I’ve always wanted a home in Tagaytay! So when I collaborated with Avida Land Corp on the second Home Gatherings event in their Serin location in Tagaytay, I secretly wished and added to my vision board that I would one day own a holiday home there. (It can happen, right?)
For the second event, I tied up with my lovely stylist-cake master-“party-in-a-box”-friend, Maricel Mendoza of A Sweet Cottage, and with Gourdo’s for the dinnerware that would be used for the table styling tutorial. Maricel’s portion was super helpful! She shared her home party styling tips with us, using her handy “Party in a Box” as her tool. “It’s handy to have a box of decorating tools so you can make simple decors when you need to,” Maricel advised. She went on to demonstrate how to set a table for an intimate part of four people, and used a variety of dinnerware and props to create a charming tablescape. “These make your guests feel special, like, ‘Wow, this place was really prepared for me,'” she added.
A full house listened intently to Maricel — around 30 or so bloggers and media — as she gave her talk on homemaking and making home gatherings beautiful. Such practical tips! Her party in a box was part of the “challenge” for participants that afternoon, who were all tasked to make tablescapes using the props that were laid out for them by our sponsor and partners, Gourdo’s, a household name in home gatherings, naturally!
In addition, Ton and Shophouse Coffee team did a full coffee demo for everyone, especially the media who had never been introduced to the specialty coffee scene. (They sure had lots of questions, which Ton gamely entertained — good job, babe!)
We generally followed the same format as the previous Nuvali event for the workshop portion, with the addition of a short talk by me on “creating a meaningful home.” I shared three tips that I learned from my own mother on how to make a home, at least to my mom. I see how much sense her wisdom makes now that I have my own family to make a home for.
(By the way, here’s me assisting the hubby in his coffee demo.)
Basically, my mom’s tips are:
1. Your family should be the real “guests of honor” in your own home. We always had nicely-kept homes growing up. Not fancy, not luxury homes, but comfortable homes where things all seemed to come together nicely. That’s because mom always believed that the “nice things” in our home should be for us, those who lived there. Things weren’t meant to be kept in glass cupboards, to be viewed as decor or untouchables. We always had nice plates and flatware to use everyday, because what’s the point of keeping them locked up for company or for show? “Nice things are meant to be used,” Mom says.
(Speaking of nice things, I’m so glad Gourdo’s was our partner for this run, because my mom is a huge Gourdo’s fan and shopper! So appropriate!)
2. Always make sure you are ready to welcome people in to your home. Growing up in her family, my mom’s siblings were used to welcoming people to their homes. During her teen years, she recalled their home always being the place of choice for family reunions and get-togethers, mainly because it was fairly large. (She was the fourth out of 11 siblings.) Their home would host all kinds of barkadas, naturally, and was always ready with merienda for guests. When my mom made our home in Hong Kong and got heavily involved with women’s counseling in church, our home was often visited by Filipinas who came for sessions, or by other fellow expats. “Always have something to offer, even if it’s just biscuits and water,” mom always instilled in me. So today, I always have something small to offer to those who want to visit us. I may not have much, but you’re always welcome to drop by my teeny-tiny home! It’s what my mom taught me.
3. Teach your family tips 1 & 2, and they will be prepared for life. This is more about passing on a mindset of giving and gratitude. I can’t say I’ve done this perfectly, especially in they days I went through my “hermit phase” as a mom and homemaker, when I would escape into my home and not really want to see anyone. (I still struggle with those days sometimes, honestly.) But mom said that if we learn tips 1 & 2 and really live them out, we’ll be able to get through life and put up a decent home. I believe her!
Want to see what the guests that afternoon came up with?
Wine & Cheese Night theme
Tea Time Theme, using powder pink and floral
We’d also like to thank our Blissful Brands & Businesses Group on Facebook, for their gift contributions for this special media event. Here are their Instagram handles so you can look them up!
Shophouse Coffee (bottled cold brew): @shophousecoffee | Neutra Organics (skincare): @neutraorganics | KSigns & Designs (acrylic trinket trays): @ksignsanddeisgns |Chunky Chewelries (custom necklaces): @chunkychewelries | Blooming Hobby (succulents/flower buckets): @bloominghobby | Nanay Dulces (cookies): @nanaydulces | Treen Manila (tealight blocks): @treenmanila | A Vanilla Story (room spray / bug-off spray): @avanillastory | The Paper Menagerie (postcard/print): @thepapermenagerie | The Drunken Florist (fragrance diffusers: @thedrunkenfloristph | Gourdo’s (small vases): @gourdos
Thank you to Avida Land Corp for this opportunity. For more details on Avida’s options for homeowners, please visit their website and Facebook pages to talk to an Avida associate.
Make it Blissful had the fine opportunity to collaborate with Avida Land Corp this latter half of the year, on two Home Gathering events that brought together homeowners, and bloggers & members of the press. I have to admit, I was intimidated by the thought of mounting two events for such a trusted name in real estate!
The first of the two events was the Nuvali Home Gathering last August. For this, I partnered with my good friends Lady and Steph Badoy of Boqueria Lifestyle Market, who would be doing the table styling tutorial. My husband Ton and his coffee catering biz Shophouse Coffee provided the specialty coffee beverages for the afternoon, too. Together, we joined forces to create a simple afternoon workshop entitled “Home Gatherings at Avida.” We would be mounting this event for the preferred clients and homeowners of Nuvali, and I also invited some of my blogger friends who lived nearby.
We began the afternoon with a talk on home gatherings, naturally, and how Avida homes encourage this type of coming-away and quieting down with family and friends for simple home parties and get-togethers. I personally love how the Avida homes in Nuvali are conducive for entertaining. (Have a look at some of the options, over on their official website, avidalandcorp.com)
Lady and Steph focused on the theme “work with what you have.” They made use of their collection of props and tableware, which resembled what most small households might already have on-hand in their storecupboards. The girls demonstrated how to work with a very basic dinner setup using mostly white dinnerware and tablecloths, and then how to build on these using a “mix & match” method of combining different types of dinnerware. It was amazing to see them take their tablescape from simple to stunning — very doable, indeed!
Everyone was then given a chance to finish their own tables. There was no theme assigned, as groups were challenged to consider the buffet of props first before attempting to create their tablescapes. The results were impressive!
A tip from Steph: Be inspired by the things you already have and just add to them, as needed. This means starting already with good quality basic dinnerware and flatware. I agree! When we first started our home, one of the things we agreed on as husband and wife were that our table would always be nicely set, because eating together as a family was important to us. Isn’t it much more pleasant to eat together when things are set out nicely?
Details! “Details make guests feel a little more special,” said Steph. Things like printing out a simple meny card are a nice touch. (I highly recommend Canva.com for this!) Placing fresh greens (even if you don’t have flowers) add a bit of life to the table, too, while glasses can be mixed & matched as vases or candle holders. It’s these little things that elevate a table setting from everyday to special.
I’m so happy that our little workshop here enabled our participants to slow down, appreciate the possibilities they can create at home and really enjoy making meaningful get-togethers with the people they love, both friends and family. Thank you to my Southern blogger belles for being at the event, and for sharing also what they love about living the chilled-out suburban lifestyle away from the metro.
Thank you to Avida Land Corp for this opportunity. For more details on Avida’s options for homeowners, please visit their website and Facebook pages to talk to an Avida associate.
Our first shopping trip as a couple was to SM Home in Mega Mall in April of 2008, to buy a dish rack for our kitchen. It was a memorable trip for us, because we invested in a stainless steel dish rack that looked modern and also had a cushy price point (well, at least back then for us penniless newbies!) The dish rack is still with us after 8 years; a good investment since it’s never rusted. (You can see it on the front-right of this photo of my teeny, tiny kitchen!)
SM Home has always been our go-to place for affordable homeware. If ever you’re thinking of something you need for your home, then go and check out SM Home’s Sale this September 1st to October 16th. Like our 8 year old dish rack, they have a wide variety of on-sale storage items, organizers, bath & laundry aids, as well as kitchen carts. Well, stop by soon, because there are limited stocks during sale periods like these, and you’d want to be sure you get what you want (and what looks good in your home!)
Right now if I were going to catch the sale, I’d go straight for the kitchen carts, like this Jaden cart:
We sure could use one in our kitchen now to shuttle items in between the dining area and back again.
Upstairs, I need baskets in the kids’ play area to corral everything:
In the bathroom, these metal bins are nice too, especially since I like stainless steel:
And for the living room or around the bedroom, who doesn’t love all-purpose baskets like these:
OK, see you at the checkout line!
Check these out and more at www.smhome.com.ph
FB: SM Home
Snapchat : sm_home
Most of you know that Grace Baja (thespoiledmummy.com) was one of my blog coaching clients some years ago, for the first and second edition of her blogs. We’ve remained good friends through the years, too, and have always looked forward to our catch-ups and coffee dates in between our busy schedules. In fact over a month ago, we met after several months, and it happened to be on the same day that she held her press launch for her business, Grace Home, which is now a year old.
Can I just say how amazed I am by this woman? She has successfully nurtured and grown her personal brand through her blog, into a job that she absolutely loves. As you know, I am all for utilizing the blogging method as a way to launch a life you love, and Grace is consistently able to do this as a blogger, and now as an entrepreneur. I believe it’s because she is true to who she is, unapologetic about who she is, and dedicated to her craft.
Speaking of blogging and what it means down the road, Grace invited a few of her blogger friends for an intimate launch soirée of her new products — throw pillows! — aptly named “Pillow Talk.” We talked about blogging, it’s evolution and what we thought of its future. Such fun! True to form, the event was everything a spoiled mummy should be: classy, elegant, well-appointed from the food to the ambiance — like being in Grace’s gracious home, actually.
I’ll let Grace tell you more about the gathering in her words over on her blog, The Spoiled Mummy. All I really want to say is that I am super proud of Grace and what she has done through her blog and her business. I think that she would make an excellent guest speaker at my next blog workshop, right? I mean, we can all learn so much from how she has used her blog meaningfully as a launch pad to her passions. It can be done, people! With lots of hard work and dedication, of course… and if you know Grace, she has both in volumes!! She is one of the hardest working blog personalities I know, and she is well-reputed for it.
Don’t let me keep you, watch the video of our “Pillow Talk” on Grace’s blog, and then make sure to hop on over to Grace Home for some of those gorgeous pillows!!
For more information on Grace Home, visit The Spoiled Mummy blog, follow Grace on @thespoiledmummy and @gracehomemanila on Instagram.
The Blissful Box isn’t a brand new concept, really. All gatherings have some sort of hostess gifts or souvenirs for guests to take home with them, right? But I think what makes the Blissful Box just a little bit different is that each item inside is a product of thought and concern for the recipient. Will they like receiving this — really? Will they be able to really use this in their lives? Will it make them feel special when they receive it? Will they smile when they open the box and see what’s inside? These are just some of the questions we ask anytime we hold an event and prepare a Blissful Box for those attending.
For the Parenting Emporium’s Blissmakerie, each product was thoughtfully picked by the two co-founders, Beng Feliciano and Maricel Cua. Each of the brands in the box are also partner brands of the Parenting Emporium, which is a leader in the local active parenting scene as a hub for thoughtful, intentional products for mothers, babies and children. We’d like to tell you a bit about each of the brands who generously sponsored the Blissful Box, and more importantly blessed the moms who came to the gathering.
DoTerra Therapy (Essential Oils)
DoTerra is known for its certified pure therapeutic grade oils. As a brand, DoTerra believes in individuals pursuing all-natural and holistic approaches to healthy and wellness, to improve the overall quality of life, and even make wellness enjoyable, not a bore or burden.
As a treat for the moms, DoTerra sponsored massage oils in Ylang Ylang and Wild Orange. They were chosen for the Blissful Box because these variants are said to trigger feelings of happiness, positivity, and pure bliss. This specific sampler included fractionated coconut oil into the mix, so that moms can keep the vials in their purses and give themselves a soothing temple or neck massage whenever they feel stressed throughout the day.
Find DoTerra on Instaram www.instagram.com/doterratherapy and also on Facebook facebook.com/thedotspa
SoYoung (Sweat-Proof Ice Packs)
SoYoung is a lifestyle brand from Canada that celebrates the beauty in everyday family life. In the Philippines, it is distributed by Honest Ventures Corporation (the same company behind exclusive brands RuMe Bags and Real Kids Shades). SoYoung is known and loved by international celebrities for its eco-friendliness, multi-functionality and clean, minimalist design. Locally, SoYoung’s core products are its insulated lunch boxes, cooler-bags and backpacks for the modern family. (Check out the whole line in The Parenting Emporium).
For the Blissful Box, SoYoung provided sweat-proof ice packs, which safely keeps food and bottles cool for up to 4 hours. (Great for breastfeeding moms who need to express milk on-the-go, you can use the ice pack in your cooler bags!). I personally love this because they don’t encourage condensation, which are a nuisance. The icepack is BPA, Phthalate and Lead-free, and it can be placed in the freezer without removing the casing.
Find SoYoung at www.gatherph.com and on Instagram: instagram.com/soyoungph
The Green Company (Honest Wipes)
A family-owned business, The Green Company has been passionate about love, health, and life since 2009. They have been bringing in organic and natural products to discerning Filipino parents, trying to keep prices to a minimum while doing so, so that healthy living can be possible for more families. As a family business, each product they carry has been carefully selected and personally tested. Their credo “Live healthy. Be Green. Go Organic”, is a mantra for parents to invest in their family’s wellness for lifelong benefits.
And that’s why for the Blissful Box, they sponsored a big pack of Honest Wipes (the company famously pioneered by green mom, Jessica Alba). The wipes are plant-based, chlorine-free and have no harmful chemicals that can harm both adults and babies.
Find the Green Company on Facebook facebook.com/thegreencompany and Instagram- instagram.com/thegreencompany
Nature to Nurture (Multi-Purpose Cleaner)
“I swear by this,” is what Beng told me about this next product, so I was intrigued as to why. As a brand, Nature to Nurture believes in minimizing the harmful chemicals that we are being exposed to in our homes because it must be a safe place for our children to live and grow. Therefore they create meaningful products for everyday cleaning needs. Parents can use their products without worrying about harmful chemicals, so that they can focus on nurturing their families instead. (I love it!)
Now their star product, the Nature to Nurture Multi Purpose Cleaner, is just as effective as popular cleaners but completely safe. So safe, that if you use it to clean your floors, you won’t have to worry about your kid picking up germs or harmful chemical residues if they happen to pick up and eat some food they drop on the floor (like my baby!). This is thanks to the Tea Tree essential oil used as the cleaner’s antibacterial agent. It kills 99.99% of E.Coli and Salmonella, and 99.92% of Staph bacteria (as tested by SGS Phils, Inc.). It can be used to sanitize any surface (including wood) or even used as a room spray to get rid of odours. You can’t beat that.
Find Nature to Nurture on Facebook facebook.com/naturetonurtureph and Instagram instagram.com/naturetonurtureph and at naturetonurtureph.com
Indigo Baby (Assorted body care)
When I first read up about Monica Manzano and Denise Bernardo back when I was pregnant with my first children, I thought they were absolute rockstar moms. Their journey as a brand reflected their journey as mothers, making them true “karmic sisters”, as they like to say. As soon as I found out about their brand Indigo Baby, I stocked up on their Shoo Fly Don’t Bother Me mosquito repellent, their Jar of Hope soothing gel, their Sleep Like a Baby oil, and got myself an Indigo Baby sling to complete my “yummy mummy” arsenal for my then-baby Vito.
Celebrating its 9th year as a pioneering mom brand in the realm of mindful motherhood and attachment, Indigo Baby continues to create “life saving products to enrich you and your baby’s life.” And they certainly have: Just look at their very active social media feeds to see the thousands of mommies whose lives have been touched by their products.
For the Blissful Box, Indigo Baby gave an assortment of best-sellers, including Shoo Fly Don’t Bother Me Insect Repellent, Dance of Life Massage Oil, Sleep Like a Baby Massage Oil, Sleepyhead Room & Linen Spray, Divine Intervention Room & Linen Spray and Jar of Love Healing Balm. “I chose these all natural bestsellers for the yummy mummies to get to try them and enjoy them by adding some all natural goodness to their lives,” said Denise.
Find Indigo Baby on Facebook www.facebook.com/indigobb/ and on Instagram instagram.com/indigobabyshop
Seve’s Mom (Assorted breastfeeding aids)
Seve’s Mom is a solo-mom business by Kia Ferreras. Though she is a full-time working mom, Kia is an advocate of active parenting, breastfeeding advocate, homeschooling, and sustainability. She professes she has “a love for all things cloth,” which is what gave birth to the concept of her Seve’s Mom line: Nursing Infinity Scarves, Cloth Liners and Pads, Cloth Wipes, Cloth Nursing Pads and Cloth Bags. For the Blissful Box, Kia gave each mom either an infinity scarf or cloth wipes.
Find Seve’s Mom on Facebook facebook.com/sevesmomph/ and Instagram instagram.com/sevesmomph
Mustela Baby (Skin Freshener Spray)
This brand needs no introduction since it’s a well-known global brand, but I have to say the Mustela Philippines makes you feel cared-for because of their personalized approach and service. I’ve been using the Mustela barrier creme ever since Vito was born, and stocked up on it for Krista (who still uses it). We use their Dermo Cleanser as our kids’ bath soap and shampoo, too. Their sensitive skin line has also been useful for me in managing my atopic dermatitis of the hands.
For the Blissful Box, each mom received a premium size bottle of the Mustela Skin Freshener Spray. It is a life-saver for me as a busy mom. I keep it in the kids’ day bag. So when we’re out, I use it on both of them whenever they get sweaty and need a clothes change. It’s like an all-in-one instant shower, so I spray it all over them, especially their hair, and they come out smelling so fresh.
Find Mustela Philippines on Facebook facebook.com/MustelaPhilippines and on Instagram instagram.com/mustelaphilippines
Photograph by Kaizer Photography
Thank you to all the Blissful Box contributors for your generous support of the moms who received these goodies. Surely your brands are not only going to be used in their homes and families, but they are also an important part of these families’ journey to a more whole, healthy and happy quality of life. Be blessed!
We had such a great time at our first Gathering Table: Table Styling & Home Gatherings Workshop! It was the third in a series of workshops we’re doing about “The Art of Homemaking,” and quite possibly the most fun of them all! Once again, Mateo’s Garden Cafe was our lovely venue for this afternoon workshop with Boqueria Lifestyle Market, who have collaborated with Make it Blissful in the past for our Blissmakerie and our Francophile lunch with some Instagram friends.
My reason for asking Steph and Lady Badoy to collaborate on this workshop was really because they started their business out of passion and a natural skill for entertaining at home. I remember visiting their family home in Cotabato waaaaaay back then, and it was so well appointed, and we were so pampered and taken care of as guests. Their mom, Tita Pennie, passed on her knack for home decorating and hostessing to her daughters, and their styling business has just grown from all this.
We started the gathering in the afternoon, since we were also thinking it would have the best natural light for all the photos we’d be taking! Thank you so much to Jonathan Justin Keh of Oak Street Studios (@oak_st_studios on Instagram) for taking our photographs for this gathering.
For the workshop, Steph and Lady taught us the basics of a “wabi-sabi” style of table decorating, which is a Japanese method that has risen in popularity thanks to design blogs and Instagram. You may recoginize it as being a minimalist, earthy style, with a focus on imperfect objects coming together to form a pleasing table setting or vignette.
The girls used an assortment of plain, ordinary pieces found in most home storecupboards: white plates, old soup cans (which they sprayed gold), odd-shaped tumblers and glasses (you know, the old kind your grandmother keeps in her dining room display?), everyday utensils, and foraged greens from the garden. The result was a simple yet eye-catching and intimate table setting for a casual dinner. Wonderful, simple, yet inviting!
When the demo by Steph and Lady was over, we had a chance to view the finished product, make our observations, ask questions and get tips on how to style our own tables for our home gatherings. Some tips we learned were:
- Start with what you already have. You’d be surprised at what’s lying around in your home that can be used for decorating your next home gathering. For example: If you keep those amber-colored beer bottles, you can reuse them as vases for ferns and flowers. You don’t need to buy new vases. Same with old jam and mason jars, you can use them as tealight holders and dot them around the dinner table (just make sure to use smokeless candles, which are a bit pricey, but hey, you’re not buying new candle holders!)
- When purchasing everyday plates and utensils for your home, plain and simple is best. Plain colored ceramic or milk glass plates in neutral and plain colors can go a long way in home entertaining! You can get inexpensive yet good quality ceramics in flea markets and bargain sections inside department stores. It’s good to get those in one color, so that you can play around with other textures.
- Have a signature style in mind, so that you can easily work with what you have. When you buy a set of plates, make sure you’ve thought about the different ways you can work with it. The simplest way to
know how to work with your basic dinnerware is to keep them within a style. An easy style is the wabi-sabi style we learned, which is to start with a blank canvas, like a set of white plates, good quality utensils, and plain colored, neutral table cloths and napkins. Then you can add a theme using minimal accessories, like a fancy candle holder or tealight holders, or napkin rings and flowers.
Each table was grouped into three or four and were tasked to style their own tables and photograph them for Instagram. Boqueria made available an entire “props buffet” of their own styling materials, flowers, and accessories. It was so much fun!
To keep things fair, each group had three minutes to scour the props buffet for articles they needed for their table setting. Mateo’s provided the utensils (because naturally we were going to use them for our meal afterwards!), and each group was expected to create a theme, based on their choices. Here’s what everyone ended up with:
First, start with a base. Boqueria had provided so many tablecloths, it was a challenge for everyone to pick just one! But the base is super important, because it is the canvas of the entire setting.
Next, everyone gathered their decor and accessories and made them work with the themes they had in mind. This table was a Hampton’s-inspired brunch setting with lots of sea blue-greens and handmade elements. The chalkboard place settings double as ideal party gifts for guests — nice touch!
Next up was a minimalist setting for a holiday dinner. I admired their knack for making several patterns work— that is not easy at all! But they managed to keep things to a color palette, which made things come together.
Lastly, we had a summer-themed “Florida Keys” setting, which was meant for a fabulous party. This one kind of blew us away, because every element was well thought-out and being the last group to select their items from the buffet, they really had to work with what was left. Pretty great, huh?
What a relaxing and fun afternoon! Thank you also to the brands who supported us: Bebeng’s Kitchen for her cookies and cuppies, Origins for the skincare, and NiQua for our custom aprons and on-site embossing. Boqueria Lifestyle Market also sent all the ladies home with a stack of pretty table napkins.