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2018 | Goodbye with a Grateful Heart.

And just like that, we're down to the last few hours of 2018.
It seems like it was only yesterday that I was writing about the ups and down of 2017, and now here I am, wrapping up the past 365 days with yet another year-end post.

If I were to rate 2018, I'd say it was a 7 out of 10.
Health-wise, it was not the most fantastic year for my boys - Yue had pneumonia early this year and was hospitalized for almost a week, he had the stomach flu while we were in Korea last spring/summer, and just last week, both of us caught the flu. As for my husband, he had to go through several dental procedures this year, and oh my goodness, dental treatments abroad don't come cheap. (Pain was the least of his worries, lol.)

Thankfully, we had our bases covered. He's back with his old employer, and work - for the most part - is good. As for me, I had the opportunity to work with some very generous advertisers this year, not to mention the PR agencies that collaborate continuously with this blog. Thank you again and again! :)

A few more things that I'm grateful for this year:
- Ten years of marriage, and finally being able to celebrate our anniversary together.
Sun-date with my boys. (Seoul, June 2018).
- The opportunity to travel, and being able to spend time with family and friends abroad.
Coffee with Unni! (Seoul, June 2018).
- My family abroad coming home for a vacation.
Coffee with sibs and cousins. (Laguna, August 2018).
Mum is home for the holidays!
All the Ocampo grandkids, complete!
- Meeting new friends and reuniting with the old.
With Ela and Maan. (Seoul, June 2018).
- Friends that inspire you to dream big and work harder.
My forever friends, my UPRHS barkada!
- My son's achievements and his continued pursuit for excellence.
Another medal for my little man. :)
- Being part of Althea's Beauty Ambassador Community, and all the K-beauty awesomeness that comes with it.
I'm an Althea Angel! :)
- My readers and followers and their unwavering support for this blog! Thank you for the visits, the comments, and all the kind words that you've sent me this year and in the previous years!
Thank you for the likes! :)
Happy New Year, everyone!
May 2019 bring us good health, good fortune, success, and happiness! Ever onward! :)


Seoul Searching | Gwacheon National Science Museum.

I had originally planned on finishing all of my Spring/Summer 2018 travel posts while we are on a school break. Unfortunately, things didn't go as scheduled. Yue and I caught the flu as soon as his school break began, and we spent a good part of last week cooped up at home, coughing, sneezing, and running a fever. Thankfully, we were both feeling better by Christmas Eve, and now I'm trying to catch up on my backlog before the year ends.

And with that, I'm squeezing in one last Seoul Searching post for 2018 - our trip to the Gwacheon National Science Museum, which is actually a continuation of our Seoul Grand Park Rose Festival experience. The museum is located adjacent to the Seoul Grand Park, and we were able to visit both places in one afternoon.
Making our way to the Gwacheon National Science Museum.
More of our science adventure after the jump!


Althea x Get It Beauty Real Fresh Skin Detoxer is EXID Jeonghwa's 'Sohwakhaeng'.

Not too long ago, the concept of 'sohwakhaeng' became a trending topic in Korea, particularly in social media. 'Sohwakhaeng' is a Hangeul phrase that means 'small but certain happiness', and for some Koreans this could be an extra shot of espresso in their morning coffee, a bottle of soju after a long day at the office, or discovering a new skincare product that really works.
What's your sohwakhaeng?
I can totally relate with the latter, and even Kpop-idol Jeonghwa of EXID and Korean beauty influencer Minsco feel the same way. In episode 29 of Get It Beauty 2018, Jeonghwa and Minsco asked viewers about their sohwakhaeng, and one of the answers that stood out was 'getting a mask pack everyday'.
A mask pack everyday is a skincare junkie's sohwakhaeng. 
Even Jeonghwa agrees. :)
Jeonghwa agrees that a mask pack can make a huge difference to the skin, and Minsco whips out 'some amazing products' for them to try. Turns out, these 'amazing products' are skincare items that I have tried and actually use!
K-beauty influencer Minsco.
They're the Real Fresh Skin Detoxer, a 2-in-1 cleanser pack that deep cleanses the skin while boosting it with an array of nutrients. This skincare set is a collaborative product between K-beauty shopping website Althea and K-beauty talk show Get It Beauty, and the first (two) product/s that I have tried as an Althea Angel.
Althea x Get it Beauty Real Fresh Skin Detoxer.
I've raved about these products in this blog post the same way Jeonghwa raved about them in the video. I find it really cool that a popular idol like her uses the same product that I do, and that she finds joy in something as simple as a mask pack.
Jeonghwa loves them, too! :)
Here's Jeonghwa and Minsco's segment on Get It Beauty for your enjoyment:

Wanna give Jeonghwa's sohwakhaeng a try? Then head over to the Althea website and purchase the Real Fresh Skin Detoxer Set. They're currently sold at a discounted price of Php 990 and for a limited time, ships for free!

How about you, what's your sohwakhaeng?


Which Pets Make the Best Emotional Support Animals?

The use of emotional support animals has become more and more prevalent in the last decade or so, and often controversially so. Stories of pigs and peacocks that people have designated their emotional support animal make great headlines and sell stories.

But which pets actually make the best support animals? It comes down which type of animal provides therapeutic value to a person, which type of animal is practical for that person to keep, and often the type of animal recognized as the most appropriate.
Song Joong Ki for Marie Claire, 2016.
Consider the therapeutic value
An emotional support animal is one that is of therapeutic value and companionship to some with one of many different mental health conditions. So how can you determine the best ESA for a person to get a therapeutic effect?

The presence of the pet should help with symptoms such as anxiety, depression, and stress. For example, the physical act of caressing and cuddling a pet can help calm a person and lift their mood. The caring involved in looking after a pets food and exercise needs can help a person establish regular routines. The care a particular pet needs can also help people focus on, and understand, the needs of another. For someone with a mental health condition, feelings of isolation and aloneness can accompany the illness. An emotional support animal can provide the unconditional love the person may feel is lacking in their life.
Song Hye Kyo and her Bichon Frise, Pink.
Consider the practicality of keeping a pet
Emotional support animals live with a person. This means there are some very practical considerations in which type of animals make the best ESAs. The accommodation needs to be appropriate for the type of animal. An ESA needs to be kept safe and sheltered and in an environment that gives them a good quality of life.

For example, a large dog is likely to need to share a large house and yard. A small dog or cat may be perfect for an inner city apartment dweller. The costs of looking after different types of animals vary. Someone’s choice of emotional support animal should be one they can afford to care for in terms of food, healthcare, and accessories. A size comparison is relevant here too, big dogs and cats eat a lot more than smaller ones!
Song Joong Ki for Marie Claire, 2016.
Consider the types of animals most recognized as ESAs
Technically, any animal can be an emotional support animal, but there are many that shouldn’t! The most commonly recognized emotional support animals are the type of pets most people are already familiar with – dogs, cats, and sometimes other small animals such as rabbits. There are a few reasons why:

- We know cats and dogs!
People have kept cats and dogs as domestic pets for millennia. Most people already know if they personally prefer one species over another and the benefits and comfort a dog or cat can bring to their lives. If you haven’t had a pet in your life before, chances are you have an idea of the basic needs of a dog or cat and there is a ton of information available and vet professionals to give advice as and when needed.

- We understand dog houses and where cats like to curl!
Dogs and cats are able to live alongside us and beside us in our homes. For anyone in rental housing, there are also protections under the Fair Housing Act for people with emotional support animals. Under the FHA landlords have to make “reasonable accommodations” for someone with an ESA, even if they have a no-pets policy. Property managers are more likely to look favorably on a recognized domestic pet such as a cat or dog.

- Sometimes emotional support animals need to fly!
If you need your emotional support animal with you on a flight or at your destination, your right to fly with an emotional support animal is covered under the Air Carrier Access Act. However, most airlines have policies that limit species. Those that do accept animals are more accept dogs, and sometimes cats. They may also restrict certain breeds of cats and dogs for the health and safety of the pets and other passengers.
Song Joong Ki for Marie Claire, 2016.
Consider the Benefits of a Dog
For someone wanting a pet that involves a lot of interaction, an emotional support dog may be the one for them. Depending on breed, dogs regular training, grooming and exercising, along with taking care of basic needs for food and water. Dogs are pack animals, and people soon become part of their pack. They like to do activities with their people, socialize with their people, and just generally hang out.

Consider the Benefits a Cat
Cats as emotional support animals can be ideal for some that benefits from the unconditional love and companionship offered by feline company. Although cats are more stay at home kind of pets, their devotion and dedication to the people they live with can bring much joy into a home.

Consider Where to Get Your Pet or ESA
Rescue shelters can be a good first port of call when you are thinking about adopting a pet. Animals end up in shelters for all kinds of reasons, and rehoming an animal is a rewarding experience. Cats and dogs from rescue organizations have usually been assessed in terms of temperament so you will have an idea if you are the right match.

Alternatively, ask people you know if they know of anyone looking to re-home a pet. Or check with a local veterinary clinic if they know of pets, puppies, and kittens needing new homes. For specific breeds of dogs look for reputable breeders registered with organizations such as American Kennel Club and the American Cat Fanciers Association.

If you have an existing mental health condition and a pet that you feel alleviates your symptoms, take a pre-screening to establish whether you may qualify for an emotional support animal. A licensed health professional will then discuss with you whether this pet is appropriate as an emotional support animal for you.


My Althea Christmas Wish List.

Just ten more days before Christmas and Yue and I are stuck at home, both nursing a cough, cold, and fever. We were supposed to go to the mall with the rest of the family today; unfortunately, we had to stay behind because we're both sick. Boo hoo! :(

Bummed that I won't be able to go on a shopping spree, I cheered myself up by writing my Christmas wish list. If you're a friend, a relative, or simply a kind soul who wants to send me something for the holidays *wink wink*, this list will give you an idea of what would make my Christmas merrier. Everything on this list is related to K-beauty and can easily be found on the Althea website - no need to go to the mall and brave the Christmas crowd, lol!
Hera x Blindness Black Cushion, Php 2620.
Hera x Blindness Black Cushion.
I'm a self-confessed cushion addict so it's only natural that the Black Cushion from Hera tops my list. This limited edition cushion is part of the Hera x Blindness Collection - Hera's holiday offering for 2018, and a collaboration with the Korean fashion brand 'Blindness'. 

Hera's Black Cushion is known for its lightweight texture, long wearability, and non-sticky, semi-matte finish - things that I usually look for in a cushion.
Etude House Tiny Twinkle Dear My Blooming Lips-Talk, Php 1430.
Etude House Tiny Twinkle Dear My Blooming Lips-Talk Velvet Mini Kit.
Another limited edition item that piqued my interest is the Tiny Twinkle Dear My Blooming Lips-Talk Velvet Mini Kit from Etude House. Its name is so long, I know. Haha!

This set includes ten mini lipsticks - 7 velvety mattes + 3 shimmery shades housed in a lovely tin can. I've seen swatches of all ten shades and they're all very pretty. I know my Mum and my sister would love these lippies as well, so I plan to share this set with them should I receive one as gift. :)
Too Cool for School Art Class by Rodin Blusher, Php 680.
Too Cool for School Art Class by Rodin Blusher.
Ah yes, another blush to feed my cheek color obsession.
This product caught my eye because it contains three shades in one pan. The shades can be used individually, or can be blended together to give your cheeks an even more gorgeous and slightly more intense flush of color. 
Althea Flawless Creamy Concealer, Php 200.
Althea Flawless Creamy Concealer.
Althea's very own beauty brand is growing fast, and I'm so glad to see a new makeup item on their list. This concealer couldn't have come at a more perfect time - I'm so ready to give up on my current stick concealer from another K-beauty brand! I swear, that concealer will go straight to the dumpster as soon as I get my hands on the Flawless Creamy Concealer from Althea!
Missha Glow Skin Balm, Php 800.
Missha Glow Skin Balm.
Now this is one product that I really, really want to get my hands on. A multi-purpose product, the Missha Glow Skin Balm works as a moisturizer, morning pack, primer, and glow cream all-in-one for gleaming, healthy-looking skin. It also promises '30 hours of moisture maintenance' which is exactly what I need during this moisture-zapping, skin-drying time of the year. 
Laneige Water Bank Hydro Essence, Php 1730.
Laneige Water Bank Hydro Essence.
I'm a huge fan of Laneige's Water Bank skincare line, so I was very much thrilled to receive a sample of this product when I visited the Laneige Flagship Store in Edae last June. As with the other Water Bank products, the Hydro Essence promises deep moisture and clear, radiant skin.

I love the thin, watery consistency of this essence, and how it's easily absorbed by the skin without the sticky, greasy feel. You get that 'chok chok' effect (super hydrated, dewy) on your skin even after the first use, and that's what I love the most about this product. And with that, I'm ready to go full size!
Primera Miracle Seed Essence, Php 2100.
Primera Miracle Seed Essence.
Another product that I had the chance to try while I was in Korea is the Miracle Seed Essence from Primera. I received samples of this essence while walking around Myeongdong last spring, and although I wasn't quite familiar with the brand at that time, I was willing to give it a try because it was endorsed by Park Hyung Sik. (The power of Hallyu advertising, lol!)

Made with lotus seed extracts, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and adenosine, the Miracle Seed Essence not only smoothens and moisturizes the skin, but also evens out the skin tone and helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. A miracle product, indeed.
Son & Park Beauty Water Set, Php 1160.
The so-called Beauty Water from Son & Park was all the rage last year - K-beauty enthusiasts raved about it, skincare junkies loved it, K-pop artists use it. I'm a bit late for the craze but I thought I'd try it anyway, because I'm all for multi-function skincare products that actually work.
Banila Co. White Wedding Dream Cream, Php 1340.
Banila Co. White Wedding Dream Cream.
The name sounds dreamy AND promising, doesn't it? 
The White Wedding Dream Cream from Banila Co. is an instant skin whitening cream, formulated with a flower-complex and an array of vitamins to nourish and hydrate the skin and even out the skin tone. It also contains blooming powder (sounds lovely, whatever that is) to brighten up the skin and give it a healthy, radiant glow. 

Having read lots of positive feedback about this product made me curious enough to actually want to try it! I just hope this will work wonders for my skin the way it did for others!
COSRx Acne Pimple Master Patch, Php 190.
COSRx Acne Pimple Master Patch.
I have been blessed with clear, acne-free skin, and I thank my parents A LOT for that. Of course, I still get the occasional zit or two, which usually pops up whenever I'm about to have my period. Whenever that happens, I always count on the ever-reliable COSRx Acne Pimple Master Patch to cover my zit and get rid of it in a jiffy. 

This is one of several K-beauty products that I highly recommend and absolutely can't live without. I still have two unopened packs of this pimple patch, but I wouldn't mind receiving a few more and adding them to my stash.

So how's this for a (K-beauty) Christmas wish list? I'd love to read about your own Christmas wish list! Let me know what's listed on yours by leaving a comment on this post! :)


Spotlight | Althea Milk Peel Cream Mask.

It hasn't been long since Althea launched their own brand of sunscreen, and now they're back in the spotlight once again with another new product. Althea is on a roll these days when it comes to developing and launching new products, and it's such a delight to be able to try, test, and share my experience with each new item that they bring forth.

That being said, here's what I think about the Milk Peel Cream Mask, the latest addition to Althea's growing family.
Althea Milk Peel Cream Mask.
The Althea Milk Peel Cream Mask is a gentle peeling mask that promises to give your skin a 'big gulp of hydration' and 'refreshed complexion'. It combines the power of AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acid) and BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acid) with the gentle formulation of milk to slough away dead skin cells, unclog pores, and moisturize the skin. It also contains kaolin, a naturally occurring clay mineral that has long been heralded for its ability to detoxify, cleanse, and soothe even the most sensitive skin.
Nothing much to read here so I had to look up all the pertinent information on the internet, lol.
As with the other Althea products, the Milk Peel Cream Mask has a simple, minimalist packaging. It comes in a 50 mL pump bottle housed in a white box with hardly any English text on it. I had to look up all the pertinent information on the internet because hey, that's what Google is for (lol). At least I knew beforehand that this is a wash-off mask (not a peel-off mask as I originally thought it was) and it's tested by dermatologists, as indicated on the box.
Got milk? :)
Pump bottle.
To use, simply apply an even layer onto damp skin and leave it on for 30-60 seconds before rinsing it off with warm water. You get a creamy clay texture as you pump the product out of the bottle, but as you slather it on your skin, it transforms into a bubbly foam. That tingling, ticklish sensation that I felt as the product turns into a foamy lather reminded me of the Bubi Bubi Lip Bubble Lip Scrub, which I use to exfoliate my lips. Its mild, powdery scent, on the other hand, reminded me of the baby cologne that my son currently uses.
Creamy clay texture.
My skin feels really smooth and clean - bouncy, even - after every use. I don't apply this on a daily basis, though, as my skin tends to be dry during this time of the year and the last thing I should be doing is over-exfoliating my skin. I use the Althea Milk Peel Cream Mask twice a week at the most, but if your pores need a bit more unclogging, you can use this product thrice a week. This product is ideal for all skin types, even for those with sensitive skin.
The Althea Milk Peel Cream Mask retails for Php 490 and is exclusively available at the Althea website. For a limited time, you can get free shipping on all Althea exclusives using the code PBSHIP at checkout. In addition, you can get a 20% discount on your first order using my referral code.
Say hello to my new hair! :)
And yes, I finally had the chance to change my hairstyle, just in time for my birthday. Speaking of which, thank you Althea for my birthday gift! You guys are so generous that I have more than enough Reward Points on my account to splurge on skincare with! :)


Spotlight | Althea Petal Velvet Powder.

When my second Althea Angels box arrived at my doorstep a few weeks back, I was thrilled to discover not one, not two, but all three Petal Velvet Powders included in my parcel. I've read/heard tons of positive feedback about them and the curious cat in me have been wanting to give these powders a try. Thanks to our friends from Althea, I finally got to feed my curiosity. Yay!
Althea Petal Velvet Powders.
As its name suggests, the Petal Velvet Powder is a loose powder that helps minimize the appearance of pores and fine lines for a flawless, 'petal-like' complexion. It's made with micro particles that blur skin imperfections and keep shine at bay, and contains Althea seed extracts that moisturize the skin and protect it against damaging free radicals. It also contains polyphenols to protect the skin from harmful UV rays, and saponarin that repairs damaged cells and restores skin elasticity.
Althea Petal Velvet Powders in all three variants.
I love its simple, minimalist packaging. The product comes in a tiny frosted jar with a pastel-colored cap. There's a sifter inside the jar, and a tiny white puff for you to apply the powder with. Of course, you can also use a brush for application, but I prefer patting the powder on my face using the marshmallow-soft puff that comes with it.
Soft and fluffy!
As for the powder itself, it's finely-milled and silky smooth to touch. It's lightweight and easy to apply, and melts naturally on the skin, making your face a soft, smooth, and flawless canvas. Plus points for its mild and delicate floral scent, which lingers on the skin for a wee bit after application.
That's the sifter right there.
The Althea Petal Velvet Powder comes in three variants - Translucent, which makes a great setting powder and is suitable for all skin tones; Warm Beige, which gives the skin a bit more coverage; and Pink Lavender which livens up dull complexions. I love all three shades as they all work nicely on my skin, but I tend to reach for the latter more often because of its brightening effect.
Warm Beige on top, Pink Lavender on the left,
and Translucent on the right.
Now as far as wear time is concerned, these powders can keep the oil at bay for four to five hours. On colder days (like today), this powder can stay put for eight hours straight without caking or patching.
From L-R (under indoor lighting): Translucent, Warm Beige, Pink Lavender.
From L-R (under natural light): Translucent, Warm Beige, Pink Lavender.
The Althea Petal Velvet Powder retails for Php 210 (around $4) each - very affordable, yes - and is exclusively available at the Althea website. If you're new to Althea, you can enjoy a 20% discount on your first order using my referral code. You're welcome. :)
Used the Althea Petal Velvet Powder in Pink Lavender to set my makeup.