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December Favorites: Beauty Edition

I’m a huge fan of pretty, glam things. I love the smell of a great Eau de parfum, the pigmentation of quality makeup, and pink/gold ensembles. Here are my favorites for this December.

Aspyn Ovard Eye & Cheek Palette (Tarte - $39)

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While this palette isn’t a new product, it’s definitely been useful for the subtle, everyday looks I’ve been doing (when I’m not running late and have time to actually put makeup on). It looks gorgeous on the exterior, and even better inside. My only complaint is that the colors match one another too well. Like I said, it’s been perfect for everyday looks, though, so that’s a plus. The blush shade also complements my skin tone well.

Modern Renaissance Palette (Anastasia Beverly Hills - $56)

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TOTALLY in-love with this palette! Received compliments in and out of work the first time I used it. The colors complement one another well, so it’s been my go-to for warm, peachy looks. The brush that came with the palette could’ve been better though, but if you’re into makeup, you’re already aware that brushes aren’t really the best in this case.

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Ginger Sugar Lip Scrub (Aritaum, Althea - $5)

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The cap looks worn out, but it’s only because I’ve been using this scrub religiously. I highly recommend applying this before bed or before putting on lipstick. You can either wash it off or wipe it away with tissue after a few minutes, but I find water is a gentler way of scrubbing it off. It’s very cheap, and smells great, too! There’s really no reason to not pick this up.

Chance Eau Tendre (Chanel - $62)

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Smells like heaven. Since my other favorite fragrance (the next item) is at its edge, I’ve started wearing this everyday. It has a subtle scent after it calms down (but it’s potent during the first sprays). For an Eau Tendre, the smell stays well throughout the day. I love this.

Jour d’Hermès Eau de parfum (Hermès - $162)

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A scent I’ll never get tired of. It’s an Eau de parfum, which means it has more aroma content than Eau de toilette and has the same amount of fragrance as perfumes. Lasts longer than the former too, so I get to appreciate the smell longer. It’s almost gone, and I am in dire need of a refill, haha! Highly recommended.

Sorta Sweet Palette (Kylie Cosmetics - $42)

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Last for this month’s faves is the Sorta Sweet palette by Kylie Jenner. The mattes in this one are quite good given the price point, but the shimmers need a little extra help from either my finger or a damp brush. When they’re on your eyes though, the look is pretty and pigmented. Recommended for those who need a palette that’s warm-toned and small enough to fit in a purse for travels.

And that is it for this month’s Beauty favorites! Thoughts? What have you been using? You have any recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments!

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!

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.

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.

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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

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 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:

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(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)! You may also click any of the links below:

Choose your platform and listen away!

What else should I expect?

I release episodes once a week, either Monday or Saturday 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!

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:

Image © https://twitter.com/diaryland

Image © https://twitter.com/diaryland

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's landing page circa 2009.

Blogger's landing page 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 2009.

Wordpress 2009.

Wordpress Pricing circa 2009

Wordpress Pricing circa 2009

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, but now, it can definitely be a contender.)

Around 2014-2015, I heard about Squarespace. 

Read my ultimate Squarespace review!

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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. 

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. 

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Moonfruit Pricing (2018)

Moonfruit Pricing (2018)

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.

Why talk about this now?

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. 

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In short...

If there's a takeaway from this long post, it would be these three things:

• You're comfortable with how the platform handles content creation and you can design posts exactly how you want.

• You're alright with the monthly/yearly price (for those with domains & hosting) and it doesn't affect your blog or its content.

• You're excited to keep producing content because you're just totally in-love with the platform and how your blog/site looks. (Q: Are you proud to show off your blog to complete strangers?)

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!