Monday, December 27, 2010

Russian Red is L-O-V-E

Me? Wear red lipstick? Nah. Never in my wildest dreams. My visits to the MAC counters were always to purchase the most neutral shades I could find. My latest MAC favorite is a shade called Hug Me which looks like this (photo credit: It's been my go-to shade eversince I discovered it.

Recently though, while on an impromptu shopping cum dinner trip to Power Plant Mall, my good friends Pia and Smile (well, mostly Pia, who by the way is the only person I know who wears red lipstick like she owns the shade), convinced me to step outside of my comfort zone and try red for a change. I can't believe I walked out of the store with a tube of MAC's Russian Red (still not my own photo).

Had I been alone in the store, I never would've even thought of grabbing this shade. But guess what, thanks to P and S, I did and I don't regret it one bit. I told P before we adjourned that night that I owe the epiphany to her.

Not bad at all! I think I'm gonna run out of this before I know it. I've been using it everyday since the time I got it. It looked even more perfect on Christmas Eve with my all-black outfit.

It was STILL my lipstick of choice on Christmas Day

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Back to the 70s

I dropped by one of my favorite local shoe brands Shoebox at Power Plant Mall last night and went home with this pair. It reminds me so much of my Mom during the 70s. I was too young to wear these then but I remember admiring them and asking for one of my own.

Many years later, I'm glad this trend has come back. I was actually so close to buying a similar pair at CMG, which was selling for close to 3K. This pair from Shoebox set me back a mere P995. I took them on a roadtest today and I have to say that I really got my money's worth.

Other colors available : brown, bright red and denim.

The Sweetest Santa Ever

Sabine was too young to know what was going on the first time she met Santa Claus. It was inside Rustan's Makati one Sunday. In fact, she was so scared she cried. She's turning 5 in a few months and understands better who Santa Claus is. So while walking around Power Plant yesterday and spotting Santa on the ground floor, I decided to stop by and have her "rekindle" her relationship with the big guy.

I was touched at the warmth this Santa showed her (and the other kids who went ahead of her). We spent a good 2-3 minutes with him. He spoke to her in a hushed tone, we couldn't hear what he was saying. But Sabine just kept smiling and nodding her head at him while she had her arms around his fat belly the whole time. It was a really heartwarming scene to watch.

After she said goodbye to Santa and while we walked around some more, she said to me, "Mommy, I love love love Santa!!!" So precious!

Brownies Unlimited Cupcakes

I had two of these the other night, while watching the football game between the Indonesians and our very own Azkals. I used the tension as an excuse LOL. I love the icing because it's old school, your good old buttercream. This beats fondant hands down.

For just P165 for six pieces, who's to complain?
Too bad our Azkals lost. But these cupcakes are a winner.

Brownies Unlimited stalls are found in SM Malls.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Two Dads

One is rejoicing, the other in deep anguish. Freddie Webb and Lauro Vizconde. When you think about it, both are victims. Freddie saw his son languish in jail for the past 15 years, believing that he doesn't deserve to be there. While Mr. Vizconde had his entire family wiped out by a killer who, apparently, is still at large.

19 years after the Vizconde massacre, we all find ourselves back to square one, asking the same question we all did right after it happened. WHO DID IT? This is a very sad turn of events for the Philippines. The glaring fact that our justice system just doesn't cut it is a bitter pill to swallow. Two courts previously agreed that Hubert Webb et al were guilty of rape and murder, only for their decisions to be overturned by the highest court 15 years later. What does this say about how the wheels of justice turn in our country? Nothing good, obviously.

I can go on and on about how disgusted I feel but there's nothing much I can do to change things. I can only pray that one day, I can wake up to a better Philippines for my children's sake and won't regret not packing my bags and opting to live elsewhere.

Meantime, my prayers are mostly with Mr. Vizconde, who has gone through hell and back and now finds himself in hell again after yesterday's decision to acquit the men whom he believed to be guilty of taking his family away from him. Will he ever see justice served in this lifetime? Will we?

And for Hubert and his family, I hope for the best. May they be able to use the lessons they've learned from this ordeal to help others.

God bless us all.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Crystal Jade

I've been wanting to eat here since they brought the place to Manila. I've been to a couple of their branches in HK and it was always a pleasurable dining experience for me and for my family whenever we would visit. But the first few months were really hectic for the Manila branch, with people waiting for a table for half an hour or more.

After a round of shopping in Greenhills, we decided it was time to go. We were lucky because at 630pm, there were still a few vacant tables in the restaurant, plus the fact that the novelty has probably died down a bit.

We didn't have to wait more than 10 minutes for our orders to arrive.

Broccoli with Minced Garlic
10 stars!!!

Deep Fried Chicken with Chili
Not terribly spicy, which is good

Plain Noodles with soup for Sabine

Fried Rice with Seafood

Who would leave Crystal Jade without having their famous Xiao Long Bao?

My honest-to-goodness rating?
Food : 10 stars
Service : Superb
Value for money : DEFINITELY

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Full Holiday Mode

After tomorrow, I'm scheduled to be 100% focused on the coming holidays. With 3 Christmas parties this week alone, I'm looking forward to spending all my free time segregating and wrapping gifts. It hasn't been this way in a while. In the past few years, I saw myself rushing off to the mall after work to beat closing time just to grab gifts and cross names off my list. On weekends, I would drag myself out of bed to do the same thing PLUS brave the usual terrible holiday chaos on the road.

This year, it will be so different from the usual. I can choose to go to the mall any time I want and not think of having to prioritize a hectic work schedule. I can set aside any thoughts about work (and income ... which is actually the hard part) until early next year when people are again settled back into regular programming.

Today, I'm off to Greenhills, a place I haven't visited in ages. It's the nearest, most convenient place to go to and I find almost anything I need there.

List and cash in hand, I'm going to spend the afternoon leisurely at my own pace this time.

Are the rest of you ready for Christmas?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Neal's 44th @ The Jeepney

A few days ago, I had the chance to visit Hotel Intercon's The Jeepney again. When I was a lot younger, it used to be known as The Jeepney Bar and it was popular back then because of its very creative set up. Customers were made to sit inside actual Philippine jeepneys while they dined. Unfortunately, I can't find photos to prove this but that was really the case ages ago.

Today, you'll only find these on the walls

The buffet set-up is not overwhelming at all. I'm not a big buffet fan, not a heavy eater at all. I like that it only takes one round to see what's there for the picking. I had my heart set on dessert but they didn't have their mini-bibingkas, puto bumbongs and palitaws that night. I was told those are served at breakfast.
I also loved the understated holiday decorations in the lobby. They weren't overdone and stuck to the traditional colors of Christmas.

The following food shots were taken by our budding 14-year old photographer, Anissa. She's really good, isn't she?

Here's our junior photog with her official bodyguards hee hee

And the Birthday boy at the Halo Halo station

Our little fashionista posed by the lobby stand of Christmas sweet treats

Happy Happy 44th Birthday, Hon!!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Self-Employment Woes

It's 3am and I'm still awake. Not wide awake, because I can feel my body crashing into bed as I type. Forcibly awake is more like it. I've been in front of my laptop since about 9pm doing paperwork. In between, I would indulge Sabine in a little attention. She was wondering why I was working downstairs for a change, when I would usually just do this in bed. I've learned my lesson. I almost never achieve anything by working while snuggled under the covers in an airconditioned room. So she kept going up and down the stairs to ask me when I'm going up. My poor little girl fell asleep on the couch because she insisted on waiting for me. I had to carry her up the stairs and tuck her into bed before hitting the laptop again.

So why am I still up and working at this ungodly hour? Ah, that's the downside of being self-employed. When I was working fulltime in the corporate world, I was harassed and stressed out from 9-5 but I left work at the office, never brought any of it home with me. Unfortunately, even if I didn't have to work at home back then, I was still absent in so many ways, due to the exhaustion. Plus I was also travelling a lot. 4-5 days at a time and it made me miserable to a certain extent each time I had to leave.

A few weeks ago, I decided to jump right back into consulting work which I had done a few times in the past. Luckily and clearly due to divine intervention (plus the help of a very good friend), I got my first project in no time. Unfortunately though, I've had many sleep-deprived days since I started on the project. Today is going to be one of them. Not all consulting jobs are this toxic though. It just so happens that the client is on the demanding side (I'm being kind here) and was given a deadly deadline to produce results --- which are to come from me and a few other people. I'm charging this to experience. There are so many gains from this experience, all of which I've taken note of, so that I can be properly guided when the next project comes along. That's my woe really.

At the end of the day though, I see that the pros outweigh the cons where my circumstances are concerned. My kids are so happy I'm always home and available (especially the little one) and I'm more in control of my time. So as long as the benefits directly impact my family, especially my children, anything is worth the sacrifice. By sacrifice I mean the major lifestyle adjustment. more monthly income. That's a HUGE thing for me. Years ago, I wouldn't even have imagined being where I am today. I guess it's the age factor too. The older you get, the more you value the little but really more significant things.

Babbling away at 3am. I haven't been up this late in a very long time, especially not because of work. I'm just so glad this project is just about to end. I can be on full holiday mode very soon. Not to mention, I can focus more on my future plans. Don't wanna reveal them just yet. It's exciting and I can't wait to be 100% committed to it.

A few more days ...

Monday, November 29, 2010

FINALLY someone wins the lotto jackpot

After all the talk and the fuss about the 6/55 lotto ... someone and I mean SOMEONE finally won the P740M plus jackpot! Only one person got all of the numbers correctly. Boy, I can't imagine winning all that money in a flash, and by sheer luck. More like divine providence to me. As of this writing, there's no news on whether the winner has been contacted and informed. I hope he doesn't have a heart condition. How do you deal with news as big as this?

Allow me to dream a bit. Yes, I did jump on the bandwagon and asked our driver to fall in line to place our bets. The jackpot was just too big to pass up. In fact, it's never been this big. How can anyone resist the urge to take a chance?

Just for fun, I tried to imagine being the winner and I came up with an impromptu list of things I would do with the money (in no particular order) :
  • Give to the church
  • Put up trust funds for my kids
  • Pay off our insurance and car loan
  • Choose a public hospital and pay for the bills of those who owe the doctors there
  • Build our dream house
  • Buy my parents and brother a property each
  • Invest in a business that will allow me to never consider going back to corporate life
  • Share some to my kids' Yaya who's been with us for 14 years
  • Share some to my family's (retired) "mayordoma" who faithfully served us for over 3 decades (yes, THREE decades --- she deserves a treat, don't you think?)
  • Invest in properties : a beachfront house, a condo in HK, an apartment in NY?
  • Go on a no holds barred shopping trip then SAVE THE REST
Wow. That was good while it lasted. Meantime, there's a person out there from Luzon who's going to be celebrating a very Merry Christmas this year. Please don't be a gambler or drug addict.

Christmas in the City

We deviated from our usual Sunday night routine and trooped to Makati to witness the much talked about Symphony of Lights display at the Ayala Triangle. I should've expected a thick crowd. Sunday evening plus a non-working/no-school holiday the next day? I definitely underestimated it. But the show was worth seeing. Even Sabine who fell asleep in the car on the way there and remained asleep even as we walked to get to the venue, woke up to appreciate all the flickering lights and the background music they "danced" to.

The show comes on every half hour but what time it starts, I'm really not sure. I would recommend going there on a weeknight though. A friend who works in the area tells me a lot of people still go during the weekday but I would assume that weekends are the busiest time.

We wanted to eat in Wee Nam Kee after the show but when we saw how jampacked it was...

We ditched our plans and crossed over to The Peninsula's Escolta to eat dinner quietly there.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Surprise from my Teenager

Now and then, I'd surmise about how my 14 year old has slowly weaned herself from my "clutches". She has discovered a world all her own, which includes her Pep Squad friends, her iPod and cellphone, her laptop and YouTube. Family has become a side priority, more like an obligation. Nothing personal, I know. She's just being a typical teenager and I remind myself of that from time to time.

Just like any typical teenage girl, she dislikes public display of affection, especially if it comes from me or any other elder in the family. The only person she hugs and kisses in public is her 4 year old sister. Other than her, everyone else is off limits. She still depends on me a lot, but more for things like money or shopping, sleepover approvals and the like. There's none of the stuff I've been missing so much...i.e., hugs, kisses, cuddling in bed, etc. I get that a lot from the toddler now (thank God).

Very recently though before she went to sleep one night, I mentioned to her that I would have to stay up to do some work which I had reserved for the very late hours so that I could spend some time with them first before they called it a day. We said our usual good nights and then I was off to deal with my paperwork, with a heavy and very tired heart.

The next morning, I overslept and woke up to find that she had already left for school, but not without leaving this on my nightstand. Despite knowing that I would be facing so many challenges at work, my day was made.

Thank you, big girl for this wonderful reminder --- that no matter how distant you may seem to be, busy discovering yourself and enjoying teenage life --- you still have time to think of me and appreciate the little things.

All White Friday Night

A very hectic (actually lousy) work day almost prevented me from making it to this very special gathering of friends. It was a double celebration : Imo's bridal shower and a bienvenida for LA girls, Deeds and May. Theme was all white. What a simple idea but it call came together wonderfully.

It's a good thing the driver didn't have any evening plans with his wifey (he's not a stay-in), so I used him to get to Paula's house in Valle Verde from the Makati CBD where I was holed up the whole day. Took us 1 hr 45 minutes in Friday EDSA traffic. I was so glad I made it because look at all this food!!!

We had balikbayans so the food was all Filipino. No shot of Hazel's MIL's famous Kare Kare and the Gerry's Grill Sisig (walang kamatayan) which Anna brought. There was Calamansi Juice too, to complete the line-up. For dessert, we had Pichi Pichi. The one thing I kept going back to was the Siomai with quail eggs. Paula ordered it from a place called Tita Len's somewhere in Kapitolyo, Pasig. So good!

Here's the siomai, up close and personal
Photo taken with my BB 9700

Our official group photo for the night in Paula's beautifully-decorated living room
Too bad we're missing one friend ... Cookie who gave birth to baby Martina just days ago

But more than the good food (of which we have a lot of everytime), the one thing I look forward to when seeing this group of friends is the non-stop chatter and laughter. From the shallow to the deep, you name it, we talk about just about anything.

I've been absent in some of the get togethers recently but I'm really happy I made it to this one, despite feeling wasted even before I took that shot of Patron hee hee!

CHEERS to wonderful, genuine, lasting friendships!!!

Looking forward to seeing them all again, this time for our pre-Christmas dinner.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Visit to the ER

Sabine has been to the emergency room more often than Anissa has. The other night, her cough came back. At first, we all thought it was just her allergic rhinitis acting up again. But it got worse last night, even her voice changed. Plus she had developed a temperature of around 37.8. I wanted her and the rest of us to sleep well so at around midnight, I woke Neal up and announced that I wanted to have her checked. We're lucky that Cardinal Santos is a mere 10-minute drive from the house.

When we arrived, there were two other kids slightly younger than Sabine who were being given sponge baths due to fever. Immediately, a doctor came to look at Sabine and told us her lungs were clear after listening to her breathe. But the nose and throat examinations confirmed that she has both rhinitis and a viral infection of some sort. When a nurse took her temperature, I was surprised that it had gone up to 39. I get panicky when this happens because about 2 years ago, she had a febrile seizure at the very same hospital due to UTI. Which means that until she outgrows it (they say between the ages of 7-12 years), she will always have that tendency to convulse whenever her temperature shoots up.

Except for the teary eyes, you can hardly tell she's sick in this photo

Parents know that they can measure a child's overall well-being using their appetite and behavior. Sabine was still her usual talkative self and wanted to move around, not lie down on the ER bed. So to me, this was a very good sign. While the two other babies in the room were the exact opposite of her. The nurse gave her a sponge bath and a dose of Paracetamol to help lessen the fever. Note : I only give my kids Paracetamol when their temp hits 38 deg.

As soon as her temperature went down to below 38, the doctor gave us clearance to go home and a prescription for anti-histamine and a nasal spray. Sabine was restless by this time and kept asking, "Mommy, why so tagal?". She knew there was a McDonald's somewhere in the area and naturally, we all couldn't resist the urge to give in to her request.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Shoe Therapy is LOVE

Yesterday's reward after a hectic and extremely frustrating work day
I had previously gone back to the store around three times just to try this on
Finally, I decided to snag it. I left the store feeling (slightly) bad that they didn't have my size in the black patent, because I would have so much use for that, too.

I took these babies on a road test today.

Review : Lip Ice Sheer Color

I've been using this every other day since I got it last Sunday
My observations :

It applies easily. You don't need too much.
It can stand alone. It's got just enough gloss to be used by itself.
(You can choose to wear a light/natural shade of gloss on top of it if you're using it at night)
It has a nice, fruity smell. Not overpowering at all.

The final verdict?
SO WORTH it!!!

(Refer to my previous blog post about prices and other Lip Ice products I bought)

Friday, November 19, 2010

42 and PROUD

I am all of 42 years this year. The past 12 months have been both challenging (to say the least) and awesome. Challenging because I didn't imagine going through something so unexpected and difficult to comprehend. Awesome because windows were opened after a huge door closed. Does that sound proverbial? It's meant to be.

The eve of my birthday was celebrated with my in-laws at my SIL's home. It was a simple family gathering, just the way I like it.

Bought a Mango Torte from Dulcelin
It was so good, no leftover! We got the 9" cake for P600
There's also a 12" version, P900

Here's the whole caboodle before we attacked the cake

On the night of my birthday, after a SUPER TOXIC day at work, my family treated me to dinner at The Stock Market in Bonifacio High Street. It was our first time here and we weren't disappointed. I took photos of all our orders, as usual. But this was mine and I enjoyed it!

Blackened Fish with Creole Rice
Sorry, I forgot how much this dish cost but definitely more than P500

After dinner, I was too tired to go around. Not even the "smell" of shoe stores nearby made me get up from my chair. I just wanted to enjoy some peace and quiet, especially since I knew I still had work to do on my laptop when I got home.

Despite being so tired, I truly enjoyed the quiet time with my loved ones on my birthday.

Thank you, DEAR LORD, for the past year and for the gift of turning another year older
I owe it all to YOU.

(And now I'm craving for Dulcelin's Mango Torte again)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Lippie Love

I read Phoebe's blog entry and ran to the nearest store the first chance I got
I went to two Watson's branches before I finally found what I'd been looking for!

I resisted the urge to get all of them but decided to first try the ones that immediately caught my fancy, then just go back for the rest at another time.

First off ... the Color Lipbalm

I chose Candy Apple and Sweet Rose
The third shade, Candy Pink, was out of stock.
These won't hurt your wallet at just P125 each. They glide on smoothly and are quite pigmented, you really don't need to apply too much for the color to show.

Here's what these two shades look like when swatched
Sweet Rose on the left and Candy Apple on the right

Both are good to use in the daytime but Sweet Rose is a tad darker,
so it won't look bad on a night out either.

I did a double-take on the Color Gloss before finally deciding to snag them. I went for two of the three shades: Candy Apple and Summer Pink. The other shade, Pearl Pink, looked too light. I was afraid it wouldn't show any color at all. These also cost P125 each.

They're just stickier than the usual lipgloss but not sticky enough to make you feel uncomfortable. Love the glimmer!

Oh and here's what the applicator looks like

Last but not the least, Lip Ice Sheer Color
How does this work?

If you've tried Smashbox's O-Gloss intuitive lipgloss, Lip Ice's Sheer Color works exactly the same way for a lot less. The balm itself is clear but as soon as you apply it, the color comes out, and the shade depends on how your lips react to the balm. Mine turned out to be a really nice shade that's pinkish-red. Smashbox's high end version costs around P1300 in Beauty Bar while this one costs a mere P145. Such a HUGE saving!

I promise to try all of these one day at a time, starting with the Sheer Color which is my favorite of the lot. Watch out for photos soon!