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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Style Inspiration: Gretel Pery, Manila/L.A.

I often talk about my personal style philosophies here at MFO, but I figured, it would be infinitely more interesting to feature stylish girls and how they found their personal style. Finding our own style is a process, and I hope that this series will not only teach us a thing or ten about how to put together an outfit and where to shop, but also to discover how to dress according to our taste, budget and lifestyle. 

Next up in this series is Gretel Pery, a loving wife, a mom of two kids, and get this, her work is shopping online. OMG Dream Job. I stalk her on Instagram because she is always so chic, with a classic, effortless style that defies time. She wears a lot of comfortable basics, but she puts everything together so flawlessly. Let's learn from her!

You shop for a living! What's that like?

I am the purchaser of Forexworld Online Shopping. It’s a service Forex Cargo offers to people who have no access ordering from most websites. So aside from the usual balikbayan boxes we are known for, we also offer drop ship and online shopping services. A lot of shopping websites now don’t accept orders if you don’t have a US credit card, a US billing address or a US shipping address. I do the ordering for them and ship through Forex.

What is a day in your life like? How do you spend your weekends?

I work from the house. I coordinate with our customer service reps through email and phone calls. I do the work in the morning. In the afternoon, I bring my daughter to school, go to the gym, run errands and fetch my kids from school if I can.

I’m home before dinner with my family. My weekends are spent with my husband and kids. This is the time for haircuts, doctor’s appointments, eating out, watching a movie or simply just hanging out together.

 When running errands, Gretel goes for comfortable clothing like button downs, jersey tops and dresses and jeans, paired with functional flats like espadrilles, ballet flats or classic white sneakers.

How would you best describe your style? Why does it work for you?

Clean, easy and minimal. I’ve always been attracted to structured clothing and clean lines. I try to balance it to look more flattering. This style works for my lifestyle.

How has your style evolved and how did you know you've finally found your trademark style?

When I was younger, it was all about trying to blend in and be socially accepted. I was gullible and faddish. However, even then, I already knew what I liked, and was drawn to and appreciative of certain styles. However putting them together was still a challenge. 

As I grew older, I became more confident with my choices. I think it all started when I became a mom. It was a lifestyle change. I started prioritizing comfort without looking frumpy. I would say I‘ve learned to edit along the way. 

When attending her kids' school activities, and the occasion calls for dressier pieces, comfort is still key, but she switches the shorts and button down with a pencil skirt and a boxy top, a dressier top and heels to go with skinny jeans, or a jersey wrap dress instead of a jersey tunic.

What are your wardrobe essentials?

Dark slim fit jeans, ballet flats, a neutral colored everyday leather bag, a crisp white and light blue shirt, classic black pumps, a black clutch and a bunch of well fitting underwear!

Gretel's wardrobe essentials: Dark slim fit jeans in a very current flare cut, ballet flats to balance off a poufy skirt, classic white button downs. The secret to her style is the fit. The hems are cut at just the right length, waist bands fit snugly, and tops fit well at the shoulders.

Where do you shop?

Mostly abroad and online. Locally I like Uniqlo and MUJI.

When traveling, Gretel relies on her trusty trench coats and white sneakers. Having a personal uniform philosophy, especially when you travel, takes the stress out of dressing up every day, and makes it easier to pack for trips as well

Best style advice you've ever received and what advice would you give to those who want to nail her own personal style?
  • Less is more and always go for quality over quantity.  
  • Style is about how you carry yourself and put everything together. You have to know what you really like but know also if the stuff will suit your personality and lifestyle
  • Don’t get carried away by trends. What works for others doesn’t mean it will also work for you. 
  •  Learn when to stop. A pair of Valentino Rockstuds doesn’t look the same on every woman.
What would your advice be to someone who wants to build her closet but is on a budget?
  • You have to cover the basics first. Update in small doses. Make sure to buy something that goes well with the rest of your wardrobe. 
  • Buy the best quality you can afford. Purchases made this way will endure longer in fashion and durability. Moreover this way, you don’t have to buy too much.
For more tips on chic, stylish dressing, read Popsugar's 15 Things Stylish Women Do Everyday. Bookmark it! It's a wonderful reminder that style also requires discipline, and the little things we do to take care of our things, and the time we spend to give thought on how we look, all add up to great style.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Meet Christine, a Rags2Riches Carry-All

Nothing says summer like cool drinks, canvas slip-ons, colorful straw mats, breezy clothes, the company of your favorite people and oh, a fun summer bag!

Rags2Riches makes it fun to shop for our next summer bag with the Viaje Collection, their Spring/Summer 2015 offering.

The collection is made up of five different bags, all using handwoven, artisanal panels created by artisans from three different Filipino communities:

1) the solid color basket-weave is made by R2R urban artisans,
2) the vibrant striped textile is handloomed by the Mangyan of Mindoro,
2) and the geometric textile is handloomed by the DAWN artisans of Metro Manila.

The leather embroidery is hand-stitched by R2R artisans, and assembled with genuine leather accents in the R2R workshop in San Juan City, Philippines.

My favorite bag, I have to say is the Christine Carry-All. It comes in 5 color ways and may be worn 3 ways. Making it the perfect bag to pack along on your summer adventures!

As with all bags from the Viaje Collection, its foundation is a tote with a basic solid color and leather trims, but with a few smart snaps and simple hooks, plus the addition of a detachable pouch, transforms it into a more intricate and unique bag.

You can wear it as carry-all with the pouch attached.

Take out the detachable pouch, and you get a basic, no nonsense carry-all.

Wear the detachable pouch as a sling bag, it comes with an antique gold chain strap.

Ok, full disclosure. The Christine Carry-All is named after me. Heehee. I was asked by Reese Fernandez-Ruiz of Rags2Riches to be part of their Design Council, but never imagined they would name one of their bags, Christine.

For this, I am grateful, thrilled and happy to be part of a fun summer collection, that also happens to be a meaningful initiative. 

After all, Rags2Riches is more than just a lifestyle brand. It is a social enterprise that teaches skills and provides jobs to those in need, supports artisans, and makes use of indigenous fabrics to weave a story of a product that is proudly Filipino.

I hope you continue supporting Rags2Riches by choosing your summer bag from the Viaje Collection! The bags are up for pre-order until tonight, March 25 and shall ship by March 27, 2015.

Shop the Christine Carry-All at http://viaje.rags2riches.ph/christine-bag/ 

Shop the Rags2Riches Viaje Collection at http://viaje.rags2riches.ph/

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

It's Time to Simplify

I have a new buddy:

Because these days, I don't go anywhere without my UNIONBANK Platinum MasterCard. It's pretty much the card Dada, Nana and I use for most of our expenses. Sorry na lang to our old, no evident benefit, credit cards.

From buying groceries, and stuff for the house...

To dining out...

To paying bills, it's the card we choose.

A huge come on is the fact that we get a 1.5% cash rebate every time our cards get swiped. That's instant cash back that I can credit back to my card, to offset our expenses. Which, is so much better than racking up credit card points that I don't even get to use.

But more than that, it has made my life so much simpler. Let me tell you how:

1) It's straightforward. There's no messing with your head with this one. You see, not all cash back cards are created equal. This card is a game changer. 

There are NO CAPS. If you spend Php1,000, you know you get Php15. If you spend Php1,000,000 you know you get Php10,500. You get the cash back you've earned from spending, no ifs and buts. 

That said, there are NO CONDITIONS. There's no need to do a minimum spend on certain spending categories just to earn cash back.

More important, there is NO EXPIRY date on your cash back amount. You can accumulate it for as long as you like, if you like.

2) I use it to shop safely online. Online shopping has allowed me to save on time, precious time. 

I don't have to do emergency runs to the grocery to buy disposable diapers. When I am alerted by Nana that stocks are running low, I just order a pack online at Cudsly.com, and I get it the next day. Imagine the time I saved from having to shower, dressing up, getting stuck in traffic, lining up, and all that.

Let me tell you, this card is so safe to use online, that when I used it to buy at Cudsly.com and net-a-porter.com, I was contacted both times by UNIONBANK, asking me to confirm my purchase.

Talk about peace of mind.

3) I delegate tasks via supplementary cards. I applied for supplementary cards for Dada and Nana. This allows me to earn cash back every time they swipe the cards, and also frees up my time to spend extra hours at home with the kids, focus on work, and all the other things I have to attend to.

As much as I enjoy shopping, yes, even for groceries, I've empowered Nana to do those unscheduled grocery runs, to accompany the driver for when he needs to put gas in the cars, to run to Mercury Drug or Watson's when we're in need of medicines or National Bookstore when we need supplies. Again, saving me precious time.

Because goodness knows I have no more time to kill. The concept of "killing time" escapes me now. "Free Time", what's that?

Gone are the days when I could read a book in one seating, stroll the mall aimlessly, have quiet time with a cup of tea, or goodness, even just have three minutes without at least one child calling out, if not wailing for me while I'm in the shower, or worse, sitting on the toilet. I swear, with the way my kids treat me when I'm in the bathroom, it's like I'm committing a crime. Bawal na bawal!

That's why anything that makes my life easier, I'm game. At the rate things are progressing, with my time being consumed by the needs of the family, errands, deadlines that I need to be on top of, work and everything else that need to be done ora mismo, I seriously need tools to keep things on track, and the UNIONBANK Platinum Mastercard allows me to do just that. It will help you too, as it has helped me and my friend Kris, aka OC Mom in Manila, promise.

To apply for your UNIONBANK Platinum MasterCard:

- Fill out an online application form from http://unionbankph.com/personal/credit-cards/apply-now
- Download application form and fax it to (02) 636-6256
- Visit your nearest UnionBank branch. For the branch nearest you, click HERE.

For more about this card, click HERE or call their Customer Service Hotline at +632 8418600 or Domestic Toll Free 1-800-1888-2277. 

P.S. Next on my "to simplify" list, is a brilliant suggestion by Ana Delgado of UNIONBANK to get EON Debit Cards for the household staff. This makes salary pay-outs so much easier and safer. It is also more financially sound for the staff to have their money go straight to the bank. The EON Card also allows them to use the card for purchases, and transfer money to a relative's bank account, whatever bank it may be.

P.P.S. Watch Kris, Eliza and I on Karrot's show, Live Love Lolz, where we hash out how we've simplified our life, our shopping life, with the UNIONBANK Platinum MasterCard.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

MUJI Launches Cotton Denim Series this Summer

If there is one fabric I can’t get enough of in my closet, it’s denim.

With three kids, anything denim is my default piece. It’s hard wearing, comfortable, and has the ability to make me look pulled together because it hardly creases.

It’s so easy to take care of too. Just throw it in the wash, and it looks brand new again. Actually, the older and more faded it gets, the better it looks.

As if denim can’t get any better, MUJI takes denim to a whole new level with the use of 100% Organic Cotton as a sustainable initiative, a conscious move to care for the environment.

All that without compromising comfort and style. I played dress up with a couple of pieces from the collection, and they’re just love. Love. Love.

MUJI organic cotton double gauze dress, perfect for shuttling the kids around to their summer activities

MUJI denim pencil skirt, and a crisp white shirt, casual but polished enough for meetings 

 MUJI stretch boyfriend jeans and striped button down shirt, for running errands

The beauty of MUJI denim is that the fabrics are exposed to less color treatment and minimal wash to maintain their best, natural state and keep their true color and shape.

Oh, and one more thing about denim? Even if it looks great in its minimal state, it is also such a fun piece to dress up, and I can really inject each piece with my own personality.

A casual, minimalist look with pops of red

A summer in the city inspired look

Pieces from the MUJI Cotton Denim Series are so versatile, and are designed to complement other pieces to fill a mixed bag of stylish combinations, from denim on denim to the classic match up of jeans and a crisp white shirt.

That said, come on over to MUJI this month. Get 25% OFF on any DENIM for every garment purchase. Promo period is from March 6 to March 31, 2015.

In the Philippines, MUJI is exclusively distributed by Stores Specialists, Inc. (SSI) - a member of The SSI Group,Inc. Muji is located at Bonifacio High Street Central, Power Plant Mall at Rockwell Center, Greenbelt 3, SM Mall of Asia, Robinsons Magnolia, Shangri-La Plaza East Wing and Ayala Center Cebu. 

Photo credits: Camille King of Camille King Photography

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Warts and All: The 411 on Electrocauterization

As soon as Tepper turned 2 months old, I told myself, no more excuses. 

I was going to exercise (c/o my friend Kat Garcia's recommended nutrition/workout routine), and really make an effort to go to Dr. Yanee Santos at Aesthetic Science Clinic to get my post-pregnancy skin issues sorted out. 

Let me tell you, I have never been this excited for a facial. Especially since my last facial, also at Aesthetic Science, must have happened, oh about two years ago. 

I was actually looking forward to getting my face pricked and primed, and diamond peeled to perfection.

But how to achieve perfection when I've got warts staring at me in the face every time I looked in the mirror? Especially since they multiplied during pregnancy. (Oversharing? Well, this is me, warts and all! Heehee.) So I finally made a go to get all my warts removed. 

I'm sharing with you the 411 because I know, I am not alone with a secret of this dastardly sort. Shhhh. Anyhoo, here's what to expect, when you're expecting to say bye to warts.

Step 1. EMLA cream (a topical anesthetic) was applied directly on the warts, after my facial. Some kind of medical grade tape was applied over the cream. For my neck which was festered with warts, it was covered with cling wrap, no less. Lolz.

Step 2. Electrocauterization. After 45 minutes, and the anesthesia had numbed my skin, the warts were zapped to kingdom come by Dr. Leah Salido via electrocauterization.

Because I have sensitive skin, it turned all red like this. This is expected, and is absolutely normal.

Step 3. A therapist applied antibiotic/anti-inflammatory cream to all affected areas after Dr. Leah was done. I was told not take a bath for 24 hours, and reminded to just let the scabs fall off on its own.

Step 4. Before settling my bill, I was given a set of instructions, all printed out, which I appreciate.

I would probably forget if this was given to me verbally. I like that Aesthetic Science has thought of all the little details such as this. 


Before I left the clinic, Dr. Yanee told me what to expect (itching, no scratching, etc.) and ran me through the list, reminding me to just take a bath after 24 hours, and apply the healing cream, 2X a day for 2 weeks.

She told me to stay away from direct sunlight, 2 to 3 weeks post treatment as it could darken the spots where the scabs fell off. The perfect excuse for me to buy this Ines dela Fressange hat for Uniqlo actually, heehee.

She told me not to apply my usual facial creams five days post-treatment, although it was highly recommended that I protect my face with sunblock of SPF 15 or more.


About a day later, the treated areas had turned into scabs.

I couldn't wait for them to fall out. I was so tempted to pick at it, but then I remembered I was explicitly told, "DO NOT PICK ON THE SCABS." 

But I think the scabs bothered me more than it bothered friends I met up with over the course of healing. Come to think of it, if I didn't tell people and drew attention to my face and neck, they wouldn't even have noticed.

About 5 days later, the scabs started to fall off. I would swipe at my neck with Bioderma Sensibio H20 and some would come off on the pad.

Close to two weeks later, everything is totally gone. And finally, my skin feels so smooth when I run  my hands down my neck. No scars or dark spots too, thank goodness to my liberal use of healing cream.

I kind of actually miss the scabs, I'm looking for more areas to treat, haha. There's a certain kind of satisfaction seeing those little bastards fall off. 

So worth the discomfort, trouble and a little bit of embarrassment, promise.

Wart Removal via electrocauterization costs about Php2,500 at Aesthetic Science, but if you have 2 or more areas treated in one go, it will cost Php2,000 per area.

For inquiries contact:
Telephone No.: 809-8021/899-3643
Website: www.aestheticscienceclinic.com
E-mail: aestheticscienceclinic@yahoo.com

Aesthetic Science Alabang
Ground Floor of the Kennedy Center
Prime cor. Venture Sts. Madrigal Business Park
Muntinlupa City
8098021 / 09178082921

Aesthetic Science Makati
Ground Floor, Jupiter Place
Jupiter St., Bel-air Makati City
8993643 / 09178082926
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