Wedding Wednesday: Paula and Charlie

Today, it's a dictatorship on my blog. I AM FORCING THIS ON YOU whether you like it or not. I love, love, love this prenup shoot and I'm such a proud stage mom  friend, so I am urging you to feel warm and fuzzy for this couple too. I probably checked out their photos three times in one day! Hayyyy I just love seeing happy couples together--it's an ultimate HIGH! Hehehe :) 
Bitin kayo noh??? Well the BEST ones are in the Mango Red website so please click on the link if you want to feel some happy Wednesday vibes! I especially love the jungle scenes..those pics are my favorites. Such a unique and well executed shoot :) Again, Mango Red totally wow-ed me with this one. Fall in love with Paula and Charlie!

Travel Tuesday: The Peacock Garden

Nope. I did not fly to Europe with my girlfriends. Yep. This is in the Philippines. Right smack in the center of Bohol to be precise.Can you believe it??? Just a short plane ride and you're transported to a completely different continent! I'm so glad Sheila happens to be a professional photographer because I don't think my point and shoot skills will do this hotel any justice. If you're looking for a quiet getaway, this should be on your list. I love the beach and I love busy destinations too--but there are times when I just want to zone out and purposefully do NOTHING and trust me, this is THE place to just DO NOTHING and have the time of your life. Well NOTHING actually a meant a whole lot of eating, spa-ing, swimming, and talking til 2AM.  It was "doing nothing" that definitely did "something" to our stressed and busy minds and bodies. Ok, I'm not making sense am I?  It's hard to put my finger on it really, it's almost like we were completely surrendered to the Peacock spell-- we never ever got bored and came home completely relaxed and fulfilled after our 3 day sojourn. 
This hotel is a shutterbug's dream. There are just so many pretty places in this sprawling property!
God was so good, he blessed us with crisp and perfect weather throughout our trip!
Just walking around their well manicured lawns or taking a dip in their infinity pool puts you in a complete zen mode. We decided to enjoy a little morning swim after breakfast :) Hayyyy girls, we have to go back and bring our husbands (uyyyy, nakikisama na ako!) to Peacock Garden! SOON.
The entire hotel features authentic antique pieces flown in from Europe. The German owner of this hotel is a passionate art and antiques collector---walking through the hallways feels like you're in an actual museum! I love how this hotel (although relatively new) allows you to step back in time. You don't have to travel and spend XXXX amount, if you can snag a piso fare--then you can easily jet to Tagbilaran and "travel" to Europe by booking a room at the Peacock Garden! 
The rooms are so luxuriously decorated, you'll be too lazy to leave! I see all the husbands having a light bulb moment! Hahaha :) If you want to keep your wife all to yourself for a weekend, this is where you should book a room!
The owners of Peacock Garden have got to be nicest couple EVER. Amanda and Chris are also tying the knot soon so we were able to bond about wedding joys (and nightmares) over dinner. They take pride in being very hands on in serving their customers and I have got to say we really felt so pampered throughout our stay! It's no wonder this hotel has won so many awards from various international travel sites.
I can't even begin to describe my love for these two girls, Stella and Sheila!!! They have been my source of inspiration and encouragement (especially in this very important season in my life!). 
If you google the Peacock Garden, chances are you'll find lots of enthusiastic reviews about their food. Their food alone is worth the trip! I gained 5 pounds (not even exaggerating here!) in 3 days! Not exactly a good idea for a bride-to-be, but I couldn't resist. A word of caution, the word DIET will magically disappear once you check in to this hotel. Stella will be blogging about the FOOD, so stay tuned for that. 
I want to say thank you to Jenny Casitas and Pevonia Botanica for arranging everything for me and my girlaloos. You are an angel to me!!:) I will be blogging about our SPAntastic (hahaha, I just had to do that!) experience on Thursday!
The three of us are still on a high from this Peacock Garden experience. I think we will have a very difficult time choosing our next girlaloo destination because they've set the bar pretty high! Our deepest thanks again to the gracious staff of Peacock Garden for being such wonderful hosts!:)
Photos by Sheila Juan-Catilo
For inquiries, simply visit their website www.thepeacockgarden.com

Thank you Baked Bites

Muchas Gracias to Bettina Carlos of Baked Bites for sending a whole kaboodle of goodies for me and my students!!!:) Here are some snapshots with my "kids". I learned so much from my students this semester!<3 I'm sure I will being seeing all of them on the telly soon!
Bettina has a whole list of items on the Baked Bites Facebook Page but if you ask me I LOOVVEEEEEE Bettina's Nutella Rocks!!!!!!! No wonder this is an award winner! I am crying just thinking about it now!!! I could finish a dozen in one sitting. It's the perfect ooey gooey treat especially when you're PMSing like mad.:) A close second would be her super yummy brownies and a tie would be the Red Velvet cupcakes. 

I met Bettinna Carlos when we were both working as hosts in Studio 23. She was a budding actress at the time who was also pursuing her studies simultaneously. She definitely had the looks and charisma to command attention but she always remained very grounded and sensible. Now a mother to her little munchkin, Gummy, and a business savvy baker, it's amazing to see her blossom into a full-fledged superwoman.  I asked her a bit about the Baked Bites history and here are some tidbits from her story.

How it all began
"The very first time I baked was in December of 2008. I got a baking book as a Birthday and Christmas present. The first item I made was a greek loaf bread. Praise God for a really good book, my first attempt was a success! So my whole baking was inspired by that single, simple dream of making my own bread from scratch. But it was only in 2011 that I finally made a business out of my baking. The whole period of December 2008-September 2011, I would consistently bake every week (often times everyday, the whole day when there’s a recipe I couldn’t perfect, I really wont stop until I get the result I want) and give it out to friends and family simply because I love feeding people. I get so much gratification from  seeing them devour something I made myself, and made with so much love.  When I get asked on my secret or secret recipe , I just say it’s love. It’s all the love that goes with everything I bake. The best part is knowing I get to spread love in tangible, edible ways"

Happy Accidents
"I have something I call a happy accident. For some reason I am just a blessed baker. I rarely flop in the kitchen (not to brag). Maybe I only fail once or twice at most. But there are times when I think I’m gonna fail, but it turns out to be just another happy accident – because if it weren’t for that tiny “slip,” my items wouldn’t have turned out the way they did. For instance, I was supposed to bake a thousand Nutella Rocks for an event and on that day my only scooper broke. But guess what? Because it broke, I found a faster, easier and better way of making my Nutella Rocks. I couldn’t be any happier that my unica hija scooper broke! Haha!"

Words of Sweet Wisdom
To those aspiring bakers, you don’t have to go to a culinary school to learn or to be good at baking (I myself never went to one). All you need is a bowl, a wooden spoon, an accurate weighing scale, a baking book, a strong PASSION for baking and a lot of PRAYER. It’s that passion that will move you to learn and create and be good at baking and it is God who will give you the grace and the energy to pursue what your heart desires. It is God who will keep you and your business going and growing. "

Call 0917 814 3711 for your orders!

It's Time to MOVE

We've been trying to find ways to consume less power and to have more energy efficient appliances for our new pad--it's good for the environment plus good for our pockets too. So just as I was plotting out our "monthly budget scheme", I received an email from the folks at Meralco asking me to check out their new app MOVE. It stands for MeralcO Virtual Engine. Basically, it's a free app suite which you can easily download from Apple AppStore, Google Play, and Blackberry App World. There are more details about it in their website www.meralco.com.ph. It's a way for you to monitor your electric consumption, prepare for power outages, find convenient ways to pay your bills, and other energy saving tips. I guess it's worth a try! Check out the details below. 
Seeing that most of its customers are often online, Meralco wanted to offer assistance right where they spend much of their time. The MOVE apps provide Meralco customers with different benefits to bring ease and convenience in managing their electricity concerns:
Apps that offer location help

a. Meralco Office Directory –You can find the nearest Meralco office in your area

b. Bayad Center – Find out where you can conveniently pay your Meralco bill

Apps for consumption control

a. Meralco Appliance Calculator- Easily compute the amount of electricity an appliance consumes

b. Bright Ideas – Learn better ways to use and save on electricity

Apps that help in planning ahead

a. Power Maintenance Schedule- Stay up to date on the power maintenance schedule in your area

b. E-Meralco bill –View your latest bill even when you’re on the go
This post is brought to you by Meralco. 



Lipat Bahay

Thank you Lord for a successful LBD!!! (Lipat Bahay Day) Our backs are aching but it's the good kind of pain because we accomplished a lot in one day. I'm so proud of me and Patrick! Well, it's not like we have a LOT of stuff--we only have the basics, BUT STILL!!! It's still a major achievement for us :) Our twitter feed was flooded with messages from friends (and also blog readers), I loved how everyone was "cheering" for us as if we were about to run a marathon!



I never understood what the fuss was all about but now I totally understand that moving out of your parent's home and moving into your own place (no matter how small) is such a BIG DEAL. Truth be told, I love, love,love living with my parents and I understand why some couples choose to live with their parents even if they're married. Save for those awkward moments when they're lovey dovey in front of me (criiiinge), generally I really enjoy being "housemates" with my folks because they really are my best friends. My mom and dad are not exactly perfect, we've had our differences--especially when I was a stubborn teenager. But I grew up in a very happy home and so leaving was never something I looked forward to, it was something I knew I had to do..but never really thought of doing soon.
And I love our drivers and household help too. Ate Este and Ate Marina have been with us since panahon pa ng mga Hapon (hahaha) so they are practically family to me. They're two moody (but in an endearing way) senior citizens who we joke are the "senoritas" in our house. They just lounge around and watch telenovelas all day and I normally spend lunch chit chatting about celebrity chismis with them. My favorite (evil) hobby is sneaking up behind them and giving them GULAT attacks! Syempre may hampas-hampas sa kin ang mga yun "Ay naku, aatakihin na ako sa yo!" which totally cracks me up! But now that they're getting older, I think I shouldn't be doing that anymore. Noted. Hahaha. Here they are helping me carry all my stuff into the movers' truck. 
Lipat Bahay Day was an emotional rollercoaster for me. Half of me was sad to leave my parent's home..but the other half was completely ecstatic about the big life change. Of course it's ten times more complicated with more factors to consider--but it's almost like how you feel when you graduate from college, may halong lungkot dahil maghihiwalay na kayo ng mga kabarkada mo, may takot dahil hindi mo alam kung ano ang gagawin mo sa buhay..but at the same time, there's that sense of fulfillment knowing that you're done with a phase in your life and ready to face a new one head on. 
Despite the erratic weather, we were able to move all our stuff with ease. Patrick's handyman skills were put to the test as he had to assemble all the gadgets and home appliances--I, well, uhmmmm..I offered emotional support! 

Plus we managed to do an art project! We're just halfway done--MEDYO mahirap pala siya! Harder than I envisioned it--so it'll probably take longer than expected. As you can see we are a generally DIY couple because we want to cut costs as much as possible but our legs and backs were starting to ache and all I could think of was "I give up on the DIY! Gusto ko na ng DIFM! DO IT FOR ME!!!" Muscle pains aside, DIY activities are so much fun and a great way to practice working together as a team. Hahaha!:) Pat's folks just planned to drop by for a few minutes but ended up staying to help us with our ambitious project. Thanks to Pat's dad who stayed all day to work on it with us and to Pat's mom for bringing us Pizza. Next project: PLANTS c/o my dad who is a lawyer by day and "The Plant Whisperer" by night. HAHAHAHA!
Our little love nest is still a work in progress but I'm happy to report that it already feels like home :) We still need to save up for a TV so for now titigan contest nalang daw kami ni Pat. We have a few weeks to go before we move into our pad as husband and wife. I can't wait!!!!

Fashion Friday: Pastel Perfect

David Cleveland

Dresses from Shopbop





Bridal Shower#3 with my High School Friends

Thank you so much Eunice, Daisy, Lar and Tin for this small and meaningful get together at The Pen. They even gave me a BRIDE TO BE sash with a matching tiara and they all wore sashes too!We wore it around the hotel the entire time and got a lot of curious stares. They probably thought we were Ms Earth delegates---NAKKKS!!FEELING!!!!! Thank you also to Tin for making such a pretty wedding dress inspired cake and cake pops too! And also to the staff of The Peninsula for surprising me with a personalized cake :) :) Awwww, group hugggg! I love my friends!!! 
Oh and thank you to my darling Patrick who has been dropping me off and picking me up from all these bridal showers and get togethers with my girlfriends. He's been such a considerate and hands on groom--dealing with all the nitty gritty details like going to the bank to pay bills, dealing with home repairs, talking to suppliers just so I won't have to stress about these things :) I guess he's just making sure I spend all the happy-happy-joy-joy time with my friends so I won't go Bridezilla on him. Matalinong bata! Hahahaha!:)

Registry Tips from MUJI

Hey folks! For this week's Wedding Wednesday, it's time for us to check out some practical tips about GIFT REGISTRIES. I've been on both sides of the fence, as both a clueless gift giver and now as a hopeful recipient. It's tricky working with registries but if you get the hang of it, it can really prove to be a life saver! For guests, it narrows down your options and gives you that comfort of knowing that what you're getting is something that the couple really wants. It puts your hard-earned money to good use! As a recipient, having a registry gives you an opportunity to actually amass the items you've always been drooling over! Speaking of drooling, my heart always skips a beat when I hear the word MUJI. Hayyy, kiligggg. The folks at Muji were kind enough to share some tips with me via email, so I thought it would be nice to share it with you all today!
As registrants:
1) Review your lifestyle. This will help you assess your needs and your future living situation as a couple. You may want to bring your own oven toaster and his protein-shake blender when you move into your first humble abode. This way, you can identify the items that you will include in your registry wisely. Choose the items that you want and will surely use.

Remember that your lifestyle may not suddenly change after the ceremony. It takes time to get a hang of a new routine, so restrain yourself from the impulse decision to take cooking lessons if you are unsure whether you have the time to spend in the kitchen and use your new tools.

2) Housekeeping tools are valuable. Oftentimes, couples are caught up with the idea that furniture and kitchenware should top their wish lists. Never neglect the importance of housekeeping tools. Include a sturdy sweeper, an absorbent mop, a combo of pail and dipper, ironing board, storage bins, hangers and more. They may not be fancy gift preferences, but they are the basic and most functional items you could choose. As your weapons against dirt, dust and grime, they still deserve attention and value to serve you for a long time.

3) Think about your guests. Proper registry etiquette encourages early registration to give your guests time to find, decide and shop gifts for you so you may also update or revise your wish list with small details. Your guests are willing to help you start your married life the right away but avoid being too presumptuous. Try to select various items with different price points. Keep in mind that your guests will also work on a certain budget for you, so it’s important that your gift wish list has a wide price range for them to choose from.

Do not forget to send thank-you notes upon receiving the gifts. To free you from rushed, after-wedding duties, make sure you send them a few days after delivery. Do not wait for the wedding to finish before you and your partner begin to recall who gave which item. However, do not open them yet until after the event.

As guests:

1) Be open to gift suggestions. The wish list is your guide on what the couple needs and prefers. This actually spares you the trouble of worrying whether your gift will be appropriate, useful and appreciated. Buying something off the list is not obligatory. It should be a reference of what the couple wants to receive. You may explore other gift ideas and play with a more creative presentation or add a personal touch to make the gift more meaningful.

2) Remember that it’s the thought that counts. Whether you are going to save or splurge, the value of the item on the list should not be a concern. These items have been pre-selected already. Therefore, they will surely land in the hands of happy and appreciative owners.

3) Be informed. Ask the registry specialists for more details about the registrant’s wish list and the registry mechanics. Watch out for current promos and discount perks that come with the registry. Also, you may want to clarify delivery and shipping charges if you don’t want to worry about forgetting your gift at home. While gift wrapping appears to be a perk, some stores charge a little extra for packaging, so do not hesitate to ask for these minute information.

Creating a gift registry is no longer a wedding trend. It has become a necessity to rid the couple additional stress of starting anew and furnishing their future home. It serves as a bridge between the couple and their guests to make gift-giving an easy and no-fail experience. This lessens the stress for both parties plus it saves time in making wedding plans and decisions. The entire experience has to be enjoyable and pleasant to everyone.

After all, the wedding marks the beginning of a happy ending.

This October, Japanese lifestyle brand MUJI officially launches its Gift Registry service to create and celebrate memorable moments with its customers. Individuals and couples can sign up and select Muji items that they wish to receive from their guests. This service eliminates worries and jitters from planning an event while removing the stress for the guests to think of gifts to give. The Muji Gift Registry ensures that what your family and friends will receive are gifts that they would find useful, functional and of course, appreciated. 

Visit any Muji store to avail of this new service. Upon registration and gift selection, customers are entitled to receive announcement cards that they may insert in their guests’ invitations. Muji also offers a 10% discount on selected Household items and Luggage for the guests who will buy the items included in their friend’s wish list. 

Text and Images from MUJI Philippines.

My Vintage Kitchen Bridal Shower

Yesterday I had my second bridal shower, this time c/o the siblings and best friends of Patrick. I've grown to love these sweet ladies from Pat's side. I'm so glad I was able to develop genuine friendships  in the past two years. In fact, I think they're closer to me now than they are with Patrick! Hahaha! I snatched them away from him. :) I have to extend my deepest thanks to Patrick's "sisters" Cecil and Dani, my two dear girlfriends who planned every little detail--from the aprons, to the recipes, to the giveaways, to the food! And take note, these two girls were VERY much pregnant while they were planning this for me. And thanks also to Tita Lorna, our painfully thoughtful Ninang, who was such a gracious host for the evening. I'm a happy recipient of your kindness!

I absolutely loved my Pots and Pans cake by Coco Cakes! Thank you Michelle for preparing all the cupcakes and cake pops too :) Inspired by MY inner Nigella Lawson DAW ang cake. Kailangan ko daw mag-blowdry at pakulot just to scramble an egg in my most seductive British goddess way. Hahaha! Michelle is an octopus working on several projects simultaneously so I'm really touched that she squeezed this in just for me :)

I loved all the pretty girly details!!! Cecil and Dani know my taste so well!I'm so happy they made the effort to decorate Tita's condo just to make me feel extra special. Thanks also to Sam and Denise who  came extra early just to help set up all the decors and props! These Tabuena girls are so creative! :) 
And yes, Cecil just gave birth a few weeks ago---and she looks like THIS. Sadly, hindi nabibili ang mommy glow. @#$%&* And she had a completely natural delivery--with no medication! SUPERWOMAN! Don't you just hate her for bouncing back so quickly?!!? She's my IDOL!:)

The sisters-in-law tandem of Marge and Anne organized a series of fun kitchen themed games! It was so nice to see everyone so game and willing--no KJs in the group :) Aside from my friends, I'm so glad my cousin Astrid joined us! She's technically my ONLY Laurel family member here in Manila. All our cousins are scattered across Europe and US. 

With my BFF/Mom Leah, my soon to be mom-in-law Rina, and our Ninang Lorna who organized this whole shower for me.

And the big HIGHLIGHT!!! Bulaga!! It's my fiance! I had to play a video guessing game with Patrick. Basically they asked Patrick 15 questions and I had to guess his answers. The goal was to match our answers to see how well we know each other--it was actually quite stressful!Haha! But guess what I got 12 out of 15! Not bad!:) I only had to stuff my mouth with 3 marshmallows (one for each wrong answer). They asked him who my celebrity crush was and he answered SNOOP DOGG. ANOOO BAAAA TSONG. I love Snoop Dogg and I think he's the coolest, but come on?!?!
Our "work in progress" kitchen is now fully stocked thanks to my thoughtful girlfriends. PLUS, they each wrote down their favorite recipe and placed it in a special box. How sweet!:) Now I really have to learn how to cook, no more excuses!:) Wala bang skyflakes and cheese pimiento spread recipe dyan? How about cup noodles? Awwwww maaaaaannnnn!!!!
I'm all set!I've got the tools---now all I need are the SKILLZZZ! Good luck to ME! Lord, please help me feed my MAN!!! I hope we don't starve to death on our first year. Haha :) "Newlyweds found dead in their apartment. Cause of death: GUTOMITITIS"
With Patrick's childhood besties Lea, Dee, and Bernice. The girls who have put up with the "Bubble Boy" for two decades! I don't know how you managed. Just thinking about those bubbles---eeekkk--cringe. Mwahahaha :) I used to look up to these girls when I was a bubwit in gradeschool--look at me now! Hanging out with the higher batch kids naaaaaa! *pops collar* Oh yeah :)
Who needs a stripper when you have a hot fiance with six pack abs and a red speedo?!? Thank you Sam and Dani for these sexaaaayyyy aprons! Pat's "package" actually had a package. It was really stuffed. So funny! Hanky Panky in the kitchen?! Hahaha!:) 
Group photo! We're missing Michelle, Tintin and Astrid here! 
To all my dear friends who celebrated with me last night, THANK YOU!!! Thanks for your thoughtful gifts and sweet messages. I'm thinking of moving our wedding date to next year because I'm enjoying this bride phase too much! I am spoiled with so much love and affection :) I think I have reached my "THANK YOU" quota because everyone around us have been so generous to us! Thank you Lord for surrounding me with this truly amazing group of women. Napasaya niyo ako ng sobra-sobra. Maraming Salamat sa inyong pagmamahal!!!:)
 

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