September and October Good Reads

I didn’t get a whole lot of reading done last month, I didn’t do much reading this month either.  Sometimes, it’s just hard to concentrate on reading and I struggle to finish a book.  Also, I’ve discovered Adult Coloring and I’ve spent almost every night relaxing with some coloring books and colors.  I’m planning to review the ones I have next month.  Stay tuned!

Last month, I read Eleanor and Park.  If you grew up in the 80’s or 90’s, you will love this book by Rainbow Rowell.

It’s an unconventional, coming of age love story about full figured, red headed step child (Eleanor) and a half Asian kid (Park).  Set over the course of a school year in Nebraska, the two star crossed misfits struggle to figure out where they belong and end up finding comfort in each other.  Eleanor and Park reads like a classic love song, you know those “oldie but goodie” types where the music sounds familiar and it just makes you feel good.  Even if you don’t know all the lyrics, you turn it up when it comes on the radio, it still manages to touch your heart and transport you back to a memorable time and place, it just makes you feel.

The other book I read was Ugly Love by self-published author Colleen Hoover.  I love self-published authors.  One of the things I love about having an e-reader is that I discover self-published authors, ordinary people that wanted to tell a story, people that are talented storytellers but may not have been signed by any publishing house.  Colleen Hover self-published her first novel Slammed in 2012 and has had multiple New York Times bestsellers since then.  Love stories are my go-to for quick and easy reads, I finished this book in 3 days.  I like Hoover’s writing style, the way she told this story kept me interested and turning the page!

That’s it for September and October’s book review!  It was a slow couple of months but I hope to bring you more reviews next month, this is what I’m currently reading:

It’s coming out in theaters January 2016.  You probably notice a trend with my book choices, I love YA fiction (because I’m still a little girl inside), I like bestsellers, popular titles, so popular that Hollywood makes a movie out of it 🙂

Adult Coloring: My New Way to Unplug, Disconnect and Destress!

Let’s be honest, how many hours a day do we stare at a computer screen, lap top, tablet or a cell phone?  We spend a lot of time on electronics, too much time!  I’m always looking for other ways to occupy myself.  If you know me even a little bit, you know I love working out, camping or backpacking because these are activities that not only help to keep me physically and mentally active, but they are great stress relievers. I recently discovered a new hobby that has stress relieving qualities and I don’t have to get off the couch.  (This is great for my inner couch potato!)

I’ve recently taken on Adult Coloring!  You read that right: Adult Coloring, like coloring books for adults.  It’s simply the art of coloring just like we used to do as children.  I first heard about adult coloring on the news, it’s en vogue right now! Then, it came across on my Facebook feed when a friend of mine posted about getting a new coloring book and colored pencils.  I later stumbled on the actual coloring books at Target while searching for a new novel.  I flipped through the pages and was mesmerized by the beautiful mandalas, animals, flowers and other intricate abstract or geometric designs.

For my daughter’s birthday, she received some of these coloring books as gifts, and my eyes lit up like a kid on Christmas Day.  Adult coloring books have become a thing!  They’re all the rage, and for good reason.  According to the authors of one of my coloring books, adult coloring is a therapeutic and meditative way to relieve stress.  I totally agree! Coloring has a calming effect, it helps me to unwind, relax, and focus on nothing but filling beautiful images on a page with colors.  The best part is that coloring is an activity for everyone, there is no right or wrong way to color, there’s no “I don’t know how!” about it, everyone can color, you don’t even have to stay in the lines.  Adult coloring is accessible to anyone, there are even coloring clubs out there for people who want to color and socialize.  (My daughter and I color almost every night, yay for mommy / daughter time!)

This leads me back to the question I asked at the beginning of this post: How  many times a day do we reach for our electronic devices to check social media or play a game?  Look around in traffic, in a store, at the gym, at the doctor’s office…how many people are constantly attached to their cell phones?  What I love most about my new hobby is that it has kept me from looking at electronic screens.   (I was waiting in the dentist’s office the other day and there were 5 people on cell phones while I happily colored!)  Coloring is great to pass the time on a rainy, lazy day!

If you’re looking for a new hobby, craving a creative outlet while relieving stress at the same time, definitely check out adult coloring books.  Here are some pictures of my new coloring books and some beautiful pictures I’ve colored:

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Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Most Annoying Things on Facebook

Oh Social Media!!  What did we ever do without the ability to share and overshare on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter?  How did we ever keep up with all our friends, families, frenemies and all the trending topics of the world without the swipe and scroll of social media at our fingertips?

I love how Social Media has connected people around the world but there are certainly some Facebook Users, “friends” or posts that make us want to abandon social media all together.  Luckily, there are unfollow and hide buttons for that!  I read an article of the most annoying things on Facebook, I was surprised that I made this list more than once!  We all know them, we may even fall into these categories ourselves, we’re all guilty of commenting, posting or sharing something on social media that others may find annoying.  For this month’s Top Ten,  I’m writing about the Top Ten Most Annoying Things on Facebook, (I’m really just summarizing and paraphrasing the article I read, lol.)  Let’s laugh at ourselves a little bit!  I know I’ve done at least 3 or 4 of these things, how about you?

10. The Whiner / Complainer / Wanker – Oh woe is me!  Life is awful and every day is the worst day ever.  We all have a friend like this.  The one who can’t wait for Summer to arrive and when Summer comes, they complain about the air conditioning bill, but it’s way too hot to do anything outside.  These Debbie Downers just have a tendency to complain about everything and nothing can make them happy.  They may be on an amazing vacation, but they complain about it being the vacation from hell.  Sorry for the language but this E-card is hilarious and so applicable to our Debbie Downer friends, lol!

9.  “Everything is awesome!” Posts –  How is this annoying?  The only people that are annoyed by these types of posts are the Negative Nancies, see #1.  The complete opposite of the Debbie Downer posts are the “Everything is awesome” posts, these posts are about how fabulous peoples’ lives are.  I love these people, they’re my favorite friends.  Pictures of their cute kids on the first day of school (I do this every year!), flowers or gifts from their spouses “just because,” their homes look like they belong in the pages of a Better Homes and Gardens magazine, they travel the world and have cool jobs, pretty much the best lives ever.  We’re all a little jealous of these friends, their theme song in life should be “All I do is win!”  If you have an amazing, awesome life, like oh…say, Tom Brady, more power to you!

8.  The Selfie Kings and Queens – I love a good selfie!  Who doesn’t appreciate a good picture of someone that they took themselves?  Come on, there’s a selfie for everyone!  The mirror selfie, #ootd selfie, the gym selfie, the sweaty selfie or #swelfie, there’s also the selfie with a popular landmark, the “I’m doing something cool” selfie, messy hair selfie, #iwokeuplikethis selfie!  The Selfie has become such a huge cultural phenomenon, they created selfie sticks!  Here are some funny selfies I found online:


7.  Speaking in Hashtags – Notice all the hashtags in #3?  Sometimes, all of those hashtags are in one post or selfie!  Which leads me to another annoying thing on FB, speaking in hashtag!  I’m guilty of adding a hashtag, or two, or three in a post, but some people write a whole paragraph of hashtags in one post! #ridic #cantherebeanymorehashtags

Watch this Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake skit on hashtags!  #hilarious #lol

6.  The Constant Commenter / Liker / Sharer – I totally do this!  I like to comment and like stuff, lots of stuff!  It’s how I socialize, isn’t this social media after all?  I’ve liked and commented on every first day of school picture in my newsfeed this school year (You don’t want to leave anyone out!)  Sometimes though, I’m embarrassed for the constant “commenter/liker/sharer” because the post wasn’t a good thing, like RIP (Insert name of dog or cat here) someone’s dog died, and you obviously shouldn’t “like” that.

5.  Political Rants – Of course these are annoying because if you’re a Democrat, you’re annoyed by the Republicans and vice versa.  If you’re neither Republican or Democrat, then you’re annoyed with both, and if you’re clueless, then you’re just annoying.  Maybe I’m not brave enough, but I just think there are some things I shouldn’t talk about on Facebook.  It’s like that unspoken rule, there are three things you shouldn’t talk about with friends: money, politics and religion. Don’t get me wrong, I love posts that are informative and enlightening but Debbie Downer political rants are kind of annoying.  But you know, whatever!  It’s a free country! Here are some funny E-cards about this very thing:

4.  Photo Overkill – Fitness before and after photos, cute kids and pets photos, vacation photos, food photos.  Photo overkill, we get it, you look fantastic, your kids and pets are cute, and you’re a gourmet chef too?  Photo overkill!  (Totally guilty again 🙂

3.  Cryptic Messages – You’ve seen these messages.  You know, the ones that have just a few words, vague words like “Devastated” or “Feeling depressed.”  Cryptic messages are annoying, I’m the most curious and nosiest person ever so I’d be one of the friends commenting to ask “WTH happened?  Are you okay?  Is there something I can do to help?  Pleeease tell me what that cryptic message means!!

2.  Excessive Tagging – Have you ever been tagged on a post, or a picture and you weren’t even there?  Like dude, I wasn’t even there!

1.  Game or Random Event Invites – Please don’t send me any more Candy Crush invites, thanks!

Getting invited to random events

Which of these do you think is most annoying?  Better yet…which of these do you do that may annoy your friends???

Tales of Marathons Past

I woke up with this reminder today:

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Nothing like nearing the end of a countdown to jolt me into intense training mode. The Pensacola Marathon is now just weeks away, I have been training, and I’ve realized a couple of things this time around that didn’t occur to me before.

First, I’m not as young as I once was.  I’m 36 years old, and I really feel like I’m in the best shape of my life both mentally and physically, but that doesn’t mean my body doesn’t feel its age.  There are just more aches and pains now than there were before: knee aches, foot problems, etc.  I can’t push myself or push through the pain like I used to for risk of injuring myself further.  It’s true we only live once, but that also means we only get one body and I want to preserve mine just as much as I want to take care of it.  Luckily, there’s comfort in knowing I can run 13.1 miles, I’ve done it before, I can do it again.  I may not be as good as I once was, but I’m as good once as I ever was!

Second, humidity sucks!!  I’m not in Washington anymore.  Running in extreme heat is no fun, training in the humidity is worse.  88 degrees isn’t so bad right?  Think again, when 88 degrees actually feels like 98, then that’s different.  It’s normal to feel exhausted after a long run, but adding humidity takes dehydration and fatigue to a whole new level.  Exhaustion is magnified to the feeling of death in the form of a heat stroke!  I will have to keep this in mind when signing up for future races, so that the training is in the Fall with the race actually taking place in the beginning of the year for optimal conditions.

With the race being just a few weeks away, I can’t help but reminisce about previous half marathons to get into the racing spirit.  The Pensacola Half Marathon will be my fourth half marathon since I started running, that’s not very many so I still remember details of each race I ran.

The first time was special, and my favorite race.  In 2012, I signed up for the Bellingham Bay Half Marathon and ran with two good friends.  They had both ran half marathons before and probably could have left me in the dust, but we all ran together.  More women than men participated in this particular half marathon, there were thousands of participants for all the events, lots of people cheered on the runners, and the course took us through beautiful views of the San Juan Islands, North Cascade Mountains and Bellingham Bay.

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My second and third half marathons were in good ol’ Oak Harbor in Whidbey Island, Washington.  Runners from all over the Pacific Northwest come to Whidbey Island to run the Whidbey Island Marathon or Half Marathon event.  If it’s known for anything, it would be the magnificent Deception Pass Bridge, where the full marathon runners start the course.  (I have not run a full marathon but if I ever do, I’d want to run this one!)  Another thing this race is known for the hills!  Hills, hills, and more hills!

I’ve run the Whidbey Island Half marathon twice and each race was a different experience.  The first time I ran in in 2013, it rained for the first couple of hours, and it was cold!  Many locals who run this race year after year, said rain and cold is much better than the cold and wind they experienced in previous years.  The second time I ran in 2014 was probably the most fun I had at a half marathon, the weather was great, I incorporated boot camp style training in my work out which really helped me improve my time, I was 8  minutes faster!  I’m still really slow but to improve from my previous two races was gloriously gratifying!  Here are some pictures of the 2013 and 2014 Whidbey Island Half Marathon races:

  

There’s a saying that has circulated in the running or fitness community that goes something like “Don’t think about how far you have left to go, look at how far you’ve come!”  With a little over one month left before another half marathon, another race to earn a new race shirt and medal, it’s nice to look back and see where my running journey started for added motivation.  It still amazes me that race fever doesn’t ever subside. I feel as much excitement for this race that I did for my first, the fire for running still burns fiercely!

Have you run a marathon or half marathon?  Are you maybe training for a running event?  Share a memory of a time you’ve run a race!  🙂

Jaye’s Anatomy: Backpacker

If you’ve followed this blog in its short existence (not that I expect you to), you’ve read that I’m from Washington, and the things that top my list of what I miss most about the Evergreen State are the mountains, hiking and backpacking opportunities that we don’t get in Florida or anywhere in the South.

I can’t remember when I fell in love with hiking and backpacking.  I’ve always loved nature and the outdoors, so when I started leading a more active and fit lifestyle, hiking naturally became a favorite activity, and from that came the love for backpacking.  What I love about hiking compared to organized activities is that anyone who wants to can hike, no experience needed, all you have to do is take the first step.  Hiking has given me a deeper appreciation for the simpler things in life that we take for granted: clean air, our environment, nature, being disconnected and unplugged from electronics.

For this episode of Jaye’s Anatomy, I’m sharing how I discovered my inner outdoorsman, how we started backpacking, as well as my favorite hikes and backpacking trips.

If I had to credit the one hike that really piqued my interest and led me to pursue hiking as a hobby, it would have to be Hawaii’s Koko Head.  Truth be told, it’s not much of a hike but a strenuous workout, with a gorgeous view at the end.  It’s not even a mile long (0.7 mile) or 1,048 steps, but it rises 1200 feet in elevation, making for a super steep vertical climb.  The reward is a beautiful, breathtaking view of Hanauma Bay!  Here are a few pics of our hike up Koko Head in 2012.

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1,048 steps rising 1200 feet in elevation in less than 1 mile.

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Koko Head led my husband and I to pursue hiking in Washington.  The first of these were day hikes in our area, one memorable one was Oyster Dome, a very popular hike in Bellingham, WA.  Oyster Dome is a nice 6.5 mile out and back trail with switchbacks and a 1,900 feet ascent that leads to the Bat Caves and gorgeous views of the San Juan Islands.  This is the first hike that really took us high above the treeline and gave us a real sense of the phrase “The world is your oyster!”  This hike is kid and dog friendly too 🙂  Check out these views from the top:

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After Oyster Dome, we started to take on more challenging hikes in our area, more mileage and higher elevation, here are a couple favorites:

Mount Constitution, highest point in the San Juan Islands, WA.
Dean, almost to the top of Mount Pilchuck.
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Mount Pilchuck

Miles of hiking later, Jeremy wanted to do an overnight backpacking trip.  Initially, the thought of being isolated in the woods, far from our vehicle, exposed to the elements and wild animals with just the gear on our backs scared me, what if we freeze to death? or encounter bears?  I agreed to go camping instead, but what does my husband do to warm me up to the idea of backpacking?  He tells me to research the best backpacking gear so we can go shopping!  How can I resist shopping? Many trips to REI and Cabela’s, and hundreds of dollars later, we were fully equipped.  We had everything we needed, all that was left was to pick a place!  For our first backpacking adventure, Jeremy didn’t pick one for lightweights.

Marmot Pass in the Olympic National Forest was 12 miles round trip with 3,000 feet elevation gain for some of the most majestic views in the Pacific Northwest.

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More trips followed after this, and there will be many more to come.  Here are a few pictures of our most recent backpacking adventure on the Appalachian Trail in Georgia:

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We meet some interesting people on the trail!  On our last trip, we met a family from Germany,  a guy who has thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail and will soon hike the Continental Divide Trail, that’s nearly 8,000 miles!!  He even has a trail name!  “Smokes” and his sweet friend Carolina, were fellow veterans who love backpacking as much as we do, Carolina’s Instagram page features some really impressive destinations (that have me drooling)!

So many hikes, so little time!  We can’t wait until we get back out West where hikes are closer and more plentiful.  I’d really love to hike Mt. Rainier, Machu Picchu and anything in Utah someday!  Are you a hiker or backpacker?  What are some of your favorite destinations?  What’s on your bucket list?

August’s Good Reads

I read some good books this month.  I’ve found that I’ve been trying to choose more popular titles so I can see what everyone is talking about.  If people are raving about something, I have to know why!  That brings me to the first book I read…

Me Before You is by British author Jojo Moyes.  The story is about Will and Louisa, Will lost his zest for life after a terrible accident, and Louisa is hired to be his caretaker.  These two couldn’t be more opposite and in the course of their developing friendship, they change each other’s lives.  I will have to warn you that the cover of this book doesn’t do it justice.  This isn’t a love story, it’s not lighthearted or a fun read like the cover suggests.  Me Before You tackles very sensitive subject matter, I won’t spoil it for you but to say that it will definitely pull at your heartstrings and might possibly have you ugly crying by the end!  I liked this book, I like anything that has me reading with accents in my head and saying things like “arse, bugger, bloody hell, cheerio and wanker!”  What I loved most about this book were the lessons: Live boldly, push yourself, don’t settle!  This book was so popular it was made into a movie that cast none other than Emilia Clarke, AKA The Mother of Dragons from one of my favorite television shows, Game of Thrones.

After reading that, I needed something that wasn’t so heavy…

I went for bestselling author Mary Kubica’s “Pretty Baby,”  a follow up to her first successful title “The Good Girl.”  This psychological thriller is about a chance encounter between a woman who helps a young homeless girl with a baby, and the situation spirals out of control.  Because I’ve read thousands of books, I was able to predict the ending.  I liked the complex characters and writing style, the story unraveled too slowly for me, but this was still a very well written story with a tightly knit plot.

This is how I read nowadays:

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I’ve only read school books for the better part of three years, so I’ve gotten efficient at skimming through chapters and scanning main points, I have such a difficult time concentrating.  I wear ear protection and drown out the sound around me! 🙂

The third novel I read was another new author to me, Cara Buckley.  In “The Things That Keep Us Here,” Buckley delves into a post pandemic world, and tells the story of a family’s plight to survive after the Bird Flu slowly wipes out the population.   This book was thought provoking, and it makes me wonder what I would do in those real situations of fear and paranoia.  I’ve read many kinds of apocalypse themed novels and this had potential to be a great read, it wasn’t my favorite but many might find it interesting and it’s certainly is worth reading!

The last, and my favorite for last month is “The Royal We.”

 

If you like the Royal Family, you’ll be delighted with this Wills and Kate fan fiction! This was a light and easy, funny read (and I got to read in a British accent again!). The Royal We is about an American college girl that becomes an exchange student at Oxford, befriends and falls in love with the heir to the British throne.  The supporting characters are much like their real life counterparts, they are well developed and the story isn’t a far stretch from what life would be like, or maybe what life is like for Wills and Kate, or other famous celebrities.  This is like Princess Diaries reimagined, but for adults.  Since I’m a fan of pop culture and a lover of the Royals, I enjoyed this book.  Although, if I may recommend a similar book, I read Suddenly Royal by Nichole Chase a couple of years ago and liked that one much better:

I’m taking book recommendations!  What are you reading ?

Top Ten Tuesday: Uniquely Filipino

I’ve been reminiscent of the Philippines lately, missing family and just the Motherland in general.  Call this a Top Ten Things I love about being Filipino or what I miss most about the Philippines.  This is a blog that had to be written!  For this month’s Top Ten Tuesday, I’m writing about things that are “Uniquely Filipino.”

10.  Big Families – It doesn’t matter if you’re an only child, if you’re Filipino, you’re part of a big family.  Your cousins, cousins twice and thrice removed, neighbors and in-laws are just like your immediate family (sometimes you’re all even living under one roof, no joke!).  There’s nothing like the unconditional, limitless, love from those that share your blood and name, but blood and name aren’t the only things that make a family.  In the Philippines, everyone that attends one of your parties is an Auntie or Uncle, lol!  I miss my BIG family.

9.  Public Transportation – In the Philippines, you don’t need to own a vehicle to get around.  Most people get around using public transportation.  The Philippines has the most varied types of transportation available and accessible to everyone, of anywhere I’ve ever been.  I’m not talking about buses or taxis, I mean jeepneys, tricycles, kalesa, and even three wheeler bikes called “pedicabs.”  Check these out:

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The “jeepney” is a colorfully decorated jeep-like vehicle that seats anywhere between 6 to 20 people and since they don’t go very fast, and they typically have fixed routes, people hang on the back of them, it’s all good!

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“Kalesa” or horse drawn carriage in the Philippines.

8.  Street Food – Asian countries have the best street food, and of course I’m biased but I think the Philippines has the best street food there is.  Sweet potato fries, sweet corn, grilled meats of all kinds, beverages like coconut juice and soda in a plastic bag, and there are also plenty of “exotic” or “authentic” varieties to choose from.  Breakfast, lunch or dinner, you can find street food for any meal!

7.  Fresh Food – “Farm to table” isn’t just a recently coined cool phrase .  In the Philippines, it’s a way of life.  I don’t really remember going to the grocery store for food shopping trips in the Philippines, instead we went to the market (called “Palengke”), everything was fresh from the farm, the sea or freshly picked off the trees.  If I wanted papaya, avocado or mango, I just went to someone’s house.  We had a papaya tree in the front of our house, our neighbor had an avocado tree and I recall there’s always someone I knew that had a garden of peppers or other fresh ingredients.

6.  Terms / Greetings of Respect – In the Philippines, there’s a term of respect for everyone: an older sibling, elders, employers, teachers, and other authority figures.  There is also “mano po” a tradition, or custom used in greeting any of those figures.  Think of it as a bow in Japan, it’s a gesture rooted in respect and adds formality.  “Mano” is a greeting where one takes the back of  an elder’s hand lightly to their forehead, it’s a sign of respect taught to children as young as babies.

Mano Po

5.  Household Help – It’s not uncommon for average, or even lower income families to have an abundance of household help in the Philippines.  Everyone needs to make a living, and household help was inexpensive.  An average family may have: housekeepers, maids, nannies (yaya), gardeners, or drivers.  They’re technically employees but some people stay with families so long, they become extended family.  I remember in college we had help in the house, even my son Dean experienced having his own nanny. When he first returned to Washington, he would often tell me “I miss Ruby!” (his yaya).

4.  Food Delivery – This is different from street food, vendors actually ride or carry their load around in neighborhoods and call out “tahoooooo” (fresh silken tofu with tapioca beads in a vanilla flavored beverage).  In the Philippines, the food comes to you, kind of like the ice cream man.  Common food vendors that roam the neighborhoods are ice cream, pan de sal, halo halo or balut.  All I have to do is bring out my tall glass or dish, and pay!

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3.  Multi-lingual people – In the Philippines, Filipinos are at the very least, bilingual.  Some know more than two languages because the Philippines has many different regions that have their own dialect.  In most schools and businesses, English is taught and widely used.  Filipino or Tagalog is considered the national language.  I can speak three languages fluently. Well, technically, I can speak English and two Filipino dialects. The coolest thing about being multi-lingual in the Philippines is that it’s totally possible for two Filipinos to be speaking in their own dialect, and others won’t understand them at all!

2.  Filipino Food – Okay, I’m going back to food again.  I can’t help it, it’s such a huge part of our culture, it’s hard to ignore.  I never met anyone who didn’t love a lumpia.  Lumpia is basically a Philippine eggroll and everyone loves them.  The one thing a Filipino will be requested to bring to any pot luck is lumpia and trust me, they’re always gone within minutes so you have to bring a thousand.  There’s vegetable lumpia, lumpiang Shanghai (meat and veggies) and even banana lumpia. Be you a vegetarian, a vegan, paleo lover, there’s a lumpia for everyone.

1.  Filipino Mafia – It really exists.  A Filipino can go anywhere in this world, and they will most likely meet other Filipinos that will adopt them into their fold.  We’re clannish that way.  A Filipino will seek out other Filipinos in their community, or their place of work almost like it’s a gravitational pull.  I learned this on board an aircraft carrier when I served in the Navy.  Filipinos stick together, and it was almost like being part of an exclusive club that helped “hook me up” because someone knew someone who could get my laundry done when laundry was closed, or someone who could get me rice when the galley wasn’t even serving it.  I mean, people in general tend to stick with those they lots in common with, but being Filipino in a foreign country is like a badge of honor.

Washington is home because it’s where the Navy sent us for most of Jeremy’s Navy career.  Ultimately, home is where our little family is, but the Philippines will always have half of my heart and I’m so proud to call it home too!  I wish it were easier to fly to the Philippines and spend time with my family.  For now, I will reminisce about how great it will be to finally go on vacation to the Philippines…one day!!

Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall!

Kids across the nation are starting school.  Summer is coming to a close, soon Fall will be here!  Fall is my favorite season, pumpkin flavored everything, leaves changing colors, the cool, crispness of sweater weather, football season, and the official beginning of the holidays.

Some parents are sad about summer ending, we all enjoy lazy summer days with no routine, no shuffling kids to and from activities, and just simply having your kids at home!  While we enjoyed the summer, I’m personally so relieved the kids have gone back to school.  (I wanted to do a happy dance or throw a party when both kids loaded onto the bus and drove off!)

I found these hilarious memes that I know many parents can relate to:

Dean will be a sophomore this year, and Cienna will start third grade!  Time sure does fly.  We had a great summer, we spent lots of quality time together as a family and the kids learned some life skills too!

We spent some time at the beach…

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We were at the pool almost every day!  Cienna learned to swim, and passed her deep end test!

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Dean got his permit in May, Jeremy and I have been teaching him to drive.

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The highlight of our summer was a trip to visit family in Tennessee.  We spent the weekend on the lake, boating and just hanging out with family.

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Jeremy and I were also able to spend a weekend in New Orleans for a mini vacation.

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Hope everyone had a wonderful summer, but I’m one happy Mama that my kids are back in school! Here were their bright and shiny faces from this morning when I snapped the obligatory “back to school” picture:

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DIY Wedding Ideas

The one thing I’ve (re)learned about planning a wedding is how expensive weddings are!  Even though I’m only planning my sister’s wedding, and not paying for it, I still want to help them save money and stick to a budget.  As my sister and I have been tackling the wedding planning checklist, we go over needs vs. wants, and try to come up with ideas to save on expenses.

In the age of the internet, social media, YouTube tutorials and hashtags, there are so many Do-It-Yourself wedding ideas out there.  Pinterest alone can show you a plethora of things you can do with a mason jar!  If you’re a little crafty, creative, and have the time, there are ways to save money by doing things yourself! 🙂

When discussing what my sister envisioned for her flower girls, I recommended tutu skirts.  I got this idea from a friend who got married a few years ago, her flower girls were the cutest little things in their fluffy, blush pink colored tutu skirts!  I looked them up online, and found that tutu skirts are actually a pretty common alternative to traditional flower girl dresses, and just as beautiful (if not more)!  Initially, we thought we would order a skirt for Cienna who will be a flower girl. Then I got to thinking that with plane tickets, hotel stays, rental cars and other expenses, wouldn’t it be nice to make one and save money?  (I’m a planner, a saver and I’m pretty crafty, I can figure this out!)  Check out these cool videos I found on YouTube on how to make a tutu, here!

Cienna is technically old enough to be a Junior Bridesmaid, but tutu skirts can be worn by younger or older girls.  Either long or short, what I love is that they’re simple yet very beautiful!  How pretty are these flower girls?!


     

So, with plenty of time before the wedding, I wanted to make sure I could pull this off.  It’s one thing to do a little research, but what if I make something that ends up looking atrocious?  Lol!  I ordered the materials and got to work…

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Getting started!
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First layer done, working on the second layer.

I won’t spoil the fun and post a picture of the final product, or any pictures of Cienna trying it on, you guys will have to stay tuned for future blog posts, but here is a picture of the *almost* finished product:

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Almost done, will probably add some ribbon, maybe another layer?

This is a no-sew tutu skirt, I didn’t need any special tools or materials, just the tulle fabric, crochet headband, a ruler and some scissors.  It took about two to three hours to make because I was being extra careful, and trying to make it perfect!  At first, this was just a project to see if it would turn out, and I’m so pleased with the results. The best part is that they were inexpensive to make.  With less than $50, I made two and a half skirts!  There will be three flower girls so I’ll need a little more material to make the last one.  Now, we just need to find a good top to go with it.  I would recommend these cute tutus not just for weddings, but for birthdays, or for costumes too!  No need to spend a lot of money ordering one, this is a very easy and fun project you can do with your special little girl, just Do-It-Yourself!

Jaye’s Anatomy: Fitness Routine

Welcome to my first “Jaye’s Anatomy” blog post! 🙂  (Corny title, but hey, it’s catchy!)  Once a month, I’m going to do a post that will give you a peek into my personal life.  It will be anything from what brands I love, television shows I watch, what I’m reading or working on, about my family, just a little something on “what makes up Jaye.”

I got this idea from another blog (one of my favorites) that I follow.  I’m so surprised at what I learn from people’s blogs, specifically about their personal experiences.  Anything from housekeeping stuff, cooking, baking, parenting, or about fitness.  If reading this helps anyone learn something new, then my writing would have served a purpose.

Today I’m sharing my fitness routine.  First, I want to say that I am NOT a professional fitness person.  I have no expert knowledge on any specific discipline, if anything, I’m profoundly average!  I’m merely sharing my personal experience on stuff that I’ve tried and what works for me.   Fitness is such an important part of my life, it’s not about a desire to look a certain way or be a certain number, it’s simply about being healthy and FEELING good.  Anyone who’s active in their fitness journey can attest to the fact that Fitness is like “the gift that keeps on giving.”  <<– One of my best friends Lori shared that idea with me, and it’s been my mantra ever since.  When you’re physically fit, you’re more mentally fit, and when you’re mentally fit, you’re more spiritually fit, you’re a better mom, or a better wife, a better student or employee (not necessarily in that order), and it just goes on and on!  All I’m trying to be is the best version of myself.

So, here’s my fitness routine:

Monday: I do a group fitness class called Body Pump, it’s my favorite class.  It’s a full body, strength training class that gets you lean and toned.  I love this class because it isn’t about how much weight you can lift or squat, but more about the reps.  One full session consists of around 800 repetitions, and you burn a ton of calories.

This is what a Body Pump class might look like, and this picture shows why I love it.

Let me let you in on a little secret, I’m really not that motivated.  Showing up to a class is the extent of my motivation.  When I get to class, I get more motivated by the people, the instructor, the music.   So, since I’m already there, then I’ll do the work!  No one wants to be the one at the gym who showed up to a class then half asses everything, if I show up, I might as well use my full ass, lol! 🙂

I found this and had to share, so funny!

Tuesday: Cardio!  On Tuesday I’ll do a short run (3-4 miles).  Lately, I’ve been running on a treadmill because of the heat and humidity, but I’ll be back outside soon!

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Wednesday: Cardio and PiYo.  I start Wednesdays with a 2-3 mile warm-up run, followed by a PiYo class.  I discovered PiYo about a month ago, it’s awesome!  It’s a fusion of Pilates and Yoga, and I’ve found that doing this instead of Body Pump twice a week has helped with my knee issues.  It’s low impact, high intensity and such a challenge (I was dripping with sweat)!  If you want a class where you’re constantly moving and using all your muscles, try this!  PiYo builds strength, flexibility and has the Yoga benefits of stretching, in one class.

This is what a PiYo class might look like.

Listen, when you click on the links for Body Pump or PiYo, you’re going to see some extremely fit and sculpted people.  It’s intimidating, but a real class will have real people of all ages, shapes and sizes.  The classes I go to are for all fitness levels, and what I love most about classes is that I’m joining a group of like-minded people, with similar goals, it’s an environment conducive to accomplishing those goals, because “success breeds success!”

Thursdays and Sundays are my rest days.  Rest is just as important as working out, sometimes when I’m lazy, rest is the thing that motivates me to get the workout done!

Friday: Cardio or PiYo or both!

Saturday: Saturdays I work out with Jeremy and Dean, it’s our “long run” day.  Jeremy will probably run 8 miles, I’ll run like 4.5 in the same amount of time, then we’ll do abs or another body part.  Remember what I said about like-minded people and success breeds success?  I’m lucky to have a partner (and friends) that share the same passion for being fit and healthy, it makes it so much easier to stay on track!  A bonus?  When we go to the gym, Dean wants to come too, we’re showing him how to take care of himself by example (The gift that keeps on giving!).

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#thecouplethatrunstogether #gymbuddy #swolemate #teammoncier
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Me: Come on, flex your muscle!   Jeremy: Umm…no!  Take the picture! LOL!

That’s what my weekly work out routine looks like.  Some might say, they simply don’t have time to work out.  I get it, we all have different things to fill our time with: jobs, kids, homework, etc.  It’s hard.  But…everyone has the same amount of time, we all get 24 hours a day!  We have to SET (not make or find time, *set*) time to spend on ourselves, 30 minutes or one hour, walk, run, whatever, make time for yourself!

Again, I’m not an expert on fitness, just sharing a piece of my journey, paying forward the same thing I’ve gotten from others, it’s a cycle… “The gift that keeps on giving!”