, friends. I've never been happier, never been more fulfilled, never been more at peace. To my endless surprise, we're also not poor! There is always good food on the table, there's always shopping now and then. We even have money to give to relatives who come knocking on our door for help. My husband and I always joke, "You are the ones with jobs! Why are you asking us for help?!" But we give anyway because we have enough, more than enough.

Our income may not be regular and it's not even near the same level as when we were employed, but God's provision comes from many places. We get free trips, free gas, free clothes, free diapers, free food, free toiletries, free almost everything! Sometimes, when I'm feeling stressed out with the kids, flowers from strangers just suddenly appear at the door and I'm cheered up. It's funny because sometimes I'll run out of mascara, for example, and I'll go, "Dear God, I need mascara but I don't want to buy because our money should go to the groceries and the bills." One week later, three tubes of mascara from Lancôme, Avon and L'Oreal Paris arrived! God is good and faithful (and generous!), as promised!

More than my sponsored life, the real lesson here is things aren't always going to be amazing—we lose our jobs, we get sick—but when the bad times come, as long as I have my God for help and myself to act, then things are going to work out for good. Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose."

I'll always be grateful for my job back then. I had lots of fun, I met lots of wonderful people, I learned so much. But I'm also glad I lost my job because I found myself right after.

So if you're in a place of doubt and fear right now, look within yourself and look at what you have. You'll be amazed at how equipped you are—with talents and abilities and friends. Most of all, look to God. He will never fail you. You just have to believe that! 

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Thursday, June 05, 2014

"What just happened?!"

It's Thursday so I am hoping every Game of Thrones fan has seen the mind-blowing episode that was the "Red Viper vs The Mountain." At our home, our reaction was similar to this:



I'm still in shock.

Someone on Facebook shrieked on her status, "Will there be more shocking deaths this season?! I can't take it anymore!" Well, I'll say this: Tywin and Cersei made a huge mistake going against Tyrion.

As Jesus said in Matthew 12:25, "Every kingdom divided against itself is destroyed, and no town or house divided against itself will stand."



House Lannister has always stood proud and powerful but now that it has gone against itself, it's only a matter of time. Only a matter of time. Can't wait for the next episode!!!
*image from The Atlantic

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Topaz Beauty: My makeup removers

Believe it or not, I only learned to apply makeup a few years ago. Well, I needed to put something on my face because of my previous job as a magazine editor. I used to go barefaced to events and the brand managers just never recognized me because in the magazine, my photo showed a gorgeous girl. In real life, with no makeup, I'm, well, I'm not ugly, but let's just say the girl in the photos did not look anything like the girl at the events trying to convince the brand people that I'm kinda somebody hahaha.

Solution: Put on makeup!

I knew that cleansing the skin of all traces of makeup was essential so that skin won't get damaged. However, since I wore makeup maybe once or twice a week, I never invested in makeup removers. I figured a good scrubbing with facial cleanser was enough. I guess that's why I was still so pimply. I also read in InStyle that if you wear sunscreen, which I do, you'll still need makeup remover. So for today's Topaz Beauty, I'm going to talk about my makeup removers!

I had used Shu Uemura's cleansing oils before. They do an excellent job but I really didn't like massaging oil into my face. So I did a lot of research on makeup removers. I wanted the best!

Beauty review site Makeup Alley gave Lancôme's Eau Micellaire Douceur Express Cleansing Water for Face, Eyes and Lips 4.3 stars. The only reason why it's not 5 stars is because it's so expensive. It was only when I read an interview with Emma Watson that I was convinced. She said that Lancôme's makeup removers are the very best and that they remove every bit of makeup that's applied on her during movie shoots and photo shoots. Since I adore Emma, I got myself Lancôme's Eau Micellaire Douceur!
You know what? This Micellaire water really works. My skin is really clean. Not squeaky dry clean, but nice and soft and fresh clean. And I don't have pimples anymore!

That up there is my current bottle. There's just an inch of it left. I kinda don't want to buy a new bottle because it's not cheap (it's P1,795) and I'm a freelance writer now and my clients haven't paid me yet (hello, magbayad na kayo!). At the same time, because it works naman talaga, the cost isn't really that much. I guess I'm just being a cheapskate now because I'm about to give birth haha.

So thank goodness for Happy Skin!!!
Happy Skin Make A Clean Sweep Revitalizing Micellar Makeup Cleanser (Php 599) has the exact same powerful ingredient as Lancome's—the Micellar water! Plus, it has anti-inflammatory Japanese tea extract and anti-oxidant Lotus Seed extract. The cleanser really does remove every bit of makeup but it's so nice on the skin. You just swipe here and there and makeup melts away. No need for tugging or pressure. It smells nice, too, not overpowering or strong. You also just need one pump (well, I do since I don't apply a lot of makeup) so this will last a long time. Super sulit at just P599!

My only con with the Make A Clean Sweep cleanser is it stung my eyes. I know it's supposed to be a gentle cleanser that you can use even for eye makeup but when I pressed the soaked cotton pads onto my eyes, it stung. Hindi naman namula or na-irritate ang mata ko, nasaktan lang. When I read other reviews online, the bloggers didn't have the same reaction naman so maybe ako lang ito.

Anyway, to remove my eye makeup, I went back to Lancôme. I'm using the Bi-Facil Double Action Eye Makeup Remover now. I found it in my beauty products drawer. It's a freebie. Again, I did some research and this is a winner of many beauty awards. You have to shake the bottle to mix the two phases—the lipid phase removes makeup while the water phase refreshes and conditions skin. There's no stinging and no oily residue. It's opthalmologist-tested so it's safe for the sensitive skin around the eyes. Also safe for contact lens wearers like me. Best of all, it really does remove every bit of eye makeup, even liquid liners and waterproof mascara, in one swipe. I love it!

The only con with Bi-Facil? It's also pricey. I don't know how much it costs here in Manila, but according to the US website, it's $28. That's P1,141. So if I use this and Happy Skin, that's a total of P1,740. So it's basically the same price as the Lancôme Eau Micellaire Douceur!

Lancôme is available at Greenbelt 5, Essences Power Plant, and at Rustan's Dept. Stores in Makati, Shangri-la Plaza and Alabang.

Happy Skin is available at Rustan's Makati, Rustan's Shangri-la, Beauty Bar and select Plains & Prints boutiques. Visit www.happyskincosmetics.com to check out their other fun and skin-caring products.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Join Breeze's Sige Sabado crafts activity contest to win a trip to Legoland!

I don't think I can join the contest since this is a sponsored post but my kids and I enjoyed the crafts activities in the huge Breeze Sige Sabado Playbox they gave us anyway!

My kids are very young (only 3 and 2) but we try to do arts and crafts activities every week. My boys prefer to play with cars, robots and Legos, but once in a while, my mommy guilt nags at me and I haul out the crayons, glue, paints and brushes and we create something. I post their artwork on Instagram: 

So when we got the big big Breeze Sige Sabado Playbox, the kids were excited!

I told ya it was big. For good reason. Inside were eight activities for my kids to enjoy. All the materials were provided, too! So hindi bitin! I've tried some crafts boxes and some of them are incomplete, like they assume you already have the materials in your home, so sometimes I want to do an activity with my kids and then I don't do it na lang because I check the materials and kulang. The Breeze Sige Sabado Playbox is complete!

We decided to paint a mask. I figured it was the easiest for my little boys to do and will help develop their fine motor skills (handling crayons, pens and paintbrushes) and with identifying colors.
The kids pick out their art materials.
They start with crayons.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Inside my kikay kit

No one can quite believe me when I said my favorite bag these days is a clutch. "How do you fit all your kikay stuff in a clutch?!" Well, I don't really need a lot of kikay stuff kasi. It's not because I'm so gorgeous, okay, it's really because I never stay out for long, just four hours max, so I don't need to bring a ton of stuff to retouch my makeup.

So here's what's inside my kikay kit:

1. Shiseido pressed powder. I've been using Shiseido compact foundations for a few years now.

2. Hygienix anti-bacterial hand spray. Because now that I'm a mom, I need to clean everything!

3. Watsons wet tissue. Inexpensive, no-nonsense, and wet. Some wet wipes aren't wet enough!

4. Bobbi Brown lipstick in Sandwash Pink. My everyday lipstick. It's the exact color of my natural lips!

5. Estée Lauder lipstick in Forbidden Apple. My go-to red. It's more cranberry than apple, though.

6. Pilot pen. Because a writer always needs a pen! Besides, I don't like using the pens provided in banks, etc, because they're a breeding ground for germs and bacteria.

7. Lotte Xylitol dental gum. Dual purpose gum: It freshens breath and kills cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth.

8. Ventolin inhaler. For my asthma. I don't get asthma attacks anymore actually but I seriously can't go anywhere without my inhaler. Kahit sa labas lang ng house, to the convenience store or to the playground, dala ko 'to. Maiwan na lahat actually, just not this!

9. Tod's key ring with my intial F and the house key. The only Tod's I own. In pink, of course.

10. (not seen) Goody Ouchless hair elastics. For hot days, magulo-hair days, mahangin days, and when I need a rubber band.

Yeah, it's not much of a kikay kit. More of an essentials bag. My absolute cannot-leave-home-without-these-things bag! And yes, my hand sanitizer is in my kikay kit, not hanging from my bag strap. Seriously, ladies, that just really ruins your whole look. Do not clip your hand sanitizers onto your bags! Put it away!