Stuck in a Rut? 5 steps how to (well, I try to..) get out of it

THREE MONTHS!!! Three full months of not doing anything for this blog! Unfinished blog posts, unanswered emails and comments, unopened reader! I got busy, got caught up with other new things, and coupled with little bouts of doubt…Gaaaahhh!!!

Don’t worry, I would not try to narrate here the why and what I’ve been doing. But I’m sure you know that being in a rut is a hard place or situation to be in. It could get dragging, guilt-ful, or ironically, even so COMFY (like a nice bed with the softest sheets that you just wanna lie there all day..hmmm…. Getting out would take as much energy as getting started all over again.

Looking back in those three months of rut (hopefully I’m not anymore counting!), I’ve realized there are certain things that I’ve done that helped me..rather, that HAVE BEEN helping me to get back on track again. Well, I’m happy to be finally typing my thoughts down here again, at 4 AM in the morning, my “magic hour” or dawning, as I like to call it. Well, I’m sharing them here, and whatever RUT you may find yourself into – a job rut, relationship rut, passion rut – hope these little tips can also help you to get up and out of it.

  • Talk to someone. More often than not, we refuse to admit that we are in a rut. We make up excuses for ourselves. Admission is an important first step. And often, talking to someone may be the therapeutic act of admission that you need. Saying it out loud and sharing it to someone you trust is like having that loud wake-up call that would take you back to perspective. Of course, needless to say, that someone should be a person you trust and ideally, someone who has a broader perspective of your situation so he/she can give you a sound and objective advice, like a mentor or a trusted colleague.

I’ve had this sort of wake-up call by the end of my 2nd month of rut and I immediately e-mailed one of our #getblisstified coaches, Martine de Luna. We’re currently about to get on-board a personal blog coaching program, which will pave the way for the formal launch of Winsomehood! Yaasss!! I couldn’t be more excited!!



  • Get yourself a nice pick-me-upper. Find a little tangible thing that will excite and inspire your soul and passion over and over again, especially when you feel you’re beginning to fall into that trap again. It could be anything, from a nice notebook, a little keychain, a meaningful bracelet, a chic mug for your coffee – anything that could be a reminder for you to get your act together again.

In my case, I didn’t realize I needed this until my aunt gave me a new planner. I wasn’t planning on getting one this year. Ever since I resigned from my corporate job, planners did not work for me anymore. Half of my previous year’s planner remained blank.  And well, I figured that’s probably why I’ve lost focus and got myself in a rut in the first place. So I’ve  made a resolution that this CBTL The Giving Journal, a Christmas gift from my aunt, will be my pick-me-upper whenever I find myself dwindling downward again.


Oh! And I’ll hug my son anytime I need a double dose of inspiration! My ultimate pick-me-upper!

  • Re-draw your vision board.  I only started making my own vision board last year and admittedly, it helped me a lot in getting a clearer picture of what I want to achieve. I get cut-outs from magazines, inspo from Pinterest, write down favorite quotes, and print photos of my family and loved ones.

BUT having your own vision board is not always a guarantee. There can be a lot of distractions along the way that eventually even your own vision board can become an abstract visual to you (this was what happened to me!). So I’ve learned that it is very important to also COMMIT to your vision. Re-visit it always. Having a few tweaks here and there may be acceptable but always have a core that you would commit to carry on and follow through.

I’ve heard of a Vision Board Workshop early this month and I’m bummed that I didn’t get to attend it, but I would suggest that you attend these kinds of workshop at least once. It was a gathering organized and hosted by Make It Blissful in collaboration with Vision Board coach, Trixie B. Esguerra. Hopefully they’ll make another run. We can tune in to their website and social media pages for any announcement.

  • Don’t be afraid to indulge in your thoughts. Perhaps, this is one of the hardest part. In some cases, the rut you are in can become your comfort zone and going out of that comfort zone A.K.A rut is what can become your fear. Yes, it can take courage to jump out of it again, almost the same amount of courage that you needed to muster when you started in the first place, if not more. But you got to do it!

I’ve had this fear of opening my blog site during my rut because it was, obviously, a painful reminder of this rut I was in. But it’s amazing how once you’ve gone through it, inspiration can strike even more vigorously! As they say, magic happens outside your comfort zone!



  • Forgive yourself. And lastly, yes, you have to forgive yourself. Cut yourself some slack. You didn’t intentionally get yourself into that rut. You want to start again and that’s what’s important.


And I personally think that the most important thing is that you also pray for it. Ask wisdom from God to know where He should be leading you. And when you get that wisdom, it would be hard to fall into another rut again.

Now, go get yourself some mint chocolate. 🙂

The lure of Southern Living

I have always lived in the North. I grew up in Pampanga and then moved back to the metro for college and I have been living the city life even up to now. But I always knew there’s something about living in the South. I hear it from friends who are from the South and they always exude a sense of comfort that’s almost exclusive to them southern dwellers.

And then there’s Tagaytay, the sophisticated lady city south of the metro. Perfect climate, amazing views, country-style living, the modern comforts of the city perfectly melding with nature. Who doesn’t like to live here? My husband and I think this is the closest thing when we just want a quick break or vacay.  We love to go even just for lunch and coffee, usually on a weekend. We’d always talk about the possibilities of moving here or perhaps retiring here one day.

So just last week, when I joined a gathering organized by Avida Land in its prime development project right in the heart of Tagaytay, I found it as a perfect chance to explore those possibilities. It was held on a Wednesday, just the perfect day – no weekend out-of-town rush – to see how life could go on a regular hump and grind day when you’re living in the South.



We came from Makati and just a few minutes on the road, I already felt the contrast as we drove away from the hustle of city and into the hushed atmosphere outside of it. Amazingly, the travel itself was smooth and fast. I was having a chat with one of my “Blisstified” friends on the way and before we knew it, we were tucked in the countryside. With travel this smooth on a regular day, yes, it wouldn’t be a problem to go back and forth the metro for some business matters. Maybe even better and therapeutic than harassing your way through Metro Manila traffic if you lived in it.


It wasn’t long before we arrived at Serin Tagaytay and had a tour of the development. It’s nestled in a very good location in the heart of Tagaytay – a good distance away from all the tourist-y spots that Tagaytay is known so you can steer away from the clamor, but still along the main road which makes it very accessible.

I really like the name, Serin. It promises serenity, peace and composure. And as I stepped into Serin West Tower 1, I knew it can live up to that promise. With high ceilings and huge glass windows plus the rustic feel, you won’t feel closed out from the majestic views and freshness of nature, instead, it lets you be surrounded by it and dwell in the midst of it all.







Now, on to the nest itself. We were given a chance to check out a one-bedroom Serin East model unit housed in the pavilion. And my first impression was just “wow!”, because the floor area seemed a lot bigger than most 1BR units that I’ve seen. It was around 40 sqm (if I’m not mistaken) but the lay-out of the interior was carefully and practically thought of. It has a living area perfect to receive some guests, a dining area and kitchen to enjoy a hearty meal or some wine and cheese and good conversations, and a bedroom where you can enjoy some privacy without feeling claustrophobic. I could picture me, my husband, and our little boy having a lazy breakfast in bed.





What I also like about Serin Tagaytay is the community that is built around it. Avida is known for developing sustainable estates and Serin is no exception. The nearby Ayala Malls Serin provides a perfect venue and access to other comforts such as restaurants and coffee shops when we feel like going out for some fresh air, and necessities like a department store and a grocery for errands.  Soon, I know it will have amenities for leisure, too, where we can go swimming or strolling or just out in the lawns and enjoying the breeze and feeling like we’re on vacay everyday.

So, after seeing these possibilities, do I see myself and my family living in the South? Yes, yes..we definitely could get used to it, yeah?




Bliss = pure happiness

In the past year, I always found my bliss from my family. I have told over and over how I was willing to give up everything for them – my corporate career, my professional skills and talents, my personal pursuits. And I did! Looking back now, I could say that was the best decision I made so far.

But bliss, as I have learned, must also come from within you. During the recent months that I have found myself more reflective through writing, I realized that I always sourced my bliss from others. Bliss of love from my husband, bliss of motherhood from my son, bliss of gratitude from my family. But what bliss can I find in myself? Writing is bliss for me, yes, but I still felt there was so much more that I could do.

So when I learned about the Get Blisstified workshop that Martine de Luna, one of the people I look up to not only in blogging but in personal branding as well and one who I think is a true ambassador of bliss, and Kimi Lu, a life coach, igniter of passion and a purveyor of bliss, are doing together I knew I just had to sign up. I missed the first run, but luckily, I got in the 2nd one which coincidentally happened 1 week before my birthday. Perfect timing! I knew I needed to gift this to myself!


Martine and Kimi, ambassadors of bliss (Photo by Myra Ho)




(Photo by Myra Ho)


(Photo by Myra Ho)

In a nutshell, I could say that Get Blisstified was a commencement event for my passion project.  It was meant to inspire and to ignite that spark that I’ve probably been putting off for a while. And it did for me and for all of us, definitely! Every portion of the 4-hour event, for me, felt like a careful trail that led me to that state of bliss – when my passion was enkindled brighter than I have ever seen or felt it. From the warm welcome and mood of the venue at Earth Kitchen, to the soothing music, the moving stories from the people I met, and the heartfelt guidance and support from Kimi and Martine. Blisstified was a coined term but nothing else could have described the experience any better!


(Photo by Nico Belasco)


Beautiful set-up at Earth Kitchen BGC (Photo by Myra Ho)


(Photo by Myra Ho)


(Photo by Nico Belasco)


(Photo by Nico Belasco)


(Photo by Myra Ho)

One of my favorite part was when we started with a quick intro and sharing of the things that we were grateful for that day. Through this, I realized that to be in that state of bliss and have all that positive energies flow within you, one must feel gratitude and contentment. Then we got into an exercise of visualization that allowed us to envision, share, and plan in actionable and realistic steps our own passion projects. The personal branding exercise has always been a favorite, although it is still a work-in-progress for me. And lastly but definitely the most inspiring for us was the actual blisstification experience, which allowed our whole being – body, heart, mind, and spirit – to experience the fruition of our passion one year from now.


The Grateful Jar that contained all the things we were grateful for that morning. (Photo by Nico Belasco)


Kimi and Martine leading us into that blisstified state. It was truly amazing! (Photo by Nico Belasco)

The best part of Get Blisstified is that it doesn’t stop there. It’s only the beginning of an actual journey to turning our passion into reality. Bliss is something that you have to sustain and I’m thankful that through the group that we have formed in this event, we have a solid source of inspiration, support, and accountability for our passion, especially when one of us strays from that state of bliss.


Make it happen, we will! (Photo by Myra Ho)


Thank you Edenstreet for this motivational stationery and Wishlist Studio for our personalized journals. (Photo by Myra Ho)

For people who have decided to take on the passion path, may it be the first time for you like me or that you’ve been at it for quite some time but you’ve come across an intersection and you need a sense of direction, this experience is definitely for you. Thanks to Martine and Kimi for coming up with this idea and bringing it to life for us. The runs for this year may be done, but you may tune in to their IG accounts and social pages for announcements on when the next will be.


Your blisstified ones love you, Kimi and Martine! (Photo by Myra Ho)


Batch 2 Blisstified! (Photo by Myra Ho)


I couldn’t wait for the gathering of our batch one year from now and see that these wonderful women I met have indeed become what they are so passionate to become. Myself included.

Many thanks to the following:

Photos c/o Nico Belasco  and Myra Ho.

Our Blisstified goodies that included motivational stationery from edenstreet, handwritten calligraphy name cards by swirlsandstrokesph, personalized journal from wishliststudio, personal mood candle by bcscentstudio, giftpass from 360fitclub, too-pretty-to-eat biscuits from thelittlewhiskph, and the raffle prizes from gratefuljarph.


Oh my October: Pocketfull of learnings

It’s my birthday month! Yay!

I love celebrating my birthday. But so much has happened in the past year, so many turning points, that this particular birthday, my 31st, signifies so many things for me. And jumping on this once-a-year license to get all nostalgic and sentimental, I have decided to list down 31 things that I have learned and realized…about myself, about people, about life. Not much, perhaps the list will not even cover all. But this should be enough to give me a pocketful of hopes and wisdom for whatever’s next.

Oh, and by the way, I don’t intend to finish this list in one sitting. I plan to take this whole week or even month to try to remember and ponder the things that made up who I am now, big or small. I hope that you pick up something, anything out of this list.

  1. I learned how to read well. Not just words, but also situations and people. I still don’t know how it happens or even how to prove it, but most of the time my gut-feel about something or someone is always true and correct.
  2. Also, that I will never be a fast reader. I like to dwell on the words and sentences, to go back over and over until I get one or different meanings out of it.
  3. That one doesn’t have to know a lot of recipes to be a good cook. Sometimes, all you need to learn is how to make omelet and a mean pasta dish and at least one person on earth will think you are awesome at it.
  4. I realized that I can never escape writing. No matter what I do, I just keep coming back to it.
  5. That there are certain things that even if you try to hide or change, they will still come out. Like how probably, blue is really my favorite color, even if I try to deny it. Half of my closet is blue and I did not intend it to be. It just happened and I just noticed.
  6. That a Coke-less life is possible. Also a dessert-less life. A fastfood-free life is hard though but I’m working on it.
  7. That nothing else ever really changes a woman profoundly the way motherhood does. No other words can elaborate this.
  8. That a person comes out of age more than once in her life. I used to love reading coming -of-age fiction when I was in my teens and I thought that THAT important transition happens only once when you suddenly mature and turn into an “adult”. But having experienced “adulting”, I’ve come to know that even that takes different stages and levels. And you come out of each stage a different person. This thought, perhaps, is one of the greatest inspirations behind my blog.
  9. That people you meet are either posts or passersby. The posts stay with you forever, no matter the season, no matter the change. The passersby hang out for a while, then will set on foot again. Both kinds are brought into your life for a reason, and who’s meant to go will eventually go, who’s meant to stay will stay. It’s not their fault, it’s a natural cycle that makes the world round. Like how you are also a post to someone and just a passersby to others. Also, that you don’t need too many posts in your life. Just a few but strong ones and you’re good.
  10. That while motherhood may be the most magical thing to ever happen to a woman, it doesn’t and shouldn’t define her completely. That every woman is a mom and more. I almost kinda fell into this trap in my first year of motherhood. I love being Tino’s mom, and I love my son the most and I wouldn’t change the decisions I did for him if I had to. But eventually, I’ve come to realize that my baby will sooner or later turn to be his own person and what would be left of me? I cannot be just Tino’s mom, right? I’m still learning this and still trying to find myself again, but I do know it’s another learning process. I’m just glad this realization has set in.
  11. I’ve learned that a clutter-free life is waaaaaay better. I used to be a hoarder and a sentimental-junkie. I hated having to throw or give away stuff even if they’re just collecting dust, because I see those things with sentimental-colored glasses. But piled up, they become a baggage or clutter. And it’s hard to find a sense of order when there’s too much clutter. I mean these points in both the literal way and otherwise. Now, I’m a decluttering addict.
  12. I’ve realized that absolutely nothing in this life will ever make sense, until you relate back everything to GOD. That if you put HIM in every situation that you have, you’ll get the answers why things that happened happen. Amazingly, even if you don’t get the answers, it will still make sense to you because of HIM. Otherwise, life will just be a huge guessing game. And I think it’s not a fun way to take on life, just guessing.
  13. That life really is all about the choices you make. That everyday we are presented with so many different choices and options and how the day turns out is usually just a result of what choices we made.
  14. That choosing your own battle is a worthwhile exercise. Not just for your emotions but also for your total wellbeing – physically, mentally. Maybe this is also related to no. 15. Because part of choosing your own battle is knowing how much of you should you really say or do.
  15. That no matter what you do, other people will never really get to know the 100% you. Maybe they don’t see it enough, or maybe you don’t show it enough, or maybe it’s just because your current state or situation calls you to be a certain version of yourself. Doesn’t mean you’re being fake, because even if it’s just 50 or 35%, it’s still a percentage of who you really are.
  16. That thread count really does matter. Yes, thread count in bed. And as you grow older and wiser, you’ll only get more conscious of it. Only because you know you always always always deserve better.
  17. That traveling with a toddler is the real test of character. Seriously. And more often, it turns out to be the best journey you’ve ever had.
  18. I realized that sneakers are just the best shoes ever. I hated it in my 20s. But because comfort, check. Style, yes. Practical, yup. Comfort, definitely. Especially with a toddler. And comfort, did I say comfort already? Why didn’t I wear it before???


What’s your magic hour?

Me-time, anyone? Yes, please!

I think you would all agree with me that this has now become a necessity. Just like sleep. What with all the frenzy of our daily lives, it has become such an important time that we set aside for ourselves. But often, what we do during this time is never a question. The real question is when do we actually find the time to do it?

Others have learned to master the art of injecting this precious bit of time seamlessly into their schedule like it was actually a part of their daily IT. When I was still working, I sort of had a touch of this art. Like how I would spend my lunch break at the nail spa at the back of our office for a quick mani or to get my brows done or to make a quick trip to the mall when emails are scarce and deadlines seem far. Amusingly, my officemates and I called it “cutting” – short for “cutting classes”. Haha!

Then, when I became a full-time mom and wife, this has become almost impossible to achieve when you have a little toddler who clings on to you like you’re a life-saver almost every minute and a husband who also thinks of you most the same way after a stressful day at  his work. Don’t get me wrong, I love my two boys to the moon and back to all the ends of the earth. And I love being their life-saver! It has been the reason why I was willing to put me-time at the far seat. But, it was also why the need for my own time has become stronger than ever. I need life-saving too, right?  Or at least save something for myself.

So how did I do it? The “magic hour”. This is the time that I know I can have the peace and quiet I need for myself, but without compromising the hours that my main priorities (my husband and son) need or demand of me. In order to identify this, I had to take note of my routine:

My son wakes up at 6 am and that means the same for me. We have breakfast, play time, bath time, snack time, and before we know it, it’s mid-day already. Meanwhile, my husband goes to work after breakfast and won’t be back until late afternoon. Tino takes his nap time at 12noon to 2pm or 3pm, so that’s my time to eat a hearty lunch , take a bath, and do whatever needs to get done like pay bills online, confirm appointments, do our store inventories, call up suppliers for projects, etc.,. At 2 or 3, Tino wakes up, eats lunch, play or TV time, and we do all other toddler things that take up most of the afternoon. By 5, husband is usually home and that’s when I start juggling my attention between my two boys. We have dinner, give Tino a bath and put him to sleep. Then it’s our QT as a couple – we watch an episode or two of our current TV series, talk, eat, until we both get sleepy around 11pm.

That’s a full day! So where’s my magic hour? This is where I got reminded that a day is 24 hours and not 12, and that I could go out of that box. I have begun to realize that my magic hour is anytime between 12 am, when my husband has finally caught sleep, and 6 am, just before the little one wakes up for a brand new day. Usually it happens around 4 to 5 am, when my body has had some rest and my mind has reboot for fresh and positive thoughts.

It usually coincides with the break of dawn. And it’s such a perfect time of peace and quiet for me, when it’s just me and my thoughts throwing ideas, goals and dreams at each other.   I have been calling it “dawning”, which for me, means a whole lot more than just verbalizing whatever I was doing at that holy hour. It signifies new beginnings, new hopes, new things , just like what the break of dawn signifies, too.


And what do I do? I write, read, pray, make skeletal plans and to-do lists for my personal projects, do online window shopping (!!!). It was never a question of what to do, because there are always so many things I want to do. They may not be the same kind of activities I used to do and the kind of “me-time” I used to have, like getting a mani-pedi, doing actual shopping, hanging in a coffee shop. But those are my kind of things now.

I don’t mean to tell you that you should do exactly the same. But committing to making that time for yourself, that “me-time”, does a whole lot of good things for your well-being. It’s a way to nurture your own magic, your own winsomehood. The kind of saving we give ourselves. Try to find that magic hour for you. Maybe it’s your commute from house to work or that last hour before going to bed. Or your lunch break.

When you’ve figured it out, I would love to hear about it.


Why journaling is good for you

I think that any girl who grew up in a bedroom with walls painted in pink probably had a diary, kept somewhere not too obvious like inside the pillowcase, at the bottom of the closet or in a shoebox. I used to be one of those girls. But like most women I know now, we think that diaries or journals, like slam book with all its define-love-kind of questions, are childish. We grow up and throw them, burn them, or simply forget about them.

Well, I did not totally forget the habit. While I had long foregone the act of keeping an actual formal journal, I’d still write random thoughts and doodles in a small notebook, in my planner, or even in the notes app of my phone. I know that thoughts are fleeting and in just a few moments they can slip my mind. So I write them down. And then that’s when I forget them.

When I started blogging, I began to think that this is the modern form of journaling. Because what you write in your blog is quite the same as what you would write in your journal, isn’t it?

So a month ago when I saw a post by Make it Blissful about a journaling workshop happening at the A Handmade Affair event, I signed up, hoping to be able to use the learnings for my blogging. Luckily, I was chosen as one of the participants.  And this was when I learned the thin line that separates journaling from blogging or other form of thought-sharing for that matter.



When Martine asked us the question “what do you write in your journal?”, answers from the group were quite the expected ones. Random thoughts. Devotionals. Prayers. Sometimes songs or poems. And I thought to myself, “yep, exact same things I could blog about” (or perhaps, even share to my closest friend).

But when she asked us to make an actual journal entry using the materials provided for in the workshop, that’s when the distinction began to appear clearer for me. That day, I had a petty fight with my husband and most of what I was thinking and feeling that day had to do with it. So naturally, what I came up with for the workshop was about my feelings for him. When I was finished, my journal entry made it clear for me why journaling is different from any other form of thought-sharing. You see, I could write a blog entry about my husband, yes. But what I poured out in that journal entry are a bit too personal that I wouldn’t have put it that way, had I written it in a blog post.


Journals are a great way to immortalize the moments in our lives – moments that made us happy, sad, grateful, hopeful, or sometimes even hateful. These moments do not stay with us forever but all of them contribute to who or what we become. I realized I stopped formal journaling when I was in college (the little random notes in random pieces of paper don’t count – I don’t even remember them or have them with me anymore!). And now that I think I’m a more mature person, what I have are only memories, sometimes even blurry ones. It would have been nice to look back with something tangible.

It’s also a great form of release – no holds barred -because it should be a personal and private thing for you. It’s the perfect place to put multiple exclamation points, to draw hearts all over, to paint the perfect abstract that nobody gets, because it’s your personal space and you understand it better than anyone. And after you poured it out in your journal, you come out more stable and confident and with better hold of your thoughts and emotions. More often, it’s how we can keep our sanity, right?

Then I realized, it does help you communicate better with other people because journaling can help you make sense of things. For others to understand you, you first must have a good understanding of what you think or how you feel. And that’s part of the therapeutic effect of journaling to our wellbeing.


I also learned in the workshop that journaling is healing and a proven success tool. Aren’t all the biographies of all the great people – the elite performers in business and leadership, of people who successfully battled a disease and are now testimonies of hope – inspired by their journals?

And your journal entry doesn’t have to be all written words. You can draw your goals and declarations, paint your feelings, make a collage of all your dreams, enlist your things-to-be-grateful-for, calligraphy your prayers. You can be creative about it! Make it a fun and purposeful form of ME-time, where you have the best conversation with yourself.

So, let’s make journaling a habit, shall we?




Yummy shared:Veggie and Tuna Pasta ala Pansit Gisado

While I’ve decided to subject myself to some kind of “writing pause” this week, I still thought this might be a good, easy-breezy thing to share with you guys especially that weekend is coming up.

Sidestory: I signed up for a blogging workshop happening this weekend so I thought of going into this “writing pause” until I finish the workshop…mostly hoping to get more direction for this blog (aka our ‘hood ;-P) and to check if there are some areas I’ve been doing wrong (this pause was to not further the damage done, haha!)

Sidenote: Now, I am not (yet, maybe? hahaha!) a foodie or a food blogger here, so please bear with me if this recipe post is not as detailed to the gram and pinch and to the minute.

I learned this recipe from my sister Sarah, who is the real kitchen savvy among us 3 girls. She got it from my mom and my aunts. Yup, she’s the one who really got the world-known Kapampangan trait of being a whiz in the kitchen! She loves experimenting with different dishes and this pasta dish is just one of her many pasta experiments! Think of a marriage between an Italian oil-based pasta and Pinoy pancit gisado with lots of sahog!

So here it goes:


Veggie and Tuna Pasta ala Pansit Gisado


  • Cooked pasta (around 200 grams would do for 3-4 servings, I guess); 1-2 canned tuna in oil or brine, drained (you may also use panfried cream dory as alternative or chunks of chicken breast); 1 can of mushrooms; cherry tomatoes; medley of veggies (carrots, beans, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce etc.,.); chopped black olives; chopped garlic (lots of it!); chopped fresh parsley; olive oil; salt and pepper to taste

Here’s how:

  • Drizzle a generous amount of olive oil in a pan, then add in the garlic. Make sure the garlic doesn’t get too cooked or burnt because you’d still want to have the garlicky taste.
  • Add the drained tuna or alternative and cook for 2-3 minutes
  • Add the veggies: start with the beans, then the rest, except the lettuce and parsley. Be sure not to overcook! Crunchy veggies is yummy!
  • Toss in the pasta and mix. You may add some drizzle of olive oil again if it gets too dry
  • Add black olives, salt and pepper
  • Transfer to a serving bowl and top with chopped lettuce and parsley
  • Enjoy!


Yup, that’s it. Easy peasy and very healthy! Go try it this weekend!


Quick thoughts: Build your armor

In reaching for your goals, they often say you have to be bullet-proof. Yes, it’s not easy. In fact, as I, myself, am in the process of reaching for my own goals, I’ve come to know that it’s almost impossible to be bullet-proof. Because we are not stones; we are humans who are naturally wired to feel.

Even if you have set yourself to be far stronger than any force, you’d still feel something – a nudge, a hit, a prick. If one tiny stone was thrown at you, it may not cause a dent. But imagine if endless tiny stones were thrown at you all at the same time? I imagine at one point, it would hurt.

So what I’ve decided to be the better way to go is not to be bullet-proof. Because really, I cannot be bullet-proof. For me, it’s to build your own armor. Find out what makes up that unbreakable and indestructible shield, so strong that not a single bullet or sword or arrow can pass through and hurt your core. Build its foundation, hone it and shape it so that it becomes sharp and smooth and clear and refined. It should fit nobody else but you.

Our armor can be a compound of different things, welded together. It can be your dreams, your goals, the people who believe in you and protect you.

So, what’s your armor made of?

Spring cleaning season? Here are some tips!

Whether it be ushering into married life or motherhood, moving in or out, moving on after a break-up, or simply just feeling the need for a refresh, sometimes there are season changes in our lives that require us to declutter (both physically and, hmm..okay..emotionally).

For me, that season was when I made the decision to become a full-time mom.  New routines and new responsibilities required me to revisit our stuff and lifestyle and make some tweaks. I personally call it “nesting season” because I felt like a mother hen whose main responsibility at the moment was to safe keep and organize her nest. I’m sure you know the benefits. Nesting not only helps free up more space for you but it also helps put some order into your life, starting with your personal things and living space. It has also helped me become a more practical person by eliminating the things I don’t need or use and appreciate the things I already have. Plus it always, always feels liberating after a good sweep.

It’s been weeks since I got myself into this nesting or spring cleaning season. I’m not quite done yet, but I was able to gain some learnings and tips from this experience, which I am happy to share here:

  • Have a decluttering goal. Obviously you know you need to get rid of stuff but knowing why helps put things in perspective. Do you need a wardrobe change? Do you need to declutter because you’re planning to set up a small reading nook or your baby’s nursery in the corner?  This helps you save time and effort in mulling over whether you should keep or get rid of something because you already have an idea of what you would need. The last thing you want to happen is to just randomly pick things to dispose then realize afterwards that you actually need them so you’ll just end up buying a replacement for each. That defeats the whole purpose. Example, when I did a closet purge, I took note of how my new routine as a full-time mom is going to look like – less business and corporate meetings, more mommy errands so my goal was to have more comfortable outfits. I knew immediately to dispose most of my corporate and formal wear and stick with casual, breastfeeding-friendly clothes.
  • Make an inventory of your stuff. Knowing the things that you already have on-hand can make decluttering faster and more efficient. Since I don’t have time to do a physical inventory, I like to do this step mentally. Like while I am putting my son to sleep, I focus on one cabinet or drawer (as if I had x-ray vision) and rack my brain to remember what stuff did we store in that cabinet. I do a mental checklist of what to keep and not and when my son is already fast asleep, I go for a beeline for the things I mentally noted to dispose. And when you’re done with that space, be sure to take another inventory of what’s left in there for next season’s spring cleaning.
  • Realize it’s a whole season. What I didn’t like about spring cleaning before was the aftermath. I would try to finish going through the storage spaces and stuff in one day only to find out that I have a huge pile on the bed or on the floor or in the storage room and it would take another day or two or even more to put them away for real. I now realize that it’s not something you can finish in a day (unless you have a dump or a truck waiting just outside your house). It can last for a week, a month, or even an entire season. You can do it by batch or kind (clothes for day 1, shoes day 2, toys for day 3, etc.,)  or even by area or corner of your room (top cabinet for day 1, bottom drawer for day 2, kitchen day 3). Plus, you actually feel more accomplished this way because you’ve totally swept one area before moving on to another.
  • Keep your emotions in check. More often than not, this is the hard part. What makes spring cleaning a big FAIL is when you hang on to the memories you have of each item.  Then you’ll end up not disposing anything at all. Keep any hang-ups at bay and just consider the items for their practical purpose. Remember, these are excess baggage and clutter. Go back to your reason and your goal. And just look forward to the new season!
  • Find new purpose for your stuff. Don’t just throw them away, especially if they are still in good condition. Donate to charity, or sell them in buy and sell sites and groups  (I wrote about one good buy and sell group that I know in my previous post.) Finding new purpose and a new home for your stuff makes the whole spring cleaning exercise more fulfilling and helps take away the emotional baggage you have, knowing that your personal things are also moving on, like you. And yes, you can actually earn from them!

Happy purging, decluttering, spring cleaning, nesting or whatever you call it! 🙂

Earn from purging! The Manila Online Garage Sale

So, lately I have been into major spring cleaning and purging. I began to realize the value of spring cleaning (or “nesting season”, as I like to call it) when I moved in with my husband at his parent’s house and the only personal nest I’ve got is a 20-something sqm bedroom that I now share with him and our handful little angel. I had to learn to keep just the things we need and use to maintain the room as liveable a space as possible.

But one big dilemma of doing this whole spring-cleaning exercise is what to do with all the things you decided to let go of. Sayang to just throw them, especially if they are still in good condition, right?!

Last year, we had major decluttering at home (just a few months after dad passed away) so we organized a garage sale in our neighborhood. It was super fun, not to mention a major hit! But it wasn’t so easy to pull off. First, your neighborhood should be up for it because you need a captured market. Second, you literally should have a garage because you need a space to turn into a mini warehouse. And lastly, it calls for major general cleaning and purging in one go because you should have as much stuff to sell as possible to make the time and effort all worth it.

This year, while we were all fumbling with the thought of another garage sale, my sister-in-law and another close friend ushered me into this group on FB called The Manila Online Garage Sale (MOGS). Yes folks, garage sale just got E-ven better!

MOGS is a closed group but once you get in, it’s like being virtually transported to a buzzing marketplace full of good finds, both used and pre-loved and even brand new! You know the thrill you feel when you go to a bazaar or a warehouse sale? It’s exactly the same thrill when you log into the group page (or at least for me haha!). The members get to buy, sell, and bid on items, which are mostly sold below the average market price. Great deals, SALE, anyone?. If those words didn’t excite you, I don’t know what will (kidding ;-).

Most of the items being sold by members of the group are stuff that they have at home but they no longer use or need. You can find homewares, kitchenwares, home decors, appliances, clothes, shoes, bags, little trinkets, and basically anything. Much like a garage sale, but all transactions are done online until a sale is made. The group has 8000+ members so you can expect a wide variety and assortment of items for sale everyday.

But what I like most about this group is the kind of culture and vibe that it was able to cultivate and sustain among its members. I am also a part of other buy and sell groups in Facebook, but I could say that this is one of the most dynamic. While others mainly just serve as a free site to post ads without actual active buyers, MOGS has managed to maintain an environment where most members actually participate and benefit both as a buyer and seller. So if you intend to sell, you already have a captured market for your goods. And if you intend to buy, most of the time at least one member can offer you what you need.

There are also certain rules in the group that are meant to protect both parties. Such as rules that prohibit selling of fake and counterfeit items and unhygienic products. Proof of authenticity especially for high-value items is a must. Sellers should also openly disclose the condition of the items they are selling, especially used and pre-loved ones. Buyers, on the other hand, should be committed in follow-through of sales done and not leave the seller hanging. So even if deals are done online, you can be assured of authenticity and transparency and honesty of transactions.

I believe that was all thanks to the group’s creators and admins. I had a little virtual chat with them a few weeks back and I really admire the vision they had for the group and how they were able to carry it out. Managing a group with thousands of members online (and still growing organically!), most of whom you do not personally know, is a tough job. These guys have their own businesses and professions and careers to run and social lives to live but they are able to squeeze in some of their time to ensure the group doesn’t fall off. They have done a great job shaping and revising rules, screening members, and resolving any issues within the group. And they just it do it out of passion.

Yes, I admit I can be a little shopaholic at times. But being part of the group also taught me important lessons such as being smarter and practical with my purchases. I realized I have also become more mindful of my personal stuff, knowing that when the time comes that I won’t need or want it anymore it should still be in good condition to serve its purpose to someone else. And most importantly, I became more aware of the value of the things I have. This whole nesting and purging season I had with MOGS even allowed me to earn and it has helped us with our finances. Would you believe we were able to raise our whole travel fund for the year just from selling items we no longer use in this group! Little treasures are everywhere and sometimes you just have to look around.

Happy purging!

Credits: Special thanks to the group’s admins for sharing some info and thoughts: Natalie, a policy maker and regulator by profession with masters in finance, and Christine and Raymond, husband and wife who run their own business.