Saturday, May 23, 2015

Three Years at Being a (Not-So-Smug) Mom

mon petit chaton et moi
i'm not really in the habit of talking about being a mom so much as i think it bores and annoys most people. i remember back when i was single, i thought about parents, especially new parents as smug, self-righteous and overbearingly annoying especially when they are bragging about their kids and offering you unsolicited advice on how to become a good parent even when you're not even a parent yet, or have no plans of being one.

and so when i became a parent, i promised myself i wouldn't be this type of annoying person who would post plenty of their kid's pictures all over the internet and post updates about the teeniest developments on their kid's mundane existence. or swoon over the proud moments when their kids get some sort of achievement in school, etc. i promised myself i shall never become a stage mother. ever. my kid's achievements will be hers and hers alone. not mine... and definitely not to make up for my lack thereof.

but i like to be a smug parent once a year, at least on my blog, where people have a choice to be subjected to such smugness or not. :D so, here goes my annoying once-a-year blog about my not-so-smug parenting experience that i hope could be useful.

if i have any good piece of advice to share to all moms out there, it's to STOP overdoing it! there is this one famous celebrity in the Philippines who keeps saying, "benign neglect is better than malignant concern" and i'm kinda like that as a mom. i don't live my whole life for my daughter. i try to keep a balance in between caring for myself and and my family. i really don't want to lose my individuality and freedom in the process. come to think of it, this rule applies to all relationships.

parenting is one of the toughest things to do. at every stage of your child's development, you'd think that the next stage will be a lot easier than the one you are dealing with right now... but no. each stage has its own unique difficulties. but you learn a lot in the process. not just about your kid but about yourself and also about life.

also, not smothering your child and not being all over the place will let the child have some independence. letting your child do certain activities by themselves -- eating, dressing/undressing, tidying up her toys, etc -- helps to build confidence at an early age.

right now, the most challenging part for me is instilling discipline. especially since she is quite a stubborn person totally not unlike myself and my husband. stubbornness runs in the family. especially among women.

one very important thing i have learned about this special experience is to be more patient. it's really good for me because it has helped me to deal with adult people also who have the propensity to be juvenile and childish.

despite the hardships, i find parenting to be so much more rewarding than i ever would have thought or imagined. it is not really for everybody. back then, i did not even know that it is something to which my very limited faculties and capabilities could actually even hope to endeavor someday... but here we are. and we make the most and the best out of it.

the love between a child and a parent, i would say, is the purest one of all. and that receiving your child's love is the ultimate rewarding experience you'll ever get in this life. i'd say you haven't really experienced true love at all until you become a parent... and that's just about the smuggest thing i could ever say about being a parent so i will end this blog right now. :D

oh wait, i have one more coming -- best of all it has unbelievably made me want to be a better person, and to be a good role model for the first time in my life! (that's really the last bit!)

happy Mother's Month to all the mothers and mother figures out there!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Dangers of the Digital Now

i am one of the very few people i know who are always reluctant about fully succumbing to the lure of digital technology despite being exposed to it a lot at work. i mean, i only got my own cell phone years after everybody else has been already addicted to texting. and every time i get one, i never get tempted to buy the latest one. i've only had four cell phones since 2001. the longest time i have owned a phone is six years. and i rarely even used it. i would leave it at home most of the time... until it has become impossible to leave cell phones at home recently (it happened to me with the advent of phone cameras). and so, i started bringing it with me everywhere, but i would always keep it on silent and limit its use to the phone cam and keeping in touch with faraway family and friends and having a few useful apps.

to be honest, i never liked cell phones. it's because you have no excuse to be unavailable. we cannot possibly be available all the time. there should be certain times when you should be logged off from everything else and take special quiet time on your own.

i have come across this video from TED about how time is being cannibalized, fragmented and warped in the digital age. what i think it is saying is that humans, unlike machines are not designed to be ubiquitous and omnipresent. we have a past, present and future. we have these timelines. but the computer does not have this. with computers, time is fluid and flows in all directions. it's making it difficult for us to set priorities and to live in the moment and make every bit of that moment count. instead, we get distracted all the time. i for one, cannot keep my attention too long on a certain piece of literature. i keep jumping in-between browser tabs on my laptop, while browsing facebook and uploading images on instagram and sending messages on viber and whatsapp... phew! and i get lost in all these distractions that i barely notice my daughter anymore or pay attention to my husband when he's trying to talk to me...

i think what's really important is that we keep in mind that everything that is important to us -- family, friends, occasions, work, goals -- deserve meaningful time and attention. not a virtual one, but a real one.

lately, a lot of people are confusing virtual space and time where you exchange likes and empty comments as real-life conversation and meaningful exchange... what a sad world it will be if more and more people will be like this. i mean, how can you connect a meaningful memory over a facebook like or comment? we don't map meaningful life experiences and exchanges in our brain this way. meaningful exchanges are supposed to be multi-sensory -- there has to be music in the background, a mood in the surrounding ambience, some touching, laughter that you can see and hear... we associate meaningful experiences with not just the sights but also the sound and the smell and the mood of the moment... and this does not, and never shall exist on cyberspace.

i feel sorry for people who cannot distinguish real life over virtual reality -- their involvement unsympathetic, their attention myopic and their capacity to give and receive real love and affection borders on fantasy and make-believe without most of them realizing it... i hope it's not too late for them to get back in touch with the real world where humanity exists... which is right here and right now.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Nepal of 2011

it was very shocking to hear the news about the recent earthquake in Nepal. especially since it is one of my well-cherished traveled places.

what makes it even more memorable is the fact that it was the last country i visited before i got married back in 2011. my soon-to-be-husband then and i went there as a last-minute resort, originally planning to go to Japan for hanami (cherry blossom season). unfortunately, tsunami struck right about the time when we were about to go there. it's a good thing that it happened before and not after or possibly even, while we would have been there.

this blog post is a tribute to the Old Nepal, with all the ancient architecture of its countless temples in all its awe-inspiring glory. let's take a time to reminisce with some of my old photographs...

The Boudnath stupa in Swayambunath temple of Kathmandu

Durbar Square

the unforgettable experience of paragliding off the cliff of Mt Sarangkot in Pokhara, with the view of the Annapurna's peaks and the lovely lake below

the placid lake of Phewa in Pokhara

marveling at the magnificence of the frozen tips of the Annapurna... it was my first time to take a glimpse of ice-capped mountains, having lived in the tropics most of my life

this trip was definitely one of my wishes coming true. interestingly enough, i made a lot of wishes on countless temple bells during this trip, as evidenced in this video:

right now, i am making another wish. i wish that this country will be able to step out of the rubbles from the recent disaster that struck them, and rebuild their city back into what it once was -- a marvel of old world architecture amid the rugged beauty of nature.

meanwhile, we can also do more than just wishing, in order to help. for those who are interested, here is a link to the Red Cross Earthquake Relief for Nepal.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Festive Lemon Pound Cake

for my daughter's birthday this year, i decided to make a lemon cake. i'm very partial to lemon. i just love its clean sweet smell and tangy acid taste. in french, they would call any sweet stuff with a citrusy flavor, acidulé. i really like this term. it makes the flavor sound even nicer and tempting to taste.

i found this very simple, fuss-free recipe on the internet that i just watched a few hours before the party itself. how very convenient it is nowadays to learn anything at the tip of your fingers and at the convenience of your own home. the internet is really good for this.

my daughter, all excited to watch and mess with the ingredients (very simple ones, mind you) on the kitchen counter

doing a recap on the internet tutorial for the lemon cake, just to be sure i followed the exact measurements (this is very important in baking) and exact batter consistency

twenty or so minutes later, i have this perfection!.. it smelled and looked delicious! :)

i decided to make my own personal touch with these candy sprinkles to make the cake look more festive and tempting enough to eat for the kids and kids at heart! :) and of course, i spilled it all over the place. :D

et voila!.. all gone (almost!) in a few minutes after the candles were lit and blown.

there was a tiny morsel left over the next day. i had it for breakfast and it was even more delicious than when it was just off the oven. it was perfectly moist and not very sweet at all. and it was such a hit with tea or coffee. it was a lovely and simple cake. so easy to make yet unbelievably delicious. :)

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Weekend in Maldives

this year, i decided to do a series of trips to some of the low-lying lands on the planet that most environmentalists claim to be in danger of being submerged in the not-so-distant future. i really do hope these people are wrong, but either way, these places are truly worth visiting. I won't be revealing all the places in my list, but i will definitely write about them after my visit. and it just so happened that i have recently visited one a few days ago.

first on my list is The Maldives. i must say that this place has been one of the top ten places i've always wanted to visit in my life for the longest time.

here are some of the highlights of our trip:

The gorgeous view of the islands from up above:

The Maldives look like a beautiful abstract painting from above. can't wait to land on one of those lovely blue dots! :)

about to land in Male

my last view of Maldives on the way back to SG

The perfect hotel for the family:

happy to be on  holiday

i love our ocean facing villa with this hammock to relax in

nice clean room with soothing colors

One of the most perfect beaches I have ever seen:

i've never seen pink reflections on water before, with the most varied shades of blue

tropical garden

is this a crane? i thought at first it wasn't real because it was not moving so much :D

model-modelan with my Victoria's Secret swim top and sarong from Bohol which is more than ten years old (would you believe?)

Lots of fun activities at the resort's Kids Club:

fun activities at the kids club

weekend party for the kids

at the fishing boat

Some of the most gorgeous sunsets and surises ever:

the view from the bar

moonlit cocktail

beautiful, unfiltered, unphotoshopped early morning light

And my most favorite part: enjoying the view of the baby sharks wading along the shallow waters first thing in the morning (i edited the video to make it a bit slow-mo because it was actually swimming very fast):

although, we chose to go to a resort, Holiday Inn, Kandooma Island (read my reviews here) that offers a lot of activities for the kids, hubby and i also managed to have some time to ourselves. the Kids Club at the resort was a convenient place to care for kids. and she was happy to play and paint and run around with the other kids there, which was good for us.

i for one, tried the yoga, which was really good. and hubby and i did some snorkeling to see the turtles. and on our second to the last day, we did some fishing with the little one.

the only disappointing part about the trip was that the corals were not as colorful as the ones in Palawan. maybe if you go diving or go to the other parts of Maldives, the corals wouldn't be as bleached as the ones in the South Atoll. and also, be prepared to spend lots of $$$ for this trip because this is The Maldives!

hope you enjoyed reading my little travel update. cheers and have a good week! :)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Best Loved OOTD's

i have never really considered myself a fashionable person. for the longest time, i was content on wearing a simple t-shirt, jeans and flip-flops.

in my 20's i felt like i had a body that could go away with anything. i had very slim waist (which i sorely miss after having been pregnant), i quite like my legs and i'm generally quite well-proportioned even up to now, although not as slim and slender anymore... it's getting difficult with age.

but now, in my mid-30's, i'm thinking i should've already acquired some sort of sophistication and some semblance of personal style, at the very least...

i was lucky, though, to have acquired the luxury of time the past years for NOT having to work for three years. it has given me loads of free time to experiment and do some research on what looks good on me.

here are some of the styles that i've come to love and acquire from all the trial and error over the years...

i love how easy and casual this looks -- simple black dress from Buddha Bear (Australian brand) with cream-colored dots, some cheap sandals from Rubi shoes and my Repetto bag (2014)

Chanel sunnies, MAC orange lipstick + Chanel rouge, Mango dress (2014)

J Crew sweater and shorts, Bensimon sneakers which i wore during my visit to the Antinori Vineyards in the Chianti Region in Tuscany, Italy (2014)

this sexy Tori Praver (via cropped top (i so so love this cropped top), Zara jeans, Yosi Samra ballet flats for casual fridays at the office (2014)

Little Black Dress from Ted Baker and some shoes I bought in France (I forgot the brand name) - 2015

J Crew ensemble - blue top and glittery striped skirt that can go from casual to festive, depending on what you wear it with... I was aiming for casual with a simple scooped tee (2015)

Mango black sleeveless top, J Crew Factory pleated blue skirt, comfy (almost Lola-ish) Geox heels (2015)
you might have noticed how much i love this bright shade of blue.... that's because it goes well with a lot of the colors that i love and on my skin tone too! :)

Marc by Marc Jacobs lightning bolt earrings... I love statement earrings like these when wearing a simple top (2015) sketched portrait in the background i did when my baby was almost one year old

back in my early 30's -- when i still had the lean long neck, perfect shoulders and slender arms for Maxi Dresses every day (2009)

these are my favorite colors -- black earrings, orange lip (MAC), blue dress (Blue Tomato) and some bits of brown and gold here and there... which all bring out all the lightness and brightness on my face (not to mention that this shade of orange makes my teeth look whiter) - 2014

i can say that the personal style that i have achieved is simple, classy and easy. something that accentuates and flatters my physical attributes -- the natural curves and lines of my body, my skin tone, bone structure and my facial features. i go more for "accentuating" rather than "embellishing" or "hiding" or "exaggerating". the key is to strive for balance. for example, if you want to accentuate your lips, wear a bold lip color and then keep everything else minimal. if you want to wear prints, don't wear prints all over, keep the prints into one aspect of your wardrobe. otherwise, you will look chaotic and disorderly. there are so many tutorials and videos on how to properly accessorize. watch a lot of them.

also, learn to appreciate your good features and work on accentuating them. and if you fall short on others, like for some people with short neck, invest on lots of scooped neck and v-neck lines. don't wear lots of chunky necklaces. if you have a short torso, wear patterns and necklaces that elongate this body area. if you are short, like myself, wear lots of shorts and mini skirts. go easy on the high heels though. one of the most important things i've learned in France is to appreciate flat shoes. anything high above the knee should look good with nice decent flats. ;)

finally, i think the most important thing about having your own personal style is to wear whatever feels comfortable (almost like second skin) to you. you can never go wrong with that. if you feel comfortable and beautiful, then others will see that you feel beautiful and they will think the same way too.

and also, it's never too late to reinvent yourself. don't be scared to experiment. part of knowing what looks good on you is knowing also what DOES NOT look good on you. enjoy! ;)

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Skin Care Products Review

my philosophy on being beautiful is to keep everything simple and stay as true as possible to my natural look. i'm not a strong believer in make-up. most of the time, it feels to me like wearing a sticky mask, or wearing war paint. beauty should never be an act of war.

i do wear lipstick, eyeliner and eyebrow pencil almost every day. but all this is just to enhance what is already there and not to mask it. besides, too much chemicals on your face is not very good at all. i prefer to have a beautiful, glowing skin than wear make-up to cover it all up. and so, we move on to what this whole blog entry is all about -- skin care products. and we're reviewing some.

first on the list is Purity by Philosophy.

on my hand is a travel size version i got as a freebie from all my purchases, the one in the background is the regular size that i use all the time

i have always been intrigued by this product's name. and when i read a good review of their facial wash, Purity, i grabbed this opportunity to try it out. i have been searching for a long time for a good facial wash because for some reason, my skin has become even more dry than before. i don't know if it's a hormonal issue, or because of moving to a really dry and cold country for two years, or simply due to ageing.

i used to like Kiehl's, but since my recent dilemma, i just had to find a more suitable product for a facial wash. and i am just ever so glad to have tried Purity. it's really good. it's very mild and gentle and does not dry my skin at all.

i have been using Purity for a couple of months now, i think. and so far, i love it. it's such a great find. it's very gentle on the skin. doesn't leave it tight and dry. and you can even wash your eye make up with it, because it's so gentle.

and since i loved Purity so much, i decided to try their eye cream and facial moisturizer. i wanted to try Hope in a Jar, but they have a promotion on their Brighten my Day product line, so i decided to try this one instead.

Philosophy's Brighten my day eye cream... just the name itself is enough to make you want to try it

this is my first time to try an eye cream. since i have never worried about the lines under my eyes for the past 36 years of my life. but i think now is the best time to start worrying. :D

as for facial moisturizers, i have been using Kiehl's before. it worked for a long time until this sudden extra dryness on my skin recently. i have tried Clinique (the pore refining one) for some time. but i didn't like it anymore after some time. and i have even resorted to trying a really expensive brand called La Mer. but it was such a waste of money. my skin got irritated and flaky. i was so disappointed in it. the only useful thing that has come out of it is the spatula that went with the packaging... and i still use it from time to time to moisturize my neck and chest since these areas are less sensitive than my face.

Brighten my day facial moisturizer

i have been using both the moisturizer and the eye cream for about a week now. so far my super dry and sensitive skin does not seem to be complaining. also, i have noticed that my eyes are less puffy and the dark circles have lessened a bit. i should also mention that i am trying out their Time in a Bottle eye serum since the super generous Filipino salesperson gave me a lot of free samples.

freebie samplers, aside from these i also got a free travel size facial wash, moisturizer, eye cream and a tote bag... so generous!

also, i just had to try this skin soufflé from Crabtree and Evelyn. i have been using their normal body lotion (the goat milk scented one) for more than ten years (that's how loyal i am) until they decided to discontinue this scent. i guess it's too mild for most people. and so i moved on to the Citron with honey and coriander, which is such a delicious smell. and the body soufflé is so rich, i don't even have to use a lot on my skin. it is twice the price of the normal lotion but it's definitely worth it.

rich and indulgent body soufflé by Crabtree and Evelyn... super love it!

i just love Crabtree and Evelyn. so many people have been complimenting how soft and silky my skin feels to the touch... even the areas that are usually rough for most people. get this product if you want your husband/lover to love touching you more. ;)

i've also had the chance to try out this eye make-up remover from Lancome called bi-facil. i have been using the cheap Yves Rocher one before which does the trick nicely. but i wanted to try this one because of the good reviews i see a lot lately. so, why not? and since it was gifted by a generous friend from France, that makes trying out this product even more enjoyable.

my new eye make-up remover, gifted by a friend in France

so far, i have only used it two or three times since i don't wear a lot of heavy eye make-up. i really like that it does not sting at all. i am just a bit worried about all those shiny glittery stuff in it. i am wondering what it is, actually. even more so because they are getting into my eyes. so i am not really sure if i will be using this product this much. like i said, i rarely ever wear heavy eye make-up anyway.

and a few tips... even though my skin is very dry, i only use moisturizing product on my face in the evening, as i don't really need much in Singapore because it's very humid here.  right now, i'm alternating three products -- this one that i reviewed, an evening serum by Kiehl's and the Argan oil also from Kiehl's. also, i only use the facial wash in the evening. in the morning, i just use plain water.

so that's it for now. i'll let you in on more of the products i try and like/dislike when i get some free time again. lately, my schedule has been so busy, i rarely even have time to pee. :D

or i might be blogging about my next travel destination next time... which is one of my life's dream destinations! can't wait! :)