Monday, January 28, 2019

An Old K-Drama Fave: Lie to Me

There are a lot of good Korean dramas on Netflix. It’s a mix of the old and the new, with one of the older ones being a favorite of mine, which I had to re-watch as soon as I discovered that it was available: it’s the 2011 series called Lie to Me, starring Yoon Eun Hye and Kang Ji Hwan.

Lie to Me Korea


The show is about Gong Ah Jung, who doesn’t want to be shown up by her friend Yoo So Ran, who married the man she was secretly pining for when she was still a student. In her desperation, she decides to lie and tell her that despite not ending up with Yoo So Ran’s husband she is happy and very much married herself. Through a series of unplanned events, a rumor starts that she is married to Hyun Ki Joon, the CEO of World Hotel. At first, he tries to threaten to sue her for the rumor but with the help of his brother, Gong Ah Jung ends up pretending to be his wife to help World Hotel land a big Chinese investor. As they pretend, the two eventually fall in love and this is when the complications start for the two.

I’ve always loved watching Yoon Eun Hye in romantic comedies. It doesn’t matter who she is paired with, she always ends up being a good match to her leading man. She has this way of making her characters so likeable and endearing to the viewers, so you end up rooting for her even if you know she is making a big mistake. She’s such a good actress who you would laugh along with in her funny moments and cry along with in her dramatic ones.

I wasn’t quite sure when I first watched the show if I would like Kang Ji Hwan because I felt that he looked too serious for the role, but he did hold his own with Yoon Eun Hye, especially with the funny moments which I wondered if he could do. 

The thing that I enjoy about Korean dramas is that the series is not too long. For this one there are only sixteen episodes, but they are packed with events that will satisfy the viewer enough to conclude the love story is played out well. Even with just that many episodes the story already includes side stories of supporting characters such as the love triangle between Gong Ah Jung’s father, his girlfriend, and the chef who is secretly in love with her. There is also the story of Yoo So Ran’s marriage. I prefer shows like this that don’t drag things too long just because they are rating well. It’s still about the story and the character development and not just to satisfy network ratings. 

I hope that Yoon Eun Hye’s next series, Love Alert (her first after a five-year hiatus), would also be released on Netflix. It’s been a while since I’ve seen her in a series and I can’t wait to see what she has for her fans next.

If you’re looking for a quick binge watch of a Korean rom-com, you won’t regret watching Lie to Me. It’s funny, sweet, romantic and a feel-good show. I couldn’t help smiling while I binge-watched this. You need to catch it on Netflix while it’s still there!

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Sunday, January 27, 2019

Pain Relief Rubs

Being in my 40s, I think that it is fair that people lump me onto the Tita (Aunty) category since these days I am older than a number of people that I encounter on a regular basis. I know some women don’t like literally being called Tita unless that came from someone close to them but for me, I don’t mind. I think I’ve already pushed on to a higher category of Tita-ness because of my dependence on pain relief rubs.

Pain Relief Rubs


I remember being introduced to pain relief rubs in elementary school, when my grandmother rubbed Vicks Vaporub on my chest and back AND under my nose when I had a bad cold. I think that I’ve never had some Vicks on me whenever I had a bad cold since then. It was also at this age when I was introduced to Aceite De Manzanilla (Chamomile Oil), which was used on me for when I had insect bites and stomach aches. Sometimes Omega Pain Killer was involved too and these days I tend to use that more for insect bites and tummy aches than Aceite De Manzanilla.

As I got older, I’ve moved on and tried several other pain relief rubs. I remember using Katinko when an officemate of mine let me have some when I had an awful headache at work. I bought one but I found that it was still too mild for my headaches, so I tried White Flower. While it did work, I felt that the smell was a bit much (read: it makes me smell really old) so I gave that up as well. I also tried those menthol sticks that come in either a small tiny capsule shape or a big fat one, but I quit using that when it melted in my bag that I had left in the car during a warm day – it was such a hassle to clean up! 

A couple of years back I discovered and got hooked to Tiger Balm. They have the white one for headaches and the red one for muscle pain, but I discovered that both served the same amount of pain relief no matter what type of pain I had so I tend to interchange them depending on how bad I was feeling. The white one is a bit milder than the red, so you know the pain is not as bad if I’m using the white one.  A little tip: if your cold has gotten to the point where your lymph nodes and ears hurt, try putting some Tiger Balm just outside your ear then cover it up so that the mist (?) of the menthol goes into your ear. I don’t remember where I read that exactly but for me that gives me instant relief when I have that kind of pain during a cold.

Recently, a friend of mine gave me Creations Spa Essentials Pain Relief Rub as a gift. There are four variants, but what I got was the Energy one. I loved it! It works really well without the old person smell that most of these rubs have. Plus, I’ve found that if I put some on the temples of my head before going to bed, I tend to have better sleep in the process. I was so happy with this one that as soon as I discovered that my supply was running out, I bought all four variants as a gift to myself. These days I’m using their Oliva Organica variant and it smells like I just came out of a spa whenever I use it. 

Anyone else out there willing to admit to their Tita ways and share their favorite pain relief rubs with me? I love trying out the other options when I can, you never know when you’re going to need it! I know essential oils are the in thing these days but I still prefer these types of remedies more than that (plus, these ones are less expensive). What do you think?


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Thursday, January 24, 2019

2018-2019 Fall TV Season Review

Television is a big thing for me. My parents were very strict about TV time when I was a child and we didn’t have cable TV growing up so now I am crazy about TV shows and make it a point to watch as much of it as I can whenever I have the time. There are so many good shows out there and sometimes I feel like I don’t have enough time to enjoy them all. What usually happens for me is that I watch a few episodes during the start of the season (both new and returning shows) and then I decide from there which ones to eventually weed out of my roster. That way when I binge-watch, I know I have enough time to watch shows that I know I will enjoy. This year’s 2018-2019 US Fall TV season, I did just that. I picked all the shows that I wanted to see then started weeding them out from there.

So much to watch, so little time... (photo credit: geralt on pixabay.com)


To make it easier to share what I think about this year’s batch of shows, I categorized the shows I’ve watching this season according to Never Let Go (shows that will always be my guilty pleasure), Promising (shows with potential to be favorites, but could also end up in Meh), Meh (shows that are neither good or bad, but I will watch them if I have nothing to do and they are on TV), and Just Stop It (shows that I have stopped watching this season). With that explanation, let me get right to it!


Never Let Go


Dynasty – It can be cheesy, campy and it can be corny at some point, but that’s what makes this show SO MUCH FUN!

NCIS FamilyNCIS, NCIS Los Angeles, NCIS New Orleans have been favorites of mine since the first episode of each show, I can’t imagine the season without these shows.

Law & Order SVU – Another show that I’ve followed through the years, I feel like my season isn’t complete without Olivia Benson putting another bad guy (or girl) in prison.

Criminal Minds – Daniel Henney. I’m sure you get it by now. If not, please look at the name of my blog. I'm devastated that the show is going to end after the next season!

Will & Grace – This resurrected version of the show is possibly even better than the original. I love how they tackle serious topics that make me cry (like Grace’s #MeToo story) but it can also make me laugh and smile during their comedic moments. I’m glad this show is back.

Magnum PI – There’s something about Jay Hernandez that is just so charming that even when the show doesn’t seem to have that much going on, I find myself entertained by it. I have a feeling this will be one of my guilty pleasures.

MacGyver – I’ve watched the original when I was a kid and I enjoy watching it today. I’m still waiting for the day that they convince Richard Dean Anderson to do a cameo (something he said he’s not interested in). A girl can dream, right?

Hawaii Five O – I thought this show was over with the changes in the cast but I think that the change has worked well for the show and has breathed new life into it. I’ve seen this one since season one, I don’t think I’ll stop until it’s over.

Survivor – I haven’t seen the show in a long time but this season’s castaways had such interesting personalities that I found myself watching the show from start to finish! I know that they didn’t make it to the final four but I am a big fan of the Brochachos! As for the new season coming up, I think I'll pass.

Keeping up with the Kardashians – This is my ultimate guilty pleasure. You can love them or hate them, but I choose to love them and enjoy every minute of their reality (?) show.


Promising


DC’s Legends of Tomorrow – I love how the team has changed every season, it keeps the show entertaining. This season’s crew and the circumstances surrounding them, along with the hilarious situations they get themselves into, makes me a fan of this show.

The Flash – I love how this show always has a lighter, more positive side despite the serious topics that they sometimes tackle. I’d take positive vibes over dark ones any day.

Supergirl – I’ve always been a Superman fan so by association (and the fact that he does appear in this one from time to time), I am enjoying watching this show. I miss Calista Flockhart though.

Blindspot – This was actually on my Just Stop It list last season but given how they have given the show a new twist, I found myself watching and enjoying this show again.

Legends of the Lost with Megan Fox – My inner nerd is so jealous of Megan Fox for being able to travel to interesting historical places and going inside the labs, museums, dig sites and all to get an inside look at some of the lost facts about our history. I’ve only seen a couple of episodes so far but I can’t wait to see the rest of the season!

Charmed – I know a lot of the fans of the original hate this, but I think that it is promising. We can’t keep comparing it to the original, this is a different set of Charmed ones, pretty much in the same way that the Charlie’s Angels movies always have a different set of angels. If you just enjoy it without thinking of the original, I think it’s not that bad!

A Million Little Things – I remember reading somewhere that this show is the This is Us for friendships. I guess it kind of is. I’ve teared up a couple of times watching this show and it is very relatable. Sometimes it can be boring but something always happens (a twist to the story here and there) to pull me back in.

Manifest – This has been a bit of a weird show but I guess it’s the weirdness that keeps me glued to it the way that Lost was a weird premise but kept the fans glued to the TV.

Legacies – The continuation of the stories of The Vampire Diaries and The Originals. It’s a little too teen angsty for my taste, but I do like how the story of the past shows are continued. As long as they keep referring to the older shows in some form or another, I’ll be watching this.

The Haunting of Hill House – I’ve seen the entire season on Netflix. It’s a good show, not as scary as I expected but I did like what it was all about. I wonder what the next season will be like if they ever make one.


Meh


Station 19 – It’s the Grey’s Anatomy version of Chicago Fire. The characters are interesting, but the plots tend to look the same after a while.

911 – At this point I’m only watching for Jennifer Love Hewitt. 

Chicago Med – Like Station 19, I feel that the characters in this one are interesting, but I have been watching way too many medical shows this season that I am starting to jumble them all together. Something’s gotta give eventually and this one might be it.

The Resident – Another medical drama, there’s currently an interesting arc going on involving Jenna Dewan’s character. I’m keeping this on my list to see how that goes.

The Good Doctor – As much as I admire Freddie Highmore’s acting, the show is getting to the point where it is becoming a bit boring for me. I hope they shake it up, otherwise this goes on my Just Stop It list. 

New Amsterdam – Ryan Eggold. That is all that is keeping this show on this list. 

How to Get Away with Murder – This one just needs to end. I feel that this just needs a good finale and they should leave it at that. 

Bodyguard – I’ve actually finished the season. Not as exciting as you’d think given the title, but entertaining, nevertheless. Wish there was more to it though. Something felt missing for me. But I can't deny Richard Madden's acting was really good in this one!

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina – It’s OK…well-hyped but it’s not as amazing as I’ve been hearing it was supposed to be. 

Titans – This is not the teen titans that my nephew watches on Cartoon Network that’s for sure. It’s pretty dark but if you are familiar with the characters you would be interested in their take on them in this show. I don't feel particularly attached to this show compared to other superhero shows out there though.


Just Stop It


Seal Team – I was watching for David Boreanaz. That’s it. I just couldn’t get myself attached to this show, no matter how hard I tried. Respect to the soldiers who fight the good fight but I just wasn’t enjoying this show anymore.

Black Lightning – I feel like I have way too many superhero programs on my list. Along with Arrow (which I stopped watching several seasons ago), I decided that I’d rather watch a lighter fare when it comes to my caped (or masked and otherwise) heroes.

Maniac – I watched the first episode and felt like I was watching something that was trying to be Black Mirror, only I couldn’t catch on. Could be my fault, but I just wasn’t entertained.

The Gifted – I tried to keep myself loyal and watch this show since I saw the first season, but it was getting harder and harder for me to understand what was going on since everyone in the show seemed to have their own agenda. It was also getting boring for me. 

The Romanoffs – I.TRIED.SO.HARD. The first episode was sooo boring. I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea of watching another one. 

The Rookie – Like Seal Team, I tried watching this for Nathan Fillion. The appeal is lost on me. I can see he’s trying to bring back the charm he had on Castle but it just isn’t working for me.

The Voice – This happens to me every season. I watch the auditions and the battles but after that, I lose interest. EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. I wonder what would keep me interested past that. 


What about you? What shows have you enjoyed watching? Any recommendations you’d like to share? Leave me a comment so I can check it out!

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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Book Review: Gmorning, Gnight

If you haven’t heard of Lin Manuel Miranda, I think I need to ask you where you’ve been these past few years first before reading this post. I mean seriously, where have you been?

I’ve been a fan of Lin since I fell in love with the music from the musical Hamilton, something that I first listened to on Spotify. I’ve followed his career since then and have taken to following him on Twitter, where he shares snippets of his life as well as inspiring tweets for his fans.

It is the inspiring tweets that he shares every morning and evening (US time) that make up the content of his new book, Gmorning, Gnight. Illustrated by Jomny Sun, the book shares some of the best good morning and good night tweets that Lin has shared to his Twitter followers these past few years. When he first started doing those tweets, I was already attempting to save some of my favorite ones (saving them for a rainy day, for days when I need them most). Turns out that I wasn’t the only one doing that, because the reason this book came out was because so many people wanted to have a saved copy of their favorite tweets too. 

According to Lin, the reason that he was sharing those tweets/inspirational messages was initially not for the fans, but for himself. He wrote what he thought he needed to hear for himself that day and night, which eventually us followers managed to relate to our own lives. I can attest to the fact that there are those moments when I am having a difficult day and those tweets help me to feel better and inspire me to keep going. I love that I now have some of those tweets in book form to help me get through some of the tough times. 

I love that the layout of the book is very clean, with just one message per page (or two per page, with the next page containing the corresponding illustration). Each message is typed in a normal sized font instead of making it larger to fill the space. The illustrations by Jonny Sun are also not too overwhelming on the page and complement the simplicity of the text layout.

Gmorning Gnight


The messages shared in the book (and on Lin’s Twitter feed) have this feeling of words being shared by a good friend, of a mentor giving advice or a push forward for your day/night. The messages are things that I believe people can relate to at any given point in their lives. 

Gmorning Gnight for me is a book that you can read from start to finish, or if you prefer you can open a random page and get your inspiration from there. I prefer reading the messages one day at a time, one at morning and another at night --- just to let things sink in.

I hope that this is just the first of a series of books like this for Lin Manuel. He still tweets good morning and good night tweets so there is a whole slew of new inspirational messages that I’d love to see in a book one day. This book may be more expensive than most, but I think that it is worth it!

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Sunday, January 20, 2019

In Hindsight...

What if you could go back in time and do things differently?

The question posed by the show Hindsight is similar to my previous blog entry where I answered a similar question from my friend. As I said in my previous entry, my answer to that question would be YES. Based on her actions in the show, the lead character of the show also has the same reply.

Hindsight is the story of Becca, a 40-something about to embark on her second marriage when she is taken back in time to the 90s. Not knowing how she got there or how she will get back to her own time, Becca decides that she can make her life better by changing the wrong decisions she made in the past (now her present), starting with not going through with her first marriage.


This is where it starts getting weird for Becca. Once she broke up with her fiancee Sean and called off their wedding, she starts having feelings for childhood friend Andy -- who actually ends up as her second husband in the future that she came from. This confuses Becca who goes from seeing Sean again and trying to see Andy behind his own girlfriend's back to giving up on both and staying single.

Just before the viewers can decide if they were #TeamSean or #TeamAndy, the show then reveals another guy: Kevin. He is her best friend Lolly's crush, someone she has been pining for but never really got together with. In the future, Becca had an affair with Kevin while married to Sean and this broke up her friendship with Lolly. Back in the 90s and regretting the loss of her friendship with Lolly, Becca tries to avoid Kevin as much as possible but they end up kissing in the end and revealing their feelings for each other anyway, much to the disappointment of Lolly, who saw everything.

The show talks about life decisions and how some decisions can take you off on a completely different course. Becca leaving her job is one example. It made her happier when she changed that part of her life. 

On the other hand, some changes Becca made in the past may have taken things off course, but it still ended up with the same result: her relationship with Kevin and the loss of her friendship with Lolly being the best example.  I think the show is trying to say that while some of our decisions do change the course of our lives, there are some things that are just meant to happen no matter what we do.

It's too bad that the show did not last. Personally I am #TeamAndy because I think he's just a really good guy for Becca. Sean was exciting and I think all girls fall for guys like that at some point in their lives but they usually end up with an Andy. Yes, Kevin seems to be the one that Becca connected to the most but he was just wrong for her. I wouldn't sacrifice a lifelong friendship for a guy, that is too big a risk to take. Besides, she didn't end up with Kevin in the future anyway so obviously, he is not the one for her. 

I really loved this show. The whole throwback to the 90s and the story about trying to change your life for the better was something that I connected to. There have been times when I've wondered how life would have been different if I had made different choices in certain points of my life. In hindsight (sorry, couldn't resist), if we do get to go back and change things, how well do we think we know what will happen in the future when we change things up? Will we like it better or would it just make things worse?



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Saturday, January 19, 2019

Starry Nights

I have a love-hate relationship with my bedroom. It has large windows that pour all the light in during the daytime. It can get frustrating when the weather is extremely hot because no amount of curtains can hide me from the heat from the sun. BUT (and it is all caps because it is a big but) the room and those windows are a big plus for me at night. The windows that surround my room allow the evening breeze in almost every night, making my room the coolest (in terms of temperature) one in the house. There are nights when I do not even need to turn the fan on because it can get cold enough for me to curl up in a blanket even without it.

Photo Credit: Fleuber on Pixabay

If the cold nights were not enough, the best part for me would have to be the view. From my bed, I could look up and out the window and see stars. I can turn left or right and still see the sky full of stars (as long as weather permits, of course). It is a beautiful view that is even better when the moon makes an appearance.

The view is so pretty that there have been nights when I just lie back and look up at the sky and let the amazing-ness (yes, I am aware that may not be an actual word) sink in. It makes me wish that I could high-five God (in the most respectful way of course) for a job well done.

Being able to see the stars at night makes me grateful that I live in the province. I know that the kind of view I enjoy is rare in the city because of pollution. It scares me a bit to hear that our little town here in the province is starting to fill up with commercial establishments and there is constant construction of new buildings and facilities that might ruin the view I have been enjoying every night for the past few years. 

With progress comes, sadly enough, pollution. Air, noise, solid waste...The nightly breeze might not have the fresh air I normally love with it because of all the new things being built. I just feel so much anxiety about how progress has been good in some ways but bad in others. I see so much trash these days not being collected that are just rotting in the streets. It scares me how this is happening now when the progress is not yet that big, what more when it becomes full-blown? I wish these commercial establishments can do their part to help the community and the local government with this so that progress would not equate to environmental issues in the (near) future.

I am not sure if I will like the “price of progress” and “economic development” if it will change the things I love about being from the countryside. It is such a sad thing to think of. 

I should enjoy my starry nights while I still have them.



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Friday, January 18, 2019

A Star Cinema Inspired Post

The Star Cinema movie Past Tense was about a woman who went back in time to try to get her past self to fall in love and give her best friend a chance at a relationship with her, which brings us to the question:


After reading the question on Twitter, I did not even give it a second thought. I answered yes. I am more mature compared to my past self and I would have given some advice as to how I should have handled my past relationships (or specifically, one particular relationship). I had that “one who got away” and if I could, I would definitely have tried to get my past self to grow up more and see our relationship through more mature eyes.

Another Star Cinema movie, Starting Over Again, made me look at this from a different perspective. While I might be willing to go back in time to do what the lead character did in the movie Past Tense, I do not think I will try what the lead in Starting Over Again did. I do not think that I can try to rekindle a past relationship, even if he was the one who got away.

Like what one character in the movie said, “Past is past.” If we were meant to be together, I would not need to chase after the guy because we would eventually work our way back to one another. Besides, I know that it would not work anymore because we have grown to become different people from who we were in the past. There will always be that little bit of regret that it didn’t work out and I admit that I will always love him, but to paraphrase what Piolo’s character said, I love him but in a different way. I love him for the memories we shared, for what we had together and for how he made me be a better person than I was back then. Because of that, he will always be an important part of my past. Nevertheless, that is all it is now, my past. There is no going back.

Instead of going to the past to correct it or rehashing an old romance, I would rather be able to look forward to the future to see the state of my (love) life. Would I stay single or will I have someone who I will spend my life with – now that is the more interesting question!

What do you think?
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Thursday, January 17, 2019

A Discovery of Witches on TV!

As I have mentioned in an earlier post, I am a fan of the All Souls Trilogy of books by Deborah Harkness. I found out about it when I discovered that Matthew Goode, one of my favorite actors, is going to play the lead in the TV adaptation of the books. As soon as I started reading, I could not put it down until I read and finished the last book. After that, I started watching A Discovery of Witches as soon as it was released on the Fox TV app.

Starring Teresa Palmer (Diana) and Matthew Goode (Matthew Clairmont), the first thing that I noticed with this series was the remarkable cinematography. Every scene was picture perfect, something that would make you want to travel and see the places shown in the series. It makes the show very memorable in my eyes.


Another thing that I noticed was that there were only eight episodes for the first season. As much as I wanted a series that didn’t drag things along too much, I felt that the number of episodes was too short. As soon as I watched the first episode, I knew that I wanted more and I was sad the entire time thinking that there would only be a few episodes left for me to watch. I wish there were at least ten or a little more than that.  Considering that the books are all very long, it was a surprise to me that they would make such a short first season, with the first season being the first book.

The lack of enough episodes was obvious to people like me who have read the books. I recognized the various scenes that were compressed together to make sure that they could fit in the relevant scenes into every episode. To the viewers who are new to the story, I think what would be more obvious is how fast the lead characters fell in love during the course of their story. In the books their relationship grew gradually, not with the sudden attraction that the characters had for each other in the series. 

Apart from the lack of enough episodes and the way the book was compressed into just eight episodes, the series was very good. The special effects and the acting were not too over the top compared to other shows that featured supernatural creatures such as vampires and witches and the like. It was a good introduction to the show that humanized these supernatural creatures for the viewers and the power struggle that they had with each other. I love how there were scenes that alluded to how man was destroying the environment and the ultimately the planet and how the struggle between creatures mirrored the struggles that people go through to overcome racism. 

As far as the acting goes, I loved the casting. Everyone fit into the roles as I imagined them from the books. Seeing what I’ve read come to life in these characters who fit in so well was the most enjoyable part for me about the series.  I am looking forward to the second season to see the whole new batch of characters who will be playing the people that the leads will meet in their journey to Elizabethan England.  Hopefully, there will be more episodes for the second season because Diana’s growth as a witch had a series of events in the book that I feel would be disappointing to see as a compressed version in the way that the first season was done. 

If you read the books, this is worth the watch. If you haven’t, it still is worth the binge watch, considering that there are only eight episodes for the first season with a good cast and amazing cinematography.  Check it out on the Fox TV app!

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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Book Review: Walk of Shame

Lauren Layne is currently one of my favorite romance novelists. I don’t think I’ve read a book written by the woman that I did not like. It all started with me stumbling on one of her books and that was it, I was immediately a fan. What was that first book? It was Walk of Shame.



The book is about socialite/party girl Georgie, who is puzzled by the resentment that her divorce attorney neighbor Andrew often shows her when they run into each other at the lobby of their building. As with most love-to-hate tropes, the characters struggle with their differences until they realize how they complement each other and are right for each other in the end. 

I think that with any romance novel, the happy ever after is expected, so it wasn’t that big of a deal for me. What I enjoyed about this book is what happened before the two characters had their happily ever after. The situations the characters got themselves into, the witty banter that had with each other, the way the clash and the way they got together romantically…everything was interesting and entertaining.  Both characters were charming enough for readers to be emotionally invested in so by the end of the book you are just as happy as they are for how it all ends. It ends a little too soon for me though, I wanted more because I was enjoying the book too much! It was a good combination of comedy and romance…it was perfect!

Why are women attracted to the serious/brooding guy in romance novels? I was crushing on Andrew from the start with all that stuffy serious fa├žade that he has. There’s always something to tearing down the walls of good-looking brooding guys like him that make stories like this interesting, especially if the one doing the wall-breaking happens to be a spirited character like Georgie.

While I admit that I fell in love with Andrew (I was picturing Theo James, haha), I also found myself loving Georgie. I like that despite having that party girl image, there was more to her that people did not see. The girl has a good heart. The way she connected with the guard/doorman at their building and the sincerity she shows in the way she interacts with him is proof of that. I agree with other readers that it would have been great if there was a greater character growth for her in the book, I still feel satisfied that everything developed in a way that was realistic given the timeline of the book.

I don’t know how Lauren Layne does it, but the chemistry between her characters always seem to just pop up off the page and Walk of Shame is no exception. You can feel that chemistry while you read it. If sparks could fly off the page, it would. And yet, despite that, the pacing of the relationship was still in a way that was realistic. Nothing happened too fast for the sake of getting the story going. I liked that. 

To Lauren Layne, I must tell you that I have never wished for a guy to tell me that I’m ridiculous until I read your book. Now I feel like if a guy says that to me that I’d be doing a double take and remember Andrew.   I can’t wait to read more of your books! I never regret reading them!

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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Oryang's Goodbye

I recently visited the Bonifacio Trial House in Maragondon, Cavite with some friends when I discovered this song by Aiza Seguerra titled Sa Huli ang Sikat.


The lyrics are based on a poem by Gregoria “Oryang” De Jesus to her husband Andres Bonifacio, who was sentenced to death in Maragondon. When I first heard about an old poem made into a song, I thought it would be boring and unrelatable but I was surprised to hear that it was a beautiful song.

Aiza Seguerra did a good job performing this song. I don’t know if she composed the music herself, but it had such a haunting and sad feel that I could not help but feel the sadness that Oryang must have felt when she was writing it to say goodbye to the man she loved. I was taken back in time while I listened to the song and I could not help but visualize the events as they may have happened before, during and after this was written by Oryang.

Here are some of the lyrics that stood out for me:

Paalam sa 'yo masarap magmahal
May ari ng puso ko't kabiyak na katawan...

Sa pagkahimbing, panaginip ka sinta
Sabay ang balon na di mapigil na luha...

Sama ng loob ko'y sa akin mag isa
Di maipahayag sa mga kasama
Puso ko ay lubos na pinagdurusa...


I can’t help but wonder why this song didn’t get to become mainstream considering how beautiful it is. I wish more people would hear and appreciate it. As corny as it may sound, I was fighting off a tear when I was listening to the song in the same house where Bonifacio was tried before he died, where Oryang listened as her husband's life was in the balance during his trial.

It's a really lovely song. A bit heartbreaking but beautiful nonetheless. I hope you can all listen to it.


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Monday, January 14, 2019

A Short Flirtation With Online Dating

As a single woman in my 40s, I constantly get questions regarding my intention (or lack thereof) to get married and having a family of my own. I remember a friend of mine in the same situation saying that if we were given money for every time we were asked about it we would be rich by now.

To appease people who were “concerned” about my single status (as if it is a death sentence of some sort), I decided to try online dating. I have never been interested in the concept but I thought, “What do I have to lose?”

Photo Credit: Riala from Pixabay

First thing I tried: Tinder. I mostly swiped left, so I left (pun intended) the app. I later heard it was more of a hook-up app anyway so I think I made the right decision. I tried again later when I heard Michael Vartan signed up for it but gave up when I couldn't find him no matter how many times I swiped and paid to view users in Los Angeles.

Second thing I did was browse Plenty of Fish (POF). There was a guy in the UK that I had this crush on (twoscoops78, whose looks reminded me a bit of The Flash’s Rick Cosnett) so I decided to sign up. Unfortunately I had difficulty with the sign up process and gave up after several tries. By the time that I did get to sign up successfully the account was gone. I stopped using POF and later found out that I could not sign in – which led me to conclude that they probably have a feature that cancels your account of lack of activity.

I moved on to OKCupid, where I got tons of messages from guys who either thought that: (a) I was a woman desperate to be some sort of mail-order bride or (b) that I could be easily flattered by being called babe. Apparently my looks are very message-worthy to the African American contingent, as well as old, white guys who look like they have nothing else better to do than go on OKCupid. I did get to chat to a decent guy though: a male model who is currently living here in the Philippines who looked a bit like Adam Levine. However, I decided that one decent contact in three months compared to the dozens of creepy messages I got were not enough to keep me on the site. I deleted my account after that.

I tried to sign up with the new dating site that was advertised online called Diptyc. It was a difficult site to join because they had so many questions that you had to answer (some requiring answers longer than most dating sites) and at the end of it all your “application” would still need approval from other members of the site. I ended up being declined, as was another single friend of mine. A third friend managed to get the seal of approval but informed us that it did not live up to the standard that they supposedly had. Considering the approval process they had, you’d think they’d have a good selection of fellow singles there right? Apparently, that was not the case.

Now, after having tried four online dating sites, I have decided to give up on this concept. I am still open to meeting someone new and dating (as unlikely as that may be given how I’m mostly at work or at home), but online romance is probably not for me.

To my family and friends, sorry to disappoint you but I tried. As James Ingram (and lately, Manny Pacquiao) said: “I gave my best, but I guess my best wasn’t good enough.”

Eternally single person signing out.

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Friday, January 11, 2019

Shopping When Adulting

I’m not much of a shopper. I am the type who only shops out of need more than out of want, which would explain my lack of proper wardrobe for going out (because I hardly do). When I do shop, I make a list then I’m in and out of the store as soon as I have completed getting everything on it.

It’s interesting to notice that now that I’m older my list of priorities of things to buy have changed. When I was in my 20s it was all about clothes, bags and shoes. In my 30s it was about makeup and gadgets (an odd combination, I know). Now that I’m in my 40s, it’s all about the home, which goes to show where my priorities lie these days.

grocery shopping


I can go crazy shopping for groceries. If I could afford more than my usual, I probably would buy more. My list is long, although I try my best to be practical and not go beyond my budget. But I don't just go crazy with the groceries. You can leave me at the department store’s home furnishings area and I could keep myself entertained for hours looking at bedsheets, curtains, kitchenware, etc. I’d be looking at prices, comparing products and checking to make sure what brands to look for the next time I need anything. My recent purchases have been for the home: bedsheet and pillowcase sets, a hot plate, a blender and curtains. I try not to go too crazy when I shop for these things but sometimes, I can’t help myself. I’m actually considering buying an oven next time (once my budget permits). I know that purchase will inspire a slew of other purchases for cooking and baking tools, so I am taking my time on that one.

The only difficult thing about buying things for the home is the fact that I live with my family. My mother, in particular, has her own set of preferences for home stuff that I don’t necessarily agree with so I sometimes hesitate with my purchases because I know that she wouldn’t like them and would most likely be stored somewhere in the house where I would not be able to use them (which is my mother’s M.O. when it comes to items she categorizes as not useful).   Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have my own home so I can do with it what I want but that’s not likely to happen. I’m single and it’s just not practical to live on my own. If I ever get married (by some miracle) maybe then I could fill a home with the things that I like. In the meantime, I’ll do what I can with the family home.

There are so many things that I’d like to do for our house. There’s a lot of repairs that need to be done but apart from that, there are some items that I’d like to purchase for the house soon:

Solar Panels


With electricity prices being as high as they are these days and with the heat becoming worse and worse, I know we’d be needing to use more electricity to cool off when the summer comes. I’d love to buy solar panels that will help us to save on our electric consumption/expenses. I think it will also help when there are power outages from storms if we were to have a backup source of power like solar panels for our home. Unfortunately, these things are still too expensive for me but I am considering taking on a loan to make this happen. I’m still weighing my options but I’m hoping I can make this happen sooner rather than later.

Oven


My sister loves to bake. I cook as well, although I’m more the cook-when-in-the-mood type. I’ve been thinking of buying an oven to try my hand at baking myself, but I’m more interested in using the oven for cooking some of the recipes I’ve discovered online. Most of them need an oven so this is something I’d love to have soon. I’ve already gone to the mall to look at several models and I’m keen on buying something from La Germania. Maybe before the year ends. Or early next year. We’ll see.

There are a bunch of other things I’d love to buy like a new bed and mattress, a step ladder, a tea set, a wing chair (or as I like to say it in my head, my reading chair)…I could go on and on. It’s funny how my 20-something self probably would never imagine herself being crazy about things like this in the future. I can’t believe it myself and I’m the one with the huge home shopping list.


I can’t believe I’m finally going the domesticated route when it comes to my purchases. Am I a late bloomer for this? I wonder when other people started getting these shopping preferences?

Are you currently in the same phase or have you gone through the same thing yourself? Leave me a message and share your story!

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Thursday, January 10, 2019

House of Flowers (A Review)

Binge-watching is kind of my thing. It’s easier to watch a series when you know all the episodes are already available, so you don’t have to wait another week for what happens next. I was looking for a new show to binge on when I discovered the Mexican comedy/drama called The House of Flowers (Las Casa de las Flores) on Netflix.

The story tackles the struggles of the De la Mora family that owns the flower shop, The House of Flowers. It all starts with the death of the mistress of the head of the family. She commits suicide in the flower shop and this triggers the series of events that forces each family member to face their own personal issues during the first season: Paulina, the eldest daughter, struggles with the need to be there for every member of the family to the point that her personal life is sacrificed. Elena, the second daughter, who is torn between the life she has built for herself in the US and deciding to stay home in Mexico for good. Juan is the only son who happens to be bisexual and has a secret relationship with the family financial manager, Diego. He finds it difficult to come out and when he does, for some reason he just can’t – for lack of a better term – keep it in his pants. Most important of all is the lead character Virginia, the matriarch of the family who is obsessed with the people’s perception of their family reputation.


I found the show highly entertaining. There was never a dull moment with the series. From the drag show/cabaret named after the flower shop, Paulina’s transgender husband to the nosy neighbor who falls in love with a stripper, there is always something happening with the family and the people around them that you can count on either for laughs or for some scandalous moments. I found myself watching the show with the original audio on – I felt that I could feel the emotions of the actors more from listening to the way they speak instead of being satisfied with the dubbed version. 

One thing that troubled me a bit was how the La Chiquis, particularly Ana, was portrayed. The character was blind and that was used as a comic relief for her scenes in the show. While the intention to be funny was something I got, I felt that some people would not be too happy to see a blind person portrayed that way.

Every character in the series was interesting to watch. They all had their quirks that made me laugh and made me interested in what happened to them. Everyone was a bit crazy – I think it was only Bruno, Paulina’s son, who was the closest to normal in that show, not that I mind. All the quirks made it all so entertaining to follow.

I thought that it was very brave of the show to tackle LGBTQ topics such as Juan’s being bisexual to the fact that Paulina’s husband, now known as Maria Jose, is a transgender woman. Let’s not forget all those drag queens in the cabaret version of The House of Flowers. I love how they were presented not to be funny or controversial, but to show that these people are represented. The lives of gays, bisexuals, transgenders are all part of our lives in this day and age and I am happy that they are shown as a part of normal life.

I heard that there will be a second (and third) season of the show on Netflix. I hope that they can duplicate the magic that they had with this first season considering that they pretty much closed the book on the story of the family with the first one. 

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Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Book Review: All Souls Trilogy

I first found out about the All Souls Trilogy of books by Deborah Harkness when I read about the TV series that was going to be made starring Matthew Goode and Teresa Palmer. Being a Matthew Goode fan since seeing him on Chasing Liberty with Mandy Moore, I immediately looked for the books so that I could read them all before the series began.

discovery of witches


The first book, A Discovery of Witches, is about Diana Bishop, a witch who does not want to use her powers but unwittingly discovers a book called Ashmole 782 that all magical/supernatural creatures (specifically vampires, demons and witches) have been wanting to have for centuries.  She meets Matthew Clairmont (who I cannot picture as anyone else other than Matthew Goode to be honest), a vampire who takes her under his protection. The two eventually fall in love and join forces to understand the mystery of Ashmole 782 as they fight off the other creatures who are after the book. 

At first, I was concerned that the book would be another Twilight since Matthew also mated with Diana, but I found that the whole mating thing is the only similarity between the two. For one, there is more of a plot to this apart from the forbidden love between two different creatures. Another thing is that Diana and Matthew are both very strong characters individually and these personalities make their interactions with each other more interesting that it just being about their romantic attraction toward each other.

The second book, Shadow of Night, takes Diana and Matthew to Elizabethan London to further discover the secret of Ashmole 782. I found this book to be more interesting than the first one because it tackles Matthew’s background and gives readers a better understanding not just of his character but of the relationship between the creatures in the past and how it has affected the present. Being a bit of a history nerd, it was also a entertaining for me to read about how real life characters interacted with Matthew and Diana as they met them in that time period. I can’t wait to see this book come to life in the TV series! The scenes where Diana is learning to harness her powers is something that I will be looking forward to.

The last one in the trilogy is called The Book of Life, which is about the return of Matthew and Diana to the present time and their final battle against the creatures who are after the book and are against their relationship. In this book Diana finally embraces her powers and makes full use of it. With the first book focusing on introducing the characters and the second showing their backgrounds, this last one is a bit of an adventure as the characters lead a final battle to decide what the message of Ashmole 782 was all along. 

The series for me has been an exciting read and I would love to read more about Diana and Matthew in the future, if it is possible. I’ve read Deborah Harkness’ Time’s Convert which featured the two as supporting characters this time around, but I would still love to possibly read more about the two since the end of the trilogy showed them having kids (which could lead to more stories in the future if the author would be willing to do it). 

To me the books were about discovering one’s true self and embracing it instead of denying it. The trilogy was also about accepting each other’s differences and letting go of the prejudices we have against each other and coming together for the common good. Apart from the romance and the adventure, I think that it was those values/lessons that made the books worth recommending to everyone. 

If you think it would be better to just watch the series instead of reading the books, I’d recommend reading first before watching because there are differences between the two (because the first book was compressed to just 8 episodes). Besides, there is a certain satisfaction to recognizing scenes in the books as they are inserted/compiled together in the TV show. Trust me, if you love to read, you’d enjoy it better that way!

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Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Will Smith: Be Where They Let Your Light Shine

Last year I saw a video posted by rapper/actor Will Smith where he shared a quote by Rumi that goes:

“Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames.”

Will Smith then went on to interpret the quote in what he calls “the Philly translation:” We should not spend time around people who do not let us shine. He says that we need to spend more time with people who nourish and inspire us, thus “feeding our flame.” He continues by saying that the people that we spend our time with are the people who will make or break our dreams.

light
Always let your light shine...

I cannot agree more. I think that if people love you and care about you they will be there to support you and will let you pursue your dreams and will allow you to shine in your own way. I say this from personal experience. I was once in a relationship with someone who was always holding me back, telling me things that I should NOT do. What not to wear, who to not hang out with, where I cannot go…it held me back to the point where I did not know who I was outside of the relationship with that person. I did not know what I wanted until that relationship ended. I realized all I wanted was to discover who I was.To be who I am.  

Years later, I was in another relationship, this time with someone who gave me the freedom to be myself and to make decisions on my own. He may not have always agreed with what I wanted, but he gave me the freedom to decide and discover for myself if I made the right decision. It was a relationship that inspired me to be a better person. 

While that relationship did not last, what I learned from that relationship did. I learned that I deserved better. I learned that if a person loved you, that person will have your back, through the good decisions and bad. Since then I’ve learned to surround myself with people who have let my light shine. It doesn’t mean that they will always agree with me, but that they will be there for me no matter the outcome. For that, they will always have me as a friend in the same way.

It’s difficult to let go of friendships that we’ve had for years but I learned that there are some relationships that we need to let go of if we want to be better people. We cannot dwell or surround ourselves with negativity. It doesn’t mean that we cannot help those who are having problems, it just means knowing when to walk away when there is nothing more that can be done to help, especially if that person refuses to listen or accept it. 

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to meet and surround myself with people (family and friends) who believe in me and in my dreams and are there to support me as I attempt to achieve them. They may not always be around physically but I know that I have a set of people who are ready to help and support me when I need them. All the friendship and support helps me to pay it forward to others as much as I can.

I hope that everyone has people in their lives who help them to live their best life. People who help to make them the best person they can be. People who help them to hope and to dream. The world would be a better place if we all had each other’s backs that way. 

This year, I hope that we can all allow ourselves to be the best that we can be and go where we can best shine our light for ourselves and for others. It's the start of the year, now is the best time to be aware and do the right steps to make it happen!

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Monday, January 7, 2019

Sharing My Love for Sam Hunt

To be honest, I can’t remember when I discovered Sam Hunt, I just know that I’m a fan. I’ve been a country fan for a while, listening to Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban, Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan on Spotify. 

I admit that it’s weird that I’m a bit (?!) of a country fan, even if that kind of music isn’t that popular here in the Philippines. The chances of a country star having a major concert here in the country is next to none (unless you’re more of a country/pop crossover star like Taylor Swift). The lack of the genre’s popularity is part of the reason why I’m surprised I became a country fan, with one of my favorites being Sam Hunt. 

I have been listening to Sam Hunt on Spotify for a while now. I’ve even had his songs downloaded on my phone via the same app because I enjoy listening to it so much. There’s something about how his songs can feel so laid-back and fun and comfortable at the same time that makes me enjoy them so much. His music has been credited with having elements of R&B and pop so that probably gives his music more of an appeal to me compared to other country artists.


I think the first song I heard from him is Take Your Time but after checking his music out on Spotify I discovered that there are so many songs of him that I enjoy more than that first song I discovered. I love a lot of his songs from his first album (Montevallo) but I enjoyed the acoustic versions of his songs more on his acoustic mixtape, Between the Pines. Everything just sounded and felt better to listen to as an acoustic version. It felt raw and more real (and more fun to listen to personally) because it felt like I was hanging out while he played music nearby. It’s too bad there was no acoustic version of Take Your Time though.

My favorite songs from Between the Pines are Raised on It and House Party (for fun music), Ex to See and Make You Miss Me (for those heartbreak tracks) and I Met a Girl and Come Over (if you want those sweet, romantic tunes).  There’s just something about his songs that take me to a different place. I enjoy listening to them so much! I sing along as much as I can but sometimes his songs can get pretty wordy or too fast that I fumble up the words while I sing along (listen to Speakers, Take Your Time and Breakup in a Small Town and you’ll know what I mean).


I know it’s a long shot to be able to watch Sam Hunt perform live here in the country but it sure would be an amazing experience if he ever did. Something acoustic like Between the Pines would be a great thing if I ever had the chance. I can imagine myself swooning to the slow songs and dancing along to the fun ones. 

From what I’ve read online Sam Hunt is working on his second album. I can’t wait to hear it. There have been a couple of tracks released so far but I’d love to hear the whole thing soon. I’m sure it’s going to be good!

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Sunday, January 6, 2019

Top Songs for 2018

At the end of 2018, Spotify once again gave its users their personal highlights for the year. Like everyone else, I decided to check out the songs that the app has found to me my most listened to tracks for the year. I have to say, the list had a lot of songs that did not surprise me, but there were also several songs which I didn’t expect to be there.



One thing that I wasn’t surprised with was having Taylor Swift songs on my list. I’ve listened to her a lot in the past year, with her songs inspiring some of the writing things I’ve been cooking up on the side that I hope to be able to finish one day. While I can’t really choose a favorite from this list, the one song I listen to the most was the song she wrote with Sugarland called Babe. I can’t seem to stop singing along to that one!

There are other songs on this list that I can’t stop singing along to. I cannot listen to them without singing along in my head or humming along (or all out singing out loud to it). They come from different artists and different genres, but I love them all the same way. If I had to choose though, the one I probably sing along to the most would be a tie between Luke Bryan’s Play It Again and Wilson Philips’ Impulsive.

Apparently, I also listened to a lot of songs from musicals, given the fact that Falling Slowly (Once), Helpless (Hamilton) and Runaway with Me (The Unauthorized Biography of Samantha Brown) were on the list, along with Hamildrops like First Burn and Found/Tonight. Hits from the movie musical The Greatest Showman also made my list. 

The surprises on my list made me wonder why they made it on in the first place. The Lonely Goatherd, for one, is on this list. I know that my nephew is a fan of The Sound of Music and this is one of his favorites, but I’m still surprised that I have listened to the song as much with him for the song to make it on the top songs for 2018 list. There are also several songs which I didn’t think I’ve listened to that much that made the list like Time of My Life (from Dirty Dancing) and I Miss You (Incubus). Weird. Maybe I play too much on shuffle and these songs happen to be the ones that get shuffled and played the most?


I’d like to think that there are a lot of songs on my list that people have not listened to that I could maybe recommend to other people. Songs that were not played on the radio or promoted as singles but are still worth the listen if given the chance. Here are some of those songs:

Slow Dance (Kelly Clarkson) – There’s something about this song that is just so sexy to me for some reason. I find myself smiling whenever I listen to this one.

Loving You (Paolo Nutini) – I actually like the live version of this song better but it’s not on Spotify so this will have to do. But if you want to listen to the live one, it’s on YouTube!

Be My Baby (Jocelyn Scofield) – People would be familiar with the older, more pop version of this song but I find this stripped-down version a better one.  

Speed Limit (Boyce Avenue) – One of my all-time favorites. The acoustic version is the best!

Raised on It (Sam Hunt) – This guy’s music is all so good but this one just reminds me of laid back but fun times hanging out with friends and family. 

I Bet (Ciara, Joe Jonas) – Didn’t think I’d ever like a Joe Jonas song but thankfully, Ciara helped me change me mind with this song. 

Loved (Lucy Hale) – Such a cute, sweet, country(ish) song about love. 

Don’t Wait (Dashboard Confessional) – Discovered this via Daniel Henney. It’s a song that doesn’t get old for me.


What made your list for 2018? Leave a message in the comments section and let me know!
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