Our Sweet Christmas



sweet 2


I know Christmas starts early in the Philippines. I have friends who put up their Christmas trees on September 1st! As they say, Christmas starts during the “-ber” months. But in our home, we’ve always put up our tree on the first or second weekend of December.

Well this year, we are doing things differently in the Paez house. For one, we have a brand new tree. And secondly, we are trying new ornaments. You know how much we love our old ornaments. They all have a story. They all have sentimental value. Some are precious hand-blown glass and brass balls. (Breakage is always part of annual Christmas memories.) We are keeping them and bringing some out. But for the first time we are doing a themed Christmas tree!

A few days before Halloween, I was walking by the SM Store and couldn’t resist the Christmas decorations. So I went inside and found myself in the Christmas wonderland-like setting at SM Home. They had a wide range of Christmas decor, arranged by colour and themes. They had classic and sophisticated ornaments, cute cartoony Santa decor, toy-inspired accessories, and kiddie versions of Christmas trinkets.


I saw this Christmas candy-themed tree at SM Home. I took a mental note (and stole a phone pic) of the cute peppermint candies!! Inspiration can strike anytime and anywhere.


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Then I checked out their Instagram account at @SMhome and found the cutest ornaments. Cupcakes, donuts, ice cream cones! It would go perfectly with the peppermint candies. So I made an executive decision to go with an all-new theme this year. After all, life was extremely sweet for us this year. The kids and Patrick loved it!


I thought that the “Sweet Treats” collection would stand out better on either a white tree or a “snow”-capped tree. Yay for artificial trees. Let it snow!


Look at our new cupcake ornaments!


Soph calls this “dippin’ dots.”


Big fat balls, colourful cupcakes, plastic mini donuts and ice cream cones! All so light!


Stella was my little elf.


She was so good with distributing the ornaments evenly. We had to stop after a few hangings ’til Lily and Sophia could join us.


I only got to hang the ones on top. The girls did everything else. This is the most kid-friendly tree we’ve had. All the ornaments were so light and nothing was breakable.


Our tree is full!


All done!!! But we still need a tree topper. Any suggestions?


Check out the different Christmas ornaments and accessories at SM Home at The SM Store. Follow them Facebook at SM Home, Instagram @smhome, and Twitter @SMHome_PH for more information and inspiration.



Giulio Cappellini



It’s hard to believe that it’s already been almost two years since I hosted the launch of Cappellini in Manila. It felt like just a year ago. The Cappellini showroom in One Parkade Bonifacio High Street houses some of the most beautifully crafted furniture from the world’s top designers.


Me and Mr Giulio Cappellini at the Nov 2012 launch of the Cappellini showroom in Taguig, Metro Manila.


Cappellini was brought to Manila by Studio Dimensione of Suyen Corporation.


Founded in 1946, Cappellini has become synonymous with contemporary, avant-garde design. Over the years it has launched some of the world’s greatest designers, producing innovative and high quality furnishings. Photo above is of the Showroom at Bonifacio High Street.


Last Nov 2012, Mr Cappellini signed a few key pieces.


A couple of Saturdays ago, Bryan Lim of Suyen Corporation invited me to dinner with Mr Giulio Cappellini. He said it would be a small intimate dinner. It was a wonderful evening with the country’s top architects!


I was seated beside Lucy Torres-Gomez and Anthony Yupangco on this end of the table, across from Ben Chan and Bryan.


My “good-girl” friends from Summit – Alicia Colby Sy & Yvette Fernandez with Kai Lim and Becky Kho of Elle Decoration. I say “good-girl” because Yvette always points that out when we are together. Haha.


With the most beautiful couple in the land, Lucy and Richard.


Ed Calma, Bryan Lim, Ben Chan and Miguel Pastor. These photos (except for the low light phone cam pics) are all from Miguel.)


With Kai, Barbie Pardo and Alicia. (Thought bubble, Kai’s earrings are gorgeous. They look to me like emerald beads. I’m sure they are.)


Mr Giulio Cappellini and me. He signed a miniature paper replica of a Cappellini chair. How I wish my Cappellini chair at home was signed. But I actually have a signed certificate from Marcel Wanders, c/o Studio Dimensione. But that’s another story.


The kindness sandwich – Ben Chan and Lucy Torres Gomez. I am not exaggerating. They are the kindest people I know.


Bryan and Chut Cuerva


Mr Cappellini with architects Ramon Antonio and Gil Coscolluela


Conrad Onglao and the gorgeous Zsa Zsa Padilla


Blackbird at Nielson Tower.


01  Meltdown Floor Lamp by Johan Lindsten;  02 Peg Letto by Nendo;  03 Jacob Wagner ‘s Branch bronzo table;  04 Jasper Morrison’s Monforte.


01 Nendo’s Peg Column;  02 Piero Lissoni’s Lochness;  03  Shiro Kuramata’s Steel Pipe Drink Trolley;  04 Nendo’s Peg Sedia.


01  Jasper Morrison’s Cap Chair;  02 Giulio Cappellini’s Brest uva e champagne; 03 Jasper Morrison’s Thinking Man’s Chair Limited.


Cappellini is at One Parkade, Bonifacio High Street, Taguig, Philippines.



My day at Google



I was in Silicon Valley a couple of weeks ago to attend the BlogHer conference. Since I had a few days to spare and shopping wasn’t really the goal of the trip, I thought, why not try to get a tour of Google Campus? It is, after all, said to be one of the best companies to work for. And who hasn’t seen the movie The Internship?

So I did some research and found out that one has to be an invited and registered guest in order to get a tour of Google Campus in Mountain View, CA. The setting of the Google offices are spread out like a university campus, hence the popular reference as the “Google Campus.” It is huge. Like in North American universities, anyone can drive or walk through the campus and see the buildings. But you can’t gain access to the buildings unless you are a registered guest.

I found my way to Google through my friend Eliza Romualdez Valtos, who, through her husband Billy, asked a friend in Silicon Valley for a Google contact. One thing led to another and I got connected with Shrikand, who works for Google Chrome. My childhood friend Nina Carino drove me to Mountain View and joined our little tour. Security was strict. We needed to sign in and agree to some conditions.



Google Building 43, part of Googleplex.


The Google Campus is set in the quiet town of Mountain View, California. Lots of big trees and bike lanes.


We walked through so many buildings. Here’s a section of Building 43.


Googleplex Map1
I met my host at Google Building 1950


Googleplex Map2
The compound sprawled further. We walked up to the pond area. Then rode the bike on our way back.


So here’s the real “Google Drive”


Very bike-friendly.


Everywhere you look, you see the Google colours.


Adirondack chairs everywhere. I think it’s to get the Googlers’ mindset into a more relaxed state.


With our very patient host, Shrikand.


This is Googleplex. It’s exactly what they showed in the movie The Internship. Here there is a sculpture garden and outdoor cafe.


Public art everywhere. Here is the famous Google dinosaur statue. Apparently the Google founders bought it as a reminder for Googlers not to let the company become extinct like a dinosaur.


Plastic pink flamingos strewn all over the dinosaur.


More public art.


Don’t let those yellow and blue Muskoka Adirondack chairs fool you…


It’s THIS big.


We went to the Android building.


This is where all the Android operating systems are created. There is a sculpture for every Android operating system like Cupcake, Honeycomb, Gingerbread and Ice Cream Sandwich.


There’s the newest Android baby, KitKat. At this part I saw a lot of visitors. Some were probably kids from the nearby houses. Though it seems to be a destination for curious tourists, there are no official tours as of yet. It’s not exactly open to the public, so like I mentioned above, you still have to be an invited and registered guest.


In my few days in Silicon Valley I was so dependent on car rides from friends like Nina and Gari Camaisa (more on our sightseeing at later posts). California and mass transit don’t really mix. So naturally, a lot of Googlers drive to work. Good to see that a lot of them drive electric cars. Here’s one of the many electric recharging stations on the Google Campus.


Of course I would like to highlight this. One of the Google employees told me that they have very good daycare facilities for employees kids.


We also saw one self-driving car!!


The sight of Googlers on bicycles made me giddy. Gosh that movie. Stop it already.


In keeping with the brand’s identity, all the Google bikes had the bright Google colours. They were just parked outside every building. No one owns a particular bike. You are free to use one to get from A to B.


So of course I had to get this photo for the books. Initially it was just a photo op. But really, after having walked the entire stretch of the campus, I asked Shrikand if we could just bike back to our initial meeting place.


So this is me in the real bike that I rode. I loved it! I wasn’t exactly dressed for it, wearing a dress and French Sole flats. But I had to get from A to B. Loved the feeling!!


These bikes were so much fun.


Saw this conference bike parked outside. It’s a circular bike for 7 people. One person steers and six pedal (or not).


Yes there really is an airplane/space ship inside one of the buildings. These next few photos are by my friend Lylah Juinio, who went to visit with her family a day after I did.


And yes it’s true, all Google employees get free food and drinks. All meals are free. All. Photo by Lylah Juinio


There are over 40 cafes in the Google Campus. My friend took us to the biggest one in Googleplex. This one had various themed cuisines – Italian, Indian, Middle Eastern, Asian, Mexican, American grill etc. And don’t expect your typical cafeteria food. They have gourmet chefs designing the menu.


My lunch. After getting a slice of ham and really good gourmet pizza, I lined up for a burrito.


Sorry for the shaky photo. I was balancing my tray. The pizzas were so good.


Pho soup and some dumplings


This isn’t the first playful office space I’ve seen. Locally there was the P&G head office that had sleep pods and spa treatments. Google had all that too. Here’s one with a pool table. Photo by Lylah Juinio


Some of the services for employees. Photo by Lylah Juinio


They’re big on composting and segregating waste. Yes!


The Google store where I bought some Tshirts and pens. It isn’t open to the public. You need an employee to bring you in. But if you really want Google merchandise you can purchase them all online in the Google shop.


So that’s how my Googliest day went.



* My trip to Silicon Valley in California was sponsored by EVA Air. Travel arrangements by Jeron Travel.

All my photos are taken from a Samsung Galaxy Camera 2. I love that it is directly linked to the Google cloud and all my photos are stored automatically.



Good Stuff 100



collage copper


You probably noticed that I’ve been making these layouts occasionally. I don’t use a quick program. I do old-fashioned cut and paste on Photoshop. Since I’ve been doing them for the past couple of years, the most troublesome part for me has always been putting a title on each collage. So I’ve decided, with the help of Patrick, to name this series “Good Stuff.” This is number 100 because I’ve lost track of how many Good Stuff collages I’ve made, so let’s just call this 100.

In my weekly “Good Stuff” collages I will highlight things that I love, wish, covet. Some are from my site partners, some are just picked off the net. It may or may not include gifted items or PR samples. I will indicate if so. All items will have links directing you to sites where you can buy them directly or get more info on them.

This week, my collage stemmed from that beautiful ivory coloured dress from Reiss. Everything else just followed.


01 I love the way this ivory dress is tailored. It can give an illusion of a small waist, long neck and a flattering neckline. Perfect dress for day or evening events.  Natalia dressicon from Reiss.

02  Soft Dog Pendant designed by Henrik Pedersen at Design Within Reach. DWR is my newest site partner and I can’t wait to work with them on highlighting some of my favourite things from their roster of good stuff. With this pendant lamp is, Pedersen wanted to evoke a lightness and purity that are reminiscent of Scandinavian design. What he achieved is a soft, sculptural, less industrial form that’s simple and welcoming.

03  Carmen sunglasses from House of Harlow 1960 comes in different colours but I’m loving this grapefruit version. It has this vintage feminine vibe that’s perfect for our tropical climate in Manila.

04  Hand-Painted Equestrian Charm Bracelet from One Kings Lane, on sale for $49. Made of 24-kt gold-plated intaglio, 24-kt gold-plated steel, and faceted glass. You know how much I love my hand-painted enamel medallion charms from Europe. Here is a chunky charm bracelet version from Susan Shaw.

05  After years of wearing uncomfortable underwire and padded bras, I’ve gotten rid of all of them. Since I am slightly built, I have found the perfect fit in soft bras and bralets. Feel free to discuss. I don’t really know if this is good or bad. But for me and my physique, I’m ok with less support. Loving this Trenta Soft Bra from Cosabella

06  Much to my husband’s dismay, I am never going to be a minimalist. Though I appreciate modern design like that pendant lamp from DWR, there will always be a part of me that will like kitsch and novelty. Like this Cockatoo Pitcher from Fitz and Floyd.

07  One Kings Lane works on flash sales. So if this pretty brass tray catches your fancy, click the link now. I think there’s only a day left to get this piece on discount.23″ Grandeur Brass Tray with leather handles from One Kings Lane.

08  Again, tugging on my old soul’s heart strings, this Pioneer Tea Kettle from Jacob Bromwell is perfect for my kitchen. It’s handcrafted from pure copper and is ideal for heating water for coffee, tea, or cocoa. A true collector’s item you can actually use, made the same way it was hundreds of years ago from when pioneers carried them in their wagons.


Let’s go to Taiwan





“Do you want to go to Taiwan?”

“Hmm. Can’t say it’s in the top of my travel wish list. What’s in Taiwan?”

I don’t know what I was thinking or not thinking, but wow Taiwan is such a charming place. All these years of living in the Philippines, with Taiwan being our closest neighbour in the north, and I never thought of going there? Until now, when I got an invitation from Chal Lontoc del Rosario of Jeron Travel to join their media tour to Taiwan.


Our journey to Taipei started with Eva Air. I thought we were in business class when I saw our seats. They were wide and roomy. Turns out this was Premium Economy. Impressed!


While flying I checked out their pamphlet about the EVA Air Hello Kitty Jet.


I would love to bring my girls on the EVA Air Hello Kitty Jet someday.


Barely two hours up in the air, we were in Taiwan! So close.


I don’t know how to travel light. Haha. This is what I bring for a three night trip. The smaller wheelie was my carry on. It was empty except for my heavy MacBook Pro and cameras.


From the airport of Taipei our bus took us near the Taipei train station near our hotel.


From my hotel room, this was my view. I love the layers and mix of old and new.


1 F ?? Main Entrance
Our hotel was the very chic Palais de Chine.


The ground floor street level display showed these red “doors” with all things symbolic in my life – the letter P for Paez and the hummingbird as a symbol of my dad (the helicopter pilot). The cursive P here of course stands for Palais de Chine.


1F ????Concierge_02
Upon entering the ground floor lobby of the Palais de Chine, we were immediately drawn into a “story” that would keep unfolding as we went up the higher floors – one about travel and exploration. This life-size wooden sculpture of a gallant horse was brought in from Paris. It is surrounded by lush, reddish-purple velvet curtains, reminiscent of a European theatre. A long leather bench surrounds the space, while a giant crystal chandelier adds drama.


1F ????Concerige _01
Across the wooden horse was the hotel’s concierge. In keeping with the cross-cultural theme of travel between the orient and Europe, there is a giant bookcase conveying the idea of future travels.


5F ??? ??? Waiting Area
The waiting areas reflect European style decor and show antique art collections. As the name suggests, Palais de Chine is an elegant French-style hotel inspired by Parisian romanticism. It is common to see a mix of cultures in Paris, and this is what the hotel wants to convey with their mix of east-west, old-new.


???? ???? Executive Deluxe
I don’t have a clean shot of my room but it resembled this. Except that I had a corner room so my bathroom was off to the side with a full view of the Taipei Train Station. This photo (and others) is from the hotel’s PR kit. This is the Executive Deluxe room where the bathroom has no walls or doors.


I had a corner room and this is what my bathroom looked like.


I had a wall-to-wall window view the old Taipei City.


6F ?? Lobby _01
The 6th floor main lobby, enveloped in cobble stoned walls, felt like a European castle.


Antique-like mirrors are the signature of Palais de Chine. You find them all over the hotel, including the elevators. The designer, Ray Chen, visited antique markets in Paris to source original mirrors. In Taiwan, he had craftsmen wash away the mercury on some parts of the mirrors using acid etching in order to achieve the look of old mirrors.


Group check in was made easy with the help of Jeron Travel’s Chal del Rosario.


I love the rough-cut stone walls of the lobby reception.


The buffet at La Rotisserie is a feast for the senses.


6F ????? La Rotisserie   01
The dining area reflects idea of mixing eastern and western influences. The ceiling was made to appear cloud-like using the same antiquated mirrors arranged in the shape of the Chinese character “pin” which is also the second character in the Chinese name of Palais de Chine.


The salad bar was what Taiwan was all about for me – fresh produce!


Fresh fish.


6F Le Bar ?_02
Le Bar is located outdoors in an upper deck. It was made to feel like a North African safari.


Just a dog, not a Chinese Fu Dog (which is actually a lion).


Even the wooden floors are made to look old and weathered. Ray Chen asked carpenters to apply a special liquid solution to speed up the aging of the wood.


?????? Exterior
And the fun part of Palais de Chine… there’s some lovely shopping right below it.


The Palais de Chine was my entry point into Taiwan. And in a matter of a few minutes I realised how much I’d been missing by not thinking of Taiwan as a vacation destination. This hotel was a sophisticated mix of old and new, east and west which were elements that I would see throughout my visit. More on Taiwan’s attractions, food and shopping coming up soon.

My trip to Taiwan was sponsored by Jeron Travel, Taiwan Tourism Bureau  and EVA Air.