Lifestyle Blogger. Promdi. Filipina.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Bamboo: A Plant to Fight Climate Change

Growing up and spending summers at my maternal grandmother’s house meant regularly seeing vehicles headed out of the town dragging along large amounts of tall bamboo plants. I distinctly remember this because my grandmother’s house was located on a corner so when these vehicles turned, it was more than likely that these bamboo plants would hit a part of the house which was, thankfully, just a wall that connected to the gate. We often had to warn people against parking in front of the house because the bamboo would most likely hit their car.

My grandmother’s hometown of Maragondon, Cavite, is often called the Bamboo Capital of Cavite. If you are looking for where to find bamboo, this is one place where you will find it. Bamboo-based products are currently being developed in the town. When I last visited their production area they were producing bamboo floor tiles, photo frames and furniture. It’s a very promising industry in a place where bamboo is very abundant.

I recently had the opportunity to talk to the President of the Philippine Bamboo Foundation, Mr. Edgardo Manda. His passion and drive to push for the bamboo plant to have a big role in combating climate change as well as the proper planting and harvest of bamboo for commercial use is inspiring.

Tall Bamboo Plants (Stock Photo from Foulline on Pixabay)

Climate Change is such a big issue that we as citizens of this earth must consider. Some may say that it’s a hoax but I don’t think we can deny how bad the weather has become in the past few years. To know what we can do to alleviate the rising and/or falling temperatures is something we need to prioritize and act on. I was surprised to find out that the tall bamboo plants that I see so often can play a big role in the fight against Climate Change if we make the best use of it.

Bamboo amazes me. Here’s what I learned:



Bamboo Provides Cooler Temperatures


According to the video presentation showed to me by Mr. Manda, bamboo, gets more carbon dioxide from the air and produces more oxygen compared to an ordinary tree. It lowers the intensity of the light from the sun and protects its surroundings from ultra-violet rays. He explained that the reason why places with a lot of bamboo have cooler temperatures are because these plants.

Bamboo is a Good Pick for Tree Planting Activities

Bamboo, while considered a plant or a form of grass, is a good option for tree planting activities. I remember reading that so many of environmentally conscious people and groups do tree planting activities but most of the time the trees that are being planted are the wrong kind. Bamboo, on the other hand, is perfect.

For one, bamboo matures fast. It can be harvested as early as five years after it has been planted and can be re-used again because if harvested properly, the stump will grow again and produce more bamboo (therefore, no need to replant.)

Bamboo Helps Prevent Soil Erosion

The roots of bamboo plants spread so wide that it helps protect the soil it is on from erosion. It also helps to sustain riverbanks.

Bamboo is A Good Wood Substitute

Mr. Manda showed me many structures and products that were made from bamboo instead of wood. From furniture to airport interiors, it was astounding how much can be made from bamboo. They were all so beautiful --- and pricey, if I might add. This makes me wonder why we as a country are not making the most out of this plant since exporting bamboo goods seems to be a promising market.

I found out that bamboo can also be made into paper and even clothing. It blew my mind that you can make shirts out of bamboo. Again, considering how fast you can produce bamboo, why aren’t people taking advantage of this?

Bamboo is a Food Source

This one I wasn’t that surprised about. I’ve had meals that involved bamboo before – not the big bamboo of course, but the smaller ones that are considered vegetables here in Asia.

One thing that did surprise me, however, was that bamboo can also be made into beer. Mr. Manda showed me photos of the beer in China and, if I remember correctly, Canada.


There are so many benefits from the planting and use of bamboo, its role in combating the greenhouse effect that is brought about by climate change being the most important of all.

Did you know that bamboo has a biomass of up to 30 percent compared to only 5 percent for trees? Even its waste products can be used as fuel more than trees…why are we not planting more of them?

I’m hoping to learn more about bamboo from Mr. Manda and his associates in the future. Hopefully I can not only learn but be able to do something that can promote how important bamboo is for the environment.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

What's in My Vanity Kit?

I’ve seen a lot of blogs that feature the things that women (and men) have in their bags. I don’t think that I’m ready to share everything that’s in my bag so allow me to start small by sharing the items that are in my vanity purse or, as we call it here in the Philippines, my “kikay kit.” 

My purse is a bag I got from a giveaway from fellow blogger Kate Alvarez last year. I think it is a good size for my minimal kikay kit. When I travel and need a bit more makeup, I tend to bring two kikay kits: one for retouching my makeup and another that carries all the other makeup that I need if I need to put a little more on. For this post, I’m sticking with the minimal kit. 

Inside my kit are the following items: 



Maybelline Clear Smooth All in One Powder (Light) – As I mentioned in an earlier post, I use this powder on my T-Zone area. I bring this along with me for when I need to retouch (although honestly, I hardly do). 

Watson Facial Oil Blotting Paper – This is hardly used, but I do have it in case my face becomes too oily to just retouch with powder. Sometimes I use it to blot my lipstick too.  

IMagic Lip Liner – I normally don’t use lip liner but sometimes I like making my lips look a bit fuller and use this to define my mouth. This is more of a random urge kind of thing that I do so I like keeping the liner in my purse in case I feel like doing the full, Kylie Jenner thing. 

Maybelline Powder Matte Lipstick (Make Me Blush) – I’d like to think that this color comes off as nude-ish on me but gives me a bit of a glow since I’m naturally pale without makeup. 

Maybelline Brow Drama Pomade Crayon – As my sister would say, “Kilay (eyebrow) is life.” Even if I applied makeup to define my brows, I bring this along to retouch as necessary since I have uneven brows due to my thyroid condition. 

Apple & Eve 8-Hour Lip & Cheek Stain – Like I said in an earlier post, I am addicted to the whole drunk blush look and this is the product that gives me that the best.  

Listerine Cool Mint Mouth Wash – I know not everyone will agree with this but I often just gargle mouth wash and floss during the day. I leave the teeth brushing to morning and evenings because I’ve heard that there is such a thing as brushing your teeth too much. This mouth wash (the purple colored one) does the job for me during the day after a meal. 

Johnson’s Baby Cologne (Heaven) – People might find it strange that I use this cologne. I have asthma and perfume tends to make it difficult for me to breathe so I prefer cologne. I’ve used this brand and scent since I was a young girl. It is not overpowering and it just smells like I just took a shower, a normal scent that I prefer more than floral perfumes. 

Small Nail Clipper – No, I don’t clip my nails in public…but I do bring these along because sometimes a hangnail just appears on my fingers and it can be so annoying  

Compact Mirror – Something I rarely use but keep in my purse in case I need it. 

Medicine – I make sure to have some medicine in my purse in case some of my health issues act up, just to be sure. 


I know it’s not much but since I love doing minimal makeup anyway, that’s as much as I normally bring along in my bag. I think it won’t come as a surprise that I hardly use the items in my kikay kit even if I do have it with me when I go out. I tend not to bother with retouching and such during the day when I’m at work since I’m the type who forgets about things like that when I’m focused on what I’m doing. If I’m out to socialize I’d probably use it more but other than that, the kikay kit stays in my bag in case of emergencies. 

What about you? What’s in your kikay kit? 


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Monday, February 26, 2018

Swipe Right for Michael Vartan

[Yet another entry that was being searched for in my blog so I had to repost this!]

The first time I noticed Michael Vartan was in the movie Never Been Kissed with Drew Barrymore. I became a fan and started looking for Michael Vartan movies to add to my (then) VCD collection (I think DVDs weren’t that popular at the time just yet --- my age is showing). I had a huge crush on the guy. I was crazy about him!

When Alias came out in 2001, I became a fan of Sydney and Michael. I watched every single episode and waited until the two characters ended up together. This was before the term “ship” was even popular. I was so happy when Michael Vartan and Jennifer Garner started dating and I was very disappointed when they broke up because I always thought they were perfect for each other.

Eventually, Michael got married and for some reason, he was not so visible in the entertainment scene. He had movies and TV shows, but I don’t think they ever had significant airtime or cinema showings around here. In short, I forgot about him for a while. Fast forward to 2014 and news came out that Michael Vartan and his wife had split up (uh, yay?). Just two years later, he is back and visible on TV on the new hit show The Arrangement, where he plays a very creepy leader of a group that is NOT based on Scientology (wink, wink).

While I would love for Michael Vartan and Jennifer Garner to get back together (she and Ben Affleck are getting divorced anyway), there’s still that young girl in me who has a huge crush on Michael Vartan. So when he announced that he was on Tinder, I downloaded the app and signed up for a paid account in the hope that I would find him and I could swipe right. Not that he would actually swipe right for me either but I had to try!

Michael Vartan on Tinder
Swipe, swipe, swipe! (Photo from rawpixel on Pixabay)

With a paid account on Tinder, I switched my location to LA, where Vartan is said to be based. I thought it would be easy since I limited my “People Nearby” to those in his age bracket but it was not that simple. I swiped left over and over but never found him. It was amusing to browse though, since LA men of a certain age mostly seemed to be working in the entertainment industry as either journalists, producers, directors, entertainment lawyers and whatnot – some of them even had profile photos that featured their “celebrity friends.” Kris Jenner featured in quite a few, surprisingly. Is being her friend a badge of honor? Am I missing something here?

It was weird to see some profile photos of guys with women they seem to be dating or are married to – I mean, if you’re looking for someone, why have a picture WITH someone? I shudder at the thought of what they might have in mind (I will NOT go there).

There were some guys who looked like they were online only to hook up but some looked like they were genuinely looking for someone to have a relationship with. Some of them were also obviously single dads or divorced and had kids. Many them had their children feature prominently in their photos in a possibly “this is what you get if you swipe right” kind of way.

After two months, I gave up my search. It was just taking too much of my time (and money). Plus, I’ve never really been into the online dating thing so even if I did see a cute guy or two, I never swiped right. I unsubscribed and deleted my account. Goodbye Michael! I tried for you, I really did!

I must admit that spending that much money for two months of swiping left just to look for Michael Vartan on Tinder was a bit much but hey, I had to give it a shot. Better to have tried than to keep wondering what if.

I wonder if anyone ever found him on Tinder. I would love to know what happened if they did!
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Sunday, February 25, 2018

My Online Shopping Experience

A little trivia about me: I hate shopping. I know, that’s not a very girly thing to say but I just hate it. I’m the type of girl who will only go to the mall if I need to meet someone or if there is anything specific that I need to buy. I usually shop armed with a list. Once I find what I need I’m typically in and out of the place. I’m not the type to wander around and see what else I could buy. I hate that.  

I’m very grateful for online shopping these days because it helps me to avoid the crowds and lines at the mall. Sometimes it can be a hit and miss thing but still it is more convenient for me because I can shop from the comfort of my own home. I don’t have to dress up, travel to the mall and all that to buy something that I needed. In fact, for the past couple of years I’ve been doing my holiday shopping online. It helps me get through my list easier and without any issues. I love that these sites now have apps because that makes shopping  

Here are some online sites that I patronize and what I think of them: 

Zalora 


online shopping


I’ve bought beauty products, bags, shoes, yoga items and other items from Zalora. The products I have purchased from the store are exactly what I had expected 100% of the time. It’s also very easy to shop for clothes and shoes with their app because their filtering by size, color, material, etc. is very efficient and it helps me find things faster than with other sites. 

The ease of tracking my purchases and delivery dates through the app (and the website) is also one of the reasons I enjoy shopping with Zalora. You can really get the items you purchase on the date that you expect them to arrive.   

If there is anything I can suggest to improve their service, it’s for purchases to arrive in just one delivery. I know that their products can come from different sources, but it can be annoying when I purchase a lot of items and they arrive one by one. It often means that I have to make sure that someone is home all the time until all my purchases arrive, which can be a bit of a hassle. As someone who is on the plus side, I would love to have more items to choose from for my size. I feel like the styles are still very limited for people like me on the store. 


Lazada 


online shopping


The thing about Lazada is that if you need something specific, it’s possible that they have it. The store has a very wide selection of items and with all the suppliers they have, there is always a chance to find a certain item at the lowest possible price. The ratings and reviews for the items also help me to make the best purchase possible. 

Unfortunately, the site (and the app) are not as good with filtering items as Zalora is, but I suppose that is to be expected since they have a wider selection. Still, I hope that they can improve this along with their delivery, which is very similar to Zalora that delivers items per supplier instead of per purchased set of items. 

I’ve heard from friends that with Lazada, you can’t always be sure about the quality of the items. So far I’ve had a problem with only one purchase: a 1TB Seagate Hard Drive. On the same week that I started using it, it stopped working. All of my personal photos, videos and files were in it and I had no other copy. It was devastating! As much as I would want to send it back to have it replaced since it is under warranty, I can’t because it has personal information that I am worried could be copied. I’ve asked several repair places about it and they said that my data is unrecoverable. People have recommended having it replaced but at this point it’s not the cost of the item that is an issue, it’s what I lost which I feel is worth more than the price of the item. Don’t get me wrong, Lazada’s customer service has been very friendly but what I lost cannot be replaced. 

I haven’t made any purchases on Lazada since the Seagate thing and honestly, I’m a bit scared to make another purchase since then. I think I will stick to more popular suppliers/stores under Lazada for my future purchases in the meantime.  


BeautyMNL 


online shopping


Now this is a store that if I didn’t use any bit of self-control I could probably go broke on. I could go nuts on BeautyMNL because they have such a wide selection of beauty products to choose from. Like Lazada, purchases are easier with reviews and product ratings to guide me to the best products. They also have articles on selected products that help me to figure out which products are best for me and how I can use them better to suit my needs. 

The advantage BeautyMNL has over Lazada and Zalora is their delivery method. They deliver all the items I order at the same time. There’s no separate delivery per supplier, I get them all in one delivery, which can be as quick as two days (which is great considering that I live in the province), 

I don’t have regrets with any of the purchases I’ve had from this store. It’s one of those online stores that I can see myself doing repeat purchases in, especially since some of the brands that I cannot buy here in the province like St. Joan/Apple & Eve are in BeautyMNL.  


Well, that’s it. Three of the online shops that I often visit and make purchases from. Are there any other sites that I should check out? Please leave me a comment and let me know! 



*Screen captures from Zalora, Lazada and BeautyMNL

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Saturday, February 24, 2018

Solar Energy for My Home (I Want It, Can't Afford It)

In this day and age where the annual temperatures are getting higher and higher, it’s hard not to spend more on electricity just to keep cool here in the Philippines. Years back I was the type of person who would resort to electric fans because the use of air-conditioning can be expensive but the heat has gotten to the point where I had to buy an air conditioner. One AC at home soon became two and my electric bill was suddenly higher than what we normally pay for. That prompted me to consider solar energy to see if it could be something we could afford to use at home. Solar energy costs are still high given my current budget, but it is still something worth considering because of the savings it will give you in the long run.

There is a lot of solar energy information out there, it’s not that hard to find. There are many companies that offer solar panels that will generate energy that you can use for your home, each with different pricing options and products offered. These companies are more than willing to provide you with information on solar energy and will even visit your home to give you an accurate assessment of the cost of installing solar panels to generate electricity for you house. They also explain how the energy generated works in relation to our electric provider through a solar/net metering system with Meralco. Some companies even conduct seminars for potential buyers so that they can understand the concept of solar energy for home/office electricity needs better.

Photo from skeeze of Pixabay.com

Solar energy has its advantages and disadvantages. Based on what I’ve learned so far, here are the pros and cons:

PRO: Lower Electric Bill

One obvious pro is a lower electric bill since you will be using solar energy for your power needs. This is the main reason why I was considering solar energy in the first place.


CON: Expensive Cost

Even with the technology being better than before and cost being lower than when it first started out, the installation of a solar energy system at home can still amount to a lot of money. Yes, the money saved for the amount of time that the system will work for you will still be higher but since most companies do not offer an installment plan for this kind of service, you will need a large amount of money for this upfront. Can you imagine how many solar panels it would take (and cost) to shoulder your power needs if you normally have a large bill and want to zero it out with solar power? I don't even know if it will fit our roof!


PRO: Low Maintenance Cost

According to the companies that I have talked to, there is a low maintenance cost for this type of system. Most companies say their system can work for you for 20 years. Return on Investment (Savings from electricity bills) is much bigger than what their systems would cost since there is not much maintenance involved.


CON: Storage of Energy is Even More Expensive (and Impractical)

One thing I was curious about was power storage. For example, if there is not much sunlight and there is a power outage from Meralco, would there be any way to save energy generated from previous days to be used as a generator of sorts for our home? I learned that there were batteries that could be installed to save electricity for future use. However, these batteries are rather large and have a separate and equally expensive cost compared to the solar energy system to be installed.


PRO: Renewable Energy

The sun is a resource that won’t go away any time soon (I hope) so you are assured of a power source, especially here in our tropical country (Philippines). If you have solar panels and a system to convert that energy to electricity, you’re good to go.


CON: Use Depends on the Weather

Unfortunately, there will be days when you won’t have enough solar power to use, like when there are typhoons and when the weather is particularly gloomy/cloudy. You can’t use the system at night either so good luck with power outages at night (unless you also have the batteries I mentioned installed).


Even with all the disadvantages, I think that the advantages are enough reason to buy solar energy systems, especially here in the Philippines where the electricity prices seem to get higher and higher through the years.

Sadly, I can’t afford to buy a solar energy system now but I wish that I did. Hopefully one day I will.

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Friday, February 23, 2018

My Tablea Experiment

Have any of you ever heard of tablea? Technically tablea is a Spanish word that means tablet, but in the Philippines it commonly refers to a type of thick hot chocolate. Tablea is usually bought in the form of thick, tablet-shaped disks that are made from cacao which are melted in boiling/hot water. I’ve heard that tablea from the Philippines is different from other countries because ours is prepared using the whole roasted cocoa bean and not just the powder. 

I first had a taste of tablea during a trip to Taal, Batangas and I have had a craving for the chocolate since then. Lucky for me I was gifted some tablea from Butuan City and was able to travel to Iloilo where I also bought some tablea along with the traditional batirol that is used to prepare tablea. It was time for me to experiment on preparing tablea!



One interesting thing to note is that depending on where you bought the tablea, there is a different recommended measurement of tablea/disks to cups of water. The tablea from Butuan recommends 3 disks per cup of water. The one from Iloilo recommends 1 disk per cup. Preparation is also slightly different. The Butuan variant recommends the use of boiling water to melt the tablea while the Iloilo one recommends preparing it over fire with boiling water.  




I tried both methods. The first one I tried was the tablea from Iloilo. I used the batirol to mix the chocolate along with some evaporated milk. It was a bit difficult to use the batirol when it was on the stove because I felt like my arms were going to burn from the heat. The place where I got the batirol from in Iloilo recommended an hour of whisking with the batirol, which I couldn’t do because of the heat. We ended up with chocolate that was not as thick as expected, but it was still very good. I didn’t bother putting sugar into the batirol and just let whoever wanted to add sugar to add it on his/her own cup because I felt that the true taste of the chocolate would be overshadowed by too much sugar. 

With the Butuan tablea, I melted three disks per cup of boiling water and whisked it with the batirol. It was also difficult to do because the tablea took too long to melt since it was not on the stove. It was also not as thick as I expected it to be. I’d have to figure out how to make it thicker soon (hopefully without having to work too much on the batirol because it was such a challenge!). I think the Butuan variant was much stronger compared to the one from Iloilo. At some point it tasted a bit like coffee. My mother seemed to like it but I think I like the Iloilo version better. 




According to some of the websites I’ve visited that discussed tablea preparation, you don’t need the batirol to prepare this. You can use a whisk or a wooden spoon to melt and mix the chocolate in boiling water and have the same end result. Still, I prefer the old-fashioned way. I think there’s an appeal to it being prepared that way. Plus, I love that the batirol keeps the chocolate warm for a very long time compared to other pitchers. You could chat for a long time and still have hot chocolate to share using that. 

Have any of you tried Filipino tablea yet? Try it, you just might like it! 
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Thursday, February 22, 2018

Easy Recipe: Steamed Cream Dory in Light Soy Sauce

One thing that I’ve always wanted to try to prepare is Steamed Cream Dory. The fish is something that I find a lot of in the supermarket and we always use it for fish fillet but we haven’t tried it any other way. I’ve been thinking about looking for another recipe, preferably an easy dinner recipe, and I chanced upon a recipe for it on Ang Sarap.

It’s an Asian-style dish and it reminds me of something that I have tried in a Chinese restaurant. When I was preparing it, I was hoping that I could make it presentable enough to at least look like it was just as good.

The recipe on Ang Sarap serves three. My family is more than double than that so I decided to change the recipe a bit to fit my family. Plus, Cream Dory is not sold per fillet, but in a pack. Anyway, here is my “revised” recipe.

Ingredients

2 packs of Cream Dory fillets
1 inch ginger, sliced into strips
salt and pepper
½ cup light soy sauce
5 cups water
½ cup brown sugar
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tsp grated ginger (or more, depending on your taste)

For the Sauce: 

Sesame oil
Fried garlic
Spring Onions, chopped

Instructions

Rub fish fillets with salt and pepper [Note: I used pepper that was already powdered instead of the recommended freshly ground pepper because it was the only variant available at the time. I think I was pretty generous with the pepper more than the salt for this part. The original recipe also calls for the fish to be sliced, but I opted to keep it as is with large fillets for presentation.]

Place the fish on the steamer, topped with ginger slices and steam until it is cooked. Set aside. [Note: I didn’t use wax or baking paper as recommended. It’s supposed to prevent the fish from sticking, but that hasn’t been an issue for me even if I didn’t use it. I also went to town on the ginger and added more than what the recipe requires, because I love that flavor.]

Combine light soy sauce, sugar, water, oyster sauce and grated ginger in a saucepan and bring to a boil. [Note: I was again going crazy with the ginger. However, I kept tasting the sauce as I added ginger so that it wouldn’t end up being overpowering.]

Place fish in a deep dish and pour the sauce, drizzling with sesame oil and garnished with fried garlic and spring onions. [Note: I was very generous with the sesame oil but not with the garlic. I decided to just give people the option to add garlic when they get their servings since not everyone likes garlic.]

steamed cream dory
Finished Product!

One thing that I have to note is that I had way too much sauce by the end of it all. I think that if you make too much you can just keep it if you plan on cooking the same dish again sometime soon. You have to remember to refrigerate it though since ants are going to be attracted to the sugar if you leave it outside. You also have to be careful with the steaming of the fish and make sure that it is not over or under cooked. Once you get the steam on the cream dory tends to look like it’s cooked right away and that made me a little paranoid about when to take it out of the steamer. My sister used her toothpick-baking trick for baking to help me to decide if it was ready to be taken out (if the fish didn’t stick onto the toothpick, it was done).

This was the first main dish that I opted to prepare when I went on my cooking trip over the holidays. I wanted to do an easy recipe so that I wouldn’t get overwhelmed and so that I could do it right – I mean, if it’s simple and easy, how much could I make a fool out of myself with right?

Luckily for me, my family loved the dish. When I did it again for my cousins when we all got together, they were also surprised that I made the dish and my cousin’s wife even paid me a compliment because she thought it was good. The positive comments have been encouraging and I am seriously considering doing more cooking in the future. Hopefully I can have more time soon. The holidays have been the only time that I had time to shop and cook in a while, I hope I don’t have to wait that long to give all this a shot again.

More recipes to come soon. Hopefully!
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Wednesday, February 21, 2018

My Guilty (Reality TV) Pleasure

If there is one thing that Jennifer Lawrence and I have in common, it’s our guilty pleasure: I love Keeping Up with the Kardashians!

Photo Credit: Pixabay

My sisters and I have been following the reality show since its early days. I used to watch Paris Hilton’s reality shows so I was already familiar with Kim from when she used to work for her. I also remember Kourtney from the reality show Filthy Rich (which was also on E!, if I’m not mistaken). Since they were both familiar, I thought it wouldn’t hurt to check out their reality show, which has since blown up into such an empire for their family after ten years. 

Watching their family and the things that they are up to is something my sisters and I enjoy. We talk about them like we know them personally sometimes and it confuses other people when we do, because they think we’re talking about friends of family they haven’t heard about. 



I admit the whole glamorous lifestyle is not something we can relate to but there is still so much about this family that is relatable. I think my family connects to them in particular because of the dominant group of females in the family, which is similar to ours. I think between me, my sisters and my mom we all have a little bit of Kim, Kourtney, Khloe, Kendall, Kylie and even Kris in our family (without the whole body-confident side, if you know what I mean). 

The family can be crazy sometimes and some of the things that they get involved in may become controversial but I love that they do not apologize for being who they are. I know that some people think that they are a bunch of superficial, stupid, social media crazy people but honestly, I don’t think they can convert the fame that they had on the show into successful clothing and makeup lines (among other things) if they were. They capitalized on who they are as a brand, no matter what naysayers may think, and made a successful business empire out of it. 

As much as I am a fan of the family, I have to admit that I do have a favorite Kardashian: Khloe! I love how she is brutally frank to everyone, especially to her own family. I love how she is very loyal to them and will be the first people to go on defense for any member of her family. I admire how during the time when she was already separated from Lamar Odom and he was fighting for his life, she was there for him even if things didn’t work out between them. The emotional maturity to go through that is just amazing. The weight-loss journey that she went through, the commitment she gave to transform herself, I think it made her bloom not just physically but as a person, based on what I see of her on the show. If I could choose one of them who I can meet in person and hang out with, it would definitely be Khloe. I’d be asking for help to get my own “revenge body” too, that’s for sure! 

No matter how much drama or crazy antics happen on the show, Keeping Up with the Kardashians is something that I love to watch to unwind after a long day. I’m glad that they have been using the attention that their show gets to issues important to them like the plight of the homeless in the US and gun control. I like that they are using their fame for relevant topics like that when they can. 

The show has been on for 10 years and so much has changed with this family since they first started. I look forward to seeing how long they can keep this show up and how they will evolve in the years to come. I don’t know if they will be around for another ten years but I know that I will be Keeping Up with the Kardashians for as long as I can.


Photo Source: Keeping Up with the Kardashians Facebook Page
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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Concha's Garden Cafe: A (Sort of) Review

(Reposting an older entry by request. Please note that this was from a year ago and changes may have already been made since the time of this entry.)

A few months ago, I had an uncle who came over from Japan. He hasn’t been home in the Philippines in years so I thought it would be a good idea to take him out before he went back to Japan. Being an Eat Bulaga fan, I thought he would appreciate a visit to the restaurant owned by one of the hosts of the show, Alden Richards. After a trip to Nuvali and some Taal Volcano sightseeing, off we went to Concha’s Garden Cafe at Cliffhouse in Tagaytay.

I have never been to Concha’s before so I was a little confused by the number of branches that they have in the Tagaytay-Silang-Laguna area. I wish they had their own website so it wouldn't have been so confusing.

Apparently, there is a branch in the Silang area and when we were on our way to Nuvali, I also spotted another one on the road. I have no idea if that was the Silang branch or if there was a separate one in Laguna. Just to be sure, we picked the Conchas Tagaytay location because Cliffhouse was an area I was familiar with.

Once we got to Cliffhouse, the restaurant was pretty hard to miss. I think we referred to it as Concha’s Garden Café/Alden Richards Café when we saw it because there were a couple of Alden Richards standees in the area: one was near the pasalubong shop and the other was at the indoor part of the restaurant.

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Alden says Hi!

I was a bit surprised by how small the place was. There were a few outdoor tables and a few more at the indoor/air-conditioned area but that was about it. I was expecting something bigger. The nearby Café Breton had a bigger area than their restaurant. My family and I decided to stay at the indoor part. It was lunchtime and sadly, the Tagaytay weather we were hoping for was not there. It felt like a really hot summer day so AC was desperately needed. The indoor area looked cozy and we felt comfortable at the table they led us to.

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Interior of Conchas

We were disappointed by the service initially, there was only one girl who came to assist our big group and as soon as we were seated it was hard to get someone’s attention to order. We had asked for a high chair for our nephew and I had to walk up to someone after waiting for some time just to get it (also to get the menus). The girl who gave us our table apologized and said that there were only a few servers at that time. Sure enough, minutes later a big group of servers arrived (were they all on break together or something?) and someone finally assisted us with our orders.

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Menu

The Concha’s Tagaytay menu seemed different from what I’ve seen online. Maybe not all the branches have the same selection? Anyway, the prices seemed a bit high given the sizes when they were served, but my uncle seemed very happy with them so that’s all that matters. I thought the food was OK, but not something to rave about.

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Sisig

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Salad

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Steamed Fish

Here’s a quick review of some of the food we ordered: My mother and uncle loved the Pinakbet. I loved the salads (Mango Kani and the Concha’s Garden Salad). The Chicharon Bulaklak was slightly burnt. I’ve had better sisig but it was not bad. We did not understand the flavor of the Sinampalukang Manok. (Maybe because we do it differently at home? I’m not sure.) It wasn’t bad, it’s just a flavor we’re not used to. Being that we were not completely sold on the food, we opted to have dessert elsewhere.

To be honest, I was disappointed with our visit to Concha’s Garden Café. I guess being a restaurant owned by a celebrity, I was expecting more from it compared to others. I think for the same (or even lower) price we would have had bigger servings and a better selection from other nearby restaurants that serve Filipino food.

Would I go back? Probably not. Unless Alden Richards himself invited me to give it another chance, I probably won’t.
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Monday, February 19, 2018

Joei and Me

Way back in 2003, I was introduced to and started blogging. There weren’t that much people that I knew back then so I was following a select few who were posting about things that I had a similar interest in. Blogging back then was about sharing our interests and our experiences and thoughts. I guess you can say it is still the same today but with the whole social media “influencer” component, it has become quite different. 

That being said, blogging back then wasn’t exactly what it is like now and most of the people that I started following back in the day are no longer blogging (or prefer to do it on a private, invite-only blog). A few of the bloggers who remained have become what I would say are blogging stars, people who have had their blogs featured on TV and magazines. One of those bloggers is Joei, who is behind the blog Joei & Me

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Screenshot of Joei and Me website/blog
Joei & Me is a lifestyle blog that focuses on Travel, Food, Fashion and Beauty. I always enjoy reading her entries because I feel that the way she shares her experiences is different from other lifestyle blogs. I don’t feel like it’s a promotional thing, which I suppose comes from her experience from the early blogging days. Reading her entries makes me feel like I’m reading about a friend telling me about her adventures.  

Being someone who has been living outside of the Metro for years, it feels good to be able to catch up on things happening in the more urban areas (as opposed to my undeniably rural setting). It makes me feel like I can go to the city and not be too overwhelmed with everything that’s new. I can go out and still know where would be a good place to go for things (more importantly, for good restaurants in the city). It’s good to feel updated on these things. 

One thing that I admire about Joei’s blog is that she manages to share things without going too personal – something that I always struggle with on my blog. She still shares some personal things (like her engagement and her wedding) but she also manages to draw a line where she can maintain a certain amount of privacy for herself.  

I remember someone talking to me years ago about blogging saying that there is a certain level of narcissism about bloggers because they enjoy talking about themselves to the point of oversharing. It can be argued that people don’t understand that bloggers only share what they want people to see and that bloggers still draw the line on what remains private and what is for public consumption. I think Joei does that very well on her blog. I don’t know if I am capable of that, but I am trying. 

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Screencap of Joei and Me website/blog
Joei does not blog on a regular basis: some months may have more than five, some may have less than that. I don’t mind it at all since there are times when I don’t have time to catch up on blogs myself so it’s good that I don’t need to check it out daily to be able to keep myself updated.  

If you ever visit Joei’s blog, please leave a comment on her entries and let her know I sent you her way! 
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Sunday, February 18, 2018

Mia Maison: The Answer to My Home Scent Obsession

If there’s one thing I’m obsessed with it is finding the best home fragrance that I can use for my bedroom. I started with scented sprays/mists and potpourri. Then I moved on to scented candles, aromatherapy oil and candle wafers on burners and perfumed incense. As much as I loved those options when I tried them, they did not feel enough for me. I needed something that was not messy, not a fire hazard and doesn’t trigger my asthma. I wanted something that did not produce too much garbage – candle wax and tea light containers seem to be too much trash for me to produce just to make my room smell nice.

I have been trying one thing after another to find the best fit for me and I think that I have finally found the right one: water based oil used on air purifiers and electric atomizers. I previously bought an air purifier and used scented oil on it but it ended up a complete failure because I used aromatherapy oil which clogged the device. I had to look up what went wrong before I discovered the existence of water-based oils. I didn’t know where to buy it though because most of the places I bought scented products from did not have them.

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My latest favorite scents

I was in an SM mall last year when I smelled this lovely scent and followed it to a kiosk of the brand Mia Maison. I talked to the salesperson manning the area and I ended up buying two water-based scented oils and their atomizer. I have been a fan of the brand since then.

The atomizer is a bit expensive at around P2500 but if you want something that will not make that much of a dent on your wallet, you can purchase their air purifier, which is about P1000 less. You can also buy similar devices on other online sites at even less expensive prices – I’ve seen an air purifier on Lazada being sold at P750, which is much more affordable.

Mia Maison is a brand specializing in home scents that range from room mists and reed diffusers to aromatherapy oils and other products that leave your home smelling like you stepped into a hotel or spa, depending on what scent you prefer.

Since discovering the brand, I’ve used not just their atomizer but also their air purifier. I’ve even taken their products to my office where even people I work with have praised how the scent changes the feel of the office. When I used it at work people kept popping in and commenting how good it smelled at my work station. The smiles on people’s faces said it all!

I love that the Mia Maison atomizer acts as an air purifier, humidifier and scent diffuser at the same time. It also has different lighting options that often lends to the ambiance of the room that I put it in. It needs very little water and oil to use and lasts a long time before it needs to be replaced/refilled.

Mia Maison’s water-based oil is good because they have a wide array of scents to choose from. My favorites are Fresh Bamboo, White Tea & Ginger, Lavender and Green Tea. There are several other scents that I have yet to try so that list of favorites might change when I do. The last time I bought some of their scents I took so long trying to decide which ones to buy because there was just so many that I wanted!

The oils can be expensive at around P650-P780 per bottle (which was why I took so long to decide – I was on a budget!), but since it lasts a long time – 1/2 of the bottle cap per use on their atomizer, 1 full cap for the air purifier – it is worth it in the long run. Using Mia Maison’s water-based oil on their atomizer is the best room freshener I’ve tried so the I don’t regret the purchases I’ve made.

What about you? Do you like home scents as much as I do? What do you love to use for your home? Leave a message and let me know!

Mia Maison can be found in most major malls. You can also shop for their products on their website, you can also check them out on Facebook.

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Saturday, February 17, 2018

Room with a View

Growing up in a gated subdivision in the southern part of Metro Manila, I was used to living in a house where the view from my window was just the other house next door. When we moved to the province to my grandmother's house, the view was pretty much the same. It was just another house. Plus, her house was on a main road so it was very noisy and not that relaxing. 

But when our family decided to sell our home in the Metro to buy our own place here in the province, my father went house hunting and picked out a house that he liked. There wasn't a lot to choose from but the one he did find he fell in love with. It was a two-story house with a lot area similar to our first home and it was in a quiet part of town. I could see why he liked it when he first showed it to us. 

While my father loved the house, I was a bit hesitant since it seemed to be too far from the main road and the street itself to the house was a bit small. It would be a long walk for me every time I need to go out since I don't have a car. The house was also big (if you consider that we've been used to bungalow-style living all our lives) and I felt it was too much of a job to maintain. While wasn't new and it was a bit of a fixer-upper (it has a bird problem, gutters need a lot of work, plumbing issues), it had potential.  

Case in point: the master bedroom not only had its own bathroom and walk-in closet, but it also had large windows that overlooked this view: 

mount buntis


The house may have other homes next to it at the back but being the only one with two floors, it had an unobstructed view of the nearby rice fields and the mountain range at the nearby town of Maragondon. 

I love being able to look out the window and see the view of Mount Buntis (in English, Buntis = Pregnant), named as such because the mountain looks like a pregnant woman. The view is so clear that you can tell if it's raining at Mount Buntis. When the skies are clear you also get this amazing view of the mountain from our window. My favorite, however, would be when the sun is setting -- the sky shifts into so many different colors and our window gives us a view that is similar to a painting every single time.  I can't put a price on that.

One thing I would love to do for our master bedroom is to maybe put in a reading nook right by the window because this view is just perfect for it. I can imagine reading a good book while watching the sunset from this window. Or maybe sitting by the window with some coffee while it rains outside. I can't even begin to imagine how relaxing that would be! I'd have to do something to obstruct the view of the nearby homes but other than that, it would be perfect!

I know that the view doesn't cancel out the fact that there are a lot of issues with the house but my family and I are working to fix things up one thing a a time. Once we're done, the house will be as good as the view that we see from it.

My family and I have lived in the province for more than a decade. I wasn't sure if I would love the rural life when we first mved but I am very happy with it right now. The fresh air, the peace and quiet, the safety...I dread the day when we become more urbanized because that would ruin everything (including the view from our window for sure). I want to enjoy this life and this view while I can!

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Friday, February 16, 2018

My New Facial Care Find: St. Joan's Products

When I was growing up, I hardly had problems with acne. I didn’t even do anything special to my skin at the time, just soap and water. Facial care was something I started taking seriously when I was in my mid-20s. This was the time when I started using products such as moisturizers, cleansers, toners and began visiting dermatological clinics for facials and other skin treatments.

For the most part my skin has not had any problems until recently, when I made the mistake of buying and trying makeup that was apparently fake, the supposedly branded types that were most likely being sold in flea markets. After using the BB cream and powder foundation that I bought, my face broke out with a serious case of adult acne. I stopped using those products immediately after but for some reason, the acne problem stayed.

I stopped wearing makeup for a while out of fear that my acne problem would get worse and kept myself to a just a facial wash and moisturizer regimen daily. I was considering going to the dermatologist when someone from work told me to try the product that she was selling: St. Joan’s Facial cleanser and Moisturizer.

moisturizer
St.Joan's Facial Cleanser and Restoring Sorbolene Moisturizer

There was a lot of hesitation on my part because I had developed a fear of products I’ve never heard of before. I didn’t want to make my skin condition worse. Still, my co-worker convinced me to give it a try because she said the facial cleanser was a good way to battle adult acne. I gave in and bought the cleanser and the moisturizer. I should admit, I initially thought the products were a bit expensive compared to the store-bought products I currently use but in the long run, I think that the purchase was worth it considering it solved my acne problem.

I’ve been using the products for almost two months now and I am very satisfied with the results. The acne is gone…even the usual ones that come out during that time of the month aren’t appearing anymore. I love it! Not only did it solve the adult acne problem, but it made my skin look and feel better too. I could feel the difference when I washed my face: the skin feels fresher and smoother.

I’ve been using the facial cleanser after my shower with just four drops on a cotton pad. Considering that I have already washed my face prior to using it, I still see that it has removed some leftover dirt on my face. I like that it doesn’t sting or have an irritating smell.

The moisturizer goes on right after the cleanser for me. Again, I use very little of it because it’s so easy to spread onto my face and neck. I love that it’s not too heavy to put on and I feel that my skin can breathe through it unlike some of the other brands I’ve tried. I read that sorbolene, which is a featured ingredient in this product, is a pure moisturizer that is perfect for sensitive skin.

The only problem I have with these two products are with the packaging. Sure, they look good but for regular use I’d prefer if they change the opening of their bottles. The cleanser, once you remove the cap, has a large opening, which would make it incredibly awkward to use if you prefer cotton balls instead of cotton pads. The moisturizer, on the other hand, has a small hole that you squeeze it out of (think holes for alcohol bottles). The hole is small and it is hard to get the moisturizer out without squeezing out too much or too little. If I were them I’d swap the tops of those two bottles to make it easier for the people who buy and use their products.

The St. Joan product line also includes other products such as shampoo, conditioner, body wash, lip and cheek tint, blush, hair shine serum and lotion. I’m not sure whether you can buy their products at the mall, but I do know that they have a Facebook Page that you can use to inquire about the products and possible purchases.

I don’t think I need to emphasize that I would buy these products again once I used up the ones that I have now. I’m thinking of buying their lip and cheek tint soon too – I heard the color lasts long and as someone who doesn’t like to be bothered with the constant retouching of makeup, I think that would be a good product for me – but hey, that’s for a future blog post!
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Thursday, February 15, 2018

My Morning Beauty Routine

Lately I’ve been reading several blogs and it seems that it’s a popular trend to share beauty routines with their followers. I thought it as interesting so maybe I should give it a try. A little side note before I start: I’m not really a high-maintenance kind of girl so my beauty routine might be a little too basic for those who follow those intricate tutorials on YouTube. I guess you can say that if you want a no-frills routine, this could be one you'd be interested to follow. 

morning beauty routine
The products I use...and no, this is not a paid post!



Step 1: Start with a Clean Face 


This is pretty much common sense but I think I need to mention this just the same. You need a clean canvas (so to speak) before you put anything on your face. It wouldn't look good and it would most likely be bad for your skin.  

Normally I only use a facial wash (Ponds Pure White Facial Wash, the only brand I've ever used) to clean my face but on days when I have breakouts, I also use St. Joan Anti-Bacterial Facial Cleanser. It does a great job clearing up my skin when I need it!  


Step 2: Moisturize 


One thing that I started doing in my 20s was moisturizing my face. I think that it is very important to moisturize to avoid wrinkles and skin damage. I'm not getting any younger and I need the extra help to keep my skin looking young.  I have been using Olay Total Effects religiously for years, although I do switch it up with St. Joan Sorbolene Moisturizer from time to time when I feel like my skin needs some extra care (it does wonders when my skin feels extra dry).  


Step 3: BB Cream 


I don't know when I started using BB Cream, but I can't seem to go without it these days. I've tried other brands before but lately I have been using Maybelline Clear Smooth BB Stick (Fresh) as my primer.  The cream version is just as good, but I've been partial to the BB Stick because it's easier to carry around and apply. I love using this product because when I don't feel like wearing makeup I sometimes just put this on and that's it. I once went on an impromptu hike and all I had one was this product on my face – I got to the top and was surprised that my face still looked fresh like I had just freshened up. I can count on this to keep my face looking fresh and clean even on busy days. I don't even need concealer that much since it covers my blemishes already. 


Step 4: Powder 


Like I said, I find that the BB cream/stick is usually enough if I want to go light. But to be sure, I dab on some Maybelline Clear Smooth powder on my T-zone areas and under my eyes just to keep the oily bits and dark circles in check.  


Step 5: Eyes 


I don't do anything for my eyes that much, just a swipe or two of Maybelline Brow Drama Pomade Crayon to define my brows – hypothyroidism has caused me to have thinning eyebrows and it is not that pretty without me making them look as even as I can. If I had more time and if I wasn't too lazy, I'd use more product to define my brows but I find that the crayon is enough to do what's needed without taking too much effort on my part. 


Step 6: Blush 


I used to be the type that used a lot of powder blush, but these days using a lip/cheek stain has been my go-to blush. I use the Earth & Eve 8-hour Lip and Cheek Stain to dab tint on my face, usually doing the whole drunk blush look (because I'm obsessed with that right now). It always seems to look so natural on me and I love that!


Step 7: Lips 


For my lips, normally I just opt for a tinted lip balm from Maybelline but sometimes I also put on some lipstick. My favorite shade right now is Maybelline Powder Matte in Make Me Blush. The color is very natural and it goes well with the drunk blush look that I love to put on.





Et voila! That is my low-maintenance, no-frills and "no makeup" beauty routine. This is what I usually do for a normal day out to work. Don't get me wrong, I do put on more if necessary but for the most part I go makeup-free if I can (which is why I love rest days).  

This is a routine that works for me. Do you think it can work for you too? 
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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Salted Egg Chips, Yay or Nay?

One thing that I keep reading about on social media is that Salted Egg Potato Chips are popular these days here in the Philippines.  I keep seeing photos of it and read about it being raved about by some friends and I was curious. What was the big deal? How come I have never seen any of it in the malls here? Where do I buy these salted egg chips?!

Since I have never seen any for sale on my end of the world, I knew I needed to think of another way to find out what the fuss what about. Thankfully, I have found a  salted egg potato chips recipe on Yummy Magazine’s website for it. Finally, I was going to find out why people loved it! I decided to give it a try.

According to Yummy, this is what you need:

2 large potatoes, thinly sliced
8 salted duck egg yolks
3 tablespoons butter
5 pieces bird's eye chilies, sliced
1 cup basil leaves


As with my other previous recipes, I did not completely follow the ingredients or instructions since we have several kids at home and they cannot eat anything I cook if it is too spicy for them or if there are ingredients that they do not eat. Therefore, the chilies and the basil leaves were out.

Instructions

1. Heat oil for deep frying.

2. When the oil is ready, cook the potatoes until they are golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

3. Sauté the salted duck egg yolks in a separate pan until soft. Add the butter and cook until it is melted.

4. Take the pan off the head and toss in the potato chips until they are well coated.

Full disclosure, I did something wrong with the frying of the potatoes. I made sure the oil was hot enough (as per Yummy’s suggestion, if the oil bubbles when you put a wooden spoon in it, the oil is ready) when I put them in but for some reason, instead of it becoming crispy, the chips became soggy and no matter how long I kept it in there, it was just that: soggy. The chips were almost burnt but they still stayed soggy. I eventually decided to let it drain on paper towels instead but they still ended up soft, which meant an even more difficult time coating them later with the salted duck egg yolk mixture.

Maybe the chips were too thinly sliced? Maybe I soaked the potatoes in water too much and let it absorb too much moisture? I don’t know for sure. If anyone out there knows what I did wrong in that department, please let me know!

salted egg
Salted Egg Chips - My finished product!


Moving on, one thing that the recipe didn’t say was how difficult it could be to get salted duck egg yolks out of the egg. Separating it was not as easy as it sounded when the duck egg is very oily – the white doesn’t separate as easy and it can get messy, it was for me. I was also a bit disappointed about wasting the duck egg whites since I had no use for them. That’s just too much egg to waste. Too bad I had no recipe where I could use only that.

Still, epic fail aside, I made do and mixed up the egg with the soggy chips. I let it dry a bit together and managed to make it a little bit more edible than when I started out. Thankfully, I have a very supportive family that still told me how much they loved my cooking even if the chips didn’t look like chips but more like soggy potatoes.

I must admit that it is an interesting combination. It may have been even more interesting if it were spicy, if I kept the chilies in the recipe. Still, it didn’t really live up to the hype. Of course, it could have been because the chips were soggy but I have a feeling that even if the chips were crispy, it would still be just OK for me.

Then again, maybe the Salted Egg Chips being sold that I have seen online have a different method of cooking and different additional ingredients that make it taste better. Either that or those chips were hilariously overrated.  What do you think?

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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Spotify's List of My Top Songs from 2017

If you use Spotify, you probably would have noticed a playlist of your 100 most played songs for the past year. I first got this for 2016 and now I have another one for 2017. I guess you can have an idea of what kind of person I am by listening to my playlist. Allow me to reveal a little about myself with the songs on my list!

photo from Pixabay

I think what some people would be surprised to see on my list are songs like Panda (Desiigner) and White Walls (Macklemore & Ryan), which are the type of songs I used to listen to a lot when I was younger. 

Most of the songs on my list are a mix of musicals, pop and R&B, I've also been listening a lot to country this past year. Lately I've been a little more laid back with the kind of music I listen to and fell in love with country music and I think it shows on my list with songs from Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton and Sam Smith.Personal favorites are Luke Bryan's Play it Again (the kilig I feel when I hear it is nuts) and Sam Smith's Take Your Time.

There are also several upbeat/dance tunes because I love dancing and I work out with those kinds of songs with my Sworkit when I can. Feel good dance music (like Bang Bang from Jessie J., Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj and Bruno Mars songs Runaway Baby and Uptown Funk) always helps make workouts bearable! RuPaul's Call Me Mother is also so fun to work out to! 


Now that I'm getting older, I've also had this interest in songs from my younger years, which shows with a lot of songs in my playlist. There's some Wham from my childhood, Wilson Smith from my early teen years plus Gary V and 98 Degrees from my college years. There's actually a lot of old songs on my list than I expected, I think I've been reminiscing the good old days more than I thought! 

I've also been attempting to write things...a novel here, a novella there, there's more than one story swimming around in my head but definitely they are going to be stories about love and relationships so I've been listening to all these love songs that relate to the books I am writing. Some of the songs I've enjoyed listening to have been Jon MacLaughlin's I Want You Anyway, Gavin DeGraw's Follow Through and Perfect by One Direction. 

Another thing my list reveals about me is that I love to sing. My playlist has a lot of songs that I love to sing along to, whether I am in tune or not (hahaha)! Among my favorites are songs from musicals like Hamilton (Helpless, Schuyler Sisters) and The Unauthorized Biography of Samantha Brown (Runaway with Me). Other songs I love to sing along to are Selfish (Nsync), Not Over You (Gavin DeGraw and Colbie Caillat live version), Coloured Kisses (Nina), Terrified (Katherine McPhee), When You're Gone (Mary J. Blige) and Ex Factor (Lauryn Hill).

I wonder what my list for 2018 will look like. I'm curious if it will be the same or will change as I get older. For sure it will still have a lot of songs I love to sing along to! 
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