Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The results of my Physiogel Calming Relief 14-Day Challenge

This post is brought to you by Physiogel Calming Relief.

Hi everyone! I'm happy to report that my skin is soooo much better now and I have to thank the new Physiogel Calming Relief creams for that happy news!

Last month, I was at Bangkok for the launch of the Physiogel Calming Relief skincare line—Physiogel's first entry into face care. There I found out that my oily skin is actually dehydrated and sensitive. What a horrible combination!

I can't stress enough how I've been feeling down and insecure with my face. Maybe because I'm turning 40 this year and I just got depressed with the fact that I'm still pimply? Will I wrestle with bad skin for the rest of my life?

I'm not the sort of woman who stays in front of the mirror all day, obsessing over her face. Maybe I should, come to think of it. Maybe if I had cared more, I'd have better skin. But I was too busy chasing after my dreams, building my career, and taking care of my family to be overly concerned with my skin. As I keep reassuring myself, I'm already married anyway so somebody loves me, pimples and all. Plus, I told myself, my kids love me as is, too. What more can a woman want? Well, one of those aforementioned kids stared at me one day and said, "Mama, your face has lots of boo-boos. You should go see a doctor."

I cried! There it was—the reason why I needed to pay more attention to skincare! My son didn't think I was ugly; he thought I was sick! So I finally went to a dermatologist and I finally stuck to a skincare regimen, and that regimen included Physiogel Face Calming Relief. And I'm soooo happy with the results!

Here's my face before using the product:
Sorry for scaring you!

And here's my face after:
Much better!
Let's look at that again side-by-side.
No makeup on the after photo (okay, okay, I had to put on my eyebrows so I'm not too pangit!).

My skin feels hydrated, moist, plumped up. The flakiness and sensitivity drastically reduced. My face is no longer itchy. Pimples and whiteheads dramatically reduced. The only thing I need to deal with now is treating my dark and ice-pick acne scars!

Now I just want to say that Physiogel is NOT for treating acne. I'm undergoing acne treatment from a skin clinic. But the pattern of my treatment was facial - two weeks of rest - flare up - facial. So I really still needed to go back to the clinic every two weeks. But since I started using Physiogel, I haven't gone back. My skin got stronger and healthier, so my acne treatment became more effective.

Physiogel Calming Relief works by strengthening and repairing the skin's moisture barrier. When our skin's barrier is damaged by environmental factors (like UV exposure and pollution), unhealthy lifestyle habits (like smoking and a state of constant stress), and improper nutritional habits (like not drinking enough water and eating junk food), our skin becomes dry and sensitive. It literally cracks. We don't see it but these microscopic cracks mean bacteria, allergens and other harmful things penetrate our skin and cause irritation. Irritation can be anything from flakiness and redness to pimples. These cracks in our skin also mean we lose moisture and so our skin becomes even more dehydrated. 

The secret of Physiogel is its BioMimic Technology. Mimic means copy. Our skin is protected by a layer of lipids. Lipids are natural fat cells that keep moisture in and irritants out. But if we don't lead a healthy lifestyle and if we live in a stressful and polluted environment (hello, Manila!), that lipid layer becomes damaged. That's where the Physiogel BioMimic Technology comes in. This formula contains an advanced complex of lipids that are almost exactly the same as the lipids found naturally in our skin. So if our skin is damaged, the lipids in the Physiogel Calming Relief cream repairs the damage and then strengthens the moisture barrier. Skin is healed, hydrated, strengthened and protected. 

The Physiogel Calming Relief range is available at Mercury Drug and Watsons. There's a cream cleanser and a face cream. The Calming Relief Face Cream comes in two formulations: regular, Php 800, and rich, Php 850. I use regular in the mornings and the rich at bedtime so that my skin really drinks up the moisture. I'll do a more specific review of each product soon. Watch for it!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Vito's graduation #OOTD by Mango Kids

This post is brought to you by Mango Kids.

My first boy graduated from preschool last weekend and we're so proud!

Vito's been feeling emotional these past few months. He's excited to go to big school; he's sad to leave small school. He's thrilled he's a big boy now; he's afraid of going to be all alone in the new school. He's looking forward to meeting new friends; he's unhappy about not seeing his classmates every day. Yep, it's been emotional for all of us!

But last Saturday, it all culminated into one big day: Graduation day!

Aaaaand I couldn't resist—I went shopping for new clothes for Vito! He'll have two outfits: one casual look for the dance numbers, and a more formal get-up for the diploma ceremony. Here's what I grabbed from Mango Kids:

OOTD 1: Neon yellow shirt, Php 395. Jeans, Php 1,295

OOTD 2: Gingham long-sleeved shirt, P995. Navy trousers, Php 1,495

And here he was at graduation:

Soooo cute and stylish! And yet really simple and comfortable, which is just the way my boy likes his outfits.

You look adorable, Vito! We love you and we're so proud of you!

Mango Kids are at SM Mall of Asia, Ayala Center Cebu, BF Paranaque, Trinoma, Glorietta, Eastwood Mall and SM Megamall. Enjoy shopping, moms and dads! There’s a ton of super cute stuff for boys and girls. I'm shopping for summer staples next!

How to portion your meals

Ever wondered how much food you should actually eat but never got the hang of counting calories? Nope? Well, I have. This infographic that I got from Precision Nutrition is quite handy. Yep, pun intended!

Cool, right? This just convinced me what I already know: I eat too much carbs. I can polish off two plates of rice! In one sitting! So that's why I never could lose this soft big belly!

And I also realized what I've always known anyway: I eat too little meat, not enough vegetables, and a little too much fat. Add sugary drinks and, well, there goes my health!

Will definitely use these handy tips for my meals from now on. Must take care of myself since I have three little boys depending on me to stay alive to raise them!

If you're a man, just click the link to find out how to use your hands to measure your portions.

Happy Monday!

UPDATE April 9, 2016, around 3 weeks later: OMG THIS IS SO HARD. I CAN'T DO IT!

*images from

Friday, March 18, 2016

NEW SERIES! Ask Frances: How to not feel envy and how to forgive people who are financial burdens

"Ask Frances" is a monthly blog series where I will answer questions from my readers. The chosen question will receive a prize. This month's prize is a boxed set of Happy Skin Shut Up & Kiss Me Power Pout Lip Lacquers.
The prize comes in this pretty box.
Smooth application of these glosses for a shiny pout! With or without lipstick!
Shades are Royal Treatment (pink) and Hear Me Roar (red).
Place on the shelf and it looks like a book.
And you can reuse the box for your treasures!

Our question this month:

How do you make sure you don't get inggit when people around you have bigger cars, bigger houses, etc. To tell you the truth, I'm feeling this way for two days now because I just came from a reunion. Feeling ko ang failure ko. At ang babaw! Shocks! Pataasan kasi ng ihi pag nagpupunta sa reunion eh! 

Another thing I have been wanting to ask you is, how did you forgive people who you helped financially? I have been praying to God to give me a forgiving heart pero minsan, I can't help but think, pano mo ifo-forgive eh hindi nga sila nanghihingi ng forgiveness? Ni hindi nila nakikita na nahu-hurt nila ang family n'yo by being a financial burden!


Dear A.B.,

Don't attend reunions. I don't. Because your observation is correct: It's all compare, compare, compare. And no matter what you've made of yourself, someone's always going to make more money than you, look better than you, have a hotter spouse, and have a career more exciting than yours—and all of this is stuff that you probably don't want anyway! Even though your heart knows that you don't want what they have, all the negative energy in the room will make you want what you don't want. Like your high school ex maybe. Eww.

Joking aside, I can tell you with all honesty that I don't feel envy at all. I'm too happy with my life to be envious of others. You see, I know myself too well. For example, I have friends who travel all the time. That's nice but I know myself—I hate traveling. I like my home too much! So I'm just happy for my traveler friends and appreciate their stories and photos. I also have friends who have closets full of designer bags. I love nice bags, too! But I know my life—right now, my kids will just destroy everything I own so I patiently wait for the day I can own an expensive bag without worrying the kids will draw on it, spill juice in it or smear chocolate on it. Now this one I'll admit was a recent struggle: I have blogger friends who have amazing blogs and terrific traffic. I want that, too! But I quickly realized that right now my kids need my attention more so the blog will have to wait. And that's okay.

So the important tip: Know yourself and what you really want. That's it. If you know who you are, know what you want, and be brave enough to go after it, then you know nothing can shake you from your purpose. And you'll be filled with happiness and peace, which allows you to be happy for others instead of getting envious of them.

Besides, people will always have something to say. Because we're writers (and, worse, I'm a blogger, which a lot of people find hysterical), Vince and I hear "concern" all the time. It does get on our nerves, to be honest. That's why it's important to know who you are and what you want. Eyes on the prize, A.B.! Vince and I are the happiest people we know. We may not be shopping every day, we may not have a huge house, but we're living a good life, a full life, on our terms. Money can't buy the deliciousness of that!

As for your second question... Well, you just do. Forgive. Help because you have a good heart. Help because you can. You seriously don't have to help, you know. Not helping someone financially is not a crime, but you help anyway because you're a good person. That is enough compensation—the knowledge that God has blessed you with more than enough and the undeniable truth that you may think you're bad for not wanting to help but because you did, then you are a better person than you think. You are a good person. So be good all the way!

It took me a looooong time to get to this point. Like you, I struggled with anger (and even hate) at the people who just take and take and take. They don't even say thanks! But I dunno. Maybe old age has softened my heart. What makes it easier for us also is we give money, we don't lend. So for example if someone asks to borrow P10,000, we'll say, "We can give you P5,000. It's yours." Then because we gave what we can, we can forget the money. It's not a niggling little worm that eats us.

You're the lucky one, A.B. That puts you in an incredibly privileged position. Help because you can. Forgive because you must.

Then email me so I can send you your Happy Skin lip glosses! Have a great weekend!

* * * * * * *

If you have a question for me, send an email to with "Ask Frances" on the subject.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Topaz Horizon is officially now a mommy blog. So let's do a mega mom giveaway!


Well, not really a mommy blog. Topaz Horizon will now just be the lifestyle blog of someone who happens to be a mommy. I've been announcing this forever but today, after more than six years of blogging about my parenting adventures over at Topaz Mommy, I am merging my lifestyle and mommy blogs into one. Topaz Horizon is now the lifestyle blog of a writer, editor, wife... and mom.

This won't actually become a mommy blog; it's just going to have a few parenting-related posts now and then. By that, I mean parenting in a general term, not necessarily about my kids. As I explained over at my very last post on Topaz Mommy, I'm finding it harder and harder to talk about my kids the older they get. So I'm going to have to find a way to celebrate motherhood without involving my kids. How I'm going to do that, I do not know! But I'll figure something out.

To celebrate the new direction of Topaz Horizon, I'm doing a mega giveaway! As a (former) mom blogger, I have a lot of stuff sent my way. Many of them I never got to use. So why not share them all to one lucky mommy? Yes, all these for one winner!


i-Angel Hip Seat Baby Carrier. This was a gift from i-Angel (thanks so much!) but we never got to use it because, well, I'm a housewife who works at home. I hardly ever go out of the house! So super sayang because my friends love this, especially when they travel. This carrier distributes baby's weight so your back and shoulders don't die. I'll feature this amazing baby carrier next week so you'll want to get one! I think any mom and dad would love to have this carrier worth P6,995!

To know more about i-Angel, click here.   

Nuby stackable suction bowls (set of 3) and a no-spill, flip-it top drinking bottle. We got three sets of these cuties but my first two boys are already using grown-up plates and glasses so I'm giving away a set. My bunso baby loves these! Nuby is new in the country and I like the brand for its baby-friendly, easy-to-wash, vibrantly colored and affordable products. I'll write more about Nuby soon!

To see the complete line of Nuby products, click here.

L'Indochine ikat-and-stripe tote from their travel collection. I got this from a fab event at L'Indochine, the home and style store of all things from Indochina. This is such a nice bag! Designed to hold your essentials in a chic and sturdy way, this tote will soon be your favorite bag. My friends love it sooo much! We love the big, fat tassel. So on trend now with all the big bag charms so hot with all the fashion girls!

Be part of the community of L'Indochine lovers and like their Facebook page.   

Lee and Town 100% Muslin Swaddle Blanket from BabyPodManila. Made from organic cotton, this blanket is perfect for babies and toddlers because it's breathable, soft and ultra comfy. I actually really do love it but I have so many muslin cloths already! Let's share!

To know more about this swaddle blanket, click here.

Maternalove Signature Multiway Dress. Never used which was such a shame because I'd have loved to wear this! One dress that can be worn in multiple ways—from pregnancy to breastfeeding to back to normal (is there ever a normal for us moms?). I didn't get to wear it because it was too small for me. This dress is a medium, by the way. So if you're a tiny girl, this will be perfect!

To see the other ways you can wear this versatile dress, click here.

Elin nursing cover. This is the Billie Multiway Wrap. You can use it as a shawl, a scarf, cape, poncho, and of course as a breastfeeding cover! So useful! This is from, my favorite brand of maternity and nursing wear. I'm wearing an Elin nursing top right now as I type actually because I'm still a breastfeeding mama and I can attest to the softness, comfort and style of every Elin item!

To see more Elin dresses, tops, and nursing covers, click here.

Mustela Maternité Stretchmarks Prevention Oil for mommy and Mustela Bébé Facial Cream for baby. I have always always always LOVED Mustela products. My kids have been using Mustela for years! Every product they offer is the best for skin—mommy's and baby's!

To know more about Mustela and how it cares for skin, click here.

LUX Perfume Bath Collection. I'm giving away a one-year supply of the body wash! Showering is going to be such a sensory experience! Plus, you'll smell great all day! I'll throw in the bar soaps, too!

LUX is available at leading supermarkets and drugstores.

Physiogel Daily Moisture Therapy line, which includes the dermo-cleanser, cream and body lotion. You all know I'm a huge fan of Physiogel. Best body lotion I've tried! So it's perfect for the rapidly changing skin of a pregnant woman and the usually neglected skin of a busy mommy. It's even great for baby's skin!

To know more about how Physiogel cares for sensitive skin, click here.

Desk calendar from SnapperDoodles. Oh this is the prettiest calendar! It also comes with just-as-pretty notepads. I actually wanted to keep it but I already have two planners and one wall calendar. So let's give this pretty thing away!

To see more items from SnapperDoodles, click here.

Moleskine Baby Journal. This planner is made for the pregnancy years, through infancy up until toddler age. I love the embossed leather cover. I also love the no-nonsense look of the pages inside because it lets moms who like to keep things simple have an uncluttered, fuss-free experience. At the same time, if you're the crafty kind, the absence of decoration just begs to be personalized!

To see the inside pages of this special journal, click here.

Let's look at the prizes one more time. The winner will get all these!

These are all gifts to me by the generous brands who love moms everywhere. These are all unused. And they're all just waiting for you to win them in one fell swoop!

Best of all, this giveaway is open to ALL of my Loyal Readers. You don't have to be a mommy to join. You can be a husband. You can be a friend. You can be a group of friends who want to give these to a friend who is pregnant or a new mom. You can be a group of mommy friends who would like to share the prizes. So giveaway is open to all!

  1. Leave a comment below on your favorite blog post on Topaz Horizon. You can also tell me what topics you like to read about here on my blog. 
  2. Share this post with your friends! I don't mind how—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram—or how many times, once, twice, thrice. Bahala na kayo! Just use the hashtag #TopazHorizonMegaMomGiveaway so I can easily find it.
That's it! How easy is that?

Contest will run for two weeks. I'm not going to publish the comments till the end para walang gayahan ng sagot hehe. Winner will be randomly chosen. Like I said, anyone can join! I'll announce the lucky winner on March 28, 6 p.m. Good luck, y'all!

  1. If winner doesn't contact me within a week of announcement, I will pick a new winner.
  2. Winner must pick up the prize. I will not ship or deliver! You may send a representative to pick up the prize, just tell me who the person is and tell him/her to bring an ID.
  3. If winner doesn't pick up the prize within one month, I will pick a new winner.

I loved each and every answer, from old readers to new ones who just happened to drop by, from men and women! So I did a raffle and Rocel's name was picked! Congrats!!! Send me a message via my blog's Facebook page to claim your prizes.

Thank you to everyone who joined!

Friday, March 11, 2016

What happened to that "Ask Frances" series?

Well, this happened:

Check out the translation heehee:

I am still the answer. Yes.

Anyway! I should've done the first one last February 19, kasi I promised I'd do the "Ask Frances" series on the third Friday of every month. But hindi ako makapili ng question! Hanggang ngayon actually. Ang bibigat ng mga tanong. Nag-iisip tuloy ako na kailangan ko nga humingi ng tulong from someone qualified to help (like a pastor, counselor, financial adviser, psychiatrist, etc!).

But if I did that, then the series should be called "Ask Frances... to Ask an Expert to Help You!" LOL

Joking aside, I'll pick a question for March 18 from the emails I already got. If you want to send a question (yung easy lang please!), email me here with "Ask Frances" on the subject. Remember: The chosen question gets a prize!

Happy weekend! Mwah!

Thursday, March 03, 2016

The one and only time I get consumed with envy

I don't dwell on this too much but I sometimes wonder what it feels like to be a mommy and also still have a mommy. Because I now have the hardest job in the world which means I need my Mama more than ever, and I don't have her.

On weekends, I try not to be on Facebook so much. My mom friends are usually visiting their parents or their parents are visiting them. There will be a feast their mom prepared. There will be photos of Lola helping with the baby. There will be piles of Tupperware containers because of course their mom cooked waaaaay too much and she'd tell her daughters to bring home the food and then my friends will all say, "Yey, I don't need to cook anymore. Thanks, mom!" Then there will be photos of my friends with their moms and the kids, all smiling and happy.

And I take a step back, filled with longing for my own mother. I feel envy, but not the envy that makes you wish ill on others. It's an envy that makes me feel sorry for myself. And makes me feel sorry for Mama, too, that she's missing all this. 

I know she's in heaven and all, and, sure, that's a better place. But I think being with your family IS the real heaven. I don't think I'll ever be happy in a place without my family. So when people tell me she's in a better place and that she's happier there, well, that makes me feel really bad. She shouldn't be there. She should be here.