Showing posts with label Birthdays & Celebrations. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Birthdays & Celebrations. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

8 Wedding Planning Tips During the Holiday Season

The allure of a holiday season wedding captivates many couples and might even compel them to plan their weddings during the most wonderful time of the year. Imagine saying "I do" surrounded by the twinkling lights of December or during the fresh start of a New Year. Indeed, the yuletide season offers a magical backdrop for a wedding.

However, tying the knot between December and January in the Philippines comes with its own set of challenges. From competing with holiday events for venue bookings to navigating the whims of the chilly weather, planning a wedding during this time can seem daunting.

But don’t fret! If you and your partner have decided to wed amidst the bustle of the holidays, you can achieve the perfect wedding through thoughtful preparation and embracing the season's unique opportunities. With the tips below, you can orchestrate a celebration of your love that resonates with the warmth and splendor of the season.

1. Book Your Venue Early

The holiday season is synonymous with parties and other large gatherings, making it a peak time for venue bookings. So, for your wedding, start your search early and make your reservations as soon as you can to ensure you get your dream location. Popular wedding venues in Cebu and other large cities should be booked a year or more ahead, especially during prime dates like the holidays. To further avoid the holiday rush, consider booking midweek days as they offer more availability and lower costs.

Booking early also allows you to send out save-the-dates sooner, which is crucial for a holiday wedding when guests might already have other plans.

2. Plan for the Cold Weather

In the Philippines, the holidays are often marked by cooler weather, intense rainstorms, and sometimes even typhoons. While the country doesn't experience the freezing temperatures of a typical winter, the weather can still pose unique challenges for December, January, and early February weddings. If you’re considering an outdoor ceremony, it’s crucial to have contingency plans. Consider venues that offer both indoor and outdoor spaces so you can quickly move your celebration inside if a sudden downpour occurs. Providing umbrellas or raincoats can be a thoughtful touch for guests moving between different parts of the venue.

3. Budget Wisely

Budgeting for a wedding during the holiday season requires extra attention as prices for venues, catering, and other services can be higher. It’s better to be transparent with your vendors about your budget and look for creative ways to maximize it. For instance, your venue might already be decorated for the holidays, offering a festive atmosphere without the additional cost. Also, consider the timing of your purchases. Buying decorations or attire off-season can lead to significant savings.

4. Confirm Vendor Availability

With the Christmas season being a busy time for everyone, it's essential to confirm the availability of your vendors long before your event. These include caterers, photographers, florists, and entertainment. Be clear about your expectations and their ability to deliver on time, especially around peak dates. It's also wise to have a list of backup vendors in case of last-minute cancellations or changes.

5. Ensure Your Guests Are Informed and Comfortable

It's essential to inform guests about the wedding details well in advance because, as mentioned, many of them may have pre-existing holiday plans. Consider creating a wedding website or sending information cards with your invitations months before the wedding so they can prioritize your event. Make sure to include details about accommodation options, transportation, and any planned activities.

To enhance guest comfort, especially in colder weather, provide amenities like blankets or a hot drink station. If your venue is remote or is prone to be affected by the weather, consider arranging transportation to ensure everyone arrives safely and on time.

6. Embrace Holiday Decor and Seasonal Colors

The holiday season naturally brings a palette of rich colors and festive decorations. You can integrate these elements into your wedding theme to create a harmonious and spirited ambiance; doing this can also help you save on decor costs by utilizing the venue's existing decorations.

For something more unique, think beyond the traditional reds and greens; consider winter whites, blues, silvers, and gold for a sophisticated twist. Use lighting to create a warm, inviting atmosphere: fairy lights, candles, and lanterns can transform a space into a winter wonderland. Remember, the goal is to complement, not compete with, the holiday décor.

7. Capture the Holiday Magic in Your Photos

Your wedding photos are a cherished keepsake and a holiday wedding offers opportunities for breathtaking photographs. Collaborate with your photographer and take advantage of the holiday magic in the air by reflecting it in your photos. From snowy landscapes to twinkling lights, these elements can add a magical touch to your photos. Consider a mix of daytime and evening shots as well to take full advantage of the varied lighting during the holiday season. Don't forget to capture candid moments of guests enjoying the festive atmosphere—these spontaneous shots often become the most treasured ones.

8. Anticipate and Plan for Delays

The holiday rush can affect everything, from vendor deliveries to guest arrivals. Communicate with your vendors about contingency plans for late deliveries or other unforeseen events. If guests are traveling from afar, remind them to plan for possible travel disruptions. This foresight eases stress and ensures that your special day runs smoothly.

With these 8 tips, it should be easier for you to plan your wedding during the holidays. It's everyone's season to celebrate love and joy, and that includes your wedding! 

Your special day is a joyous occasion that can be magnified by the enchanting background of the yuletide season. While it can be challenging, the hurdles you might encounter when planning a holiday wedding are mere stepping stones to creating an event filled with warmth, love, and cheer. Follow these tips to help you weave the season's charm into your special day. Your holiday wedding can be a beautiful blend of romance and holiday spirit, leaving you and your guests with memories that will sparkle for years.

*photo by JESHOOTS.COM from Unsplash.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Blood, books, boys, and my birthday: A busy life update!

Hello, my dear Loyal Readers! I disappeared! My last post here was early October and lookie here - it's almost December! What did we miss???

Well, I missed you, that's for sure. I've always enjoyed sharing my stories here on the blog because you share your stories, too! And then I don't feel so alone. Thank you! But since I've been quiet, we haven't been talking. And I miss you all!

So let me tell you what's been up with me. I'm sharing some posts from my Instagram because I do a few life updates there. So follow me @francesampersales! But I'll do a summary here as well. 

First, some of you emailed or DM'd to ask about my literally bloody predicament in my last life update (School, Sex, Blood & Books). Thanks for asking! I'm better now. Not bleeding anymore. Huge relief considering I was bleeding profusely from August to October. What hell! I had to have a D&C so that the gynecologist can rule out scary diseases. 

Thankfully, I'm just perimenopausal. My reproductive system is okay, just acting up because I'm an old woman. What a relief! But it was a truly stressful week worrying about cancer. I switched birth control and after a few weeks adjusting to the shot, I'm sooo happy. No more blood!

Then right after I got out of the hospital, I was busy supporting my husband and the launch of his novel, The End of All Skies. It's gotten good reviews on Goodreads, Instagram #TheEndOfAllSkies, and blogs.

We're happy fellow Southeast Asians love the book. I'm hoping it also finds an audience globally. Our mythology is very different from the West, which is familiar with East Asian stories. But Filipino, Indonesian, Malaysian, Vietnamese, Thai, and the rest of the region? No. Even Moana was strange for many people in the West. We need to talk about our own stories because ours is so rich and wild and spectacular!  

Please buy a copy of Vince's novel! If you want a signed copy and a FREE copy of his first book, Children in Exile, order from me! It's P1,050 plus shipping. 

Send me an email - Now na! Thanks!

You can also get a copy from Amazon for $24.90 or download the ebook from Kindle for $13.99.

Anyway, it's not all happy news. My sons' hamsters died. It's been sad and sweet, saying good-bye to the cute critters that made the last 2 years so bearable. We thought we'd have one more year with them (tame hamsters can live up to 3 years), but apparently, their sole purpose was to keep my quarantined kids happy while the COVID-19 virus raged outside our home. And now that we're all vaccinated and better equipped to face the world, our hamsters went over the Rainbow Bridge, their task done.

Let me tell you that our hearts were so heavy the weeks we waited for the hamsters to pass away. They were old and slow, spending the days just sleeping. The kids were stressed, wondering, "Is this the day?" Finally, the dreaded days did arrive. My boys were so sad. I was sad, too, because I was the main caretaker of those hamsters! We comforted each other. And it's been 5 weeks but my youngest boy just told me as I'm blogging, "Mama, I miss Chocnut."

Gosh, we love you and miss you, Choccy and Spoody. Thanks for the joy! 

Then I turned 46!

I didn't do anything special. I was recovering from my health scare, neck-deep in homeschooling, trying to write my werewolf romance novel, looking for a job (which means no budget for any big celebrations!), and being a mom and wife. I was exhausted! 

But grateful. Always grateful. Thank you so much for the love! Maybe when I turn 47, I'll have pictures to share! 

Oh, another thing that I appreciate is I found out my blog turned up in these lists by Feedspot:

#26 in 80 Best Philippines Mom Blogs and Websites 

#32 in 100 Best Asian Mom Blogs and Websites

#22 in Top 80 Philippines Mom RSS Feed 

Thanks, Feedspot! I didn't even know I had an RSS feed. I'm kinda bewildered by this all since I was never on these lists when I was one of the top mom bloggers in the country way back from 2008 to 2016. Now that I'm hardly blogging and my stats have understandably gone down, my blog gets recognized. And on 3 lists, too!

I'm thankful. That tells me that despite the sporadic posts, I'm still writing good posts. 

That also tells me to blog again! 

I know everyone's on Tiktok now. Apparently, people don't read anymore and just want to watch people dancing and pointing to floating words while smiling and shaking their heads. But that shouldn't stop me from blogging because I'm writing for the ones who do still read. And you are my favorite people. The best kind of all - readers!

I have sooo many stories. Plus, some of you suggested topics or sent questions about my life and marriage so there - more stuff to blog about! So I'll get to that.

Hey, thank you for sticking around. There are so many other blogs and vlogs and social media accounts to follow, yet here you are. Thanks for caring. It means the world to me. You mean the world to me! I love you all! 

Friday, May 06, 2022

Vito's 11th birthday

My blog post last Monday reminded my Loyal Readers that my kids aren't toddlers anymore. "Vito is turning 12?" Yes! "Where did the time go?" I don't know. I still stare at them and wonder the same thing. 

I haven't been sharing the boys' birthdays anymore but let me quickly share Vito's 11th birthday party last year. I want to give you - those who still call him Jelly Bean - a peek at my not-so-little boy's happiness.

So this was in August and we were all stuck at home, but that didn't prevent us from having a great day! We had guests anyway - a retinue of penguins, foxes, and wolves to help celebrate the big day!

Look at how happy my boys are. They've been so good throughout the pandemic. I think they loved being cooped up inside, even if it dragged on for 2 years (and counting!). I could never ask for better boys. And it all started with the eldest one, my Vito.

Vito has always been easy. Easy pregnancy, easy childbirth, easy recovery, easy infancy, easy toddlerhood, easy everything! He's a happy, healthy, smart, and such a good boy. It's so easy to make him laugh. And he asks so little from us. Just video games and lots of food to munch on. That's it. He's happy.

His Papa once said, "I hope he never changes." And with Vito on the cusp of big change coming - adolescence! teenagehood! middle school! - I agree with his Papa. May this wonderful little boy never ever change. May he always be healthy. May he always be happy. May he always have love and support. That's all I ever want for him, the boy who changed my life. 

Monday, May 31, 2021

A happy 9th birthday

Well, someone had a really good month! 

Iñigo turned 9 and we had so much fun celebrating the funniest little boy in the world! We had balloons and toys, cake and ice cream, and hugs and kisses. Just the kind of birthday party that we always have. 

I can't say much about Iñigo anymore. I'm not allowed haha He wants me to respect his privacy, but he did say he wanted Mama's friends to see how happy his birthday was. So here are a few photos of such a happy day!

It's his second birthday in quarantine. Second of a few more since vaccinations for kids start at 12 years old. He has 3 years to go. Till then, he stays home and stays safe. Lord, please let that be Your birthday gift to my not-so-little boy. Let him and his brothers be healthy and untouched by Covid forever. 

Bless him. Keep him safe. Nourish his dreams. Show him Your will for his life. Let him be this joyful and funny all the days of his life, which I pray to be full of love. Take care of my boy, dear God, on his birthday and many more birthdays to come. Amen. 

*If you do want to know what Iñigo's like, check out what I wrote about him on his 5th birthday. He's still exactly the same.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Happy birthday, Aida!

This is Aida. She's my best friend from high school and today is her birthday. 

You've seen her on this blog just a few times. That's because she left the country when we were in college to study medical school in the US, then married and started a family in France, and that's where she's been since. We both married men named Vincent and we are moms of boys! 

And in the last 25 years, we've seen each other maybe 10 times. It's tough to sustain a friendship over distance and time. We weren't there for each other much when we were growing up. Back then, in the 90s and early 2000s, there was only snail mail. Oh, and email of course. We try to catch up but life is a whirlwind of many changes and we have our new friends for those now. But Aida will always be special and I'll tell you why. 

You may be wondering why I chose to start this blog post with a photo of Aida holding my book. Seems like a post celebrating her shouldn't start with promoting something of mine. But that photo says so much about my dear friend. You see, she may be so far away but she always makes sure she stays in touch and supports her friends in whatever we do. Every single thing we achieve, she's the first to be happy for us and to celebrate with us - even though she's so far away! All her friends are so lucky to have someone so thoughtful in our life.

Aida's friendship is more than just words of affirmation from her. She actually does things to make us feel special. She always tries to chat with me on Messenger, but because of the time difference, I very seldom get to say hi back. But it's not like she lacks friends. She has so many friends. She has friends on a global scale! If her friend has a wedding, she will be there, no matter where in the world that wedding is. If a friend wants to meet up, she will buy a plane ticket and fly there. All our high school reunions, she attended. I only went to the last one and I failed to get a photo with her. 

Aida makes everyone feel important. That's why she was the most popular girl in high school. Everyone loved Aida. Boys and girls. Teachers, too. My family loves her. I don't know anyone who doesn't love her.

She's not a pure ray of light, though. She's great at cutting down people with a look. If she doesn't like you or what you said, you're going to know. Oh boy, will you know! In fact, she's the one who told me to be brave with whatever I think and do. I used to be a people-pleaser (sometimes I still am) and Aida told me again and again I can be nice without putting up with bullshit. I learned not to put up with bullshit eventually but it took a while. 

Everyone thinks I'm this brave woman but I was pretty much a very insecure, anxious, and fearful girl. If you're wondering what transformed me, well, first I should give credit to my ever-growing faith in God's love for me. Then to my eternal gratitude, He sent not-so-divine people my way - my husband Vince when I hit my 20s and, before that, there was Aida.

In high school, no one really liked me. I don't know why. I don't want to know why. Honestly, I'm over it. I had a few friends and that was enough. I did notice that one of my friendships made people look at me differently and that was my friendship with Aida. She was the one who called me best friend first, which startled me. She told everyone I was her best friend and I literally saw people get bewildered, get curious, then become nice to me. When you're 14 years old, that means the world. I realized that they thought very highly of Aida and if she loved me then I must be so much more than the box everyone unfairly put me in. People gave me a chance simply because one person vouched for me.

That's a real gift. That's why I try so very hard to be good and fair to other people and to give people a chance because Aida was good and fair to me. Just one person's kindness opened up my world in vast ways. I can't even measure the profound effect that had on my life. What would I be now if I remained that cowering creature that nobody liked? Her love for me changed me. I learned to be unafraid of my intelligence, to speak out, to be funny, to not give a shit about what people thought, to leave everything behind if it was holding me back, to venture out, to love with all my heart, and to be unapologetic about my life. 

Aida was my biggest influence when I was a kid and she may have been a kid herself but her kindness and courage changed me deeply. I hope she knows that. I don't think I ever told her how she changed my life. So I needed to write this so she knows that I see her and what she's done for me.

Dearest Aida, today, on your birthday, I want to say thank you. For standing up for me, for teaching me to love myself, for flying to my wedding, for buying my book and telling everyone about it, for being proud of me, and for being my friend and staying my friend. My life wouldn't be the same without you. I love you and celebrate you and honor you and bless you, Dang. Happy birthday!

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Life update!

Oh my! I hardly blogged last month! Didn't I have a 30-Day Blogging Challenge? Whatever happened to that???

Well, this has been the happy happening:

The paperback copies of Not Invisible finally arrived on our shores and I've been so busy handling and sending out orders. This being the pandemic, I can't hire people to help me, although my second son sometimes helps with the packing. So it's been slow but so exciting!

I also have brand partnerships! Thanks so much to Welch's 100% Grape Juice, Champion by Energen chocolate malt drink, and to Wolvit biotin supplement for supporting me! 

To my readers, please help me and support them back. I'll be blogging a review on Wolvit soon. Spoiler alert: I'm so excited about this hair, nails, and skin supplement! Then Welch's wants me to give away their products and my book to you! Watch for these exciting posts this March!

Finally and most wonderful of all, my husband celebrated his birthday, which was right after Valentine's Day, so that weekend and week was FUN! We had chocolates, ice cream, cake, and lots of sashimi! Vince didn't want me to greet him publicly (also known as a Fezbook greeting haha) so I didn't say anything at all, save for this vague one:

My husband and our boys having tons of fun! Today is a special day for our family but the celebrant
doesn't want a social media greeting so let me just say may the Force be with these boys always and 
may their bond be stronger than the interstellar one Mando and Baby Yoda has.

It's been a good start of the year, even though we still aren't out of the woods yet. In fact, despite the COVID-19 vaccination program starting this month, this is far from over. The anniversary of our quarantine is just around the corner and for us who survived or have avoided COVID-19 so far, the last year has been full of fear and also relief. I sometimes feel guilty for escaping 2020 unscathed. I've never been more aware of my privilege till the pandemic happened. I've been so good and careful. Never going anywhere unless it's for food, medicine, and essentials. Always washing my hands and adding the extra step of using alcohol. 

We can't take our health and life for granted! Please don't let your guard down. But I confess I kinda did today. I had to do some lab tests at 8 AM and because I had to fast for 10 hours, I was so hungry that I ate at a restaurant as soon as my blood was drawn by the clinic. The restaurant was empty. The A/C wasn't on. I wiped down my table and chair with alcohol. I was so safe. Then I forgot to sanitize the utensils and scratched my nose after eating. I was terrified for an hour. What if...?

But we can't worry about the future too much. And I had to remind myself of my new mantra these past couple of years - "I'll cross that bridge when I get there." I'll do my best to be prepared for the future but there's no point worrying about it until tomorrow is finally today. 

So many happy news! I went through a few bad ones, too. I hope this 2021 will be filled with more happy news than bad ones. The only things I pray for now are our good health and for God's provision. He's been good and faithful. So all's good! And that's my life update!  

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.

Monday, November 09, 2020

I'm 44!

I had a great birthday weekend and thank you all so much for the hundreds of well wishes over at Facebook and my DMs and Instagram! You guys! You made my 44th so happy. Thank you! 

I said on my birthday post on all my social media platforms that I was going to make myself pretty. I was going to put on makeup, blow out my hair, and put on a brightly colored dress because I want to document that my turning into a middle-aged woman (wait, I've been one since 4 years ago haha) is still oh so fantabulous. 

But motherhood happened. I was sleepy, my boys told me to nap nap nap, and so I did. And so this is 44 - chaotic, unshowered, hair in a messy pony, and TOTALLY LOVED!

Well, fine, I did draw on my eyebrows and swiped on lipstick so that I won't be too ugly haha but I'm 44 and I've learned that appearances may matter but I'm okay to let that be the first to go in exchange for a nap! And for hugs and kisses from the best little boys in the world!

Speaking of what I've learned, let me just quickly share with you 4 things I've realized now that I'm in my 40s.

1. Slow down. 

Maybe because I'm a mommy always telling my kids, "Slooooow down - you'll get into an accident. Gentle hands only so you won't break it. Take your time so you won't make mistakes. Slow and steady wins the race, guys." Maybe because I say those so often I've had to practice what I preach. 

I've mostly been setting goals since I was 13. I had planned on having all my dreams come true by the time I'm 30. And yep, they did. And you know what? It's not that big a deal after all. What do you do when you get everything you want and more and you're only 30? You set more and bigger goals. Well, that can be an endless pursuit of happiness that will forever elude you. 

So I slowed down instead, settled down, had babies. I opened myself up to what the world said I should try next and for the first time in my life, I started being generous with my life instead of taking from others. I just go with the flow now. It's much more fascinating and surprising, and oh so fulfilling.

2. Watch. Listen.

Oh, this was because of the 2016 elections. It's no secret I'm not happy with the current administration but we are a democracy so no matter what I feel and believe, I'm going to let this administration run its course. But to survive the disappointment, the shock, and the anger, I've learned to stop, watch, and listen. I won't yell at you anymore. I'll listen. 

Because of this, I've learned a lot about other people's lives and why they picked their choices. I may not be convinced they made the right choice - yes, even after all that observing and listening - but at least I can see where they're coming from. And really, it's a place of fear, anger, hate, and a feeling of being ignored for so long. That's why they wanted change, even if that change was for the worse for the nation as a whole. But individually, their lives improved or at least they felt seen and heard. For the first time, these people felt important. 

That's powerful. The lesson I took away from that is to make every single person count. Then their choices will be informed by validation, not by desperation.

(Blogged on Nov. 10, 2016: This is all our fault.)

3. I'm not important. 

I know that sounds terribly low self-esteem haha but if you at all know me, I have a really healthy self-image, to the point of conceit (at least that's how some people see my self-love). But the older I got, the more I understood that making my little self matter in this big world is not the point of my existence. What's more important is making this big world smaller so that no one ever feels little.

4. Love truly is the solution to everything.

It's my faith in God speaking. Or maybe my being a liberal hippie. Or maybe because I'm a writer and I truly believe in love, truth, beauty, and freedom. Maybe it's all of the above. You see, the older I've gotten and I've seen more of people and the world, the more I've learned that love soothes, comforts, heals, encourages, sustains, breaks through, lifts up, and changes every single thing in the world. Love for self, for others, for the planet. If we truly love, the world will be so much better.

I don't know why others grow old in hate, ignorance, and fear. I bless my age because it has given me wisdom and made me see that love solves every problem in the world. And it may look like there's so little of it now but if I just look, really look, and also pray (because it is not easy to love!), then there's so much love that I can give! 

And receive! Just look at my life! There's my dearest husband who has loved me for more than 20 years. There's our darling boys who shower me with hugs and kisses and the most honest conversations in my life. I have my family, my in-laws, my neighbors, my friends, and I have you! You who have stuck around even when I was so selfish and unlovable. It's all of you really, the reason why I've become a better person. 

Love is the answer to everything. It may have taken me 44 years to see that but I finally have. I am so grateful! 

Friday, October 30, 2020

Healthy Halloween ideas while quarantined

We may all still be quarantined because of the COVID-19 pandemic but that doesn't mean Halloween has to be sad. We can still make Halloween fun for the kids by celebrating at home! But because there's the novel coronavirus going around, let's make an extra effort to make this candy holiday a wee bit healthier.

My creepy and cute kids with their DIY Jack o' Lanterns and favorite healthy candy.

Don't get me wrong - Halloween needs candy! My constant sweet treat in our house is Welch's Fruit Snacks. Every gummy treat is made with real fruit and is an excellent source of Vitamins A, C and E. Each 80-calorie pouch is free of gluten, fat, and preservatives. 

Kids love sweets so why deny them that happiness, especially on the candy holiday of the year? I won't advocate for a candy-less Halloween ever. So even if this post is going to be about having a healthy Halloween, it will still be a sweet one. Just healthier! Here's how:

1. Create your own Halloween decorations. 

You don't have to go all out. Just have your kid do one creepy artwork to get into the mood. For busy parents, it's perfectly alright to order the spooky decor online. It's just as fun to receive the packages and decorate your home with your kids! The point is getting the kids to get creative, move around the house, stretching up to hang decor, have fun. 

Their Papa and the kids made our DIY Halloween decor!

2. Make small candy bags. 

Kids loooove candy but since they won't be going around the village or the condo complex this year collecting treats, you don't need a big bag for candy. You can just get make a cute creepy bag for the candy haul.

3. Keep ’em on their feet. 

You may be at home but you can still include plenty of physical activities. Look for Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video and have a zombie dance contest (winner gets candy!). Or how about dress up like a monster and chase your kids around haha

4. Serve healthy snacks. 

To offset all that candy, create munchies that are healthy, like banana ghosts, veggie-meatball monsters, pizza with ghost-shaped cheese, apple monster mouths, and deviled eggs topped with black olives shaped like spiders. Make sure to wash it all down with Welch's 100% Grape Juice!

5. Choose your sweets well.

Like I said, it's okay to buy candy! Just mix the candy with healthier options like caramel popcorn, dried fruit, trail mix, candied nuts, and gummies made with 100% fruit juice and no extra sugar, like Welch's Fruit Snacks. Sugarless gum (just look for the ingredient xylitol) is a favorite. Chocolates, especially dark ones, are great, too. Our dentist says she prefers sweets that melt away or can be washed down with a drink of water. 

Treats to avoid: cake, muffins, and cupcakes. The carbs and starches get stuck in between teeth. Lollipops aren't a good idea either because your teeth get exposed to the sugar for around 10 minutes whereas other sweets you eat and swallow within seconds.

We are so excited for Halloween! We're going to have a treasure hunt for the treats, maybe do that Thriller zombie dance-a-thon, then watch a mildly scary movie while munching on Welch's Fruit Snacks. Make sure you grab boxes of Welch's Fruit Snacks, too! Yummy and healthy treat for Halloween and all year long.

*This post is brought to you by Welch's Fruit Snacks. 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.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Happy 10th birthday to the mama in me

A few weeks ago, my eldest boy turned 10 years old. As with the quarantine birthdays of our kids this year, it was a simple affair. But this 10th birthday was a quieter party than the parties of his younger brothers. He just wanted to eat his simple chocolate cake, open his gifts, and then play video games all day. And that was his birthday. 

I thought, it being a double-digit birthday and therefore a milestone, that he'd ask for more. But he wouldn't even allow me to buy him a special cake. "Just the usual, Mama," he insisted. He's been like this since he was 7, asking for experiences rather than things. And when he does ask for things, they're not much. His Papa is the one who would buy more than what our eldest boy asks for. His Papa is always extra excited to shower gifts on his sons. And it's extra fun to give gifts to our first boy because he gets surprised at all the extra boxes he gets. 

But I gotta say I was a wee bit disappointed that we had a quiet celebration. Later on, I realized maybe I also wanted to celebrate me. It's not just my not-so-little boy who turned 10 years old. I'm celebrating a decade of being a mom, too. And you know how people throw over-the-top parties when their kids turn a year old and some people are like, "Gee, it's not like the baby will remember this party..."? Well, I know from all my over-the-top mommy friends that the party isn't for the baby really. It's for the mommy and daddy.

Because it's not easy to make a little human being, take care of it, make sure it's not just alive but happy and healthy, too. And then you have to do other things like stimulate your child's brain, discover and nurture talents, teach skills for independence, send him to the best school you can afford, and on top of all that, you have to make sure your child is polite, good, kind, and just the type of person who will be an asset to humanity. Like, who said parents are qualified for all that???  

So here I am, 10 years later. That little baby boy in my arms is now a wonderful young man. He's super smart, funny, and affectionate. He does all his chores, is super independent, and yet he's also still a baby - not childish, but wonderfully unworldly. He's sooo nerdy and quite creative. He plays the piano every day. He's written books this whole quarantine! How did I ever make this dream of a child come true? Was it me? Was it his Papa? Or was it just him? 

Ten years. Where did it all go? All I can remember is laughter and tears and so much love. Oh, and ten years of sleepless nights and long days. So exhausting. But I survived. I thrived. Most importantly, my kids are happy, healthy, and so wonderful. The 33-year-old mommy in these photos didn't think she'd be capable of all that. She's grown a lot, was humbled a lot, and learned to love a lot. I am so proud of myself for a full decade of being a good mom. And maybe sometimes, I'm amazing, too.

Thank you for being the boy who changed my life, Vito. Happy birthday, my dearest darling boy.    

Monday, August 17, 2020

My list of things I celebrate - no matter what! Plus, a giveaway from Welch’s Sparkling Rosè

Because my family and I have been enjoying the newest sparkling drink in town, I decided to share the happiness by giving away Welch’s Sparkling Rosè to 3 of my blog readers! Hooray!

That's the great thing about Welch's Sparkling Juices - there's white, red, and the pretty pink rosè - they make us want to celebrate! We keep a chilled bottle ready for whatever happy occasion. And even in these crazy times, there's always a reason to celebrate. We just need to open our eyes to what's good in our lives and choose to honor it.

Let me share with you my own list on why I choose to be happy:

1. My family is together. 

And in the 5 months we've been stuck together at home, we haven't killed each other! Wow, we really do like each other! Kidding aside, I'm happy I'm with the people I love most in the world. I know so many other families aren't together or their work exposes them every day they need to leave the house. So I'm grateful. Really beyond grateful I have my boys with me.

2. We are all healthy.

It's been 150+ days and so far, so good. Please let us be healthy forever, Lord.

3. Vito turned 10!

Actually, all my sons had their birthdays in quarantine. While we always celebrated their birthdays at home, we do miss the fun we had after the kids blow out the candles on their cake. We'd usually go to Kidzoona or Kidzania. But why look for something you can't have? This year's birthdays were fun, too! This year's new tradition: the treasure hunt for their gifts! So fun! Kahit maliit bahay namin, and daming hiding places pala. The kids had a blast!

4. I'm learning watercolor painting.

I signed up for May de Jesus-Palacpac's watercolor classes and look at what I made at our first class!

I'm so happy. May is such a good teacher. I'm going to get her to teach my kids painting for the art class of our homeschooling this year.

We've been busy with hobbies these past 5 months. My kids have been learning to play the piano on their own, no classes or video tutorials. They've also been creating their own board games, writing books. My husband bought a 3D printer and he's been printing out these amazing things and learning to paint them, too. So fun!

5. We discovered lots of good food and good neighbors.

I'm going to blog about all my food discoveries this quarantine. I try to cook every day (lessen exposure to the outside world ba) but nakakapagod siya. Etong quarantine, parang wala na akong ginawa kundi magluto! My kids seem to have black holes for stomachs! So thank the heavens for restaurants and new food businesses.

Another thing I'm grateful for is my neighbors. I don't think I can ever live without pasabuy anymore. Meron pang freebies. We just Viber each other, "I have extra rambutan. Who wants?", "I baked cookies. Who wants to taste?", "I'm growing lettuce. P120 a kilo. Who wants?" or "Naubusan ako ng cheese. Pwede pahingi?" Even if the world goes back to normal, I need this newfound neighborliness forever!

I'm also so happy that Welch's renewed their sponsorship of my blog!

I like Welch's. Kaya nga I endorse all their products! Not only are they delicious, they're good for the body, too. And now they just launched their new bubbly, Welch’s Sparkling Rosè.

It's a non-alcoholic drink so everyone in your family can have a glass. It has a light taste - a little sweet and a little tart - that's made delightfully refreshing because of all the bubbles! Even though quarantine is still in effect, we didn't put off our celebrations and you bet Welch’s Sparkling Rosè was part of every celebration - kahit simple Sunday lunch lang, a bottle is there! Elevate experiences, diba?

You, too, can raise a glass and celebrate any occasion (birthdays, anniversaries, virtual graduations, baby showers) with Welch’s Sparkling Rosè. You can get Welch’s Sparkling Rosè at Waltermart, Robinsons Supermarket, and Landers. You may also have Welch’s Sparkling Rosè and other Welch’s juices delivered at your doorstep by visiting You can also order from the following online groceries:, Lazmart, and

Join my giveaway!

Or you can join my blog giveaway! I have 3 sets of gift bags, each with 2 bottles of Welch’s Sparkling Rosè. For you and a friend. Or both for you!

Just leave a comment below telling me what you're happy about. It can be one thing or it can be a dozen reasons to celebrate! Make sure you leave your Facebook name or Instagram handle so I can reach out to you in case you win.

I'm going to pick ONE WINNER from the comments. Then next week, I'll have a Facebook giveaway. And then another one on Instagram after! Good luck!

For more #realgrapegoodness from #welchssparklingjuices and #welchsph, follow @welchs_ph on Instagram and #sharewhatsgood!

UPDATE: Congratulations to Fontanilla G. Tina! You won my Welch's Sparkling Rosè giveaway! Please send me a DM over my Topaz Horizon Facebook page to claim your prize =)

*This post is brought to you by Welch's.