Monday, January 14, 2019

Looking for a condo? Check out the Camella CoHo lifestyle

One of the places my family and I love to visit is the All Home complex along Libis in Quezon City. We don't go there often since it is out of our way, but when we do, it's always such a happy place. Just look at these kids!

The Libis complex is a taste of the CoHo lifestyle. That's what Camella calls their new real estate phase of building Camella Condo Homes all over the country, with each development having its own commercial complex with lifestyle amenities its residents will love.

I know this because I got a big brochure (more like a magazine) and I got interested in investing in maybe a small condo unit in Tagaytay, a place we love. Actually, Vince and I were thinking of a house in Tagaytay but when I looked through the CoHo Lifestyle magazine, I remembered why I'm a city girl. I love living in a condo and having everything I want and need steps away from my door! Just read this:

"What is the CoHo Lifestyle? It means living just a few steps away from a luxury mall that offers global retail selections. It means having world-class cinemas as your home theater. It means having a beautiful coffee shop as an extension of your living and working space. It means having an innovative, fun and fresh supermarket as your pantry."

Sounds like the life I love!

The CoHo lifestyle means having a complete and affordable home store and a modern and convenient supermarket right outside my residence. Just look at the boys testing out chairs. We gave away our old chairs and now I'm thinking I need a new one for my work desk. (I can feel Vince rolling his eyes once he reads that sentence hehe.)

The CoHo lifestyle means having a wonderful café and pastry shop a few feet away from work-at-home me so I can always run down and out if I need a java jolt or just a change of scenery but without dealing with traffic.

Plus check out how gorgeous Coffee Project is!

Their cakes are a bit too rich, though. But that makes them go well with the coffee, I guess, so it's okay.

At Libis, the boys and I discovered that there's actually a showroom hidden way at the back of the second floor.


The boys were delighted at this new "playhouse" (and here's me yelling, "Don't run around! Don't break anything!").

The condo unit is quite small. Definitely not for a big family like mine. But my kumare, realtor Kabbie Alipio, said that it's perfect for OFWs saving up for a retirement home in the city, or for parents looking for a place for their college students to stay in, or for newlyweds or young professionals. All CoHo developments are near or are in urban areas all over the country, so they really are perfect for those who want to be in the center of it all. Like me!

I checked the Camella CoHo website and, depending on the property, meron naman daw units na 1-BR, 2-BR and 3-BR. Yun nga lang, the place I want — The Pine Suites at Tagaytay — only has 2 bedrooms in 48sqm. That's very cozy, but okay na for when we visit on weekends, diba?

What do you think? Have you seen any of the showrooms yet? Did any of you buy??? Vince and I are thinking of a home outside Manila but still in an urban setting since we like living in a city.

Anyway, something to think about this 2019! I have a good feeling about this year. May we all have a really great year!

Friday, January 11, 2019

My word for the year is cheerful. I'm going to be cheerful in 2019!

Yep, it's CHEERFUL. My word for the year is cheerful. It came to me on my birthday last November when I was thinking about my new year. "Lord," I prayed. "What do you want me to be this year? What should I do for You and my family and the people around me?" And this verse blossomed in my head:

"The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." 2 Corinthians 9: 6-7

So I was focusing on BOUNTIFUL, you know, because I want to be inundated with money, blessings, and lots of good things this 2019. I wanted to stop worrying. I believed if I just had more, I'd be less anxious. But I just kept gravitating towards CHEERFUL. Not even "cheerful giver." Just CHEERFUL. And I realized - BAM! - I was being convicted by the Holy Spirit because I've been so masungit and fearful and depressed the last few years!

I struggled with that word. I didn't like that word. It was too, I dunno... It doesn't sound like me. I have a big smile but I'm not a sunny person. Cheerful sounds like someone else. Cheerful sounds so immature and undignified. And then another verse came up a few weeks later:

"She is clothed in strength and dignity and laughs without fear of the future." Proverbs 31:25

Okay. So God replied, "You can laugh and be dignified at the same time. Cheer up first and then watch Me make things happen."

Jelly Bean

And so I finally said yes. Yes, God, I'm going to be cheerful na! And if you read my 42nd birthday post, you can see that my attitude had already changed. I'm willing myself to be happier now, to just focus on the good—nope, not to ignore the bad but not to be blind to the goodness of life either. So there, mamas. Join me on my mission to be cheerful this year! That's my word and I'm going to obey and I'm going to be grateful and happy with what I have and what's to come. This time, I'm not going to be "I'll be happy when the world is finally a better place." This time, I'll be happy no matter what!

I will confess that I'm afraid I'll have a hard time sticking to this CHEERFUL word. Let me explain why.

In 2013, my word of the year was SIMPLICITY. I had just lost my dream job as a glamorous magazine editor and it was a blow to my ego. I prayed for a similar glamorous job but God impressed upon my heart to let that go. It was a time for diminishing, for becoming humble, for simplicity. Well, I tried but my blog picked up big time and it got to my head. I became even more mayabang than ever.

In 2014, my word was FAMILY. I was going to be a mommy of 3 boys this year! But I was also in the thick of my new career as a professional blogger. I wanted to work work work, especially since so many new bloggers were coming into the scene. But again God told me to focus on what matters: my family. So I said, "Okay!" But I didn't really obey. I said yes to so many projects this year—on top of my burgeoning blogger campaigns, I had my Manila Bulletin column, my articles, and Baby Magazine. Guess what happens when you disobey God? Bad stuff. Overwhelmed with work and three young children, I failed in everything I did! Even as a wife and mommy! I was finally humbled because I was so embarrassed by my failures.


In 2015, my word was COURAGE. It had to be. I needed courage to face a year where my career prospects were non-existent and so I had only my blog to rely on for our family's income. I wasn't a very good mommy nor was I a great wife. With three small kids, I was overwhelmed and exhausted and all of that frustration came out as rage. I just wanted to give up really. So I told myself I've always said courage was my biggest and best trait. And that year, courage to face another day after mistakes and failure is why I'm still here today, with my boys, still incredibly blessed. Courage and hope—these are the best things in life!

In 2016, my word was LOVE. With a toddler in his fiercest tantrum stage ever (his two older brothers never had tantrums like this last one) and then the elections where I got into terrible arguments with family and friends, you can bet love was a very hard word to embrace. To apply it in my life? That year, I felt it was impossible. I have never felt so much hate, anger, disillusion and fear in all my life. I guess that's why God impressed upon my heart for "love" to be my 2016 word, to prepare me for what's ahead. But did I love people? Nope. Not at all. I was a disgrace.

So in 2017 and 2018, I had no words. I was just too angry, disillusioned, upset and afraid. I was also aware that I haven't been living up to any of the words I've been supposedly using as the guide for my year. Obviously, this "word of the year" is nonsense for me. Or hopeless for me. But God worked on my heart and renewed my mind. I let go of a lot of anger and hate slowly. In its place, gratitude and hope and faith took over. I had to believe that the world is still a good place, for my children's sake! And I had to ask for forgiveness because I wasn't a very good person these past 2 years. I needed to work on myself and it's slowly happening. I think I'm a better person now.

And so here we are in 2019! I'm going to choose happiness this year. Not really positivity. I detest that word or attitude. It's come to mean ignoring the evil around us or refusing to acknowledge suffering (others' and our own) just to keep the peace. I will still fight for what's right. I will still use my anger for good change. I will still point out what's wrong and what's bad. I will never stop talking about problems - especially of women and mothers! - because we must never be blind or deaf or unfeeling for the sake of positivity. But I will also not allow the evil of the current times to dampen my spirits and affect my mental health. I'm going to have fortitude this year! I will draw on the joy and peace that passes all understanding to choose happiness this year... and hopefully for every single day of my life.

Baby Chicken

So here's to cheerfulness! Wish me luck! I'm such a grumpy person I don't know if I can do this haha And I wish you all the joy and happiness, too, my dear friends. God bless us all this 2019! Let us all laugh without fear of the future!'

P.S. Which of my happy boys look most like baby me??? That was a rare smile, I was told. Even as a child, I wasn't a cheerful one. We'll change that about me!

P.P.S. That's just chocolate on Vito's teeth. He has clean teeth - no cavities!!!

Monday, January 07, 2019

Backstreet Boys' song "No Place" brings up all sorts of love for mamas

If you grew up in the 90s like me, you're most likely a fan of the Backstreet Boys. If not, that's okay. You'll like this new song of theirs anyway, if you're a mommy like me, or if you want to have a family, or if you just want a home. Yes, dearest readers, Backstreet's back with "No Place" and it's bringing up all these warm and fuzzy feelings in my wife-and-mama heart.

Now, I haven't followed the BSB for a long while now. Like them, the past decade of my life has been focused on making a family, too. So it was a huge delight for me to see them all together, singing... and with their families! I can relate so much! The "No Place" single is from their new studio album, DNA, out on January 25. I already know this is my favorite song because of this video!

I love all the sneak peeks at their homes and family lives! I love going behind the scenes and tours of celebrity homes. It was sooo nice seeing their kitchens, for example haha

If I loved them before for being so hot, I love them even more now for being so much hotter! Devoted husbands and fathers are the sexiest men in the world, am I right???

Their kids are sooo adorable! And they're mini me's of their daddies, too! Especially the kids of Nick and AJ. I love looking at families. I'm one of those annoying people who go, "Wow, you look so alike!"

More than looking alike, it was also nice seeing the kids reflect their daddies, too. For example, Kevin's son who was singing and dancing to the song. That kid looks like a future entertainer! Or Brian's son who was playing the guitar with his dad. That boy looks like he'll be a teen heartthrob soon (if not already).

Don't you just love seeing the wives and kids being so alive and present? How they interact with each other—that's real. It almost feels like a home video. It feels so intimate. I love how Howie looks deep into his wife's eyes, or how AJ and his wife sing together, or how Kevin sings to his wife while they slow dance, or how Brian gives his wife a quick peck (such a married kiss haha).

You know what I love best about their song and video? It celebrates family. Family isn't something they left behind because they had to work. Family isn't holding them back. You know how people go, "I'd rather travel the world than have kids because kids will prevent me from doing what I want/seeing the world/go places/achieve greatness/etc"? I just want to say that traveling is so much better with your spouse because love makes the world more beautiful (no kidding!). And traveling with kids is so much more fun because you see the world through their eyes! And kids make every endeavour more meaningful! Making money and building dreams have a resonance it never had before when you're doing it for the loves of your life. At the end of the day, at the end of a trip, at the end of your life, there's still no place like home. You got that right, Backstreet Boys. Thank you for making what's so real and practical and ordinary so romantic and special.

Aaaaaaagh I'm such a fan! Please watch!!!

Friday, January 04, 2019

My laundry room will make a perfect WAHM office! Here's why.

Hi mamas and welcome to the first weekend of 2019! I'm still on vacation mode and cherishing this last weekend before the year really starts. This year, I plan to make Fridays on the blog Career Fridays. We'll talk about anything and everything about being a working mom. Today, I wanted to share why I'm considering to make my laundry room also my home office.

I've been working from home since 2013 and I know one thing for sure: I can't work from home! Of course I do but through the years I've been moving my desk here and there, looking for the perfect place to work. I haven't found it yet... Or maybe I have. I just haven't worked in that particular room yet—the laundry room.

But the more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that's my home office waiting for me. Here's why:

1. It has a door. 
It is SO HARD to work when there are so many children, er, distractions everywhere. When I'm in the living room, the TV distracts me. When I'm in the bedroom, I just want to sleep. When I'm in the dining room, I want to eat. And then there's the endless noise and mess that distract me from focusing on work. But a door will shut out all visual and aural distractions!

2. It's near where I need to be all the time.
I'm a mom so I'm always in or near the kitchen. I'm not saying the kitchen is where women belong. I'm saying when kids live with you, they're almost always asking for something to eat, hence me always in the kitchen. My laundry room is right beside the kitchen. If ever the kids do need me, they know where to find me. Plus, my favorite chore is doing the laundry. I can work and do the laundry at the same time!

3. It's bright and sunny with a fantastic view.
I'm lucky my laundry room is big. It also has a huge window that lets in so much light and air. My view also happens to be Forbes Park so when I look out the laundry room window, I see lots of green. Lots of gray, too, okay, but there's green! Look at the bright side, folks! I just know that if I put my desk by that big sunny window will inspire me as I write.

Just look at all the lovely photos in this post. Isn't a laundry room/home office a fantabulous idea??

When Vince and I talk about a house-house, we talk about having our own rooms to create. An office/garage/shed for him where he can put all his books and music and things he tinkers with. An office for me that has the me I don't need to share with anyone, too. But our life is here in the city so a house-house isn't anywhere on the horizon. So I'll just look for a space here at home where I can work in peace. That place, I'm convinced, is my laundry room.

I hope I can renovate it soonest!

*Photos from Jodi Fleming Design, Kriste Michelin Interiors, and Megan Winters 

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Review: ProLon diet

Happy New Year, mamas! This 2019, I'm going to call every Wednesday my blog's Beauty Wednesday. I'll write about beauty products, beauty tips, fashion finds, style inspiration, health and fitness (whut!), and salon and spa reviews on this day. Anything and everything that will make us beautiful people! Today, let's start the year with the ProLon Diet System.

The ProLon Diet is a 5-day meal plan designed to mimic intermittent fasting (IF) without you starving. The photo below is a sample meal for one day. Yes, it's basically soups and protein bars and a whole lot of tea and glucose water. All your meals for the day come in a box so you get 5 boxes. I'll be honest: It can be alarming to see all you'll eat in 5 small boxes.

I'm planning to try IF this January. Fasting has so many benefits to the body, and I'll get to those in a bit, and if you're also going to try IF, I recommend easing your body into it with the ProLon Diet. You see, IF is you eating just 2 meals within an 8-hour window and going without food for 16 hours. Some people can even go beyond 18 hours. ProLon is you eating 3 solid meals a day, plus a snack, but you get the same benefits as a fast.

I can do 14 hours without food, easy. I eat my last meal at 8pm, sleep, eat breakfast at 10am. I eat lunch at around 2pm, have a small snack at 5pm, then dinner. But those 14 hours are sustained by the 4 (or more) meals I eat throughout the day. So to do real IF, I just skip breakfast and go straight to lunch at noon, then eat dinner at 8. Easy! Haha, cockiness goes before a fall, my friends. I honestly don't think I can do it because I know my body. My stomach starts screaming at 10:30am and I'm so active throughout the day that I need food to see me through. So we'll see how this IF goes.   

Anyway, I tried the ProLon Diet in October, during my kids' sem break. I wanted to see if I could live on drastically reduced calories for 5 days. As you can see from the above photos, breakfast is just a protein bar, tea, and oil. The oil is fat and that's where I'll get my energy. The bar of nuts and seeds with honey isn't so bad. It tastes like Christmas, like a fruit cake but without the cake and gooeyness. Not very satisfactory especially since I always start my day with a creamy latte. So this day was hard.

By the way, I specifically chose the sem break to do the diet because I was afraid I'd faint if I did it on my regular, chore-and-errands days. On hindsight and based on the reviews I found online, this was not a good idea. When you're just at home with your kids, you're (a) bored, and (b) you're constantly making food for the family—the perfect recipe for you to overeat! Try ProLon when you're busy so you get distracted, but not on days you have physical exertions planned. Yep, no exercise, no marathons, no thorough house-cleaning, no big party at home where you'll be cooking and entertaining all day long. You'll get dizzy.

Here's lunch.

The soups are really good! They're so good I wish I had a huge bowl of it haha. The kale crackers taste like cardboard but I found that if you toast them first, the kale and seeds develop a nutty flavor, making them taste so much better. The olives are nice and salty, and just what my body needs—salt!

As you can see, there's not a lot of food. And this is the first day, the day you eat the most food! As the diet progress, there's even less food to eat. The ProLon Diet is low in calories, protein, and sugar. Yes, you'll still get sugar and it's from the water you'll be drinking. It's high in good fats, too, because we need fat to survive! Fat isn't wholly bad, people!

The ProLon Diet is 100% plant-based. So if you're vegetarian or vegan, you can be assured that all the soups, protein bars, energy drinks, herbal teas, and supplements are okay for you. If you're a carnivore like me, don't worry—the soups are soooo good, you won't really miss meat (but you will haha). The quinoa soup below is especially delicious. You have to prepare the soups in a pot on a stove. Some you can microwave but I found they don't taste as good if you just microwave them so best to cook. You also get that satisfying "I cooked my food" feeling.

The proprietary formulation was created by Dr Valter Longo, who's devoted his research on how fasting affects our bodies and even how it makes us live longer. Yep, ProLon is not about making you lose weight really. It's about making us live longer through fasting! Fasting helps the body shed fat, yes, but it also lowers blood pressure, lowers cholesterol levels, reduces inflammation, and triggers cell regeneration.

Actually, the important thing for me there is it reduces inflammation. Inflammation causes a lot of problems in the body, like diabetes and cancer. Both diseases are in my family history.

Anyway, here's dinner!

That minestrone soup is my favorite soup! I can have that all day long. Preferably with buttered garlic toast and a stick of pork barbecue haha

You can tell I missed food when I was on the ProLon Diet! In fact, I failed on the 4th day. Like I said, being on vacation with the kids wasn't a good idea after all. I kept preparing food for them, which meant I was in the kitchen a lot and finally my resolve died. While I wasn't exactly hungry, being exposed to lots of food didn't help. Then on the 5th day, I decided to clean the house. I almost fainted so I ended up eating. I'm so disappointed in myself!

Why? Because I saw a lot of good changes in my body:

1. I lost 5 lbs. in 3 days! Maybe I'd have lost more if I stuck to the diet!

2. I was burping and farting a lot on the first day (sorry TMI) but by the second day, my stomach had deflated. I wasn't bloated anymore!

3. I felt so light and clean!

4. My poop didn't smell bad. Sorry TMI again but this really convinced me to eat more plants. Maybe even become a vegetarian one day. I mean my poop didn't smell bad at all! It was like cow poop or rabbit poop. It smelled like grass! I was so amazed!!!

5. After the diet, my stomach (and by stomach, I meant the organ) had shrunk so much that I didn't eat a lot anymore. I quickly felt full. In fact, I only started eating like a pig again this Christmas. But for a good few weeks, I didn't.

And that's why I think it's good to start on intermittent fasting with the ProLon Diet! You condition your body to consume less without starving. I want to do this again. I was miserable the whole 5 days, I admit, but that's because it was my first time to go on a diet ever. Seeing the results made me resolve to do better next time!

If you're interested in doing the ProLon Diet, too, you can learn more about it here: Just 5 days a month to weight loss and better health.

The ProLon Diet is available at the BioBalance Institute at Shangri-la Plaza (Unit 1014, Lower Ground Level, East Wing, Shangri-La Plaza, Ortigas Center, Mandaluyong City). It's around P15,000 last year but with the rising peso-dollar exchange rate, it may have changed. Call (02) 650-4858, (63917) 521-4860, or e-mail for a consultation.

Very important: Please consult with your own doctor if you can go on a fasting diet!