The Oscars: The Good, The Bad & The “Payong”

The 86th Academy Awards was pure inspiration and entertainment. I’m glad I woke up super early to watch the show—as in gising na ako bago pa tumilaok ang manok. LOL

The highlights:

• Gorgeous gowns on the Red Carpet
• Jennifer Lawrence tripping (again) on one of the orange cones on the Red Carpet

• U2′s performance
• Idina Menzel’s performance of Frozen’s song “Let it go” (que: “Let it go… Let it gooooooo…”)
• Ellen, Meryll Streep et al’s powerhouse “selfie”

• Benedict Cumberbatch photobombing U2! Aryanna and I freaking adore him!

Now, for the main event, the Red Carpet fashion!

My Best & Worst-Dressed List:

The good:

Lupita Nyong’o in Prada

Prada has had numerous winning moments on The Red Carpet: Uma Thurman in a dreamy lilac evening dress during The Oscars in 1995 and the red strapless column gown that Jennifer Aniston wore during the 2000 Emmy’s.

This time, Best Supporting Actress winner Lupita Nyong’o puts another Prada creation in the iconic status. The pastel gown looks amazing on her! The color, the cut and the hairband accessories are perfect!

According to Lupita, the powder blue gown was a collaboration between her and Miuccia Prada. The inspirations were Champagne, for celebration and the color blue as an homage to her hometown. She said, where she lives has a lot of blues.

Amy Adams in Gucci

The American Hustler star looks sensational in this sapphire blue evening number! I love how she also paired it with a coral drop-earrings!

Her hairstyle was impeccable. According to Amy, she and her stylist anticipated the rain so she went for an up-do. Good instinct!

Jennifer Lawrence in Dior Couture

Jennifer and Dior are a winning combo. Love the finger comb hairstyle too!

Cate Blanchett, in Giorgio Armani

Cate Blanchette is probably one of those superstars that can wear head-to-toe nude color and not look washed out. Her choice of jewelry and her spirit add the necessary sparkle to her outfit. She isn’t Cate “The Great” for nothing.

Naomi Watts in Calvin Klein Collection

Naomi was a vision in white! I loved her sandals, art deco menudiere and necklace! Her hairstyle is fresh and modern!

Sandra Bullock in Alexander McQueen

Five words: Out of this world gorgeousness!

I’m loving that more stars are wearing Midnight Blue to the Red Carpet. It’s classy and figure-flattering.

How perfect is her classic side-swept hair?

Idina Menzel in Vera Wang

Tony Award-winning Broadway superstar Idina Menzel brought her inner Elsa to the Red Carpet—she let go and embraced glamour!

Viola Davis in Escada

Colorful gowns are strong this season. Viola Davis is a gem in green!

Chrissy Teigen in Monique Lhuillier

I’m loving Monique Lhuillier’s creation! It’s like a burst of Cherry Blossoms at night! Chrissy Teigen looks sensational!

Laura Dern in Alberta Ferretti

One word: Lambot. Soft na soft dito si Laura. Ganda.

Jessica Biel in Chanel Couture

Jessica Biel is a vision in Chanel Couture! Diamonds are truly a girl’s best friend!

Kate Hudson in Atelier Versace

Kate Hudson sizzles on the Red Carpet! I super love this Versace gown on her! She looked hotter when she took of the padded cape when she presented on stage. HOT!

Anne Hathaway in Gucci

Love the armored halter top on this gown! Anne Hathaway has perfected her Oscars look!

Julia Roberts in Givenchy

So nice to see Julia Roberts reveal some skin. The black lace evening dress is a winner!

Maria Menounos in Johanna Johnson

Loving this sparkly gown with sleeves on Maria! Her messy braided hair keeps her look youthful and fun.

Emma Watson in Vera Wang

Emma is the epitome of Young Hollywood. Her choices are on point.

The sparkly t-shirt like top, mermaid skirt and multiple rings are Red Carpet worthy. I love her understated vibe!

Calista Flockhart in Andrew Gn

A pair of emerald earrings is all you need for a gorgeous white gown.

Meryl Streep in Lanvin

The one-shoulder silk top is everything! Legendary!

Charlize Theron in Dior

I have to admit that at first look, I didn’t like this gown on Charlize as the neckline looked like a paper doll’s dress. But then with a closer look, there are beaded straps attached to them.

Charlize can wear a sack and win Best-Dressed!

Check out the megawatt necklace!

Goldie Hawn

The actress wore a golden silk gown with a fitted bodice and draped shoulder details. She loos phenomenal.

Sana bawasan lang ang bisita sa derma. Over Botox-ed!

Kristin Chenoweth in Roberto Cavalli

Gold on the Red Carpet is a home run. Love this intricate gown on Kristin!

Beautiful bob-cut too!

Penélope Cruz in Giambattista Valli

The Spanish beauty looked radiant in blush. She had part of her long gown wrapped around her right wrist and exposed her bare right shoulder.

Jennifer Gardner in Oscar de la Renta

What a fun and fabulous silver shimmery gown on Jennifer!

Karen O in Camilla Staerk and Brandy St. John

Black magic on Karen O! Love the cape and plunging neckline proportion!

Lady Gaga in Versace

I’m just happy that Lady Gaga did not wear meat at the Academy Awards, haha! Versace always kills it on the Red Carpet!

The power couples:

The best accessory on the Red Carpet is your better half/partner!

Matthew McConaughey & Camilla Alves in Dolce & Gabbana (McConaughey)

Dinner jacket + Blush number = Winning combo

Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie in Tom Ford (Pitt) and Elie Saab Haute Couture (Jolie)

Forget about what this couple is wearing. Just look at Brad’s face and check out Angie’s 42-carat diamond dazzlers!

Will Smith & Jada Pinkett Smith

This couple is always fun and fab!

Chiwetel Ejiofor & Sari Mercer

Style and talent personified!

Pharrell Williams & Helen Lasichanh in Lanvin (Williams)

Love Pharrell, hate the shorts!

Olivia Wilde & Jason Sudeikis in Valentino (Wilde) and Prada (Sudeikis)

My new favorite Red Carpet duo!

Dax Shepard & Kristen Bell in John Varvatos (Shepard) and Roberto Cavalli (Bell)

Hmm… Loving Kristen’s gown but Dax looked under dressed for The Oscars.

Johnny Weir & Tara Lipinski

Saan ang kasal?

The Bad:

The hair, outfit and shoes makes me blue.

I’m not liking the nipple action too. Why, Liza? WHY?!!

June Squibb in Tadashi Shoji

Good morning ninang!

Gabourey Sidibe in Theia

Magenta-shmenta. Ugh.

Elsa Pataky

Most pregnant women look divine but Elsa Pataky’s side boob action and gown with preggy pouch are just wrong. Very wrong.

Kerry Washington in Jason Wu

When walking the Red Carpet, every detail counts. I wish Kerry’s stylist dried the hem of her gown. I’m also not liking the outfit, it reminds me of a silk bed sheet secured with a giant hair clip.

Sally Hawkins in Valentino

Too many details, too much material, TOO MUCH!!!

Alfre Woodard in Badgley Mischka

Boxum women have to be careful of their curves. There is too much upper body detailing on this gown and why the hell is she wearing thong sandals???

Portia De Rossi in Naeem Khan

What is doily?

Sarah Paulson in Elie Saab

*Yawn* This gown just washed out her face and don’t care for the ill-fitting silhouette.

Julie Delpy in Jenny Packham

Why matronics? Why? WHY???

The “Payong”:

The Red Carpet production crew should’ve had awning provisions for the stars knowing that it could rain. No one looks glamorous in gown while holding an umbrella. Ansabeh ni Mary Poppins?!!

I just love the Oscars! I super enjoyed blogging about my fashion picks but sitting in front of the computer for hours is killing my bum! Time to go exercise!

Shoppingero/shoppingera, who is on your best & worst-dressed list? Please share in the comments box.

Oscar Themed Breakfast & Tablesetting

It’s The Oscars again!

The Academy Awards is the Olympics for fashion lovers and movie enthusiasts. Billions of people around the world tune in to watch the Red Carpet and the show.

I woke up extra early this morning to make a special Oscar-themed breakfast. What better way to start the Monday than watching some Red Carpet fashion and a healthy and delicious meal.

Oscar gold plato-platuhan

Award-winning healthy breakfast

My yummy breakfast salad: lettuce, poached egg, homemade pesto

Watching The Oscars will not be complete without popcorn!

I love MUJI’s Cheddar and Gouda Cheese Popcorn. Just be sure to share it as the calories are quite staggering, haha!

My popcorn buddy

This is it!

Enjoy watching the show!

Tune in for my Best & Worst Dressed picks in a bit!

Hottest Brick Oven Pizza in Town

Every time a new food joint opens in our neighborhood, my family and I always get excited. We love cooking at home but we also enjoy eating out especially if it’s walking distance from where we live.

Luckily, Gino’s Brick Oven Pizza opened another branch in Salcedo Village, Makati. Yay, Salcedians!

Because we live close to the new pizza place, we were front and center the day they opened!

The Epperson’s new favorite haunt

Hmm… nag iba ang isip, change table, haha!

Sometimes, it’s a challenge to bring our 4-year old son Dylan when eating out as he can be a handful. But we discovered a fun way to basically shut him up while ordering. The game is called: “The first person to talk loses”

Tom: OK! Dylan, let’s play a game!
Dylan: Cool, Dad!
Tom: The first person to talk loses, OK?
Dylan: Oh, dad! C’mon!
Tom: Everyone in the table joins, OK?
Aryanna: I’m gonna win!
Me: Let the games begin!

My son acting as if he's shouting but there was no noise coming out of his mouth. Success! LOL

Dylan also brings random toys whenever we go out. He brought his Jack O’ Lantern mini bucket to Gino’s. It’s Trick or Treat in February!

Must try: Gino's Brick Oven Pizza's signature condiment: Spicy Honey

Woohoo! Brick ovens, baby!

We were lucky that the owner of Gino’s Bick Oven Pizza Jutes Templo (yes, Jutes is the owner, not “Gino” haha! Gino is Jutes’ son) was at the restaurant the first time we went there. He was kind enough to give us a sneak peek of their kitchen. Thanks, Jutes!!

Prego!!!

We ordered the Classic Burrata as appetizer. Jutes told us that all their cheeses are homemade. Huwaw!

I must say, this burrata is the bomb and the brick oven baked bread is the shiz! Best combo!

I ordered the Salted Egg Pasta as it is one of their signature dishes. The pasta tastes exactly like creamy salted egg. It’s an acquired taste. It’s not for me though. I would probably add freshly chopped tomatoes and basil to brighten the dish and cut through the savory taste. That’s just my opinion and they claim it’s one of their best-sellers. Worth trying though.

Good news: Gino's Brick Oven Pizza's pastas are all handmade!

The main event:

The Margherita (tomato sauce, kesong puti, basil) pizza is yummy! We enjoyed the fresh cheese, sliced grape tomatoes and fresh basil.

What I love about brick oven pizzas is the smokey flavor of the dough. Gino’s Brick Oven Pizza is thin, chewy and flavorful.

I’m glad that we ordered the Bomb (balsamic onions, mozzarella, mushrooms, blue cheese) pizza as it was delish! I love savory pizzas and this one has a good balance of sweetness from the caramelized balsamic onions and saltiness from the blue cheese.

The Eppersons love Gino’s Brick Oven Pizza!

We’ve also been ordering take out quite a lot over the past few weeks.

My favorites:

The Classic Burrata and Bianca Verde (olive oil, garlic, kesong puti, ricotta, parmesan, basil, arugula)

We have yet to try the other pastas, pizzas and desserts especially their famous Nutella Soup. OMG, hold my hand.

Visit Gino’s Brick Oven Pizza! It’s the hottest joint in town! Hope to bump into you guys there!

Click here for the menu

Gino’s Brick Oven Pizza is located at Bautista and Tordersillas St., Salcedo Village. For inquiries, email ginosbrickovenpizza@gmail.com

The Dinner Gala of a Lifetime

First of all, I’d like to thank Kaye Tinga for giving me the heads-up on this event. I’m a huge The Next Iron Chef fan!

The Next Iron Chef is the absolute mother of all cooking competitions, to win it is the Holy Grail of the global culinary world. Unlike other competitions in which the contestants are home cooks looking for a career change or up and coming chefs looking to make it big, The Next Iron Chef’s contestants are the alphas of the global culinary scene. They are all already successful restaurateurs, celebrity chefs, successful culinary book authors; or a combination of two or three. These chefs are willing to risk their reputations, often more than once, because to be the Next Iron Chef is the culinary world’s ultimate prize.  Those who do win are no less than culinary gods walking among mere mortals.  Chef Geoffrey Zakarian winner of season 4 of The Next Iron Chef is one of those Gods, and on March 20, 2014 for one night only, Chef Geoffrey Zakarian will give Filipinos a taste of heaven.

Zakarian’s win was particularly impressive because Season 4 of The Next Iron Chef’s theme was “Superchefs”.  Every chef contestant was an executive chef at a famous, multi-awarded restaurant, most were hosts of their own cooking shows.  Among those who fell by the wayside were Chef Anne Burrell, host of Secrets of a Restaurant Chef, Chef  Marcus Samuelsson, a judge on three Food Network cooking shows, and Chef Alex Guarnaschelli who went on  to compete again and win in Season 5 of the Next Iron Chef.  So small is the elite circle of chefs that can be tapped to compete on this show, that contestants who don’t win are welcome to try again another year.  Chef Geoffrey Zakarian joined only in Season 4 and won on his first try.

Like all The Next Iron Chef contestants, Chef Geoffrey Zakarian’s journey prior to joining and winning was a storied one.  He first appeared on the culinary scene at Le Cirque where in just a few years, he worked his way up from Pastry Sous Chef to Chef de Cuisine.  He then went on to become Executive Chef at the legendary 21Club.  A year later, he became the Executive Chef of 44 at the Royalton Hotel.  Finally, in 1995, he opened the Blue Door at the Delano Hotel in Miami which became a dining hot spot in a transitioning landscape.

It was in 2001 when Zakarian opened his first restaurant, Town, where his culinary and decorative visions came to life.  So celebrated was his restaurant that Town was awarded Three Stars by The New York Times.

Following the success of Town was a second restaurant, Country, that paired the Chef’s passion for quality food and wine.  Country was awarded a Michelin Star in its first year along with Three Stars from The New York Times.

In the fall of 2010, Zakarian opened both The Lambs Club, featuring his signature Modern American cuisine; and The National, an American bistro open day and night.

Three years ago, Zakarian also opened a neighborhood Gastro-Café, House, rated as 2012’s Best Hotel Restaurant in Miami.

Zakarian is also an accomplished writer with his 2006 book Geoffrey Zakarian’s Town / Country, noted as one of the best cookbooks of the year.  His second book will be published sometime this year.

Filipinos are lovers of food and of cooking shows, both local and foreign.  The biggest frustration of Filipino fans of these shows especially the foreign ones, is that for the most part, they can only imagine what the apparently succulent and rich looking dishes the chefs concoct must actually taste like.  This will certainly not be the case on March 20, when Next Iron Chef Season 4 winner Chef Geoffrey Zakarian  puts forth a spectacular, out of this world gastronomical experience with Manila’s most discriminating food lovers as guests.  Not only will those in attendance find out just how good the food they see on cooking shows is, they will actually get to sample the very best of that food.

Making this night even more extraordinary, Chef Geoffrey Zakarian will be serving up well loved Filipino food, but with his own unmistakable and inimitable touch.  The menu will include pork adobo, crab cakes as well as maja blanca. This will be the first time the food we know and love will ever be elevated to such global gustatory greatness.

As befits this once in a lifetime event, the night’s entertainment will be first rate as well; diners will be treated to a selection of Broadway songs sung by no less than Robert Sena and Isay Alvarez, accompanied by no less than the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra.  The proceeds will be for the benefit of the Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation.

Feast of Colours dinner gala tickets are now available online. Buy your tickets now at www.ticketnet.com.ph or at any Ticketnet outlet.  For inquiries, please call 911-5555.

Shoppingero/shoppingera, don’t miss this! See you all!

The 6 Weight-Loss Tips That Science Actually Knows Work

I believe in science. That’s why I Googled “scientific ways to lose weight” this morning, haha!

Thought I’d share with you my findings:

The 6 Weight-Loss Tips That Science Actually Knows Work
Forbes.com
By Alice G. Walton
Contributor

Some of the weight loss articles out there these days are getting a little nutty. New scientific studies that shed light on how metabolism works are wonderful and valuable in their own right, but when findings get morphed into magical new “tips” for losing weight, something’s amiss. Some recent pieces in prestigious journals, which have sought to dispel the myths of weight loss and of the individual diets themselves, suggest that the medical community is also getting tired of the hype and the unfounded assumptions that permeate the public discussion.

When it comes down to it, the things we know to be true about weight loss are relatively simple, and certainly few. They’re also extremely effective when actually carried out. So, from the researchers who have studied this stuff for decades, here’s pretty much everything we know about weight loss today, whittled down to six points about how the body actually gains, loses, and maintains its weight.

1. Dieting trumps exercising

We hear a lot that a little exercise is the key to weight loss – that taking the stairs instead of the elevator will make a difference, for instance. But in fact it’s much more efficient to cut calories, says Samuel Klein, MD at Washington University’s School of Medicine. “Decreasing food intake is much more effective than increasing physical activity to achieve weight loss. If you want to achieve a 300 kcal energy deficit you can run in the park for 3 miles or not eat 2 ounces of potato chips.” It’s as simple as that. Some studies have borne out this dichotomy, pitting exercise against diet and finding that participants tend to lose more weight by dieting alone than by exercise alone. Of course, both together would be even better.

The problem is that when you rely on exercise alone, it often backfires, for a couple of reasons. This is partly because of exercise’s effects on the hunger and appetite hormones, which make you feel noticeably hungrier after exercise. “If you walk briskly for an hour and burn 400 kcal,” says Klein, “and then have a beer and a slice of pizza afterwards because the exercise made you feel hungry…you will eat more calories than you have burned.” It may not always be beer and pizza, but people do tend to naturally compensate for the calories they expend.

“This is an adaptive system,” adds David Allison, PhD. “For every action there’s a reaction; that’s a law of physics, not of biology, but it seems that it also works in biological systems. This is why we often overestimate quite radically an effect of a particular treatment.” He points out that public health campaigns that, for example, urge people to take the stairs instead of the elevator or go on a nightly stroll – or, for that matter, even eat fewer calories – are unlikely to work, since they may fail to take into account the body’s compensatory mechanisms that can totally counteract the effect.

The other problem with exercise-without-dieting is that it’s simply tiring, and again, the body will compensate. “If the exercise made you tired so that you become more sedentary the rest of the day, you might not experience any net negative energy,” says Klein. Some of the calories we burn come from our basic movements throughout the day – so if you’re wiped out after exercise, and more likely to sit on the couch afterwards, you’ve lost the energy deficit you gained from your jog.

2. Exercise can help fix a “broken” metabolism, especially during maintenance

“People used to come into the doctor’s office and say, ‘My metabolism is broken!’” says James Hill, PhD, at the University of Colorado. “We never had any evidence that it actually was, until recently. We were wrong – it was!” While exercise may not be as important for weight loss as calorie restriction, as Hill says, it’s important in another way: It begins to repair a broken metabolism.

“A lot of what we know in this area comes from NASA, of the bed-rest studies,” he says. “Within a couple of days of non-activity, the metabolism becomes inflexible. You start moving again, and it does start to change.” Your metabolism may not ever go back to “normal” (more on this below), but the evidence indicates that it can indeed pick up again, in large part through moving your body every day.

This is a large part of why exercise is critical in the maintenance phase, which is well known to be more difficult than the weight loss phase. Essentially, it buys us some wiggle room, says Michael Jensen, MD at the Mayo Clinic. “Exercise is very, very important for maintaining lost weight, and people who are not physically active are more likely to gain weight. We think it’s partly because in the extra calories burned from physical activity, you have a bit more flexibility in food intake, so you’re not so much relying on ridged changes in eating habits; it makes it more tolerable.”

3. You’re going to have to work harder than other people – possibly forever

Though exercise can help correct a metabolism that’s been out of whack for a long time, the grisly reality is that it may not ever go back to what it was before gained weight. So if you’ve been overweight or obese and you lose weight, maintaining that loss means you’re probably going to have to work harder than other people, maybe for good. “The sad thing,” says Hill, “is that once you’ve been obese or not moving for some time, it takes a little more exercise to maintain. It doesn’t come back to normal.” It’s not a pretty reality to face, but coming to grips with it is important, he says, so that you won’t get frustrated when you discover that you have to do more work over the long term than your friend who was never overweight.

Building muscle can help your body burn a few more calories throughout the day, but it’s also likely that you’ll have to work harder aerobically in the long run. “It’s not fair, but that’s the way it is,” adds Hill. “Once you understand it, though, you know it and it’s better. Because you can work with it.”

4. There’s no magical combination of foods

We often think that if we can just discover the “right” combination of foods, we’ll magically lose weight or maintain what we’ve lost. There are low-fat diets, low-carb diets, low glycemic diets, Paleo diets, and a lot of iterations of all of these. Jensen points out that in fact there doesn’t seem to be any “right” diet, and there doesn’t seem to be any evidence that one particular diet will work better with an individual’s specific metabolism. “The big myth out there,” he says, “is that there’s a magical combination of foods – be it protein, vegetarian, and what have you – that’s going to be unique because of its unique interaction with your metabolism. We know pretty much that any diet will help you lose weight if you follow it. There’s no magic diet. The truth is that ALL Diets will work if you follow them.”

5. A calorie IS a calorie!

And for energy balance, it’s the number of calories that matters. Weight loss on the Twinkie Diet proves this principle: Last year, Mark Haub at Kansas State University lost 27 pounds eating junk food. And this is pretty good proof of concept, says Yale University’s David Katz, MD, who has written extensively on the futility of the “is a calorie a calorie?” debate.

It’s certainly true – at least in theory and sometimes in practice – that all calories are created equal. “From the standpoint of body weight,” adds Marion Nestle, PhD, of NYU, “a calorie is a calorie no matter what it comes from. You can gain weight eating too much healthy food as well as unhealthy. From the standpoint of health, it’s better to eat your veggies…. It’s just a lot easier to overeat calories from junk food than healthy food. But it can be done.”

But the source of calories obviously matters for other reasons. One, says Katz, is that “the quality of calories is a major determinant of the quantity we ingest under real world conditions.” First of all, no one overeats veggies, so on a practical level, that’s a non-issue. “But where the calories come from does matter in that they influence satiety,” he adds, and this is partly psychology and partly biology. In fact, the food industry has carved out a whole new area of food science to study the “bliss point,” in which foods are created to increase the amount it takes to feel satiated and full. On one hand, says Katz, “we have the ‘bliss point’ science to tell us that the food industry can process foods to increase the calories it takes to reach satisfaction. We have the reciprocal body of work, including the Harvard study of the ONQI, showing that ‘more nutritious’ means, among other things, the opportunity to fill up on fewer calories.”

It’s true that types of foods you eat may, over time, affect your metabolic profile, so they may also matter in this way, but when it boils down, sticking to any reduced-calorie diet will create the energy deficit needed to lose weight. So the point is not to question what a calorie is, but rather to understand that we need to “trade up” our foods, says Katz – exchange the very dense, calorie-packed foods for foods that are less calorie-dense and more nutritionally dense: these are the ones that are bulkier, less energetically rich, have more or higher quality protein, are lower on the glycemic index, and more fibrous.

6. It’s all about the brain 

As my colleagues have reported (here and here), when it comes down to it, it’s not the body or the metabolism that are actually creating overweight or obesity – it’s the brain. We all know intuitively that poor decisions are what make you gain weight and better ones are what make you lose it. The problem is that over time, the poor decisions lead to significant changes in how the brain governs – and, amazingly, responds to – the hunger and satiation processes. Years of any kind of behavior pattern lay down neural tracks, and overeating is no exception.

The good news is that there’s increasing evidence that the brain can, in large part, “fix” itself once new behavior patterns emerge (i.e., calorie restriction, healthy food choices, and exercise). While there may be some degree of “damage” to the brain, particularly in how hunger and satiety hormones function, it can correct itself to a large degree over time. The key is that the process does take time, and like any other behavior change, is ultimately a practice. “We want to change behavior here,” says Hill. “Anyone that tells you it’s going to happen in 12 weeks, that’s bogus. We’re trying to rewire the brain. Neurobiology has told us so much about what’s going on in weight gain and weight loss. It takes a long time to develop new habits, rituals, routines. This takes months and years. But it will happen.”

*  *  *

So boiling it down even further: reduce calories, eat better, exercise, and most of all, remember it is a practice that has to be repeated over time – months or years. The fact that you’ll have to work harder at maintenance than your never-overweight best friend is depressing, but it’s worth coming to terms with. And, most important to remember, your brain (the organ behind all this, after all) is plastic, and it will respond to the changes you make – better than you think. And so will your body.

Photos by me

In a nutshell: Eat less, healthy & a well-balanced diet and do some regular exercises to keep the weight off.

Shoppingero/shoppingera, let’s do this!

Climate Change

The search is on for young Filipina beauties with a purpose. Miss Teen Earth Philippines and Little Miss Earth Philippines will hold a nationwide search for girls aged four to 17 years old with the aim to promote environmental awareness and foster change. Pre-screening begins February 2014 nationwide and the grand pageant night will be happening in May 27, 2014 at SM MOA-Arena. Project Headshot Clinic and Climate Change Commission step in to strengthen the advocacy through a partnership and a headshot petition campaign called Project Earth.

Project Headshot Clinic is a brainchild of photographer, Niccolo Cosme. The concept behind it is the marriage of headshots and advertising, with the belief that uploading profile photos under one theme is an effective way of piquing the curiosity of people.

This was my first time to be part of Project Headshot Clinic and I’d like to thank photographer Niccolo Cosme for my portrait. Yes, ako yan, haha! I had fun shooting and it’s my pleasure to support Project Headshot Clinic Earth. Awareness and action are key to change. Thanks also Onin Gaddi!

Photography by Niccolo Cosme

Miss Teen Earth Philippines and Little Miss Earth Philippines Nationwide Audition Dates

The search is officially on! Miss Teen Earth Philippines and Little Miss Earth Philippines is excited to announce that the nationwide search for both pageants will kick off this February. The auditions will be held in nine key cities, starting in Davao. The official dates and venues are as follows:

February 15 and 16 – SM Davao
February 22 and 23 – SM Cagayan de Oro
March 2 – SM Iloilo
March 8 and 9 – SM Consolacion Cebu
March 16 – SM Naga
March 23 – SM Baguio
March 29 – SM Lipa, Batangas
April 5 and 6 – SM San Fernando, Pampanga
April 12 and 13 – SM Mall of Asia

Miss Teen Earth Philippines and Little Miss Earth Philippines aim to make the pageants more accessible and convenient to interested applicants through the series of regional auditions. Girls aged four to 17 years old who would like to promote environmental awareness and inspire change are all invited to join. After the regional auditions, preliminary contestants will then undergo another screening to find out who among them will be the official candidates. The grand pageant night will be happening in May 27, 2014 at the Mall of Asia Arena. It will be televised on June 1, 2014 on GMA 7’s Sunday Night Box Office.

This year promises to be a big year for Miss Teen Earth Philippines and Little Miss Earth Philippines by pushing the envelope in terms of awareness and promotion of the earth’s preservation. Vas Bismark, president of Captured Dream Productions and the pageants’ trademark owner, states that “Miss Teen Earth Philippines and Little Miss Earth Philippines want to spread awareness about the different environmental issues, organize activities to help preserve nature and be able to mobilize Filipinos to act with love and purpose in creating a cleaner, greener environment.”

The Grand Life

Cole Haan, an iconic American designer and retailer of premium men’s and women’s footwear, bags and accessories with a deep commitment to craftsmanship, timeless style and design innovation, recently introduced its newest campaign exclusive to the Philippines during the launch of the biggest collection of LunarGrand recently. Cole Haan launched its collaboration with three of the most sought after artists in the Philippines to celebrate The Grand Life campaign.

My husband Tom Epperson together with photographers Roy Macam and Jake Versoza, visual artist Robert Alejandro and graphic designer AJ Dimarucot displayed their works based on the theme: “The Grand Life” which featured select pieces from the Cole Haan Spring 2014 LunarGrand collection.

Cole Haan featured artists (from left): Jake Verzosa, AJ Dimarucot, Robert Alejandro, Tom Epperson, Roy Macam

The men who always work behind the scenes are now in the spotlight! Most of them are shy but all of them are funny!

My husband shared his story about skateboarding—he’s been skateboarding since he was 6 years old and his first skateboard was given to him by his grandma. How cool was grandma McIlwaine?

The Grand Life interpreted by the other artists:

Clockwise: AJ Omandac, Roy Macam, Robert Alejandro, Jake Verzosa

The Grand Life is really Cole Haan’s way of encouraging people to celebrate one’s life. The theme was inspired by the many photos posted by LunarGrand fans on Instagram as well as in other social media wherein every aspect of their lives: from going to work to just having a relaxing sip of coffee, to the most eventful occasions such as landing their dream job and even to their own wedding; their much loved pair of LunarGrand was there to celebrate with them.

Best feature: brogues meets sneakers

The Cole Haan LunarGrand is a conceptual clash of past meets future—the unique and seamless fusion of timeless design and futuristic innovation. Incorporating Nike’s innovative ultra-lightweight Lunarlon cushioning system into Cole Haan’s traditional construction techniques, the LunarGrand achieves unrivaled feel, flexibility and movement—redefining how classic dress shoes can move and function in modern urban environments.

What makes the LunarGrand so interesting is the fact that the classic dress shoe styles have been preserved and fused perfectly to a sneaker outsole that affords the wearer so much comfort even if one stays on their feet all day — it’s like mixing business with pleasure. This now iconic shoe, launched in the Philippines just a few years ago has become one of the most sought after styles worldwide and has found a great following in the Philippines.

Mang Tomas signing his photograph

Tom Epperson’s interpretation of The Grand Life:

According to Tom, "The Grand Life is the freedom to work and play. Tom wore: LunarGrand Longwing Dark in Gull Grey/Seaport

Photography by Tom Epperson

To be honest, this is the first time my husband has worn Cole Haan LunarGrand but after trying on a pair, he’s got four pairs now and counting! According to Tom, for someone who has wide feet, the LunarGrand fits perfectly. He also loves that the shoes are super lightweight!

Personally, I love the look of the shoes. They are stylish and super cool!

Shoppingero, run, don’t walk, shop Cole Haan LunarGrand now!

Doing Nothing Means Everything

Doing nothing feels like the complete opposite of being productive, but after you’ve tried it, you will see how effective it can be.

“When was the last time you spent a quiet moment just doing nothing – just sitting and looking at the sea, or watching the wind blowing the tree limbs, or waves rippling on a pond, a flickering candle or children playing in the park?”
—Ralph Marston

Take a moment and honor the time and space of allowing your body and soul to not engage in any activity and just be there.

I had a lovely time doing nothing in Best Western Boracay Tropics. It was the perfect place to unwind, breathe fresh air and just be.

P.S. Doing nothing only applies to those who are insanely busy, not the lazy. Thank you.

More on my “Me” Time soon! Stay tuned!

A Long Distance Love Affair: Nicolette & David

I timed my vacation in Boracay to coincide with Nicolette Bell and David Lai’s wedding. I rarely attend out of town weddings as it’s quite difficult to fix Tom and my schedule and we don’t like leaving our children behind. But when we received Nic and David’s invitation, we couldn’t miss it. At least one of us had to go.

Tom and I knew Nicolette Bell when she first started modeling. In fact, her first ever modeling gig was with us. It was through Direk Robby Carmona’s recommendation that we booked her. We were looking for a fresh face and Nic couldn’t have been the perfect choice.

This was Nicolette Bell's first ever photo shoot. It was for Metro magazine taken at least 8 or 9 years ago, photographed by Tom; Styled by me; Hair & makeup by Henri Calayag; Fashion by Michelle Sison. It was shot using film so we only had a roll per layout (10 shots per roll) but Nicolette was a natural.

Before digital photography, fashion editorials were shot with film with zero retouching. Nicolette was always flawless in front of the camera. Tom and I were inspired by her beauty and grace. Photography by Tom Epperson; Styled by me; Hair & makeup by Henri Calayag; Fashion by Michelle Sison

Nicolette has been through Tom and my journey in the fashion industry. She was always top of mind when it came to our projects. So when fashion retail brand Tweeds asked Tom and me to do their campaign, we wanted to work with her.

Again, this was shot with film with no pegs and we had to time the magic hour to get the lighting right. This was taken outdoor with the iconic RCBC Plaza in the background. We had to shoot during sunset so we only had 2-3 minutes to get the shot. Nicolette was such a pro. Our inspiration was Femininity in the City and the result is stunning. She nailed our vision for their billboard and print ads. Photography by Tom Epperson; Styled by me; Makeup by Leo Posadas; Hairstyle Nelson Cruz

Black & white shots of Nicolette by Tom Epperson, styled by me for Tweeds' catalogue

Way back when I was the editor of Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Just Shop magazine, supermodels were my favorite cover girls. I love their rawness and versatility. Of course, Nicolette had to be a Just Shop cover girl!

Photography by Tom Epperson; Styling by me; Hair and makeup by Jigs Mayuga; Fashion by Puey Quiñones; Accessories by Arnel Papa

When I ventured into designing accessories and had my online shop ‘Cuteture’, Nicolette was generous and kind-hearted enough to model my accessories. At that point, she already left the modeling business and became a flight stewardess. During one of her stopovers in Manila, she willingly modeled my accessories. She even took my designs to her travels and shot them in L.A., Africa and other parts of the world. I love her for that.

Photography by Tom Epperson, Styling by me; Hair & makeup Benjie Angeles

When Tom opened his studio in Makati Shangri-La, Nicolette was the face of his studio. Nicolette’s image was the billboard in his studio window.

Photography by Tom Epperson; Styled by me; Makeup by Xeng Zulueta for Shu Uemura; Fashion by Ronaldo Arnaldo

Nicolette has been part of our career and has also become a part of our family. She is an honorary Epperson! We always have a wonderful time working with her and her presence has always been a delightful experience for Tom and me.

More than her physical beauty, what Tom and I were attracted to was Nicolette’s spirit. She is alluring, intelligent, kind and caring. She is one of those beautiful souls that we will never forget and will always love.

I finally met David, his friends and family and they are a fun and wonderful bunch! I’m so happy for Nicolette that she’s in good hands and finally married her true love.

To those of you who are curious about David and Nicolette, here’s their story:

A long distance love affair: David & Nicolette

How they met?

Although the two of us would love to say that we met in church, or in graduate school, or in the Peace Corps, quite honestly, we had met at a restaurant in Dubai. It was actually quite ironic; David was on a date with someone else that night. He, of course, noticed how attractive and beautiful Nicolette looked out of the corner of his eye and proceeded to devise a plan on how to approach her without being seen as slimy or creepy.

As the night unfolded, David took a window of opportunity to approach Nicolette and tell her how enamored he was with her. He was very straightforward and revealed that he indeed was on a date, but that it was only a second date and things were not serious at all.  He told her that he would love to take her out sometime because she was a very intriguing person.

David, being the gentleman that he is, escorted his date back to her flat. After dropping her off, David went back to the restaurant on the off chance that Nicolette might still be there. The stars were aligned that evening, she was fortunately still there with her friends. David and Nicolette talked the rest of the evening, shared some laughs, exchanged stories, and even, believe it or not, had a few drinks together. At the end of the evening, David admitted to having a great time with Nic and wanted to spend much more time in getting to know her. She reluctantly gave him her contact info and the rest is history.

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How are you two most similar?

We both love to travel and explore new places together. We are both adventurous and always willing to experience new things, new cuisines, and new cultures. We both prefer to trod the unbeaten path and have been to every continent and well over 100 countries between the two of us.

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The proposal

Nicolette and David first met when they were both working in Dubai in 2008. Little did they know, their relationship would culminate into a 5 year long-distance relationship spanning 4 continents. David proposed on the 4th of September, 2012. He had taken Nicolette on a desert excursion to an isolated falconry lodge in UAE along the Saudi Arabia border. They had a romantic dinner the following evening on a secluded desert dune, and in the guise of a photo shoot, was able to distract Nicolette long enough to get the ring, drop to one knee and propose.

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The wedding:

The wedding ceremony was held yesterday (February 17) at Punta Bunga Beach, Shangri-La Resort & Spa during sunset. So romantic!

I cried so many times during the wedding and reception. You can feel the genuine love all around. It was such a lovely event!

The most romantic and funniest wedding vows from David & Nicolette

Photo taken using Instagram

"Mader" of the bride, haha! Congratulations to my loves Mr. & Mrs. David and Nicolette Lai!

Photo taken using Instagram

The bride wore a Patrice Ramos-Diaz gown. So stunning! The lace was everything!

Forever.

Photo taken using Instagram

David and Nicolette’s wedding was pure bliss. Friends and relatives flew from all around the world to celebrate with them. I feel honored to be part of this special occasion. Thank you David & Nic! Tom & I love you guys and we’re always here for you.

My wish for David & Nicolette is a life filled with love, laughter & harmony!

Congratulations again to the newly weds! Mabuhay ang bagong kasal!!!

Nicolette’s photos by Tom Epperson

“I Miss You, Mom!”

Being on “Me” Time is a double-edged sword — I enjoy being away from the racket at home but I also miss the ones who create them. It’s only been a day and I miss my family already.

I called Tom yesterday after lunch to speak to Dylan but he was napping. I told him to just take photos of our son when he wakes up as I miss him.

The perks of being married to a photographer is that when you ask him to take a photo, he creates stunning images:

My bed-head boy

Meet One-eyed Pete, he is also four years old and Dylan’s first-ever stuffed toy. It was a gift from his sister Aryanna. We don’t know what happened to one of his eyes (no, Dylan did not choke on it) but according to Dylan, the “crocodile” bit it off Pete’s face. Oh, boy.

I miss you, dahling!

Photography by Tom Epperson

When Dylan finally woke up, he called me:

Dylan: Mom! Where are you?
Me: I’m at the beach. Remember I told you I am on vacation.
Dylan: At the beach? Come home, mom!
Me: I’ll be home soon. Don’t be pasaway, OK?
Dylan: I miss you, mom! Come home!
Me: Aww… I miss you too! I promise to come home soon.
Dylan: But I miss you! Come home, mom!
Tom: (in the background) Hurry up buddy, time to go to the park!
Dylan: *giddy* Bye, mom! Dad and I are going now to the park! *turns off the mobile phone*
Me: OK! I love you, Dylan! Dylan… Dylan…

Photography by Tom Epperson

Everything is normal at home even without mom. Thank God and thanks to Tom.

Shoppingero/shoppingera, follow @tomepperson on Twitter and Instagram!

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