Hello, Kitty Cafe!

I heard the news first from my friend Stacy when she tagged me in an album of pictures she took two weeks ago. I hadn’t heard that the Hello Kitty Cafe* would come to the North, so I was pleasantly surprised that it was back at the SM North EDSA after a long hiatus.

I knew it was coming, though. In December of last year, two pop-up stores opened at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City and at the Fiesta Duty Free Mall in Parañaque. Both had limited running dates till January of this year and served as precursor to the Hello Kitty Cafe** at the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig. Now, we Northeners don’t need to feel so left out of the good stuff. The Hello Kitty Cafe is back in town!

The last time I was in a local HKC, it was in 2000, shortly before the SM North EDSA branch closed. I remember because I have a memento of my last visit, a picture taken with a struggling eight-year-old boy who would not set foot inside the Cafe. Despite entreaties and bribery (with hefty servings of food which he ate, but outside the Cafe), my son refused to step in and had to be dragged inside for one picture with his Mama. Ahhh…memories!

kittymama with struggling child low res

I know I said I have sworn off Hello Kitty, but still, some youthful part of me longs for a little bit of her now and then. A♥, ever the enabler, suggested squeezing a quick visit to the Cafe during the last SM North EDSA 3-day Sale. We went in early Saturday morning to the mall to purchase shoes and some shirts for the boys and decided to drop in for a quick bite.

The new HKC can be found on the 3rd floor of The Block, and overlooks the main Atrium or Activity Center.

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The cafe, in keeping with Hello Kitty’s feminine, feline character, is done in mostly white and pink. The design is tasteful and elegant, almost minimalist with a touch of whimsy. White picket fences delineate the mall real estate it occupies. Seating is limited.

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Below, you can see Hello Kitty she lords it over the place. There is no mistaking that she is the center of the Sanrio universe.

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Even the pitchers had her face on them! Cute! (I didn’t check the table napkins.)

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But as concession to her friends, they can be found in cute doughnuts filling the display chillers. Below are My Melody doughnut faces with ribbon- themed doughnuts,

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Hello Kitty and Baad Batz Maru face doughnuts (why does Bad Batz remind me of Angry Birds?),

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and cheery Keroppi face doughnuts, with more ribbon doughnuts. You can’t get away from Hello Kitty and her ubiquitous red ribbons.

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The cafe also serve cupcakes and small cakes,

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and healthy green salads.

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Unlike its predecessor, the new Hello Kitty Cafe does not serve full meals.  It has a streamlined selection of sandwiches, salads, pasta and pastries. They also serve coffee and shakes. Since the Cafe is still on soft opening, some of the items on the menu may not be available but there is usually a sufficient stock of pastries on hand. The prices are a bit on the high side so be prepared to shell out serious money for Hello Kitty food.

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A♥ is not big on sweets and pasta so we deferred our Kitty date for another day. He did, however, buy me a souvenir of my visit, which came in this plain white paper bag sealed with a Kitty sticker.

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Who can resist a Kitty doughnut? Certainly not me!

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I’ll be coming back soon to stay longer. I hope to taste their salad, pasta, and coffee next time. In the meantime, let’s spread the word that the Hello Kitty Cafe is back!


*Hello Kitty Cafe SM North EDSA

3rd Floor, The Block,

SM North EDSA, Quezon City


**Hello Kitty Cafe BGC

Third Floor, Uptown Place Mall,

36th Street Corner 9th Avenue,

Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City


Weekend Cinema

We caught Avengers: Age of Ultron on its first day last Wednesday at TriNoma. My husband and I were able to drag Alex along for the screening, enticing him with the promise of barbecue popcorn and Brothers burgers. Unfortunately, while we enjoyed the movie, both my husband and I felt the sound system at Cinema 1 was off that night. For some reason, it wasn’t loud or clear enough so we ended up missing some dialogue. Well, either the cinema sound system was on the fritz that night or our hearing is going, ouch!

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The IMAX schedule at SM North EDSA this weekend

Anyway, we wanted to watch it again, this time thinking of going all-out with the IMAX immersive experience. Yes, the price of tickets would require us to fork over an additional P200 for each of us (regular cinema’s P250 compared to IMAX’s P450). And yes, we knew that unlike, say, The Dark Knight Rises, Avengers: Age of Ultron was not filmed using IMAX cameras and was simply converted to 3D postproduction. But just imagining that humongous screen- all 15 meters of it- was enough to quiet our second thoughts.

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As if that was not enough, we learned that the IMAX Theater at SM North EDSA would have 24-hour screenings for this weekend only. Now, how could we say no to that?

Still, the last time my husband and I stayed up late for a midnight first screening of a movie, we were too cross-eyed with sleep to actually enjoy it. So considering our aging body clocks, we opted for what we thought would make more sense: an early morning screening. Five am early, to be exact.

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I’ve never been to the malls that early, truth to tell, and it felt eerily like being in a scene from Dawn of the Dead (both the 1978 George Romero original and the 2004 remake), where the survivors of a zombie apocalypse hide out in the mall. A♥ and I walked leisurely, amazed to have the mall almost to ourselves. While walking, I quickly scanned the empty stores for possible hiding places, figuring that I’d probably head first to the supermarket for food anyway. Ah, but I digress.

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The ground floor of SM North EDSA was empty at that hour. (Brain thinking: too many glass walls and zombies can see you!)

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Heading to the theaters on the second floor

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Have you ever seen this flight of stairs without people? Nope!

There weren’t so many people for Sunday ‘s five am screening, which was to our liking. I’d have thought more people of our age group (with our unusual predisposition for waking up early) would be there but before the family seated behind us came, A♥ and I seemed to be the only “old folks.”

The IMAX experience of Avengers: Age of Ultron certainly lived up to our expectations. The sound system was a huge improvement over our first date with Avengers:AOU, allowing us to laugh with the punchlines and double entendres. The larger screen was perfect for detailing action, blowing them up in full detail and rich color. If you’re watching Avengers:AOU before its run finishes, I’d fully recommend doing it the IMAX way. The extra money is definitely worth it.

As far as dates go, this one was unusual in that we’ve never ever taken in a movie at 5am before. A♥ and I have done many things together in our almost 24 years of marriage and I guess when you’ve been with someone far longer than you have been without them, it’s easy to take the things you do together for granted. Watching movies has always been our thing because my husband is a movie addict.

That we continue to enjoy the same things we did many years ago tells me that while many things may change, there are also things that stay the same. Thank God for that. 🙂

Happiness is… The Princess In Me- Launching Day (xxi)

Barbie 29Two years ago, Hello Kitty took SM North EDSA by storm, with a whirlwind of activities, exhibits, and merchandise- all Hello Kitty-themed, of course. This year, another worldwide superstar takes the helm of SM Malls’ Christmas celebrations with the theme “The Princess in Me.” And though she is all of 55 years old, this superstar has conquered gender biases and aging with a lot of grace and grit. Yes, for SM City North EDSA, the royal ball will not be complete without the ultimate princess, Barbie. The Princess in Me Christmas campaign recreates a magical fantasy of princesses and royal balls for children and kids-at-heart. Decked in all fabulous pink, with pampering activities to treat guests and visitors throughout the holidays season, SM North EDSA was transformed into an enchanting wonderland and this magic will last throughout the holidays. Barbie invite The launch of the campaign, held last Friday, November 7, was a glamor and glitz event headed by SM Prime Holdings, Inc. President Hans Sy and  SM President of SM Supermalls, Annie Garcia. As expected, entertainment stars graced the event and rubbed elbows with the common folk. Most significant, however, was the attendance of some of the special beneficiaries of SM Prime Holdings’ charities, namely, the children of Child Haus, as they celebrated the start of this season of giving with their most ardent supporters.

SM Prime Holdings President Hans Sy is always the most gracious host. He is also a tirelee philanthropist, as he and his family gifted Child Haus with a permanent home in Barangay Pinyanah, Quezon City in 2010.

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With an array of booths in the Holiday Barbie Lounge and the Royal Court, guests were treated to a royal pampering of their choice. Food and drinks were aplenty- and in pink! Older guests had their dreams of a model photoshoot fulfilled in the Barbie Photobox while younger princesses had their choice of glitzy stylings from hair, nail art, glitter tattoo and face painting stations.

Barbie layout

In keeping with the fabulous princess theme, guests were welcomed at this diamond ring arched entryway. You know what they say about girls and their diamonds (though I prefer pearls, myself).

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The “royal guards” stood at attention at the second foyer. Beyond that, lovely ladies-in-waiting greeted and courtseyed guests in.

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There can be no doubt, however, that the star of the show was the fabulous Ms. Barbara Millicent Roberts. It’s a girl’s world alright! Yeah!

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A large B loomed over guests; this is the iconic B that represents her name, style, and the billion-dollar industry she has generated.

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The Christmas Princess Tree, also known as the Couture Tree, stood magnificent upon the stage. This, along with the SM Bears of Joy Tree (see picture below), represented the advocacies of SM. I suddenly remembered that the real princess is one who loves herself and others too.  

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Just a note: The SM Bears of Joy Tree makes giving easy. Buy a pair of bears for only PhP200, one to keep, and the other to donate to the SM Cares Foundation.

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Friday’s event was a literal standing-room-only affair. Invited guests filled the lounge as early as two in the afternoon.

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Kids got dolled up through face painting-

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or having their hair done at the royal salon.

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Those who were feeling the Barbie vibe loved the photobox, and this mother and her daughter were no exception.

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An hour-long show hosted by Raymond Gutierrez and Denise Laurel started at a quarter past four in the afternoon. After a brief video  and some introductions, the ceremonial tree lighting was held.

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The Princess Tree was lit for the first time last Friday and its musical lights will greet mall shoppers every half hour from 11 am to 8 pm from then until January 4, 2015.

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SM Supermalls President Annie Garcia supervised the lighting ceremony.

Barbie 26 A twenty-five minute fashion show followed, with these pretty girls sashaying down the catwalk in pop, party, and fairytale Princesses fashions.

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These young ladies pulled off these Princess looks so well.

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Still, it was the little ones who captivated the audience’s hearts.

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 The event was a ball of mall proportions, and even the decorations were specially chosen to fit the theme.

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And did I say there was food? Pink food, of course!

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The royal cake was too pretty to eat.

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Cupcakes and hors d’oeuvres were aplenty, if the royal cake was too pretty to be sliced and eaten.

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Delightfully pink macarons with silver pearl beads made the table elegant (and the mouth watery).

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What’s a royal ball without a glass silver?

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Then again,  what’s a royal ball without a glass slipper and a prince?

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Truly, The Princess in Me brought out the princess in everyone who came. Even I was not immune to its charms. Long after the afternoon had come and gone, I held on the tiara I was given as a souvenir of my visit. It may have been plastic, but it made me feel like a real princess.

Thank you, SM, for making this experience royally unique.

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The Princess in Me- Barbie Collectors Hall will be featured in part two of this post.

For more holiday activities at SM North EDSA, visit their Facebook page here: SM North EDSA

A Kitty Wonderland: Part Two

As promised, here are some more photos of the Hello Kitty Christmas Village at SM City North EDSA. The display and scheduled activities will run until January 6, 2013.

This was my favorite “house” of all. Why? Because I “live” here! Teehee!

Still don’t see me yet? Here I am, all in pink! Oh, yeah, I don’t have delusions about being Hello Kitty because I am… ehrm… her mama!

I love the balloon centerpiece on the cocktail tables set up on the left side of the venue, behind two of the houses. I’m glad I was able to take a picture of even one as this was the last one there. I ignorantly did not claim this because as soon I stepped away from it, someone else claimed it for herself. No doubt, that was a Hello Kitty fan.

Remember I had one of these for my birthday before? BreadTalk has new designs for the cakes and you can preorder these yummy beauties just a few days in advance for any special occasion. Nom nom nom nom nom.

Those are Anthony and Margaret George, Hello Kitty’s loving grandparents.

The best part about the whole event was seeing so many people who love Hello Kitty as much as I do. Many were dressed up in their best Hello Kitty fashions. I requested this mother and daughter team in matching Hello Kitty dresses to pose for a picture. (Thank you, mommy and daughter!)

Look, she even has a friend in a Hello Kitty dress too!

Here is the vivacious Ms. Prieto posing for a picture. (She said yes after she had me take her picture for her Instagram account, hehehe.) I took this for my friend Cynch. I only wish I had not forgotten the paper banner I made that said “Hello, Cynch!” *toinks*

And here is Gift Gate Philippines’ very own Operations Manager, the lovely Ms. Cleo Balingit De Ocampo. She was running about the venue until I had her freeze for a shot. 🙂 That is grace under pressure!

An additional blessing: I met a very nice Hello Kitty collector at the event. Her name is Denise Lao. She came up to me and said very nice things that flustered me a bit. *blushes* I’m glad I made a new Hello Kitty friend. I borrowed the picture below from Denise’s Facebook album of the event. Sorry if I looked sweaty and red all over.

As I told you in the previous post, Hello Kitty fashion makes it big at Forever21 so catch them before they run out! Unfortunately, sizes run in the regular range and not in the plus size range, eliminating me at once as a target audience. Oh, wait, I do fit under the umbrella! The neck pillow too! And the scarf!

No need to walk to the Annex to get your Sanrio fix, as they’ve set up a selling area in the venue. I want the bed table!!!

And even SM has Hello Kitty clothes and toys for sale, including toys imported by my favorite toy distributor, Ban Kee Trading.

Upstairs, on the 3rd floor, the exhibit started quietly and without much fanfare…

and then I suddenly noticed a bunch of photographers taking pictures of the ones beside me. So engrossed was I in looking and taking my own pictures that I didn’t realize I had run into Mr. Hans Sy again! Unlike snobby VIPs, he didn’t make a big fuss that I was blocking his view (though I could feel the bodyguards’ stares boring through me). I quietly slipped away, pretending I hadn’t noticed.

These are DJ Nicole Hyala’s Loungefly bags.

And her popcorn machine. And her cotton candy machine. And her bling cases for her gadgets.

And her microwave oven!

Part of Ms. Dianne Abella’s collection. The Anteprima wire bag is worth PhP25,000- and that is only the small one!

She also has very nice plushes.

Want to see more Hello Kitty collections? There are more to see! (P.S. Ms. Denise also has some of her collection on display so look for it, please!)

It took all of my willpower NOT to publish here or in Facebook all 286 pictures I took of the event using two cameras. I figured, a sneak peek is all one needs because the experience is definitely better than a bunch of photos. So if you want to see more of the Hello Kitty Christmas Village and the Hello Kitty Exhibit, head on now to SM City North EDSA!

~0~ ♥ ~0~

My thanks to:

SM City North EDSA and the SM Marketing Group

Ms. Zelina Baluyan and Ms. Mares Palma of Yehey! Digital Team

Sanrio and Gift Gate Philippines, with special mention of Ms. Cleo De Ocampo


A Kitty Wonderland: Part One

The invitation said four in the afternoon and I had meant to get there by three at the latest to get a feel of the Atrium’s layout. But when you’re a mom and wife and everything else all rolled in one (yes, I am even a handy carpenter on occasion), sometimes, getting your undies on right side out is all you have time for. Cross my Kitty heart.

In fairness, though, I wasn’t really late. I was there 15 minutes before the scheduled time but already, there were so many people that it felt like the MRT on rush hour, sans the funky smells of course. I was a bit overwhelmed by all the security and all the people milling around and wandering aimlessly. There were just so many. Fortunately, my phone rang just in time and I was graciously led me to where I was supposed to be seated for the duration of the program, on the second row of the right side of the stage.

The launch of SM City North EDSA’s tribute to Hello Kitty came in the form of a runway fashion show spiced up with a LOT of Hello Kitty talk. Ms. Tessa Prieto and Mr. Raymond Gutierrez hostedthe almost two-hour show. It was wonderful to see Ms. Prieto and Mr. Gutierrez banter lightly on stage. But of course, the star of the show (aside from the REAL star) was Ms. Prieto who was right in her element- fun, wacky, and feisty, but elegant to the core.

True to Ms. Prieto’s spirit, she came out in an over-the-top, multicolored (I counted six colors, at least!) Hello Kitty-inspired fairy/butterfly gown! It had pink pearly, sequined wings AND Hello Kitty plushes trailing down the hem and train. Shades of Lady Gaga’s plush gown, except waaaay more wearable. 🙂 Oops, don’t forget her aqua blue and pink feathery fascinator! Only Tessa Prieto can ever pull an out outfit like that. *bows to the master*

There were girls dressed in Hello Kitty finery and styled with ribbon bows made of hair on their head. They pranced and galloped and sashayed on stage like seasoned models (okay, okay, there were one or two little girls who were clueless when it came to directions but, hey, they were cute!).

There were young ladies who showed off adult fashions- from playtime to night time dates- complete with charming accessories like bags and blings, even a neck pillow and a scarf.

All of these fashionable finds are currently available at SM Department Store branches for kids’ fashion and Forever21 for ladies’ wear.

Then, there was a brief Q and A portion with Hello Kitty fans and collectors, including well-known designer Francis Libiran, actress Maxene Magalona, and FM DJ Nicole Hyala.

A-list designer Mr. Francis Libiran designer (middle) designed Hello-Kitty inspired outfits for America’s Next Top Model 18th cycle (April 25, 2012 episode). Seen here beside him to the right is Ms. Pia Arroyo-Magalona.

GMA-7 actress Maxene Magalona is in Hello Kitty from top to toe!

And DJ Nicole Hyala shows off a Loungefly patent embossed tote bag, a HK watch, a HK-covered white iPhone 4s and HK shirt dress with matching shoes!

While I loved being right near stage, my vantage point for photos was hopelessly limited. Moving around was not an option as there were so many people you’d be stepping on people’s toes when you do. Right in front of me was the row of seats occupied by Mr. Hans Sy, Executive Vice President of ShoeMart Inc.and President of Shopping Center Management Corporation, and his guests and officers. Mr. Sy donated gifts to the 2012 International Children’s Peace Prize Awardee Kesz Valdez and his supported advocacy.

Sorry, you can’t even see Kesz here but you can see Mr. Sy and his giveaway presents!

Right after that, it was time for the REAL star of the show to come out! There was much funfare as heralds started screaming Hello Kitty’s name. Confetti shot out from giant confetti guns and filled the air with fluttering paper! A white vintage car drove (the better word would be “crawl” as it inched its way ever so slowly, surrounded by a throng of people into the center Atrium). Inside, a fluffy giant feline waved happily to the crowd that greeted her with such a uproar of delight.


Hello Kitty being assisted up the stage

She is surrounded by Kitty-addled crowds- men, women, and children!

The vintage car that carried the star of the show!

After that, it was complete bedlam as people rushed to get their photos with Hello Kitty! So enamored were they of her that they screamed her name and jumped on stage, even with hosts Ms. Prieto and Mr. Gutierrez still on it! It was Kitty crazzzzzy! 🙂

I managed to get one photo taken with Ms. Kitty through the kindness of Ms. Cleo De Ocampo of Gift Gate Philippines. Long after the time given for Hello Kitty to welcome guests (can you imagine how hard it must have been for the person inside the mascot costume?), people were still pulling her for photo ops.

It was a Hello Kitty-rific day!

~0~ ♥ ~0~

(Part two to follow with more photos from the event, the displays and the exhibit! Watch out for it!)

GOOD Kitty!

Picture from NYDailyNews.com

I know I wasn’t alone in my Hello Kitty fantasies and obsessions. How could I be, when the whole world recognizes Hello Kitty as an International Icon of Cuteness?

Few characters have had such a distinguished career as this furry feline. Even without a mouth, Hello Kitty crosses the barriers of age, gender, and nationality with such ease that you’d think this cat that weighed no more than three apples was bestowed with her very own manifest destiny.

Consider this: In 1984, Hello Kitty was named UNICEF Ambassador in the US. Ten years later, Japan’s UNICEF office also awarded her the same post. And in 2008, she was hailed as Japan’s offical Ambassador for Tourism, a post highly coveted by humans and nonhumans (fictional or otherwise) alike.

At 38 years old and nearing midlife, Hello Kitty seems to show no signs of aging as she continues her domination across the globe.

Few of us have ever gone to Japan’s Sanrio Puroland and Sanrio Park Harmonyland, or even Malaysia’s very new Hello Kitty Town in Johor. For many Filipinos in love with Hello Kitty, these will remain part of their bucket list, probably unchecked for years, because of soaring ticket prices and travel costs.

Still, there is a Hello Kitty glimmer in the horizon, and it comes perfectly on time for this holiday season, as SM City North EDSA, the largest mall in the country, teams up with Sanrio and Gift Gate to bring Hello Kitty to her many fans in the country.

Yes, my friends, Hello Kitty will be here soon.

Hello, Hello Kitty!

At SM City’s North EDSA The Block Atrium, from November 10 to January 6, Hello Kitty will be featured in one of the most animated, interactive events of the supermall’s history.

Hungry for Hello Kitty treats? There will be a Hello Kitty Cake Shop where kitty treats are more than just catnip!

A coffee lover, are you? Then head on to the Hello Kitty Coffee Shop to get your caffeine fix with just the right amount of Kitty sweetness!

The Hello Kitty House is perfect for photo ops with you and favorite Kitty friends, so bring them all and wear your finest Hello Kitty oufits! (I know I will!)

Looking for a romantic date? The Skygarden has Hello Kitty lanterns for a most unique experience!

And everywhere in the Activity Hall, you will find exciting activities that are sure to whet your Hello Kitty appetites for more, including but not limited to the following:

  • face painting sessions, from November 10 to December 24, from 2 to 4pm, with Hello Kitty up, close, and personal
  • Hello Kitty fashion show on December 8, 4pm, where the latest and trendiest Hello Kitty fashion and accessories will be shown off

Still not convinced this is the BIGGEST Christmas extravaganza this season? Check out the Hello Kitty Luxe Collection at the 3rd floor of The Block from November 10 to January 6 and prepared to be amazed!

Now, if you think Hello Kitty will exempt the normally calming oasis of the elegant Interior Zone, think again! Also from November 10 to January 6, longtime collectors and Interior Zone tenants will team up with some of the the country’s best designers from the Philippine School of Interior Design to present to you Kittified room exhibits.

Wait, there’s also a Hello Kitty car display collection to make you drool! Can you absolutely believe it? Hello Kitty will be everywhere at the SM City North EDSA! *faints*

Of course, SMNE outdoes itself by adding more events in this season of merriment!

  • There’s the Santa Meet and Greet at the City Center (main bulding) 3rd floor, on December 9,16,24,and 25 from 3 to 5pm.
  • The Mr. Men and Little Miss Misterland opens on December 1 at the Annex 4th floor, with free storytelling sessions on December 2,14,22,and 23.
  • Be serenaded with the most enchanting carols on December 2 and 16 by SM’s Grand Chorale.
  • Shop till you drop at the All-4-Kids Sale at the City Center 3rd floor from November 14 to 18 and December 10 to 16.
  • And if you haven’t had your fill yet from toy sales, the latest being Toy Kingdom’s very successful Warehouse Sale at SM Megamall, SM City North follows it up with a Holiday Bazaar at the Skydome on Novemver 30, December 1 and 2.

Truly, there is no limit to our holiday merrymaking this Christmas!

See you at SM City North EDSA! Kittymama won’t miss this for the world!

~0~ ♥ ~0~

And now for some sponsor acknowledgements:

SM City North EDSA

Sanrio and Gift Gate

With the special participation of the following:

HP, Samsung, Firefly, Uniqlo, Toy Kingdom, SM Department Store, The Philippine School of Interior Design, Color & Life, Eglo, Linden Teak, Market Square, Space & Style, Urban Concepts, Breadtalk, Jamba Juice, Papa John’s Pizza, and Tender Bob’s, Forever 21, National Bookstore, Pink Parlor, Van’s, Shell Canvas, Cakes R Us, MSI Notebook.

Update: HK x Vans

I went to the mall very early this morning to get new garbage cans for next week’s citywide implementation of waste segregation. Today was the start of a sale weekend and an hour into opening, the mall was already brimming with people out for bargains. I got the garbage cans without difficulty; they were half price and at that price, I could easily afford four (two for the second floor, two for the ground floor). I also spotted mops at dirt cheap prices so I picked up two of those.

Looking for counters with the least number of people proved to be a long trek from the basement up to the second floor. As I turned a corner, a flash of red and black caught my eye. I was mesmerized. It took another hour to ring up my purchases. 🙂

I made it home sweaty, tired, but happy. The garbage cans seemed a little heavier on the trip back home. Perhaps because it carried this:


Guess what I got?

Take a peek!

See it yet?


Aren’t they lovely?

Contrary to what the sales persons at Vans Glorietta 3 told me (that these pairs were limited only to their concept stores), I saw HK Vans being sold at the shoe section of the SM department store. They still have shoes in my size (8) but true, they don’t get any bigger than that. Even better news is I got them on sale, and if you head on to SM North EDSA this weekend, you can save 10% off the purchase price. Now who doesn’t like HK x Bargain?