Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Look at these adorable Signatures of Love!

Remember this little video of my cutie patootie bunso baby?

I love the song, too. Sing with me!

"It's gotta be love love love
It's just between us two
Only for me and you
It's our signature of love
Every day, this is how we say I love you
It's not just a sign of love
It's a signature of love!"

The signature of love that I share with both my sons, Vito and Iñigo, is Tickle Time. Only I get to do this with them. (With Vince, it's reading books and playing video games.) They may still be very small but I know they know I love them because of our little rituals and games (especially Tickle Time!) that we do every day. These assure them of my love and these also strengthen our bond.

Now I also asked you to share a video of your very own signature of love. Well, if you did, you've been very good because you and 200 other moms from all over the Philippines shared their cute videos! Johnson's Baby is so excited to show you a compilation of the cutest Signatures of Love!

Aww! That really made me think about how special our time is with our kids and that they do love love love being with us! Even the tiny babies looked really loved and happy whenever their mommies tickled, kissed, hugged, played, sang, danced with them. Just goes to show that it's the quality of time that we spend with our kids that matters. 

Did you like the video? Hope you can share it with your fellow moms and dads on Facebook! Here's the Facebook page of Johnson's Baby Philippines. Like and love! 

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Friday, October 18, 2013

Topaz Fashion: What I wore to work

Been feeling under the weather but I still had to work! So I trimmed off the the meetings and events that weren't really urgent. But for those times I had to really really work, these are what I wore:

Lunch meeting at Il Terrazo with a new major blog partner (announced on Topaz Mommy!) and then off to a Levi's house party in Forbes. I wore my Ojay raw silk blouse, Uniqlo jeans, Karimadon woven belt, Dune London loafers, Charles & Keith sunglasses and Fino bag.

Check out my red red hair! It's so clown red! I love it!

Gosh, this is such a comfy outfit. I love those jeans. The shoes are so buttery soft. Must buy more Uniqlo jeans and loafers from Dune!

Hosting duties as the new Vicks VapoRub Mommy (click here for the story)! I wore my K & Company wrap dress and Zara pumps. I bought both summer of last year, right after giving birth to Iñigo. The dress looks navy but it's actually a blue-green hue.

Also, the dress has such a plunging neckline that I had to ask the Vicks people for double-sided tape to prevent a wardrobe malfunction. Well, either the neckline was too low or my boobs got too big for the dress. You see, when I left the house, my cleavage was fine. But two hours later, my breastfeeding boobs were filling up with milk and they were just spilling out of my dress!

I want to proudly say that I did my own hair and makeup!

Photo shoot at Louis Phillip Keep Premier Salon for my Manila Bulletin column. That's my photo shoots uniform: soft shirt, skinny jeans. I wore my old, thin, gray Topshop shirt (I wore a red bra underneath that in bright light, you can see through the shirt), skinny Guess jeans, Nine West heels. Really comfy!

That's my iPad Mini from SMART. (Thanks, SMART! I love that I can now #LiveMore!) It's my latest fashion accessory, mommy tool, blogger and writer necessity!

I actually was planning to blog about my latest online shopping purchases from Zalora and Sammy Dress but I'm soooo lazy to take photos. I'll blog about those as soon as I have the pics. Happy weekend!

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

One year ago today

Got the silliest message over at this blog's Facebook page. A reader observed that I only have one smile. Haha! Yes, I do! I'm so Zoolander!

Actually, my orthodontist taught me how to smile when she removed my braces. I used to smile really widely but she told me I shouldn't do that because a) it makes me look toothy, b) it distorts my features, and c) I'll get wrinkles.

But I do have other looks. I was looking for them (haha affected!) and came upon these wacky shots from staff photo shoots of long ago:

Sorry for the pixelated shots. I didn't do a good job resizing them! Elaine has clearer images (click here and here). And then I realized that today is exactly the first anniversary of our last photo shoot together.

Aww. This was such a bittersweet photo shoot. It was OK! magazine's final staff shoot. We had lots of fun. We knew we did a fantastic job, we were all moving on to new lives, and yet we were also in the throes of good-bye. I think we all cried buckets of tears. I know I did.

But life goes on. We've all moved on. Managing editor Lana is with, beauty editor Elaine is with Good Housekeeping, red carpet columnist Jay writes for Kristn and also has his fingers in a lot of pies, features editor Joanna used to be with Kristn but is now a freelance writer, editorial assistant Sandra is with, fashion editor Kabbie is now with Stylebible, publishing assistant Mary Love is studying in the U.S., publisher Franny is working in Singapore, and art director Red is now the art director of Hola! Philippines. Oh, and there's me! I'm a freelance writer, editor, newspaper columnist and a blogger. Life is good!

So I take heart in this. One year ago today, behind the smiles, all of those people in those pictures were sad and worried. But life had surprises for us. We're in such good places today! Maybe for some of us, I dare say we're even in a much better place.

So if you're in a tough situation, take heart in tomorrow. It does get better!

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Monday, October 14, 2013

Topaz Beauty: Yep, I'm a redder red head! Thanks, Louis Phillip Kee!

My friends (and I guess my readers, too!) know that I love coloring my hair red. I've colored it every hue except green and platinum, but red is my color. I've been red blond, red pink, red brown since 2009. But now, I'm red. Just red. A wild exciting red! Almost like I'm an anime character!
For color, I only trust Louis Phillip Kee. That's him supervising my marination. Louis is the best colorist in the country. I'm serious. If you're going for serious color change, go to Louis. He's been coloring my hair since 2006. Yes, this is a relationship! So when I dropped by the spankin' brand new Louis Phillip Kee Premier Salon at the Grand Midori at Legaspi Village two weeks ago, I was given the royal treatment. I love being friends with hairstylists!

Chilled white wine.
Scrumptious club sandwich. Seriously, this was the best club sandwich I've ever had in my life!
Hello, world! Transformation underway!
While my hair was steeped in the red dye, I waited in my comfy chair, read some magazines, got an amazing back massage and had my nails done. But before all that, I took my camera and went around the chic salon.
Up the winding staircase, you'll find the VIP rooms.
The LPK Premier Salons attract celebrities and VIP clients so expect to get the A-list treatment here. I always feel so special in this salon. Like when I visit other salons (for a blowdry, for example), I always wonder, "Where's my coffee? My tea? My international and current magazines? My massage? My free WiFi?" Hehe, so spoiled! That's all the fault of the LPK Premier Salon! You'll feel so pampered!
Upstairs. The mirrors are perfect. No distortion. You'll always look good!
There are private rooms that I used to believe were only for the celebrities, you know, because they want to be protected from prying eyes while their hair is in a towel or their feet are being scrubbed. But I learned that these rooms are specially designed not just for celebs but for anyone who wants privacy. Plus, they're also perfect for special occasions, like bridal showers! Each room has a flat-screen TV for watching movies so that you won't get bored while you stew in your beautifying rituals!

Love the chrome and chandelier. So sleek!
A cozy corner for relaxing foot spa treatments.
After my color, Louis cut my hair. Vince and I wanted to keep it long. So did Louis. Louis was there when I went short for years and years. Having fine, thin hair, I never grew my hair long but Louis encouraged me to grow it and he has taken care of my hair so well that I am finally sporting long healthy locks for the first time in my life!
Louis performing his famous precision style cutting.
He's inspecting the color.
It's pretty wild!
But I LOVE it! I'm so fabulous!!!
That's Louis with one of the owners, Roseann Ko. She's so stylish and so nice! (Ok, I'm looking a little pudgy there. Don't look below the neck hehe.)
Louis and Roseann gave me gifts, too! A really good blowdryer and a big box of Kerastase and Wella goodies! Thank you so much!

I'm featuring Louis and his creative team of stylists in my Manila Bulletin column soon. You'll learn more about them, the craft and the salons on my column. This story on my blog is just my happy experience. If you want to experience the A-list treatment, too, book a whole day of pampering now!

Bonifacio Global City
8 Unit F-116 F-117 Forbes Town, BGC, Taguig City
Mobile: +63-918-8424888
Telephone: +632-856-3388

C5 Acropolis
Unit 3 SRK Building, Acropolis Subdivision, E. Rodriguez (across Shopwise Libis), Quezon City
Mobile: +63-916-5305170
Telephone: +632-638-4001

Unit G11 Grand Midori Condominium Legaspi St (near Dela Rosa), Legaspi Village, Makati City
Mobile: +63-906-4396148
Telephone: +632-847-9520


3/f Unit 307 Z Square Mall Banawe Street Cor Del Monte Avenue, Quezon City

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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Topaz Beauty: Souq Organics is on mega sale!

My love affair with Souq Organics started with this little bottle:
I super love this! The condition of my face improved so much!

So now I also use these:
This is my second bar. The first one lasted for months!
Because it's argan oil again and it's also organic.
This is actually my hubby's foot lotion because he runs thrice a week.

These are some of the best beauty products I've ever tried and, believe me, I've tried a lot! So isn't this such fabulous news?

Tamang-tama dahil mauubos na ang Moroccan Argan Oil ko!

The branch I know is the one on Katipunan Road, White Plains, but you can also find Souq Organics products at Landmark Trinoma and Landmark Makati; PCX at Power Plant, ATC, Robinsons Ermita, Festival Mall, and Greenbelt 3 and 4; Mercury Drug at Glorietta 3; Lucky Chinatown Mall Annex; and at NUMA Infantcare.

You can also shop conveniently at their website. Happy shopping!

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Telekinetic powers anyone?

Loved the book. Loved the movie. Loved this promotional prank vid, too! Kinareer grabe!

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Monday, October 07, 2013

A portrait of my 36-year-old self

Someone asked me about my 36th birthday picture. I always have a portrait of me taken around my birthday. So I know what I look like every year, you know! But for my 36th year, I didn't have a photo taken. I had my portrait painted.

Exactly this day last year, I met with artist Soleil Ignacio. (I love her name, which means "sun" and "to ignite.") That's us meeting at Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf at Power Plant. I'm thinner back then! I can't believe I was thinner 5 months after giving birth than now, a year and 5 months after giving birth! I want those arms back!

(I want to also point out the mommy in the background. I just love the look of love and delight she gives her son.)

Anyway, I asked Soleil to paint me. After three months, here's what she created:

I like it. I look too young, though. I don't look 36 haha. But I believe that that's what Soleil captured. Everyone thinks I'm younger than my age. It's not because I mega take care of myself. It's really because I love life! Kids, that's the secret to looking young—just be happy! And stay out of the sun. The sun is the single, biggest, most harmful thing to skin. So, beach lovers and outdoor sports people, sunscreen is your most important beauty product. Even if you aren't an outdoorsy person, you should still put on sunscreen!

Back to my painting. I haven't had it framed. I should. But I don't know where to put it so I've been putting it up all over the house, just to see where it will fit.
So far, I haven't found a home for it. Maybe when I have my own home office. One day, one day!

I'm turning 37 a month from now and I haven't decided if I'll have a professional photo shoot done again. Hair, makeup, pro photographer. Sounds like a lot of work now!

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Sunday, October 06, 2013

Blogging with a renewed purpose

I don't know if you noticed but I renamed Fashion Friday to Topaz Fashion. This resulted from blogging coach Martine de Luna's advice on how to create a brand. Using the same word across all sections of the blog reinforces my brand. So I have Topaz Horizon (the main blog), Topaz Mommy (the parenting and kids blog), Topaz Fashion (style and shopping section), Topaz Beauty (yep, I also renamed Beauty Buzz), and I'm in the middle of tagging all my cooking posts Topaz Recipes!

Martine, are you proud of me?

Martine is a coach for women bloggers and creative business entrepreneurs. I really admire how she's created a service for the burgeoning online market—blogs, shopping sites, websites. She's an inspiration to me and a lot of other moms for creating a purposeful life that balances home, family and work in a beautiful way. I know people think I'm so cool for living my life the way I want it (and I think that's waaaaay cool, too!) but I also realize that I've just been winging it this year. Mostly because this year's been an exploratory year—will I earn money as a WAHM, will I go back to corporate, will I like being home-based, can I give up my heels and live a life in flats haha? Really scattered!

I've been chatting on and off with Martine the past few months and finally I said it's time to talk. We met a few weeks ago and we talked about my blogs and what projects I can pursue that can jump off from the blogs. You know, businesses, books, workshops! Real money.

Martine is very specific. She asked me about my purpose for blogging, my plans, my hopes and wishes, my lifestyle. Yes, these are all part of the consultation! It's quite unnerving because it's so probing haha but I understand its purpose. Martine believes that everything we do should support each other. For example, my career and my blog should not conflict with my family. In my prayer group Power of a Praying Wife, we call that a life of integrity. Everything is unified, consistent, at one. What is the point of a successful career if it means forsaking your family? What is the point of devoting yourself to your family if it means giving up your life's work?

Many people just go through life taking on whatever comes their way. Ok, I'll marry you because I'm already 30. Ok, I'll have kids because that's what's expected of me. Ok, I'll take that job because my parents need money. Ok, I'll blog because everyone's doing it. Ok, I'll have designer coffee every day because my co-workers have it every morning. And then we all wonder why we're unhappy and our life is meaningless and have no direction.

Do everything with a purpose. From the biggies like marriage and children to the smallies like shoes and what you wear. Yes, shoes. In my case, what is the point of amazing high heels when I'll be running after little boys all day? Of course I could hire a nanny and let her do the running so I can be fashionably fabulous. Nothing wrong with that. What matters is knowing what really matters to me (my family) and arranging my life so that everything falls under it—from my work, social life, down to my fashion choices!

So back to my consultation with Martine.

She asked me really detailed questions which made me stop and think on what blogging means to me. I'll break it down for you.

I love blogging because it's my venue to express myself with honesty. I have always believed in a life of honesty. One of my favorite verses from the Bible is Luke 8:17 "For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open."

Believe me, I have no secrets. I do know secrets that my family would hate to be known. I don't mind revealing them but my mother asked me to never blog about our secrets so I won't. Other than that, I love that my blog allows me to be who I am.

The problem is now that my blogs are bigger, I find that I have to be more discreet. I can't just post thoughts that may hurt people. I can't even just post names and photos of my friends and family because some of them want to remain private. I can't also post things that my advertisers may not approve! What a pickle I find myself in!

But being reminded of my purpose—to express myself with honesty—guides me in writing this blog. I don't need to write or post about other people; I can just find topics that are relevant to me and my experience. I don't need to say yes to every brand that wants to work with my blogs; I just need to focus on the brands that make me happy. I don't need to be too open or talk about everything under the sun; I can just pick issues that matter to me and yet are respectful to other people.

Martine pointed out that I have a loyal following that will support my projects should I choose to launch them. She gave examples of women who launched empires from their kitchen—books, workshops, magazines, product lines, seminars! That's something she believes I could also do since I have you guys! I love you, dearest readers! Oh my goodness, I can't thank you enough for reading my blogs every day, for supporting me and encouraging me, for sharing your thoughts and your life with me, for just being there! Thank you so much!

Anyway, Martine did make me rekindle dreams that I had about this blog. Remember when I sold leather satchels? Maybe I can do that again and sell other things, too. Brand collaborations, like what Gwyneth Paltrow does on her lifestyle website goop, are very attractive to me. I'm also thinking of making mini magazines that you can download as an app. Topaz Mommy, Topaz Recipes, Topaz Style & Beauty, Topaz Home. How crazy is that?! I'm also already writing a book! Well, I've written down the outline so it's really just a crazy plan, but who knows? Maybe I'll actually write that book and publish it and hopefully get you to buy it!

But the important thing right now for me is my family. My consultations with Martine reinforced that. As I was answering her questions, I just realized that I may have many dreams but right now I'd prefer to put them in the back burner so I can focus on my little kids, Vito and Iñigo. They grow up so quickly! I realized that a successful career in my previous life has allowed me the luxury of slowing down. Oh, every day I'm thankful for my life, for these days of lazing about in bed with my husband and our sons, that I can get to choose projects, that I can just blog. Life of luxury, I tell you. Not a lot of money but there's a lot of life!

So that's what I plan to do this year and next year: blog. Grow the blogs, be more purposeful in my writing, get to know my readers more, build my reputation as a credible and honest blogger. Maybe these steps will help me in the next stage—empire building!—or maybe the next stage is more babies and just settling down to be a simple housewife. Who knows? Whatever it may be, I welcome it!

To consult with Martine, check out her website: You can also follow her blog, Dainty Mom

UPDATE 12/17/2014: Martine has Make It Blissful now!

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Tuesday, October 01, 2013

I'm on Instagram. Plus, thoughts on social media madness

Follow me! I'm @francesasales.

I only joined last week. Why so late in the game? Well, to be very honest, I didn't want to. I already have enough social media to drive me crazy. Facebook alone already eats up so much of my time! But I finally created an Instagram account because blog partners wanted it. It's part of the campaign package that they want. So there.

I promise to make it fun for you! Well, I'll try. For starters, you'll see more of my kids. We may have thousands of photos and a few videos of the cutie patooties but I am so lazy to resize their photos for the blogs. But on Instagram's instant camera, that's the easiest thing to do!

Second, I'm going to just have fun with this Instagram thingie by just posting things I love. I won't spam you with boring, mundane things. Although I did join this Instagram challenge by Fat Mum Slim, where you post a photo a day. I think it will be fun (although part of me thinks it's a chore but I'll do it anyway so that I won't forget I have Instagram now), and I'm already thinking of doing something similar for Topaz Mommy. Like, a photo a day but everything must be mommy-related!

Third, you can finally get an instant peek at my blogger's life a.k.a. the freebies I get on an almost daily business. Like I said, blog partners want me to feature their products. I think they give me gifts not because they like me haha but because they want me to promote them. I'm happy to do that. I give the stuff away anyway on my blogs or Facebook page (and that's why you should like my Facebook page!).
Give me more likes!

You know, all this "follow me!", "like me!" can not be healthy. It's like we're all trying hard to impress people. "Pleeeeeeeease like me! Do you like my new dress? Do you like my trip to so-and-so? Do you envy my fabulous life?" It's like every day is performance level day. Well, I guess that's good because we're forced to really live life. But at the same time, there's this unending competition that is so exhausting.

On my part, I just really like to share stories. I'm so open that way. At the same time, if you don't like my stories then I have no problem with you moving along. I don't enslave myself to the desire to please. I don't expect people to like my face, my career, my marriage, my clothes, my food. Basta I'll share. Walang basagan ng trip. I will admit, however, that if I post photos of my kids and konti lang likes, I get hurt haha. I feel like, "Come on! They're sooooo adorable!" Then I boink myself on the head and remind myself a lot of people don't like kids. It's not about me or my kids. It's about them not liking kids. Period.

But a lot of us do get affected. We take it personally. "Does no one like me?" We can't base our self-esteem on what other people think or don't think, like or don't like. We are not here to entertain (unless you're an entertainer haha). We are here to learn and love and live and laugh and serve and work with purpose. I think that's the best thing about social media. We use it to reconnect with long lost friends and family, to share love and laughter over distance, to spread information, to help a cause, to promote our passion and career. Social media is a wonderful tool. Just remember it's just a tool; it isn't you!

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