What’s New in 2018

2018 was off to a great albeit busy start.  I was like a runner who got her second wind then runner’s high shortly after.  And it’s amazing what a shot of inspiration can do to you.  Here’s what I’ve been up to this year when I, a left-brain dominant person, decided to try and give her right brain free rein some days of the week:

  1. Learned a few things to take a break from wedding planning
    • Resin art –it was fun albeit time consumingresin
    • Leather crafting –I might do more of this on weekends.  Handmade shoes and bags, anyone?leather crafting
    • DIY candlecandle
    • DIY scents
    • Urban gardening –starting to grow some of my own veggies.  A nod to sustainability that I hope I can sustain.urban garden
  2. Started investing in altcoins, cryptocurrency in Feb –Oh, the potential here!
  3. Tried a diet for the first time, and still on, the keto diet
  4. Got married in March 🙂 🙂 🙂  Tried to make it as green/eco-friendly as possible.  It was fun!married
  5. Started blogging (again) in April
  6. Ongoing honeymoon
    • First stop – Tokyo, JapanSakura preview
    • Next stop –To be announced 🙂 Any suggestions?

What about you, what have you been up to lately?  Or better, what have you been inspired to do or explore lately?

Wandering in Japan

It was decided a month or two before our wedding, ‘why don’t we go to Japan?’.  Sure, new hubby and I both studied Japanese in school, we both were (still are) anime fans, we are familiar and greatly admire the trust culture and discipline that is the Japanese brand.  But I was still pleasantly surprised to learn that this country is both in our bucket list.  That’s it, then, our honeymoon (series, I might add) will start in Japan.

Blooms pictured in Ueno Park

Spring blooms

Hubby and I are both city people, but I have a frequent yearning for the outdoors and nature, and will probably survive if not love living in a farm given the chance.  We’re both foodies, and love to localize.  So we decided to stay mostly in Tokyo for food crawls and spend a day touring Mt. Fuji.

Long Walks in Shinjuku

On our first day we decided to check out the train systems, navigate the streets near the hotel — in the process, tried to practice our very rusty Japanese — and enjoy our first meal in Japan.  We weren’t disappointed; Tokyo IS a culinary heaven.  More details on our food stops here  😉

Harajuku Bargain Shopping

Takeshita

We didn’t expect it to still be very cold when we arrived (3-16 degrees Celsius) days before the cherry blossoms start to bloom.  We took this as an opportunity to explore and maybe score good finds in trendy Takeshita Street in Harajuku, said to be the hub of Tokyo Street Fashion.  I scored a pair of low-heeled boots for $4, some souvenirs good for family and colleagues for less than $5, an irresistible black coat for me and leather shoes for hubby.  At this point we knew it was time to go and resist temptation.

Now we heard and read from a lot of people that Japan and Tokyo in particular can be very expensive, and so we were both surprised to discover that it’s not, If you knew where to book and dine.  More on this in another post 😉

Gindaco

Shibuya Crossing aka The Scramble

The Scramble

Since Harajuku and Shinjuku are not so far apart, we just had to check out what the Scramble was about 😉

We can’t help but admire how the Japanese revere their elders, history and culture in the way they preserve and frequent shrines and museums.  Not only were there a lot of foreigners (us included) visiting the parks, shrines and museums, there were many locals visiting as well.

Meiji Shrine

Meiji2

Meiji

We devoted a day to explore the parks and museums near Ueno Park, the 1st public park of its kind in Japan.  It is surrounded by government museums (Tokyo National Museum, National Museum of Nature and Science, Shitamachi Museum), Ueno Zoo and Shrine and is a good viewing spot for cherry blossoms.

National Museum2

Tomb covers

Picture wall

National Museum

The next day, we booked a day tour to Mt. Fuji that included a trip to some nearby villages, 5th Station and some outlet stores.  Mt. Fuji is so majestic, my photos don’t do it justice…The country’s tallest peak, it’s commonly called Fuji-san, and is one of Japan’s 3 sacred/holy mountains.  It’s snow-capped about 5 months in a year and best time to hike or at least, most hikers visit from July to August.

Mt. Fuji

Mt Fuji

How ingenious!  Lava sugar and lava hotdog from a café in Fujisan World Heritage Center

Lava coffee and hotdog

Matcha Ceremony in one of the villages near Mt. Fuji

Matcha

We were so lucky to score free overnight stays in Grand Hyatt for the first 3 days of our time in Tokyo, after which we decided to check out Airbnbs nearby.  The law legalizing airbnb rentals in Japan will take effect in June 2018, but we heard there are more restrictions set by many local government compared to other countries.  So best to coordinate with your airbnb host prior to booking and book in advance.

Exploring Tokyo’s Korea Town in Shin-Okubo

Dak Galbi

On our last day, we explored Korea Town after packing up.  We had to check if our luggage can still be closed and not exceed our limit at this point 😉  I’m not very much into make up, but finding Japanese and Korean skincare products and even make up at 20-50% less than what I normally pay for it is such a delight!  Japan being an expensive city to visit is such a myth.  Just do your due diligence and plan your itinerary (loosely or not) to have some sort of guide while you’re there and check out travel blogs for tips.  Or you can always opt for tours to be on the safe side, but at a higher rate.

Overall, our stay in Japan was so refreshing, it provided us with the needed relaxation, interesting cultural experience and time together after all the wedding fun and excitement and, let’s face it, stress that came along with it.  All the good things you’ve probably seen in social media or heard from other people are true; the clean streets, great food, high tech toilets, respectful people, beautiful cities and countryside, and then some more.  It’s a place and culture you have to see and experience at least once in your life.  It’s becoming our favorite city so far, and maybe country, but check back with me in a year and we’ll see 😉

 

 

Be Still, My Mind

Tinipakriver

Some days, thoughts run around in my head like an upload on a super fast high bandwidth.  It started when I began wedding planning and watching some shows (more on this in another post).  Now that I’m done with planning (did it for just 2 months, with 5 months to spare 🙂 self-pat in the back) and just waiting for timely execution, all the ideas and inspiration I had just won’t go back where they came from, or even go to bed.  If this is not inspiration overload, i don’t know what it is.

Here are some ways I’m dealing with Inspo overload.  I’m still open to suggestions:

  • Write it down.  Much like on a journal or blog draft, I started writing down without filtering.  This way, my mind can rest even for a bit for the day.  Even if it comes back to me another time or day, I still bought myself neural ceasefire, or some snooze.
  • I clean up.  Here and there, some spot, the closet.  I pride myself in overcoming the urge to clean up everyday.  Don’t get me wrong, I like to keep things neat and tidy, but there was a time when I couldn’t sleep before cleaning up the whole house. yup.
  • Take a screenshot.  If and when I’m too lazy to write, or a screenshot would better help retention, I go on a snipping spree.  I either keep them in my Instagram collection, pinterest or compile in a folder/document.  Then I forget about them.  Just kidding 🙂
  • I  schedule projects.  It’s a blessing and a curse — I think I’m a curiosity junkie.  So whether it’s to read a pile of borrowed books, articles or take up leather crafting or silver-/metalsmithing, or urban gardening, when my not-so-hectic-anymore schedule permits, I go for it.  This is how I came up with weekend experiments.  More posts on this soon 🙂
  • I meditate.  I do this rarely, but I think I should do so more often.  Yoga, forest bathing or just walking in the park calms and slows me down.
  • Other things I rarely try but works – soaking in a tub/bubble bath, lying in bed staring at the ceiling, baking (but too lazy to buy ingredients some times), crafting, shopping.  If all else fails, I chase the poor unsuspecting resident dog.

How do you calm your mind?  Would love to get other ideas.

Keeping It Real, and Green

It’s only been two months, but it feels like I’ve been doing this wedding planning for a year.  I’m still amazed at the amount of work and time it takes to put up a wedding event.  And the prices..my golly!  Anything with wedding in it does have a whole new, higher and exponential inflation rates wrapped around it.

But fiancé and I (mostly me) are not to be intimidated, nor budged.  After all the research and wedding fairs and a few meetings in between, I’m more positive and can say that it is doable; a green, sustainable yet fun and memorable wedding 🙂

Some efforts we’ve taken to this pursuit, so far:

  • An e-Save-the-Date
    • There are numerous design templates on the net that are editable and FREE.  Some sites I used are canva, eviteweddingchicks and of course, pinterest.  I chose a minimalist design with some greenery and floral touches and used our color scheme gradient as background colors.  Save-the-dates do not have to match your overall wedding color scheme and theme, but it won’t hurt to coordinate them a bit.  For destination weddings, best to send it early, at least 6-8 months before the wedding to give everyone time to make travel plans.sample savethedate
  • Few formal invitation printouts on seed paper or recycled paper
    • Some people are still not keen on using e-Cards or digital platforms to announce formal events.  Luckily, most of our guests are millennials or xennials so this won’t be a concern.  For some of our older guests, we are planning to use formal printed invitation cards using these special papers.  Send these out 3-4 months before your destination wedding for good measure.
  • A wedding website
    • A wedding website is probably not as popular in the Philippines as it is in the US or elsewhere, but I’m glad there are many platforms out there that are available globally.  I opted for a simple, classy theme in digital album form from wedsite.com for posting updates/announcements, a photo/video gallery, travel tips and accommodation options for our destination wedding and added another 2-3 page website with an almost similar minimalist theme from theknot.com as a one-stop site for wedding event details and RSVP management.  So far so good!:)
    • Sample page: theknot.com and wedsite.comSample the knot pageSample wedsite page
  • Buy RTW or off-the-rack wedding gown
    • The options are limited locally but fortunately, there are a few relatively new shops that are going in this direction.  Getting designer gowns few seasons or years ago definitely won’t hurt the eye and put a big hole in the pocket.  I’m also eyeing gowns that can still be altered to be wearable even after the wedding, or maybe sold or rented out.
  • Buy custom shoes that can still be worn after the wedding
    • Other goals are to not kill my feet in one day, be able to dance or at least walk during the duration of the event and buy shoes that are of excellent quality and will last for many years.
  • Use greenery with some flowers instead of all-out flower arrangements for the ceremony and reception
    • I’m not so into flowers anyway, plus I’d rather use potted plants/flowers instead of plucked bunches for a one-day event however special.  Styling with greenery, when done right, can actually look very organic, minimalist and classy.
    • View from prep site/wedding hq 🙂
    • greenery peg
  • DIY additional décor, place cards and other items where possible.
    • This can be a way to indulge the artsy in you and also be a good bonding time with your family or wedding party.  Some ideas would be biodegradable confetti, calligraphed place cards, DIY candles, brooches, etc.
    • Reception lighting pegs
    • lighting peg

So there you have it!  A wedding as green as it gets:)  I hope to encourage others to tread lightly with not just their own weddings but with our daily footprint, one step at a time:)

Of Weddings and WhatNots

I’m getting married!!!  Ok, it’s been almost a month since fiancé asked (hilariously, I might add, details in another post), and we haven’t announced to people except some family and friends.  There is this unspoken agreement that we want to enjoy this time and keep it to ourselves until possible, maybe until before the save-the-date 😉  We’ve done a bit of planning as well; We plan to be hands-on and not spend too much on the wedding; we’d rather put more funds into our nest egg.  That being said, I know that the wedding will still be pretty costly and probably the most expensive celebration we’d have for a long time.  We plan to focus on finding a good church/venue for the ceremony, a good place with a garden or mountainside that bundles in good food (being the foodies that we are) and making it unique and personal and memorable without breaking the bank.  So far so good! 🙂

It only actually felt official when we already finalized the date last weekend, after checking out churches and venues for the past two weeks and realizing that all we wanted to book were available one weekend (just!) in March 2018.  This is really happening! 🙂

I was pretty realistic and was not really expecting that we’ll get all we want, but lo and behold, things seem to be falling into place! 🙂 🙂  We managed to book a church we’re both happy about, a chapel overlooking Taal volcano and most of Tagaytay, and Antonio’s for a dinner celebration.  Yes! 🙂

Chapel on the Hill , Don Bosco Batulao in Nasugbu, Batangas

chapel1

Garden at Antonio’s Tagaytay

antonios

I just love the Scripture on the wall, reminding us of what matters most..:)

chapel2

Another thing I want our wedding to be aside from being special, personal and memorable is it being green/eco-friendly.  Maybe zero-waste is a remote possibility, but we’ll try our best.  I’ll DIY a few things because hey, I didn’t even know I’ll get married until late last year, nor did I really think I’ll find someone.  Cheers! 🙂

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