Retreat and Go: Flow in the City at Aruga Rockwell

Retreat and Go: Flow in the City at Aruga Rockwell

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I tend to gravitate toward a holistic, less conventional approach to health and wellness. This is why these Flow in the City events have been on my radar since I first saw their eye-catching posters sometime ago. The yoga lifestyle, the beach inspired products, the organic produce – all these things are right up my alley.

The Flow in the City organisers say that the event is a mecca for like-minded individuals who share a passion for health and wellness, and I totally agree. It truly is a unique combination of workshops, classes, and holistic bazaars all in one venue. There have been numerous Flow in the City events as of late, and the one that I attended took place last November 14, 2015 at the Aruga Suits, located right across Rockwell mall. I got my day pass at the entrance, which entitled me to 3 workshops, access to the bazaar, and a loot bag.

There were so many interesting events and sights to see, here are a few of the highlights. (Photos by Kaity and Serica)

When I arrived the first event I witness was a Vinyasa class led by Tami Ledesma, along with a live art sketching session by the Artists Collective.


Next in our agenda was a lecture on Entrepreneurial Enlightenment by Gov Dawani, a marketing teacher at UAAP. I put on my student hat and listened to one of the most interesting talks I’ve attended is a long time. It heartens me that marketing mavens and products that strive for authenticity and transparency go on to achieve long term success.


I explored the venue and chatted with a some of the merchants, who all had interesting business origin stories to tell. One of them was Apol Lejano-Massebieau, owner of La Pomme. She’s also the maker of the Bliss Apple!


I bought a couple of bracelets from Tali Ti Amianan, a shop that creates up cycled arm candy that helps support the surfing and fishing community in La Union.

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There were yummy pastries and treats from the Cookie Lady, who also gave a live cookie baking demonstration, with the kids and my 5 year old as assistants.



More than anything else, I was really looking forward to the Kid’s yoga with Bernice Mathay. I had my 5 year old son with me, and as you can see from the photo, he had the time of his life!

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I attended the last leg of Rhiannon Haley’s talk about how to detoxify using doTerra essential oils. This is where I learned that you can also drink a small drop of it with some water. Interesting!



My son and I watched a beautiful orchestra with Kolisko Waldorf students playing classical music. Although there were other interesting events after that (like the children’s story telling and live music), we had to be mindful of the traffic situation and leave earlier than we would have wanted. This was during the Christmas season, after all, so driving from Rockwell all the way to North QC was longer than usual!

Be on the lookout for the lineup of Flow Retreats happening this year, you’ll come out feeling refreshed and rejuvenated for sure!

Sensible Tips For Building a Capsule Wardrobe

Sensible Tips For Building a Capsule Wardrobe


by Vanessa of

Like most Catholic girls growing up in the Philippines, I wore uniforms to school. And I wager that I wouldn’t be the first to say that I hated every minute of it.

It felt constricting at the time, but now I can honestly say that I fully appreciate the wisdom behind it. It’s called “capsule wardrobe” nowadays, but the principle remains the same: it takes the guesswork out deciding what to wear in the morning so that you have more time and energy to spare for other things. It’s a productivity hack used by the likes of Barack Obama, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg to remove decision fatigue.

It’s not just the high-powered workaholic type A’s who see that value in capsule dressing, either. Saatchi and Saatchi Art Director Matilda Kahl wears the same white silk shirts and black trousers everyday. That’s a job that requires plenty of creativity, but she’s opted to focus all that artistic juice on what she does, not on what she’s wearing.

I get it: style is subjective. There are also social requirements to be mindful of. What works for a stay at home mom like me might not be acceptable for, say, a corporate woman or a college girl experimenting with fashion. But through the years and various life transformations (along with the requisite outfit changes) I’ve followed some basic guidelines to build a capsule wardrobe.

I admit, I’m no fashionista. I do, however, have a keen interest in looking good. These aren’t new or earth shaking ideas, but they’ve helped keep my current wardrobe small and stylish while keeping my sanity intact.

Don’t buy something on sale if you wouldn’t pay full price for it otherwise.

There’s a reason why it’s on sale, and it’s not always because it’s out of season. Chances are, that outfit has been sitting there for ages and has seen countless wear and tear from many others who ultimately decided not to buy it. There’s probably a missing stitch that you’d end up noticing when you get home. Or the fit might be slightly off kilter, and you might have to return or exchange it but promptly forget about until the outfit languishes in the deep recesses of your closet for all eternity.

I’ve been a slave to the sales bin, and still am. This is why I ask this question first before I shell out cash for an item: Am I willing to pay full price? If the answer is no, I move on.

Cheaper is seldom better

While I’ll probably not buy a six figure handbag anytime soon, I am willing to pay a little bit more for a timeless white blouse or the perfect pair of jeans that makes me look and feel great each time I wear it.

A good piece of clothing that you pay a premium for will be well worth the investment if its something you’ll end up wearing repeatedly for years to come. I’m willing to pay P2,000 for a basic blouse that will continue to make me look beautiful for several years down the line, compared to a P250 shirt that might look identical to the quality brand at first, but will turn yellow or fall apart in two months and unwearable.

As with most anything else, it’s all about quality over quantity.

Stick to colors and accessories that you love and that flatter you.

Most of us have our staples and reliable go-to’s. I personally prefer neutral colors, but you might be one of those lucky ones who look outstanding in a plaid shirt and polka dot jeans. I’m not one of them, but if it’s an outfit that works for you then go for it. Whatever your fashion inclinations, stick with what makes you look and feel good, and buy them in multiples. When I find a brand that fits me perfectly, I buy the same style in several colors.

Accessories are also a great way to liven up an outfit. I treat my mostly neutral wardrobe as a canvas on which I can splash colorful necklaces, rings, or bracelets for a bit of flair. Scarves have also become a staple in my closet because they’re practical and stylish, especially when traveling.


Only wear items that fit you, and your real life, perfectly.

No matter how expensive your outfit is, if it’s ill fitting, you won’t look your best. Go to a reliable seamstress if you must, but make sure the size, shape and length is just right on your frame.

A perfect fit also means finding clothes that is appropriate not just on your body, but for your lifestyle choices, too. To put it another way, wear things that fit your real life, not your fantasy self. In my case, I bought a two piece Brazilian bikini two sizes too small that I thought I’d wear to the beach after losing the muffin top, but it never happened. I stuck with the one piece that makes me look great, and didn’t constrict my movement, instead.

Whenever I buy things for my fantasy self they only end up in the storage, unworn. So now the only ones left in my closet are things that I actually wear fairly regularly.

Factor in ethical considerations

This is where not so great topics like fast fashion and mindless consumerism come in. I personally include them in my guidelines because it narrows down my choices, thus making me feel less overwhelmed. I get to make a positive contribution too, however small it might be. I strive to buy local products to lower my carbon footprint, and I buy and throw away less often to generate less trash, which lessens our overburdened landfills in the process.

The best thing about a capsule wardrobe? Unlike those school girl uniforms I grew up with, I now have a choice. There’s no need to settle for a so-so outfit that doesn’t make me feel great, and my closet is filled with carefully curated pieces that will add to my quality of life.

For me, it all boils down to this: I want my clothes that make me feel confident and ready to face the day. I don’t want to have to fuss over a blouse that’s showing my bra straps or a tug a too-short skirt that I’m self-conscious about. I want to forget about what I have on so that I can focus on just being awesome and productive and wonderful!

Do you have your own capsule wardrobe tips? I’d love to hear them in the comments section below!

An Unexpected Mother’s Day Treat, Long Overdue #LoveYouMom

An Unexpected Mother’s Day Treat, Long Overdue #LoveYouMom

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by Vanessa Salas of

When the chance to have a day of pampering presented itself, my first reaction was not relief, or delight, or excitement. It was guilt.

You see, on that Mother’s Day weekend, my husband told me that he was going to be busy, that he will be juggling work demands and school requirements for his doctorate degree. There was nobody else to babysit our son, and I hated having to impose on our relatives on such short notice.

My usual recourse when this happens is to have my son tag along with me but then…hello? This was supposed to be my day off from child-rearing duties! And it was a mother’s day treat, after all!

So I defied the little voice in my head that wanted me to pass up on the opportunity. I struggled with the guilt of having to explain to my husband that on the busiest weekend of the month, I’d be devoting a whole day of pampering to myself.

To his credit, he smiled brightly and was genuinely happy for me, adding that I deserved it. (Which reminded me of why I married this awesome guy in the first place, but that’s for another blog post.)

With (some of) the self-reproach behind me and the knowledge that my son will be adequately cared for by his dad, I set out for a mother’s day treat with my fellow bliss maker, Denise.

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I applaud the Lifestyle Network and Working Mom Magazine for the wonderful #LoveYouMom activities they had lined up for us. It’s as if they knew exactly what stay-at-home, hands-on moms like Denise and I needed on our “day off”.

I mean, how did they know that I was in dire need of a makeover in a posh place like Salon Privat? Or that my last mani-pedi session took place so many lifetimes ago, so having one at Manos Nail Lounge was long overdue? Enjoying a meal at Yoree Koren BBQ without having to tend to a four year old was such a welcome change for me because I was able to actually taste and savor every bite!

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The Luxe Bus was true to its name, and riding it around BGC the whole day made us feel like rock stars! The GCs from Aivee Institute, Neo Day Spa, and Mango seemed over the top already, but it didn’t end there! More surprise treats and loot bags  were waiting for us inside the bus, including a beautiful long stemmed rose for each one of us. We truly felt like Queens for a day!


Devoting an entire day attending solely to my needs left me feeling refreshed and ready to take on my mom duties with renewed vigor. It was a reminder for me to direct some of the caregiving I dedicate to others toward myself as well.

No matter what “type” of mom you are – whether you’re a SAHM, WAHM, WOHM, or any other slasher/permutation in between – it’s so important to keep your own cup filled to the brim. That way, you have so much more to give without “losing” yourself in the process.

Thank you Martine, for this reminder and opportunity to always, always, make it blissful indeed!

Books to Include in Your 2015 Reading List

by Vanessa Salas of

Our small family recently moved to a new place, and it forced me to take stock of my book collection; it challenged me to whittle my precious books down to the essentials, or the ones that would be too painful to leave behind.

It was a tough choice. I wanted to bring them all! But I knew deep down that I wouldn’t realistically have the time to read every single one. Between domestic duties and work at home responsibilities, I had to decide which ones I really needed to have in my life, at this juncture, and which ones were mostly “nice to haves” and not much else. Also, hauling every single one of my books was not an option; there is simply not enough space at our tiny new home!

So here they are, the books that made the cut, the ones that apparently I cannot do without, and which I think you will enjoy reading, too!

1. The Perfectly Imperfect Home by Deborah Needleman

I believe that every woman interested in making a home should read this book at least once in her life. This sentence sums up the book succinctly:

The point of decorating, as far as I can tell, is to create the background of  the best life you can have, with all its joys and imperfections.

In between the beautiful hand painted illustrations and the cheeky, self-deprecating tone of the essays, this book makes for a highly entertaining and enjoyable read. I love Deborah Needleman’s carefree philosophy to decorating, as well as her “un-precious” approach to living well.

2. In the Garden of Thoughts by Dodinsky

With its colorful illustrations and short anecdotes, it’s easy to assume that this is a children’s book. But as you progress through the pages, you’ll realize that the contents ring true at every age. Dodinsky calls this book as a place to turn to if your “reservoir of inner strength” is running on empty.

With uplifting quotes that inspire, such as:

Unbind your spirit. Don’t let the opinion of others restrain you.

…and encouraging words that celebrate your uniqueness:

If others want to define you, don’t linger in their pond. Swim away from their ignorance and find your ocean.

…”In the Garden of Thoughts” is a wellspring of joy and reminder of the good things in life.

3. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

Reading this book is like having a wise writing teacher and mentor patiently walking you through a writing class. She expertly culls through her own experience and generously dishes out the dirt on what the writing life is really like. She de-glamorizes the process of writing, removes the rose-colored glasses of what a published author actually makes and feels after getting that much-coveted byline in print. A perennial favorite is this nugget of wisdom on perfection:

Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shi**y first draft.

4. When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

I love how David Sedaris manages to make the most mundane and unpleasant everyday experiences so hilariously funny! His observations are always completely on point. If you have a delicate constitution for swear words, I suggest you skip this book of essays. Otherwise, you’re in for a laugh! His is a self deprecating kind of humor that is never mean-spirited.


5. On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser

The title says it all: it’s a helpful guide for nonfiction writing. If Anne Lammott is like my quirky writing teacher, William Zinsser is the avuncular mentor with an authoritative voice who gives clear instructions on what makes for a well written piece of nonfiction. Whether its a memoir, a travel article, an in depth interview, humorous piece or something about sports, he’s got me covered.

6. A Question of Heroes by Nick Joaquin

I read this book only last year, and I’ve been wondering ever since where it’s been all my life. It was written by a well-known National treasure, it was first published in 1977, and yet I never came across it even during my college years. It debunks many of our preconceived notions about many of our well known historical figures: Jose Rizal, Apolinario Mabini, Emilio Aguinaldo, and lesser know but equally important heroes like Artemio Ricarte or Graciano Lopez-Jaena.

What’s fascinating to me is that many of his observations about that period’s social ills are still relevant today. It made me look at the heroes we were taught in grade school in a different light, as persons with very real human frailties as opposed to people that society puts on a pedestal.

7. Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte (digital version)

Martine wrote about her core desired feelings recently, a concept attributable to Danielle LaPorte. What makes Danielle’s book unique is that it is grounded in practical application, not just some airy-fairy concepts to fill the pages.  She has a keen understanding of what truly motivates us to live a meaningful, fulfilled life of purpose. She urges us to look deep within about how we want to feel, and use that as our basis for making concrete decisions in our lives. That means that perhaps renting a small apartment in the city is the best option for you as opposed to owning a home in the suburbs, which society dictates is what every successful person “should” do. I have yet to fully absorb her teachings, but so far it’s made a dent in how I make life decisions.

What are your book “essentials”? Share your reading list in the comments section, I’m always on the lookout for good books to read!

How I am Simplifying My Life This Year

How I am Simplifying My Life This Year


By Vanessa Salas of Shed, Mom

Simplifying makes for a meaningful and joyful life.

It allows us to savor the little things that too often get taken for granted in the hustle and bustle of daily living. It helps us become more mindful of our choices, and to be truly present for our loved ones. It gives us the ability to focus on what’s important. It takes us away from the numbing effects of “going on autopilot”.

Simplifying also requires vigilance. Intentionally editing our lives is an on-going process. For me, bare walls and less clutter was never the end goal, but a means to an end. How I simplify evolves and changes as the years go by.

This year, this is how I intend to do it.

1. Own only one of each thing. 

Be honest: do you really need 5 can openers, 100 drinking glasses, 14 egg beaters, or 351 coasters in your day to day life? Unless you’re a caterer or live in a house with that many people, chances are, you don’t. I do make an exception with no. 2 sharpened mongol pencils (pencil bouquets are beautiful). And also – washi tapes, because one can never have enough washi tapes.

2. Organize less by decluttering more. 

I hate organizing, but I love organized spaces. Anecdotally, many of you are probably on the same boat. In my pre-minimalist past, my solution was to add more storage. I bought those cheap plastic boxes that can hold anything and everything. But it didn’t really solve the problem of too much stuff. Whenever I looked at those not-so pretty boxes, there was this iffy feeling I’d get from keeping what I knew deep down was actually just clutter (defined by professional organizer Kat Ong as “postponed decisions”). Owning less things has made it easier to organize, and cleaning time has been cut in half.

3. When you buy one thing, remove another.

Whenever I buy a new piece of clothing, I make it a point to either donate, up-cycle, or let go of another of the same kind. This, for me, has been an effective deterrent for excessive shopping.

4. Go on nature walks with the toddler. 

I love going to the mall. I love window shopping. But window shopping usually leads to, ehrm, actual shopping, and the consequent parting from my hard-earned cash. This year I’ve resolved to go wander around the verdant trees of UP Diliman instead, and have my my toddler tag along. Not only do I remove the temptation of buying stuff at the mall, this also exposes my son and I to fresh air, squeezes in a bit of exercise, and gives us bonding moments. Win-win-win.

5. Use all of my things. 

I resolve to make sure that every single thing that I have in my life right now will actually be used on a regular basis and not kept in storage for an indefinite period. No more “just in case” or what-if items for me.

6. Capsule wardrobe. 

I haven’t gotten rid of all of my clothes, but I have been picking out 33 items to be used for 3 months at a time. This is a capsule wardrobe challenge inspired by Courtney Carter of the blog Be More With Less. I rotate my clothes every three months, which happens to be the amount of time I get bored with my current capsule. Whenever I go back to the clothes I have in storage, it’s like shopping for new clothes again!

7. Make “me” time sacred.

As much as I’d want to squeeze in more work time into my schedule by scrimping on either sleep or leisure, I know from experience that this will only result in frayed nerves, short fuses, and lots of yelling around the house. If I keep it up longer I’d end up not being effective at work as well. So I treat these moments to recharge as a productivity tool, a necessary component to becoming better in the different roles I have in my life.

How are you simplifying this year?