Friday, September 27, 2013

Topaz Fashion: Shoe shopping!

For this week's edition of Topaz Fashion*, I'll be showing you our new shoes! Yes, we had gift certificates that were expiring so off my little family went for some shoe shopping.

First off, do you know Dune London is finally here??? I got to interview the CEO, Mohammed Yacoobali, for my Manila Bulletin column. I was sooo excited when he described Dune's shoes and bags as "affordable luxury."

It's true. I had a hard time picking the shoes I wanted because everything was classic, well made, elegant and comfortable. The shoes are made of the finest materials. They are so soft and wonderful on my feet. They feel so cushy, they smell so fabulous, the craftsmanship is incredible. So luxurious and yet so affordable! Prices start at P1,250 but most of the shoes are at the P2,500-P3,950 range.

While I kept trying on the gorgeous heels, I had to accept that heels no longer fit my lifestyle as a work-at-home mom. So these lovely leather loafers are what I finally got. They are the bomb! I want to get all the colors now!
Sleek, classic, and ultra comfortable!
Gotta love that ribbon detail!
I also noticed this under the lid:
How cool is that? No more of those anti-humidity packets that little kiddies can accidentally eat! Speaking of little kiddies...
On our way to prayer meeting at our neighbor's so nakapambahay ako and no makeup!

I also got these studded jelly sandals from Dune. I was hesitant to get them actually because I used to have jelly sandals. They were yucky. First, the plastic rubbing against your feet can be painful. And diba malibag? Gross!
Wore these when I had my salon day at the new Louis Phillip Kee Premier Salon at Legaspi St., Makati.
But these Dune jellies are sooo cool! They feel soft! They are so comfy! And your feet stay clean! And they don't look like cheap jelly sandals, too. I wore them once and I am now in love.

After Dune, we went to Converse to get new kicks for Vito.
Iñigo waking up from his nap!
Vito never likes shopping but he did love his new shoes!
This is Iñigo at dinner. Not happy anymore haha

Chucks are classic. Everyone should have a pair. We started our boys young, too! Vito now has three Chucks! He loves them!

Lastly, these lovely flats from Charles & Keith. I love pleats. I love pleated anything. So when I saw these nude flats, I had to have them. Bonus points for the mesh material!
I'm thinking of getting the blue pair, too! This also comes in heels, by the way.

Oh, I love my new flat shoes! Thanks so much for my GCs, PR friends!

Next Friday, I'll talk about new clothes and online shopping. Happy weekend!

P.S. Vince has new shoes, too! But his weren't because of a GC. He wishes haha. Running shoes are so expensive! Anyway, these are his new Asics GEL-Kayano 19 in awesome red and lime!

Haha, believe you me, Vince almost didn't get this because of the colors. He was saying at the store, "Why do running shoes come in such horrible colors?" But he got them anyway for the performance and he's currently breaking them in. After running for fitness for two straight years, my husband is running his first marathon next weekend! I'm so excited for him!

*I renamed Fashion Friday to Topaz Fashion. Will tell you why in another blog post!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Breaking bad

I'm eagerly anticipating and simultaneously dreading the final episode of Breaking Bad next week.

I've also been thinking about what makes good people go bad. Or if we're really all evil anyway and it is when we choose moral choices that we are truly exercising free will. Philosophers and theologians since time immemorial have all been arguing about human nature, free will, and good and evil. I like best what Kant says about free will—that we are only really free when we choose to do good. That makes the most sense to me. Human nature is inherently evil so when evil things happen, we shouldn't be surprised. People think that free will is the power to choose between good and evil, but I think free will is the power to rise above our evil nature and do good. There's a difference. The former says we have a choice between two states, the latter says we already are actually in one state (evil) but that we strive to get out of it (be good).

That philosophy also makes the most sense to me as a Christian. In Romans 3:23, it says, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." In Romans 3:10, it says, "There is none righteous, not even one." Basically, we are all doomed to sin from the moment we are born. That's why I don't understand parents who are shocked when their toddlers lie. "Who taught you that?!" Little kids don't need to be taught to do wrong. It is in our nature to be evil. So when we choose to do good, when we choose God, when we give our lives to the Lordship of Jesus, then we are saved from ourselves and become truly free!

But in Breaking Bad, it's about we're all good, safe, normal, middle-class people. And the question is how do good people become bad?

In Walter White's case, it was when he, a high school teacher, was diagnosed with lung cancer and he needed to make money for his treatment and to provide for his family. I confess: I thought there was nothing wrong with that. He's dying! His wife is pregnant! His son is disabled! He's just going to make crystal meth, y'all! It's not like he was going to steal, rape and kill. Right? Right? There's my evil nature for ya.

Of course, evil begets evil. Walt gets deeper and deeper into the drug business. Hordes of people die in his wake. And yet we still root for him because he insists that he's doing all of this for family.

It's all about family, every man in Breaking Bad says. When Walt falters in the meth business because his wife left him, Gus Fring says it is a man's job to provide for his family even if his family hates him for his job. The show is steeped in devotion to family—Tuco takes care of his wheelchair-bound, bell-ringing Uncle Hector, Todd respects his Uncle Jack, Walt begs for his brother-in-law Hank's life. As long as you're doing it for the greater good (your family!), then evil is okay.

Which brings me back to our own country. What about the Napoles family? What started it? I'm sure it started as a little deal. The same way our senators and congressmen maybe just started with a million or so. With us, it could be just bringing home office supplies because our kids need them for a school project, or lying about being stuck in traffic when you actually haven't left the house, or stealing a photo for a contest because you needed the prize money for your family.

When we give in to our human nature, even just a little bit, it's a slippery slope to hell.

Next week's final episode of Breaking Bad, we'll witness the complete hell that Mr. White plunges into. Or maybe his redemption, maybe even salvation. I know Walt needs to pay for his sins, but at the same time, I'm hoping he redeems himself. Because it's never too late to do what is right and be free from evil.

*all images from the Facebook page of Breaking Bad.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Live again and again and again!

Vince, we must watch this! You know I love anything with Bill Nighy! And this might be a better movie of Rachel McAdams married to a time traveler haha

This made me cry! Traveling back in time always meant correcting my mistakes but this movie is also about reliving and celebrating "my extraordinary, ordinary life."

I'd love to live through—again and again and again!—my first kiss with Vince, our first time to make love, all our first times actually, our crazy dance in the rain, our wedding, when we got pregnant, when I gave birth, the boys' first smiles, whenever they smiled and laughed in their sleep, every time they smiled and laughed when awake, and I guess every day of our kids' life!

My life has become ordinary but it's become more special. Given the chance to live my life all over again, I would. My life is so amazing!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Topaz Fashion is back!

And I don't know why I'm bringing it back because it's not like I'm dressed fashionably every day! Being a work-at-home mom, I'm usually in a soft shirt and denim shorts. I suddenly recalled recently that before I gave up my job last year, I promised WAHM guru Dainty Mom that I will never be reduced to that horrid uniform of ratty shirt and shorts! So, like I said before, maybe Topaz Fashion will help me make an effort to look good again, if only once a week!

Here's what I wore recently:
Vince calls this my Day Off Outfit because I look like I just threw on things haha. I kinda did actually. Then just before I ran out of the house, I saw myself in the mirror, thought I looked so boring, so I wrapped a scarf around my neck and changed into heels. That's a Sexy White Shirt V-neck, Uniqlo jeggings, Pedro heels and the softest, thinnest, fluffiest scarf from Muji. Oh, and my Cole Haan bag.
That's a little style tip for ya: If you're feeling absolutely lazy, a scarf is a great accessory to a plain outfit and nice heels always makes people think you're going somewhere nice, even if you're not necessarily dressed up! Plus, a scarf is useful when you're a breastfeeding mommy!

This is what I wore to a meeting. I wore my Ojay raw silk blouse, Uniqlo jeans, Karimadon woven belt, VNC sandals, Charles & Keith sunnies and my Fino doctor's bag.

I like that my blouse and jeans are a bit roomy. I have a mommy body now so I need space haha but here's a style tip: Don't wear clothes that are too baggy since those will make you look even fatter. Try clothes that skim your figure, not hide it. That way, you still look like you have some shape!

This is what I wore to the events of Pampers and Sangobion (I'm a brand ambassador to both), which happened on the same day and almost at the same time! Lagare ang beauty ko grabe!

I'm wearing a Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress, Zara pumps, and I carried my Kate Spade tote (it's on the crib). My style peg was Kate Middleton. Wrap dresses are super nice. I love them! They're perfect for any kind of body!

And that's Topaz Fashion this week! Yes, I know. Sooo stunning in its ho-hum-ness. See you next week for (hopefully) more fabulous fashion!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Topaz Beauty: BDJBox's Shiseido edition

I just got my September BDJBox subscription but I wanted to say that I was so inspired by last month's box. It was the Shiseido Box!

I love the luxe-ness of this particular edition. I like that I can discover different kinds of brands and products with each box but getting a special box of products from the same brand (and a really nice one at that!) feels like a real treat. Thanks, BDJBox and Shiseido!

You know what excited me about this box? It inspired me to come up with my own box! How about that, dear readers? Would you love a special beauty box filled with my favorite beautifiers?

BDJBox, call me!

To subscribe to a BDJBox service, click here!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Can't stop, won't stop

That Miley Cyrus really knows what she's doing. Everyone hates her new image but everyone loves her songs! They can't stop and won't stop doing covers of her "We Can't Stop"! These are my favorite covers:



And I don't know what genre of music this is but I do love the British accent, the strings and the achy-breaky part!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Topaz Beauty: The miracle cure for dry, cracked, ugly feet!

The reason I'm not a beauty blogger is because I'm too vain to show before-and-after photos. I mean, really. I can't. I want you to think I'm gorgeous all the time!

Of course, the truth is I have lots of beauty concerns, one of which has plagued me for a decade: dry feet. It's so bad that my friend Ro gave me a huge bottle of intensive care lotion one birthday because she got bothered by my cracked heels and toes. Nope, lotion never helped. Foot spas never helped. Nothing ever helped. Until I found Foot Appeal.

I got Foot Appeal from one of my monthly boxes of BDJBox. It's a sample service and I've discovered lots of beauty goodies from them. Some boxes are okay, some boxes are amazing. Then there are some boxes that you think have so-so products only to find out later that it has real treasures in it. Like Foot Appeal!
I seriously just tossed aside the packet. "Oh, another foot mask. Ho-hum." Then one day, as I was organizing my beauty products, I looked at it and tried it out and I was the one blown out of the water! Best discovery of the year! Sleeper hit! Foot Appeal forever!

My review is after the jump but please do NOT click if you are eating, have foot phobia, or are just generally squeamish. Like I said, I don't like putting before-and-after pics but this you gotta see. Well, only if you have the stomach for it. You have been warned!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Behind the scenes of magazine cover shoots

I couldn't wait for Topaz Fashion! I had to share this with you today!

Rogue September

I thought it was weird that Pam was the star of the BTS. This is not a criticism of Pam, okay? She is the nicest, most stylish, totally grounded person. I just think that the director of the video should have focused more on either the stars or on the magazine itself.

Anyway, you know what's the most amazing about this shoot? Getting all five women together! And how hot is Judy Ann??? All of them are amazing but Judy Ann is the only one that exuded power. Power is very sexy.

Hola! September

Sigh! Made me miss OK! magazine!

InStyle September

Love Drew Barrymore! Love InStyle! I've been collecting that magazine for many, many years. Even when I couldn't afford it yet. Lunch or InStyle? Go out with friends or InStyle? Utility bills or InStyle? InStyle insanity!

I don't really want to go back to magazines anymore (been there, done that) except if it's a parenting magazine or if it's InStyle. I heard a rumor that one of our local publishers is hoping to bring in InStyle. I tell you now, I will grovel to be part of the staff! Kahit as editorial assistant! Just to be part of InStyle!!!

Vogue September

This is the classiest and most professionally done BTS. Well, it's Vogue. What did I expect? Nothing less than the best.

I'll have to check out the newsstands for Hola! and Rogue. I already bought Vogue and InStyle. Have you seen how thick the issues are? Crazy! I got a workout just hoisting those two about! Magazines seem to be exciting again!

Saturday, September 07, 2013

My mother's answered prayers

Every Christian knows the story of Moses. Born to slaves, hidden in a basket made of reeds, found by an Egyptian princess, raised as a prince of Egypt, murdered an Egyptian, exiled himself to be a shepherd in the desert, found God in a burning bush, threatened and brought down on Egypt the plagues, and brought out the people of Israel from slavery. When the Egyptian army chased after the fleeing Israelites, Moses raised his hands over the Red Sea and it parted to let his people pass. When the Egyptians followed, he raised his hands again and the water swallowed up their enemies. Then there's the 40 years of wandering in the desert while God prepared the hearts of His people for the promised land. Then there's the Ten Commandments!

The story of Moses is a great story! The stuff of legends. What people don't know is how it ended. Moses was used mightily by God to bring His people to the land of milk and honey but God did not allow Moses to set foot on that land. Instead, He brought Moses up onto a mountain on the border of the promised land and showed him the land, and then God kissed his beloved servant and Moses died.

The people of Israel mourned for Moses but after their grief, they all crossed over to the land that God promised them. After 120 years of preparing for his role as the man who freed the Israelites to lead them to the land of promise, Moses died. He didn't see it happen but it happened.

* * * * * * *

My sister Jacqui spends some nights over at my house. Since I have no household help, she comes over regularly to help take care of the boys. One night, we were talking about our mother, whose death anniversary is this month.

"Jacqui, it's been five years since Mama died," I said, not in the exact words as I'm writing now but I'm paraphrasing. I continued, "You know how I said in my eulogy that I am clinging to God's promise in Jeremiah 29:11? That God has plans to prosper us and not to harm us, and that His plans are to give us a hope and a future? And then I said that I'm excited to see what God has planned for our family? Well, it's been five years. I don't see any changes. In fact, sometimes I think God took Mama away not for us but for her sake. If she could see what our family's like today, I think it would kill her anyway. So maybe God knew what was going to happen and so He took her away because He knew she wouldn't be able to take it."

I've been feeling really bummed about this. Maybe even resentful and impatient and maybe even betrayed. I have begun doubting God and His promises. I was afraid.

* * * * * * *

This evening, at our prayer meeting, we were talking about the problems and situations where we want to see deliverance. I said, "I've been praying about (certain things) for more than a year now but I don't see any changes. Am I not praying long and hard enough?"

And my friend Earl said, "Don't ever look to the results! God will move in His time. You must pray in faith that He will answer you."

And then she suddenly said, "Your mother prayed and prayed for you. And now, five years after she died, her prayers have been answered. Look at you now!"

"But she's not here to see it!" I cried, my tears spilling over in despair.

"It doesn't matter! What matters is her prayers were answered!"

* * * * * * *

Mama prayed for all of us. I don't know what she prayed about for the other members of our family but I know she wanted me to have a happy marriage, to want and love motherhood, to see the value of family, to be friends with my siblings, to forgive my Papa and my older brother, and to go back to God and to be in fellowship with His people.

Every time Mama said, "I'm praying for you," I would lovingly say that I don't believe in marriage, I don't like kids, I value my career more than anything, it's next to impossible to be friends with people you don't get along with, and that I don't see myself having fellowships. I told her, "Mama, it's just not going to happen."

Well, it happened. All of it. I didn't realize Mama's prayers were answered until Earl pointed it out. And I am amazed! Everything my mother wanted for me, her dreams for me, the prayers she stormed the gates of heaven for me, they've all come true! She may not have seen it in her lifetime but they came true!

I almost fainted at the realization. I have been rebuked, I have been made to see what I've been blind to all this time—that God does move mightily and He does so in His time and in His way!

I have been delivered from my doubts and my fears. I now again cling to the promise of that hope and future. Thank You, God! I'm excited to see Your will unfold in me, in my marriage, in my kids, in the lives of my father and my siblings! Amen.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Introducing Topaz Beauty

I get a lot of questions about my beauty blog, Beauty For A Living. Let me answer them all here!

Why did you create a separate blog for beauty issues?
I started the beauty blog to accommodate all the press releases and products that didn't make it to the magazine I used to handle. I didn't want to put the press releases here. That's all really.

Why don't you update it?
I'm the worst beauty blogger in the world because I'm lazy! I simply don't have the time and energy to take photos of beauty products, make swatches, test the creams and makeup, take before and after photos, etc!

Beauty bloggers, you have my utmost respect!

On a more serious note, the beauty blog was also in great conflict with my previous job. One of my tasks as editor in chief was to woo advertisers and make them happy. But a beauty blog that gives honest reviews doesn't make advertisers happy. In fact, I got into huge trouble when I said that Neutrogena Fine Fairness made my skin break out big time. So I gave up the beauty blog.

But you're not in magazines anymore. You can do beauty blogging now!
Yeah. But I'm still scared haha! Residual fear is crazy.

Besides, many brand managers of beauty brands are still my friends. I feel dyahe to write bad reviews of their business. So if I ever do feature beauty products and services again, it will only be my happy finds. If I didn't like something, I won't feature it.

Are you really giving up on beauty blogging?
Yeah. It's not for me. I keep Beauty For A Living up because it still earns me Google Adsense money! Passive income is so cool.

But since I do want to share a bit of beauty finds, I decided to put a new feature on this blog called Topaz Beauty! I'll update you now and then with the stuff I actually use.
Nail polish selfies!
Products galore!
Events events events!
It won't be regular or even often (like I said I'm lazy!) but it should be lots of fun! Watch for it!