Click on the image to read from the first day of my 30-day Blog Challenge. Enjoy!

The Inspiration Series

Seven blog posts that warm the heart and inspire.

The Cosmo Series

16 blog posts from my guest-blogging stint at the new and improved

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

DAY 15 Reflection has won!

Posted by Mariel on Tuesday, June 30, 2009 0 comments
Thank you to everyone who voted for the new template. My personal fave was Blue Glide, but Reflection had tabs and a distinct header, so perhaps that's why it won by one point. I found both templates at, whose owner/designer has just been very helpful. I am in talks with him to combine the two so I actually get the best of both templates! So I'll be busy 'renovating' over here and brushing up on my HTML. If you find any bugs or missing links, please be patient with me, and also feel free to leave feedback in the comment boxes. Also, do tell me about your blogs so I can link you up in the sidebar. I just loove makeovers!

On another note, the Waring Pro Juice Extractor is the latest addition to the kitchen. Just this afternoon I drank: fresh carrot-apple juice, orange juice, and apple-watermelon juice. So good! I also got a late start with work because I spent half the day in the kitchen making Baked Butter Chicken Fillets (a recipe from, which I blogged about here, and a big batch of lentil soup. I took long processing the mirepoix of carrots, celery, and onion—I do this by chopping up more than what I need and putting the rest in zip-top bags to be stashed in the freezer for future use. It also helps that I do all the chopping (when it's this big a batch) in the food processor. I noticed though that after processing the carrots, it tinted the clear bowl orange.
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Monday, June 29, 2009

DAY 14 Mandy's back!

Posted by Mariel on Monday, June 29, 2009 0 comments
That's Mandy Moore on the cover of the July/August 2009 issue of Women's Health Magazine. She looks great, doesn't she? As it turns out, she has a new album called Amanda Leigh (her birth name) and surprise, surprise, she's now married to singer-songwriter Ryan Adams.

I met Mandy Moore a couple of years back and she was the sweetest thing. My fiancé has always had a crush on her, going as far as asking my then-editor to let him tag along during the interview. I am trying to unearth a photo which I thought was in my dormant Friendster account, but apparently, was in the Myspace account I'd deleted a long time ago.

Sorry if this blog post sounds anorexic yet again. I just spent the whole day doing my New York day job—that I get to do outside the city thank you very much—so I'm pretty spent. Plus, up until a minute ago, I had yet to figure out what to write about for Friday's beauty column. Good thing I got an email from the brand manager of Ralph Lauren/Polo and Diesel detailing upcoming men's fragrance launches. So, watch out, I'll be broadcasting the latest scent treats you can get for the hommes in your life!

Back to Mandy, yes she was sweet, charming, gracious, and gorgeous! It was the 'Mandy Machine' of agents, managers, and the like, that annoyed in general. That said, I only have pleasant things to say about the former teen pop star, and I wish her well in her career and marriage. And I'll be browsing iTunes for her new songs, simply because they reek 'indie' and I'm curious: Mandy holed up in a cabin to produce her latest album. This means, she was free to write and record with no big studio labels filtering and forcing mass-produced, monotonous beats on her. (I do like some manufactured pop, too, don't get me wrong.)

Anyway, Women's Health is an engaging read brimming with useful and entertaining articles. Although personally, I seem to enjoy reading Men's Health more, maybe because with the latter being a magazine made for men, I am not compelled to check the gutter for photo credits, or pay too much attention to styling, copy, etc.—an 'autopilot' function that lights up whenever I pick up any women's magazine.

Women's Health is currently being headed and edited (headited—a term I've coined) by Michele Promaulayko, Kate White's former second-in-command at Cosmo. I think anybody who has been second-in-command of anything makes a great head of something, as witnessed by my managing and associate editor friends who now helm their own titles.
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Sunday, June 28, 2009

DAY 13 Magalove

Posted by Mariel on Sunday, June 28, 2009 0 comments
A page usually starts as a scribble, an idea in an editor's head.

It's safe to say that magazines are my first love. Growing up, my dad owned a small bookstore (and by the end of the eighties, opened a few more) in our hometown. It was common back then to allocate a shelf or two for adult magazines—the Playboys and Penthouses of the decade. And whenever it was time for my parents to wrap each risqué read into their individual glossy plastic packaging, I was relegated to one corner of the store where I quietly read my Archies, Reader's Digests, and you guessed it: magazines. (No—no Playboy for me.)

So in retrospect, I'm not surprised that I ended up working in the magazine industry for quite a number of years. I still do, somehow. But these days, it's a more languid, less intense version of my life as a full-time editor. As a freelancer, I can practically spend the day working in bed. I do miss the stilettos, though.

This drawing is a sample of how I would brainstorm with my art director in the past and it's a page peg of a project I recently worked on. A page usually starts with an idea, scribbled on a piece of paper, and from there, blossoms into a full-fledged editorial—styled products, lead-in photos, captions and all. As you can see, I'm not the very best drawer around, but so far, my doodling ways have produced about seven years worth of magazine clips.

A couple of weeks ago, I was asked if I still wanted to pursue a magazine career in New York. The answer is yes and no. Yes, because I would never turn down the prospect of working for one of my favorite things in the world. There is nothing like opening a new, freshly-printed issue; the feel of glossy paper sticking to your fingers. But then, no, because I also feel like the platform has changed. That's why more and more, I'm actively pursuing and nurturing all my online endeavors. Yet again, when the magazine bug bites, one must scratch.

If you work with a very talented art director, he or she will get what you drew and come up with an unbelievably concise mock-up of the page.
(layout by Khennette Dy)

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

DAY 12 Travelbug Travel Bag

Posted by Mariel on Saturday, June 27, 2009 1 comments
I bought this last night at Target for a steal. I first came across this Swiss Gear 17" rolling carry-on bag in Las Vegas last October; it was just soo cute and compact. At the time, I didn't really need it. My fiancé and I just ended up getting him the bigger version in black. I have my own trusty red rolling suitcase that's been with me EVERYWHERE. I won't go into detail but that bag, along with a giant wheeled duffel, were the perfect travel companions.

Last week, I saw the luggage again and noticed it was on sale. Again, I hesitated, despite my mother's urging to get it. Anyway, I saw her packing last night for an upcoming family trip to Wasington D.C. and thought about the Swiss Gear carry-on once more. She said, "Let's go to Target now and buy it." It was 9 p.m.

Within 30 minutes I was the proud owner of this supercute pewter bag. The picture doesn't do it justice. Oh, I'm not retiring my precious red maleta, I'll just be converting it into my mobile beauty trolley for future makeup gigs.

Image courtesy of
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Friday, June 26, 2009

DAY 11 Sweet Somethings

Posted by Mariel on Friday, June 26, 2009 0 comments
I think I attract free dessert. Seriously.

A while back, I was standing in front of a bread and pastry shop in Grand Central, looking at Halloween-inspired cupcakes and cake slices. A gentleman in a suit walked by and said, "Do you want one of those? I'll buy you one." Of course I said thank you and politely declined.

I think it happened again another time but I forget the exact details. But I'm pretty sure it was the same scenario: me standing in front of sweet treats and someone offering to buy me some.

Earlier I was wandering the aisles of Whole Foods looking for a particular batch of home-made chocolate chip cookies, when one of the workers there asked if I needed help finding anything (they're very nice at this Whole Foods you know). I told him what I was looking for and he said they weren't able to make them last night and that they will tonight. He then proceeded to show me other cookies in the bakery section. Nothing called out to me so I thanked him for all his help. As I eyed the Chocolate Pot de Creme (pictured)—a fancy name for their homemade chocolate mousse—he showed me these huge, fat cookies from another shelf and asked if I wanted two of them. If I were five years old I would have walked away.

I did ask him if they were poisoned :)

(No, they're not, they're actually made by Carol's Cookies from Highland Park Illinois.)
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Thursday, June 25, 2009

DAY 10 Viva Italia!

Posted by Mariel on Thursday, June 25, 2009 0 comments
Puttanesca: easy to make, tasty to eat.

I woke up today realizing I haven't made pasta in months. A notable observation as friends old and new would attest to the fact that I make this almost every week if not at least once a month. My favorite thing to make is what I like to call "Comfort Spaghetti," which I blogged about here.

So after a light brunch of a banana and the juice of two freshly-squeezed oranges, I decided to re-tread the Italian waters lightly by whipping up a simple angel hair Aglio Olio Pepperoncino—a recipe I learned from the back of the package of parsley and red pepper flakes I bought on a trip to Milan (wherein I also hoarded packs of Perugina Bacci!). It starts with olive oil heated in a pan, red pepper flakes, minced garlic, parsley, and your pasta of choice. It finishes with a little of the pasta water, salt, pepper, and as much cheese as you like. Well, the cheese part is my personal touch, I used parmesan and cheddar. I think the original recipe calls for just the former. I have a sky's-the-limit take on cheese as you can see.

Another dish I never tire of eating but rarely get to make much of is Puttanesca (pictured), which literally means, "Whore's Pasta." Mark Bittman of the New York Times blog, Bitten, writes, "It is said that pasta puttanesca was designed to lure customers with its aroma. Other explanations have more appeal to the minimalist cook: that the prostitutes were too busy to cook much, or that they had no storage for fresh ingredients and cooked entirely from the pantry."

Puttanesca is a tasty toss of olive oil, garlic, capers, anchovies, tomatoes, and olives. You can find an authentic Italian recipe at And that's what's next on my (cooking) to-do list. Buon appetito!

Image courtesy of
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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

DAY 9 Bumblebee

Posted by Mariel on Wednesday, June 24, 2009 0 comments
The Chevy Camaro Bumblebee Edition

I just saw the new Transformers movie and all I can say is, if I were to buy a car right now, I would head straight to GM for the Chevy Camaro Bumblebee Edition—so cute. Yes, girls decide on car purchases based on cuteness. My last car before I moved to New York was a silver Chevrolet Optra. I got it for sentimental reasons. When I sold it though I said I would never buy a car again and just use public transportation, since I was moving to NY anyway (where everywhere is a subway ride away). Plus, I'm so lazy to drive these days. Although if I decide to move to the West Coast, I'll have to start driving again. Oh well.

A new car is definitely out of the budget right now. A regular Camaro goes for USD 23,000. I can't seem to pull up Google search results on how much the Transformers version would cost. According to, production of the Bumblebee Camaro started today, June 24, and orders for the car opened first of the month and will continue throughout December.

Anyway, I had fun at the movie. Megan Fox was superhot as expected and everyone had their game faces on. Jon Turturro was hilarious. It was also amazingly Hollywood how they were able to incorporate Shia Lebouf's broken hand (from a real-life car accident) into the film. And of course, the Autobots and Decepticons were just awesome to watch.

If you haven't seen the movie yet, click on the following photo or here for the trailer.

Photo credits: (Chevy Camaro) and (Bumblebee).

UPDATE 06/26/09: Correction, everyone. Adam Denison of Chevrolet Communications left a comment saying they haven't announced a Bumblebee edition, but one can get a yellow Camaro with black stripes easily. That's still good news, right?
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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

DAY 8 Eating In

Posted by Mariel on Tuesday, June 23, 2009 0 comments
I just saw Giada de Laurentis make these Parmesan Fish Sticks on her TV show, "Everyday Italian." She used salmon fillets and baked them, instead of the usual greasy-fry. I'm definitely putting this recipe on my to-do list. (I'm not sure if Food Network recipes are copyrighted, so just click on the photo for the link.)

Over at, a recent entry features Baked Butter Chicken Fillets. I started eating chicken again after almost 10 years (since I can no longer eat too much tofu), so these days I enjoy discovering new dishes like this one. And at the same time, I'm making sure that the chicken I do eat is organically grown and antibiotic-free.

Right now I'm eating chicken adobo from the only(?) Filipino restaurant in town. I have no idea where the chicken's from, but it's delicious. I better learn how to make it. Please feel free to send me your best, true-blue Pinoy Chicken Adobo recipes!

Photos courtesy of and

UPDATE 06/30/09: I tried the Baked Butter Chicken Fillet recipe today and it was YUMMY! I didn't have lime juice so I used lemon and it turned out great. I also made gravy with the drippings and drizzled it over the chicken. Bon appetit!
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DAY 7 Blast from the past

Posted by Mariel on Tuesday, June 23, 2009 0 comments
When I started spending summer at my mother's almost 10 years ago, I brought with me several items. To name a few: a Sony Walkman cassette recorder (a Christmas and birthday gift from my dad which was pretty neat back then because it had a plug-in microphone and customizable features), my first laptop (it weighed a brick), climbing gear (I was an avid sport and rockclimber back then), and clothes I wore throughout college.

As Mom—the one who basically took care of my wardrobe needs as a vain kid—left for the States middle of high school, by the time college rolled around, my wardrobe was at its most streamlined. When I remind her of those years, she gets really sad and refuses to listen any further. So in the last decade or so, she's compensated by buying me one too many things.

During her first trip back to Manila after being gone five years, she noticed I looked "yagit" (a Filipino word meaning really, really poor) which broke her heart. Immediately she took me on a shopping spree that practically lasted her whole vacation. (I still have underwear from that shopping trip.)

Anyway, she saved some of my old clothes—mostly T-shirts—from those years and a couple of days ago, I unearthed the contents of the box. So I'll share them with you.

I had a Mickey Mouse T-shirt fixation that stemmed from a high school crush who wore a vintage one at a party. I was a senior and he was a freshman (or sophomore?) at the university. I never really got to know him, but the Disney shirts outlasted my crush on that guy.

If there was one thing I distinctly remember wearing during freshman year in college, it was this Seventeen top from Cinderella. It just went with everything! Plus, it was a hand-me-down from my mom.

If you asked people who knew me back in college, they would say I was perennially clad in shorts and Birkenstocks. The particular piece in front is a Collezione "skort"—a bottom piece that looks like a skirt outside but is actually a pair of shorts underneath and from behind. Clever, eh?

This shirt was special because I got it on my family's first trip to Pearl Farm in Davao and my first time to ride a plane ever—at 17 years old! Anyway, I had another shirt with the print, Durian Republic. Years later I would meet the owner of the shirt company, who now owned a famous coffee shop in the south called Blugré.

Like I've mentioned earlier, I was an avid climber. And this is a tank from a national sport climbing competition I'd joined in Cebu. I have wonderful memories of those years and to this day my palms get sweaty whenever the subject of rockclimbing comes up.
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Sunday, June 21, 2009

DAY 6 One, Two, Three, Sharpie

Posted by Mariel on Sunday, June 21, 2009 0 comments

If THAT doesn't put a smile on your face, then I don't know what will :) Imagine rows and rows of Sharpie markers of different shapes (regular, retractable) and sizes (fine, ultra-fine, chisel). I was wandering the aisles of Office Depot earlier today shopping for supplies when I came across this cornucopia of colors. At $1.69 a pop, you can't go wrong with this treat.

Remember those magnetic pencil boxes in 80's that were like mini-gadgets sorts, with buttons that made compartments and a bevy of other 'features' pop out? I have the fondest memories of back-to-school shopping at National Bookstore (and Cinderella for the Esprit notebooks; I was ten at the time!).

In the town I spent my grade school years in, a small bookstore across campus sold Garfield notebooks and those with local celebrities printed on them (the likes of Romnick Sarmienta and Sheryll Cruz at the height of their stardom). My mother and cousin used to threaten to buy me those at the start of the schoolyear. You see, I was a pretty vain kid and I was very particular about what I bought. My notebooks had to be nice. My bags had to be nice. My socks had to be nice... Oh boy!

That said, I had really ugly handwriting. I used to copy all the popular girls' handwriting and didn't come to my own until much later in high school. And then I got better and better at note-taking as the years went by, all the way to my adult working life. So there goes the trajectory of my office-supply fascination.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

DAY 5 Big Move

Posted by Mariel on Saturday, June 20, 2009 0 comments

I'm in the middle of moving my archived Inquirer articles to a new home: If you don't buy the paper or regularly scan the Lifestyle section over at, the new site is a good place to check back and read the beauty pieces I write almost every week. For a sneak preview, just click on the photo and you'll see what I've been up to (aside from my 30-day Blog Challenge).

As you can tell, I'm also making some changes around here at I have yet to find a new, more widget-friendly template to match the sentiment and content. I find that I spend time customizing gadgets and fiddling with codes and photos so they fit better in the sidebar: time that can be spent writing blog posts and optimizing my life—in and out of the web.
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Friday, June 19, 2009

DAY 4 New York, Baby

Posted by Mariel on Friday, June 19, 2009 0 comments

My friend Lille introduced me to Leona Naess's music a couple of years ago. Her songs are mainstays on my iTunes playlist: Sunny Sunday, I Tried To Rock You But You Only Roll, and of course—Charm Attack ("Oh with your gorgeous grin/ You have the world sucked in/ Believing in everything you saaaayy.../ Watch out, he'll charm you." That was probably my 2003 anthem!).

Earlier she shared a link to New York Baby that somehow got lost in my music library; it's the first time I've heard it again in years. Only now, its lyrics hit so close to home and it's painful to listen to:

Well the heat has fallen down
All across this desolate town
And the concrete jungle is dead
As I lie here in my bed
And I'll stand here till the fall
And ignore the summer's call

You know what they say

New York, baby is no place to be
When you're standing alone
I'm no one's baby, I'm no one's girl
Come home, baby come home

Well the city she throws and throws
While the restless collect sand through their toes
And you try to get from A to B
Spend your weekends by the sea
But I'm just waiting for you
Yeah, I'm just waiting for you

You know what they say

New York, baby is no place to be
When you're standing alone
I'm no one's baby, I'm no one's girl
Come home, baby come home

New York, baby
They all landing, by the sun
Step in oh God, everyone
All I'm trying is waiting for you
Yeah, I'm just waiting for you

New York, baby is no place to be
When you're standing alone
I'm no one's baby, I'm no one's girl
Come home, baby come home

New York, baby
New York, baby
New York, baby

I'm coming home, someday
I'm coming home, someday
I'm coming home

So THAT my friends, is why I'm still dragging my feet and buying time in a sunnier place away from the city.

To listen to the song, click here.

(Photo courtesy of Yahoo! Music. © EMI BLACKWOOD MUSIC INC. © MESSY NAESS PUBLISHING. Lyrics provided by Gracenote)
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Thursday, June 18, 2009

DAY 3 The 30-day Blog Challenge

Posted by Mariel on Thursday, June 18, 2009 0 comments
Fluid thoughts, right on time.

I recently read this over at my friend (and former boss) Maya's blog, Walastik Holistic:

"Do something regularly over a period of 30 days
and you will create a habit."

The first thing that came to mind was, "Ah, that can apply to my blogging."

Initially I'd intended to wake up everyday at 5am and churn out an entry by daybreak. Unfortunately, I still lack the EQ to unglue myself from the comforter that early in the morning and I have no intention of making blog posting a stress-inducing experience. So for now I'll stick to the schedule I know best: writing at night.

If and when I am successful with coming up with 30 posts in daily succession, I'll keep adding more 30-day Challenges to my repertoire, e.g. "The 30-day Pilates Challenge," The 30-day Apple Cider With Every Meal Challenge," and so forth. And probably down the line be primed for the 5am thing. Eep!

I'm on Day Three so far. Please cheer for me everybody!

(The Bedol Eco-friendly Water-powered Clock. Photo courtesy of
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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

DAY 2 Haute Summer!

Posted by Mariel on Wednesday, June 17, 2009 0 comments
I'm excited for all outfits nautical and blue. And these three pieces are kick-starting my summer love affair part two (part one, already languidly spent in Manila!).

There's a classic white top that's stretchy and comfy—perfect with a bright scarf or statement necklace.

The striped collared shirt features tiny embossed gold buttons that add a classy touch to an otherwise ordinary top. (The buttons were actually the main reason why I ended up buying the shirt).

I thought twice about getting the French-print sheer cotton caftan, for a number of reasons. But just looking at it already got me imagining wearing my swimsuit underneath and lounging by a pool on a hot day.
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DAY 1 Cybershot

Posted by Mariel on Wednesday, June 17, 2009 1 comments
Lately I started taking pictures again for my beauty column...

Not bad for a four-year-old, point-and-shoot.

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