Saturday, April 28, 2012

Beginnings: All-white baby clothes

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Did you know that while department stores visibly display baby clothes in different colors, most Moms actually go for the whites?

This was the observation of Beginnings COO Govind Daswani as he recounted to a group of us how he and another person from their company spent days hanging around department stores, watching and observing Moms buy items from the baby section. He said that whites were often relegated to a corner of shelves and yet Moms filled their baskets with all-white baby clothes.

Curious, he got to interview some Moms and their answers were practical and made sense. Here are some reasons why Moms prefer all-white baby wear:

1. It's easier to spot stains and dirt.
2. It's easier to detect insects (dengue mosquitoes, most of all!)
3. It's clean and cool to baby skin (nice in summer and on hot days, like nowadays!)
4. And, if I may add my own reason, white is unisex -- easier on the budget, unlike the blues and pinks that can only look nice on a boy or girl, respectively.

Realizing that there was a nitch they could get into, Mr. Daswani quickly commissioned the designing of a complete line of baby wear - ALL IN WHITE!

Beginnings' product line

All-white tops and bottoms

Nice white baby shoes!

Some samples we opened to touch and examine more closely

As a Mom, I know how other moms are very discriminating when it comes to their babies' stuff. I know. Because I used to be OC about that. And anything that is worn by baby or applied on baby has to be free from any kind of harm or health risk. So I was glad that Mr. Daswani expounded on the meticulous care they gave to the production of their all-white baby line.

Take this baby shirt, for example.

Beginnings strictly follows US standards for baby clothes:

* They use only premium Shiny Cotton Thread to guarantee the durability of their products.

* To avoid loose or too-tightly sewn stitches, they follow a specific stitching distance so stitching is never twisted or wrinkled.

* Attachments on shoulders and sides are more durable for long-term use due to double stitching done by overlock machines.

* Cotton ties are easily adjustable and are used in place of buttons which are choking hazards for children 0-12 months.

* Special needles are used to avoid puckering that can cause unsightly needle holes and other defects such as open seams, raw edges and broken stitches. Regular needles create holes that make garments more prone to breakage and tear.

* They use special cotton garters with carefully studied, standard measurements required for maximum stretch so your baby does not get waistline marks and other irritations.

We were allowed to open a few of the items. I took time to touch the cloth of a tie-shirt and noticed how soft and smooth it was to the touch. True to their claim, the double stitching looked really well done. I have to say, Beginnings really pays attention to detail and quality.

I thought these were 100% cotton but Mr. Daswani said it was actually 65% cotton, 35% polyester. The rationale? Because 100% cotton loses its shape while the 65:35 ratio retains the shape while still keeping baby cool.

I just love their tagline: "Made with love and cotton". Don't you?

Beginnings is made for babies from 0-12 months only. Why not for older babies? Because he says that by that age, the babies are ready to move on to a more colorful wardrobe. Yes, we mommies like to dress our kids up, right?

Bloggers in white with COO Govind Daswani and CEO Kishu Daswani

Another surprising bit of information was that Beginnings is already present in the Visayas and it's only now that they are bringing their product to Metro Manila. They wanted to grow in a less competitive environment till they were ready to join in. I guess this is their time to penetrate Metro Manila.

Like Beginnings on their Facebook Page: The About page gives a list of outlets where you can find Beginnings baby wear.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The "Live, Love, Firande! Electrolux Photo Contest" lets you share your moments of celebration

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Life is always a celebration. The fact we are able to wake up every day is already cause for celebration. That's why the theme of one of my blogs is: Live, Love, Laugh.

I'm sure you have tons of digital photos in your computer or digital media of memorable moments in your life that are causes for celebration, right? After all, we Pinoys really love to celebrate everything - a birth, birthday, baptism, marriage, anniversary, barkadahan days, graduations. You name it, we Pinoys have probably celebrated it in some way. Even vacations are filled with tons of photos.

Why not share those photos with the world so they can see how the Filipino celebrates life? There's a way to do that now. And it gives you a chance as well to win something from Electrolux which is celebrating its 10th anniversary presence in the Philippines.

Electrolux is a Swedish brand and in Sweden, the term for Celebration is Firande. They're launching a photo contest where you can share all sorts of photos - from remarkable achievements and important personal milestones to fun, family vacations and exciting getaways with friends.

How me and my girl friends celebrate and bond

Photo Contest Mechanics

Here's how to join the "Live, Love, Firande! Electrolux Photo Contest":

1. Visit the “Live, Love, Firande! Photo Contest” tab of the Little White Book Facebook page from April 1, 2012 to May 20, 2012 and fill out the required participant details.

2. Submit your Firande photo along with your answer to the question, “What’s worth celebrating to you?" in 50 words or less.

3. All qualified photo entries will be uploaded in the Live, Love, Firande! photo album of the Little White Book Facebook page and will be featured in a commemorative 10th anniversary advertisement in leading newspapers, magazines and TV seen nationwide.

4. Get a chance to vote for your favorite among the Top Ten Firande photos from May 28 to June 10, 2012.

5. The top 3 Firande photos will get a chance to win exciting prizes from Electrolux Philippines including Electrolux appliances and a luxury and travel package.

Updated May 5, 2012:

Prizes at Stake 

1st Prize - 3D/2N stay at Makati Shangri-la Hotel with P35,000 worth PAL Travel Certificates
2nd Prize - Electrolux Kitchen Showcase: EGG7422S Built in Hob, EFT9510X Hood, ETB 2603SC No Frost Refrigerator, and EMM2007X Microwave Oven
3rd Prize - Electrolux ESV112CRC-A4 Inverter Split Type Air Conditioner

Follow Electrolux at
Like them on Facebook at
Follow them on Twitter at

Starbucks Happy Hour and Customizable Tumblers

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I was told that in some Starbucks branches last year when they had Happy Hour from 12noon to 2pm, lines would be snaking around way past the 2pm cutoff and people would sometimes get served past 3pm.  So this time, Starbucks decided to make Happy Hour from 2-6 pm every Monday from April 30 to May 28, 2012. (Tip: Get in line before 2pm's cutoff and you will be able to avail of the promo even beyond the cutoff time)

Make your own However-You-Want-It-Frappuccino blended beverages. Decaf or not. Extra shot or two or three of coffee. Want your whipped cream regular, light or none at all? What about your milk - full cream, nonfat? Do you want your syrup flavored with vanilla, hazelnut, mocha or any of the others? And so many more options. I was told that it could go up to about 87,000 different beverage blends if you count the number of combinations you can make with all the available options. Whew!

Times like these, I'm glad the Starbucks branch near me is not near any large office buildings but rather near schools. And school's out!!! Hopefully, no long lines!

Customizable Tumblers Too!

If you really want to enjoy your blended beverages plus have your order processed quickly, get any of their two new customizable 16-oz. tumblers. The tumblers come with an extra barrel body that you twist off. Mark the inner barrel's boxes with your beverage preferences using a marker, reassemble, hand the tumbler to your barista, and watch him/her process your order without having to say a word!

Customizable tumblers
Left: Stainless Steel Tumbler (PhP 1,095)
Right - Cold Cup Tumbler (PhP 550)

The Cold Cup Tumbler taken apart
(see the boxes on left where you can write your choices for blended beverage)

Love Fernandez writes his favorite blended beverage options
on the Cold Cup Tumbler

The Stainless Steel Tumblers taken apart
(it comes with a free dry erase marker)

Love draws Whoppie Pie on tumbler

Starting Monday, April 30, enjoy your customized blended frappuccino beverage at half price between 2-6pm and drink it from your very own customizable tumbler. You're protecting Mother Earth as well by using the tumbler again and again and again (just be sure to use erasable markers instead of the permanent ones).

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Johnson's Innovates Baby Care for New Gen Moms

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Even if all my kids are all grown up, I love attending baby events because I get to see all kinds of stuff I never had available when I was having my children. So many new items are making it more convenient for mothers these days.

When Johnson's invited me to their Baby Innovations, I arranged my schedule to attend. After all, my kids grew up on No Tears Johnson's Baby Shampoo and Baby Oil. I was very curious what innovations they would introduce this time.

BBDO Philippines General Manager Francine Khan-Gonzales first described to us what the New Gen Moms are all about. She's one who is technology-enabled, most likely holds a job out of the home, takes a proactive role in the rearing of her kids, and does not hesitate to do her own internet research about a wide range of topics including healthy tips for her children and parenting approaches. Wait, that sounds like me, except that my kids are all grown already. Hahaha...

Well I wish I still had very young kids because the new Johnson's products that were introduced really come a long way from the No Tears shampoo they used to have in my kids' time.

Two new Johnson's products were being launched but I had a chance to also check out the others they had.

Daily Sun Protection Lotion

This one I didn't know till I heard it at this event: a baby's skin is not fully developed yet to protect it from environmental stresses including the harsh rays of the sun. Their skin does not have enough melanin to fully protect them against UV rays. A baby's skin will not show skin damage but the cumulative effect of that can result to wrinkles and sunspots down the road as well as possible melanoma, a type of skin cancer.

The Daily Sun Protection Lotion comes in 2 variants: SPF 15 100ml (SRP PhP 230) and SPF 30 50ml (SRP PhP 215). Its ingredients provide protection against UVA/UVB rays. It's also light and non-greasy to keep your baby feeling comfortable.

Top-to-Toe Self Foaming Wash

This is my familiar Johnson's No Tears Baby Shampoo that went through a major overhaul not just on the outside (packaging) but also on the inside. It's one product you can use just like its older version but wait till you pump it out. It doesn't come out as thick, heavy liquid like the shampoo I knew but rather in a light, frothy, fine and delicate foam. Rubbing it on baby gives a cushiony and silky feeling and because it's foamy light, it's that much easier to wash off. Putting it in a pump is a great idea too because unlike before when I had to snap open the top lid with one hand while holding the bottle with the other, this design allows mommy to pump with one hand and hold baby with the other.

Top-to-Toe Self Foaming Wash comes in a 400ml bottle (SRP PhP 407). This June, Johnson's will come up with a 350ml bottle (SRP PhP 323.40).

Top-to-Toe also comes in a regular wash version in 2 different sizes: 200m and 500ml.

Now here are a few more products that I decided to use myself. Why? I just love the powdery scent. It beats perfume, at least for me.

Baby Skincare Wipes

I use wipes all the time -- traveling, freshening up before and after yoga, and in this heat, just about any time of the day. This Baby Skincare Wipes smells of baby powder and is not alcohol-based. It's just so perfect for me. I'm hoping they create  a more portable version I can drop into my yoga bags, not something this heavy.


For the longest time when I was growing up, Johnson's Baby Powder was just one kind. The ordinary powdery kind. When I was having kids, they already had the Cornstarch Powder variant which I preferred on my kids who were prone to asthma. Imagine seeing now their NATURALCALM line --  bedtime powder, bedtime lotion and bedtime bath products -- that are infused with a naturally calming scent so that baby falls asleep easily and better. Who says only baby can use it? I intend to use these myself alternately with lavender (relaxing aromatherapy) scents sprayed on my pillows and sheets.

Johnson's & Johnson's has not stopped innovating, as shown by their constantly evolving products to suit today's baby and Mom. Makes you wonder what more they can come up with for the discriminating parent....

Monday, April 16, 2012

Mother's Day Flowery Doughnuts from Krispy Kreme

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What do you give your Mom on Mother's Day? Flowers? Chocolates? Perfume? Whatever it is, do something different this year.

Krispy Kreme is offering, for the first time, flower-shaped doughnuts that come in yellow, pink and white. in celebration of its 75th birthday.

This promo is only available from April 13 to May 31, 2012.

Make this Mother's Day a special one for the Mom in your life.  These flowers won't just wilt away. She'll be able to look at it - and taste it as well.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

HCG Diet, Juju Cleanse, Cohen Diet, CrossFit at HSBC's Coffee Talk

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HSBC recently invited me to one of their Coffee Talk series with Starbucks. I've always enjoyed dialogues over coffee. I'm a coffee drinker and intellectual discussions are stimulating as well. The topic this time? Weight loss programs.

At the Shangri-la Plaza Hotel function room where the coffee talk was hosted, a Starbucks barista gave me a diluted cup of Starbucks brewed coffee since I get palpitations with too much brewed coffee. Later, during the lunch break, I found it amusing to find two different buffet tables laid out outside the function room labeled "Healthy" and "Happy". Hmmm. Can't healthy be happy too? Or vice versa? Hahaha. But I am so thankful to HSBC for thinking of providing lunch for someone like me who was dreading being faced with all-meat dishes options.

Well, I started with the "Healthy" table, picked up some salads and delicious salmon over there then headed for the "Happy" table to add some rice pilaf and fish. Dessert for me consisted of a fruit platter only.

The guest panelists were known people in the weight loss industry (either as clients or founders) who gave their testimonies as to how a certain diet or fitness program made them lose weight. 

CrossFit Program

A bootcamp-style workout used by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and lasts a hellish, intense, explosive 6-15 minutes only, I hear CrossFit is guaranteed to squeeze every last ounce of effort from you. But look at its effects! 

Art Mendoza - BEFORE (at 360 lbs)

Art Mendoza - AFTER

Art Mendoza whose face everyone recognizes from The Biggest Loser does CrossFit as part of his maintenance. Art says that maintaining your figure once you've lost the weight is more difficult because it has to become a lifestyle. He does not avoid the foods he loves but the secret is taking them in very much reduced portions. He said that sedentary people should avoid carbs but take them only in forms like sweet potato (kamote). Protein should be the size of your palm. Vegetables are the size of 2 fists.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Human Nature's Berry Bliss Lotion

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I use lotion a lot. At this age, I have to make sure that my skin is always hydrated and protected from drying and shriveling up in this heat. My lotion was down to just a few more applications when I received a sample of Human Nature's Berry Bliss lotion to try. Speaking of good timing!

This newly launched lotion variant has a strong but pleasant berry scent the moment you pop open the lid, which I immediately did. I guess that made a first good impression because I really love berry scent anyway.

As with all other Human Nature products, this Berry Bliss lotion is what they call healthy lotion. Why? Because it is made without all the chemicals that go into other commercially made lotions. It's free of parabens that could bring on all kinds of health disorders including cancer.

Reading the ingredients on the label, I noticed also that they had infused the lotion with their sunflower seed oil. I have the sunflower oil of Human Nature as well and it is very popular because it helps to moisturize hair, give shine under the eyes, and moisturize skin but I noticed that when used solely, it tended to be thick and gooey -- and oily. Surprisingly, as I poured out the Berry Bliss lotion and rubbed it into my skin, there was no physical trace of the oily sunflower oil. Looks like Human Nature put in just enough of it to work without getting too oily. I could feel my skin feeling all smooth and moisturized and smelling berry, berry nice.

I'm going for the Berry Bliss next time I need to buy lotion. Just one thing, I hope their improved version of this down the road comes with some sunscreen protection.

Berry Bliss lotion comes in two sizes: the 50ml bottle costs PhP 65.75 while the 200ml bottle goes for PhP 199.75.

Friday, April 6, 2012

NSO certificates, passport appointments, OEC made convenient with Pilipinas Teleserv

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Getting birth, marriage, and death certificates has become that much easier these days with service companies that allow you to order these online. One service which I have been using for years when getting these types of certificates has been Pilipinas Teleserv. I've used them to order up birth certificates for everyone in my family several times. With 4 kids, we've had to present birth certificates when enrolling them in schools, for travel abroad, and for passport application.

The best experience I had with Pilipinas Teleserv was some years back when my passport and that of my 2 boys had to be renewed. Teleserv processed our information, picked up our passports, and assisted us at the DFA so efficiently that we were in and out in just 15 minutes tops!

Pilipinas Teleserv recently hosted a brunch for some bloggers with someone from the National Statistics Office (NSO) as resource person. We got to learn more about the OTHER services of Teleserv as well as ask questions of the NSO person.

Current services of Pilipinas Teleserv

NSO Certificates

NSO issues various certificates on security paper: birth certificate, death certificate, marriage certificate, and Certificate of No Marriage (CENOMAR). Their hotline is open 24/7, even on holidays. And their coverage is nationwide.

Birth certificate on NSO security paper

Process for getting an NSO certificate

There are more payment modes now, including BancNet ATMs, online banking facilities and credit cards via an online payment channel. Teleserv says the online payment facility is compliant with the PCI-DSS' strict certifications to ensure it is safe and secure.