Best Winter Reading List

If you're following me on Instagram, you might have noticed that a huge chunk of my posts are regularly dedicated to my reading list. Books I've read, currently reading, recently purchased, favorites  all those booknerd jazz. Like it's not obvious enough, yes, I joined the #bookstagram community, and the nerd in me has been having a ball. There's just so many creative readers all over the world who not only give out amazing book recommendations, but are sort of inspiring me to just keep on reading.

For the busy bookworms like me, here are five books (technically six since I count Jenny Han's books as one) that I've recently finished reading and enjoying, as we start welcoming the cooler season around these parts. Don't expect a bunch of literary masterpieces though. These are mostly light reads and some I even managed to devour just in one sitting. Enjoy!

Sometimes it really bugs me that Dubai is always one of the late places to snag copies of my favorite authors' latest works. Same was the case for Sophie Kinsella's Finding Audrey. I was almost thisclose to ordering a copy online, but good thing I waited. Just a bit bummed that the one I got wasn't a paperback though. I realized just how much I've missed reading Sophie Kinsella after reading this book. Weird characters coupled with her charming humor and incredibly heartwarming plot, I gotta say this is one of the better Kinsella books there is.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell did not disappoint and I seriously couldn't put it down once I started reading. I'm fangirling so hard because of this book! I was giggling like a teenager with a crush and squealing like a piglet all throughout. I swear I can read this book over and over again. My heart is screaming loudly for a sequel! Everything about this book is cute and adorable. Nothing new about the story's characters and plot, but there's something about Rowell's style that just nails it every single time. I enjoyed it so much and I bet you would too.
Oh Mindy, what did you do to me? To be quite honest, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling is all over the place, but it's hysterical enough to make it to this list. She's an awesome combo of smart and funny. Definitely the kind of friend you would love to hang out with. Not sure if this book would pass as an autobiography (they say it is), but the humor and wit of her life's observations, opinions, and anecdotes are just spot on. Absolutely adore her now. 
Sophia Amoruso's #Girlboss book is so in your face, I love it. Her writing style might seem a bit intimidating and Johnny Bravoish to others, but I really enjoyed her honest voice. How she's overcome challenges and her impressive success in business (being the founder of Nasty Gal) is something to be really admired. The book is inspiring, funny at times, and gives quite a handful of tips and tricks to unleash someone's potential in the world of business or just life in general. Pictured on top are two bookmarks I received as Egypt souvenirs from the living #girlboss I know, Ann.
I picked up Jenny Han's P.S. I Still Love You because I couldn't get over its pretty cover. It's already way too late when I realized that it's a sequel, so I ended up reading the e-book of To All The Boys I've Loved Before sent to me by my friend Marbz. But of course I just had to get the paperback version last week when I saw it in Borders because its cover looks pretty too (I know, I have a problem). To be honest, there were so many points in the books that I wanted to strangle the main character's neck because of her stupidity, but I got to admit that I still enjoyed Han's two novels a lot. A whole lot. It's light, sweet, somewhat relatable, and will make you remember how nice it is to be young again.

It's a Saturday night and I can't believe the weekend is almost over.  I was out with the husband last night watching the band Blue perform here in Dubai and spent the entire day today arranging furniture, setting up the Christmas tree, and cooking. How did you spend yours?


Travel Diaries: Hong Kong Shopping Guide

A trip to the fragrant harbour wouldn't be complete without shopping. From high-end brands to bargain items, you can buy just about everything in beautiful Hong Kong. My meagre allowance seriously went a long way because everything was just affordable and super inexpensive.

It actually took me some time to book a hotel for our four-day stay in Hong Kong. My main concerns were location, cleanliness, and of course, free breakfast and wifi connection. Fortunately, I decided to choose Holiday Inn Express Mongkok, which is just a five-minute walk to the nearest metro station, Yau Ma Tei. Aside from the fact that it's a new hotel, it's also strategically located. I love that Holiday Inn is situated on the quiet and more laid-back side of Dundas Street, yet it's just across where all the shopping action is happening, with lots of dining options as neighbors too.

Our first night in Hong Kong was spent roaming the brightly lit and lively streets of Mongkok. I got lost inside a Sasa branch along Nelson Road, where I got so many beauty items. It's every kikay girl's makeup haven! I purchased so many products that are either not available or super expensive here in Dubai. I think I hoarded too much facial masks for my own good. Just couldn't help it.

Just two blocks from the MTR station was Ladies Market filled with all items imaginable: from clothes, bags, shoes, and souvenirs. There were also streets dedicated to selling different categories: electronics, shoes, home accessories, and jewellery.

I was actually planning to purchase a new Neo Blythe doll but C.C. Toys, which I've been researching since forever, was closed when we went to CTMA. There's another store that sells Blythe, but their selection was very limited and no dolls caught my fancy, so I was a bit heartbroken.
Although disappointed, I still ended up exploring the other stores inside CTMA. There were just so many shops selling toys and other collectibles, including specialty stores selling Korean and Japanese fashion, Mori girl inspired clothing and accessories. One tip: Go there between 3PM to 9PM to make sure that most shops are still open. We went there around 10PM after resting a little bit thinking that it would be open until midnight and ended up disappointed.

The entire stretch of Sai Yeung Choi is also brimming with so many Korean beauty brands stand alone stores such as Etude House, Innisfree, Laneige, Nature Republic and Tony Moly. The KPOP phenomenon has really taken Hong Kong by storm! Even the coffee and milk tea shops were playing Big Bang and 2ne1 songs. It almost felt like I was in Seoul, not Mongkok.
After our day trip to Macau, we spent a good few hours along Tsim Sha Tsui. If Mongkok's the center of bargains and night markets, Tsim Sha Tsui was less congested with plenty of high-end brands stores and air-conditioned malls.

Another tip: Try to learn a bit of Chinese, Cantonese in particular. It would come in really handy when shopping in Hong Kong especially in street markets. Although a lot of them speak good English, conversing in their own language would make haggling a bit easier for you. Also, don't forget to be nice and smile sincerely. Some friends who've been to Hong Kong before told us that Chinese people are a bit aloof and intimidating, so I was really surprised that all of the ones (except that one taxi driver) we've encountered during our trip were pretty warm, friendly, and helpful too.

It was definitely a nice long Eid weekend and I felt so recharged. I'll be dedicating separate posts for some of the highlights of our Hong Kong and Macau trip in the coming days once my schedule permits. 

Where did you spend your Eid break?


My Morning Makeup Essentials

In all honesty, I'm like the laziest person in the morning ever. It would take me hours to get out of bed and would be scramming to get ready on a regular basis. So I usually do away with only a slather of BB Cream, some blush, and lip balm.  But on those special days I manage to get up extra early, I do have a morning makeup routine.

Here are some of my trusted go-to essentials:

For skin prep up: Bioderma Sensibio H2O, Nivea Mattifying Toner, Lucas Papaw Ointment, Etude House Wonder Pore Corrector, and The Face Shop Lovely ME:EX BB Cream with SPF 20

For everyday makeup: Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Powder, YSL Heart of Light Powder Blush, Maybelline Colossal Kajal Eyeliner, Essence Plump No Clump Mascara, and Inglot Matte Lipstick in 425 shade

Really fortunate that a lot of my cosmetics were gifts from my previous work and of course generous friends. A lot of my skin prep up products are mostly available from our neighborhood pharmacy (except the Lucas Papaw and Etude House tubes though).

I'm currently on the lookout for a new BB cream since The Face Shop has just discontinued the one I'm using above. Boohoo! It feels almost like a deja vu or something. Like Missha's Watery BB cream all over again. I've been using Watery since 2008 until Missha decided to discontinue that too. Now The Face Shop just did the same thing to my Lovely ME:EX. It's the only BB Cream that didn't break out my skin and the new one that they released to replace it doesn't match my skin tone at all. I've tried other brands and non-Korean brands, but they are either too cakey, not matching my skin tone, or only made my skin break out like crazy. I guess I'll have to go back to moisturizers then while I figure this thing out.

Do you also use a BB cream? What's your daily morning makeup routine and your go-to brands?

Travel Diaries: Legoland Malaysia

We decided to squeeze in a sidetrip to Malaysia during our three-day layover in Singapore to experience Legoland Resort, a theme park just across the causeway from Singapore located in Johor Bahru. It rained so hard, but we still had such an amazing day with my husband's high school friends Tim, Alfred and Ivy. There's just so much to see and do inside. It turned out to be a super wet and wild, fun-filled day. Definitely one for the books! :)

We rode a shuttle bus from Singapore Flyer to get to Legoland. The theme park is actually just a quick journey (maybe an hour?) from Singapore, and passing through Immigration is a breeze if you have the required visa of course.

In Miniland, they have built miniature versions of famous landmarks and tourist spots of different Asian countries out of lego bricks. My favorite would have to be the Taj Mahal in India and of course my country, Philippines.
They're so intricately done that it almost looked like the real thing. Creative guys, I know. They even did a lego version of the Singapore Flyer. Awesome!
We tried some of their roller coasters and just acted all out silly the entire day. We couldn't help it. :)

This theme park is not just for kids, any one of all ages will really enjoy. One can literally pick up the pieces and build a Legoland a la Ed Sheeran, watch Lego movies, scream your heart out riding the roller coasters, learn how to drive, create a Lego robot, and simply just go and have an adventure. There's something to do both indoor and outdoor, no matter the weather.

One of the attractions that stood out to me would have to be the Lego Star Wars. Not really a diehard Star Wars fan, but I'm telling you, those lego creations inside were just dope. They're incredible!
This is seriously one of the best quick road trips we've done in a long time. I highly recommend this place to families and friends. Lego and non-Lego fans will surely have a blast. You can read more about Legoland Malaysia Resort and what they have to offer from their website.

My feet are itching again to go and have another adventure. I can't wait to explore more. I would have wanted to explore the rest of Malaysia if only we had the time. Been wanting to go to Kuala Lumpur. Someday soon for sure! :)


Friday I'm in love { LIP PRODUCTS }

Did you know that it was International Lipstick Day two days ago? Yes, there is actually such a thing. I actually heard about it only when my lovely friend Jerin posted it on her Instagram. I got inspired by her pretty photo, so I thought of dedicating today's Friday Love post to this tiny beauty product that's been a constant favorite among women.

Here are five of my favorite lip products of all time. I said lip products since some of them are not actually lipstick. One's a lip gloss and the other's a lip balm. :)
Yves Saint Laurent Gloss Volupte #49 in Terriblement Fuchsia | Inglot Matte Lipstick #405 | Rimmel #103 Lasting Finish
Matte by Kate Moss Lipstick | MAC Snob Satin Lipstick | Burt's Bees Replenishing Lip Balm

I have been addicted to these Burt's Bees lip balms since 2008 ever since my friend Apple gifted me with one. These are literally little lip savers and I can't go anywhere without one of these. I even have one on top of my bedside table within reach since I feel weird whenever my lips become dry. It's the only one that seriously tames my perpetually-chapped lips.

I gotta say that Inglot super matte finish lipsticks are my absolute favorite (Inglot #405 is a top choice because of its neutral shade). They're amazingly creamy, moisturizing, and also has Vitamin E. It's one of the more nourishing lipstick lines out there. The scent is quite yummy,  color stays for a long time, and they're paraben-free too. Win!

These tiny tubes of instant color have actually been around for the past 91 years, but wearing lipstick has been the thing since 5,000 years ago. I know! It's been that long! What's your favorite lipstick?

How's the weekend treating you so far? Hope it's been fun and colorful!


Travel Diaries: Tbilisi, Georgia

Our weekend vacation in Georgia holds such a special place inside my heart. It never fails to put a huge smile on my face. It's actually one of those "that time we went to this place" stories you would repeatedly tell your children and grandchildren for years to come. Everything about it is just pure happiness. :)

These photos were taken on the night before my birthday spent at the beautiful country of Georgia. We stayed at Courtyard by Marriott located right smack in the middle of Freedom Square in Tbilisi were all the happenings are. It was snowing all over and we discovered a Christmas-lit park during our stroll. It was magical.
It was fairly easy to walk around Tbilisi, all you need is a pair of trusty boots and warm layers of clothing. No need to take a cab really. There were lots of charming coffee shops, stores, and restaurants in the area. I was even crazy enough to eat an ice cream just because. I also appreciate that there were quite a handful of friendly people who volunteered to take some of our photos. Georgians are really nice and as beautiful as their country. I love them!
It's hard not to fall in love with the neoclassical and modern architecture of Tbilisi. Freedom Square, including the entire stretch of Rustaveli Avenue, is home to some of the most exquisitely endearing old buildings and monuments that speak volumes of their rich history and culture. Deciding to book a hotel at the very heart of it has got to be one of the best decisions we made for this trip. Imagine waking up to a view as gorgeous as this. What's not to love?

To say that it was a happy birthday for me would be an understatement. It's beyond amazing, and I'm really thankful for my family and loved ones for making this happen. It's truly a big world out there and as they say, the world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page. I can't wait to go on our next adventure! :)

More details of our Georgia vacation can be found on a previous post.


Travel Diaries: Singapore

We flew via Singapore Airlines on our flight back to Dubai a few months ago. But instead of waiting for eight hours inside their airport as originally planned, we decided to extend our layover in Singapore to three days so we can tour around the city and also squeeze in a short side trip to Legoland Malaysia. Luckily, my husband had a few high school friends based there who were very nice to show us around. It's truly one of the most memorable and fun-filled escapades we've had in a long time.

Singapore is such an idyllic, clean, safe, and modern country. It almost felt like a mini Dubai to be honest, only not as hot. Their people are very friendly and their tasty cuisine is to die for. Our friends treated us to dinner in Makansutra Gluttons' Bay on our first night and my babyfats seriously had a ball. Of course we tried their signature dishes such as chilli crabs and cereal prawns.
The days we spent in Singapore became a discovery of pure gastronomic heaven. I still crave for their delicious food to this day. It's really that good.

After picking us up from the airport, our amazingly cool friend Tim, accompanied us during our first day in Singapore. We immediately tried Singapore Duck Tours and also rode the Singapore Flyer to get a bird's eye view of the city. We temporarily forgot our fear of heights. It's so picturesque! 
Going around Singapore was very convenient thanks to their MRT. The nearest station was only a stone's throw away from our hotel. We stayed at Holiday Inn Express located in Clarke Quay, the riverside village which is like the center of  almost everything.
 The famous Merlion and Marina Bay looked beautiful day and night.

We capped our first night in Singapore chugging down a variety of drinks (Singapore Sling of course) and catching up with friends in one of the bars along a lively and beautifully-lit Clarke Quay. The Filipino bartender serving us even gave me another drink on the house and gifted me with a couple of super cute Singapore Sling souvenir keychains and fridge magnets. So nice!

Our entire second day was a day well spent around Sentosa inside Universal Studios Singapore and also the then newly-opened Madame Tussauds Wax Musuem. It was definitely so much fun to act like a kid again. We were so silly. We've taken so many photos that batteries of both the two cameras we had with us ended up dying.
Figured out how to get to Sesame Street of course!

I finally managed to force the husband to try a scary ride for the first time ever, Revenge of the Mummy inside Universal Studios (it was very scary in his books atleast). I actually made him think we were lining up just to get inside a mummy museum. Just imagining the shocked look on his face when he realized it's a rollercoaster ride is still making me laugh until now. I didn't give him the chance to back out of course.
We spent around seven hours inside Universal Studios before deciding to head out to Madame Tussaud's. It's located in Sentosa also along Imbiah Road. Again, we had to ride the train to get there.

We boarded the "Spirit of Singapore" boat ride inside the museum. It was quick but I found it refreshing especially that it was an extra hot day when we were there. The wax museum was newly-opened at that time so there weren't a lot of figures on display. Still, it was a nice experience.

Of course I got to hang out with my boys Leo and Tom and chitchat with Queen of Talk Oprah Winfrey, along with all the other stars (hello Audrey Hepburn) of Madame Tussauds.

We really thought that the almost three days we allotted was enough to see what this charming little city has to offer, but we were so wrong. It's not enough at all. There's so much to do and to experience. We seriously want to come back soon!

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