For some of us, tablescaping has been a form of therapy and an outlet for creative expression without needing to leave our homes. The intentionality behind creating a beautiful spread makes conversations around the table livelier and mealtime more meaningful.
Before you hop on the internet and splurge on too many big-ticket items (we know it's tempting but be strong), you might want to take a quick survey around your home first: you might just realize that you don't need as many new purchases as you thought.
Tablescape enthusiast Leah Mae Beatingo-Villacampa shows us two table designs that she created from just looking around her abode.
"This tablescape is all about making use of whatever I can find in my pantry, fridge, and cupboard," Leah starts. A quick look around her spread shows you some pretty unconventional tablescape pieces: a mortar and pestle set as well as take-out boxes. Strangely enough, the way in which she uses them creates a feast for our eyes.
Leah encourages the daily tablescaper to be innovative. Instead of just stopping at plopping down items on the table, up-decorate them. For the mortar and pestle, Leah dresses them up with spices and flavorings. "My husband came from the groceries and bought his flavor essentials, and now they're on my table. He helped me put them together to make it look like a piece of art," she shares.
Leah also confesses that she was inspired by Michelle Lao's tablescaping posts, hence the additional chopsticks and tiny flowers. She completes her Asian-themed table with a lovely tea set that she got as a wedding gift.
A little secret: the plaid and polka dot table napkins are actually men's handkerchiefs.
Breakfast for Two
While it is one of our favorite apps, Leah teaches us to log out of Pinterest and look far beyond it for table inspirations. Her inspiration for a breakfast-for-two table comes from the unconventional: her Calathea prayer plant. Leah shares, "I find the details and colors [of the plant] to be pretty. I wanted this particular table spread to look fresh and cohesive, that's why the colors matched the plant."
Leah also doesn't shy from exploring budget-friendly options, sharing that most of the items she used won't burn holes in your pockets. "The egg cups are less than Php 20 per piece, the lettuce salt and pepper shakers are less than Php 200, and the fancy gold coffee stirrers are Php 50 each," she proudly reveals. Everything else on the table has been with her for years now.
We're taking our cues from this lovely lady. With the lockdown period still uncertain, we're pretty determined to make our every day at home look and feel like special days.
On your mark, ready, set, rummage.
Vanessa Ong's gluten-free cupcakes satisfy the cravings without the guilt
We're not going to lie: this lockdown has brought with it some silver linings and an unexpected one is we seem to be spending more time in the kitchen. If you're not the baking type, Vanessa Ong's guilt-free recipe for delicious honey almond cupcakes might just close the distance between you and your oven.
Vanessa uses almond flour to make this treat gluten-free. The best part? It's easy enough to follow along.
Gluten-Free Honey Almond Cupcakes
This recipe uses almond flour which is used for gluten-free recipes and sweetened with honey.
11/4 cups almond flour
1 tablespoon coconut flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs
1/3 cup honey
3/4 cup slivered almonds
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line eight cupcake pans with paper liners.
2. In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, coconut flour, salt, and baking soda.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and honey. Blend the wet ingredients into the almond flour mixture with a mixer until thoroughly combined.
4. Scoop 1/4 cup of batter into each prepared cupcake cup.
5. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool and serve. Enjoy!
It was one of those days when I was feeling blah, demotivated, and glum. Maybe the effects of our current situation has already caught up on me? Or was I just getting restless? Anyway, I tried to fight the feeling(ssssss) and turned to my closet.
I took out my Verdal top (in Pine) and its matching Kethra pants, a set I'm completely bonkers about! I just love the balance of loose silhouettes and just a hint of skin, thanks to the cropped cut of the top. Plus, you can dress it up or pare it down, depending on the look you're going for. Here are three quick outfits I came up with.
Making Christmas Colors Work
Sometimes, you just see beauty in the unexpected and pairing this set with my multicolored sporty sandals was but natural. Yes, I'm aware that it's very Christmas-y, but that's okay! While my footwear of choice isn't all red, I feel like this pop of color made the look quite interesting. Certain colors may seem tacky at first, but you'll never know until you try wearing them right?
Bring Out Your Signature Pieces
Balancing feminine with masculine by styling the Verdal top with jeans and white sneakers
When all else fails, reach for your signature pieces—mine is a pair of high waist jeans and white sneakers. Think of the Verdal top as an update on your basic tee, so have faith that most of your bottoms will definitely work with it. But if you want to skip on overthinking your outfit, grab your go-to's and you'll be out (or ready for WFH) in a jiffy.
Mix in Prints
Go for vibrant prints when wearing the Kethra pants
To balance out the wide-leg cut of the Kethra pants, I went for a bold, striped top. The result is a play on colors and lines, which even creates the illusion of length—so yeah, I feel like I'm 5'9" here. Haha! Going for a bright, printed top with these pants make your look more playful and would therefore, cheer you up. Watch yourself feel jollier with just an outfit change—that's the power of clothes.
The fear of uncertainty may get to us any day, but we have to keep going. As simple as dressing up for that Zoom meeting or making yourself a mean cup of coffee, try to get on with the day and go that extra mile to boost your mood. I can say that after playing dress up with these separates, I did feel better. Counting my blessings and knowing that I am safe with my loved ones also helped.
Hope you're all safe and well, dear Seekers!
Leah Mae Beatingo-Villacampa credits her chance encounter with tablescaping through an unexpected twist in being a new mom
There's a reason why Leah Mae Beatingo-Villacampa's tables seem so efortless: this Dumagueteña had her roots in working for an events' styling and coordinating company for a decade, and even became an executive assistant for a world-renowned furniture designer. After being a first-time mom, Leah unexpectedly found herself going through post-partum depression and happened to chance upon one of our chic-in-commander Mikka Padua's tablescapism posts. Making beautiful tables for her family and friends gave her a new spark of joy and the rest, as Leah herself said, was history.
Now married to an architect for two years and taking care of a bouncing one-year-old baby boy, Leah determinedly quit her work to fully devote her time and energy to taking care of her husband and son—an honorable feat, if we may.
Get to know this native bag-loving wonder woman through her beautiful tables.
Breakfast with friends made prettier
What does your typical day look like?
My day's all about taking care of my little one and the love of my life, of course. I do mostly everything for my kid from changing nappies to bath time and putting him to bed at night. I'm moving round the clock. I find it a privilege to be a stay-at-home mom and taking care of my family.
I make sure though, that I get to breathe once in a while by setting up a merienda date with friends, video calling my BFF who lives in the metro, or running errands like groceries with a quick side trip to some surplus shops that sell home improvement items—my happy place, as I call it.
Do you have a favorite or specialty recipe that you love serving for guests?
I honestly don't have culinary skills. I'm not a kitchen expert, although, surprisingly my guests loved my bruschetta and mango banana chia pudding that I made during our wedding anniversary merienda.
Luckily, my hubby (I'm proud to say) is absolutely incredible in the kitchen. He has the culinary prowess. He can turn simple ingredients into mouth-watering dishes.
I guess it's a perfect combination of some sort. I do the tablescaping and he does the food magic. What a remarkable way to bond, isn't it? We both believe that the fondest memories are made and gathered around the table.
Cake or ice cream?
Definitely ice cream! Double dutch is my ultimate. I add cornflakes to make it crunchy.
What tips do you have for breaking the ice when you have guests meeting each other for the first time?
Place cards and fun facts combined are effective ways to ensure that conversations flow 'round the table. As the host, I get to arrange interesting people who aren't acquainted with each other, and place cards are the key to that.
Upon the guests' arrival, voila! Surprise them with a fascinating activity to get them going and ecstatic for the night. Have the guests jot down a fact about themselves and put it in a fishbowl. Ask each one to pick a fun fact and match it to a guest. Believe it or not, this will certainly stimulate good conversations with someone new.
What’s the best tablescape bargain you’ve ever gotten?
Purchasing slightly damaged plates and saucers at shops at a discounted price is one of the best bargains for me. I choose the ones that still look pretty on top despite the hidden chip at the bottom. I don't mind at all.
Trading or bartering is also my thing. I got these local and amazing native placemats in exchange for my preloved outfits.
I've also received some lovely Japanese ceramics for canned goods and broom. Isn't that a good bargain?
Leah's table setting hack: use a huge scarf or shawl as a table cloth
Who are your dream dinner guests and why?
The best of experiences come from people who walk ahead of us, and I'm one who marvels in beautiful life stories of other people especially from these three dream dinner guests: Iris Apfel, Mikka Padua, and Michelle Lao.
My table will not just be fancy and full of delectable dishes for these three women. It will also be filled with wonderful stories, narratives, and poetry of how a life should be well-lived with the purpose of inspiring one generation after the other.I can just imagine what a night that would be!
What’s on your dinner party playlist?
My playlist would always be contingent to the dinner mood. My ideals are bossa nova, lounge, and jazz music.
A privilege and an honor: taking care of her husband and child is Leah's greatest gift in life
How do you come up with your table centerpieces?
Whatever I can find in my cupboard that's comely and fitting. I have also learned that fruits with variety of color are a great mix on the table. To add to that, I find it very interesting and cost-efficient to pick flowers and plants from the garden as decorative centerpieces. Sometimes, it can be all about organic chic inspo.
Give us five design blogs or people that you follow on Instagram.
I have a handful of daily doses on Instagram. Of course, Mikka Padua and Michelle Lao. Then there are Pam Quiñones, Olivia Palermo, Chriselle Lim, and Iris Apfel.
Whoops! That's more than 5! 😉
What are your favorite places to shop for tablescapes?
I go for local most of the time. I shop at this department store where they sell affordable and unique tablescapes. My principle is your table spread can look dramatic and inviting without burning a hole in your pocket—though I do splurge sometimes.
A quirky Korean night setup for Father's Day
Favorite hosting hack?
I have tons that I share with friends through my FB and IG accounts. For now, let me indulge you in one or two of my fave hacks.
I'm kind of frugal and the perk is you become creative and stylish with your table setting. Living in a city where materials are curbed, most of the time you are compelled to squeeze your creative juices in order to come up with remarkable pieces for your table.
One hack I'm fond of doing is dressing up my table based on my scarf design and color. (Yes, I do use scarf to glam up my table, always a fave!) Handkerchiefs come in handy, too. I also utilize those as table napkins or placemats.
Working on a little project for myself now—another hack would be upcycling. Used dresses with popping prints can be turned into placemats. This idea is making me giddy and brings a huge smile to my face. 😁
I have very strong feelings about this and I'm elated to have another gathering, pulling together my family and friends, making memories, and laughing our guts out. Nothing warms the heart more than delighted smiles.
Our moms meant well when they would tell us to stop touching our face (especially now in this pandemic). For a lot of us, acne flares around the time of our teens and eventually wanes. Even if you are well past that age, the bacteria that causes and triggers acne can still cause trouble for the skin.
We have rounded up our six best picks for must-have soaps that fight bacteria not just for acne, but also as an all-rounder.
Crafted from goat's milk and olive oil, this luscious bar of soap is targeted more towards fighting acne. Goat's milk has the proteins of milk products that are known to kill acne-producing bacteria.
This soap is also infused with glutathione, which is known to be an effective antioxidant and a skin lightening agent. It helps to whiten skin, fight age spots, and other skin pigmentation problems.
A soap that is soap-free - yes, you read that here first. This body wash is made out of virgin coconut oil, argan oil, and colloidal oatmeal. This is usually recommended for those who have active breakouts from eczema or skin asthma.
Dermtropics believes in the wonder of coconut oil and strives to create soaps that are the purest in form. Coconut oil is known to reduce bacteria in acne-prone skin, soothes dry, itchy, and sensitive skin, and restore the skin's lipid barrier. It is chock full of antioxidants and Vitamin E. This natural "soap" has no artificial fragrances, no parabens, and is cruelty-free.
Guava is known to contain antioxidants that destroy free radicals that damage the skin. It also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that cures acne, black spots and pimples, and helps in wound healing. It can also relieve itchiness, rashes, and allergies.
This lather bar is made from real fruit puree with extracts from fresh fruit leaves. This all-natural soap also has anti-aging benefits.
Organic habbatus sauda oil (or black seed oil) has been known to have antifungal properties that detoxifies the skin. This shower cream's protective hydration formula intensively replenishes the skin’s natural moisture for a supple softness you'd love to touch all throughout the day.
Much like its name, Good Virtues Co. is committed to creating halal products with high standards of quality and safety, using only ingredients that are safe and respectful to the environment. This cream is free from mineral oil, SLES, ALES, parabens, synthetic colorants, and is cruelty-free.
5. Organic Alley Face - Clarifying Acne and Scars Soap
This bar is crafted from tea tree oil which fights bacteria, athlete's foot, fungal infection, ringworm, and unwanted body odor. Mixed with activated charcoal, tea tree extracts help fight oiliness and acne and brightens up the skin to make pimple scars less visible.
Not only that, but Organic Alley is also a socially-conscious and empowered brand that seeks to create awareness about the benefits of synthetic-free products. They encourage a sustainable and healthy lifestyle through every jar, soap, and bottle. That's a plus for us.
Chamomile is another anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial wonder of nature. Infused with olive oil, this shower gel is hypoallergenic and moisturizes the skin to keep it healthy and nourished.
This soap, along with others from the Phina's Little Factory line, is handmade using only the best quality ingredients.
A lot of us never outgrow our sweet tooth. The realization that this once innocent trait is starting to wreak havoc on our bodies (and there is no escaping it) puts something in our foodie selves to death. But fret not: there is always a way around things.
No need to suppress your urge for something moist and chocolatey. Wanderlust wife and mom Vanessa Ann Ong shares the first of her three baked recipes that are gluten-free. This particular recipe is a light and moist banana bread that is also dairy-free, grain-free, and refined sugar-free.
Dark Chocolate Banana Bread
11/2 cups mashed banana
2 tablespoons honey
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons coconut flour
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1. Preheat your oven to 350’F
2. Grease a loaf pan
3. Add the mashed bananas, honey, eggs, and vanilla extract to a large bowl and blend well.
4. Add the baking soda, salt, and coconut flour to the wet batter and blend well. Let the batter sit for 5 minutes to give the coconut flour time to absorb the liquids.
5. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for 55 minutes or until the top begins to brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean.
6. Cool, slice, and enjoy!
Mia gives us a tour of her Singapore home and chats with us about the many hats she wears
When asked to describe herself, Mia Marchadesch generously (and colorfully) threw out a couple of titles: expat wife, modern-day mom of three (ages 13 to 30), avid art collector, frustrated home stylist, wellness and fitness coach, tennis addict by day and a trader by night. Whew. Not that having so many hats burden her - she actually embraces and enjoys all of them.
If we were to look at a dominant title, her love for collecting art and for decorating can easily be seen in her home. Mia shares that she needs to feel surrounded by art pieces that reflect who she is. Her urge for the creative is also reflected in her newly-found hat: sourdough bread making. Mia found enjoyment in creating her artisanal bread from starter to baking.
Based in Singapore, Mia is not your typical weekend tennis hobbyist - she recently became an overall doubles champion in her ladies' division. When not playing or dabbling in art, she finds herself consumed by wellness, even turning to full plant-based eating and working out almost every day. Through this, she realized her passion to help and guide women to transform their mind and body, and has been a transformational coach since 2018. On her spare time (yes, she still has some), she adds trading skills to her plate.
Take a tour around Mia's Singapore home and get to know this hustling-and-bustling lady a little more.
Mia's newly-found hat: sourdough bread baking
Who are your design heroes?
There are a lot but I love the style of Leanne Ford and Joanna Gaines. I also can relate to Queer Eye's Bobby Berks. I enjoy mixing accessories the way Jonathan Adler does too! I super adore everything about Diane Keaton though. From h her black and white clothes to her quirky home.
Tell us about your design process in decorating your home.
It revolves around my art obviously. I don't look at pegs or images. I actually visualize I get bits of pieces of the aesthetic of some designers (mentioned above) but in the end, it's still my vision that I go for. Come to think of it, it's more the feel now. If it looks good but does not feel right, I change it until it fits.
Mia designs her home around her collection of artwork
If you could sum up your design aesthetic in a song title, what would it be and why?
Hmmm... it would be Beautiful People by Ed Sheeran (feat. Khalid).
Aside from liking the beat (it's part of my workout playlist), It's the lyrics that I relate to. When I was younger, I used to want to be like someone or want my home to be like that in the magazine which represents that from beautiful people. But as I matured and understood who I am, I stopped buying magazines, stopped Pinterest, and unfollowed a lot on Instagram and started checking in on what's important to me. I started trusting my own instincts on what to wear, what art to buy, and what didn't really have to designer stuff anymore. As long as I can do the things that I enjoy, travel with the family is enough for me.
So what's beautiful or "in trend" for others, I really couldn't relate to anymore. I have my own sense of what Beautiful is and you can actually see it in my art collection :-)
What’s on your current playlist?
Which room do you spend the most time in? The least time in?
Our home is currently compact that I spend time in most rooms except maybe the room of my kids. Also now that I practically do all-around things — from baking to working and working out from home, I find myself mostly juggling myself from my workout area to the kitchen and my workspace (aka guestroom)
How does being a fitness enthusiast influence the way you decorate your home?
Hmm. The way I view fitness, you can say I have trimmed down fat or have become minimal when it comes to decorating my home. (Though my husband won't agree. Hahaha. But it's true, at least for me.) When we travel I have stopped buying mementos as souvenirs. Maybe because we move a lot so it's the thought of the packing and unpacking I'm dreading. So the same way I eat is the same way I shop (or don't ) when it comes to decorating my house — I go for basic, essential, and efficient.
If you could wear only one color for the rest of your life, what would it be?
White. With my skin tone, I think it suits me. Plus I can accessorize it with anything.
Is there anything about your home that you wish to change?
The kitchen. I've been baking a lot of bread lately and I want a big and hi-tech kitchen. Since I have found the love for sourdough bread baking, which needs a wide countertop space for kneading and a really good oven for baking, I wish for a better and brighter kitchen.
Give us your favorite Instagrammers.
Sorry it's a lot but these are my faves:
MobuDays (my friend Mia De Lara)
Dr. Mark Hyman
This busy lady follows a plant-based diet and works out almost everyday
How do you hope your guests feel when they visit your home?
I want them to feel welcome and special yet I don't want them to feel smothered. I like long lunches and cocktails so I want guests to feel that they can come for a long lunch and overstay until maybe cocktails until its time we all go out for dinner.
Plants or flowers?
Plants because I eat these a lot so we grow them too. My husband recently took urban gardening and hydroponics so it's all over our home. They are easier to grow and maintain.
Some of Mia's prized possessions
Favorite city in the world to shop in and why?
Barcelona. I love the vibe and their local stuff. I can live on margaritas and (plant-based) tapas for the rest of my life.
What does home mean to you?
Home for me should always nurture your soul and heal your heart. :-)
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