My Four Must Haves This 2012

Let me share with you my four must haves this 2012.

PLANNER. I used to admire my friends who would really take the time to write their TO Dos for the day in their daily planner and then tick off each and every tasks after they were accomplished. Last year I had 2 planners, a Belle De Jour and a small one, but as the saying goes you can’t serve two masters at the same time, so these planners ended up with more blank pages than filled ones. I used to take pride in the fact that without my TO DOs all neatly jotted down in a daily planner, I still get things done. But then last year, due to aging I guess, I had cases of important things left undone or bills that slipped past the due dates because I had completely forgotten all about them. I finally accepted the fact that I really need to make good use of my planner if I want to put some sort of order in my life. This would help me focus more on urgent matters that need my immediate attention.:)
POCKET DAILY GOSPEL. If there’s one thing that I love to do with my body, it is to feed and nourish it with good food. And since I had pretty much succeeded in that part already as evidenced by my ballooning weight, I had to give much attention to feeding and nourishing my soul too in order to keep the balance in myself. A daily dose of God’s word from the Daily Gospel will do the job perfectly for me. It has, by far, the most generous serving of food for the soul.:)
ROSARY. Praying the rosary everyday gives me so much consolation. There is faith in knowing that Our Lady is looking upon my family and interceding for me in heaven everytime I pray the rosary. That she is embracing my whole family in her cloak of love and protection. There is also strength in knowing that she fully understands what my heart needs for she is a woman, a mother and a wife too.
DREAM JOURNAL. The idea is not my own. It is some sort of a bucket list or dreamboard. I started this project about a year ago. I would cut pictures from magazines of things that I wish to have for myself or words that represent the states of being that I would like to find myself eventually. I started sticking them on a little black book. Slowly and surprisingly, things from my dream journal began to happen to me. I found myself experiencing the very same things that I wished for. I also started having some of the things that were just mere pictures in my dream journal. Through generous gift from families, and well deserved purchase and win from online contests, some of these dreams came true. It made me think that this line from my favorite book, The Secret, really holds some truth to it, it goes something like, “ Make a command to the universe. Let the universe know what you want. The universe will respond to your thought. The universe will rearrange itself to make it happen to you.” There are still a lot of dreams waiting to happen in my journal, but I am really in no hurry for them to happen. The dreams can take their own sweet time in coming, maybe this year or the next. I am willing to just sit it out and wait because I am sure eventually they will come.:)
These things may not be as fancy as the iPhone 4s or as techie as a Samsung Tab but I believe these tools would help me lead a more organized life, attain a deep sense of well being, possess an unwavering faith and dream more big dreams for myself–which in essence are my goals this 2012.
Ooops, I promised my daughter that I won’t insert a giveaway here but I just can’t resist. In keeping with my January as a month of giving, I will be giving this simple planner/journal/book mark set and this Notebook Journal/Belle De Jour Chronicles and Forget-Me-Not planner inserts set to one two lucky commenter commenters. You can plan your own life and start your own dream journal with these.


Here’s how you can join the raffle:
1. Like Blancnotes in facebook.
2. Follow Blancnotes in twitter.
3. Answer the question: What are your four must haves this 2012?
4. Leave your answer on the comment box below together with your facebook name, twitter name and email address.
5. Contest ends on Friday, January 13 Saturday, January 14. Winners will be announced on January 15.:)
Updated: January 13, 2011

And The Winner Is…

I had so much fun reading your posts, it warms my heart to know that most of us still feel first and foremost grateful for having our family beside us more than anything last 2011. This just goes to show that our life priorities and values haven’t really changed that much, they are still as deeply grounded on family as before.
They say that gratitude is absolutely the best way to bring more into your life. I hope that through this giveaway, I was able to help jump start your new year right. Get ready for a brand new year of abundant blessings again.:)
I am happy to announce that the winner of our New Year Blog Giveaway is Ms. Lourdes D. Espanol!

If you didn’t win on this one, don’t worry I still have a couple of giveaways up my sleeves this January since I want to gain extra points in the blessings department through giving (*wink*wink*). Stay tuned.:)

Cath Kidston

I thought my first day back to work yesterday after my loooong christmas break will be dreadful. I was preparing myself for a really bad day ahead when my colleague at work handed me this box. When I saw what was inside, all my “back-to-work” blues flew out of the window.:)

My friend at work, Carmela, was kind enough to hunt the entire mall strip of Bangkok for the newly opened Cath Kidston store there just so she could snag this one for me. Thank God for her wanderlust feet she found the store despite her busy shopping schedule in Bangkok. And after hearing how she prayed to God to show her the way to the store, how she got lost in the shopping jungles of Bangkok and how she had a mirage in one of the stores there selling Cath Kidston knock offs, I have nothing but overflowing gratefulness to her for feeding my addiction(*wink*wink).

I became aware of Cath Kidston eight years ago when one of my girlfriends at work gifted me with a small coin purse with cute floral print design from her recent trip to the US. That time Cath Kidston wasn’t a household name yet, but nevertheless I was so attracted by its dainty and ultra-feminine design that I searched for her products here everywhere. And “back in the old days” too, globalization was just merely a term and internet/shopping online was unheard off, so eventually Cath Kidston soon became lost to my distant memory. It was only recently that my love affair with Cath Kidston resurfaced when I learned about their website from one of the blogs that I follow. I became the instant fan girl again.

trademark logo

Cath Kidston Ltd was founded in 1992 by designer Cath Kidston. She began her brand empire by selling vintage fabrics, wallpapers and brightly-painted junk furniture she remembered fondly from her childhood . Her first store was a tiny shop in Holland Park, London. Her clever, witty re-working of traditional English country house style created for her a huge cult following. To date, she still showcases her creativity by designing her own prints and products. Her aim has always been to create well-priced, good quality products that are fun, practical and original. The quirky and distinctive floral print has become known as Cath Kidston’s signature look. From fabrics, wallpaper and furnitures, her products expanded steadily to include an extensive range of home wares and women’s fashion accessories.
My first Cath Kidston bag was this Flower Spray tote bag, I just love how roomy it is inside and how the oilcloth fabric serves me well during rainy days. I bought this in one of the Duty Free shops in Subic, the only place I know where you can find a good number of authentic Cath Kidston bags. You have to be careful though as I spotted some with tears at the sides and chip at the leather zipper pull. The store lady says most of them get damaged during handling and shipping.
Flower Spray tote

The bag that my friend Carmela got for me is of the same Spot design as Kate Middleton’s Cath Kidston Holdall which she used as her carry on bag during her recent trip to Canada. Pictures of her toting this overnight bag became viral and soon after, this same bag design became one of the bag “must haves” in London .

Kate Middleton's Cath Kidston Holdall Bag

Here are some Cath Kidston products from their website that I would love, love, love to have for my own, they are currently on sale right now:
zipper wallet

English Rose Day Bag

shooting star travel purse

English Rose Hanging Tidy

Regal Rose Pillow Case

Rose Bath Towels

Here in Asia, Cath Kidston has eight stores in Japan and one in Bangkok, Thailand. So if you happen to be in Bangkok, do check out Cath Kidston’s flagship store in Central Plaza Grand Rama 9 (2nd floor).
Bangkok flagship store

For those of you who who can’t travel to Bangkok yet can’t wait to get their hands on some of these great Cath Kidston stuffs, you can now order online and have it shipped. Just visit their websites Cath Kidston USA and Cath Kidston UK . Cath Kidston products are currently on 50% off Sale in their websites.
Happy shopping! Cath Kidston is definitely love, love, love.:)

SM Cares Bear

My daughter and I were window shopping a while ago at SM when this caught our eye.

"For Only One Hundred Pesos You Can Make A Child Happy"

Of course, my daughter, who has half of her christmas money in her pocket and all psyched up to spend all of it on books, cannot resist buying one. Especially when she saw these cute little bears.
They come in purple, blue and yellow colors.:)

I was encouraging her to buy at least two more since this is for a good cause but I guess one is the most her generous tween heart can give, and I don’t want to push it. Hehe.

SM Cares Bear is one of the many philantrophic projects of SM Corporation. To participate in this heartwarming project, you have to simply approach the SM Cares Bear booth in any SM supermalls. Place your donation of 100 pesos in exchange for a bear that you will hang on their big christmas tree. Or if you are feeling extremely generous you can buy the three bear colors. These SM Cares Bears as well as your 100 pesos will go to various orphanages and charitable organizations through the SM Cares Program.

In exchange for your donation they will issue you an official receipt and you will get this cute donation certificate.
proud of being part of it.:)

But the best deal you’ll get for being part of this project, according to my daughter, is you’ll walk away feeling a hundred bucks richer too for doing something great. 🙂

New Year Blog Giveaway!

In a few hours,  we’ll be sending 2011 off to history and we will be welcoming 2012 with a bang. I am sure during one of your reflective moments today, you have asked yourself wether you would consider 2011 as your good year or bad year. To me there’s no such thing as a bad year, every year is a good year. I always believe that at any given time, blessings would still far outweigh the misfortunes. There’s so much learning, discovering and becoming that happen during our trying times that we really shouldn’t consider them as bad experiences but simply turning points in our life.:)
So let us end this year and welcome the new year on a positive note. As a big thank you for helping kick off Blancnotes to a good start this year, I will be raffling off these items to one lucky follower of Blancnotes.

1 sachet of Neutrogena Fine Fairness mask, 6 sachet of Johnson's Bed Time bath, 1 box of Playtex tampoons, 1 travel size Dove soap, 1 Bath and Body Works Pocket Antibac hand sanitizer, Body Lotion from Marks and Spencer, The SMIM Toner and Emulsion set from Face Shop (Korea), Copper Tone Suntan Lotion

To join the raffle, you have to simply follow the mechanics below:
1. Like Blancnotes in facebook.
2. Follow Blancnotes in twitter.
2. Post this message on your facebook wall:
“@Blancnotes, I am grateful for __________, _________ and _________ last 2011, and I am looking forward to more blessings this 2012. @Friend 1 and @Friend 2”
(Note: Don’t forget to tag Blancnotes and 2 of your friends. Make sure that your post is set to public so it will appear on our page )
3. Comment below using this format:
Name:
Facebook Account Name:
Twitter Account name
Facebook URL of your post:
Email address:
Contest ends on January 6, 2011. Winner will be picked randomly:)

Uncle Sam's Flying Circus

The circus is in town! Well, Uncle Sam’s Flying Circus that is, minus the show elephant and feisty lion.:) But the rest of the circus casts are present–the aerial acrobats (check), the jugglers (check), the contortionists (check), the heart thumping pole and silks performers (check), the clown (check), and some added bonus too, two famous icons that fit just right in the circus setting, Lady Gaga and Britney Spears themselves (show impersonators-check)!
Uncle Sam’s Flying Circus is comprised of a professional cast of fifth and sixth generation circus performers, headed by New Zealand-based promoter and Harris Agency CEO Doug Harris, and show producer Enrique Valencia — himself a versatile circus performer with several years of professional experience in the global entertainment circuit.

What can I say, it was one helluva show, ah-maze-balls in fact. The first half of the show was opened by the Princess of Circus herself, Britney Spears (hehehe) doing her thing on the dance floor, while some aerial acrobats impressed the audience with their skillful performance. Next act came from the jugglers of Mexico who did some fancy dance moves and poses while juggling pins. It was followed by the Onofre family from Latin America who wowed the audience with their acro-balancing that showed good precision, timing and (sigh!) courage. The most exciting part came when the Genesis Duo from Cuba, Senyas and Fern (hope I got their names right), demonstrated impressive flexibility, strength and dexterity while doing their acro-balancing/contortion act. Another spell bounding performance came from Orianda of Mongolia, a two time Monte Carlo International Circus Festival champion. Her ability to twist and turn limbs in limitless positions is both eye popping and jaw dropping. Of course, any circus won’t be complete without the clown. In this case it was Momo the Clown who managed to illicit laughs from the audience with the usual clown antics.

One of the contortionists

I enjoyed the first half of the show more than the second half though. The second half was more or less the same acro-balancing and aerial contortion performances. Good thing it was only for a good 30 minutes as compared to the 1 hour run of the first half. I did not find the much awaited highlight of Uncle Sam’s Flying Circus, the Double Russian Swing act, impressive too. This act involves two giant steel swings that allow performers to rock back and forth to create momentum as they launch themselves 25 feet in the air. Maybe because I was still reeling from Orianda and the Genesis Duo’s very good performances. To me, those where the highlights of the whole circus act. Lady Gaga, played by Athena, who is currently ranked No. 1 as Lady Gaga’s tribute artist in the world, finally made an appearance in the second half. Much to the delight of the kids who were lured into buying the lighted swords as they were instructed to wave this in the air when she enters. Well the 300 pesos sword wave lasted only for a minute or so. I have to give it to both Britney and Lady Gaga impersonators though coz they did a pretty good job, they really played them up well.
acro-balancing

Tickets are being sold for VIP 1750, Platinum 950, Gold 650, Silver 350 and Bronze 150. Of course we got the Bronze. Since we have an SM Advatage card, the 150 ticket price was reduced to 128 due to the 15% discount exclusive to SM Advantage members. So bring your card along with you if you plan to watch this. We were glad we chose the bronze ticket coz SMX hall isn’t really that big, you need not be in front to enjoy the whole show. In fact we were seated about only 40 rows away from the stage and there’s just this thin railing that separates silver from bronze. We pretty much had a good view of the stage from where we were seated. Our distance is such that we got a complete view of the stage in every angle unlike some of the VIPs and Golds which were seated at the sides. The organizers were kind enough to assist us when we approached the booth because my mom, who walks with the aid of the cane, was with us. We didn’t have to join the que, they allowed us to come in right away. I guess that’s why we got the good seats in the bronze section. I suggest that you go there 45 minutes early to be first in line if you are planning to watch. There are also food stalls inside so no need to worry about getting hungry during the show.
the whole cast

Overall, it was a great show. One that you wouldn’t regret watching. The circus performers’ skills, talents and professionalism are really something. To witness it up close is truly a good experience. Uncle Sam’s Flying Circus is not just for kids but for big “kids” and kids at heart as well. Don’t miss this show coz really, it’s not everyday that the circus comes into town!:)
photo op with my little girl.:)

Uncle Sam’s Flying Circus will be here in Manila for a series of show until January 1 then they will head to Cebu on January 4 and 5 to perform there. Catch them at SMX Convention Center Hall 1 and 2. Matinee show starts at 4 pm with evening show at 7 pm. You can buy tickets at any SM Ticketnet outlet or TicketWorld. For details you may call 470-22-22 or 891-99-99.

10 Christmas Food Treats

These are ten food treats that make the whole christmas experience complete. They definitely add lots and lots of cheer to the holidays.
1. PUTO BUNGBONG
Puto Bungbong is a Filipino delicacy made of sticky rice which is cooked in a chimney like steamers. The sight of them being sold in the streets marks the start of the christmas season. It is ever present during simbang gabi. And of course my favorite part of it is the panutsa (sugar cane sweets) on top, it definitely livens up the Puto Bungbong.

Puto Bungbong

2. BIBINGKA
I love how this rice cake is still being traditionally cooked in oven charcoals during christmas. Skip Bibingkinitan, there’s nothing like the smell of an authentic bibingka side by side with Puto Bungbong during simbang gabi.
Bibingka

3. KASTANAS (roasted chestnuts)
The sight of kastanas being cooked in big “talyasi” brings back childhood memories of cracking these roasted chestnuts with gusto using our bare teeth while watching The Little Match Girl on TV. Sad to say, there are only few kastanas vendors around who would indulge people in the streets with their show of muscles, as they try to mix these roasted kastanas with stones (hehe).
kastanas

4. LECHE FLAN
My lola used to make the creamiest leche flan, the one made from pure egg yolk. I managed to snag a leche flan recipe that is quite like it two years ago. My recipe is still a work in progress though but despite that it still manages to pass up as the perfect dinner dessert during the holidays.
Leche Flan

5. UBE HALAYA
My dad used to make one when he was a kid. Only a few who knows how to make the authentic ones remain. We usually buy the Good Shepherd version. They have, so far, the best tasting Ube around plus when you buy from them you get to help send some kids to college.
Good Shepherd Ube

6. BUKO SALAD
Probably the most popular salad dessert here in the Philippines. Del Monte Fruit Cocktail and Nestle Cream are the first ones that usually ran out of stocks in supermarkets because most households make their own version of this during christmas. It never gets missed in Noche Buenas and Media Noche menus.
Buko Salad

7. BRAZO DE MERCEDES
When I was a kid our Papang and Mamang would bring us the most delicious Brazo de Mercedes. It was only recently that I was able to find a Brazo de Mercedes closest to the one from my childhood. Supreme Brazo Bars by Ces Lopez.
Brazo Bars

8. PASTILLAS
This is the only time in the year where I allow myself to feast on all the sweets that I like (I will worry about them later). I found the perfect pastillas from San Miguel, Bulacan. They are being sold under the name, Cristy’s Special Pastillas. They are made from real carabao’s milk and they are the best I tell you. This has been our family giveaway this christmas.
Cristy's Special Pastillas (for orders call 09228368860 or 0447641870

9. HOT CHOCOLATE
There’s nothing like sipping hot cocoa during a cold christmas night. We used to drink Hershey’s cocoa and Nesquick when I was a child. It was only during christmas that we get to buy these as they were really expensive at that time. When my daughter was old enough to sip cocoa, in keeping up with the tradition, we would buy her Swissmiss with Marshmallow. This holiday, it will be Bellagio sipping chocolate from Healthy Options for us.
Bellagio Sipping Chocolate

10. PUREFOODS FIESTA HAM
It is only during the christmas season that this kind of ham makes its presence known. It used to be the authentic Chinese ham leg from Quiapo for us, but when we discovered how yummy Purefoods Fiesta ham can be, the salty Chinese ham leg was dethroned from its rightful place in our Noche Buena and Media Noche table and Purefood Fiesta Ham took over.
Purefoods Fiesta Ham

I am sure that aside from the ones that I mentioned, there are still a lot of other good food going around this season. Let us all indulge in the yummy feasts that christmas brings for this is the only time where we can guiltlessly do that (hehe). We have the perfect excuse–christmas only happens once a year.:)

Manila Filmfest Movie Review: Enteng ng Ina Mo

Eversince Vic Sotto made a “panata” to join the Manila Film Festival as Enteng Kabisote, it has been our family tradition during christmas season to arm wrestle our way inside the moviehouse to watch him, his gang and the engkangtadas do their thing on the big tube. We grew up watching Okay Ka Fairy Ko, and it is something from our childhood that my husband, sister and I cannot just simply let go yet. And eventhough my daughter, who is now 10, didn’t have the slightest idea before what Okay Ka Fairy Ko was all about, the fun experience that she had while watching her first Enteng Kabisote movie was enough to make her a fan.
When Ai-ai De Las Alas joined Manila Film Festival as Ina Montecillo, we would add an extra hell day trip to the movie house during MMFF season to let her and her brood tickle our funny bones too. Her own brand of cheap yet super fun comedy in her Tanging Ina Mo series were enough to send us into fits of giggles and belly laughs.:)
It is no wonder then that my family and I were one of the early ones who lined up today (of all days) at the box office just to catch the second run of Enteng ng Ina Mo, the merge of our two favorite blockbuster movies. What can I say, it was worth the arm wrestle. It passed up to our great expectations.

My husband and I were wondering how the story would go and we were surprised that they were able to seamlessly merged the two story lines well. They were able to retain the general theme of the two movies, Enteng Kabisote’s victory of the good over the bad and Tanging Ina Mo’s family first over personal happiness. It was a great play of fantasy and reality. I love how the things that I love about these two movies are still very much evident such as the slapstick comedy of Vic, Jose, Wally and Ruby, the hilarious exchange of punchlines between Aiai and Eugene Domingo, the kabibuhan of Zyryle Manabat, the “katibuan” (oops) of Aiza Seguerra and “kabaklaan” of one of Aiai’s children which were both done in good taste (hint: watch out for the ending and the possible clue on what’s gonna be new in the next movie installment). I also liked how the two didn’t overshadow each other, the highlight of each the story lines were given equal importance in the movie. I missed the refreshing face of Khristine Hermosa though, to me she was still the best Faye after Alice Dixon and Tweety De Leon. I also would have loved it if Amy Perez acted more like her Face to Face self rather than a gentle Ina Magenta in the movie. G Tongi would have still been a better Ina Magenta, she is definitely in the league of Charito Solis. Ruby Rodriguez’s weren’t given much camera time too although her 3 minutes long appearance with Jose was pure laughtrip in its own right.
I greatly recommend this movie to anyone looking for a great laugh this holidays. It really is for the whole family. It is one great movie because just like the Enteng Kabisote and Tanging Ina movies of the past, you will leave the moviehouse still talking about it and feeling so good, which really is the whole purpose of going to the movies if you think about it.:)

Christmas Gift Suggestions: 100 pesos and below

I know this post is a little too late with christmas just looming around the corner. But for those of you who are still running around, doing some last minute christmas shopping, here are some gift suggestions that are easy on the pocket:

Plastic pouches from Beabi (php 75.00)

card case from Beabi

posh nail polishes from The Face Shop (php 95 each). If you buy 3, you get one free

Baby Bench scents (php 39 each)

marker stampers from Fully Booked (1 pack, 6 pcs. for php 100)

cute plastic hand bookmarks from Fully Booked (1 box, 4 pcs. for php 100)

Merry Christmas and Happy shopping!:)

Help Spread My Good Blog

I recently joined Gadgets Magazine’s Good Blog Awards. The theme Spark and Share struck me. The tagline in their website says “The greatest achievements come from humble beginnings – a single thought. We’re searching for blog entries that can inspire others to do something good and be something better. Show us how ordinary people can do extraordinary things.
I always believed that I have a lot to say just like thousands of others. So naturally, I joined. Being a working mom, the cause that is closest to my heart is quality time with the family, so I wrote about that one.
There are a lot of good entries with good causes to boot mind you. I doubt if I will ever make it to top ten. I have a few bets of my own from the list of entries. I wouldn’t mind getting some votes though and a couple of shares. I figured if all of us, parents, would just make an effort to spend quality dinner time with our family, with our kids, there would be less troublesome kids out there, less dropouts, less youth gangs, less teenage mommies and daddies, less broken kids. If I can spread this idea like wildfire maybe I would be doing the world a whole lot of good.
So, I hope you can help me, more than winning, I would really like to bring my message across. Here’s the link to my write-up: GOOD BLOG ENTRY. As a “thank you” to those good souls who will rate and share my good blog, I will be raffling off a leather passport holder from Sledgers. Who knows, if there would be lots of generous ones (paging sponsors! haha) out there, maybe I can add some more.:)

Sledgers Passport Holder

Here’s how you can join the giveaway and how you can help spread my good blog (all 5 steps are required):
1. Like Blancnotes in facebook.
2. Follow Blancnotes in twitter.
3. Share my good blog, Famealy Matters, in your facebook wall by clicking the facebook share button found on my good blog post: click this link FAMEALY MATTERS
4. Tweet about my good blog, Famealy Matters, by clicking the twitter share button found on my good blog post: here’s the link FAMEALY MATTERS
5. Leave a comment on this post using this format:
“I helped spread your good blog”
Name:
Email Add:
Facebook Account Name:
Facebook URL of your post:
Twitter Account Name:
Twitter URL of your post:
Note: This giveaway is open to Philippine residents only.:)