Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Baby Registry at babyGap

Attention Mothers! Parental units (Guess the reference. My age is showing, haha)

Planning a baby shower, christening or birthday party soon? Well, let's make it easier for your guests to pick out gifts for your little ones via the baby registry at babyGap!

Yessiree, there is na! All you need to do is:

1. Visit a Gap store and talk to a sales associate about setting up a gift registry
2. Fill up a form
3. Choose up to 30 pieces from the selection in store
4. Share your gift registry to family and friends*

Finally, plenty of gift choices for your family and friends to choose from, apart from the usual suspects. Well actually, only Rustan's comes to mind hehe. Now I like baby registries because it makes it easier for me, and for my guests to come up with the things that baby needs most. With Xavi's christening coming up, friends have been asking me if he has a registry, and if there is anything that Xavi needs in particular. But its so hard to say "this and that" right? Better I think if they choose from my wishlist for the little boy.

So  I signed him up with babyGap's registry last week. Because well, he does not have as much clothes as Atchi Berry. Boys are lugi talaga in the fashion section. Always more fun to shop for little girls clothes I guess. In fact, at babyGap, I would find myself drifting to the little girls clothes, because the styles there are just soooo cute!

Check out the military/marching band jacket on the mannequin. Too cute and quite chic, especially if just worn with a basic t-shirt and jeans.

The babyGap registry also applies to little boys clothes. I managed to pick out a couple of basic polo shirts and button down gingham shirts for Xavi, because at 4 months old, he fits into 6-12 months na and so I can see he'll be fitting into the 18-24 months in no time.

Incidentally, when you sign up for with babyGap's gift registry around this time and until supplies last, you get a free diaper bag:

It looks like this, with plenty of compartments inside:

P.S. - What I like about shopping at babyGap is that there's enough space to maneuver a baby stroller. According to Nikki Verzo of Gap Philippines, stores are designed in such a way that aisles have ample room to maneuver a stroller in. Making it convenient to shop in. Mommy and baby friendly too! Good job, babyGap!

*You get babyGap invitation cards (as seen on topmost photo) that you can give to family and friends. I was also told that I would get an email so I can share Xavi's registry to our guests, but I have yet to receive it. Anyhoo, I told my sisters and friends about it and according to my sister Dianne, Xavi's list was up by the time she went to Gap on Bonifacio High Street the following day.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Leather Baggus + A Giveaway

I've been a Baggu user since 2007 so I reached a point where I wasn't visiting the site any more. What for when I pretty much had all the colors and prints I wanted. UNTIL. I saw that they had come out with leather Baggus! OMG.

Drawstring Purse Php6,500 

Kalurks diba? I want one of each please! All these bags and accessories are made from genuine leather in New York. Although I do have a black Cast of Vices grocery shopper na, so I guess no need for the bags. But, but the array of colors these leather Baggus come in - so pretty, so tempting. Eeep! I must stop looking!

But enough about what I want, let's talk about you and your family and friends! You can give these as gifts you know! Prices range from Php750 for the wedge and loop and go up to Php7,500 for the medium shopper tote. Leather Baggus, along with the regular nylon totes and canvas bags are available in the Philippines via My Ticker Tape Parade and on AVA.ph

Of course, since Christmas is just around the corner, we have a giveaway courtesy of Jen Osmena of Baggu Philippines! We'll be drawing 2 winners! 1 will get 1 wedge and 1 will get 1 loop. Handy dandy small leather accessories that you can keep for yourself or win for a sister or a friend!

Just join via the Rafflecopter widget below: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Contest is open to readers with a Philippine address. Winners will be announced on December 4, 2012.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Lifestrength: Health meets Fashion

This is me wearing a Lifestrength band, taken back in September. Jon Aquino of Lifestrength Philippines sent me two bands to try out and so I road tested this pink one for a couple of months, just to see what this balance bracelet is all about. The other Lifestrength band, I gave to my friend Miriam who just had surgery. I thought it was the thing she needed to help feel better after her operation.

Prior to using Lifestrength, I never really used any of these ionic types of bands. I do remember my sister Nicole experimented on Berry with a Power Balance band. Berry was just 11 months old then and learning to walk - she could only walk 10 steps max. Nic said, "If this is real, then let's see if Berry can walk more steps without falling." Berry walked 16 steps. 6 more than her usual. Coincidence? I really don't know.

What I know is, when I looked at the Lifestrength bands, I liked the look of it. I got the pink and white ones and they were pretty, the way a sports/health bracelet could look pretty. Sleek and understated. Not too masculine. It could party with my other bracelets without looking too ubiquitous.

The promised benefits weren't too bad either:
  • Boost Defenses – Helps you live healthier
  • Wakeup Refreshed – Sleep better at night 
  • Feel Better – Reduce inflammation that can cause pain 
  • Energy – Recover quickly and last longer during exercise 
  • Reduce Stress – Help calm and relax the body

With a 2 month old baby at the time who kept me up at night, I was willing to try anything.

The anions/negative ions in Lifestrength bands are key because these days, we are exposed to positive ions from computers, cellular telephones and the electronics within cars. Coupled with exposure to chemicals, electromagnetic discharge, and other neurological and physical toxins, people tend to get stressed and get sick easily. Hence, NEGATIVE IONS/ANIONS = GOOD. POSTIVE IONS = BAD. Are you still with me? Hehe!

Anyhoo, to cut to the end of the story, I did feel a difference wearing my Lifestrength band. I can't say if it helps with stress, but definitely, I sleep a lot better and I don't get tired so easily. My friend Miriam, who wore hers after her surgery, said she also slept better and the pain on her leg was considerably lessened when she started wearing Lifestrength.

I don't know if we both experienced a placebo effect, but we generally both liked and believed in wearing our Lifestrength bands. A band is Php1,250 each, and if that's the price to pay for getting a good night's sleep at least, hey, why not!

For more on Lifestrength Philippines, visit their Facebook page, HERE.

LifeStrength products are available at R.O.X. Bonifacio High Street and exclusively distributed in the Philippines by The Reliability Wellness Company. For inquiries, contact Jon Aquino at +63917 8548383 or email LifeStrengthPH@gmail.com.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Pointy Pumps Please

Emmanuelle Alt is my style peg talaga! She wears basics so well, no extra embellishments necessary. Plus, I want her pointy pumps. It can't be just any pointy pair. It has to be the exact same pair as hers.  So I did a bit of sleuthing on the net, trying to get a closer look at her shoes...



GOTCHA! The perfect pointy pair of pumps is...

...Jimmy Choo's Agnes pump in black suede. It's part of Jimmy Choo's 24:7 Collection. According to Net-a-Porter, we need to size up on these babies. The 37.5 is still available. 

OMG. Should I? Could I? Would I? The suspense is killing me. The way a great pair of shoes should, actually.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

New from Palmer's: Olive Butter & Oil Formulas

From L to R: Body Butter, Concentrated Cream for Hand, Elbows & Feet, Smoothing Shampoo, Replenishing Conditioner, Cream Oil, Body Lotion and Spray Oil 

I've been a huge fan of Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula ever since I got pregnant with Berry, so I have always associated the brand with Cocoa Butter.  Apart from their Coconut Milk and Shea Butter Formulas, Palmer's has again expanded to another brand range: Palmer's Olive Butter Formula and Olive Oil Formula which come in distinctive green bottles, tubes and tubs.

Before imagining you'd smell like a Mediterranean dish after, I promise you, you won't. I've tried on the Olive Butter shampoo and conditioner and they just smell so good! 

The lotions, oils and creams are worth a try too. Extra Virgin Olive Oil has a unique lipid structure that moisturizes instantly and emulsifies on contact. Just rub it onto skin and once it has sunk in, it shouldn't have a greasy after feel. It is also loaded with antioxidants to keep skin youthful. Palmer's of course took it a step further by adding SPF, Vitamin E and anti-ageing peptides - which makes that bottle of olive oil in your cupboard less appealing.

I know, you might find it strange to have olive oil in your beauty and skincare routine, so in case you didn't know, olive oil apart from being used for food is an ancient beauty secret. It has been used for centuries for cleansing and moisturizing the skin and applied on to scalp and hair to keep it healthy. In Ancient Rome, people even bathed in olive oil, which was considered to be a symbol of power and wealth. 

Sophia Loren, a legendary Italian beauty, once quipped, that the secret to her gorgeousness at 72, was the love of life and olive oil. If that won't convince you, I don't know what else will.

Palmer's is available at Rustan’s Department Stores: Makati, Shangri-la, Alabang Town Center, Robinson’s Place, Gateway Mall, Cebu and all major department stores and supermarkets nationwide, outside of Rustan’s.

What's Your Quirk?

Crayon Blocks from Bitten, "Tea Shirt" from Qualy, Owl Kitchen Timer from Kikkerland 

Thanks so much Zerline Ortiz-Luis of Quirks Novelties & Curiosities for sending me these truly quirky gifts in the mail! Like any girl who loves opening cute and unusual presents, Berry and I unwrapped these with a lot of wonder and fun :)

Honeys, if you haven't noticed the Quirks store in Rockwell and Shangri-la, then go and pay them a visit!  It could just be the place for you to do your Christmas shopping at.  Products are cute and prices are friendly.

Zerline shares that she and her 3  sisters started their store because they realized Manila didn't have a store selling quirky, unique yet still stylish and useful novelties. It's a curated gift shop filled with non-conventional but still practical presents, if you can call it that.

Quirks carries brands from all over the world, selling various home accessories, lifestyle items, desk supplies and gadgets. If you want something different to give this Christmas or some special occasion, and you have a budget to work with, you will still find something special at Quirks. Check out some of their top sellers:

Mighty Wallet Airmail - Tear-resistant and water-resistant. Looks like paper but is as strong as a rock. 100% recyclable too. Perfect for your all-vegan friend.

Undercover Laptop Sleeve - Rip, splash, shock and well, thief proof. The perfect decoy for those nasty guys who swipe laptops off tables in busy coffee shops. Just remind your gadget geek buddy not to pile it with his/her "for dumping/shredding" docs. 

Scratch Map - for your travel bugged friends. So they can scratch that traveling itch once and for all.

Polar Ice Bucket - for a friend who always needs a nightcap, a reminder that things could be worse, like melting polar ice caps. Especially made for those who hate seeing the ice for their drink melting in the ice bucket.

Definitely not your run of the mill gifts, these ones.

In the Philippines, Quirks is the exclusive distributor of Suck UK, J-Me and Luckies from UK, Dynomighty and BlueQ from the USA, Qualy from Thailand, 4m2u from HK and more.

Quirks Rockwell
Stall 320-A Level R3
Power Plant Mall, Rockwell
+632 757 3096

Quirks Shangri-la
Unit K-516 and K-517
Level 5
Shangri-la Plaza Mall
+632 577 9058

Opening Soon:
Quirks Megamall
Ground Floor, SM Bldg A
(beside SM Supermarket)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tips for Blogging Success Part 1 + Nuffnang Blogopolis 2012

Hell yeah, that's me sandwiched between Maria Ressa and Tita Noemi Dado. Heehee!

But seriously, it still is kind of surreal to be there with the "biggest and most influential" names in the Philippine Blogosphere. Bilibitornot.

L to R:  Abe Olandres, Tippy and Anthony Go, Mic Sy Lim, Noemi Dado, Ivan Henares, Carlo Ople, me, David Guison
photo via @daddyjoey on Twitter

So, I have to thank Nuffnang for inviting me to share my thoughts and ideas on branding and promoting blogs for Blogopolis 2012.

 With panelists Divine Lee and David Guison after my presentation. Photo by @daddyjoey

It was quite an experience because even though I have been blogging since 2006, I still learned a lot from my fellow bloggers. From the audience who asked thoughtful questions to the veteran bloggers who took their blogs to the next level - got funded, hired a staff of writers, created businesses out of it and basically turned blogging into a full-fledged career. Racked and Refinery29, you're my peg!

If you missed it this year, no worries, I am here to share my personal insights plus tips I've gathered, with you. Hopefully next year, you can come and attend Blogopolis 2013, so you can join in on the discussions too =)

TOP 10 LESSONS: First Five 

1. Find your niche. There are hundreds of thousands of bloggers out there, so you have to ask yourself the question, "How do I set myself apart?".  Good question. How do you find your niche? Well, you could be strategic about zooming in on your niche, or you can just keep on writing until you stumble upon it. My tip is to list down the topics you like writing about, put your own spin to it, write it in your unique voice and then run with it. In an interview I did with Tommy Ton for On The Radar in The Philippine Star years ago, I asked him how he started. He mentioned that he couldn't get people to pose for him when he was just starting out. He was literally on the sidelines, so what he did was he started taking these behind the scenes fashion shots - women in the current season's must haves posing for photographers, crossing the street, hailing a cab, running through the Tuileries. Turns out taking photos of all these fantastic shoes and bags in their natural, unposed habitat struck a chord amongst the fashion set. He was soon friends with the models and editors who wouldn't or couldn't give him the time of day then. Plus, retailers and fashion publications took notice and started flying him in and out, hiring him for projects. Of course, it is a major factor that he takes gorgeous photos and he has a keen eye for what's hot and fresh. Photography + a love for beautiful things + fashion = Jak & Jil by Tommy Ton

2. Write from the heart. When I started blogging, there was no such term as "monetizing your blog". I wrote because I enjoyed writing and I love finding about new things in fashion. I'd come across interesting news, stumble upon a most fascinating product, read a book or magazine and find a story that I just had to share in the blog. It was that simple. There was no agenda. I just wanted to document all these topics that resonated with me and share it with whoever was interested. I had no idea if others were reading my blog, but it did not matter. I was enjoying the process. I guess I was enjoying myself, and my readers enjoyed reading the blog and sharing in the discovery of my new finds, that pretty soon, brands started approaching me - to introduce and send products, host prizes, invite me to their events, and eventually, to advertise in the blog. It was a natural progression. I am lucky in that I never had to ask for invites, ask for products or ask for advertising - the blog and the genuineness of it all simply attracted it. I believe it is true, "Do what you love, and the money will follow." Bottom line = Do NOT blog for the purpose of earning money, it will never happen. Blog because you love to write, because you enjoy sharing stories.

3. Luck vs Strategy. When asked about the secret to a blogger's success, Mic Sy Lim of Fashion Pulis says blogging success is based on luck. After all, he gets 40,000 page views a day, and he only started his blog a little over a year ago. In blog years, he is an overnight success. Meanwhile, other bloggers like Carlo Ople of The New Media believe in  strategy. I think there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to blogging because it is based on a lot of different factors. But what I believe in is that, it is a combination of both. Luck is arbitrary yes, but if you also are lucky enough to be the first blogger in your niche, or you wrote a post that becomes much talked about, or a famous blogger links to something you said and continuously drives traffic to your site, well and good. But you also need to take steps to take your blog out there to get it noticed. It will not generate its own buzz. You have to make the buzz. I'll be touching upon blogging strategy on the next installment of this post.

4. Content is King. In my presentation, I shared that what you write about is how you present yourself to the world. Ultimately, what you write is telling of your taste, your background, your lifestyle and the demographics of your readers. Why is this important? Advertisers who would want to partner with you will want to know who they are going to be associated with. If you consistently write thoughtful posts, people notice. If you copy and paste press releases all the time, people notice too - and will not come back, because they have read it elsewhere. You know, it pays to invest time in writing an informative, timeless post. Because I have posts from years ago that people still refer to up to now that still get a lot of hits i.e. - a post on how I planned my wedding from abroad, a tip on how to wear Filipiniana attire, Cambridge Satchels (yes, even up to now), Sperry Top-Sider in the Philippines and Syrian First Lady Asma Al-Assad (I know, but hey, she really is stylish). They're not earth-shattering topics, but readers still refer to these posts time and again. You'd want to be known for writing a blog that has meat and substance in the subject you've decided to focus on.

5. Controversy sells. One time, I must have been either bored, PMS-sy or didn't get to shop that week, that I made patol a catty remark about my style, or lack thereof daw. OMG, my hits went through the roof. That post generated over 100 comments and really struck a chord, thankfully more good than bad. It was exciting and quite fun, but my goodness, I am a mom, and I don't need extra excitement in my life na no. So lesson learned, I would rather veer away from controversial topics. But if you can be deadma about people getting upset about something you wrote, and you really do have the stomach for it, it could be worth a try. Fashion Pulis as we all know, has built the following he has because everybody loves chismis and controversy. It's the spice of life. Just don't forget about credibility and ethics because well, you don't want a lawsuit along with your crazy hits.


Monday, November 19, 2012

The Candy Shop + The Art of Gift Wrapping

When I am looking for a dose of creative inspiration, I turn to Pat's blog 101 Grams of Eye Candy for crafty ideas. She has all these cool crafting tools, fancy printing machines and all the necessary materials, enough to create life size Lalaloopsy standees (true! She made those for a party. It was for our common friend Kris aka OC Mom in Manila).  I mean, she's of that level. She can do anything and everything crafty that requires printing, mounting and all that jazz. Then again, that's her business too, does Mundial Marketing ring a bell? Heehee.

I mean seriously, I get that feeling of grade school envy when I read her blog. It's like she's that classmate with the largest stationery collection. The classmate with the fanciest pencil case, and the one with the  pencil sharpening machine that spews out poke-your-eye sharp pencils with a few rotations of that hand crank while you have this teeny tiny manual pencil sharpener with a blade that's as dull as your seat mate who repeated the second grade.

You get my drift?

The cool thing with Pat though, is she's just the nicest person! I've met her and she's just so demure and soft spoken, you can't hate her. Plus, did I mention she has such an eye for color and design that everything she makes, you just automatically like? So when she came out with note cards, gift tags, stickers and such for "The Candy Shop", it took me forever to whittle down my picks. And when I did, she graciously sent everything I wanted, plus more! See?

I was so inspired with everything that she sent me that I knew exactly where to place the cut-out letters in the kids room:

I am set on ordering buntings to place above their names, but haven't decided on the words yet

And I loved how my utilitarian choice of packaging - craft paper and baker's twine, was taken to the next level with her colorful, mix and match sticker labels! It really got me excited to wrap presents for Berry's classmates who are celebrating their birthdays in school:

I realize that thoughtful packaging is just as important as the gift you are giving, but it doesn't have to be expensive or an elaborate effort. All it takes is a nice thick sheet of paper, festive string or ribbons, plus of course, labels or note cards that create anticipation for what's wrapped underneath.

Prices for The Candy Shops products average at about Php150 a set. So these make great, budget-friendly gifts for friends and office mates this holiday season too. Check out more of Pat's designs here, here and here.

Visit her Facebook page, here.

To view her online catalog and to order, email info.thecandyshop@gmail.com

Stache Baby Onesies + Super Xavi

photo via Funky Time

Mustache parties are such a hit these days that the sight of a thick curly mustache can instantly get people giddy. If you just pop by Pinterest, there are so many ideas, it makes you want to throw a party, for no reason, except maybe to just join in on the mustache fun. Now imagine a mustache on your baby's onesie?

Never mind that the little one's a girl?
These onesies are from Stache Baby and are quite funny no? They also have superhero onesies...

And a onesie that looks quite debonair!
Baby girls get to join in on the fun too!

And still, there are plenty of styles to choose from! See?

Last I checked the Stache Baby Facebook page, they just came out with Gangnam Style onesies! Roxy Barrios of Stache Baby sent me this superhero onesie for Xavi, especially made for him.

It was so adorbs, Dada wanted him to wear it even if it was a bit too big. Cute no?

Stache Baby Onesies are available for order via their Facebook page and also via Lazada.com at Php350 a piece. Quite a nifty gift idea if you ask me!
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