Foot Finds

I’ve been living in sandals lately and have since become hyper aware of my feet. There’s nothing more unattractive than cracked heels, dingy toes and unkempt cuticles! Whether you prefer to lounge in a luxe Nail Spa or would rather DIY, here are some ways to keep your toes and soles looking fresh and SOTD-ready.

1. L’Occitane Dry Skin Foot Cream, P510 (30 ml) or P1500 (150 ml)

courtesy of L'Occitane USA

A bit of a splurge for an everyday foot cream, I rely heavily on this as my go-to sole protector. I like how non-invasive the shea scent is, and you really do feel the richness of the cream in your hands after you’re done giving your feet a good rub. I love applying this after a shower and a good foot scrubbing.

2. True Blue Spa Shea It Isn’t So Super Rich Foot Cream

courtesy of Bath & Body Works

This isn’t available locally, but if you’re making a trip to a Bath & Body Works and need a good treatment for your feet, this is a must. I spent half a year commuting and walking in a cold climate and my heels took a huge beating because of it. The best remedy was slathering this on my heels at night, slipping my feet into some thick socks and waking up to amazing baby soft skin.

3. The Body Shop Peppermint Reviving Leg Gel

courtesy of The Body ShopThis has been a staple in my closet for years and years. There is nothing more relieving than slicking this onto my calves and shins at the end of a long day. For extra relaxation, I like lying on the floor and raising my legs up against the wall to help drain all the tension away. Yogis love a good vicariate karani pose—this gel is icing on the cake!

4. Holika Holika’s Baby Silky Foot One Shot Peeling, P375

courtesy of Holika Holika

Korean beauty brands have always fascinated me and Holika Holika, with its cute Bewitched inspired branding is no exception. This unique concoction has you slipping your feet into plastic bag / slippers and pouring a liquid solution into them. You leave your feet soaking in the liquid for an hour and a half (you seal the bags with a tight knot), and after, you find you’re able to peel away the dead skin. It feels a little funny to be walking around with wet feet and finding sitting positions that won’t have you spilling all over, but this novelty item does the job. I have not seen peeling like this in years—and I mean this in a good way!

5. Vaseline 100% Pure Petroleum Jelly

courtesy of Vaseline

This cure-all is a fast and easy solution to any dry skin problem. If you can stand the sticky texture on your feet overnight, you’ll wake up with zero cracks. Plus, it’s nice to have this on hand for emergencies too.

6. Maison by Nail Spa, +63 2 893 2823

Maison by Nail Spa

I have been going to Nail Spa since it opened and while I’ve tried other places, this one always takes the cake for impeccable service, comfort, and color selection. Its most recent Maison by Nail Spa branch delivers the same stellar service a little extra with its hand treatments, chia seed water, lovely interiors and extensive polish selection. When I want a little extra loving for my feet, I go for a pamper feet session here and come out with no regrets.

7. Renegade Folk


Of course with freshly soaked, revitalized feet come the sandals that show off your tootsies. I have too many RF pairs to count—and with good reason! They’re comfy, classic, and go with anything.


Tali Handmade: Weaving a Brighter Future

There’s a new line of bags making my heart beat faster, and its name is Tali Handmade. It’s chic, it’s unique, it’s local, and it has an inspiring story behind it—hello, love!

Tali bags

Created with the vision of empowering women and improving lives while brightening our wardrobe, Tali Handmade is a lovely new local line of woven bags made from unconventional raw materials and premium hardware (product shots courtesy of Jinggo Montenejo)

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The Quickest Happiest (Studio) Fix!

Hair has always been my most fussed-over beauty to-do. For the last five years, stylist Alex Carbonell of Studio Fix has taken my hair from short to long, straight to curly, and back again full circle.


I had time to kill at Greenbelt 5 yesterday and found my feet taking me straight up to the mothership. Alex gets booked weeks and weeks in advance, so I was taking a chance with my unplanned walk-in. Luckily, there was a free chair and Alex had some time to chat about hair treatments.

I have colored hair and an oily scalp, so he recommended Kerastase Chronologiste for my 1.5 hour salon stopover.

courtesy of

courtesy of

The whole process was simple. At Studio Fix, they always dress you up in a comfy waffle robe. The shampoo session is always relaxing, with just the right pressure and temperature.

What makes Chronologiste different from other treatments I’ve tried are its tiny beads that go on scalp and hair. Much like my 90s Clearasil facial exfoliant (only 10000 times more luxe), the gentle pearls are designed to exfoliate the scalp and activate it. My hair was also doused in a rich treatment and put under some heat for a few minutes. Another tried-and-tested bonus at Studio Fix? The excellent hand and back massage!

Et voila! Not only did I come out with a superior blow-dry, I also had some time to spare before my next appointment. My surprise quick fix at the salon plus the constant care and excellent attention to detail Alex Carbonell delivers definitely makes Studio Fix a happy pit stop for me.


(Now if only I could master the post-salon selfie, like Alex!)

Kerastase Chronologiste (medium hair) – P2000

Studio Fix by Alex Carbonell, 4th Level, Greenbelt 5, Makati

Best to book an appointment: (+63 2) 501-3064, (+63 2) 501-3062

Sow and Grow: Organic Grow Kits

I never thought of myself as having a green thumb. Quite the opposite, actually. Over the years, I’ve managed to kill off my fair share of plants (take my word for it:  cacti and aerial plants are NOT indestructible), so I figured I wasn’t cut out for it.  The thing is, after my short stint trying out the Urban Farmer hydroponic cabinet and enjoying the benefits of homegrown lettuce and herbs, I’ve decided that growing your own food really is worth the effort. Which is why, a couple of months ago, I armed myself with a shovel, some seedlings, and several hours of online research about edible gardens and companion planting, and started building my own little veggie plot.


Farmer Pia finally breaking ground

my garden

My garden at the start of the summer: an assortment of herbs and veggies with some flowers mixed in to attract pollinators (and because they’re pretty!)

Most of my plants started out as seedlings purchased from the Sidcor Sunday Market along EDSA (near Centris).  Recently, though, I’ve been trying my hand at growing plants from seeds.  I used to be intimidated by the idea of handling seeds (how to germinate, what fertilizer to use and when, etc.), but then I came across a product that quickly allowed me to overcome my apprehensions:  Sow and Grow Organic Grow Kits!  It’s exactly what it sounds like — they’re little kits with complete instructions and materials for growing plants from seeds.  I know that there are a couple of branded grow kits already commercially available, but what I really like about Sow and Grow is: 1. it’s completely organic, including the fertiliser; 2. online ordering is super easy; 3. each kit comes with detailed instructions on how to set up and care for your plant; and 4. if you need further assistance, help is just a phone call or email away.

My grow kits: cilantro, lettuce and wild arugula

My grow kits: cilantro, lettuce and wild arugula, P150 each.

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Modesty Preservers!

Jockey Skimmies


Nope, these aren’t Spanx (honestly, I couldn’t be bothered—they would squeeze the life out of me!). These are lovely little stretchy shorts-undies, the perfect thing to wear under miniskirts or even wrap skirts for those who are prone to wardrobe malfunctions (like the fabric getting caught in an MRT turnstile—yup, that would be me). I first spotted these Jockey Skimmies on Oh Joy, and since I practically live in dresses, I was thrilled to find these locally (I scored them at S&R!). These microfiber slipshorts feel light, super comfy to wear, don’t roll up your thighs, and even provide a smoothing effect under sheer fabric. They’re also available in black. Now I don’t have to clutch at my skirt like a paranoid fool on windy days!

Jockey Skimmies

About the skirt: This was originally an itty-bitty empire tube dress, but since the length no longer suits me (plus, it’s way too snug now), I simply snipped off the top, and voila! I can take it out of closet hibernation and wear it as a skirt. (It helps that the waist is already garterized so I can bring it down to my hips, letting the hem hit comfortably above my knees). Hello again, dear squirrels! :)


It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Bruce Ricketts and the crazy but absolutely wonderful things he does at Mecha Uma. But Mecha Uma isn’t the sort of place to go to on a whim. It’s still one of the hottest tables in town so you need to make reservations a few days in advance, it’s not exactly cheap, and, if you want to go for the degustation, you better be prepared to make a deposit to the restaurant’s bank account before your reservation is approved. So I was very pleased to learn that Chef Bruce was opening another, less intimidating, more casual place at Megamall’s Fashion Hall.

Ooma opened last week without much fanfare but I think those in the know certainly made it a point to visit since when we went last Sunday, we had to wait for the better part of 2 hours before we were seated. Good thing we had a couple of errands to do in the mall so we took turns going off to get things done while some of the others stayed to wait for our name to be called.

Ooma bills itself a Japanese rice bar but not every item item in the extremely expansive menu has rice. There is, however, a waiter who goes around with a tub of rice dispensing the carbs on demand – unli rice. I would advise, however, that you skip the carbs and save stomach space for more food from the menu.



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Tuscany is rightly famous for its Chianti and Brunello, but in the 70′s, rebellious winemakers wanted to make wine without the restrictions of the DOC rules and so created an entirely new category of wine, the Super Tuscan. Freed from constraints, these winemakers started to produce wines that blended French varieties in with the native sangiovese and even produced wine without any native Italian grapes at all. One of the most famous of these wines is Ornellaia, now being brought into Manila by Premium Wine Exchange.

I was fortunate to be invited to the press lunch at M Restaurant introducing Ornellaia and on hand was Mr. Patrick Lachapele who handles the exports for Ornellaia in the Asia Pacific region. Mr. Lachapele gave a short introduction on Ornellaia. The estate totals 99 hectares and is located near the village of Bolgheri, 7 kilometers from the coast. The estate is entirely planted to Bordeaux varieties. Although famous for red wines, they also make some white wine but it isn’t for sale. They also make some olive oil.



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Electric Studio: Taking Spinning To The Next Level

electric studio

photo c/o Electric Studio

The first time a took a spinning class was around 6 years ago, when I started developing issues with my knees and needed a break from running. I considered taking up cycling outdoors, but ran into a few problems:  a) I was too chicken to bike on the city streets alongside hot-headed Manila drivers; b) trail biking was an even scarier thought (cue image of me tripping on some tree roots and tumbling face-down into the mud); and c) I didn’t have a bike.  A cyclist friend of mine suggested indoor cycling, or spinning, which he promised would offer the same workout benefits as the outdoor version.  He was right, of course;  the workouts were pretty intense, and it even helped with my knee rehab. The problem was that there was only one gym that offered spinning classes in my area at the time, and they insisted on playing club music (tugstugstugs), complete with flashing laser lights.  It was like a bike-themed rave party.  Really not my cup of tea.  Needless to say, I didn’t renew my membership the following month.

Last Saturday, I was able to get back on the saddle once again, and this time around was so much better!  It was Chinggay who first clued me in to Electric Studio, the first indoor cycling boutique in the country.  Located in Burgos Circle in Bonifacio Global City (BGC), it isn’t exactly in my neighborhood, but on an early weekend morning the drive would only take 20 minutes, so I decided to give it a go. Soooo glad that I did.
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The Champagne Champions League

Paolo Nesi wears many hats. He  operates several Italian restaurants including L’Opera and Balducci, both in Fort Bonifacio. As a Wine and Spirit Education Trust instructor, he lectures on wine at Enderun Colleges, and he is also a certified sommelier. His passion for wines led him to conceptualize a dinner featuring some of the best champagnes available in Manila to allow participants to compare and contrast the different wines. As champagne is my favorite wine, I booked an early seat to be sure I would be able to attend. It’s nit every day that one gets a chance to taste so many great champagnes in one venue.

Before the dinner started, Paolo gave a short presentation about each of the wines to be tasted as well as some facts and trivia about champagne in general. He is a very engaging and entertaining speaker and it was great to see the subject matter communicated with such enthusiasm and humor. For the presentation, he donned his full sommelier regalia including what he calls his “French ashtray,” or tastevin – the traditional shallow cup used for tasting wines.

Paolo Nesi of L'Opera wears his sommelier regalia for his short presentation on champagne

Paolo Nesi of L’Opera wears his sommelier regalia for his short presentation on champagne

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Review: Erin Condren Life Planner


I am a paper planner junkie (see my 2014 planner round up). I know this because I have been trolling the Erin Condren Life Planners all over the Internet for the last three years. #sorrynotsorry

Living in Manila however, doesn’t make this behemoth of a planner easily accessible. Plus, it is priced exorbitantly. There was just no excuse! These planners have garnered a cult following all over Instagram (check the hashtags), Facebook (dozens of groups devoted to the planning community), YouTube, and Tumblr. They’re popular because they’re purportedly worth the $50 price tag with impeccable paper quality, cute colors, and a calendar layout that is just begging to be washi-taped.

They released their latest edition just three weeks ago, with the rose gold variant and at midnight, because I had already done all the research and there was just nothing else to doI caved (as you do). I had it sent here via my trusty forwarding service and waited. For three weeks. I have never been so excited about planner EVER, and I at least have the Internet to reassure me that I am not alone in this.

For paper fiends out there, here are my thoughts on the 2015-2016 Life Planner.

1. Unboxing is life. Brown paper packages tied up in string? I know what’s better than that—pink paper packages enveloped in tissue and bubble wrap! There is no replacing the balikbayan box smell that escapes the minute you open the lid of this beautiful box. And what’s that? FREE STICKERS! Yes. Free stickers.


2. There was this sticker store in Glorietta I used to drool over in grade school because I could not afford any of the Mrs. Grossman’s imported rolled up stickers. I am happy to say that as an adult, I can now buy all the stickers. ALL. Included in my order were dots for important dates, blank squares because they are pretty, planner headbands that can hold your page or keep the book from opening up, and coil clips—nifty plastic snap-ins that have an adhesive band so you can can turn your planner into a scrapbook.


3. The planner opens up into a very thick vellum page with a gold foil geometric design that’s mimicked on the title page, where you’re supposed to write your name (I usually never do because I want my handwriting to be perfect in these pages and it never is).


4. And here are the pages. You get quotes, a spread for goals, note paper, a monthly calendar, and this year’s horizontal weekly layout. Erin Condren was first known for her vertical columns on her planners. She says she realized this year that “there’s a horizontal girl out there.” While I am a “vertical girl” myself (LOL), I found the color scheme of the vertical version garish and cheesy, so I went with the horizontal for its subtle ombré palette.

The planner has a 12-month option and, for an extra $5, an 18-month option. Natch, I sprung for the 18-month. When in Rome.


5. The planner comes with graphing paper (my favorite!) and yes, more stickers.


7. What I failed to capture on camera were the snap-in clear plastic ruler that comes with the planner that you can use as a bookmark or makeshift washi tape cutter, the fact that the covers not this book can be taken out (so you can buy more covers from them), and that the back cover of the notebook has a lovely periwinkle and gold foil herringbone pattern.

8. You get a Trapper Keeper-ish “Keep It Together” pocket that houses a perpetual calendar, the well-laminated tabs and reinforced inside pages, a zip pouch at the back (very important, IMHO) with … more stickers (!!!), a free coil clip, and cute cards that make for pretty decorative additions to the planner.


I am so happy I bought this planner, because now I can pull out my colored pens and start feeling like a boss about my super organized calendar (and life). I would also like to note that Erin Condren may be some kind of paper genie, because as I started filling in the squares, I scored two new jobs in ten minutes. If you build it, they will come.

If you are crazy enough to purchase a paper planner from the other side of the world and wait three weeks for it to get here, get $10 off your purchase with my referral link: