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Goodbye and Thank You, 2017!

There's only a few hours left to 2017, and boy, I have never been more excited to welcome the New Year!

Truth be told, 2017 had been quite challenging for us. I got sick early this year, and had to be admitted to the hospital for pneumonia. Whilst there, I was also diagnosed with pre-hypertension, so now I'm taking maintenance medicine for high blood pressure - and from the looks of it, I'll be doing this for life.

Yue had his own share of sick days, too. Thankfully, none of those instances warranted a stay at the hospital. He did, however, got sick while we were in Korea last spring and we had to see a (Korean) pediatrician because the only way we could buy medicine for his high-grade fever was to consult a doctor and get a prescription.

But perhaps our biggest stumbling block this year was my husband's employment status. It may not seem like it, but the South Korean economy is still in limbo, despite the change in presidency. Small businesses are the ones taking the hit, and my husband's previous employer was among them. He eventually lost his job, and it took him awhile to find a new one.

Now this is where this blog came to the rescue.
This blog, which I created six years ago just for the love of writing and the need to 'channel my creative juices', sustained us during our crisis. It may be chump change compared to the influencers who rake in a six-figure income by just posting a photo on Instagram, but then again, I love what I'm doing and I love that I'm earning while doing something that I love.

And with that, I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to all the brands that I have worked with this year, and even in the previous years; to the advertisers and PR agencies who have collaborated with this blog; to the blog support groups that I am part of, and the wonderful people that I have met through blogging; and most of all, to you, my dear readers and followers who take the time to visit this blog and actually read my sporadic blog posts. Thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart!
Happy New Year from my boys and I!
Happy New Year!
Hoping 2018 will be a better, more awesome year for all of us! Ever onward! :)


Seoul Searching | Cartoon Street + Seoul Animation Center.

I had a 'eureka' moment while watching 'Hwayugi' (A Korean Odyssey), Lee Seung Gi's comeback drama after serving in the military. In episode 2, you'll see Son Oh Gong (Lee Seung Gi) sitting on a building rooftop, watching over Jin Seon Mi (Oh Yeon Seo) as she tries to find her lost umbrella.
Son Oh Gong watching over Jin Seon Mi. It was THIS scene where I had my eureka moment. :)
Jin Seon Mi passes by a row of buildings before heading towards the back alley, and I was like, "Oh my! I know this place! We were there last spring!" I immediately posted my discovery on my Instagram and my Facebook page, where I was later on bombarded by inquiries about the location, how to get there, and the like.

And so, for the benefit of my fellowmen (more like fellow Kdrama addicts, lol), here's a little background about the Cartoon Street, one of the filming locations in Hwayugi.
The intersection in front of Pacific Hotel.
Virtual tour of Cartoon Street after the jump!


Spotlight | Nature Republic Pure Shine Melting Tint.

Happy Holidays, everyone and hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!

Ours was relatively quiet and uneventful, save for the traditional Noche Buena (Christmas Eve dinner) with my siblings at Mum's (our) house. Christmas Day was spent at home, since Yue's circumcision wound is still healing and he refuses to dress up properly and leave the house. Yes, I had him circumcised a few days before Christmas, earlier than we had originally planned, because of his recurrent UTI.

That being said, here's another product review, which I had promised to do more of in my previous post. These are the Pure Shine Melting Tints from Nature Republic, which I bought simultaneously with the Pure Shine Mascara. These tints were also on sale, and you know there's no chance in hell that I would pass up on 1+1 sale events, all the more if they're lip products. 
Nature Republic Pure Shine Melting Tint.
The Pure Shine Melting Tints come in a cute, pen-type packaging. One thing I found really quirky about this product is the clicker at the bottom, which you need to press to get the product out. It took me awhile to figure this out while swatching the tints at home because the sales lady that assisted me during my purchase did not inform me about this 'clicker pen' concept, lol.
Works like a clicker pen.
There are five shades in the Pure Shine Melting Tint line, as seen on the photo below. 
Shade options for the Nature Republic Pure Shine Melting Tint.
However, only shades #01, #03, and #05 were in stock at the Nature Republic store that I went to. I'm not a huge fan of orange lip colors, so I didn't even consider buying shade #01.
Shade number indicated on the seal. 
Shade number also indicated on the tube, along with product information written in Hangul.
Shade #03 is a bright, vibrant shade of pink, while Shade #05 is a vivid reddish shade that straddles between pink and purple.
Shade #03 Hot Pink on the left, #05 Cherry Orchid on the right. 
Shade #05 Cherry Orchid on the left, #03 Hot Pink on the right.
Both shades are nicely pigmented, especially Cherry Orchid, which has a very solid color despite its semi-glossy finish. With one swipe, you get a sheer, rosy tint, and as you layer them on, you get a more vibrant and intense color that's somewhat comparable to a lipstick. The color stays put for about four hours or so before it starts to fade into a soft, rosy stain on your lips.
Swatched, indoor lighting - Hot Pink on the left, Cherry Orchid on the right.
Swatched, natural light - Hot Pink on the left, Cherry Orchid on the right.
I especially love how these Pure Shine Melting Tints glide on smoothly without the sticky, oily feel, and how they make your lips feel soft and moisturized. They also have a soft, fruity scent akin to a grapefruit, which I find quite nice.
Hot Pink when worn.
Cherry Orchid when worn.
The best part about this purchase? These Melting Tints are very affordable, even at its regular price of 5900 won (around Php 300 or $6).  I got both tints for the price of one (remember, I'm a sucker for 1+1 promos), and yes, that's quite a steal for such a lovely lip product. 
Products used:
FACE: Beyond Alice in Blooming Skin Tone Sun Base
Nature Republic Botanical Stick Concealer,
The Cellin Essence Cushion.
EYES: Shiseido Eyebrow Pencil in Brown,
Clio Kill Black Waterproof Mascara,
Nature Republic Pure Shine Mascara - Volume.
CHEEKS: SkinFood Sugar Cookie Blush in Bebe Pink.
LIPS: Nature Republic Pure Shine Melting Tint in 03 Hot Pink.


Spotlight | Nature Republic Pure Shine Mascara.

 I have a lot of catching up to do in terms of blog posts (way too many backlogs and pending product reviews), and I am so glad we're finally on a school break. I now have the time to sit in front of my laptop and finally write! Yay! I'll try to finish as many product reviews as I can over the holidays; we don't have travel plans as of the moment and we'll probably be stuck at home because the weather is absolutely crazy these days.

Moving on, I'll be doing a quick review of this mascara which I bought on a whim last spring - the Pure Shine Mascara - Volume from Nature Republic.
Nature Republic Pure Shine Mascara.
I chanced upon a 1+1 Sale event in one of the Nature Republic stores in Myeongdong and this mascara was among the (many) makeup products that were on sale during my visit. They were tagged at 5900 won (around Php 300 or $6) for 2 mascaras. I bought a few wands of this (because you know I get a little crazy whenever I see/hear the word 'sale', lol), along with several other items which I will also be blogging about in the coming days.
The 01 indicates that this is the 'Volume' variant. (02 is 'Curling'.)
The Pure Shine Mascara doesn't come in a box and there's hardly any English text on the tube, so you really can't get much information about the product from its packaging alone. I guess the only pertinent information you'll get is the '01' on the seal, which indicates that this is the 'Volume' type. ('02' is for the 'Curling' type.)
Mostly Hangul text printed on the tube.
I looked it up on the brand's official website and Nature Republic describes this product as an 'instant volumizing mascara which lifts and thickens every single lash without weighing it down'.
The mascara wand and tube.
It comes with a pretty basic wand with a normal-looking brush applicator. The website, however, describes this as a 'chubby volume brush which gives the eyelash volume up'. I beg to disagree because the brush applicator is rather slender with thin and fine bristles. It also has a slim tip which makes it easy to apply mascara on the bottom lashes and on the lashes on the corners of the eye.
A closer look at the brush applicator.
Now here's the mascara in action.
Swatch, indoor lighting.
Swatch, natural light. 
While I do have naturally long lashes (thank you parents for bestowing them unto me), I like how they appear even longer with just a coat or two of the Pure Shine Mascara
Without mascara.
With Nature Republic Pure Shine Mascara.
Its formula is lightweight and quick-drying, which neither clumps nor flakes. The product also lives up to its name as it gave my lashes a bit of shine. It can also hold up a nice curl, which I wasn't really expecting - after all, this isn't the 'Curling' variant.
Without mascara.
With Nature Republic Pure Shine Mascara.
This mascara, however, isn't waterproof so I might have issues with this product when the weather becomes hot and humid. On the bright side, you won't be needing a separate mascara remover for this product. Just the usual water and cleansing foam/gel will do.
Products used:
FACE: Beyond Alice in Blooming Skin Tone Sun Base,
Nature Republic Botanical Stick Concealer,
The Cellin Essence Cushion.
EYES: Shiseido Eyebrow Pencil in Brown,
Clio Kill Black Waterproof Brush Liner,
Nature Republic Pure Shine Mascara - Volume.
CHEEKS: SkinFood Sugar Cookie Blush in Bebe Pink.
LIPS: Nature Republic Pure Shine Melting Tint in 03 Hot Pink.
All in all, this impulse buy is one that I certainly do not regret. The extra wands that I bought will make great stocking stuffers for Christmas, too! :)


Happy Hair-y Holidays with Novuhair!

So you’ve got your festive outfit set and the fancy gift wrapped for your Secret Santa. All that’s left undone is a party season-perfect hairstyle.

The fresh out of the shower look can be seductive yet temporary. Blame it on tropical climate, it can spoil your appearance, besides making you feel sweaty and stale. The heat and humidity brought about by extreme weather condition, likewise, dries out the locks easily and make it more fragile.

Adding damage to your delicate strands are the chemical contents of various products on hand. From shampoo to conditioner and hair treatment, down to styling goods to groom it to your liking, their harsh synthetic materials jeopardize the natural oil and luster of your mane.

Because you are what you eat, the fate of your crowning glory is in the plate. Your diet must have the correct balance of vitamins and minerals to supply hair with all that it needs to become shiny and strong. So don’t overindulge, especially this time of the year when gastronomic feasts are spread almost everywhere you go. Be careful on what you take in, thinking that it’s also what you feed your ‘do.

Even stress can wear off the beauty and health of the tresses. And that’s exactly what you should avoid this Yuletide season. Never put pressure on yourself just to please everyone. Just take it easy, let your hair down and party all night long.
Novuhair Christmas and Year-end Promo!
In this time of gratitude, Novuhair makes everyday 'a good hair day' for its valued patrons like you with its Christmas and Year-End Promo. Get an extra Novuhair Herbal Shampoo 200 mL worth P1,040 for FREE if you buy a NOVUHAIR 3-in-1 pack at participating Watson's stores nationwide (DOH-FDA CCRR Permit No.: 967 s. 2017).

Packed with 19 natural ingredients—mostly standardized herbal extracts, essential oils and co-factor nutrients—Novuhair Topical Scalp Lotion does not only help prevent the hair fall malady, but also aids in stimulating hair growth. Novuhair helps prevent hair loss, improve overall appearance, promote nourishment and rejuvenation. It is clinically-tested and proven safe and effective.

Opt for the best with this Christmas and Year-End promo. Whether it’s a luxury gift for your loved ones, or a self-indulgent treat for you, Novuhair has the perfect gift to inspire and keep you party-ready this Holiday season, while providing you with the ultimate styling result.

For inquiries, please call 413-6570 or 0922-8830575.
You may also visit or Novuhair’s Facebook page – Novuhair Official.


Seoul Searching | Top 8 Winter Activities in Korea.

One thing I have learned from spending the holidays in South Korea for the past two years is that there's always something fun to do in Seoul (and in the neighboring provinces) - even in the dead of winter. Festivals, for one, are aplenty, and despite frigid temperatures and the bitingly cold air, you'll see people lots of people out and about, finding ways to enjoy the hard frosts and icy drafts of the winter season.

If you're visiting South Korea this time of the year, or perhaps spending your first winter in the country, here are some fun activities that you need to try. Make sure you're all bundled up though, or you'll run the risk of getting a cold!

Outdoor Ice Skating at the Seoul Plaza.
Every winter, Seoul's picturesque plaza transforms into an outdoor skating rink - the cheapest and the most popular among all the outdoor skating rinks in Seoul.
Ice skating at the Seoul Plaza.
Located in the heart of the city, near the City Hall and Deoksugung Palace, the Seoul Plaza outdoor skating rink houses one rink for for beginners and another for advanced skaters. Training lessons are offered to those who are serious about learning how to skate, and can be booked online in advance.

The skating rink officially opens on December 22, and will be operational until February 25, 2018. Admission rates are at 1000 won per person, per hour. Skating equipment can also be rented on a per hour basis.

Sledding at Supia/Ttukseom Hangang Park.
A year-round family theme park, the Ttukseom Hangang Park - also known as 'Supia' - holds the 'Snow Flower Village' program every winter.  The main attractions of this annual event is the 90 meter long and 15 meter wide Sledding Field, which offers a thrilling experience for adults, teens, and even tweens.
Sledding fun at Supia/Ttukseom Hangang Park.
The younger kids, on the other hand, can enjoy a more relaxed sleigh ride at the Fun Snow Hill, or build a snowman and join the Snowman Building Competition.
Fun Snow Hill.
The sledding hill will be open to the public starting December 16, with the admission rate at 6000 won per person. Kids under the age of 3 can enter free of charge.

Skiing at Vivaldi Park.
In a country that's blessed with shapely topography - 70% mountains, 30% coffee shops and cosmetics stores (lol), skiing is perhaps one of the best ways to take advantage of the landscape when the country freezes over.
Skiing at Vivaldi Park.
The Vivaldi Park Ski Resort in Gangwon Province is one of the most popular destinations during this time of the year. The first ski resort to offer nighttime skiing, Vivaldi Park is also the filming location of the 2016 hit Kdrama 'Legend of the Blue Sea', making it a 'pilgrimage' destination for Kdrama addicts and Minoz, aka fans of Lee Min Ho.
As seen on Legend of the Blue Sea.
Ice Fishing at Hwacheon.
If it's a laid-back winter activity that you want, then ice fishing might be your cup of tea. Hwacheon, a county in Gangwon province and of the first places in South Korea that freezes come winter time, hosts one of the most popular winter festivals in the country.
Ice fishing at Hwacheon.
Dubbed as the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival, this annual event offers multiple snow-related activities which includes ice fishing and even bare-handed ice fishing. If you're lucky enough to catch a fish, you can have them grilled or prepared as sashimi at the grill area/ restaurants on site.

Lighting Festival at the Garden of the Morning Calm.
One of the biggest festival of lights in South Korea, the Lighting Festival at the Garden of the Morning Calm is one of the best ways to enjoy the nippy winter evening.
Lighting Festival at the Garden of the Morning Calm.
Located in Gapyeong, a two-hour bus ride away from Seoul, the Garden of the Morning Calm spans 30,000 square meters and is considered to be the oldest arboretum in the country. It is home to 5000 species of plants, flowers, and trees, making it a gorgeous sight in the spring and fall.
Like a miniature Christmas village come to life.
And while the trees may be naked and barren during the winter, the gleaming lights and lovely decorations add a festive glow to the garden. If you chance upon some (heavy) snowfall while visiting the garden, the place will look even more magical with the snow-covered foliage. It's like winter wonderland right before your very eyes!

Strolling around Nami Island.
Whether you're a Kdrama fan or not, no trip to South Korea would be complete without stopping by Nami Island. It's located within the direction of Chuncheon and is easily accessible via the Gapyeong City Tour Bus, the same bus that runs to the Garden of the Morning Calm. 
First trip to South Korea, December 2015.
Famous for its scenic tree-lined walking paths, Nami Island has more than 20 themed gardens, each with a unique story behind it. Nami is also home to countless types of animals, all of which roam freely within the island. Birds, ducks, geese, rabbits, squirrels, and even ostriches - Nami Island has it all.
Meeting the ostriches at Nami Island. :)
Winter Concerts.
The Korean music industry is also buzzing with activities during the last few days of the year. From Christmas concerts to music awards show, and even the Korea leg of your favorite Kpop group's world tour, there's bound to be one while you're enjoying winter in Seoul. And if you do chance upon one during your visit, don't miss this opportunity to catch your favorite Hallyu stars and Kpop idols in the flesh!
Super Show 7!
Two of my favorite Kpop groups will actually be having a concert this month. Super Junior's worldwide concert tour, 'Super Show 7', kicked off yesterday at the Jamsil Arena. The concert was originally scheduled to run for just two days (December 16 and 17), but due to popular demand, they decided to add another day, much to the delight of Super Junior fans.
Posters within the vicinity of Jamsil Arena.
Big Bang, on the other hand, will be holding the final leg of their concert tour on December 30 and 31 at the Gocheok Sky Dome. Aptly named as 'Last Dance', this will be their last concert before going on a hiatus as the boys will be rendering their 2-year mandatory military service. TOP will not be joining them though, as he has already started his military service last February.
Big Bang 
No tickets yet to the Last Dance? Get yours at Trazy!

Winter Street Food.
What better way to stay warm in the winter than treating yourself to some piping hot street food? Bungeoppang (red-bean filled pastry), hotteok (cinnamon sugar pancake), and eomuk (fish cakes) are some of the most popular street foods in Korea and they're available any time of the year. 
Eomuk, best served with lots of piping hot soup!
However, there are some snacks that are available only during the colder months and I try to enjoy them as much as I can while they're in the market. Carts and stalls selling these food items proliferate across the country as the temperatures drop, and you're bound to find one at every street corner, especially areas near bus stops and subway stations.
An ahjussi selling baked sweet potatoes.
Oddly enough, they taste sweeter than our regular 'kamote'. 
Roasted chestnuts.
Not only are these street food tasty, they're inexpensive, too! Perfect for sharing with your family and/or travel buddies!