Currently lusting after… Chloe + Isabel baubles

How was your Easter, everyone? I’m on an extended shopping abstinence, but these charming floral and crystal earrings from the Tresco Isle collection by Chloe + Isabel are proving to be the biggest temptation yet!


Chloe + Isabel

Tropical punch: add a juicy pop to your look with these limited edition Tresco Isle drop earrings by Chloe + Isabel ($48)


My friend Lisa Lazaro Russel introduced me to Chloe + Isabel, an online shopping site teeming with sparkly baubles—it’s virtual eye candy! Lisa is a Chloe + Isabel merchandiser herself—click here to see her curated  collection (or visit

Chloe + Isabel Lisa Russel

Here’s a peek at the home page…


Chloe + Isabel

Here’s a peek at the “Lisa’s Loves” section. That bird nest ring (bottom center) is just adorable!


Chloe + Isabel Bellflower bracelet

…and here’s another piece I really, really want! Chloe + Isabel Bellflower + Pearl Drop Bracelet, $38. Isn’t it sweet?


Though the site is based in the US, Lisa is a fellow Filipina who is happy to aid and abet our shopping addiction, so simply send her a private message on Facebook ( to arrange to have items delivered to the Philippines!

SALE ALERT: Threatening to break my no-shopping resolve is the news that Chloe + Isabel is currently on sale, until Thursday, April 24, 11:59 EST (eek, hurry!). Get 25% off on a minimum order of $100 with the promo code SPRFF25 (one-time use only).

Do post your purchases on Instagram and tag @thehappylab so I can enjoy shopping vicariously!



Champagne Dinner at Impressions

Fresh from a recent trip to Champagne, Jojo called a few of us who opted to stay in Manila for the long weekend to a Champagne dinner at one of our favorite spots, Impressions. Jojo’s trip exposed him to an in-depth knowledge of Champagne, especially the smaller, so called “Grower” houses which are challenging the supremacy of the larger, established, and more famous houses. As he brings in a respectable number of Grower Champagnes himself through his Premium Wine Exchange, he just wanted to taste some of the wines he brings to review the portfolio.

I was the first to arrive, followed shortly by Alex and Jojo. Alex had a bit of wine earlier in the day and brought along half a bottle of Chablis 1er Cru Brocard Montée de Tonnerre 2008. This was stony and a bit tart on the finish with some orange pith notes.

Brocard Montée de Tonnerre Chablis 1er Cru 2008

Brocard Montée de Tonnerre Chablis 1er Cru 2008

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Staycation Buddies: Grandma’s Secret

As a teen and all throughout my twenties, my Easter S.O.P. was to head to the beach with friends. And yet these days, when Holy Week rolls around, I no longer feel compelled to join the exodus from Manila, and instead enjoy my staycation in the city with the hubby, family, and cats. As frightening as it sounds, I think we really do grow up to be our parents—and in my case, grandparents, too! This week, I was  aware of that fact more than ever—from telling Toto to keep the music volume low on Good Friday (OMG I am now crotchety Lolo Tomas), to carrying on Lola Suling’s prayer traditions I remember from childhood, to actually relishing the therapeutic powers of rearranging the furniture, just like Mom. How bizarre is it that my hopelessly undomestic soul now looks forward to spring cleaning during the Easter holidays?

Grandma's Secret

Easter Cleaning Committee: Grandma’s Secret Spot Remover, Jewelry Cleaner, Goo Remover, Miracle Moisturizer, and Wrinkle Remover


My supermommy girlfriends have been raving about the Grandma’s Secret line of products for a while now, so I figured this was the perfect time to try them out. My favorite:  Grandma’s Secret Goo Remover, which cleans practically any kind of sticky mess (chewing gum, candle wax, that annoying price tag sticker goo that won’t come off…), and at the risk of sounding like an infomercial, I must say, it really works! Proof: the other day, Toto lamented that the sleek look of his favorite desk lamp was marred by tape residue. I told him to try the Goo Remover, and he scoffed at me, saying he’d been trying to get the dirt off for the last ten years, to no avail. I insisted, so he grudgingly acquiesced, and guess what? With just a few wipes, the stubborn sticker bits magically came off! Mr. OC himself was so impressed, he spent the Holy Week looking for more gooey surfaces to clean!

Other amazing Grandma’s Secret products include: Grandma’s Secret Jewelry Cleaner, which promises to bring back the sparkle and shine to jewelry dulled by exposure to perspiration, dust, soap, lotion, and perfume. My gal pals swear it’s safe on most of their bling (diamonds, precious stones, gold, silver, platinum), except for pearls. Also fab: Grandma’s Secret Spot Remover, which is described as “a little washing machine in a bottle.” Sold! Just the thing to erase those food spots, coffee stains, and ballpen marks on my shirts (what can I say? I’m a messy girl—my husband’s worst nightmare). The label says that just a drop will work to remove most stains like oil, grease, makeup stains, baby formula, rust, and even pet accidents, but I have yet to put it to the test on all the rugs my cats have puked on (sorry, TMI!).  After daily cleaning, my hands get some TLC from Grandma’s Secret Miracle Moisturizer, a greaseless lotion that dissolves quickly to nourish, protect, and soften skin (tip: works wonders on dry heels, too!).

And when I finally do give in to wanderlust, I’ll be sure to bring Grandma’s Secret Wrinkle Remover, which helps to remove creases and wrinkles when ironing is not an option (bonus: it comes in a handy travel size and removes odors, too!).

There’s just something about the act of physical cleaning that also helps declutter the mind and spirit, don’t you think? For me, this Holy Week has been the perfect opportunity to wipe the slate clean, in more ways than one. Wishing you a blessed Easter!

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.

(Note: this article originally appeared in my column Fifi’s Finds in the April 18 issue of Manila Bulletin.)

Writing Workshops for Kids and Teens

Know of any kids, teens, or college students who love to write or illustrate? Tip them off on these workshops, facilitated by some of the best writers we know!

WHAT: Creative Writing Workshops (Write and Illustrate Your Very Own Comics for Children and Teens, and Incorporating Creative Writing in Your College Writing for College Students)

WHERE: Magna Anima Center, Sta. Elena-Brittany City, Sta. Domingo, Sta. Rosa City, Laguna

WORKSHOP FEE: P5,000 (includes materials, lunch, and snacks)

For Children and Teens: Write And Illustrate Your Very Own Comics!
May 9–10, 2014  9:00a.m.–4:00p.m.
In this 2-day workshop, you will learn to write the story of a hero of your own creation and illustrate it in either comic form or as a graphic novel. Carla Pacis, an accomplished writer for children and young adults, will teach you how to make a compelling plot, really evil villains, and an unforgettable ending. Artist Ehric Egualado will then teach you the basics of storyboarding, sketching and coloring so you can make your story come to life. For children and teens aged 9-18 years.

For College Students: Incorporating Creative Writing in your College Writing 
May 9–10, 2014   9:00a.m.–4:00p.m.

In this 2-day workshop, you will learn creative writing techniques and appropriate ways of integrating them into your school essays. By exploring writing exercises in poetry and nonfiction, you will rediscover the power of language not only for expression and communication but also for creation. You might even discover that you have literary inclinations! Expected outputs include poems and essays that will be discussed in a workshop format by the participants with the guidance of Randy Bustamante, who has mentored college students in their writing for 18 years.


Some information on the facilitators and workshop coordinator: 

Carla M. Pacis is a professor at De La Salle University and is an award-winning writer of children’s and young adult books like A Sea of Stories. She is a founder-member of Kwentista ng mga Tsikiting (Kuting) and a council member of the National Council for Children’s Television (NCCT). She has successfully conducted creative writing workshops for children and teenagers almost every year at different venues like the Lopez Museum and the Ayala Museum.

Ehric Egualada is both a visual artist and art educator. He has participated in many group exhibits and has had his own individual exhibits. He holds yearly art workshops in Laguna and presently teaches at De La Salle, Canlubang and Laguna Bel-Air School.

Randy Bustamante graduated from Ateneo de Manila University and has taught writing, Literature, and the humanities for 18 years in Ateneo, UP-Diliman, and Boston College, where he taught college freshmen, including the Dever Freshman Writing awardee, as well as the first graduates of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls during his 12 years in the US.

Melissa Salva Ramos attended the National Writers Workshops in Dumaguete (Silliman) and in Baguio (University of the Philippines) alongside Carla and Randy. She is a freelance writer and editor, as well as the coordinator of this workshop series.

Interested? Pre-registration is required. For more information, call Melissa Ramos at (0917) 501 5216 or email

Havaianas Getaway Bag Promo

Havaianas neon


Going on a fun adventure? Summer just got brighter with this limited edition Havaianas Getaway Bag! For a minimum purchase of two regular pairs of Havaianas, this fab Havaianas Limited Edition Getaway Bag can be yours for just P350.

These premium canvas duffel bags are that perfect get-up-and-go size for impromptu escapades, and roomy enough to fit all your summer essentials–including your trusty Havaianas, of course! Choose from four can’t-miss-it neon hues: pink, orange, green, and blue (see below). Hurry, promo lasts until April 30, 2014 only!


Havaianas Getaway Bag Neon Pink

Havaianas Neon Orange Getaway Bag

Havaianas Getaway Bag

Havaianas duffel bag

Family Redefined: A Day at Kamp Pagkakaisa

For most Filipinos, Sunday is Family Day. Ours is usually spent with extended family — lunch with the hubby’s clan, or afternoon coffee with my mom, possibly dinner out at some restaurant (usually at Jay’s recommendation). Last weekend, we decided to extend the definition of family beyond mere consanguinity by spending a day at Kamp Pagkakaisa, a therapeutic summer camp for special needs kids.

Organised by the Pagkakaisa Volunteers Inc. Foundation (PVI), this 10-day camp has been opening their doors to institutionalised special kids every summer for over 30 years, each year in different locations around the country. This summer finds them at Simeon Bendana Elementary School in Tanay, Rizal. A doctor friend of mine, Lorraine, who has been volunteering her services to this camp for several years now, invited us to visit and adopt a child for the afternoon. Last Sunday morning, my two girls and I set off sans Albert (unfortunately, he had a previous engagement and couldn’t join us) for the 2-hour drive to Tanay, not knowing what to expect.


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Dessert Heaven: Magnum Manila!

Oh. My. Gad. If you are a Magnum lover and dessert junkie (the most important part of the meal for me!), you have to come and visit the Magnum Pleasure Store, AKA Magnum Manila, which opens today–just in time to beat the summer heat!

We got the chance to taste test their delectable offerings last week, and can we just say, we’ve been counting down the days till they officially opened so we could get our extreme Magnum fix again!

Imagine, customizing your own Magnum bar to suit your personal taste? So decadent! Start by choosing from a selection of sophisticated toppings–from Magnum classics like almonds and crushed chocolate chip cookies, to premium treats like freeze-dried raspberries or gold nuggets, or more adventurous topping like quezo de bola, potato chips, chili flakes, sea salt, and Grape Nerds. Moving down the line, choose your ice cream (velvety chocolate or vanilla), then choose your chocolate coating (milk, dark, or white–all 100% Belgian chocolate!). At this point, your ice cream server will coat your personalized Magnum bar with your preferred toppings, before you make your final decision: choose your drizzle!

Magnum Bar

At the Make My Magnum Bar: I picked almonds, pistachio crunch, and freeze-dried raspberries, then chose a vanilla ice cream bar, opted for milk chocolate coating, and finally, topped it off with caramel drizzle. It was love at first bite! In hindsight, I should’ve gone for the sea salt, for that perfect balance! There’s always next time–but oh, so many other combinations to try…


Magnum Cafe

The moment that ruined me for all other ice cream bars. Or, as my friend Karrots likes to say: “Siraan ng buhay!” And at only P100 per customized Magnum, how can you go wrong?


Make My Magnum

Bite into heaven


If you’re too lazy to make your own Magnum, you can choose from the classic combinations on the menu. Or better yet, order one of the creative concoctions dreamed up by Chef Miko Aspiras. The servings are pretty huge, so you’ll definitely want to share!

Magnum Pink Friday

Cheesecake and a strawberry-dipped Magnum: go ahead, you deserve a Pink Friday any day of the week!


Rainbow Cake

Rainbow Dream, the perfect dessert for birthday celebrants!



Magnum Cookie Skillet: Magnum bars set atop a giant, sinfully moist cookie with chocolate chunks. This was absolutely to die for! Next on my wish list: the lava cake…


But wait, there’s more! Though the Magnum Cafés around the world pretty much just serve dessert, Magnum Manila even serves savory dishes, in collaboration with Chef Him Uy de Baron of Nomama fame. Why do I have a feeling this is going to be our new default choice for celebrating special occasions?

Magnum Manila

I know, I know, it feels like you’re putting on pounds just by looking at this deadly carbonara. But you must try it!


Magnum Manila

Totally enjoyed my salmon, greens, and creamy mashed potatoes. I wiped my plate clean!


Ed Calma

For your ultimate dining pleasure, Magnum Manila features sleek, modern architecture by Ed Calma


Set in premium locations all over the world (Milan! London! New York!), the Magnum Pleasure Store is now set to indulge the Manila crowd starting today, April 8, at the SM Aura SkyPark Dining. We’re told that this pop-up store will only be up for a year before it transfers location, so indulge while you can. See you there!

For more information, visit and

Mostly Rhones at Impressions

After about 3 weeks without a wine dinner, I was pleased to get an invitation to join some friends at Impressions for some great wine, food and, of course, company. The menu was mostly composed of dishes we had at a previous dinner where Chef Cyrille unveiled his surprise Pate en Croute so I won’t go too much into the details of the food except to say that it was outstanding as is to be expected when Chef Cyrille Soenen is cooking.

For some reason, most of the wines brought this time were Rhones with just a few Bordeauxs thrown in for good measure. But it was the Rhones that we concentrated on.

I arrived rather late but fortunately the guys saved some of the white wine for me. Good thing, too as it was from one of the Rhone’s top producers and a very fine wine to boot. This was the Chave Hermitage Blanc 1998. Light gold, soft, waxy, gently sweet ripe orange and honey with a touch of oxidation. Outstanding.

Dinner proper started with the amuse bouche. I can’t recall what went into the first one except that it had beer in it, while the darker one was escargot topped with tobiko.

Amuse Bouche

Amuse Bouche

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Handmade Finds at 10a Alabama Arts & Crafts Fair

10a Alabama

It’s the 10a Alabama fair this weekend! If you’ve been following this blog (and especially our Instagram account @thehappylab), you must know by now that we always get giddy about the 10a Alabama Arts & Crafts Fair. Held about every quarter at an aptly retro bungalow in Quezon City, it’s our favorite go-to place for handmade trinkets, crafts, stationery, home accessories, and art that won’t break the bank. (That being said, everything is made with love by talented local artists, so please don’t haggle!) We also love the laid-back but fun fair vibe, chatting with our “suki” artist-sellers, as well as making new friends. And whether you’re a newcomer or a regular, there’s always something new to discover at Alabama. Here’s a peek at what’s in store this weekend:


Hand-painted ceramic pots with assorted succulents by Gawani Femi (limited stock at P150 each only!)



Papercut owl by Handslovepapers. Follow @handslovepapers on Instagram


magnet board

Instant office prettifier: fabric magnet board by Sitting Pretty Crafts Studio



Origami art by Bobby Ruiz (available only on Sunday)



Mini succulent gardens by Sucker for Succulents (available only on Sunday).


Captain America

Captain America bag charm by ClayAllDay


Handmade stoneware plates, papercuts, and other crafty stuff by Hey Kessy

Handmade stoneware plates, papercuts, and other crafty stuff by Hey Kessy. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


Bakya notecards and bookplates by Inky Livie. Says Asa Montenejo of Inky Livie, “(They’re) inspired by a friend’s lola’s vintage bakya collection!”



“I-made-that” blank notebooks and postcards by 23060 (pronounced two-thirty-sixty). Says 23060 artist Kath Mitra, “When they purchase our blank notebooks and postcards, they can use our original stamps featuring different Manila buildings/landmarks. And since its summer we also added our flora stamps.” 23060


floral headpiece

Adorable baby accessories by Saab and Meelo


Obra Paduding

Lovely necklaces hand-stamped with inspiring messages by Obra Paduding.



Handmade fabric accessories by Simone’s Closet.



Death by chocolate chunks: Sweetleaf Softbatch Cookies



VAL x Pottery by Valerie Luistro


Sapin Sapin Tanzan Accessories

Quirky trinkets from Sapin Sapin Tanzan Accessories


peg lamp

Wooden clothespin lamp by Habil Crafts.


solid perfume

Handmade solid perfume, stationery, and soap by Aromateria


Dream On

“Dream On” original watercolor/acrylic artwork by Jaime Bauza.


Aislinn's Wish

Do drop by the booth of crafter Sindy Leoncio-Apilado, who is joining this fair for a very special reason this time around. She is selling silk-screen printed shirts-for-a-cause, as well as other items donated by fellow Alabamers, to raise funds for a liver transplant for her daughter Aislinn, as well as spread awareness about this condition. Says Sindy, “She was diagnosed with biliary atresia and needs a liver transplant that costs 4M php before she turns one. She is now six months old. The need is quite immediate as babies who has this disease only has 1-2 years to live depending on how fast the liver deterioration is.” For more on how you can help, check out a wish 2 



Sweet treats: Merry Macarons



A brand after my own heart. Ingenious magnetic page markers by The Fat Cloud (they also carry other reading-inspired items like book covers and bookmarks!)

Cuteness overload, right? That’s just some of what you’ll be seeing at the fair this weekend! Visit the 10a Alabama Handmade Arts & Crafts Fair on April 5-6, from 12nn-7pm, located at 10a Alabama Street along E. Rodriquez Avenue (near Tomas Morato), Quezon City. For more information, visit  Click here for a previous post on 10a Alabama, and here for the feature in Fifi’s Finds today in Manila Bulletin.

EDSA Beverage Design Group

Over the past week, I spent a fair amount of time at EDSA Beverage Design Group’s (EDSA-BDG) laboratory/bar/cafe. Launched just this past week, they had a lot of activities and guests come in to showcase what they are all about. Located in a rather nondescript building sandwiched between a Shell gas station and Kamayan along the Greenhills section of EDSA, what greets you when you come in is something that looks like Walter White’s meth lab in Breaking Bad. While it is a laboratory, its output is far less sinister as it serves as a venue for experimenting with cocoa, coffee beans and beer with various roasters, coffee machines, grinders and a microbrewery in the back room.

The Laboratory

The Laboratory

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