Unboxing: Sevenfriday

I first came across Sevenfriday watches on my Instagram feed. They have cool-looking timepieces that I thought my husband Tom would like.

Since it’s Valentine’s Day, it’s time to spread love!

Let’s open this baby!!!

Sevenfriday watches come in a khaki and leather backpack

Cool wooden crate as watch box

The cover slides open…

And reveals… A foam. LOL!

This is it!

Loving the industrial look and the pop of yellow color of Sevenfriday’s M2 watch!

Boom.

Sevenfriday is a Zurich-based brand, inspired by industrial elements, tools, engines, machines, wheels, and art.

The products’ design is a combination of high-end production and complex construction. The interplay between industrial-looking design and complex mechanics make this haute horology interesting—so interesting that my husband snapped it up even before I was done shooting the watch! Tom!!

Happy Valentine’s Day, hun! I hope you top my gift! LOL

Shoppingera, it’s time to get your man a Sevenfriday for Valentine’s Day!

Sevenfriday watches are available at the following branches of Washington — Shangri-La Plaza Mall, SM Megamall, Greenbelt 1, Powerplant Mall Rockwell, Alabang Town Center, Festival Mall, Glorietta 4, SM North EDSA, Eastwood Mall, and Robinsons Place Manila.

Recipes For A Bikini-Body

The older we get, the harder it is to stay fit. Our metabolic rate generally slows—ugh. We need to make an effort to make better food choices and exercise choices in order to live a good life.

Summer is nearing and the call of the island is irresistible. In my opinion, for one to truly enjoy the beach or the swimming pool is by jumping into the water, swim and frolic. It’s liberating and fun!

We all love our tunics, robes and caftans but you can’t swim in them. It’s time to face the music and don a swimsuit. Let’s get ready for our bikini-bodies!

Here are some healthy and super easy recipes to get started:

Breakfast

Tomato, Basil & Onion Omelette with Mixed Greens and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Ingredients: 1 whole tomato, chopped; 1 tbsp onion, chopped; 1 egg; 1 tbsp water; 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (to grease the pan); fresh basil leaves; 1 cup mixed greens. For the dressing: 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar; 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil; 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice; salt and pepper

Easy peasy: Step 1: Beat egg with cold water, set aside. Step 2: Heat 1 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil in a small, non-stick frying pan, then swirl in the egg. Cook until done to your liking. Step 3: Spoon the tomato, basil and onion mix over half of the omelette. Step 4: Fold omelette over the tomato, leave for about 30-45 seconds, then slide onto a plate. Serve with a salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

2-Egg White Frittata with Basil and Spring Onions

Ingredients: 2 egg whites; 2 tbsp cold water; fresh basil and spring onions, finely chopped; 1 tbsp mozarella cheese; 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil; salt and pepper

Easy peasy: Step 1: Beat eggwhites and cold water in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Step 2: Heat 1 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil in a small, non-stick frying pan, then swirl in the egg. Step 3: Add the basil, spring onions and cheese then, cover the pan for 30 seconds. Step 4: Cut in wedges and serve with a smile! (I only eat 2 pieces and refrigerate the left over)

Lunch

Pan Seared Garlic Chicken Breast with Mixed Greens and Balsamic Vinaigrette

Ingredients: 1 small chicken breast; 1/2 tsp garlic powder; 1 tbsp olive oil; salt and pepper; 1 cup mixed greens; For the dressing: 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar; 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil; 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice; salt and pepper

Easy peasy: Step 1: Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Add olive oil. Step 2: Season the breast with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Put chicken in the pan and sear both sides until cooked. Step 3: Cut chicken into cubes. Serve with a salad with balsamic vinaigrette dressing.

Healthy Pancit Canton

Ingredients: 1 pack of buckwheat noodles; onion, cabbage, carrot and broccoli; 1 tbsp olive oil; 1 tbsp Bragg’s Liquid Aminos; 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice; pepper

Easy peasy: Step 1: Cook buckwheat noodles according to the package. Step 2: Steam all veggies then add to the cooked noodles. Step 3: Make sauce/dressing – in a jar, add olive oil, Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, lemon juice and pepper, shake well.  Serve size: 1/2 cup noodles and 1 cup veggies

Dinner

Lean Burger & Broiled Broccoli

Ingredients: 150 grams lean ground beef; 1 egg white; 1 head broccoli; 3 tbsp olive oil; salt and pepper

Easy peasy: Step 1: In a bowl, mix broccoli and olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Step 2: Using an airfryer or toaster or oven, broil the veggies for 10-15 minutes until cooked. Step 3: Mix lean beef and egg white. Season with salt and pepper. Step 4: In a pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil. Pan sear the burger on both sides.

Stir Fry Pechay, Shrimp & Squid

Ingredients: 1 bunch of pechay or bokchoy, chopped; 1 small squid, cut into rings; 30 grams of fresh or frozen shrimps; garlic powder, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1/4 cup water, salt and pepper

Easy peasy: Step 1: Heat pan and add the olive oil. Fry the squid and shrimps. Step 2: Add the pechay or bokchoy, season with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Step 3: Add the water and cover. Cook until veggies are slightly wilted. Serve with a smile!

Tips:

• It’s all about portion control. If you’re making a batch, make sure to divide it into smaller meals.
• Meal preparation is key. Plan a menu and prepare all the ingredients in different containers. You’re likely to eat healthy when you have healthy food readily available.
• Use smaller plates to make the food seem more. This is effective in “tricking” our brain.
• Drink lots of water. A glass before and after eating and drink 10 glasses a day.
• Eat 3 meals a day only but you can snack in between with Kashi Crisps (available at Healthy Options) or Jacob’s Hi-Cal Crackers, 2 pieces only.
• No alcohol. No desserts.
• Avoid parties and gatherings for now unless you have the willpower to not eat and drink.
• Sleep early so you don’t have to deal with unnecessary midnight snacks.
• Don’t buy junk food. If it’s not in the house, you won’t eat it.
• Read inspiring stories on healthy weight-loss and keep dreaming of that bikini body!
• Stay active. Keep exercises light if you’re eating smaller portions. Try swimming, biking or walking.
• Reunite with your kitchen or learn to cook basic recipes. It’s empowering!
• Seek your doctor’s advice before going on any kind of diet. Make sure your heart and hormones are in check plus, you may also need vitamins and supplements.

I really believe that eating healthy and staying active are the answers to a rockin’ body!

We have 8 weeks to prepare for the beach. I think that’s enough time to get fit. If we keep at it, we can do it!

Who’s with me?

Mandala Spa & Villas, Boracay Island

When it comes to quick beach getaways, the best way to fast track relaxation is to book a massage the minute you land the island.

Booking a spa treatment is one of my “Me” time rituals when I’m at the beach. It melts my stress pronto!

Mandala Spa & Villas is one of my go-to wellness centers in Boracay. In fact, my husband, friends and I were regular guests when they first opened. I remember booking appointments days before flying to the island to make sure I never miss a spa treatment (they get booked out quickly!) I’ve been to Mandala Spa so many times that I’ve amassed tons of their free sarong. I believe I have all the colors already, haha!

The moment you step in Mandala Spa & Villas you immediately feel a sense of serenity. The resort is quiet and with a lush garden to boot. It’s a place where time stand still. I’m always happy to re-visit this resort.

The charming Garden Villa is nestled on a hilltop, surrounded by 2.6 hectares of tropical, lush greenery.

It offers a quiet retreat from everyday life. The romantic, exclusive, and discrete Garden Villa is less than 10-minute walk to the beach.

This is the best Valentine’s Day retreat every couple (and singles too) need.

Beautiful outdoor bath

I wish Tom was with me…

Nature provides the best drama

Time to unwind. Here we go…

I had the Filipino Heritage Package. The experience starts with a floral foot bath and Suob, a ritualistic smudging to clear the surrounding energy. A scrub of fresh coconut extracts, organic rice and precious oils purify skin. Next is a 15-minute dip in Mandala’s coconut milk bath, a tropical fantasy of natural oils and Hibiscus flower extracts. Personally, I loved bathing in fresh flowers. It’s calming and relaxing. To cap this truly indigenous and indulging Filipino spa journey, an award-winning Hilot Trilogy.

The entire treatment lasted 2 hours and 45 minutes. I really got into the whole spa rituals—the smell of burning incense, foot and body scrub, the milk and floral bath and the amazing Hilot. No phones, no thoughts, no distractions and just savoured the moment. What an amazing experience!

I have to say, every time I go to Mandala Spa I feel relaxed, refreshed and spiritually awakened.

Thanks to the professional and amazing staff of Mandala Spa & Villa for a wonderful experience and special shoutout to my favorite island girl Freida Dario!

The next time you visit Boracay, make sure to book an appointment at Mandala Spa & Villas, you’ll thank me for it!

For more information about Mandala Spa & Villa’s treatments, yoga schedule, accommodations and other services, visit their website.

Charriol St-Tropez Style Collection

I remember when I was in college it was during the late 90′s when watches were one of the popular gifts for graduation specifically the iconic Charriol watch. At that that time, it was THE watch to have. In fact, a lot of my classmates and I wanted one or their Cable Bracelet. Thanks to my parents I got both as presents!

Fast forward to the 2000′s when I was working in ABS-CBN Publishing, I had the honor to style Philippe Charriol’s daughter Coralie for the cover of Metro Magazine. I remember her being glamorous and stylish. She was nice and friendly towards me. She was also happy to know about my Charriol watch story.

Last week, I was invited to Charriol’s luxury getaway and presentation of the brand’s St-Tropez Style Collection. I also found out that Philippe Charriol’s son Alexandre was going to join the event. I knew he is an artist but I didn’t realize till later that he is now the VP of Philippe Charriol International and he personally designed their latest collection. I was excited!

Time for the Charriol getaway!

Touchdown!

#OOTD

Nothing says welcome more than a drink with an umbrella and a big fat steak for lunch, haha!

Guests were treated with their own villas

Room tour!!

If I could, I would bring these faux shells at home. LOL

“Survivor Charriol:” Outwit, outlast, OUTFIT! ;)

Charriol prepared themed activities so I packed some of my favorite robes and tunics for the beach.

Welcome gifts from Charriol

I read our itinerary and guests were encouraged to relax—I love it! As soon as I unpacked, I wasted no time—I changed into my beach attire and booked a massage agad-agad!

Namaste

All relaxed and pampered. It’s time for the Charriol sunset soiree! Ahhhhhhh! Check out the fabulous set-up !

With the man of the cocktail hour Alexadre Charriol looking casual and cool. We’re twinning in white.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet my Charriol crew! No one told me complete casting pala dito! LOL

At the Charriol Sunset Soiree: Mika Martinez, Charina Sarte, Charmaine Palermo, Divine Lee, Victor Basa, Nix Alanon, Jonathan Jackson, Rajo Laurel, Tim Yap, Ruffa Gutierrez, Jordan Mouyal, Phem Barranda, and Alexander Charriol

It was a full moon on our first night. After cocktails, it was off to dinner and some serious dancing.  Cue: “tugsh…tugsh…tugsh…”

The money shot! Alexandre proved he lives and breathes the brand—HTT (head to toe) in Charriol! Boom.

Day 1 was quite tame for some, like me. Got back to my room before midnight and woke up refreshed at freakin’ 5:30 am!

SO, guess who was one of the firsts at the Charriol St-Tropez brunch and presentation?!

The early bird got to style her own Charriol product shots, haha! I used flowers found in the island and propped the Charriol St-Tropez watch on a wooden bench with the perfect ray of sunlight hitting the face. I love my job!

Spotlight on Charriol's latest St-Tropez Collection

The St-Tropez Style is crafted from stainless steel and features Charriol’s hallmark twisted cable strap. A white mother of pearl bezel and dial is etched with an exclusive guilloché pattern supplemented by polished counters at 3, 9 and 12 o’clock. A small seconds dial is shown at 6 o’clock and the Charriol logo appears at 12 o’clock. Each timepiece is made in Switzerland and contains a quartz movement. The clips and bracelet can be easily removed and interchanged, with a maximum of two clips around the strap. An optional variant with a pink-gold plated case and detailing is also available.

The St-Tropez Style also includes intriguing clasps to clip around the cabled watch strap. Six different designs celebrate the eternal themes of love and adventure:

‘Ocean Echoes’ is seashell clip perfect for those with a traveller spirit while the ‘Name It Love’ in rose gold keep romance close to hand

Charriol’s now-iconic St-Tropez watch for women captures all the glitz and glamour of the famous French Riviera town.

‘Everlast’ shows the intricate Charriol insignia decorated with cubic zirconia stones

Characterized by a mother of pearl bezel and elegant chain bracelet, the St-Tropez timepieces are exceptionally elegant. The latest addition to the range, St-Tropez Style, combines personality with femininity.

How sweet love can be, with heart-shaped ‘Disco Heart’ clasps? The whimsical ‘Lovebug’ brings luck and reminds us that love is in the air!

Charriol jewellery is crafted in Switzerland and Germany; timepieces are handmade in Switzerland. Visit www.charriol.com

Go bold with bracelets that symbolize strength and empowerment: “Starlet” is for free spirits, delicately embellished with sparkling cubic zirconia stones; “Gorgeous” is strong and sophisticated, accented with white pearls. “Romeo” is for incurable romantics, with a double heart design. Show a cheeky side with “Double Trouble” or stay happy with the endless, infinity shapes of “Sunny Day”.

What better way to showcase the latest St-Tropez Collection from Charriol than a runway face off with models wearing the iconic watches and clad in designer Charina Sarte’s beachwear collection, directed by Robby Carmona of SAGA Events.

Someone won a special prize for posting the best Charriol #mysttropezstyle photos on Instagram. Woohoo!

I won the award for Best Photos on Instagram for the #MyStTropezStyle. Thanks, Alexandre, Thibaud and Anton for the fab gift!

Star style. Phoemela Barranda with Charriol Regional Sales Director Thibaud Jaouen and SSI Group President Anton Huang

To cap off the night, the VP of Philippe Charriol International Alexander Charriol jumped into the pool! Gotta love the vibe of this guy!

With a watch brand as successful and iconic as Charriol the question is, how to keep the collections fresh and exciting? Accessorize the accessory! Thanks to Alexandre’s cool and clever designs, Charriol’s future is bright and blinged out.

This Valentine’s day, fall truly, madly, deeply in love with the new St-Tropez Style, a new sophisticated way to tell the time… with a twist.

Thank you Alexandre Charriol, Thibaud Jaouen, Alex Jentes, SSI, Anton Huang, Malu Francisco, Susan Joven, Danica Jeanger and Jenny Gapan of Visions & Expression, SAGA Events and friends for a memorable time! It was truly one for the books.

In the Philippines, Charriol is exclusively distributed by Stores Specialists, Inc. (SSI) – a member of the SSI Group – and is located at Greenbelt 4, Power Plant Mall, Rustan’s Makati, Rustan’s Tower, Gateway Mall, SM Mall of Asia, 158 Designers’ Boulevard Alabang Town Center, TriNoma, Robinsons Magnolia, Robinsons Midtown, Newport Resorts World, The Podium, Rustan’s Ayala Cebu, Abreeza Davao and Limketkai Cagayan de Oro.

Dylan’s Block Party – Happy 5th Birthday, Dahling!

It’s my son Dylan’s birthday today, January 26. He turns 5. Happy birthday, dahling! We celebrated his birthday though last Sunday. We wanted something simple, stress-free and personalized so we threw him a block party—we literally just invited all the kids in our street and some of his friends in the village park.

Our original plan was only to have cake and playtime. Dylan told us last week he didn’t want the kids singing the “Happy Birthday” song (according to him it’s too loud and they sound “bad,” haha) and no party games because according to him, it’s corny. Grabe naman. Anyway, Dylan only wanted cake and to play at home with friends. Easy. OK!

Aryanna found free invitation templates on the net and we printed them. So cool!

Sunday morning…

Dylan: “It’s my birthday party today!”
Me: “We’re picking up your cake today!”
Dylan: “Woohoo! I’m going to have cake, spaghetti, hotdogs and ice cream! What time is my party, mom? Where are the balloons?”
Me: *panicking* I thought you only wanted cake and playtime with friends?”
Dylan: “Yeah. I also want balloons! I want spaghetti! I want lots of ice cream too!”
Me: “You’re joking, right?”
Dylan: “Mom! You’re the joker!”

So, you can imagine how I panicked after that conversation. Haaaay! Shotgun party!!! I only had two hours to prepare for a full blown party before I pick-up the cake. Jesus, take the wheel.

Thank God, I have a good team and they helped me work on some birthday party magic: Tom and Aryanna. It was technically the very first party we organized for Dylan. In the past, it would just be the family celebrating in our previous condo. Oh. Em.

Tom took care of the "pabitin" and Aryanna organized the balloon bouquets. Winner!

My son wanted a Lightning McQueen themed cake so I also got some character gifts for the goodie bags.

“Pabitin” spells instant children’s party!

I love the balloon bouquets from National Book Store. They are super cute and affordable (P300+ for each arrangement) although, they have very limited choices for now.

As requested by my son: home-cooked sweet spaghetti, hotdogs with marshmallows, sandwiches and I ordered Aling Nene’s Pork BBQ (our favorite! They deliver too!) We normally don’t eat these, but since it’s his birthday, we caved in on the sugar fiesta!

We ordered the themed cake 3 days in advance. So cute. So “Dylan!”

The party was set at 3:30PM. I love how most of the kids were punctual—a good start.

Most of the girls came early. According to their nannies, they wanted to hangout with my son. Oh, boy.

Aryanna set-up a Lightning McQueen temporary tattoo station at the entrance. The kids got “inked” before the party. Great idea, sweetheart!

No need to make the kids, nannies, and parents wait. Kain na agad-agad!

How happy is the birthday boy?

HAPPY 5TH BIRTHDAY, DYLAN FINN!

Make a wish and blow the birthday candle… If you can reach it! LOL

You rock, dahling!

Time to divide and conquer the birthday cake!

I scream for ICE CREAM!!!

Everybody loves ice cream!

The most-awaited game: “Pabitin!” Some of us parents gave the smaller kids a little boost.

Soccer and basketball amongst the kids. Tom included.

Our resident fake tattoo artist

There was so much leftover cake. We gave some to the neighbors and kept a few slices for ourselves. Everybody happy.

Time to open the prezzies!

What a cute personalized birthday card! Thanks, Charlie!

Last two standing

A good sign

Happy birthday my dahling Dylan! You are the family’s game-changer. You bring so much joy and happiness into our lives. Wishing you a happy and healthy life!

Happy birthday again Dylan! We love you!

Big thanks to Tom for helping me out with the party and being such a cool host too. Aryanna gets the “best daughter and big sister” award for making sure her brother and all the kids had fun, for taking photos during the party and for helping me organize a “not corny” children’s party!

Now, time to eat more leftover birthday cake with my son.

Green Milk Smoothie

I love vegetables but I’m not much of a fruit eater. I’d rather drink my fruits than eat them.

I’ve been making smoothies for breakfast and snacks for a few months now and it’s been great for my metabolism. It also gives me energy throughout the day.

Here’s one of my favorite smoothies that is super healthy and doesn’t taste like grass, haha.

Ingredients:

1 frozen banana
A handful of frozen kale (yes, you can buy kale now in leading groceries. Some are pre-washed and packed already. Make sure to di-rib it. For smoothies, freeze in advance even if it’s only half frozen, the kale will be less pungent and taste less bitter. Plus, it helps makes the smoothie colder and it lasts longer, same with bananas and other fruits — a win all around.)
1-1/2 cup almond milk (you can substitute the 1/2 cup of almond milk with water if you like)
1 1/2 tbsp. freshly ground flaxseed
1 tbsp. chia seeds
ice cubes (optional)

Powerful seeds for your smoothies:

Read about the power of chia seeds here.

Small but incredible

Flaxseed’s health benefits come from the fact that it’s high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, as well as phytochemicals called lignans.

I read somewhere that it is better to buy whole flaxseed then grind it as you need it. They say the potency of freshly ground flaxseed dwindles after 15 minutes of grinding. Personally, I like buying whole flaxseed and I use a coffee grinder (I have two grinding machines—one for coffee beans and one for flaxseed and other beans/seeds. If you only have one grinder make sure to clean it well after every use.) I love the light nutty taste of freshly ground flaxseed. Great for smoothies or with cereals or for baking.

Most nutrition experts recommend ground over whole flaxseed because the ground form is easier for your body to digest. Whole flaxseed may pass through your intestine undigested, which means you won’t get all the benefits.

Flaxseed’s health benefits come from the fact that it’s high in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, as well as phytochemicals called lignans. One tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains 2 grams of polyunsaturated fatty acids (includes the omega 3s) and 2 grams of dietary fiber and 37 calories.

Flaxseed is commonly used to improve digestive health or relieve constipation. Flaxseed may also help lower total blood cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL, or “bad”) cholesterol levels, which may help reduce the risk of heart disease.

Other sources of fiber, flaxseed should be taken with plenty of water or other fluids. Flaxseed shouldn’t be taken at the same time as oral medications or other dietary supplements. As always, talk with your doctor before trying any dietary supplements. Source

Okaaaaay! Back to our smoothie. Combine all the ingredients in a blender and pulse/blend until combined.

Pour the green milk goodness in a cute container

Add a cute straw

Then drink to look cute. LOL

This smoothie actually tastes like banana and peanut shake! So yummy, filling and healthy! It could also be a meal replacement if you’re dieting.

Tune in to my next healthy smoothie recipe you actually want to drink. You’re going to love it!

Have a happy and healthy weekend everyone!

Super Easy & Yummy: Dutch Baby Pancake

Dutch Baby Pancake or German Pancake (it is derived from the German pfannkuchen) is a simple and delicious dish traditionally served for breakfast. You can read the history here.

When we’re tired of making pancakes (we make the BEST!) at home, we cook a Dutch Baby Pancake. In my opinion, it’s easier to make them than our homemade pancakes.

My Instagram photo

When I posted the Dutch Baby Pancake that Tom cooked for breakfast yesterday, I received a barrage of texts from friends and messages from readers asking for the recipe. So due to insistent readers’ demand, I’m sharing with you our tweaked version of this puffy pancake.

Ingredients:

1-2 tablespoons butter
3 eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup milk, room temperature or if cold, heated 20 to 30 seconds in the microwave
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon or zest of one lemon (optional)
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Easy peasy:

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 400 ºF. Place the cast iron pan inside the oven.

Important: Use only cast iron or metal pans without a plastic handle as the heat might melt it. You can also use Pyrex or any glass baking dish.

Step 2: Meanwhile, in a blender, combine the eggs, flour, hot milk, sugar, vanilla extract, lemon zest (optional) and pinch of salt, and blend on medium-high speed until combined.

If mixing by hand, combine the eggs with the milk until the mixture is light yellow and no longer stringy, about 1 minute. Add the flour, sugar, vanilla, and pinch of salt, and whisk vigorously to remove the lumps, about 30-45 seconds.

Step 3: Carefully remove the hot pan from the oven. The butter should be melted.

Swirl the butter around the pan to coat completely, and then pour the remaining butter into the batter and whisk to blend.

Step 4: Pour the batter into the hot pan and return the pan to the oven. Cook the pancake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the pancake is puffed in the center, and golden brown along the edges.

Feel free to take a sneak peek (and a snapshot) of the Dutch Baby Pancake puffing up.

Step 5: Sprinkle with the confectioners’ sugar through a sieve.

Step 6: Slice the pancake into wedges (be careful not to scour the pan with the knife).

Step 7: Serve with a smile! :)

Dutch Baby Pancake is generally served with fresh squeezed lemon, butter, and powdered sugar, fruit toppings or syrup. You can also make a savory version with cheese or serve it with eggs and bacon. YUM!

I like mine with cream cheese or maple butter.

I would like to thank my husband who has been fulfilling my Dutch Baby Pancake cravings (while in his pajama and socks, haha) for the past two days!

Enjoy this recipe with loved ones!

Best. Video. Ever. Watch: “Live Life The Real Way”

My friend Jackie Cohen-Antonio forwarded me the best video ever.

It’s about social media taking us away from connecting with real people, places and experiences.

Being a blogger and for someone who is active on Instagram, this video is a reminder that although it is inspiring to view feeds in our social media accounts, it is more important to view real life as it is happening, to be present and to always engage with people and participate in life.

I just know from years of blogging (almost 10 years!!!), the secret to writing, sharing, or documenting life is by experiencing it. Maybe someday, I will have a staff to help me create posts for the blog like Martha Stewart or Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP but, for now, I solely rely on doing and experiencing everything myself. It’s fun!

Tom and I also have a rule: No phones when eating whether at home or at a restaurant (only during emergencies). We can take photos before eating but during meal time, it’s all about real conversations and appreciating our food.

This video is simply poetry:

“This media we call social is anything but, when we open our computers and it’s our doors we shut”… This is a vital messages that seems to have gotten lost in the last few years.

“It’s not very likely you’ll become the world’s greatest Dad, if you can’t entertain a child without using an iPad”… Boom. Life is the ultimate eye candy so crush that Candy Crush habit! Pick-up a book or ride a bike and enjoy low-tech activities with your children, it’s a high!

‘Look Up’ is a message for the “internet” generation. It is an important life lesson for us and our children.

Look up from your phone, shut down that display. Stop watching this video (and reading this blog), live life the real way.

Shoppingero/shoppingera, see you at the park!

Morning Rituals

I’ve always been a morning person. I feel more productive and energized when I sleep early and wake up before the crack of dawn. Of course, there are some exceptions like if I have a shoot that lasts till the wee hours of the morning or when I go out at night with friends (very, very rare these days) then it’s a race to beat the sunrise, haaaay! LOL

Seriously, I love mornings! Waking up before my entire household and family gives me a few hours or minutes to myself. It’s wonderful.

Here are some of my morning rituals that help me get inspired and motivated the whole day:

1. Start slow and smile. I detest alarm clocks. As much as possible, I like waking up to my own body clock. I get up slowly in the morning and do all my womanly business in the bathroom. Then, I smile at myself in the mirror for a few seconds. I read somewhere that by doing so, it can boost ones self-esteem. It’s basically just a matter of seeing a happy you reflected back in the mirror. Try it! :)

2. Lighting a scented candle. This is a ritual that literally burns my money but it’s a good investment to start the day happy. Also, it triggers feel-good emotions depending on the scent you choose. I like anything vanilla or pine scented during the cool season and floral ones for Summer. Choose candles only made from soy and beeswax.

3. Drink your health. I’ve been drinking warm water with freshly squeezed lemon juice first thing in the morning for sometime now. The lemon helps get the digestive system ready for the coming meals, and makes the water tastier. Then I drink more water to rehydrate my body.

I also make a simple green smoothie (I use kale or spinach or other leafy, green veggies; pineapple or green apple; cucumber, and 1 tbsp. of freshly grounded flaxseed and some ice cubes). I do this every other day or at least 3 times a week. I only eat my breakfast after 30 minutes to 1 hour.

In between the days I don’t drink green juice, I make myself a cup of coffee and sit in silence. Namaste.

4. Read something inspirational. I’m being honest here, I grab my phone in the morning to check my Instagram feed. I’m a visual person so looking at inspiring photos stimulate my senses. Then I read a book or magazine or anything inspiring. I never check my email until I’m done with breakfast.

5. Say a little prayer. I start and end the day with a grateful heart and thank God for all my blessings.

By the time I’m done with my morning rituals, our helpers are already up and so is my son. I’m ready to face the riot day!

The key to waking up refreshed in the morning is obviously, sleeping early at night. Since I put my son to bed between 8:30-9:00 PM, I usually fall asleep with him. So if you send me a text, email or call me after those hours, sorry na lang. Bukas ka na, haha!

Shoppingero/shoppingera, do you have a morning ritual? Please share.

Chilly Weather Must-Haves

Don’t roll your eyeballs. If you’re up before the crack of dawn, you would feel the cool breeze in the morning. Also, if walk bare feet at home like I do, it is freaking cold! I know I’m not the only one when I say I’m loving the cool weather season in the city.

Here are some of my chilly weather musts to keep you warm and inspired:

A throw

Feel free to drape a soft blanket while making your brekkie or just sit on the couch with a knitted throw over your legs while watching the sunrise or the beautiful ray of light pouring in your home. Bliss.

Observe the power of the throw as my daughter executes early morning napping. LOL

Instagram-worthy coffee/tea/hot chocolate cups

Everyone “Instagrams” everything these days including pretty coffee mugs and tea cups. There are a lot of affordable ones available in department stores and IG shops. It’s a beautiful way to start the day and great for creating inspiring vignettes of your breakfast. Besides, Instagram posts of mugs and cups are better on the feed than early morning selfies. #batobatosalangit

Candles that smell like winter or your grandma’s kitchen

I love lighting candles in the morning! It makes the start of the day positive and the smell of pine or vanilla-scented candles are relaxing. The smell of winter in the tropics is a luxury we can all afford.

A good book/magazine

Instead of watching the news, reading the papers or checking your email first thing in the morning, cozy up with a good book/magazine or the bible. Feed your mind, body and soul. You can proceed to reading or watching the current events in the middle of the day.

I like reading inspiring books and magazines in the morning. I also like reading Nick Hornby's books as they are funny as hell!

Riding a bicycle or walking

Ever since my husband gifted me a new retro-style bicycle, I’ve been hitting the streets and park in our village. My daughter also bought a bike so she and my husband take turns riding with me to exercise. We have so much fun and the weather has been amazing!

The cool weather makes one stay home however, a sedentary lifestyle is not healthy. Being active is the key to a healthy mind and body and being inspired is the answer to a meaningful and happy life.

Enjoy the chilly weather in Manila!

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