Inspiration

Becoming a Grit and Grace Woman | Women on a Mission

It isn’t fresh news and all that big, but nearly two weeks ago on Instagram I was chosen to be a Grit and Grace woman to follow by GritAndGrace.co (@gritandgracewomen), an inspirational group based in San Francisco with the aim to connect, encourage, and promote women who share and live Spiritual lives to inspire others in their niche calling.  The feature itself is nothing huge in earthly terms really, just a Follow Friday blast if you think about it, but this meant a lot to me personally because I was inserted alongside all these amazing, beautiful women of varying ethnicity (but mostly American I think) who all love the Lord.

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FOLLOW US! @blessmybag, @jokotadeshow, @jessigreenny, @styleskinny, @thecreativeporcupine, @jilliandolberry

 

The G&G gals just went out, pulled my photo, and did it.  If you think about it, pretty daring, they just grabbed one of my photos from my blog and stuck it in there, lol, but I’m totally game like that and I’m glad it was one of the good ones.  The way I discovered this happened was a notification on Instagram popped up while I was backstage doing makeup work during The Ultimate Valentine Concert (Gary V, Regine, Lani , and Martin Nievera), and I was like on IG and saying “…wait a minute, that’s me…in a poster…with who?!  Who are these women, oh, oh my how cool is this?!!!” and I was like prancing here and there backstage being a shameless show-off to the road manager, my partner hairstylist, and everyone else who couldn’t care less in the middle of an ongoing pop concert really, LOL.  I was just sooo flattered and chuffed to the bones.  I followed them all and a few days later was totally inspired and moved by this post of Amanda @thecreativeporcupine.  I’ll be posting a post from each of their accounts here so you get a glimpse of their uniqueness.

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We’re not all beauty bloggers, some are crafty, some are fashionistas, some are homemakers, but Jessi and I are in the style and beauty department I believe and someone has designed a dayplanner with an inspirational format.  It’s inspiring how God has broken the mold of each one of us.  I noticed right away that the Grit & Grace team in graphics and layout really know what they’re doing (notice all our faces are practically the same size from different photos).  What was cool was I think I was already following @jessigreenny if I’m not mistaken or vice versa before we were both chosen to be part of the same Follow Friday set.  Feel free to correct me, Jessi, if you’re reading this but you were already a familiar face!  Follow all of us if you haven’t on Instagam and don’t be shy to comment or say hello!


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The First Valentine was to a girl named Julia

I know it’s a day late, I had work for the past 2 days, but it’s still Valentine’s Day in other parts of the world and I’m still feeling the buzz simply because I didn’t have time to super enjoy the moments on the day itself.  An aunt of mine who loves me dearly and homeschools her kids shared a bit of St. Valentine history with me.  I’m sure a lot of people have looked into the legend of Valentine’s Day for the sake of it, but I’m not one of them so I was sweetly surprised by the story of a martyred Christian named Valentinus who truly lived (his remains are buried in a church) and a young , blind girl named Julia, the pretty young daughter of his jailer, Asterius.  There are subtle, downplayed hints of Valentinus falling for Julia in the end but these remain in question given how young she might have truly been, in other accounts he was an old man and she was a child, but in this image as you can see, it may not have been that way.  It was always stated in the different stories though regardless of how old she may have been that Julia was beautiful and bright (naks, lol).

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It’s a heartbreaking but touching story about a man who literally died to uphold love and the Christian faith.  In other specific accounts, he was tortured terribly.  I will quote the story here from a source and will not attempt to paraphrase.  The story is quite intact across several sites even official Catholic history ones.  Some aspects of the story vary with regard to her being healed of blindness either within the jail cell with Valentinus after they prayed or possibly after.  There is supposed little embellishment to the core story.  What is not mentioned here is the true historical reason behind his imprisonment, Valentinus would illegally marry young soldiers in secret.  It was not legal because young soldiers were expected to remain single and focus on being warriors.  However Valentinus officiated marriages for young couples in hiding. Too romantic for words. The phrase “Love is blind…” will never sound the same for me again  So goes the tale of the first Valentine:

“The story of Valentine’s Day begins in the third century with an oppressive Roman emperor and a humble Christian Martyr.   The emperor was Claudius II.   The Christian was Valentinus.

Claudius had ordered all Romans to worship twelve gods, and had made it a crime punishable by death to associate with Christians.   But Valentinus was dedicated to the ideals of Christ; not even the threat of death could keep him from practicing his beliefs.   He was arrested and imprisoned.

During the last weeks of Valentinus’s life a remarkable thing happened.   Seeing that he was a man of learning, the jailer asked whether his daughter, Julia, might be brought to Valentinus for lessons.   She had been blind since birth.   Julia was a pretty young girl with a quick mind.   Valentinus read stories of Rome’s history to her.   He described the world of nature to her.   He taught her arithmetic and told her about God.  She saw the world through his eyes, trusted his wisdom, and found comfort in his quiet strength.

“Valentinus, does God really hear our prayers?” Julia asked one day.

“Yes, my child, He hears each one.”

“Do you know what I pray for every morning and every night?  I pray that I might see.   I want so much to see everything you’ve told me about!”

“God does what is best for us if we will only believe in Him,” Valentinus said.

“Oh, Valentinus, I do believe! I do!”  She knelt and grasped his hand.

They sat quietly together, each praying.   Suddenly there was a brilliant light in the prison cell.   Radiant, Julia screamed, “Valentinus, I can see!  I can see!” (in other accounts she was healed weeks later after opening his letter to her which contained a yellow crocus flower that she could slowly begin to see)

“Praise be to God!”  Valentinus exclaimed, and he knelt in prayer.

On the eve of his death Valentinus wrote a last note to Julia, urging her to stay close to God.   He signed it, “From your Valentine.” The next day Valentinus was killed.  His sentence was carried out the next day, February 14, 270 A.D., near a gate that was later named Porta Valentini in his memory.   He was buried at what is now the Church of Praxedes in Rome.  

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It is said that Julia planted a pink-blossomed almond tree near his grave.   Today, the almond tree remains a symbol of abiding love and friendship.   On each February 14, Saint Valentine’s Day, messages of affection, love, and devotion are exchanged around the world.”

Sources:

http://www.olrl.org/lives/valentine.shtml

http://www.cbn.com/spirituallife/ChurchandMinistry/churchhistory/st_valentine_the_real_story.aspx

http://www.priestsforlife.org/africanamerican/blog/index.php/happy-valentines-day-the-legend-of-saint-valentineTo full post & COMMENTS...

The Imaginary Vday Wishlist | If Price or Place Were No Object

Where we are can kind of suck sometimes when it comes to stuff at the frontier of modern beauty.  While I’m glad more brands have joined the global ones already present in the market, the ranges are far from updated and nowhere near as complete, hello, Clarins doesn’t even have their makeup here, we only have the skincare.  Where is is this rambling headed?  Towards an imaginary Vday wishlist…life of course goes on without any of these things but I thought I’d put this selection out there for you to see as an imaginary edit…what I’d like if price or place where no object.

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Top to Bottom: Paloma Picasso for Tiffany’s Handwritten Love ring (Mom has her petite “X” earrings in yellow gold), Whistles Mini Verity backpack black leather, Sunday Riley Juno Hydroactive Cellular Face Oil, Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens, Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in “Amazing Grace”Clarins Instant ConcealerReturn to Tiffany Rubedo heart earrings, Clarins Instant Light Lip comfort oil (seen here in the Original and ever elusively sold out Raspberry formula)

I was also thinking about Tiffany & Co. the 5th Avenue jewelry hotspot I wasn’t able to hit while in NYC.  I don’t mean I wish there was one here, I wasn’t able to go in the US.  I didn’t have any plans to purchase anything from there, the visit was supposed to be like a tour in honor of a memory.  I wanted to have a peep inside and then have a foodtruck breakfast outside and take a selfie, there’s always a next time.  I know, it would have been such a touristy thing to do but here’s why.  It was the one place there which would supposedly remind me of my paternal grandmother the most.  She would tell me stories of how she loved the place while we watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s together.  Lola said when she was there it was not always to buy, but she loved the staff, the service, and appreciating the precious beautifully feminine pieces they had there.  She also sang Moon River along with me passionately, it was the only song I’d ever heard her sing like that…once in awhile she would also hum Claire de Lune or Nat King Cole songs.  Her eyes used to light up like gems before at the mention of Tiffany’s.  Also did you know, I heard from someone married to a Tiffany executive that Tiffany’s only offer a major half price discount once, on a person’s first engagement ring purchase, it’s a discount that will not be offered again in the same lifetime precisely because they like to honor that value. I’ll go through my other faves in quick random, no-order, this-is-my-blog style today, coz I’m just not in the mood to be like super structured right now, have work later and tomorrow and haven’t eaten breakfast.

For style I’m sure like half the female planet is already making the Whistles Mini Verity backpack that Zoella “showed and told” online a major sellout, who won’t like its simple, small but just rightly sized real leather design?  I believe there’s a silver version which might be an ASOS exclusive if I saw it right.  Regarding the Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L camera lens it’s Canon’s priciest 50mm with their widest opening, meaning it’s awesome for close-up shots with beautifully boke’d backgrounds and great for low light…in other words a beauty blogger’s dream lens.  As you can see in this sample photo:

vdafave_canonBy the way, I like that Charlotte Tilbury lipstick not just because of the name, if you click on the CT link you will see the color “Amazing Grace” is just gorgeous, a more modern, more neutral coral with less of a yellow undertone.  Sunday Riley does modern skincare and they do the science battle with botanical weapons of mass reconstruction.  Juno is one of their more gentle facial oils which they say consists of extracts from Broccoli, Carrot, Chardonnay Grape, Black Cumin, Cranberry Seed and a berry seed blend of blackberry, blueberry, and raspberry.  Yea, I’ll take my face to-go please.  On the Clarins stuff, if you haven’t heard Guardian beauty guru Sali Hughes say “I can’t rave about this concealer enough” about Clarins’ Instant Concealer in that wonderful Brit accent of hers then you should on her SaliHughesBeauty channel,that was ’bout before Christmas last year.  Then Caroline Hirons, skincare madame, flashed that new Lip comfort oil  of theirs at her camera in her recent New Stuff video and the dim part of the world (like over here) without Clarins’ newest releases semi went gaga.

Do you have an imaginary Vday wishlist?  Or one probably that hangs around all year in the fluffy cloud above your head?  Mention one or two things you wish for in the comments whether it’s because you can’t get it here or can’t afford it at the moment.  I can’t make your wish come true but I do know that sharing wishes with other people is a happy sort of release.… To full post & COMMENTS...

5 Vday To-Dos That Aren’t About You

I decided to write this because to be honest there are a lot of compilations out there of stuff to do for single people or young couples but most are either about how to save on your own date, how to get noticed, tips on nabbing the one, and all that.  However, I believe much of the world is hungry for a different sort of love. While I won’t deny that there are some useful tips in there about presenting yourself, turning up the chemistry, and dining out I did pick up on the fact that many of the suggestions might not involve the sort of love that genuinely gives.  There are many ways to give to people around us on Valentine’s day, whether you are a single man or woman or a couple who together would like to do something for someone else for a change.

1. Offer to babysit the kids of a couple you love on Vday so they can date. (Taking them with you to the runway is optional… lol) P.S. It’s good practice for AFTER That Happily Ever After.

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Raising Helen 2004

2. Cook a meal together for other people (in case that couple you offered to babysit for would rather stay home.)

 

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Leap Year 2010

3. Offer to babysit someone’s pet…same idea, to provide freedom and SANITY while losing yours LOL.

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As Good as it Gets 1997

4. Do the groceries for a working parent, unnoticed.

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Mrs. Doubtfire 1993

 

5. Last but not the least, show up on a beloved’s doorstep uninvited, not because it’s their birthday or a relative passed away.  Do it just to see how they’re doing, because you never know, they might need you just as much as you need them.  You might just suddenly get this “arcane glimpse of the universe…”-TROY DYER

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Reality Bites 1994

Ja ja, I couldn’t help but release some butterflies in the post lol…and why not?  Valentine’s is just around the corner and remember…love is a much bigger thing than what we are to ourselves and we are invited into that much bigger space one step at a time or in some cases are thrust right into it.  Watch this video about unconditional love.

 

 

“And at once I knew I was not magnificent, high above the highway aisle…but I could see for miles, miles, miles…” -BON IVER, Holocene

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Grazing on Green Kitchen Stories

To blog about another set of bloggers, the act is usually carried out when you’re truly inspired.  First thing’s first, let’s put it plain.  I love Instagram, along with millions of you out there.  I won’t say I’m addicted but that I have a healthy connection with the enabling app.  Other than my love for photography it was through Instagram that I connected with my makeup artist role model, UK Celebrity pro Lisa Eldridge, who liked and commented on two of my blogged makeup looks, and then I suddenly placed in one of her online contests a couple of weeks later and my face actually appeared on her website.  A couple of months after she sent me beauty prizes.  Now that I recall all that, it is still quite surreal for me…it’s amazing how a mobile app opened that window.  Instagram hosts a multitude of eye-catching personal portals to this wide, wide world of amazing people.  While engaged in beauty I also follow lots of other inspiring individuals who like to present good food.  One of the best presented online IG accounts I ever chose to follow was Green Kitchen Stories (@gkstories), behind the handle is Stockholm based couple David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl.  There are a lot of food-inspired IG accounts but I do believe it’s mainly because of them that so many are presenting the healthy meals on their table from a bird’s eye view.  I’m so glad we have our own copy of this now.

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I wasn’t aware that team @gkstories were already famous when I followed them early last year.  Online popularity bloomed for them between 2011 and 2012 when they started a cooking blog focused mainly on creating easy vegetarian dishes ( vegetarian = veggies, seeds, fruits + dairy and eggs sometimes).  In 2013, they published their first book The Green Kitchen.  Because of their creative food success, they’ve gotten to travel a lot, I think they were recently in Australia.  I haven’t kitchen tested this book yet, but it’s the first cookbook I read from the start all the way to the dessert tail right after we got it at Fully Booked, probably because of all those beautiful photos, short processes and simple words.  The only challenging aspect is a couple of the ingredients they source (looks like I might be beaching myself at Healthy Options, the weekend markets, and/or Santi’s).  I can’t wait to try the recipes this coming week.  The book contains a list of the pantry ingredients they use on a regular basis, a collection of basic methods, recipes for breakfast, light meals, entrees, to-go picks, desserts, and drinks.  It is also full of breathtaking photos and that for me is the fresh cherry on top.  This one isn’t in the book but is a recent one from their site.

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Beet, Apple, Quinoa, and Sprout Salad, photo credit: greenkitchenstories.com

This book would be wonderful for making lots of fresh food and drinks in the summertime.  Lots of you know that I also love to cook and bake occasionally so I’m hoping to kinda cook my way somewhat through their book, but not everything perhaps due to availability of ingredients.  I don’t do it everyday (I should) though I believe I just might have a knack for it (‘coz some people attack my food ’til it’s gone) and I will admit I’m not afraid to try complicated dishes.  I also have an appreciation for simple healthy preparations you can toss together with hands.  I think a notch up versus my appreciation for Instagram is my love for the edible plant world: herbs, fruits, fungi, legumes, and vegetables.  I’m not vegetarian but I love eating them, making salads, and cooking with them.  When it comes to cooking there are tons of food blogs out there but there are a handful of gems with great culinary quality like GK Stories.  A few years ago and up ’til now I still like Jennifer’s Tiny Urban Kitchen blog for the Asian side of food prep and appreciation.  Jennifer’s also brilliant because she’s sort of like a former chemist turned food fanatic (featured by CNN Eatocracy awhile back).  She also loves to include creative culinary ventures using characters like Totoro in her food.… To full post & COMMENTS...

Movie Minute | Still Alice trailer stokes gratitude…

I’ve been sleeping a lot, recuperating a lot since Christmas passed.  I haven’t allowed my consciousness to slip away like this in years come to think of it.  I’ve never been fond of naps.  I always thought naps were a waste of time and daylight, that is ’til I realized naps provide a comforting albeit temporary escape from a constantly haphazard world.  So slowly I am picking up the pieces before 2015 rolls in and have been screening film trailers online for the sake of it, something I used to do a lot but put away for awhile.  This isn’t a movie review because I haven’t seen this movie yet.  According to a very particular writer friend Still Alice is excellent and for being in a drama genre he claims it’s done tastefully and that acting isn’t overtly melodramatic (he mentioned “no slapping….”).  It is based on the book by NY Times bestselling author Lisa Genova.  The trailer moved me so much I just had to say something about it before we try to watch later on.  It made me realize there is just so much to be thankful for.  After getting that preview I went down to hug my mother.

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“I’m not suffering, I’m struggling…”

 

Another good friend said the book was great, too.  The film’s lead cast includes the incomparable Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, and Kate Bosworth all given roles that seem to fit like gloves.  At least that’s what I can pick up from the trailer alone.  Very simply put it’s a movie about an intelligent woman with the onset symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, the feared degenerative illness where you slowly and literally lose your mind.  It supposedly isn’t a light movie, but I don’t mind heavy screen plots as long as what is meaningful is placed at the heart of the story.  I guess I was also looking to be stoked for gratefulness, something that’s really important to me towards the end of the year.  Looking forward to watching this one, it comes highly recommended so I’m told, here’s the trailer.

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Christmas Cheer | Upcycling the News

While I wouldn’t go with just any old newspaper for giftwrapping the Financial Times makes the cut because it’s cheerfully peach tinted.  Plus the paper and print quality makes for a presentable parcel.  These pretty papers have been just stacked around here after Mom reads them (she buys her FT issues from Fully Booked).  I decided I could dress them up by making folded bows and origami accents, I’m not wrapping as many gifts this year.  However it’s much harder to do origami with newspaper, it’s not as stiff in weight so it doesn’t hold creases as well, it still works with effort put in.

Processed with VSCOcam with k2 presetPardon the lack of festivity in this post, we are not as prepared as last year, but we do plan to have a happy Christmas.  I pray yours is every bit as meaningful…parties or not, gifts or not, feasts or not because the reason for Christmas is infinitely more important than what the season brings into our lives.  I hope we all remember that for whatever we receive or don’t receive we still ought to pursue giving.  Jesus loves you and knowing that is all you need to be able to touch someone else He loves.  Maligayang Pasko :)To full post & COMMENTS...

Flashback Friday | Cozy Hits

Sitting back before I try and do some more blog polishing.  I’m still hitting some programming roadblocks regarding certain areas of the layout but I’m getting there.  I’m really feeling the freedom right now of having so much more room for high-resolution imagery.

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Processed with VSCOcam with j3 presetSince we’ve been bundled up at home I’ve kind of been feeling like I have the hollowed out voice of beloved faithful Ann Voskamp narrating life right now, lol.  All shots except for the last were taken with my Samsung Galaxy S5 mobile phone and exported with theVSCOCam app.

 

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