Photo Diary: Bali, Indonesia

It was my first time in Bali over the weekend and I fell in love with the place. All the gorgeous interiors and the yummy food makes me want to plan another trip back. I was there because my friend P was celebrating her birthday and asked me and L to join her. What was originally supposed to be a trip to Coron quickly became a Bali trip when they found out I’d never been. We booked tickets and our villa (swim-out suite! lol) and fast forward today, it’s over. Still dreaming of our post-breakfast swims and our neverending food trip. Enough, I’ll let the photos do the talking. Will list all the places we got to check out at the end of the post in case you want to visit on your next trip, too!

Astana Kunti Suite Apartment and Villa
 Jl. Dewi Saraswati III No. 39 Seminyak, Bali – Indonesia

Motel Mexicola
Jalan Kayu Jati No. 9X, Kerobokan Kelod

Jalan Kayu Cendana No. 7, Seminyak

Good Mantra Cafe in Kosta Hostel
Jalan Dewi Saraswati 3, No.77 Kunti 2, Seminyak

Cafe Bali
Jl. Kayu Aya, Seminyak

Potato Head Beach Club
Jl. Petitenget No. 51 Seminyak

Potato Head Beach Club. Jl. Petitenget 51B, Seminyak

Jalan Kayu Aya, Seminyak

Corner House
Jalan Laksmana no. 10A

Ten Things I’m Thankful For

♡ celebrating first birthdays and sending off a bride-to-be—always fun!

♡ changing my sheets into a disney-obsessed extravaganza, lol

♡ catching you’ve got mail on hbo. I can never not watch this movie!

sgd coffee’s affogato. oh my heart!

♡ 2 new (heartbreaking) episodes of this is us in one week!

♡ got my first look at a collaboration i’m working on. ahh! cannot wait to tell you guys more about it. but for now, I’m just grateful. (:

♡ the most random surprise: bumping into my friend j and her mom at the mall and awkwardly hugging her.

♡ ticking off one of the major goals I personally have for my new work. here’s to ticking off all of them on the list!

♡ made it to bali for the first time with two of my colleagues-turned-friends this weekend. we celebrated p‘s birthday and it was mucho fun. came home with lots of stories to tell and more adventures to plan.

♡ ate elena is back!

In Love With This Cozy Pink Look

Anyone who knows me can tell I have this obsession with all things French (have you seen my Instagram bio?). I recently followed this French label from Paris Sézane on Instagram and have been double-tapping most of their posts. This particular photo called out to me because I received a similar-looking knitted jumper for Christmas last year.

Here’s an attempt to recreate this look (for much less, lol, because I don’t have $150 for a holey sweater!). Bangs, optional. (:

Parisian Chic outfit featuring pink sweater and blue jeans

Carrie City Natural tote,; Satin Sneaker in Ballet Pink, Superga; Knitted jumper, H&M; Frayed jeans, Forever21.

What do you think? Hoping the cool weather stays for longer (it’s 23° this morning!).

Do You Remember Your Last Conversation With Your Mom?

What was the last thing you talked about with your mom? Ten years later, I can’t seem to remember for sure. Was it when I was squatting on the floor, administering an enema (please don’t Google what it means) that morning? Or maybe when I was feeding her dark chocolate ice cream upon orders of her strange doctor who always dressed in white? Maybe it was when my brother Manu and I watched her crying in the shower. I don’t quite recall all the details anymore.

blue skies and mom's tombstone

I remember bits and pieces. The night before when I thought I was going to lose you, I asked for your pain to be taken away. When I pressed publish on that post, everything flashed forward. I remember how you made a missed video call to your siblings by some fluke of technology around the same time you died. I remember looking at coffins with Kuya Mong, pressured with the decision of choosing where you would lie. I remember not sleeping that night. I remember Manu telling me that I was shouting in my sleep the first night I got to close my eyes. I remember dreaming about you the first night I slept in my own bedroom again. You checked up on me just like you always had every night before you were gone. I remember one week later when everything was normal but not. I remember how Nior and I would cook breakfast every Sunday, maybe our way of coping? I don’t know.

dad visiting mom at the cemetery

There are days when I think maybe I’m okay but then I watch something or hear something and I tear up all over again. Maybe it’s true that you’ll never really forget the pain of losing someone, but I hope I’ll always remember these bits and pieces of you I have in my memory.

I love and miss you always.

Ten Things I’m Thankful For

♡ finally managed to publish on the brand spankin’ new website! hope you find everything in order and if there’s something that doesn’t seem to be working, please let me know because I am now my own tech support, lol. p.s. any day design is a dream to work with!

♡ booked a trip next month with two people I owe much of my sanity to these past few months. can’t wait to feel the sun on my face and fill this tummy with lots of delicious (healthy?) food.

♡ expanding my kitchen skillz (like who knew I could whip up enchilada sauce…from scratch?! I certainly didn’t)

♡ getting in a workout at least once a week because this lazy ass of mine has not moved in months

♡ having friends who are admittedly fellow glossier trash to order whatever new thing with. (so excited to get solution in the mail!) full disclosure: totally got the G-emblazoned cotton pads to get free shipping (well, that’s the excuse I’m telling everyone, anyway. ha!).

♡ my aunt messaging me that she read through my blog (oh my) and telling me “You are a good writer. Keep it up.” aww, thank you and hello!

♡ finding a pin I thought I lost forever sitting at the bottom of my bag. haha! now I just need to find an extra backing for it.

♡ a brand new adventure! or challenge, maybe? on wednesday, you’re supposed to set your intentions for the next 6 months. and that’s exactly what i’ll do, because I officially begin the first consultancy job (hopefully of many) of the year this thursday. funnily enough, it would’ve been my work anniv at my old job on the same exact day.

♡ getting writing assignments I wouldn’t normally have worked on in my previous job! still working on a couple more, one of which involves my newly-acquired cooking skillz.

♡ surviving a 6-hour visit to my dad’s doctor. or more specifically, a 6-hour wait for a 5-minute check-up. note for next time: bring a smaller wheelchair and baon

What about you? What are you grateful for this week?

Currently / January 2018

I used to do this every week but I’m going to try and drum up a monthly list instead. Let me know what’s on your list, too!

Music Monday

I finally remembered to turn on my scrobbling on Spotify. I did this after my questionable Top 2017 tracks didn’t quite capture my year. LOL! I ended up listening to my Soundtrack of the Year from 2002 a lot this month, which explains the list below. Absolutely nothing has changed—I am still obsessed with Koffee Brown’s “After Party” even after all these years. Haha! Top Tracks from January 2018

Tasty Tuesday

This is my third video demo for Yummy, but it still amazes me each time I see the final product. If you only knew how many times I had to repeat that final scoop and how we managed to make those scoops look like *that* at the end of the video. Haha! As always, eternally grateful to Trixie, Riell for giving me this fun gig! Check out the easy-peasy Coconut-Ube Ice Cream video below and don’t forget to check for the full recipe!

Wishful Wednesday

Watercolored Flower and Inked Carnation and Leaves

After a pretty interesting end to my 2017, I vow to make more mindful choices this year. I know it’s a bit too early in the year to be declaring this, but I can tell 2018 is already going to be loads better than last year. Here’s hoping all my plans, grand and tiny, come to fruition. I already have a few collaborations brewing and I can’t wait to tell you all about them. Soon, soon!

Thoughtful Thursday

Finished my first book of the year! I missed Wonder in theaters, but I got to read the book it was based on by R.J. Palacio. I started it last year and it was the perfect thing to read while I was going through some pretty life-changing, uh, events.

“…If every single person in this room made it a rule that wherever you are, whenever you can, you will try to act a little kinder than is necessary—the world really would be a better place. And if you do this, if you act just a little kinder than is necessary, someone else, somewhere, someday, may recognize in you, in every single one of you, the face of God.” —Mr. Tushman, Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Fashion Friday

I’ve been pretty good with shopping lately (aka I’ve managed not to do it, haha) so I was excited to check out Uniqlo U’s new collection last Friday. Sadly, most of the ones K and I wanted weren’t available yet. Dreaming of coming back for this skirt, but maybe when it’s on sale. And then there’s the Marimekko collection happening in March. Eep! Good luck to my wallet.

Notice how different the headings and the quote look? That’s my handwriting turned into a font by Mix Fonts! Check out their new digs and pick up some fonts for yourself, too. (:

Roasted Carrot and Pumpkin Soup

I’ve had a cup of vegetable stock sitting in the fridge for about a week now. I had some left over from when I made enchilada sauce from scratch (I’ll take photos the next time I make that again so I can share the recipe with you!). So since I still had some pumpkin to use up and a lone carrot to add to the mix, I decided to make a chunky soup for my dad!

I pretty much just put everything together and it was the easiest meal I’ve prepped for my dad. I paired this with some baked fish but my dad was already full from the bowl of soup!

Roasted Carrot and Pumpkin Soup

For when you've got leftover veggies you want to use up!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 2


  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp vegetable spice
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 carrot chopped
  • 2 cups pumpkin chopped
  • 1/2 white onion chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a baking pan, place chopped vegetables and drizzle with sesame oil. Season with vegetable spice and toss to coat each piece. Leave in toaster oven for 15 minutes, tossing every 5 minutes to ensure even roasting.

  2. Place roasted vegetables in blender with half a cup of vegetable stock. Pulse and add liquid gradually.

  3. Blend until smooth (or leave it a little chunky, depending on your preference) and season lightly with salt and pepper.

Pro tip: Whenever you cook veggies, keep the trimmings in a plastic bag and store in your freezer. Once the bag is filled up, you can use this to make your own vegetable stock. Just sauté in a bit of oil before adding water and bringing to a boil. You can freeze it in batches if you’re not going to use it right away. Pretty handy to have if you want to make something quick like this soup. (:

What’s Inside My Tiny Notebooks?

I try to keep a small notebook with me whenever I’m traveling. I also bring along a tiny water brush, a small collection of Micron pens, and my watercolor palette of choice (usually a portable Winsor & Newton Cotman Water Colours Sketchers’ Pocket Box that I got from one of Alessa‘s workshops).

I also love taking photos (either with my point-and-shoot or trusty phone cam), but there’s something about sitting down, taking out my art materials, and painting or doodling snippets of my trip. I particularly love drawing everything I eat, which is what I usually end up doing the most whenever I travel. Haha!

Tiny Notebook: What I Ate in Singapore

What I’ll do is take a photo of my food and draw them on my tiny notebook once I have downtime. I painted this Singapore FooDiary page in PS Cafe, while my friend P and I were sharing a massive order of truffle fries.

I also have another tiny notebook, which I bring on beach trips. I call it the Things We See By The Sea journal (you can see the stitched cover in the photo on the very top of this post) and I try to paint something to remind me of that beach trip. I’m excited to bring this one with me next month when I visit a new place for the first time!

Tiny Notebook: Vessel Hostel La Union

Sometimes, I’ll make a hodgepodge of highlights from a specific season like this farewell to summer I painted. So many fun memories from 2016: getting the chance to bake cupcakes for Hailee Steinfeld’s rider when she was in Manila (I was told by a very reliable source that she, in fact, ate one lol); worked on two books (those were The ABCs of Journaling and Letters to My Children); bought myself my first hickory holder for calligraphy.

Whether I do it while on a trip or after, I feel like memory keeping is such an important part of travel for me. It helps me remember all the little things I loved about the place and the people I was with. What are your travel journaling habits? Do you have any favorite art materials to bring with you on trips, too?

Roasted Kalabasa Spaghetti With Broccoli, Spinach, and Bacon

Our driver brought back some freshly harvested kalabasa over the weekend and we’ve made two kinds of pasta with it already. I tweaked a few recipes I found online (here and here) so I could use the vegetables in our crisper. My dad loved (and finished) the first batch so I whipped up another one today, adding broccoli and bacon into the mix.

I liked how the kalabasa turned out after popping it in the toaster on a baking pan with some EVOO and a mix of herbs the first time, so I did the same for this batch. I roasted mine for about 15 minutes but it could take longer depending on your oven. Confession #1: since I was following a recipe online, I didn’t realize 40-50 minutes was way too long so my kalabasa burned a bit the first time I tried. Whoops!

You can omit the bacon (or swap it with your choice of meat/fat) completely and make it vegetarian but I sneaked in a few pieces as a Friday treat for my dad. I also didn’t cook the pasta in the pan where I was cooking the vegetables. I cooked it separately and added it right before mixing in the cream.

I realize that when it comes to cooking (unlike baking), you can really play around with recipe (read: not follow every single thing or use exactly the same ingredients) and not end up with something inedible. Confession #2: For this recipe, I forgot to add the garlic and thyme until after I already poured in the water. I added them anyway and it still turned out great!

Here’s the recipe if you want to try it yourself!

Roasted Kalabasa Spaghetti With Broccoli, Spinach, and Bacon

A yummy and healthy way to enjoy pasta! 

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 6


  • water
  • 400 grams spaghetti noodles
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 white onion halved and sliced
  • 4 strips honeycured bacon chopped
  • 2 cups kalabasa chopped and roasted in EVOO and herbs
  • 1 tbps garlic minced
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 bouillon chicken cube dissolved in 1 cup water
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 head broccoli cut into bite-sized florets
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose cream
  • pepper to taste
  • parmesan for serving
  • pecans optional


  1. Bring water with a few teaspoons of salt to a boil and cook spaghetti noodles as instructed in the packaging.

  2. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat and toss in onions, bacon. Once onions have softened, add the roasted kalabasa, garlic, and thyme. Give it a stir before adding the dissolved chicken cube and water. Bring to a boil then lower heat. Simmer for 10 minutes*.

  3. Add broccoli and spinach. Simmer for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Once the sauce has thickened, add in your pasta and the cream. Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to your serving dish and top with parmesan. For the first batch I did, I pulsed a handful of pecans in the blender and added it to the pasta before serving.

Recipe Notes

* you can actually cook your noodles after your sauce boils so that it’s already cooked by the time you have to mix everything together.

What’s your favorite way to cook kalabasa? I still have half in the fridge and we’re thinking of what to do with it next.

A Year in Songs (2017)

In the year 2002, I made my first soundtrack of the year inspired by Larissa from LJ. To give you an idea of just how long ago that was (15 years!), it was the first time I listened to Jason Mraz (thanks to my friend Mika for introducing me to his music by way of “Sleep All Day”) and I was obsessed with Babyface. Haha! I managed to find everything on the list and made a playlist of Spotify except for this song, which I totally forgot about till I pressed play.

What is it about music that instantly transports us back in time? How the first few bars of a song can make you remember an exact moment in your life and immediately fill you with…feelings. Like when I play “After Party” by Koffee Brown, I’m transported to Batangas back when my friend’s resort was only two kubos wrapped in kulambo. A time when I took photos with my Advantix camera and wasted a ton of film cartridges because I covered the flash or the lens with my finger. Or when I learned how to breakdance to J.Lo and Ja Rule. LOL. Or how I played Shelby Lynne’s “Dreamsome” for my imaginary radio show in Speech 160 with DocLa. Fifteen years ago, when I was editing an online zine with my online friends.

I’ve since made one every year save for 2004 and a momentary pause from 2013-2015. Here’s last year’s soundtrack.

What’s on yours? ♫