Saturday, September 29, 2012

Meeting Zac Efron tonight

Uh, no. That wouldn't be me. The lucky girls of OK! will! My staff is so lucky. They get to meet and talk to Hollywood stars, the most recent ones being Ian Somerhalder, Adam Levine and now Zac Efron. I gotta say it, these guys are so handsome! In another lifetime, yeah, maybe I'd be first in line but I'm a mommy now so I stay home and avoid the screaming, shrieking masses of fans.

OK! had a contest this week giving away tickets to Zac's Penshoppe fan convention tonight. All the readers had to do was post a photo of themselves on OK!'s Facebook page with their favorite OK! feature on Zac.

OK!'s readers are soooo adorable, I swear!

Honestly, I didn't realize we've given Zac tons of exposure. In my head, all we ever talk about is Brangelina, TomKat and Robsten. To everyone going to Zac's fancon, good luck!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Topaz Fashion: What I wore this week

I realized, looking at all my photos for today's Topaz Fashion edition, that I have a signature pose!

Saturday. I wore this really comfortable maxi dress from And Apparel when we ate lunch at Milky & Sunny (never again!), went to Christ the King Church to finalize Iñigo's baptism details, and visited my in-laws. I like it because it's easy to breastfeed in it, it hides my mommy bulges and it has pockets! I wore it with my pearl necklace, Vince's Skagen watch and leather sandals from Charles & Keith.

Monday. I had lunch with Nicole and Kat. I'm wearing an Eden dress for breastfeeding (the bodice is double layered so I can lift it up and nurse discreetly) and my tweed Anthology flats. The purple shades are Charles & Keith.

Wednesday. Four months after giving birth, I can finally wear a bodycon dress! I actually bought this a month after Iñigo was born. Vince went shopping with me. He picked it out. One look at it and I thought he was kidding. It was a small. But it zipped up okay (a bit of a hiccup in the tummy area) but, all in all, it looked okay. But now it looks great! Yey!

I'm wearing an Unarosa dress and Nine West pumps. The bag up there is a Fino but before I slipped out the door, I changed my bag to my cream Longchamp clutch, to match my shoes. This is what I wore to the office.

Thursday. I am wearing my husband's Levi's. It shrunk in the wash. He is furious with Levi's because aren't Levi's denims supposed to be pre-shrunk?! It's a good thing it fits me. I've never worn a guy's jeans before. I've borrowed Vince's shirts, boxers and watches. Oh, had I known how wonderful men's jeans are on a post-baby body...!

Wore this to lunch with Jericho Rosales (more on that soon!). I call this my modified Katie Holmes (circa 2009) look. Modified because Katie wore baggier men's jeans with really high heels all topped by a loose button-down shirt. I wore my hubby's jeans with a buttoned up Bayo cardigan and Sapato Manila two-tone heels. I was supposed to wear a chunky necklace but, because I had Iñigo with me, I took it off. He plays with my necklaces when he breastfeeds!

Friday. I call this my almost-matrona look haha. I wore this to a lunch meeting with my OK! magazine staff and also to shop at Shangri-la Plaza later. The top is Zara, the silk shorts are... I don't know. The ballet flats are Lacoste. The diaper bag is Cuzo. The shades are Charles & Keith.

Okay, off to Shang! Toodles! I hope you're all having a fashionable Friday!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Buy this magazine!

Okay, so I said in a previous post, in its comments, that I was advised not to talk about my work when I blog. So I actually don't. I talk about Hollywood celebrities and fashion, I talk about how I have to wear this and that to a meeting or an event, but I never ever talk about the job itself. In fact, some of you don't even know what magazine I edit.

Well, what the heck, this is my baby:

Grab the October issue of OK! Philippines! It's already out. It's the annual Best Dressed in Hollywood special. We also have huge features on the super hot Vampire Diaries and the final season of Gossip Girl. Speaking of GG, we also have details on the super secret wedding of its star, Blake Lively, to super cutie Ryan Reynolds. There's a ton more goodies inside, like the extra magazine OK! Glam where we flood you with the perfect accessories for every budget and every outfit!

I love the October issue! And I'm sure you'll love it, too. So grab a copy now!

P.S. Are you a Zac Efron fan? Yes? He's in the country! Want to meet him? OK! is giving away free tickets to his fancon! Details on our Facebook page.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Photo dump!

Okaaaaaay, I just went through my computer's files and, boy oh boy, do I have a ton of photos that I never got to share with you! I was thinking, "Maybe I should just write a book on lessons I've learned from marriage, parenting, friendship and career, then I'll put all these photos in that book and put on the cover, 'Never Before Seen Photos Inside!' and sell that book to all my blog readers!!!"

Joke joke. I'll share a few of these photos with you. For free!
Those cuties are Basti, Vito and Sjofn. They are watching Disney Junior's Tayo, The Little Bus. They are very near the TV because they think it's an iPad. Every kid I know now think all screens are touch screens.

That is a month-old Iñigo doing tummy time while his excited Mama takes tons of photos. The camera caught a disgruntled Vito and my heart broke. Vito was still adjusting to life with a brother. He was never really jealous of Iñigo; he was more unhappy with me. I knew he didn't understand why I "abandoned" him. This was a really difficult time for me and Vito. Thank goodness we are past that!

Iñigo smiled early. At just a month old. He's a happy smiley baby. He laughed early, too. At 6 weeks old! He's a happy kid. I love that happy little chubby baby so much!

Ohhhh, this was at Kabbie's wedding. Vito was the Bible bearer. Such a proud moment for his parents really... Until we got to the church and he started running and screaming all over the place! Seriously. He was like a little Tazmanian devil. I chased him everywhere! Look at my hair!

Oh oh! This is a gift from Mothercare. Thanks, Mothercare! You're so good to my kids. That's why I'm so loyal to you! Anyway, this is a Stokke Tripp Trapp chair. It grows with you. From babies as young as 6 months (or as soon as baby can sit up without support) to adults as old as... well, as old as adults can get! Vito loves his Stokke chair.

This is my article on marriage and money that came out in the June issue of Good Housekeeping. It was a very well received article. I got a lot of Tweets telling me how they liked it and learned a lot from it.

This is me with my almost 2-month-old Iñigo visiting Nuffnang. That's the always cool and fabulously chic Trixie (who also blogs at That Girl Trixie). She's my Nuffnang ninang! She makes sure I always get tons of assignments, half of which I turn down because I'm too busy!!! Still, I've earned enough from Nuffnang this year to buy me this...

OMG, diba??? It's a MacBook Pro. Purely Katas ng Nuffnang yan. I bought that baby in July and I am so happy with it!!! I haven't blogged about it. Completely forgot! Well, actually, my hair and dress are ugly when I unboxed it so I couldn't blog about it haha. Vain vain vain! But I'm so happy this MacBook Pro was purchased entirely with my Nuffnang income. Kids, as long as you're good and you work hard, your dreams will come true.

Anyway, I told Trixie my next Katas ng Nuffnang goal is a Tod's D Bag. Trixie, 70K minimum ang Tod's D Bag. That's a lot of work! But... Challenge accepted?

Oh, look, there's Trixie again! This was also in July. Iñigo's 2 months old here. Vince and I met with funny girl Karrots Nazareno of Karotitay fame. She also now has a show on YouTube called Live Love LOLz. She's hilarious. I've never met her but I'm a huge fan so I started hounding her on Twitter, asking to meet meet meet! I figured she'd agree to meet me because, though we've never met, she's friends with friends of mine. I figured she wouldn't think I'm insane. So she finally said yes and here we are!

That same afternoon, after our brunch with Karotitay, Vince and I went to Fully Booked High Street and bought all those books. We usually have a book-buying spree once a month or so. At the cashier, Fully Booked's Aimee Diego (a fellow mommy and blogger!) came up to me. This was the first time we've ever met although we've known each other online for a while.

Oh, if you're wondering why I bring Iñigo with me everywhere, it's because he breastfeeds only from me. He doesn't drink from a bottle. It's not a choice I made. I tell ya, life would be much easier (and safer for him) if he just stayed home and drank my expressed breastmilk from a bottle.

Anyway, carrying him around is easier with a ring sling. I'd like to thank Eliza, author of The Painter's Wife and staunch babywearer advocate, for coming over to the house and giving me a personalized lesson on babywearing. You have saved my life, Eli!!!

This photo was taken at Chow Fun. Review of that fantastic Chinese food bistro coming soon! Sorry for the blurry photo. We're actually focusing on the owner. Yep, the guy in the pale green shirt. He personally helps diners with the menu. Good food, good service!

Oh, and I had to put this here because some readers are asking me if our Matilda is still alive. Yes, folks, she still is. She's almost 5 years old. She's still a masungit bunny. And Vince loves her to bits.

But of course, Vince loves the baby boys best! Here we are at Power Plant having coffee and cake. This was in August. We left Vito at home because we bought him toys (see big bag) for his 2nd birthday. And, as I said, Iñigo is always brought along because of his aversion to fake nipples. Haha. It's cool. We love having him around. Vito, meanwhile, prefers to stay home. I miss that little boy as a result!

Okay, enough photos. I have tens of thousands more! Maybe I will really put them all in a book! Buy one, okay???

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The death of my anger

I used to be a very angry girl. I know you all think I'm this super chill, fabulous, she's-got-it-all-together person but I was angry my entire life. There was this time when I was lashing out so badly that my younger brother got so freaked out by my anger that he started exorcising me. Yep, he was so frightened by my Linda Blair levels, he started spouting Bible verses and praying over me. Which I found so ridiculously funny that I actually did stop screaming.

All of the reasons come from family issues. I won't get into the ugly details but I know that now and I am grateful I was made aware of the cause of my anger because I was able to deal with it. How did my anger go away? Vince helped massively. He helped me see that life is so much better than I thought it was. Mariel helped in a huge way. She made me see that we all have dysfunctional families but you can't blame your families for the shit in your life forever. My mother's death shocked me out of it. Life is short, why waste it spewing ugliness? And, most profoundly, my children changed me. Whatever I was angry about before, they have all melted away when my sons were born.

Whenever I look at my sons' faces, I know that the cloud of anger and despair has lifted and their happy smiles are rays of sunshine banishing away the pain of long ago. The world is so different, so bright and beautiful, now that my sons are here. I am new, I am born again, I am suddenly, wonderfully, finally truly alive.

And I just want to include this song because it says what I feel. Plus, I have a huge crush on Zachary Levi!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Topaz Fashion: What I wore this week

Let's try to do this fashion posts thingie! I will confess right off the bat that I have no plans on becoming a fashion blogger. Hindi kaya ng powers ko. But some readers did say in the previous post that they're curious to see what I wear. Well, let me tell ya, I'm now a comfy dresser. I used to wear mini skirts, mini dresses, skinny jeans and precariously high heels. But now I'm all comfy dressing.

Here are this week's examples.
Tuesday. Here I'm wearing a Breton top from Zara, Gingersnaps leggings and Anthology tweed flats. For accessories, just the string of pearls Vince gave me when we were still in our early 20s, Vince's Skagen wristwatch and bangles I got from a tiangge. I'm using my Cuzo nylon bag because that's Iñigo's diaper bag. Yep, I bring the baby with me!

I wore this when I had a meeting at Power Plant. It was just me and the baby—no yaya—so I had to be as comfy as possible. I should, however, stop wearing my preggy clothes. Those preggy leggings must go!

Wednesday. This is the Unarosa dress I bought in all the colors (white, gray, brown and black!). Its deep V-neckline makes it really easy to breastfeed. The woven belt is Karimadon. The shoes are Nine West. The bag is Fino. The earrings are from a Greenhills tiangge.

I wore this to UNICEF's Auction for Action event, which I'll talk about on Topaz Mommy soon, and to a shu uemura meeting, which I'll talk about on Beauty For A Living tomorrow.

Thursday. I love this And Apparel T-shirt dress! Oh my gulay, it's like the softest thing ever! I wear it either on its own, with the belt at my waist, or, as seen here, the belt at my hips. The shoes are my Tweed Anthology flats. You'll be seeing a lot of those flats. I wear them constantly. They are the best, comfiest flats in the entire world!

I only posted three outfits. On Monday, I didn't wear makeup so I looked like hell. And today, Friday, I'm wearing a Mango dress I bought in my pre-preggy state. So my post-baby body looks like a stuffed sausage in it. So no photos! Haha.

I'm also having a hair issue. My hair is falling falling falling. It's post-partum hair loss. So I'm keeping it up in a pony or a bun. So boring! Maybe I'll go and have it all cut off.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Plans for Topaz Horizon, Topaz Mommy and Beauty For A Living

Let's talk about business today. Just so you know, while I have always viewed blogging as fun, it's also become a substantial source of income. I know a lot of you want to earn from blogging, too, that's why I think you might find this post interesting.

I have three blogs. Topaz Mommy, Beauty For A Living and this. So far, this is what I have observed:

Beauty For A Living is the hardest to update because I'm just not a good beauty/fashion blogger. I'm not vain enough to want to try the dozens of products sent my way and yet I'm too vain to post "before" pics.

Because of my job as a magazine editor, there is some concern about my posting honest reviews on products. It's okay if the reviews are good but if I say something negative, the magazine advertisers may be offended. Actually, even a positive review may be seen as trying to curry favor with clients. Clearly, any review presents a conflict of interest.

So I just post press releases but I make sure not to copy-paste! I always try to inject myself in the PRs. Nevertheless, PRs are not what readers want to read. So that blog is going pfffft! I've mulled over abandoning it altogether (and I have, time and again) but even if I don't update it, it's still the blog that earns most via Google Adsense. Yup. Of my three blogs, it's the least visited and read but it's the one that has the most Adsense income! That's why I can't delete it!

Maybe when I'm no longer a magazine editor, things will look up for Beauty For A Living. So I'll keep it, let it earn Adsense money. It's passive income.

Topaz Mommy, meanwhile, has become my favorite blog. Since becoming a mom, my heart is devoted to my two sons, and where your heart is there your treasure lies. So obviously, my treasured online home is now Topaz Mommy. I find it the easiest to update. Among my blogs, that one has enjoyed tremendous growth—from 16,000 monthly views at the end of 2011 to 33,000 at the end of August. That's more than 100% growth in just 7 months.

Income-wise, Topaz Mommy hasn't earned me a lot of cash but it's earned me tons of free stuff from mompreneurs who want to promote their businesses and from big brands that want to promote their mommy-kiddie stuff. Diapers, toys, nursing wear, books, etc. I haven't actually written about all the gifts I and my children have received. But I will get to it! Meanwhile, thank you super duper!

I also want to say that I only accept gifts from brands I believe in. If I don't support a certain product, I just say, "Thank you but I cannot promote your brand/product." It's not so serious. Sometimes I say, "My children don't go to school yet so summer tutorials aren't relevant to us." Or I say, "My children are boys so I can't do a review of the hair accessories you design for little girls." Or I say, "I'm currently breastfeeding so, though I'm very tempted, I can't avail of your free diet and fitness program that will guarantee I'll lose 20 lbs in a month."

I'm beginning to think of not accepting products altogether actually. As I mentioned in this post, my mommy blog has begun looking like a press release/promos website. I certainly don't want that. Besides, it's exhausting running contests—the checking of entries, the picking of the winner/s, the communicating with winner/s and losers, the sending out of the prizes (plus the shipping's on me, too!). It's become work. And the blog isn't earning me enough for it to be work.

Follow my train of thought here please. I started Topaz Mommy because I was scared shitless of mommyhood. I wanted friends, other moms to help me understand what I was going through. Then when I became a mommy, I wanted to share the joy of having kids. I am so happy to say that all that I hoped to get from mommy blogging—friendship, wisdom, joy, support, community—I got.

But ever since my mommy blog exploded this year, it has felt like work! If it's going to feel like work, then I should be paid to do it. But that would make mommy blogging a chore, you know? Sigh! I haven't decided what to do. On one hand, I love supporting businesses (I'm an entrepreneur, too!). On the other hand, I want to reclaim my mommy blog! I hope I find a solution to this.

Now, as for Topaz Horizon... This is my oldest blog. It's my personal blog of frivolity. Well, at least that's the idea. Thing is it never remains frivolous! I start talking about love, marriage, relationships. I go on and on about financial planning, homemaking tips, career decisions. I even dispense advice now and then.

Topaz Horizon is also my biggest blog. Ergo, it earns me the most income. And I don't mean gifts; I mean money. It's still not earning enough for me to quit my job, though. Again, that's mostly because I refuse a lot of offers—endorsements, sponsored posts that would be in conflict with my job or my beliefs and lifestyle. I tell ya, if I accept everything that comes my way, I certainly can be a stay-at-home mommy. But I have to have this thing called integrity and sometimes I ask myself why I have to have that haha!

Now, as I mentioned above, Topaz Mommy is the blog that's dearest to me now. I honestly don't know what to do with Topaz Horizon. Since becoming a mother, going to parties and events and basically going out of the house has lost all charm. So now that my life is just office-home, it's not very exciting anymore. Therefore, there's not much to write about here. My readers can tell. Topaz Horizon's stats, while still very good (at 45,000 views a month, it's still bigger than Topaz Mommy's), has plateaued.

This blog needs to grow if I want it to earn more income. I've not made it a secret that I want Topaz Horizon to earn money. I've always said that I'm a writer so I got to get paid every time I write. So I have to do something to make this blog grow!

My friend, Mariel of NY Minute Now, told me I should just turn Topaz Horizon into an advice column. Our favorite Elle columnist is E. Jean. I can be an Auntie E! I do get quite a bit of mail asking for advice on love and career. I don't know why you guys do this! Y'all make me feel old, ya know!

Another idea is to make this blog an outfit blog. There's a lot of fashion blogs out there, and they all happen to feature young girls with tiny waists and cellulite-free legs. They also have a penchant for Korean/Japanese fashion. None of which I, in my mid-30s, can relate to. I can't wear pekpek shorts anymore because I have stretchmarks running up and down my thighs. And many of the outfits on those fashion blogs aren't fit for real life! I'm a mommy, a career woman and an entrepreneur. My clothes have to work with me.

So while I was bitching about this on Facebook, my friends suggested, "Why don't YOU do it?" Argh. Because I don't have the time! Fashion blogging is serious business! I have full respect for those little girls. The styling, the shopping, the perfect mani-pedis, the hairless legs, the perfectly styled hair, the makeup, the looking for backgrounds to pose against, the posing, the pretending-there's-no-camera... That is hard work, folks. I don't know if I'm up to it.

What do you suggest for this blog? What do you want to read? What do you want to see? Help! I'm planning major overhauls come 2013. I'm talking to an artist regarding a redesign for all blogs. I'm talking to blogging mentors. I'm evaluating if sponsored posts help or harm my blogs. I'm evaluating if I should refuse sponsored posts and just accept advertising OR if I should take away the ads (they're cluttery) and just do sponsored posts. Sooo many things to think about!

How about you? What's your blog plans?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Kristen's beautiful smile

Okay. Y'all know I'm not a fan of Kristen Stewart. But she's been looking mighty fine since the cheating scandal a few weeks ago. She hid away from the world, and rightly so since the world just freaked out. Trampire, homewrecker, trailer trash, what-have-you.

I don't agree with the hate since I think she's young and everyone's done stupid things when they're young (although I have never ever gone out with a married man when I was a kid—even I wasn't that dumb). But the poor girl didn't deserve all that hate.

But hey, she comes out of hiding looking like this:

A lot thinner, her snobbish attitude gone, her I'm-too-good-for-this smirk gone. She looks fabulous! I love her super skinny body! And I love love love her smile! She's gorgeous!

Nothing like a big slice of humble pie, right? You look great, sweetheart. Keep smiling!

More photos of Kristen at Ocean Up and Just Jared.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Never ever ever ever!!!

I like Taylor Swift's new song, "We are Never Ever Getting Back Together." At my age, of course I can't relate to it haha. But I like Taylor. She spills her guts all over her songs the way I spill mine all over my blogs. Plus, she can write really catchy tunes!

Here are two videos of her song. Here's the one starring her:

And here's the one that's just all words, which makes it really easy to sing along to:

I like the lyrics video better! I love words. Taylor is easy on the eyes but I like the way words look better.

Which one do you like?

UPDATE: This song is about Jake Gyllenhaal, y'all!!!

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Grief is a curious thing

It is September.

The Septembers now are strange. Back in the day, when I was young, Septembers meant cooler weather, a storm now and then, which meant thrilling scenes of trees flailing wildly about outside my bedroom windows. When I got frightened, my parents scared me even more with "Our roof might fly away! The avocado tree will fall! The water will get the rats to come out of hiding and they'll stay in your bed!"

Those never happened, by the way, but the roof did leak (every year, no fail), and the tree did lean terribly close to the house (so Papa chopped it down), and the basement did actually flood (but no rats came out thankfully). And that's what September has always been for me.

Now Septembers mean bigger, more terrible storms. The kind that lasts for days, whipping up winds and waves, flooding the land, disaster everywhere. Milenyo. Ondoy. September also means the biggest storm of my life—when Mama died. Four years ago this September.

Four years is a long time. If I had given birth when she'd died, I'd be mommy to a preschooler now. If I had been a freshman, I'd be graduating now. Most of the time, four years feels like a long time and that terrible day is just shadows and whispers. Some days, four years fall away and that terrible day is suddenly so very now.

Grief is a curious thing. You never truly understand it until it happens to you. And when it does, it is something you will never wish on anyone, not even your worst enemy.

It isn't your regular broken heart, which is insanely painful. But you get over a broken heart, believe it or not. And I do believe a broken heart is a good thing, a beautiful thing, because broken hearts are split open, allowing more love and understanding and compassion to come in, and the heart becomes bigger and stronger as it heals.

The grieving heart is also a broken heart but the heart that has lost someone to death, it never heals completely. You think it does, you think you're done, then one day, the strains of Moon River, a whiff of CK Euphoria, a scene from Dolphy's movies, the facade of Megamall A before that new parking building was (mercifully) built in front of it... A little thing, a big thing, they always sneak up on you and BOOM! You unravel.

One cruel day, I was walking along happily from the supermarket on my way home to the loves of my life, when across the street, I saw a woman who looked and walked like Mama. Before I knew it, I had crossed the street, running, dodging cars, calling, "Mama! Mama!" even as my brain screamed, "She's dead! She's dead!"

The woman turned. Of course she wasn't Mama. And I laughed, my hand on my suddenly hollow chest. "Sorry! I'm sorry, you look like my mother."

And she smiled, "Oh! Tell her I think she's beautiful!"

And I laughed again, a little too breathlessly, "I will. I will tell her."

But I don't. I can't.