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Christmas List

Christmas is literally around the corner.  Whether you refuse to join the throng of mallgoers or get caught in traffic (there is no escape!) ,  the red letter day is coming.  As a busy Mom , I made time to squeeze in my favorite chore of all time –shopping, of course!

Here are  gift ideas for your family and friends.

 

For the Little Miss

My four year old girl pleads, “I want Shopkins, Mom.  Everyone in school is playing with it. Please Mama.”  How can I not give in to my doe-eyed , cherub-faced daughter?  One of her classmates had given  knickknacks in a small basket as gifts to everybody and now all of them want more.  And because the young ones can maneuver gadgets as easily as adults can, she adds,  “ Dad says I should write to Santa and ask him for the Hello Kitty car with remote control. I saw it on youtube. Will you help me write the letter, Mom?”

 

Young girls will love these!

Young girls will love these!

 

 

 

For the Upcoming Divas

Girls grow up too fast!  I initially got a Frozen lunchbox  with matching twistable crayons for my niece but her Mom said she’s already outgrown the Disney phase at nine!  On her wish list? Press-on nails, glittery lipglosses and a Hello Kitty camera.  This year, I’ll introduce her to Smiggle.  They have the coolest stuff for girls!

Cute, fun and something that the girls can use all year round!   Visit the Smiggle pop-up store near Rustan's Supermarket at the lower ground floor of Edsa Shangrila.  Open from 10am to 9pm the whole month of December.

Cute, fun and something that the girls can use all year round! Visit the Smiggle pop-up store near Rustan’s Supermarket at the lower ground floor of Edsa Shangrila. Open from 10am to 9pm the whole month of December.

 

 

Everyone loves Hello Kitty!

Everyone loves Hello Kitty!

 

For the Young Master

The biggest movie franchise in all of moviedom is set to release yet another film this December .  A Darth Vader iphone case, Star Wars toys, masks, shirts, socks   are gifts all boys will like.

 

Star Wars Fever in December!

Star Wars Fever in December!

 

For Mr. Tweener

My 12 year old boy never asks for anything.  This year, he got an early present when he met the international tennis superstars at a dinner.  Seeing his one true crush (again) Anna Ivanovic made my son smile like it was Christmas morning. Priceless!

Happiness to be near his crush Ana Ivanovic!

Happiness to be near his crush Ana Ivanovic!

For  the Glam Moms

I want to give others what I would like to receive for myself.  It’s that special time of the year where we should be extra generous to those we hold dear.   Skincare products,  scents and fragrances, even undergarments make for fabulous presents.

I swear by these products.  USe La Mer to maintain your youthful glow and to ward of lines.   Visit  the Jo Malone boutique at Greenbelt 5 and find the scent that's just right for you.

I swear by these products. USe La Mer  moisturizing cream to maintain your youthful glow and to ward of lines.
Visit the Jo Malone boutique at Greenbelt 5 and find the scent that’s just right for you.

 

Wacoal sports bra gives you the perfect sit and support for your workouts.

Wacoal sports bra gives you the perfect fit and support for your workouts.

For  the Man of the House

What can you give someone who has everything? Relax.  Gift-giving doesn’t have to be nerve wracking.  A classic timepiece, a leather briefcase or a sporty backpack  are things that he can use all year round.

Le Bron Backpack and Omega Limited Edition Spectre Seamaster watch for the special man in your life.

Le Bron Backpack and Omega Limited Edition Spectre Seamaster watch for the special man in your life.

 

Do take the time to write a thoughtful note to all the recipients of your Christmas tidings.  Presents that come wrapped in beautiful packages are pretty to look at but remember , those that come from the heart will be remembered forever.

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Take your photos with these "cool" penguins!

A Polar Christmas at Manila Hotel

 

“P is for penguins, poinsettia and look Mom…. A giant polar bear!”  My daughter’s eyes lit up as she took in the festive decors of the Manila Hotel.  I brought  both my children to the annual Christmas Tree Lighting  Ceremony of the historic Grande Dame and both had big smiles on their faces as a multitude of lights turned on simultaneously at exactly  6:00 pm to herald the start of  the night’s festivities.

Meet Willy the Giant Polar Bear

Meet Willy the Giant Polar Bear

 

Take your photos with these "cool" penguins!

Take your photos with these “cool” penguins!

Minutes before,  the sight of a lifesize gingerbread house greeted us as we entered the Grand lobby.   Seated on a plush red armchair was the jolly old man himself.    A line of children from the House of Refuge , the hotel’s chosen beneficiary, made their way one by one to  Santa’s lap as each asked for a special Yuletide wish.   I saw my little one’s furtive glances to  the man in the red suit as she decided silently if she too wanted to make her own wish.  “Sweetie, why don’t we see what’s on the other side of the room and then come back when the line is shorter?  I’m sure Santa Claus will be waiting for you,” I told her reassuringly.

Kids from the chosen beneficiary get gifts from Santa.

Kids from the chosen beneficiary get gifts from Santa.

 

The  Las Piñas Boys Choir, San Sebastian  Chamber and Harmonia Pilipinas provided the evening’s entertainment.   Christmas carols filled the air as three hundred guests milled around and  took photos by the twenty foot Christmas tree as well as with “Willy the Polar Bear.”  The host told us that his year’s  huge Christmas mascot was actually named after the hotel’s landscape architect William Parsons.   “Do polar bears and penguins live in the same place,” I heard  R asking her older brother.  “Polar bears live in Antartica and most penguins can be found in the Arctic region,” M replied .  Hmmm… ok now both of us know.

The Grand Lobby was filled with Yuletide carols .

The Grand Lobby was filled with Yuletide carols .

 

Soon  it was time to partake of the sumptuous spread  prepared by the famed chefs of the Grande Dame.  Shrimp dumplings, turkey croquettes, chinese noodles and trays of dedadent pastries were all part of the menu.   Of course, a Filipino Christmas celebration would not be complete without lechon.  People lined up until the last morsel of the delicious crispy lechon truffle was served.  I particularly enjoyed the puto bumbomg and bibingka which were served for dessert.

 

Holiday Packages

 

“We pride ourselves in giving unforgettable memories to our guests.  This year is no different.  Both the kids and the kids at heart will surely enjoy the holiday marvels that we have prepared this season,” said Nian Rigor AVP for PR and Corporate Communcations.  “We invite everyone to visit and experience the Manila Hotel Christmas with our holiday promotions and exciting surprises.   Make the Grande Dame your ultimate Yuletide destination and I assure you that it will be one you’ll remember,” added Dr. Enrique Yap, EVP of Manila Hotel.

 

My little girl with Santa at the Christmas Village.

My little girl with Santa at the Christmas Village.

 

Seasonal specialty hampers which include wines, authentic french macarons, christmas cookies and pralines are available at the Christmas village.  Family room packages for the entre month of December start at P7,999 NET per room.  In addition, you may also avail special set dinners at the different hotel restaurants .  For more inquiries please call 527-0011.

 

As the night ended, we made our final stop at the pastry counter.  We are massive fans of Chef Jerome Benda’s French macarons and ube ensyamadas.  With those packed in the hotel’s eponymous yuletide packages, the kids and I said our momentary adieu to our favorite hotel destination.  Christmas has indeed come to the great halls of the Grande Dame.

With a pocketful of glitter,

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Now who can resist these pillows for for royalty?

John Lewis – All the Pretty Things

 

They say one’s house is a reflection of the woman who lives in it.  This holds true for me. I like calm colors, clean lines and simple but elegant home decors and furnishings.

Now who can resist these pillows for for royalty?

Now who can resist these pillows for for royalty?

No wonder I felt like  a little girl in a candy store the first time I visited the John Lewis store-in- store during it’s opening earlier this year at the 5th level of SM Makati.  My eyes darted from the neatly arranged  royal themed throw pillows to the luxurious bed sheets  to the delicate tableware.  Men and women of discriminating taste where all invited to the launch of renowned home and furniture British brand John Lewis.    The whole event proved to be  a treat to all the guests as the  gorgeous line  lived up to its slogan “Never Unknowingly Undersold.”   Simply put,  these are premium products sold at the best possible prices .

 

Take your pick from these pillows with Union Jack flags, royal crests and british bulldogs.

Take your pick from these pillows with Union Jack flags, royal crests and british bulldogs.

 

Serene Surroundings

In keeping with its singular design aesthetic,  John Lewis has created yet another  exciting  collection.  From its Autumn/Winter 2015 collection, I  particularly liked the pristine beddings which came in grey,  duck egg, blue and white.  It was good, too, that there was an actual bed on the display floor which I was able to style to see what would would work best with the bedsheets I chose. The wide assortment of throws and pillows made it easy for me to mix and match  before I decided on my final purchase.

Perfect sheets for the home.  Breakfastware and candle also from John Lewis.

Perfect sheets for the home. Breakfastware and candle also from John Lewis.

 

Get your best sleep in these beddings.

Get your best sleep in these beddings.

This season’s collection also served tableware with waterlily design as well as an all white set. Coffee mugs in bright hues as well as nautical inspired  bath/beach towels were also on display.  I found three small marble dipping bowls on a wooden paddle and double layered cake stands. What lovely Christmas presents! Those went home with me as well.

Gift ideas for the kitchen.

Gift ideas for the kitchen.

 

All white, speckled or floral? The choice is up to you.

All white, speckled or floral? The choice is up to you.

 

Shop and Win!

Great news to all  shoppers!  John Lewis is taking part in the Great British Shopping contest which is a project initiated by the British Embassy of Manila.  A trip for two to the UK and prizes from other participating brands are up for grabs.  Every P3000 worth of John Lewis purchase (single receipt) entitles the customer to one raffle voucher. If the customer uses their HSBC credit card, they double their  chances of winning!  The contest will run until the end of December.  Draw date will be on January 7, 2016.  Please visit https://www.facebook.com/ukinthephilippines   and http://smhome.com.ph/promos  for more details.

As I walked with both hands full of goodies, I passed by the delightful Christmas trees and holiday decors.  Hmmm…I need those silver snowflakes to hang on my own tree and that Santa inflatable with built in snow would look good in my front door. Five more Mondays to go until Christmas!  I made a mental note to go back to the SM home store and get more Yuletide shopping done… and to join the Great British Shopping Contest, of course!

 

For more information on John Lewis and the SMHome  , visit Twitter: SMHome_ph and IG: smhome  and johnlewisph

 

With a pocketful of glitter,

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Our spooky front lawn.  The eyes of the black spider lights up in different colors at night!

Secrets from a Halloweenie

BOO!  My daughter is giddy with excitement.   “Put it higher,”  she tells our driver who is hanging jack o’ lanterns on the garage ceiling.   “I think it should be lower,” I chimed in.  “No, higher… higher,” my four-year old insists.   “I’m  Diego’s assistant, Mom.  This is the best Halloween ever!”    She runs to her nanny who is making sure that all the ten spiders we bought  earlier from the toy store were all accounted for.

Beware of the witch!

Beware of the witch!

 

This is a yearly tradition in our household.   Decorating the house in spooky but quirky-cute Halloween knicknakcs is as much fun as the actual celebration itself.    We definitely outdid ourselves this year, methinks.  Glow-in-the-dark spider webs on the   window panels,  a caged witch hanging from our molave tree,  a pair of grey gargoyles, white and purple cobwebs spread across the front lawn with eight-legged creepy crawlers strewn on them — We have it all!

Our spooky front lawn.  The eyes of the black spider lights up in different colors at night!

Our spooky front lawn. The eyes of the black spider lights up in different colors at night!

 

To set the stage for this freakish festivity, here are my tried and tested tips:

1.Prepare early. A month before the actual day,  I’m already thinking of costumes for the brood.  Don’t wait until the last minute when all that will be left are costumes that everyone has passed up on.  If you want to create your own ghoulish wardrobe, you’ll really need to plan ahead.   In addition, start buying candy bags two weeks in advance.  This way, you’ll have time to do the rounds of  groceries  and choose the best treats.

 

2.  Get your creative juices flowing!   Once I cut out a hole on an egg made from styro board , spray painted it grey, stuck a bamboo stick behind it and put some bamboo twigs in front.  My son had a dinosaur costume and I thought I would give it that extra oomph by letting him carry the egg with his face peeping from behind the hole.  My newly hatched baby stegosaurus won best costume in school and in the village pageant!  Actually he was the village Halloween pageant champion in the cute category for three consecutive years.  I was one proud mama.

the BQP as the Black Swan and her baby Ladybug.

the BQP as the Black Swan and her baby Ladybug.

 

3.  Safe Sweets -  Take a look at the expiration dates of the candies and chocolate bars before purhasing.   Remember dressing up as The Walking Dead is acceptable but ushering the unsuspecting  revelers to the netherworld is a big no no!

4. Let the Halloween spirit take over.  Over the years, I’ve had scary pumpkin nail art done,  donned ebony wings as The Black Swan, and ordered  ghoulish cupcakes and cookies.  My excitement for Hallow’s Eve has rubbed off on everyone.  Even my nanny asked me if  I can get spooky headbands for her and the other help. I happily obliged of course.

My Nightmare before  Christmas inspired nails

My Nightmare before Christmas inspired nails

 

5.   Give, Get and Share.  We give out enormous amounts of goodies.  The kids get bags of treats from our neighbors too.  After the village street party, my husband and I ask them to sift through their loot and choose whatever they like to keep.   Whatever treats they don’t want to keeo, I pack  into little plastic bags and we give the candy to streetchildren the next day.

My now twelve year old son insists on choosing  his costume this year.  In an hour or so, I’ll be fetching him from school so we can head to the mall.  I already took photos of the available costumes and his eyes lit up when I showed him The Headless Horseman,  Ghost Rider and  Mr. Zombie.  What will he be?  Stay tuned  next week  for the second installment of our ghastly, ghost-filled adventure!

My son's ever changing Halloween costume choices.

My son’s ever changing Halloween costume choices.

 

HAPPY TRICK OR TREATING!

Follow me on Twitter, IG and Facebook.   Visit http://thebusyqueenp.com/ for more interesting reads!

With a pocketful of glitter,

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Adam (1) (2)

Meeting Adam

“My heart is beating so fast! I’m so excited,” said one of the girls in my group as we were seated in the holding area.  A few minutes ago, we were handed meet-and-greet id’s with  the band’s picture on it.  Why oh why didn’t I pay much attention to my wardrobe today, I quietly chided myself.  Too late.  Our group was called by  “Sean” ,  the road manager for The V Tour.  I’m not even sure if that was his name due to the adrenalin rush  that I felt with each passing minute.

Oh Adam!

Oh Adam!

 

Soon it was time to enter the narrow hallway that led to the meet-and-greet area.  Long-haired, beard-faced “Sean” gathered the  four groups who were scheduled to have  photos taken with MAROON 5.  “Hello,’ he said enthusiastically.  “Everything will go very , very fast.  As explained earlier, we have an official photographer.  That’s why we asked all of you to leave your personal stuff outside.  The guys in the band know that the girls want to get near Adam – so they will make space for you,” he smiles knowingly.  “Please be reminded though that Adam does not like hugging or kissing.  So unless he makes the first move, just take your positions, give your best smile and we will send you the photos.”

I looked around and saw that everyone was unconsciously fixing themselves, practicing their smiles and had expressions much like toddlers on Christmas morning,  A few more moments passed by and then MAROON 5 entered the room … only they were not 5 but 6. Never mind.  It was so surreal!

SUGAR! Yes please!

SUGAR! Yes please!

 

Adam Levine was wearing a red t-shirt (which had   LOS ANGELES  FOX HOLE printed on it) and grey and red New Balance rubber shoes.   Up close, he wasn’t as tall as I imagined.   I took a mental snapshot of the tattoos on his forearms.  On the left, he had wings and a guitar  On the right, he had the words “I love you”  inked inside a heart. He was also wearing his wedding band.

The band stood in a straight line and soon the photo session was on its way.  Two of the girls in my group immediately made their way to  where Adam was standing.  I took my time and said hello and shook the hands of the other band members.  “Hi,” Adam said.  My heartbeat raised to 120 , my pulse rate double that. I gave him the best smile I could muster and mouthed an almost inaudible “hi” in return.  Somewhere in the background I could hear “Sean” saying  “Get ready guys…”  Three clicks from the photographer’s camera and my two minutes with Adam was over.  Happy sigh.

Surreal moment with Maroon 5!

Surreal moment with Maroon 5!

Adam with guitarist

The V-Tour gathered fans of all ages.  Maroon 5 sang 17 songs all in all.  They opened the show with “Animals” which had the raving crowd singing and howling. The band followed this with One More Night, Stereo Hearts, Harder To Breathe, Lucky Strike and Wake Up Call.  Familiar tunes like Payphone, This Love,  She Will Be Loved, Sunday Morning and Daylight elicited more singing from the receptive audience.  Of course, the people refused to leave until Adam sang Moves Like Jagger and the band’s latest anthem Sugar.

Up close and very personal!

Up close and very personal!

 

By the way, my husband was with me all the time this was happening.  He just looked amused as he watched me get all googly-eyed and excited.  It was one of those rare moments we had gone out without the kids.  Meeting Adam Levine was definitely a treat for a girl such as myself!   Having a date with my bestfriend  while we listened to music we both liked, however, turned out to be the best thing about the whole night.

With a pocketful of glitter,

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Gabay Guro Chairman Chaye Cabal-Revilla (with hosts) awards one of the night's top prize -- a house and lot from Amaia.

Gabay Guro – The Grand Tribute to Teachers

Everyday, we entrust our children to the care and able hands of teachers.   For an average of 3 to 9 hours,  our kids are engaged in activities and lessons in school that shape their minds and personalities. Dedicated, overworked and underpaid, teachers take on their daily  responsibilities as second parents and educators.  Sadly, for the work and sacrifice that they put in,  public school teachers get a monthly salary of P18,549 while newly hired private school teachers are paid P20,000.  Both salaries are  below the P30,000 cost of living.

Benevolent Beginnings

The idea for Gabay Guro was conceived over coffee with friends in 2007.  We had just gotten our bonuses and thought of pooling our money to send deserving “would-be-teachers” to school. We all agreed that education was the best way to make a difference. ”  narrates SMART and SUN CFO Chaye Cabal- Revilla. “Dep-Ed told us that the government had its focus on classroom construction. Very little budget was allocated to teacher development and support. “

Regine Velasquez sang Gabay Guro's theme song "Believing in Me."

Regine Velasquez sang Gabay Guro’s theme song “Believing in Me.”

 

Equalizing Opportunities

Shortly after the  inception of Gabay Guro,   the latter was adopted as the education flagship program of the PLDT SMART foundation under the directive of Manuel V. Pangilinan.  Its worthiest contribution? Through the concerted efforts of its founders and volunteers (700 and counting), the group has made a big difference in the lives of many  teachers.  More importantly,  the movement  has improved the level of learning in the country.   “Education is a great equalizer.  Educate a man and he has a much bigger chance at having a happier and better life,” adds Chaye.

Gabay Guro has a sixfold agenda:

Scholarship – There are  currently 1,100 scholars in different state universities.  The  previous 400 graduates are now employed. Last year’s LET (Licensure Examination for Teachers) topnotcher is a Gabay Guro scholar.

Tranings – Over 50,000 scholars have benefitted from tranings that include English proficiency and new teaching methodologies.

Tribute – A special discount card with partner retailers are made available to teachers.  The annual Teacherfest/ Grand Gathering  was brought to  Bohol (after the earthquake) and to Tacloban, Leyte, and Capiz (after super typhoon Yolanda)

Livelihood-  Livelihood training and assistance in microfinancing are provided.

Provision of broadband services and computerization – Computers and computer labs with proper connectivity have been set up in Nueva Ecija and Cebu. Teachers are encouraged to use computers as tools for teaching and research.

Construction of Houses and Educational Facilities- The pilot housing program is in Daet, Camarines Norte.  To date,  48 classrooms have been built and donated by the foundation

A Fitting Tribute

More than 20,000 teachers attended this year's Gabay Guro Teacherfest.

More than 20,000 teachers attended this year’s Gabay Guro Teacherfest.

Last September 27,  Gabay Guro mounted its grandest Teacherfest yet.  The Mall of Asia Arena was filled to the rafters.  About 20,000 teachers from all over the Philippines were treated to performaces from some of the biggest celebrities in local tinseldom.  Hosted by Tim Yap, Pops Fernandez and MJ Lastimosa, the event gathered the likes of Martin Nievera, Gary Valenciano, and Pilita Corrales.  Xian Lim, Christian Bautista and   loveteam James Reid and Nadine Lustre (more popularly known as JaDine) elicited a thunderous welcome from the crowd.

Xian Lim, Gary Valenciano, James Reid and Nadine Lustre performed to the delight of the audience..

Xian Lim, Gary Valenciano, James Reid and Nadine Lustre performed to the delight of the audience..

 

Martin Nievera serenades a tearful teacher.

Martin Nievera serenades one happy teacher.

 

One of the most applauded numbers was that of singers Ariel Rivera and Rak of Aegis star Aicelle Santos.  The two sang with teachers who were chosen from applicants who had submitted demos of their singing prowess.  The teacher-singers were awarded cash prizes after.

The announcement of winners of the night’s top prizes was the most awaited of all.  Two houses and lots, vans, motorcycles and cash were awarded to tearful and thankful teachers.  Laptops and  cellphones were likewise given away  for minimum subscriptions in the Smart and Sun booths.

Gabay Guro Chairman Chaye Cabal-Revilla (with hosts) awards one of the night's top prize -- a house and lot from Amaia.

Gabay Guro Chairman Chaye Cabal-Revilla (with hosts) awards one of the night’s top prize — a house and lot from Amaia.

 

 

Forward and Onward

What’s next?  “We have been invited to bring Gabay Guro internationally. Still on the local front,  trainings on disaster preparedness and  climate change will be conducted in addition to other ongoing programs,” Chaye says finally.

Gabay Guro’ s advocacy is truly admirable. From granting teaching scholarships, to giving financial and livelihood aid to graduates, to providing housing and classrooms, the program has given hope to many Filipinos.  To be able to provide for the family, to be a productive member of society,  to live a decent life – are these not the dreams that we all hope to achieve?

 

With a pocketful of glitter,

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Weekend Marvels at the Asia Pop Comicon

 “Mom are we there yet?” my  4 year old daughter R asked for the nth time.  I told her to wait just a little more.  Traffic was bad as usual but this didn’t dampen her mood or her older brother’s.  We were headed to the Manila International Book Fair (which I visited two days prior).   There were so many people when we got there! After two hours of inching our way through the endless maze of books , both kids made their purchases.  Then we were off  to our next destination – The Asia Pop Comicon at the World Trade Center!

The Marvel booth with the giant movie screen was the first thing we saw upon entering.  “Wow!” we all said in unison as we looked up at the lifesize superhero figures surrounding the screening area. My son M, Ironman’s number one fan, immediately asked for a picture by the red and gold suit. It reminded me of attractions we had to line up for in Disneyland California. I gave my husband  a thumbs up sign for suggesting this weekend jaunt.

You won't  like me when I'm angry!

You won’t like me when I’m angry!

 

Ironman models on display

Ironman models on display

After taking more photos with Hulk,  Captain America and the Ultron, we made our way to the Star Wars booth.  We chose thought bubble signs like “The force is strong with this one!” and “Go to the dark side” which we held up during the picture taking with R2D2, the stormtroopers and Darth Vader.

“Mom look!”  M points to what seems like a 30-feet high Ironman attraction.  “It’s the Hulkbuster! Remember from the  Avengers Age of Ultron movie?”   I didn’t but nodded my head just the same.   We had to buy a shirt from the Comicave retail shop before we were allowed to join the long line. Thirty minutes and one tantrum from the daughter later, we made our way to the humongous replica.  M excitedly climbed up to the cockpit while we  found our places down below.

The highlight of my son's day!

The highlight of my son’s day!

 

Shrieks from the crowd alerted us to the presence of roaming zombies.  I felt my daughter’s hand close tightly on mine.  The walking dead explained to her that they just had make up and costumes on.   Click click .  Another photo to add to our Comicon files.

Want to walk with the dead?

Want to walk with the dead?

 

Now who is your favorite robot from the 70's? LET's VOLT IN!!!

Now who is your favorite robot from the 70′s? LET’s VOLT IN!!!

The Lego booth was our last pit stop.  I saw my daughter eyeing this section while she was crying by the Hulkbuster exhibit.   As a parent I’ve already mastered the silent languages of my kids.  I knew she wanted to join the group of young kids who were already building models using the colorful bricks but didn’t know exactly how to do it.   Luckily one young boy gave up his spot and we were able to squeeze in the circular pit.  “Come on sweetie! Show Mom how to build a beautiful pink castle!”   Minutes later, she was happily chatting with the other toddlers while building her multicolored castle.

Lego time!

Lego time!

 

You know it’s been a fun day when your almost teenager  thanks you for it.  “Thanks Dad and Mom! Cool show!” M said as we settled in the car.  M starts to leaf through his “Top Ten Of Everything” book.  R copies her brother and opens her princess purse book.  “Stop reading.  Both of you might get dizzy,” their Dad says. Tired but happy, we all sat quietly during the ride back home.

Aliens and a bounty hunter!

Aliens and a bounty hunter!

This story can also be seen at  http://www.mb.com.ph/best-day-ever/

Follow me on Twitter, IG and Facebook.   Visit http://thebusyqueenp.com/ for more interesting reads!

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MIBF- The Ultimate Travelist

6 Books You should Get Your Hands On

I’ve always loved books.  I was the girl whose mother gave a disapproving look to because I racked up hefty fines for overdue books from the grade school library.  From Antoine Saint Exupery’s “The  Little Prince “(where I learned what boa constrictor meant ) to Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone With the Wind” (which I read at 12 years old),  I buried my head into the pages of  every book I could get my hands on as a kid.

I felt  much like Bella as I entered the SMX Convention Center on the very first day of the 36th Manila International Book Fair, You know that part in the Disney movie Beauty and the Beast where  Belle opens her eyes and finds herself in the palace library?  Spot on. The bookworm in me  wasted no time in making the round of booths of the different participating exhibitors.

 

THE BQP’s TOP PICKS

 

  1. THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP by Marie Kondo

MIBF- The Life Changing Magic

How many women have fallen into the abyssmal pit of disarray and disorder?  The Japanese cleaning consultant shares her expertise on editing and decluttering the home.  Her revolutionary category by category method promises lasting results. Kondo asks the all important question – “Does it spark your joy?”  Everything that does not MUST be discarded. So if you’re holding on to clothes you might use when you finally lose those twenty pounds, or those books that have gathered cobwebs on the shelf or those kitchen tools that have been hidden in the dark for so long, it’s time to learn the art of tiding-up.

 

2.  THE BOOK OF AWESOME by Neil Pasricha

MIBF- The Book of Awesome

 

Written by a thirty year old guy who wanted to jot  down a happy thought each day to help him with through his divorce and the death of a friend, this book  shows us the far reaching effects of simple joys.  The pitch black moment before a concert starts, waking up and realizing it’s a Saturday, fixing electronics by smacking them – these relatable tales have made The Book of Awesome an international bestseller.  It’s the perfect read for those not-so-perfect days so we can be reminded of the multitude of things we should be grateful for.

 

3.    LONELY PLANET’S ULTIMATE TRAVELIST

MIBF- The Ultimate Travelist

Leaf through pages and pages of magnificent destinations.  Each of the 500 must-visit places include beautiful photos that will make you want to pack your bags and just hie off  somewhere in this earth.  What’s number one on the list? Cambodia holds the coveted spot  with its Angkor  Wat Temples  which are described as not just ruins but a “spiritual epiphany carved in stone.”   I made a mental note to add the 7th ranked Colloseum in Italy in my ever-growing bucket list.

 

4. THE 5 LOVE LANDUAGES OF CHILDREN by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell

 

Most of us are familiar with the 5 love languages namely: physical touch, words of affirmation, quality time, gifts and acts of service.  Whereas the precursor to this book has helped couples in building meaningful relationships, this installment teaches parents to discover their child’s love language. Knowing the latter enables the parents to communicate their love more clearly and even discipline more effectively. Discussions on the correct way to process anger, how to deal with misbehaving children and how to encourage your child’s interests are particularly interesting.

 

5.      THE HAPPINESS PROJECT by Gretchen Rubin

MIBF - The Happiness Project

I could relate so well to the author as she too was a  practicing lawyer before she started her career as a blogger and writer.    Rubin’s epiphany came on a bus ride where she decides to focus on ways to become happier.  In her pursuit, she gives herself 12 months to make goals (things to be achieved in the future e.g. visit Europe) and resolutions (tasks to be consciously done everyday e.g. get regular exercise).  Her candid and onpoint thoughts on how money can help buy happiness when spent wisely and finding time for fun made me think and laugh at the same time. Most salient point : the smallest of changes can make the biggest of differences.

 

6.     THE TIME CHAMBER by Daria Song

MIBF- The Time Chamber

Admittedly, I don’t get the fuss over adult coloring books.  The ones I saw in the book fair only mildly interested me.  However, I liked this particular one because it tells a story of a fairy who lives in a cuckoo clock.  She leaves her home and discovers the human realm where everything is magical.  The coloring book/storybook is something my toddler daughter and I can enjoy for hours.  I even bought colored pencils and decided to surprise her with it.

With a pocketful of glitter,

tbqp signature - white background

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“IMAGINE DRAGONS” GOES READIOACTIVE IN MANILA!

This article was written by my son M :)

       Last August 27, 2015, Imagine Dragons held its first ever concert in the Philippines. Lead singer Dan Reynolds and his band-mates, guitarist Wayne “Wing” Sermon, bassist Ben McKee, and drummer Daniel Platzman, brought their Las Vegas rock music all the way to our shores.

Imagine Dragons’ frontman Dan Reynolds

 

I first learned about Imagine Dragons through video games. I was playing an IOS game, Infinity Blade 3, when I heard “Monster”. I really liked it! My curiosity led me to discover that they also sang a lot of my favorite songs such as “It’s Time”, “On Top of the World”, and “Radioactive”. I apparently hadn’t been giving them due credit. They are such a laidback, “unpretty” band with great songs.

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The concert started at around 8:45 PM. They casually entered the stage looking like they had just woken up from a late night’s sleep. However, once the show started, it was clear that they were prepared to jam like crazy. “Shots” was first on their playlist.  Although the Mall Of Asia Arena was only half full, the place was filled with a multitude of voices as the crowd sang, I shot, shot, shot everything that I loved!  The band’s next song “Trouble” was received as warmly.

 

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Dan lost no time making a connection to the fans.  “Mahal ko kayo! (I love you) This morning my bandmate told me “Bobo ka ba? (Are you dumb?) – a phrase he must’ve picked up somewhere.”  As the crowd laughed at his attempts to speak the language, the singer said, “Ikaw ay gundumgundum.” (You are pretty.) Acknowledging that they must sound like crazy Americans, Dan then shared that his two brothers lived in the Philippines and that his best friend is a Filipino.

“It’s Time” was sung next. Dan said he heard that Filipinos were good at karaoke. He put our singing skills to the test as we sang along with him – something that fans would do for the rest of the night. “Forever Young”, “Smoke and Mirrors”, “Polaroid” and “I’m So Sorry” rounded the first half of the concert.

 

Although the concert was called Smoke + Mirrors Tour, there was no trickery involved. Great singing and a fantastic light show made the whole thing spectacular! Everyone happily sung along as the band played their second half playlist-“Gold”, “Amsterdam”, “Demons”, “Hopeless Opus”, “On Top of the World”, “Friction”, and “I Bet My Life”. It got so incredibly loud that I could feel my whole body vibrating.

The second to the last song “Radioactive” sent the people into an excited frenzy! I saw people jumping up and down as they bobbed their hands and waved their hands. The show ended with the band playing “The Fall”. Dan got a Philippine flag from a fan and waved it as he sang.

 

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This concert was definitely one of the best I’ve been to.  Not once did I sit down! Days later, I found myself listening to their songs on YouTube. Their lyrics are relevant, relatable and appealing to the young audience. I think that’s why the band is so popular among the youth. I can’t wait until the next time Imagine Dragons rocks the Philippines again!

 

      

 

 

 

Sofia themed bento boxes.  My daughter will surely love these!

Bento Meals Spell F-U-N!

 

I’ve never been adept at arts or anything crafty.  I’m pretty good at cooking though.  Every birthday card I’ve received in recent years have included a line or two of appreciation on my self-taught culinary skills.  “Thank you Mom for cooking delicious meals. Yum!”  It’s a badge of honor I wear proudly.

Some weeks ago while browsing the net, I chanced upon a cute photo of  robots cut out from wheat bread and cheese.  These were neatly arranged in a lunch container with hotdogs and grapes.  Hmmm …. I could do that! After a few calls, I was able to contact Monet Aquino, one of five enterprising women behind the group Bento Mommas.  By week’s end , my friend Marie and I had enrolled in our first bento making class.

Bento -Author with the Bento Mommas

At the workshop with the Bento Mommas – (from left) April Lim, Monet Aquino and Kaye Sy-Catral

 

CHILD’S PLAY

So there we were, on a rainy Saturday afternoon, seated on a long table  at the very front of the class.  We were each handed a bag with the basic tools to be used in the workshop,. To start off, Monet explained that in Japan bento means box while in the Philippines it means “baon”. She furher testified that her group became bento enthusiasts not only because the meals were fun to make but also because their creations proved to be a hit among their little picky  eaters.

It's time to carve our apples !

It’s time to carve our apples !

 

We eagerly dove into our first task— carving an apple.  With our small knives, the instructor told us to make light horizontal and vertical lines on the skin of our fruits.  Then she showed us how to carefully lift alternating squares to make a checkered design on the apples.  Good that I made big squares! I was done in a jiffy!

Then, it was time to roll some rice logs and decorate them to make farm animals.  It was like being in kindergarten class again while we happily worked our rice like clay.  After an hour or so, we were done with our Old Mc Donald themed bento boxes.

Not bad for my first bento box! Tadaa!

Not bad for my first bento box! Tadaa!

 

Look at these colorful ketchup variants and molds! Use them to make your creations more FUN!

Look at these colorful ketchup variants and molds! Use them to make your creations more FUN!

 

PANDA-MONIUM!

Whereas, the first project built my confidence as a novice bento (baon) maker, the next one proved to be quite the challenge.  Making perfect mounds of rice and covering them with nori (dried seaweed) to make the head, torso, hands and feet of the bear takes time and skill.  Designing the face was also quite tricky.  I couldn’t help but laugh when I heard comments like , “Nakaka-pressure!” and “Mine looks like a deranged Mickey Mouse!”  I made several trips to the teacher’s table to make sure I was on the right track.  It took another hour or so to finally finish the job.

Bento Momma Kaye (our instructor) showwd us how to do a PANDA.

Bento Momma Kaye (our instructor) showwd us how to do a PANDA.

 

HEALTHY CREATIONS

The idea behind bento making is not only to make creative snacks and lunches but also to serve nutritious food.  In preparing the meals, it is best to include items from the Go (bread, rice, pasta), Grow (chicken, fish, meat) and Glow (fruits and vegetables) food groups.  The main goal is to make food exciting and enticing in order to get the kids to eat healthy fares.

Sofia themed bento boxes.  My daughter will surely love these!

Sofia themed bento boxes. My daughter will surely love these!  For party packs, contact the Bento Mommas!

 

Making the actual bento does take a lot of time.  A weekly plan with individual daily illustrations of the meals would certainly be helpful.   You can also prepare some items the day before.  Lastly you can attach written notes like “Happy Eating!” or  “Surprise Sweetie!” to make the meals even more personal.

 

I showed my day’s handiwork to my children as soon as I got home.  My 12 year old son looked at it suspiciously (sigh) while my 4 year old said excitedly, “Can I bring it to school, Mom? I want to show my classmates!”   By their expressions alone, I can tell that it will be my daughter who I will be preparing themed meals for. I’m now officially a Bento Momma!

I should make this one for my son!

I should make this one for my son!

 

How cute are these PEPPA PIG bento boxes???!!!!

How cute are these PEPPA PIG bento boxes???!!!!

For more information and ideas on bento making , you can check out the Facebook page of Bento mommas and their IG and Twitter accounts @thebentomommas.

 

Follow me on Twitter, IG  and Facebook. This story also in http://www.mb.com.ph/bento-meals-spell-f-u-n/