Currently / November-December Edit

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Filipinos take Christmas celebration to a whole new level. That's why when I first moved to California, the lack of holiday cheer in September was new to me. But we're now a week into December and there's no denying that Christmas is upon us! 

It's been a while since I participated in a linkup, let alone share what I've been digging lately. Today I'm joining Anne and Catherine for The Currently Linkup to change that. :)

Starting my essential oils journey

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My first exposure to essential oils was probably 10 or so years ago. I remember hearing the word "aromatherapy" from my mom. We used to have this little dark blue porcelain diffuser that stood in the little corner of our living room. She would fire it up using a tealight, top it up it with fragrant oils, and the house would smell divine. My mom used it mainly to keep our house smelling nice and the diffuser served as decoration, too.

Fast forward to today, essential oils (EOs) are present in many of the social media accounts and blogs I follow. There is something a bit faddish about it and I figured maybe it wasn't for me, but I was curious nonetheless. Then I met a lady who sold doTERRA and my curiosity was piqued even more.

A Late Thanksgiving Post

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Yesterday I celebrated my second Thanksgiving in the US. I still find it interesting that Black Friday comes after people have gathered with their loved ones and (hopefully) pondered what they were grateful for. I will say, though, that Black Friday is a good opportunity to buy things you actually need that would otherwise be too expensive to get on any other day. You can also shop online to avoid in-store madness. Now I'm just rambling. The irony just baffles me, I guess.

September Edit

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wall art | Coffee & Tea Collective | North Park, San Diego, CA
It was still September 2 days ago, the busiest month of my year by far mostly because the tail end of summer and the beginning of Fall marks convention season. I'm yet to know why yet but different industries just seem to convene around this time. Today and tomorrow are my days off (praise Jesus for my generous boss). After a full week of working at the Hyatt downtown (meetings, moving boxes, scanning badges, day after day of interacting with people), this introvert is ready for some down time.

Thought Vomits 9/20

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I like concrete, tall buildings, and a bit of cloudy gloom even though the place I call home is laden with beaches beneath sunny skies. I enjoy the company of silence and solitude even though my current trade entails attending large group gatherings. Small talk would have been the death of me, until hello how are you, I’m fine how about yourself broke down walls and taught me how to listen better. I call myself an introvert until the four letter types became self-imposed limits.

My skin is stretching in more ways than one. Aging and time are peculiar things.

I prefer pancakes over waffles, coffee over tea, and the old soul in me likes classic over contemporary music.  I would rather wear neutrals than be clothed in color and loud prints. My inner life can be tumultuous, and I would metaphorically run away to cope, but I now face fear head on. I name it, confront it, and pray to the God I love until it melts away.

Many of life’s problems have solutions. Jumping off a bridge is not one of them.

I am not sports-crazed but I enjoy the thrill of watching American football on a 70-inch plasma television, your window to the world. I'm easing my way into the habit of reading. There was a time when I spent more hours reading books than being held captive by the screen glow of my devices. I like to say I’m a writer but I say this to no one in particular.

I need to write to keep my sanity. I need to write to process deeply.

I feel nauseated when I scroll through the infinite time-suck that is social media, avoiding it as best I can to avoid the comparison trap. I hate that I am constantly inconsistent. All I want is a steady routine but I am a creature of process, often not in linear fashion but more cyclical.

There are days when I feel like I am not a good enough wife, daughter, friend. I have one soul. I am whole. I want to give fully.

Another 100 Day Project Update (Hint: It's Parked)

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Houston, March 2017
***I took that photo above just a little over 6 months ago. Pray for Houston and give as much as you can.  The organization I work for is raising funds for housing needs there. You can support by donating here.***

Blog projects are the bane of my existence. I'm pretty good at starting things until the flame of excitement fizzles out after a few posts. But you know what? That's okay.

I actually reached Day 28. That's 28 days of typing furiously on my phone, not letting any word escape me in the middle of the night. That's nearly a month's worth of writing in my journal, recalling the day, listing things I'm grateful for and areas of weakness where I need extra grace. I started with Day Zero and I had written daily for 28 days. The project would have been completed sometime this month.

There are teaching moments in EVERYTHING and if they're not immediately obvious, I look for them (I blame it on my Learner tendencies). The lesson here is that when projects get parked, what matters is that you tried. Not all projects see the light of completion; many return to gestate only to be revived, improved, or scrapped altogether. The process matters as much as the results but some days the world will tell you that not getting results equals failure.

My 100 Day Project was a lofty goal. In between the complete pages and drafts, transitioning from part time to full time work happened. Our 2016 Corolla reached its first 10,000 miles signifying our accumulation of experience over the past few months. There was an increase in responsibilities at church. I've been inspired to pursue my husband more than when we first got married. No doubt there's been more to write about, but I just let myself get lost (or rather be found?) in those daily moments. This is the resulting beauty of choosing to intentionally record my day--it forced me to observe so I don't miss the details. Some days I was able to record it, some days I just took a photo, often I just relish the events with my husband and the people that matter to me.

Granted there was lack of planning on my part and as much as I love to plan, I often fail to do that for my blog projects (and Whole30, but that's another story). But 28 days isn't bad, right?

So here's to more projects that are worth starting and trying. However it turns out, there is always something to be gained.

Days 14-25: Of Tattoos, Symphonies, and Hormones

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At the Copley Symphony Hall

Day 14 (7/17)
My first tattoo is that of a Hebrew word that translates to “steadfastness.”
I chose this word for its breadth of meaning, as is common in Biblical Hebrew. Simply translated, it is “faith” but it carries with it a deeper sense of steadfastness than mere assent to facts. It is faith that persists and acted upon in trust. It is not simply saying “I believe you” but it’s more like “I believe /in/ you.”  And if there is trust, then it should be evident in my behavior. To me, it was more about the faithfulness of God more than my own.

/firmness, steadfastness/

To be honest, I got the tattoo because it was trendy at the time for Christians to get Hebrew tattoos on their wrists. I can’t make this stuff up. Then I saw this as an opportunity to connect with people who 1) have a negative view of Christians or 2) wouldn’t step inside a church. I have a tendency to be impulsive but as numerous stories of regrettable tattoos suggest, impulsiveness with something so permanent would be unwise. The tattoo makes for good conversation starters and a way for me to let people know that I follow Jesus without being sounding heavy-handed. It became a way for me to say that the faithfulness there isn't so much my devotion to God as it is God's faithfulness in my life.

The beautiful thing about tattoos is that they can take on different meanings as time goes by—today this tattoo also acts as a second wedding ring, as my husband puts it. Another meaning of emunah is fidelity. This is us committing our lives to one another and because marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church, the

Day 15 (7/18)
My experiences with grief are few and far between. I can count three aunts, one grandparent, one of my friends’ mom, an old uncle.  I wrote about the girl from my high school class who recently passed away. This person has left such an impact in many people’s lives that even though we weren’t close, the loss is palpable. If I’m sitting here at work, distracted at the thought of her, I can only imagine the level of hurt that those nearest to her are feeling at the moment.

Last night I thought, here I am ending another day and Lord willing, beginning a new one tomorrow. She won’t have this and that’s really, really sad.

Day 16 (7/19)

I stole a tattoo idea from Pinterest but it was the perfect image to capture where I was in life at that moment. C and I lived in the mountains  for our first year of marriage. We lived in our first apartment (B-202), and I studied while he taught English to Asian seminarians. Our time in the mountains will not be duplicated and you could say we lived the dream. But now that we’re living more “normal” lives,  I have to be careful not to think that life is less exciting.
Baguio City is highly urban and yet surrounded by nature. In some way, the existence of Baguio could be seen as a violation of nature itself, flattening land and killing numerous trees to make way for commercial and residential spaces. But this is the world we live in now. We can try to slow down what is inevitable.

Day 17 (7/20)
New books have arrived!

I am not where I used to be in terms of reading. I miss the days when I had to read a minimum of 10 books to write a paper, on subjects that I’m thoroughly fascinated with. But I have to admit, I’ve just gotten good at making excuses for not reading enough. There’s plenty of opportunity to insert reading into my day if only 1) I would use my phone less and 2) I make reading manageable by setting goals. I’ve learned that a good way to get back into the habit is picking a relatively easy read so you’re less likely to give up. For me, that book is Welcome to Night Vale by the creators of the popular podcast. On the opposite end of the spectrum is House of Leaves, a dense and multi-format beast of a book that I’m reading with my childhood best friend. Maybe, just maybe, if I finish the latter, I’ll be able to tell if I can finish David Foster Wallace’s magnum opus Infinite Jest.

Day 18 (7/21)
It’s just one of those weeks when I have a lot of words but not enough energy to write them down. It’s the end of the week and I’m craving red wine. Sticking with white for now.

Day 19 (7/22)
Today is one for the books. C and I bought advanced tickets to watch the San Diego Symphony play the music of John Williams! Being subscribed to the symphony’s mailing list paid off as we were able to find out about the event as soon as it was announced, and we ended up getting good chairs. We both love John Williams and the movies he scored. Here is today’s lineup of themes:
Hedwig’s Theme from Harry Potter
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Jaws (only 2 notes but it’s so good!)
Jurassic Park
Indiana Jones

The second half of the concert was made up of the Star Wars orchestral suite and it. was. awesome.

Rey’s Theme
Scherzo for X-Wings
Main Theme (!!!)
Princess Leia’s Theme
Imperial March (!!!)
Yoda’s Theme
The Throne Room

Encore: Superman Theme

C and I waiting for the symphony to start!

Day 20 (7/23)
It was our first Sunday at the South congregation, the start of a 3-month long stint. Everyone’s love was warmer  and their smiles brighter than the sunshine outside the chapel. Seriously, these people were aglow when they saw us. We were overwhelmed by the South family’s kindness and their passion for the Lord is infectious. We got to know the small group of youth that gather every morning before the service for Sunday school, which C and I will be leading over the next few weeks.

Pray for us during this special time of ministry and for wisdom moving forward!

Day 21 (7/24)
For all the ladies out there, have you heard of this app called Hormone Horoscope? I know, the horoscope part sounds sketchy but trust me when I say it’s actually really helpful. Lately I’ve had this increased fascination with hormones and how it affects my mood, energy levels, and focus. This curiosity was further roused when I read The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine. Since being diagnosed with polycystic ovaries when I was 17, I’ve also done a bit of reading about the female hormonal cycle but reading the book made me realize how much it affected my day-to-day.
As a result of this research, I ended up finding the Hormone Horoscope app to help me predict what I might feel on a certain day in my cycle. Most days, it’s really accurate. The app has given me suggestions on how to improve my mood and work with my current brain state instead of fighting it. Some may see the ups and downs of hormones as a curse but I love how intricately God has designed us, male and female alike.

Day 22 (7/25)
Feeling antsy today about a decision but hey, I have a great boss who follows God. In a way, it makes my life so much easier but at the same time, having a Christian for a boss motivates me to perform at work better. Why? Because we hold ourselves to higher standards. We are not only accountable to each other, to our higher-ups, and to our peers. Ultimately, we are accountable to God. Are we loving him and our neighbor at work? Are we pursuing excellence so that no one may say that we are lazy and incompetent? Are we using our gifts fully for his glory? Are we seeking him and relying on him instead of our own strength and creativity? Are we pursuing holiness? I’m so grateful that our church’s theme this year is Faith at Work to help me keep these questions in the back of my mind.

Day 23 (7/26)
My husband is so supportive. I appreciate him being a sounding board. For today’s writing, I want to leave you with a reminder: Find your “safe” people so you can ask for their feedback, and they will tell you the truth in love. But you know what? I think the irony there is that it takes a great amount of vulnerability to know who these people are. To find your safe people, you yourself have to be a safe person for someone else.
There has to be an exchange but man, it can get scary or tiring. All relationships are like that, but the “return on investment” is immense.

Day 24 (7/27)
I’m flying out to San Francisco tomorrow with my boss and I’m a bit anxious. This tends to happen when I wallow in self-doubt, when I question my place at work and wonder at whether I’m good enough. In these moments, God speaks through all the noise in my heart, gently reminding me that His strength is made perfect in my weakness.

Day 25 (7/28)
San Francisco Bound, surrounded by great leaders who are just so unbelievably committed to the mission. They are what it looks like to fully give yourself.

An Update on my 100 Day Project

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Friends! There's been a lot to write about and I've been doing it in my iPhone Notes, the Bear app on my Mac, and good old pen and paper. There have been days in the last week or so when I would just write down a sentence and expand later on. A couple of lessons learned: try to be more organized the next time I do this. It's been an eventful past couple of weeks but I plan to post some of the days over the weekend :)

Days 7-13

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It has now been two weeks since I started this daily journal/writing project! Here are last week's entries.

Day 7: In and Out
I am a self-improvement junkie. This is probably why I have such an affinity for personality tests and LifeHacker type content——self-awareness paves the way for self-improvement. But over the course of wanting to refine my daily processes, I’ve learned that a measure of acceptance and release is needed.
A kind of acceptance that embraces the present while rejecting mediocrity. Refuse to settle but accept first what makes you /you/.
A kind of letting go that relinquishes complete control over life. Holding on to life with a death grip is a dangerous way to live. Absolute control over our circumstances is an illusion.

It’s like breathing. Take in what you can and need, exhale the rest. Both are needed to thrive.

Days 5 and 6: On planning your leisure and quitting Whole30 (for now)

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Day 5: On planning your leisure

People spend their leisure time in different ways. This is something I had to learn the hard way. Early in our marriage, I would look at my husband’s “man cave” time as a waste. I didn’t even acknowledge it as man cave time—a special part of the day and week to himself to rest and enjoy.

But some days, our leisurely activities can also end up being just a complete time suck when it’s not planned. What does that look like? Me, spending hours scrolling mindlessly on Instagram.

Free time shouldn’t equal wasted time. It may seem odd to plan but since time is a non-renewable resource, I think it’s worth the effort to be intentional about what goes on even in my free time and to not just wing it. Granted, there are days when I just want to laze about and do absolutely nothing. But for the better part of the year, month, week, and yes, even day, I want to pursue life-giving leisure that allows me to still recharge while bringing me closer to my goals. Now what that looks like is something to brainstorm about this coming weekend. ;)

Day 6: Quitting Whole30 (for now)

After 5 days, I quit Whole30. I quit because I was no longer looking forward to eating, I had no extremely bad habits to break, and it required more time to prepare the food than I realized. For that last point, I would chalk it up to lack of planning. Add in the fact that I was doing it by myself and while C was supportive, I think it would have been easier for me had I followed the rules to a T with someone.
Lettuce with ground beef, carrots, and potato

The fanciest chicken sausage salad I've ever assembled
Sweet potato strips, egg, and Italian sausage

I learned to eat chia seeds! Pictured: chia seeds with almond milk, banana, berries, and coconut flakes

Egg frittata with leftover lettuce wrap filling, roasted plantain chips, berries

It seemed like I was never eating enough so I was ALWAYS hungry. Again, perhaps it’s just lack of planning. I still learned a lot about myself during those 5 days so it was not a complete failure. For instance, I gained a better understanding of how much I eat when I'm bored. I lost 3 pounds (!). Restricting myself showed me just how much harmful stuff is in the food we eat if we’re not careful. For 5 days, I proved to myself that I could make better choices.

Whole30 may be a great way to reset your gut and I know it has done wonders for many people, but I need to plan even better for me to last the entire month. I'm just not ready. Not yet. And even if it doesn't work out in my second attempt, that's okay too.

Days 3 and 4: The Happy Wanderer / Melatonin and Me

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 Day 3: The Happy Wanderer

Sounds like a nice blog name. Someone’s probably registered that already.

I wasn’t paying enough attention to this particular Sopranos episode to know who the actual happy wanderer was. The old lady that just died? Tony Soprano’s estranged uncle who’s also passed away?


I am a stranger in a foreign land. This is my second exile, the first being exiled from my True Home. How does one thrive in Babylon?

“5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” - Jeremiah 29:5-7

It’s true. We reap what we sow. As much as I miss the Philippines, I’m blessed to be here. I embrace this new home fully and I’m growing to love it more every day.

Day 4: Melatonin and Me

Two years ago my friend introduced me to the sleep aid melatonin, which occurs naturally in the body. For those of us in need of something to  wind down faster and sleep deeper, added melatonin is available in pill form.

C and I use Schiff Melatonin Ultra. It has melatonin (3 mg), theanine, GABA, and an herbal blend that supposedly helps you “fall asleep faster and wake up refreshed.” If my sleep is uninterrupted once it kicks in, the pill actually works quite well. If I don’t get enough, I wake up groggy instead of revived and this was precisely what happened today. Leftover melatonin plus our Tempurpedic mattress (aka cloud bed) made it challenging to get up today. I dreaded the day and it was only 6am.

C and I had to go to work earlier than planned so we set our alarm back one hour. When my phone alarm went off, I pressed "stop" instead of snooze and I was mildly irritated that we had to go so early. I was too comfortable and every cell in my body was protesting—I was a brick in bed and no sense of urgency would have moved me. C subversively woke me up by opening the blinds before I restart my sleep cycle.

Here is a metaphor for life according to our bed: It’s so hard to move out of your comfort zone. Sometimes, someone just has to open the blinds to let the sunlight in and wake you up, so that your brain gets a kickstart. Even if it annoys you, take it and be grateful for it. You need a measure of discomfort to get you off your butt so you can do what you’re meant to do. Even if you have to roll out of bed one leg at a time first, surrender to the stimulus then hit the ground running.

Day 2: Holiday Hangover

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I’m sitting at my office desk,  natural light flooding in because the coworker I share this space with is out.  I can get away with not turning on the fluorescent lights that mask the time of day. There’s an old tree in the distance. Something to look at when my eyes get tired. I love this stillness and this feeling in my belly that wants to lift me up. It could be the caffeine and the Cherry Pie Larabar I just ate, but it’s there and I want to cup it in my hands. I don’t want it to disappear.

There’s only so much energy in my body, only so many words.

I just want to write, write, write. To distract myself. To keep myself from going insane.

It’s been about an hour already and my coffee’s getting cold. Time to get back to work.


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Happy Independence Day to my American friends! Because today's a holiday, I figured I had plenty of time to write. So I wrote two post drafts today but decided that both of them are too underdeveloped to be shared. This leaves us with a short and sweet entry about my current faves right.

READING: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides and Dwell: Life with God for the Sake of the World by Barry D. Jones

LISTENING TO: The Baby Driver soundtrack.

WATCHING: Breaking Bad and The Sopranos. Two of the greatest TV shows ever made.

WEARING: A red Madewell blouse pictured above (which I found for a steal at Buffalo Exchange at Hillcrest) and denim shorts for 4th of July. I'm also a huge fan of these mules that I got from Latigo Shoes.

Perfume should count here, right? Lately I've been drawn to the original Chloe perfume. It was a hit in the office, which actually made me wonder if I was putting on too much. I try not to but I guess the perfume is just that strong. Perfumes can be a hit or miss since the scent changes depending on who's wearing it. For Chloe though, I like how well it blends with my body chemistry so it doesn't smell old lady-ish on me.

LOVING: Being 26. I think turning 26 last month made me feel like I'm more of an adult than I was at 25. Maybe it's because it moved me closer to turning 30? I'm paying more bills? I can drive on my own now? Whatever the case, I'm happy with where I am and with taking things one day at a time. This has been my healthiest year yet and I can see discipline and some measure of consistency bearing fruit. It truly pays to be patient. #progressnotperfection

LOOKING FORWARD TO: Making the most of this season and leaving a positive impact at work, becoming a better wife,  the deep work God is doing in my heart everyday to make me look more like Christ.

Day 1: Freedom

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It’s thrilling to see that title. Why wait for September 22? That’s 80 days from now. So cheers to Day 1/100. Thank you, Camille Pilar for the inspiration.


Today is America’s 241st year as an independent nation. On July 4, 1776, the thirteen colonies had enough of Britain and they signed the Declaration of Independence. There is so much of US history that I don’t know about and I’m hungry for more. After all, I live here now. I think I owe it to myself to understand my new context past and present.


I was born on Independence Day.

The Philippine Independence Day, that is. Our first president declared in writing that June 12 1898 is our Independence Day from Spain. But after the Spaniards turned over sold the Philippines to the United States for $20 million through the Treaty of Paris, more fighting ensued. While our ancestors were free on paper, they remained in bondage. The U.S. “granted” the Philippines its official Independence Day on July 4, 1946 and for a while, we shared the same day of commemoration as the US.

Who gets to say when someone is free?


Today I am free because of the Unchanging One’s promise, his life, death, and resurrection. Who the Son sets free is free indeed. But in the midst of the eternal freedom I have, there are still little chains that need to be broken. I declare independence from materialism in a culture of excess. I declare independence from self-medication apart from His care and wanting to run away from my obligations. I declare independence from persistent doubt, an inattentive ear, a fearful spirit.

Because I am free, I am able to choose simplicity, accept correction, embrace responsibility, question doubt, discover truth, be fully there, and face each day with courage.

skin tones and voices


Me being creepy at 3 years old. I guess my hair style hasn't changed much since then :))
Bakit ang itim-itim mo? (Why are you so dark?) 

When I was younger, I hated my skin color. For many years, I was the "smart kid" but never the pretty one, partly because I was dark.

I mostly didn't care. But when I allowed those comparisons to linger in my mind, I would feel like the ugliest person and that feeling was just, well, not fun.

The parts of myself that I didn't like, where did they come from? What drove me to purchase skin whitening products in the Philippines and want to be just a few shades lighter? Why did I have relatives who would joke about how dark I was and think it was okay? What made me hate going out under the sun because it would make me even more tan, as if that was the worst that could happen to me?

weekend reads

The irony of this photo is that all of the articles I listed are online :))

Happy Saturday friends! Here's a round up of some interesting links for your breakfast browse, afternoon coffee break, or evening wind-down.

Have a great rest of the weekend ahead!

one year in America


I cried at the airport. I cried when I said I wouldn't and I held on to my mom and dad before we had to go inside the terminal at Ninoy Aquino International Airport. I held back tears the whole trip to Manila but when I got off the van, I just lost it. The reality of my leaving behind the Philippines hit me hard only at that moment.

Yesterday I celebrated my one year (!) anniversary of living in the United States. May 11, 2017 I boarded a new Boeing 787 with my husband and what few earthly possessions I had. I landed in LAX and it was still May 11 in San Diego, California--it was a fresh start.

A lot happened in one year. Here's a list of highlights in no particular order:

my first lush cosmetics experience

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After 25 years (going on 26 in June!), I've finally started paying attention to my skin. I moved to the US from the Philippines nearly a year ago and the change in climate brought about some changes in my skin as well, especially on my face. It's incredibly humid in the Philippines while California air is really dry. While I'm glad my nose didn't bleed from the climate shift, it was my skin that took a blow.

Cetaphil seemed to do the job until, well, it didn't anymore. I went for a facial a couple months ago and the lady who did it said that I needed to upgrade. Also, thanks to her, I now know that I have normal skin. All these years I thought I had combination skin! I followed her advice and gave myself permission to splurge a bit. My college self would have laughed at you if you told me I'd drop $$$ on skin care products. Skin care is probably one of the things I wouldn't skimp on now.

I wanted to try a bunch of products but I figured that wouldn't be the best for my skin, so I did my research online. There were a few strong contenders but I knew that I wanted to go natural. Enter Lush!

I had heard of Lush back when I was in the Philippines mainly because of their famous bath bombs. But because I didn't go out much (I was one happy introvert), I didn't know they had stores there. I probably wouldn't have purchased them anyway because it was more expensive. So glad I'm in North America where it's relatively cheaper. Here's what I ended up buying:

Good Friday

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Today we remember. We revisit. We take it all in once more.
Today is not the day to celebrate...yet.


It's Good Friday and I'm really looking forward to our church service later tonight. The approach will be different from any Good Friday service I've ever attended, mostly because it's going to be so solemn and I find that to be more sobering. Like I said above, it's not yet time to celebrate, exactly. I believe Jesus is alive, yes, but without the darkness of Good Friday, the light of Easter will not be possible. This week has been long and tiring for both Carlo and I, and we both need this night to just be still with God's people and remember our Savior's suffering.


Here are some resources for your Good Friday (and Easter) reflections:
7 Passages to Read on Good Friday (from Crossway)
Image Journal's curated art, poetry, essays and stories for Lent.
10 Passages to Read on Easter (Crossway)
One of my favorite books on the cross.
 A playlist for Good Friday and Easter

march madness: early spring updates

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Spring is probably my second favorite season after fall, especially early spring. I'm not a huge fan of summer and I'm still getting used to winter evenings here, so spring time is that sweet spot between not too hot and not too cold weather. This season is also special to me since I arrived in the US during spring, and this coming May will actually be my first year anniversary! If I stop--really stop--to think about the past few months, I'd be blown away by the numerous changes that happened. Here's a brief rundown of what's going on lately:

2017 Reading List: February + Life Updates

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How is it the last day of February already??? I hope this month has been filled with wonderful things for you. Valentines with my husband was pretty low key but still special. He also celebrated his birthday this week and one month from now, we will be celebrating our 2nd wedding anniversary! Cuh-razy.

Work is also in full swing for both of us. C found a new marketing job and he's really enjoying it so far. I've also started working part-time for a non-profit and I'm having fun with it as well! These jobs are definitely gifts we want to steward well.

Now for my fellow book nerds out there, we're capping off the month with a list of things we read.

Photo from Jocelyn Glei's website
Manage Your Day-to-Day (from 99U) /  
I'm a sucker for all things productivity and self-improvement. This means I spend an inordinate amount of time browsing Lifehacker and reading psychology articles. Ordering Your Private World is one of my favorite books. So when C and I discovered the books that 99U created, I knew I was in for a treat.

Manage Your Day-to-Day is down to earth and inspirational. I could say the same for Maximize Your Potential, which I read sometime last year. 99U's books are geared towards creatives--but this doesn't mean it's just for designers, photographers, and artists in the technical sense of the term. If you're an entrepreneur, corporate employee, or just someone seeking some ideas and motivation to improve on your trade, you'll still benefit from what 99U has to offer. However, I can't speak for the third book in the series since it looks like it's specifically for entrepreneurs.

Manage Your Day-to-Day and Maximize Your Potential are both packed with quotable words and actionable ideas in every essay. I have the Kindle copies but the physical books would make for a nice collection. It doesn't hurt that they're inexpensive too. The 99U books are easy to read and like I said, practical. You can read one essay every day if you're in need of an extra dose of inspiration for your work day.

Side note: While books like Managing Your Day-to-Day are helpful, I believe Jesus is still the best model for time management. He worked, he had a clear mission and he didn't waste any time doing things that didn't align with that mission. He also set aside a lot of time to be by himself to pray and be connected to his Father. Jesus is the perfect example of hard work, focus, and rest. 

Photo from Amazon
Where'd You Go, Bernadette? 
The four stars are for incredible character development, smart humor, and a "mixed media" approach that just works. In Bernadette you'll find emails, handwritten notes, news clippings, and even an FBI file. Using a variety of narrative devices is not a cop-out; it actually serves the story well. Semple's characters are intelligent, sarcastic, and emotionally charged but never volatile (except maybe for Bernadette, but her unpredictability is consistent enough that you can kind of predict what she'll do next? Perhaps.) 

The novel is truly Bernadette's story--it's about her struggles, achievements, buried dreams, and exhumed nightmares. It is about her social anxiety, escapist tendencies, and creative genius. It is about Bernadette the mother, wife, and architect. But at the same time, the people surrounding her are so well developed and don't just act as fringe characters. It's all about Bernadette and also not just about her. 

I would have given the book 5 stars but I took out one because the ending was too abrupt for me. Semple may have thought it best to end the book the way she did, but I think ending it with an epilogue of sorts would have been better.

In true Patricia fashion, I'm also reading two more books at the same time. I'm also working on Kevin DeYoung's The Hole in Our Holiness and M.R. Carey's The Girl with All the Gifts (the movie adaptation came out recently). Feel free to let me know what you guys are reading or let's follow each other on Instagram! I frequently post what I'm reading there :)

Stay tuned to see what other literary goodness March holds! 

READING GOAL STAT: 6/25 books read.

Reading Roundup

caffeine chronicles | 05: revolution roasters

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Revolution Roasters
It was raining so hard sometime last December when we visited Oceanside on the 31st but the trip was well worth it. We went on a day trip to spend some time at Carlsbad where Carlo's stepsister lives. On the last day of 2016, we bonded over Settlers of Catan, ate good lunch, and petted a couple doggies. To cap off the day before we drove back south, we visited Revolution Roasters.

They are craft coffee experts and as the name suggests, they roast small batches of responsibly-sourced beans from different parts of the world. Their merch is pretty awesome, too--camper mugs, baseball tees, canvas tote bags, coffee-making gear, and of course, the beans themselves.

List of concoctions:

I tried their butterscotch latte and it didn't taste as sweet as I thought it would be. The butterscotch flavor is just right--I can taste the brown sugar just a little bit but it wasn't overwhelming either. The coffee itself is smooth. I would recommend it for your first visit! Carlo had the Dirty Chai but it was just okay for me. We both like dirty chai from another coffee shop up in Murrieta, which I'll be featuring another time. :)

Boar head!
It's a cozy shop but can still seat a lot of people especially now that they added chairs outside (not pictured). Revolution Roasters is the perfect spot to recharge, get inspired, purchase coffee-themed items, and try some craft coffee if you're in the Oceanside area.

Revolution Roasters 
located at 1836 South Coast Highway 
Oceanside, CA 92054
Open everyday from 6am-6pm

2017 Reading List: January

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Happy February, friends! I hope you had a great start to 2017. If not, it's only the beginning of the second month. There's still time to set new goals and crush them. Speaking of which, one of my goals this year is to read at least 25 books. Let's see what I read in January:

A Man Called Ove / 

Fredrik Backman's popular debut novel tells the story of a curmudgeon who shows us that we can never fully understand someone until we enter their story. Ove is a man of values and unwavering principles, but as an old widower, he doesn't seem to have anything to look forward to at the beginning. He was perceived as a grumpy man who saw things in black and white until one day, his new neighbors disturbed his life...for the better. In the latter years of his life, he found new purpose and unwittingly touched people's lives. Ove is a funny and charming story about love and friendship interspersed with grief and loss--much like life, where both the good (life) and undesirable (death) coexist. Ove teaches us that there is no shortcut to grief and there is still much to look forward to in the unseen future, if we just let it unfold.

on new jeans and expansion

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Late last year I lamented the fact that I'm the heaviest I've ever been in my life. I've gained about 12 happy pounds since getting married in 2015. It's easy to get sad that I'll never be the same size as I was in high school (perfectly normal), so instead I just choose to focus on getting stronger everyday. In fact, while some of the weight gain may be fat, I'm pretty sure part of it is water weight and muscle from working out.

Instead of forcing myself to fit jeans I would have worn in college, I've come to accept that those days are gone. Pants that are a couple inches wider reflect who I am now. While most of my clothes from 2011 still fit me today, I bought new jeans last year because my old ones don't fit as well anymore. These new jeans have become a way for me to make peace with my body and to embrace new things that come my way.

january goals

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patricia's 2017 goals

I'm always experimenting with a system for each area of my life--how to be a morning person, establishing a daily routine, morning versus evening quiet time, what workout to do and when, etc. I have A LOT of goals and I've experimented countless times with how to define and achieve them. One system might work for someone and not for me, but I try anyway. My Simplified Planner's quote for today says, "Be stubborn about your goals but flexible about your methods."I have a lot of goals this year but I'll be flexible about how I reach them.

Last year I wrote a list of "faith goals" and God had an answer for ALL of them. They weren't always answered in the way that I thought or hoped them to be, but all of them were fulfilled. And so, I move forward this 2017 knowing that I can set goals big and small, trusting that whatever lines up with God's plans will come to pass and what does not will be re-calibrated.

Here are some goals for this month that I will be stubborn about:

Carlo's Favorite Movies of 2016

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Why are you here? Is it to see if Rogue One made the list? To see which foreign comedy and animated movie muscled their way into the Top 5? Why... why?! (Photo source: Digital Spy)

Hey, it’s not too late for an end-of-2016 list, aye? :) First, here's a bonus– the year’s most disappointing movies for me:
  • Midnight Special – A classic case of expectations meets the pavement. Some will disagree, but IMO this was a sci-fi slog.
  • The Divergent Series: Allegiant – I really liked the first movie and didn’t care much for the second. Now the fourth will go straight to TV, and Shailene Woodley isn’t even interested. This should tip you off to the quality of the third.
  • Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – One word: “Martha.”
  • Star Trek Beyond – Ah yes, "The Fast and the Furification” of the Star Trek franchise. Don’t get me wrong—I liked the previous two Trek films (and Furious 7, to be sure). That said, this movie frustrated me in a way that most people won’t identify with. I’m talking predictability, an appalling number of “coincidences,” stale action sequences, and much more. At times, things got so absurd I half-expected Vin Diesel to pop up in a Starfleet uniform, drive a muscle car through an asteroid field, and worst of all—survive.
  • Passengers – Boasts one of the most contrived endings I’ve seen of late. This showed promise with Starlord and J.Law on board, but as the proceedings grew more ludicrous I wanted off at the next stop.

caffeine chronicles | 04: por vida

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At Barrio Logan. Photo by yours truly.
Por Vida is a homegrown coffee shop, gallery, and store celebrating Mexican art and tradition. They serve "locally roasted, fair trade, and organic coffee with a Mexican twist." My Instagram pal Christian introduced me to this little gem in Barrio Logan close to Chicano Park, which was recently named as a National Historic Landmark!

caffeine chronicles | 03: holsem coffee

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Photo source: Explore North Park
Hello friends! Over the next few days, I'll be updating the blog with some of last year's coffee shop visits. Today our featured cafe is Holsem Coffee over at North Park. I went there sometime in September to have a nice long chat with my friend Jahara, who went to the same church that I attended back in the Philippines. It's been years since I last saw her and we ended up connecting in San Diego of all places.