Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 My Year in Review

It's the last day of 2014. My how time flew this year. Parang kelan lang, I was writing my 2013 Year in Review and now here I am writing about my 2014 Year in Review!

So how was 2014 for me?

On Blogging

This year I found myself blogging more. Not yet as often as I'd like since my full time job gets crazy busy at times and just zaps the energy right out of me but still I've blogged more than I have in the past. I even got myself invited to a couple of beauty-related events (feeling beauty blogger! LOL!)

The two biggest blog achievements for me this year are: 1) Getting a new design for my blog. A design I super like! And 2)Being tapped to become a media partner of a really nice play!

Travel Adventures

The year 2014 started out with me flying off to Cebu for work. But even though I had to work, I considered it part of my travel adventures because I was there during the Sinulog Festival!

And this year, I visited Tagaytay more than once! I attended a friend's wedding, I went to celebrate ONE LOVE's 1st year anniversary, I traveled with Jordan for a weekend getaway at Crosswinds, and visited another restaurant there again back in October with some of my LEAP 55 friends.

The summer of 2014 brought me to two new places in the Philippines I've never to before - Ilocos and Caramoan Islands!

Just look at that pristine blue water. Just getting to see that made the long trip worthwhile! 

Mai and I in front of Paoay Church along with the other people we toured with

Food Adventures

This year I also found myself eating at new food places - some that I've always wanted to go to like Breakfast at Antonio'sMarcia Adams and Maple; a place that I tried simply because I like burgers: The Burger Project that I just read about  were simply recommended by friends who've been there before.

On Relationships 

This year, I rekindled a friendship with a long time friend - Erin. We lost touch somewhere along the way in 2011 - 2013. But this year I found myself hanging out a lot more with her again. She has even become the source of new discoveries for me such as introducing me to liking Persian food, the bliss of getting a massage and even getting up early on a Saturday just to grab coffee and hang out.

Another friend I found myself spending quite a lot of time with this year was Jordan. We even took our first out of town trip together this year!

I also hung out more with some of my LEAP 55 ONE LOVE friends this year. January of this year marked our first year anniversary (1 year since we all met each other from the leadership program we all took together!). This year I found myself traveling with them not once but thrice!

And I also met new and interestingly wonderful people this year!

My Secret Book Club! I joined earlier this year and this wonderful group of ours, a group of people who share the love of reading is continuously growing! Some of them are also bloggers, cool noh?

And then there's Florian and Ver - friends of Ryan from work whom I've had the opportunity to hang out with quite a lot this year because I often meet Ryan after work. From coffee to dinner, we also attended a quiz night together and even watched a couple of movies!

Of course I can't forget to include here Ryan and Mai - my two dearest friends.

Us three checking out the Ayala Triangle Lights Show - something that has become a tradition for us! 

Looking back, it's no wonder I feel like 2014 just whizzed by! I was busy living life! I'm hopeful about 2015 especially since next year I'm going to reach another milestone in life - the year I leave my twenties behind (I will be thirty come July!). And while I don't know what the future holds for me next year, I know what I'd like it to be - another year full of awesomeness - a year filled with love, joy and passion! (",)  

What about you guys? How was 2014 for you?  

Monday, December 29, 2014

Resto Love: Maple

I've heard of the opening of Maple Restaurant, a restaurant that serves American dishes. Finally over the past weekend, I was able to visit the resto at San Antonio Plaza, near Forbes Park in Makati with my friends. We were supposed to go to Purple Oven but since Maple was on the same area and we've always wanted to go there, we thought, well why not today?

I love the location of this restaurant. San Antonio Plaza is so quaint! Truth be told, I found it strange that we were dining at Maple at four in the afternoon since it is considered a breakfast place but I just didn't want to pass up on the opportunity anymore. Who knows when we were gonna come around to the area again? 

This interesting wall decor was right across from where I was sitting. 

"Miles above the golden rice fields on a steep and treacherous hill stood an old and mysterious Maple Tree..." 

The place mat was also pretty interesting the way it was designed. It also makes for a nice table decor. 

Eggs Benedict

Blueberry and Cream Cheese Pancakes 
Maple Club 

Personally loved the blueberry and cream cheese pancakes for its fluffy goodness. For me it's as good as the pancakes at Pancake House. I also loved the Maple Club - four club sandwiches filled with so many toppings. Since it had caramelized onions, the club sandwich was sweet to the taste. I countered that with the fries to keep me from getting sated. Though I didn't get to finish my meal since by the second sandwich I was feeling full already and I did help myself to Ryan's pancakes too so...

I gave my cousin the rest of my club sandwich when I got home and he also loved it. I plan to go back to Maple, preferably for breakfast or brunch since the food serving is quite big so I need my appetite!

Maple Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Book Club Recommended Read: Ugly Love

Remember my 2014 Goodreads Challenge? Well, I've completed the challenge! And just in the nick of time too!

After all in just a couple of days, it's goodbye 2014 and hello 2015! I pledged to read 12 books this year and now I'd like to tell you about the 12th book that I read:

Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

Plot: When Tate Collins finds airline pilot Miles Archer passed out in front of her apartment door, it is definitely not love at first sight. They wouldn't even go so far as to consider themselves friends. But what they do have is an undeniable mutual attraction. 

He doesn't want love and she doesn't have time for a relationship, but their chemistry cannot be ignored. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up, as long as Tate can stick to two rules:

Never ask about the past and don't expect a future.

Tate is determined that she can handle it, but when she realises that she can't, will she be able to say no to her sexy pilot when he lives just next door!

I thought the story was sweet but heavy on the drama. I felt for Tate in this book. The girl had so much love to give. Miles I thought was a real gem  - that is once I understood his past. A past explained through flashbacks integrated in the book. 

The only thing is, I thought maybe the story was too mature for the age of the characters. When I was reading it, I imagined the characters to be older - like they were in their late twenties (at least) to early thirties. But they're only in their early twenties.  

"Love isn't always pretty, Tate. Sometimes you spend all your time hoping it'll eventually be something different. Something better. Then before you know it, you're back to square one, and you lost your heart somewhere along the way." 

This is my first Colleen Hoover book (thank you Secret Book Club for the recommended read!) but it's definitely not going to be the last. (",) 

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Book Club Recommended Read: John Green's Paper Towns

Paper Towns is the first ever book I've read from the popular young adult author, John Green. This is also part of my Secret Book Club's Book of the Month.

Plot: Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life–dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge–he follows. 

After their all-nighter ends and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues–and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees of the girl he thought he knew.

I enjoyed reading Paper Towns. My first thought was that it may be a young adult love story but when I did begin reading the story, I realized it was a mystery - where in the world had Margo Roth Spiegelman disappeared to?

But more than just being a mystery novel, I liked how this book talked about how people create a picture in their mind about who they think the person they have romantic feelings for is especially when they don't really have a close everyday interaction with the person. Kinda like how that line from Boyzone's Picture of You song goes "I had a picture of you in my mind. Never knew it would be so wrong..."  

In this story, Q knew Margo from when they were kids. But they grew apart. Lived different lives as they grew older. But Q always loved Margo from afar. He had in his mind, an imagined version of who Margo is - something he probably got from just watching her from a distance.

This story sure got to me because I've been down the road of having romantic feelings for someone from how I saw that someone in my head... Okay confession time!

In high school, I had a big crush on a popular boy who was my seatmate freshman year. Because we sat together, we would talk at times. Well mostly on paper - exchanging handwritten notes because I was such a shy girl and didn't have the nerve to really talk to him. Anyway, our being seatmates -  that didn't last long. Just for a quarter during our freshman year and we never got to be classmates ever again after that. But even though that was the case, I always admired him from a distance. My big crush lasted until sophomore year in College. I even asked him to become part of my 18 roses for my debut party.

Whenever people asked me what I had seen in him, I would tell them "Well, he's smart (because he is really good in Math!), he's a great dancer (because he was part of our school's dance club), he's got musical talent (because he could strum a few songs on the guitar) and heck yes, he was good looking! He was nice to me too. Yes, he would smile and say hi when we pass by each other down the hall in school but that was as far as our interaction went.

But still I had put him up on a pedestal. I worshiped him...

Though I never knew the real him. Outside of those superficial things I said, I didn't know who really was. How he was as a brother. A son. A friend. I didn't know what his ambitions in life were. I didn't know what his quirks were. What annoyed him? What things really make him happy? I had absolutely no idea. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

What if I knew all those things about him? Would I have liked him as much and for as long as I did?

It's a good read and so I'm not surprised it's about to become a movie! Meet the cast:

Nat Wolff will portray Quentin "Q" Jacobsen - the lead guy of the story.

Cara Delevigne, top-paid fashion models in the world, is gonna play Margo.

Justice Smith will play Radar, one of Q's friends who spends his free time editing the "Omnictionary" website which is kinda like Wikipedia. His parents have the largest collection of Black Santas in the world.

Austin Abrams will play another one of Q's friends, Ben. He's a member of the school band and obsesses about "honeybunnies".

Halston Sage will play Lacey Pemberton, a friend of Margo's who helps Q and his friends go on a search to find missing Margo.

The movie is set to hit theaters next year, June 2015.

P.S. Photos grabbed from IndyStar.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Bitten by the Travel Bug

During my recent get together with my Serenity friends (that's what we called our council when we were taking this leadership program called LEAP), I was asked what my life's theme will be next year. And actually, I've been thinking about that recently... Next year, I see myself taking off to see the world...

Yep! My life's theme next year is all about TRAVEL. Whether it's somewhere within the country or outside, I see myself going somewhere I haven't been before.

Speaking of, I just have to share what I normally bring with me when I'm traveling whether for work or leisure aka my beauty, entertainment and gadget travel essentials.

I'm sure a lot of women can relate when I say that a good skincare routine should not be ignored even when traveling.

1. Day moisturizer - Currently I'm using The Body Shop's Vitamin E Aqua Sorbet. It feels cool on the skin and that's what I like about it. It's actually perfect for our tropical weather - you know to combat the intense heat brought on by the sun.

2. Toner - I've been using Pond's White Beauty Pore Conditioning Toner for the longest time (since high school actually!)

3. Olay Serum - One of the latest additions to my daily skincare regimen which I apply after toning.

4. Sun Block - Not to be forgotten of course because the harsh rays of the sun can contribute to faster skin aging and skin cancer so it's best to be protected!

5. Eye Serum - I'm currently trying out The Body Shop's Drops of Youth Eye Concentrate. Just a light pump and I can already roll a generous amount of serum under my eyes. It feels cool too so I especially like applying it in the morning.

6. Lotion - I like applying a generous amount on my skin after bathing. Jergens is a favorite of mine!

7. Night Moisturizer - I'm using Olay's Regenerist Micro-sculpting cream moisturizer. Another anti-aging product. I think my skin is hiyang with Olay's because people often tell me "blooming ako" which they attribute to my being in love (but really it's just a matter of using good moisturizer!)

8-10. Pens and Planner - To write down details about the places I've been to, my schedules, spending and basically just to write, write, write about anything under the sun! And isn't NAVI just the perfect planner for travels?

11. Facial wash (not pictured here) - to wash away dirt and dust, keeping my face clean to prevent pimples. I alternate between Olay's, Pond's and St. Ives.

Because I want to look pretty in my travel photos, I have my make up and accessory essentials too!

1. The Body Shop's Instablur - I don't like wearing heavy foundation when I'm traveling. But because I still want to hide my blemishes and dark spots, I put on something as light as this 5 in 1 product on my face.

2. Mascara - To give my eyes a lil' pop! It gives the illusion that I have longer, darker and basically thicker lashes.

3. Scrunchie - To keep my hair off my face

4. Ring - One of the only two accessories I bring when I travel. It's my favorite ring, given by my former boss when she visited Rome. I'm super in love with its color - green ('cos that's my favorite color)

5. Maybelline Lip Balm - To keep my lips moisturized

6-7. Revlon's Cream Stick Blush On and Beauty Concepts Chubby Lip Stick - To add a lil color to my cheeks and lips. Pink is my go-to color.

8.  Majolica's Brow & Lash Colorist - Not to be missed because I have thin brows so to define my brows, I always put this on!

9. Clean and Clear's Oil Control Films - To blot out excess oil from my T-zone.

10. Avon Earrings

11. Umbrella - I always bring one because you never know when you're gonna need it! It's perfect for when you need to protect yourself from the heat or unexpected rain showers!

12. Johnson and Johnson's Baby Powder - I use this to set my make up on and to keep my face from being so shiny!

13. Johnson and Johnson's Baby Lotion - A lotion addict like me needs two! One for the whole body and another small one just for my hands.

14. Vitress Hair Polish - To tame my frizzy hair!

15. Comb

And lastly because delays and waiting time are sometimes part of traveling, whether by land, water or air, I keep with me stuff to keep me occupied.

1. Charger - A handy charger for when I need to recharge my gadgets

2. Sun Glasses - To keep myself from squinting when the sun is shining brightly out

3. A book - A good way to pass the time

4. Samsung Point and Shoot Digital Camera - To capture memories of my travels with friends and family

5. Earphones - So I can listen to music on Spotify on my mobile phone.

6. Mobile Phone - I'm currently using the Lenovo S850. It's one of Lenovo's mid-range price smartphones. When I'm bored, I like to play games, listen to music or browse the Net using this. I also use it as an alternative camera.

You know what my favorite kind of travel is? It's a road trip - wind in my hair, stare out in the open road, listen or sing along to the music, chit chat with friends while having snacks. And boy, would I love to go on a road trip in the US! Maybe in the near future I could get my friends on board to do that! A car won't be a problem because I just found out there are companies like RelayRides! They have rental cars across the country like LA, Washington DC, San Francisco and Chicago and you can even rent different kinds of cars like a Jaguar, Subaru, Ford or even a Benz! Nice noh? I read how it works (as though I'm already about to do that road trip) and it looked pretty easy enough to do. You can learn how the service works here. Someday, I'll do that. (",)

But you know even if you're a tourist or a business person flying somewhere in the US, you'll still need access to transportation that will help you get around the city you're visiting right? Again RelayRides can help you out because they have rental cars at the airport across the US (available at over 200 airports and over 1900 cities) and they even offer 24/7 roadside assistance and support.

 So anyway, that's how my 2015 will be. It's all about TRAVEL. What's your life's theme for 2015? And what are your own travel essentials?


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Blogging for a Cause

At the Blogapalooza event I attended last October, I encountered Habitat for Humanity Philippines and was told about the Online Champions Race to 200k - a crowd funding campaign to build a core housing for the Yolanda (Typhoon Haiyan) victims.

Why Php200,00 you ask? Well that's the amount it takes to provide one family a core house. Habitat for Humanity through their crowdfunding website was able to promote Rebuild Philippines, a disaster housing response project for affected families and communities of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) which aims to solve the shelter needs of affected communities such as in Cebu, Palawan, Iloilo, Samar and Leyte as quickly as possible through the distribution of Shelter Pair Kits for 30,000 families and building 30,000 core houses.

Through the website as well, the foundation was able to generate funds that has risen up to 25 million with 3114 donor from individuals and groups starting July 2013 to June 17, 2014 with 143 support pages managed by the online fundraising volunteers.

Through their online fundraising efforts, Habitat was able to provide 4,730 Emergency Shelter Kits (ESK's), 16, 062 Shelter Repair Kits (SKR's), 90 pump boats, 40 trisikad, 1, 978 solar lamps, 450 Clean Up Kits and built 15 classrooms and started building core houses in Cebu and Leyte.

It's been a year since the Super Typhoon happened but there are still a lot of affected families and communities who need our support. That's why they re-launched their Rebuild Philippines "Online Champion, Race to 200k" campaign again with the primary objective of gathering more individuals and groups to create their own give2habitat support page and help raise funds for at least one core house amounting P200, 000.   

So when Habitat for Humanity invited me to join the campaign, I immediately said "Yes." I'm always online and very much active on my social media sites so I thought to myself, why not use my blog and social media platforms for a very good cause? I don't have family living in the typhoon stricken parts of the Philippines but the things I've read online about the disaster and the survivors, it really tugged on my heart strings. And earlier this year, I attended my first TweetUp event at Commune Cafe where they featured storm chaser Jim Edds who shared his firsthand experience of the Super Typhoon in Leyte. The documentary I saw of the typhoon's aftermath, it truly was devastating.

A shelter is every human being's basic need. Everyone deserves to have a good and decent home so here I am, spreading the word to all of you, my dear blog readers and asking you to also help.

My pledge of commitment as an online champion of Habitat for Humanity

Christmas is just around the corner dear readers. How about including our fellow Filipinos who are still in need of a good shelter in your gift list? Any amount of help will go a long way in this race to 200k. 
You can also donate a fixed amount of $10 to Habitat for Humanity by clicking on the button below.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Selena Gomez song that brings on all the feels...

I've  just very recently come across Selena Gomez's new song, The Heart Wants What It Wants that had a lot of the media buzzing because they said it's her song for on again and off again boyfriend, Justin Bieber. And recently, she performed it at the 2014 American Music Awards and got the media and the fans (including me!) talking about it even more because she got really emotional while performing it.

I heard the song and I watched her performance at the AMAs. Music critics call this her painfully pathetic song. But while I agree that it is painful, (my heart went out to her especially while I watched this live performance; kinda made me shed a tear like Taylor Swift did), I personally believe there is nothing pathetic about it.

I understand her pain. I understand fully well the feeling of being in love with someone who doesn't seem good for you. Who brings you heartache. And the desire to let go and move on from it... But somehow find yourself stuck and unable to leave. Repeating the cycle over and over again, until your heart is not just bruised but trampled on, it's barely beating... because you love the person so much that it  also hurts to not be with them...

"There's a million reasons why I should give you up. But the heart wants what it wants."      
But when something - or someone isn't good for you, mustering up courage is in order to fully let go and break free. After all, like the Spice Girls once sang, "too much of something is bad enough". A girl's gotta realize her self-worth's more important than any guy - no matter how much you love him. I hope Selena does make it out alive, that she survives this fever. I love Jelena but I'm all for Selena ditching Justin for good if all their relationship brings her is confusion and drama. And Selena is a beautiful and talented girl anyway. I'm sure she'll meet another guy somewhere who will love and treat her right... if she only opens her eyes and heart eventually. 



Sunday, November 23, 2014

Weekend at Tuscany Inspired Marcia Adams Restaurant

Before I got all caught up with work this November, I went on a weekend out of town trip with some of my friends. We escaped the city for awhile and went to the nearest getaway, Tagaytay to have lunch at Marcia Adams Restaurant.

This is one of the food places I've always wanted to visit ever since I saw a TV feature of it (I think it was on Lifestyle Network's Listed). What's so special about Marcia Adams? Well a visit to the place would make you feel like you've gone to Tuscany, Italy. Now I've never been to Italy before (though that's in my bucket list), but I have had a glimpse of its beauty from Diane Lane's movie, Under the Tuscan Sun.

We had a lunch reservation at 1PM. Some of us almost thought of changing our plans because we got caught in traffic on our way to Marcia's. Thankfully we didn't because this place was seriously beautiful to look at! And just look at how the sun's natural light flatters this restaurant's scenery, making it even more picturesque!

This path leads to the garden area of Marcia Adams where we had our lunch. While there were people who were dining outside as well (in fact the place was packed when we arrived), it was so quiet! We were all taken aback because truth be told, my friends from LEAP 55 are loud and noisy especially when Joms is around. In fact, we found ourselves having whispered conversations. Not that it lasted long though! We all got over the initial shock and were soon back to being loud and noisy. Ha! Ha!

Meet my LEAP 55 ONE LOVE friends 

The the view from the garden dining area. Very country side feel.

And this is how Marcia Adams looks like inside:

Rustic interiors and vintage looking chairs with hardwood tables. It looks homey doesn't it? Like you're at your grandparents' place somewhere in the province. Flowers all around the place also added on to its charm.

Food at Marcia Adams doesn't come cheap. Luckily they offered set meals - you can get an appetizer (either soup of the day or Amalfi Prawns), main course and dessert at around Php700.

Tofu chips to munch on while waiting for our food to be served

Amalfi Prawns - this was so delicious, I enjoyed it! And this is coming from someone who doesn't eat

Some of my friends are into healthy eating so salads were also ordered on top of our set menu.

We ordered various main courses but I only have a couple of photos to show.

And the yummy desserts...

I enjoyed my meal at Marcia Adams. They were all for me cooked and prepared to perfection! Delicious!

I was able to meet the owner, Marcia herself when we visited. She's such a simple woman with an inspiring story to tell. She told us that the restaurant was really a dream of hers and she once wished on a full moon for it. And with her husband, they went on to making that dream a reality - one day at a time. The restaurant started with just her, her husband and a few neighborhood moms she hired to help out and the income from the restaurant was just enough to get them by. But now? The restaurant's this must-visit place in Tagaytay with so many clients and it's continuously growing!
She said to us, "I believe that when the time is right, nothing will be impossible. Trust lang din kailangan."

Marcia was so accommodating and had asked us to stay for awhile even after we all finished eating our lunch. Did we hesitate to do so? Of course not. The place's ambiance was so relaxing, it was really a nice place to stay!

So we ordered wine while Marcia sent over complimentary tea for us and we huddled up to do some catching up with each other. It's not often that I see these friends of mine but they're a wonderful bunch of people.

Our chikahan lasted til the sun set. And the view at Marcia Adams Restaurant is as beautiful as it is in day light.

Wine while watching the setting sun 

Now I know why Marcia Adams Restaurant is a must visit when in Tagaytay and I am so glad that I'm able to cross another thing off my places to visit! Earlier this year, I was able to go Breakfast at Antonio's with these wonderful peeps also. Read about that here. If you're looking for a nice out of town date place or a good restaurant to dine with friends, Marcia Adams is IT.