Thursday, October 31, 2013

Reviewed! One Hundred Names by Cecelia Ahern

I told you, I’m on a streak of writing boring book reviews. Apologies for another long and boring post :) 

After so many months, I’m finally done with Cecelia Ahern’s latest book, One Hundred Names. For reasons I can’t understand, it took me months to finish this book. The demands of teaching and all the exhaustion from commuting prevented me to read. I lost the interest in reading because my body is demanding that much needed sleep and rest. My defunct iPod nano became my reliable and favorite companion over the past months.

Cecelia Ahern is one of my favorite authors. She impressed me well with PS I Love you. I purchased most of her books and recommended her to most of my friends. This reminds me of my dear friends who have forgotten to return my cheap yet precious book collections. Heehee

The constant element in Cecelia Ahern’s book is the magical experience. It never failed to exist in all of her works. Ahern wants us to believe that everyone is bound to have a magical encounter in their lifetime. True enough, One Hundred Names is another book that made me believe that even ordinary persons will have their own magical experience to relate. 

Kitty Logan used to have a promising career. She’s a successful TV host, writer and had the privilege of being coached by Constance, another famous and great writer and editor in her lifetime. Everything seems to be perfect for Kitty not until she committed a mistake that rattled her entire career. Kitty’s TV show tainted the reputation of an innocent teacher. It was too late to retract the accusations. The damage and trauma were already done.  More than the legal charges and financial damages, Kitty’s career was shaken. She lost her job and was treated as a national antagonist.
 Kitty sought refuge from Constance, her friend and mentor who owns and operates a popular and trusted magazine. While Kitty is trying to pick up herself, Constance left her with a mission. Kitty was tasked to look for the book the compiles 100 names of different people. Unfortunately, Constance passed away and Kitty was left with nothing but a list of names to deal with.

The entire story related Kitty’s journey of meeting the 100 people in Constance’s list. Kitty was pressured by Constance’s husband to produce that one great article about the mysterious list. They agreed that this would serve as the greatest way to honor Constance. Unfortunately, Kitty was constrained by the limits of time.  Kitty has 100 people to search, meet, interview and weave to a great story in two weeks.

Kitty whole-heartedly embraced the impossible task. The journey of meeting the 100 people fueled the entire story. This gave Kitty the opportunity to witness that magical moment that every person is bound to experience. Kitty’s efforts to connect the 100 different people shaped the heartwarming message and conclusion of the story.

There are so many characters and events that prevailed in the novel. At some point, I even felt confused with the names and characters. But when I reached the concluding part of the novel, everything simply fell into place. I was mesmerized.

This is the part of the book that moved me.

I suddenly felt connected with the story and characters. I had that feeling that Cecelia Ahern was also writing my story. It was like someone telling me that this world will never be complete without my existence.

A little confession to make, I was attacked by my self-diagnosed quarter life crisis while reading this book. I was battling that recurring unexplained sadness. I don’t confide this struggle with my friends. In my mind, I know this too shall pass. In between those times, I sought for signs of hope from almost everywhere and anywhere. A butterfly, picture or anything that would uplift my drowning spirits would suffice. I never expected that a current read will emerge as my little refuge.       

Ahern did not fail me in this book. It has the right amount of substance that propelled a very inspiring story. It transitioned with a realistic wheel of character development. It conveyed a message powerful enough to move and uplift readers. More importantly, it has an unpredictable ending that will leave readers wondering of what could have been the exact conclusion of the story.

One Hundred Names is an excellent read. I don’t have second thoughts of giving this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

My First Washi Tape Project

I won a set of washi tapes from Lea's giveaway. I told Lea that the washi tapes will be very useful to my DIY projects for Xmas. My first project is the wrapping of Xmas presents for my colleagues. I initially wanted to involve my nieces for this task. Unfortunately the kiddies are busy attending Trick or Treat activities everywhere :) The Tita has no choice but to literally and figuratively DIY.

I started shopping for presents before my week long break. Aside from the gifts, I remember needing to purchase kraft papers for the project. I searched a number of bookstores and found nothing. Quite frustrated, I searched for an alternative. I opted for this cheaper substitute.

A roll of Manila Paper saved the day!

Here are the Washi Tapes I've been meaning to use

Here are the initial outputs of my project

My favorite design
The best thing about using Washi Tapes is its capability to prettify everything ordinary. My basic gift wrapping output was improved when I played with the designs of the tapes. 

The gifts are all wrapped up and ready to be distributed a month from now. 

Thanks again Lea! I hope you don't regret choosing me as the winner :)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Halloween with Fun Fab Fam

I'm currently enjoying my week long semester break. No work for the entire week, yay! My vacation started with another rare mini-reunion with my Fun Fab Fam.

It was my cousin who organized our mini-reunion. I call it mini because not everyone in the family was present. My cousin told me that she would like to join the trick or treat activity of the village. For the record, this is the first time my family participated in this kind of event. We grew up not experiencing any halloween event. My cousin wanted to give the kids in the family this experience. Hence, off we reserved our Sunday afternoon for this festivity.

What's Trick or Treat without the treats? We started the afternoon by packing the goodies for the kiddies.

Fun Fab Fam represent!
The kiddie representatives of our family :)

 The guests are finally here.

Before we knew it, the party was already over. We spent the remaining hours with our own favorite activity. 
Movie Time
The movie which we never finished because of the never ending catching up stories. 

Another first for the family! Our first time to do Yakiniku at home. 

Looking forward to do this again!

Another set of happy memories made 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Beautiful Sunday # 79 - Thankful for these treats

Thankful for another weekend and a week long break ahead. Hooray! As much as I want to spend the entire week in another place, the budget doesn't permit. Heehee Like the usual weekends, I will stay home, read my pile of paperbacks, late night movie marathons and great meals with my family.  Later this afternoon, my cousin invited me to their house for a possible barbecue party.

Before I embrace the week long break, let me share the few beautiful things that made my week.

I was able to watch our school's basketball game. We lost the game in overtime but it was a great way to escape work and support the school.

Trick or treat at the workplace! This only happens once a year. Kids hopping to every office in their cutest costumes. 

I found a new place for cheap and great Persian meals. 
It was my friend T who introduced me to Keema, Kebab and all those juicy beefy Persian meals. My favorite has to be Grilled Tomato which unfortunately ceased operations. Last Friday, I dragged my friend A to try this Persian chain in SM Manila. It was one of those foodie attempts I will never regret. I found a new home for cheap and tasty Persian meals.

Everything home-cooked
Onion and garlic chips, potato chips and a bowl of Beef Sinigang

Best about these treats, I shared them with the family over a great TV show. 

Sweetest Treats
 A bucket of locally flavored ice cream that never fails to make everyone in the family happy.

Finally, a jar of Lotus Biscoff! My family enjoyed Trader Joe's Speculoos Cookie Butter. We loved it although most of my friends are saying that the Crunchy Cookie Butter is better. I haven't found a cheaper and nearer reseller ;) so I decided to try Lotus' version available at Healthy Options. (Thanks for the tip Lea) I tried a few scoops and like what I always say, I now have bragging rights for the experience. Haha Biscoff is another item in my growing list of foodie favorites.

My current read! Scored this for only Php 180 at Booksale. I heard a lot of great reviews and the movie adaptation. Hopefully, this will be a great read.

Wishing everyone a great Sunday!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Reposted: Reviewed! Paul Arden's Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite

I originally wrote and posted this entry two days ago. Unfortunately, I made the stupid mistake of accidentally deleting it. The deleted version was linked to my dear friend Ricki's Literary Friday. Three of my blog friends left nice comments that I can't anymore retrieve. Sorry.  My saving grace is my back up email that is subscribed to this blog.

I'm not a fan of self help books. The preachy atmosphere imposed by these books makes me feel bored and irritated to some extent. The last book I read within this genre almost ended as a disappointment. It's not that I contradict the beliefs, experiences and sentiments shared by the authors. They make the great writers because they lived a great life in the first place.  Much of my aversion arises from the dictating tone I feel whenever I read these kind of books.

I'm still finishing Cecelia Ahern's One Hundred Names. Along the way, my feet brought me to Fully Booked and surprisingly took home two books from my least preferred genre. How unlikely of me? I guess I've been loading myself with too much fiction titles lately. I'm hoarding fiction books only to let them wait and sleep away. When I saw Paul Arden's first book, It's not how good you are, it's how good you want to be, I found a little refuge to my dwindling self-esteem issues. I took the book home and counted it as another sleeping item on my shelf. Haha

Last Friday, I went again to Fully Booked because of their screaming 20% discount on all titles. Yay! I took home Paul Arden's second book, Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite. This time however, the book didn't end up as another evident pile of my laziness. I started reading the book last night and finished it on the way to work. Yes, you can finish the book in one sitting.

In a nutshell, the book related Paul Arden's thoughts and stories on creating successful ideas. Arden's simple premise is that successful people are differentiated by their great ideas. Unfortunately, not everyone is capable and trained to breed successful ideas.

In the entire book, Arden emphasized that we often confine ourselves within the grounds of the stable road. We were conditioned to always play it safe. Arden contests that if we continue to religiously obey this principle, everyone is bound to create nothing but mediocrity. This also explains why we can only count the number of great men and women from our history. There are only a few people who dared the unexplored path.

My favorite part of the book is when Arden explained why we have dreams. It remains as a dream because we are not doing anything to fulfill it. Simple yet so compelling when he presented it. The importance of demanding for negative criticism, difference between wish and want and why he has high regard for Adolf Hitler were the things I will never forget about this book. In the concluding part, Arden also shared an advice given by a boss to an aspiring photographer. 


This I believe summarizes the entire book. Paul Arden is convincing us we should not be afraid of choosing the roads that are less traveled and not taken. Greatness starts from having the courage to take chances, explore opportunities and daring to achieve our dreams. 4 out of 5 stars for this book.  

Reviewed! Life on the Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers

I’m on a blogging streak for book reviews! Sorry if I’ve been plaguing everyone with my uninteresting reviews. Back in High School, I hated reading and writing book reviews especially when dealing with those classical literary pieces. Years after, I’m quite surprised that I’m enjoying the task I used to hate. I now turned out as the person who bores everyone with literary reviews. Haha

I have two book reviews lined up. I’m finally done with Cecelia Ahern’s One Hundred Names. I checked my pile of unread fiction and chose Life on the Refrigerator Door as my next read. For those who can still remember, I was able to acquire an electronic version of this book months ago. Despite the convenience and cheaper price, my heart still longs for the feel and smell of a real paperback. In the end, I went to Fully Booked and purchased the lone and expensive hardbound copy.

Life on the Refrigerator Door relates a mother-daughter relationship story. The intriguing title arises from the means of communication between Claire and her mother. Since they rarely catch each other at home, they exchange letters and notes on the refrigerator’s door. Hence, the entire text was presented in the form of informal letters.

Claire’s mother is a dedicated and committed doctor who tries her best to balance both roles. Claire was single-handedly raised by her mom and is transitioning from being a teenage kid to adulthood. Claire was portrayed as the typical teenage kid who battles growing up issues within the grounds of a broken family. What used to be a typical mother-daughter relationship was rattled when Claire’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. The journey of battling this traitor disease and Claire’s struggle of growing up with separated parents gave structure and meaning to the entire story.

The book was a short read. You can finish it one sitting. I started last night and finished everything on the way to work. Despite the fact that it was too short, the story didn’t lack the substance to move me. What I thought as a book that merely compiled letters changed when I reached the last chapter. I got teary-eyed when I read Claire’s last letter. I was reading it inside the train and tried my best to hold back my tears. The words used were so raw and simple. It appeared as a real letter that only a kid who speaks from her heart could write. While typing this post, I felt the urge to hold the book and read the heartwarming letter again.

I highly recommend the book to all mothers, daughters and those who have loved ones battling serious illnesses such as Cancer. The book made me feel that everyone has a right to weep and feel weak even on those instances that demand strength.

I hate to admit it but I lack the words to express my appreciation to the novel. I guess my 5 out of 5 stars rating can compensate.

PS I think I made a stupid mistake of deleting my previous book review on Paul Arden's What Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite :(

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Beautiful Sunday # 78 - Once in a while

Happy Sunday!

This is one of those relaxing weekends I had over the past months. Teaching is over for a while. No papers to check, no lectures to review and no deadlines to chase. My schedule is limited to my office job and I can finally concentrate on my current documentation project.

While I'm savoring another rare weekend, let me share the few beautiful things that made my week.

The many faces of Patch (Actually, his name is Grey. I don't like it so I'm insisting of calling him Patch in my blog. heehee)

Sad, gloomy or maybe HUNGRY like this blogger

Happy after a great meal!
And since I'm talking about loading the heavy belly, my friends know that a Sunday post will never be complete without these

Foodie Discoveries
Chicken pops from Bon Chon - This was an impulsive purchase after a long day of computing and encoding the grades of my dearest college kids. The spiciness, crunchiness and all that grease are so worth it!! Haha

Kitkat Green Tea - My friend T introduced me this variant. The not-so-chocolate addict in me immediately fell in love with the mild sweetness and unique flavor. As much as I want to have this as part of my regular treats, the little hefty price and the limited sellers never fail to deprive me. To my friends who want to make me happy on my birthday and this Christmas, you know what to give me ;)

The famous and humongous breaded porkchop in Binondo can be found in Tasty Dumplings. I've been hearing great reviews about Tasty Dumplings. I haven't tried the place even though it's just blocks away from the workplace. In the middle of the year, a freelance client brought me here and like what I always say, I now have the bragging rights for this foodie experience. The breaded porkchop defines the name of the restaurant. It was crunchy and tasty from the breading to the core of the meat. The accompanying soup was good and their specially made noodles complemented this belly heavy meal.

I can feel my favorite time of the year!

I did a little Christmas shopping this week. I hoarded these cute notebooks and notepads from National Bookstore. I don't want to spend much on Christmas wrappers so I decided to do some DIY. I used the washi tapes I won from Lea's giveaway and played with the old and useless magazines. Yay or nay?

The shopaholic hormones strikes again!

Two bags in a month!?! So bad!!!! To my defense, the black bag from Mango was purchased from a sale.

Marionnaud eyecolor brush.. finally! I always rely on the free brush provided on most eye color palettes. My consistent problem with the complementary brush is the lack of durability. I've been planning to purchase a set of makeup brushes for the longest time. Before the week ended, I decided to try this brand from Watsons. I already used the brush and realized why members of the female populace invest on a set of expensive brushes. The stroke and effect of a separate brush is way better. My shopaholic hormones is calling me to purchase the entire set of brush paraphernalia. But just in case my not-so-generous friends would want to make me happy, this is another option :)

Cutest and comfiest mouse pad for only Php 88 at Saizen. This can make another great Christmas gift.

My friend C gifted me with this cute souvenir from her Vietnam trip. Another country to visit in my list? Let's see :)

I scored this Paul Arden's book 20% off its original price from Fully Booked. Yay! I'm loving the short success stories and messages it convey. On the right is a beautiful view from the workplace. I haven't noticed this for quite some time. I guess I've been forgetting to stop and smell the flowers (though it's artificial hahaha). I should take advantage of this rare short break to slow down, forget the pressures and take each day as it comes....even just for a while. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Life lately

I've been neglecting this blog for the longest time. I would like to believe that I'm just busy with work or I'm just poor in time management. I guess the second explains everything. I usually blog at home, hours before going to sleep. Over the past weeks to months, I always reach home late. As much as I want to blog and visit my blog friends, my body is already showing strong signals of exhaustion. I succumb to sleep and beg for additional hours of sleep the next day.

Over the weekends, I spent a lot of time sleeping. Even reading and watching my Korean drama series took a step back. Obviously, sleeping hours have become my best buddy.

While writing this post, I have a feeling that I will mess up and make another lousy post. Hopefully not. Actually, my real intention in writing this is to compile and share the things that occupy me lately.

I mentioned in one of my Sunday posts that this is how my old workstation looks like.

After the renovation, my place was downsized to this

I wasn't expecting my space to be this small. Added to this the floating shelves (not in the photo) that is causing me minor head bumps whenever I access my tiny cabinet. With the lesser space, this desktop computer was replaced with this

Almost happy for this very lightweight and portable buddy except that I find the 10-inch screen too small.
Using the tiny screen for 8 hours demands a lot of adjustment for me. I also fear that the small screen can deteriorate my 20-20 vision and cause me those back pains as I often slouch using this buddy.

I do have other challenges on my day job and freelance works. I'm contemplating options, decisions, and some people who have been affecting me both in positive and negative ways. In order to relieve myself from these problems, I sought refuge from these :)

I've been drowning myself with lots of nachos paired with the deliciously unhealthy cheese sauce. In my everyday trips to 7-11, I found this locally produced potato chips. It's a bit expensive but enough to satisfy my unhealthy cravings. I'm also addicted to TCBL's Toblerone Cheesecake.

Packs of Bounty Fresh's Top Torikatsu! Thanks Bounty Fresh :) I blogged about them and was given packs of chicken, which I shared to a few colleagues. This is the first time I received free product samples from blogging. Hopefully, more to come. :)

I bought this book few weeks ago. I can't remember if I already blogged about it. Haven't read it, but the few pages already impressed me. I'm planning to display this on my working table.

It's that time of the year! Most shopping malls are starting to provide the vibe of the happiest time of the year. This inspires me to work harder.

Sorry if this post appeared too lousy. I'm looking forward for a better week and positive things to happen. Have a great week ahead!

Beautiful Sunday # 77 - Double Seven, Double Awards

I'm nursing a terrible headache while typing this post :( The light from the computer's screen is unfortunately aggravating the pain. To be honest, this is one of those rare weekends when all I wanted is to sleep and avoid any trace of light. 

The temptation to skip this Sunday post is testing me to the fullest. But I have a commitment to make :) So I'll try my best to prepare a decent post. I also felt obliged to my few blog friends who have been continuously linking up to my shy Sunday party. I have less excuses and more reasons to blog. 

Hours before writing this post, I remember two blog friends who mentioned me for these bloggy awards. It came in perfect timing since I don't have foodie and photo posts for the past week. To my dear blog friends Donna and Julie, thank you for the mentions! You two also saved me from making a lousy Sunday post.

Two blog friends gave me the Liebster Award some years ago. Repetitive but I will never get tired of receiving this bloggy recognition. Thanks Julie!

In exchange for the mention, Julie requested me to answer the following questions:

Favorite room in the house - My bedroom!

If you could visit any place in the world, where would you go? - Paris, London, Italy and all those places in Europe

Why did you start blogging? - Simply because I love to write! Blogging gave me my own space and chance to express myself in writing .

What do you like to do for fun? - Jogging and exercise! My weight struggle forced me to jog and exercise. As much as I want to jog and exercise on a regular basis, my self-imposed pressure discourages me.

What is your favorite food to eat? -  This blog and my heavy belly are living testaments to my answer. A LOT! Haha But if I will based it on my current craving, a slice of Toblerone Cheesecake from TCBL will do.

Are you an indoor or outdoor person? - I guess indoor. Blame it on the sun that is making me darker and fatter :)

How often do you post? - I try my best to post twice a week. Although lately, I'm left with my Sunday post. Things have been quite busy and unstable over the past months. :(

Do you have any pets? -  My family, particularly my parents take care of two dogs and few pairs of love birds.

Left or right handed? - Rightee, literally and figuratively heehee

Do you like to cook? -  I would love to learn.

Are you a morning or night person? - I'm quite unsure. I work in the day but over the past weeks, I learned to become nocturnal during weekends and holidays. For some reason, I became comfortable doing my freelance jobs from 11pm until 6 am.

For the Sunshine Award, here are my responses to Donna's questions

What is your beauty regimen? - I'm the worst person to consistently follow a beauty regimen. Although I've been fascinated with Human Nature's products over the past months.

In what way do you reward yourself? - Food and shopping!!!

What song best describes yourself? - Wonderful Crazy by Katelyn Tarver

What's your favorite place? - Aside from home, it has to be Tagaytay. I love the lush greeneries, cooler temperature and the relaxing environment.

What's your top 3 favorite food? -  Three will never be enough for me. Haha You know me Donna :) I have an endless list of foodie favorites. Cakes, potato chips and paella will do for now Hahaha They actually represent my current cravings.

What are 5 things you can't live without? - Hair Conditioner, hair clamp to tame the thick and always unruly hair,  handkerchief, my oversupply of sanitary pads, and a mild soap because I like washing my face as often as I can

What's your top 3 favorite blogs? - Why only three? :) I love Isabel Gatuslao's Design Blog, Classy Girls Wear Pearls and Betsy's My Salvaged Treasures (I really want to add more!)

What's on your shopping wishlist? (Name 3) - Tory Burch's Reva flats, set of facial cosmetics from Clinique and a nice tote from Kate Spade

Given that your partner allows you to spend a day (24 hours) with a particular famous guy, who would that be and why? - No partner to begin with hahahahaha Even though I'm not qualified to answer, I would love to see one of my greatest crushes, JEREMY LIN!

Who is your biggest inspiration in life aside from God and your family? - My former teachers and workplace superiors who believe that I can make things happen.

What is your prayer to God at this moment? - The assurance that everything will be fine...

Thanks again Donna and Julie! To those who read my looong post, thank you for your time and patience :)

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Beautiful Sunday # 76 - Wishlist from an unlikely window shopping

Whenever I visit the nearest shopping mall, you will most likely find me in the Ladies Wear, Shoes and Office Supplies. Heehee I'm looking for a nice button down blouse in blue, ribbon bow flats, or browsing some cute and colorful notebooks. The Home and Appliance Center is the least area that I visit. Although I appreciate modern home furniture and ergonomically designed office equipments, I rarely spend time in this section.

This week, I made an unexpected trip to the Home Section of SM Department Store. I need to purchase storage boxes for my items at the workplace. It used to be that all my things can fit my table drawer, small cabinet and shelf.
Old workplace niche - Pardon the clutter, everything is getting boxed up for the renovation
With the recent renovation at the office, my working space was downsized. I only have a narrow cabinet to accommodate all my things. I lost the useful drawer and shelves that provide easy access to my recent files. As a result, I decided to clean up last week. I was able to reduce the clutter, but I still have other documents, folders and examination papers to keep. Without the shelves, I have no choice but to store my documents inside those cheap plastic storage boxes. They don't complement the workplace atmosphere (I know) but I don't have a choice. It's the only thing that I can afford. I don't have the resources to purchase my own shelves, especially after I wrecked my credit card for this.

I was blessed with a new laptop for work. I'm thankful except for the fact that I need to purchase this gadget to gain a more stable internet access.

In the middle of the week, I visited the nearest SM during my afternoon break.  All I wanted was the most decent and cheap plastic storage box. Much to my surprise, I ended purchasing a black plastic crate. 

I wanted to purchase all the colored crates.  I wanted to stack the crates so it can function as a makeshift table for my huge printer. The largest crate in black and white costs Php 175 and after doing some Math, I decided to limit my purchase to one. I was also worried that the stacked crates might look like a storage area for dirty clothes. Heehee  

I never had plans of staying longer in the Home Section. I forgot my limited time because I was amazed with SM's improved and unique home and office collections. Here are some of items I included in my wish list. :)

This will go best with our everyday dining table. If my boss will agree, this can serve as chairs in our unconventional conference area. 

 Another set of chairs .. this time, it's so expensive!

 I love the black piece!

Reminds me of IKEA

An unique shelf for my TV, DVD player and books  inside my room. I might purchase this before the year ends. Hopefully, there will be stocks by the time I'm ready to purchase.

This could serve as a great table for my printer.

If only I can choose my office chair, I want this!

I enjoyed this rare and unlikely window shopping. Of the hours I explored the Home Section, I only ended up purchasing this.

I scored this for only Php 99. I wanted to purchase the HIS but in my mind, I know that there's no one who will be using it. :)

Have a great weekend!

PS My friends who are interested in the linky party, please leave your links in the comments section. I'm fixing the tiny bug in my site. Thank you :)