Of Mini Retreats, Getting Unplugged and Decaffeinated

>> Tuesday, March 30, 2010

One of the things I like about where I work is how the company is bent on having its people work towards being work-life balanced. I know many companies in the Philippines are like my employers, but I know some companies can be really strict on vacation leaves, too. I'm lucky enough to be on the bright side of the spectrum.

Just as March was hitting its middle mark, a friend asked me to go to Boracay by the end of the month, leaving me a little less than two weeks' notice (and preparation, to boot!) I of course, agreed and packed my bags (and suits!) a day before we left.

The trip was, more than a whole lot of things, a welcome retreat from the craziness my life was beginning to resemble. I'd barely been getting 8 hours of sleep a day, barely eating on time and barely able to reflect on the blessings I've been getting from him.

Realistically, we had a bunch of hassle encounters on our way to the Philippines' ultimate summer getaway (i.e.: getting diverted to the Kalibo airport due to a minor accident in the Caticlan airport, therefore having to endure a 2-hour bus ride to the port), stuck in traffic in Buendia for a good 30 minutes) but God is so good because apart from all the beautiful things I've experienced once again, the beautiful views and the great food I've been eating, it was the lessons, thoughts and reflections I value the most from my trip.

 But first, here are some snapshots:

 The view from where I parked myself.

A very oily me, after a dozen massages with a mojito, of course!

Oh and it was happy hour, too! I swear, Red Coconut's mojitos are the best!

The biggest Tiger Prawns I've ever seen, from a quaint Italian restaurant (why they have it escapes me)

What greets me in the mornings (We stayed at the Cohiba Villas). This place
is so spacious!

The heavenly strawberry-banana shake from the famous Jonah's.
Their pineapple-lemon shake was a winner, too!

The view from our villa, kinda like reminds me of Mallorca.


 Damn, the beach is gorgeous. I seriously want to go back with D and Y.

Having breakfast at Zuzuni, just before going to Helmet Diving

Dancing with my Romanian friend, Irina at Hey, Jude

 Fire Show at Bamboo Lounge


My Vodka Kurant and the shots at the Sober Club bar.


Fireworks by the beach at Don Vito Restaurant

And so, as I plonked down my bags and myself onto my bed upon coming home, I realized that a few days of being unplugged (no laptops and no internet for me), decaffeinated (only fruitshakes for the duration of the trip) and isolated from the city life, I learned the following about myself, and life in general:

Many times, I told myself I am content and happy with what and who I have, but there have been times wherein I've gotten into webs of opportunities I've tried out of what ifs in my heads, but failed. And I guess, it's not entirely failure, it just means it didn't quite pan out how I would have liked it, but they'd still make great experiences. The trip pointed out a lot of questions, lots of things I'm glad to have let go, reaffirmed a myriad of my fears (commitment, amongst others), fueled long mooned-over joys (such as swimming) and stirred a warm dose of peace into my heart.

Things might not have played out how my friends I pictured it would have, given the spontaneity of it all, but it sure was a fun and profound four days of my life. I can't thank God enough for these seemingly little lessons in life, among many, many things such as having the friends who pluck you out of life for little adventures and the resources to go onto these little luxuries.

I am still beaming despite being about ten shades darker, too.
Despite missing JT in concert (and it was a date, too!), Imogen Heap and darn, did I miss something else?


What about you?
Learn anything good lately?
Kisses!

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Held in the Cradle of Imagination

>> Monday, March 22, 2010


Somewhere in the nooks of my yellowing cabinet at our old home in Las Piñas, is my musty copy of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Caroll. I remember skimming through it as a kid, didn't really chew every word I read, and wishing now that I have, thinking I can just spend my weekend devouring it just like my old days as a kid.

I caught the last run of the movie for that day (Tuesday) in 3D, nonetheless. Despite the discomfort of wearing the Dolby glasses, my eyes went bigger and bigger as I took in the rich colors and the intricate cinematography of the Tim Burton movie. I've read mixed reviews about it and despite not being able to remember a clear picture of how my imagination ran those days. I expected to think it was so so, or annoying at worst, what with my most hated actress ever, Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen (Queen of Hearts). Much to my surprise, my liking for Carter's portrayal, as well as her quirky quips left my lips smiling and my heart skipping rope on its cage.

Image source // Refer to watermark

Imagination. It was my one collective takeaway from the wonderland that is Alice and the other characters. Six impossible things before breakfast. All the best people are mad.. There is a place. Like no place on Earth. A land full of wonder, mystery, and danger! Some say to survive it: You need to be as mad as a hatter. Muchness. Have you any idea why a raven is like a writing desk?

It's been four years since I've officially left school, since I've officially lost a chain that connects to a license I could use to call myself a kid. I've drowned in a sea of thoughts on how to rationalize things, of how everything should be on x and y and has to make sense.To me, being a grown up in an adult world required every inch of my brain to be fully rational, to be practical and to be sensible.

I miss being a child and being held in the cradle of imagination.

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Kiss Your Way to Happiness

Since today is the first official day of Spring, and as promised, I will be providing individual reviews for the Body Shop products from the Spring collection. First up, is my favorite from the crop which is the blusher, Kiss of Colour Cheek Blush. It's impossible not to take note of this limited edition item from TBS. After all, it comes in a unique stamping package, ready to give you a glow any time of the day and anywhere!



Give cheeks a radiant, rosy tint of colour in an instant thanks to the innovative blush stamp, easily portable for make-up application ‘on the go’. The sponge applicator is coated in the pressed powder so it can be applied lightly to the cheeks for a fresh-faced glow. Cheeks look like they have been gently pinched by Mother Nature. Available in two delectable shades – Limited Edition 01 Vibrant Rose and 02 Golden Coral - the blush is stylishly presented in a fresh white pack with a handy mirror for making-up on the move. To help care for skin, the Cheek Blush features moisturising Community Trade sesame seed oil and Community Trade Brazil nut oil.

I honestly thought that since the blush came in a coral-ish [Golden Coral] shade, I thought it wouldn't look as good on me, better than any other pink-hued blush would. But of course, I was wonderfully surprised that it's still a flattering shade after all.

What I Liked About it:
  • Unique! I've never seen a blusher like it and I likey! Plus it comes in white, too, which is a bonus for me.
  • Space-saver. The stamp blush occupies very little space in my bag. Also, the blush is compact which contributes to it being not messy at all.
  • Convenient to Use. Shen and I were joking that this little baby comes in handy just before entering the boardroom as all you need are two dots and minimal blending.
  • Natural. I like that this blush comes on sheer as I always make the mistake of putting on too much. With this, I'd have to add more for emphasis, or layer it with another blush, which is what I do most days for gradient.
  • Smells good! I'm not sure why but it may be the natural oils infused in it. I love smelling it while stamping it on cos it's so faint you just want more!
  • The little mirror on the bottom of the blush can get quite handy for touchups!
  • Long Lasting. Again, let the oils take credit for it! It may be their 'fault' why the blush stays on longer. Yay!
What I Don't Like About it:
  • Hygiene. How am I supposed to clean/wash the stamping pad? I've been using this blusher for more than a week now so I'm not using the pad anymore. I use my favorite blush brush though.
  • Price. For something a tad smaller for a regular blush, it can be quite expensive at Php 1,395. Though my guess would be because it is limited edition but still?
  • Limited Edition. Period.
Will I buy it again? Yes! If it went on sale.

Here is a photo of me wearing the blush with NARS Oasis.Like I said, I wear them together as I've discovered they are great on top of each other. TBS kinda acts like the background blush and NARS is the foreground and there is a beautiful gradient on my cheeks. Love!

This is my happy face! :P Except that I have a zit, darn!

Face:
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer SPF 50
Revlon PhotoReady Liquid Foundation
Revlon PhotoReady Powder
shu uemura Translucent Finishing Powder

 Cheeks:
TBS Kiss of Colour Cheek Blush
Nars Blush in Oasis

Eyes:
The Face Shop Automatic Eyebrow Liner
Cover Girl Lash Blast Mascara

Lips:
Sally Hansen Lip Balm

Want to read a review on the Vibrant Rose variant? Click here for Nikki's review!

BTW, Shen just published her new blog! Subscribe and blog about it to win
a BDJ Planner [with all the yummy coupons inside!] and a Php 500 GC from Ellana!

 Manila Beauty Blog

How do you kiss your way to happiness?
Let me know! Kisses!

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¿Qué te trae la alegría?

>> Sunday, March 21, 2010

Or in plain English, what brings you joy?

It's the weekend once again and the only thing I think I can write about during are thoughts on happiness and love. It's still the Women's Month after all and I see that as the perfect excuse to make like a woman and be girly, happy, radiant and always positive. [Though really, it would be more fun to be all these throughout the year!]

So, here's what's been bringing me joy recently:


Have I told you that new software, any, is always always fun?

Canopy chairs and white sheets and well, just being at Buon Giorno, Tagaytay,
really.

Buon Giorno's Grape Shake [yum!]

The Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland. Tell me you didn't laugh
from her antics!


Meeting friends from the blogging world. This is me with Sab.
I was with Shen, Nikki and Jamie that night, too though
I've yet to grab photos.

Spontaneous trips to Boracay.
Texts you receive in the wee hours of the morning and it can't make
you sleep anymore. Phone calls from the middle East.
People who'd go the lengths to choose a restaurant that has a lot of
desserts on the menu cos he knows how much you like sweets.
Ice cream for breakfast, lunch and dinner [yum!].

 Seeing a friend's store featured in a magazine with the accompanying text I helped put together.
City of Vintage on Meg March 2010
Friends who do equally spontaneous things. Friends who are supportive.
Watching Chuck.
Love and Happiness every single day.


¿Qué te trae la alegría?
(What brings you joy?)

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Shen's Addiction Turns Two and My Thoughts on Beauty Blogging

>> Saturday, March 20, 2010

It makes me happy seeing how more and more blogsites are turning a year older this year. Just recently, one of my many favorite beauty sites, Beautynomics, turned four. Today, another one celebrates its birthday, one of which I've been a fan of since I've started reading and writing a beauty blog: Shen's Addiction.


Beauty blogging is not at all easy, and I'm quite sure y'all can relate to this. If you're like me and a bunch I know (and love!), we all have to stay awake at night and write about our beautyscapades, pour our honest opinions and provide deep analysis to what many a normal Filipino would think shallow. Truth be told, there is nothing shallow in writing about beauty, for it has been a huge factor in some historic events such as the fall of men for Helen of Troy, the subordination of Ferdinand Marcos to Imelda Marcos, the building of Taj Mahal as done by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as a tribute to Mumtaz Mahal. There are far more instances wherein a man goes far and great lengths [like admitting to following a girl around cos he caught a whiff of her Clairol-shampooed hair, I tell ya, that stuff is such a man magnet!] when he is amazed by a woman's beauty and I think it is very noble to be able to share what we can for women to be more beautiful than they already are. In more ways than one, more than pleasing any man in life, being beautiful and striving to be is just a natural womanly act to make ourselves happy and fulfilled. When I feel beautiful, I tend to do a lot of good things, evoke happiness and it shows in all of my outputs both at work and personal life. This kinda reminds me of Frances' post from a while back, "I noticed that only ugly and unfashionable women tell me to stop trying to look good, I did mean that--that I'm fascinated with the fact that beautiful, kind and stylish women are encouraging and helpful while ugly women are nasty and discouraging." Hah, I am one with you F, on this one! I never want to be ugly, or inspire ugliness so I can continue being positive and encouraging and kind.

I can't help but nod in agreement when I was reading Shen's post about her anniversary. I can't help but remember my own experiences in blogging [albeit less than hers, still memorable though], because blogging has helped me a lot in developing my skills in writing, building new relationships, understanding the dynamics of being an online writer and the world of blogging in general. It's such a wonderful world that's full of potential. I am proud to be a part of this emerging amazing world.

If you're from the beauty blogging/reading world, I'm sure you know the lovely and witty Shen, and you do know that she's celebrating her second blogversary. I told her last night I didn't want to join anymore because I already won her birthday contest but her prizes are just too fabulous to pass up!

The Body Shop
Maybelline Products
Ellana Minerals
Sun Life's It's Time [yes, we are a sponsor!]
Pureglow Minerals
Beauty and Minerals
Dollface Cosmetics
Pureology
L'oreal Professionel
The Spa Gift Certificate
Ipanema GB collection Certificate
L'oreal Men Expert

Because I know how generous Shen is, I am quite sure there are even more prizes that she will be adding to the roster as the days go by, so the smartest thing to do is join. Oh and it's not limited to foreign readers, too! Interested? Here's how to join:
  1. Be a follower of her blog. :) This one is pretty easy.
  2. Be a Fan of Shen's FaceBook Fan Page 
  3. Be a twitter fan and tweet about this contest.
  4. Blog about this contest on your own blog (and as per Shen, blog must be at least 3 months old.). You can post a link of this contest on your FB account as well.
  5. Post on comment box a link of your blog post with your email and country you reside in and answer this question, "I'd like to see more [insert topic here] posts."
  6. You're done!
Contest runs from March 20 till April 30th so you girls have plenty of time to join, yay! There will be two winners from the Philippines and one from a foreign country as long as Philippine PO ships to it. Here's a little PS from Shen: I have to be honest here because I'd like to know I learned a valuable lesson from the past, I hate contest looters. those who will subscribe and follow but after the contest they will unsubscribe or remove the post or following. If you are one, this contest is not for you. Ditto, Shen. I know how annoying it is to see people who start a blog just so they can win stuff. *sigh* Oh well.

Anyhoo, go go go and join today!

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Drowning in a Sea of Style

>> Friday, March 19, 2010

Although the heat has been beating our backs for more than a month now, it is only recently that I've started feeling the summer rush and that tingly feeling in the pit of your stomach, when you know you're hitting the beach soon. *winks*

I know for sure that you girls love the beach as much as I do. And just as well, I'm sure you guys like being pretty and well-dressed whether hitting the sands and sunbathing or doing watersports. As for me, my must haves are: sunblock, pretty bikinis, a good book, nice sunnies and of course, the perfect flip flops.

Just in time, Ipanema Gisele Bundchen launches its newest collection called Sea of Style.


Ipanema, Brazil. The mere mention of this tropical paradise evokes images of pristine beaches, cool, blue waters, rhythmic samba grooves, and beautiful people—the stuff summertime dreams are made of. Make this summer fantasy come alive as renowned footwear brand Ipanema launches its latest GB collection dubbed as “Colorful Sea”, endorsed by Brazilian goddess and world’s most successful supermodel, Gisele Bündchen!
With its uber-chic look and feel, the Ipanema GB (Gisele Bündchen) line is remarkable not only for its hip design, unmatched style and high quality, but also for being an important medium for eco-awareness.
A devoted environmentalist, Gisele Bündchen actively adheres to her role as UN ambassador by using each GB collection to raise funds and awareness for specific eco-causes. The 2010 “Colorful Sea” collection supports the preservation of Brazil’s turtle population as well as the welfare of our own local marine life.
With this latest collection’s ocean-inspired theme and advocacy, fans of the GB line are treated to the cool, vibrant colors and soothing oceanic designs of the “Colorful Sea” flip-flop models, once again calling to mind the Ipanema beach fantasy that we all long for.



I still have not decided which one I like best. I'm quite torn with the starfish-laced ones, whatever color, I don't really care. *waves at Ipanema folks* :)




Sandal Star Fem




Special Edition Gold Black Fem

Special Edition Fem Gray

Sand Fem in White Gold

Sand Fem in Beige Gold



Did you just drool like I did? I kinda felt even more summer-y than I already am. Can't wait to sink my toes into the sands of Boracay soon, um in like a few days. *giggles*

Kisses!
*All photos courtesy of Ipanema

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Upcoming: What's in store from Chronicles of Vanity?

>> Thursday, March 18, 2010

Happy Thursday!

I'm still fresh from an offsite planning in the nearby Tagaytay and I'm still catching up with emails that piled up on my inbox. I hope you girls are having a fabulous week as I am! :) I'm still not over the super nice birdcages at Buon Giorno in Tagaytay as well as the amazing movie that is Alice in Wonderland. My life is showered with blessings, happy and good people who surround me that if I get any happier, I'd really be crapping rainbows.

So what's in store for the next few days here at Chronicles of Vanity? I've been lucky enough to score some new products from Revlon. Lookie lookie:


Revlon PhotoReady Liquid Foundation in Nude

Revlon PhotoReady Powder in Fair/Light

Revlon PhotoReady in Translucent

I've been using the first two products for half a week now and well, let's just say that it's very, very promising. That being said, I will let you know next week how it fares with me.

I hope you girls are having a blast this week!
Kisses!

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Review: Loreal Derma Genesis Cellular Youth Creator Day Cream

>> Monday, March 15, 2010

How are you, ladies?

It’s a beautiful Saturday as I write this and so far no dreary blackouts have happened today yet (thankfully). As it is in most Philippine cities, there is a rotative blackout happening, for what reason, I’m still not sure.

This morning afternoon when I woke up, I was struck with realization that I’ve got a huge pile of beauty products I’ve neglected reviewing, which is why today, I’m sharing with you my thoughts on yet another L’oreal product (I always rely on L’oreal for skincare, BTW), Derma Genesis Cellular Youth Creator Day Cream, a product I won from Frances’ OK! Contest last December.


Now, I didn’t realize there existed another day cream, as I’ve reviewed one from last October. How is it different? Let me share with you what it says on the box:


The origin of skin youth lies in the creation of new cells. Over time, skin becomes poorer in vital substance and generates less new cells.

For the first time, skincare with Pro-Xylane and Hyaluronic Acid helps create new cells for visibly young skin. This unique combination is developed to infuse the skin with vital substance and to favor the new creation of cells.

It’s always tough to go wrong with any L’oreal product (especially skincare). I admit that the most rational reason for my love for it is because it’s not expensive, very accessible to us working women who can just pass by any Watson’s store and purchase such. Add to that the range of skincare products they have and you have yourself a good brand to trust.

What I like about it:

  • The first thing I noticed was the scent, which smelled really clean and girly. It’s not the usual L’oreal scent and I kinda like it even better!
  • Nothing against the products I’ve been using before, which are also L’oreal, but this kinda makes me get that certain glow. Maybe it’s not really innate in the product, who knows, but my skin probably loves it that I’m using something new and that made it glow even more than it already was.
  • The packaging! I love how the product is stored in an airtight bottle, which you have to twist and pump in order to obtain.
  • Locally available and in lots of Watsons’/SM beauty branches, too!
  • Wearable for daytime and nighttime. I had the luxury of using it as a day cream despite sans SPF as I normally have a separate sunblock anyways. My oil blotting usage didn’t go up, YAY!
  • A little goes a long way. During the first time I used it, I accidentally pumped too much so my face was really moist. I learned that the best amount is the size of a pea.
  • This is the answer to my no-anti-aging woes from last time.
What I don’t like about it:
  • I’ve no idea how much it is but I saw it’s being sold for Php 900 online. It ain’t exactly very expensive but there are cheaper alternatives.
  • Nothing much, really. I’m a happy camper with this one!
Will I buy one? Yes! This saves me the hassle of using two different creams for day and night.

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Of Beautiful Weddings and The Perfect Photographer

>> Sunday, March 14, 2010

My friends say that my wedding [with whom that will be, and when is beyond me] will be the grandest, girliest and laciest of all. After all, I come across as a frilly, silly-crazed girl who probably dreamt of that perfect walk down the aisle since I was six. I can't say it ain't true, I know I've been thinking of it since my days of playing Chinese Garter and jackstones.

Growing up, I kind of put the wedding ideas at the back of my head as I discovered more and more people saying that marriages can be overrated and not as whack as it was supposed to be. For a time, I didn't really care much, except when I had to dress up and attend friends' weddings, which was a fun thing anyway! It has been recently when my faith to a long-lasting relationship and marriage was restored, albeit ironically, when I returned to singlehood.

I attended one of the most beautiful weddings in the history of my life last year, however, I've only seen the official photos recently and from there I concluded that I may not be able to have the heart to fork out hundreds of thousands for a designer gown, or book the most exclusive hotel or my dream beach wedding but I will most definitely get the awesome-st photographer known to me, and people who kinda do not fall to the traditionally classic wedding photographers: which is Mango Red.

Mac and Jordan are one of the people whom I know who are epitomes of true love. Mac has been based in Manila since birth and Jordan grew up in Cebu. All throughout their years of pre-wed relationship, they had both taken turns in flying out to each other, which to me is one of the sweetest things one can do. Today, both of them have settled down in Cebu and I try to see them whenever I'm there.

Let me share with you some photos they took at Mac's Wedding from 2009:




And of course, some of my photos:

Nervously plotting my escape from the Garter Toss


Now, wouldn't you wanna be married and have your photos taken by Mango Red? I do! But not very soon, though.


Kisses!

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Things I'm Thankful For

Grateful people reported feeling 25 percent more happiness & energy and 20 percent less envy & resentment in several recent studies at the University of California. They also slept 10 percent longer each night & exercised 33 percent more if they wrote down what they felt thankful for. “Gratitude,” Lyubomirsky says, “is an antidote to negative emotions.”
Spirit Magazine, Southwest Airlines

In the beginning of 2010, as the fireworks were lighting up the sky, I wrote down my resolutions. Now that I got to thinking, I never really shared those to you, or did I? Anyway, one of them was to say 'Thank You' to each and every blessing I receive. I am not a very spiritual person but my needs/wants seem to have dominated my conversations with God prior. I've read from the book Prayer of Jabez that 'ask, and thou shall receive.' While I still believe a lot in asking, specifically asking for what you want from God, it is with great joy that I share how much gratitude has made me incredibly happy over the past three months. Every night, before I go to bed, I enumerate things that made me happy for the day and give it all to Him. Looking back, I can say how vast my outlook in life has changed. I am no longer sad and apathetic and I have been breezing through life since.

In that respect, let me share some of the things I've really been thankful for these past few days:

My best girlfriends, going to the spa and having margaritas after

Raises. Strawberry-mango margaritas. Driving and the traffic is not bad.
Or driving in heavy traffic but at least you're stuck with a good CD in the car.
Getting to know a different side of yourself every now and then and realizing
that while even if you've grown up, you like everything you've become from then.
Mozilla's Firefox and its Personas. I recently got converted into using FF, I've been a loyal
Opera user for so many years now and there was this person who was able to convert me, my pickiness
and all when it comes to browsers,
helping me transfer all my bookmarks and yeah, introducing me to Personas, which I completely love!
Look:

The pink polka dots against the gray background is just ME.

Girlfriends visiting from Malaysia and eating ice cream on the streets:

With Kavukz:


With the sweet but fierce drum-playing Ranie

Abby, Me, Dang, Ranie and Chris @ Encore.

Finding out what lipstick Sandra Bullock wore to the Oscars' and that is:

Chanel Rouge Coco

Spanish thoughts, Spanish accents and this little island in Spain which apparently
was the subject of the song "La Isla Bonita" (Beautiful Island)


Mallorca, Spain

And of course, Manny Pacquiao retaining his title as Welterweight Boxing Champion of the World:

Rakenrol.



What are you thankful for today?

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All I Want to Do

1. Go to NYC. 2.Create and not touch an emergency fund. 3. Tell someone I love him. 4.Cook a five-course meal and serve it to someone I love. 5. Love my imperfections but improve them, too. Read the rest here.
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