Best Self Forward

 

Touchdown! It’s just been a few hours since my return. An almost three week vacation to the US was exactly what my family and I needed to cap 2015.  Time spent with family and friends away from the worries and cares of Manila has recharged, rebooted and refreshed our spirits!  We loved our time in Los Angeles and Vegas but at the end of our vacation we all looked forward to coming home.

The Fambam at Americana

Wishing you all a fountain of blessings in 2016!

 

On the plane ride I scribbled a few things I should do this year.  It could be helpful to you too in facing the  year ahead.  I prefer to call it my “must-do” list instead of resolutions.  Of course, at any given time, we are free to choose start over. The new year, however,   gives us that extra push to make amends, try new things and get ourselves out of the doldrums.

A Fresh Start

1. Move It!

I have the shoes, the club membership and even a pool at my own backyard.  So why am I still overweight?  Hopefully, by the end of 365 days I would have shed ten pounds, lessened my visits to the doctor and used my shoes, club facilities and overcome my fear of water so I can use the pool even without the kids around.  Even just walking after dinner around the village would be good.  Dancing and kickboxing which used to be my passions  are also on my list.  I’m sure you can find a workout that fits you too.

This pair called me halfway across the Nike Store in Sta. Monica Place.

This pair called me halfway across the Nike Store in Sta. Monica Place.

 

2. Think before you gobble.

Momentary gustatory satisfaction from eating all the deliciously sinful foods  (think lechon, cakes, ice cream and chocolate) will cost you in the end.  Give up the bad for the good. They say it takes two weeks  for one to be accustomed to a new taste.  Lessen the salt in your meals, steam instead of fry,  trade white rice for brown.   Have portions of fruits and vegetables daily.  Let your taste buds adjust to a healthier daily menu.

 

3. Shopaholics must exercise restraint.

Those stilettos sure look nice but should you buy it when you already have a dozen others in your  shelves?   January is sale season!  Look but keep on walking.  Shed some pounds and buy it in June in a smaller size when you’ve already lost five pounds.   Save for bigger and better things other than shoes, bags and clothes.  It may be hard to at first but rehab from any addiction is never easy.  Sigh.

4.  Try something new.

I love the dark side of the color wheel.  Blue, black, grey are my staples.  I don’t own anything pink.  Well, that was until I fell in love with a pair of hot pink sneakers.  Now, there’s a corner in my closet reserved for my new guilty pleasures.  More of my fab pink finds in my upcoming articles!

 

5.  Put on your best self.

Media mogul and icon Oprah Winfrey in her latest ad for Weight Watchers  said ,”I don’t have a pair of jeans I’d like to get into—I’ve been down that road honeychild.  I don’t have a dress or a big red carpet thing to do.  I’m really just looking at 2016 as the year of my best body. “  Prior to this, on her first commercial for the weight loss program company, she sends another  message, “Nothing you’ve ever been trough is wasted.  So every time I tried and failed, and tried  again , and tried again has brought me to this powerful moment to say ‘If not now, when?’  Are you ready? Let’s do this together. “   OMG,  what a hallelujiah moment! So all together now —Yes, we are ready, Oprah!

With 2 beauty queens

Let’s take the lead from from the newly crowned Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach. Be confidently beautiful with a heart. The Busy Queen flanked by Pia and 2014 Miss Universe MJ Lastimosa.

 

Thank you God for this fresh start.  May all of us be kinder, wiser, and grateful.  Happy 2016 everybody!

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

 

 

Eenie-Minnie-Mickey–Moe

It’s that time of the year again when I have to plan for our family  vacation.  Seventy days to go and it’s Christmas! For the past several years, my family has been spending the holidays abroad.  Time away from home gives us the opportunity to literally leave all our cares behind.  It’s also a special time for us to bond and to see the world one place at a time.   There is a common denominator though.   Ever since the birth of my daughter, we have visited Disney parks in different parts of the globe.

Disney - christmas tree in HK

My daughter’s first Disney Christmas in Hong Kong.

 

Thanks to Facebook, I have our photos neatly chronicled in my online albums.  Each visit had it own set of highlights which in turn gave us uniquely wonderful memories. For first time travellers and  those who want to experience what it’s like to be in “the happiest place on earth,” here’s a  Disneyland capsule guide  that you may find useful.

When in Hong Kong 

Hong Kong Disneyland (311 acres) is the smallest of all the Disney parks.  If you start early, one day is enough  to enjoy all the rides as well as see all the attractions.  The first time we went there (which was eight years ago), we stayed at Disneyland Hotel.  My then 4 year old son had a blast finding all the hidden Mickeys in our room.  The downside was there were no nearby restaurants so we were forced to eat hotel and park food which was expensive and very limited.  By the time our 3 day trip was over ,  we couldn’t stand to look at  another Mickey shaped pancake!

Don't miss Santa Mickey's Toy-rrific Street Parade!

Don’t miss Santa Mickey’s Toy-rrific Street Parade!

Our second visit was more enjoyable.  We stayed in Novotel Hotel  Citygate which was right next to the premium shopping outlets. From there, it took us less than half an hour to get to the park via train. Remember to secure a map upon entering the gate. Take note of the time and place of the parade and the fireworks,  the shows you want to see and avail of the FAST PASS as this will save you the hassle of standing in long lines.  Must-try ride?  Feed your need for speed and ride The Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine Cars at the Grizzly Gulch!

To infinity and beyond!

To infinity and beyond!

 

When in Japan

Tokyo Disney Resort houses two parks – Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea.   We spent the holidays in Japan last year. Hotel rates skyrocket during this season so book  early!  Check the weather as it gets very, very cold.  We had to contend with the freezing temperature AND rain.  Not a good combination at all! So pack heavy jackets and buy heat patches to keep you warm. Another problem is the language.  For a tourist destination, we were surprised that hardly any of the locals speak English.  It would be helpful to learn phrases that will help you order food,  ask for directions and for prices as well.   You may also feel left out in the mini-tours and interactive attractions —unless you understand Japanese.

Christmas Character dining with Mickey!

Christmas Character dining with Mickey!

 

The upside? Tokyo Disney Resort is hands down the cleanest among all the Disney parks.  The people are also very disciplined.  We saw  people patiently sitting down (for hours!) and braving the cold while waiting for a show to open.  “It’s a Small World”  (Disneyland) and “Journey to the Center of the Earth” (DisneySea)are the rides we enjoyed most as a family.

 

When in the USA

Disneyland Resort in California is our destination of choice(4 visits and counting!)   You will need at least 3 to 4 days to experience everything.  Buy Disney park-hopper tickets so you can shuttle back and forth Disneyland and  California Adventure.  Right outside the resort is Downtown Disney where you can eat, shop and listen to music.

My ultimate favorite place here is DISNEY ANIMATION–  (Holly woodland, California Adventure).  Here you can find the Sorcerer’s workshop where there’s a magical book that asks you questions about yourself and in the end reveals which Disney character you are, Animation Academy where different Disney film clips are simultaneously shown on gigantic screens and Turtle Talk With Crush (a 20-minute interactive show where the audience get to talk with the turtle from  FINDING NEMO.

Be enthralled with the magic of Disney films at Animation Academy.

Be enthralled with the magic of Disney films at Animation Academy.

 

The biggest Disney park Walt Disney World (Orlando) deserves its own review.  With Magic Kingdom, Epcot Center, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios – there are a gazillion things to do there!

 

So where are we headed this time?  Well, there’s only one Disney park we have yet to visit.   Audrey Hepburn couldn’t be wrong when she said, “ Paris is always a good idea!” Au Revoir!

 

 

 

Big Fun at Enchanted Kingdom Sta. Rosa Laguna!

 

It’s been over five years since we last visited Enchanted Kingdom (EK) in Sta. Rosa, Laguna.  I remember that the place had lost it’s charm (versus its magical heyday in the mid 90’s when it first opened) because the rides were not well maintained, the prizes in the games looked pitiful and going in the summer proved to be a losing battle with the scorching heat.

On a whim last Sunday and because my daughter’s 4th birthday was coming up, we decided to give EK another try.   The boys were skeptical of this visit and we ended up leaving the house close to 5 o’clock in the afternoon.  The place was full when we got there thirty minutes later.  My daughter R was so excited!

 

RIDES FOR THE KIDS AND THE KIDS AT HEART

Bumbling Boulders

A strictly-for-kids ride, my little one picked a pink boulder and  enjoyed her first ride. Just look at the glee on her face!

 

EK Bumbling Boulders

 

The Grand Carousel

EK Carousel2

Didn’t think I would enjoy this ride but I did!  My two helpers who joined us in EK also had a great time on the carousel.  Since both  my angels also celebrated their birthdays this month of April, it was really a treat for them, too.

 

Dodgem

EK Dodgem

 

Normally we had to endure  a very long line to be able to drive the “bump cars” but luck must have been on our side that day because after only fifteen minutes of  lining up we were all shrieking and having fun as we crashed into the other riders.  This is my favorite ride !

 

Up, Up and Away!

EK Up,UP&Away

I rode the big balloon with my son M and daughter R.  What fun as our basket went up , down and around and around all at the same time. R was laughing as she threw her hands in the air.  She’s a lot like me – fearless!

 

Laser Mission (gated attraction)

Laser Mission EK

My boy spotted an attraction he wanted to try across from the Space Shuttle (roller coaster)  We paid an additional fee of fifty pesos and off he went inside the dark room full of green lasers.  We saw him (via a monitor in the waiting area)  crawling, jumping and maneuvering deftly across the floor  to escape hitting the beams.

 

Disc -O- Magic

Disc o Magic ride

We literally spun and rocked on a disc! This ride had our heartbeats racing and our adrenalin pumping!  Not for the faint of heart… Weeee!!!!!

 

Rialto

EK Rialto

Green Lantern Fight Against Fear was the featured movie last weekend.  Upon entering the theatre we were asked to stand in front of a green wall and a photographer took our picture.  We were all pretty excited but the show was  a bit of a letdown.  We just watched a film clip from the movie while our chairs rocked this way and that….. Ummmm….this ride left us feeling shortchanged.

EK kids

(L-R)Little R dances with the EK performers, Spin that light!, Thanks for my trip to EK, Mom!

 

SHOPPING AT ELDAR’S

Of course, we indulged in a little bit of shopping!

We bought t-shirts for my daughter and our house angels plus the  little one  got an Eldar wand and a spinning light!

 

The BQP HIGHLY RECOMMENDS ENCHANTED KINGDOM

If you decide to go there on your birthday please bring  your original birth certificate and a valid ID (which unfortunately we didn’t do) so you can enjoy the birthday blowout.  Children below 35 inches also enter for free. Students have discounts as long as you present your school ID.

I give the theme park 4 and a half sparkling magic wands!  We had major big fun at Enchanted Kingdom Sta. Rosa, Laguna!  Everything looked and felt new again.  The prizes at the booth rivaled that of Santa Monica Pier in California and the attractions certainly have regained its magic.  We wished we had come earlier in the day instead of just the three hours that we spent in the park.  Would you believe we even enjoyed a great show by “Victoria’s Way” while having dinner in the big tent. (BUT missed quite a few attractions , too— like that horror “Pagpag”and “Kubot”)

EK Prizes

My daughter wanted the giant penguin and I wanted the unicorn! Will try to win these next time !

 

So if you want to let out the child in you,  do visit  Enchanted Kingdom.  We ‘re already planning our  next trip back to the place “Where the Magic Stays with you!”

Carousel at night

Enjoy the summer!

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Shopping In Tokyo – Bargains, Best Deals and Discounts

 

Before I left for Tokyo, some friends who had travelled to the city warned me that they didn’t  get much shopping done.   Asked why, majority said that it’s quite expensive and that the place was only for sightseeing and not for serious retail therapy. Well, not if you’re on a regular tourist budget anyway.   Being the bargain sleuth that I am, I took this a s a challenge.  Here’s my special report on Tokyo shopping and the great bargains,  deals and discounts that I took advantage of.

 

LALA PORT TOKYO BAY (Hamacho, Funabashi, Chiba Perfecture) –  I had high hopes for this mall.  Online info touted it as the largest mall in the area with over 500 shops.  A good 45 minutes via JR line (from out hotel – Grande Sheraton) and a 15 walk from the exit point, this port didn’t  excite me much.  Most of the shops are Japanese brands and most sold winter apparel.  I only got to explore this for an hour at night. Maybe you’ll have better luck than I did.

 

LaLaport

 

The selection of restaurants are good though.  You can get your Starbucks drink and there’s a Toys R Us store where my daughter bought a Hello Kitty dollhouse –  a prize her daddy gave her for braving the long cold winter walk from the station exit.  We CALLED the taxi company  (with the help of a restaurant manager) and paid 7500 Yen to get back to the hotel.

 

AEON MALL – This mall is very similar to LALA PORT but a liitle  bit more upscale.   I was able to get some good deals at H&M and ZARA and so did my 11 year old.  Discounts ranged from 20 -50%.

AEON Mall

 

A short bus ride will take you across the road to MITSUI OUTLET PARK .  This is a small outlet where you can find KATE SPADE,  MICHAEL KORS, LEVI’s and  FOLLIE FOLLIE.  There’s a NIKE GOLF outlet  (If I played gold, this store  would be heaven! Sadly, I don’t).  Three other stores located on the second floor got us excited- UNDER ARMOUR,  ADIDAS and NIKE.

Mitsui Outlet Park

I bought those cutie nude Nike sneakers forjust a little over a thousand.

There’s a taxi station right outside the mall so that was convenient for us.

DIVER CITY PLAZA– In and earlier post, I told you that we went to GUNDAM FRONT TOKYO ,  and that it was situated inside this mall.  Aside from mainstream brands LACOSTE, H&M and FOREVER 21, this mall had BLACK LABEL and BLUE LABEL by BURBERRY, MARC by MARC JACOBS,  See by CHLOE and AJ (Armani Jeans).

Diver City Plaza

While my boy enjoyed Gundam, mommy had a bit of retail therapy on the side. Haha.

Diver City Shops

Some of the shops at Diver City Plaza.

A five minute drive from DIVER CITY PLAZA  will take you to . VENUS FORT, ODAIBA.  We love this place!!!  ZARA was at 70% (whole store), TOMMY at 50% off,  and DESIGUAL at 50% off.   NIKE  yielded the best buys for my boys, and my littlegirl’s charms worked on her dad (yet again) at the LEGO store.   There’s also ONITSUKA TIGER and a RALPH LAUREN store but discounts were only at 20%.

Venus  Port

The inside of the Fort looks like the Vegas Strip.

 

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We took plenty of photos here.

We took plenty of photos here.

Our travel agent arranged for a car pick up and a guide to DIVER CITY.  I saw VENUS FORT on the way there and made sure we had enough time to discover the place. GREAT FINDS!!!!

 

 SHISUI PREMIUM OULTETS – You definitely need a car to get here.  All those who have been in the Premium Outlets in the US will surely like it here.  WE DID!!!

Shisui Premium Outlets

Seventy more stores will open by next year!

 

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Can you believe that we were able to get three shirts and a cable knit sweater from the Polo store for just 7000 yen! That’s less than P2500!

 

UGG Store

Love, love the UGG store. At the end of each day, I take a photo of whatever we have purchased then I list everything down.

 

IXPERIA – Just two stops aboard the Disney line from our hotel,  this mall is our favorite!  HILFIGER, CROCS,  and the DISNEY STORE were all on sale.  GAP had its items all marked down and was giving extra discounts on top of that.   I was able to get the best deals for my kids here.

My daughter loves going to the Disney Store here!

 

Had to hand carry boxes of this sumptuous chocolates back to Manila.

Had to hand carry boxes of this sumptuous chocolates back to Manila.

 

I hope you found my tips helpful.   Remember the golden rule  — Buy only what you can afford.  It pays to be a smart shopper!

Until my next post,

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First Time In Tokyo – 5 Things Every Tourist Must Know

 

Each place  I’ve visited around the globe holds its own  charm  as it does  its unique challenges.  For the longest time, the family and I have been in Japan only for stopovers enroute to our US trips.  Last December , however, I decided to make Tokyo our destination rather than our layover.  Here are 5  things every tourist must know during his first time in Tokyo.

1.SECURE A VISA –  Yes, Fiipinos still need to apply for a visa to enter Japan.  You have a greater chance of  getting one if you have had previous travels abroad.  We  (family of two adults and two kids ages 11 and 3)  were lucky to get five year visas to Japan.  No appearances. No interviews.

 

2.DO YOUR RESEARCH –  What places would you like to visit?  The tourist agency that was arranging our accommodations included castles and temples to our schedule.  I declined that suggestion and searched the web for places that the family would be more interested to see such as GUNDAM FRONT TOKYO (See my earlier blog on this http://thebusyqueenp.com/gundam-front-tokyo-a-showroom-of-real-steel/)   a large showroom of Japanese robots  and SANRIO PURO LAND (Hello Kitty Theme Park).  Of course,  Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySEA   were number 1 and 2 on the list.  I will write about these places next.

At Tokyo Disneyland

We went to Tokyo Disneyland on our second day. It was SO CLEAN! Very well maintained park.

 

Kids at Disney Sea

Tokyo Disney Sea is Tokyo’s equivalent of Los Angeles’ California Adventure  . Notice my boy is  carrying a mask. He had already began coughing because of the extremely cold weather.

 

3. CHOOSE THE RIGHT TIME FOR YOUR TRIP / CHECK THE WEATHER FORECAST –  Unfortunately for us, I only checked the weather two days before the trip.  I swear, TOKYO IN DECEMBER turned out to be the COLDEST place we have EVER visited!  And since we were OUT IN THE DISNEY PARKS, the freezing weather really took its toll and the kids got sick.  

 I spoke to another family who chose to  visit Osaka last December and they encountered the same problems.  Being out in the cold and returning to thick carpeted hotels is the perfect formula for  respiratory illnesses.

Added to this, please expect everything to be expensive if you visit Tokyo during Christmastime.  So please book everything IN ADVANCE.   Since we have young children, we stay in hotels during vacations.  Hotel rates go as high up as quadruple the normal during this time.  It’s ideal to visit during springtime.

 

4. LANGUAGE IS  A PROBLEM –  This to us , is probably the most surprising of all.  We stayed in TOKYO BAY (where the Disney parks were located) and were billeted in GRANDE SHERATON.   It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that very  few locals spoke English.  Our location was a tourist destination    and yet we had a difficult time  asking for directions, ordering food IN the hotel and asking for our sizes in shopping malls.

I wish I took the time to learn a few helpful Japanese phrases.

 

5. PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION CAN GET TRICKY –  If you should choose to stay in  the Tokyo Bay area, figuring out how the DISNEY monorailway  works shouldn’t be a problem.  There are only four stops and everything is in a loop.

 The real challenge is riding the JR LINE (public monorail).   There is a gigantic board filled with little multicolored lights  and endless branches of stations.  We tried it on our first night .  We wanted to go to LALAPORT (the area’s biggest mall).   A local girl helped us put money in the machine but it was horrific after that.  NOBODY spoke English while we were waiting for the trains to arrive.  We weren’t sure which one to take!  After using sign language and resorting to charades, we finally reached our last stop.  It turned out we had to walk a good fifteen more minutes in a dark underpass and then overpass to get to the mall.  Don’t get me wrong, some people were friendly enough.  They just couldn’t speak English.

 

Off to Disneyland inside the Disney train (monorail)! Toot! Toot!

Disney Resort Line

My boy M is assisting his dad while getting our tickets back to the hotel.

We took  a taxi to get back to the hotel (7500 YEN or about P2500 for one way 40 minute ride).  Be warned, taking a cab is very expensive but it’s better than getting lost in the city with children in tow.

The Disney Resort Monorail

I took this picture from our hotel window.

 

To save money and if you're up for an adventure, take the JR line.  Not for us thou

To save money and if you’re up for an adventure, take the JR line. Not for us though.  I also noticed that plenty of the passengers wore masks.  I should have packed some too.

 

I hope I didn’t frighten you with this post.  I’m just sharing my experience during my first visit.  Tokyo is a beautiful city (as you will see in my upcoming articles) and we had a lot of fun during our stay.  Next time, though, we know better and will be better prepared!

 

Shopping in Tokyo — up next on the blog!

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Gundam Front Tokyo – A Showroom of Real Steel

When planning our family vacation, I need to make sure that everyone gets to go their special place.  This is why we are doing the rounds of Disney parks again because of the addition of my three year-old daughter R to our brood. So for our Tokyo trip,  I chose GUNDAM FRONT for my son .  I showed him sites and pictures from the net and he said, “Thanks Mom. It looks like  a cool place to visit. “ My son M has always , always loved robots.   To this day he collects TRANSFORMERS robots and is IRONMAN’s number one fan,

 

Gundam Front is located on the 7th floor of DiverCity Plaza .in Koto-ku , Tokyo.   It’s a one-level  showroom of all things Gundam –from 1979 to the present. From our hotel (Grande Sheraton Tokyo Bay), it took us about thirty minutes by car to reach the mall.  Since we had pre-purchased our tickets in Manila, our driver-translator-guide showed us where to proceed.  Some areas are free zones  (GUNPLA Tokyo, STRICT- G and Official Shop) while you can only see the others if you pay the fee (about Php400  for adults and Php350 for children).

 

 

1000 ROBOTS ON DISPLAY (Gunpla Tokyo)

 

Talk about robot –overload!  Gundam figures of all shapes, colors and sizes were on display inside glass cases.

Gundam robots on display

 

Gunpla Exhibit

My happy M enjoying the exhibit.

 

Gundam Robot Phil entry

Look! Filipino Nathaniel Barrera’s entry to the Gundam OPEN COURSE model making is on display too!

Gundam Model champion

The Champion is Malaysia’s Andy Wong with his model “Invaders Found. “

DOME G (video experience)

 

Get to watch fight scenes from past Gundam movies/shows inside a 50meter  dome that’s  equipped with 6 projectors and 13 speakers.   Photos are not allowed to be taken once you enter the dome. We held individual steel bars as we looked up to the ceiling and watched robots fighting  in the sky.

 

 

GIANT BUST OF STRIKE FREEDOM GUNDAM

 Gundam Giant Bust

For 2,700 yen (or about Php900) visitors can get their pictures taken inside the cockpit of the Gundam bust.

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AWESOME!

 

CHARACTER PHOTO SPOT

 

M tried being a robot pilot for a minute  while my little girl got a digital photo taken with a life-size character from the Gundam Series

Gundam character photo spot

MORE ROBOTS

More Gundam Robots 2

THE FINALE

Gundam Robot with Family

I’ve always wondered how it would feel like to be in the presence of a Japanese fighter robot — well now I do! Go to the second level and right outside the door is this sky high Gundam Robot!

 

If you have a son and you’re travelling to Tokyo, you may want to consider going to Gundam Tokyo Front.  The whole tour  will take about an hour to an hour and a half (depending on how long you’ll stay buying model toys at the official store).   And then after that,  well… it’s time to head inside DIVERCITY Plaza to dine and if you like , to do some retail therapy.  🙂

Gundam in Diver City Tokyo

Well, how lucky can we get???!!!Gundam is located in a mall carrying some of my favorite brands!

Until my next post,

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French Baker’s 25th Anniversary Treat! – Visit Paris In Summer 2015

 

Joyeux Anniversaire !

Big things really do start from humble beginnings.  French Baker  (FB) opened its first branch at SM CITY North Edsa in 1989.  Initially, the bakery only offered French inspired breads such as baguettes, croissants and tarts along with local breads like pandesal and ensaymada.  Later, the menu expanded to offer soups, salads, pasta and pizza.

It was a trip to Europe in 1985 that inspired owner/CEO JOHNLU KOA to come up with the now much loved patisserie.  “I fell in love with PARIS and her baked goodies.  Since then I’ve dreamt of bringing the French experience to Manila.   FB is the first establishment to introduce European breads and pastries to the local market, and the first to employ the nightly half-price sale to ensure the freshness of baked products to be sold the next day.”

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French Baker now boasts of 52 branches all over the country and has recently added THE FRENCH BAKER “Salon De The ” edition (photo, upper left).

 

Je Vais À Paris!

Last November 4, 2014, FB marked its 25 years by launching the “Visit to Paris 2015” promo at the Fashion Hall of SM Megamall. .  This  allows one lucky winner and three of his companions an all expense paid 10-day trip to Paris through luxury escorted tours provider Insight Vacations, together with Rajah Travel Corporation and Etihad Airways as the official airline.

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Every P500 worth of dine-in and take –out single receipt  from any FB store entitles the customer to one raffle coupon.  The promo will run from November 5, 2014 until March 15, 2015.  The grand winner will be announced on March 2015.  He/ She will be flown first class by Etihad Airways to his/her dream vacation and will spend three days each in  key cities including  Paris, the old Roman City of Nimes and lastly in Monte Carlo.  How fun is that?!!!  It will be a check on my bucket list if I win!

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Founder and CEO Johnlu Koa thanks friends, family and guests for supporting French Baker. Photo also shows host Cheska Litton and the partners from Insight Vacations, Etihad Airways and Raja Travel Corporation.

 

Wined, Dined  and Serenaded by Gary V!

Guests were treated to delectable entrees at the Food Tableau ,French wine and a variety of  exquisite cheese at the Wine and Cheese Tableau,  the best of FB pastries with works of art at the Art Tableau,  and  even a sampling of Parisian chic at the Fashion Tableau.

 

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The BUSY QUEEN P at the ART Tableau. The French Macarons were to die for! I loved the lemon flavor!

 

French Baker - wine and entrees

My friend M and I certainly enjoyed the sumptuous feast that night! CONGRATULATIONS French Baker!

 

To make the evening even more special, Gary Valenciano performed  “Pasko na Sinta Ko” , “Jump For Joy” and three other songs .  It was truly a night to remember.

 

Gary V at French Baker 25th Anniversary

It’s everyone’s dream to go to Paris.  I certainly would love to spend ten days in Europe!  So head on to French Baker and don’t forget to fill up your raffle coupon!

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I TOTALLY AGREE!

Au Revoir!

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Another (Divi)ne Day!

With our sons out on sembreak, my Southern girls decided it would be great to head on to Divisoria for some well-deserved bonding and shopping time.  They all rode with me going to our meeting point in Magallanes.  From there, we transferred to Bernadette’s (another co-parent/friend) van. She’s the resident DIVI DIVA and we were all looking forward to her touring us around.

BINONDO BOUND

Lest I forget, every year we also go on a pilgrimage.  Inside the van we prayed the rosary. Soon, we arrived at our first stop – BINONDO CHURCH.  The church was very  beautiful! We prayed the rosary again and offered our intentions at the end.

DV2- Binondo church

Inside the beautifully lit historic Church.

 

DV2- Binondo Shopping

Joseph, Mary , the Child Jesus and the Three Kings. My friend intends to put the set on top of her baby grand piano.

Vickie collects ‘belens’ from here and abroad. She found a very cute sitting nativity set and haggled for a good price (P800).  Our mantra for the day was “If you want it, buy it!”  I bought a wooden rosary for my son (P25).

FIRST LEG

Along Juan Luna we found all kinds of kick knacks. The girls got P20 purses at BONBON (bag outlet). A little further down the road, we saw a cart selling cutie vanity cases. Since we bought 50 pieces, we got a good discount!

DV2- Kikay Kits

The polka dot purses look like Kate Spade designs.

 

DV2- Fruits

Fresh fruits are always a-plenty along the streets of Divisoria!

 

DV -cord protector

MORE STREET FINDS! – Colored cord protectors (2 for P25), gold and black purses from BONBON in JuanLuna (P20) and Spoon, Fork and Chopsticks in cases (P30).

 

In Search Of Yuletide Decors

Rina wanted to buy Christmas decors so she went ahead of us to ART TOE. This is a haven of Christmas trees, wreathes, holiday decors and lights!

DV2- ARTTOE

I bought a set of square Christmas boxes with angels (P260). Too cute (redundancy intended) to pass up on!

 

DV2- Christmas boxes

Wouldn’t it be nice to get a present inside one of these lovely boxes?

 

The House of Ribbons

Then we made our longest stop at MORNING GLORY.  This is the mecca of ribbons, buttons, flowers and Christmas decors too. Since we were a group of eight ladies, it’s quite difficult to be finished with shopping all at the same time.  I was already seeing double from hunger  (it was almost 2pm).  Mara, Rina and I decided to go ahead to 168 to eat lunch at MITZI’s ( Bernadette’ s recommended dining place, where Imelda Marcos “daw” eats also).

DV2-Morning Glory

Going GAGA over ribbons!

 

Wrap N Go!

DV2- Wrappers and Tags

But of course, along the way we got sidetracked at the giftwrapper store! For 65 pesos you can buy 25 pieces of glossy giftwrappers. The downside? You can only choose ONE design. Mara and I decided to half the wrappers (13 for me and 12 for her). Rina bought wrappers in solid colors. And for only P15, we got packs of gift tags (50 pieces/pack). What a bargain!

 

MEAL AT MITZI’S

I could literally eat a horse by the time we got to the foodcourt of 168.  The food is ridiculously good ha! DO NOT MISS OUT on the LECHON MACAU, SALT AND PEPPER FRIED SQUID and the FRIED TOFU! The fried crabsticks on a stick are delicious too.

DV2- Mitzi's

 

LAST HURRAH

It was raining outside by the time we finished having lunch.  We just decided to stay in 168 and buy whatever we fancied.

DV2-bioys shirts

Boys Shirts- Jersey Sets (P400 each) , Graphic shirts (P170)

DV2- Bargain buys

Frozen Top and shorts (P130), Wooden puzzles (P150 for two), and Sophia the First pencil case with sharpener (P100)

DV2- Hello Kitty Lunch Set

My Hello Kitty Fix. Check! Plate (P120) and spoon and fork set (P140)

 

DV- Shawls

Shawls in various prints (P130). The paiseley and chevron (Missoni looking) are must-buys!

 

END OF THE ROAD

It was dusk when we made our way to the parking lot.  Although we had so much fun, it’s really better to have a solid game plan the next time around.  I must warn you that traffic is bad already.

My advice:

1. Make a list of the things you want to buy. This way you know how much money to bring and the exact places you need to go.

2. Wear the appropriate attire! Comfortable shoes, a body bag, a change of shirt and NO jewelry please!

3. Go early and leave early. Most shops are open by 9am.

4. Learn the art of haggling. Rina said “They’re giving it to us mahal kasi makinis tayo.” 🙂 MAGTAGALOG and TUMAWAD by fifty percent initially.

5.  If you really want it and can afford it, BUY IT!  Make the hassle of going to Divisoria worth your while.

6. Enjoy your adventure!

I hope everyone had fun reading this post!

Until my next shopping gig!

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Outerwear – My Fashionable and Functional Finds

 I was doing my grocery shopping in S&R when  I heard  “Walking in the Winter Wonderland” being sung by Jason Mraz.  It immediately put a smile on my face. 🙂  It was the first of September and already the Pinoys are in the mood for Christmas!  Then, I realized it’s time to plan another trip before the year ends.   I just love this season! 

If you’re travelling to cooler places for the holidays, you better plan your wardrobe this early.  Here are my top picks for the fashionable globetrotter!

 

CK

Outerwear - Calvin Klein

Made of synthetic (plastic looking) textile, these jackets will keep you warm and dry. (PHP9000)

 

ZARA

Outerwear - Zara 7collage

Zara’s latest offerings include a myriad of outerwear – colored, floral, animal prints, fur, black and white ….and I like them all!

 

 

Outerwear- Zara Jackets

Totally loving these! L-R : 1. Yellow short anorak with fur collar (PHP5900), 2. Fur vest with knit lining (PHP3995), 3. Hooded puffer jacket with buckle (PHP5990) and 4. Zip pocket coat (PHP8590) Photos from the ZARA online store.

 

MASSIMO DUTTI

Outerwear - Detachable fur

This beige parka with fur is perfect for moderately cool days while the black puffer jacket (PHP14,000) on the right is a gorgeous choice for winter wear. Both have detachable hoods.

JUICY COUTURE

Outerwear- Juicy Track suits

Track suits (PHP10,000 to 12,000) are best for long flights. It will keep you comfortable and warm enough for the plane temp. Juicy Couture has a wide array of colors and design to choose from.

 

THE BQP’S COLLECTION

 

Outerwear - CK 2Jackets

I’m a big fan of Calvin Klein. The brand’s designs are always modern, clean and fashion-forward. Both are lined and have detachable hoods.

Outerwear - Ck mine

I used the black CK jacket during my trip to Los Angeles last Christmas. I threw in a Burberry scarf to complete the look. It kept me warm on a very cold night out at Downtown Disney!

 

Outerwear-Uniqlo

Keep the elements at bay in UNIQLO’s outerwear. This red jacket kept me perfectly warm as I watched the Disney parade with my son last Christmas in Anaheim, California.

Outerwear with Kids

Hong Kong is a favorite destination of the family. The weather is not that cold so I normally pack a light sweater and a jacket (just in case). Left photo : Blue cowlneck sweater from Terranova, grey sweater form Gucci on little R.
Right photo : Striped sweater from H&M and blue vest from RL, grey puffer jacket from Terranova on my son M.

 

 

Outerwear -Cotton On

Left : Brown vest from Zara. I’ve only worn mine with dark jeans. I’ll try pairing it with a dress like the one shown on the mannequin next time.
Right : Ombre faux fur vest from Cotton On. This number is certainly going inside my suitcase this December!

 

Outerwear -F&H Floral jacket

FOLDED AND HUNG – Just bought this yesterday. If you scroll up it looks like a twin of Zara’s floral outerwear.  The big difference is, this one costs a third of the price! Great buy!  Watch out for more fab finds from F&H i my future post!

 

I hope you enjoyed this feature.  Now plan that trip and let your wanderlust take over!

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These Boots (Confessions of a Shoe Addict Part 2)

 

I don’t know what it is about boots that excite me.  After all, I come from a tropical country and  it doesn’t make sense that I own more than a dozen pairs of boots.  Yes, a dozen!

As much as I want to wear my cutie boots in Manila, the weather doesn’t permit it and  fashion dictates otherwise ( I don’t want to get strange looks from people-haha).  So for now the collection is neatly arranged in boxes – ready to be taken out at the appropriate time.

 

SHOE QUESTIONS

Are you the type that plans your wardrobe before going on a trip?  Well, I am.  The hubby always chides me for being a heavy packer.  “We’re  going to do a lot of  walking.  Can you honestly do it wearing those? “ he would ask.  “Where else can I wear these?” I would also ask.  So after  14 years of marriage, he has learned to just shake his head after he sees the number of shoes that goes in my luggage.   Of course the problem is if I pack four pairs , I bring home eight! (Please refer to the title – Confessions of a Shoe Addict). 🙂

 

THE BQP’S COLLECTION

Boots

Here are my most recent purchases.
Front row (L-R) – ALDO mid-calf boots, CHARLES AND KEITH black suede boots, H&M tan boots, CROCS yellow snow boots
Back Row (L-R) – EXPRESS tan suede high boots, Beige crochet boots, TERRANOVA grey boots, MARC by MARC JACOBS snow boots

boots -charles and keith boots

A closer look at this black pair. It looks exactly like Kate Spade boots but its from Charles and Keith (about PHP4000).

 

Snow boots, really?

Boots- xmas

Wintertime at the happiest place on earth. The BQP is wearing boots by CROCS and the little diva has her Hello Kitty boots (also by CROCS).

Boots - Marc Jacobs

My guilty purchase —– boots for Alaska weather!  I like things in their proper bags and boxes.  This pair went home with me and occupied one whole luggage.

Boots- Halloween

We love dressing up for Halloween! My MARC JACOBS boots brought my snow angel costume to heavenly heights! The little Indian princess also wore  boots (from ZARA)  to complete her outfit.

 

Boots - Legoland

Fall in California –The BQP with the brood. Outfit of the day – Cable knit sweater, Calvin Klein denim skirt and my cutie crochet boots.

 

THE LITTLE  DIVA’S COLLECTION

My daughter loves to dress up like Mommy.   Here’s a sneak peek at her booties . 🙂

 

Boots - Rocio's collection

Boots- Rain gear

HOW ABSOLUTELY DELIGHTFUL ARE THESE???!!! I bought the Ballerina raincoat, umbrella and rainboots for my daughter. I couldn’t resist the fairy gumboots, either. All from Kidorable.

Boots- diva colage

Silver , purple and pink — PAYLESS shoe store offers these stylish boots  at very reasonable prices. ON SALE this week!

 

QUESTION OF THE DAY!

Get the chance to win a Jollibee Happy Plus Card! Answer this question:

WHICH PAIR OF BOOTS DID YOU LIKE THE MOST AND WHY?

 

THE BQP’S MESSAGE

SPARKLE QUOTE

The truth is, I had a terrible week.  I couldn’t write anything for days.  I  just had to find my happy place.  So I wrote about shoes. 🙂

I hope you enjoyed this second peek at my shoe collection (and that of my little diva’s).

Have a great weekend readers!  Please send me some happy thoughts so I can find the joy to write again.   Thank you and God bless:)

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