50 Things That Make Me Happy
 

1.       My husband. My favorite person.
2.       My family. They are crazy, loud, and colorful and I absolutely love it.
3.       Cooking! There is something therapeutic and relaxing about stirring sauces, slicing ingredients, and sprinkling seasoning. I especially love making pasta and steak. 
4.       Online shopping. Nothing is quite a satisfying as adding things to your cart and waiting for weeks before clicking the "checkout" button.
5.       Cuddling on chilly nights.
6.       New makeup. An absolute joy. ♥
7.       Sleeping in on the weekends.
8.       Traveling.
9.       Visiting home - the Philippines - for the holidays. There’s just something different about how they celebrate Christmas back home. The lights, the festivities, the food, and the people.
10.   Goofing around with my sister.
11.   Coffee dates with my friends.
12.   Fluffy snow.
13.   Staying at a great hotel and ordering room service.
14.   Christmas. I love everything about it.
15.   Strawberry kiwi shakes.
16.   Sushi and ramen on a Friday night.
17.   Fireworks and light shows.
18.   My friends. One of things I am proudest of in my life are the friends I have made over the years and managed to keep in my life. I have an amazing set of supportive, talented, and hilarious friends who are always up for gigs, food trips, and a cold beer. What more could I ask for?
19.   Marathoning an entire season of a great TV show in a weekend.
20.   Pistachio gelato. A++++
21.   Drinking coconut milk straight from the coconut.
22.   Finding dainty lace lingerie in my size. For a 36D, finding a dainty yet supportive bra would make me tear up.
23.   Breakfast buffets. Well, any buffet really.
24.   The smell of rain.
25.   Sitting in front of the sea, toes buried in the sand and breathing in the salty air.
26.   Bonfires.
27.   Staying up til 3am talking to Joe and drinking Bacardi.
28.   Going out for milk tea with my best friend and sitting out on the steps until the wee hours of the morning.
29.   Long walks.
30.   Dancing around my room in a towel.
31.   My mom and grandmother’s cooking.
32.   Insanely fresh fish for sashimi/sushi.
33.   Seeing my friends happy.
34.   Walking through a garden in full bloom.
35.   Authentic spicy ramen.
36.   Meeting someone you instantly click with.
37.   Taking my heels off after a long night.
38.   Watching my brother dance to Korean pop songs. He's the cutest :3
39.   The perfect song playing on the radio for the perfect moment.
40.   Clothes that fit juuuuuust right. Jeans that fit my thighs but don't leave a gap between my butt and back </3
41.   A wonderful book or graphic novel.
42.   Shoes. All the shoes. Okay, maybe not all the shoes. Not Crocs.
43.   Random, unplanned adventures.
44.   Cute little bobs and bits with no real use besides being cute. (i.e., every trinket from Japan)
45.   Watching movies in the theater and keeping the ticket stubs.
46.   Kinilaw, chicharon, lechon, fried chicken skin, and all the amazing Filipino food.
47.   Movie dates.
48.   Putting on a cold face mask.
49.   Perfect natural light for photos.
50.   Getting the wings of my eyeliner right on the first try!

 

 
Married in San Francisco
 
 

Waking up at six in the morning and nervously applying my own makeup. Forgetting my bouquet at the salon and panicking in the Uber. A short but incredibly sweet ceremony in a beautiful marble city hall, surrounded by our loved ones. An intimate reception at a restaurant by the bay with champagne, ribs, and happy tears. An afternoon of prancing along the beach and by the Golden Gate Bridge while still dressed in our wedding outfits. Hopping in an Uber after a whirlwind of a day and holding hands as we head home as husband and wife. 

It was a magical day. 

 

 
Our Honeymoon
 
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Day 1: Waikiki Beach + Fort Derussy Beach park

It wouldn't be a proper trip to Hawaii if it didn't involve a trip to the beach so we decided it would be the first thing on our list of things to see and do. We were staying at the Wyndham on Olahana St. and heading to Fort Derussy Beach Park was a nice walk. We rented a beach chair, picked a spot, and made ourselves comfortable. Joe braved the chilly water and took a dip while I read my new book and enjoyed watching all the different people on the beach. 

At one point, I wanted Joe to take a few photos of me in my new bathing suit but I didn't have the courage yet to take off my cover-up. There was a beautiful, curvy lady in a sexy one-piece suit with two friends who cheered her on as she posed on the beach for photos. She was so confident and seemed so comfortable in her own skin so I decided to do the same. Joe happily took my photos and the curvy lady smiled at me and cheered me on. It made my day! 

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Before heading to the beach, we had breakfast at Goofy Cafe and Dine. It's a bit of a hidden gem along Ala Moana Boulevard and was recommended to us by the concierge at our hotel. Joe ordered the Eggs Benedict that came with taro muffins and a salad. I ordered the Hawaiian classic omelette with brown rice and salad. We loved it! It was light but filling and everything tasted very fresh. 

 

Day 2: Luau! 

Another must-do that we wanted to cross off our list was a luau so we booked our tickets to the Chief's Luau at Wet N Wild Hawaii. It included a quick bus ride with an enthusiastic and entertaining guide, tasting of Lomi lomi salmon and poi, Mai Tais, beautiful handmade crafts for sale, and some talented people opening coconuts, singing, and teaching guests to weave. 

After about half an hour or mingling and sipping on Mai Tais, we took our seats and got ready for the buffet. It included taro rolls, purple Okinawan sweet potatoes, vegetarian chow mein, Kalua pork, poi, and sauteed Asian-style fish among other things. After dinner came the dance performances, song numbers, and lovely tribute to newly weds and couples celebrating anniversaries. 

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Day 3: Cromwell's Beach + Iolani Palace

On our last full day in Honolulu, we decided to check out a beach that on our friends recommended, Cromwell Beach. It's a short drive from downtown Honolulu and hidden away within a quiet residential area. Our Uber driver dropped us off at a dead end facing the sea and we walked down. The beach was quiet with only a few others there to sunbathe and enjoy a quick dip. If you need a beautiful, quiet place to write, read a novel, or just sunbathe in peace, this is the beach for you! 

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If there's one thing we enjoyed thoroughly in Hawaii, it's the food! From malasadas and poke bowls to fresh sashimi and Kalua pork, we tried to eat as much of the local food as we could. I particularly loved how Spam musubis could be found everywhere and huge platters of sashimi were only $30.

Must trys:

  • Malasadas from Leonard's Bakery. Get the original and cinnamon ones! 10/10 
  • Kyung's Seafood. It's a bit of a hole in the wall kind of restaurant but the poke and sashimi platters are so good and so affordable. We went there twice!
  • Eggs N Things. It's a popular restaurant that has an all-day breakfast menu. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not fond of pancakes but Eggs N Things changed that with their fluffy pancakes with macadami bits, shaved coconut, and dried pineapple.
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When we settled all the arrangements for our honeymoon, I did a Google search for all things we need to see and do while in Honolulu. Iolani Palace was on almost every list so we made sure to make that stop! The Palace Grounds are lovely and great for a little picnic on a warm day. The palace itself has been perfectly restored. Unfortunately, we were not able to tour the inside because we arrived as the tours were ending but we enjoy walking around and exploring the different historic sites. 

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Blossom

 

I love spring! I love that it breathes new life into the world. I love the colors, the excitement, the warmth, the flowers, and most especially, the fun styles that begin to emerge from under the puffy winter coats. 

It has been quite a while since I did a makeup look outside of my usual winged eyeliner and peachy nude eyeshadow so for this one, I decided to play with colors I don't usually reach for. I'm not a big fan of bright colors so I opted for some that are more muted and pastel. It initially started with the lovely light blue from the Venus II palette called Filter and I started adding more color and finally the yellow wing that my fiance insisted I add. I'm really happy with how it turned out and I can't wait to play with more colors and create more looks! 

 

 

Products Used: 

 

Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation 

Lime Crime Venus Palette

Lime Crime Venus Palette II 

Too Faced Just Peachy Velvet Matte Eyeshadow Palette

E.L.F. Blush Palette in Light 

Colourpop Bronzer in Rodeo Drive 

Anastasia Beverly Hills Lip Palette (used yellow shade for eyeliner) 

Benefit Foolproof Brow Powder in 03 Medium 

 

 

What look should I try next? 

Getting Glossier
 

A few weeks ago, I came across one of Glossier's Instagram posts that featured a billboard in San Francisco. After a quick Google search, I found out they were opening a little pop-up shop in Rhea's Cafe which is only a quick Uber ride from my work. I've been curious about Glossier and their products for quite a while now. With their pretty pastel aesthetic and minimalist approach, it has become the ultimate millennial skin care and makeup brand with a cult-like following. It focuses on skincare first and makeup second with ads featuring flawless models wearing barely-there makeup.

As someone who usually wears a full face of makeup and has ridiculously oily skin, it didn't seem like the brand for me but I wanted to give it a fair shot. So on a gloomy Tuesday, I decided to brave the rain and visit the Glossier pop-up shop. 

When I walked in, I could see how Glossier became so popular on social media. Everything from the well-lit counter and flower arrangements to the small cafe tables and sales associates in baby pink jumpsuits was Instagram-worthy. I couldn't help but whip out my phone and take a few photos of the setup. 

Unfortunately, it was a quick visit and I had to rush out after half an hour. I'm sure I'll be making another trip to Rhea's Cafe to actually try the food and pickup a few more items! After trying their lipstick and blush, I'd love to try to the other shades. I'll have a review of the products posted soon! 

 

What I Bought: 

Lidstar in Lily ($18) 

Cloud Paint Duo in Beam and Haze ($30)

Generation G Lipstick in Zip ($18) 

 

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What are your favorite Glossier products? 

 

 

 

 
Sephora Haul + Reviews
 
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I discovered Sephora about 4 years ago, when I first moved to Chicago. I had always loved experimenting with makeup but back in the Philippines, it was difficult to find products that worked for my skin tone. Foundations and concealers were always several shades too light, skincare products were usually geared towards whitening, and the right nude lipsticks were nearly impossible to find.

Sephora was the first makeup store I encountered in Chicago that had products that matched my skin tone perfectly. For the first time, I had options for my brown skin and I didn't have to worry about mixing shades or settling for an entirely wrong one. Sephora quickly became my favorite makeup store and my go-to when I'm looking for high quality makeup. 

When I walked into Sephora last week, I was determined to find products to wear on my wedding day. They had to be long-lasting, full coverage, photo-ready, smudge-proof, tear-proof, AND kiss-proof. Here are the products that I found and how they held up. 

 

 
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Boscia Porefecting White Charcoal Mattifying Treatment Primer ($38)

I discovered this primer when I asked a beauty consultant at Sephora for a primer that would work for my incredibly oily skin. She gave me a small sample of this primer and the rest is history! 

Pros: 

  • Gel formula, melts into the skin and doesn't feel like a thick layer  
  • Mattifying and fills in my ginormous pores 
  • Really extends the staying power of my eyeshadow (yes, I also used it as an eyeshadow primer) and my foundation 

Cons: 

  • A bit expensive for a primer
  • Has a tendency to pill if too much product is used or if skin isn't properly exfoliated or cleanse 

 

Rating: 3.5/5

 

 
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Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-In-Place Makeup in Bronze 5W1 ($42)

This foundation has been recommended by beauty bloggers and gurus for ages and I'm a bit surprised that it took me so long to give it a try. I had already grown very attached to my Fenty Beauty foundation but when Joe told me that a swatch at Sephora looked better that the FB foundation I had on, I decided to give the EL foundation a try. 

Pros: 

  • Great coverage, a little goes a long way 
  • Blends perfectly with a damp beauty blender, looks like my skin but better!
  • Doesn't move around when other makeup products are applied on top 
  • Very matte, perfect for my oily skin
  • Still looked beautiful at the end of the day albeit a bit shiny (nothing a little powder or a blotting sheet can't fix)

Cons: 

  • A bit expensive for a foundation 
  • No nozzle or dispenser, difficult to get the right amount of product out
  • Tends to be a bit patchy around particularly oily areas like my nose and chin (could be my primer's fault) 

 

Rating: 4/5

 

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Too Faced Just Peachy Velvet Matte Eyeshadow Palette ($45) 

I have been in love with the whole peachy makeup trend from eyeshadows to lipsticks but I didn't want the shimmer that usually came with some palettes. My dream wedding makeup is a peachy, matte, sun-kissed monochromatic look. So when this matte palette came out, it was instantly on my makeup wishlist. 

Pros: 

  • Lovely packaging that has a nice, luxurious feel to it and it comes with a mirror!  
  • Blends beautifully, doesn't take much for shades to show
  • Peachy scent is a nice touch, not overwhelming 

Cons: 

  • Can't think of any! I've used it almost every day since I got it and I've been so happy with it. 

 

Rating: 5/5

 

 
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Too Faced Peach Kiss Moisture Matte Long Wear Lipstick in Got Peach? ($21)

For my wedding, I was looking a perfect terracotta peachy shade to complete a monochromatic peachy look. Joe and I walked around Sephora and came across the display of Too Faced's Peaches and Cream Collection. We  tested a few of the matte lipsticks and found this gem! 

Pros:

  • Cute packaging and peach stamp design on the lipstick
  • Terracotta peach shade
  • Very hydrating and comfortable on the lips
  • Very pigmented and applies smoothly (I apply it with a lip brush for a more sheer look)

Cons:

  • Has a tendency to settle into the fine lines of my lips 
  • Some people might find the peachy vanilla scent of the lipstick a bit overwhelming
  • Not very matte at all
  • Definitely not kiss-proof or smudge-proof

 

Rating: 3.5/5


Final thoughts: 

The Estee Lauder foundation and Too Faced eyeshadow palette are my new favorites! The foundation lived up to all the hype and I've gotten several compliments on how great my skin looks. The eyeshadow is perfect for daily use and is versatile enough to be dressed up for fancier affairs. The Boscia primer works great for me and I particularly like how well it works with the EL foundation. Absolutely a keeper! The Too Faced lipstick is so pretty but I'm not sure it'll be my pick for the big day since it doesn't have the best staying power. 

I've been playing around with these products for about week now and it's reminded me of how important investing in quality cosmetics can be. I've been using mostly drugstore products for the past few months and after trying these out, I can definitely see and feel a difference especially for foundation and primer. I can't wait to put a look together for the wedding. ٩(^ᴗ^)۶ 

 

What are your favorite Sephora brands and products? 

 

Wedding Diary: My Bridal Appointment

Everyone makes a big deal of the wedding dress. It's supposedly the most important dress I'll ever wear and finding the perfect dress should be one of the pivotal moments of my life. There's quite a bit of pressure to find the dress that brings tears to my eyes, gets my heart racing, and leaves butterflies in my stomach...all while sticking to a budget. The goal is to look jaw-dropping, to look like a vision in white. That's not quite how my dress hunt played out. 

We walked into David's Bridal half an hour earlier than our scheduled appointment which gave us time to walk around and browse. Against everyone's protestations, I brought my fiance along to my bridal appointment and yes, he was the only male in the shop. I happily spent that half hour trying to give Joe a crash course on wedding gowns from the difference between ivory and champagne to the the different kinds of dress silhouettes. He, of course, nodded along and let me ramble. 

When our consultant was ready, we jumped right in and I gave her my criteria and budget: simple, classic, under $500, and midi-length. She wasted no time taking showing us some options. Since I had time to browse and had a good idea of what I wanted, within 10 minutes, we narrowed it down to four final dresses to try on. It was very straightforward. 

As you can imagine, Joe wasn't quite as excited as I was but he was incredibly helpful. He actually picked out the first dress I tried! He was also very practical. While the look and silhouette mattered to him, his biggest concern was if I was comfortable, if I could walk and sit, and if the dress made me feel beautiful. 

I suppose I expected the whole experience to be like an episode of 'Say Yes to the Dress' with tears and a consultant who is like a fairy godmother, determined to find your perfect fairy tale dress. Don't get me wrong - it was a great shopping experience but it wasn't quite what movies and shows make it out to be. My consultant was juggling my appointment with another bride so she was running around the shop, spending a few minutes at a time with each of us. When she was with me, she would look me up and down, ask me how I felt, and recommend some shoes, a veil, or a belt then run off. There was no time for gushing or retelling the story of how I met my fiance. We had 1.5 hours to try on dresses and there was no time 

 

 

 

Essentials: 

  • No makeup - You're going to be spending an hour and a half trying on beautiful, WHITE dresses and even with the most careful maneuvering, it's quite easy to accidentally get makeup somewhere. Try to avoid wearing makeup that can rub off onto the fabric like foundation and lipstick. 
  • Strapless bra - I made the mistake of wearing a regular strapped bra to my appointment and I ended up trying on mostly strapless gowns. Thankfully, my consultant was nice enough to let me use a bra they had on hand but I do wish I had worn my own. 
  • Shoes - When I tried on my first dress, I was wearing black flats. The dress seemed just okay. When I slipped on a pair of white peep toe heels, it immediately pulled everything together! Shoes make a world of a difference especially for dresses that don't cover the feet. 
  • Shapewear - Shapewear can do some great things for your body and how a dress looks on you. It also smooths out your silhouette and makes it easier to slip dresses on and off. It's best to wear the shapewear you plan on wearing on your big day. 
 

Tips: 

  • Do your research - There are a surprising number of things to consider when shopping for a wedding dress. Color, silhouette, neckline, sleeves, fabric, etc. I didn't realize there were that many shades of white or so many variations of tulle! Of course, you don't have to know all the terminology but having a pretty good general idea helps especially when communicating with your consultant. 

  • Be upfront about your budget - When I walked into David's Bridal, I already had a set budget that I was determined to stick with. I made that very clear to my consultant, who was very accommodating. We didn't waste any time trying dresses that were out of my budget and within that hour and a half, I had found my dress and a beautiful veil to go with it! Also keep in mind that your budget should also include other accessories or add-ons like a veil, shoes, alterations, and shipping fees. 

  • Focus on how the dress makes you feel - I knew I had found my dress when I walked out of the dressing room, saw my reflection, and couldn't stop smiling. I felt like a goddamn queen! I used to shop with the goal being to find items that slimmed me down or flattened my tummy instead of items that made me feel good. That mentality has changed in the past few years and it shined through when looking for my wedding dress. 
  • Be honest - The consultants can't help you find the perfect dress if you keep trying to be polite instead of giving them honest feedback. If it doesn't fit, say something. If you don't like the silhouette or the color, say something. They didn't design the dress so don't worry about hurting their feelings. 
  • Buy for the body you have now - I've read so many stories and articles about brides who try crash diets and questionable detoxes in order to look 'perfect' on their big day. Someone even told me to enjoy the burger I was having because as my wedding day approached, I would be eating nothing but lettuce. My response? The dress should adjust to me, not the other way around. And I already look perfect! 
  • Don't try too many dresses - The last thing you want to be when shopping for your dress is frustrated and overwhelmed, something that can easily happen when you try on one too many dresses. Take your time to go through the racks, let your consultant pick a few out for you, and try on around 4-5 dresses. 

 

On Moving To A New City

"Welcome home

That's what my fiance said to me at the San Francisco International Airport as he pulled me into a bear hug. We had been waiting years to finally book my one-way ticket to San Francisco and as we hopped onto the BART and made our way to the apartment, it felt surreal. For the next few days, I kept waiting for the usual sadness I feel when I have to say goodbye but it never came and I've been walking on air ever since. 

I loved Chicago. I lived there for a few years and it left an impression.The skyline, the drastic weather, the cultural richness, the architecture, the museums, the diversity. It's all incredibly beautiful, bursting with such personality. But something clicked when I arrived in San Francisco and it only took a few days of exploring to decide that this was somewhere I could live and thrive. The casual vibe, the views, the people, the sweater weather, how walkable it is. The fact that Joe is here definitely helped. It felt like home

This Christmas was my first Christmas in San Francisco and to my delight, my sister came to visit to keep my company for the holidays. We spent Christmas day by the Golden Gate Bridge and taking in some of the sights of San Francisco. As we stood on the beach, breathing in the cool, crisp air, I thought about everything that has happened this year and how thankful I am. This year was challenging, nerve-wracking, emotional, draining, and absolutely amazing. I've changed so much. I've done so many things that I never would have done before, that I never had the courage to do before. Quitting a job that I didn't particularly enjoy, uprooting myself and moving back home, taking a makeup class, moving to San Francisco, getting a job I truly enjoy. This was the year I decided that I am never going to settle for less than what I deserve. This was the year I took the biggest leaps of my life. I've never been happier.