Books of the Week: How They Met and I’ve Got Your Number

Okay, so here we are again for my weekly book roundup ūüôā Yay!

But before that, I would like to talk a little about how my preference for books has expanded. I would normally go for my “safe” books – Coelho, Rice, King, Albom and my stack of non-fiction marketing/management books (Lindstrom, Maxwell, Covey, Gladwell, Godin among others). Although I can read almost anything, I was just not willing. Haha.

I knew that I should do something though to expand my reading.

So two years ago, I bought this book called Bibliophile’s Devotional. Basically, it recommended 365 books that I could read. While I have grabbed (and read) some on its list, I haven’t really finished it. I find classics hard to read (please don’t kill me) so they are sitting pretty on my bookshelf as of the moment. I am still mustering some courage to open them hopefully this year!

Did it help me achieve my objective? Hmm, probably by around 5-6 authors. I still do hope to read everything on its list though.

The next thing that made me materialize my goal was somehow an accidental one. A friend of mine Joei (from Joei&Me) invited me to this book club!

We call ourselves the Secret Book Club. Haha :)) Each member gets to recommend a book every month which we are assigned to read. We have meetups (when schedule permits) to discuss books, blogs and everything else under the sun!

Photo by Joei

It is so fun meeting other bookworms! Last Christmas, we had our first party and we exchanged books! I got this one from my Santa, Liz, who also maintains a blog!

So anywayy, back to my BOWs. I was able to finish two books last week: How They Met by David Levithan and my first Kinsella, I’ve Got Your Number.

How They Met is a compilation of short stories of, well, how couples met each other. It is a light read from Levithan (as all his other books). It ranges from teen stories, same-sex encounters and how married couples have gotten together.

Some of the lines I liked were —

“What do I think about love? Not much – that’s the safe answer. Even when I think I have a grasp on it, something comes along to make me realize I don’t know anything at all. It’s just a concept to me. It’s the thing that all the songs are written about, the thing that makes smart people act stupidly. If I an make love a concept, it makes me a better observer. And it also leaves a ¬†place inside of me hollow. Sometimes I can actually feel it. To reach down inside that part – I wonder how it would feel, to touch a void. That nameless empty.”

“Well, there’s something about the stars that makes you realize both the smallness and the enormity of everything, isn’t there?”

“To love – to fall – is not a question. To touch – to kiss – to speak – those are the questions. There is nothing worse that a ruined friendship. There is nothing better than a companion. Somewhere in between lies risk. Somewhere in between, lies.”

So there. I rate this book 3 out of 5. It was a nice read but I didn’t have goosebumps or a crying spell or some weird introspection right after reading it (benchmark: you should have seen me reading Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas, haha – couldn’t stop crying or how I made a life-altering decision after I read Eat, Pray, Love)

For my second read — it’s the book I received last Christmas: I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella.

I know there’s a lot of you who enjoyed her Shopaholic series but yes, I haven’t had the chance to read any of them yet but this first “experience” with her did not disappoint.

I gave this book a 5 out of 5 star ranking in Goodreads. First because I am a girl and I love sweet, sappy, fun love stories. Second because it was such an easy read. I seriously did not put the book down once I started reading it and was able to finish in two hours, I think. Third, because it makes you dream of love again, haha! What a sentimental fool I am. So anyway — here is my favorite line (boys, prepare to cringe):

“I don’t know if she loves me. I don’t know if I love her. All I can say is, she’s the one I think about. All the time. She’s the voice I want to hear. She’s the face I hope to see.”

*giggles*

So there you go. It was a “pakilig” week for the books I read. How about you, loves? What was your book of the week?

xx,

Balot

 

 

Book of the Week: Manuscript Found in Accra

Balot’s Stamp: 4.5 out of 5 stars

I have read Accra before (I could not remember when, of course). But since I have a memory of a fish, it was like reading this Coelho novel for the first time (again!).

It’s amazing how Coelho’s novels have become an important part of my life. By the River¬†Piedra¬†helped me during my younger years when I was still finding my way in the crazy world of love and the frustrations that came with it; Veronika Decides To Die accompanied me during my depression; Winner Stands Alone rose with me at the height of my career; The Alchemist once again guided me to my destiny when I decided to leave ¬†my corporate job and eventually found my first love, writing; and now (again), Manuscript when the whole waiting for my pregnancy to happen is becoming a source of great frustration.

Manuscript Found in Accra, like all other Coelho books, is very insightful. I have read in one review that it sounded preachy — well, that was the whole point of the book actually. Because the Captain (Copt) is being asked questions about life and everything in between and he shares his wisdom. When you share your wisdom, it can be taken in two ways: to those who resist, it will sound preachy; to those who are open, it will give you enlightenment. I am part of the latter. Once again, Coelho sheds light to my uneasiness.

One of the strategies that I have in choosing a book is looking for excerpts – if I am drawn to one part of the book, I am more likely to enjoy it. But of course, that does not happen 100% of the time.

Well anyway — here goes the part which I liked (among many others) —

“The traveler continues his journey. He doesn’t complain of boredom now; he complains, rather, that he is tired. But that that point he rests, enjoys the landscape, and then carries on.
Instead of spending his whole life destroying the roads he was afraid of following, he begins to love the road he is on.

Religions teach that faith and transformation are the only ways of drawing near to God.

Even if his final destination remains a mystery, even if, at some point, he makes a wrong decision, God sees his courage and sends him the necessary inspiration to put matters right.


What continues to trouble him is not what happens, but a fear that he won’t know how to deal with it. Once he has decided to follow his path and has no alternative, he discovers that he has great willpower and that events bend to his decisions.


“Difficulty” is the name of an ancient tool that was created purely to help us define who we are. Faith shows us that we are never alone. Transformation helps us to love the mystery.


And when everything seems dark, and we feel alone and helpless, we won’t look back, for fear of seeing the changes that have taken place in our soul. We will look ahead.¬†


We will not fear what happens tomorrow, because yesterday we had someone watching over us. And that same Presence will remain at our side. That Presence will shelter us from suffering. Or It will give us the strength to face it with dignity. We will go farther than we think. We will seek out the place where the morning star is born. And we will be surprised when we get there how much easier it was than we had imagined.”

What do you think, loves? Have you read this book? If yes, how will you rate it? 
 
xx,
Balot

Why I Want to Blog about the Books I’ve Read

I was looking for a book to read last night and decided to entertain myself with my old reliable Murakami. The last one I read was Norwegian Wood and again, boggled my mind with the usual Murakami style. I pulled out Kafka on the Shore. I had this book for a long time but I don’t remember reading it.

I was settling myself for my night reading ritual (until Mr Sleep visits me) but to my surprise (and later on, frustration), some of the pages were already dog-eared. That only meant one thing: I have already read it.

I tried to browse the pages trying to recall what the story was all about, I read the synopsis, searched for some quotes online in the desperate effort to remember. But alas, my memory was blank. I could hear the sound, “chirp chirp” inside my head. ARRGHHH! I must have loved this book though because there were a lot of pages that I marked. *frustrating*

Yes, I sabotage my books and I am sorry. Aside from the dog ears, I also have some highlighters and in very few occasions, notes on the pages. But I just do it on my own books, don’t worry!

So I have decided to chronicle the books I’ve read in this blog as. ¬†To remember. Because that is the main reason why I do this (blogging) anyway. You ¬†might not agree with the ratings I give but that’s fine. Each of us would have different preferences in our books anyway.

I would not go as far as to spoil the whole plot, though. I will just try to capture some quotes which I have found interesting. Cool?

Oh, by the way, hit me up if you have any book recommendations. I am taking a reading challenge from book reads – 52 books this year! If left to me, all I would read is Coelho (of course), Anne Rice, Murakami, Stephen King – hahaha! Good thing I have my book club to expand my selections and of course, YOU ūüôā Do give me a shout out. Thanks, loves!

xx,
Balot

Five Goals to a Healthier Life

People who are close to me know that I was probably one of the unhealthiest person in the world. No need to enumerate my vices (it’s all in the past now, haha) but even worse than that, my diet is awful. I love everything that is pork – liempo, pork chop, name it! I am almost 90% carnivorous and rarely do I eat my greens.

That all changed when I had APAS. My doctor required me to do a 180-degree transformation on my lifestyle. Of course, I had to comply. I have not touched any hard drinks for almost 13 months now – I thrived with a glass of wine once or twice last year. Husband introduced more chicken and fish and veggies to our meal.

But I feel that it is still not enough.

Late last year, I was able to land a work-at-home stint dealing with the health industry. These are naturopaths, health coaches, nutritionists, etc. The longer I pored on the subjects they tackle, the stronger I want to commit to a healthier lifestyle. I envy their commitment. I want the fire that they say they get from eating healthy greens and doing activities that contribute to a more focused mind and spirit.

The more I think about it, the more I realize why the Universe brought me this job. Yes, it gives me enough cash flow for my needs (read: books) but the bigger benefit is its effect on me. It is hypocritical not to walk your talk. When you read about healthy stuff week in and week out, it is hard not to heed the call.

As they say, first step is acknowledgment and it is always the hardest. And today, I acknowledge my need to be healthier. They also say that anything not written is known to be a wish and not a goal; so, for my Friday’s Five, here are my five resolutions for the quarter, recorded and announced:

1. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Okay. The key word here is “more”. I am already eating my greens but as I said, I feel that it is still not enough. In my two months of working with our health clients, I have always come across talks about Superfood and Green Smoothies – how they are good for your body, helps with detox and so on. The whole is idea is simple – to blend your veggies and fruits and other Superfoods so that you don’t need to eat them; you just gulp them.

So green smoothies, it is! I had a hard time looking for the healthy ingredients locally. I know that Healthy Options would probably have them but I am lazy to go out and grab what I need from the shelves. I was looking for a more convenient option (read: online shop) and to my surprise, online resources on healthy shops in the PH are limited. These were the ones I found:

  1. Sugar Leaf PH – website is not updated and I could not find the products I was looking for
  2. The Healthy Grocery – carried most of the products I was looking for; easy to order
  3. The Green Grocer Manila¬†– while they have most of what I was looking for, you can’t fulfill an order immediately through online purchase as you need to download their Grocer’s List and you will receive and email confirmation of your order
  4. The Superfood Grocer – I loved this website. It has tons of information and the ordering process is fast and very simple.
No need to say, I ordered my first set of Superfood from The Superfood Grocer and I am waiting for my delivery (2-3 days for Metro Manila). Exciting!
2. Enroll in a formal yoga class. 
I have been delaying this last Christmas because of the horrible traffic, I was doing my pseudo-yoga via instructional videos in Youtube but this month, I am planning to get the New-To-Yoga package from Urban Ashram Manila. According to their website, it is “a new to yoga pass gives you access to unlimited classes over two weeks, offering unbeatable savings that can help you create and shape your yoga practice.”
3. Sleep earlier. 

This is such a struggle. My acupuncturist told me to sleep at 10 PM every night to restore the body’s balance and increase fertility. She said that the body needs to be at REM stage from 11 PM – 3 AM. I promise to try! One effort I did was to buy bedside lamps that were warm to soften the mood and prevent bright lights that could disrupt sleepiness.

4. Drink three liters of water a day. Did I share with you that before I turned 30, I was a cactus. I never liked water. But since I stopped working last October, I have made it a conscious effort to drink more water. So far, I can already consume 1.5-2 liters of water everyday. I plan to up the ante.
5. Do something to calm my mind every day. 
I am becoming busier with my stints but I have to stick with my word for 2015: Tranquilo or Take it easy. So what to do? Read a book (I have subscribed to Goodreads Reading Challenge and committed to read a book every week). Meditate with my Omvana app. Take a nap. Walk Sachi. Anything. Everything.
So there you go? Do you have any health resolutions for 2015? If you have, please feel free to share! If you have other tips to share with me as well, do hit me up. Thanks, loves!

Crisp on 28th at FasT4ward Christmas Brunch

Crisp on 28th Al Fresco Area
Source: Crisp Facebook Page

Every year, the JG Summit Management Trainees Batch 4 – we call ourselves FasT4ward or T4 – get together for brunch to catch up on each other’s lives.

I owe the jump start of my career to the MT program of the Gokongweis. I will be eternally grateful. While I haven’t graduated from the program because I joined the C2 Marketing Team immediately, I am lucky and thankful to have met 29 wonderful people (my fellow MTs) and all my mentors in this awesome program.

So this was us nine years ago — all skinny and young!

Our MT family has doubled after almost a decade with most of us having our own families. Every year, we need a bigger venue to accommodate cute kids and our spouses/partners. 
Our mandatory group shot

This time around, we gathered at Crisp on 28th. This establishment is partly owned by Erwan Heusaff.

Photo from Crisp’s Facebook Page

Bacon and Eggs!

Husband’s awesome breakfast plate.

The breakfast serving was huge (at least for me). I wasn’t a fan of the fluffy eggs though. I want to try one of their healthier dishes one day as I’ve heard that they were good.

Lastly, I loved the ambiance of the place and that the attendants were courteous. <3

Crisp is located on 28th St. in Bonifacio Global City. 
Tel: +639175846883
Facebook: Crisp On 28th
Instagram: @crispon28th
Any favorites from this place? Let me know and hit me up! ūüôā¬†
xx,
Balot

How To Remove Your Makeup in the Greenest Way Possible

Back when I was in corporate, I could not live without makeup. There’s just something in wearing it which made me feel and look (hopefully!) more put together and more professional.¬†


Removing my makeup though is another story. It is such a frustrating regimen at night especially if I have used a pesky eyeliner. I would usually need wipes, cleansers, cotton balls ‚Äď the list could just go on. I would wash my face with a facial scrub and there are times when it just won’t go away! I would then look for a cold cream (I know this should have gone first but this is my last resort since it feels so icky!), slab it on my face, then wash it again with a cleanser (and again, and again to remove that oily residue!) So troublesome, don’t you think?¬†

And then, I discovered this nifty green product that removes makeup in a jiff!

It is amazingly just a pink cloth with a sateen edge plush and is soft to the touch. Why is it green? Because it is an all-natural method of removing one’s makeup and is nothing like the harsh chemical products I would normally find on the shelves.


So all you have to do is to wet this cloth with warm water and voila! After using it, you can toss it in the washing machine and it’s good as new!¬†


According to its product specification, the Makeup Eraser will last 1000 washes or roughly equivalent to three years if used every day. Imagine your savings by just purchasing this product compared to buying wipes and cleansers all the time! 


I was planning to do a video about how I used it but it takes forever to edit so please allow me to grab this awesome video in Youtube–¬†


So.. what do you think???? Not bad for PHP1,199, right? :*

Check out Makeup Eraser Philippines 
Facebook : www.fb.com/makeuperaserph 


xx,
Balot



Book of The Week: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Balot’s Stamp: 4.5 out of 5 stars¬†

“Gestures are all that I have; sometimes they must be grand in nature. And while I occasionally step over the line and into the world of the ¬†melodramatic, it is what I must do in order to communicate clearly and effectively. In order to make my point understood without question.”¬†

I loooovee this book! I read it in around two hours because I couldn’t put it down. This is one of the books that I have cried to (or at least shed some tears) in almost every chapter. You will never see your dog the same way ever again.¬†
This is a story about friendship, loyalty, faith and overcoming challenges. Perfect for those who have furry family members. 

Update On My Twelve Commandments

Photo from www.ladyokieblog.com

I wrote this blog post around two years ago when I started reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Reviewing it now gives me a sense of accomplishment to see how far I have come from the time I embarked on my happiness quest. 

My Twelve Commandments 
1. Do it now. I have become more diligent in doing the things I need to do without delay. I have also employed the one-minute rule which I discussed in my previous blog post.
2. Learn to shut up.¬†Still struggling with this part. There are moments when I can’t keep my mouth shut especially at the verge of my emotions but your secrets, they are safe with me.¬†
3. Stop overreacting. I have. And I saved myself from a lot of trouble.
4. Love. No need for explanation, I suppose.
5. Spend time with people. Much improvement in this. I try to always talk to my parents and accommodate friends as much as possible. It is a warm fuzzy feeling that I have forgotten once in my life.
6. Stop worrying.¬†I have been struggling with this as well. But this year, I am employing a new mantra: Tranquilo. It means, “Take it easy.” Let’s see how it goes ūüôā
7. Read. And write. And sing. And dance. Been doing a lot of this lately, thanks to my WAHW lifestyle.
8. Pray and find inner peace. Meditate. Go to Church. I still do and it has been immensely helpful in my outlook towards things.
9. Sharpen the Saw. Because of what I do now, it almost seems like I am sharpening my saw everyday because I love what I do (which is writing and reading). I still get to have my occasional perks like a massage and of course, shopping for books! Yay!
10. Choose your battles.¬†I have and that’s why I am where I am now.
11. Learn like a sponge. I have learned a lot in the past few months that I am out of my corporate life. I realized that learning is everywhere and cannot be contained in your office space. 
12. Be Balot.¬†I wrote this in 2012 and the same applies : “This I got from my favorite poetry, Desiderata by Max Ehrmann. Noone can be me. And I don’t even have to worry if you like me or not. I am who I am. Take it or leave it.”


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