January 28, 2015

(Upbeat) Love Tunes

I decided to compile this musical post for you before I leave for Shanghai (for 5 whole days!)so by the time you're reading this I'll be swimming in Shanghai! There are so many different love songs in the world, this is a playlist of my favorite upbeat/dance-with-your-lovah songs. Enjoy! xx

Love Songs
"True Love" by P!nk One of my favorites simply because it portrays the bickering side of love that a lot of songs don't seem to reflect

"Stereo Hearts" by Gym Class Heroes feat. Adam Levine An oldie (2011!) but a goodie: perfect song to dance around with your love to, features the beauty that is Adam Levine's voice, rap, and an addictive chorus

"Classic" by MKTO In a world where "Blurred Lines" actually EXISTS (still upset), the lyrics of this are refreshingly sweet and, well....classic

"Troublemaker" by Olly Murs feat. Flo Rida Not only is Olly really yummy, his voice is too! The song portrays a naughtier sort of love, a cat 'n mouse game almost, Olly is clearly infatuated

"Honey Bee" by Blake Shelton You can't have a love playlist without country songs! Blake's twang drawls through this song, thicker than molasses, and you can't help duet with your significant otter (and with a music video as sweet as the lyrics, def. work a check out)

"Act My Age" by One Direction Definitely not a song you would expect from the boyband, the beat is distinctive and you can't help but belt out the chorus--a song about growing old with your beloved

"Next To Me" by Emeli Sandé Her hair is beyond amazing, as is her voice! The meaning of the song is up to you to determine (religious or l'amour) and the lyrics are clearly brilliant

"Barefoot Blue Jean Night" by Jake Owen Another country, this one is feel-good, bluegrass roots all the way! A Southern summer romance explained through the lyrics sold me within seconds of hearing it

"Stuck Like Glue" by Sugarland The different beat and rhythm of this song separates it from the rest of my country but the lyrics and Jennifer Nettle's beautiful voice are pure country

Honorable Mentions: 

"Bad" by The Cab The dance-y beat of this song make this a whirlwind of a song about a guy searching for a bad girl to satisfy all his wildest dreams (which include being ignored apparently) 

"Barefoot and Buckwild" by Lauren Alaina An American Idol earns her spot on this list with the lettin' loose song about teenage country love, if you like fast rides you'll like this song  
January 27, 2015

An Expat Christmas

This is a new sort of post for me.....due to all my recent reflections on where home is for me, being an American living here in Manila, I decided to make a video about my Christmas experience. This is kind of nerve wracking for me so....just going to do it, hope you like it! 

January 25, 2015

Tips and Tricks: Workouts

  1. Have a specific-length playlist    When working out don't keep track of the time. Instead make a playlist around the time you know you want to run for and get into the routine of keeping the time with that. For me, I have a playlist of four songs that together make one interval for me, I rest after the playlist plays once and then run again for the four songs. Try to pick songs you know will pump you up.
  2. Bring a sweat towel and your own mat    A towel comes in handy when you have sweat pouring down your face and don't want to look like you just took a hot shower--it also can be used to wipe off the equipment after you use it (and please do this--nobody wants to be in the uncomfortable sweat-on-sweat position during their workout) Bring your own mat because 1) you know you're the only one who has ever used it and 2) do you really trust everyone that use the gym mats (usually not very comfortable mats either) to have wiped them down after stretching, doing yoga, doing whatever on them? 
  3. Find shoes that are comfortable and clothes that are cute   You really want to be comfortable when you're working out so make sure your exercise shoes are supportive and comfy, style should be the last thing when you invest in a quality pair (if you can, have two pairs each for different purposes: I have one that are great for gym workouts and another, lighter shoe for walking around and touring when I travel) Although your shoes should be supportive and comfy first, we already know workout clothes are like that already so go ahead and find clothes that make you want to work out, and look cute as hell doing it
  4. If you go running in a park or on a path: STAY SAFE    Stay on the path, run with a partner, tell someone where you're going running, and run when it's light out
  5. If you feel a motivational flag, try this little trick: put on your workout clothes BEFORE you decide whether or not to workout that day, believe me it helps 
  6. Tell a friend/coworker/family member you're going to workout     it will help keep you accountable and force you to actually do it!
  7. Try to make a basic plan before you go     If you say "okay today I'm going to start on the treadmill then I'm going to work on abs and use these exercises" before you even walk in the gym your workout will flow a lot smoother than if you stumble around trying to find something to work on when you're already there
  8. Stop when you need to, not when you want to   And not when you told yourself you were going to. If you're running intervals and you say "seven minutes" but you feel really strong once you reach seven minutes, keep going! Make it eight, nine, even ten minute intervals--you'll feel really powerful! 
  9. Use guilt for motivation if you want to, but know that it's not accurate     A lot of people say "I'm going to the gym to work off that huge piece of cake I had yesterday" when really--you ate the cake, the calories are already digested, it's done and finished. Working out certainly burns calories, but it won't help alleviate the specific food you're targeting--in this case cake. So.....enjoy the cake! Enjoy your life and eat yummy food and the next day work your ass off knowing the food was yummy but you also crave the sweaty feeling after a hard workout
  10. Find your time of day    For me, I like to run and do my workout around 5:30, 6-ish because that's when the sun sets and I like to watch that out the window. I've developed a little routine around that time now. Find the time you like to workout and schedule it in, either early morning before your day starts, during your afternoon to help power through the rest of the day, or at night to close your day with energy and sweat.

Just some tricks to make your next workout run a little smoother. Do you have any tips that work for you? Drop a comment below! 

January 23, 2015

Doing The (Nearly) Impossible

As our varsity swim team prepares for APAC (a giant meet full of all the varsity swim teams--this year it's in Shanghai and we leave next week) we've been upping our practice levels from "slightly red faced" to "pretty much dead all over". Not only have we been working out with the one brutal set everyday, but we're swimming in jeans and t-shirts to add resistance.

Today's Set Was:
6 x 100 freestyle w/jeans, shirt, fins on 2:00
3 x 100 backstroke w/jeans, shirt, fins on 2:10
400 freestyle pull w/jeans, shirt
300 backstroke pull w/jeans, shirt
12 x 25 freestyle kick w/o jeans, shirt on 40 seconds
12 x 25 backstroke kick w/o jeans, shirt on 40 seconds
Main Set: 
25 freestyle on 40 seconds
50 freestyle on 1:10
75 freestyle on 1:30
100 freestyle on 2:00
75 freestyle on 1:30
50 freestyle on 1:10
25 freestyle on 40 seconds
Entire Set x2 -- all sprint
Entire Set BACKSTROKE x2 -- all sprint

By the end of practice we can barely move, our bodies ache, and we just want out. The whole point of this difficult set is to get us prepared for APAC and we all get that--but it's still really tough and personally my asthma + going vegan + wearing a shirt that chokes me every time I swim backstroke is not a good combination. I had myself convinced that I could not complete an entire set without stopping to breathe or take my shirt off. I mean it's hard for everyone, and everyone is wheezing during it, but I just knew that my asthma wouldn't let me continue. 

Or at least....I thought I knew that. 

Today in practice I didn't stop to take a (literal) breather once. Not once. When I kept telling myself "okay you're doing a 100 but you should probably stop at a 50 and breathe", I ended up continuing on and proved to myself that I actually could do it. Even more than that, I felt like I proved my place on the varsity team and that Coach wouldn't feel like he was taking dead weight to APAC if he took me. In this way, I ended up pushing myself even further on the sprints and ended up first every time!

It goes back to the old "mind over matter" saying that I always passed off as simple mishigas--turns out there's actually something to it! I guess that's why it's remained a popular saying for so long. 

The point of this baby post is this (and although it's cliché I'm still going to say it): pushing yourself past what you perceive as your limits usually ends with you prevailing over those limits and proving to yourself that you're a lot stronger/faster/better than you thought you were. We are all so capable of so much more than we realize it's almost mind-blowing to think about.

Next time you think you've reached your limit, try to exceed it. I think you'll be surprised by what you find. 

January 21, 2015

Vegan: A Four Letter Word?

Recently I decided to go vegan for a week. As a pescetarian already it wasn't too much of a shift in diet, instead of shunning all meat except seafood, I'd go without seafood, meat, and animal products. After my vegan experiment I felt really healthy and strong and decided to continue with it, indefinitely for right now although I have a few obstacles in my way (such as staying in a stranger's home in Shanghai, I won't ask them to cook vegan for me although I will keep pescetarian and cooking brownies in Biology that literally require a taste test). Mom and I are heading to Thailand for spring break so I think I'll keep vegan (when I can) until then at least.  

The #1 response I got from people when I told them I had gone vegan was "oh my god I hate you". Over half of them weren't kidding or smiling when they said it. This got me thinking (as practically everything does)....why do we have such a negative stigma surrounding vegans? It's actually quite rude to say to a vegan "oh my god I hate you" aka "you're crazy! Why would you give up food?" We get it! You love to eat bacon or lamb chops or whatever and it's our choice to not eat meat/animal products and although people may not understand our decision, they should treat it respectfully. You made a choice to wear that outfit you're wearing today for whatever reasons you did, it's the same kind of thing.
A lot of people see it as a way to mask an eating disorder and while that may be true for some, it's not true for the majority of us and if you ask (politely) why we're vegan/vegetarian etc. more than likely we'd be glad to share our views and reasoning with you. Whether or not you understand or agree with us, we deserve respect and not to be treated like we're crazy for choosing to not eat meat/animal products. Personally, I am a pescetarian because I don't support the way cows, chickens, and pigs are tortured throughout their lives and then they are slaughtered for our consumption. 

Also: if you are struggling with an eating disorder please find help, you're literally killing yourself whether your poison is bulimia or anorexia--please seek help sooner rather than later. Go here to find someone to talk to, confidentially, and go here to find someone recovering from an eating disorder and posting about her recovery on Instagram (bonus: her blog).
If you would take a little time to research vegetarian/vegan recipes, you'd understand that we don't just eat salad all the time. I had a hot dog for lunch today! Granted a veggie/soy hotdog but still. If you bothered to try our food before telling us we're crazy you'd see that it actually tastes really good (especially the hot dog, literally it is interchangeable with a real one) and we still enjoy food the way you do--just without animal products. All I'm saying? Try our food and actually ask us what our motivation is before you judge it--you may still decide it's not for you and that's perfectly fine, this lifestyle isn't for everyone.  
Now I'm adding a little disclaimer: Being vegan is a lifestyle that requires a lot of research and careful planning, and is definitely not for those who have short-term goals in mind.I do not recommend going vegan as a way to cleanse after holidays or as a way to lose quick weight. If you do think the vegan lifestyle is for you, I urge you to do a lot of research and really understand what you're undertaking before you do it (the same goes for going vegetarian) It's a big lifestyle change that impacts things you never even thought of (like going out to eat, where to get your protein intake from etc.) and you'll face some definite backlash.

In short: don't knock it 'til you try it/ask us.
January 16, 2015


Since our move to the Fort, Mom and I have stumbled across several wonderful restaurants within walking distance of our apartment. One of the very first places we discovered was Wildflour: a gorgeous bakery/gourmet comfort food restaurant a simple skip down the street from our building.
Check out Clarisse's blog post about Wildflour (including these gorgeous photos) here xx

The cafe is a gorgeous pairing of an all-glass modern exterior and French Country fittings: jars on the table with the silverware, homestyle dishes, gorgeous pastries fit for any Angeline in Paris!
Mom and I headed for our favorite place the Sunday we arrived back from the States. We met friends Susan and John there (for a second time, this is one of their favorite places too), who brought their dog Millie as a little playmate for Aggi. 
Perfect addition to any day: a passion fruit mimosa
It was an absolutely gorgeous day, especially after several weeks of snow, slush, and -14C degree temperatures. I wore a new loose pink knit tunic sweater and my high-waist jean shorts, a little celebration of being back home with a little remembrance of the cold weather I just came from.
Their little cutie pie....

....and mine <3

Usually I order the soup/salad/sandwich combination, tomato soup, green salad, and grilled cheese. There's just something particularly special about the grilled cheese at Wildflour--it tastes better than homemade! However, this time I decided to try something new and order the tuna salad sandwich. It was just as yummy as the grilled cheese but the olive oil the sandwich is cooked in leaves an oily residue all over your fingers. Still really delicious though! 
Just as yummy as it was gorgeous

Susan went for the green mussels and fries....

Mom had a pulled pork sandwich (and was kind enough to split her yummy fries with me)....

John had about two loaves of bread, tomato soup, and strawberry pie

The pastries at Wildflour are probably their biggest claim to fame. My favorite (and Mom's as well) is their apple tart: flaky crust with apple compote in the middle and sliced sugared apple slices on top. I ate one apple tart there and we brought two home others to eat later (they didn't last long). They switch out most of their pastries, so there's always something fresh to try, but this apple tart is always there and for that I'm eternally grateful.  
She's so cute I can't deal with it sometimes
The strawberry pie
What was left of our table after we devoured everything (and fed what we didn't to the mooching pooches)

If you ever find yourself in the Fort, check out Wildflour (xx) for any meal but especially brunch. And don't forget to pick up some pastries for the road! 
January 10, 2015

Home is Where?

As I’m writing this I am currently in the air on my way back to Manila. (And as I'm publishing this it's 12:30 AM Sunday morning in Manila) It’s always a bittersweet journey, leaving the States and the family joy of the holidays for the normalcy of regular life again. On one hand, I’m sad that I have to say goodbye to my family, excluding Mom of course, and head back to the other side of the world for another five months, the side of the world that has school and the drama of high school no less. On the other hand, returning to Manila is a return to normal life, my own bed, a routine everyday with room left for adventure (and endless movie marathons) on the weekends. Not to mention Aggi, how I miss that little Shih Tzu. This leaves me in a constant state of bewilderment, this transition from the United States to the Philippines always without definition.
Where is home exactly? Is it Manila, the physical place I lie down at night and know where everything is and have friends that can actually come over and we can go out, or is it Virginia/OBX where my family is, where my best friend (who is family) is, where I’ve spent the majority of my life, where my childhood memories are. When I return to the States from Manila, I say “I’m going home.” But when I leave the States for Manila again I say “I’m coming home.” Which one is accurate? Can a person have two homes? Am I without a home without being homeless?
I like to say “airports are my home” when someone asks, it’s easier than trying to explain this magenta feeling and it’s partly true I guess-I wish airports were my home because airports are middle ground, you’re in-between your beginning and your destination—you’re on your way, but you’re not there yet. A lot of 3rd culture kids relate to that feeling of airports being home, but I’m not a 3rd culture kid. I’m just a girl experiencing her formative, and twilight, years of adolescence in Asia. So where is home? I used to think home was where all my family was. But now I’d like to think I have family on two continents—that doesn’t exactly narrow it down. 
The famous expression “blood is thicker than water” is actually quite misrepresented in today’s society; the original meaning held that the water referred to the breaking of the water when a mother went into labor (“My water just broke!”). The blood referred to those who used to prick their fingers and mix their blood together—making them family and part of each other forever. While we may not follow this primitive ritual anymore, or at least…not as much anymore, the saying remains thus: your biological family is great, but your true family consists of who you choose to have around you. This brings hope to everyone, someone like me who loves her biological family and my extended-family of friends or someone who doesn’t get along with their family and has made theirs entirely from the ground up.

I’m now beginning to understand that home shouldn’t be based on others, home is a feeling that comes entirely from within. This doesn’t mean that the feeling of belonging you get when you return to the place you spent your childhood or the place where your family always gathers is wrong, but it’s simply that: a place of belonging, you belong in a loving environment where you feel safe and warm. Home should be the same, you should feel loved and warm and comfortable there—regardless of who is there with you because if your happiness is always derived from others, you will never be happy.
You should really check out Brooke's blog about her solo travels here (xx)

As for me? I’m still in that perpetual in-between state, still looking for a home to call my own. For as much as I love my family, my family being the one I built—biological and platonic, I need to find my own home and I'm still searching. And that’s okay. Everyone has an in-between period like me, and it makes you stronger to go through it. It teaches you to appreciate your family and your friends and the wonderful family you have, but also to be happy without the crutch of others—something I’m still practicing myself. Because nobody likes to be alone, but the trick is to not feel lonely every time you’re alone.

So that’s where I am for now, perpetually in-between. A teenager is the most in-between of the ages, we’re in this figure-things-out stage, and it’s okay to call this place our home. For now anyway. 
January 6, 2015

Long Distance Relationships Suck.....But They're Worth It

Yesterday I had to say goodbye to my best friend for another 5 months, after only spending 3 hours with her! If anyone is in a long-distance relationship/friendship, it's us. I like to say that I'm in a long-distance relationship with "everyone" since my move to Manila.
Us being cute at a concert last summer
January 1, 2015

Rewind: 2014

From my Christmas to yours (Mula sa aking Pasko sa iyo) and to the beginning of 2015: a toast to you!


I began 2014 sitting on the couch at Waterside, alone with a plate of brownies. Amrita and I were texting while watching the ball drop in Times Square and we both had an extra-special current of excitement running through us because, yes it was a new year, but 2014 was to be a Year of Seven.
Seven is the number of completeness and perfection (both physical and spiritual). 
Religiously, seven is a special number in the Bible (for various reasons that you can find here) and universally, sevens are everywhere. Seven oceans, seven days in a week, seven days in between the birth of my best friend and myself.....the list goes on and on. 2014 was destined to be a HUGE year because of the seven factor, and it lived up to the hype! (2+0+1+4-7 AND Amrita and I both turned 16 this year 1+6-7)

New York City with Ammie <3


My resolutions this year include: appreciate what I have more than I do, learn to "go with the flow"--but also know when to step up and take responsibility, and stop trying to please everyone or feel guilty when I voice one of my needs.

I also hope this year is full of love, amazement, and further travel. And, bien sur, I hope this year brings nothing but wonderful things for my lovely blog here.

Thanks for all your support butterflies, here's to another banner year!