Archive of ‘try this’ category

mary grace cafe

Looking for a place that serves great food in a warm, inviting, cozy atmosphere? Check out Mary Grace Cafe at Greenbelt Makati and Serendra Taguig.

My first visit to this restaurant was last month, and I’ve been going at least once a week ever since, on a weekend, sometimes to eat there twice a day – brunch and dinner.

First, let’s look at the interiors. They’re all country, no rock-n-roll. Think of a cottage decorated with Papemelroti accessories and salvaged architectural elements such as carved wood trim and balusters and stained-glass windows.

The facade of Mary Grace Cafe in Greenbelt, Makati City. Notice the fairy lights around the windows! Information such as store hours and contact numbers are painted on the glass door, rather than inscribed on a sign that would mar the view.

Inside, look up and be amazed at the ceiling’s display of clusters of lanterns  and glass jars. I love this! I will duplicate this in my home. One day. When I get around to it.

The upper level of the cafe in Greenbelt is a loft that might be the dining room and sala of your quirky artist aunt’s cottage in Laguna, or something. It murmurs “come in, sit down, eat!”

The interior of Mary Grace Cafe – Serendra. It’s small but still warm with brick and wood trim accents, and all sorts of country-style decor. There are racks of magazines to read while waiting.

Now for the food!

The tables are wooden, the tops covered with glass, underneath which are handwritten notes from happy patrons. Popular menu items include Mary Grace hot chocolate, Filipino-style with ground peanuts, served in a mismatched cup and saucer for a colorful touch; and the cassava chips and onion dip. You must try these. YOU MUST.

Here’s a tip: bring a large 16-oz tumbler with lid or a thermos and combine a cup of the hot chocolate with a cup of brewed coffee. It’s mocha, Pinoy-style.

Their iced teas are really good, and come in several fruity flavors. Our favorite is the apple and cinnamon honey – “Apple pie in a glass!” my youngest daughter calls it.

Start with a bowl of hearty soup. This is my eldest daughter’s favorite – the cream of mushroom soup. It’s savory without being too salty; it’s just right.

The menu runs to salads, pastas, and pastries. Craving a rice meal? They serve Filipino breakfast with rice until 5pm. This is the Vigan longganisa (sausage) plate that comes with two eggs anyway you like it. 

The seafood pasta blends flavors of the sea with earthy vegetables and bread.

The tomato pasta is muy delicioso.

The Kesong Puti salad with Calamansi Vinaigrette teases your palate with interesting flavors.

The mushroom and cheese pizza is on a crunchy thin crust sprinkled with cornmeal for added texture.

Cap off your meal with a slice – or two – of  cinnamony, nutmeggy, whipped cream-y apple pie.

Grilled ensaymada – grilling melts the cheese, toasts the top of the pastry, and warms it through.

Mary Grace started out as a home business in the mid-90s, with the owner selling melt-in-your-mouth ensaymada from her dad’s machinery store along Vito Cruz Street, Manila. I remember how fame of her pastries spread via word-of-mouth, and bought boxes of ensaymada one holiday in the late 90s to give as gifts. I gave a box to the late Speaker of the House Ramon V. Mitra Jr., and was surprised when he called back saying he loved them and asking where to buy.

It’s heartwarming to see that from those humble beginnings more than a decade ago, Mary Grace has grown, giving it more ways to bring its delicious baked goods and food to a wider clientele.

All photos taken with an iPhone 4S.

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pop goes the world: an introvert’s holiday

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  22 March 2012, Thursday

An Introvert’s Holiday

It’s summer, when temperatures rise and nerves get frayed to snapping.

School is out and children are bored at home. Parents want to wean them off their electronic teats – Internet, television, video games – and send them out to play and learn in the real world. Stress-wrecked grownups who can’t calm down despite the regular inuman with friends or coffee-shop me-times want to reclaim their inner peace.

But how to accomplish all this without having to part crowds like Moses and deal with the yammer of the multitudes?

Rolando Tolentino, columnist and dean of the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication, tweeted yesterday: “Pag umaapaw ang aligaga na kahit ang usual treat-to-self ay di na umuubra, panahon nang pisikal na pagtakas. Fly high at bumalik na lang.“

A change of environment is called for.

Last December I took my two daughters with me for a tranquil yet creatively stimulating week in Baguio City. For many of us it was the default vacation location of our childhood. It’s still a magical place, channeling a Buddhist vibe of serenity despite the burgeoning pollution, construction, and population explosion.

Veer away from the usual haunts and immerse in places you haven’t yet been. Baguio is a city that is a living artwork. At Chocolate sa Batirol open-air café at Camp John Hay, even the stumps of trees that serve as seats are gaily painted with words and figures.

Paintings, sculptures, and antique wood carvings fill National Artist Ben Cabrera’s BenCab museum; its basement shelters Café Isabel and overlooks foliage-blanketed hills as fog rolls across your field of vision. Sip a cup of hot Benguet Arabica while you meditate on nature and art coming together in one enchanted dell.

View from the BenCab Museum balcony.

At Cafe Isabel, BenCab Museum.

Along Session Road, visit Namaste at Porto Vaga for bespoke crystal bracelets and Buddhist artwork from Nepal. Sit and read at Mountain Cloud bookshop, then walk a few steps to Hill Station restaurant next door for apple pie and more coffee. Go to VOCAS/Oh My Gulay at La Azotea for vegetarian meals inside an art gallery.

Namaste is visual bliss.

A “bookshelf chair” at Mt. Cloud bookshop.

Aerial view of Hill Station, from the Casa Vallejo inn staircase.

Vegetarian dishes at Oh My Gulay within VOCAS art gallery.

At Hotel Elizabeth along Gibraltar Road, enter a state of Zen at Bliss Café, and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate at Café by the Ruins on Chuntug Road.

Interesting interior of Bliss Cafe. The light is warm and enveloping.

Cafe by the Ruins is adorned with artwork.

The easiest way to get to Baguio is by bus. Victory Liner has a fleet of airconditioned buses bound for points north; the deluxe ones have an on-board toilet and acres of legroom. An online ticketing system makes getting seats stress-free.

The Victory Liner terminal at Baguio City.

The people of Victory Liner are kind and helpful – the kids and I wound up at the wrong terminal, and the people there called ahead to the right one to let us know we were on the way to catch our bus. When we arrived photo-finish, puffing and panting, only smiles greeted us as willing hands reached out to stow our luggage in the cargo hold and guide us into our seats. A bus attendant handed out bottled water, snacks, and magazines. It was like taking an airplane flight.

For accommodations, book reservations online for the Microtel Inn right beside Victory’s Baguio City terminal. The food is great, the breakfast chef cooks your eggs the way you like it, and there is free-flowing coffee in the lobby.

The Microtel Inn is right beside the Victory Liner terminal.

Take your journey, the one that will help you rediscover your balance, gain peace, and recharge your soul.

* * * * *

Last December 17, typhoon Sendong obliterated entire communities in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City, leaving over 3,000 persons dead and missing and 342,000 more displaced and homeless, living in tent cities or barangay sports courts.

In the aftermath, 56 people, some of them young children, tried to take their own lives. There is an increase in incidences of teenage pregnancy, incest, and rape, especially in the tent cities.

Psycho-social intervention helps by coaching survivors in stress-relief techniques based on yoga and proper breathing. To help continue sustaining the Art of Living trauma relief workshops being conducted in the area, Hongkong-based opera singer Wayne Yeh and international theater performer Lissa Romero-de Guia will be singing on March 26 at the “Opera vs. Broadway” fundraising concert for the benefit of the survivors of typhoon Sendong.

Image from Lissa de Guia.

Wayne will sing opera and Lissa Broadway hits, in a duel of style and sound at the Isla Ballroom, EDSA Shangri-La Hotel Manila. Ticket details at http://www.artofliving.org.ph or call Madeline Pajarillo at (0917)820-2081. *** 

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pop goes the world: no such thing as mixed signals

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  16 February 2012, Thursday

No Such Thing as Mixed Signals

Ah, Valentine’s Day. For couples in a relationship, it’s a happy romantic time, roses and chocolates blah blah.

But for some singles, it’s bleak – feeling alone even when in the company of friends, wondering when the Universe will get its act together and drop your soulmate in your lap.

It’s downright painful for other singles, especially women, who are waiting on a beloved to say, “Yes, you’re the one I love. I can’t imagine life without you. Marry me.” And are still waiting. And waiting…

The man will often have an excuse – I have to take care of personal issues first, I don’t make enough money yet for us to set up together, istrik ang ferents ko. The woman will wait, hoping things would get better.

This happened to me, not too long ago. I’d been clinging, hoping for a change, rationalizing to myself that the mixed signals he was sending stemmed from his personal challenges. That it was just a matter of me being patient and giving him the space to work things out then hey, maybe, our time would come.

An older gentleman at work – a lawyer, rational and logical – hearing my story, said with extreme kindness, “He’s not sending mixed signals. He’s being very clear. He won’t commit. Now can you bear that? If yes, then let it go on the way it has been. Otherwise, the next step is up to you. It’s not up to him, because he’s already told you where he stands – and it’s not in your corner.”

I’d fallen into the trap most women do. We hang on hoping he’ll come to his senses. That he’ll wake up, as if from a dream, and transform into kind of the man you’ve always wanted to have by your side. That he’ll realize we’re the love of his life and he can’t bear spending the rest of his life without us.

But for men, it is often quite clear. They’re not the ones sending the mixed signals – it’s the women in their lives who won’t accept what they trying to say – “I won’t commit to you”.

Comedian and now relationship guru Steve Harvey says in his book “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man” that a man doesn’t show his love the way a woman does. Women will sacrifice and endure all for the sake of love. Their love is boundless, unconditional, and encompassing.

A man’s love, says Harvey, is no less powerful but expressed differently, in three ways – profess, provide, protect. First, profess. He’ll tell everyone you’re his lady, his woman, the love of his life. “In other words, “ says Harvey, “you will have a title – an official one that far extends beyond ‘this is my friend’ or ‘ this is (insert your name here).” A man who professes you as his own claims you as his, that “he has plans for you. He sees himself in a long-term, committed relationship with you.”

Next, provide. It’s ingrained in a man’s DNA, says Harvey, that “a man who loves you will bring that money home to make sure that you and the kids have what you all need. That is our role – our purpose…[that] the people we love need want for nothing.”

Last, protect. “When a man truly loves you, anybody who says, does, suggests, or even thinks about doing something offensive to you stands the risk of being obliterated. Your man will destroy anything and everything in his path to make sure that whoever disrespected you pays for it.”

So, ladies, wake up. If he doesn’t call you his lady, if he’s not by your side right now, if he didn’t put a ring on your finger, then he’s not the one. Accept that, thank him for the good times, and move on.

You deserve much better. You deserve the title, the bacon, the protection. You deserve to spend the next Valentine’s Day in someone’s warm embrace, the kind of hug that won’t let you go.

* * * * *

Poets Joel Toledo, Karen Kunawicz, and others will read poetry at the Freelance Writers’ Guild of the Philippines’ OpenBook event tomorrow night, Friday, February 17, at Chef’s Bistro, 94 Sct. Gandia, Quezon City. Entrance-plus-drink is P200. A portion of the proceeds will help fund projects for Typhoon Sendong victims.

FWGP founder Ime Morales convinced me to read a couple of poems. I don’t fancy myself a poet. But all I can do is try my best. Feel free to bring eggs and tomatoes to hurl at the stage. I can always make an omelette. ***  

Carabineers here. Steve Harvey book image here. FWGP logo here.

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yankee candle food scents

I’ve loved Yankee Candle ever since I was introduced to it on a trip to the US East Coast about 12 years ago.

Here’s one of my latest acquisitions, just last year – Jelly Donut. It smells like a raspberry jelly-filled doughnut.

The Yankee Candle Illuma-lid is made of metal and is supposed to prevent “tunneling”. That’s when wax builds up around the sides instead of melting into a flat pool as it should.

I chose an Illuma-lid that depicts butterflies, my totem animal/insect/contingent being. They signify rebirth into a brighter and better life, where one can soar and reach dreamt-of heights.  

I love food scents. I got this particular jar of Vanilla Cupcake over ten years ago. The scent oils have darkened and become concentrated, and as a consequence the throw is very strong. Its smell is intense even when cold, more so when it is burning. In ten minutes, an entire room is filled with fragrance.

This scent was discontinued for many years, and revived only some time ago after popular demand.

Last year (2011) I acquired more food scents – Lemon Chiffon, Brown Sugar & Cinnamon, and Fruit Salad among them – and look forward to burning them, and having my room smell like a bakery or deli.

They’d smell stronger if I wait ten years, but you know what I’ve learned since the first time I bought Yankee Candles?

Life is short. Take the simple pleasures where you can, while you can.

 All photos taken with an iPhone 4S.

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downton abbey mania

It’s escapist melodrama that does not hesitate to employ the cliched tropes of the genre, but there’s something about it that is fascinating and compelling. I spent the past week watching all the episodes – two seasons and a Christmas special – and can’t wait for the release in the fall of the third season, which will begin filming early this year.

“Downton Abbey” is a hit British TV series that has run two seasons, broken viewership records in the UK and the US, and reaped awards and nominations.

Promotional still showing the cast. Image here.

The action is set in a world long vanished, the world of the English aristocracy and the labor class that served them. It is familiar to those who read fiction set in that era, notably the works of detective fiction author Agatha Christie, who herself came from the privileged class and wrote what she knew, setting her books in the drawing rooms and conservatories of grand houses, her characters in a milieu of elegance and wealth enjoying a lifestyle that ended with World War I, which changed the economy and society.

Sometimes we need to escape into a different world, if only to recharge our spirits with something entirely removed from our own reality. This world’s as good as any to visit, if not better than most. The accents and the language alone are fascinating, and there are the fashion and interiors as well, mixed up with history lessons.

Watch it. Learn something. Prime your pump of creativity with something new, something out of the ordinary.

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moleskine pocket plain “le petit prince”

My first Moleskine notebook, a pocket ruled, took me three years to fill up. It had been with me on all my travels, was the repository of my secrets and shopping lists, and over the years got so battered and beat-up that I had to mend the cracked spine with pink duct tape from Bleubug.

With the new year and its potential for new beginnings and moving on, I decided to break open a fresh notebook.

It’s still a Moleskine pocket – it’s my favorite format. This one is a limited-edition “Le Petit Prince” design, shown here with a vintage 1930s Waterman Lady Patricia “Persian” lever-fill fountain pen.

The inside front cover is adorned with illustrations from the book by Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Each Moleskine notebook comes with a multi-language insert that is a masterpiece of branding. Moleskine positions itself as a purveyor of fine quality notebooks and planners, keyed to the words “culture, imagination, memory, travel, personal identity”, which conjure up a wealth of potentials and possibilities for the user’s positioning and reinvention of self. 

The Le Petit Prince edition has a mobile of the title character on the back cover, with instructions for assembly.

A closer look at the mobile insert.

The mobile, fully assembled. I attached a length of gold thread and hung it from the whiteboard at my office.

I have other kinds of Moleskine notebooks, plain and with different artwork, but I chose this particular one to remind me that “what is essential is invisible to the eyes.”

And that which is truly essential cannot be written down in any notebook, but only on the heart.

All photos taken with an iPhone 4S.

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pop goes the world: have you hugged your kids today?

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  26 January 2012, Thursday

Have You Hugged Your Kids Today?

Last Saturday was an interesting time for our family as we went to support our youngest in her first cheerdance ever.

Erika is a high school freshman at Colegio de Santa Rosa-Makati, and she’d been waiting for this moment since she was in elementary school. My eldest, Alexandra, who graduated from the same school several years ago, was as intense about the annual experience as her sister.

Apparently it’s a big deal to kids nowadays, this cheerdance thing. It pits year levels (“batches”) against each other in about ten to fifteen minutes of competition, featuring new cheers authored by the batch incorporated into dance routines that blend jazz/funk/modern dance styles with gymnastics. The batch that has dancers and gymnasts has an edge in the competition.

We didn’t have this during our time, so I asked my kids, “It’s an event that brings batches together in unity and camaraderie while honing skills in friendly competition against the students of other years to build school spirit and sisterhood, right?”

They looked at each other and frowned at me. “No, Mama. Cheerdance is war.”

CSR Freshmen do their routine in the 2011 Cheerdance Competition. The dancers are in front, the pep squad in the back. An iPhone 4S image.

At CSR-Makati, elementary students perform simple dance/exercise routines called “field demonstrations”. The children wear costumes and dance to music in line with a theme for that year. Last year, when Ik was in sixth grade, they swung to 70s and 80s music while dressed in bellbottom jeans and platform shoes and let me tell you, the parents were dancing along with their daughters on the CSR field. It was that fun.

But field demos are for babies. Cheerdance is a whole ‘nother level, and it’s only for the high school. Students in each batch join one of three groups, according to skill and inclination – dancers, pep squad, and propsmen.

The “props” take care of physical requirements such as banners, boxes covered with glitter, cardboard motorbikes, and other accessories that the batch requires in its routine.

The pep squad comprises most of the students in a batch and they are backup dancers. The dancers are the stars of the show, and are chosen via auditions held by the choreographer hired for that year.

Yes, these competitions are serious enough to require the services of professional dance and cheerdance choreographers, who are often members of cheerdance squads in universities and colleges.

Each high school batch at CSR comes out on the field dressed in the colors assigned to that year level – freshmen green, sophomores yellow, juniors red, seniors blue. The propsmen and pep squad members wear jogging pants and batch t-shirts specially designed and printed for the occasion, often with the batch name. The dancers wear more elaborate costumes in keeping with the chosen theme or music. The parents and connections come wearing shirts in the colors of their daughters’ year levels.

 Cheerdance Competition 2012 at Colegio de Sta. Rosa-Makati. The batches assemble on the field to await the results of the contest. An iPhone 4S image.

Because it’s a contest, watching a cheerdance is more suspenseful and tense than watching a field demo. Parents crowd to be in the front, or stake out seats on the second floor of the school building and set up camera tripods. There’s play-by-play commentary from bystanders, more often than not school alumni who come to support their younger sisters, who have been preparing for this day through rigorous daily practice over a couple of months, and by watching videos of performances of previous years.

Originality of choreography, cheers, and costume; level of difficulty; energy level; and number of lifts, human pyramids, and tumbling runs are among the criteria used to judge the winners. Because they are older and bigger, first and second place usually go to either the juniors or seniors. This is something accepted by the freshmen and sophomores; they’re content with just not coming in last.

This year’s cheerdance winner at CSR turned out to be the Juniors, who rocked an exotic Bollywood theme with the dancers dressed in “Princess Jasmine”-inspired bodices and sheer headdresses. Their advantage was that they had a former UP Pep Squad member as their coach.

The University of the Philippines Varsity Pep Squad is perhaps the most famous university cheerdance group today. They have won seven UAAP (University Athletic Association of the Philippines) Cheerdance Competitions, the most recent in 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2011. The UP Pep Squad led Team Philippines in the 6th Cheerleading Worlds held last November 2011 in Hongkong, placing third in the Cheer Mixed category.

UP Pep Squad winning the 2011 UAAP Cheerdance. Image here.

Cheerdance combines the athleticism of gymnastics with the aesthetics of dance, and it’s also an enjoyable exercise for teaching the values of teamwork and harmony. I hope other schools that don’t have this yet will consider it for their students. Government and non-government organizations could look into this for their youth programs. What better way for kids to spend the afternoon than tumbling with each other in the grass, rather than being stuck indoors playing video games?

This entire cheerdance thing also reminds me of a couple of things. The first – a bumper sticker that my former father-in-law, a veterinarian and racehorse trainer, used to have on his old car – “Have you hugged your horse today?”

The second – the way my father showed his affection for my sister and me. When he’d come home in the late afternoon, he’d greet us by planting sniff-kisses on our heads and saying, “Olor del sol!” And off we’d go for our evening baths.

Our children are special. Let them know. Gather them in the circle of your arms right now, kiss them on the top of their heads that smell like our tropical sun, and share the warmth of your love for and pride in them.

* * * * *

The National Youth Commission announced the opening of applications to the 9th Parliament of Youth Leaders.

The parliament, which was started in 1996, gathers young people from around the country to brainstorm policy recommendations for youth issues. The recommendations are sent to government leaders to be considered as proposed bills and administrative policies.

This year’s theme is “Revolutionizing Youth Development”. The event hopes to expose young people to how political and organizational procedures and mechanisms may be used to effect positive changes in society.

Scheduled for the first week of May 2012, the parliament is expected to have over 200 youth leaders 15-30 years old as participants. Learn about the qualifications and download application forms at http://www.nyc.gov.ph or email nyp9@nyc.gov.ph. The deadline for applications is February 29.

* * * * *

The Carlos Palanca Foundation is accepting entries to its Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature from February 1 to April 30. Contest rules and forms will soon be released at its website, http://www.palancaawards.com.ph.  * * *

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nine west one-stop shopper

The Nine West One-Stop Shopper is a roomy tote that’s simply styled, but looks interesting enough because of the quilted pattern on the bag and the attached wristlet.

This one’s made in China of nylon/synthetic materials. “Night Iron” must be the color. Care must be taken when setting the bag down because the bottom is lined with a thin black material that is not as thick as the quilted material that makes up the bag’s body.

The handles are long enough for shoulder carry. They are not adjustable. Attached to one handle is what Filipinos call a palawit, a bit of decoration that hangs from something else. This one is a metal circle stamped with the brand name.

The wristlet is attached to a strap on the inside of the bag with a carabiner, so it can be detached.

A simple metal plaque underneath the inner zippered pocket carries the brand name and date of establishment.

The interior is surprisingly roomy, with lots of compartments. In addition to the zippered inner pocket attached to the lining, there’s a zippered pocket divider and two open pockets for cellphones/PDAs.

The Nine West One-Stop Shopper can be crammed with a lot of things. A lot.

Despite the bag’s being stuffed to bursting, it remains closed thanks to the long clasps.

Since I travel with the kitchen sink, my favorite bags are large totes that can be opened wide. This particular handbag fulfills my criteria for the ideal daily bag – stylish, open, roomy, and has long handles, and pockets for organization.

There are several Nine West branches in Manila – the ones I am most familiar with are at the Powerplant Mall and Glorietta-Ayala Center, both in Makati City.

All photos taken with an iPhone 4S.

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the starbucks planner 2012

The Starbucks planner for 2012 is a 180-degree turn from last year’s elegant design that came in red velvet and metallic finishes. This time around, it’s all about trees, evoked with natural materials – wood and coarse-weave fabric. It’s acquired through the usual means of stickers for each drink purchased during the designated holiday period (November to January).

There are five iterations shading from light to dark, each named after a tree. This one’s Cherry, the middle shade (#3).

What’s more, the design took more than a few cues from the Moleskine notebook.

This unboxing happened at Starbucks Harbour Square at the Cultural Center of the Philippines complex.

“Let’s give big hugs – and little gifts of hope.” Actually, I’m fine with the big hugs. Really.

The coarse-weave pouch is an innovation – it’s the first time it’s been done by Starbucks Philippines. The pouch keeps the planner clean, and is also handy for receipts, a pen, and other little items.

No worries that the planner inside will be damaged by things you might keep in the pouch – the covers are made of thin pieces of wood, with the siren design and edge text in bas-relief.

There’s a Moleskine-style elastic on the back. As always, the planner comes with coupons – nine, this time around, less than there used to be, at one per month, but then it takes less drinks to get the planner this season.

Instead of a Moleskine-type ribbon marker, a kraft-cardboard bookmark is provided. I love the horizontal layout. 

Now we come to the best thing about this planner – the paper. It is smooth, creamy, and fountain-pen friendly. The stiff nib of my daily-warrior Parker Jotter simply glides across the paper, as if it were glass. Or ice.

Another good thing for FP  users – there’s minimal show-through! 

As with every Starbucks planner, this one has magnificent photography.

A pocket attached to the inside back cover holds the coupons and bookmark. Again, just like the Moleskine. It’s handy-dandy for keeping more stray bits of paper and other ephemera. 

The size is smaller too, compared to previous editions. It’s about the size of a Kindle and fits neatly in my handbag, where I hope it gets along with all the pink things in there.

Photos taken with a 2MP Nokia C3.

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shoe up! by nielette’s doll shoes

Trying out the new trends in shoes is a simple way to get a fashion fix. There are trends I like, there are those I love (platform sandals, wedges, bakya). There are those that leave me cold – gladiator sandals? Blecch. Stilettos? Foot and calf pain, owww.

This particular design and brand, I love.

These “doll shoes” from Shoe Up! by Nielette, a proudly Filipino brand, are so comfortable and affordable that I own three pairs, in all the colors available at present – black, bronze, and gray. (I’m hoping they’ll come out in red.)

I’ve always had respect for the experience of air travel so I never wear flip-flops on my trips. On my most recent trip abroad (last month), I wore the gray pair; I looked neat and put-together. I managed to walk through the MNL, SFO, and LAX airports searching for my boarding gates and hauling my luggage without experiencing a single moment of foot strain nor pain, while still being able to easily slip in and out of the shoes during the security searches, being on my way in seconds while others were still fumbling with laces and straps.

I used to wear high heels all the time but with age advancing and work getting more hectic, I need comfort more than style. Shoe Up! doll shoes give me both. I wear these shoes exclusively to work now, and can face whatever the day might bring – a meeting at a fancy hotel? an inspection of office branches? Whether walking on plush carpet or crunchy gravel, these are the shoes that get me through.

Shoe Up! by Nielette reflects the personality of its owner/designer – fun, fearless, funky Nielette Tupas (daughter of former governor Niel Tupas of Ilo-ilo City). She is extroverted, outgoing, and interested in fashion to the extent of translating her ideas into reality through the shoes and dresses she designs and sells at her shops.

Shoe Up! shoes and handbags and Dress Up! fashions are available online and at her stores. (In Manila, at Glorietta beside the Landmark entrance and at Megamall; there are also stores in Ilo-Ilo City and in other locations in the Visayas and Mindanao.)

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