Sunday, December 25, 2011

Sweet Christmas

Just a quick post to greet everyone a very merry Christmas!

Yesterday, I did something I hadn't done in years: I baked cupcakes!

I love baking but our hand-me-down oven is so wonky that I hardly attempt it. I sooo wanted to bake a layered cake, but given the oven situation, I decided these were a safer bet. The flavor: My favorite red velvet with cream cheese frosting, with a recipe from here (I cut the ingredients for frosting by half though). The frosting looks a little sad because I didn't have a proper pastry bag. But I'm happy it tasted the way I wanted it to and the cakes were a vibrant red (as opposed to an ordinary chocolate brown)--perfect for Christmas. Plus, the house smelled like cupcakes!

Hope everyone had/is having a Christmas that's just as warm and sweet and comforting and delicious!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Step Away from the iPad

What ever happened to good conversations over dinner? When eating out meant catching up with each other, reminiscing about the past, making new memories? Now, I see tables of people hunched over their gadgets, playing games, tweeting, BBM-ing away, paying no mind to the other people who are doing...the exact same thing.

I am guilty of checking my phone every now and then over dinner, but I think that paying more attention to your gadget than to the people you're with is just plain rude. It tells them that you'd rather be somewhere else. It tells them that games are more important than their company. It tells them that you are utterly lacking in the ability to carry a conversation.

It tells me that we need to start relearning how to communicate, the good old-fashioned way.

This Christmas, as we get together with our families and friends, may we remember to let go of our gadgets and focus on the people, right then and there.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Time of My Life

We won!

Even with minimum effort on the part of most of the participants (not so much on mine--more on that later), we won! But I'm getting ahead of myself.

In the past, it was a Summit tradition to have a contest among its employees during the Christmas party--best presentation wins. My first one was in 2005, and we placed second, despite having practiced for probably a grand total of three times. The second was the year after that, where I and the rest of the Charmed Ones (Runner's World editor Marie and former Martha Stewart Weddings EIC Tata) conceptualized the 80s-themed performance. We placed first. We were dead set on defending our crown, but alas, for four years, there was literally no contest.

This year, the tradition was revived. But instead of being divided into departments (editorial, production, etc.), we were grouped together randomly. GH was put together with the other women's/kids'/parenting titles, Hand Interactive (our mobile arm), and internal audit.

We barely had two weeks to prepare, and I was the default "leader" (after HR emailed me. Through my personal address. While I was on vacation. I kid you not). I figured the easiest thing to do would be a flash mob. Inspired by the Oprah show, I chose the Black Eyed Peas' "The Time (Dirty Bit)," asked my husband to cut it (because who has the time to learn a five-minute routine?), watched some wedding flash mob videos on YouTube, and set about recruiting people.

It wasn't easy. The most common answer I got was, "I can't dance." We resorted to all sorts of tactics--peer pressure, thinly veiled threats, and even a direct order from the Big Boss. I made four promises to everyone I spoke to:
  1. The choreo was going to be verrrry easy, a modified LA Walk (a number of them asked me to demonstrate, and I had to make up steps on the spot).
  2. They only had to practice once.
  3. They could learn it in 15 minutes.
  4. I would make myself available whenever they wanted to learn the steps.
I was gunning for at least 30 people, but in the end, got about 40 (although about five of them weren't able to perform for various reasons), and probably taught the steps around seven times to as many different groups of people. (P.S. I also had to mix the music. Haha.)

I am incredibly grateful to those who helped out--OK!'s Kabbie, who came up with a Powerpoint presentation detailing costume options for those in the main group of performers; Cosmo's Camyl, who was supposed to be a co-leader but couldn't perform, so she took care of logistics instead; OK!'s Red and Cosmo's Paula, who took care of the party poppers; Marie, who absorbed some of my stress; all the others who taught the steps to their friends!

The result is this:

I was obviously pumped up. Har. Cosmo's Irish does an awesome imitation of me! What can I say--the cheerleader in me came alive!

Other groups played instruments and all that (although we were the only group out of five that didn't use the whole Victoria's Secret-"Moves Like Jagger" concept!), but I guess we had the most energy (plus Myrza Sison!). Our performance wasn't perfect, but we had fun, and I think it showed.

The win gave me something more than just a cash prize and bragging rights. At the end of the night, as I rested at home and worried about my disappearing voice, I thought about what this experience taught me. (I rarely do big confessions here, but here goes...)

See, the past few weeks haven't been easy for me. They've been full of self-doubt and a lot of fear. I was questioning many of my decisions, and even my abilities. I lost the vigor I once had, and kept thinking if I was good enough at what I do. I'll spare you the ugly details, but essentially, I was living under this cloud of insecurity, and I felt like I was too drained to face it head on.

It might seem kind of shallow, but this performance, this win, made me realize that I am still capable of doing great things. If I take charge, don't let anybody compromise my vision, put in the hard work, and have a wonderful team behind me, I can produce something spectacular.

This experience gave me back my confidence and my drive. What a priceless Christmas gift! Whenever I see those clouds rushing in, I'll go back to this moment. And maybe even do that modified LA Walk, just to remind me.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Wedding Wear

'Tis the season to get married! Attended two weddings yesterday in what is probably my favorite wedding outfit to date (not counting my wedding gown, of course!).

Snakeskin top and pleated black skirt with slit and gold waistband from The Ramp at Crossings, nude platform pumps by Parisian, Aranaz clutch, earrings by WWW, bangles from Forever 21

I was tired of wearing the usual prom-like gowns, so I opted for edgy separates. I looove the slit. This skirt would be more flattering on someone three inches taller though! Har. Didn't think my husband would like it, but he actually said, "Ooh! Snakeskin!" Got another wedding this month in Baguio. Thinking about a formal outfit to wear in cooler climes.

Marry Christmas!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Immaculate and Other Misconceptions

In honor of this day, I decided to do a post on popular misconceptions (er, and grammatical errors that really bug me). Feel free to comment with other stuff that you want the world to know!

The Immaculate Conception does not refer to the time Jesus was conceived.
When people make a joke about single friends being pregnant, and single friends reply with, "Ano yon? Immaculate Conception?" that isn't accurate. The Immaculate Conception was when Mary was conceived without sin (December 8, today--nine months before Mary's birthday, September 8). Jesus was conceived during the Annunciation (March 25--nine months before Christmas). Although it can be argued that Jesus, too, was conceived without sin...

Since we're on the topic of Catholicism, if you do the Math, Lent isn't really 40 days long. (It's longer.) I just counted it three years ago. There are different schools of thought--I read somewhere that Holy Week isn't included, but that's strange because I always thought it was the holiest part of Lent. Others say Sundays aren't included. I still don't know the real explanation, but the fact remains: between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday, there are more than 40 days!

The Quarter-Life Crisis doesn't hit when you turn 25. It's a term that covers the period from late teens to early 30s (depending on where you are emotionally and psychologically I guess), not just your 25th year. I think the confusion comes from the fact the "25" is a quarter of a hundred. (Which still doesn't really make sense because how many people actually live up to a hundred?)

Frisbee is not the name of the sport. It's a brand of flying disc. The sport is called Ultimate, but people call it Frisbee, in the same way that Pinoys call toothpaste Colgate and photocopying Xerox. Funny thing is, we hardly use Frisbee-brand discs here (Discraft is preferred).

"Training" cannot be pluralized. You can say "training seminars" or "training sessions" or whatever, but I cringe whenever I read/hear "trainings." Don't get me started on furniture, equipment, and jewelry.

"Traffic" is a noun, not an adjective. So it isn't grammatically correct to say, "It's so traffic!!!" Better to say, "Traffic is heavy" or "Pay-day Friday traffic is bat-sh*t crazy."

Keep this in mind: "result in." It's either that or "lead to" but never "result to."

OK, glad I got all that off my chest! Although there is that bit about dangling modifiers that really bugs me...

Monday, December 5, 2011

Everthing Kate Middleton!

My other baby is finally out!

A couple of months ago, I was asked to work on a special for OK! Magazine, about the Duchess of Cambridge. Given the super limited time frame, I had to recruit a small team of highly capable people to work on it with me. Enter Camyl from Cosmo (also of Techy Romantics fame), Mimi of Candy, and Cleone of Martha Stewart Weddings. I cannot tell you how much of a godsend these ladies were--they made the work so incredibly efficient, and even enjoyable! (A special thank you to the publishers as well!)

We went through hundreds and hundreds of photos, read a lot of books and news stories, and immersed ourselves in all things Kate. (It would've been nice if we had been sent to the UK for more research, but oh well.) This special is all about Kate's (er, Catherine's) growing-up years, her love affair with William, that spectacular wedding, her personal style, and her current life as the Duchess of Cambridge.

Scandal sells, for sure (read: local showbiz news the past couple of weeks), so it's quite refreshing that people are so interested in someone who's relatively scandal-free. My editor's note:

What is it about Catherine Elizabeth Middleton that we find so fascinating? For the Brits, her future subjects, it may be the hope that she is the antidote to a scandal-wracked monarchy. After decades of unhappy marriages, affairs, and divorces serving as tabloid fodder, the royal family has a new member who, by many accounts, is a well-behaved girl with a perfectly boring past. Possibly the most shocking thing about Kate is that she would supposedly moon boys from her dorm window during her time at Marlborough College.

But what is it about her that appeals to the rest of the world? I think it’s that people find her absolutely relatable. Once a commoner like the rest of us, Kate comes from a working-class family, reportedly experienced bullying at all-girl school Downe House, got down and dirty playing a variety of sports, and till this day does her own grocery shopping (and her own makeup!). She was a regular girl who got her fairy tale in the grandest of fashions. And while women everywhere may begrudge any other would-be princess for bagging one of the world’s most eligible bachelors, there is simply something so likable about Kate that makes other women root for her (or even want to be her, if the skyrocketing sales of outfits she’s worn are any indication) instead.

Kate is a charming mix of paradoxes: sophisticated but not the least bit intimidating, fashionable but with sartorial choices that are attainable, royalty but with a lineage that can be traced back to coal miners. And while she may have been in danger of falling under the shadow of her well-loved mother-in-law, Kate is quietly proving that she is, in fact, her own person—as the Duchess of Cambridge, she is radiant, composed, confident, and still so strangely, wonderfully approachable.
In this special, we reveal how Kate went from a regular British girl to Waity Katie to Catherine, the future Queen of England—and show just what it was that captured Prince William’s heart, and the world’s.


Do grab a copy from the nearest bookstore or newsstand, for P195. It'll make a great Christmas gift for your Kate-fanatic friend!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

My Christmas Wish List

It's December, y'all! Can you believe it? I haven't even done my Christmas shopping yet! Ack!

Ze huzband has been asking me about what I want, so it got me thinking about my own Christmas wish list. Presenting, the top 10 things on my list (although I may have missed a few things), in no particular order...

1. A new wardrobe. I have a lot of clothes already, but I really want to have a well-rounded wardrobe that stays true to my style (which I've determined is "classic with an edge"--except when I'm on the field!).

All from Zara. What can I say? I love neutrals.

2. Laptop. Because my old netbook isn't working like it's supposed to. And I also want to replace our clunky home desktop PC with a sleek notebook.

Isn't it purty? From here.

3. Hand vacuum. Yes, yes, this is the unsexiest thing I have on my list. But I'm convinced that I would vacuum more if only I didn't have to assemble-disassemble-store every single time I have to vacuum the couch.

From here.

4. Sheets. I really want to add to our sheet wardrobe! There's nothing like lying in a bed with fresh, crisp sheets.

And if you want to throw in a fluffy white comforter, that would be awesome. From here.

5. A good chef's knife. I think it takes longer for me to cook because I don't have a proper knife. I had a chef's knife a couple of years ago, but it has since gotten dull, and I wouldn't know how to begin sharpening it. P.S. Did you know that more kitchen accidents are caused by dull knives than sharp ones?

Hamil and I saw this on the Home TV Shopping Network and were so amazed! Haha

6. Design*Sponge at Home. I've been wanting this book for months.

From here.

7. And while we're at it, a book shopping spree. Because even though my brother said he would give me his Kindle, I still one day want to have this...

From here.

8. My signature scent. I love love love L'Occitane Recolte Bleu. It was given to me by my good friend Marie a few years ago, and it's been my scent ever since. It smells like lavender--so fresh, clean, relaxing. But I just recently ran out of it.:(

From here.

9. Butterbeer cupcakes. My "sister" Priti found a recipe for Butterbeer cupcakes. We've been meaning to whip up a batch but a few ingredients aren't available locally. Sigh.

Photo from the same site.

10. To travel. I really really really miss my family in New York. It's been a year.:( And I really really really want to go back to Europe, with Hamil this time.

I did throw a coin into the Fountain of Trevi on my last visit, so I have high hopes that I'll be going back!

I'm not asking for too much, am I?:) When people ask me what I want, I normally say "nothing," because really, I do have everything to give me a comfortable life. These big-ticket items are just fanciful bonuses. As it is--with everything (and everyone) I have in my life--I have more than enough to be thankful for.

What's on your list?