Schooled in styling.

Schooled in styling.

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Photo by Kaizer Photography

Each Blissmakerie is decorated by a partner event stylist. For the Parenting Emporium edition, Maricel and Beng were able to get the participation of styling fairy godmother Indy Ycasiano of The School of Styling and She Dreams in Ink, to style the gathering. It was so exciting to think of what Indy might create, seeing as she is one of the most sought-after stylists in Manila. Her parties and projects have been featured in websites, loads of magazines, and her clients are among some of today’s classiest mompreneurs, too.

Perhaps you’ve never met her because she’s often quietly observing from the sidelines, especially during her styled events. Here’s snap of her in action at the TPE Blissmakerie.

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Photo by Kaizer Photography

The theme that Indy worked on for this particular gathering was a sweet mix of feminine rustic chic. Each of the three large tables was set in a banquet style, with lots of room in the center of the tables for a carefully laid-out arrangement of tealights and candles, mismatched glass vases with field-inspired flowers (my favorite kind of arrangement), and charming wooden log risers, atop which were succulents or small bouquets of flowers and ferns, and cotton flower boughs (which I’d never seen before until this day!). It was befitting an afternoon party for girls, which everyone absolutely loved. In fact, the first part of the Blissmakerie consisted of everyone snapping vignettes and tabletops, because everything came together and transported us to some sort of bower of style.

I finally understand why Indy’s creations are indeed, dreamy. Her signature style has the ability to transport guests into a whole new experience. Talking to some of the moms that afternoon, I heard sighs of delight and witnessed genuine smiles, because the place was so beautifully prepared, specially for them.

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Photo by Kaizer Photography

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Photo by Kaizer Photography

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Photo by Kaizer Photography

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Photo by Kaizer Photography

Images from #TheBlissmakerie hashtag on Instagram

Images from #TheBlissmakerie hashtag on Instagram

Thank you, Indy, for touching the Blissmakerie with your vision and generosity. You made everyone’s afternoon! It was a memorable day because of the beautiful setting you created, which inspired everyone to have a beautiful day, make new friends, and basically kick back and just “be with the girls.” It’s an honor for the Blissmakerie to have been a recipient of your life-work. May the blessings return to you a hundred-fold!

The School of Styling Workshops

Every month in Glorietta 5, Indy’s styling company, together with Gamechanger’s Em Sulit, hold sold-out classes on anything and everything to do with styling. Dubbed “The School of Styling”, the classes are interactive and hands-on workshops where Indy teaches participants different aspects of styling: tablescapes, home parties, bouquet-making, tassel garlands, bridal showers, floral boxes, and so on. Down the road, she will also branch into floral wreaths, calligraphy, Christmas & holiday decorations, kids birthday parties, vignettes, and more!

Thanks to the expertise of Em’s company Gamechanger, the workshops are not just learning events, but potential skill-training for those looking to start businesses within the niches of these workshops. That is why the School of Styling is perfect for start-up entrepreneurs (e.g., those in food business and those joining bazaars, expos and fairs, who are looking to beautify their displays and improve their visual merchandising); homemakers and moms, who love to entertain at home and would like to build their skills.

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Each School of Styling workshop consists of an expertly-taught, hands-on workshop by Indy Ycasiano of She Dreams in Ink, a Basic Photography Workshop by LightKeepers Studio, a Business Portfolio Making 101 Workshop by Em Sulit: a powerhouse combination of value! Plus, all students leave with a School of Styling Bag, a Certificate of Attendance, Workshop Modules and are given professionally-taken photos of the event, which they can use on their blogs (if they have them) and social media).

Here’s a snippet of their recent workshop on Home Parties, which featured Indy teaching different techniques and hacks to make the styling process easy, even for those who’ve never had styling experience at all.

Thank you, Em and Indy, for making the Blissmakerie: Mom’s Edition a special one, and for treating it “like a child,” so to speak. I really felt your love, Indy, and I can never repay you for the beauty you created, for the hours spent in conceptualizing, sourcing, setting-up and clearing out. Your gift is that you give, and what you give is life, light and happiness. May School of Styling prosper even more and reach more and more women all over the country and beyond!

Bizu’s blissful pleasures 

Bizu’s blissful pleasures 

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For any Blissmakerie to be really successful, there has to be great food. We’ve had some very gracious restaurants and caterers contribute to this gathering, and all have been supportive of the event.

During the recent one, “A Mom’s Blissmakerie at the Parenting Emporium,” our food & catering partner was a true dream-come-true to work with: Bizu Catering Studio. Their cafe, Bizu in Greenhills Promenade, has a special place in my heart because it’s where my closest girl friends threw me my bridal shower in 2008. (Wow, that’s a good 8 years ago!) It was the first time for me to taste their macarons (they were notably one of the pioneers of that foodie trend), and I remember going to the cafe often just to get a box for myself when I could afford it. Fast forward to today, and my family and I sometimes find ourselves hopping over to the Le Petit Bizu near our house when we’re craving breads (love their ciabatta) and, of course, more macarons. (My son must have the green pistachio flavor, as it’s his favorite color.)

From the Bizu Catering Studio on Facebook

From the Bizu Catering Studio on Facebook

Anyway, back to this post! As you can see, Bizu’s been a part of our family life since even before I had a family. It’s poetic that my first-ever experience in a Bizu was a celebration with other women (my bridesmaids and besties), and that this Blissmakerie was also among women, but a bigger group of new friends specifically in the mompreneur world here in Manila.

The Bizu Catering Studio, our catering partner, is a separate entity from the cafes we’ve all been familiar with. The objective? To bring Bizu experience into personal, intimate gatherings and also corporate events. Since launching the company, Bizu has catered everything from birthdays to baby showers, corporate to celebrity events. They are a “studio” to differentiate themselves from just an ordinary catering company. The “studio” does imply that Bizu designs each of their catering experiences differently: They consider the profiles of their clients very carefully so that they create truly unique, artisans experiences.

(You can see their current events and photos on their official Facebook page.)

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For the Blissmakerie, we got to savor the exquisite food that the Catering Studio has to offer. The studio prides itself in its thoughtful concepts, from their motif to their menu. Not surprisingly, since the entire team behind Bizu consists of highly-trained chefs, event artisans (floral designers, tablescape artists, stylists), and an incomparable wait staff which, for me, is a refreshing thing. My glass of strawberry-basil cooler was never left empty throughout the entire afternoon.

I personally appreciated the details in each menu item for our TPE Blissmakerie. Ms. Audrey Tanco Uy specified that each item on the menu was served in small portions, but very hearty still (as we all soon found out!)

The feasting experience began at-table, even before the buffet was open, with carefully crafted terrines and crackers, and welcome drinks of strawberry basil coolers. I couldn’t eat the soft-shell crab hors d’oeuvres (allergic, huhu), but I heard they were absolutely exquisite. I was addicted to the coddled eggs—my first time to ever try such a preparation—that I had two servings. (Shhh.) I went back for thirds of the gnocchi and shrimps, which were as buttery as I expected and just right to the taste. I didn’t get a chance to taste the roast beef, which I heard was out-of-this-world good.

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From the Bizu Catering Studio on Facebook. Center photo from @martinedeluna on Instagram

So what kind of gathering can you expect when you work with Bizu Catering Studio?

  1. A classy event: I’m sure if you’ve been to any Bizu bistro or cafe, you’ll notice a unifying quality: Class and beauty. That’s why everyone at the Blissmakerie kept saying “Wow!” over and over again upon seeing the gorgeously appointed buffet spread and the thoughtful trays of cheeses and terrines that wove into the vignettes at each table. Every element of the experience is meant to elicit this “wow”, and Bizu does it marvelously. (For this event, of course, they worked hand in hand with The School Of Styling.)
  2. An intimate experience: The name “Bizu” was derived from one of my favorite French words “bisou” or “kiss.” Just like a kiss (which excites and inspires both the giver and the recipient), each Bizu catering experience excites the party guests and inspires them to have a wonderful time. Judging by those who were constantly Instagramming, I’d say Bizu did an awesome job at this.
  3. A proudly Filipino, world-class brand: Bizu is one of the first homegrown companies to introduce the “Parisian Patisserie” concept to the Philippine market. Thanks to their bistros and cafes, the Philippines was introduced to authentic French pastries and breads, and later on, hearty and wholesome continental dishes and meals. The Bizu Catering Studio brings this unique twist to its private catered events, too.

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I hope you can consider Bizu Catering Studio for your next inspiring event. Thank you, Bizu, especially Ms. Audrey Tanco Uy of Bizu Patisserie & Bistro, for being our very generous, beautiful banquet director and who worked so hard to make everything seamless. You and your team are amazing. Thank you for blessing the moms who came to be refreshed and filled — We’re forever grateful!

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With Ms. Audrey Tanco Uy of Bizu, who is a joyful and creative soul.

For bookings and inquiries, please visit Bizu Catering Studio’s online portals.

Bizu Catering Studio
Email: conciergeteam@bizugroupe.com
Telephone: (02) 845-05-90 to -93
Facebook: www.facebook.com/bizucateringstudio
Instagram: bizuph
Twitter: bizuph

Taken from the Bizu Catering Studio on Facebook

Taken from the Bizu Catering Studio on Facebook

5 Steps to Enjoying Meaningful Travel

Carmel David

By Carmel David of Pink My Ride

“We are overdoing this travel thing”, says an article I read recently.  I tend to agree.  The article was brutally honest.  We, the younger generation especially, are sometimes too focused on ticking off the next place or item on our bucket lists that we fail to relish and make the most out of the experience.  This is why I make an effort to add meaning to travel and change my perspective when it comes to it.  I’m no travel expert because I don’t do it regularly, but here’s what I’ve learned about meaningful travel so far:

1. See travel as a reward, not a requirement.

A lot of people may disagree with me on this, and I certainly didn’t have this mindset back in my early to mid-twenties. I used to think that I needed to travel at least x times a year, and I would excitedly jump right into whatever seat sale is available.  Now that I’m approaching 30 though, that mindset is slowly shifting.  I’m beginning to realize that while travel is an enriching experience, I also need to set aside a significant amount of money for a rainy day and save up for retirement.  This is why starting this year, I told myself to have few yet meaningful and rewarding trips. Travel, for me, should be a reward for hard work and not a necessity.  This will teach me to manage my finances better and more importantly, it will encourage me to really work hard throughout the year so that when the travel date arrives, it will be more meaningful and fulfilling.

2. Read.

Travel Books

I actually learned this from my mom. You get to appreciate a place better when you at least have an idea of its history and culture prior to going there.  My favorite travel guide is Lonely Planet, but I get a lot of help from travel bloggers too!  Just Google what you want to know and you’ll definitely find it!  For a quick background on the place you’re visiting, Wikipedia will do!

3. Go easy on the photos!

It’s important to be in the moment and have a good time, because, cliche as it sounds, that moment might never come back.  Taking a gazillion photos of a single place or object won’t help you be in the moment. For me, a snap or two per place is enough.  Who knows if you’d still get the chance to revisit the place, right?  (Don’t get me wrong, I totally get why people document everything on a trip, I really do.  I’m just not the one to do it, haha.  I travel with a friend who does this and I appreciate it so much!  Without her, we wouldn’t have any photos or videos!)

4. Pack light.

You travel to enjoy, and who would enjoy with all that excess baggage, right?  I’m still mastering the art of packing light but I’m getting there!

5. Be grateful.

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I’ve said it a couple of times here on Make It Blissful — anything can be made meaningful if we are grateful.  This I have learned, even when it comes to travel.  I am grateful for the opportunity and the means to travel and learn new things.  When I travel with friends or family and they sometimes get on my nerves due to personality differences, I choose to be grateful for the time spent with them.  When I travel alone, I am grateful I get to spend time with myself and do whatever I want.  When it comes to travel, what are you most grateful for? 🙂

I’m still in the process of “mastering” most of these items because they’re not easy!  For more of my travel stories, head on over to my blog!

How do you make travel more meaningful and enjoyable?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

She’s Making a List!

She’s Making a List!

mib christmas

By: Maricel of A Sweet Cottage

Christmas is just around the corner, and all of us are on our toes keeping up with all the things that has to be done! Keeping and making a Christmas list will help us to put some order in our Christmas shopping and wrapping. I would like to share with you some simple tips that I hope can help you this busy season.

I have always made my Christmas list on a piece of paper. I would write down all the people that I have to buy gifts for. I would even write the ideal gifts that I would want to give each person, hoping that I can find these and that they will be within my budget. I would have this list with me, in my bag or in my wallet or in my pocket when I go Christmas shopping. Eventually I would lose this list, and I would be at a loss! I have to redo my list and try to remember the checked off names that I already bought gifts for! It was so frustrating!

A few years back, I started using a Christmas Notebook instead! I bought a small red notebook and decorated it with cute Christmas décor/s. In this notebook, I wrote all the names by category and by family members. I went further by writing down the ages of the kids in my list! When I get to buy a gift for a person, I write down what I bought. When I finish wrapping a gift, I draw a small gift box beside the name and highlight this person’s name. When I see the highlighted names, I know that I am done with shopping and wrapping for this loved one! This helps me feel calm and not stress out because I see the list being highlighted one at a time! This means that I am almost done! The sense of accomplishment when I see my list makes me feel good and excited about Christmas!

Another reason that I keep a Christmas notebook instead of a paper list, is so that I can see the gifts that I already gave last year. I just go back to the list I had done the year before, and it helps me not to duplicate any gift for any person on my list. I use one notebook for several Christmases before it becomes full, so looking back at old lists is easy.

To summarize my Christmas List Making for you, just do the following:

  • Choose your Christmas notebook – red or green is always nice for this purpose.
  • Decorate it to add Christmas cheer to your list making!
  • Write down your list. You can categorize under family, friends, community groups, church, officemates etc.
  • Try to write down more information about each person if you can: age (especially for kids), favorite color, hobby, sport. This will make your Christmas shopping a lot easier!
  • When you buy a gift, write the name of the item beside the person’s name.
  • When you finish wrapping it, draw a small gift box beside the name. This will help you remember that that person’s gift is already under your tree.
  • Highlight the person’s name if you are done shopping and wrapping for that person.
  • MOST IMPORTANTLY, enjoy the season for the right reason! This is the season not only for giving gifts, but most especially giving our love to others! It is the season to remember who was given to us on this special day, JESUS!

Enjoy your Merry Making with your loved ones this Christmas! It’s not yet too late to organize your Christmas List! Happy listing, shopping and wrapping!

A place to hide away: Discovery Country Suites, Tagaytay

A place to hide away: Discovery Country Suites, Tagaytay

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My birthday was spent quietly amidst the fluffiest luxurious white sheets, surrounded by warm cuddles and kisses, and sweetened with helpings of strawberry shortcake, cheese platters and (just a leeeetle bit of!) wine and hot chocolate. Thanks to the Discovery Country Suites in Tagaytay, my family and I were able to enjoy a relaxing overnight stay in our favorite quick getaway destination in the hills just outside the city. What a treat!

Each suite in the Discovery Country Suites is uniquely themed and luxuriously appointed. For our stay, we were billeted in the Nantucket Suite, which has a beautiful view of the lake.

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discovery country suites tagaytay

A personalized welcome for out little family, looping on the TV. Cute!

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A “Welcome” photo frame of our family, to make us feel right at home in our lovely room! Nice touch.

discovery country suites tagaytay room

discovery country suites tagaytay

The Nantucket Suite was the perfect size for us. Vito took the bed nearest the window — a double bed — since he sleeps on his own, and Ton, Krista and I had the king-size bed. The suite is a perfect size for a family of four, I’d say. You can request for extra beds to be brought in, as the room is HUGE.

The kids took to the suite right away.

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discovery country suites tagaytay

discovery country suites tagaytay

discovery country suites tagaytay

Since we had a simple itinerary (i.e. to sleep, mostly, and then take the kids to ride horses), we looked forward to just enjoying our room and the B&B’s grounds. The room was enough reason to just stay in and cozy up, and you can see why below:

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Starting 5PM, the Suites offer a wine & cheese platter for guests to enjoy either in the restaurant or in-room. Since we couldn’t get over our room, we of course opted for the service to be brought into our little living area in the suite. The restaurant also sent over some of the desserts from the lunch buffet, including some more of that gorgeous strawberry shortcake.

discovery country suites tagaytay

discovery country suites tagaytay

We ate dinner away from the hotel, after taking Vito horseback riding nearby, but when we got back, there was a turndown service waiting for us: Homemade cookies, a jug of warm vanilla-infused milk, fresh mango juice, brownies, two large bowls of popcorn, and a set of kid-appropriate DVDs for Vito to enjoy. (I told you: Staying here means the staff will spoil you so that you won’t want to leave your suite! Haha!)

discovery country suites tagaytay

discovery country suites tagaytay

Our kids usually wake up during the night when we’re staying over at a new place, but we didn’t hear a peep from them after we’d put them to bed. It must be those fluffy cloud-like sheets and eiderdowns; Ton and I agreed the beds were uber-comfortable. I love it when the whole family wakes up fully rested, and ready for a good breakfast the next day. And that’s what we had!

discovery country suites tagaytay room

discovery country suites tagaytay

discovery country suites tagaytay

The hotel staff were really sweet to remember my birthday! After our breakfast, the entire team sang me and birthday song and surprised me with a decadent chocolate cake with raspberry coulis!

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Thanks, team Discovery! I certainly felt special. Afterwards, I also got to peek at some of the other suites available, in case we wanted to book another stay during the coming holiday weeks. Of course, most of the suites are booked already for the long holiday stretch, but there are still some weekday periods available for bookings.

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Ceylon Suite: The smallest suite, with a private entrance leading to its own patio, which is a few meters from the outdoor heated jacuzzi.

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discovery country suites tagaytay

The Nara Suite, which is Japanese themed, and opens up to the garden area.

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discovery country suites tagaytay

discovery country suites tagaytay

Family area and den, outside the Nara Suite. Usually big families will book these two large suites on the garden level, and this family area is where they can relax, chill, and play games by the fireplace.

Family area and den, outside the Nara Suite. Usually big families will book these two large suites on the garden level, and this family area is where they can relax, chill, and play games by the fireplace.

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discovery country suites tagaytay

discovery country suites tagaytay

The exterior view of the back of the hotel, which offers a garden view and a wide view of the Taal Lake.

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There are only seven suites, so naturally bookings here are limited, especially on weekends. I recommend going on weekdays if you can, because there aren’t as many guests and you can enjoy the amenities with more privacy.

I’m looking forward to our next stay! You might want to consider it, too. To book your Discovery Country Suites getaway for your family, visit their official website and log into their Facebook and Instagram pages for regular updates. 

https://www.instagram.com/discoverycountrysuites/

 

 

A Pre-Christmas treat.

A Pre-Christmas treat.

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Some time before my birthday (during the last week of November), our little family headed off for Tagaytay for a much needed holiday. My birthday week marked the third week of our move (which I have yet to discuss, I realize), and it also was the perfect time to head up to the Discovery Country Suites for a special pre-Christmas treat. Our good friend Celine Arellino welcomed us personally to the suites, which we were staying at for the first time, and we were quite excited.

The suites used to be the holiday home of a prominent family, and has been a bed & breakfast for the last ten years or so. I looked forward to feeling right at home in this pretty place, which is actually located along the main highway, but feels hidden and out-of-the way once you step inside its cozy interior.

discovery country suites

discovery country suites

discovery country suites

discovery country suites

discovery country suites

We arrived to a beautiful lunch one balmy and pleasant Tuesday morning. Restaurant Verbana had prepared a wonderful Pre-Christmas Lunch for us, their special offering for the season, and we had heard that it would be quite a spread! Here’s a peek at what we were to expect:

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discovery suites pre christmas lunch

Wardolf Salad – Classic salad of granny smith apples and California raisins in rich Japanese mayonnaise dressing

discovery suites pre christmas lunch

discovery suites restaurant verbana

Mushroom Cappuccino – Creamy and hearty soup made from a medley of forest mushrooms and fresh shitake mushrooms topped off with a thick milk foam

discovery suites pre christmas lunch

Homemade Country Ham – Brined pork legs basted with our homemade sauce and honey

discovery suites pre christmas lunch

discovery suites pre christmas lunch

Seafood Bouillabaisse – Hearth stew made with the day’s fresh catch

discovery suites pre christmas lunch

Strawberry Shortcake – Layers of golden sponge with rich custard filling, fresh whip cream, and Benguet strawberries  |  Panettone – Verbena’s version of the traditional Italian Christmas bread with dried apricots, cranberries, golden raisins, and dried mangoes   |  Amadeo Muffinettes – Tablea chocolate muffins mixed with Amadeo coffee  |  Cupcakes – Vanilla bean muffins with buttercream frosting topped with Benguet strawberries  |  Chocolate chip cookies and oatmeal raisin cookies

discovery suites pre christmas lunch

This Strawberry Shortcake was truly a slice (make that SEVERAL slices) of heaven. My weakness is anything strawberries and cream, so when I tasted the first custardy-creamy-berry laden mouthful, all I could think of was having some more! Yes, this cake will make a greedy child out of any stressed mother or proper adult, I guarantee it.

discovery suites pre christmas lunch

discovery suites pre christmas lunch

After looking at these photos, I feel as if I could head on right back to Restaurant Verbana for a second round, haha! It’s that good. And enjoyed amidst the relaxing ambiance of the country suites, overlooking a peaceful view of the gardens and the lake, it is the perfect break from the stress of the city. We really needed this break and this beautiful meal to get us into the holiday mood!

I’ll be sharing a bit about the beautiful rooms in my next post, because they deserve a mention of their own. I just have to say that Discovery Suites really does know how to make you feel like you have a home out in the hills, and that’s why our family’s heading back soon! If not for an overnight stay, then at least for a lovely meal here in the Restaurant Verbana.

discovery suites pre christmas lunch