Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Gift ideas from Happy Skin

Next week is November!!!

That means it's my birthday, folks. 

Ho ho ho, I mean it's time to start panic buying your presents for me! I mean, for the special people in your life! And cosmetics brand Happy Skin—my favorite makeup brand now—has some fab ideas for the gorgeous girls on your list.

Served on a Silver Platter, P1,999
Ooh, all basics covered! Skin, eyes, cheeks and lips! SS Second Skin Cream Foundation (with a Happy Skin foundation brush!), Get Cheeky With Me Blush, Shut Up & Kiss Me Lippie, and Eye Am Here To Stay eyeliner for the teen just starting to experiment with makeup, the college girl who needs something special for her kikay kit, the working woman who must have beauty tools stashed in her office drawer, or the busy mommy who needs all her beauty essentials to be simple but fabulous!

Forbidden Fruit Limited Edition Lippie Collection, P1,399
Set of 3 shades: Mistletoe Kiss, Under The Sheets, Naughty & Nice
I love this set! I have one and they're so delicious, my little boys were begging to eat them! Uh oh! But while they're not edible, they will make your lips luscious and kissable. These lipsticks deposit color in just a few swipes, they moisturize your lips, and they stay on for a long, long time! Definitely the lipsticks every woman would love to have in this season of parties!

Note: You can buy each lippie for P549.

Sealed With A Kiss Limited Edition Lippie Collection, P1,299
Set of 3 Shades: Crushing On You, Summer Fling, First Kiss
See above comment but these shades are so sweet. Best to give to teens, or to your girlfriends who need something pretty for everyday.

Eye Candy Limited Edition 24H Gel Pencil Eyeliners, P1,299
Set of 4: Butterscotch (bronze gold), Cotton Candy (pink), Plum (purple), Watermelon (dark green)
The holiday season means it's time to give your everyday brown/black liners a rest. Give your peepers a reason to party with these super fun eyeliners! I'm brown-eyed so my eyes look really pretty with green eyeliner. If I want to look awake, the pink makes my eyes look bright and wide. Experiment with all the colors!

All these are presented in pretty tins that make them so perfect for gifts. Just wrap in a ribbon and give away! I love them! Got to see all of these goodies at Happy Skin's first anniversary party (happy birthday again, Happy Skin!) and the makeup is super cute! Even better, they really, truly do make skin happy. I've been using the SS Creme and ZZ Creme, the lippies and the eyeliners for a year now and my skin really loves these products.

I'm so proud that my friends Jacqe Gutierrez and Rissa Trillo are the women behind this brand. It can seriously compete with other major makeup brands. In fact, I've switched. My husband is so shocked! He can't believe that I choose Happy Skin over the tons of expensive and foreign makeup products I get all the time. It was easy for me—Happy Skin is friendly to my skin, my looks, and my wallet.

Shop now and have them delivered to your doorstep (or straight to the women on your gift list) by shopping online at Happy Skin Cosmetics!

*photos from Happy Skin

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Simple but fun Halloween recipes

I've never been one to celebrate Halloween. It's the Born Again upbringing. But now that I have little boys who just love to get dressed up in costumes and squeal in delighted horror when their Mama Monster chases them around the house to attack them with kisses and tickles, I gotta do Halloween! So we'll do the costumes, the scary decor, and the creepy meals.

As a busy mom, I don't have time to create gourmet party dishes. But I do want to celebrate the season with spooked-up versions of my kids' favorite things to eat. With just simple everyday ingredients, I can creep my kids out into stuffing themselves! I especially like how Cheez Whiz—which I've loved since I was a kid—makes these recipes easier to whip up. Instead of using pricey cheeses like mozzarella, I use creamy Cheez Whiz! Since it's not so expensive (but just as yummy), I can serve it generously!

Anyway, because I wanted to inspire my dearest readers into making their own Halloween snacks, my kids and I made our scary treats early so we can show you our delicious ideas!

Spiderweb Pizza
Pizza crust
Pasta sauce
Pepperoni, ham or hot dog
Cheez Whiz
Black olives (if your kids don't like olives, use pepperoni, hotdogs or nori)

Spread pasta sauce generously on the pizza crust (if you don't have pizza crust, just cut out circles in regular sliced bread). Layer pepperoni or ham all over the pizza. Make spiders using the black olives. Pop into the oven and toast for 10 minutes. While it's toasting, put Cheez Whiz in a bowl, heat in a microwave oven to soften it, then transfer to a pastry bag. When pizza's done in the oven, pipe out a spiderweb pattern with the Cheez Whiz. Serve!

You have to put the Cheez Whiz last because if you make the web first then heat, the cheese spread will melt all over your pizza! I learned that by mistake! Heehee! See what Iron Man and I made:

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Climbing walls

Thought of my Vince when I watched this video. When I met my husband, he had long hair, wore puka shells around his neck, and was ripped from his neck, arms, back, butt, thighs and legs. I think maybe even his toes had muscles haha. He was a mountain climber. And a wall climber. And all he wore were tie-dyed shirts and pants. And North Face.

Babe, I'd have loved to see you shop in this store. I'm sure you'd have shown me some moves! Mwah!

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

7 success lessons from a former escort (obviously, NSFW)

I read a fascinating story today called, "Sex is sex, but money is money" (again, don't click the link if you're at work!). It's told by 24-year-old film student Svetlana Z, who's also a former escort. That's prostitute to many of us, but prostitute isn't so nice to say. Escort is more polite.

Anyway, you have to have an open mind to read her story. While it offers a tantalizing peek into the world of high-class prostitutes (oops, that word again!), what was more eye-opening for me was the lessons she learned about her business, lessons she used to become a top escort. I say we can all use her lessons to succeed in our own professional lives! Here's what I got from Svetlana Z:

1. Invest in yourself.
Svetlana is quite the savvy businesswoman. She rattles off her expenses:
"I paid someone to write my ad copy. I paid professional photographers $1,500 to shoot my pictures... The best page for escorts, Eros.com, costs $400 a month to place an ad. They charge the most, and they attract the most serious escorts and guys who are willing to submit to screening... I spent $50 a day on Eros so I could be listed in the 'What’s New' section, and I learned that to have an impact I had to be 'new' for at least 20 days a month. I spent $500 a week for a 'featured' spot. So that’s almost $4,000 a month right there. The girls who would only spend the basic $400 a month, they’d only get one email in two weeks."
To me, a writer and a blogger, that means I shouldn't scrimp when it comes to my trade. One would assume all a writer needs is pen and paper, or all a blogger needs is a computer and an Internet connection. Well, yes, but I also need a smart phone and a camera—the very best of those I can afford. I need a good Internet provider and WiFi, too, so I can write anywhere. Sign up for workshops. Buy books and magazines. Read blogs. I need to keep tabs on what's out there so I am always inspired to write. Promote posts and my Facebook page by buying ads. As a magazine editor, I need to look good. Clothes, shoes, accessories. Makeup. Hairstyle. Manicures and pedicures.

These things add up! But all the care I put into the tools of my trade and my appearance, on top of the writing itself, rewards me in the end: I always have writing projects!

2. Clients want to know who they're working with.
Svetlana says:
"In my first ads, I used very little copy. What was the point? What I know now is that guys want to know the women... It surprised me, but a lot of them — most of them — really need to feel a sort of connection. Reading about Angelina’s easy laugh, or how Anna loves luxury travel, made them more comfortable. And when they’re more comfortable, they call."
In other words, relationships—more than talent or reputation—matter. When I was starting out in print, I always wondered why people who can't write were given newspaper columns or magazine positions. I also wondered why some models who have drug problems keep getting booked. Well, I soon found out! Because they have connections!

I always thought I could succeed through sheer talent and hard work. To a degree, I did succeed because of the integrity of my work. But I also learned that people like working with their friends, people they know, people they relate to, people they can trust. Between a good writer who's a stranger and a not-so-good writer but their friend, they'll hire the not-so-good writer. So I became friendlier, nicer, more relaxed. The result? Most of my projects today are from people I was nice to in the past. I know they didn't get me because I'm the most talented writer in the world. They got me because they knew me and they liked me. And because they also know I'm a good writer!

3. Offer what your market wants.
People automatically dismiss escort jobs as just sex jobs, but Svetlana reveals it's not just sex she sells:
"If you want to make money as an escort, you better deliver something special. I did couples. I offered toys, role-playing, and BDSM... Mostly, I offered understanding. The truth is, even for guys who hire me for three or four hours, the sex usually only takes about 15 minutes. It’s the understanding they’re buying."
My blog readers tell me that while they're happy my blogs have become big enough to attract sponsorships, they miss the days when I just wrote about my thoughts on life. This always surprises me! After a while, I noticed that my site visits decreased. Clearly, if I want to keep and grow my readership, I must give in to their requests while balancing the requirements of my sponsors. It's harder work but I'm rewarded by happy readers... and happy advertisers, too, because more readers means more revenue! Win-win!

4. Take care of your product.
Okay, so Svetlana offers understanding and companionship, but she also knows that it's the packaging that attracts the customer!
"I’m a vegetarian and I have a personal trainer. I got manicures and pedicures at least twice a week, always red, and always showed up in expensive lingerie and thigh-high stockings. Every time I met a client it was a performance, so I prepared. My mascara cost $130. Hair color was $200; eye shadow was $50, as was foundation and lipstick. A nice lingerie set costs at least $100; I spent $600. Not to mention the shoes."
When I was a new editor-in-chief, I believed I should be out at events and meetings, introducing myself, and making those connections I was talking about earlier. But my mentor, Jo-Ann Maglipon of Yes! magazine, said, "If you're going out there to sell a product, you better make sure your product is worth selling." So she made me sit tight in the office and make my magazine amazing. She said that when I'm proud of my work, only then can I promote it. Plus, I won't need to work hard to make connections anyway because if my magazine was incredible, people will want to connect with me! And they did!

5. Spend your time wisely. If you can't, charge for it.
Svetlana makes sure every hour she's awake earns her money:
"Once a day I ordered vegetable fried rice from a place around the corner because it’s fast — five minutes to cook, five minutes to deliver, five minutes to eat — and if I spent two hours in a restaurant, that’s at least $1,600 I was not depositing into my bank account."
She also discovered that she can charge client for her efforts off duty—like the time she'll spend washing sheets if he's the reason those sheets got sticky.
"One guy demanded to pour honey all over me... I said no. He said he’d pay double and I said no. He said he’d pay triple and I said okay. The whole time, I was thinking about cleaning the sheets, and another two-and-a-half hours of hair and makeup. That’s when I decided that if he ever asked me for honey again, I’d charge quadruple. At least."
Many freelance writers and bloggers forget to charge for the time they spend in producing the story. Think of the time spent commuting (and here in Manila, that's already several hours stuck in traffic!). Think about parking costs. Phone and Internet plans. Printer ink. Time spent transcribing interviews or waiting for the subject of your story.

I once spent two hours waiting for Judy Ann Santos, for example. I also had to interview Anne Curtis thrice because she was too busy giggling with her friends to talk to me the first time and too sleepy the second time. That's three times I took a leave from work, three times I spent on cabs and in traffic, and all that work in exchange for just a P3,000 check. If you add up all these expenses, suddenly, piso-per-word just doesn't cut it. Spend your time wisely!

6. Quit while you're ahead. 
Svetlana says that while she enjoyed the money, she had to think about her future, and that future did not include paid sex.
"The best way to leave the business was to think about doing it the rest of my life... I don’t hang out with some of my old escort girlfriends. I miss them, but I have to weigh, okay, on one side friendships with whores, on the other side, a family, and my future. So I make a choice."
Many of us are scared to resign from jobs we hate. It pays the bills, we assure ourselves. We hang on because leaving means starting again. Quitting means leaving what's familiar and exploring the strange and scary world of Making Dreams Come True. I know how that feels like!

I left my cushy magazine job two years ago because I couldn't see myself talking about Angelina Jolie's grandkids when I'm 60. I also wanted to build my blogs, and being editor-in-chief of a magazine took a lot of my time and focus. But, boy, was I scared to quit! What if blogging was a mistake? What if my freelance career fails? I decided to finally leave because I respected my bosses and my company. It wasn't their fault I was no longer happy, that I was longing for other things, dreaming new dreams. So before I could start feeling resentful and before I could begin blaming them for my unhappiness and my unfulfilled dreams, I left. No burned bridges. Both parties happy.

7. Keep learning. Regret nothing.
Lastly, Svetlana says that we all make mistakes but there's nothing to be gained by regretting our past.
"I don’t regret what I’ve done with my body, or my life. I had some good times and some not-so-good times. I’ve met some interesting people and some idiots. I’ve learned a lot about what men and women want and need."
You learn from all experiences. Use what you've learned to move forward! My past jobs as an office receptionist, a preschool teacher, a Senator's assistant, a PR associate, and as magazine editor all contributed to my success. Being a receptionist taught me to be polite and accommodating. Teaching preschoolers helped me deal with the most demanding bosses in my future jobs. My job in the senate exposed me to a lot of evil and to high society. In PR, I learned how to do marketing, to form connections, to have fun. And in magazines, I learned about managing people, creating a brand and understanding the market. All of these helps me in blogging and in freelance writing!

I'm not afraid to work anymore. I accept a lot of work from different fields because I know they will all teach me something. At the very least, every job can contribute to my writing. Well, I'll take any job, as long as it's not evil. And no, I'll pass on escorting even though it seems to be a job that teaches a lot of good lessons on business!

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Monday, October 13, 2014

New Topaz Clutch colors!

First of all, thanks so much to everyone who bought a Topaz Clutch from Ni-QUA! There was a time we ran out of stock for the pink-and-brown version. I'm sooo happy for all your support! Ni-QUA is so encouraged by your patronage that they decided to give me more designs to offer you!

Here's the Tan, for a more casual, rugged vibe:

And here's the Tan-and-Pink, which is even sweeter than its Brown-and-Pink sister:

If you love me, please buy a Topaz Clutch! Get them now from Ni-QUA!
Tan and Pink

So exciting! More new colors (and maybe even prints!) brewing!

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Left behind

When I was growing up, my Mama always talked about the rapture. The Bible describes that event to be worldwide, with everyone alerted by a "loud trumpet call" announcing the return of Jesus Christ. Then in the "twinkling of an eye," those who love Christ will be transformed from flesh into glory and disappear from here, caught up in the clouds with Him and joining God in heaven.

Here are the verses that talk about the rapture:

"At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other." Matthew 24:30-36

"Two men will be working together in the field; one will be take, the other left. Two women will be grinding flour at the mill; one will be taken, the other left. So you, too, must keep watch! For you don't know what day your Lord is coming." Matthew 24:40-42

"Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed." 1 Corinthians 15:51-52

"For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever." 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17

As a Born Again Christian, I look forward to that day. To see God, to see Mama again. Oh, the joy! That also means I won't have to die. I'll just be "caught up" in the clouds! No suffering, no pain, no old age (if the rapture happens before I turn 50, that is!). At the same time, I feel fear and horror because I want everyone I love to be "caught up" with me, too. Because how can I be completely happy in heaven knowing that the ones I love are left behind?

This is what's always scared me about the rapture. The chaos that will happen. My faith tells me I won't be here for that but my faith also tells me that if I really cared, no one will be left behind. 

I wish for all my readers to be "caught up" in the air with Jesus, too! All He asks is for us to invite Him into our hearts and declare Him the Lord and Savior of our lives! I did that when I was 9 years old. I prayed, "Dear Jesus, please forgive me of my sins, come into my heart and be my Lord forever. Amen." I know someday I'll see my Lord. I hope you'll allow Jesus to be your Lord, too! God bless you!

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Wednesday, October 08, 2014

What I'll buy from BeautyMNL

There's a new beauty online shopping stop in town, ladies! It's called BeautyMNL, from the same family as Deal Grocer and Taste Central. I've shopped from DG and TC often enough to expect only good things from its new kikay sister. So I signed up soonest (actually, I just needed to sign in with my DG account) because they're also giving away a trip to Paris!!!

It was launched exactly one week ago and so there's actually not a lot of offerings yet so, hello, medyo bitin. Still, I've already picked out a few favorites that I can buy so I don't have to leave the house. Alam niyo naman ako. I love staying home!

The site is on 20% off now, as a welcome treat. While I want to shop, my beauty closet is still fully stocked (thanks for the amazing free goodies, dear beauty brands!). I'm kinda tempted to buy because of the discount, but beauty products have a shelf life so it's not a good idea to hoard. Napapanis kasi sila. But if I were to hoard, these will be what I'll put in my virtual cart:

MoroccanOil Treatment Oil, P1,080. The ultimate hair oil. I've tried several and it's still this expensive and smelly oil that makes my hair bodacious!!! My review here!

Physiogel Lotion, P714. I just started using this brand because I recently attended an event of theirs (see here). I have tried a TON of lotions and this, this, this is the only lotion that made my parched skin super soft and smooth!!!

Physiogel Cleanser, P329. I still love Shiseido Ibuki's cleanser but this is what I now use when I shower and when I wash my face in the morning. It's amazing. AMAZING! I'm going to do a proper review of Physiogel later this month, but I just want to tell you guys now: Do not judge a beauty product by its boring packaging!

Clarisonic Replacement Brush, P1,720. I bought a Clarisonic in 2012 from the US online site, had it shipped here, and was dismayed that I had to replace brushes every 6 months. Those brushes are so expensive! May shipping from the US pa! So I'm glad that it's now available here.

There's a ton more brands—both drugstore to prestige—but, like I said, I'm fully stocked. But here's what I don't have so I'll most probably buy as soon as all my clients' checks are in (hint! hint! cough! cough!):

Fairy Drops Platinum Waterproof Mascara, P717 (sale price). Makeup artists, beauty editors and beauty bloggers love this. I want to experience for myself why!

Bumble & Bumble Prét-a-Powder, P1,499. I wash my hair just twice a week. If I wash more often, my super fine hair starts falling out and drying up. This hair powder absorbs oil, adds volume, and generally keeps your mane from getting disgusting till your next shampoo.

Bumble & Bumble Surf Spray, P1,799. Okay, my hair is so gorgeous when it's unwashed (another reason why I don't shampoo often!). On the days I do shampoo, my hair is this slippery, flat and limp creature lazily perched on my head and shoulders. This surf spray will fix that problem by adding texture and volume!

So that's what I'll buy! I can't wait till they have all the brands they promise they'll soon offer! Sooo happy online shopping is now so exciting in the Philippines!

*all photos from BeautyMNL

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Monday, October 06, 2014

Celebs (and I) love TOD'S

This weekend, my mother-in-law and I were talking about designer brands. We agreed that we love love love Tod's but because of our lifestyles—she takes care of grandkids, I take care of babies, both of us with no yayas—anything wildly expensive is not practical. Our gorgeous pricey bags, if we had them, will just be barfed on, scratched, made sticky with candy, and will inevitably suffer from all the ruinous things kids do to beautiful things. So no Tod's. Yet! Heehee.


These photos of celebs and their Tod's are not helping me.
Taylor Swift looking like a little lady with her Sellas Small Shopping Bag.

Uma Thurman's D-Cube Small Bowler Bag.

Uma also has it in a very large style. Perfect for moms!

As a mom myself, I had decided I was going to buy a Tod's D-Styling Bag on my 40th birthday. Here's Duchess Kate with her D-Bag:

I'll be 40 two years from now, but now I've decided I'll wait till my kids are all done with preschool. So maybe on my 45th birthday. Or my 50th? We'll see!

Tod's is available at Greenbelt 4 and at Rustan's Shangri-la and Makati.

*photos courtesy of Visions & Expressions

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Friday, October 03, 2014

What a September!

There's a lot of blog neglect going on lately. Just when I'm overflowing with stories! I have so many exciting things happening, dearest readers. I could barely wrap my head around them and catch my breath! I looked through my Instagram account so I can give you a summary:

I collaborated with Ni-QUA to come out with my line of clutches. Buy one please! I have pink and tan, too!!!

I started work as Baby Magazine's Market Editor. My friend says it's the Town & Country of parenting magazines since it features a lot of upper crust moms. Well, I'm just glad I have work! It's very light since Baby Magazine comes out every two months. So I still work from home. Best of both worlds!

Here's a few shots from the fashion editorial shoot we did at Makati Shangri-la. That was sooo cute! In case you're wondering, my work as Market Editor is all about featuring products and services for babies, little kids, moms and families. So that's like a beauty/fashion/lifestyle editor. In other words, I get the fun part of making the magazine! If you have a product and service for babies, little kids, moms and families, tell me!

I also joined BDJ Box Beauty Ministry to dish beauty advice, tips and reviews. Check out my articles! I just started so I don't have a lot yet, but my fellow ministers have dozens of beauty reviews and tips you'll love!

Anyway, the BDJ post also means attending events and meetings! A very big one was at the Beauty Social mid-September. Here's a photo of me and Kate Alvarez backstage. Those bags behind us are hundreds of goody bags for all the girls who attended. Wow, there are soooo many BDJ Box subscribers! And it was so nice to meet you!

By the way, my articles came out in Smart Parenting's September issue. I hope you got a copy! These are possibly my last articles to come out in magazines this year because I'll be focusing on Baby Magazine now.

Then I got sick for a whole week. Asthma attacks for the first time in years! My kids got sick, too. My husband and I were worried about Vito and Iñigo. But they got better soon enough. Iñigo now is on the last legs of his horrible cold. But we're just happy they're healthy again.

And I was busy with the blogs. Here I am on my way to yet another meeting! And Piero is always with me since he breastfeeds. I know you're not seeing any action online but I've been going to meetings with people who want to work with me. Some didn't work out, some did. I'm just grateful for everything! Blogging has been such a big blessing!

That's why I'm back! I have to blog. I know I've been away. That's because life is exciting! Let's not forget to live! Still, I don't want to lose you, my dearest readers. So I'm going to try to blog here on Topaz Horizon twice a week. I also blog over at Topaz Mommy, in case you miss me. And if you reeeeeeally miss me, I'm very active on Instagram and Facebook. On IG, I post a lot about my everyday life. On FB, I share a lot of links to interesting and helpful stories I found on the web.

So I promise to blog more often and regularly! I'm thinking Mondays and Fridays. See you next week! Happy weekend!

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