Photo Diary: San Diego, California

I talked about my trip briefly in the last post, but wanted to share a few photos from my vacation. Honestly, I’m just missing the cool weather, everyone I got to see, and all the places we got to visit, so I’m just looking for an excuse to reminisce. Haha!

On the day I arrived, my half (we’ve always been mistaken for sisters or twins when we were younger) Binky picked me up from my aunt’s place. She planned a weekend trip to San Diego, so she could take me around. We had to leave her youngest Ella with her in-laws but I got to hang with her firstborn Enzo all weekend long!

Her husband Jay’s friend was celebrating his birthday that weekend, too, so it all just came together. Jay would have his boy’s weekend and I’d get to tour the city with Binky and Enzo.

Before we got to the hotel, we headed out to Ocean Boulevard with a view of the Pacific Beach. After a failed attempt at the PB Shore Club, we ended up in Duck Dive on Mission Boulevard for a late lunch. It was filled with college kids (I assumed) on spring break so everyone was knocking back drinks and/or in green. After the meals I didn’t finish on my first day, I decided to split a burger with Binky. Good decision!

After lunch, Jay drove us back to downtown and we checked into the Double Tree. They gave us complimentary cookies still warm from the oven. Mmm.

We checked out the playground in Harborview, where we had the most amazing view of the sunset. Before walking back to our hotel, they took me to Little Italy, which is a quaint little neighborhood peppered with restaurants, pubs, and bars. It was a chilly night (especially for this tropical girl), but we made sure to stop for pizza before heading back. We ended up at Landini’s Pizzeria where we got the daily special. Got a pesto slice with a Cherry Coke.

In the morning, we had breakfast at Cafe Gratitude, which I had pinned in my Google Maps list for places to check out on this trip. TBH, I only know about this place because of Jason Mraz (lol) but it was an interesting experience and I enjoyed everything we ordered.

After checking out, we drove to Old Town San Diego, which felt like something out of Westworld minus the murderous robots. Haha! I loved walking around and ducking into the stores, where the sales attendants were in costume. Got a few keepsakes for pasalubong, too.

After a quick walk around and taking tons of photos at Old Town, we headed back to LA, where we picked up Ella before heading to Alyn’s place for her husband Joe’s birthday.

We spent the rest of the evening eating, catching up, and watching Enzo score goals with his ate KK. Really wish I had more time with Alyn and Binky, but I’m glad we were able to find a common weekend to hang out. Infinite thanks to the Aquinos for welcoming me into their home and taking me out to San Diego. Can’t wait to see you guys back here in Manila!

Currently / March 2019

Easing myself back into normalcy after a 2-and-a-half-week break. I figured maybe this post will help me jump-start my writing.

Music Monday

Meeting Sondre Lerche after his show at Largo

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know that I had the most incredible fangirling moment in Los Angeles when I caught Sondre Lerche’s show at Largo at the Coronet. As luck would have it, he had a show scheduled on the day we got back from a quick trip to Vegas. After a quick consult with my cousin (I let her listen to “After All”), I bought us tickets to that night’s show. He came out to meet fans after the show and I told him I was so happy to have caught the show since I was visiting from the Philippines. 😛

Here’s an attempt at recreating the playlist (although he played a couple of new songs at the start, so I couldn’t add those on Spotify).

Tasty Tuesday

This isn’t everything but I only had a few minutes during my trip to paint. Memorable dining experience was at Cafe Gratitude where they had a unique way of ordering. Of course I played along and told the server, “I am marvelous and I am vivid.” Haha! After which, he shared the Question of the Day to inspire our discussion at the table: “When are you most at peace?” Safe to say, any time I’m on vacation, I am totally at peace.

Wishful Wednesday

After getting our visas approved mid-February, everything about this trip just went by so fast. From booking our tickets to flying out and figuring out our daily itinerary. I had to tell myself to slow down and enjoy each moment.

I’m just grateful for all the people I got to spend time with on this trip and everyone who made sure we had an amazing time. Wishing for more rackets so I can plan a next one!

Thoughtful Thursday

Still learning how to balance my wins with my losses. I think I’ve gotten better at accepting rejection. These days, I don’t take it to heart especially when I know that it’s not a right fit. Not everything is for me, and that’s okay.

Fashion Friday

Even before flying out, I was doing a survey on whether or not I should purchase this bag. (Everyone I asked told me to buy it, btw.) I guess I was hesitant because I’ve never really purchased anything so pricey. In the end, the decision was ultimately mine. I told myself that if the color I wanted was not available, it was going to be a no. When we got to the store, the pleated buckets weren’t even on display. So, I quietly went up to the sales attendants to ask if they were available. One of them said, “Of course.” And then the magic words, “Only black and blush available.” And I guess the rest is history. LOL!

The lesson here is: It’s totally okay to spend your hard-earned money on something you really want. You deserve a treat once in a while. You can always earn it back. Plus, my bag is so cute. Heh. So buy the damn bag.

Ten Things I’m Thankful For

I keep thinking to do this list every Tuesday, but I wake up and it’s Wednesday and I shelve it for another week. Today, I remembered because I’m currently procrastinating while waiting for people to get back to me. I have one more major article to finish before a two-week trip and I can’t wait to turn my to-do list into a ta-da list. In the meantime, there’s a lot to be grateful for, so here we go.

♡ giving a short talk on feature writing to first and second graders—so lovely to see them furiously writing on their notebooks after interviewing each other
♡ booking jobs—big and small—that keep me on my toes
♡ making big girl decisions and real world investments (ahhh!)
♡ getting back into writing after a couple of months of not doing it. some favorites in the past couple of weeks: a cover story for gma news online; something to enable the barrette-obsessed people everywhere; that time I dressed like tarot cards for a week; and this lesson on herstory and street signs
♡ making a new font and launching a new jewelry collection
♡ getting together with my friends and celebrating milestones (birthdays, baby showers, and everything in between)
♡ getting our visas approved, booking tickets, and finally making this trip happen
♡ snagging tickets to a panel featuring one of my favorite tv shows, yasss
♡ getting our piano fixed after years of not touching it—and still remembering how to play
♡ hulu! I’ve finished watching pen15 and grown-ish, and now I’m going through the bold type

Back to work until it’s finally vacation time!

Currently / February 2019

January felt like an entire year then February just flew over my head. It’s like I blinked once and it’s done. That said, I can’t transition into March without listing down some of my favorites of the month.

Music Monday

I’ve probably mentioned it before, but I’ve been loving John Mayer’s IG Live Show Current Mood and was super psyched when Patty was able to snag us tickets to his show in Singapore. So, you can imagine how happy I was to hear his new music (technically, not 100% brand new since he’s already performed this track late last year). Can’t wait to hear him play this live.

Tasty Tuesday

This isn’t my first time having it, but I’m so happy that Pizza Morena has a branch near me. I first had it in 2015 at the Block Party in Ayala Alabang. My favorite one is their signature Morena made with mozzarella, mascarpone, pistachios, honey, and truffle oil. It’s so good, you have to try it.

Wishful Wednesday

Practical Magic starter deck 6 of swords card

The month started out pretty interesting with a prospective job offer and then it ended on a sour-ish note when that offer fell through. It’s been about a year of freelancing and I feel like I’ve grown so much in the past 12 months. Macy 1.0 would’ve been devastated not getting that job, but Macy 2.0 (lol) is actually chill about it. Also, I should stop talking about myself like I’m someone else. Haha!

When I met up with my former teammates, I updated them on everything that’s been going on and realized that it’s only been two months into the year. I think that we tend to focus on the things that don’t go our way, so we forget about all the good things that have happened.

I’m really quite hopeful for the year—opening myself up to a new business venture, exploring different career opportunities, and possibly going on more trips.

Thoughtful Thursday

Another thing I’ve started doing this year is signing up for things I normally would shy away from. I realize that working from home can make you shut out the rest of the world. But if you want to grow and learn, you need to open yourself up to an environment you wouldn’t usually find yourself in. Luckily, there are some seminars and workshops that you can join for free if you’re not fully committed to dipping into your savings. Just this month, I attended a Creative Boot Camp, met Lauren Hom (I’m a huge fan of her Daily Dishonesty project), and learned about promoting social impact in business.

One of my favorite quotes is from Sophie’s World and it goes, “Wisest is she who knows she does not know.” It has stuck with me all these years because I believe that learning never really stops. Our brains just keep expanding, making way for new knowledge and skills.

Fashion Friday

Getting my ears pierced
Rachel Ravana doing her thang. And my pretty new heart stud earring from Hey Kessy Jewelry.

So, we finally launched my Ceramic Jewelry Collection with Hey Kessy Jewelry and Hey Kessy Pottery. At the launch, I finally got my third piercing after a total of 6 hours flip-flopping whether I’d get one or not. Haha! It’s been 2 weeks and it’s been healing well. I still have to wait 3 and a half months more before I can switch it out, but I’ve been itching to change it already!

I’m also packing for a two-week trip in two weeks and of course, my favorite place to look for inspo is Madewell’s page. I mean, c’mon. Love!

I think March is going to be amazing. I’m glad it’s finally here.

How I Made My Ceramic Jewelry Collection for Hey Kessy Jewelry

Around this time last year, I was finishing up the details for my very first hair accessories line with Dandy Ona Jewelry. This time around, we launched my ceramic jewelry collection with its sister brand Hey Kessy Jewelry.

Back in November, I visited the Hey Kessy Pottery studio with my friend Kaich. I made a few earring prototypes based on some images swirling in my head. Just like my first collection with Dandy Ona, I was really just playing around with the medium as I have no formal training in pottery or designing earrings.

Some ghost-mermaid-tail hybrid that were actually inspired by a photo of mushrooms on Instagram and a bunch of noodle-y Us or Cs.

We did them in varying thickness because I wasn’t sure how thin I could go before they’d break. You’ll see throughout the progress pictures how many of these actually survive the rounds of firing.

Bisque wares freshly painted with underglaze, ready for another round in the kiln.

In late January, I came back to the studio to paint the bisque earrings. Looking pretty good, right? But also, some already broke, so I was praying that all of these would survive the next firing. Do you like the colors I chose?

Design + actual glazed pieces

I took some photos of the glazed pieces to show the goldsmiths how I wanted the fixings to be attached on the ceramic parts. It’s always fun to wait and see how these come out because the artisans get pretty creative with their interpretation.

Yesterday, I finally saw the finished pieces in person at Hey Kessy’s Valentine Pop-up in UP Town Center. Dandy Ona Jewelry also released their Valentine collection, so we had a piercing party to celebrate.

Macy Alcaraz Ceramic Jewelry Collection for Hey Kessy Jewelry
At the launch yesterday in Hey Kessy UP Town Center

After much convincing (6 hours and I-can’t-count-how-many people, I finally got an extra piercing on my lobe at the end of the pop-up. Thank you, Rachel of Piercings by Ravana for accommodating this indecisive girl. Haha!

Infinite thanks to my constant collaborator Mansy of Hey Kessy and Dandy Ona for always encouraging me to try new things and supporting my ideas. Can’t believe this is our second collection already! Thanks to Wina, Cay, and the rest of Hey Kessy and Dandy Ona team for setting everything up yesterday.

If you want to see the collection, head to @heykessyjewelry on Instagram and send them a message through DM or through email for orders. You can send them requests for custom orders, too!

What Happens After Everyone Leaves

Why the loneliest days come after you bury the dead.

When death comes, the support is almost immediate, overwhelming even. Messages of condolences—what does that even mean, really?—start pouring in as soon as they hear about the unfortunate news. People come in droves right before you’re left to deal with your grief by yourself at the end of the day.

And you’re fine when you’re surrounded by people. People who have known your loved one and share stories from a happier time, one where your loved one was still alive. They share your grief, they hold your hand, they offer prayers for the deceased and the bereaved. And that’s all well and good, and of course, very much appreciated. But what happens after the leave?

My brothers and I lost our mom to liver cirrhosis almost 11 years ago in 2008. We were twenty-somethings suddenly left with the responsibility of raising ourselves. Our father had suffered a stroke due to an aneurysm on the left side of his brain a decade before our mother passed away. All of a sudden, we had to learn to take care not just of ourselves, but also our dad.

I’d like to think that we’ve handled the situation we’ve been dealt with as much grace as we could possibly muster. You would think that death would be easier the second time around. It isn’t.

Here are 3 things I’ve learned about grief.

We all deal with grief differently.
Some people like to keep themselves busy to distract them from the loneliness. Some people like to wallow in the pain, let the tears flow endlessly until their eyes run dry. Some people like to talk about it, tell the story over and over until it becomes almost systematic and devoid of feelings. And there’s no wrong or right way to do it. It’s been a week of waking up and crying in bed for me and I just let myself. But I also allow myself to talk about silly, trivial things like how there are two documentaries chronicling the disaster that is Fyre Fest or omg Chris Pratt is engaged?

It’s okay not to say anything when people message you.
The easiest way to commiserate for most people is to send a message of sympathy. I cannot count the times I’ve read the word “Condolences” in the past 2 weeks. I know it’s supposed to comfort you, but even after losing both my parents, this word certainly doesn’t do anything to the immense sadness in my heart. And even if that’s the case, I appreciate the messages all the same. I’ve learned that I can be grateful without having to reply to every single person who sends me “Condolences.”

The loneliest days come after you bury the dead.
If anything, the days when you’re at the wake are actually bearable. You see people you haven’t seen in months, years. They bring you mass cards and money and food. They share stories about the person you’ve just lost, and it feels comforting to reminisce about the better days. Often, there’s more laughter than tears at the burial. But when you lie in bed and wake up the next morning, you realize that the person is no longer there. That’s when it hits you. When you wake up for breakfast and your dad who is usually the first one at the dining table is no longer here. That’s when you feel your heart breaking over and over again. It’s not the first time I’ve had to deal with death in my family and it’s most likely not the last. I’m trying to deal with grief better by allowing myself to cope the best way I know how. These days, it’s giving myself room to cry, to laugh, to live through this. I’m taking it one day at a time and I know one morning, I’ll wake up and my tears won’t fall anymore. But for now, pass the tissue please.

I wrote this a little over a week after my dad’s burial. Happy to report that the tears have been few and far in between. Today’s plans included opening up the lone biscuit box left over from his wake. I’m sure there’s some sort of poetic meaning to eating the cookies on Valentine’s Day of all days. And if there’s none, well, I’m pretty sure my dad would’ve loved sharing a few pieces with me if he were still here.

Currently / January 2019

The year could not have started out any worse than it did. Surprisingly, I am doing pretty well all things considered. Looking back, there were still some good things to come out of an understandably somber month for me and my family. And I’m glad I get to chronicle them in my tiny corner of the web.

Music Monday

Apparently, this one has the most subscribers. I wonder why.

Spotify now has playlists according to your star sign. Now, I don’t necessarily love all the songs in this, but I’m pleasantly surprised that “Destiny” by Zero 7 is on the list.

Tasty Tuesday

chocolate chip cookies by Macy's Fields
Best chocolate chip cookies ever, I promise.

For some strange reason, I’ve been getting the sudden urge to just bake on a completely random day. It started with brownies. And then one day, it was Oreo cheesecake. On yet another, it was a batch of cookies. I’ve been giving some away, but also I’ve been thinking a lot about selling my cookies to strangers. I haven’t really sat down and brainstormed on how I’m going about it, but I’ve been bugging family and friends, asking them if I can count on their support when I do decide to go full-throttle on Macy’s Fields. (They said yes, duh.)

Wishful Wednesday

Full Moon spread by Ethony using Practical Magic Starter Deck and No Filter Oracle Cards
Full Moon in Leo spread by Ethony

After a quick ritual with my sage and palo santo, I drew cards during the Full Moon. The Death card in tarot doesn’t usually mean literal death (more like ending and beginning of cycles), and this is not the first time it has appeared in my spreads.

But this is the only time I felt its literal meaning. The question for this card was “Where is my power during the full moon?” There couldn’t have been a more appropriate card.

When we were going through the motions at the hospital, then the morgue, then the funeral parlor, then the wake, and the burial, I couldn’t help but think, we were ready for it. Nobody told us what to do or where to go or what to say. Somehow, even if we weren’t prepared to say goodbye to our dad, in some ways, maybe we were.

My brothers and I have been “our father’s keeper,” as my brother Manu said in his beautiful eulogy on the last day of our father’s wake, for twenty years now. I look at us and I’m proud to stand by them and how we’ve taken care of each other all these years.

Maybe that’s why I’m not so worried about the future that lies ahead of us.

Thoughtful Thursday

Educated by Tara Westover on Kindle
In the middle of reading Educated by Tara Westover

I finished two books this January (well, almost). The first one was The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer. I started this last year and had such a difficult time finishing it because I was so annoyed with how stubborn Jules Jacobson was in the book. But my friend Marla, who lists this as one of her favorite books by the author, told me to see it through. And hard is it was to finish, it was a great story about growing up and finding out that maybe you’re not as remarkable as you thought you were as a kid—but that doesn’t make you any less interesting than everyone else. I loved how it teetered between their past and the present and how it showed that people can change through time and yet, somehow, stay the same.

As for Tara Westover’s memoir, which I technically finished today, I encourage you to read her amazing, awe-inspiring story. I had to remind myself several times over the course of reading this book that it was not fiction. Educated will make you think about how important education is—both in and out of school—and how sometimes, family can be the people you choose and not the ones you were born into. I cannot wait to read more from this author.

Fashion Friday

I’ve unearthed a lot of my mom’s hair accessories because of my recent de-cluttering. Who knew barrettes from the ’80s would be in fashion again? I guess sometimes, it pays to be a packrat? I’ve been trying to be smarter about my purchases, too, thinking if something I buy will last me the next ten years or so. I’ve been investing in a lot of linen clothes (I just bought some really nice ones from my friends’ line GoBasic, which I didn’t know had linen tops and dresses for sale until quite recently) and real leather shoes. Someday, I hope that when I have a kid of my own, she can also wear my clothes and shoes just like what I do with my mom’s old stuff.

How to Make the Easiest Cheesecake Ever

I’m not even exaggerating when I say this is so ridiculously easy, you’ll be making cheesecake every week after you try it. This is one of the few recipes I know by heart. I go by the ratio: 1 pack cream cheese, 1/4 cup white sugar, 1 egg. For this particular batch, I doubled the recipe for a slightly taller cheesecake. Most people will do 4 packs of cream cheese to get that coffee shop type of cheesecake. But since we’re just 3 people sharing this, I figured 2 packs are probably enough.

Easiest cheesecake recipe

I originally started out hand mixing this because I was too lazy to go up and use my stand mixer. But I couldn’t really get it to a smooth consistency and I was getting impatient. I ended up throwing the cream cheese and sugar into the mixer and I was done in 10 minutes. That said, you can totally use a hand mixer or a wooden spoon—it’s totally up to you.

For this, I used some Oreo cookies for the crust, in the batter, and as garnish on top. I imagine you can do this with Speculoos, chocolate chip cookies, butter cookies, etc. I used a blender to crush my cookies but I’ve also used a mortar and pestle before (make sure you don’t use the same one you use for garlic, because uh who wants garlic cheesecake??).

Enough blah blah. Let’s get on to baking!

Ridiculously Easy Cheesecake

One of the few recipes I know by heart. Very easy to double, depending on your need for cheesecake.

Course Dessert
Keyword baking, cheesecake, easy recipes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 8 slices

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter melted
  • 12 pieces chocolate sandwich cookies (or any cookie of your choice) crushed
  • 2 packs cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (~180°C). Line an 8-inch springform pan with parchment paper and a bit of butter.

  2. Combine crushed cookies and melted butter and press down onto the bottom of your pan. Set aside.

  3. Beat together cream cheese and sugar until smooth in a bowl. Scrap the sides of the bowl.

  4. Add eggs, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and beat until light and fluffy.

  5. Pour cream cheese batter into pan and tap slightly on your counter to get rid of air bubbles.

  6. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until center is set. Let it cool in the pan before releasing and transferring to a plate. Let it set in the fridge for at least 12 hours.

Ten Things I’m Thankful For

♡ every day, because I wake up and I’m okay, I’m here, I’m alive
♡ friends and family these past two weeks—I may have only replied a curt “thank you” to your messages, but I am deeply grateful for each one
♡ spending 5 days with my favorite not-so little person, who is growing up to be such a delightful human with so much love, empathy, and kindness <3
♡ somehow getting work done and accomplishing paperwork in the middle of all that’s happened
♡ finishing sex education, which was absolutely hilarious and brilliantly written—now season 2, please
♡ finishing my first book of the year and starting a new one (I keep needing to remind myself that educated is not fiction, what a story)
♡ a new season of schitt’s creek, my best discovery of 2018 (I know I’m a late bloomer). moira rose forever~
♡ getting a thousand words in for a short story I’m working on (I still have 6,000 more words to go…)
♡ getting to flex my strat muscles again (I haven’t done a strat plan since…2016 because my 2017 one was canceled, lol)
♡ my full moon in leo reading—makes me hopeful for the coming year. here’s to taking the steps to make all my plans happen.

How Many Times Can You Say Goodbye?

On the last night of my Daddy’s wake, my brothers and I shared a few words with family and friends, who shared in our grief, celebrated our father’s life, and told us of the wonderful man he was to them when he was still alive.

I keep saying goodbye to Daddy. Different parts of him slowly peel away each time that I do.

In 1999, he suffered a stroke due to an aneurysm on the left side of his brain. Mommy heard a thud from their bathroom upstairs and found him sprawled in his underwear fresh from a shower. He was a big man—almost 300 lbs—and had to be dragged down the stairs and transported to the hospital. The story goes that an angel in the form of a man on a motorcycle, helped our van weave in and out of traffic to make it to St. Luke’s. They found out that his brain had already hemorrhaged and the artery had to be clipped.

The first time I saw him, lying in the ICU, all his hair had been shaved off, and multiple wires came in and out of the different holes in his body. This was not my Daddy. Not the one who tutored me in Math, not the one who played golf in Capitol, not the one I would sneakily ask permission from when Mommy would say no the first time I asked. I said goodbye to him for the first time.

In a few months, bits and pieces of my old Daddy would re-appear. In his signature quips like the famous “anak ng baka” and his hearty laugh. He still smiled that mischievous smile when he knows he’s been caught eating something he’s not supposed to.

We learned a new way of life. Learning how to maneuver him in a wheelchair, assisting his walking with a cane and a leg brace. We learned how to decipher his hand signs and guess what the words mean when they come out of his mouth. He was no longer our Daddy who talked over everyone at parties and knocked back beers with his siblings.

Two and a half years ago, I said goodbye to him a second time. My brothers and I were all about to leave for work when we saw Daddy shivering in the shower, unable to breathe. In the next twelve hours, we drove to the ER of St. Luke’s, were told that he had just had a heart attack, and he needed to undergo an angioplasty. We then transported him to Heart Center, where in just a few minutes he was wheeled into the operating room to have two stents placed in him to help his heart pump blood better.

It was another round of getting to know this new version of him. But parts of his old self would still peek through. He’d still exclaim an excited “anak ng baka” when he’s with old friends. He would still sneak in a piece of chocolate after he’s been told that he can’t have it. We had to change his diet and we had to get creative with the way we prepared his meals. His medicine had to be doubled and we had to hire a nurse to help take care of him. This was our new normal.

I spent Monday afternoon with him at the mall, accompanying him at the dentist to pick up his new dentures. When we said good night he said that he would feel better the next day. I didn’t know that on Tuesday morning, I was going to say goodbye to Daddy a third time.

Every morning since then, I wake up and I cry in bed. I wait until the tears stop flowing before I get up to come here and do everything all over again. I know I need to go through the tears and the ache in my chest will soon fade until I can forget about it a little while.

We’ll go back home after we say goodbye to him one more time tomorrow. We will trace our steps the best way we know how. We’ll learn to live a new normal and maybe we’ll see old parts of Daddy and Mommy in each other. Or at least that is my hope.

—January 11, 2019