Lifestyle Blogger. Promdi. Filipina.

Monday, August 31, 2020

My Fave K Dramas

In the early 2000s, I was introduced to Korean Dramas. Back then, K-Dramas were called Koreanovelas and were Korean series that were dubbed to Tagalog for local viewers.  It was around this time that I also discovered that you could watch subtitled, original language versions of these shows online (if you knew where to look). Listening to the actors speak in their own language and hearing the inflections, the pitch for me gave the scenes more depth and emotion than the dubbed version. While Filipino dubbers are good at what they do, nothing beats hearing the actors themselves speak to get the full impact of a scene.

It has been almost two decades since I have been introduced to K-Dramas and I do not see myself stopping from watching anytime soon. There were a lot of posts on social media recently of people sharing the dramas that they loved the most and the ones that made the most impact for them. I have seen a lot of posts from my friends, so I decided to share my own list of favorite Korean dramas. Read about them here and let me know if we have anything in common:


Full House 

This is probably one of the first ones that I watched. It was so popular in the country that a local TV network made their own version of this. A romantic comedy about a celebrity who bought a house without the knowledge of the homeowner where they end up sharing the property, there were a lot of cute and funny moments in this series that just made me fall in love with the story and the lead couple. 

The show was so popular that the house became a tourist attraction until it had to be torn down after being damaged by a typhoon in 2013. 

Who can forget this scene from the series? This one stuck with me after all these years!



Princess Hours

Yoon Eun Hye is one of my favorite Korean actresses and this was the series that introduced me to her. She was so endearing as the young girl who was suddenly married to the Crown Prince of Korea. It is one of those from friends to lovers stories that I enjoyed watching, although now that I am older I find that some of the ways that the Crown Prince treated his wife to be a little problematic and slightly abusive. Still, this was a cute show to watch and it was an interesting take on a “what if” situation since technically South Korea does not have a monarchy anymore.

I couldn't find the Korean version of the trailer, but here's the locally dubbed one:



My Lovely Sam Soon

The series that introduced me to the man that inspired the name of my blog, My Lovely Sam Soon, otherwise known as My Name is Kim Sam Soon, is about a pastry chef who has to pretend to be the girlfriend of her much younger, very grumpy boss. Of course, even if they promise not to fall for each other they eventually do.

This is another series that has a Filipino adaptation, although I was not too keen on the fact that they overplayed the whole overweight plot of the story: in the South Korean version Sam Soon was overweight, but in the local version she was hugely obese, which was also made into a comedic plot for the show. As much as I wanted to like the local version, the Korean series will always be the better one.

Korean American actor Daniel Henney is in this series in a supporting role and I have followed his career since this show. For that, My Lovely Sam Soon will always be a personal favorite! 



Coffee Prince

As I mentioned earlier, Yoon Eun Hye is one of my favorite Korean actresses and in this show, she did one of her best work. As a young woman pretending to be a man to be able to find a job to pay the bills, her character Eun Chan finds herself falling in love with her boss and complicating things in the process.

The chemistry between Eun Hye and Gong Yoo was so good that I thought these two would end up together in real life. It is that spark that helps make this show interesting to watch! It’s also one of the shows with a really good ensemble cast that makes the supporting roles as interesting as the leads.

A local version was also produced for this one, but I did not even bother to watch it after I was disappointed with the local version of My Lovely Sam Soon.

Too bad I can't find an official trailer online, here's a blooper reel from the show instead:



Missing You

This is probably one of the shows that had the biggest impact on me out of all my favorites. There was so much drama, so much emotion, so many complicated feelings and a storyline that makes your heart feel for each character in the story.

Most of my favorites are romantic comedies and this is the only drama on the list, but I cannot help but add this because it is one of those shows that even though it really tugs at my heart in the worst way, I feel like I could watch it all over again. 

Here's a locally dubbed trailer of the show (sorry, can't find the official Korean version):



Crash Landing on You

I think it goes without saying why I loved this show. It is one of the shows that for the first time in a long time made me laugh, cry, and fall in love all at the same time. It is a mix of romance, comedy and drama that I could not help but love and enjoy watching. It is no wonder that this became a highly rated show in South Korea and became popular internationally. 



Well, that is about it! I know that there are many more good Korean shows out there but if a popular one or a personal favorite of yours is not on the list, it is more likely that I haven’t gotten around to watching it yet. Believe it or not, I have not seen many of the popular shows that people have talked about so much. Hopefully, I’ll get around to seeing them soon.

Anyone else out there with similar favorites? Leave me a comment and share them with me!


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Sunday, August 30, 2020

Netflix Picks: Love the Way U Lie

With COVID 19 still making it hard for people to go out, many film producers have opted for other ways to show their films. Many of them have decided to release them digitally to be sold/rented or streamed via streaming services such as Netflix. Viva Films’ Love the Way U Lie is one of those movies.



It takes the concept of Ghost into a more romantic comedy concept by making the person hearing the dead person fall in love with the husband of the dearly departed who has been using her as a medium to get her man to move on with his life. Starring Alex Gonzaga and Xian Lim, the movie takes the characters on a journey towards each of their characters finding their paths in life: him as a boss of a company in trouble because he has not been able to let go of his grief after the death of his wife and her as the breadwinner of a family who feels she cannot find her own happiness. 

I live-tweeted this movie when I was watching this on Netflix (open the tweet on Twitter to see the entire thread):



The thing about this movie is that while it was funny in some parts and romantic in others, I did not feel that much of a chemistry between Xian and Alex. I really wanted to say that they did have that spark, but they just did not in my opinion. It does not make the movie bad, but it would have been better if they did. 

There was also a part of the movie that did not make sense to me. When Sarah, the dead wife just stopped appearing, there was no explanation as to why she did. After all the bugging and pleading and trying to communicate, she just stopped. Even when she appeared to him in a dream to say goodbye, there was no explanation as to why she disappeared. That was a bit weird.

What I did like, however, was how the movie showed the viewer around parts of Manila. It reminded me a bit of South Korean shows that make it a point to showcase the locations to appeal to tourists. It also felt like a bit like how the movie Ikaw Lamang Hanggang Ngayon also showcased parts of Manila in its scenes.

The movie was cute, entertaining and Xian Lim was, as usual, very dashing, and handsome in every scene. Alex Gonzaga was her usual funny, bubbly self. I must admit it was a little odd seeing her in the dramatic scenes since I am not used to seeing her in things like that! 

I kind of wish that there were more to the movie. I felt that it had the opportunity to be more but was just limited by the length of the film. Like Stacy’s (Alex) family, for instance. I felt that there was something more to that whole Filipino Chinese thing that they could have used. They just became supporting characters that did not have back stories of their own. It would have given that whole online business thing a bit more impact if it could have explained what it was and what it meant to them. 

The movie was entertaining to watch, but as far as romantic comedies go, I have seen better. I know a lot of people who watched and were looking forward to it who were disappointed, but I would not go too far by saying that it is a bad movie. It is a feel-good movie and for me, as far as intentions go, I think that this one fulfilled its purpose.

I also liked the cameos at the end of the movie. If you are interested in seeing it, be sure to watch after the credits!


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Saturday, August 29, 2020

Folklore

Taylor Swift surprised everyone with a new album during the pandemic. According to news articles on this, she did not plan to release one, but she had created so much during the pandemic that she had to release it. Good thing that she did, since this is something that fans (and non-fans) like me can enjoy from start to finish!


The title of the album is Folklore, and it has a more laid-back, folk vibe that I think many of us who are stressed out because of the pandemic would appreciate. As usual, there were songs that I could relate to and have immediately fallen in love with, and ones that have stories that take the listener to another place in time and makes you feel for the people written about.



Cardigan, which was the first single from the album, is said to be a trilogy with the other songs August and Betty. It is about a love triangle where James cheats on his girlfriend Betty with another girl. Each song talks from the point of view of the three people involved. Cardigan is Betty’s point of view. August is the point of view of the girl James cheated with and Betty is from the point of view of James. It was interesting to listen to the songs one after another. It really was a complete story of how Betty was talking about a lost love, the other girl was enjoying an affair that would not last, and James was trying to win her back without any success.

The message that two of her songs The Last Great American Dynasty and Mad Woman talked about was something that reminded me of her previous song The Man. The first song is about the past owner of one of Taylor Swift’s homes, someone who was judged as a sort of wild woman of her time. This relates a lot to the second song which is about being called a mad woman because she speaks her mind and talks back. To me, this is about strong women who are often misunderstood because they do not conform to what people think women should act.

I enjoyed listening to all the songs in the album but I do have my personal favorites: The 1 is about looking back on a past love that didn’t work out and how it would have been good if she ended up with the guy. Exile, a duet with Bon Iver, is about a former couple who are talking about their respective points of view of why the relationship did not work out. Illicit Affairs, obviously, is about being in an illicit relationship and the pain that a love like that brings. I could feel the pain that she was singing about being in love with someone, but you cannot share it with anyone else. Another song, Mirror ball, also resonated with me because I felt the message of this one on a personal level.



One song that stood out was Epiphany, which is obviously about the current pandemic. There are lines about holding a person’s hand through plastic, dealing with something med school did not cover, and about crashing out. It talks about how painful these times are and how challenging it is, particularly for the people who are front liners who are dreaming of relief from the times where they can hardly stop serving the people who are suffering from the virus. It is a haunting and moving song. 



There are other songs in the album, and they are also equally good, it is just that the songs I mentioned here are the ones that really made an impact with me when I was listening to the album. 

Has anyone else enjoyed Folklore?


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Friday, August 28, 2020

Pandemic Diaries: Still Loving Mia Maison

One of my most popular posts on this blog has been my entry about loving the home scents that I get from Mia Maison. I have tried several other scents since then, but I have always gone back to Mia Maison. Now that they I can buy them online via Lazada, making my purchases from this store has become even easier.

It used to be an issue for me to buy from the store since they are not available in our area and I had to go to a mall that is probably an hour (or more) away just to buy their products. When I discovered that they started selling online, I made sure to buy from them there and I have been getting my supply from Lazada since then.

I already own an air purifier/diffuser from Mia Maison, but I decided to buy myself their 5 in 1 atomizer that is also a humidifier, ionizer, and diffuser with a night light.  Along with that, I also bought some of my favorite scents: Green Apple, Green Tea, Fresh Bamboo and Lavender. These are my go-to scents whenever I went to their stores. I love their atomizer, which they call Mico, because it does not use as much water as the purifier and the water evaporates as you use it. With the purifier, there is that extra work of putting in the water and constantly replacing as much water when you use it again, which can be a bit of a waste of water in my opinion.

Recently, I read that lemon grass is good for respiratory diseases and for healing, so I decided to buy the oil as my aromatherapy during this pandemic. I ended up liking it even if I did not know what to expect the first time that I bought it. I also decided to try Ocean Breeze, but this did not go over very well for people at home. My nephew for one said that it smells too manly for me to use and that it was weird to use it. 

My all-time favorite, however, would have to be their White Tea and Ginger scent. I have loved this scent so much that I bought a cologne that had the same scent combination. That is how much I like it. There is something relaxing/soothing about the scent that I enjoy so much. I cannot really put my finger on it!

These days since we are always at home it can make a person very stir-crazy just being in one place all the time. I find that having these scents from Mia Maison to give my room/home a comforting feel helps a lot with the anxiety that we are all feeling during this pandemic. It helps give a relaxing vibe every time I use it. More than ever, I think that the benefits that I can get from aromatherapy have become so valuable to me. There is just too much stress that goes with this pandemic and I like that all I have to do is place a few drops of oil with water and turn on the machine to relax. 

Mia Maison has some special scents that I am curious to try, but I am also feeling a little hesitant because I am not sure of what those scents will be like based on their descriptions (it’s their Luxe Collection, check out their descriptions on Lazada or Shopee to get what I mean). I think that is one disadvantage with buying from them online: it’s hard to try the new scents because you have not been able to sample them in the way that you normally do when you visit their stalls!

If anyone has tried any of these scents, please leave me a message on the comments section and let me know if they are good or not!


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Thursday, August 27, 2020

Thank You Syala!

As a plus-size person, it has been difficult for me to find clothes when I go to the mall. Usually the clothes that I like never have anything in my size. Either that or the limited clothes available are not flattering or are not my type. There are a lot of online stores that sell clothes for people my size, but I am hesitant about buying from them since I am not sure if I can trust them. I have bought some clothes from Zalora, but plus-size clothes tend to be a little pricey than what I would normally like. One store that I did try and eventually liked is Syala Collections.

The first time that I bought from Syala I think I purchased three dresses. They have sizes up to 4XL and you can also provide your specific measurements so that the dresses can be made specifically to your size. This time around I decided to pick from their size options. When the dresses arrived, they all fit me right and they were all comfortable to wear. I have not tried ordering to my specific measurements yet, but I plan on doing so next time that I make another dress purchase. I had planned to buy more this year but then this pandemic happened, and I have not bought any more dresses since then.


I recently bought face masks from them, which I mentioned in a previous blog. I liked the masks and I liked their customer service so much that when they mentioned that they were also selling some sleepwear, I decided to order those from them too. 


There are several colors and prints to choose from so I chose a mix of both the plain colored and print ones. The sleepwear is super comfortable, and I love that the top has an extra layer on the chest area so not wearing a bra will not be a problem. The fabric is so soft but as my sister said, it feels sturdy enough to go through the washing machine without getting worn out right away. The only thing that threw me off was that the bottoms were not drawstring shorts as I had assumed since there was a ribbon on the front. I would have been great if they were drawstring since usually when shorts wear out, they become loose at the waist and making it a drawstring means you can adjust them later.

What I love about Syala is that again, I can pay online, and their delivery is handled by services that you can track to check when you can get your order. The cost of their items is also very reasonable given the quality of their products. The purchase is worth the money. 

Another thing that I am happy about when it comes to Syala is that their customer service is very friendly and responsive. I usually have a lot of questions before I make a purchase and they have patiently answered my questions and provided me with information until I was satisfied enough to make a purchase.

If I could suggest anything to Syala it is that they should also make a collection of lounge/home wear since we are so many of us are working from home these days. I have seen a lot of other clothing stores take advantage of the times by making loungewear that are comfortable for being at home and still presentable in case of online meetings. 

Thank you to Syala for making such comfortable sleepwear and wearable masks (and those dresses I enjoyed wearing when we used to be able to go out). I will be buying from you again!


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Wednesday, August 26, 2020

My Go-To Cafe: Brainstorms and Brews

One thing that I miss about the pre-pandemic life is visiting coffee shops and just enjoying the coffee and ambiance with my family and friends. As much as I love coffee, it is not just about the coffee, but about the social experience too. 

There is a local café that my family and I often went to pre-pandemic that recently made an adjustment to the pandemic life, and for that I am incredibly grateful. They have created a website where you can order coffee and non-coffee drinks as well as other food that we used to enjoy when we used to visit their physical store. I love that you can order and pay online, which means that when the items are delivered there is no exchange of cash. I have heard that cash is one of those things that can spread the COVID 19 virus so not needing to pay via cash is a good thing for me. 

Brainstorms and Brews has recently become my go-to café since it is very convenient to order and pay for their products. They are also very easy to talk to: I remember a moment when we were wondering why there was no option for pearls on their website and when I messaged them, it only took them five minutes to put it on the site so that we could make our order. How amazing is that?

Being new with the online orders and delivery process, I think that they are still on a learning curve. There was one time that the delivery guy forgot our straws (I know, I know, straws are bad for the environment, but we don’t have reusable ones at home at the moment), when we messaged the café, the delivery guy came back to give us the straws. There was also a time when the drinks with and without pearls got mixed up. We messaged them about it and the next time we ordered everything was right and we got a free cookie from them too. I can’t really blame them for mixing things up at this point since they’re new to this kind of thing, but I am looking forward to them learning from this and improving their service further.

About that cookie…it is such a good cookie! Their Gooey Cookie is a bit on the large side and can be shared if you are not too much into desserts. The chocolate melts in your mouth and it is not too sweet despite all the chocolate.

My family and I have ordered several times from Brainstorms and we have all developed our favorites after trying different flavors every time we order. My brother in law loves their Butterball Frappe. My nephew is a fan of their Cookies and Cream frappe. My sister enjoys their espresso-based drinks on ice. My other nephew and niece love switching up between their coffee and non-coffee frappes. Personally, I love their signature coffee, but I am a little disappointed that it only comes in one size. I would love to order them in large, but they only serve in medium! Same goes with their lemonade!

The café offers food items (mostly sandwiches and waffles) and desserts (cookies, brownies, and cheesecakes), but I really think that in terms of this category they need to improve on their selection. I wish there were more they could offer. We are also missing the Berry Drink that they used to have with yogurt, it used to be one of our favorites, but they have removed it from their menu. Please bring it back! 

Once this pandemic is over, I would love to visit this café again to have coffee there like we used to. It would be nice to be back once this is all over!


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Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Finally Got to See Hamilton!

I have been a fan of Hamilton the musical since I first listened to it on Spotify. As much as I would have wanted to see the show myself, it’s not something that I have not been able to do so I have been trying to be content with whatever Hamilton footage I could find online. Mostly it is footage from their performances of the songs from other places, such as The White House or during the Tony Awards or other award shows. It is not comparable to the real thing, but it was the best that I could find at the time.

When they finally announced the release of Hamilton’s film version on Disney Plus, I was devastated that I could not see it since our country does not have that streaming service yet. I tried finding out if we can purchase the film instead but so far, no such luck. Thankfully, with the help of people with Disney Plus accounts, VPNs, and all that, I was able to watch the filmed version of the musical from the comfort of my home during the pandemic. 



If the music itself blew me away, the film did it even more. The choreography, the images, the acting, they all worked so well together with the music to make such an amazing performance. I loved that the camera angles ensured that you not only got to see the musical from the audience point of view, but that you could see the show up close and personal during the moments that you needed it the most. There were several small moments that I felt would have gone unnoticed if not for the great camerawork on this one.

I am so happy that they were able to film this with the original Broadway cast. It gave me an understanding of why this musical has won so many awards and why there is such a magic to it that resonates with the people who have seen it. I love that it is not your traditional Broadway musical and makes it appealing to the younger generation who may not necessarily be interested in musicals if the style of this one was of a more traditional genre.

There are so many great moments in the filmed version. My favorites songs would still have to be Helpless and Satisfied. There is so much about the choreography that was so amazing and as fans have noted, are mirror images of each other when played side by side. The Battle of Yorktown was also another great and impactful performance in the show. Of course, we cannot forget another personal favorite, One Last Time.

Emotionally, I loved It’s Quiet Uptown the most. There is so much going on in that scene. The betrayal that Eliza Hamilton felt when her husband cheat on her, the loneliness and heartbreak that they felt when they lost their son, the forgiveness when they knew that they could only hold onto each other during that time…it was all there. I felt like crying along with them when I watched that part.

The musical is a bit of a long watch, but I was glad that I was able to see and enjoy it with my niece, who is also a fan of the musical (and of Lin Manuel Miranda). I am still hoping that once this pandemic is over, we can watch this musical live. Hopefully here in the country. That would be a dream come true. 

If anyone has news on when we can purchase the movie from wherever, please leave me a message at the comments section!


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Monday, August 24, 2020

Pandemic Diaries: Lasco UV Light

As I have mentioned in a previous post, the pandemic has resulted in me purchasing a portable UV light sterilizer. I was happy with my purchase and had intended to buy a larger sterilizer for our home but the one from the brand I previously purchased from sold ones that were beyond my budget so I decided to look elsewhere.

I have been interested in a bigger UV light sterilizer for some time now and there were too many brands and types of sterilizers that I was overwhelmed with the selection and ended up not choosing anything at all. It was only when a friend of mine posted her purchase of the Lasco UV light that I decided that I was finally going to make my purchase.

After a few questions and online research, I decided that I was going to purchase Lasco’s Multipurpose UV Light Sterilizer. According to their website and their Lazada page (which has one of the most responsive and helpful Customer Service people, by the way), the item I chose was 38W and was good for a 40 sqm area. At only P2,250.00, it is a very affordable purchase.

Photo Credit: Lasco Official Store on Lazada


I specifically chose the non-Ozone type of sterilizer because it was something that the seller recommended as better for those with respiratory issues, since the scent that results from the sterilization can be strong and it is not safe for people to breathe in after use. You must wait an hour or so just to be safe. According to my research, ozone light can sterilize things in an area even if it is not hit by the light while the non-ozone one means it would depend on what the light hits during the process. However, the scent from the sterilization process is safe for people even right after the product is used. 

There are other lights of higher wattage because they cover more area, but I felt that 40 sqm was our soft spot since we do not have rooms bigger than that area to sterilize anyway. It was within our budget and it was exactly right for us. Non-ozone was also safer since we have kids at home. In any case, the seller did inform me that if I ever decided to try the ozone version, I could just purchase the ozone light bulbs from them in the future. 

One thing that I liked with Lasco is that it has a remote control that you can use to turn the lamp on. Given that direct exposure to UV light is not safe, being able to put it in a room and turn it on from a safe place away from the lamp is a good option. If you do not like using a remote, you can also turn it on directly because it gives you a ten-second (or more?) time delay before it turns on so that you can safely leave the room.   

There is an extra precaution of motion detection where the lamp turns off if it detects movement so that if someone accidentally enters the room it will turn off. I have not tried it and honestly, we would rather err on the side of caution and not even try to see if it works. There is also a switch to turn on the lamp apart from the power button. I guess that helps to avoid accidentally turning it on while you plug it in to have that extra feature.

The UV lamp has three options for time: 15, 30 and 60 minutes, but we mostly use it for 15 minutes at a time since we have small rooms. Once it is turned on, it does its job and then automatically turns off after the designated time. It leaves a strong scent after, but I was assured by the seller that it is safe since it is non-ozone. Either way, we leave the door and the windows open for a few minutes before we re-enter or use the room. 

For anyone interested, Lasco UV Light Sterilizer Lamps can be purchased via Shopee or Lazada. If you’ve purchased one, please let me know your experiences with it. 

Stay safe everyone!


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Sunday, August 23, 2020

Soap Obsession: Safeguard Charcoal

The thing about being a germophobe is that you become obsessed with items that label themselves as something that can kill or protect you from germs. I remember being a child and wanting to have soaps that make that promise but my mother always preferred other brands. When I was an adult and was buying my own toiletries, I made the choice to use Safeguard soap, and it has been the one that I have been using since then.

I have tried different brands through the years, but at the end of the day I still go back to Safeguard. Maybe it is a psychological thing, but I have always believed their marketing that the soap eliminates germs and protects you from germs when you use it. If I am not using Safeguard (or any other “anti-bacterial” soap) it feels like I am not completely clean. I am more than likely to use another brand of soap but then use Safeguard after just to be sure. Weird, I know but that is how my mind works.

Another quirk I have with soaps is that it must be white and as much as possible only lightly scented. Again, it’s not because I have not been able to find a colored or scented soap that I liked, but it’s more of me just feeling more comfortable with white soaps that don’t have strong scents that tend to make me feel dizzy.

When I was buying Safeguard Soap online during this pandemic, I made a mistake with my orders: I thought I was ordering 3 soaps, turned out it was 3 PACKS of three soaps each. Not only that, I was buying a different Safeguard variant: Safeguard Natural Detox in Charcoal. The soap, much to my surprise, was black!

I was not sure if I was going to use it at first, but I felt like I had no choice given how much soap I had purchased. I was used to white soap so using something black felt weird. It had a slight scent, but thankfully it was not strong or overpowering. After using it several times, I found myself liking it a lot. The scent on my skin was nice, and the soap for some reason seemed to have an effect on my skin. It felt smoother. 

As it turns out, Safeguard has three variants in their Natural Detox line. It was still all about killing germs and protecting the skin from germs, but there was now and added benefit depending on the type of soap you chose. The Charcoal variant, apparently, is deep cleansing and helps with dry skin. I finally got why it made my skin feel smoother. My skin has been feeling dry lately and I guess the soap did as it promised. 

Another variant that I am interested in trying is the Tea Tree Oil one. I have used tea tree oil before because of its anti-acne properties so I am thinking this soap is also going to have the same benefits. I have been breaking out (from stress?) since the pandemic started so this might be a good thing for me to try.

The one variant that I am hesitant about trying is Pomegranate. For one, the benefit listed is that it is “revitalizing” and has a fruity fragrance. Fruity scents are something that never appealed to me and the  benefits of this one is not as clear as the other two. I just might pass on trying this. 

I was a fan of the Safeguard Ivory White soap, but for some reason I have not been able to find one for a while now. I was wondering if they were phasing it out or maybe people in my area just do not buy it, so stores have stopped stocking up on them. I think that from now on I will be using the Safeguard Natural Detox Charcoal soap in place of that – although I will most likely try the Tea Tree Oil one sooner or later.

Has anyone else tried these soaps? What do you think of them?


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Saturday, August 22, 2020

Book Review: Natalie Tan's Book of Luck and Fortune

Sometimes you buy a book because you are interested in a story, sometimes you buy it because of the cover. In this case, I bought it because of the latter, and I have no regrets about doing so. I read Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune by Roselle Lim and I loved it!

Credit: Penguin Randomhouse

The book is about Natalie, who returns home after her mother’s death and decides to re-open her grandmother’s restaurant, which is located on the first floor of the apartment that she inherits. She learns to reconnect again with her roots, with the place that she grew up in and the people who knew her family best while at the same time learning the magical recipes that her grandmother left.

What I love about the book is the way that it opens the reader to the world that Natalie is in. The way everything is described makes you imagine what it all looks like and really takes you to that place and time. I loved that it was not just about the story of Natalie re-opening the restaurant but it was also about relationships, magic, culture and yes, love (with a guy described as looking like Daniel Henney – I knew I would love this book!).

So much about how things, places and people are described in this book made me picture the scenes as if I were watching a movie. Everything just seemed to come to life as I was reading it. If anything for me defines a good book, it is when I can picture everything in my head when I’m reading it and can see faces of the characters as I encounter them in the book!

The magical element was something that I enjoyed about the book. It was about how cooking and food can be a magical thing that helps heal a person or makes a person feel things just from a bite. It reminded me of this movie starring a young Sarah Michelle Gellar called Simply Irresistible where everything she cooked also had a magical element that made people feel what she was feeling when she was cooking.

For Natalie, the magic in food was something that her grandmother knew from the start. The recipe book already shared which food was best for whatever issue the person who would be eating has. In a way it seems that food was also the medicine that her grandmother gave to people who needed them.

There was so much about the book that I found I could relate to. While I am not Chinese, there is so much of the culture that is very Asian and as such was very relatable to me. I guess it also helps that the writer is Filipino Chinese, so there may be an influence of that in her work.

Natalie’s relationship with her mother and later, her father was something that moved me. It showed how Natalie finally knowing and understanding her family and why things were the way that they were. Sometimes growing up I think we all have felt that we do not understand our parents or that they are being unreasonable. I loved that the book showed that sometimes these things happen for reasons that we were not aware of and we would understand later in life when we have grown up. 

If there is anything that I would have wanted more of in the book it would have been more of the recipes of the dishes that Natalie prepared. Part of me wants to try cooking the recipes as described (or at least something close) but I am not that good a cook to do that!

Maybe a spin off cookbook of recipes inspired by this novel please?


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Friday, August 21, 2020

Book Review: House of Salt and Sorrows

A book I recently read was House of Salt and Sorrows, a Young Adult book that had elements of the supernatural, mystery and horror added to it. It is a story about twelve sisters and the mystery of why the young girls were dying one after another. I only got the book because of the cover, but I enjoyed reading it from start to finish.




There are romantic elements in the book but mostly the story revolved around the mystery of why the girls were dying. At the start of the book I felt that the story seemed awfully familiar and then I realized that it was a retelling of the story of the 12 Dancing Princesses from the Grimm’s Fairy Tales. It was a story that I enjoyed when I was younger, so I guess it made sense that I would enjoy this retelling too.

Even if it was a retelling of the story, there was still a lot that made this book unique. For one, the world that they were in was quite different and there was also more mystery and suspense going on in this book than in the original fairy tale. You cannot help but be as intrigued as the lead character Annaleigh about what was going on around them.

I like that there are moment where you think you have figured things out about the story and then it shifts, and you find yourself not knowing where things are going to go. There are several parts of the book where I think I have guessed it right and then I realized that my assumptions were meant to lead me away to make the big reveal at the end a surprise. 

The book was sufficiently creepy and mysterious. It would probably make a good limited series on streaming video somewhere if someone became interested in it. That is, if someone would invest in the special effects needed to make some of the things that happened in the book come to life.

There was such a different world created for this story. I was picturing something goth or steampunk while reading the whole thing. It would be interesting how this could be interpreted if someone turned it into a series or a movie. Although to be honest, there would need to be a lot more going on if this were to become a film or series. I enjoyed reading the book, but there were parts that felt lacking in terms of background and establishing characters given that this is a different world they are in.

While there was romance in the book, I felt that it was not necessary and could have been skipped since that was not what the story was all about. If anything, I felt that it took away from the mystery element. The male lead could have still been kept around but he did not necessarily have to be a love interest. Not everything has to have a love story. Not every woman has to have a boyfriend to be a lead.

One thing that I would have loved more was to have more time to get to know the sisters better before they all started dying. I thought that there would have been a greater impact if the reader got to know them and would feel their loss when they died. The same goes with the villain reveal at the end. It would have been nice if there was more about that character throughout the book to make that reveal have more impact. 

All that aside, I did enjoy reading this book. Could it have been better? Yes. But that does not mean that it is not good as it is. 

I just might start reading more mystery/horror/suspense books like this one. I hardly ever read this genre but now that I have, I think I will do it again. 
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Thursday, August 20, 2020

Pandemic Diaries: We are in Different Boats

It has been almost six months since the government declared a State of National Emergency because of the COVID 19 pandemic. How has life been treating everyone? 

As for me, I have been working from home. I report to the office once a week, then spend the rest of the week at home. The only time that I have been out of the house since this all started has been to go to the office and I do not even know what everything else looks like right now. Here at home we have been getting things delivered as much as we can to avoid going out. Anything we can do from home we try to do from home. 

I bought some items specifically because of this pandemic to make sure the family is OK. We got an oximeter, a thermal scanner, and a UV light for disinfecting rooms around the house. Better safe than sorry. We also try to avoid having other people visit so deliveries are accepted outside and whatever things we used to get service people to do my brother in law has decided to take on himself to be safe.

Staying at home during this pandemic is a luxury. I am aware that not all people can do their jobs from home or have the internet connection or gadgets to be able to do so. A lot of people must risk getting sick just to continue working because they cannot afford not to during these challenging times. Then there are, of course, the health workers who stare this virus in the face and make the ultimate sacrifice of being away from their families and risking their lives to save others.
 
Image by Myriam Zilles from Pixabay

I remember reading a post from someone on social media that we are all in the same boat, we are all experiencing this pandemic, this financial crisis, together. Yes, we are all doing that, but I do not think we are all in the same boat. It is more like we are all in the same storm, but we are all in different boats.

We must admit that this, for one, is a financial thing. The people who have more money can afford to protect themselves better. They have insurance and enough tucked in to make sure they stay healthy during this crisis. They are the ones who can afford to not work for an extended period of time while on the opposite end of all this there are people who are losing their source of income (be it a job or a business) and do not have enough to protect themselves and make sure they stay healthy during this pandemic.

These are trying times, and I am aware that I am still lucky compared to many others. I know people who have lost their loved ones, who have experienced health scares due to COVID 19, people who have lost their business and lost their jobs. People who are trying their best to survive this pandemic given the circumstances. People are coping in different ways as it affects us not just financially but emotionally and mentally as well.

Every day I feel grateful to be alive. Grateful that my family is alive and healthy. I am grateful that we have food on the table every day and that we are making ends meet, no matter how challenging it can be to do so. I am grateful that I have a job when so many are losing them. And it breaks my heart that so many people are not as lucky. I think we all must be aware and be grateful for our blessings during this pandemic. We have to do what we can, even if it is as simple as sharing food with the neighbor who might not have any or giving an extra tip to the delivery person who is bringing the things you got online. Or just reaching out to someone who may need someone to talk to. Or maybe simply not being too judgmental about how other people are coping during this pandemic.

While we are all having a difficult time, I hope we can remember that we are not all in the same boat and to do what we can to make things easier for others whenever it is possible.

Stay safe everyone.
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Wednesday, August 19, 2020

My Acupressure Mat Experience

I turned 43 early this year. The things that I thought older people were exaggerating about are things that I am now starting to feel. My eyesight, particularly when it comes to reading, has gone bad. I cannot read anything well without my reading glasses. Most other times that I am reading something without them I am just trying to guess what the words are. My body has been having all sorts of aches and pains that I have never had before. It has been so bad that I decided to try something different: an acupressure mat.

Image by WhisperingJane_ASMR from Pixabay

Social media has bombarded me with ads on acupressure mats since I started complaining about my aches and pains. I agree with people that these apps on my phone are somehow listening to the things that I need. I have not even searched about it and yet it pops up on my ads! While the most popular mat would have to be the shakti mat, I decided to buy a cheaper version that I found online that consisted of a mat and a pillow for my neck and head.

According to the websites that I have been through, acupressure is good way to relieve pain. It helps with blood flow/circulation and helps the user to relax their muscles. According to some sites it helps to release endorphins that make people feel better and the acupressure also helps to lower blood pressure. Some have credited acupressure with helping people to sleep better, better digestion and relief from headaches/migraines.

I am aware that some people are hesitant about using the mat because they worry that the spikes would puncture their skin, but they do not. Take it from someone like me who is overweight and puts a lot of pressure on that mat when I lie on it. 

The mat that I bought uses plastic spikes for acupressure, but I have heard that there are mats that use other materials. I think it is safer to use plastic though since metals might pierce your skin.  The first time that I tried it, the mat did give me a bit of relief, but I felt that it was not enough. I read that it would be better to try it directly on your skin (I was wearing a shirt the first time) so I decided to try it that way. I must agree that it does work better that way!

Using the mat for 10-20 minutes on my back has been very relaxing. I also use it on my stomach because they said that it helps with digestion. The pillow is also good, particularly for your neck. As someone who strains from looking down a lot on my phone, it felt like a massage on my neck when I used it. 

One thing that I read about and tried but have not been able to pull off just yet is using the mat with my feet. I tried stepping on the mat, but it was so painful! Some people have used it for five minutes at a time, but I cannot even last a minute on it! I’ve heard that the feet is somehow connected to other parts of the body, so acupressure on them treats the symptoms from other body parts…does that mean that I have a lot of body parts that need help if I feel so much pain standing on the acupressure mat?

As satisfied as I am with the acupressure mat that I have, I am looking for other brands that I can use. I have read that there are some mats with more spikes compared to mine, so that might be an even better experience for me. 

Has anyone else tried an acupressure mat? Do you have any tips about where I could buy a good one?


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Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Book Review: Royally Series by Emma Chase

One of my guilty pleasures when it comes to books is reading love stories that involve royalty. Not necessarily a love story between an ordinary person and royalty. It could be any love story if is it royalty adjacent. I think it comes from my fascination with British royalty and the fact that we do not have any here in the Philippines. I enjoy reading stories involving royals, even if most of the ones I have read involve royals from fictional kingdoms in Europe.

It is because of this interest in royalty related love stories that I have come across the Royally Series from Emma Chase.  There are four main books, but there are also short versions that were added on to stories of the characters in the series.


The first book, Royally Screwed, is the love story of Nicholas and Olivia. The Crown Prince of Wessco who meets and falls in love with Olivia, a young American who owns a pie shop in Manhattan. The book is all about how they fall in love and overcome the obstacles of being together since he is royalty and she is a commoner. There is a companion book to their story called Royally Marooned, but I have not been able to read it yet.


Royally Matched, on the other hand, is the story of Nicholas’ younger brother Henry, who as the resident bad boy of their kingdom, decides it is a good idea to do a whole Bachelor-type show to find his future bride. The book has a lot of characters since it is about a competition of many women for his heart, but mostly it is about how he falls in love with the most unlikely girl and how they end up together.


The third book, Royally Endowed, is more of the royalty adjacent themed book. It revolves around the love story of Olivia’s younger sister Ellie, who falls in love with her bodyguard Logan St. James. While they are around royalty, the two main characters are not exactly royal. But since they have been part of the “world” of the series, it made sense to have their story included. Of all the books however, this was the one where I felt a bit hesitant to root for the characters. I think I just pictured the age gap between the two during the first book to be big, which made it weird for me. I know it was explained that Logan started young as a bodyguard, but it still felt creepy for me. It was still a good story; I was just uncomfortable with the age difference since he met her when she was much younger (more like underage) and he was already around the same age as Nicholas or Henry. 

The last book, Royally Yours, for me was the most interesting book of all. It goes back to the past to tell the story of Lenora, the grandmother of Nicholas and Henry. She has been presented as such a strong and interesting character in the entire series so having a book that explained why she was the kind of person she was and how she became Queen was a nice addition to the series.

The final book is more of short story like Royally Marooned but helped to wrap up the story of this world by showing how they are doing 20 years later. It was a nice touch for fans who enjoyed the books.

For anyone interested in reading these books, be prepared for a lot of sexy moments in the series. While there are some books where the intimate moments come off a bit on the pornographic side, I think that the series handles it well. I find them on the steamy side but written well. 

Another thing that I enjoyed about the series is the way that the characters are introduced and are given their moments to shine, which makes having supporting characters with their own books make sense. Henry was a good character from the first book, so it made sense for him to have his own story, the same with Ellie and Logan and of course, Queen Lenora. 

If you are like me and you enjoy reading love stories involving royals, you would probably enjoy this series. If you have read it, please leave a comment, and let me know which one was your favorite!


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Monday, August 17, 2020

Netflix Picks: Cursed

Netflix has recently come out with a series that re-imagines the story that revolves around Excalibur and the legend of King Arthur. Titled Cursed, it revolves around the character Nimue, who, as the series insinuates, will eventually become the Lady of the Lake in the stories of King Arthur and Camelot. 


Based on an illustrated novel, the story from a different point of view. It is more about Nimue, who is given the sword Excalibur by her dying mother and instructed to deliver it to the wizard Merlin. Throughout the course of the series the viewers meet the people who she crosses paths with along her journey, some are familiar names from the Arthurian legends, who are revealed in a straightforward fashion. Some, the viewers get to know more before their true characters and roles in the legend are revealed. I really liked that about the show. The reveal for each character, particularly for someone like me who read the legends and have seen movies on the story, was exciting and, at times, gave me goosebumps. I do not want to spoil who is who in the show. I think that’s part of the magic of watching it!

One thing that I will spoil, since it was revealed early on, was the character of Arthur. I am not too happy with the role. Not sure if it is about the actor himself or how Arthur is presented differently from what I imagined him to be (as a person, not in terms of physicality), but something just did not fit for me.  Could be the lack of chemistry he had with Nimue (played by Katherine Langford) …I just felt that it was a little awkward. Even when they were kissing, I did not feel a spark between them. 

I like that the series shows viewers the story before Arthur became King. Showing how these characters crossed paths and the journey that had before they became who they eventually were in the legends was exciting to watch. One thing that I wish they did was pick up the pacing a bit because some parts of the series felt like they were either dragging too much or unnecessary to the story. It is an adventure; the pacing should feel the same way!

Another thing that I did not like about the show was how the characters did not seem to notice things that felt far too obvious to the viewers. When Sister Iris joined the Fey, none of the characters who knew her seems to notice she was there even though she was a human among the Fey and would obviously stand out. No one seemed to notice how she reacted during moments of Fey triumph where she was obviously mad and in tears. The same thing goes for when Morgana was bitten/possessed by the Cailleach. She was completely out of character and yet none of them seemed to notice that either. Considering how on edge they were it was a strange thing to go unnoticed.

There were some themes that I liked about the show that I think people can relate to today. It was a story of discrimination, about people fighting for their rights, about people who are drunk with power and will do anything to keep it, and the people who will sacrifice who they are and what they believe in to either be safe or be in power. I think these are stories that are still happening and are relevant today. 

Cursed was an interesting show to watch and there were actors who to me stood out even if they were not the main characters of the story. Merlin, for one, was played in a way I did not imagine but enjoyed watching by Gustaf Skarsgard (the Skarsgards seem to be an incredibly talented family, how many of them are out there?). Daniel Sharman (from The Originals and Medici) also stood out as The Weeping Monk. He hardly had any lines, but he just stood out whenever he was in the scene. Emily Coates, who played Sister Iris, that creepy young nun, was also a standout in this one.

A second season is still up in the air, but I am looking forward to seeing how they will move the story along if it does happen. There are already some changes to the legend in the show so I am not expecting it all to be the same so I am curious about how it will all play out with all the players on the board. Arthur is there and involved with Nimue, the future Lady of the Lake. But then Guinevere is also there. So is Lancelot. The love angle will make a interesting complication to their journey and I look forward to seeing it!

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Sunday, August 16, 2020

Pandemic Diaries: Photography

Taking pictures is something that interested me since I was a child. My father used to have cameras that fascinated me when he brought them out to take pictures of the family and anything that he found interesting. I still remember the equipment that he had: the camera, the lenses (he even had a huge telephoto one) and a tripod. I never got to use them, but it did start an interest that led me to a Communication Arts Degree when I was in college. While that plan did not exactly pan out, I did decide to take up the hobby on my own when I was finally earning my own money and could buy my own camera. I would like to think that I have a knack for it, since I have won a photography contest at one point many years ago when I attempted it.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

Before anyone assumes that I am an expert, I must clarify that my interest in photography is more of a hobby. I am not an expert in the technical details. I’m mostly someone that sees things and wants to share them through pictures, hoping that they come out in a way that could show what made me interested in something (or someone) when I pressed the shutter button. I owned a DSLR for a time but now I use a mirrorless model from Canon. I have dabbled with different brands but for some reason I always go back to Canon. I use my camera a lot, but I rarely share the photos I love that I have taken…maybe it is time that I share them somewhere. I am just not sure where just yet. 

This pandemic has been challenging when it comes to taking photos. These days I use my phone camera more than I do my Canon M50 because I do not go anywhere other than to work and to my doctor when needed. With the whole droplets/airborne virus issue I have opted not to bring too much stuff when I go out, so the phone camera is my go-to for pictures these days.

Plus, I had been having issues with my camera pre-pandemic and was waiting for the Canon store at the Mall of Asia to rehire a technician (the one they had just resigned when I went there). I was waiting then COVID 19 happened. Now I do not know where to go for repairs. I have tried messaging Canon, but they were forwarding me to service centers that were too far for me to go to. There are other centers where you could send your camera, but I am too scared to leave it with someone that nobody can vouch for.

Reading through more than a dozen sites for users of the same model did not help me with my problem. It is so weird because it is not that big of an issue. The LCD/ touch screen of the camera has gone blank. It was working fine when I last used it then suddenly, the thing just stopped working. I can still take photos using the viewfinder, but I cannot review them using the screen. I have tried so many suggestions that I have found online but none of them work. I wanted to try to update the firmware of the camera but without a working screen, it is not possible. Someone from the forums told me that the only way I can probably fix it is via the service center. With the pandemic going on, I do not think that is even possible for me. 

For now, I am trying to dabble with this hobby with my phone camera when I can. It is challenging considering that I do not go anywhere but it does help me to see things with a new perspective. Looking at things closer, appreciating the things around me more and concentrating on what I have instead of what I do not have.

Is anyone else out there interested in photography? How do you still make time for this during the pandemic? Does anyone out there know how to fix my camera? Please leave me a message and let me know!


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Saturday, August 15, 2020

Pandemic Diaries: Too Many Deaths

This pandemic has been heartbreaking. So many people have been infected by the virus. So many people are still suffering from it and so many people have died from it. There are also those who have died from non-COVID related causes, but because our hospitals are overwhelmed as it is, they have also been affected by this pandemic.

I have an aunt who was suffering from cancer who had been fighting the good fight but died during this pandemic. I have had friends who have lost their parents, uncles, cousins, husbands…people who were close to them. People that they loved. People that they never imagined they would lose this year and that they would lose them so fast and in the way that they did. 

Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay

One thing that people have been critical about when it comes to the government is about how they are telling people not to worry about the figures. It is one thing to give facts and figures and statistics, but it is another thing to be affected by what is happening. To face the reality of the deaths because of this pandemic. 

Yes, statistics may say it is not as bad as we think, but the fact remains that people have died. People we know. People who are close to people that we know. It is just hitting too close to home. It is scaring people. I know that it is scaring me. I guess what I am saying is that maybe a little bit of compassion should be used when it comes to talking about these figures. I am sure that people mean well when they say it is not that bad (so that people would not worry too much I suppose), but it is still people we are talking about. People who were loved, who are missed. They are not just statistics but people who have left loved ones behind grieving for their loss.

I am thankful that me and my immediate family are OK. But I cannot help but be constantly in fear since it seems that more and more people are getting infected by the virus as time goes on. Given my health conditions, I am at risk. Given my mother’s age, she is also at risk. It feels like everyday I am worrying about how we will survive all this. I do not want to die. I do not want anyone in my family to die. Not during this pandemic. Not this way.

I do not know what else I can do to be honest. We make sure to have a supply of alcohol so that we can constantly disinfect if we cannot wash our hands right away. We wash our hands often. We disinfect with UV light. We do our best to get some sun and to stay healthy. We avoid going out as much as we can, although this cannot be avoided as we do have to work, and we do have to get our supplies. 

It feels like every day is like waiting for the other shoe to drop but hoping it that it never does. Does that even make sense? I know that a cure or a vaccine is still a long way away but without it I feel like every single day is another opportunity to make me worry and get stressed about this pandemic. Every day we read about more and more people getting infected and more people dying. 

If we cannot stop people from getting infected, can we at least help to stop people from dying and being severely affected by this virus? Please? This is all too much!

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Friday, August 14, 2020

Netflix Picks: Bad Boys for Life

During one sleepless pandemic night, I decided to watch one of the newest movies on Netflix, the third in the series of Bad Boys movies from Will Smith and Martin Lawrence titled Bad Boys for Life. 

The movie is, naturally, a continuation of the story of the two characters from the previous two films. There is an almost two-decade gap between the last film and this one so it is not a surprise that a lot has changed since then. Marcus (Lawrence) is a grandfather and is getting ready to retire while Mike is still enjoying being a cop (but also aging, as shown in the scene where they talk about the fact that he colors his beard).

The story of this movie is about the revenge plans of the wife of a Mexican Kingpin, who orders her son to go and murder the people involved in his arrest and death. Mike is one of those people. He is almost killed, but when he survives, he asks to be put on the task force that will go after the people involved. He joins the team of his ex, who leads a young team that features actors Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical), Charles Melton (Riverdale) and Alexander Ludwig (Vikings) in catching the suspects, along with a reluctant Marcus, who had he had to force out of retirement.

I loved the part where Mike tells the team that this is not a “high school musical” – an obvious nod to how young the other members of the cast are and how Vanessa Hudgens is a part of that movie. I thought it was cute that Alexander Ludwig, who was clearly the largest man in the group, was just the tech guy because he refused to use his strength to kill anyone. Then of course there is the character played by Charles Melton, who was always getting on the nerves of Mike’s character. You could tell that this was a good team that could probably be a good spin-off from the original films if the producers wanted to make it happen. 

The twist in the end of the killer, Armando, being Mike’s son not that much of a surprise. There was something about how they stared at each other during that first fight that gave it away. What was annoying was how Armando’s mom was so weird throughout the movie. Weird in a way that just did not make a lot of sense and was not that relevant to how the movie was supposed to go. 

As always, the movie had a lot of action and a lot of comedy. I read that out of all the movies in the series, this last one was the film that earned the most money. It was originally planned to be just a trilogy and that the third film was just delayed, but now that it was a success, they plan to make one more. I am curious about how they will do that since Marcus has (again) retired. I am sure it would have something to do with that last scene where Mike asks his son if he wants to make up for the things he’s done and that he has something to offer.

It would be nice if they could make the next movie and opportunity for the new team to take over for future spin-offs. I thought that they were a surprisingly good bunch of people and they did well in the action sequences of the movie. I would love to see more of them in action. Maybe in the future films Mike and Rita (his ex, who became Captain at the end of the film) could be leading this team into their future adventures? I would love that!

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Thursday, August 13, 2020

KDrama Review: Dinner Mate

A recent app discovery for me is iQYI, which is a streaming service that features Asian dramas and movies. It is free to use, but it has ads in between while you watch videos (think TV commercials when watching free TV). When I first discovered the app, I also discovered a Korean series that I got hooked on: Dinner Mate starring Song Seung Heon (Autumn in My Heart) and Seo Ji Hye (Crash Landing on You).

Also known by its other titles Let’s Have Dinner Together and Would You Like to Have Dinner Together, the series is about two people who decide to become dinner mates: two people who will go on dinners together just so they can have a meal with someone and talk freely about things without the necessity of having a relationship because they do not know each other’s names, where they are from or what they do for a living. 

In this series, Seun Heon plays Kim Hae Kyun, a doctor/psychiatrist who specializes in food therapy. Ji Hye, on the other hand, plays a producer for an online media company. Both have had their hearts broken by their exes and both end up in Jeju Island the same time and end up having dinner together, which starts the dinners that they have together back in the city.

There is a lot of discussion about how sharing a meal with someone is a big deal and says a lot about the type of relationship you can have with a person. There was this part where they say that if they are not comfortable eating with the person that you do not want to be with that person at all. How sometimes we adapt how we eat with someone just because we still want to be with that person. Basically, it means meals with someone is a big deal. They have a point, I guess I just never thought about that until I saw this series.

As with any romantic series, the dinner mates evolve into a couple and of course there are people (particularly, their exes) who try to get in the way of that. There are a lot of subplots in this story, but they all work well to develop the relationship that the leads have with each other. Being a show that features a psychiatrist as the male lead, there were also subplots about mental health. 

At first I thought this would be an age-gap romance since I remember Song Seung Heon from his earlier work and knew he’d probably be in his 40s by now (even if he doesn’t look it) and that his co-star was much younger. I was wrong though. Turns out Seo Ji Hye, who looks like she is in her 20s, is 35! She looks so young!

There were several cameos in the show, like the one featuring Kim Jun Hyun, who played Ji Hye’s love interest from Crash Landing on You. My favorite however would have to be Sandara Park, who played herself as a patient of Song Seung Heon’s character. When her name was shown as a patient, I did not expect it to be her and that she would be playing herself. It was an amusing scene to watch when she was getting treated for her eating disorder.

I loved the romance in this series. It was not forced, it all felt like everything was just falling into place naturally. There were no over the top romantic moments. It seemed like the way most real love stories develop, which in this case was a friendship that turned into a relationship as they got to know each other better.

Dinner Mates only has 16 episodes so it is a quick watch. It is worth the binge. At least for me it is!


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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Pandemic Diaries: Growing Pains

Interesting times. 2020 is certainly a year that the entire world will not forget. So much has happened this year and just when we think we have seen the worst, something comes up that makes us wonder what else could be lurking around the corner. 

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

There have been so many deaths because of this pandemic, so many people who have lost their jobs and businesses. There are people all over the world speaking out against injustice and those who calling out those in power to do better given our current circumstances.

Some have joked that if this year were a movie that it would be Jumanji because the challenges just keep on coming. And who can forget the animals that been running around all over the place like we were in a real-life version of that game? 

There are some who have openly wondered (for some on Facebook, they are pretty much announcing) if these are the end times. It is a scary thought, but at some point, I am sure we have all wondered it.

One of the ways that I have been coping with this pandemic has been watching Instagram Lives of people I follow from different parts of the world. It gives me comfort to know that I am not the only one who feels the way I do about this pandemic and that I am not the only one wondering about what is going on and what happens next. Learning by listening to different points of view from those who are from various walks of life has been interesting and eye-opening for me.

I was watching an Instagram Live of Travis Van Winkle (from the TV shows The Last Ship and Instinct) where he talked to people from different parts of the world. There was one woman shared the idea that everything that is happening today, as challenging as it may seem, are growing pains or labor pains that will lead to the birth of a new world. I would like to align myself with that concept more than that of a Jumanji or end-days type of existence. This whole growing pains into a better world thing is a more appealing idea.

There is so much conflict happening worldwide. More than ever, people are making their thoughts heard and are standing up for what they believe in. While there is conflict from people who think differently, this exchange of opinions is helping to open minds of people who are usually on the fence about things and are now learning from the experience. 

With this pandemic, many people are re-learning how to live their lives. We are learning about what is important and about new ways to do things: new ways to adapt to the challenges of this world-changing crisis. Yes, it may be inconvenient and yes, we may not always agree with how our governments are taking on the challenge, but the fact remains that we are all dealing with this as best as we can (at least, I hope we all are doing that). We are finding out as we go which ways work and which ones do not. We are learning things as we go. 

I genuinely hope that these labor pains lead to a new and better world where people will have a new way of thinking and living. Where governments can serve their people in better ways than before after learning from this experience. I am not naively expecting a utopian world/existence, but I am wishing that after all the challenges of 2020 we can all come out of it as better people, better countries and ultimately a better world.

Let’s all keep our fingers crossed.


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Tuesday, August 11, 2020

My Favorite Lip Sync Battle Performances

Lip Sync Battle is one of those shows that has become a guilty pleasure for me. It has been amusing to watch celebrities lip sync to famous songs and try to make it their own. As the show has gone on, it seems that celebrities are always trying to one up one another, making each performance and even bigger production than the first. So, from the small segment that it was on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, it has grown into a big competition from celebrities in the US to those in different countries all over the world.

I have enjoyed so many performances through the years that I thought I had to share some of my favorites here. Hope you enjoy watching them as much as I do!


Alicia Silverstone – Fancy

Alicia Silverstone battled Mena Suvari in this episode. In this performance she recreated her iconic Cher character from the movie Clueless while performing in an outfit that was popular because of the movie. Lip syncing to Iggy Azalea’s Fancy, she recreated some of the most memorable moments in the film by walking down the replica staircase of her home in the film, the classroom scene, the driving scene with her jeep and all those shopping bags. Anyone who has seen the movie would appreciate the throwback, especially since Alicia still looks the same after all these years!


Zoe Saldana – No Scrubs

This was such a cool performance. I loved TLC back in the day and I loved that Zoe Saldana, who always seemed so serious in her recent roles, had the chance to let loose and channel her inner Lisa Left Eye Lopes while she performed No Scrubs.

In this battle, she was up against her Star Trek co-star Zachary Quinto (more on his performance later). I loved that she was wearing an outfit that was just like the one that TLC was wearing in the video. The best part of it all was that near the end the remaining two members of TLC, T-Boz and Chili (who looks as amazing as ever, can I be her when I grow up?), were on stage to join in her performance, complete with the dance moves! Any TLC fan would love to see that! This really made me miss TLC a lot that I had to go and listen to their songs again!

I cannot help but wonder how they felt looking at Zoe dressed up as Lisa since the resemblance was uncanny. That was so cool!


Ricky Martin – Footloose/Old Town Rock and Roll

I just HAD to include both of Ricky Martin’s performances in this list. Both were just too good not to share!

With the Footloose performance, I just enjoyed watching him move. I miss seeing Ricky Martin perform. I wish he would get back into music and get out there and dance again. He clearly looks like he can still do this! I have always loved the movie Footloose and I thought it was great that he got to do this one on Lip Sync Battle. The open button was a little distracting but hey, the show must go on!

Old Town Rock and Roll of course is a performance that will remind you of Tom Cruise in Risky Business. The only difference is that Ricky Martin can really dance when he is doing it. The ladies will not mind watching him in the outfit that made this moment in Risky Business famous too! He is still so hot!


Joseph Gordon-Levitt – Rhythm Nation

 Rhythm Nation is one of the most memorable Janet Jackson songs, and the music video that went with it is nothing but iconic. To see Joseph Gordon-Levitt perform this (with red lipstick on, for some odd reason) was great, I did not know that he could move like that! I loved that he was really into the performance too!

 He was battling against Anthony Mackie (Falcon from the Avengers movies) and even he was just overwhelmed by this performance. The moves, the costumes, it was good! I am sure Janet Jackson approved of this one!


Neil Patrick Harris – Smooth Criminal

Smooth Criminal was one of those music videos that was well made that it made you feel like you were watching a movie. It is a music video that never grows old for me. It is that good.

When I heard that Neil Patrick Harris performed this one on Lip Sync Battle for their Michael Jackson special, I was not sure how I would feel about it. I am glad that when I finally saw it that they had done it justice.

I loved that they recreated the setting from the video and that Neil Patrick Harris gave his all in the performance, including that signature tilt that Michael Jackson used to do!


Laverne Cox – Lose My Breath

I have been a fan of Laverne Cox for a while now. I have always found her to be just flawless and glamorous. If I could be her friend, I would want to be her friend. I think she is cool and fun and super talented.

When I saw this performance of Lose My Breath from Destiny’s Child, I just knew that this was going to be one of my favorite performances from Lip Sync Battle. That is all I have to say about that!


Jenna Dewan – Cold Hearted

This one is a performance that you would appreciate if you loved Paula Abdul back in the day. I was such a fan when I was in high school and the music video for this song was one of the most memorable performances that she had when she was still singing and performing.  To see Jenna Dewan perform this in a battle against her (then) husband Channing Tatum was unforgettable because of how much he was practically drooling while he was watching her.

To see Paula Abdul enter the stage and dance with Jenna (who is a great dancer herself) near the end was amazing! If I were in that audience I would have been screaming like crazy!


Channing Tatum – Run the World

Of course, Channing Tatum also gave a great performance in this battle with Jenna Dewan. I think he did her one better not just by performing as a woman and dancing like Beyonce, but he also brought out Beyonce herself who performed with him at the end of the song!

I loved how beautiful Beyonce looked as she walked into the room with people screaming and she looked like it was the most normal thing in the world. I think nobody saw it coming so it was such a shock to everyone when she came out. She looked flawless! She really enjoyed this judging by her big smile at Channing at the end! That whole blessing him thing was a nice touch! 


Tom Holland – Umbrella

Now this is a performance I can watch repeatedly and never feel sick of it.

I think a lot of people are unaware or maybe forget that Tom Holland is/was a dancer and that he played Billy Elliot when he was a child. Seeing him do the first part of singing in the rain was a little expected but seeing him come out as Rihanna and performing Umbrella probably caught a lot of people off-guard!

With his dance background, it was no surprise that he pulled this off. I loved how his co-star, Zendaya, was awestruck with his performance! It was so good! That rain at the end with the flip? Wow!


Special mention performances:


Zachary Quinto – Freedom

As I mentioned earlier, Zoe Saldana performed against Zachary Quinto, who performed George Michael’s Freedom, recreating the video that featured supermodels singing along to this hit.

And how could he recreate it without a supermodel? Naturally, he brought out one. It’s not just any supermodel, mind you, it’s THE supermodel, Cindy Crawford (another woman who drank from the fountain of youth)! 


Kathy Bates – That’s What I Like

I just HAD to include this one in my special mentions. I do not think anyone expected her to be on Lip Sync Battle and NO ONE expected her to perform Bruno Mars!

The great actress that she is, she committed to this performance, it was so fun to watch!


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