Some sleepy pictures of Lambert, because he's so cute and I love waking up to that sleepy kitty smile.
Then I came across pictures of this little guy.
This cat kept mewing outside my door until I let it into my apartment. I hear mewing nonstop for a good five minutes, but didn't really expect a cute little kitten to rush my apartment as soon as I opened the door.
I played with it for a little while and then I went to go eat dinner. And when I came back, I found his owners and gave him back lol. He's cute, his name is Simba. And he lives in the apartment underneath mine.
He was my new cat for all of two hours.
I met up with my mom and sister in San Francisco for a weekend full of family, cousins, and FOOD! I introduced them to Boiling Point and, in a typical fashion, went twice on consecutive days.
It's awesome when your family is as food-obsessed as you are.
- I bought Spotify. I feel like I've just been promoted to "True Millennial" status -- paying for a music streaming service. It's just too convenient. (And, okay, TSwift putting all her music back on Spotify was a big factor in my decision. I'll admit it.)
- Turmeric, fresh ginger root, sweetener + lemon juice = new nightly ritual.
- Finished my first bottle of caffeine pills in a span of 7-8 months. I have now allowed myself to "graduate" ... and purchased a way bigger bottle. Progress?
- I'm doing this thing where I get my nails done every so often. One, it helps me stop biting my nails. Two, a goal of mine that I haven't been working on is to look "put together." AKA look high maintenance. I may not be high maintenance, but when I see another female who looks put together (nails did, hair did, everyone done - plus slays at her job) I definitely feel more than a twinge of admiration. There are, of course, more important things than one's aesthetic, but I think it's very similar to my philosophy on make up - if you feel good on the outside, it can help you feel good on the inside. Fake it till you make it, that sort of thing.
- Best purchase of the year: Still my $20 step up stool. I can reach ALL the high cabinets now. Yas.
- I have friends visiting me soon, and other friends making plans to visit me. It's starting to feel like Arizona is home. And I love my apartment. And my cats.
- I discovered splenda sort of tastes the best out of all the fake sugar. I know stevia is cool and all, but I think I got sick of the taste. Maybe by the end of the year I'll prefer stevia again. But don't even get me STARTED on sucralose. It gives me the weirdest reaction in my mouth afterwards, like a terribly strange aftertaste.
I've been feeling inspired lately. Inspired, motivated, and excited about the future. I think these are good signs. I just have to remember to blog more. (Which reminds me - in a few months I'll be renewing my Squarespace domain!)
Another future goal: To swag out at my desk at work. If I'm going to spend the majority of my day at a desk, I better swag it out somehow. Time to Pinterest.
I have been traveling very frequently these past couple months, and my updates have (regrettably) fallen on the wayside. However, my Boston trip last weekend has marked the end of my busy spring! (My next trip: San Francisco to see my sister and mom, but that's not for another six weeks.)
I'm excited for the next six weeks of not traveling. And don't get me wrong - I love being busy - but there's something nice about settling into a routine. To enjoy my weekends. To live a slow-paced existence. (Arizona is pretty helpful when you want to live slowly... I think it's because of all the retirees and snowbirds. Like, there's a diner on every corner. Diners are kind of for old people.)
I think I'm definitely a grandma at heart. Or at the very least - what is the opposite of thrill-seeker? - whatever it is, I'm that.
I bought CS GO this week. I used to think in all its simplicity that the game was boring (where are the zombies?! the classes?) but now I appreciate it. It's a nice, fast-paced, and no frills first-person shooter. (I played casual and fared OK, to my surprise. But I'm still light years away from playing competitively - I think.)
Summer in Arizona has arrived, which means 1) mosquito bites, 2) sunscreen is a necessity, and 3) the air conditioner is my new best friend. It also means that Sonic shakes are half off after 8 pm. I also dread wearing jeans to work everyday, but it's not like cutoffs are work-appropriate.
One note: now that I am traveling less, my diet has disintegrated. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) I've decided to put aside IIFYM and just eat to my heart's content and "worry later." I'm trying to practice mindful eating too. I'm trying this new thing where I eat and just be happy and not stressed. It's interesting.
I am starting this summer off in slow motion. I want to relax after traveling (and being stressed) since February's break-in. (Which is a topic for another blog post, maybe.) I want to slowly get into a routine and just... breathe. (I want to join a kickboxing gym too, while we're on the subject of things I want.)
I apologize for this post being all over the place. I'm still getting my bearings.
Excited for the summer and what it will bring me.
It's funny - when I lived in Boston, it never felt like home. I had pledged my undying allegiance to California and *hated* flying back to Boston several times a year. But during my last semester in Boston, I resolved to enjoy every second of it... every snowstorm and wind-chilled-day.
Now that I don't live in Boston anymore, I miss it SO MUCH. The chic fashionistas walking down Newbury Street, beau and Starbucks coffee cup in hand. The Hunter boots. The crisp autumnal weather. Yes, even the horrible face-numbing snowstorms, and the dinosaur of a public transportation system that is the MBTA. I miss it SO MUCH.
I visited Boston for a weekend and it was so fun. Funny how it's hard to appreciate things - people, places, possessions - until they've become a fond memory, forever placed comfortably in the past.
You can try.
I visited Seattle to see some of my best friends and fell in love with the crazy city! And OMG the food - the food was awesome.
Against all odds... the Peeps Oreo flavor doesn't suck. On the contrary, it tastes quite good. Similar to strawberry shortcake flavor (a big win for me) but with a faint Peeps marshmallow-like texture.
I say against all odds because today at the grocery store, I argued vehemently with the boyfriend against purchasing them. Swedish Oreos, as we all remember, was a huge failure. He insisted we try them. It was a battle I lost, and I am grateful for it.
Because despite the Swedish oreo mishap, I think the Peeps Oreos have redeemed Nabisco.
And so the great Oreo hunt continues.
EDIT: After a quick Google search, it has been discovered that the Peeps Oreos make your poop pink. WHAT'S NOT TO LOVE? I'm all for this.
Some days I get hit with a spark of inspiration to jot something down, and I run to my desk (or now, Squarespace app... which sucks as an app btw) to update my blog. Even if I just end up scribbling down my pointless wonderings (and there are truly a lot of these wonderings) and random thoughts.
This is not really one of those days.
Today I got hit with a curious need to jot down my definitive list of Oreos, ranked from most pleasant to down right terrible. (I'm looking at you, SWEDISH FISH OREOS.)
So I've made it a point to try every new Oreo flavor I see. For memory's sake, I'm going to rank them all from AWESOMETASTIC to this-totally-sucks.
- Caramel Apple Oreos (these are bomb and freaking amazing.)
- Pumpkin Spice Oreos (call me basic but THESE ARE FANTASTIC.)
- Gingerbread Oreos
- Red Velvet Oreos
- Strawberry Shortcake Oreos
- Blueberry Pie Oreos
- Key Lime Pie Oreos
- Peeps Oreos (added 3/2)
- Mint Oreos (a friggin' classic.)
- Birthday Cake Oreos (I'm referring to the golden cookie/bday cake combo here. The chocolate version of bday cake sucks.)
- Golden Oreo.
- Brownie Batter Oreos
- Cookie Dough Oreos
- Normal Oreos (including double stuffed, thins, etc)
- Reese's Oreos
- Lemon Oreos
- Cinnamon Bun Oreos
- S'mores Oreos (meh.)
- Chocolate Chip Oreos
- Peanut Butter Oreos
- Filled Cupcake Oreos
- Heads or Tails Oreos (like why does this exist.)
- Birthday Cake Oreos, the chocolate version
- Watermelon Oreos
- Berry Oreos (spoiler alert: these taste really stupid.)
- Swedish Fish Oreos (THESE TOTALLY SUCK, DO NOT EAT EVER. THESE ARE HORRID. WHY DO THESE EXIST. YECHHH.)
OREOS I HAVE YET TO FIND/TRY:
- Chocolate Strawberry Oreos
- Cotton Candy Oreos (helloooo, I want these.)
- Fruity Crisp Oreo (this looks really promising.)
- Toasted Coconut Oreos
- Marshmallow Crispy Oreos
Just realized I never posted pics from my trip to the Philippines this past Christmas! I already uploaded them to my PC and since I'm blogging off of my phone (while sitting in traffic... Don't worry, I am the passenger not driver!) I will have to make do with the photos I kept on my phone.
This week, in an effort to ensure I accomplished my goals, I told myself I would reward myself with a gift if I successfully stuck to my healthy eating/working out routine. Typically I would reward myself with food, but that seemed counter intuitive to my goals. (Refer to: New Year's Resolutions post.) Instead, I would reward my newfound healthy ways by spending a boatload of money on myself.
(Okay, not a boatload. But at least over $50. At least.)
It could be something frivolous, like clothes or a waffle maker. Or cake batter flavored protein powder. (The cake batter flavored protein powder was a big contender as my potential prize for an entire day, FYI.)
The week came and went and LO AND BEHOLD, I succeeded. Little did I know the hardest part was yet to come.
I browsed online for a few hours. Zara, TopShop, Urban Outfitters. There were things I liked, certainly. But enough to buy...? I really, really didn't need new clothes. (Note to self about future blog post idea: NICOLA IS THE OPPOSITE OF A HOARDER. I'm addicted to having less stuff.)
Okay, so then what? I browsed around Victoria's Secret and American Eagle. Maybe I'll buy myself brand new underwear, enough to last me the next five years. (Sorry if that was TMI, future employers. Or mom. Whoever is reading this. Sorry that I wear underwear LIKE A NORMAL PERSON.) No, no, I really don't need clothes OR underwear.
OK. Gym clothes. I've been going to the gym consistently, so it definitely makes sense that my reward would be gym clothes! I could get the cute Lululemon leggings, the kind with a giant pocket for my phone. Oh, they're $100? Umm. Hmm. There's a good dupe on American Eagle for $30 too. I can afford it... but it seems silly to spend that much on leggings right now, since I have two perfectly good pairs. Ok, gym clothes are out of the question.
I went to my Amazon wish list. OK, I can just pick something off my wish list (spoiler alert: I have THREE wish lists on Amazon. They are organized into 3 groups: Kitchen, Food, and Miscellaneous. #Priorities. Wait, I just realized I have Kitchen AND Food? OMG what is wrong with me.) and then I can just buy it and move on. Yay for Prime!
What about the waffle maker you've always wanted? Yeah, but you don't really need more appliances, plus you still need to master making pancakes. OK, what about protein powder? There's so many flavors.. like cake batter (!!), birthday cake, graham cracker... SO MANY DELICIOUS OPTIONS. But don't you still have two bags left of chocolate and vanilla protein powder? How about you just finish those bags and THEN buy cake batter protein powder? Oook, what about some new candles? No, you just got a ton of candles for Christmas, remember?
And so on. You get the point. This went on the entire day. I managed to talk myself out of buying every single thing. Even things I KNEW I wanted at some point, like a waffle maker. I just didn't want to buy anything enough, regardless of whether or not I "earned" it with my healthy eating.
The next day, I went to Marshalls with the boyfriend, so HE could buy something.
"Choose something you want, Nicola! ANYTHING that remotely interests you. Just BUY IT," I told myself. (After all, I'M ALREADY IN MARSHALLS, everything I could possibly want from here is already like $10 or less.)
I ended up talking myself out of buying $15 earmuffs and bought a little stand up shelf. To organize my desk. It was $0.99. With sales tax, I ended up spending $1.07.
After much deliberation, I bought myself something I needed. For one dollar. I may as well have rewarded myself with some toothpaste.
What's the opposite of frivolous? Whatever it is, I'm that.
I'd like to think that the reason I couldn't bring myself to buy anything was that eating right and working out was reward enough for me... but no. It turns out I just don't really care for shopping that much.
I'll buy something one day, obviously, eventually. But right now my reward is the cute little shelf on my desk. The most frivolous dollar I ever spent.
I have just changed the look of my website and I LOVE it. It is unfortunate that I paid for Squarespace and didn't *love* the theme of my blog until 5-6 months in. But I am in love with the interface now; I think it is a lot cleaner and more me.
The layout beforehand was too cluttered with images, because I was inspired by the gorgeous websites of various graphic designers/photographers. They had BEAUTIFUL artwork to show off, and their layout was reflective of their design skills.
But I'm not a graphic designer or a professional photographer. I'm a copywriter and a blogger and a public relations major, so I needed a layout indicative of my own strengths, instead of someone else's. And I truly think that's where my layout choice failed me initially.
Not anymore though. I think this is clean and beautiful and showcases my ramblings and thoughts in a manner that is very succinct. (As much as I like to call my blog posts ramblings, I'm all about the succinct.)
Interesting how deep introspection can come from the most unusual of places. (In my case, my blog layout.)
I always had trouble saying bye to vacations, even as a child. I am no stranger to the "post-Philippines hangover", as my Tita eloquently put it. As I flew back home on my 26-hour trek from Philippines back to the United States, I almost felt a surreal confusion - did I really just spend two weeks in the Philippines? How is it over already? Did it even really happen?
The sadness usually lasts a week or two, with the first few nights being the worst. The fresh memories of seeing my baby cousins and my little sister feel both bittersweet and far away. Eventually, as I settle back into my routine life, the vacation high fades away and I go back to my wake up-eat-work-sleep routine with the pangs of homesickness hitting fewer and far between.
But while I'm still in the "Manila hangover" phase, I'd like to speed up the process by listing my US-based blessings:
- My cats are here, and they are bothering me with a vengeance. Lambert likes to sleep directly on top of my head; a persistent behavior that only reinforces the old wives' tale of cats trying to steal your breathe. If we were in the medieval times, the village midwife would probably tell me that I need to get rid of Lambert ASAP because he's 100% definitely trying to kill me. Or something.
- I'm planning an upcoming Seattle trip with two of my besties. Very, very excited for this one. I haven't been to Seattle since I was a kid and still lived in Portland, Oregon.
- Cellular phone data. This is a lame one but living off of mall WiFi in the Philippines made playing Pokemon Go VERY difficult.
- Enjoying American treats without paying the premium import tax. You aren't going to be able to find strawberry-chocolate limited edition Oreos in the Philippines, I'll tell you that. And good Mexican food. A decent burrito is unheard of in the Philippines.
Gosh, the list isn't very long, is it? Maybe I can add to it later when I'm feeling less of the Manila-blues.
I have become addicted to coffee. I can feel it in my bones when I wake up; the gentle voice in the back of my head telling me to get out of bed and walk to the coffee maker and enjoy the well-deserved hot cuppa'. Some people get out of bed motivated by the start of a new day - they are called the "early risers", an seemingly mythical concept to me. Some people aren't motivated at all. I fall under the latter. Until you seduce me with some caffeine.
As I type this, I sip my coffee. I'm not yet a coffee snob... I'm a cheap addict, buying my coffee grounds from the bulk section in the supermarket, and I use a *gasp* Keurig. (There goes all my coffee aficionado legitimacy out the window. See, I learned something from r/coffee. Specifically, Keurigs are for the caffeine bottom-feeders and akin to heresy.)
But the love for the ritual is there. I take my first sip and suddenly I'm ready for the day. Nicola Vs The World Feat. Caffeine is my anthem.
I pay for it later, in the song called midday crashes and caffeine withdrawal. And suddenly the wonder drug of caffeine seems cloyingly deceptive.
I'd try to make the permanent switch to tea, but I don't think I'm at that stage yet. Maybe in an alternate universe where I'm a Santa Monica hippie that teaches yoga at 5am and only eats organic. (Nothing wrong with tea drinkers, except that I am very much an all-or-nothing person. Although, side note, if I really were an all-or-nothing hippie I'd probably avoid caffeine altogether and tell people things like "Life is my caffeine!") (DISCLAIMER: While I LOVE tea... I can't use it as a substitute for coffee. Tea is more like a substitute of water, gosh.)
This was my rambling for the evening. My dependence on coffee is essentially my Kryptonite, but I'm not ready for wean myself just yet. Isn't the first step of solving a problem is recognizing there is one? (Is caffeine addiction really a problem though?) (Is it?)
I love making new year's resolutions. For many, keeping them is a different story. But the past few years I have realized that the calendar year is just a frame of reference (what is time, after all? (*queue wistful philosophical ponderings*) and there is no better time than the present to become the "improved" version of yourself.
That disclaimer aside, I love making new year's resolutions.
Here are mine:
Wake up before 9am, at least, every day. Including weekends.
CURRENT PROGRESS REPORT: So far I woke up once at noon. But I chalked that up to being sick, so does it really even count? Doing pretty well so far.
- Exercise at least 2-3x a week.. even if it's just a 30 minute session.
CURRENT PROGRESS REPORT: I should clarify and change this to, "Burn at least 100+ calories per day." Because my FitBit tells me grocery shopping and running errands burns me at least 100-200 calories. And so in that regard, I HAVE ACCOMPLISHED THIS. (But the actual "going to the gym" has not been achieved. Yet. The year is still young.)
- Cook healthy and balanced meals.
CURRENT PROGRESS REPORT: I sliced an avocado for the first time in my life yesterday. SO WORTH. Doing pretty well on this so far. Except I did consume an entire box of brownies in 1 week. Other than the brownie mishap, I'm doing well in this regard.
- Be more thoughtful, generous, kindhearted.
CURRENT PROGRESS REPORT: This past trip to the Philippines for Christmas made me realize how important gift-giving is, and how great it makes me feel to spread love. I'm going to make it a point to give back more, and do things for others.
I have several more resolutions, but they are too private to be shared on my blog. Hopefully writing this down keeps me focused!
I find that the best resolutions are the realistic ones... While having lofty goals is admirable, I think sometimes the changes that prove to be the most lasting are the ones made incrementally. And that's my two cents for today.
I hated being small. The last time I remember feeling even remotely tall was sixth grade - I was the tallest out of all my friends. I liked it. By the time I was in ninth grade, however, everyone had surpassed me. And then some.
I thought about my height daily. I suppose people of average stature don't think about their height. In that regard, I suppose I actually have more in common with tall people.
I was teased in high school. And I don't just mean the teasing where taller acquaintances would place their elbows on my shoulders and say, "You're the perfect height for an arm rest!" and smile. Or the countless times people offered up their fast fact, "Did you know that at 4'10 you're legally a midget?" even though I always responded saying, no, actually, there isn't a legal definition for a midget, but there's dwarfism which is a medical term marked by slow growth and I'm not actually a dwarf or a midget, thanks very much. (Can you tell I spent hours researching up on this? I was 15 and very, very defensive. There's nothing wrong with dwarfism but even if I was a dwarf, why would people keep reminding me that I am?) I mean the kind of teasing where complete strangers shouted at me, "Why are you so short!" and point and laugh with their group of pals as I scurried between classes. I think being pointed out and yelled at by total strangers hurt the most.
I begged my family to get me one of those X ray bone scans, just to see if my bones had finished fusing. If they hadn't fused, I could take a growth hormone that would (hopefully) make me taller. I just wanted a couple inches, that's all. My family agreed. They let me take the X ray.
The results came back, and showed that my bones were done fusing, and I wasn't going to grow anymore. But my family didn't want to tell me. Actually, they never really did. I only found out by accidentally seeing my aunt's inbox with an email titled, "Nicola's Results" and the beginning excerpt: "Nicola's results are in. She is done growing as her bones are completely fused ..." and the rest was cut off. Whoops, the secret was out.
I sobbed at 14 to a family member because I wanted to grow just a few inches. I wasn't greedy. I just wanted at least two inches - then I could be five foot flat. A respectable petite, in my eyes.
One day I read Tolkien, and he told me, "Even the smallest person can change the course of the future." Hobbits were fictional, of course. But being like Sam and Frodo and Merry and Pippin and Bilbo served as decent consolation, because the small unassuming hobbits were the real heroes of the saga. (Gandalf, too. And Aragorn. Legolas was pretty. Golum looks like my cat. I'm getting distracted here.) I was the underdog, and I always rooted for the underdog. (P.S. I wanted to be a hobbit, but without the hairy feet.)
It took me a while to make peace with my height. Thankfully, after high school was over, I didn't get teased for my height as often. (Except the arm rest thing was still happening occasionally.) I stopped fixating over my height (and instead fixated on other things, like the rest of the world: my weight, my clothes, how much money I had, how many Instagram likes I got, how many people opened my Snapstory. The usual millennial stuff.) and moved on with life.
But I still think about my height daily. How could I not? It affects my everyday living. I ask for coworkers if they could, please, reach the glass I want on the highest shelf and grab it for me. And before every flight, I have anxiety over whether or not I'll be able to successfully lift my luggage onto the overhead bins. (Sometimes the suitcases slips out of my hands. My worst fear is that it falls on an innocent but disgruntled passenger. It would be entirely my fault for dropping it on their head. I would understand completely if they chewed me out for it.) Maybe you think these problems are trivial. Maybe they are trivial.
There are some upsides to being small. Children's size clothing is usually cheaper. Asian clothing stores typically carry "one size fits all" which usually translates to "this tiny size will probably fit other small Asian girls." Halloween shopping can be very simple when you've got a huge array of children's costumes to choose from. (I want to be Spiderman, so badly, this upcoming Halloween. The fake muscle/onesie kind. It's going to be great.)
I never felt like I "conquered" my hatred for being short. I mostly just forgot about it. I think my biggest takeaway is that time will pass and you learn to accept some things you cannot change. And you just have to continue on with your life.
To end today's ramble, I give you quotes about short people (that I Googled):
Sometimes, said Pooh, the smallest things can take up the most room in your heart. (Winnie the Pooh)
A person's a person, no matter how small. (Dr. Seuss)
Although she be but little, she is fierce. (Shakespeare; also found on merchandise everywhere on Etsy and Pinterest)
And my favorite:
Let me give you some advice, bastard. Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor, and it can never be used to hurt you. (Tyrion Lannister)
I went camping semi-frequently this past year, and Yosemite was by far the most beautiful. Aside from getting altitude sickness for a horrible 8 hours (worse than any hangover I've ever had), I had such a good time. Pro tip for those of you who have never been at 9000ft altitude:
- Take it easy and don't overexert yourself. Go slower than you think you need to.
- Pack some snacks and extra water in your backpack.
- Remember to breathe.
During our hikes, I channeled my inner geek by pretending my group was the Fellowship of the Ring on the way to Mordor, obviously.
Enjoy my pictures!
I've been drinking a lot of tea lately. Does it still count as tea if I add tons of milk and artificial sweetener? That's how Brits do it, so it must still be tea. It is absolutely delicious.
This is my all time favorite tea. It has a PHENOMENAL toasted rice flavor. I bought a box of decaf Bigelow vanilla chai from Winco the other day - another delicious tea. Actually, I'm convinced everything would taste good with some milk and artificial sweetener.
I bought some cooking grade matcha, and mix it it with my tea (and coffee. And Greek yogurt.) which Reddit tells me is blasphemous because I'm supposed to use matcha tea leaves for tea and matcha cooking grade powder for like, cooking. But as Kendrick says, "I can see the evil / I can tell it / I know it's illegal / I don't think about it."
On a related note, I finally understand decaf now. I think this, more than anything, makes me a proper adult. I didn't understand why anyone would buy decaf coffee, but when it's 10pm and I'm craving a soothing cup of coffee but can't because I know I'll mess up my sleep schedule even more.. I get it now, guys. This is why we have decaffeinated. I'm one of the big girls now, right? Right?
Then again, I pretty much only want to try dessert teas. Like, birthday cake or red velvet kind. What's the point if it doesn't taste like cake? This is pretty much my approach to all dilemmas.
One step forward, two steps back?
I went to Costa Rica for a week with some friends. It was wonderful to be back in a rainforest so close to the United States - it reminded me so much of my home country, the Philippines!
We did one of those Groupons all-expenses-included packages; the convenience alone made it SO worth it.