Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Reviewed - The Secret Lives of Dresses by Erin McKean

"Every dress has a story. Let me tell you mine"

If you love vintage collections, particularly dresses, then this book is for you. The Secret Lives of Dresses by Eric McKean is the second e-book I finished in my iPad. I've been loading my iBook with plenty of fiction titles over the past months. Problem is, I don't have the luxury of time finishing everything. Even my paperback purchases are accumulating again. Sigh.. I miss those days when I can discipline myself of purchasing one book at a time.

The book related the story of Dora, Mimi and the dresses in the vintage shop. Dora is a college student who dabbles in the university's coffee shop. Apparently, Dora is secretly inlove with her boss, Gary, a graduate student from the same university. Mimi is Dora's grandmother and guardian, who took over the role of her parents. Mimi owns a vintage dress shop, which has become her own outlet for passion and livelihood. Mimi became seriously ill and being her only family, Dora was forced to return home. She left the city to take care of Mimi and the vintage dress shop. When Dora started to manage the shop, she discovered pieces of creative and handwritten stories inserted to each vintage dress. As it appeared, Mimi was crafting unique stories to every dress in the store. As the story progressed, Dora will soon discover that one great handwritten story which will settle a lot of issues about her life and family. Dora's journey back home will also make her realize what she really wants in life and eventually meet the right man.... aside from Gary.

The few reviews I read gave decent ratings for the book. In my case, I'll give the book 3.5 out of 5 stars. The story possesses the elements of chick lits. Finding Mr. Right as the main character struggles with her own issues about life. The book is indeed your typical light read. However, what differentiates the story is the set of grown up realizations it provides. Some sentences in the novel that struck me are the following

This one goes to my friends who will soon be tying the knot

I wanted to tell them that the dress is not the marriage, it's only the part of the doorway to the marriage. We're liminal; boundaries, not countries.

Dora's perceptions on vintage dresses which also changed the way I view vintage stuff

It's selling history and glamour and experience... and all sort of things that can't be put on a hanger.

People sometimes think clothes are superficial and shallow. But for my grandmother, they were very deep. She wasn't selling something to wear, she was selling something to be. We think of things as belongings to us, but we don't realize that we belong to our things too.

and the two that thrived in me

No sense of knocking on a locked door

Never put off until tomorrow what you can learn today

P.S. This is my 300th post.. Hooray!

Linking this post to Ricki Jill's Literary Friday

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Beautiful Sunday # 18 - Turn around

I have mixed feelings while I'm typing this post. Part of me is happy, sad, worried but most of all, tired. Allow me to relate how my life will change after this week. 

After the long holiday break, I was alarmed with the news about my colleague. My colleague has been in teaching for the last 20 years. She is famous to almost all college kids. She's smart, approachable and best known for that unique sense of humour. I started receiving text messages requesting prayers for my colleague's recovery last Monday. As the day progressed, my inbox was loaded with the same forwarded messages. Wednesday came and I finally discovered what happened. Her medical condition was not clear to me. The only thing that is definite to me now, it would take some time for her to return to work. The atmosphere at work suddenly turned gloomy.

As I was busy fulfilling my backlogs at the office, my teaching supervisor called me for a brief meeting. I received one of the biggest surprises in my teaching career. My supervisor requested me to become one of the substitute professors. Oh Dear God! Handling two classes is more than enough to rattle my life. How much more if the bulk of work is doubled? I often introduce myself in this blog as a rank and file employee and a part time educator. But with the situation now, my work life took almost a 360 degrees turn. Technically, I'm a full time staff with additional teaching assignment. In practice, things turn out the opposite at this stage.

I would like to however emphasize that I'm not complaining. I rather feel worried of my inability of not fulfilling my responsibilities. When I was telling my work adjustments to one of my friends, I joked and told her that I suddenly became more famous to an additional 80 college kids. Apart from teaching, I'm also worried for my office job. I have a lot of backlogs and my hardworking boss doesn't deserve my inefficiency. I feel sorry to my boss because he has been giving me high ratings for my performance appraisal. Unfortunately, all I can provide is a set of tardiness records and delayed outputs.

As I'm still overwhelmed with the abrupt changes in my work life, I found myself in the comfort of a good friend last Friday. As always, Anne is always there to save the day. We meet up last Friday and had our regular pre-weekend dinners. We had Chicken Bon Chon and our favorite Dezato Mochi Balls. Thank you Anne for helping me keep the last strand of my sanity.

My work life over the next week will elevate with the additional kids I will meet. Before I face the sudden blast, I treated myself to some little things that can make me happy.

Sophie's Mom
A box of red velvet cookies from Sophie's Mom, enough to keep me happy over the long weekend. I forgot to take photos of the cookies because I became more occupied consuming each piece.

The Red Velvet addiction extends to cupcakes. Anne gave me this cupcake and all I can say is that it's bloody and heavenly great. Perfect stress buster! The cream cheese and the moist bread are the best.

A trip to the mall will never be complete without a book. Powerbooks is likewise hosting price reductions in almost all titles. So here's my recent acquisition.

As I browsed the first few pages of the book, I found this quote

As I was checking my previous posts over the last years, I noticed that changes and challenges in my life occur from the third to the last quarter of the year. Hopefully, this challenge is something I can surpass as well. 

Hope you are having a Beautiful Sunday

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Betrayal and Revenge

Intense words for a blog post! But friends, please don't worry. The two words are not meant for me and an enemy. Though I have a personal struggle to settle, such is far from betrayal and revenge. The two powerful words perfectly exemplify the theme of the two Korean drama series I've been watching over the rare holiday breaks.

I admit that I'm not yet over with My Princess. I'm still in love with the team up of Lee Seol and Mr. P. And I'm secretly dreaming of my own Mr. P too. :D But on those lazy mornings and afternoons, I accidentally discovered these two Korean drama series,

Two Wives
 Pink Lipstick
Here's an overview of the two drama series

Two Wives

As the title relates, the story evolved from an unfaithful husband. Yvonne has the perfect family. She was happy with his son and husband, Victor. Their perfect story was rattled when Janine, a single mother, falls in love with Victor. When Yvonne discovers the affair, she filed for divorced and started a new life with Ji Sook. Just when Yvonne is starting her new life, Victor encountered a car accident. Destiny played on Janine because when Victor wakes up from comma, all he remembers was Yvonne.

Pink Lipstick

It relates the story of Andrea who gave her life for the man she loves. She married Aldwin who did nothing but betrayal. Aldwin planted anomalies in the business owned by Andrea's family. At the same time, he hooked up with Marivic, who happens to be Andrea's bestfriend and adopted sister. Worst about Aldwin's infidelity is Andrea's discovery that their adopted daughter, Bella, was Aldwin and Marivic's child.

After discovering her husband and bestfriend's betrayal, Andrea wanted her own revenge. She eventually married Maeng Ho Geol, a wealthy business man, and used her advantage to plot her own story of revenge.


One of my friends once told me that I should avoid watching these heavy drama series. Like a typical Filipino, I become affected with the struggle and heartaches of the often oppressed and betrayed protagonists. Haha, partly true.

Setting aside the heavy drama, I really appreciate stories that involve females who were able to redeem themselves after experiencing a period of betrayal and abuse. I love how smart writers can incorporate a phase of character development to a person, who was once loving and innocent. Why I love such transition? Perhaps, it's because I see myself in their shoes. You see, I have my own share of oppression stories. I admit that I was tempted several times to plot my own moment of revenge. But my parents' and Catholic upbringing prevailed in me. I never pursued my own set of evil revenge. Most of the time, I allowed destiny to play on its own. The kind of revenge that I would rather choose is self-redemption. As they say, the perfect way to get back to your oppressors is to show them that life became better for you after everything. I guess this is one reason why I enjoy these Korean dramas. They provide me with the reality that every member of the female populace is bound to have her own moment of redemption and more often than not, destiny will make a way to favor those persons who have nothing but a good heart. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Beautiful Sunday # 17 - Taking things easy

Busy! Busy! Busy! I was too occupied with work over the past week. Office work has been manageable. I'm rather overwhelmed with the teaching tasks. I have to check papers, submit midterm grades and assist my thesis writing college kids. In the middle of the work week, my freelance client went in perfect timing. She asked me to accomplish something ASAP. In effect, I was left with less than 5 hours of sleep for four days. Aside from the bulk of workload, I was bothered by my own share of grown up problems. As much as I wanted to remain very kid at heart, life will really create a way to make me switch to maturity mode. If it is not too much to ask, may I request my dear blog friends to please pray for me. I wanted to survive this trying stage of my life.

Setting aside that side of my life, let me share the shallow things that connived to make me realize that my life is still beautiful.
BBB! - Blue Blouse from Bayo
You know how much I love color blue! All the girly stuff that comes in color blue never fails to become heaven in my eyes. I bought this blouse from Bayo a month ago and totally forgot about it. Friday came and I was so undecided of what to wear. I found this hidden in my closet rack and voila, happiness in blue!

After Friday work, I wasn't in the mood of going home. While my friends are busy with their respective lives, I found myself going to SM Megamall and treated myself to this current addiction
Red Velvet Cookies
Red Velvet cookies from Sophie's Mom is one of the best cookies I've ever tasted. Soft cookies filled with cream cheese and enough bits of chocolates are the best stress busters. My wish is that Sophie's Mom will also open branches in Manila or Quezon City so I don't have to cross two cities to experience this heavenly goodie.

Saturday came and I have to get up early to meet my new Financial Advisor. I will share details about this endeavor when things in my life started to stabilize again. Afternoon came and I have to cross another city to visit my students' business venture.

I've been teaching Business Plan Writing subjects for the past years. But it was only during this school year when I was entrusted with the role of being a Business Plan Adviser. The idea of the business didn't come from me. My four boys were responsible for everything and I have to commend them for working hard since day 1 of writing the paper. These college kids are more than half way of their Business Plan course, since they are already implementing what they have written. Hooray! In case any of my local blog readers will encounter my kids' business site, please! Please! SUPPORT :D

Amidst the stresses and worries, my friend Anne came to the rescue. Two text messages and I suddenly found a companion to burst out everything. Anne has been my closest friend lately. She equally knows what makes me sad and happy. Hence, she showed up with this

More Jane Green for me!!! What's best about these books is they are bargain finds from Books for Less. Thank you Anne.

Anne and I tried to rediscover Araneta Center in Cubao. We decided to finally visit the Marikina Shoe Expo. I was surprised to discover that the area has a number of antique shops. I wanted to take photos to every store but some owners implement strict policies, which I respect. However, I was able to take advantage of one shop whose owner is found nowhere. I was able to take a photo of the shabby chic facade of his / her shop *insert evil laugh here*

The picture would have been perfect if not because of the glass window's reflection. Here's a closer look of the vintage items. Hopefully, everyone could see it

The shop reminded me of my bloggy friend, Betsy. Hi Betsy! Hope you'll be able to see this. 

The beautiful things is just starting to overflow because Anne and I found ourselves relaxing in the elegant and vintage interiors of The Old Spaghetti House

over a great meal
Sampler Appetizers
Onion rings, calamares (breaded fried squid) and buffalo wings, while I was ranting over my complicated life. For the main course, I chose a healthier alternative

Tuna Pesto!
This pesto became the casualty of my stressful life and hungry belly.

It has been a long week for me. My only consolation is that I have an extended break until Tuesday. Hopefully, I'll feel better and productive over the next days.

Thank you for dropping by. Wishing everyone a Beautiful Sunday!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Beautiful Sunday # 16 - Rise and Shine

This has been the consistent view from my room the entire week. 

Heavy rains and dark clouds for almost a week. I was on house arrest for four days as I was suffering from colds and fever. But this morning, our prayers were finally answered
Here's comes the sun!

Prayers answered! This is more than enough picture for a Beautiful Sunday.

To my blog friends who prayed for me and my country, thank you so much! 

 Pardon this short post because I have to attend to a lot of unaccomplished things. Having been recharged for four days, my adventurous feet is ready to conquer the outside world again. No, I don't intend to travel yet. :D I have to attend to some client concerns and settle some things about my future. I will blog about everything soon.

Wishing everyone a Beautiful Sunday!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Please pray for the Philippines

Heavy rain.... This has been the picture of Manila and its nearby cities since Monday. 
No signs of good weather as I am typing this post...

I've been on house arrest since Tuesday. Colds and fever plagued me in my attempt to reach home amidst the heavy rain.
Despite of everything, I'm still grateful because I'm home safe with my family.

Photo not owned by the author
Please pray for the Philippines.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Reviewed: The Beach House by Jane Green

When I read the book's teaser, I admit having low expectations to the story. A group of adults decided to escape from their much occupied life. They separately headed to a Beach House in Nantucket, clueless of what to expect of their short summer vacation. At first, this idea is something I can’t accept. Adults who decided to break free like a restless and impulsive teenage kid? Worst of all is doing it with people you never met. Perhaps, my biased perception is influenced by my conservative Filipino upbringing of not easily trusting strangers. However since the book is from Jane Green, I decided to give it a try.  

Daniel left and devastated her wife, Bee. Why Daniel decided to part ways with Bee? I'll leave it for you to discover. Daff is coping with the pains of being divorced. At the same time, she is facing the difficulty of dealing with her rebellious daughter. Michael, the lone son of the Beach House's owner, went home leaving his dream career in New York. He is apparently escaping the emotional consequences of his affair with of all people, his boss. Nan, owner of the Beach House and Michael's mom, is in the brink of a serious financial trouble. Years after her husband’s alleged suicide, Nan was burdened with his debts from gambling. She was able to survive this problem but after some time, other financial issues plagued her again. As much as she values her solitary life, she was forced to turn her beautiful home to her own life sustaining device. She opened her home in Nantucket to vacationers with the intention of generating income. However, we all know that life is full of pleasant and unpleasant surprises. Nan found something more valuable than money with Daniel, Bee and Daff.

What happens when a group of equally troubled and problematic people are gathered in one roof?  As each character tries to settle their issues in life, friendships and relationships later developed. As they relate the story of their lives, the readers were treated to a lot of realizations about love, family life and relationships.   

More often than not, people perceive family issues so common and overrated. There's nothing new with divorce, family life, rebellious kids, anger and betrayal. They are just same old issues morphed in the life of another person. Jane Green however was able to thread the issues we often neglect to an endearing and realistic story. I want to emphasize the concept of being realistic because some authors tend to exaggerate the story's events to pour out intense emotions from the readers. With this book, exaggeration was rather replaced by reality.

I was particularly amazed on how Jane Green depicted the life of a woman after a painful divorce, as reflected in Daff's case. After years of being a dedicated wife and mother, how would you start life again? How will you face problems that emerged from another person's betrayal? How will you not feel anger and resentment to the man who is adored by your daughter, who now happens to hate you the most?

Daniel is torn between being true to himself at the expense of hurting his wife and children.  Michael’s attempt of trying to escape the guilt of wrecking her boss’ marriage unexpectedly led him to find his one true love. As in the case of Nan, how will you deal with life when it forces you to cross between the rivers of past vs. present and present vs. future?

The Beach House surpassed my expectations for what I thought as a mediocre story. What I perceived as a shallow chick lit is ironically rich with elements of character development and realizations about family life. Though the book is overflowing with issues about life, it never appeared too boring and preachy. Jane Green crafted the story very interesting for everyone. More importantly, the book also possesses the element of unpredictability. In my opinion, writers who can provide a great but realistic ending without sending clues to the readers are very talented and creative.  

If I will rate the book, I’ll give it 4 out of 5 stars. I recommend it to females of different ages. The book will enrich every female with so many learnings about family life, relationships and friendships. 

Linking this post to Ricki's Literary Friday.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Why I love Fridays?

No, not the restaurant. haha  Honestly, I love their own line up of unhealthy food. However, when we talk about their prices, I begin to dislike the place. They have the record of emptying my wallet the fastest way ever.

Friday is my favorite day of the week. My friends who are also corporate slaves can surely relate. Let me enumerate my own reasons why Friday never fails to make me the happiest

1. It's my last day at work - Wooohoo! Friday signals that it will soon be rest day. I can sleep late without thinking about the next day. Friday leads the two days when I don't need to wake up with my mobile phone's alarm clock and hit the snooze button to beg for another 5 minutes.

2. I don't have to wear my office uniform - Friday gives me the freedom to wear my favorite skinny jeans, flats and comfy cotton tops. I dress up the way I want every Friday. However, this uniformless day sometimes causes me trouble. During my PMS days, I feel fat, ugly and grouchy. Hence, it will take me like three attempts to finally settle with the perfect outfit-mood match.

Vertical lines to hide my bulging belly

3. I can go malling and window shopping (Really?) - A stressful week and a payday Friday form my self-inflicted lethal combo. If only I can move paydays during the work week, I would have done it a long time ago. Stress and money will make me the next Rebecca Bloomwood. I usually leave the office earlier during Fridays. Earlier means having more time to withdraw my hard earned pay and later walk around the mall. Malling that later translates to seeing a nice pair of shoes or blouse and you know what comes next? Goodbye payday!
 4. More time to read -  On those Fridays when I'm broke and unhappy, I end up getting a long bath and rummaging my closet for my favorite pajama and cotton shirt. I check my iPad for the unread e-books.
5. Meet ups with my friends - I have been going out with Anne more often over the past months. We have been regular patrons of Chicken Bon Chon and Dezato's Mochi Balls. Though eating out doesn't contribute to my objective of financial independence, I would like to believe that eating is cheaper than buying a new pair of shoes. After eating, Anne and I have been engaging more time in bookstores in search for great reads. A confession to make;  ever since we started to own devices that are capable of providing that e-book experience, Anne and I found ourselves looking for the bookstore's best sellers and saving their titles for downloading.
6.Friday is a foodie cheat day - I love treating myself to my favorite unhealthy meals during Fridays. When Anne and my other friends are not available on Fridays, I go out on my own. I explore new restaurants that my meager excess income can afford. When I feel lazy and sleepy, I simply drop by the grocery to purchase a box of nachos, ground beef, cheese, and fresh potatoes for the weekends. If budget is really tight, I settle to this classic Filipino sinful  food
My non-Filipino blog friends will not love this heaven of crunchiness and oiliness. If you are familiar with Chicharon (fried pork skin), then this sinfulness is not a stranger for you. 

So now you know why my favorite chant for Monday is FRIDAY! FRIDAY! :D

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Beautiful Sunday # 15 - Reunions

It has been gloomy in Manila. This has been the consistent view from my room. 

The only positive thing that the rain brings is the cool temperature we rarely experience in the city. The cool temperature becomes very conducive for staying bed (than going out), reading books and saving me from those unnecessary expenditures. haha

Speaking of expenditures, I went shopping with my friend Anne last Friday. I've noticed that I've been going out with Anne more often lately. However, I've become more conscious of my spending habits these days. Instead of the usual girly stuff (shoes, clothes and bags)  Anne and I have been splurging on books. We've been increasing our trips to Booksale and National Bookstore. For this week, here are my recent acquisitions.

Love: A User's Guide by Clare Naylor is a bargain find from Booksale. The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy is a discounted purchase from National Bookstore. To my local friends, you better head out to National Bookstore now because they are hosting a sale. Most books are discounted by as much as 30%.

The God of Small Things will be the first Indian novel in my list. This title is the debut novel of Arundhati Roy. A first attempt that made her won the 1998 Man Booker Prize Award for Fiction. A little internet research made me discover that the story is semi-autobiographical. Much of the story covered Roy's childhood experiences in India.

 If I could pick one word to describe my entire week, I guess REUNIONS would be the best.

Two text messages convinced me to join this unplanned and unexpected reunion. Back in my High School to College days, I used to be an active member of a Catholic organization. But as they say, all things are bound to change. I had other priorities and issues which made me retire from the organization that has become part of my teenage years. While some things change, I'm happy to say that people and friendships remained the same.  The people you see in the picture are my ates (sisters) and kuyas (brothers) in the organization. I was the youngest and often called as the group's baby. But look at me now... I'm as huge as a baby elephant :D Where am I in the picture?  I'm the blue baby, the girl who will forever love color blue. Still can't spot me? Look for the roundest face hahaha

Before the week started, the cutest and biggest kid in the family arrived in Manila

See that "little big" boy? He has been giving my family so much joy these days. Hopefully, I'll have more time to play with him.

How about you? How was your week? Wishing everyone a Beautiful Sunday!

Friday, August 3, 2012

My Memories Affiliate Program - Claim your discounted software here!

Have you noticed the new mini button in my sidebar?

Early this year, my blog sponsored a giveaway for My Memories.

A few of my followers joined (thank you!) and Amanda, one of my bloggy bffs, won the free copy of the software. A few weeks ago, My Memories invited me to join their Affiliate Program. Any blogger can actually apply for membership. You can know more about the specific details here.

In exchange for the membership, the blogger will receive a free downloadable full version of the software. In addition, your friends, families, or anyone you refer will receive a $ 10 discount when they purchase the software. In my case, I have posted the discount coupon code in my side bar. So being my follower, reader or friend, you are entitled to save $ 10 when you decide to purchase the software. However, I'm extending the discount coupon to everyone. Anyone can copy my coupon code and post it anywhere in your blog, Twitter or Facebook. I would actually appreciate if you share and spread this opportunity.

Coupon Code : STMMMS45764

And to fulfill my promise of using My Memories, here's a very amateurish layout I made for my nephew, who is enjoying his vacay in the Philippines

1. The album cover shows a very healthy kid. Stephen is my nephew from my cousin whose family resides in California. They visit the Philippines every three years so we rarely have the chance to play and cuddle with my thinnest :D nephew.

2. This was Stephen around 7 months old, if I'm not mistaken. Everyone in the family have loved him even though he used to exist  in photos posted in our Facebook accounts.

3. Stephen was finally baptized during his first birthday.

4. Stephen now at 4 years old with my beautiful nieces. He is really enjoying the company of his equally adorable and energetic cousins.

Hopefully, I could play with this "little big man" over the weekends. 

Happy Friday!