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Paper Junkie Post: Starbucks Planner vs. CBTL Giving Journal – A Review

If you are one of the thousands of Filipinos who fueled their caffeine addiction in exchange for their annual planner – then, welcome to my world. I have spent a big chunk of November and December 2018 guzzling coffee from one shop to another. First, because that’s really how I roll and second, because the paper junkie in me just can’t pass the opportunity to have the annual Christmas planners from both coffee shops.

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My 2019 Journals: a Moleskine notebook for daily living notes (expenses, bills, etc), a 2019 Starbucks Planner for my creative outputs and personal schedules, a 2019 CBTL Giving Journal for work note-taking and schedules, a Bucket List journal for goal setting and planning and a Starbucks travel journal

A lot has been written on this annual Pinoy tradition (see here and here) – in my case, it’s because I am a paper addict and I can’t help it. As you can see from the photo above, I am currently maintaining five planners. If you think that this is weird, I will gleefully point out that there’s a whole set of paper junkies who gladly maintain four to five planners (or more!).

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Giving Journal is the one at the bottom, with the Starbucks planner on top  

With about a month’s worth of pages already filled up, Here’s my review of both planners:

  1. Paper – I am more partial to the paper used in the Starbucks planner. Yes, it’s thinner than the one used for the Giving Journal. But the Starbucks planner is smoother, which is better for brush lettering using the pen brush – the pen tends to glide more smoothly. However, the advantage of the thick paper used for the Giving Journal is that it doesn’t mark easily, there is less bleeding and the succeeding pages doesn’t get sacrificed.
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My 2019 Goals

2. Design – This is like comparing apples to oranges. The Giving Journal adapts a more streamlined, cleaner design compared to the Starbucks planner. While there are individual commissioned art work that heralds the start of every month, Giving Journal adapted a cleaner, more streamlined approach in its inside pages – dominated with a purple print/font and a cleaner lay-out.

Meanwhile, the Starbucks Planner is like someone played in the art lab and the planner was the result. Making use of watercolor prints, creative fonts and splashes of color here and there – the planner begs to be painted and doodled on.

In my opinion, the design for each planner work both ways. The Giving Journal is perfect for those who value content and clean lay out minus the splashy designs and flashy background. For me, it’s good for composing your thoughts, laying down your schedule and even for a bit of soul-searching mixed with daily journaling. The Starbucks planner is when you want to get creative and want your planner to stand out for the #gram.

For the cover, the best one for me is the black with gold lining option from the 2019 Giving Journal but my go-to branch ran out of that option so I chose the one with the cork cover. I am not really a fan of planner cover with too busy artwork as I have this weird fixation with clean layouts for the outside pages.

 

 

3. Content – similar to the design, there’s no comparison needed between the Starbucks and the Giving Journal planner. The advantage of the Giving Journal planner is how the content challenges the user to make use of the planner as a means to self-reflect and organize their life. This goes beyond jotting down random schedules or notes for school or work. It’s making use of the prompts to look deep within yourself and emerge a better person after filling up the whole planner.

Meanwhile, the Starbucks planner encourages and prompts its user to be more creative and add color and meaning to the otherwise mundane day-to-day task of note-taking. I am using my planner as my personal diary. I tend to disregard the dates and just mark its pages with quotes, writing prompts and artworks that mean a lot to me for a particular day.

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My final verdict? The Giving Journal for me is tops when it comes to content, while the Starbucks journal takes the cake in design and execution. Both planners are worth the caffeine overload and the thrill of trying to collect that danged sticker/stamp every December.

Just a footnote from this paper junkie: As someone whose life is too busy and too hectic for their own good sometimes, I am grateful for the quiet times when I can just fiddle with my planners and pens, just writing my thoughts, going through my schedule and basically just trying to make sense of the topsy-turvy world I live in.

You know, I have been keeping journals since I was twelve — I’ve seen my writing all through these years and I am grateful for the chance to see how I managed to grow up through the years. Of course, there’s a lot of content there that begs to be annihilated and just reading through my execrable writing during my teenage years is enough to burn my eyes. But, it also gives me affirmation that I did not grow up so bad at all. During times when I feel like giving up on life, when depression is getting the most of me, reading my journals often gives me enough lifeline to vow not to sink, and to just swim hard no matter how hard it gets.

 

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From 10 to 3: Miyu Skin Care by Amway (A Review)

To say I a.m obsessed with skin care is an understatement – and to me, nothing beats Japanese and Korean brands when it comes to skin care. Maybe it’s the fact that they know Asian skin better than anyone, their amazing dedication to R&D and commitment to using nothing but only the best ingredients from Nature.

That’s why the invitation from Amway to mark the first anniversary of their very own skin care line, Miyu, came as a nice surprise.

For the uninitiated, Miyu is Amway’s very own foray to the exciting World of Korean skin care. Their unique advantage is they’re making it less complicated for Everyone – by removing the (sometimes) tedious ten-step process and simplifying it to just three.

While I do not mind going through the motions and finishing the whole 10 steps, there are definitely days when all i wanna do is just make sure My Face is clean, devoid of make-up and just crash and sleep.

Miyu’s line up of there products are all infused with natural ingredients, with buckwheat sprout and chaga mushroom on top of the list and are said to be rich in anti-oxidants to help revitalize and brighten the skin.

The process begins with the Miyu Free Me Up 3-In-1 Whitening Cleanser with cleansing, moisturizing and whitening effect. Intended to remove make up residues, dirt and oil; this cleansing cream also moisturizes and whitens skin.

Step 2 is the Miyu Pore Me Down 3-In-1 Whitening Toner with toning, pore minimizing and Whitening effect.

Unlike other toners that stings upon application, this one is a lot milder (I still felt a slight tinge upon application), and there’s no strong smell. If you’d Love to have that smooth, glass-like, pore-less look that is so common among Korean celebrities – this might be the perfect tool to achieve the look.

Lastly, we have the Miyu Easy-Peasy Baby 3-In-1 Creme with SPF30 PA++ for whitening, protesting and moisturizing.

A small dollop can go a long way with this beauty creme – it feels a bit heavier compared with other Korean-branded creme; but In spite of that, there’s no sticky feeling after every use. The test sample I have from above seems a bit too much but I was just about to spread it so it doesnt look good on camera – but yes, a small amount really goes a long way.

I’ll share with you what I learned from watching all these K-beauty channels: apply on the face evenly; then spread by massaging your face in circular motions.

Typical of all Korean-made brands, Miyu comes in a cute packaging; with the colors pink and green giving off that strong Kpop girl group vibe.

These babies are exclusively distributed via Amway Philippines only and has recently marked its first year in the Philippjnes.

My verdict?

These babies are worth a try!

Retailing for PHP499 for the cleanser, PHP699 for the toner and PHP749 for the moistirizer – price points is a mix between the current selling price of other beauty brands in the market.

I will keep on using these to test their effectivity; but offhand- for the last three days, my face is less oily and more moisturised.

Product Review: Novelina Deep Sea Collagen Mask & CoEnzyme

We all have our guilty pleasures – bags, vices, that six-figure pair of shoes, a cartful of cosmetics and jewelleries.

Whatever that maybe – these guilty pleasures keep us sane, helps us relax and remains as our own dose of happy pill. In my case, my go-to mood booster is the so-called “Korean 10-step Face care process.” I get a kick out of all the cleansing, scrubbing, gentle messaging, slathering and the whole nine yards of Face care. The highlight for me is Always the part where I put on a Face mask; pop on to whatever Korean Variety show I a.m watching and just chill.

So, it’s not surprising that I have a ton of Face masks, of every variant, brand and sizes at home.

Some of My stash: Innisfree, Dermal, Farm Stay

I collect them how a 10 year old would collect his trading cards. So I a.m excited when I was asked to review two new face mask variants from skin care brand Novelina.

I first tried the Co-Enzyme Anti-aging & Age Defying Mask and here are My thoughts:

  • I Love that the smell is not too strong and not to cloying.
  • After taking off the mask sheet, I noticed that the essence (composed of Algae extract, fish scale collagen, Allantoin, among others) were not too sticky.
  • The mask did not dry out easily even after I left it on my Face for a long time.
  • Mask is sturdier compared to other brands; material is a bit thicker compared to those sold by Innisfree and Face Shop — however…
This Time using the Deep Sea Collagen Mask

I also find them too big.

And that’s my only problem with Novelina Face Masks – I don’t know what size they are based; but everytime I use it; I feel like a giant lumpia (spring roll) wrapper has been slapped on my face! The slot for the nose is too big; the slot for the mouth is on my chin and I keep on trying to adjust the holes that were supposed to be for my eyes!

But other than that, Novelina is a promising brand. I just tried the Deep Sea Collagen Mask and I love it. For one, it smelled better than the Co-Enzyme variant, and the essence is more watery, without any sticky residue.

Like always, I left the masks on for a good 10-15 minutes; washed it off with miscellar water and my Face felt immediately refreshed after. Skin also feels more supple and softer; just the perfect prep for the next skin care step. At this point, I would usually start massaging my go-to Laneige Face essence on my cheeks, forehead and crease line near the amount; moving on to the Eye essence before usually ending the whole thing with a slather of Nivea Face Creme.

Would I recommend the product?

If you’d like to add something new and different from your usual brands; you can give Novelina a try.

Both variants contain Collagen which is a known anti-aging Ingredient, while the glycerine component whitens, leading to fairer skin.

I a.m looking forward to trying this again – hopefully, by that Time, the size of the sheet masks have also been improved.

My no-make up; freshly-scrubbes; Face mask-pampered Face

Review: Music comes to life with JBL Charge 3


Like any kid who grew up in the 90s, I have a soundtrack for every moment of my life: as a teen attempting to run away from home after arguing with mom – “1979” by Smashing Pumpkins; seeing my name on print for the first time – “We are the Champions” by Queen; meeting the love of my life – “Stellar” by Incubus; trying to survive the daily grind at my 8 to 5 – “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster the People. 

In my head, the music is crisp, the lyrics very clear. And in every stage of my life, it’s the music in my head that always manage to get me out of sucky situations. Like a typical Gen-Xer, to me life is one big music video and we all have our respective soundtracks. But what if in real life, the music doesn’t translate as well as you’ve hope because you’re making do with a sub-par speaker? 


This is not a problem for JBL Charge 3, a portable, high-powered Bluetooth speaker that produces high quality stereo sound. I was lucky enough to be given an opportunity by Beyond Innovations to have a feel of this new device and to say I am excited is an understatement. 

Let’s talk about the hardware first. The Charge 3 is beautiful and understated. My unit came in matte gray and I love how it catches the attention without being too flashy. It’s just the right size and can be easily carried from my home to the office when needed. Because I wanted to check the Charge 3’s portability, I decided to bring it to the office. I wanted to see if it will be too tedious carrying the unit from place to place. At first, I tried bringing the whole box but quickly realized it’s a bit of a hassle, I decided to just bring my Charge 3 wrapped in a protective covering, with the charger safely stashed in my bag. 

Right from the time I took it out the box and paired it with my iPhone – my office mates were in love. What makes the JBL Charge 3 a good buy? Let me count the ways: 

  1. Eye Candy – As mentioned above, it looks good without being too flashy. 
  2. Portability – it’s shape allows it to be placed in one corner of the bag without getting squeezed or mushed through out the day 
  3. Sound Quality – the first thing you’ll notice as soon as the song starts to stream trough the Charge 3 is the distinct base sound. It’s loud without being hollow. Charge 3 delivers the bass with enough power even at low sound settings. It’s the perfect partner for weekend parties or outdoors activities. 
  4. Usability – it’s not hard to set up your Charge 3. You can easily pair it to your phone using its Bluetooth function. 
  5. Long battery life – I managed to use my JBL Charge 3 for three days without needing to recharge. It has long battery life and can even function as a power bank. 

Wait? Did I mention it’s waterproof? Yes, the Charge 3 is fully waterproof so you can use it even for pool parties and even to the beach. It’s the kind of gadget that you can bring everywhere without being too high maintenance. 

sourced from the JBL website


So, would I recommend that you get a Charge 3? If you love music as much as I do – then I would recommend that you invest in a Charge 3. It’s the kind of device that would look good on your bedside table or even in your living room, and will deliver the goods as expected. For a waterproof device that has superior sound quality and bearing the trusted JBL name, this is the kind of inveysment that you won’t regret. 

Right now, I am so in love with the Charge 3 that it’s getting heavy usage here at home. I am tempted to bring it again to the office but since it doesn’t have its own carrying case, I really don’t want to risk it considering the weather. Besides, I wouldn’t want management to think that our department has gone bonkers – with the sound quality it produces, I wouldn’t be surprised if the heavy rotation of Kpop and Incubus reaches the HR floor. 

Know more about JBL Charge 3, head to the Beyond Innovations Facebook page

Review: Delicious Diet PH (Calorie-counted meals delivery) 

As long time readers of this blog may know, one of my frustrations in life is my constant battle with the bulge. I used to be very skinny when I was in university but that went away when I started working.

I tried literally everything to lose weight. I signed up for a fitness program, I shunned rice and Coke but the results have been pretty unreliable for the start. I also tried  I will lose a pound or two only to regain twice of that. Desperate to regulate what I eat, I signed up for week’s worth of trial of Delicious Diet PH.

Delicious Diet PH is one of the emerging “nutritious food delivery” companies, an industry that has become ubiquitous lately. Perfect for busy bodies like me, these food delivery start-ups does not only assures me of the day’s grub, but also assures that I will be noshing on a healthy, delicious well-balanced meal. 

For example, my sedentary lifestyle dictates that I should b more partial to a 1,200 calorie diet. This is because my minimal physical activities dictates that my body can only burn a small amount of ingested calories. 

  

With Delicious Diet, the food is delivered fresh everyday, I think even before 8AM. Each pack is composed of your breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner each contained in a microwave-safe container. Breakfast is usually a choice of bread or a rice meal while lunch and dinner is usually organic rice and viand or pasta. 

Because of the erratic APEC week, my meals covered two weeks, with a few days picked in between weeks of Nov 16 to 20 and Nov 23 to 27. I open to have meals delivered in the office than at home. 

 

My meals for the first week included: 

  • Chicken tocino and organic rice; tofu steak served with organic rice for lunch (see above), a cookie and lastly, beef and  snow peas stir-fry with organic rice for dinner. 
  • Grilled vegetable sandwich, Lemon yogurt chicken and organic rice for lunch, Mississipi mud pie brownie and pan-grilled fish with soy ginger sauce with organic rice for dinner 

For the second week:  

 

with the to-die-for Mississipi brownies
 
 So, is having meals delivered worth it? Here’s a quick review: 

What I love about Delicious Diet: 

  • Prompt delivery – I go to work really late and have the food always ready for me 
  • Food is, indeed, delicious – I love the Tofu Steak and the stir-fries in their menu. However, I find the grilled chicken a bit bland. 
  • Their Mississipi brownie is to die for – this was one of the best brownies I tasted and would have loved to  buy these separately. The brownies are gooey and tasty. Perfect for afternoon tea. 
  • Serving size is  just right  to fill you up. 

Areas for improvement: 

  • I think there should be labels on the packaging on what we are eating or the day. I know there’s a menu published online but not everyone will revert to the DD Facebook page to check what they’re eating 
  • I wish their meals will have more vegetables – I am a big fan of crisp greens and that’s my usual comment whenever my meals arrive. 

Will I recommend Delicious Diet? 

Yes. It’s a good investment for your health. At PHP1,800 per week, it’s a nice thing to have especially if you’re trying to watch what you eat but don’t have enough time to prepare your own meals. 

Will I order again for the succeeding week? 

I am interested to order, but I am thinking about trying other calorie-counted meals delivery provider. Not because I don’t like Delicoous Diet but because I am curious to try out others for comparison purposes. 
Disclosure: this is not a paid post. I paid for my week’s worth of food delivery. 
  

Review: Asus X102B – Pretty on the outside, sluggish on the inside 

Trying to restart a career in writing means one must always have the tools of the trade at hand. With two laptops dying one after the other, I have no choice but to buy another one specifically for the sole purpose of blogging and writing. 

With a very specific purpose in mind, I embarked on a dedicated research for the best laptop/netbook which my very limited budget can get me. Endless research (read: mostly bugging one of my tech savvy friend) has lead me to the ASUS X102B. 

 

ASUS X102B is a ” full on Monet”

 

I am not a techie – my definition of high-tech is connecting a Bluetooth speaker to my iPhone, but the assurance of my tech-head guy friend is enough to convince me to buy. Now, I am not sure if it’s the laptop that’s a problem or me. 

On the outside: 

This thin netbook is a beauty. The metallic blue finish sets a nice background to the silver ASUS logo. Weighing at just 1.1kg, the thin body makes for a gadget that slips easily inside even the most compact of bags. I usually bring it to meetings with the WeKnow Creatives team and even when it’s stuffed my smallest shoulder bag, I can barely feel it’s weight. Supplementing the laptop is a charger that looks like it was built for a smartphone than a laptop. 

 

updating for eternity

On the inside 

 In my month of using the ASUS X102A, I have come to realize that this laptop is a “full-on Monet”, to quote the great Cher Horowitz (Clueless, 1996).  For those that needs brushing up on pop culture: 

Full-on Monet: Someone attractive from afar, but when you get close you see that said person is not as attractive as they appeared from a distance.

My love-hate relationship with this thing started from the minute I pressed the on/off button and started playing with its features. The track pad and screen is very sensitive which can lead to folders closed easily and emails delegated to the trash bin in one swipe of an errant finger. It can be sluggish and cannot accommodate growing on multiple opened tabs at the same time.  

While the feel of the keyboards is just the right fit for me, I hated that there are instances when keyboard response to typing is slow or way behind. Laptop also has tendency to hang. 

For streaming videos – which I do in the interest of my Korean dramas — streaming usually starts very promising that is, until a loud whirring noise will commence (while I panic). This will go on for 3 minutes before stopping abruptly, in which that danged laptop will again proceed to hang.  Which will lead me to restart the whole thing again. 

The problem is that usually, in 5 times out out ten, the laptop while try to update itself VERY SLOWLY, rendering it unusable. 

  
I have no idea what to do with this thing. I am thinking of luring my clueless techie guy-friend to coffee before asking him for help in making this thing work. Another option is to sell it – but thanks to this glowing review, I don’t think people will be inclined to purchase something that can cause headaches. 

Meanwhile, I am still tinkering with it – one because I really need to watch 2Days, 1Night and two, because I need to catch up on some writing. Ironically, blogging – which is the main reason why I bought “Monet” in the first place – is now done via my iPhone. Yeah, I know — ironic and pathetic at the same time. 
Tech Specs (lifted from Villman website)

AMD® Temash Dual core A4-1200 1.0 GHz Processor

Operating System: Windows 8

Memory: 2GB DDR3

Display: 10.1″ 16:9 HD (1366×768) LED Backlight Glare panel

Graphic: AMD Radeon® HD 8180G

Storage: 500GB 5400 RPM HDD

Card Reader: 2 -in-1 card reader ( SD/ SDHC/ SDXC/ MMC)

Camera: HD Web Camera

Networking: Integrated 802.11 b/g/n or 802.11a/b/g/n

Built-in Bluetooth™ V4.0 

10/100 Base T

Interface

1 x COMBO audio jack 

1 x VGA port/Mini D-sub 15-pin for external monitor

1 x USB 3.0 port(s) 

2 x USB 2.0 port(s)

1 x RJ45 LAN Jack for LAN insert 

1 x HDMI 

1 x SD card reader

1X AC adapter plug

Audio

Built-in Speakers And Microphone


(Review) The Lazada Online Shopping Experience in Five Easy Steps

I made a blog post earlier how the advent of technology has made life easier for us mere mortals who cannot afford a personal butler ala Bruce Wayne. I mentioned Lazada, currently the country’s online shopping site but I failed to disclose who easy the experience was.

Shopping is almost every woman’s favorite activity — there’s something about finding the dress, shoes, bag or gadget of your dreams, paying for it and bringing it home. What sucks about shopping though is usually associated with the inconvenience of doing is-especially during sales. 10 people deep in lines, the crowd, the pushing and the fight for the last remaining merchandise. Add to that long taxi lines (unless you have Uber or Grab) – it’s enough to dissuade even the most dedicated shopper to hit the malls.

Online shopping has been around since 1979 the year it was invented by British entrepreneur Michael Aldrich. From the complicated shopping system of the early years of technology, it has evolved into something quick, easy and convenient.

Personally, I hated dealing with complicated step-by-step processes which often involved a lot of numbers and placing of personal information. Lazada streamlines the process and make it less painful for its potential customers to finish a sale. Bottom line is — the easier it is to buy, the more likely it is that a person will push forward with a potential sale.

So, in need of “respectable” office shoes, I head over to the Lazada website and tried to see if there’s any footwear design that will catch my fancy. Unsurprisingly, there was one. Predictably, it’s Oxford shoes — the same type of shoes I have currently littering my closet.

Step 1: Search for what you like and read its background information

Oxford shoes. Again.
Oxford shoes. Again.

The fact that there are lace ups Oxford shoes in the mix significantly reduced my browsing time. I hated shopping for office shoes and do not own a single pair of heels. All my office shoes can be classified into three categories: Oxfords or Brogues, rounded ballet shoes or boots. The fact that I purposely do not confirm to the recommended office attire is my only display of office rebellion, bless my pathetic heart.

Step 2: Choose the item and complete your cart

Fill out your shopping cart
Fill out your shopping cart

lazada3

After choosing the items you want, you can fill up your shopping cart and move forward to continuing the purchase by completing your delivery details and other information needed in the material. I also bought a waist shaper because I am already sick and tired of my perpetually bloated belly. Maybe Kim K. is on to something with her waist trainer addiction. Anyway, once you have completed your cart, you will be asked to input if you have an existing Lazada account. You can also sign in using your Facebook account.

Step 3: Complete your shipping information

Make sure to put correct shipping address
Make sure to put correct shipping address

Step 4: Choose a Payment Option

Available payment options
Available payment options

Lazada’s strongest suit is the availability of many payment options for its customers. While there are people who don’t mind using their credit cards to pay for their online purchases, the availability of an option to pay “On Delivery” opens doors to many potential customers to try the website. Upon choosing your oreferred payment option, shopper just needs to click “Place Your Order” to finalize the sale.

In the Philippines, we should note that credit card penetration is the lowest, only 3 to 4% of the total population. The availability of the COD option already speaks to 96% of Filipinos who do not own a credit card.

Step 5: Shopping is done

Order confirmed
Order confirmed

That’s it — you’re done! Wait for the confirmation email to be sent by Lazada representatives to the email you provided. Save for the browsing aspect of shopping, the whole experience is relatively quick and very convenient. Instructions are simple and easy to understand.

I believe that online shopping is still in its infancy in the Philippines. While people buy stuff from online resellers like Facebook or Instagram, the threat from some unscrupulous buyers and sellers is more prevalent as compared to online shopping from a virtual mall like Lazada. The site’s best value proposition is assured security for its customers.

UPDATE

The items I ordered were delivered the next day, less than 24 hours after I have placed the order. The delivery came with a Return Form, for instances where item ordered has issues with size or with quality of shipment.

lazada8

For Returns, just drop off the shipment at LBC and inform the counter that the item is for Lazada.


Full disclosure:
This is not a paid post. However, this blogger was provided a voucher by Lazada in conjunction with its upcoming event. The voucher also intends to highlight and test ease of use of the site during purchase.

This post is written based on the blogger’s all biases and opinions.