California Christmas

It is our first time celebrating the holiday season here in California, after spending almost four years on the east coast. Yes, the change is drastic, but I am loving it. I have only been residing here for roughly six months and I really…really can’t fathom living anywhere else. I love Southern California.

We enjoyed the majority of our simple and pretty much nontraditional Christmas festivities during Christmas Eve, in which we went out to our favorite local breakfast spot, opened presents and soaking up a bit of sun in the best ‘winter’ weather with our dog, Mimi…who we recently adopted back in October 🙂

To end a wonderful day, our evening consisted of baking brownies and laughing our butts off to Home Alone 2 (it never gets old).

I return to work tomorrow, but it’s okay considering how close New Years is quickly approaching and I fortunately am blessed with a bit more time off.

Hope everyone is having an incredible time!


A Friendly Reminder

Since coming back from my trip, I had to overcome the following: jet lag, depressed mood and the challenge of returning back to my daily routine. I think I have finally settled back in, but I’m still experiencing post leave blues.

A few days ago I spent the afternoon with my little one at our favorite Italian ice cream spot, savoring desserts and listening to live jazz music outside. When she wasn’t ditching me to run off with other children (lol), we were creating slow motion videos of her displaying her ninja moves. We had time to browse through some local shops. One where I spotted this friendly reminder in the form of a cuff bracelet (details at the bottom of this post): “Be Here Now”. A mantra so fitting for the moment. It was a rare afternoon where I was able to leave work early, and I was spending it with my favorite person in the world.

I felt grateful and the sadness I held in previous days subsided.

I know I have a lot to be thankful for.


Cuff: Indo-Love, purchased at Wysh.

Thoughts/Highlights & Favorites

Since I left my home in the Philippines roughly eight years ago, I have made my best attempt to return on an annual basis. I initially decided to postpone this year’s trip to later reunite with my family in Japan early next year, a decision we mutually agreed on…and one that I was excited about. But…our plans quickly altered last minute, and I found myself booking a round trip ticket back to the Philippines. Super last minute, but also super necessary, for reasons that I will carefully reserve for my family’s privacy.

Truly one of the best decisions I have made this year.

The trip was short, but incredibly profound. I unfortunately did not take many pictures. Rather I tried my best to live in the moment. So this post is more personal. Read below for some thoughts, favorites and highlights.


My Mom & Celebrating Her 57th Birthday. When I think of my mom, my mind tends to visualize a younger version of her. When she left the house, her outfits consisted of collared blouses with light denim jeans and she often toted a black purse. Her hair was very similar to my current soft layered bob cut, but with bangs. I use to wonder why she rarely experimented with different trends but it is now that I appreciate her simplicity. My mom is gracefully aging, but while the inevitable occurs she remains herself. This beautiful and caring woman inside and out. My Tita Marissa said it best when she told me, “Your mom thinks about others before herself.”

My sister and I threw her an early birthday celebration a few nights prior to our flight back. We commuted to a nearby mall, searching for the most delicious cheesecake (her favorite), which we discovered at the French Baker.  We indulged in Chinese food for dinner, followed by singing her happy birthday, sans the candles…and of of course, enjoying delightful slices of the blueberry cheesecake we purchased.

I tell her this often, but if you are reading this mom…I love you.


Bonding With My Sister. Very few people get me, and one of those people happen to be my older sister, Jasmine. Regardless of our age, I feel like we revert back to our younger, silly selves from our high school/college days whenever we are together.  I am sure she disagrees but if only we lived closer, we could make a pretty entertaining YouTube channel about…well, us.

We bonded mostly through food (of course), conversations regarding our personal lives, our knowledge on pop culture and…more food.

I will definitely miss our morning breakfasts at Relish Luxe Cafe and munching on Tochi Cookies from the Salcedo Market.


Time. Going back home can be a friendly…and sometimes not so friendly reminder that time ceases for no one. I feel like a different person each time I visit, but not in a negative manner. Rather in a way that I feel more evolved. I am returning as a mother. As a wife. I now have a life from where I left, and as I contemplate over the thought that things will never be the same, I can also say that time can also be a friendly reminder to be present and to be grateful.


It’s a short list.

Citadines Millenium Ortigas Manila Hotel. Stayed here briefly, but by check out it was difficult to depart. Truly a home away from home. Loved the details that went into their decor.


Relish Luxe Cafe. Where my sister and I had breakfast almost everyday during our stay.


Tochi Cookies. My sister purchased five containers in assorted flavors of my now favorite cookie. Devastated that I can’t purchase this here in the US.


Mama Said. Song by Lukas Graham.

La La Land. A movie I watched during the long flight. I cried.

Long post. I know. If you made it to the end. Thank you for reading 🙂

Must Have Dry Shampoo

Thought I would share this little bottle of perfection since it has been keeping my hair looking fresh post workout.

I have experimented with a number of different brands, gravitating towards Living Proof’s Perfect Hair Dry Shampoo. I still love Living Proof, but due to it being out of stock at my go to beauty store, I decided to pick up a mini size bottle of Bumble and Bumble’s Pret-a-Powder Tres Invisible Dry Shampoo with french pink clay.

It’s perfect for those with normal to oily hair like mine. This baby effectively absorbs oil and adds a nice amount of volume. Additionally it claims to protect hair from the sun’s UV rays.

Definitely purchasing the standard bottle next time.



Breakfast @ Our Place

This is nothing new to the rest of the world, but lately we have developed a toast and cream cheese obsession. There many ways you can enjoy this perfect pairing, but the addition of avocado, tomato and a poached egg with cracked pepper is my current favorite.

You can find a collection of similar recipes on your preferred search engine (I wasn’t the genius behind this), but allow me to break it down.

  • A slice of your favorite kind of bread toasted— I recommend sourdough.
  • Cream cheese. I go for a tablespoon size amount to spread on top of your toasted bread.
  • Thinly sliced roma tomato, layer on top of the cream cheese.
  • Slice avocado. Place on top of the layer of sliced tomatoes.
  • Poach egg on top…or fried.
  • Sprinkle cracked pepper.

And that’s really it.

Catching Up

My mind is having somewhat of a hard time accepting the fact that it is the end of the month already. The last few weeks have been incredibly busy with work, forcing me to really prioritize the tasks on my to-do list. I feel a lot more grateful for the weekend…and fortunately today I was able to get an early start.

Thought I would share a quick, random list of items that are worth sharing for this brief blog update!

  1. Mel Robbin’s interview on Lewis Howe’s super inspiring podcast, The School of Greatness.
  2.  Richard Bolle’s 2018 revision of What Color is Your Parachute? . Started reading this book in preparation for some future plans to shift career paths.
  3. Dr. Jart+ Clear Skin Lover Rubber Mask I picked up at Sephora. This mask left my stressed skin looking completely refreshed.
  4. Odesza’s new album, A Moment Apart. The best music to listen to when driving.
  5. The Headspace guided meditation app. Perfect for beginners like myself.



August Favorites



August was quite an eventful month. I had a wonderful week of leave prior to entering a new position at work, so I definitely am going through an adjustment period. With age and experience I’ve been able to manage stress, cope with change, and retain a balance between significant parts of my life. I am no expert, but with loving support from family and friends I am always reminded of how life is beautiful.

So on to my monthly favorites. I got a few beauty/skincare items to share as well as a current favorite song of mine. Click links for further details.


GLAMGLOW Glowstarter Mega Illuminating Moisturizer in Nude Glow (also available in Pearl Glow and Sun Glow) / I have been appreciating the no foundation trend these past few weeks. As I have mentioned previously, my skin isn’t perfect but it has definitely improved over time with good habits. This illuminating moisturizer in nude glow has this gorgeous sheer pink, pearl like color to it (I did my best attempt to capture that in the above picture…but I am aware it looks more gold than pink), that looks incredibly natural on the skin…and it actually moisturizes. I wear it alone or sometimes with a drop of foundation mixed in. This product can also be used as a highlighter. I only wish this moisturizer included SPF.

H2O+ Beauty Oasis Quench the Day Hydrating Mist / I tested this product a few weeks ago at a department store and found myself returning for it. It has been insanely hot these past few weeks and what keeps me looking refreshed whether I have a bare face or not, is this mist.  It contains ingredients such as aloe and sea grass extract, which has kept my face supppper hydrated. It also serves as an excellent setting spray.

Clover & Bee Hibiscus and Raspberry Body Polish / Purchased this body scrub on impulse while browsing, The Gypsy Den Boutique. It is a bit on the pricey side compared to previous body scrub purchases…but I tend to reach for this as a weekly treat. It’s made with granulated honey crystals and certified organic essential oils, which leaves your skin feeling soft and silky after the shower….to the point that I applying any kind of moisturizer post scrub is kind of unnecessary.


Gnash & DENM Belong (Acoustic) / Gnash is one of the very few artists who I will always come back to. I just feel very connected to a lot of his music. Especially this particular song, which reminded me of how I often felt during my childhood.

Skin Care / Estee Lauder

The insecurities I had with my skin from my late elementary years sent me on what felt like a never ending search for a combination of miracle products to bring my skincare woes to a closure. I spoke briefly about my need for consistency. Last night I realized that I had been very consistent with my skin care routine, using products from Estee Lauder. I gravitate towards this brand for two reasons. First being, it works. Second, it reminds me of my mom.

My skin is, and probably never will be perfect. But I sure have been receiving more compliments lately.

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum / After washing my face with a gentle cleanser (I use Neutrogena’s Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser) I apply a few drops of this serum on to my finger tips and  evenly massage it into my skin. This serum sinks right in without leaving behind a greasy or oily feel. What it does leave behind is a subtle glow-y sheen. I am on my second bottle, and since using it my skin continues to improve in both appearance and texture.

Estee Lauder Revitalizing Supreme Global Anti-Aging Eye Balm / I’ve switched up the eye cream a few times and often never find the bottom of the container. This eye balm put that to the end. Most people would comment that I am crazy for using an eye cream at my age and that this product is unnecessary, but I disagree. I believe in being proactive with skincare. This particular cream is oil-free, moisturizes around the eye area and smoothed out some lines I began noticing about a year ago.

Estee Lauder Revitalizing Supreme Light Global Anti-Aging Creme / This moisturizer is perfect for my sometimes “normal”, sometimes “combination” skin. It is oil free, and typically the last step of my night time routine.  It is what it claims to be, light…which I love considering how prior products I have used make me feel as though I have slathered Vaseline over my face. It adds to the glow-y sheen I experience after applying the serum.

Let me know if you’re a fan. 




It has been a wonderful last few days spending time with my in-laws and my little girl prior to school starting. Aside from taking a spur of the moment trip to Disneyland (which was amazing and brought back some good childhood memories), we stayed local. Due to the limited time we had, we made most of days by walking to the beach, eating at our favorite spots and browsing through local boutiques. I miss them already.

Since school kicked off and my in-laws left, I spent my remaining three days of my staycation marking off a list of tasks I have yet to complete. When I wasn’t so productive I was binge watching Netflix’s Atypical and lounging around waiting for my daughter to get out of school to hear about her day.

Now. Back to work.





My impulsive shopping habits have drastically improved over the past year and a half. Considering this small victory of mine, I have been able to find staple items that have brought great value…and I am not exclusively referring to financial value. I am all for quality vs. quantity. In addition to my need for consistency. I love to try new things, but the following items have found a permanent space in my place.

Glossier Boy Brow / V Therapy Lip Butter in Peppermint / Peter Thomas Roth 24K Gold Pure Luxury Lift and Firm Prism Cream / Vintage Kenzo Sunglasses from Captain’s Helm / Skinfood Black Sugar Perfect Oil Cleansing Tissue / Moleskine 12 Months Planner Weekly Notebook / Stache Coffee Company Guatemala Coffee / Sarto by Franco Sarto Carona Mule Sneaker