Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Are you into crystals? Green Halo is having a Facebook sale

If you've read my post about the Farah Abu bangle that I got from AVA, then you already know that I love chunky hand-made jewelry, especially those that feature semi-precious minerals. Green Halo happens to be one of those that I stalk regularly because they do have cool pieces. Green Halo used to be a Zalora vendor but have since pulled out. Luckily, I liked the Green Halo Facebook page before that, so I still saw their inventory on my news feed every now and then.

Yesterday, Green Halo posted an 40% off album, dubbing it their Mother's Day sale (it's on May 11, so better make sure you get your moms something!) and long story short, I saw something that I loved:

Green Halo pink calcite and peridot jasper bangles

I couldn't believe that both bangles were selling for only P690! These are made with pink calcite and peridot jasper. With shipping (P40) plus a 5% surcharge because I opted to pay through Paypal rather than through bank deposit, it still came down to less than eight hundred pesos. Such a steal. If you like it too, the bad news is that I got the last pieces. The good news that there are others just as lovely, like this one made with blue calcite and black tourmaline:
Green Halo blue calcite and black tourmaline bracelet
Just so you know, Green Halo uses natural minerals for their pieces, not synthetics. In fact, when you order something from them, you get info cards telling you how to 'program' the crystals so you can use reap their healing and spiritual benefits. I have to admit that when it comes to crystals, I do wear them primarily for their beauty but hey, if it helps me be more grounded and creative even a little then yay.

The photo above was grabbed from Green Halo's sale album. Since Holy Week non-working holidays have officially started, courier operations will resume next week so I don't have my order just yet.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Shoutout to Single Moms Everywhere

Last July, I wrote this post about an article that I've read about mom who leaves her small children inside the car so that she could buy make-up at Ulta. Some of you commented and expressed horror at such carelessness and I totally agree with you all. Today though, I read about another mother who also did the exact same thing-- and I've got nothing but sympathy.

Shanesha Taylor is mom to a 2-year old toddler and a 6-month old baby. She left them in the car with the car windows cracked open while she went about her own business. But what makes Shanesha's situation very sympathetic to me is that she is a single mom, and her errand was to go on a job interview that would have helped her feed her kids if hired. She couldn't find or afford a babysitter for her kids, and felt that she had no choice but to leave them inside her car. More on this story here.

What resonates with me about this is that I'm often in the same dilemma myself: as a single mom who has to put food on the table, there have been a lot of times when a legitimate work commitment necessitates juggling with child care concerns. Unlike Shanesha though, I count myself very lucky because I live in a culture where child raising is considered more of a village effort rather than a solo/couple gig. I have extended family whom I could rely on (coerce? haha)  to cover the basics on the few times that I've been in a bind, we generally have all-around help who can pinch-hit in an emergency, and I am honestly not above using TV or the iPad to keep the Wonder Boy entertained for a couple of hours. But this is only now that I've been able to breathe more easily, since the WB is already four and has mostly become independent. It was a real train ride when he was two or younger.

My point is that single moms out there have it tough. You worry about everything because here is no one else to share the burden. You worry about the money, about disciplining, about the housework, etc. As far as single moms go, I've been fortunate to be in the situation that I am in and I am so grateful for that everyday.

So my takeaway from Shanesha is that maybe it's time for us to be more sympathetic to a single mom who's doing her best. As for me, there's this single mom I know who takes in laundry and does odd jobs around the neighborhood to help make end meet. The next time I see her, I think I'll give her a small amount of money and arrange for a Jollibee dinner for her and her brood. And while I'm at it, I'm getting myself a treat too.

And let me share something that I saw on Facebook:

It's a holiday here in the Philippines today. How are you spending your time off?

Monday, March 31, 2014

Zoya Magical Pixie Dust in Lux Review

It's definitely shiny. WB actually called it 'fabulous'--- and I have to agree.

Zoya Magical Pixie Dust in Lux, a rose quartz sparkle (Click on images for a larger view)
I love Zoya Pixie Dusts (especially Stevie) and for the past six months. They're sparkly, they don't need base coat or topcoat, and when they get dinged up or a bit dull, you just swipe on another coat if you can't redo your nails for that day. So when I saw US nail bloggers posting about the latest collection a few weeks ago, I just knew I had to have at least one. Other than Lux, which Zoya describes as a rose quartz sparkle, the Magical Pixie Dust collection for Spring 2014 also includes two more: Vega (blue opal sparkle) and Cosmo (silver crystal sparkle). 

My pictures don't nearly show just how awesome these are, and you can head over to Polish Hound and Manicurator to see the whole collection swatched but let me just tell you about what Lux was like for a rookie nail polish lover. Some of the blogs reported that this collection was harder to apply than the other Pixies but for me, it was simple enough.

The first coat is not really that rough but for the second (and third ones) you might want to do a dabbing technique because the formula is a little thicker and tends to drag. But you don't really need to push the glitters around-- it's chockful of sparkly, pretty bits with some larger hex-shaped ones thrown in. When it dries, it's really textured and I imagine it would snag on pantyhose but you can smooth it a little bit by laying a coat of Seche Vite on top.

This glitter is hungry though, so even with a top coat it will still be textured. Plus, a single layer won't really change the appearance that much. This is currently my favorite nail polish, because it makes my hand look really dainty in a glitzy sort of way. And I do love sparkle and blingy things every now and then.

Like my other Zoyas, I bought mine at Polish Please! for P425 plus shipping.

April Fool's Day prank: The "magic potion" that will turn into treasure

I'm planning to stay away from social media today, just because I expect that a lot of people will be trying to post something outrageous in the spirit of April Fool's. Sadly, I don't know a lot of witty boys and girls so for the most part, these pranks are going to be mostly lame (i.e.I'm pregnant! joke, hahaha).

I have, however, been plotting a prank of my own for the Wonder Boy (WB), to start off something which I hope will be a playful tradition between us for the years to come. Earlier today, I've arranged for him to anonymously receive a package containing a vial of "magic" potion, and a set of simple instructions which he can read and follow all by himself. Long story short, he'll have to pour the potion into a bowl and then take a nap to 'activate' the magic that will turn the potion into treasure.

Between you and me, the potion is simply some diluted food coloring and the treasure will turn out to be a bowlful of candy, chocolates and small toys. The best part is that when he gets a bit older, he'll figure it out eventually-- and hopefully it'll turn into a fond childhood memory down the road.

Do you have any loving traditions-- April Fool's or otherwise -- that you've started for your kids?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Away from the Madding Crowds: The Perfect Weekend at Nagsasa Cove, Zambales

I hate travelling but somehow, I found myself heading out of the city once or twice a year ever since I had a kid. As much as possible, I've limited the stress by scheduling hotel staycations more often than not, or by travelling with other family members. As it so happens, my son has been bugging me for a swimming trip ever since last year and while I've managed to fob him off with swimming lessons and the odd hotel stay or two, he's been craving for a real beach camping experience. And we found that in Nagsasa Cove, Zambales.
I've been driving myself crazy figuring out how to pull this off when luckily, my google searchings led me this blog which shared an awesome, hassle-free beach camping experience via the Gone Wild Campers (GWC) group. For a flat fee per head, they'll take care of van transportation to and from Manila-Nagsasa Cove, pack everything you need AND fix the food for you. The last is especially important; I didn't want to go all the way to the idyllic paradise that was Nagsasa Cove only to subsist on canned food. I read the travel guide they had up at their website, verified that all I needed to do was to basically just show up, and proceeded to get all excited and feel very adventurous.

There are already a lot of blogs detailing the beauty and the simplicity that is Nagsasa: no electricity, no cellphone signals, and no other way in or out of the island except via the boats or the mountain hiking trail so I would leave it at that. However, let me just give you a quick Kikay Mom rundown on this trip.

Is it doable with a small child?
Yes, very, especially since we went via private van which drove us directly at the Pundakit jump-off point where you take a 45-minute boat ride to get to the cove itself. If you were doing this DIY, you would normally take a bus to get to Iba, Zambales and then ride a jeep and a tricycle to actually get to the shore where the boats for hire are docked. I didn't need to deal directly with the boatmen since everything was taken care of in true GWC style but I have read that a boat which could fit 10-15 people goes for P1500 to P2500 depending on negotiations.
This is in Pundakit. Pundakit in itself is quite a popular beach spot, with its share of tourists and cheap lodging areas. Surfing is definitely doable, as you can see, because of the waves but at the risk of sounding like a snob, it's not for me. Why bother to go out of the city only to end up with the crowds, the grime, and the noise?
I would, however, strongly recommend that you bring a quality child-sized jacket just because the ones provided on the boats are ill-fitting, not to mention a bit weathered. The route between Pundakit and Nagsasa Cove is not really that isolated so even if the boat should somehow capsize (not that I've heard of any incidents recently) you can probably be rescued within minutes but you want to make sure that your kid can keep safely afloat. I'll sound a bit preachy here, but travelling with kids is a lot of responsibility and it pays to err on the side of caution.
This is towards the front of the camping areas. See the pine-like agoho trees? 
Is the food good?
It definitely was; for me, beach food is grilled food and we had our fill in the two days that we were in Nagsasa. Definitely no complaints on that score, especially since I didn't lift a finger to prepare any of it. We even had an evening bonfire with marshmallows and chocolates, which the Wonder Boy definitely loved.
These boys kept us well-fed for two days.

Sleeping in a tent, even without pillows or mattresses, was surprisingly comfortable because the sand was fine and not pebbly. It was a bit like sinking into a memory foam cushion that didn't spring back up. We just used a sarong for a sheet, and another one for a blanket and we had a perfectly good nights' rest.
No matter how careful you are, sand WILL get inside your tent. The GWC boys showed me how to de-sand the inside of the tent (it involves going inside the tent and putting it on its side) and when I did it, the other tour mates thought our tent was being carried off in the wind and hurried over to rescue me.

Here's me (I'm the one holding a coffee cup) with some of the tour mates. Since it was just me, my kid and little sister, we were joiners on this tour. These guys are from JP Morgan and Chase, out on a team bonding weekend. I didn't really mind being on this trip with them although we were, for all practical purposes, the 'outsiders' because they were so friendly and welcoming especially with the Wonder Boy.

So what's there to see in Nagsasa? Since our campsite was basically in the middle, to the right lay the mountain trail (which was sadly closed for visitors during our stay) and the picturesque rocky area of the beach. 

To the left lies the river, and since it was summer, the water was not as high as it could be. It did reach up to the waist after the far bend though. My boy was all about playing in the waves and digging in the sand so we didn't really stay that much on the river side.

I don't have any pictures of the bathrooms but it was decent enough. They were concrete and tile enclosures with a toilet bowl and running water but that's it. You'll have to hang your towel on makeshift bamboo rods and bring a candle or a flashlight at night.

Nagsasa Cove is beautiful, no doubt about it, but I can already see it being slowly ruined by irresponsible travellers. All along the beach are cigarette butts and plastic packs of junk food, discarded bottles and other trash. When my kid and sister woke up early in the morning, we headed over to the rocky beach area to bum around before lunch and on the 10-minute walk there, we collected a big bag of trash by just picking up whatever was right in front of us. It's sad how idiotic people are sometimes.
See this wide expanse of beach that we had all to ourselves? I expect it will change in April and May and we are definitely glad to have gone before then.

We definitely want to come back to Nagsasa Cove. Other than the trash, there is just beauty everywhere. And at night, there are no city lights so you get to lie down on the beach and gaze at the stars, if that's your thing. I did that with my kid for about five minutes, then we went back inside the tent and I pulled out my Kobo while he played with his iPad until he feel asleep.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Mom leaves twins in hot car for 39 minutes while she shops at a beauty store --

Okay, so this is a rant-ish post. I came upon this article which reports how a mom of 3 1/2 year old twins (very very close to my own boy's age!) left her children strapped inside the car for almost 40 minutes while she did a beauty run at Ulta. I mean, even if you lost your entire make-up stash, is that really such a dire emergency? And setting aside the fact that a lot of children had died from dehydration and metabolic imbalance because of the extreme heat that can build up inside the car once you turn the air conditioning off, what about the greater concern of security? Any stranger can break in and harm or steal your kids while you are gone.

The children have been rescued by child services and the mom arrested. And I hope other moms know better than this.

Monday, July 15, 2013

I ♥ Philippine Drugstore Makeup Tag (and a lot of blah-blah on why I buy high-end makeup)

Maica over at PinayBeautyinaBudget tagged me in this series months and months ago! I've been owing her this response for ages, and it feels good to finally get around to it. First of all, I found it difficult to answer because she specified that the products I have to answer will have to be local drugstore brands, and I don't have much experience with those for several reasons.

Okay, here's where I warn you that the blah-blah starts here. If you would rather, just scroll down to the actual questions-- I won't mind.

First, I'm a self-confessed makeup snob. I would rather have one Guerlain lipstick than ten Wet n' Wild ones just because makeup is my indulgence. I don't shop really horde clothes or shoes anymore like I did when I was younger because I'm trying to keep my life and my closet as simple as possible. I don't get to wear makeup everyday (I say this a lot on this blog, no?), so on the few occasions that I do, I really long for a more luxe experience. 

Second, I do most of my beauty shopping online, or from trusty direct sellers from Avon, Mary Kay, etc. Whenever I go to the mall, I take my little boy with me (sans yaya!) and it takes a lot of things to go right before I can have time to loiter at a local beauty counter. I never really stay long enough to get tempted by an impulse purchase! And well, online sellers mostly carry non-local drugstore brands e. 

Third, I usually check reviews and blogs before I buy something-- and search engines usually point to non-local brands. Which is why this tag is a really good idea, IMO. So finally, here are my answers below. Take note that given my limited experience with Philippine drugstore makeup, I have to modify the rules a bit: when I don't have a suitable answer in the Pinoy-made local drugstore category, I add some non-Pinoy drugstore brands but only the ones that I know are locally available.

One of the requirements I have for makeup shopping is that there must be space and a seat so the Boy can plunk down while I go a-swatching. Even then, I only get like a ten-minute window before he gets bored and asks for ice cream.

1. What is your favorite local drugstore makeup brand? That will be Nichido and Fanny Serrano. I like Nichido for their cheap lip liners and eye pencils. They're like e.l.f. -- their products can be a hit or miss but they have good prices. Aside from the pencils, I would recommend their loose powder (decent) and this green pancake foundation which is only about P150. If you have redness that you would like to neutralize, apply this wet on your face and then top off with a color-matching face powder.

As for Fanny Serrano, the brand is just amazing. It's actually my favorite local brand as of now. I have a Fanny Serrano lipstick (which I reviewed here) and their compact foundation in Rajah which I use as a matte bronzer. I look forward to buying Organza once I make a dent in the many compacts that I still am trying to use up.

2. What are your favorite face, cheek and lip products? For the face, I love Ellana loose mineral foundation (review here). Up to now, I still use it as part of my everyday simple look. It doesn't break me out and it's very light on the skin, plus I found a good shade match because they send you samples so you can try the powders at home.

For the cheek, I'm a Benefit and MAC girl actually but for local brands, I would say Fanny Serrano again. They have a peachy pink shade that I thought looked a bit like Benefit Bella Bamba (don't know the shade name though, sorry).

For the lips, MAC and Guerlain, but Fanny Serrano did impress me again. Also, I have swatched lipsticks by M&Co which I think is by Mikee Cojuangco and they had great pigmentation and staying power-- my arm was still stained the next day!

3. Least favorite product? I don't like face bases by Ever Bilena because when I swatch them, parang wala namang coverage then it had an oily feel.

4. What is the best makeup bargain? I don't go by sales and markoffs when it comes to makeup e. That's another reason why I buy trusted brands like MAC, because it really comes down to cost-per-wear. For example, a powder foundation only costs P200 per pan, but since you have to retouch several times a day, you use up two pans every month so it's just the same as buying a nice powder that has better staying powder-- less hassle pa. 

5. What is your favorite underdog product? (Something you love that often gets overlooked?) Does it have to be a brand? Because my answer would be a brow spoolie brush-- the ones that is mostly called "mascara brush". Newbies often just throw it out when they buy brush sets but it can really help give you well-groomed brows if you know how to use it.

6. A local drugstore product that is overpriced? Most drugstore products, for me, are overpriced. See #4 for the reason. Especially those poor quality eyeshadow palettes and chalky blushes.

7. Local drugstore product that isn't worth the hype? The copycat BB creams that are nothing but watered down versions of crappy liquid foundation.

And because the purpose of a tag is to keep it going, I want to tag

Shayne of Queen of All You See -- we seem to have the same makeup brand loves, I wonder how she would answer these questions.

If you would like to participate in this tag, just go ahead. I'm really just shy about getting initiating connections with fellow bloggers, not snobbish :)

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