Ten Things I’m Thankful For

♡ making progress on a project we’ve been working on since late may

♡ spending time away from the city with friends I can talk to for hours on end

♡ finishing a good tv series (so far, really liked: atypical season 2 and american vandal seasons 1 and 2)

♡ finally releasing our newsletter into the wild (subscribe if you want to read more from us!)

♡ discovering the beauty of shampoo bars (fun fact: I was documenting my progress on instagram stories when I got assigned to write this story, haha)

♡ snagging a planner for 2019 (plus hanging out with my colleague-turned-friend who is equally obsessed with paper things as I am)

♡ getting a haircut and enjoying my once-every-three-months blow-dried locks

♡ finding new books and finishing a good read

♡ getting a fun gig getting handsy with desserts (p.s. the yummy youtube channel just hit 100k subscribers—go check it out and congratulate them!)

♡ finally visiting my brother’s new home and getting the grand tour by my favorite not-so tiny human ♥

What are you thankful for today?

A Year of (Un)learning

words from mae’s “Our Love is a Painted Picture”

A year ago, today, I left my 12-year job in digital publishing, where I was working for a website I considered my life’s work. I lived and breathed our website for the better part of that decade. That meant the brand was basically my lifeblood.

When I was suddenly without a job, I felt lost. Spending 10 to 12-hour days immersed in my work, my life became all about the job. I identified as an editor and I slowly forgot anything outside of it. I don’t think I did it consciously, but it happened.

The past year has been a year of learning and unlearning for me. Weeks of debating with myself if I enjoyed something because I was really interested in it, or if I was conditioned to because I was exposed to it all these years. I questioned whether I was really good at what I did, if I had anything else to offer. I wondered if I genuinely loved what I did or if I had grown accustomed to it because it was all I ever had to do.

I suppose when you devote an inordinate amount of time and effort to something, you begin to lose yourself in it a little bit.

I suppose when you devote an inordinate amount of time and effort to something, you begin to lose yourself in it a little bit. There’s nothing wrong with that—I don’t regret those 12 years. I am who I am now precisely because I put in the work all those years. I accept all that came out of it—good, bad, and everything in between.

I learned to value myself and the people around me. I discovered that more than what other people have to say, what’s important is why you’re doing what you do. Just like anyone else, I crave affirmation and recognition. That’s normal, but I don’t need it to move forward. When you lose your sense of self, it’s easier to look to other people for a sign that you’re doing a good job. If they approve of you, then maybe you’re on the correct path, right? More often than not, you’ll realize that you know yourself better than anyone else. While it’s nice to be acknowledged by others, isn’t it better when you make your choices based on what you want and not because it’s what everyone else expects of you?

I’m putting in the work for myself this time.

This year, I started writing in my journal again. I wrote for myself. I pitched stories and got published in places I didn’t think I would ever see my byline. I baked more. I learned how to cook. I’ve been reading books again. I’m getting creative again, dusting off my watercolor, my nibs and ink, my paper and notebooks. I started projects with friends because I want to, not because I have to. I’m putting in the work for myself this time. It has been a fulfilling year.

There are days when I think about how broken I felt a year ago. But when I count down all the days and all the things I’ve discovered about myself and the world around me since then, I’m glad I took time to piece everything together again. I’m still in the process of figuring out who I am and what I want to do. And I’m not worried if I still don’t know for sure what that is yet. Isn’t it comforting to know that we’re all still finding out for ourselves, too?

Currently / September 2018

Formerly a weekly themed post I adapted from That’s Chic, this is a list of my favorite things for the month.

Music Monday

I’m a big rom-com fan and I’m actually surprised I have not seen Serendipity in its entirety until this month. I only remember seeing the elevator scene once on HBO. I thought Nick Drake’s “Northern Sky” playing at the very end was just perfect. It definitely made me feel all warm and fuzzy way after the credits finished. It got me thinking about those songs that perfectly punctuate a movie scene. I put together a playlist of those songs. What would you put on the list?

 

Tasty Tuesday

La Chinesca Tacos

Finally got to try La Chinesca at The Grid in Powerplant. Had the Campechano (hanging tender, chorizo, Swiss cheese, potato, onion) and Chicharron (crispy pork, chicharron, salsa fresca, onion). Both come with cilantro, but I’m not a fan so I had them remove it. Shared an order of Guacamole (Mexican avocado, onion, lime, chile, cilantro, togarashi, tostadas) with Mimi, too. Woke up the next morning still thinking of the Chicharron taco. Loved the soft tortilla it was served on. Reminds me of Tortillos!

Wishful Wednesday

It has officially been 9 months since I’ve gone freelance full-time and I feel it. It may seem like freelancers have it easy since they don’t have to come in and report to an office on a daily basis, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Since you need to take on different jobs depending on how much you want to earn in a month, there are days when the deadlines don’t seem to end. I’m still adjusting and learning how to manage my time wisely (aka spend less time binging shows on Netflix, haha). But on days when I do get to slow down, I try to draw, paint, or write on my journal. Here’s hoping for more days like that.

Thoughtful Thursday

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A few years ago, I was suffering from a particularly acute case of imposter syndrome and told a podcast interviewer that I didn’t have any work experience. ⁣ ⁣ Guess what happened? The headline to that interviewer’s story was “Work Advice From A Creative Director with Zero Work Experience” and now in almost every interview, people ask me about my lack of experience (despite the fact that I have been working in arts & media for 20 years). It’s haunted me. ⁣ ⁣ That incident taught me so much. First, that there’s a difference between being humble and being self-deprecating. Second, that while it’s ok to be vulnerable and speak honestly about self doubt, it’s damaging to let these nagging thoughts turn into “facts” that fog the truth. Last, that in a world that often tears us down, our job is to build ourselves up. ⁣ ⁣ The words you speak about yourself become the reality you live in… choose them wisely. Give yourself credit. Acknowledge what you have achieved. Speak about yourself as an admiring friend would. Erect your dream house. 🏡 ⁣ 🎨 @subliming.jpg #hafiz #livewithheart

A post shared by Piera Gelardi (@pieraluisa) on

Everything in Piera Gelardi’s caption resonates with me. Sharing it here in case any of you need these words.

Fashion Friday

Macy Alcaraz shampoo bar

So I started using a shampoo bar. I’m honestly not sold on it yet, but there has been a huge improvement from Day 1. When I first used it, the bar wouldn’t lather up and I just kept rubbing it on my hair. I don’t think I rinsed it out enough, so I ended up with really waxy roots. Now on Day 6, my hair doesn’t feel greasy anymore and my locks feel soft to the touch. I also love how my waves are defined but not frizzy. I really hope my hair fully adjusts to it, so I can say goodbye to commercial shampoo (and to the plastic bottles they come in).

It’s the first day of the final quarter of 2018. How did that happen so fast?

I Have a History of Oversharing Online

When I was in high school, I had a website where I chronicled my life. From the most mundane details of what I ate for breakfast to what song was playing as I typed up my entry, I felt compelled to share it with the world. I don’t think it even really mattered if anyone was reading it. I just genuinely wanted to share my words.

I met a lot of friends online and we started creating things together. For a few years, I worked on a zine called Binibini, which was started by Yashmine. Hers was the very first website I followed and checked constantly. Every month, we would ask Filipinas like us to write and make art focused on a central theme. I’m sure if you search hard enough, you’ll find some version of it archived on the Wayback Machine. I don’t even remember the things I wrote for it, but I’m sure they were very personal.

These days, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any writing that resembles the things I used to publish on my personal website (or, gasp, my friends-only Livejournal). I don’t know when I stopped oversharing. Maybe when Facebook and Instagram took over the WWW and it seemed like people would judge you if you did? Or maybe it’s when my real-life friends finally joined me online and it wasn’t so strange to be connected all the time anymore.

But for the past few months, I’ve been exchanging messages with my friends Chinggay and Patty, ranging from John Mayer’s Instagram stories to the latest podcast about To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before‘s Noah Centineo. We’ve been working on this newsletter for IDK-how-long anymore. Last night, we decided it was time to share it with the world.

We wrote it so long ago that we couldn’t even remember what we wrote about. It was Chinggay who first sent hers back in June that made me write mine. Then Patty sent in hers and I said, who knew John Mayer would be key to all this oversharing? Honestly, we don’t know where we’re going with this, but we’re happy that we’re creating something together. We’re just letting you listen in on our conversation. (;

My Favorite Brownies Ever

My go-to brownie recipe is by Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen, one of my favorite blogs since forever. Through the years, I’ve tweaked the recipe to fit my ingredients on hand. But I think after several tweaks, I’ve found just the right recipe for my favorite brownies ever. For the batch pictured, I used equal amounts of The FreeFood Co.’s Coco Dolcé 65% dark chocolate and Malagos 70% dark chocolate. I’ve also made this with unsweetened Risa Chocolate South Cotabato. I used the same amount of sugar in both cases, and they still turned out just the right amount of sweet.

My Favorite Brownies Ever

This is a tweaked version of Smitten Kitchen's My Favorite Brownies, which is currently my go-to brownie recipe. I love one-bowl recipes!

Course Dessert
Keyword brownies
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 16 squares

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter cut into squares
  • 100 grams dark chocolate chopped finely
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour sifted
  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup pecans coarsely chopped

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350ºF (~177ºC) and line an 8x8-in pan with parchment paper or foil. Spray with non-stick cooking spray.

  2. Place butter and dark chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in 30-second intervals, stirring until smooth.

  3. Stir in both sugars and mix until combined.

  4. Add in eggs one at a time, stirring until combined. Add vanilla and mix.

  5. Sift in flour and salt and mix until just combined.

  6. Pour batter into prepared pan and top with chocolate chips and pecans.

  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

  8. Cool on a rack and cut into squares.

Best Brownies Ever by Macy's Fields

Best enjoyed straight from the pan or maybe in a bowl with a few scoops of ice cream. Perfect with coffee, too! Let me know if you try it.

Songs I Like: Everything Noah Centineo Dances and Sings Along To Apparently

Let it be known that I am fully aware how ridiculous this obsession has been. And I want to promise this will be the last post about it, but are we really sure? Haha! That said, this playlist was borne out of this afternoon’s procrastination and videos of Peter Kavinsy, I mean, Noah Centineo lip syncing and dancing to 112’s “Dance With Me” and Kanye’s “Flashing Lights.” Both of which I no longer know how many times I’ve watched since I first saw them, because they’re now in a saved section on my Instagram. Guys, I made a collection—it’s the only one there. HAHA! What is happening to me?

Now it has spiraled into everything I’ve seen him post online. It’s only a matter of time now until I speak like a bruh and tweet motivational quotes. SAVE ME FROM MYSELF!

Ten Things I’m Thankful For

♡ one month of peter kavinsky, lol (week 4 going strong, and I have not run out of things to watch or read about noah centineo hahaha)

♡ the thrill of having someone thank you for something you wrote about them—never gets old

♡ feeling kilig about a song, a movie, a story (lots to obsess about this past month!)

♡ getting feedback for the story I’m writing from people whose opinions matter to me

♡ reconnecting with old friends because of mutual obsessions (I have never had this many insta-dms, ever)

♡ finishing 2 more books after going through jenny han’s to all the boys trilogy

♡ my new moon in virgo pulls—this always helps me make sense of my current life situation (and helps me map out my battle plan, too)

♡ current writing assignments: been extra inspired to pitch stuff after this resurgence of feelings~

♡ putting together surprises and celebrating people special to me

♡ all of fall tv season’s previews

A year ago today, I received news that turned my world upside-down. Three hundred sixty-five days later, I’m still standing and I’d like to think I’m stronger than ever.

Currently / August 2018

Formerly a weekly themed post I adapted from That’s Chic, this is a list of my favorite things for the month.

Music Monday

I have not stopped talking about To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before since it started streaming on Netflix two weeks ago. So is it even a surprise that I’ve been playing the soundtrack for the past two weeks, too? I can’t not listen to a Lauv song and not think of Lara Jean and Peter K. OMG, h e l p me.

 

Tasty Tuesday

Breakfast at Jenn’s with Mikko

Caught up with friends—old and new—this August. I’ve embraced the slow and steady life these past couple of months and I truly believe I’m better for it. Usually it’s over a good meal or coffee and dessert, but always with a generous amount of laughter. Since I started working from home, face-to-face quality time with my peeps have become extra special.

Wishful Wednesday

So all of these YA romances have me feeling feelings. Did I mention I went through Jenny Han’s P.S. I Still Love You and Always and Forever, Lara Jean right after I saw the movie? Then, I went ahead and finished Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss, too. Coupled with real-life kilig stories (not mine, obvs, haha), I feel the need to channel these feelings somewhere. I started a story but I don’t really know where it’s going yet. I haven’t shown anyone but I was surprised to churn out 3,500 words in two days. I stepped away from it first to give it time to “breathe” and then I’ll go back to it.

Thoughtful Thursday

We all need a reminder sometimes. (:

Fashion Friday

Happy to report that I have not spent any hard-earned moolah on shopping. I got a few lippies plus my Glossier stash that’s still en route to me and that’s about it. Trying to be mindful about my consumption but I think it’s just easier to not shop now that I’m very rarely in the mall these days. Haha!

That said, I’m just ogling the new Uniqlo x Ines de la Fressange collection online. Imagine if I had children. LOL.

It’s a brand new month, a brand new week. Hope we all have a stellar September. August was not so bad after all.

To All the Boys* I’ve Loved Before

* In which I mean, fictional boys, of course.

I have fallen down a deep, deep hole that is To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and I’m happily swooning over Peter Kavinsky like he’s a real person. I’ve watched the movie thrice since it started streaming on Netflix on Friday and have finished the last two books in the series in the past four days. If you check my Twitter faves, they’re most likely related to anything #ToAlltheBoys and I’m not even sorry. I’m obsessed. Clearly.

The movie was such a great adaptation (given all the changes from the book) and I kind of just want to re-watch all of my favorite teen movies from the ’90s and get that giddy feeling all over again. It got me thinking about all the boys I developed intense crushes on when I was younger. Because are you even a teen if you didn’t fall in love with someone who doesn’t actually exist in real life?

Junior (Little Giants)

Devon Sawa as Junior in Little Giants
Devon Sawa as Junior in Little Giants (Warner Bros.)

I’m hardly a tomboy but couldn’t help but feel like the awkward girl with a silly crush on the handsome jock like Becky (Shawna Waldron) in this movie. Of course Devon Sawa who plays junior went on to star in Casper and Now and Then—easily two movies I would gladly watch again and again.

Josh (Clueless)

Paul Rudd as Josh in Clueless
Paul Rudd as Josh in Clueless (Paramount Pictures)

I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen this film. I still feel kilig whenever it comes on HBO (even though I know I can just watch it on demand now). And that scene when Cher has an epiphany by the fountain? My heart always flutters as if I’m in love with Josh! 😛 And hello, Paul Rudd is still looking very crush-worthy right now.

Logan (The Baby-Sitters Club)

Austin O'Brien as Logan in The Baby-Sitters Club
Austin O’Brien as Logan in The Baby-Sitters Club (Beacon Communications)

Growing up reading the books and then finally seeing the characters on screen, I wanted to so badly to be Mary Anne (Rachael Leigh Cook). So, naturally I had a crush on her boyfriend Logan (Austin O’Brien). Hee! I was smitten when he made Vada Sultenfuss (Anna Chlumsky) fall in love with him in My Girl 2, too.

Patrick (Ten Things I Hate About You)

Heath Ledger as Patrick in 10 Things I Hate About You
Heath Ledger as Patrick in 10 Things I Hate About You (Touchstone Pictures)

Who doesn’t love this movie, right? And while it was close call between dorky Cameron (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and the iconic “bad boy” of teen rom-coms Patrick Verona, that whole bleacher song-and-dance number he did gets me all. the. time. P.S. Doesn’t help my current obsession that author Jenny Han made Nick Centineo (aka Peter K) re-create this very scene. HELP.

Zack (She’s All That)

Freddie Prinze Jr. as Zack in She's All That
Freddie Prinze Jr. as Zack in She’s All That (Miramax)

If we forget about the whole bet premise (which was really lame, let’s be honest), I think we are all Laney (Rachael Leigh Cook) falling for Mr. Popular Zack (Freddie Prinze Jr.). And that face he makes when she goes down the stairs? Priceless. LOL yeah, even if she looked that way already minus the glasses the whole time.

And those are just my movie crushes. The list goes on for all the boys I’ve fallen in love with on TV. Sigh. To be young and in love. BRB, recalibrating my mind and heart to think like a 35-year-old. Haha!

Handwritten Fonts: How I Make Mine

I still keep a planner where I write my schedule in—although I admit that I sometimes log in the details after the fact. I keep a journal where I write down my intentions every month or so. Even with most of my life online, I still always keep a pen and paper on me. So it’s no surprise how I’m drawn to handwritten type (or at least looks handwritten).

Back in school, my friend Mikko and I would hand-letter our classmates’ names for their filofax dividers (now you know how old we are, heh). We’d copy our favorite fonts (mine was Jester) using different colored gel pens. One of our fave fonts to copy was Funstuff. Haha! Our lettering eventually evolved from our faves and we developed our own style.

These days, Mikko turns her handwriting into fonts. When she was just starting out, she’d ask us to write down the letters of the alphabet and she’d convert them into fonts we could use on Word or apps like Phonto. She has over a hundred fonts on her site now, including one she made out of the Assumption cursive.

Mix Font Guest Font Macy Tilt

My Macy suite (all fixed and converted by Mikko) is now 7 fonts strong. The latest one she made for me is now available on her site for download! How cool is that? I wrote this one on card stock from Alessa with a Pentel touch brush pen. And then the rest is all Mikko’s magic. Check out Mix Fonts for more of her handwritten fonts!