Saturday, January 30, 2016

Eating Clean With Blogilates

In my quest for eating clean (meaning no preservatives or a lot of chemicals and processing that our body doesn't need), I try to search for new recipes that are not just yummy but easy to make. My friend Romina told me about Blogilates, a blog by Cassey Ho,  a fitness instructor/blogger/sports apparel designer. So I googled her recipes and workouts, as well as did a search on her blog.

Cassey has a huge international fan base and I can see why. She's very entertaining and her energy is contagious. She's very encouraging in her exercise videos and she doesn't intimidate but inspire. Also, she's as real as you and me.

If you look at her body, she's not super ripped or tall and super skinny like a supermodel. She has that definition we all desire, and we know that her body is super strong (her workouts are super challenging and imagine doing that and still talking) and healthy as well as it's real and achievable. Is she wearing makeup in her videos? Of course she is!

 Also, even though she's into fitness, she doesn't deprive herself of good and yummy food (not all carbs are bad!), and these recipes, she shares with us.

What got me a whole hour of just watching is her Cheap Clean Eats playlist in YouTube, where she features recipes on clean eating that are super easy to make and also are pocket-friendly, which is perfect for those on the go but would still like to eat healthy. I admit, ordering food in healthy restaurants can be very expensive to the point that some people actually result to going to fast food joints which are cheaper. In an ideal world, we would be eating super healthy, real, clean food made with organic ingredients but of course, this is not the ideal world. So, we make the most out of it by eating clean on a budget.

I super want to try this shake she made!

 I begun to like smoothies more when she shares her smoothie recipes, giving me ideas on what smoothie to take where. I can take smoothies before workout - 30 minutes to an hour before, and a smoothie that can reset my system.

My baking craving is finally satisfied by the existence of these healthy mug cakes. Yes! We say yes to cake! Healthy, flourless, and refined sugar-free cake exists and they are good enough for breakfast.

I was so happy to find pumpkin in the grocery store so I made this pumpkin mug cake substituting the graham cracker topping with greek yogurt and pecans. Apple slices and peanut butter of course, because it's a fall-theme breakfast or dessert.

There are also vegan options, making eating vegan food fun. I'm not vegan (I love cheese and yogurt!) but I like trying vegan food.

Nice cream, which is dairy-free ice cream with bananas as a base. This one is matcha pistachio nice-cream and I tweaked the nutrition with a handful of moringa leaves.

Beauty bowls are basically smoothie bowls. The smoothie is made thicker than usual and topped with gorgeous toppings with a lot of health benefits.

I haven't eaten that much fruit in one meal. Oh, and red dragonfruit is yummy as it is rich in vitamin C. Mangoes taste awesome frozen.

In a week I've enjoyed so many fruit already in smoothies, bowls, and salad and had a lot of good probiotics in my system. I have not drunk coffee yet I do not feel lethargic. I'm currently having my seasonal sniffles yet thankfully it's faster to fight it from my system.

Her site gave me awesome ideas to eat cleaner and to get more goodness into my system in ways that are budget-friendly and do not sacrifice taste. Come to think of it, when was the last time I had chips or fries?

What's my absolute favorite? Spring rolls. I super love fresh spring rolls and the recipe is so good I've had it almost every day last week and I don't have a decent photo of my spring rolls. I always go to a Vietnamese restaurant for spring rolls and I actually can have my own with the ingredients I want any time I want. The spring rolls recipe doesn't have vermicelli noodles in them but they are just as good and flavorful. I've had vegan (using tofu). shrimp, crab, and okay, maybe when I make again, I ought to take more photos of it.

I'm glad that Cassey shares a lot of easy clean-eating recipes in her blog. I'll start following some of her workouts and give more recipes a try. If you guys got inspired to start eating healthier or would want more ideas on what to cook healthy without scrimping flavor, go check out her blog at or go check her Instagram and YouTube channel for more updates as well as download the Blogilates app.

Monday, January 25, 2016

A Visit To Ilog Maria Honeybee Farm

I've always been intrigued with Ilog Maria farms. I buy the products and I've been using some for quite a while now. I've been curious at where the actual farm is located as some of my friends are users of their honey-based products as well. I buy my supply from Manila-based resellers and organic stores. I've never got the time to actually pass by the actual place, and I know it's somewhere in Cavite,

While on my way home from a Tagaytay wedding, Waze directed me to a different route rather than the usual Sta. Rosa exit (which is usually traffic).  It lead me to take Aguinaldo Highway instead. When I saw the sign on my right of Ilog Maria, I wondered if it was open on a Sunday. Turns out it was and so we took a detour to Ilog Maria to check it out.

I always thought it would be a sanctuary with a river with a miraculous grotto and all from the name, and there would be nuns singing as they would be by the river or harvesting honey. The road from Aguinaldo Highway leading to the place is a super narrow one-way rough road that you'd actually thought you'd be lost in. Trusting Waze, it led us to a gate with the sign telling me that "Okay, you're not lost"

There's a small Italian restaurant on your right and there's another super narrow passageway and you'll be welcomed to a parking lot and a farm.

Yes, this place actually existed.

The white boxes contain the hives I guess where the honey is harvested. The whole place is an animal sanctuary of chickens, ducks, geese, bunnies, and even dogs and some cats.

The cats were just super cute and adorable. I even gave them some food.  Once in a while, we would see a kitten chase a few chickens.

The highlight of the place for most visitors is this shop which sells Ilog Maria products. The bath and body products are usual bestsellers, from their organic and super nice-smelling soaps, shampoo, and lotions.

There are soaps in various flavors. The spearmint and oatmeal is my absolute favorite, especially since it's super duper hot. I really love minty soaps. I want to try the Coffee soap in the morning to perk me up.

The shampoo has a cooling effect on the scalp and leaves the scalp smelling fresh all day. The effect though depends on the person. On me, I use this if I'm going to get my hair styled since it gives my hair the right texture and natural hold it needs. On some people, the shampoo leaves hair super soft.

The feminine wash is a favorite of a lot of people based abroad. This leaves a cool and fresh feeling after and it's gentle enough for this delicate area. If you find conventional feminine washes harsh, consider switching to this. It also is super affordable at Php 45.00. The ladies in the store even told me balikbayans  would buy boxes of these.

I take a bottle of liquid soap with me in my bag. Their liquid soap is good from head to toe and leaves a nice and lingering scent.

I'm sensitive to conventional multivitamins and take bee pollen instead. I take a spoonful of bee pollen (the spoon is included with every purchase) on an empty stomach in the morning followed with a glass of water. The taste is a bit sweet and woodsy. I wasn't able to buy but I also like the Bee Propolis, which I take to boost immunity.

Stuff for home is also available here, such as wood polish, which takes away the use of chemical wood polish and leather conditioner. The leather conditioner smells really good (I don't like the smell of conventional shoe polish) and this is available for any color of leather product, If you're a candle fan, they have dripless candles as well.

The products I bought in the trip were quite a lot and I was surprised I spent almost half  than what I would spend had I bought the products in Manila. They make excellent Christmas giveaways. You can pick a selection and then choose your own combination when giving gifts. You can even compose a set to give as a gift to a bridal shower, say a couple of candles, a bar of feminine wash, and a bottle of lavander liquid soap. Or you can buy an oil burner, essential oil and probably a candle if your friend is into aromatherapy. If you're a bride, you can assemble a cute and affordable gift pack for your entourage, say choosing two soaps she may like, or something.

Ilog Maria Honeybee Farm is open from Tuesdays to Sundays (they are closed Mondays and Holidays) from 8:30 am to 5:30 p.m. If you're there on a Wednesday or a weekend, be sure to have lunch at the Italian restaurant nearby. They serve super awesome Italian food.

Looks like I would have a stopover if I have another gig in the Silang or Tagaytay area. :)

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Review: Kat Von D Shade + Light Contour Palette

I'm super excited to share one of my most-wanted products in my wishlist, which I finally got part as a Christmas gift to myself for being such a good girl during the Holidays. I finally got myself a Kat Von D palette. Wheeee!!!!!!!!!

I've always been intrigued with Kat Von D makeup products and I keep staring at the products at the Sephora store and the Kat Von D beauty website. I love the very edgy badass packaging and I've seen swatches on how pigmented the products are. However, when I went to Singapore last year, I visited several Sephora stores and unfortunately, I was not able to find Kat Von D products.  I figured out it must only be in the US.

For those who do not know Kat Von D, she's actually a tattoo artist, model, and musician. She used to appear in the show Miami Ink, which I used to watch. What I noticed in her is not just her fantastic inks but also how she   wears makeup.

She also has two gorgeous cats!

A photo posted by Kat Von D (@thekatvond) on
She really is a true artist from her inks up to her makeup. She now has her own makeup line (cruelty-free!)  with super pigmented products in super edgy packaging that are surprisingly super wearable. I've been stoked to buy a Kat Von D product for as long as I can remember and I'm glad I got one. I got myself a Shade+Light Contour Palette, one of her newest products.

I got this from Tupped  last week, debating whether to get this or the Shade + Light eye. Since I've had quite a lot of eyeshadows, I thought I would use this one instead, and the matte shades could actually double as eyeshadows. Besides, I already had similar shades from that palette already.

The palette features 3 highlighting shades and three contouring shades to match different skintones. The ones on top are the highlighting shades and the ones at the bottom are their corresponding contouring shades.

A lot may ask, is contouring really necessary? Aren't people trying to forgo it already? Here's my answer: There are days when I myself do away with contouring, like if I do makeup for everyday. I do understand that on certain occasions, there may be a need for contouring.

The objective of contouring or sculpting is to bring features forward and to create depth and dimension as well as add warmth on the face. How I contour depends on the occasion. For everyday warmth, I just add a bit of matte contouring on where I want some shape. I give more definition and bring out cream contours if I would be doing a photoshoot or have all the time in the world. How I contour for weddings is different than how I contour for say a stage performance, where we need stronger shadows to bring features forward as the lights onstage are a lot stronger. For weddings, I just give dimension and warmth so the face doesn't flatten so much in the photos or look too washed out. If I'm doing drag queen makeup, that's when I bring out cream contours, intense baking and highlighting, and if I have time and want to have some fun, I may do clown contouring if I'm feeling artsy.

Anyway, back to the product. The colors are matte, which are excellent for contouring, since contouring with shimmer is practically nonsense.

Like I said earlier, they can be used as eyeshadows as well, if you want to do a sculpted eye.

Individual swatches on my skin, which is approximately a MAC NC35.

Lucid and sombre are more on the pinkish side and can be used on ladies with fair skin with a pink or beige undertone. Lyric and Shadowplay are more on the warm side. For Pinays and Asians, this is probably what fits our skin most, since it's more on the yellow side. For Levitation and Subconscious, you can use this on morenas, but use this sparingly as it can be a bit too red or pink. Those with olive skin tones or reddish tones may find this as a nicer alternative. Subconscious can also be used as a nice and warm crease eyeshadow.

Since the colors are pigmented, I recommend to use this a bit sparingly. They are also blendable and can be made as subtle or as intense as you wish.

I contoured a bit strongly on my cheekbone here, sort of a stage performance level of contouring. I used Lyric and Shadowplay and as you can see, it didn't gray out my skin as much.

A bit close up and more subtle blending. This one is still performance level so the contour line is still kind of strong. If it were just everyday, I would have stopped halfway.

I also used the same contour color on the nose for a bit more shape and the sides of my forehead.

In any contouring technique, for it to look seamless and natural, I would really recommend blending the bejeezus out of it like crazy, especially if your are going for a natural look. For stage, go ahead and be harsh with your lines. But for bridal or special occasions, I would prefer just natural shadows.

By the way, it also comes with a cheat sheet

It is recommended that you use this with a Kat Von D Shade + Light contour brush but you can use an angled brush that fits your fancy or is already present in your kit. I personally use a MAC 168 angled brush for contouring  and a tapered blush brush or small dome-shaped brush for highlighting.

With its varied options in shades, I recommend this product for makeup artists since we need various shade options since we deal with a lot of faces. For makeup enthusiasts or for ladies who are just doing makeup for themselves, I would recommend getting an individual matte bronzer that's the shade for you so as not to overwhelm things. But if you're ready to up your contour skills, then by all means go. Oh, to preserve the sleek black packaging, you can clean the sides with a tissue or cotton bud in case there's a bit of powder scatter.

The Kat Von D Shade + Light Contour Palette is available at a Sephora US store or the Kat Von D Beauty website. For Philippine residents, you may check Tupped Boutique or you can ask a relative in the US to get for you.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Why Should You Have A Wedding Contract and What Are the Requirements

I learned that I should produce a wedding contract not from a supplier but from a bride. Since I was a newbie, then, I consulted my peers who had the same experience and they helped me come about with a good draft. Over the course of time, I have drafted and made revisions of my past contracts from my own experience as well as the advice of the veterans that I have worked with.

A contract isn't just a piece of paper with your signatures. Much like your contract when you sign up for employment, it states the agreement between the vendor and the client in black and white, in an organized way, so we don't have to dig up old texts or emails or recall phone conversations for added details. It states everything there who are the parties involved, what the event is, and every detail needed. It also serves as protection for both parties when something goes wrong.

I'm not a lawyer or did I graduate from a business degree but I wrote this post with all artists in mind and based on my own experience in dealing with clients, most especially weddings or big projects like TVCs, movies, production shoots, etc.  With the format, like I said earlier, there are formats and templates that can be found online or if you can ask your makeup artist or photographer friends to send you a draft and base it from there.

What projects are exempted from contracts?

For personal hair and makeup (hair and makeup for one head attending an event like a party or dinner), I usually don't request for a contract. However, for big events like bridal makeup, TV shoot, commercials, movies, or corporate accounts, that's when I bring out a contract. If you're dealing with corporate, chances are, the client would be the one drafting the contract apart from the non-disclosure agreements and clauses you would have to sign.

Also, even if the bride is your best friend, high school kabarkada, neighbor, daughter of your mom's friend, cousin, or even your sister, you still need a contract. Bridal makeup is still a business. You also need that contract to keep in file later on. Trust me, you will need it. I have had gigs that were contract-less because I went by with "she's a friend anyway, so no need" only for me to be cancelled too easily. Also, doing makeup for someone close to you often involves a discount and that discount should be stipulate as well.

Don't worry, there are ways for a contract to be less scary. You can fix the words (but of course still keep it formal), or in my case, I use colored paper and I have a fun logo. For fun, I sometimes make my contract scented or use purple ink.

So, what are included in the contract? These cover the basics. Of course, other suppliers may have other parts, but this is in the point of a makeup artist, and also from my own personal experience

The name of both parties

This includes you (identified as makeup artist. If you must have a team, you can indicate you and team), and the clients (bride and groom and/or client representative, if the couple is abroad and the person you are dealing with happens to be their close friend or relative). The email address and the contact information of both parties can be included as well. What I do is that I make them fill up a client information sheet which contains their full names and contact information as well as the contact information of their other suppliers like coordinator, photographer, videographer, etc.

Details of the event

What would the event be (i.e.) wedding. The exact place, date, and call time, If the couple would employ your services other than the wedding but related to that event (for example, a prenup shoot or boudoir shoot), it should also be included. Just in case, include the clause that should there be changes on the details of the event, the client should notify the makeup artist immediately. We don't want anyone knocking on the wrong hotel room in the wrong hotel that's on the other end of Metro Manila, right?

The total cost of the service.

This is what's important. Aside from noting the cost of your service, itemize what the package includes. If the package is airbrush for all or just for the bride, how many heads, etc. Note if it includes a second look before the reception or just until the hotel preps. Also, if they decide to include a few more people aside from the package, indicate the additional costs and when they should be paid. This also goes for additional costs for added hours of work, added service, out-of-town, etc.

Downpayments and Payment schedule

Wedding makeup artists are one of the cheapest (if not the cheapest) wedding suppliers in a wedding. Still, their fees are big money and sometimes, plunking the entire thing hurts. So we give payment schedules. For most makeup artists and vendors, we require a 30-50% downpayment to seal the date. It's like telling us, "Okay, we're gonna get you. Here's a lot of money.  Block that date." Also, there are vendors that need the downpayment to be able to purchase materials, pay their staff, account for miscellaneous expenses, etc. In my case, I require a 50% downpayment to seal and block off the date completely, like a "I would totally show up in your wedding and make you so gorgeous" a month or two before the wedding, depends on when I was booked. For clients that book me a month before their wedding, two weeks. Also, include terms of payment, if you accept cash, credit, or check.

I'm very OC with payment schedules. and I really follow up on my downpayment. I know that the couple is serious in booking me so I should also do my part and show up and not take any more jobs that day. I definitely know that the couple will not flake on me because they just gave me big money, and a portion of it is still unused.  If I have not received the amount of the  downpayment required to block my date, that means you are not serious about getting my services and if there's another sure job for me that day, I will get that job. No downpayment, no MUA. Gets?

As a protection, suppliers make their downpayments nonrefundable. I have this policy as well. If you share the nonrefundable downpayment policy, indicate it in your contract.

In this part, include the payment schedule and the amount required. If the client has paid a portion of the package, note it in the contract and as to what date the payment has been made. Include a copy of the receipt as well. You will never know if you need to produce documentation so it pays to be OC.

Publication/Model Release

A bridal work is also part of our portfolio. The model release gives us permission to be able to use the bridal photos in our portfolio, blogs, and social media accounts, whether from the official photographer or from our own camera phones.  We're also proud of what we have done and we want to showcase that as well.

Cancellation Clause

I super duper hate clients that just disappear into mid-air. Those clients who say they will book you after trial makeup and then reserve you and then weeks before the wedding just disappear and not give you any updates.Although some say the client "disappearing" implies a cancellation, we are not mind readers and we still need something written, okay? Unless they were abducted by aliens,  fell into a coma, or got hit by a lightsaber, a written cancellation via email or print hand-delivered to the studio or SMS message is needed to formalize cancellation because we will not knock on all doors of the hotel to look for you only to find out that we were cancelled on. Some suppliers take your word up to the very date of your event.

I had a discussion on cancellation on how some brides prefer the line of least resistance to just pretend to be abducted by aliens or to pull the alibi of a generous relative with a surprise gift being a very popular. Uhm guys, just as brides have a network, we also do, and we're not stupid. Cancellation is not good news to us, but we would rather hear that you got someone else to do your makeup rather than not hearing from you at all and making us do the guesswork if we're pushing through or not.

At the same time, if it's the MUA's  turn to cancel because of an unforseen event, the cancellation clause would protect the bride as well from not having a MuA that day of her wedding as she stares blankly in shock wearing her robe as to where her MUA has gone. Should a good MUA cancel, they would even go to the extent of offering a very good referral at par with your standards so no need to search for directories or do random searches online. If no referral is available, we may refund the unused portion of your downpayment.

Basically, a cancellation clause implies one thing: No flaking. This is actually one of the basic principles of business right? I would actually write a post on cancellation and all that shnizz.  Saving that bitchiness for a later date.

Depending on the suppliers, they may also have an additional clauses, these pretty much sums up what most MUAs have. Some contracts may include an indemnity clause, which exampts the client for any injuries, damage, or whatever. Meaning, if I broke my wrist from blowdrying,  I can't put the blame on the client.

A contract isn't two pieces of paper stapled together with a string of words and signatures in it. It stats the agreement in black and white between two parties, which is a serious agreement. It protects both parties to make sure the business runs smoothly.

Oh, and keep two copies of your contract. One to be given to the client, one for you. And during the date of the event, bring all documents necessary.