Beautifully Local: Méräki Leather Artisanal

If you asked me years back if I liked leather or not, my answer would’ve been “not so much”. I used to see it as a material fit for grandpas, boring corporate people, and prissy high-end wanna-be’s. Most of the people I’d met in the past saw owning leather as something that made them superior to everyone else, and it sickened me. People can be grossly full of themselves at the worst of times.

Putting that aside, I never really thought of leather as an investment until I met people who made a living out of creating leather goods. It didn’t occur to me that leather was a tough yet delicate material to work with, and that alone brought value to the table.

That being said, I’ve become more and more in favor of owning leather goods for mostly two reasons. One, leather has a very versatile look, meaning you can pair it with anything in your closet. From a rugged street style to a corporate attire, leather fits right in. Two, it really is an investment to own leather, and those with an eye for these kind of things will realize what you’re all about. They’ll know you’re not playing around.

(The owners of the brand I’ll be featuring are my friends, but all opinions on this post will be honest and entirely mine. This isn’t a sponsored post either; I just really want to spread the fact that there’s a cool, local brand that makes quality leather goods.)

Their super cute passport holder!

Méräki Leather Artisanal is a new brand that makes leather goods (wallets, passport holders, coin purses, etc.) that are affordable, functional, and chic. Their products have had iterations based from feedback of their friends, buyers, and connections, and they’ve definitely become better at addressing their customers’ needs.

A nice thank you card they've included to show their appreciation of your support. Honestly, LOVE.

While they have pre-made leather items in their store, they’re also open to customs (which I love). If you've got a friend who already has everything, you can give them a leather custom with an engraving of their name and make them feel extra special. Who doesn't love an item made especially for them?!

Yes, leather looks beautiful. That doesn't mean the process is as elegant as the end result is. From our conversations, they've shared how painfully meticulous stitching has to be, just to make sure that it's both sealed properly and still looks tasteful. They've even mentioned a time one of them was accidentally stabbed while engraving a piece! Yikes. One of them also tried creating calligraphy using the engraving pen. Just thinking about having to create those lovely flourishes and lines on leather with a hot pen is making me cringe. Working with leather is definitely an ordeal.

Not all local brands are awesome (let's be real here), but those that are deserve more than just a shout-out. Let's support local brands as much as we can. Don't ask for discounts just because you're friends with them or because you feel that they're merely "local". If they're your friends, you should know the value of supporting them all the more!

I've had people come to me asking for free design because "it's just a hobby" or "it's just drawing". People like that don't deserve a spot on my friends list. If you think it's really that easy, do it yourself!(Sorry for the sudden bitter sentiment. I'm moving on, haha.)

That doesn't mean you can't give feedback though, as constructive criticism will help them improve. Just make sure you're commenting out of desire to help, not because you're trying to bring them down.

If you're all for supporting local brands and would love to have something custom-made (or just buy leather items), do check out Méräki Leather Artisanal on Facebook and Instagram. Spot their website as well and see more of their products!

The Indy Miss Podcast

Hey guys! Oh my - I know it's been a long time since I posted, but with everything that's happened, I'm hoping to be forgiven (pretty please?). This is a special post because after years of thinking about creating one, I finally have a live, working podcast! I could scream right now.

Browse all streaming options here: LINK

What's the history?

Ever since college, I've always expressed  to my friends my desire to come up with a podcast for my brand. Back then, I was worried about what I could talk about, if I could actually commit to coming out with something weekly, and if I had the time to keep going at it.

When I graduated in 2015, I again had the urge to pursue this goal, but I never got around to it. I got a job, became busy trying to up my graphic design skills for the corporate world, and doing workshops. It was a great year for me too, and this idea was sent to the back of my mind.

Come 2016, I stumbled upon an amazing set of podcasts (blogged about it here: 5 Podcasts You Should be Listening To), and my desire was rekindled. I didn't have the equipment though, so again, I put it on the back-burner that year.

The year 2017 came around, and I finally bought a decent microphone setup (thanks to a very generous sponsor!). I proceeded to do covers and record my own compositions, but I didn't think about podcasting at all that year.

Okay, so what happened next?

It was early 2018 that everything made sense to me. This year, I knew I couldn't keep holding off my idea any longer, so I started turning some posts on this blog into podcast episodes, starting with "A Quick Guide to Long Distance Relationships". That first episode got SO MANY VIEWS that I knew I wanted to keep pursuing this new path.

I got a lot of audio comments in my inbox from my listeners who said they've learned so much from it and they were thankful for having a podcast like mine. My heart swelled. I knew I've always wanted to help people improve themselves and their relationships, and to have a channel that reaches beyond my own country is amazing.

Within two months of the podcast being live, I got sponsored by Audible (get your free 30-day trial and a free audiobook!), and now, I'm sponsored by Shopify as well (get a 14-day free trial now and explore Shopify)!

So what's the podcast about?

Starting that podcast last March was the best decision I've ever made. More than that, it allowed me to share tips for people in relationships, people who are single, those who want to try public speaking but are scared, designers who need additional help - anyone who wants to better themselves can learn from The Indy Miss podcast.

Here are a few topics out of the 21 episodes already available:

(I've long wanted to blog about this, but again, my work load got the better of my time. I now wish I'd blogged about it sooner, but we're here now.)

Where can I stream this?

My podcast is available on 9 platforms, which is CRAZY (haven't gotten the link to Overcast yet)! There are links on the right, or you can click any of the links below:

Choose your platform and listen away!

What else should I expect?

I release episodes twice a week, every Monday and Thursday morning, but sometimes, if it's an episode that I really feel like sharing mid-week, I release a bonus episode.

There will be a lot more topics surrounding self-improvement and relationships, and the occasional tech-related topic (without being too technical that the general public won't relate to it).

I'm also open for suggestions, so please leave a comment if you'd like to propose anything.

I'm so happy to be able to share my podcast to everyone, and I hope to keep getting better and write more relatable episodes! There's LOADS more to come, so follow or subscribe to the podcast on your favorite streaming platform!

Until the next post, loves!

5 Benefits of Having a Long-term Lover

Being in the right relationship offers a whole lot of possibilities for both individual growth and growth as a couple. It also offers the comfort of knowing each other like two peas in a pod, and there’s no longer moments where you’re uncertain about what the other has to offer. As someone’s who’s lucky enough to be in such a relationship, I’ve listed down a few insights on why having a long-term lover has quite a few benefits.

1. When you sleep together, you can actually sleep.

Though it’s always such a fun time between the sheets, there are other moments when you just want to cuddle and relax peacefully beside them. I’ve found that when you’re new in a relationship, you tend to want physical activities more and leave rest for when you’re really incredibly super tired.

Being with a partner for a long time means you don’t have to always give in to what they want, and the other person understands and respects that. From the relationships some of my friends have had, most have found it difficult to say no to sexual encounters, simply because they’re a new couple and are still trying to understand how the other responds to different things. This brings me to point number two.

2. There are no ‘between-the-sheets’ surprises.

Surprises can be good or bad, but when it comes to bedroom activity, keeping those to a minimum when you’re a new couple is usually the way to go. With long-term partners, there’s really no need to fear what they’ll do to you under the sheets.

Sure, they could mix things up once in a while, but since they know what you like and how you like it, your partner won’t introduce a new activity they know you wouldn’t like. If you’ve been a couple for a while, nothing really can surprise you negatively anymore. You won’t have to ask the “you want me to do what?!” question at them anymore too, and suffer awkwardness after.

3. You can share your fantasies with them - and maybe act out a few as well.

When you have a long-term lover, nothing is taboo anymore, and I mean it. Everything you want and have ever dreamed of doing within the four corners of your bedroom (or anywhere really) is no longer a shock to your partner. If you’re both open about each other’s needs, the other will understand your motivation for wanting certain things.

If you’re both game, chances are, you’ll both be willing to act out a few of your fantasies and help your relationship become more intimate, not just physically but emotionally as well. Most of us don’t like bringing up our deepest desires as it makes us fragile and prone to abuse, but with the right, long-term partner, this is no longer a fear.

4. When you’re in the mood for some action, you know how to get it from them.

As you’ve been together for *so* long, the guessing game of ‘how can I make him touch me’ or ‘is he in the mood right now’ is a thing of the past. There’s no need to overthink “strategies” or fool around just so you can figure out how to get him under the sheets. Whether you’re in the mood for calm loving or destroy-the-house sex, a long-time partner will be able to read that. Sometimes, only a stare or an ‘accidental’ undie-slip is needed to get the party started.

5. You don’t think they love you - you KNOW it.

The best feeling in the world is knowing that the people you love love you back. The second-best feeling is being certain that they *do* adore and love you as much as you think they do.

Being part of a long-term relationship has made me realize that love really does stand the test of time. In the early stages, it’s common to feel lost and unsure of things, because you’ve both come from different situations. You’re trying to build a relationship together and complement each other because of love. n’t easy, and maintaining one isn’t a walk in the park either. It takes not only love, but patience, understanding, respect, and trust to keep the relationship afloat.

5 Things Women Could Learn from Men

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most (if not all) women have ‘standard’ attitudes that only differ in intensity. I’m also quite sure that men also have a common denominator with one another, and they’re most probably a little more chill than us women.

Now, I’ve been surrounded by strong men my whole life, and I’ve picked up a thing or two from hanging out with them. Some of those things are what most women don’t seem to get, as we do have our own way of dealing with certain situations. However in this case, I think we could learn some points from men - and reduce overthinking in the process.

If you're more of an audio consumer, you're in luck 'cause this post has been converted into a podcast! Access the audio version here and see other episodes, or just click 'play' below! Happy listening!

1. When business is just that, and nothing else.

Ladies, let’s not get carried away and assume that every other woman who our man mingles or spends time with is their side-chick. Nothing irks a man more and makes him want to ‘rebel’ in a relationship than when you decide to pester him about a ‘woman from work’.

Yes, not all women are decent enough to back off when a man already has a partner, but we have to be sure. Aren’t women accustomed to a little ‘investigating’? We can be focused and incredibly intelligent when we set our mind to something, so instead of falsely accusing your man and denting your relationship, do a background check. Observe. Play along. Chances are, if you know your guy well enough, you’ll pick up hints that will determine if he’s cheating or not.

Saying that, I don’t mean for you to endure that nagging, uncomfortable feeling. Talk to your guy first and get *his* side. Like I always say: there’s no need to escalate things to a fight if it can be resolved through talking about it first.

2. Why it’s okay to be both friends and competitors at the same time.

Most women are naturally competitive. So much so, that two women may tend to pick each another apart until the other is figuratively bloodied and destroyed.

Women are also very emotional creatures, so if someone decides to target something or someone they’ve invested a lot of their emotion on (like a promotion or that guy from work they’ve been eyeing), they’ll do everything in their power to turn things around.

My message to all the lovely women out there is this: there’s no point in tearing other women apart. We’re already subjected to stereotypes and rules by a patriarchal society, and pulling others down isn’t helping address that. We can all be friends *and* still be competitors. There’s loads of opportunities out there!

In friendships, this unspoken rule of not stepping over each other’s feet is a given. In my case, my circle is mostly composed of designers, developers, managers, and bloggers. I’m friends with like-minded individuals who’ve pursued similar careers, but that doesn’t mean we have to fight over a position or a favorable impression. Healthy competition is always a good thing, no matter how negative it may seem to you.

3. When it’s just about sex, and why it could be okay.

Like I said before, women tend to get emotional most times, attaching a feeling to a person, place, or experience. This is a good thing, and it’s a common way for everyone (not only women) to relate that thing or person to a memory. When we feel something, we can look back to a similar experience in the past. That’s just how things are.

It’s understandable why women are more emotional when it comes to sex. It’s a sacred thing to be experienced only with the person you’ve given your heart and soul to, and that is what makes us vulnerable. (As a side note, I’m *so* happy men have the ability to compartmentalize things.)

Sometimes, we ladies have to learn to let our minds wander off and give in to sensations. We have to know when to let our emotions in and when to best leave it at the doorstep. Not all experiences are ‘a journey’ as much as meditation would like us to believe.

Having sex and making love aren’t always the same thing. Sometimes, sex is a way to blow off steam, to relieve stress in a way. Making love is where emotion rides best, and it has both partners invested in tuning into each other’s feelings.

4. When to not talk about it.

I think that out of all these points, this is where men shine. They know when to lean back and put an issue on the side fir a little while and let it cool. Most women aren’t like that and they don’t want that. It’s an uneasy feeling when you know there’s an unresolved issue and it’s just hanging loosely in the air.

We women have to realize that talking about a problem immediately after finding out about it isn’t always the best thing to do. Not every little thing has to be brought up during dinner.

It makes a difference when both partners know when to talk about something and when to let things be. Kind of like an unspoken agreement you both share. Guys don’t really like digging through the nitty gritty details and many feel like it’s a waste of time to talk about something that isn’t such a big deal.

5. Why it’s not your job to make everyone happy.

Most women are naturally people-pleasers. It’s common for us to want to be liked by everybody, and that often tends to stress us out a lot. Maybe it’s because we’re normally the ones who entertain guests at social functions or maybe it’s because of our natural instinct to make everyone feel comfortable. Regardless of the reason, we’ve made it our responsibility to keep people around us happy, whether it was a conscious decision or not.

That being said, women can be too accommodating sometimes and try to please all the people all the time. This might be because of the stereotype that men are more aggressive than women. A man may demand and expect to get what he wants - which could be deemed almost rude and too straight-forward - but I really think we’d benefit from doing the same thing every now and then.

No matter how much you want to be inclusive of people, you can’t please everyone, and that will just add unnecessary, negative feelings.

Long Distance Relationships: Keeping It Interesting

No matter how in-love we are with our other half, there are moments where the relationship can get pretty stale if there’s nothing new going on or if we’re doing the same things all the time. In this case, adding a little (or a lot) of spice will do you both good.

From being in a relationship for almost 14 years, I can lend a few tips and insights as to how to keep the relationship exciting and interesting. These tips have worked for us, and I’m hoping they’ll benefit you as well.

1. Care for the little things. 

Short messages, small cards, or quick calls do so much to keep the relationship strong. This should be a no-brainer, so it boggles me when some friends ask for advice and tell me the same exact thing: that they need more from their boyfriends and that they don’t communicate much between fancy dinners and overseas trips (if there are any).

With my guy - I think I’ve hit the jackpot (in more ways than one). I don’t deserve the attention he gives me. To be honest, I’m the more passive half, but that doesn’t stop him from sending little notes my way. Be it a short message on Skype or Messenger, a tag on a meme on Facebook - in short, any action that allows him to interact with me throughout the day. I often send him little notes as well. I might be passive at times, but I’m not a snob, haha.

Given our distance, small things really matter as it helps lessen the miles and makes us feel like we’re physically together.

2. Invest in experiences.

In a long distance relationship, every moment matters, and if you only get to see each other once a month (or less than), making each meeting special will take some planning.

As for us, we take turns in planning trips for our monthly get-togethers. Last December, Lance and I visited Sweden to spend time before the New Year. It was his turn to do the planning, and it was the best year-ender ever. He booked one of the prettiest hotels in Stockholm called the Nobis Hotel (and the most beautiful room ever), booked us a tour, and just made everything incredible for the both of us.

When it’s my turn to plan though, I can’t splurge on luxury trips. He insists on paying for everything all the time, but I don’t like having to rely on him that much. So, I try to budget. I book us hotels and fancy dinners too, but nothing so luxurious as somewhere abroad. I’m not as loaded as he is, but I do know how to give my guy a good time my own way. Often, the best experience is somewhere where it’s only the two of you present.

Simply put, you could either go big, or go as much as you can afford. What matters is you do something together, you experience something together, and that makes for some great stories and memories.

3. Show your affection.

Here in the Philippines, public display of affection (PDA) isn’t really the norm. Perhaps in the cities, it’s become commonplace - but most of the country are still quite conservative, so couples don’t air out their love through physical touch that often.

In other countries, PDA is very common. Couples kiss in public and touch each other without having to think of being judged or scrutinized. This foreign way of thinking has always been normal for me living in Australia as a kid, and having an Australian boyfriend certainly helped solidify my opinion on the matter.

When he’s in the country, we WEAR affection on our sleeves. We hold hands, cuddle, kiss, and touch each other with little care for what the world thinks. It’s been like that for the past 13 or so years (minus the 1st year of high school, haha), and with every year that passes by, we’ve managed to keep things exciting. (Try touching his ass in public and you’ll see what I mean.)

Don’t feel like you have to hide how you feel because people will judge. That’s natural to humans. We judge others ALL the time. Let your body loose once in a while if you’re still not convinced. It’s quite therapeutic.

4. Try role-playing.

While role-plays are usually for the bedroom, you can also use it to add some spice throughout the day. In a relationship where you can’t always physically be together, talking over Skype or phone is kind of the only way you can communicate. If you’ve been in a relationship for as long as I have, I think you’ll naturally develop some ‘inside language’ you both automatically understand depending on the mood.

There was a time where we were both feeling a little peckish (for food and something else, haha), and since we had some time to kill, we had a little phone conversation surrounding food (I was a fruit and he was a vegetable) and how we wanted to eat each other. Yeah, that happened. Left us both flushed afterwards, and it certainly helped bring us closer together.

Role-playing is the chance to look into some of your partner’s innermost thoughts. I’m very into the psychology and behavior of people, and from the books I’ve read, observing what roles they usually go for will indicate their desires. It’ll help you get to know your partner better, and complement his/her desires with your own.

5. Play with fashion.

We rely on our visuals very heavily, and when we see something we like, we snap out of boredom and turn our attention towards it like a hawk. When you’ve been with your partner for a while, playing with your wardrobe every now and then will bring the surprise.

If you’re more of a jacket, shirt, and jeans kind of girl, switch it up a bit! I’m the type who doesn’t dress up a lot, and when he’s on vacation in the Philippines, he has an expectation of what I usually wear, i.e. jeans, a regular statement shirt, and some rubbers.

The last time my boyfriend visited, I changed my style. Instead of my usual ‘blah’ outfit, I wore a printed, tubed jumpsuit, some sandals, and a lovely floral kimono I had recently bought. The guy was all over me. Couldn’t take his hands off my ass, haha.

The attire not only made me feel better about myself, it also gave my guy a new image of me in his head when he went back to Australia. Something to keep him thinking about me until we see each other again.

(If you’re not comfortable with reading about intimacy, please skip this point.)

6. Sext.

Sexting is a pretty taboo subject in the Philippines, but as much as people hate to admit it, this form of communication does wonders to keep the passion alive.

Personally, I think sexting outside a relationship is a no-no. Between couples though, I’m perfectly okay with it (I mean, we do it, so...). I think it’s yet another way to become closer to your significant other, and allows for exploration of another level of intimacy outside the bedroom.

Sexting shouldn’t have to be “dirty”, okay? You can do it in a classy way. Make it an art. Make it a poem or something. It doesn’t have to be a foul, disgraceful thing. Text just enough to make his imagination go wild, but don’t withhold so much too that the other has no idea what you’re actually trying to say. This is also the perfect place to try out some role-playing.

7. Write each other stories of your day.

Out of all the tips, this has been the one which I’m always excited for. I love it when Lance tells me about his day and what he feels at the end before going to sleep. Our stories could be very long or very short depending on our energy levels and how much we want to share. (Yes, you don’t have to share everything with your other half.)

In the past, we’ve sent these stories over email, but as mine has started to get clogged by other urgent things, his messages fall to the bottom of the mailbox. To avoid this, we keep a shared diary online, a blog that only we have access to. We log our events of the day and we read them before bed.

You know why this works? It makes both parties feel that regardless of how far apart they both are, they’re still involved and “in-the-know” about the important parts of their partner’s day. Yes, it requires effort, especially if you both had a very tiring day, but it’s worth every last bit of energy.

Lance and I don’t often get the chance to actively chat and be present at the same time, that’s why we leave messages and just wait until the other sees it later in the day. With these story logs, it’s the perfect day-ender. It’s like you were with him the entire day.

Like I said in the beginning, these have worked for us and are all based from experience. If any or all of these work for you, then I'm happy. If not, let me know how you made your relationship last. I might be missing a few things in here, haha.

Listed: 5 Benefits of Having Foreign Friends

In my years of living abroad, I've mingled with different races and cultures, and have made lasting friendships with quite a number of them. Foreign friends are very different from Filipino friends in a number of ways, and while my Pinoy buddies are true gems in every way, foreign pals carry their own charms.

Before I start the post, you might think I'm portraying Filipino friends as inferior to foreign ones, but that is not true at all. All friends are equal no matter the race or culture. Also, most points in this post could also apply to some of your own Pinoy friends. These are just general points I wanted to make, so chill and enjoy the article.

1. Different Perspectives

It's expected that different cultures bring about different perspectives in life, like what beauty is for them, what marriage is and should be, what the 'legal' age for doing adult things is, and when "crazy" is considered merely weird or borderline insane.

Growing up with foreign friends liberated my mind at such a young age (hello, going to a disco at 8 years old), and gave me reason to think more about my attitude towards life. Not everyone is privileged and those that are should know better than to spout careless things out of their mouths. It made me sensitive to what other people might feel and molded me to become a people-person - a trait that has proven to be double-edged in terms of benefits.

As most foreign families aren't uptight with how they raise their kids, I got a glimpse of what my own childhood would've been like if I wasn't born Asian. Thus, they learn to mature faster and have a sense of independence.

2. Nothing's Taboo

Let your tongue bathe in words you wouldn't even dare utter in front of your Filipino parents. While not all Filipino families are sensitive to topics like sex and drugs, more than 80% are, and it can be really frustrating as a kid when you want to know about something and no one around you can tell you anything.

This type of parenting has produced young people too afraid (or too "good") to talk about these topics*. With foreign pals, nothing is off limits. My friends and I talk about "taboo" things, and they're all nonchalant about it (even the guys!). It's everyday conversation for us.

*I'm speaking generally, though I do have Filipino friends who don't make a huge deal out of what most consider to be sensitive topics.

3. Different Experiences

I think most Filipino kids would agree that their parents raised them quite strictly, with an emphasis on excelling in academics and having a successful career before 30 (25 for achievers). Pinoy kids would have had more or less similar experiences in different situations, but foreign friends would probably have a bit more flavor to share.

I love stories that give me a wider perspective in life, and I've been really blessed to be in a circle of multicultural friends with varying backgrounds and attitudes. I've even gotten out of a pickle using an experience a friend from Australia shared with me once. Learn from another person's experience!

4. Learn New Languages

This is most definitely one of the best things to come out of foreign friendships! Language is a huge part of establishing relationships and the more languages you learn, the better.

As of today, I can speak Tagalog, conversational French, switch from American to British/Australian accents in a snap, and converse in beginner Deutsch and Spanish. I have a Ukrainian friend I have yet to ask lessons from and I'm stoked to get started.

5. Keep Harmonious Relationships

As we're all from different beliefs and cultures, knowing how to get along with everyone well is important. There's all kinds of humor that may be funny to one and not another. There might be a belief you feel strongly about that goes against one of your friends' culture and upbringing. I could keep going, but you get the point.

In a circle of foreign friends, I was molded to adapt to the general aura or feel of the group. I became flexible enough to make others feel comfortable while still being true to myself and keeping my own person collected. When arguments arise, I learned to keep my cool at a young age and see the situation objectively (it was either get into a fight with people you'll see everyday or be logical and find another solution).

Admittedly, this was a struggle for me growing up, as I had always been really shy and didn't want to go out of my comfort zone. As I continued to mingle with them however, I gradually opened up and embraced the confidence I didn't realize I had.

How about you? What is one thing you truly love about having foreign friends in your circle? What other points would you have included in this post? Let me know in the comments! Also don't forget to answer the poll at the footer of this page!

Game Review: Inspector Parker

It's not a new game, I know. Still, I'm aware not everyone got exposed to this Sherlock Holmes-inspired digital board game when it first came out in 2003.

Inspector Parker is one of those games that you'll never get tired of, if you're a fan of whodunit stories. What's great is that every board is randomly generated, so every time you complete the whole game and decide to replay it, the gameplay will be different.

Here's the blurb for the game by Big Fish:

Help solve the mystery of Misanthrope Manor in the whodunit puzzler, Inspector Parker 

Sort through suspects, weapons, motives, victims, evidence, and body-disposal methods as you aide Inspector Parker in solving the crime. Choose from 10 levels of play in Career Mode, select Puzzle Mode for a game of thoughtful deduction, or move quickly as you race the clock in Timed Mode. 

A download-must for all fans of board game puzzles and mysteries alike!
  • Solve the mystery of Misanthrope Manor.
  • Choose from 3 levels of play.
  • Choose from three difficulty settings.

Actual in-game shots from my gameplay:

This board is from a higher level of gameplay. To start, the player is given around 4-6 rooms.
Starting screen for each level, and in this case, for the Chief Inspector level of difficulty.
The four ranks you can climb up, from easy boards to complicated ones. 

Given that the game was released in 2003, system requirements are low for what we use now. You may download the free trial here or have a quick game online to see if it's something you'd like to purchase.

Aside from the game itself, there are extras to help you explore the Inspector Parker world further.

The game has a gallery section to let you have a closer look at the characters and the rooms.

Now this is a PC game, but I use a Macbook Pro. It's been a while since I played the game and I was at a point where I really, really wanted to do so no matter what.

I then sought the help of Wine or Winebottler, an application that helps you run .exe files on your Mac or package them as .dmg files to run natively on the system. In less than 10 minutes, I was able to get the PC game running on my Mac.

I suggest you give this game a try and bring out the detective in you. It makes use of deductive reasoning, and gives you clues through the visual cues on the upper right board, as well as testimonies from the interviewees (bottom right), though you won't really use them much. I've had endless fun with Inspector Parker over the years, and I'm extremely happy to be able to share this game with you.

Let me know if you decide (or will decide) to play this game yourself! I'd love to hear your impressions.

How Do You Know You’ve Found The Blogging Platform For You?

Back in 2004, when I started my blog over at Blogger, blogging wasn't a thing. It wasn't popular and blogs used to serve merely as diaries for people who want to keep talking (writing?) beyond their circle.

I, for one, discovered blogging when I was hanging out at the house of a friend from church, practicing our little dance number to be performed on a Sunday (or Saturday?). I was sitting on her bed waiting for the others to arrive when I couldn't help but notice "Diaryland" displayed on her computer. At the time, it looked really cool and personal, and the more I observed her interact with it, the more I grew interested. I was very shy then, so I didn't ask what it was.

When I got home though, I googled 'Diaryland' (Or was it Yahoo? Dang I'm old.) and was shown this website:

Before any of this, I didn't have much going for me on the internet. All I did was to search on it for homework or check and send emails. I don't recall spending hours 'browsing' and getting eye strain. After a quick search, I discovered Blogger. 

Blogger login circa 2009

It doesn't seem much right now, but back then, it opened up a whole new world. I kept physical diaries growing up so knowing there was a way to kind of immortalize and share my thoughts to people was mind-blowing to me.

This was also the time I began to explore HTML/CSS/Flash (thanks, Friendster!) so with my knowledge, I decided to start with Blogger as it was a straight-to-the-point system for posting and designing my blog's look and feel. Diaryland was cool and intimate, but I didn't have access to the codes for customization. Wordpress wasn't even a thing back then.

Between 2007 to 2009, I didn't touch my blog. I didn't see it is something valuable enough to keep spending time on because I already had  a physical diary, and that was enough for me. Boy, was that a big mistake. When I got back to the blogging scene, a lot of people had started one and for them, blogging was a business. I realized I needed to get back to work, and after a short glitch in the system (I somehow deleted everything in my blog, sadly), I was back.

A few months into blogging again, Wordpress started catching up, offering "plugins" to give more customization options for a small fee. 

Wordpress circa 2013

With Wordpress, my love for designing web pages was ignited. I remember looking through a number of free themes thinking about possible blogs I could create - food blogs, one for politics, one for just my artworks, one for music... there was just too many ideas, but I decided to stick to one - art.

I then proceeded to keep two blogs: one on Blogger for my personal posts and one on Wordpress for my art posts. During this time, I also discovered other blogging sites like LiveJournal, Tumblr, Weebly, and Wix, among many others. Name a blogging platform and I can bet you I've already tried blogging on it.
For the next 5-6 years, I blogged inconsistently with blogger, never really feeling contented and countlessly switching from Blogger to Wordpress and vice-versa. I could never seem to find the sweet spot, since the other had benefits the other didn't. I couldn't find peace. I even tried telling myself to switch fully to Moonfruit instead, or Wix. (Moonfruit back then didn't offer a lot of versatility.)

Around 2014-2015, I heard about Squarespace.

As a student, getting my blog on Squarespace was near to impossible. I had no job to sustain the monthly fee and I had no money of my own to buy a domain for it. I tried the 14-day trial and fell in love, but I couldn't afford it. Blogger was still the best platform for a starting, unemployed student-blogger.

Fast-forward to the first quarter of 2017, I could finally afford Squarespace. I already had a job after graduating in 2015 so my income was steady. I also already established a brand that same year and it wasn't hard to choose the domain for my portfolio/blog. For the first time in years, I didn't feel unease. I stopped looking for alternatives or "what could be better". I felt right at home with Squarespace. I've always never questioned being on the platform.

How do you feel about blogging platforms now?

Admittedly, though I'm earning enough to sustain my blog and domain, Squarespace's P832.00/month pricing can get quite heavy. Add to that your G-Suite subscription and you're more or less paying for P950-P1,100/month. For that price, you could have yearly hosting covered and get your blog on Wordpress.

As for Blogger, I found myself opening my dashboard again and redesigning it. I realized how much I missed the simplicity of blogging there, and how I could get so many customizations in the code done just the way I wanted it. During the process though, I also realized how in-love I am now with Squarespace. I couldn't believe it myself. (Edit: I'm back at Blogger!)

While I tried to relive my Blogger days (I still use it for my daily doo-dahs: read here), I kept comparing how easy it was to style your posts and add elements on Squarespace. Yes, you had full control with HTML but so much time can be saved with the available blocks in the latter. You don't even have to think. Blogger was good while it lasted for me. There are still heaps of blogs hosted there, but I think I've graduated from the platform.

As for Moonfruit, I recently decided to take another look and was surprised by the pricing and the modernized brand. 

The new site looks updated, and the pricing was actually cheap (at around $5/month). I then decided to sign up again and see what's new. Once I got in, I noticed the site builder is akin to Wix's website builder, with a preset structure (header, body, footer) and pre-made templates. I expected to get more, but they've apparently stuck to a few themes plus a blank one to start from scratch with. 

As much as I'd like to say it's become a contender, there's still just too many limitations for it to hit mainstream.

As for Tumblr, LiveJournal, Weebly, and the others, they still aren't flexible enough (or simple enough) to offer competition. As of today, I still believe Wordpress & Squarespace are leading the industry.

You see, there have been a number of people asking me through private messaging about blogging, like how to start, what it is, how can they make money off it, which platform is better, and more. I realized that they're struggling with this earlier than I did, because they now have more options than I did 10 years ago (I'm not too old, okay? I just turned 26, haha!).

I also found myself rethinking my decision to move to Squarespace after so many months of contentment. Wala ba talagang forever? (Is forever really just a concept?) Kidding. Don't worry - with all the good I've mentioned about the site, I'm definitely staying. I just thought I'd talk about my previous struggles and show it's okay to get a little muddled at first.

If you're struggling with anything blog-related, whether hosting, setting up, content management, marketing your blog - I'm here to help. Leave a comment or leave me a message on any of my socials! I love helping out people with their passions so don't be shy! :)

Beautiful, Useless Products

Designers owe it to the world to invent products for everyday use that are not only beautiful, but fully functional when needed. From architects to engineers, to illustrators and the like - we've been given the responsibility to make proper use of our talents. 

This is why when Athens-based architect Katerina Kamprani created "The Uncomfortable", it caused a major stir for anyone who was in her loop, and beyond it.

I first saw her creations a few years back, but didn't really mind it, and never took the time to mull over how genius everything was. So now, I've come back to make myself relive her work and bathe in its awesomeness. I hope you do too.

Easily one of my favorites. I don't think even the widest mouth can accommodate such a cup. I wonder what her process was for coming up with this design?

As a wine lover, this gets to me on so many levels. I'm not sure if I'm irked or amused that this looks so pretty but completely dysfunctional. With my not-so-steep nose though, I think this could work.

Next on the list is this frustratingly useless inflatable door handle with the keyhole right under it. If you ever get past turning the handle, you'll be even more pissed at trying to turn the key at the same time. Genius.

Another brilliant design, this time of a briki. Do I even need to talk you through this one? How brilliant is this?! Katerina is such an amazing architect with a brain to match. Here are some more of her designs:

To see more of her work, head over to The Uncomfortable and take a look at how insanely creative she is. I'm so glad we aren't using these exact products though. Ugh. Life would be so bad, haha!

My High-Energy Work Playlists

Try as I might to stay energized throughout the day, I sometimes get those bouts of boredom where I can't sit still and I just want to walk around and eat something cold. While my work doesn't prevent me from doing those things, our work load and deadlines often confine me to my seat, so I have to find a way to cure boredom without getting out of it often.

It's a good thing I'm a music lover. Listening to music has been a life-saver countless times, and it allows me to slowly get back to the grind without taking too much time.

If you're like me, you'd know how important it is to create a playlist either on Apple Music or Spotify (Want to know which service is better?) that totally gets you pumped up for the work ahead.

Note: I like to start slow, adding music with a great beat and general flow at the first part then gradually increasing the tempo towards the middle. Often though, I play it on shuffle, haha. Simply put, music which pumps me up isn't limited to just Pop and EDM. Enjoy the playlist! (I also have a similar playlist on Spotify, if you want to follow the list there.)

If you're more of a chill person who lives for "the vibes", here are two playlists I've created to listen to on those down, chill afternoon moods.

This playlist only has Swedish-born Ikson's tracks, and I love them. First discovered him through one of Marzia's videos and Youtube, and began discovering his other tracks from there.

My taste in music varies a lot. Depending on the beat and/or my current mood, I could love everything from Classical music to Rock. When I want to focus, I listen to some LANY, Ikson, Petit Biscuit, or look for a chill-hop playlist. When I want to focus more, I listen to some Baroque opera. 
What are your preferences when it comes to music? Do you have a work/study playlist that you want to share? Leave links in the comments so I can take a peek!

Also, if you like this type of content, please let me know and suggest other music playlists I should create. :)


Vero: True Social - What’ The Hype?

Update: This post was written before issues regarding one of it's co-founders and CEO came to my attention. This post will get a follow-up article soon.

Not another one.

That's usually what comes to mind whenever a new social app pops up. Don't get me wrong - I applaud people/start ups with a vision to 'create something you haven't experienced before', but often, they run on the same pattern as other, already-established apps.

 When Vero popped up on my Facebook newsfeed some few months ago, I didn't give it much thought. Then it appeared again yesterday, and I caved in. You see, in a group of influencers, you can only ignore something for so long until you're hit on the face with the "YOU'RE AN INFLUENCER SO QUIT AVOIDING THIS" card. So, I gave it a go.

Before I fully committed, I went to their website to know more. 

Vero makes sharing the things you love simple, so it's easier to see what you want and discover new things. With no ads & no algorithms, Vero gives you control on who sees your posts.

What does Vero offer?

One of the main features I totally dig is the ability for us to choose how private a post can be, just by choosing what level to categorize a post under. 
Vero gives you a choice to categorize someone as a connection (close friend, friend, or acquaintance) or a follower. 

Vero also allows you to choose from one of their post types: photo, link, music, movie/tv, book, or place. Recommending movies or books on the same platform you post selfies or personal milestones on used to be stretched across multiple accounts, but Vero turned things around and showed it was possible to use just one account.

Vero also has a separate place within the app where you can buy things from music to clothing, but that's just based on what I've seen so far.

Vero's Manifesto

Each paragraph speaks truth, and this made me want to jump on-board even more. When a company stands by the same standards and principles as you, you don't think twice about working with them (although this is not a sponsored post).

Here's an excerpt from their manifesto:


Read the whole thing (it's pretty short, don't worry) and you'll understand why I am 100% on-board with helping them achieve more with Vero. 

Early Stages 

According to their website, sign up is FREE for the first 1 million users. Of course, I'm not privy to what happens once they reach that stage. Right now, their servers are slowing down due to the volume of new users, and according to their Twitter page, they're working hard to scale up and get service back. 

(Insert twitter vero tweet code)

All I'm trying to say here is that maybe we should give Vero the chance and see how they can make social life on the internet better. We've been connected but distant for way too long now, and it's time to bring people closer together, regardless of distance. 
Have you tried Vero? If you have, see you there (@Olivia Marie Penero). :) Let's connect!

Listed: 5 Youtubers I Can’t Get Enough Of

Youtube is a great place to watch videos on everything. Gaming, cooking, self-improvement, math, whatever - it's a rich place to explore and spend hours in. Well, while watching a Pewdiepie video earlier today, I suddenly remembered a post I wrote last November 2013 called "Listed: My Top 5 YouTube Gamers". That got me thinking about logging in my current favorites - not necessarily Let's Players anymore - and why I still watch them.

He was 1 on my previous list, and he still is. He has transformed a lot. From the first time I watched him, Felix has done a lot of things, said a lot of things that affected his channel - both good and bad. I won't go into details, but what happened last 2017 transformed his content for the better. While I miss his old videos, I love how varied his content is right now, and he's become even more genuine and open. 

He's also given his subscribers more time to shine by creating a subreddit for submissions to contests he announces on his channel. His audience is very diverse, contrary to what most people think that his views are mostly from 12-year-old babies.

His sarcasm is gold, his ideas and views on certain issues are actually sensible, and he seems like an awesome person overall.

SUCH. A. QUEEN. I don't remember when I first saw his video, but when I did, I knew I wanted to subscribe. At the time, Shane was one of the most raw, honest, genuine people I've come across online, and his humor was and is infectious. His content seemed varied at first, but through the years, he's come to be more colorful and surprising in terms of presenting videos and his ideas. 

His channel covers a lot of varied content, from food reviews to conspiracies, to vlogs, to music videos - every video that comes out has such charm and character that once you get used to his humor, you'll want to NEVER miss one. I look forward to his uploads everyday and depending on how early I wake up, I watch his and PewDiePie's new upload during breakfast or during lunch break at work.

Shane has become a part of my day and it always makes me feel happy to see him doing what he loves and that helps me destress throughout the day. I feel a real connection to him as a person and I love that he's just so genuine.

I'll be honest - the only reason I found her channel was through her boyfriend Felix, a.k.a. PewDiePie. At first, I was pretty annoyed by her voice because I wasn't sure if that was real or she was making it extra cute, but the more I watched, the more I realized she wasn't faking it. Now, Marzia's channel has become my go-to for relaxing videos that speak to me on such a feminine level.

Recently, her videos have really gotten formed, with cute doodles, lovely, lovely video editing, cute shots, light, feathery feels... I am obsessed. I'm just so in-love with the aesthetics of everything she does! Regardless of whether her video is about completing errands, creating crafts for Edgar and Maya (their adorable pugs), cooking meals for herself and Felix, or just heading to the beach, every video is super calming.

Marzia also has her own blog and product line, which are also extensions of her aesthetics. I've wanted to subscribe to her monthly subscription box for the longest time, but it's still not available for shipping to the Philippines. Sad life.

This guy. Up until half of last year, I had only ever watched female beauty gurus just because I wasn't sure how I'd become attracted to follow a routine from a man. When I discovered Jeffree Star (I don't know how that happened but thank you God), I felt so happy. I can relate with him on so many levels, and I am just so amazed by what he's accomplished. 

I never thought I'd be taking tips on makeup from a guy (sorry for my stereotype, but that's in the past), but this guy right here is better at makeup than most girls I know. I trust his reviews, and his frankness towards brands just makes you trust him more. I also love how he shares his life with Nate (le boyfriend), his friendship with Manny MUA (another awesome Youtuber), and just life in general.

Not a lot of people buy boujie makeup products just to review them, and that's one of the things I like about jeffree's channel. He tries a lot of items from each end of the spectrum and it just stretches his knowledge and experience on how makeup should feel. He also has his own makeup line so that definitely helps establish his clout in the beauty community.

I saw one of his videos on Facebook around November (I think), and it was about the biggest grammar fails his fans saw on Facebook that were sent to him. I couldn't stop laughing! Aside from the content being super funny and *ehemm* stupid, his reactions always does it for me. From Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tinder - his fans send him screens of the fails and he reacts to them.

While this type of video isn't new (there are a LOT of react videos on the tube), his reaction and the content he chooses to react to offers something more. When he isn't posting reactions, he's posting vlogs and just recently, a cooking video which he filmed in six hours. As expected, it failed, but that's how you know you're in on the community, you know? It's not a surprise, but it's not bad either. 

If I had to choose just one reason for subscribing, it would be the fact that we are irked by the same thing - wrong grammar/spelling. With Google readily available, your errors shouldn't be there at all. Look the word up before posting and go from there.

That concludes this list of Youtubers that I am currently watching and can't live without. There are quite a few more (which I will reserve for another post), but these were the creators that immediately came to my head when I started the topic. They're all very nice people with various content, so please check them out if you haven't already and subscribe if you like their videos.

I'd love to know which Youtubers you watch daily! Recommend me some down in the comments, okay? :)