Friday, December 24, 2010

Magnolia's holiday flavors are here!

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The Magnolia ice cream plant-cum-soda-fountain along Aurora Boulevard was a favorite haunt of the family. I remember as kids we'd celebrate quite a few birthdays and other events there. Who wouldn't love the soda fountain, a dream come true for kids where you could have a wide choice of sundaes, splits and parfaits, among others.

The ice cream plant was a favorite field trip destination for schools too. I vividly remember my batch going to the ice cream plant for a tour. We were fascinated by the thought that we were inside Ice Cream Kingdom. Entering the warehouse-sized freezer where the finished ice cream products were sold was quite an experience as we donned heavy woolen coats. Watching ice cream artists put the finishing touches on an ice cream cake was a treat as well. And of course, a field trip was not complete without that one last touch - free Magnolia Delights from a cart greeted you as you finished the tour.

When the ice cream recipe and its plant were sold to Nestle, I remember wondering WHY. After all, Magnolia was the #1 ice cream then. Well, whatever their reason then was, what's important now is that they're back and ready to provide the same, loved Magnolia ice cream to the public.

The new ice cream plant is located in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. And while the old flavors are slowly coming back, Magnolia has introduced three (3) new holiday flavors that will be available till February 2011 in supermarkets and groceries, Monterey outlets nationwide and selected Petron Treats and Shops.

At a recent blogger event, we were introduced to all 3 flavors.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Burritos & Tacos - A Mexican Delight

Guess what! A Mexican restaurant opened very close to home! How close? Let's say it's just about a brisk 10 minute walk from my house.

Burritos & Tacos (called B&T for short) just opened at the Sekai Building along Ortigas Ave., right at the entrance to North Greenhills. It's a short walk from Xavier School and ICA.

Thanks to a blogger friend, Karen, I was able to attend their grand launch.

The restaurant is pretty spacious -- quite unlike my experience at another Mexican place in our area which is a pretty tight squeeze, with overflowing customers having to eat al fresco. The interiors were designed with Mexico's flag colors as inspiration. Modern orange chairs against black tables provided an eye candy contrast and the orange and green walls added to the aesthetic beauty of the place.

View from the outside
Front view
Indoor view

The UCC Beacons of Change Vision Logbook is Here

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Isaac Asimov once said: "The only constant is change [emphasis is mine], continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be."

Change is experienced by everyone. Sometimes it is pleasant, other times painful. Sometimes something to look forward to, other times scary.

I've had so many changes in my life, I've lost count. And they run the gamut of all emotions as well.

But, as motivational speaker Francis Kong says, "What we need to do is to learn how to let go of our fear of change. If we want to consciously bring about change for the good, then that change has to be envisioned and planned."

Change, without direction, is just going with the flow wherever it takes you. Sometimes that works. But at other times, it just leads to a listless, unknown future.

Change, with a vision and goal, is what makes one's life meaningful and purposeful. And this was why Hubert Young, owner of the UCC Coffee concept shops in the Philippines thought of creating -- a vision logbook that can help people bring this change about in their lives.

Hubert Young, holding the Beacons of Change Vision Logbook

To help him develop this vision logbook, Hubert Young brought in beacons of change representing some of the country's top business coaches:

Francis Kong, motivational speaker

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

McDo is now on your mobile phone

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It became such a big convenience when many fastfood outlets and restaurants allowed online ordering and payments. In this age when everyone seems to lead such hectic lives and Metro Manila traffic is horrendous, the advantages of being able to go online in your own home and order lunch, dinner or merienda delivered to your doorstep was obvious.

McDonald's was one of those fastfood outlets known for online ordering. My kids have ordered online not just from McDo but from other outlets several times already and you know what? It beats having to place your order via phone because sometimes, the one taking down the order can make mistakes.

McDo has moved online ordering up one step. It has partnered with Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI) to allow ordering via mobile phone to BPI, BPI Family Savings Bank and BPI Direct clients.

Here's how to do it.

First, you need to register at I got these screencaps from My BPI Magazine.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Meet M.A.C. - Your Friendly Meralco Appliance Calculator

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Having friends in Meralco is a boon. For years now, these friends have given our family advice on many things, including the type of appliances to buy so we use electricity efficiently. My friend Alex would even hand out Meralco brochures that give friendly consumer advice on how to save on energy costs. And I remember instances in friends' houses when Alex would spend time explaining to us the impact of how we use our appliances on our bills.

Being web-addicted connected, I long discovered M.A.C. (Meralco Appliance Calculator) on the Meralco website. In fact, the MAC (I've removed the periods just to make it easier as I type this post)  has been on their website since 2003. Unfortunately, not many consumers knew about the existence of MAC. And honestly, while I did tinker around with MAC a bit, trying to put in some info on our appliances and usage patterns, I never really got to use it as a real tool for electricity savings.

Till now.

Meralco is relaunching M.A.C. with new and improved features so that it can really become your electricity budget buddy. Let's meet M.A.C. -

Fig. 1 Portal to MAC

The image you see in Fig. 1 is the first thing you see when you click the MAC link on the Meralco homepage. Before you can use MAC, you need to click on "Agreement" and clicking "I Agree" after reading the terms. The new feature on this portal is the "Formula" link. According to Meralco, they got a lot of feedback from the older MAC version as to how the energy costs were computed so they decided to add this link to the formulas.

When you choose My Appliance Calculator, you get this screen:

Fig. 2 Home screen of MAC
Tabs run across the top (General Appliances, Aircon, Ref, etc.) Clicking on those tabs bring dropdown menus to further narrow down your type of appliance. The average wattage of this appliance is filled out automatically. Put in the number of hours, days and weeks the appliance is used and MAC will calculate for you how much that appliance contributes to your bill per day/week/month. Of course, these are all rough estimates. Wattage can change depending on the brand and model of the appliance. But this gives you an initial feel already which are the energy guzzlers in your home.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Starbucks Coffee 2011 Planner

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(L-R: Wood, Velvet, Steel Starbucks planners)

It's that time of the year again when the Christmas spirit is clearly in the air and the excitement is building up with every day that passes. 

My girls, like many of their friends, are already preparing for the turn of the year by choosing their planners. And there are a lot of planners out there. When I was growing up, the planners all looked the same. Executive type, with the company stamp and company history pages making the only difference in look. Very business-like, especially those with gold-edged pages.

Starbucks was one of those who took planners out of the business mold. Now on its 8th year into the planner tradition, Starbucks has come out with three variants. Each of these variants represents something familiar that you find in each Starbucks store: Maroon Velvet Fabric (their familiar lounge chairs), Cool Clean Stainless Steel (interiors) and Stained Dark Wood Panels.

Being Starbucks coffee drinkers, my kids and I like the way the Starbucks planner incorporates coupons for free drinks on certain dates of the year, plus discount coupons for other yuppie outlets that they can use throughout the year. These coupons alone represent savings for my kids who save up for these services or items with their limited school allowances. But, as my eldest girl once said, there is something about the way Starbucks planners look and how the sections are presented, that suit her active lifestyle very much. In a way, it has also become a fashion statement when seen carrying the planner around as well.

Since November 3, Starbucks patrons could get a Starbucks Christmas traditions planner promo card. With every Starbucks beverage purchased, one is entitled to a sticker to be placed on the card. It only takes seventeen (17) stickers to be able to bring home the planner of one's choice. Nine (9) of the stickers must be Christmas beverage favorites (any of the following): Peppermint Mocha, Praline Mocha and Toffee Nut Latte. The other eight (8) stickers are for any of the core beverages. Buying a Starbucks VIA Ready Brew 3-pack booklet also entitles you to one (1) sticker while the Starbucks VIA Ready Brew box of 12 earns you two (2) stickers.

When one finally gets the Starbucks 2011 Planner, you are also helping Starbucks realize its dream to help its flagship program for early childhood care and development in partnership with UNICEF -- SparkHope. Each redemption of the planner represents a donation to SparkHope.

If you're a Starbucks coffee lover, then remember to have your sticker placed on your promo card. And once filled, redeem the planner for yourself, a family member or a friend. You not only get a wonderful Starbucks gift but you also just helped make a contribution to SparkHope.

Have a wonderful, Starbucks-y Christmas ahead!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Bring Back Family Day Night with Hasbro

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My parents brought us up on board games. I remember playing all sorts: Snakes and Ladders, Scrabble, Monopoly, Cluedo, UNO, Game of the Generals, Mastermind, Pictionary, Trivial Pursuit, Boggle etc. Those were the days when the internet was nonexistent, TV did not have cable yet, and life was simpler. It was a time when family bonding happened around the four corners of a table with family members hunched over a board, intent on making a move, then bursting out in laughter or in groans depending on who was winning. Those were the days...

Nowadays, games have grown terribly sophisticated and individualistic. Almost all popular games are on the computer, played alone or with others on a network. Handheld devices lead to people sitting by themselves in corners, intently maneuvering their PSP, iPod Touch or iPhone buttons. Family bonding is all but an afterthought during brownouts or in places where internet signals are nil.

Hasbro, an edutainment company, thinks that board games are not passe. In fact, there are many reasons why families should continue playing board games:

1. Family bonding - Game play allows kids to learn from you and from each other, encouraging a sense of connectedness and respect among family members.

2. Learning - Deductive reasoning, strategy, importance of money management, simple math are all built into different games

3. Life skills - Games teach kids a lot of important life skills such as patience, teamwork and perseverance. It even teaches them how to take losing and how to win graciously.

4. Laughter - Board games elicit a lot of innocent ribbing, giggles and outright laughter. That's a lot of endorphins that are not just healthy but also breed good, positive feelings among everyone.

If it's been a while since you've bonded as a family over board games, this coming Christmas is a good way to revive it. They say that one of the best things you can give children are loads of good memories. You can always give them money but when they grow up, that is not what they'll remember. They will remember those days when, as kids, the family played exciting board games. For sure they would remember what some would think trivial at the time but which sticks to their memories until they themselves are adults.

Recently, we were introduced to some of Hasbro's board games as well as to their newest release, the FurReal Snuggimals. These Snuggimals look almost like the real thing, but tiny. They respond to your touch, wagging their tails and nodding their heads when touched on the back. I tried touching a brown puppy FurReal Snuggimal and he looked so cute wagging and nodding. This is a great gift for little kids who cannot still have a real pet of their own.

(FurReal Snuggimals, 4-12 yrs, SRP: P429.75)

I plan to buy Taboo which some mommy bloggers and I played at the Hasbro event. You pick a card with a word for your teammates to guess. You can use English words to give clues. The complication is that the card contains words you can NEVER mention while giving them clues otherwise the point goes to the other team. And you have a time limit (an hourglass filled with sand). Take it from one who never played it till now, this game is exciting, stressful but loads of fun for hours!

Comes with 504 cards, card holder, buzzer, timer, scorepad
(Taboo, for Adults, SRP: P1,999.75)

Comes with 50 cards, mini timer & squeaker
(Taboo-mini version, for Adults, SRP: P399.75)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Make Miracles Happen with the Miracle Machine

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Kraft, through Miracle Whip, wants to whip up miracles outside the kitchen for this Christmas. It is inspired by the collective efforts during Typhoon Ondoy last year when many people turned to social networking sites like Facebook to mobilize rescue, feeding and rehabilitation efforts.

Out of this inspiration, they created the Miracle Machine, a Facebook application whose objective is quite simple: to get people, their friends, and their friends' friends working together to make miracles happen for the less fortunate.

11 beneficiary organizations were selected after a screening process. Each organization was asked what their Christmas wish was. Beginning December 1 and every day thereafter, an organization will be featured by the Miracle Machine with a list of tasks that volunteers like us can fulfill if it is within our capabilities.

The idea is that each of us is a working part of this machine. For every task that each of us can do for any or all of these beneficiaries, your name will be put on a cog and added to the Miracle Machine. If all tasks are fulfilled by the end of the 12 days, the Miracle Machine will work perfectly and all 11 beneficiary organizations would have their Christmas wishes fulfilled.

Will you help whip up miracles for these 11 beneficiaries? It's very simple.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Krispy Kreme's Ho-Ho-Holiday Doughnuts Are Here

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This was the surprise that arrived today. Krispy Kreme's holiday doughnuts are out!!!

Kids really love the way Krispy Kreme celebrates events and special occasions because they come up with the most creative, yummy-looking doughnuts. My own kids love Krispy Kreme a lot.

There are three variants this year. First is Mr. Snowman. He was around last year too with his red and green scarves but they gave him a slightly new look this year. Next is the vanilla-frosted square-shaped doughnuts decked with green and red icing ribbons. They almost look like tiny presents. And third is the round-shaped doughnuts with vanilla frosting and green and red sprinkles.

My Christmas doughnuts came in a very simple but elegant-looking metal Krispy Kreme can in Christmas-y colors. 

If you are still wondering what to give family and friends for Christmas, look no further. Your yummy present will look great packaged in a KK box like this one.

And yes, I had to hurriedly take pictures of the doughnuts before all my kids come home from school and devour them all. :-)

Visit any of the following Krispy Kreme Branches: Bonifacio High Street, Greenhills Shopping Center Drive-Thru, SM Mall of Asia, Trinoma Cinema Level, SM Megamall, SM Mall of Asia Drive-Thru, Ayala Avenue, Robinsons Galleria, Gateway Mall, Glorietta 4, SM City Annex (North EDSA), Annex 2 SM Fairvew, Eastwood, Marquee Mall Pampanga, SM San Lazaro, SM Manila, Robinsons Place Manila, Paseo Center (Makati City) and Valero (Makati City) or call 0917-8053000. Also, be sure to log on to and be a Friend of Krispy Kreme to get updates.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Penshoppe Style Closet Goes on a Mobile Tour

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A makeover is coming to your office or school!!!

Penshoppe is stepping out of its stores!

That's right. The Penshoppe Style Closet will be traveling to selected schools and offices in a few weeks. It is a real walk-in closet with several cubicles and rows of clothes and accessories. Stylists will assess your style, skin color and body physique and recommend a combination of outfits that suit you.

Here's how the mobile tour will go:

1. On announced dates, the Penshoppe Style Closet will travel to a specific school or office. Their "spotters" will choose students/office workers who will get a VIP pass. (Hint: if you want to increase your chances of being "spotted", dress up a bit more on the day they visit your office/school)

2. If you are one of the lucky ones given a VIP pass, it entitles you to a makeover from a Penshoppe stylist. That means you get to try out recommended outfits inside the Style Closet. As a token of appreciation from Penshoppe, you will get a free pair of jeans.

3. Those given VIP passes may also be given up to two more VIP passes that you can give to your best friends so they can also enjoy the experience like you. (Hint: if a spotter did not choose you to get a VIP pass, at least befriend someone who did so you also get a pass, hahaha)

4. Those who are not chosen to receive VIP passes but are interested in buying Penshoppe items will be given 10% discount.

My stylist, Mia, dressed me up in a black tank top, draped a circular, black & white scarf around me (I love the versatility of this type of scarf!), and black bead accessories.


And this was how she dressed me up!

Mobile Tour Schedules

As of this posting, here are the schedules for the mobile tour of the Style Closet as provided by Penshoppe:

1. Nov. 22, 23 and 24 – UA&P (confirmed)
2. Nov. 25 and 26 – St. Benilde (confirmed)
3. Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 – UP (confirmed)
4. Dec. 2 and 3 – UST
5. Dec. 6 and 7 – ATENEO
6. Dec. 9 and 10 – Pacific Star/PBCOM
7. Dec. 13 and 14 – Pacific Star/PBCOM
8. Dec 15, 16 and 17 - Teletech

Watch for the Penshoppe Style Closet on these dates. Who knows? You may just get an instant clothes makeover.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

One Day Only: Goodles Pasta for P100 Only

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Some time back, several of us bloggers were treated to the soft launch of Goodles, a new concept in pasta-to-go. Gourmet pasta, the kind you normally have in sit-down fancy restaurants, are now available in to-go tubs that you can take with you into the moviehouse.

Goodles uses traditional imported Italian pastas and handcrafts its deliciously rich sauces using all natural farm fresh ingredients, pure dairy products, hormone-free meats, extra virgin olive oil and fresh herbs and spices.

My favorite of all the items is Grape Carbonara, carbonara with a twist -- it had grapes!

On November 24, 2010 (take note, just this day and no other), Goodles will drop their prices on select popular Goodles pasta to only P100 in celebration of its 1st anniversary. Promo is good for dine-in and take-away (delivery not included).

(click to see enlarged photo)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Live Curious, NatGeo and Regatta Say

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When my kids were small, they'd pester me with so many quetions. Why is the sky blue? Is there really a man on the moon? How does Santa distribute the gifts all over the world in just one night? 

As they grew older, curiosity continued but this time the questions had to do with more mature topics. Why is my body changing? Why is breakfast important? Even the proverbial -- Why do we have to have homework on weekends?

Studies have shown that curiosity is what leads to experimentation, discovery and more learning. When a child asks a lot of questions, it is because that child is thinking about things that don't make sense to him at that age. This is the start of what will later become research - a longing to find the answer.

The National Geographic Channel (NGC) recognizes that living the curious life leads to myriad possibilities for adventure and knowledge so it wants to continue promoting this trait in the young people of today.

NatGeo, as it is called for short, is one of the largest non-profit scientific and educational institutions in the world. It has produced beautiful magazines that take you on adventures as you turn the magazine pages, teaching you more and more about places you have never been to, making you aware of the environment, the wonder of archaeology, appreciation for natural science and better awareness of geography. With the advent of cable, NatGeo created its own channel, showing the beauty of our world and its creatures. Truly, NGC is one of my favorite TV channels.

NatGeo has tied up with Regatta, a leisure wear brand that offers high-quality casual wear, as both of them share similar values, i.e., promoting the love for a good life as well as love for adventure.

They've launched the "Live Curious" campaign which believes that no matter what country we live in and regardless of the language we speak, "Everything deserves a 'Why'". This slogan is now one of several statement shirts launched and available at all Regatta boutiques nationwide when you sign up for a National Geographic society membership.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Pacman Up Close

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The whole Philippines stands still today. Very few vehicles were on the road when I went out earlier. Almost the entire country is at home, at pay-per-view establishments or on the internet intently looking for livestreaming links.

I had the chance to meet Manny Pacquiao a few months back. He was shooting a TV commercial for a pain-relieving drug, Alaxan FR, and I stayed quietly in the background watching him go through the shoots, joking with the staff in between takes, and noting how lean and muscular, absolutely no excess fat, and lithe his body was (a sign of the rigorous training and care he had for his body).

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Oh Baby! All Natural Baby Food

All my four kids grew up on imported and locally available baby food. I guess I could say I had no choice then. I was a working Mom and had no time to osterize or blend baby food on demand. I just had to trust that the people behind these baby food lived up to the quality standards appropriate for baby consumption.

Recently, I was invited to an intimate gathering of mommies and bloggers. A locally made line of all-natural baby food was being launched - Oh Baby!

My curiosity was piqued. My kids are all teens and adults so why did I want to go to this launch? Mainly because I am a Mom and I know that many of my younger friends and blog readers are moms or soon-to-be Moms and if this product was any good, I want to put it out for them to have a choice as to what to give their youngsters.

I got to meet the two mommy chefs behind Oh Baby! -- Christina Trillana-Lagdameo and Rebecca Disini-Gomez. Tina studied at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. She has an Associate of Occupational Studies in Culinary and is Safe Serve Certified. While there, she worked as a line cook in Tabla Restaurant and Catering Manager at Dean and Deluca. Rebecca pursued her passion for food in Le Cordon Bleu in London and graduated with a Cuisine Diploma. She is Food Safety and Hygiene Certified by the Royal Institute of Public Health and Hygiene. She also got to work for Unilever as Regional Chef for Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Mommy Rebecca (L) and Mommy Tina (R) with their babies

Both mommies were high school classmates who pursued culinary courses abroad. When they got married and had kids, they began wondering what preservatives were inside the jarred baby food and teething biscuits they'd buy in the grocery especially since they knew there had to be some amount of preservatives in it so it could have a longer shelf life.

It wasn't long before they figured that putting their culinary skills to task to produce tasty and nutritious meals for babies was the next step. And why stop at giving these to their own babies? They could also make these available to other moms who had no time to prepare these food and would end up buying commercially available ones. Thus, Oh Baby! was born.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Have You Kik'd Anyone Yet?


Got an Android, iOS or Blackberry smartphone? Then you need to check out Kik Messenger, the latest viral app that allows free texting crossing all 3 platforms.

It's FREE. It's pretty fast (real-time). And it's VIRAL! 

According to the Kik blog, they launched Oct. 19, 2010 with 0 users and hit 1 million in just 15 days. If that's not viral, I don't know what is!

I downloaded it just tonight after reading a Tech Crunch article about it being viral. Then I posted notices on my Plurk and Facebook accounts. In just a few hours, several of my friends and family have already joined my network. Here's what the screen looks like.

(Source: Kik Blog)

I also got to text back and forth with friends using all 3 platforms and it works. Beautifully! The user interface is very simple and a new feature it has that was not present in Ping Chat which I used to use (only good among iPhone users) is that it has 3 icons that change status beside each of your posts. S = Sending. D = Delivered. R = Read. Woot!

To download Kik from your smartphone, click HERE.

Congrats to the entire Kik team. I really hope you guys can sustain the amazing exponential growth and keep downtime or lag to the barest minimum.

As for me, if Kik works as they tout it, this might just be my solution to this carrier that did away with their unlimited text promo for Christmas and New Year. Cheers!

The Kik Team celebrating the 1M crossover
(Source: Kik Blog)

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Contest: Win a Ticket to See the Pacquiao-Margarito LIVE with Alaxan FR

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This coming November 14, our very own Manny Pacquiao will once again do battle. This time, the crown at stake is the vacant WBC Super Welterweight Championship and his fight will be against Mexican Antonio Margarito, former WBA Welterweight Champion.

Once again, this fight can be watched live in different Pay-Per-View (PPV) locations around the Philippines as fans and kababayans empty the streets to watch Pacquiao go up against Margarito.

Alaxan FR is hosting a contest that will give you a chance to win one (1) FREE PPV ticket to see the Pacquiao fight at selected SM Cinemas. And you have 5 chances (5 days) to win that prized ticket. It's simple. Here's how.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Sunsilk's Co-Creations Shampoo Line


Have you gone to the supermarket lately and checked out the shampoo aisle? You probably will notice a whole new line of Sunsilk shampoo products. This is their Co-Creations line.

Why "Co-Creations"? Well, Sunsilk has partnered with some of the best international hair experts to come up with a range of shampoo products that address just about every type of hair concern consumers have. These experts have done the tresses of top models and celebrities in different fields and by partnering with Sunsilk, they bring their expertise and knowledge of hair into each of the products in this Co-Creations line.

Our hair can no longer be handled by just one type of shampoo and conditioner. Situations change. Sometimes, we have hair that is limp and dry due to sun exposure. Other times, we suffer from dandruff. Still other times, hair could become damaged due to color treatments or other hair chemicals applied. In each instance, hair needs a different treatment to squarely address the concern at hand. This is why Sunsilk has this whole range of products, each one with a formulation targeted at a particular need.

Sunsilk sent me their Co-Creations line (plus the complete Creamsilk conditioner line to match as well) to try over the next few months. My kids and I just finished our old bottles of shampoo last night so we are excited to see how this Sunsilk line will work for us.

To help you out with your choice of shampoo next time you're at the supermarket, let me walk you through a short guide. 

Please note that the shampoo descriptions, representations as to what it can do for the hair, as well as contents of its formulation were lifted from Sunsilk's press kit.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Real Living Launches its Book on Handy Hints and Instant Makeovers

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Thanks to Summit Media, I got to attend the launch of Real Living's newly launched book "Handy Hints and Instant Makeovers".

I've been living in our present home for as long as my married life. And a lot of the furniture and "look" of the house is as it was when we got married. It gets a bit tiring when the familiar becomes TOO familiar, right? So I've been trying to find ways to change the look of the house without having to go right out and spend a fortune. I felt that little touches here and there could really do the house a lot of good.

But, my creative imagination is really sorely lacking in this department. I always feel that if I walked into a bare room, I would not know what to put in it. I prefer to see a magazine or picture and point to stuff to say, "I want this. And I want that."

The next best thing is of course to leaf through the glossy mags, right? But why, oh why, do they have to feature such expensive stuff that I can't afford?

Well, this book is just the answer I need and for good reason:

Water Plus Goes Beyond Just Being Water

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Have you seen this picture on billboards yet?

That's Andi Manzano and she is the endorser for a new kind of flavored water that comes in several variants recently released -- Water Plus by the Zest-o people. One of Water Plus' variants is their Waterplus Reduce line which comes in three flavors - grape, lemon & berries, and apple, and is touted as a weight loss water product.

OK, I know what some of you may say. Another water product? It's touting itself as water but has a lot of sugar? What's new?

I must say, the thought crossed my mind too. But I was willing to listen to the organizers tell me a bit more about the product before I made any conclusions of my own.

Some water drinks introduced in the past which I tried were heavy on the flavoring. They tasted nice but because the flavorings were quite strong they already bordered closer to being juice than water. That made me wonder about the sugar content in WaterPlus Reduce. 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Mang Inasal Delivers! Dial 733-1111

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I come from the land of inasal -- Iloilo. And there, we eat it the yummy way. Grab the chicken with both hands, take a huge bite, then follow with hot rice eaten kamayan (bare hands) style. Nothing could be more enjoyable than eating chicken inasal with one's hands. Well that was before everyone became civilized and started eating inasal with spoon and fork, hahahaha.

So it is no wonder that I always find a chance to eat chicken inasal. It reminds me very much of my childhood. My kids love inasal too because on vacations to Dumaguete, we also get our fill of the chicken inasal there. So we were all excited when I got an email offering me a chance to try out Mang Inasal's new delivery service.

My kids and I were raring to try them. I made the call around 7:15 pm last week and in exactly 30 minutes (7:45 pm on the dot), our doorbell was ringing. Dinner had arrived -- PROMPTLY!

Pumpkin Recipes for Halloween and Any Day

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The Dona Elena Cuisinera Club (DECC) recently sponsored a meet-up with its club's members and mommy bloggers (including me) to show us how to prepare three delicious meals using pumpkin as a basic ingredient.

These 3 dishes were appropriate for Halloween but I think that these will be just as good any day of the year.

What I love about Dona Elena is that I'm able to buy olive oil for cooking or for my salads without spending an arm and a leg. You know how expensive olive oil can be. And yet, I splurge on this every so often, knowing that it is the healthiest oil there is.

Dona Elena olive oil is known to be rich in antioxidants, counteracting the harmful effects of free radicals which place us at risk for heart disease and certain cancers.

For this session, we were introduced to the health benefits of pumpkin, as well (the more common variety is squash or, as we call it in the Philippines -- kalabasa). Here's why you should consider pumpkin as part of your family's dish ingredients:

- phytonutrients prevent cell mutations
- for men's health, it helps reduce risk of prostate cancer
- its orange-red carotenoid helps reduce risk of emphysema and has anti-cancer properties
- reduces chances of birth defects, heart attack, and the folate promotes colon health
- the betacarotene is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, protects vs diabetes, regulates blood sugar, and reduces the severity of conditions such as asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis
- potassium helps lower blood pressure
- it has other nutrients such as Vitamin C, fiber and more

Halloween is just a few days away so if you're looking for yummy treats to serve up on that day, here are 3 recipes for Pumpkin and Sausage Pasta; Pumpkin, Tomato and Basil Soup; and Pumpkin and Shrimp Fritters (popularly known as Okoy).

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

October 20: National Thank You Day

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Years back, when I got my issue of Reader's Digest, I noticed it published the results of a survey done to find out which countries were most grateful. As it was with their previous surveys, Reader's Digest people scattered people anonymously and observed the behavior of the country's citizens, counting the number of times "Thank you" was said.

I really thought the Philippines would score pretty high, considering how we're known for our hospitality. Imagine my dismay when I found we only ranked #22! And the top scorer was, of all places, New York! You'd think that in a place as busy as NY, people would have less time to say thanks!

Now I am wondering what ever happened to the value of gratitude taught to us as little kids as well as the importance of saying thank you. Have we become too busy? Or is it that we really have  taken a lot of things for granted these days?

Inspired by this revelation, Toblerone spearheaded the “National Thank You Day” initiative. This eventually led to Mayor Alfredo Lim officially declaring October 20, 2007 to be Manila’s first “National Thank You Day.” In 2009, the day also saw the celebration of the first Thank You Day Awards where Filipinos recognized former President Corazon Aquino as the person Filipinos should be grateful to the most.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Contest: Keso de Gallo with Kraft Eden Cheese

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100 towns.

100 unique dishes.

100 days.

1 Grand Yuletide celebration.

Yes, for 100 days prior to Christmas, 100 towns are showcasing their unique dishes that feature Kraft Eden Cheese as an ingredient. And they are gunning to break the record for the longest Christmas celebration in the world!

Where else should the longest Christmas celebration be than in the Philippines. The moment BER months come around, Christmas songs are already in the air and malls start decorating for the Christmas season already!

We can all help make the Philippines break this record and, at the same time, make YOUR favorite city's cheese dish win P2 million worth of prizes it can use as a support fund. You can also be your city's HOME PARTNER and win a cash prize for yourself.

The Philippine Beat is rooting for the town made famous by a pancit it is named after. In truth, this is one of, if not my favorite, pancit because I just love the crushed chicharon flakes and varied seafood toppings heaped on it -- Pancit Malabon!

Yes, I am throwing my vote behind Malabon City which has done a twist on their famous pancit by adding cheese cubes.

Pancit Malabon with Cheese Cracking Toppings

Will you help me make Malabon City win? If you love Pancit Malabon, then vote for Malabon. Just check out their yummy recipe for Pancit Malabon with Cheese Cracking Toppings HERE. And while you're on Malabon's page, read up a bit on the history of the city. There's more to the city than just pancit!

What do you need to do to make Malabon City win?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cherry Mobile Launches its Android Smartphones

My oldest son, who's the geekiest member of our family, has long been saving up for an Android phone. For someone who has the highest expectations and standards for his next mobile phone, he has done his homework as far as mobile OS are concerned and it seems that the Android's performance is IT for him.

On my end, I had been wanting to get a device that would allow me to take pictures and upload them on the fly wherever my blogging activities take me. While I already have a 3G iPad, the absence of a camera means I still needed to bring one. And frankly, my existing camera, which is many years old already, has seen better days. So when I got an invite to attend an Android event, I just had to see for myself what it was all about and to check its specs.

Cherry Mobile (the company that was first known for providing affordable dual SIM handsets) launched its line of Android Smartphones powered by Qualcomm: the Nova, Magnum HD and Superion which is also the first ever tablet phone in the Philippines.

The most affordable model is the Nova (SRP P11,490). Compared to other smartphones in this price range, the Nova offers a lot more, including the 5MP camera and GPS services.

Nova specs:

  • Android OS 2.1
  • Quadband GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
  • Triband UMTS 900 / 1900 / 2100
  • 3.2" HVGA capacitive touchscreen
  • Qualcomm MSM 7227 600 MHz processor
  • 3G/HSDPA connectivity
  • Wifi
  • Bluetooth
  • Google mobile services ( Gmail, Maps, Marketplace)
  • 5.0 MP camera with flash

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A New Comfort Food from Red Ribbon

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When we are under stress, lonely, or just need to be reminded of good memories, we reach out for our comfort food. Usually these are food that reminds us of our Mom's cooking, something that triggers a good memory, basically anything that gives you the same effect as a warm embrace or lifts your spirit.

What is your comfort food?

My top choice is ice cream. Any flavor. Oh, maybe except Tutti Frutti because I don't like those candy-like fruit squares in my ice cream. But I'll take any flavor, and most especially.....chocolate!

Recently, Red Ribbon launched its version of comfort food. And it's one that will truly comfort you without burning a hole in your pocket.

Introducing Red Ribbon's CHOCO FUDGE CAKE!

The Choco Fudge Cake is a version of the classic chocolate cake but with more oooomph: a pound cake smothered with premium chocolate heaped generously on top and layered with chocolate fudge filling. You take one bite into it and your teeth just keep going down into chocolate and more chocolate.

My personal preference is still Red Ribbon's Chocolate Walnut Fudge cake which they introduced last year but as an immediate comfort food that is so affordable, Choco Fudge Cake is a great alternative.

Chocolate Fudge Cake is now available in regular size (P460) and junior size (P275) at all Red Ribbon outlets.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Google Chrome Goes Pinoy with Themes and Extensions

Chrome was launched only sometime 2008 and yet it's now the Philippines' 2nd most popular browser. With innovations in extensions as well as variety of themes coupled with its robust infrastructure, Chrome is truly gaining grounds in the browser war. In fact, on both my desktop and laptop computers, Chrome runs as my default browser.

Last Sept. 30, another first was introduced to the Filipino bloggers -- extensions and themes done by Filipinos for Filipinos.

Themes are pretty much like your desktop wallpaper except that it carries over to the background of your browser and the colors of your tabs, buttons and bars follow the thematic colors. Extensions are small programs that you download and install. These either extend the functionality of existing applications or provide information.

Representing Google at the launch were Google Southeast Asia Head of Product Management, Andrew McGlinchey, and Google Southeast Asia Head of Marketing, Derek Callow.

(Andrew McGlinchey, left, and Derek Callow, right)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

There's More to Fish & Co. Than Fish

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Carnivores, celebrate! If you think Fish & Co. is all about fish, think again. After all "& Co." in their name means it ain't all about fish. They have now expanded their food offerings to include *drumroll*....MEAT!

My kids are primarily carnivores and while I can get them to try seafood dishes, they usually go for the meat dishes first. Their favorite dish at Fish & Co. is the fish & chips, what else? But at this dinner hosted by Fish & Co., upon the invite of Carlo, my girl and I, along with other blogger friends, were able to take a peek at the varied meat items they had concocted. 

Shrimp and Chicken Breast Al Pesto

Being a health-conscious Mom and yogini, I have recently been tapering my meat intake and increasing fish, vegetables and fruits in my diet. But who can resist this dish when chicken breast is combined with shrimp, pasta (my favorite dish!) and broccoli? Still healthy! Of all the dishes served up that night, this was my clear choice.

Breaded Chicken Piggyback

Surprisingly, piggybacking shrimp on top of breaded chicken went well. I liked the combination of the chicken's crunch with the softness of the shrimp. A thoughtful addition is the noodles at the bottom. It serves as the carbs high of the dish.

Grilled Lamb Chops

Yum yum lamb chops! I'm glad it was prepared with veggies as part of the serving. I normally stay away from pure meat dishes.

My girl (beside me) gave the dinner a two thumbs up so that means my carnivore girl was pleased with the menu. Thanks for the wonderful, gastronomic dinner, Fish & Co. I'm hauling my carnivore family here on our next family celebration.