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How's Your Halloween?

When I was a kid, Halloween was a holiday that was largely unheard of in this country, or at least in the province where I live. I've only seen Halloween celebrations through cartoons and American TV shows, and have always thought how cool it was to be dressing up in fancy costumes and getting candies and chocolates in return.

Fast forward to more than twenty years later, Halloween has become an annual tradition in the Philippines, with parties and events to celebrate the spooks. Although I must admit, this holiday has become a tad too commercialized, and even I have fallen prey to it - lol.

For years, we'd celebrate Halloween by dressing up my son in a costume and taking him to the mall for some trick-or-treat-ing. Here are Yue's costumes through the years:
Halloween 2010.
Yue's first-ever Halloween costume (2010) was a pumpkin. He didn't go trick-or-treat-ing at the mall (he was only two years old then and I thought he would be too young to be doing so), but we did shower him with candies at home.
Halloween 2011.
The following year (2011), we went all-out with his costume and props, and he even entered a costume contest at the mall. His dinosaur get-up won him second place in the Cutest Costume category, by the way. :)
Halloween 2012.
2012 was a tough year for us. Yue got sick several times that year, and was hospitalized thrice between the months of October and November. But he was healthy and well come Halloween, and he dressed up as a Korean prince for the occasion.
Halloween 2014.
We skipped the Halloween festivities in 2013 because we had to attend my godson's birthday party that year. The following year (2014), Yue was back in the game and dressed up as a ninja, a costume that he chose for himself.
Halloween 2015.
In 2015, he went trick-or-treat-ing as Buzz Lightyear. But I'll let you in on a secret... he's not really wearing a costume. Those are PJs, actually, but Yue insisted on wearing them as his 'costume' anyway.
Halloween 2016.
It seemed like we saved the best for last in 2016. Yue dressed up as Darth Vader that year, which would turn out to be his last costume, at least for now. He refuses to wear a costume nowadays, but he still finds joy in trick-or-treating. After all, who would refuse free chocolates and candy?
What diet? Lol!
I was thinking of dressing him up as Finn Balor this year...
Demon King Finn Balor
Should I try this on my baby nephew instead? :)

So how about you, how's your Halloween? I hope your kids had a blast and got tons of candies!


Seoul Searching | Seoul Grand Park Rose Festival.

Although Yue and I have not had the opportunity (at least not yet) to witness cherry blossoms in full bloom or experience Cherry Blossom Festivals in any of our previous trips to Korea, we've been lucky enough to chance upon the Rose Festival in Seoul for two years running.
The 2018 Seoul Grand Park Rose Festival.
Last year, we joined in the revelry of the Rose Festival held in Jungnang-gu. This year, we went all the way to Gwacheon to catch the last few days of the Seoul Grand Park Rose Festival.
The Botanical Garden is at the right side of the Seoul Grand Park. 
Roses in full bloom after the jump! :)


Spotlight | Bubi Bubi Lip Bubble Lip Scrub.

Several weeks ago, Althea had a special offer where you can get a free item with every purchase made at their website. One of the items that they were giving away for free was a lip scrub - the Bubi Bubi Lip, to be exact - and I added it to cart with Yue in mind.
Bubi Bubi Lip Bubble Lip Scrub.
You see, my son has perennially parched lips which needs to be exfoliated regularly and moisturized as needed so that they won't crack or chap. Thus, I'm always on the look out for good lip scrubs (and lip balms, too) and based on the feedback that I've read and heard about the Bubi Bubi Lip, this product seems to fit the bill.
Brief product description on the box's side panel.
Hangul text at the back of the box.
 A bubble-type lip scrub, the Bubi Bubi Lip gently whisks away flaky dead skin and removes residue to reveal softer, smoother, healthy-looking lips.This microbead-free exfoliant is made with natural, fruit-based ingredients such as witch hazel and papaya extracts for easy exfoliation, peach extract to make your lips soft and smooth, and grapefruit extract to keep your lips moisturized and healthy-looking.
Unboxing the product.
The Bubi Bubi Lip comes in a handy 12 mL pump bottle. Although there's nothing much to the packaging - it's pink, it's made of plastic, it easily fits my makeup pouch - I find it cute, to be honest. Must be the gradient color and the eye-catching font.
The bottle is this big (small).
To use, simply pump a generous amount of product on your finger and apply it on your lips. The product has a creamy consistency with a subtle, fruity scent.
The pump.
Wait for it to form bubbles and let it sit on your lips for at least five minutes. You'll feel a tingling sensation as the product starts to fizzle.
A pump and a half of the lip scrub.
Once the bubbles have 'died down', gently rub your lips in circular motions before wiping or rinsing the product off. Be careful not to ingest the product - it tastes awfully bitter. 
Spreading the product across the back of my hand.
Here's how the Bubi Bubi Lip worked for Yue lips. I've also tried it for myself, but you'll see far more amazing results with my son's dry lips.
Yue's lips which are dry as the desert.
The Bubi Bubi Lip, a few seconds after application.
Behold, the bubbles!
Hello, soft, smooth, and healthy-looking lips! :)
Needless to say, this product really works! It does a great job of exfoliating the lips and making your kisser soft, smooth, and plump. The bubbles make it such a fun product to use, but do keep in mind that this product also contains CAPB (Cocoamidopropyl Betaine), a foam-boosting ingredient whose safety for use in skincare product has been the subject of debate among skin and beauty experts. Thankfully, neither Yue nor I had adverse reactions with this ingredient, but I suggest you do a patch test before using this product.

The Bubi Bubi Lip is currently in stock at Althea and retails for Php 470 a pop. If you're shopping at Althea for the first time, you can get 20% off your purchase with my referral code. You're welcome! :)


5 Creative Gift Hacks for the Christmas Season.

Christmas is just right around the corner, and the season of readying presents, prepping feasts, planning reunions, and practicing holiday traditions have already started. You might even be worrying about finding unique presents as early as now, but there’s no need to fret since we’ve got some smart hacks for you!
Christmas shopping made easy. 
1. Online Shopping – easy, accessible, and hassle-free!
You don’t actually have to go out of the house to shop anymore. Just fire up your laptop or smartphone to go online, and you’ll find tons of online shopping sites just waiting for you to add items to your cart. What are you waiting for? Search for the product you want to buy, and have it delivered straight to your doorstep. It’s definitely easy and convenient! Just make sure to purchase from reliable websites, and you’re good to go!

2. Hit the malls and be one with the holiday crowd.
You can always go back to the good ‘ol mall sales. With prices dropping up to 50% off and buy-one-take-one deals popping everywhere, malls are the main go-to for holiday shoppers. If you’re willing to dive in with the crowd during this busy season, you can purchase great finds in various malls.

However, you have to be wise in managing your time when you choose to deal with the Christmas crowd. Prepare the list of items you want to buy, or names of people you want to shop for, to save your time. When visiting malls, you really have to stick to your list to avoid lavish spending.
Photo credit: Smart Parenting.
3. Garage sales and Bazaars - a nifty way to get great steals!
A wise man once said, “One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure.” Well technically, it’s not really garbage - some items and clothes in garage sales are just barely used, and are actually still in perfectly good condition. With a little bit of cleaning and washing especially with a premium detergent’s superior cleaning formula, it can be worth way more than what you paid for.

Bazaars, on the other hand, can be handy as well. They sell a wide range of exciting things from clothes to socks, scarves, caps, shoes, accessories, and many more. There are a lot of bazaar set-ups lining up in malls once the “ber” months hit, so you’ll surely have no problem spotting one!

4. Go Treasure-hunting with Ukay-Ukay.
When it comes to hunting down unique finds, ukay-ukays or thrift shops are the most common go-to shopping spree spots for Filipinos. You can find fashionable and branded pieces here that can definitely work well as gifts! Nowadays, there are many bloggers and vloggers you can get inspiration from when it comes to styling clothes from thrift shops. You can simply watch their ukay hauls and vlogs to get an idea on where to get great finds and what pieces to match it with.

When buying from ukay-ukay stores, it’s important to make sure that the items you bought are clean and fresh before giving them away. Quality is of utmost importance, and it’s a good thing a little bit of laundry washing can go a long way. You can always use a great detergent like Ariel to wash away the stains - even those pesky invisible kulob stains! Those ukay-ukay steals should be clean, kulob-free, and in good shape.
Naeil Cantabile, 2014.
5. Don’t have time to buy? No problem! Raid your closet.
There’s no excuse for not giving anyone a gift when you have pre-loved clothes and accessories living in your closet. Look for tops or pieces you’ve only worn once or never even used before that will be perfect for other people. This will not only let you save money, but it will also make room for new items in your closet! Say goodbye to your old clothes, and say hello to the new ones to come!

Of course by doing this, you need to make sure that the fashion items you’re giving away smell fresh and kulob-free! You might not notice, but there can be invisible stains lingering on your clothes that cause that awful kulob smell. There’s no need to worry though, as long as you get to wash them with a detergent that can go for deep and superior cleaning. Give it a shot with Ariel, with intensive cleaning that can remove even those invisible kulob stains with just one wash.

This can definitely turn your clothes from closet stuffing to an actual gift that looks brand new! Your friends and family won’t even notice, especially when the gift is finished off with a nice packaging then — Voilà! You have yourself the perfect well-thought of gift for your friends and loved ones!

Kulob is an awful smell that is common during the rainy season. Did you know that it is actually caused by invisible stains that cannot be removed by ordinary detergents? Kulob is a stain you can’t actually see, but you can definitely smell. It’s caused by ineffective cleaning of leftover dirt and sebum stains, and these stains go through the process of oxidation, leading to microorganism activity the gives out a rancid odor.
What's your Kulob Story?
Thankfully, there’s a detergent that can effectively combat the awful smell of kulob — Ariel’s deep cleaning formulation, which intensively cleans clothes and washes off invisible kulob stains and malodor-causing bacteria.

Need more proof?
Watch this video to find out more about invisible kulob stains through this link:


Fabric Lounges vs. Leather Lounges – 5 Advantages of Each.

The sofa — probably the most important part in your living room. This is the first piece of furniture your family and your guests sees once they enter your home – the focal point, the one furniture that commands the attention of people without the help a hullabaloo of trinkets.

Because it is such an important design decision to make, you’ll need to start weighing the pros and cons: what kinds of sofa should you pick, fabric lounges or leather lounges? Let’s find out the advantages of each one.

Benefits of Fabric Lounges
Between leather and fabric, the latter has broader options than the former because there are just so many types of fabric to choose from. But generally, here are the advantages of choosing fabric lounges.
Fabric lounge.
Depending on the fabric you have chosen, the comfortability of fabric is above that of leather. The main reason is because the material is softer and is appropriate for any weather. Leather tends to absorb heat faster than fabric, which is why car seats are wholly uncomfortable to sit on during the summer. Leather tends to have a harder surface while the soft material of the fabric already means that they are more pliable. However, do note that a fabric lounge must still keep its shape and not sag when you sit on it for long period of time.

Different fabrics have different responses to wear and tear. Generally speaking though, fabric is much easier to maintain assuming the lounge is made with high quality materials. Fabric used for the lounges are mostly stain-resistant which makes cleaning spills trouble-free. You may use a handheld steam cleaner or special fabric cleaning products which are widely available in the supermarket at an affordable price.

In addition, if you have pets at home, you would be happy to know that fabric can handle scratches better than leather lounges. A good quality fabric lounge will not be prone to loose threads when pets scratch on them. However, do note that it is a different story with fur. You can expect them to collect on fabric, but you can just easily vacuum them.

Design options
While leather comes in various colours, it is with fabric where you can truly be creative with pattern, colour, and texture. You will not have problems mixing and matching with your overall decor and style when you choose fabric lounges. For instance, fabric lounges suites + grey modular lounge can definitely give a chic, sophisticated vibe to a room. So stick to neutral shades like blue grey, off-white, black, and so on. Just browse through these Domayne lounges so you can choose whatever style of fabric that represents your family's personality.

In terms of pricing, fabric and leather lounges do not have such a huge gap. However, between the two, leather is usually pricier than the best quality fabric lounge. If you are on a budget, fabric lounges may be the best choice. Even the upkeep is more affordable with fabric since the cleaning products are available in any local market.
Leather lounge.
Benefits of Leather Lounges
Of course, the reasons enumerated above doesn’t necessarily mean fabric lounges are the must-have piece in your home. If you are still considering to buy leather lounges, these are some of the primary reasons why.

Leather lounges are the perfect choice when choosing furniture for people with allergies. Unlike fabric, leather does not collect dust and pet dander, you will not have any problems with dust mites and fur, as well as other allergens that may cause serious respiratory problems.

There is a level elegance only leather can bring into a room that fabric cannot deliver. When it comes to fabric, its various styles and colours adds a more contemporary, casual vibe into your home. However, leather lends a sleeker and sophisticated air that makes a room look like a penthouse dream – just like this Coari 3-seater leather lounge from Domayne.

The biggest advantage of leather is the ease of cleaning it versus fabric. All it needs is some light dusting or rubbing at least three times a week, whereas fabric needs to be cleaned and vacuumed regularly. However, while it is easy to clean leather lounges, you must consistently condition it so you can prevent splits and cracks.

Leather can last for decades if given the proper care. Fabric lounges may also afford the same longevity, but it will all depend on the type of fabric you have chosen. For leather, just as long as conditioning and cleaning is consistent, you won't need to worry about buying a replacement lounge. In addition, the colours on leather do not fade out, unlike fabrics. You might see a slight sheen with leather, but there is no risk of fading over the years.

Assuming you were able to buy an authentic material, leather lounges are a good investment. While it is still the pricier option versus fabric lounges, it won't be another five or even ten years before you need to buy a replacement for it. Both fabric and leather lounges have advantages and disadvantages. Your choice will boil down to comfortability, longevity, and budget. Choose what will fit your home’s overall design and which one the whole family prefers to have.


Spotlight | Mamonde Flower Toner Series (Rose Water Toner + Aqua Peel Toner).

If you're into Korean cosmetics and beauty products, then you've probably heard of Mamonde's Rose Water Toner. It's one of the brand's bestsellers, and a cult favorite among K-beauty fans. Mamonde banked on this popularity and launched the Flower Toner series - a collection of flower-infused and nature-inspired toners for every skincare need.
Mamonde Flower Toner series.
L-R: Flower Honey Toner (dehydrated skin), Chamomile Pure Toner (sensitive skin) Rose Water Toner (all skin types), Aqua Peel Toner (dull, combination skin), Pore Clean Toner (oily skin).
These toners went on a 1+1 sale (that's 'buy one, get one' in layman's terms) while I was in Korea last June, and so I took this chance to buy two new toners for 15000 won (around $13 or Php 700), the price of one. Of course, I purchased the cult classic Rose Water Toner and paired it with the Aqua Peel Toner, upon recommendation of the staff at the Mamonde store in Myeongdong.
Mamonde Aqua Peel Toner and Rose Water Toner.
The Mamonde Rose Water Toner has recently been reformulated and now contains 90.97% rose water (previously, it was just 90.89%). It's made with Damask roses which grow in Bulgaria, and are said to be the most fragrant of all roses.
Mamonde Rose Water Toner.
Aside from its scent, the Damask rose is also known for its soothing and moisturizing properties, earning it the title of 'Queen of All Roses'. And true enough, you get a surge of moisture after applying this product on your skin.
Hangul text written at the back of the bottle.
The Mamonde Rose Water Toner has a light, watery consistency which absorbs into the skin immediately. It does not sting, nor does it leave the skin with a greasy feel. In addition, its mild and gentle '7-free formulation(meaning this product is free from harmful ingredients such as mineral oil, silicone oil, animal ingredients, polyacrylamide, imidazolidinyl urea, triethanoamine, and synthetic pigments) makes this product safe and suitable for all skin types.
Shelf life of almost three years.
I've been using this as my morning toner for the past two months and I love how my skin feels soft and plump after patting this on to my face. (Yes, pat it, don't rub it. Patting is less damaging to the skin, plus it increases the absorption and effectiveness of the products, and stimulates healthy blood flow.) I also love its refreshing rose scent - it's the kind of scent that 'picks you up' and lifts your mood.
Mamonde Aqua Peel Toner.
The Mamonde Aqua Peel Toner, on the other hand, is a refreshing peeling toner that wipes away dead skin cells to smoothen and moisturize the skin. It boasts of its '2-step peeling formula' using apricot enzymes - first, it 'soaks' dead skin cells, then the enzymes from the apricot plant help with 'skin turn-over' to effectively remove the dead skin cells for clearer-looking skin.
Hangul text written at the back of the bottle.
The Mamonde Aqua Peel Toner also has an AHA component to mildly exfoliate the skin and prevent built-up of dead skin cells. Its plum blossom component, on the other hand, delivers rich nourishment and moisture to exfoliated skin to keep the skin hydrated. And then there's the plum fruit extract component, which repairs the skin's natural barriers and helps improve skin elasticity.

Like the Rose Water Toner, the Aqua Peel Toner is free from animal ingredients, mineral oil, synthetic pigments, and triethanolamine. Its consistency is also light, watery, and easily absorbed by the skin.
Also has a shelf life of almost three years.
I was initially worried that my skin would react negatively to this aqua peeling stuff (my skin is quite erratic and tends to be extra sensitive whenever I'm about to have my period), but the store attendant assured me that this product is gentle on the skin. Glad to know she was right!

I've been using this as my nighttime toner for almost two months now (using it alternately with the COSRx Galactomyces Alcohol-free Toner) and I've never had issues with it. No breakouts whatsoever. It doesn't sting nor does it leave the skin feeling tight and dry. It does its job of hydrating the skin and it even helps minimize the appearance of pores on my nose - not that they're very prominent. As for the scent, this toner has a light, floral fruity fragrance which reminds me of Baby Tous, one of my favorite colognes of all time.
A toner for every skincare need. :)
Since both toners work nicely on my skin, I reckon I'll be buying more of these in the future. Hopefully, they'll go on sale again on my next Korea trip so I can buy more for less. If not, well, I can easily purchase them at Althea, where they're sold at a very reasonable price. :)


Spotlight | Skin & Lab White Vita-C Essence.

It hasn't been long since I incorporated essences(s) in my skincare routine. I discovered them a little over a year ago, starting with the Galactomyces 95 Whitening Power Essence from COSRX, and I have been obsessed with essences - and the wonderful things that they do for your skin - ever since.

If you remember my blog post about my first-ever Althea haul, the product that I was most excited about was the Skin & Lab White Vita-C Essence. I have read tons of positive reviews about this product, which was one of the reasons why I wanted to give it a try.
Skin & Lab Dr. Vita Clinic White Vita-C Essence, Php 730 at the Althea website.
Althea likens this product to 'a big, refreshing glass of orange juice for the skin'. And we all know that orange juice is one of the richest sources of vitamin C, which is an anti-oxidant and detoxifying agent that prevents and neutralizes free radicals from causing damage to our body.

The Skin & Lab White Vita-C Essence contains Ethyl Ascorbyl Ether, a more stabilized form of vitamin C. And with its higher concentration of vitamin C, this product not only effectively brightens the skin and reduces dark spots, but also strengthens the skin and stimulates collagen production.
Brighter and smoother skin, why not? :)
This essence also contains green tea seed oil, which is also rich in vitamin C; sea buckthorn oil, which helps slow down the signs of aging by nourishing the tissues in the skin; spider silk protein which retains skin moisture and makes the skin softer and smoother; and arginine/lysine polypeptide which acts like an elixir for skin health.
Product description + usage instructions.
The product comes in a pump bottle made of frosted glass, and based on my research, vitamin-C skincare products are typically packaged as such to to keep them from degrading or losing efficacy. Although the glass bottle isn't very travel-friendly, at least I know that this product is packaged appropriately.
Comes in a 50 mL frosted glass bottle.
And a pump inside.
This essence has a light, watery consistency which makes it super easy for the skin to absorb. It neither feels heavy nor sticky on the skin, and it doesn't make your face shiny or greasy after application. I especially love its invigorating, citrus-y scent - reminds me of fresh orange juice that my husband used to make.
You get this much product with just one pump.
I've been using this essence for more than two months now, applying it in the morning after patting my face with toner and before slathering my face with an SPF30/PA++ day cream. It is imperative that you wear sunscreen, as skincare products infused with vitamin C make your skin more sensitive to the sun. If you're worried about sun damage or if you think your sunscreen isn't potent enough against the harmful rays of the sun, then you can opt to use this essence at night. As for me, I prefer taking my daily dose of vitamin C in the morning, whether it's an oral health supplement, or a skincare product.
Confidently bare-faced, thanks to Skin & Lab White Vita-C Essence.
And so far, this essence has kept its promise of 'brighter and smoother skin'. I've noticed that my skin has become softer and smoother over time, and the blotchy, uneven patches around my cheekbones are no longer visible. I love the 'chok chok effect' (aka dewy, bouncy, glowing skin) that I'm getting from this product, and from the looks of it, I'll be using this essence down to the very last drop!