Monday, December 28, 2020

Inside the BDJ Power Planner 2021 (and yes, a giveaway!)

Okay, I'm still in a Christmas mood and also a New Year's mood! Let's do a planner giveaway! And not just any planner but the Belle de Jour Power Planner 2021! 

Before we get to the giveaway, let's talk about the planner. Belle de Jour is French for "beauty of the day." And if you get a BDJ Power Planner, your every day will be filled with beauty. You can't escape it. Every page of the planner is full of inspiration so you can have a great day.

The theme for 2021 is being one with the Earth. That means when you plan your day, the planner hopes to remind you to honor your mind and body (because we are made of earth), connect with others meaningfully, and be inspired and thankful for our environment and make it a better place.

As you can see, the pages are all about being positive and beautiful - something we'll most likely need in massive doses in 2021 since the pandemic is far from over.

Despite the fact that we'll most likely live with COVID-19 for one more year and therefore must stay home to stay safe, the BDJ planner is feeling optimistic and included a booklet of shopping perks. No worries - many of the vouchers can be used for online purchases.

I'm actually a bullet journal fan but I decided to try a ready-for-occupancy planner (haha) this 2021 because customizing a bujo takes up so much of my time. I've already started using my BDJ Power Planner and guess what I did - I started customizing it. Old habits die hard haha. But at least many of the pages have been made for me (monthly spreads, weekly spreads) so that means less time on planning and more time for actually doing.

So now you have a peek at the BDJ Power Planner 2021! Next year also happens to be the 15th anniversary of the BDJ planner. My blog is also 15 years old next year! Hooray! So let's start the fabulous 15th anniversary of BDJ and Topaz Horizon with a giveaway!

Here's how:
1. Just blog about what you're looking forward to in 2021. It can be just a short blog post. No need for a long essay - unless you want to write one!
2. Add this at the end of your post: "I'm also looking forward to winning a Belle de Jour Power Planner from!" 
3. If you don't have a blog, you can also do a Facebook post. Just link to this blog please!
4. Leave the link to your blog post or Facebook post in the comments below. 

I'll share your blog posts on my blog's Facebook page and will choose a winner* on Sunday, January 2.

Good luck!

*Winner must have a Philippine address. This giveaway is mine alone and BDJ has no idea I'm doing this to the planner they gave me haha. If you'd like to check out their other planners (they have several that are not as feminine as the BDJ Power Planner), click here to browse and shop.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

My most read blog posts this 2020

I've been blogging for 14 years and 7 months and I still don't understand what makes people go to my blog. Four of the top 10 read posts in 2020 were published in past years:

"Top mommy bloggers in the Philippines" was written last year and that one was intentionally written to get views. I know PR agencies and brands Google this topic all the time so I plan to update that post every year.

"Physiogel Calming Relief" is a review post from 2016. Beauty bloggers tell me that they get tons of hits because everyone's always looking for reviews before they buy products. But I've reviewed other beauty products and they don't appear on my top 10 list. 

The FERN-C post was published in 2016 and it did well only this year and I believe that's because parents got freaked out by the COVID-19 pandemic and researched for the best vitamins to boost their kids' immunity.

As for the BabyLove diaper pants 2018 post... I don't know what happened there. Maybe people are finally realizing BabyLove is a great diaper brand. Yes! I was a longtime Pampers mommy, even was a brand ambassador, but BabyLove changed my mind.

For this year's posts, three were about relationships. I noticed that a long time ago actually. Whenever I blog about my love story, the posts get thousands of views. Not my kids, not my work and money advice, not my sponsored posts - it's my marriage that people want to read about. I'd love to write about it more because I love my husband SO MUCH. But! But But! I happen to be married to a really private man who tolerates my oversharing because he knows I like oversharing. So since marriage is compromise, I scaled back on the marriage posts.

Here are the links to the other top posts, in case you're interested:

Koobits online math classes 

Morbid to-do list

Vince was serious about me

Advice for celebrity kabits

Mukhang pera

How to get in the mood for sex

So it's 2021 next week! And it's also the dawn of my 15th year as a blogger. WHAT! Fifteen years?! What do you want me to blog about more, dear Loyal Readers? What do you want me to do this new year? Tell me and let's see!

Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas!

Happy holidays to you all! We spent the last 10 months indoors, navigating what is perhaps the biggest change in our times. I hope you made it through with your loved ones. I hope you are counting your blessings - even the tiniest ones which often are the biggest ones, if you look at them again. I hope you are holding on to hope. 

Merry Christmas, dearest darling Loyal Readers! From all of us in our home to all of you in your home, may God bless us all.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Celebrate with easy cocktail recipes using Welch's Sparkling Juices

It's the holidays! All you need for these recipes is fruit juice, fruits, sweetener, and Welch's Sparkling Grape Juices. You'll also need a champagne flute because the tall and narrow glass and its small opening preserve the bubbles better. If you don't have a champagne flute, just choose your tallest, skinniest drinking glass (a.k.a. Collins glass).

Citrusy Sweet Chiller

This is based on the recipe for a French 75, which is basically gin, lemon juice, and champagne. I replaced the champagne with Welch's Sparkling White Grape Juice so that the effervescence remains. I used the White Grape because this is a clear, sparkly drink. The gin is still there but the sweet-tart taste will mask that. So be careful not to drink too much of this because it still has a kick!


1 oz gin
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 ozs sparkling grape juice, chilled
Lemon twist


1. Put gin, sugar, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker with a couple of ice cubes. Shake well until the sugar dissolves.
2. Fill a champagne flute with ice.
3. Strain the mixture into the flute and top with sparkling grape juice.
4. Garnish with a lemon twist. Enjoy!

Easiest Ever Christmas Sangria

When it's Noche Buena, there's always a fruit salad on the table. Why don't you grab 2 cans of fruit cocktail, one for the dessert and one for this simple punch? Sangria is a cold drink from Spain served with chopped fruit in the glass. It's traditionally a red wine but you can use white wine, sherry, brandy, rum, or if you don't want any alcohol, just a mix of fruit juice and soda water. I switched out the alcoholic bubbly with Welch's Sparkling Red Grape Juice for a sweet and merry drink everyone in the family can enjoy. 


1 can fruit cocktail, drained
2 bottles sparkling red grape juice 


1. Put the fruit cocktail in a pitcher.
2. Fill with sparkling red grape juice. Enjoy!

P.S. If you want it to be less sweet, add freshly squeezed citrus juice since the sour will balance out the sweetness. 

*This post is brought to you by Welch's. Welch's 100% Grape Juice, Juice Cocktails, Sparkling Juices, and Fruit Snacks are available in all leading supermarkets, drugstores, and convenience stores. You can have your favorite health drink delivered right to your doorstep! Visit the Ace Food Service website, or place your order in the following online groceries: Metro Mart, Lazmart, and Waltermart.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

How to develop your child's social skills while quarantined, tips from my sons

People ask me sometimes how my kids are coping with the longest lockdown in the world. They also ask if they're feeling sad that they don't see their friends and family. They are fine, I'm glad to report. I like to think my husband and I are doing a great job making them feel safe and happy at home, but there's only so much we can do. My kids need other people, too!

In one of my articles for the Wyeth website, Parenteam, I shared a few tips on how to develop our child's social skills. To write that, I tapped my dear Loyal Readers to share their tips so I'm really grateful you guys are always so happy to help me out. Thank you!

Well, I just want to share that even my kids were eager to help their Mama write her article. They gave me advice, too! My kids are always telling me how to do my job. I let them. It's a good way for them to communicate how they feel and how they think we should improve. Although some suggestions ("If you let me stay up till midnight, I can practice my drawing better!") get shot down sometimes. 

(Confession: said kid is actually beside me drawing and it's 11pm.)

Here are my kids' tips on how to develop social skills even while quarantined:

1. Let them go online, supervised of course.

My popular kid is Vito so he's the one who felt the loss of his friends the most. He sometimes plays video games with his friends after he told me this: "Mama, even Alfonso plays games with his friends and cousin. Fornite and Minecraft Realms. You have to let me play with them so I have someone to play with!" So I allow it as long as I'm in the same room.

You can also try Messenger Kids. My middle child, Iñigo, is a huge fan. He has to send messages and photos and videos he created to his friends and even their parents every day! Vito prefers Viber because he likes video chats.

2. Introduce new experiences.

Iñigo is an introvert so he's actually pretty happy to be home all day. He can always find something to do in our house! This is what he suggested: "Experience lots of things at home - tasting new food, playing new games - so your child learns new things that we can talk about together." Yes, he talks like that to me when I ask his opinion on some of my articles. So cute!

My youngest son Piero advises this, "Learning new things like when you taught us about the urinary tract in the penis and how it goes to the bladder and the kidneys." He says that was so amazing. Encouraging your kids to ask questions helps develop their communication skills so please talk with them - you're all they have in lockdown.

3. Get a furry friend.

We already have a rabbit but she's mine so my kids don't really interact with Bunny Blue. So when a neighbor who was moving out asked for people to adopt their hamsters, we took three! My sons are SO HAPPY NOW. There has been a huge change in their mood. Iñigo says, "Pets are important in lockdown. They keep you company, give you comfort, and play with you." 

The kids love their hamsters so much. Their play together improved, they babysit each other's hammys, and they've gained a sense of responsibility not only to their pets but to our home.

(Important note: Pets are a huge commitment. They are expensive. Your home will have animal smells no matter how clean you are. You will have to live with fur, poop, pee, and noise. I only recommend this tip if you can fully commit to a new family member - your pet!)

And those are my sons' three tips on how to develop social skills while in quarantine! 

By the way, I also wrote an article on how to help our kids with the stress of lockdown. If this is happening in your home, please take a look. Writing this article helped me manage my kids' stress. I hope it helps you, too!

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Gift suggestions: 12 delicious Pinoy homemade goodies!

It's almost Christmas! If you're not yet done with your gift shopping, I've got a surprise for you - I gathered the yummiest treats into this list! Choose and shop and send your love to family and friends and know that you're sending the very best deliciousness!
Bibingka Manila 

I'm a huge fan of bibingka. So when I found out about Bibingka Manila from Timmie Hilado (I met her because of baby shop Urban Essentials), talagang I had to try it and I loved it so much I gave to my mother-in-law. That's a huge sign of approval from me! You have got to buy Bibingka Manila for yourself and your loved ones. too. The rice cakes are rich and buttery and perfectly textured. So good! The ube is my favorite flavor. The box these come in is a gorgeous, elegant black or pale blue (Solenn x BibingkaMNL). Just add festive ribbon. Gift-ready! 

Instagram: @bibingkamnl 

CanDIshhh Bakes 

Okay, if you must know something about me, it's I love focaccia bread. Looking at the heavenly focaccia masterpieces Didi Tiu Tang made is making me drool. I know Didi from way back when she used to buy OK! magazine and I love everyone who loves Hollywood and royalty! I just didn't realize that Didi's focaccia is fit for celebrity! Choose from Classic Rosemary, Caramelised Onions and Garlic, Rosemary Tomato & Olives - each flavor just P250!  

Facebook: CanDIshhh BAKES

Celine's Kitchen

We can't gather together for Christmas this year but that doesn't mean we can't send our love, and what better way than with freshly cooked food? Celine Fonacier, my block mate from our UP days, is willing to cook a feast for your loved ones. She uses only the best ingredients, sourced from select suppliers, and cooked in a meticulously clean kitchen. Her bestseller is lechon belly roll that is soooo crispy and tasty, her customers can't stop raving about it. A kilogram is onlyP880! Order now!


If you're craving thick, gooey, chunky, monster cookies that will awe even Cookie Monster, then you must grab a box of CHIP cookies! Just look at that cookie my blogger ninang Trixie Esguerra made (P.S. she made me ninang sa kasal niya this year)! My personal favorite is Classic Break - a choco chip cookie that OD'd on dark chocolate chips. Then I neeeeeed White Chick, which is a cookie stuffed with white Belgian chocolates and roasted Macadamians. Trixie has two boxes right now called Everything Box for a sampler of all their flavors and Smash Hit Box for the bestsellers. Order na! 

Facebook: CHIP

Chrissy Bakey

My mommy friend Chrissy Caballero bakes the best carrot cake and scrumptiously moist chocolate cake! You must try them out. And then give them to all your friends and family! Order Hoppity Poppity Carrot Walnut Cake for P650 and the Legendarily Chocolatey Chocolate Cake for P450 now.

Facebook: Chrissy Bakey

Gia's Pizza and Breads

Send a delicious and healthy pizza! Gia's Pizza is the small business of my Assumption Antipolo classmate, Dr. Aizel. Their pizzas are made from sourdough and made with the freshest vegetables. The Pizza alle Verdure is only P325. Not a fan of veggies? There are Italian sausage and chorizo flavors, too. 

Facebook: Gia's Pizza

John Dough

If you love fresh sourdough bread, then you must check out John Dough. Created by my inaanak sa kasal Chef Edward Bugia with Chef Angelo Santos, the bread they bake is 100% whole wheat and healthy and delicious. They offer pan de sal and loaves to batard and focaccia. Try them all! Wrap them while still warm in a beautiful kitchen towel or place in a bread basket for a rustic and cottagecore gift.

Facebook: John Dough

Kesong P's Premium Kesong Puti

Taste this cheese made from the freshest carabao's milk! Made lovingly from a recipe passed down the generations, my former Summit Media colleague Billie Palabyab and her husband Ian Palabyab are so proud of their premium cheese that celebrities love to include in their recipes. Eat it with hot pan de sal, toss in a salad, or melt on top of soup! They have holiday packs now for P350 nd P550. 
Mama Bear's Baked Goodies

Tita Vicky is the mom of my former Summit Media colleague, Haze Romawac. She bakes healthy goodness. Take your pick: chocolate chip cookies, chocolate oatmeal bars, brownies made chunky with either walnuts or choco chips, moist chocolate cake, fruit cake, pan de sal, camote loaf, and more. Click here for the full menu.


Jars of special artisanal jams homemade by Patricia Paredes, a former editor like me! I'm a fan of jams, marmalade, and jellies. I love them on warm toast with golden butter, poured over vanilla ice cream, a dollop on a slice of pie. Yum. Try Nieta's because these are curious flavors of pineapple and sili labuyo. Or calamansi mint and gin. Even onion marmalade. Interested? A 4oz jar is just P190 to P210.  

Instagram: @nieta_ph

The Two Weirdoughs

Why not give a nutty pie this Christmas? It's bursting with holiday flavor so order Why Nut, Walnut? from The Two Weirdoughs. The new baking business by Lally Fider, my friend from my magazine PR days, is not just about pies. They offer chewy cookies and creamy pastillas, too! Order now! 

Unreal Pies 

I love pies. I love pie soooo much! And I am a huge pie snob, too. But take a look at these unreal pies by my Summit Media colleague Jacque de Borja. She makes them herself so it's full of love, goodness, and freshness! She makes only two pies: Blueberry Cornmeal Crumble and Apple Crumble, and they are made from the best ingredients. The blueberry is P1,399 for 9" and the apple is P1,199 for the 9". Place your orders now!

Facebook: Unreal Pies

Friday, December 11, 2020

Taylor Swift just sang about my mother

Taylor Swift just launched her new album, evermore, today. I'm not even done memorizing the lyrics of the songs in folklore, the album she launched just a few months ago. Yes, even though I listen to folklore five times a week! Well, now I need to learn the songs of evermore. And I'm starting with "marjorie" because it's about my Mama.

Well, no, "marjorie" isn't about Mama. It's about Taylor's grandmother, Marjorie Finlay. She was an opera singer who inspired Taylor to have a musical career. But the lyrics, Ms. Finlay's gestures and facial expressions - that's exactly like Mama. It was insane, watching the videos of her. I wish we took videos of Mama, too, so I could show you how elegant, graceful, and beautiful she was. Just like Marjorie.

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

The Christmas 2020 ad of McDonald's made me cry (plus, stories of my kids and Santa Claus)

The holidays are here! And you know what that means - TV commercials! I love Christmas ads. That's one thing you have to know about me. It's two things I love - ads and Christmas! Well, this one by McDonald's UK is my favorite this year so far:

Ugly cry when "Forever young, I want to be forever young..." came on. I want to grow old and I want to see my boys grow up. But I wish we could stay this happy forever. The way they believe everything we say. The way they look up to us. The way they enjoy each other and laugh all day. I hope this lasts forever, this innocence and joy and trust in the goodness of life. Forever young. 

My boys just wrote their letters to Santa. Even 10-year-old Vito. I told him, "You think Santa will still give you a toy? Most kids your age stop believing in him because Santa's gifts kinda suck." In our house, Santa's gifts need to be handmade so it looks like Santa's elves made them. So between a wooden toy and a video game or even a book, you know what wins. But Vito said, "I still believe in Santa! And his toys don't suck. I've been a good boy all year." Yes, he has. So he gets a toy from the North Pole then.

Check out what Vito said about Santa when he was 6:

The second boy, my Iñigo, was the one who reminded me that we need to send the letters to Santa, which surprised me because just last month, this happened:

So I really thought he wasn't going to write to Santa. But he did. And I thought to myself, "Yey, he's still a baby!"

Meanwhile, the baby of the family was all grown up when he wrote this:

Kinda made me cry. On one hand, he still believes in Santa. On the other hand, he's mature enough to realize he's got all that he needs and he doesn't want anything more. Either that or he thinks Santa will get him coal for being naughty this year haha

Kids! They make my heart glad. 

Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope we all enjoy your kids while they're small and even when they're big. May we all always be forever young at heart!

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

#ShareTheSparkle and celebrate with Welch’s Sparkling Juices

It's December! Time to draw up those lists: gift lists for family friends, wish lists for yourself, to-do lists for all the holiday preps, and of course the grocery list for Noche Buena! Make sure you include Welch's Sparkling Juices in your list, okay? My family and I absolutely LOVE Welch's Sparkling Juices (Red Grape is my favorite). Read on to find out more about our must-have drink!

* * * * * * * 

PRESS RELEASE - The holiday season of 2020 is so different from past years. Christmas parties and gatherings would be turned into online celebrations and gifts are now bought from online stores. So much has changed but one thing remains the same -- the love for family. 

There is still so much to celebrate and be thankful for, even at home. If you want the entire family to join the fun, Welch’s has a line of Sparkling Juices that are fizzy but guilt-free. Welch’s Sparkling Juices -- Sparkling Red Grape, Sparkling White Grape, and its newest addition this year, the Sparkling Rosè -- are bubbly and 100% alcohol-free, making it perfect for both kids and adults, even expecting mommies, too! 

“Even though we couldn’t still go out and have parties or join large gatherings, Welch’s is inviting everyone to have their own celebrations at home,” says Erika Rodriguez, VP for Marketing of GEMCo, the Philippine marketing agent of Welch’s International. 

The Welch’s Sparkling Red Grape and Sparkling White Grape are both heart-healthy and delicious. Pressed from the freshest Concord and Niagara grapes across America by farmer-families, this 150-year tradition of “Real Grape Goodness” has made Welch’s one of the most loved beverages in the world, especially by Filipino families. 

On the other hand, Welch’s Sparkling Rosè has a light, refreshing taste, and the sweetness of a ripe summer fruit. Pretty in its pink bottle, it looks great in any online party you may host at home. 

All three Welch’s Sparkling Juices are easy to mix with other beverages, so you could concoct a variety of unique bubbly mocktails to impress your family. Add a splash of your favorite juices and discover the goodness in each sip. 

Each bottle makes for an excellent and convenient Christmas gift, so you can have it delivered to the homes of your friends, relatives, and co-workers. Lift up your family’s spirits with a sparkling drink that’s all about celebrating life and special moments.

A Product of the USA, Welch’s products are available in retail stores. To learn more about Welch’s Sparkling Juices and recipes, visit or follow Welch's PH in FB and IG. You may also have Welch’s Sparkling Juices and other Welch’s juices delivered at your doorstep by visiting Or place your order in the following online groceries:, Lazmart, and

*To be featured on Press Release Tuesdays, send it to