Chaine des Rotisseurs Austro-Hungarian Dinner

For this year’s Induction dinner, the Chaine des Rotisseurs will be having an Austro-Hungarian theme to be executed by Diamond Hotel’s Executive Chef and Chaine member Marko Rankel. Although he is German and not Austrian, he did extensive research on the favorite dishes of Emperor of Austria and Apostolic King of Hungary Franz Joseph and his beautiful Empress Elisabeth – dubbed “the loveliest woman in Europe.”


Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elisabeth

Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elisabeth

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Lucky Dots

New year has come and gone, but who says we have to put away the lucky polka dots? (Yes, I follow the very “tita” tradition of wearing this coin-shaped print to ensure prosperity for the upcoming year—doesn’t hurt, right?) I absolutely adore this whimsical print and it’s fun to wear on its own, or mixed with stripes or florals for a playful twist. Here are some polka dot pieces I’m loving now (plus a striped and floral piece for good measure):


lucky dots


Clockwise from top left:

Floral scarf from Uniqlo

Polka-dot skater dress from Topshop (hurry, now on sale!)

Striped boatneck tee by H&M

This chic polka dot clutch is actually a pencil case! Gold dots pencil pouch (includes plastic ruler, 2 pencils, gold metal sharpener, and eraser) by Kate Spade (P1715), available at select National Bookstore and PowerBooks branches

Dot-print shorts by Marimekko for Banana Republic (oops, this one is from last year)

Mint polka dot slip-ons with pink accent by Puma (P2150)

Do optical illusion dots count? “Charlie” woven purse with gold chain by Aranaz


A little late (sorry, I was hibernating–and then glued to the TV for the Pope Francis coverage), but here’s wishing you a happy new year full of wonder, love, and good fortune!

Don Andres – A Peruvian Kitchen

There are already a couple of Latin American restaurants in Manila but the Happy Lab gang is fortunate in that one of them just opened a mere five-minute walk from our office.

Don Andres used to be located on Scout Tobias but has now moved to a bigger location on Sgt. Esguerra St. (Bohol Ave.). The kitchen is run by Chef Luis Higa, a Peruvian national of Japanese descent. The front of the house is managed by his Filipina wife Candy. The restaurant is named after the youngest sibling of Chef Luis. Their family also runs a Don Andres restaurant in Peru.

Don Andres - A Peruvian Kitchen

Don Andres – A Peruvian Kitchen

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Marks and Spencer Cheers and Jeers

First of all a Happy New Year to all our readers! May the New Year bring you peace, prosperity and all good things!

Every year, around Christmas time, I eagerly peruse Marks and Spencer’s food selections as I look forward to their excellent fruitcake and Christmas pudding. Fruitcake is a running gag every Christmas but I’m one of those who happen to enjoy it and look forward to it so if there’s anyone out there who received fruitcake and doesn’t want it, you can send it to me. When I was growing up, our family could count on receiving a couple of fruitcakes for Christmas but lately, it seems to have fallen out of fashion to give them as gifts so some years, I have to buy them for myself.

Marks and Spencer Intensely Fruity Christmas Pudding

Marks and Spencer Intensely Fruity Christmas Pudding

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Sticky Residue Remover

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! Here’s my belated Boxing Day post :)

This year, my in-laws gifted me with a lovely robin’s egg blue dinnerware set from Crate & Barrel, which I was excited to use right away. When I proceeded to remove the store stickers underneath each plate, of course I discovered that the stickers were the frustrating kind that don’t come off neatly in one go (don’t you just hate that?). Uh-oh, OC mode on!

Good thing my friend Christine Dychiao introduced me to Grandma’s Secret Goo Remover several months ago (more on that here), and this nifty little OC helper now sits right next to the kitchen sink, ready to use whenever I encounter stubborn goo that refuses to come off. Just a little squirt on the sticky surface, a few swipes with a damp cloth, and the annoying residue that usually takes forever to scrub off is gone in seconds. Grandma (whoever you are), I love you!

Crate & Barrel

Grandma’s Secret Goo Remover to the rescue! P.S. I love how my new plates coordinate with the blue sakura blooms on my existing set, so I can mix and match my dinnerware!


Grandma’s Secret is available at, Sesou Nature Source stores, Nurture Nook in Bel-Air Makati, Baby & Beyond in San Juan, Modern Mama Cebu, and Chimes Davao.

Happy Christmas!


So what wonders did you find under your tree?

This Christmas, our happy place is home sweet home, surrounded by the people (and furry friends) we love. From our family to yours, here’s wishing you laughter, warm hugs, fab finds to give and to receive, happy eats, and good vibes this holiday season and all year round! Happy Christmas!

Christmas Restaurants

With multiple Christmas parties in the weeks before December 25, sometimes you just want to leave it to the pros to handle your Christmas day lunch or dinner. Here are a couple of options for restaurants open on Christmas day. (Note that this list does not include Chinese or hotel restaurants, which are normally open anyway)

My Kitchen by Chef Chris – Chris Locher invented the roll-up pizza that’s now been appropriated by a delivery pizza chain and other casual restaurants. Simply called The Original, it’s a must try. This restaurant located at the Oasis Hotel right beside Paco Park might be off the beaten track for most but the hearty Italian fare is definitely worth the trip.

Homemade sausages - sweet and spicy - with lentils and potato wedges

Homemade sausages – sweet and spicy – with lentils and potato wedges

My Kitchen by Chef Chris is located at 1032 Belen St., Paco, Manila. Tel 5212371

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Travels with Filip + Inna collection by Studio Roxas

I’ve always been a fan of Isabel (AKA Pepper) Roxas’ wonderfully whimsical children’s illustrations, so when she told me that she was collaborating with Len Cabili of cult favorite “heritage chic” fashion label Filip + Inna, imagine all the hearts exploding in my thought bubble!

Studio Roxas

These notecards are so precious, I’m tempted to frame them!


Presenting, the Travels with Filip + Inna collection by Studio Roxas! “Inspired by the incredible diversity and beauty of Filipino craftsmanship,” the 10-piece notecard set features five tribes from all over the archipelago—the Yakan, T’boli, Mandaya, B’laan and Gaddang. It’s the perfect way to share a bit of Filipino culture, whether you’re sending snail mail to friends across the globe, or giving the collection as a gift.

It retails for P750 and is available at the Ayala Museum gift shop and Tawalisi Antiques, G/F La’O Center Bldg, 1000 Arnaiz St. corner Makati Avenue. For more information, visit or


Rain boots Christmas Promo!

Can you believe it’s still raining in December? Because sudden downpours are a reality all year round now, treat  yourself (or someone you love) to a fab and practical pair of rain boots at 20% off! Read on…

Our go-to rain boots site Ready For Rain now has new designs from the Pluey’s Rewind collection: the adorable Baa Baa Blues and the chic and nostalgic Kaleidoscool. (Sadly, they’ve discontinued my favorite design, Tokyo Rain. But moving on…)

Ready For Rain

With quirky designs and a cute, calf-length silhouette—perfect with dresses!—these Plueys will make you feel like dancing in the rain!


A collaboration between Plueys and Seattle-based textile and graphic designer Leanne Hatch, the Plueys Rewind collection brings back the fun memories of childhood, while keeping your feet cozy and dry. Perfect for Manila’s rainshowers!


"Kaleidoscool" is a nostalgic throwback to a treasured childhood toy

“Kaleidoscool” is a nostalgic throwback to a treasured childhood toy! But instead of a technicolor design, it comes in subtle shades for a slimming effect



Ready For Rain style tip: Spots and sheep? When going for a print-on-print look, mix smaller prints in the same color family to avoid the clash potential!


“Baa Baa Blues” is inspired by a favorite nursery rhyme


Says Risa de Sagun, managing director of, “True to the Plueys promise, they are functional and fashionable. We hope that they inspire some creativity in your wardrobe and play time! Go ahead—explore the outdoors, jump in puddles, and Celebrate the Rain!”

The Plueys Rewind collection is available at

PROMO ALERT! Ready for Rain is offering a special Christmas promo for thehappylab readers: From today till Tuesday (December 19-23, 2014), avail of a 20% discount on all rain boots when you shop online at! Simply type the promo code “ReadyForRain” upon checkout to get 20% off!

For more information, visit


Discovering Yin Yoga

yin-yang symbol

Yoga has been an on again, off again practice for me since I took my first class in 2002. I decided to stick to it for good when I got back to my mat in 2012. I’d just gone through surgery and therapy, and sweating it out with flow classes helped me regain momentum. From the malaise I experienced post-surgery, I was able to spring back and get into the go-go-go mindset once more… until I discovered that constantly being on-the-go isn’t exactly all it’s cracked up to be.

While it felt like I was credible enough to be a “legitimate” yogi because I was building strength and building up to fancier poses, there was a lot of pressure building up in my body, mind, emotion and spirit, too—something I was completely unaware of until I came to practice Yin.

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