Monday, December 31, 2012

Happiest of New Years to you!

"May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art—write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can.

"...I hope you will have a wonderful year, that you'll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you'll make something that didn't exist before you made it, that you will be loved and you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind.

"And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself." 

These were Neil Gaiman's New Year wishes for his readers 11 years and 6 years ago. Last year, he wished for us to make mistakes because mistakes mean we're trying something new. 

I'm trying something new this year. Be a full-time mom, be a work-at-home mom. Somewhere along the way, maybe I'll renovate the house. Maybe I'll teach writing. Maybe I'll take up classes, like baking and crafting and guitar playing. Or maybe I'll find that being a mommy is so demanding that I'll just devote myself to the boys. Lots of plans. No plans. For the first time ever, I am allowing life to happen to me, instead of me controlling everything. I've worked so hard. Now I just want to enjoy life and all that I've worked for.

I wish the same for you! Happy 2013!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Dreaming of a new look for 2013

For the house, not me!

I'm getting tired of our blue walls. I love them, make no mistake, but after 5 years of living with them, I am ready for a new color. Or a non-color like gray or white.

I was browsing through fab online magazine and instantly fell in love with these stark yet cozy, elegant rooms:

All that light! So amazing. It's like a photo box!

I do admit that I do love color a wee bit too much to just go black/white/gray. I have a pink Christmas tree, for heaven's sake! So I'm pretty sure I'm going to add pops of color here and there. But I do want white walls now. Or gray. Hmm. Still can't decide.

The truth is I want a non color because I take most of my photos inside the house. Me, my kids, my products. And I always have to color correct everything because everything takes on a bluish tinge: our skin, our clothes, our hair, the products! I want to look like a human being, not a Smurf haha.

What's your home makeover plan this 2013?

*photos from

Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays!

Dearest darling readers,

Thank you for being a blessing to me and my family this year. Thank you for the good will, the love and encouragement, the prayers, and the gifts. You have truly blessed us. I send you God's blessings of love, peace, and abundance, too! Merry Christmas!

Frances and Vince and our kiddos Vito and Iñigo

*photo by Blow-Up Babies but arte-fied by me that's why it looks weird, I guess!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Topaz Fashion: Jumpsuit day

Okay, guys, just one photo today because I only went out twice this week. Tuesday, for a full day of photo shoots and today to watch The Hobbit with my husband. My outfit today was actually cute but we forgot to take a photo. Oh well! Anyway, I was supposed to go to two events—Benefit's anniversary party and a secret blogger dinner—this week but I suffered a bad cold and sore throat (recovering now!) so been mostly home.

Anyway, today's Topaz Fashion features my super old jumpsuit. I don't even remember where I bought this. Some little store in Robinsons Galleria.

I wore it on Tuesday. Had two photo shoots that day so I had to be as comfy as possible. Plus, I brought baby Iñigo with me so I had to be boob-accessible. I wore my jumpsuit with my snakeskin sandals from Charles & Keith. The photo shoots were for my Behind the Scenes column. It's in the fashion section of Manila Bulletin. Today featured Ana Amigo Antonio. Next week, it will be Patty Laurel-Filart, the pretty woman I'm posing with in the shot above.

I love this jumpsuit to bits! But it was bought when I didn't have my mommy flab (see pre-mommy photo of me in that jumpsuit here) so now... I dunno. Maybe I'll sell it on eBay, too. Time for a new wardrobe!!!

Happy weekend, fashionistas!

P.S. This is a good read on OOTD fashion blogs: "Has street style jumped the shark?". Are fashion blogs real style or are they all staged?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Last week before Christmas! Deal Grocer to the rescue!

Christmas is in a few days!!! If you haven't finished shopping for gifts yet, I highly suggest a collective gift for all. My recommendation? A food trip for family and friends! And if it's an eat-all-you-can buffet pa, well, one size fits all!

Sunday brunch buffet for 4 at Oakwood Premier Joy-Nostalg Center, P3880

Cantonese buffet at Crowne Plaza Galeria, P788 each

Hong Kong Cha Siu Roast for 6-8 people at Hong Kong Roast, P945

Three-course menu for 2 at Beso Cucina Vinoteka, P695

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Silly dream, serious realizations

Let's take a break from all the sponsored posts I'm doing so I can tell you about this absurd nightmare I had the other morning.

In my dream, I had won Binibining Pilipinas. In my dream, sobrang grabe ang ganda ko, kahit ako napa-wow sa sarili ko. I was perfect. My hair was thick and glossy, my arms and legs smooth and slim, my tummy flat and firm, my teeth straight, my face flawless. I won Bb. Pilipinas-Universe!!!

But curiously, I was dismayed. I hid in an obscure bed and breakfast, I hid for so long that tabloids were splashing ugly stories about me on their front pages. Finally, I went home to my parents' house. Papa was so happy to see me. Mama was so proud, too. I should have realized at this point that this was a dream. Haha, posible pang manalo ako ng beauty pageant pero imposible yung buhay si Mama, diba, so dapat I said at this point, "Oh it's just a dream!" But, no, I still didn't get that this was a dream; in my head, I thought it was all real.

Anyway! Papa was so proud. He said, "Everyone's talking about you! Magandang publicity stunt yung nawala ka ng ilang araw. Magaling ka talaga sa PR, anak!" I didn't respond. I was looking for something, looking here and there.

Papa kept on talking. "Ang problema na lang natin is paano natin itatago si Vince at mga bata. Syempre, Bb. Pilipinas-Universe ka na. Hindi pwedeng may asawa't anak ka!"

And that was when I said, "Papa, asan si Vince? Asan ang mga anak ko?"

"Don't think about them!" Papa said. "One year lang naman ang reign mo so tiisin mo muna sila. Mas importante we prepare you for Miss Universe!"

I started crying. "No, no. I have to see them! I have to see them now. I don't want to be Bb. Pilipinas. Paano ba ako nanalo? Hindi naman ako rumampa??!" LOL dapat, right, but mega-tears ako nito. I was crying so hard as I said, "I'll tell everyone the truth! I'm not a binibini! I'm a wife! I'm a mother! I want to see Vince and my kids!"

And then Papa and Mama looked at me with anger and disappointment. Papa said, "Ganyan ka talaga. Selfish! Minsan ka na nga lang nagbigay sa amin ng Mama mo ng reason to be proud of you and so typical of you, uunahin mo na naman ang sarili mo!"

And that was when I woke up. I still thought it was real because the first thing I did was look for Vince, Vito and Iñigo. To my relief, Vince was asleep beside me but I had a few seconds of panic when I didn't see the boys in the house. I quickly remembered, and this was when I finally shuddered off my nightmare, that the babies are in the playground. I was okay. I was home. I was with the most important people in my life in my most important role.

Silly stupid dream, right? Right. Vince was laughing throughout my kwento. I was laughing, too, lalo na dun sa part when I said hindi naman ako rumampa. But I found myself conjuring my dream again and again, if only to see Mama's face again and again. So even though it was a ridiculous nightmare, it was okay.

You know, it was never my mission in life to please my parents. Neither did I go out of my way to disappoint them, mind. I remember a conversation with Mama when I was in my teens. We just had an argument but when we'd calmed down, I told her, "It's not that I'm being disobedient or being difficult or that I want to cause you pain. I just want to live. Whatever that means. Please let me live."

My parents never wanted me to be a writer, never wanted me to have a career. They just wanted me to get married, have kids, serve the Lord. But they did let me be. They disapproved of my college course, Creative Writing, but they let me take it. They disapproved of my boyfriends but they treated them all well. They didn't like that Vince and I were getting waaaaaaay too involved but they treated Vince like their son. They didn't understand my career choices but they were happy I seemed to be a success. They didn't like that I waited and waited to get pregnant but when I finally did become a mother, Papa—because Mama was no longer around—just congratulated me happily.

So I know that maybe I was a disappointment to my parents because I didn't turn out the way they dreamed it when I was born and they dreamed their dreams as they counted my fingers and toes. But I also know that they're fiercely proud of me despite that. I'm grateful they allowed me to be who I am and to live my life the way I wanted. It must have been so difficult for them to see me struggle and fail and not lift a finger to help because I insisted I didn't need help. They allowed me to grow, to be me, and eventually to realize on my own the truths they always knew and tried to teach me.

So my nightmare was absurd because it isn't true. My parents are proud of me, even though I took a different path, even though I was different from them, even though my dreams weren't their dreams. They let go. They let me be. I am forever grateful for their trust.

Trivia: I was a beauty queen in high school. No joke!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Hot days call for cold desserts

This has got to be the hottest Christmas season in living memory.

Whenever I hear that traditional song, "Malamig ang simoy ng hangin," I feel...

(a) horrible that the planet is truly suffering global warming,

(b) sad that my children will not understand what cold Decembers are unless we go to another country maybe, and

(c) really old since that song is now about an ancient time when Decembers were actually cold!

We've been comforting ourselves with ice cream. There's tubs of it in the freezer and when we go out, even more ice cream!

Vito calls it, "I cream!"

Don't worry! I didn't give Iñigo any ice cream. He did chase after my cone of melting choco creaminess. Poor baby!

How about you? How do you beat the heat?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Win P5,000 from Meralco! Help public schools, too!

Yes! Meralco is giving away money! And all you have to do is submit photos of your brightly Christmas lit home or of any of the Meralco Liwanag Parks all over Luzon!

I always like to do sponsored posts for Meralco because I literally owe my life to them. My Mama worked at Meralco all her life and we all enjoyed the amazing employee benefits. Even now, she's four years dead, but my Papa still gets survivor's pension. So ang laking tulong talaga to us. My sponsored posts are my way of giving back. And now, Meralco is again giving back to their customers with their Maliwanag ang Pasko program.

Every Christmas, Meralco lights up their Liwanag Parks to celebrate the season. This year, the Department of Tourism (DoT) joins Meralco as they create more Liwanag Parks, energize island schools, and give away P5,000 every day to consumers!

Why create more Liwanag Parks? 
The Philippines celebrates Christmas like no other country in the world. CNN even featured our merry-making! The DoT aims to create more Liwanag Parks so that we'll have more reasons to be a tourist destination during the holidays. Meralco and DoT will give local government units a Liwanag Park starter kit of a giant parol and 500 boxes of Christmas lights. Then bahala na si mayor gumawa ng park. The pinaka-bongga park receives prizes from Meralco and DoT which hopefully the LGU will use for the betterment of their community.

How do I energize island schools? 
The One Meralco Foundation (OMF) provides electricity to public schools. For example, just this past May, OMF installed solar panels in six schools in Isla Verde, Batangas. The schools also received LCD TVs, DVD players, sound systems, DVDs of educational programs plus school uniforms and school supplies.  Now here's where you come in. OMF pledged to help communities through the photos you submit on their Facebook's Maliwanag ang Pasko app.

How do I win P5,000?

Topaz Fashion is back! What a freelance writer wears

Oops. Totally forgot to do Topaz Fashion! Too many things happening on my side of the world. I had planned to be completely work-free from my last day of employment till my baby Iñigo turns a year old in May. Had promised myself, "You've been working too hard for the last 14 years. Take some months off. Hell, take a year off!" But I find myself working still on many new projects!

My father-in-law calls it inertia. I've been working non-stop so I will find it almost impossible to completely stop. So since the last day of my employment (Nov 15) to exactly one month later, I'm still as busy as ever.

Well, to be completely technical, I'm still officially employed. My last day as editor-in-chief of OK! magazine is end of working day today. So today is the last day I will promote the December issue!
Please grab a copy! It's the very last issue! It's a collector's item!

Today is also my very first day as a newspaper columnist!
My columnist's photo shot by Sara Black.
An entire spread! My first column is about Sara Black and her new book, We, Love.

It's a childhood dream, folks. When I was around 12, I listed down what I wanted in life: to be an editor-in-chief of an international title and to be a columnist in a national daily. That's it. That's all I wanted in life! And now I can add columnist to my resumé! So thrilled!

I also managed to take photos of outfits I wore when I remembered that I have Topaz Fashion on this blog. Here they are:
Plains & Prints denim zip-up dress, Charles & Keith sandals, Cuzo nylon tote
Shoot and interview outfit. This is also my default breastfeeding outfit. Actually, whenever I bring that Cuzo bag, that automatically means I have Iñigo with me. I had an interview and photo shoot to go to for Circuit magazine. I wrote the cover story on Iza Calzado. I wanted Iza to meet her nephew so I brought the baby. Oh, and also I know from experience that shoots can drag on forever so breastfeeding mommy me needed the baby along!

Missoni sweater dress, orange VNC sandals, Gucci shoppers tote
Photo shoot and girlfriends' day out. This was when we shot Sara Black for my column. When you do a photo shoot, you have to be as comfortable as possible. But I got stuck in traffic and the shoot ended while I was in the cab so I detoured to my friends' party in Red Box Greenbelt.

This dress is actually nice on me when I was chubby. It's a knit dress that's supposed to ride on my hips and butt with the hem ending mid-thigh. But I bought this when I just gave birth to Iñigo so I was fatter then. Now that I've lost all the weight, no more hips and thighs to hold on to so the dress drops straight down and looks baggy on me. Maybe I'll sell it on eBay because it's really too big for me now.

K & Company dress, Kenneth Cole peep-toes, Longchamp clutch
Nuffnang Country Manager's dinner for talents. This was on Wednesday, 12/12/12, the day Congress voted on the RH Bill. I wore purple to signify my support for the bill that finally finally finally passed! Like the previous dress, this one is also loose on my body. So sad because I really like this! I'm losing too much weight, I think.

Anyway, Nuffnang is planning big things for 2013, hence the dinner. It was nice to meet the Nuffies and the other bloggers. I'm really excited to do more work for Nuffnang's many clients!

K & Company dress, Zara ballet flats, Longchamp clutch, Charles & Keith sunnies 
Visit to Acqua Iguazu site for a sponsored blog post. I love love love this dress! Perfect red dress. Anyway, I was supposed to use my Kate Spade black leather tote but all my essentials were already in my clutch so I just grabbed it. I'll try to be more coordinated but I tend to let convenience trump coordination!

Whew. And that's the life of a freelance writer for you—busy but still stylish (or at least attempting it)! Hope you enjoy the weekend, dear readers! Don't forget to grab OK!'s December issue and today's Manila Bulletin!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Vince's Life trilogy!!!

I'm a certified Vince's Life fan. I want to say I'm the #1 fan in the entire world (I do have reason to be *wink wink*) but when I Googled Vince's Life, well, there are some pretty devoted fans out there who can quote entire passages from this romantic trilogy!

I betcha my 13th month pay (yes, I'm actually still officially employed) that these fans will freak out once they find out that Summit Books has released the second edition of Vince's Life. Edited by Vince himself and featuring new book covers by Boizei Malicdem, this new edition will thrill once more with the heart-melting story of how Vince found and lost and found love again.

My favorite book is the last one, The Wedding. Everyone likes the first book best because that's when Vince and Andrea fall in love, get together and break up. But for me, it's The Wedding that really made me swoon. It is the most mature, most committed, most romantic story. Plus, it's the best written. Of course, before you can appreciate the last book, you must read the first two first! So grab the entire trilogy!

Each book is just P175 and is available at all bookstores. So the three books is just P525. For such a great story, it's super affordable! Best gift to give to the girls in your life—daughters, cousins, nieces, wives, mommies, girlfriends. So they know how a real man loves and how they should be treated and what true love really means. Grab your copies now! Mwah!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Vacation and staycation deals on Deal Grocer!

Okay, I am in the midst of gift-shopping mania. Half of the people on my list have gifts na; the rest siguro I'll make beso na lang hahaha.

Joke, joke. Actually, we're shopping online. You already know that I've been browsing Deal Grocer's Christmas Collection. Here are a few more deals that I found that will make great gifts to your parents, couple friends or families. Collective gift ba so you won't have to go crazy buying a gift for the daddy, the mommy, the kuya, the ate, the bunso and the family dog.

First, for couples and families who like traveling, why don't you give them...

Guided tour of Corregidor Island via Sun Cruises 
(P1100 per person, includes ferry ride and lunch)

Romantic stay for 2 at Ciudad Fernandina in historic Vigan 
(P2950, with breakfast)

Overnight stay for 2 at Taal Vista Hotel at Tagaytay 
(P4600, with breakfast)

Family getaway for 6 at Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar in Bataan 
(P6000, includes breakfast and heritage tour)

Breathtaking escape for 5 at Playa Tropical Resort in Ilocos Norte 
(P7800, with breakfast, massages and private pool)

For couples and families who don't like traveling, you can give them staycations instead...

Monday, December 10, 2012

Look! I made a doll!

I discovered Craft MNL on my Facebook feed. One of my Facebook friends took a crafts lesson and I clicked on her photo and that's how I decided I wanted to take doll-making lessons!

Now, I had thought that we'd be given blank dolls and then we'd just decorate them. But silly me, it wasn't a doll-decorating workshop—it was a doll-making workshop! We made our dolls from scratch! Here is my photo essay of my very first doll creation:
It all starts with handfuls of this. I forget what it's called.
Let's call it stuffing! Wads and wads of this!
I made the head.
Here's the neck.
The yarn marks the eye and temple area.
Pins and needles! Yards of yarn!
That's our teacher, Jac Zapatos, a wife, full-time working
mom to a toddler, and a doll-maker! Follow her crafty blog,
I am handmade.
This is a really soft cloth. It's my doll's skin. 
Stitching away. 
Not very neat. Sigh. I haven't stitched in years!
Stuffing the limbs with more stuffing!
Head, arms, body!
Slim legs! The doll looks better chubby actually
but since it's MY doll, I made her thin.
Skinny like me!
Closing up seams.
Pins mark the eyes. Then I satin stitched the eyes.
Making the hair with red yarn. Because I'm a redhead!
Super cute! She looks like me! 
This is the most difficult part, stitching on the hair. My fingers swelled up.
Tada! Our pretty dolls!

It was so much fun making my own doll! I named her Clementine, from the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

I'm already thinking of what workshops to join next. Craft MNL has tons of fascinating classes like glass etching, decoupage, bookbinding, flower arranging, making rubber stamps and so much more. They're super affordable, too. My doll-making class was just P850 with materials! 

I highly recommend joining workshops. The last one I joined, a writing workshop way back in 1999, I found me a hubby! Haha. So sulit talaga siya! 

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Shopping for Christmas deals at Deal Grocer

Okaaaaay, it's December and I've not done any gift shopping at all! Well, that's not totally true since I've already distributed Baked by Lizelle chocolate cupcakes to my former officemates but I still have family and friends to shop for. The trouble with me is I have so much work lined up in the next 3 weeks (I'm unemployed, yes, but I have tons of freelance work) that I'm pretty sure I won't have time to brave the traffic, the full parking, the long lines at the cashier. So I'll do what I do best: Shop online!

Right now, I'm checking out Deal Grocer's Christmas Collection. I've been a Deal Grocer member for a year now. That's where we got great deals for our first date at LuLu after I gave birth to Iñigo and for Vito's Little Tikes car. I'm really liking their selection this year. Here are my favorites:

Restorative Acupuncture with Ventosa at Living Life Well

I would love to have a dozen coupons of this please! I never believed in acupuncture until a few years ago. I had the most awful cough. The pulmo had given me three kinds of antibiotics and the damned thing just won't go away. Finally, I went to an acupuncture clinic for acupressure and acupuncture. Within 5 minutes, I could breathe. That night, I was coughing up gobs of phlegm. When I woke up the next day, my cough was gone. Acupuncture works!!!

Soothing 60-Minute Signature Foot Spa + Reflexology from Ki Spa

Ohhhh, I'd love to just sit and let someone massage my feet all day. I feel the most pampered when my feet get rubbed. They are the most abused part of my body. I'm always running around busy busy busy. My feet look awful really. This foot spa and massage is love!

Complete NUCCA Chiropractic Exam & X-Rays from N8 Upper Cervical Chiropractic

I have slight curvature of the spine. Yes, scoliosis. My spine bends towards the right a bit. It could be years of poor posture, years of slinging heavy bags on my right shoulder. So a session (or two or three) of this would be very nice!

Makeup Courses from Make-Up Designory Manila
I actually know how to put on makeup on myself. But it's 5-minute, rush-out-the-door kinda makeup. I'd love to learn how to do professional makeup, if only so I could use the tons of creams, powders, liquids and lipsticks given to me by beauty brands!

Woah, woah. Wait a minute! How did this become my wish list??? I'm supposed to be shopping for others! Okay. Let me focus. These are great gift suggestions for...