Thursday, December 31, 2009

Hubby wants a new kick-ass camera

Because sooner than we thought, we're having a little one and Vince definitely wants better pictures than this grainy one:

Well, it still took our breath away.

And with that, I'd like to say that this year may have been difficult for us all but God is faithful and good and He keeps pouring down His blessings on us all if we just open our eyes and see the wonder of His hands. Life is pretty amazing! Tomorrow is another year and, for me and Vince, we're already sure it's going to be very very different and full of endless surprises. Well, isn't each day a surprise?

One thing that continues to surprise me and make me happy is how there are so many of you reading this blog! Thank you! You've been a big part of my life, my dear Topaz Horizon readers, and now my life is about to change yet again and if you'd like to join the ride, come along, come along! And if you feel like sending my husband a spankin' brand new Olympus EP-1, why bless your heart!

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays!

My goodness! I know I haven't updated but that's because these past few days have been beyond amazing! I'll tell you more about that later on when the busyness of the season has died down.

So we had Christmas dinner with my Sales family last night. That was the best Sales Christmas dinner so far because the kids outdid themselves--from a musical performance on the marimba by darling Elizabeth and Michael Jackson dance numbers by the irrepressible Zo to a Christmas play written, directed, produced and starred in by Elizabeth, Zo, Kevin, Sean, Auntie Gigi, Mommy Lizelle, Uncle Phil, Uncle Vince and Auntie Frances (with music, effects and scenery helpfully provided by Joe, Uncle Lit and Lola Di!)!!!

Then today was spent with my Amper family. We basically spent all afternoon outdoing ourselves on the Playstation's Rock Band. What incredible fun! I mean, we're such a musical family so Rock Band should be a cinch but oh no, we were so bad!!! But that wasn't what mattered--it was being together again and having a jolly good time.

Ack, no pictures yet. Too sleepy now. Will update as soon as I can. In the meantime, I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and I wish you and your family a Happy (and more prosperous!) New Year!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Out of the woods

I think I'm finally out of a depression. Regular readers, you know I haven't had a good November. Now, I think I can finally explain what happened. A huge opportunity was offered to me the day before my birthday. It's so huge--in terms of prestige and money--that I was, and still am, reeling from it, so dazzled and flattered was I.

This is a good thing, right? Well, it is. But even as I thought about and then finally accepted the new opportunity, I began wondering if I made the right decision. It wasn't actually a done deal yet--I still had to go through some processes--but as I went through each step, I began to get restless. The littlest things upset me. I had a hard time sleeping. I would often find myself sighing and crying quietly but regularly like the maddening dripping from broken kitchen faucets.

I went on shopping sprees (will blog about my new vintage finds soon!). I became more tired than usual. I stopped doing my chores. My clothes and papers started piling up, my mess started creeping from my desk and my side of our bed to the living and dining areas. Vince, very neat and organized Vince, kept quiet but offered gently to help clean up, and I'd say, "No, no, I'll do that myself." But I won't. At work, I projected my happy self. But inside I was feeling unsure and stressed, and couldn't find pleasure in the job I love.

The few who knew about the offer (except OK!'s managing editor Lana and our ninong sa kasal who thought the brand was a dinosaur) was just as dazzled. They said, "Take it! Take it!" And I did! I felt like I grew shinier in their eyes. But as the final interview ended and the Americans said they were "very impressed," I ended that overseas call with a heavy heart, wiped my tears away and looked through OK! magazine and realized I just can't leave it. Not yet. I also wasn't ready to spend 24/7 doing something new--I'm like that: When I'm involved in a new project, I forsake everything else. When my mother died, I haven't seen her in almost 2 months, because I was that busy. I don't want to be that busy again.

So yesterday, after exactly 5 weeks of incredible highs and crushing lows, I turned down the offer. The night before, I alarmed Vince by sobbing my explanation: "I'm happy where I am now. I want to be grateful, not greedy." I think Vince was confused--being a man, he is the conquering type and thought the offer would be a great challenge, which he knew I liked. He also liked the money. Hell, I did, too. But I've always followed my heart, and look where my heart brought me--OK! magazine, my lovely home, and most wonderful of all, my darling husband Vince. My heart told me I wasn't ready to rock this boat. In the end, Vince assured me that he supports my decision. And I know he does, although I think he got frightened by my crying!  

I know I'm crazy to refuse so don't leave comments telling me I'm stupid. I already know that. There's still that ambitious part of me that's screaming in my head in absolute fury. I know opportunities like this don't come traipsing along every day, and I'll just have to live with this decision for the rest of my life. But now that it's done, my agony is over, my insomnia is cured, my world is again at peace.

Maybe now is not the time. Maybe in the future, something just as big will present itself again. Or maybe this means my time in a glamorous job is nearing its end and I should do something else--something not glamorous at all. Whatever the future holds, I only know that what I choose will always be the one that, in the words of that timeless song, will need all the love I can give, every day of my life for as long as I live.

Of course, I'm still thinking about the money I could've gotten. But I'll just have to make more money some other way. Kindly click on my ads then and buy shoes from me!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Behind the scenes of OK!'s Christmas staff shoot

Staff shoot post again! This shoot actually took place months ago (you can see what happened there here, here and here) since we had to take photos of Joanna while her pregnant tummy was still small. You see, we usually have our photos taken a month before the issue comes out. Since this was for the December issue, we had to have the shoot late October, but since Joanna was going to give birth in October, we knew she wouldn't be available so we just shot the Christmas shoot in July. Whew, long sentence there!

Our art director Sonny tells us where to stand and how to pose. The idea was Gossip Girl. Since I never watch that silly show, I have no idea what he's talking about. But when we look at the pics, they tell me we all nailed the GG look.

This is what came out in the magazine... with some major Photoshop editing! The wrinkles and folds of my dress around the stomach area was smoothened (the dress was a size 2 and I'm a 4. I could hardly breathe in it!), Sonny's pants were darkened from blue to black to keep with the color scheme of red, white and black. Joanna's dress came out orange so we color-corrected that and...

... well, since Joanna was hugging her tummy up there, we took her photo from down here, cut it out, pasted it back up there, and removed her baby bump. Yes, that's possible with Photoshop! Since this was coming out in the December issue--and Joanna had given birth by then--we can't have her pregnant! We also extended the mat we're all standing on. The shoes--except my nude pumps and Elaine's studded gladiators--were all borrowed so to prevent scuff marks on the sole, we had to stand on that mat. Sonny, who's not on the mat, had masking tape on the soles of his shoes (you can see the tape peeking out). We digitally removed that, too.

Nikki, OK!'s beauty columnist and our stylist for the shoot, joins us. As our photographer Ocs adjusts the light, we all rest from all the smiling and catch up. We super miss Nikki! She's getting married in a couple of months and we're all buzzing about what we'll wear to her stylish wedding. Meanwhile, doesn't Elaine look so Blair?

There are three things the OK! staff all love: Hollywood celebs, eating and laughing. Our photo shoots are always a nightmare for the photographers because we can't stop laughing. I posted the photo of us looking the least hilarious (of course, I can't let us look silly!).

And here's the entire staff with the team who made us look fantabulous! Want to see the final shot? Pick up OK!'s December issue and you may even get a chance to win the most expensive moisturizer on the planet!


Friday, December 04, 2009

My beauty blog has a new look!

I've seriously neglected Beauty For A Living. I've been buried under a mountain of press kits and beauty products that I really don't know which to feature anymore! So I just ignored my beauty blog. But I checked it out recently and found the template had completely gone on self-destruct. I wonder how long that's been like that! Thank goodness I discovered...

Shabby Blogs has a wealth of the most adorable backgrounds, headers, buttons and cute extras so perfect for my beauty blog! Now Beauty For A Living looks really beautiful. Go visit my pretty blog now!

What's that you said? When will I update Topaz Horizon's inky look? Well, I really don't know. I decided long ago that this blog will be black for the simple reason that black screens consume the least energy. So when you're reading my blog, you're also saving the planet! But yeah, I'm getting pretty bored with it myself. Do you think it's time for a Topaz Horizon makeover, too? I want it to still be black, though, with maybe touches of orange design elements... without it ending up looking like a Halloween blog. If you can help me out, I'll send you a bag of beauty products!

P.S. Is no one going to join my OK! contest? I'm giving away a jar of the most expensive moisturizer on the face of the earth!


Have y'all visited Yummy magazine's spankin' new website? It's gorgeous, filled with fabulous photos of easy recipes you can do in 30 minutes. The best part about it is it's so easy to navigate! My favorite part is the specialized search--type an ingredient and the recipes with that ingredient appear!

So yesterday, Vince told me, "Are we ever going to eat the mozzarella?"

Are we ever going to eat it indeed! I've had that block of soft cheese for a few months now. I popped onto and decided to make a Linguine with Tomato and Mushrooms. It had all these ingredients (yes, count them and rejoice, oh busy wife!):

Then you just saute them all together in a wok (I like a wok better than a pan):

Then you twirl pasta onto some nice plates, top with the mushroom and tomatoes (I added a few slices of leftover steak):

Then you finish by breaking up pieces of soft creamy mozzarella on top!

That's it! Dinner was amazing--Vincent made googly eyes at me all night and then some! And for that alone, I am a fan of forever. Go to the site now for recipes that can improve your health, your mood and perhaps even your marriage!

P.S. My friend Mariel is also their food blogger! Yey!

Thursday, December 03, 2009

The birthday post!

I know I said I had a very stressful November--my birthday month!--but do know that I had a wonderful wonderful wonderful birthday because of my husband. Vince gave me my blender! And a clothes steamer, too! These may not sound very romantic to you women out there who prefer diamonds and trips abroad but if you're a homemaker/career woman like me, believe me, it's the home gadgets that you'll scream over!

Vince, thank you for my silver Osterizer and for now drinking yogurt smoothies against your will yet you do so happily for me. Thank you also for the clothes steamer and for bearing with me and the mountains of clothes to be pressed that now no longer exist because of your wonderful gift. Thank you also for my beautiful tulips and for telling me that I am even more beautiful than the gorgeous flowers. I had a great birthday. Thank you!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

It is time for war

I am a huge fan of Lord of the Rings. I have a deep love and respect for this mighty work, both the books and the movies. While I love all the characters, I have a special fondness for Theoden, King of Rohan. He is a man of peace but when that peace was threatened, he became a man of war. These days, his words ring true for us Filipinos. Listen.

"So much death. What can men do against such reckless hate?"

"Tonight we remember those who gave their blood to defend this country. Hail the victorious dead!"
"We shall have peace... We shall have peace, when you answer for the burning of the Westfold, and the children that lie dead there! We shall have peace, when the lives of the soldiers, whose bodies were hewn even as they lay dead against the gates of the Hornberg, are avenged! When you hang from a gibbit for the sport of your own crows, we shall have peace!"

"Arise, arise, Riders of Theoden! Fell deeds awake: fire and slaughter! Spear shall be shaken, shield be splintered, a sword-day, a red day, ere the sun rises! Ride now, ride now! Ride to Gondor!"

Today marks the seventh day of the Maguindanao Massacre. To the government--both in power and those running in the upcoming elections--we are watching you. To the suspects who are still at large, we will hunt you down. There shall be no peace while the blood of 57 murdered people cry out for justice. There shall be no peace!

UPDATE: The body count is now 64.