Sunday, May 4, 2014

I know it's taboo to discuss sex, politics, and religion, but today I'm writing about religion.

I am a Catholic, and I will be until I die. But to be honest, I've been struggling a lot lately--going to mass has become more of an obligation (which is probably true for many others), mostly because I still haven't found a church where I feel at home, that gives me the feeling that I truly am spending time with God, and that gives me serenity, the way the best masses do. I used to go to mass every weekday at Tektite, mostly because I really like the priest there--it's like I really feel like God is talking to me. But he says Sunday mass at some far-flung place. I decided to stop going to the church near our house because of the parish woman who rudely and loudly told me in front of other churchgoers that my son was distracting (to her I say: 1) you could have said it nicely--we ended up slinking away in shame, not even finishing the mass; 2) I only took my son to church because my favorite priest suggested that I do; 3) we were actually outside the church because I am aware how distracting a toddler could be; 4) "Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these'"; 5) sigh, maybe you were having a bad day so I really should just let it go). I'm not comfortable going to mass at malls, particularly one mall where the priest once said, "If you're sick, it means that you're sinful." (I kid you not.) I like going to mass at Gesu (I tend to like Jesuit homilies) but I never know when there's a mass there.

Today, I went to mass at a cathedral, which I thought was The One. But in the middle of talking about the Gospel, the priest started yelling--YELLING INTO THE MICROPHONE--at the congregation. For being late, for being so easily distracted, for coming only because we felt like we had to, for not taking advantage of the opportunity "to feel the presence of God." To be honest, I wasn't really feeling the presence of God as he lambasted us all. I felt like I was in the principal's office, getting berated for doing something bad. I felt like I was seated before vengeful Old-Testament God, who was about to unleash a plague because we were all so disobedient. I felt like leaving.

I understand he must have been frustrated, but is shaming churchgoers really the best way to encourage them to find meaning? I struggle to understand the words spoken, the rituals we sit/stand/kneel through every week. And as a good Catholic, I suppose it's up to me to really find answers to my questions. I guess today all I'm asking is: Is there a Catholic church out there that makes going to mass something I would joyfully do, rather than something that makes me tell myself, "It's just one hour for God, suck it up"?   

Monday, February 10, 2014

Why I Love Downton Even More

Click here to find out more about the promo. Even if you don't win, you still get a little something, ranging from a digital thank you card from select cast (1 entry+) to Mrs. Patmore coming to cook for you and 10 of your friends (5,000 entries+)! My favorite is "You'll receive a personalized video of Mrs. Patmore yelling at whomever you choose as if they are Daisy" (100 entries+)! I'm so tempted to pool together all my Downton fan-friends so we could get one of the bigger "prizes," then we'll just raffle it off amongst ourselves. Hmmm.

Thank you, Downton--and to all the others who've helped/are helping/will help!

Random Outfits

I keep forgetting to take photos of my clothes. In two weeks, I was only able to manage to get photos of three outfits. I missed an LBD, a kaftan, a cocktail dress...Oh well!

Outfit 1: White romper with embellished neckline from Topshop. White is my color. It's not the most forgiving of colors, but I love how it looks so fresh, clean, and elegant. At work, I wore this with nude pumps and had a tan bag. For family dinner at Circles, I switched to silver heels from Primadonna, and a purple and silver bag from Aranaz.

Just when I think my chest is back to normal, I see photos like this.:p Biceps c/o my son.

Outfit 2: I call this my "mommy porma"! Regular day at work. Striped top from Bayo, Levi's Revel jeans, white tennis sneakers from Market! Market!, red bag from Yosi Samra, shades from Forever 21.

Outfit 3: Friday! Not that I went out or anything. Har. H got me that black v-neck top from H&M maybe two years ago but this was the first time I wore it. I used to think it was too tight, so it's kind of funny that I decided to wear it when I wasn't even in the shape I was in when I first got it. I guess the older you get, the less self-conscious you are? Leopard-print skirt from Cotton On was a gift from H's sister. Black pumps from Parisian.

Here's hoping I remember to take more photos this week!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Little Man's Mustache Bash

I totally understand why parents spend loads of money on a big first birthday party--your kid only reaches this milestone once. But I guess I'm practical? I figured A's not going to remember the party anyway, so I just wanted a small family-only thing at home. (On a side note, there's a funny piece called "Down with Big Birthday" about how ridiculous the "Birthday-Industrial Complex" has gotten.) 

I decided on a little man/mustache theme because 1) A really did seem like a little man, and 2) he has three mustache sandos that he regularly wears, so it's kind of his thing. Pretty much everything in this party (if you could call it that) was DIY. Because the holidays weren't hectic enough.@_@ Some photos (some were taken by my SIL): 

My Photoshop/InDesign skills were tested when I made the invitations (our assistant art director Theo made the background). I know everyone does Facebook invites nowadays, but I printed them out anyway. 

I made bunting to hang all around...

...and mixed some with Japanese lanterns that I bought from Divisoria a couple of months before. They're still hanging in our garage (thanks for helping, Ninong Rene!)--A seemed to like them so I decided to keep them.

I hung a big sign at the gate so guests would know where the party was at.

As much as I wanted to cook, I just didn't have room for that kind of stress in my life. On the menu: chicken lollipop and spaghetti made by my mom's helper, and hickory smoked barbecue ribs (my favorite) as well as baked fish with potato gratinee (H's favorite) from Banapple. 

And it might seem silly considering it was such a small event, but I printed out signs for those too...

We had some really yummy red velvet cupcakes baked by GH food editor Roselle. (She baked A's baptismal cupcakes too!)

Some extras: I made A a birthday board with some fun facts. By hand. And considering I have terrible handwriting and have no calligraphy skills, this was a true labor of love! I used chalk on illustration board--I think I'm going to go over it a second time with chalk marker. It's a little souvenir that I'd like to keep in A's room. 

With the board, I put some disposable cameras (courtesy of H's sis) and a bunch of different mustaches, so people could snap away. Our nephews and nieces had a lot of fun with those--but they had to ask us how to work the cameras!

With my BFF (A's ninang)--because she's family

We didn't really have anything planned in terms of entertainment, except for an old-school game with a twist: Pin the 'stache on A!

For the cake, I didn't wanna spend a bundle on something fancy, so I just got a big version of the mini devil's food cake (from Chocolate Kiss) we had for his first-month birthday and decorated it with mini-bunting. (I LOVE this cake. I think I had three slices that day. We ordered two so guess where most of my holiday weight came from?)

For A's outfit, I wanted something that would go with the color scheme and theme. His red button-down shirt had a tiny mustache detail, and he wore it with comfy blue pants. I wore a stache necklace.

In the realm of first birthdays, little man's was small and simple and super casual. But hey, he seemed to enjoy it!

P.S. Need help styling an event? Email me at :)

Saturday, February 1, 2014

A Workweek's Worth of Outfits (or, OOTW)

Because I promised myself that I wouldn't turn losyang after having a kid. I'm not a fashionista, but lately people have been telling me that I'm their mommy peg (aww thanks, guys!), so um I guess I'm doing something right. My outfits for one week of work:

Monday: Just a regular day at work. H&M silk blouse, 50th Avenue origami shorts, Forever 21 ankle booties, and Topshop necklace.

Tuesday: Fancy dinner with New York bosses at our big boss's (super-Instagrammable-but-I-restrained-myself) house. Chloe dress (there's a shimmery animal-print-ish layer peeking out from underneath the sheer violet layer), white and gold Australian ankle-strap heels, and Tory Burch bag. 

Wednesday: Regular day at the office. Forever 21 nude lace top and tank, Jag straight-cut indigo jeans, The Ramp blazer, Parisian nude pumps, Aranaz bag.

Thursday: Ocular inspection of possible cover shoot locations. Black People Are People top, department store jeans, army green Bayo vest, Payless heels, Mango Touch bag, Forever 21 sunnies, bangles were a gift.

Friday: Family dinner. The Ramp dress, CMG sandals (because I needed a break after wearing heels for four straight days), SM necklace.

I know a lot of mommies have a tough time getting dressed after having kids, not just because your body after childbirth feels completely alien (I've always thought that it's much harder to dress a post-pregnancy body than it is to dress a pregnant one) but also because of the lack of time (I am thankful for the help that I have, which at least gives me time to shower! I have friends who aren't as lucky). A few tips to help my fellow mommies who may be struggling--and judging by my magazine's Mommy Makeover letters, there are a few out there:
  1. Know your body. This helps you figure out which cuts to go for and which ones you shouldn't even have in your wardrobe. For example: The black top in my Thursday outfit used to be a crew-neck top. I had the neckline widened because crew-neck tops aren't flattering on me--they end up making me look bigger, maybe because I have a large-ish rib cage. I also have a high waist, so I tend to avoid fit-and-flare dresses; they make me look even more squat and rotund.
  2. Know your style. I'm more of a classic dresser. I throw in the occasional trend (see Monday: origami shorts), but generally I stick to basic pieces. I'm also minimalist when it comes to accessories. I hardly ever wear earrings! When I do wear bling, I normally have either just a necklace OR bangles. But if you're a maximalist, by all means, pile it on! I think a lot of this minimalism stems from the fact that I have a toddler who likes grabbing things.
  3. You don't have to spend a bundle. I don't buy designer stuff--that gorgeous Chloe dress is actually from Pam Q's sale and the Tory Burch bag was a gift. A lot of my clothes and accessories are department store finds.
  4. Layer. Blazers (see Wednesday), vests (see Thursday), cardigans--these are things you can toss over more form-fitting or sheer tops or dresses that you might otherwise feel self-conscious in. 
  5. Plan. I was inspired by our assistant fashion editor Nina, who plans her outfits for the week. She says it keeps her from being late. I find that I begin my workdays with less stress when I already know what I'll be wearing. It's just one less thing to think about, making mornings less frantic.
Any tips you'd like to share?:)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Home Makeover: Dining Area

Because A was quickly moving into toddlerhood, I decided to re-do the house. But I still wanted it to look like a grownups' home, not a nursery school. I guess the key was to provide as much space as possible (no mean feat in our small home), and have fewer breakables (bye-bye, vases) and sharp edges to run into (bye-bye, coffee table).

Since the first time I did the house, my style has evolved. I'm still into a mix of stuff, but I've started to let go of the beach-y elements (probably because everyone's just doing tropical modern now, the way everyone did Mediterranean in the 90s). I still like the idea of elegance mixed with comfort, but now I'm more attracted to classic shapes and subdued colors with a vibrant pop here and there. I like things more soft and feminine, but not over-the-top girly. 

I started with a peg, but it turned out to be more my old style, and eventually I moved away from it, retaining only the color scheme and the airiness. I finally decided on a look (because it just makes furniture and decor decisions easier): modern romantic.

I'm nearly done with the first floor (yeah, all two major areas of it), and I think the part that best showcases this look is the dining area.

This was taken in December (obviously), but haven't taken a new photo as it just looks much cozier and dreamier with the tree in the background! I've always thought that the house looks best at Christmas. 

I absolutely adore our new dining area! Sigh. (I wish I could put a before photo, but I just realized I don't have any old photos on hand--was never able to get the ones shot by Real Living when they featured our house.) The changes:
  • The accent wall was repainted from green to gray, custom-mixed by our house painter (leave a comment if you need his number!) because my budget didn't allow for store-customized paint. This worked out though, because it took us about four tries to get the shade just right. The rest of the white walls were retouched, and I had those horrid brown fake baseboards painted over.
  • The wood dining table was custom-made by one of the stalls in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. I like it, but a couple of weeks after delivery, it started splitting down the middle. Still waiting for the furniture maker to send someone over to fix it.
  • As much as I would like to say that those babies are real, they're actually repro Louis Ghost chairs. Got 'em on sale, 50% off at Victoria Mondiale! I went over my budget for dining chairs, but how could I possibly resist?
  • I kept going through online stores (Pottery Barn, West Elm, Urban Outfitters) for lighting options, then came across a gorgeous capiz chandelier in the World Market website. Guess where it was made? I figured I could find the same thing for a fraction of the price at Ils de Tuls (ilalim ng tulay, Quiapo). So under the bridge I went and found that beaut. I'm sure they overcharged me, as I'm normally too embarrassed to haggle, but it was still a good price. I'm planning to get smaller ones for the first-floor bathroom and the master bedroom--or I could just make them.
Still so much to do (and spend on)! But I'm loving where this is going. I can't help but smile every time I go downstairs in the morning and see the first floor all airy and bathed in sunshine. And after a long day at work, I am just excited to walk through our front door. Sure, redecorating seems like a completely unnecessary expense, but I can't put a price on the happiness and relaxation I get from feeling like I've really come home.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The 12th Month: Oh What a Year!

Ladies and gentlemen, my toddler.

How YOU doin'?


I thought I was going to write something profound and moving to mark my son's first year, but I...really have no words for it.

His birthday (and mine) comes at the end of the year, so it really makes one think about the roller coaster ride (sometimes house of horrors) of a year we had.

At his super simple, DIY first birthday party--more on that in a future post

It was, by far, the most difficult year that I have ever gone through. But I think I'll always look back at 2013 as a year of growth, a year of discovering my true strength and my capacity for love ("to the moon and back" doesn't seem to cut it). 

My son turned me into a grownup. 

Proudly showing off all two of his teeth

Oh A, you're a super speedy toddler now (with a hobbit-like appetite), but I reserve the right to call you my baby for life. Even when (especially when?) it gets embarrassing! 

(Photos by my SIL, Yasmin Gosiengfiao)