Sunday, June 26, 2016

Beautiful Sunday # 219 - Last for June

Before the past week ended, the news about the Brexit referendum was everywhere. At least not in my Facebook newsfeed. I guess this brings me to the conclusion that more often than not, my newsfeed is filled with petty and annoying items. Hahaha I can't exactly remember where and when did I first hear about the referendum. The nearest I can recall is from BBC. Probably one of those days when I was switching TV channels after work. I don't want to discuss the implications of the Brexit. There are surely more knowledgeable beings to present and relate this historic event. However, part of me imagines the endless after events. I'm interested on the micro level effects. How the locals, immigrants, and local businesses will be affected. In the academe or even the side of investigative journalism, these times call for a lot of research and case studies. If you are a student, I believe there's a diverse menu of research topics waiting to be served. As of typing this, UK's stock market is not doing well. At this point, the Philippine economy is not adversely affected. However, when recession comes in (which I hope will not happen) it surely means a different story... even for our local economy. Remember, we have a number of OFWs in UK.

Meanwhile, here are the few beautiful things that made the past week

Morning Treats and a great read - The rare times I'm on a reading streak. I can't remember when was the last time I was so eager to finish my pile of reads. Also, it was one of the rare times when two consecutive books impressed me. Wonder by RJ Palacio almost made me cry. Wonder is like Diary of a Wimpy Kid with a heart. I highly recommend the book for anyone, especially to parents with special kids. And that plate of silvannas, I finished everything by myself :p

Fire floss from Bread Talk - Who else here loves Bread Talk's floss series? Years ago, I was very intimidated with Bread Talk's shops. I thought everything inside is expensive. When I had a little money to spare, I decided to try Bread Talk. The breads sold aren't cheap but it wasn't expensive as I was expecting it on a few types of fabric.

Postcard from Marieken - I feel a little guilty because I have been receiving the nicest postcards from Marieken every week. I love this vintage inspired scene. Thank you Marieken!

Excerpts from Dog of Flanders - A very sad story that has touched my heart. I love both the book and cartoons.

The Dog of Flanders plate collection - I just need one more design to complete this!!!

Useful find from Japan Home - Disposable underarm pads save the day!!! I discovered this a few months ago and I quite regret not hoarding more packs. The pads can save you from having wet underarms. As someone who sweats a lot, I can vouch for the effectiveness of these disposable pads. The things I don't like though, I find it expensive at Php 88, quite tricky to attach the pads and the adhesive tend to cause discoloration on the inner side of the blouse. The adhesive tend to peel off the color and cause white pigments.

This touching video produced by Breeze Philippines - Did you also cry?

Petite Orange Bunny's Instagram account - A few months ago, I encountered articles about the difficulty of acquiring that much coveted Hermes bag, particularly the Birkin or Kelly. I learned that more than the money, there's a mysterious screening process that sales associates implement. Bottomline, Hermes stores do not sell bags to everyone. You have to show that image of being "deserving" to acquire one. This Instagram fashion blogger from Hong Kong shared her experiences before she managed to own the popular Kelly bag. Read about her story here and here

Life of the "oldest millennials - I'm part of this hahahaha Childhood shown in 10 seconds.

Read the inspiring story of Colonel Sanders here  - One thing I learned, entrepreneurship does not choose any age.

The rare times I don't have anything to do on weekends. No freelance works which somehow make me sad. :p I miss the thrill of deadlines and the more importantly, the additional money in the bank. I was able to watch two movies this Sunday. The movie adaptation of John Green's Paper Towns was just fine. Although I have to admit something. Margo really annoyed me and I was surprised to find this discussion thread in Goodreads. If I read the book, I would have probably understood her more. I also watched The Good Dinosaur. Disney never fails! I have low expectations, but the movie left heartwarming messages... especially for those who remain to be kids at heart.

Tomorrow will be the last week of June. Half of 2016 is indeed over and I keep asking myself, what have I accomplish over the past months? Nothing. Hahahaha Nothing except for the freelance works and as always the beautiful things in my Sunday post.

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

It's very rare for me to go on a reading streak these days. More so, land on two books that impressed me. After Aristotle and Dante, I read Wonder by RJ Palacio. The reviews are great. However as always, I'm not often compatible with reviews.  In the case of Wonder, I'm happy to report that the reviews worked well for me. Wonder made it to my list of favorite reads.

The lead character in the book is a kid named August. Unlike other kids, August is special. He has this rare physical disability, which doctor's can't even explain. Despite having a facial deformity, August's learning ability and comprehension were not different to any other kid. The story started when his parents decided to enroll August to a real school. After probably 11 years of being home schooled, August is finally experiencing the life of a typical school kid. Coping with the demands of academics was not a problem for August. In fact, he excelled in most of his subjects. The real problem lies on how the entire school environment is treating August. 

The best thing I love about the book was how it was told. It started with August narrating everything. I later discovered significant people around August relating their sentiments. The narrator I love best was her sister, Via. Having a brother with special needs has its own struggles. Unknown to probably everyone here, I see myself on Via because I also have a special brother. 

Plot structure wise, I have to say hands up to R.J. Palacio's approach of narration. I love how the author presented different perspectives in narrating the story. I love how each character related their endearing stories with August. I felt attached with their own stories. This later made me forget about the much awaited ending. At some point, I didn't want the story to end. There were pains and struggles along the way, but those little stories of redemption and realizations were so priceless.

Character development was equally unparalleled. Parents who have special children will highly appreciate August's transformation. August's character is a perfect dream for parents blessed with special children. While the book is clustered under Young Adult reads, I believe it also works best for parenting.

If you love Diary of a Wimpy Kid, you will definitely love Wonder. More than the humor element though, Wonder is an endearing tale of friendships, family and self-redemption. No doubt, 5 out of 5 stars for Wonder!

The Girl from the North Speaks

A few days ago, I encountered this video via my Facebook newsfeed, The thoughts of the ladies featured in the video in one way or another, did not make me happy.

I gathered the questions left in video and presented my own answers. 

Bakit ayaw niyong pumunta sa South? Bakit kami lagi yung punta ng punta ng North?

Hindi din! (Not really) Whenever I have meet ups in Makati and other cities down South, I don't really object. I respect and value the efforts of the person who organise the meet up, especially if it entails gathering a large group of people.

At least in my lifetime, I can't recall forcing the meet up place in the North. Gateway, Trinoma, Eastwood and the like. Even though this means I have to devote two hours of commute and a chunk of my money will be spent for transportation. So please don't generalize. I'm sure I have fellow Northerners who feel the same.

Bakit laging may MA yung mga streets nyo? Maharlika, Maginhawa 

Ask the historians at the City Government. Though honestly, I love streets with Filipino names.. than mere numbers or names of former city officials. 

Nasstress ba kayo kapag na-invite sa isang party sa Alabang? 

YES. So please bear with us. Be more understanding. I live in Marikina and if I have an appointment in Alabang, that means taking more than 4 rides! While Uber and Grab can save the day, the bill doesn't.

Madami bang gwapo sa north? Kase alam mo, sa amin sa South, madami. (Are there plenty of handsome people in the north?) 

'Teh, better stay in the South. So that we have a full monopoly of all the handsome men in the North. Hahahahahaha 

How long does it take for you to get home if you work in Makati?

Forever! A typical Northerner who resides in Quezon City or Marikina has their own struggles of reaching Makati. The common work transportation from the North to Makati are the UV Express Vans. Almost good minus the eternity of traffic in EDSA and the long lines to bear. If travel entails 2 hours, you have to add an hour just to accommodate the looong queue of the line. In worst cases, some would wait for as long as 2 hours. 

7. So I want to know, mas mainit ba sa north? Kase sa south ang daming puno. Sa north parang puro building. 

What the heck. Go to the University of the Philippines. Areas such as New Manila, residential streets of Marikina are still abundant with trees. 

8. Bakit ang busy ng life sa north? In the South, it's like so chillll 

Big misconception. Or probably, the girl has a different definition of chillllll 

As compared to the South, there are lesser shopping malls in the North. The few I can identify include Trinoma, SM North, UP Town Center, SM Fairview, Fairview Terraces, Robinsons Fairview, SM Marikina, Sta. Lucia East, Robinons Metroast and Eastwood Mall. Though these are quite plenty, the sizes of these malls are very small compared to what can be seen in the South..... including those found in Makati. Also, the malls in the North offer lesser choices than what the South offers. On one hand, it may sound too sad for the ladies featured in the videos, if their requirement for chiillllll means a lot of malls. On the other hand, the North is abundant with unique and quaint restaurants, art galleries, contemporary museums, and parks. The North is not endowed with those high end hotels because I have always seen the North as the ideal suburbs. 

No offense meant to my friends and acquaintances from the South. Love you guys!

Writing this I realized what made me unhappy were the shallow misconceptions about the North. And the one that sealed everything..... apologies but I get irritated with the notorious "conyo" linggo. This later reminds me, conyo has a different meaning in the Spanish language.

Before I end this post, can't help but ask if all the girls from the South carry the same diction with the girls featured in the video. Hahahahahahaha

Why do the ladies have to be so abundant with hhhhhhhh?

*photo not owned by the author*

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

How I miss writing boring book reviews like this Hahahahaha

If I'm not mistaken the last book I read and blogged was Marie Kondo's ever popular, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I believed in her principles so I lent the book to someone. Only to discover that someone did not surely read it and worst, I might be not able to recover the book. I feel a little regretful because honestly, the book is expensive and hard to find among the local bookstores. Wishful thinking : I hope I get GCs, discounts or receive it as a Christmas gift.... which surely will not happen because as I have said, the book is so mahalia fuentes (expensive in our local gay linggo). Hahahahaha

Before I make other side stories, I made this post to relate my thoughts about a recent read. I landed on this book because I remember a few months ago, Book Depository sent me a discount voucher that was too hard to resist. The team behind Book Depository said they miss me (or my purchases) so they sent me a discount voucher to rip off my credit card again. Now that's how we define love. Hahahahaha At that time, all I wanted to purchase was the recent coffee table book of Kate Spade.  Problem is as always, expensive. When I did some conversions, I realized that it is still cheaper to purchase here. Although Php 1,128 is still not cheap for a book. I decided to settle for another paperback instead. My ever reliable source was the bestsellers list and Goodreads. I can't exactly remember what convinced me to settle with Aristotle and Dante. As far as I can remember, Goodreads' rating of 4.20 something out of 5 stars made it for me. 

The book garnered four awards. One of which was Michael Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature. I wasn't familiar with the remaining awards. Only to later be surprised with the nature of these three award giving bodies. Truth to be told though, I have reservations with award winning literary pieces. Oftentimes, I end as one of the few who can't appreciate. But I guess, Aristotle and Dante was an exception.

I wanted to relate the theme of the novel but by doing that, I'm giving everyone a full spoiler. The best I can say, the book is another excellent coming of age story. Consider it as one of the classic stories where the young lead character, who happens to be Aristotle, is confused and seeking explanations to the endless complexities of life. In the course of Aristotle's teenage journey, he meets Dante who helped him figured out things including his identity.

The best thing about the book was how the author defined and presented love. Cliche, yes. But I can't help but admire how Benjamin Alire Saenz depicted the many aspects of love. Unselfish. Patient. Understanding. Moving and liberating. He showed different perspectives of love, which stems from family to friends and people we will eventually meet and change the course of our lives. One will surely unleash a different level of understanding and sensitivity for Aristotle and to the few people who might remind us of Aristotle. 

The book is compelling to some extent. As always, I kept a few powerful lines from the author

The problem with my life was that it was someone else's idea.

Maybe we just live between hurting and healing

Scars. A sign that you had been hurt. A sign that you had healed.

Part of me feels that the book was about parenthood. Despite being classified in the genre of Young Adult, I highly recommend this book for parents as well. Somewhere along the way, you will surely appreciate the message behind the story. 

Like what I always mention in my reviews, the areas I check for books include plot structure, character development and predictability of the ending. Plot structure wise, I love how everything was kept simple. Not so much substories which complicates the story. All the events were necessary to lead the much awaited ending. Character development was evidently present. More often than not, the author tends to emphasise character development on the lead subjects. In the case of this book, I love that each of the few character has their own share of development. I like how each of them transformed, consistent with the flow of the story. And as for the ending, at some point I have predicted the ending... especially when I saw the cover of the book's Korean version. It was a giveaway. Now don't google it if you have intentions of reading. But despite the presence of clues and teasers, I guess I was overpowered by the author's approach in story telling. It made up for everything.

With this, I'll leave my 5 out of 5 stars rating for Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Beautiful Sunday # 218 - It's complicated

Breathe! Breathe! Breathe! Another week ended and another one ahead. I was able to accomplish something at work. One presentation down and a 70+page document accomplished... almost because not all the data I needed arrived before deadline. Nevertheless, I was able to cross out a major task. In the middle of the week, there were some family related concerns that came along the way. And for those who can relate, concerns are positively correlated with expenditures. :p I'm not complaining. I'm more worried though. Before the week ended, I guess everything was ironed out. I hope everything really gets better next week. In moments like this, I can't help but remember my early years of working. My only problem then was how to beat deadlines, decipher the preferences of my boss and work out for my permanency papers. The classic saying, you will eventually laugh at your current problems when you age. True. It's so true! I look forward to the day when I would laugh at my current problems... not because there is a bigger problem to be solved. Only because I realized that I was able to overcome a lot. 

Meanwhile in my Facebook account, I have been flooded with political related news again. Election is over. I hope so... even though supporters of candidates who lost the race still can't move on. Much of the contents in my feed evolve on the selection of different cabinet secretaries. And much as I hate to say it, I have reservations on the list of some appointed secretaries. I know a few of them, not personally, but as to how they worked with their students, colleagues and decision making skills. Likewise, part of me feels bad for the country's elected VP.... It surely doesn't feel good when some people and forces are doing everything to get you out of the picture.

On the positive side, here are a few links that impressed me this week

How efficient documentation and file management can go a long way - I love the story of this policeman who created his own Book of Death, based on the different death cases he handled. Read the interesting article here. 

This instagram account is love! - The wonders of wood! Best about everything, the owner is not even using expensive wood and sophisticated design. 

The Jollibee service crew who rendered something beyond expectation

Pop Watches are back - Oh Swatch! My heart be still.... Hahahaha 

Me Before You - While everyone is raving about the book and movie, I encountered an article with a different take. 

Girls of the North, let's unite! - I somehow felt irritated after watching this video.  This prompted me to write a blog post about life in the north. (Big shout out to my friend, Coleen! The ladies in the video need some explaining about Fairview) 

And before I forget, I have uploaded photos for this Sunday post :D

Sanuk's Yoga Ballet Flats - Have you ever had that pair of shoes you don't intend to give up? This makes it for me. I don't care even if the synthetic leather skin is starting to peel off. I love its rose gold shade that makes my feet look lighter. 

Postcards from the Netherlands - Thank you Marieken!

Another set of cards, this time from the USA - Thank you Terra!

Coca Cola's emoticons - Partly defined my sentiments last week

Peter Rabbit is love!!! - As if it was not obvious from my flood of photos. Hahahaha I gained two commemorative plates this week. I hope to complete their commemorative line from Wedgwood. 

Apart from work, I was able to finish a book last week. It was my shortest reading record for a typical paperback. Hahaha Sorry, slow reader. I only get the chance to read inside the train. I'm done with Aristotle and Dante discover the Secrets of the Universe. I will try to write a review this week. I feel a little good because I'm actually on a reading streak. I'm finishing another book this week. Although I'm missing my Korean drama marathons. Nothing interests me yet these days. Blame everything on Descendants of the Sun. It will surely be too hard to beat that drama series.

Tomorrow will be Father's Day. I already gave my advance present to my Dad. :) Long before my last earnings from my freelance work was wrecked off. Hahaha At least I have something to remember from that last project. I just have to look at my Dad realize that my money didn't vanish at all. Hahahahaha 

I want to leave a Happy Father's day greeting but it came to my senses, do I have a male reader? Do I have a reader who happens to be a father? I can only remember one who leaves comments in my blog once in a while. Hi Jep! Other than Jep, I don't think I have a male reader here. Hahaha 

Wishing everyone a Beautiful Sunday and a great week ahead!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Hellolulu Nori Slim Brief Bag

I have been noticing the rack of Hellolulu Bags from Rustan's Gateway branch for the longest time. I didn't bother to check because it is surely expensive. Most of the bags I see are also in the form of backpacks. I don't often use backpacks these days, except when I had those rare overnight trips. 

In one random day of April, I was able to leave work early. The rare times the train ride was a breeze. I don't have any freelance work to attend. Time was on my side. I decided to walk around the mall for a while. I noticed the magic red flag at Rustan's, SALE. I checked out the items on sale and discovered that all Hellolulu bags were sold 20% off its original price. Looks like a tempting deal, but surprise or surprises... I went home with no paper bag on my hands. Although I have to admit, I was starting to like their bags. 

Weeks after, I decided I wanted my own Hellolulu. Unfortunately, Rustan's promotional sale was over. I checked out other boutiques offering Hellolulu and discovered Urbanize in Gateway Mall too. I was willing to purchase because the sales clerk told me that the bag was still on sale. Deal! But when the sales clerk verified with their main office, we discovered that it was back on its regular price. I went back to Rustan's even though I will be able to acquire for the same price. Rustan's was a better choice because of the opportunity to purchase via zero interest installment. True enough, the price of the bag qualified for the installment program. Added to this, Rustan's customer service is always way way way better. 

I purchased the tote version or the Nori Slim Brief. I admit, the bag is expensive... relative to my purchasing capacity and payslip :p When I checked its features and materials, I have to say that I got a good deal.

The best thing I love about the bag is the compartments. It has a huge back pocket that can store small documents to regular must haves like your coin purse, train card, to a thin pocket book. The front side of the bag provides another space for easy access of your other set of must haves. An added tool, (as seen on the 6th photo) the bag provides a safe and sturdy key holder.

My appreciation to the front and back compartments intensified because I have problems with bags designed with flaps and zippers. I hate the inconvenience of lifting the flap and pulling the zipper to access my things. The spacious front and back compartments made it for me. My important items are secured in the space with zipper, while I have external compartments that provides easier access for items I often need. 

When I examined the main internal part of the bag, I was surprised to see a safe compartment for a laptop. The bag can fit either my 11.5 inches MacBook Air or my Acer V5-132p laptop. I initially thought that the laptop might eat up the entire space of the bag. Surprisingly, the inside part of the of the bag can still accommodate. My foldable umbrella, portable mini electric fan, hygiene kit, and pocket book can still fit. Mini pockets are also provided inside for small and important items.

While the bag can accommodate a lot of things, my other concern was the weight. The bag itself is very lightweight and sturdy. Have you ever had the bag that already feels heavy even without your stuff inside yet? Hellolulu Bags are surprisingly lightweight and pardon the comparison, I love its material than the Herschel bags.

I was also able to road test the bag against stains. I accidentally left a pen mark and oil stains. With the help of my mother, the stain was easily removed by water and a small amount of detergent. Lastly, it might surprise you but the bag's fabric is made of water resistant material. Yay for rainy days! 

Aesthetics was the main reason why I was driven to purchase my first Hellolulu. I love its Japanese inspired structure. I love that the bag looks like a lunch pouch or a backpack, only to discover that it was a tote bag. I can use it as a messenger bag with the long strap or simply rely on the short handles, making it feel like almost a handbag. 

Visit Hellolulu Philippines on Facebook / Twitter 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Beautiful Sunday # 217 - Something about change

The past week, I lack the adjectives to describe it. But to probably simplify all the complexity, last week was not my favorite. It was one of those weeks I wanted to end. There were surprises, disappointments, and some awakening again. I wanted to use realisation but I figured out, I think I have been overusing the word in this blog. I have a lot that do not seem to end. To cap off everything, I was attacked by some unexplained headache. It started on Friday and persisted till the entire Saturday. 

Change is overrated. I encountered this from my current read, Aristotle and Dante Discovers the Secrets of the Universe. True. But lately, I developed an opposite perception for Change. It is so cliche but when I finally experience it for myself, I'm always caught off guard. I get rattled. I feel stupid. I will have crying episodes again. And the part I most hate, trying to figure out how to get back on track. After a few months, I will wake up realizing I've moved on. Everything will feel perfect again, only to later discover another source of change is coming. Define life. :)

While I'm still trying to cope with everything, I took time to remember the few good things that happened 

Scene from Intramuros - Captured this photo near the Manila Cathedral! I love the kalesa and the old building as a backdrop. 

The Book Stop Project - I dropped some books again. This time however, I left some books in behalf of a new found friend. ;) Hi Alona! Your books already found their home. I was also glad to see a well-stocked shelf this time.

Organic Coconut Sugar - A gift all the way from Davao! Thanks Alona :) It was our first time to taste this version of organic sugar.

The Queen's 90th Birthday and Prince George's first stamp appearance - Ordered this set from the Royal Mail and I don't ever regret this shopaholic impulse. I acquired a piece of history! The photo has an interesting story here. 

Current read - I have issues with books that received numerous literary awards. I often dislike stories portrayed by award wining or critically acclaimed literary pieces. I was surprised that I'm loving Aristotle and Dante Discovers the Secrets of the Universe. I'm hoping to finish it this week. If I will have the motivation to write, I might prepare a blog post about it. 

Dog of Flanders Collection - I'm starting to complete my plate collection of Nello and Patrasche. If I'm not mistaken, I only need one design to complete the series.

Books, Rainy Days and a Scarf - Good bye summer! Although it still feels summer whenever I travel for work in the morning. In the afternoon, rain showers have been showing consistent appearances. Two things I love about the rain, it cools down the very summer temperature and gives me an opportunity to wear different clothes... except for the shoes. I hate wearing plastic shoes or slippers again. 

I'm typing this post at 12:53 am. I'm starting to feel sleepy and hungry. I've been overanalysing things again.  My bad, my head aches again. I still have errands to attend tomorrow. Wish me a better week ahead. 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Beautiful Sunday # 216 - How to be a grown up?

I'm feeling a degree of nervousness while typing this post. I'm restless and worried. I hope this means nothing. Over the past week, another familiar saga transpired. It made me sad. It made me cry for some time. Something seems to be recurring. Experience taught me that if the same old issues happen every time, the real cause has not been really addressed. I feel frustrated because on my end, I believe  I have done my share. Starting with my efforts to facilitate open communication. I used to believe that I have been the quiet type. Over time, I realized that I prefer to face my issues, including the people involved. But then again, I failed to understand that not all people would adhere to my open communication principle. Some people prefer to hold on to their silence. Silent war. Cold war. It pains me that some people carry burdens of negative sentiments. When in fact, part of it can be unloaded or at the very least, relieved by efforts to communicate and reach out. 

Okay, I'm done with my rant. Hahahaha I maybe joking but part of me still wishes that somewhere along the way, everything will be resolved. On the lighter side, here are the few beautiful things that made the past week.

Eggs and dried flowers - There's no connection at all. Hahahahaha I found the two seem to be complementing their colors. Hence the photo. 

When postcards arrive at the same time - Thank you Marieken, Jeannie, and Terra! All cards arrived during my Friday leave. 

More decorative goodies - Thanks Mother E for bringing my sought after lighthouse and windmill.

Hometown restaurant hits - My dear hometown has always been deprived of the best shopping malls and other popular places. But we always have our share of unique and well loved restaurants.  

Frapuccinos with Anne - Another hometown hits, I will revisit this restaurant again and blog about it. It's another discovery for me. 

Fragile - Exactly how I feel right now... please handle me with care :)

A threatening money wrecking collection - I love The Tale of Peter Rabbit, from the story and unfortunately, until the merchandise. Hahaha I cannot exactly remember when I learned the story. What I can recall was back in High School, I had classmates carrying pretty tote bags depicting Peter Rabbit. As expected, the envious shopaholic in me was awakened. Funny, how I can remember the merchandise encounter and not when I learned the story. Hahaha Since then, I had fascination with Peter Rabbit items. But since a growing collection means more expenditures, I decided to limit my collections to the commemorative plates.

I'm thankful for the Friday leave that extended my weekend. I was able to spend some time with my cousins. The rare times I was able to laugh my heart out. We made some plans before the year ends. Hopefully, everything will work as planned. 

Another week is about to unfold. SMILE hahahahaha and the whole world will back to you hahahaha But seriously, I hope that things will get better this week.