Category Archives: Uncategorized

Happy Anniversary Gingersnaps!

Last week, Basti and I attended the 20th anniversary fashion show of Gingersnaps at SM Aura.

Other than presenting the spring collection of Gingersnaps (which is awesome, by the way), the fashion show was also a celebration of Gingersnaps’ 20 years in the business. From its humble beginnings in department stores, Gingersnaps is now a top-of-mind brand for children’s, teen’s and maternity clothing, and have expanded their operations internationally.

Hosted by Daphne Oseña-Paez, the fashion show featured the kids who topped the Gingersnaps Kids Model Search, who were spectacular in their walk down the runway. Direction was by top fashion show director Robbie Carmona and styled by Pam Quinones.

Host Daphne Oseña-Paez; President of Gingersnaps, Mr. Jerry Uy

Little Miss MFO had her own moment on the runway. You were awesome Berry!!!

The SoKids were the real guests. Us #SoMoms were just the drivers and bantays, really.

Jenny of COANM and Naima, Michelle of Momma In Manila and Gellie, Manila Mommy Neva with her beautiful family, Jackie of Go Jackie Go with cuties Gabbie and Juro, Patty of Nonstopbabble and Sabine, Mommy Fleur and Anika.

Basti and I have been big fans of Gingersnaps since he was a baby. The clothes are great quality and are of the highest standard when it comes to safety. I also love how the clothes are stylish yet don’t make your kids look like people in small-sized adult clothes. Before the fashion show, Gingersnaps was very generous to treat Basti to an outfit of his choice to wear to the event. It was a very hard decision.

Basti’s at the age though, when he’s starting to pick his own clothes, so it wasn’t up to me. This is what he picked out. FLORAL. My boy knows his prints!

Congratulations Gingersnaps! Here’s to 20 and more years of beautiful clothes for kids!

 

Quick Post. I’m Still Alive.

Hello everyone! Happy New Year! Happy Three Kings! Happy Valentine’s!!!

I just wanted to take a breather and say hi. Chichika lang ako. I’m super loaded these days because I am moving for the nth time in my life. Anyone who has ever moved know that I am half-insane right now.

I do have so many things that I want to share and this 2014 is a time for new beginnings for this blog as well. I have been contemplating about where this blog is going, where I want to go versus where it needs to go, and I’ve decided to do a revamp. I already have some ideas for the design, themes, topics and I can’t wait to launch it.

Before that though, well, I have to finish moving. Grumble, grumble, grumble.

Catch you guys soon from my new blogging corner in our new home!

I Heart NYC

And I’m back! Two weeks went in a blur. I’m glad to be back but I have a hangover from the New York experience.

We came at a perfect time, when NYC was experiencing a streak of perfect weather. Clear skies and cool temperatures.

It was so nice to just walk all the time, and 20 blocks were nothing. NYC is a walking city after all, and it was an endless cycle of walking to the subway station, riding the subway, getting to the station and walking again. If you’re going to New York, you have to get one of the subway apps. It got me through the subway experience with just a couple of wrong trains (only because the schedule is screwed up on weekends, hmph.) Instead of going back to the Lower East Side, we ended up here.

Lost in NYC at midnight is not fun.

It was a time for meeting up with old friends as well. First and foremost, we stayed with Orley’s cousin Chad and his family – Ellie, and his two wonderful children, Felino and Kali. Having the two boys around helped. I can’t help but think how fun it would be if they ever got to meet Basti. On my last weekend, we spent a wonderful day at the Dumbo Arts Festival, and had a great dinner in Chinatown.

Speaking of Chinatown, I was reunited with my favorite dish from my Dalian days, zhurou jiucai jiaozi, or pork and leek dumplings. Soooo good. Found in a little noodle and dumpling shop on East Broadway.

I didn’t expect to speak a fair amount of Mandarin while I was in New York. It was the most Chinese I’ve spoken since leaving China in 2008. To me it was such a obvious example of the diversity of the city.

I met up with JC and Rica, and had a great lunch at Blue Smoke.

An old friend from college, Ana Lissa, and our awesome evening at Braai. I had the ostrich and Ana Lissa had the duck. Really good food and the wine they suggested for the pairing was really nice.

I met up with Cheryl a few times too. She’s one of my dearest friends from college as well and has been in the city for a while. She cooked dinner for me a couple of times. I just realized I don’t have any pictures of our second dinner with Maysie. I am the worst when it comes to pictures, really. I get so caught up in the moment that I totally forget my camera. She also took me to brunch at Pastis, in the oh-so-chic meatpacking district.

One time we had dinner at Ippudo. It was a long wait but the pork buns and the ramen (and a few drinks) were worth it. The place had a very young, vibrant atmosphere, and the energy from the open kitchen lent to its very exciting vibe. And of course, the ramen was heaven.

And here is the reunion I almost forgot. Back in 2007, I took a trip to Tibet and searched for trip buddies online. My friend Dominique and I traveled with Jennifer and Ken for 11 days from Tibet to Mount Everest and back. I almost forgot they were from the area! One email later, we were able to have lunch on my last weekend in New York. It was so nice to see them again after so many years. If only Dominique could join us as well, but she lives all the way in South Africa. We missed you Dom!

We spent two days in New Jersey, in a really lovely area full of trees and horse farms. We came to shoot the video for the Art Renewal Center, the main reason why we made this trip in the first place. It was so nice to meet the Ross family, the moving force behind the Art Renewal Center, They are major supporters of the realism genre, and have a huge hand in honoring and uplifting the art form and the artists behind realism. Thank you so much for the wonderful hospitality. It was such an honor to meet you all, and the privilege of seeing your private collection of art is something I will never forget.

New York City is a heaven for artists. The Metropolitan Museum is a beautiful experience. I think it will take years to take everything the museum has to offer.

My visit to MoMA was awesome. I will admit I had tears in my eyes when I came face to face with The Starry Night.

Here are some pieces that made me giddy. Warhol, Klimt, Kahlo, Dali, Rosseau, Pollock.

I took pics of NYC landmarks when I saw them, and went to visit the 911 Memorial. It was very moving to be there.

Then there’s the shopping. I’m not in a clothes and bags and shoes phase right now. It was fall anyway, and there wasn’t much I could buy that was right for our weather. So I bought mostly makeup and toys. I did my shopping at MAC, Inglot and Sephora. Will post more details of my makeup haul soon.

I was able to visit the Disney Store for Basti’s Halloween costume. It was a toss-up between Jake from the Neverland Pirates and Woody, but the accompanying wig won it for me. I bought Basti a Woody t-shirt though. He’s been obsessed with minions right now, so these glasses were an absolute hit. His favorite though? Magnatiles. Oh gosh, they are the best toys ever. Basti loves to build things, and already has a few sets of building toys. But these magnetized tiles were just awesome. I want to get him another set someday.

It was a quick trip, but it was long enough to make me fall in love with New York City. No wonder some people call it the best city in the universe. There are so many things to see and do, and two weeks wasn’t enough to do it justice. It really has a life of its own! See you again someday, NYC!

 

 

Tales of the Spa Fiend: My Early Mother’s Day at Nurture Spa Village Tagaytay

The spa fiend strikes again – in Nurture Spa Village, Tagaytay! This time with Basti in tow.

We’d prepared for the visit to Nurture Spa Village weeks and weeks ahead. The only way I could tag along this road trip was if Basti could come along with me. At the last minute, my yaya-for-a-day (i.e. my mom’s maid) was suddenly let go. I got an even better deal; my mom came along instead! And because of that, my trip to Nurture Spa became a really special mother’s day treat!

We wanted to relive our high school days when the whole batch would bus it to Tagaytay for our yearly retreat. Hindi naman malayo sa highschool, diba?

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Michelle, Martine (thanks for organizing!!), Jen, me, Basti, Neva and my mom!

Nurture Spa Village is no ordinary spa destination. They are distinct in offering “ecotherapy” or healing by and through nature. Their level of quality service is evident in the careful training of their staff and therapists. While they use international brands such as Algotherm and Biodroga, their massage oils and room amenities are especially blended by their partner, Spa Essentials, using only the best materials available. More than just a spa, they also have wellness packages that use natural healing methods. It is also a place that is distinctly Filipino; the staff are dressed in uniforms made out of Ilocano handwoven fabric, the treatments have names such as Aruga, Ginhawa and Maharlikang Lubos.  It’s a really special place, and the world has noticed. They were named as one  of the 28 Most Relaxing Spas in Asia by CNN Go (June 2010), and one of the Top Seven Spas of the Philippines by Asia Spa Magazine (May-June 2010 issue).

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There were wonderful touches of inspiration everywhere that lent to the overall experience of Nurture Spa Village.

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We were welcomed by a band playing traditional Filipino instruments, and a spot of tarragon tea that helped us shake off the road trip from our heads. At the pavilion is where the socialization happens. I particularly loved the sungka areas. It was my favorite game when I was a kid.

We were shown their organic garden areas where my mom and Martine gamely picked the ingredients for our lunch and snack salads.

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I had to take pictures of the buildings because this is exactly how The Painter and I envisioned our future farm resthouse. I totally loved the outdoor facilities where you can have your facial or footspa. I could sit here all day! You can choose to stay in a standard room with names like Pag-Ibig, Payapa and Revive. Nurture Spa is famous for their Ulog accommodations, which are actual huts from Banaue.

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Basti enjoyed being there and couldn’t get enough of the greenery and the fresh air. He loved the giant chess set and was only too happy to finish off what remained of our chocolate fondue.

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Speaking of food, the meals were YUM. The best items on their menu are the ones that have ingredients that come from the garden. I loved the salad and the yummy dressing, and the Kakaibang Lumpia which I didn’t take a picture of because I ate it all. Just before we left, they let us sample two items from their raw food menu. Even junk-foodie me couldn’t resist these yummy rolls and choco balls. My beef steak, though good, paled in comparison to all the other healthy-yummy-freshness menu items that were enhanced by the whole Nurture Spa environment. I dare you to read their menu and not think yummy thoughts.

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I think what I like most about Nurture Spa Village is that while they promote wellness, organic eating and natural healing, they are also accommodating to the ones who still drink Coca-Cola people like me who are not quite ready to embrace the whole lifestyle yet. I was glad to see meat, coffee, soda and sweets on the menu too! (And yes, they have beer!)

It couldn’t have been a more perfect day. Both my mom and I had massages (which were excellent, by the way), ate some great food, and got a chance to take the city-boy-Basti for some fresh air. It was a great day for bonding with my mom and I’m so thankful I also shared it with some very cool girlfriends. I would highly recommend this place for a Mother’s Day treat! Come for the day or stay the night. Either way, you’ll come out healthier and happier than you did coming in.

Thank you Ms. Cathy Turvill for treating us to a wonderful day at Nurture Spa Village!

Read what my spa-mates had to say about our day!

Dainty Mom: http://daintymom.com/2012/04/moms-nurture-spa/
Manila Mommy: http://manilamommy.com/2012/04/nurture-spa-tagaytay/
J and the Three Boys: http://jencc.blogspot.com/2012/04/nurtured-by-nature.html
My Mom Friday: http://www.mymomfriday.com/2012/04/moms-wellness-retreat-at-nurture-spa.html

WINNER!: Oh Happy Day Birth Photography Package Giveaway

And the winner is…..

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Congratulations Em Alcantara! :)

Bananas Over Pajamas: PJs Sleepwear

Pajamas to me are:

  • my uniform when I am feeling sick, down, or both. There’s something about pajamas that set the cocooning mood better than just plain shorts and a T-shirt
  • the best thing for breastfeeding mothers. The buttons make the boobies easy-access and they keep you warm even if you forget to put your blanket back on when you nurse half-asleep.
  • the cutest thing on children. They bring to mind early morning breakfast, bedtime stories and sweet dreams.

Even better than plain pajamas are awesome-looking pajamas. I was so excited when Rosette of PJs Sleepwear invited a few of us to see the re-opening of their Shangri-la Plaza branch last year. Basti enjoyed looking at the pajamas (even if he doesn’t look like it) and it was nice to meet other bloggers.

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Top: Basti and I checking out the pajamas; The PJs Sleepwear Shangri-la Mall branch storefront.
Bottom: Jackie Go and her little princess (she’s so pretty no? #sarapsakalin); The bloggers: Michelle, Kris, me, Mrs. Martinez and Jackie!

This is a much-overdue post, so they’ve got other designs than the ones you’ll see here. They had Christmas-themed pajamas and I already made a mental note to include that in this year’s shopping list so Basti can look so cute opening his Christmas 2012 gifts. They’re so photogenic, haha. PJs Sleepwear used to be the shop that made clothing for some very well-known children’s wear brands. The quality is excellent, and the fabric is perfect for our weather.

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PJs Sleepwear gave each of us two sets of pajamas. Basti got one with a dinosaur design and I got one with elephants all over it. So adorable!

They’re perfect for bedtime play!

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I’ll definitely be back to buy more for myself and Basti. I wonder if they have men sizes. I forgot to ask. The question is, will The Painter wear pajamas with monkeys all over them? Hmmm.

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PJs Sleepwear

  • Level 4 Shangri-la Mall (#571-9228)
  • Level 1 Trinoma Mall
  • SM Clark, Pampanga
  • Marquee Mall, Angeles, Pampanga
  • Abreeza Mall, Davao City
  • Limletkai Mall, CDO
  • All branches of Rustan’s Dept. Store

Nowhere Near Fashion Forward

I used to think I dressed well. When I was single, I didn’t give a flying fig about spending my hard-earned money on clothes, makeup, shoes and accessories. Things started to change when I shifted careers and moved into early childhood education. Being in an unavoidably unfashionable work t-shirt with a clown on it eventually breaks down your fashion sense. Since then, my fashionista moments became less and less. I revived it a little bit when I lost a lot of weight from working in China, but lost it again when I got married, got pregnant and became a stay-at-home mom.

The word for it is, EFFORT. It’s so easy to slip into a dress and flipflops and just go through your day. More so now, that I’ve moved into a house that’s just a couple of blocks away from the supermarket; it’s so easy to just do my groceries in my pambahay. To my credit I’ve only done so a couple of times, and only because I was short of an ingredient or two for a meal I was preparing. Most of the time I go in decent clothes and makeup – concealer, blush and gloss. Pat on the back.

But let’s go back to the definition of what “decent clothes” are. It’s jeans, a T-shirt and flip-flops. I tweeted something like this a few weeks ago: “For some reason, I suddenly look stupid in a t-shirt when I became a mom.” And it’s true. What used to my staple outfit made me feel dowdy and unattractive.

I went shopping a couple weeks back. I went to Megamall, and Rockwell, and found just ONE dress in Zara that met my criteria: budget, comfort, functionality (read: breastfeeding accessibility).

But if I were to revamp my whole closet by shopping in malls it was going to result in two things: a half-empty closet and totally empty bank account. I decided to be more practical and trooped over to the bargain mecca of Greenhills. I bought about 10 tops and a few shorts and pants for the same price as a couple of outfits from the malls. I let go of my Havaianas past and embraced my Fit Flops present (they are such great mommy footgear). I packed up my funky messenger bags (including my Mao Zhe Dong army bag) and bought myself a “mommy bag” from Charles and Keith.

At one year though, I’m beginning to get an inkling of what it’s like to get my life back, piece by piece. The Painter and I talked earlier this evening about finally going back to boxing classes (so we can keep up with the little boy when he starts running), and in a few months I may even go back to scuba diving again. Won’t that be fun.

And with the life back, then maybe the fashion will come back too. I can’t wait to wear heels again.

All’s Well That Ends Well: Benefits Style Salon + Ensogo

I was raving mad at Ensogo the past few days. Sadly, I’m still disappointed with their service. I won’t go into the details anymore – my Twitter account shouldered the negativity of that experience. But let’s just say I’m going to lay off purchasing any deals from them until I see more positive feedback rather than negative comments on their Facebook fan page. Too many stories. There’s definitely a fire underneath all that smoke.

Anyway, so I was enticed to buy a P249 Keratin treatment deal from Ensogo to be claimed at Benefits Style Salon. It didn’t start well. Because of my snarky comments, the salon owner mistakenly thought I was criticizing the salon itself, and we had an exchange even before I claimed my voucher. We ended our Facebook Wall conversation on a happy note though, and it was with an open mind that my sister Yapi and went to Benefits yesterday to get our treatments done.

Now, I’ve had my hair treated with Keratin before. My grandmother treated me and my sister to a session when we got our family haircut the other month at Toni & Guy. (We go out with our grandma for a lunch and afternoon out at least once a month. She treats us to haircuts. Our need to pamper is in the blood) The treatments ran into 4-figure bills, even for my short hair, and even though I was highly satisfied with the result, I knew I couldn’t afford to have it done every month. So when this deal came out on Ensogo, I snatched it up right away.

Benefits Style Salon is located on the second floor of Eastwood City Walk. It’s a no-nonsense place, with simple interiors; no frills, no fuss.

It was 3pm on a Monday afternoon and the place was PACKED. Clearly there was something more to this place than it let on. The salon’s secrets were unraveled, one by one.

  • Extra care given to you when you are shampooed. G[reat massage. I had my eyes closed and was instantly relaxed.
  • Head, shoulder and back massage given to you during the treatment is top-notch.
  • The staff are SO NICE. I don’t know about you, but I get intimidated by sleek salons that instantly assume you have tens of thousands of pesos to spend and just lay out treatment after treatment. (A note: Toni & Guy actually gives you a quote before they do anything – that’s one thing I like about them!)

I was talking to one of the senior stylists and I told him I would try a haircut with him sometime.

The woman beside me did my head and back massage. She was very good.

For a small, seemingly unassuming salon, they sure pack a punch. They have a lot of celebrity endorsers and their creative director is in charge of styling some very big names. I had a chat with one of the owners, Sam Escalante, and her passion for the salon and customer service was very reassuring. And best of all, I asked about the regular price of the Keratin treatment deal, and it was 80% cheaper than my previous treatment!

I have to ask about a few things though:

  1. Toni & Guy had one of those heat-emanating treatment things on my head during the treatment. Benefits didn’t. Would the effect be the same, or is the heat-thing just fluff?
  2. Toni & Guy also ran my hair through a straightening iron. The girl who did it said it seals the treatment into my hair. Benefits didn’t iron my hair. Truth or fact?

I’ll be back soon to get a haircut.

Books, Books, Books For Less!

I remember the exact moment that I learned how to read. From that moment on, I never stopped.

I devoured books as a child. My favorite was going through the A-Z of our World Book Encyclopedia set. I was a member of the Young Librarian’s Club in school where you got to checkout two books instead of one, and had overnight borrowing privileges to the Reference materials. It was heaven.

For work, storytelling was my ultimate favorite. I love making voices and I am OA when storytelling to young children. I think I have more fun that they do.

So it’s only natural that I want to build a library for Basti. I already had Narnia, a full set of Dr. Seuss books in English and Mandarin and other stuff for when Basti’s older (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Artemis Fowl, Harry Potter, etc) but all of that disappeared when Typhoon Ondoy hit our home last year. Sigh.

Everytime I go to our local Shopwise, I always pass by the Books For Less branch on the ground floor. Here’s what I’ve found for Basti so far.

For beginning ABCs, I found Chikka Chikka ABC and Sesame Street’s ABC Toychest. At this point, Basti loves the Chikka Chikka book more. He loves the part where all the letters fall from the coconut tree.

Found this Baby Signs books for mealtime. Basti smiles when he sees the pictures of the babies.

I love Sandra Boynton books. Snuggle Puppy is soooo cute.

The first of the Eric Carle books I’m going to buy. Basti’s favorite is when I make the zebra go, “neeeeighhhh!”

Some books based on songs. Basti likes it when I crawl my fingers up and down his tummy while singing Eensy Weensy Spider.

And my two ultimate favorite bedtime books, Goodnight Gorilla and Goodnight Moon.

Each time, I give myself a budget of PhP500 so I don’t overload. I always end up bringing home 2-6 books. It’s fun scouring the shelves because you never know what you will find.

I wonder what’ll be the newest addition to Basti’s library next week? Rainbow Fish? The Very Hungry Caterpillar? Can’t wait!