Monday, June 30, 2014

Two Years, Calligraphy and Cheesyness


We've been out the whole day and I just have to do this quick post before this days ends to say that hey, Rolando+Laidel turns two today! Two years that I wouldn't trade for anything else in the world. The past two years weren't perfect, weren't all butterflies and fireflies, weren't at all easy but I wouldn't have it any other way. I'd rather do life with R with all its downs and rough edges than do it alone. 

Dear God, thank you for two amazing years of your grace and goodness over our marriage. Thank you for giving me the best person to be with in this journey called life. Thank you for writing our love story. Thank you for I know, the best is yet to come.


Yep, that is the best feeling, being with the one whom my soul loves. More of our anniversary special in later posts. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

10 Years Ago, Something Wonderful Happened

24 June 2010, a Thursday.  It was quite a big day for me, a series of firsts I was extremely nervous about---my first day on my first job---and the other first that only God knew about. 

These were the things I knew. At 8:30 AM in the busy corner of Ayala Avenue, I found myself grimacing in pain and sweating like crazy from walking too fast for my own good. My toes were killing me but I could never be late on my first day of work. I'd run a mile in my 3-inch heels, have all the blisters in the world and swerve past hundreds of workers all rushing to get to their office if I had to. I managed to get inside one of the skyscrapers in Makati CBD just in time. I immediately took the lift to the 28th floor already dreading the crowd of topnotch CPAs in the training room. God, I hated introducing myself in front of a crowd. I hated public speaking. I hated trainings.

My first day on my first job basically passed by with me sitting down and staring at my notes almost all the time. I was taken aback and everything and everyone in the room intimidated me especially the competitiveness. This was unfamiliar ground, I didn't personally know anyone. There was no one from my former school whom I could sat and chat with. There was only me and all these brain heads I wasn't ready to be friends with yet. I guessed, I wasn't ready for the real working world then but I needed to be brave. 

These were the things that God knew. That I would call this skyscraper a work office for the next five precious years of my life. That I would be friends with those newbies, some of them I have kept in touch with to this very day.

That in that room of wide-eyed newbies, on that very same day, in that very same building, in the very same group that I would be joining in, was another soul whom God destined to be His best for me.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Life Through the iPhone

And just like that, half of June has gone by. It's now officially summer in Ireland and judging by the way the sun has been warming (and burning) us the past couple of days, I think we are in for another hot and lemony summer.  R has been nudging me to go out all day but this morning, I felt this aching need to string photos together, to memory-keep, to write my heart out because no matter how seemingly mundane my days and my actives are these days, I can't let this special month pass by without recording it. I'm staying put till I finish this post.

Life lately has been about new hobbies, summer reads, walk in the park, unanswered prayers and the need to be patient and lean on to God's timing and understanding.

These days too, I depend heavily on iPhone to capture random little things that make up the big picture. And if iPhone snaps are indication of life, this pretty much sumps up how the days of June rolled by:


Here are some more details:

1. CALLIGRAPHY-ing WORDS I HOLD ON TO

I love how Ecclesiastes 3 never fails to remind me of two things: there's a season for everything and  everything has been made beautiful in His time. It's been a struggle for me to hold on to this verse to be honest because waiting has taken far longer than I expected and everything I have prayed for is in a state of blur. But you know what? It's been a humbling experience so far. I've been learning that it's not all about me---my career, my bank account, my ambitions. It should be about God's grand master plan for my life. It should be about Him, really. If serving longer time in the waiting department is the only way God can get through me so He can break every pride that's carefully hiding in the crevices of my heart, so He can replace my worldly dreams with God-given dreams, so He can use my talents and extra time for His glory, so He can free me up of bad habits, so be it. I will wait for as long as God wants me to trusting that when His appointed time comes, it will be beautiful, it will be perfect, it will be the best.

Are you waiting too? Take heart and have hope. Remember He makes all things beautiful... in His time.


2. THIS BEAUTIFUL WALL ART

With equally beautiful words, this is Instagram and Blog-worthy.



3. CHARMED BY THIS BEAUTIES

I am, as always, charmed whenever I see these hanging baskets overflowing with flowers that I believe to be called petunias and surfinias scattered all over the city on summer time.


4. COUNTY NO. 7

We've ticked off our 7th county thus far---Carlow, Ireland. This is an outtake from our road trip. Have I told you we dream of setting foot to all 32 counties of Ireland? It will take years but hey, we'll get there, one county at a time!


5. WORDS OF PRAISE AND PRAYER

I have been encouraged by a lot of women I look up to the past couple of weeks. The encouragements came in different forms---a church-mate praying with me and sharing me her own testimony, a friend hugging me and asking how I've been, and leaders handing me out these little notes of praise and prayers. I feel loved and thought of and blessed really, just by their presence in my life.


6. GO OUTSIDE

Lastly, we've had random walks and mini picnics on weekends but the park a few steps from our house has been the easiest and the frequent target. Last Sunday, we were amazed by this burst of yellow and decided to lay our picnic blanket down to enjoy a fruit snack and a book of our own choice. Someone randomly decided to roll down a slope and we had one heck of a belly laugh. Ah this husband of mine, not many know how funny he can be.


***

How's your summer so far? Hope it's been awesome as it has been with ours. :)

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Reading List - Book 5 to 8

In my attempt to read 30 books this year and in order to keep track of my progress, I have been capturing the books I read as soon as I'm done reading them. If you type the hashtag #laisreadinglist in Instagram, there you'll find the mini digital library I created especially for my reading hobby. Book No.1 to 4 here.

The past Spring time, I enjoyed reading outside and while in transit. I'm now on my Batch 2 and I'm happy to report that I have already exceeded the number of books I read in 2013 (only 7, shame on me!) Thanks to my season of waiting and joblessness, I've just beat the record. And thank God for books. With all this extra time, I'm close to losing my sanity without them.  

So here's my Spring read and a little bit of lame review:


Book No.5 - The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (Rachel Joyce) - A timely read for me while we were in London. A story of set in England about a man who unexpectedly walked from the south to the north of England to find forgiveness and the courage to love again. This is a story to remind us that it's never too late for anything, practically anything. Very well written. I enjoyed reading the vivid description of English countryside and landscape too aside from journeying (and crying) with Harold. Just some of the many heart-tugging quotes from the book I would like to share with you:
"But maybe, it's what the world needs. A little sense, and a little more faith." 
"Beginnings could happen more than once, or in different ways."
And this one's my favorite:
"It was not a life, if lived without love."
Book No.6 - The Last Week of May (Roisin Meaney) - Set in Ireland and full to the brim of Irish humour and warmth, I found myself enjoying this love story weaved during one spring season in one small town in Ireland. Your teatime kind of a book---relaxed and easy and not lacking the kick of a happy ending. 

Book No.7 - The Secret Garden (Frances Hodgson Burnett) - Because I want to include some good old classics in my list and because it's Spring, I re-read this book from the beloved author who also wrote another equally beloved character of the Little Lord of Fauntleroy, a.k.a Cedric or Cedie. The Secret Garden is a story of childhood adventures, discovery, fears and innocence. It never fails to amaze me how children, no matter how sulky or contrary they have grown into, can easily change into someone beautiful if you just let them run around and have something to  nurture and take good care of. They are that bendable. Not my favorite children story of all time but will surely pass it on to my future kids someday, God willing. :)

Book No.8 - Eleanor and Park (Rainbow Rowell) -  I read nothing but good reviews about this book so I purchased it in Kindle. I thought I'm over the high-school-love-story kind of books (because trust me, I read too many in High School) but apparently, I'm not. Give me weird and misfit but intelligent characters any time and I'll surely dive into it. Eleanor (a red-headed fat girl) and Park (a half Korean/half American) were caught up in a love story that defy being a misfit. Theirs is a love story that gave me that giddy clenchy feeling that felt new and warm and dangerous at the same time. There have been mixed reactions about the ending. But for me, it's as realistic as it could get with them being high school and young. On the other hand, it offered a tiny silver lining which made the book more endearing; it's up to you to take it from there.

I'm now on my Summer reading list and I can't wait to do another round up. Hope you're all having an awesome Summer! :)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Marlay and The Secret Garden

Travel Thursday Series

This was a story of sweet discovery. It was one Sunday afternoon in April 2014 when we learned about this little secret garden. R and I have been to Marlay once last summer but we never had a clue that this vast beautiful park with a stunning view of the Dublin Mountains held a little secret---The Regency Walled Garden. 


Well of course, it isn't really a secret. Had we only taken the time to visit the park's website we would have been well informed. But we couldn't be bothered so it's discovery was a sweet surprise. 

After our Ticknock walk, the call of a warm beverage led us to Marlay Demesne. A mere 10-minute drive down the mountain, we all agreed that it would be a lovely pitstop to cap off the day. The thick clouds and the strong winds changed their course when we were still on the mountaintop paving way for a gloriously sunny afternoon. No wonder all of South Dublin (the posh area I heard) seemed to converge there at the time---parking was full, the huge well-manicured lawn was dotted with visitors, the only cafe bore a long queue. 

Once we secured parking, we immediately freed up our bladders then proceeded to the cafe. While R queued for our orders, I wandered around the back noticing some people were coming in and out of the backdoor. After a few steps, I couldn't believe what I saw----a beautiful walled garden in full bloom. My sheer joy was like Marry Lennox's when she unlocked the secret garden. It was relatively small compared to the Botanic Gardens but it was so charming and so dainty in its own right. Since it was spring time, the flower beds displayed vibrant colours that only the temperature of spring could produce. A vintage fountain and orangery were set in the middle enhancing the garden's already charming state.

These are the first sights of the walled garden:


View from the other side:


Wouldn't you love to sit and talk a while in this?


In the adjacent kitchen garden, we found this charming plant archway. Aaaaah, anyone who's doing a prenup in Spring, have your photo taken in this exact sweet spot: (please ignore the crazy girl)


This is the cafe backdoor from which the garden will be so easily missed if you're not curious enough:


Now the view of the park:


Florals all over:


Now here's us carpe-dieming the day:


Weeks after that sweet discovery, I have journeyed back to Marlay more than once and sat in the park while I devoured a book or a hot chocolate.  The park is that beautiful. The garden so charming I had to take more photos of the pretty little things inside it. And I guessed, I just had to go back simply because I found a happy place. :)

***

Best way to get here: By car or Bus No.16
Best season: Spring or Summer
Best activity: Picnic, read, dog-walk, play football, exercise, buy from the weekend market, or just lie on your picnic blanket and dream.
Other option: Go to Ticknock and walk and have a blast with the stunning view of Dublin City.

Travel Thursdays

In Paris. Before that, the whole idea used to be just a dream.

I've been awed and inspired by a friend's travel blog, The Travelling Kind and Patty Laurel's Travel Tuesday series that one day, I decided to roll up my sleeves and muster the courage to finally write about our own trips within and without Ireland. My wanderlust musings will be called Travel Thursday ala Throwback Thursday (very original, I know right?!) For some reason, I can't dig any clever and unique title in my brain so that will do for now. I am behind so many travel posts anyway so this will be a good avenue to catch up. :)

The Travel Bucket List
The travel dream in the next 5 years or so is to set foot to these 12 travel destinations in Europe and the USA but so far, our itchy feet and limited budget have gotten us only as far as Paris, France and the UK. So we will save up, dream on and write about it once we get there, one destination at a time.

The other wanderlust dream of ours is to explore all of the 32 counties of Ireland including the 6 counties of Northern Ireland.  Technically, Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom but its 6 counties are geographically attached to one gigantic land mass called, well, Ireland.  I hope that made sense. Otherwise, please have a peep at this map which explains this division better.

Our travel plan is to tick off our travel bucket list once or twice a year until we reach our dream savings (only God knows when) or until one of us becomes an Irish citizen. Visas are expensive for the two of us I'm telling you. Although we would love to satisfy our wanderlust whilst kids are not yet in the equation, R and I agreed that it's much wiser to build up a "rainy day fund" early on in our marriage than to sight-see. Sure, there are plenty of travel promos and gimmicks out there but at the end of the day, you will still need to shell out a good amount of money for you to truly enjoy traveling. We want to stay cautious in this still precarious land of Ireland, to say the least. We reckon once or twice a year wouldn't hurt our zest for travel and our desire to save. Did I tell you both of us are accountants? U-hm we kinda do the Math all the time.

Travel Thursdays

My travel posts will neither focus on how to get there nor what's the best itinerary although I may write about these in short bullet points if I find them helpful to anyone who will stumble across this humble blog of mine. One quick google search will certainly direct you to a plethora of information written best by those who know best, those who've been there and done that one time too many.

My Travel Thursday will simply be about the memories we made while traveling. It'll be about my own observation and appreciation of one's culture, who we met along the way or simply what those places made me feel. Loads of photos will be posted to make up for my constant lack of adjectives, that I can guarantee. :) Simply put, my aim is to render another voice in sharing the bliss of being out and about in this wonderful world we live in.

Lastly, I share this quote to you because this is exactly how I feel about traveling:
"Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colours. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving." ― Terry PratchettA Hat Full of Sky

Monday, May 5, 2014

Weekend Walks and Love for the Great Outdoors

Back in the Philippines, my usual itinerary on weekends would be home-church-mall. In Ireland it's entirely a different story. I have fallen in love with the great outdoors of this country and I'd rather go for a walk or a hike than to window-shop or sulk at home with a computer all day long. Don't get me wrong, I still love shopping (*wink) and I love being home too. But the call to explore outside is as great as my insatiable desire to snap photos of the things and places I find beautiful.  Despite the bipolar weather inherent of Ireland, most scenic spots are worth going out for---rain or shine, cold or warm. Summer is just lurking around the corner and with the promise of a warmer weather, it's  definitely the best season to explore.

With my love for photography and nature, I think God willed for me to experience living in a country as picturesque as Ireland (most especially when the sun illuminates it). To top it all, I get to enjoy the the whole experience with the love of my life and friends---old and new. I consider this a blessing. Not everyone is given this chance. When my eyes feast on the beauty outside, I can't help but be grateful.

It's already the month of May and we kicked off its first weekend which was also a bank holiday weekend walking around the Howth Cliffs. It's my second time in these cliffs but I am just as impressed as the first time we trailed on it in 2013.  We didn't get to finish the longest trail the first attempt so we hoped for a home run this time around. There were heavy clouds that hovered the whole Dublin City last Saturday preventing the sun to say hello even for a while.  Nonetheless, the smell of sea salt was a good therapy for my lungs, the walk a perfect exercise for my legs, the view just as stunning. After 10 kms, 4 hours, lost moments midway through and lots of photos in between, four of us (out of eight) managed to complete the longest trail. 

Our own version of stopping-and-smelling-the-roses, only it's lying on the flowers:


Just some photos from the iPhone to recap the day---wildflowers of sorts were abundant in the cliffs, a surprise turn led us to the middle of a golf course, braving the cliff edges for photo ops, a triumphant "yes" as we approached the finish line and a Japanese meal at home to soothe our tired bodies. 


And lastly, a jumpshot near the Bailey Lighthouse from the SLR.


Full album here.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Reading List - Book 1 to 4

Here are some books I enjoyed from January to April this year. I made a goal to read 30 books this year, a lofty goal but not an impossible one. In 2013, I only got to read seven and I hated myself for the low stat. This year I've been making slow progress but I've never been more intentional to disconnect from social media to open a book and get lost in its pages than this season of my life.

My biggest inspiration to read more and curate my own online library is Cat Juan. Her lifestyle blog has a section devoted entirely to books. I always easily get bored reading long book reviews but Cat's are short and simple, yet very insightful. I used to list down all the books that I read using Microsoft Excel. I find that so passé now so I decided to make it more visual and more current. The first four books for 2014 will be:


Book No. 1 - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time (Mark Haddon) - Packed with childlike but genius illustrations, diagrams and maps, I enjoyed reading this book immensely.  The book has equal parts of being funny, being mysterious and being tender that had me smiling and crying as I turned each page. I would never forget Asperger syndrome again and how beautiful and painful it was to be in Christopher Boone's shoes. 

Book No. 2 - Strangers on the 16:02 (Priya Basil) - Meant to be a short story, I devoured this book in one sitting. Set in London, the story revolved mainly as the title suggested it, in the tube or train. For a short story to be able to build up its characters as strong as Priya Basil did, I am impressed. It left me wanting for more.

Book No.3  - The Language of Flowers (Vanessa Diffenbaugh) - Just in time for spring this year, I  purchased this bestseller on Kindle. A story of an orphan girl whose only connection to the world was through flowers and their meanings, this book was a pleasure to read. I love flowers and the idea that each flower has a meaning excited me. More than the discovery of the language of flowers, this book will take you to a journey of giving happiness a chance by forgiving---yourself first and foremost, then all the rest who at one point, wronged you or let you down. The world, no matter how flawed its people are, is full of beauty that we can only fully enjoy without the baggage of resentment and hate on our shoulders.

Book No.4 - Becoming Your Husband's Bestfriend (Lisa & David Frisbie) - This was a birthday gift from last year that I got to finally wrap my head around with to read. Narrated from a Christian perspective by Christian marriage counsellors, this isn't a self help book that merely instructs you the steps to better your marriage. This book consists of real stories of real married couples who have gone through real life marital issues---criticisms, infidelity, gossiping, pride, and bitterness. Their stories have had a huge real life turn-around because the wives decided to take the first step, in humility and grace. This, in turn, impacted their husbands' hearts, brought about the miraculous changes and saved the marriage. Divorce was never an option. 

My marriage might not be in any of those dire situations but it's good to safeguard it as early and as young as now. I have personally grown in the area of respecting and building up my husband by reading it. My biggest takeaway however will be this: Becoming a godly woman is its own reward.

How about you? What are you reading lately? 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

DIY Baby Shower Decors

A spring baby girl was on the way so therefore, lots of flowers and pink were called for. I've been toying on this idea of flower garlands for quite sometime not knowing when to do it best. The opportunity finally struck and my own version looked like this:


Again, I just used any supplies that had in my craft box---construction papers and old gift wraps. I even used shopping bags to create variety! The paper flower garlands although easy to do took a lot of time to make. If I wasn't out of work, I might not have been able to finish them on time. The clothes and onesies were just added to announce the coming of a little girl. 

As of this writing, the paper flower garlands have been passed on to a mommy who will use them for her daughter's birthday. The clothes and onesies decors, on the other hand, have already been commissioned for a July baby shower. I love DIYs and knowing they are and will be used more than once inspire me to DIY better, one occasion at a time. :)

Thoughts on Spring and Slow Sunday Afternoon


It's already my second spring in Ireland and yet, I am still in awe of it, still amazed by it. In fact, I am loving it more than ever. If love is sweeter the second time around, then that will probably explain best how I feel towards spring. It is undeniably my favourite season of all seasons. I am most alive when days are longer, the chill is milder, the chance of a blue sky is higher and blooms are literally sprouting everywhere. Not to mention that I can already wear sandals and flats. :)

Last weekend was a series of partying that we decided to slow down after church on Sunday and call it our own. The sun was out and bright, the perfect kind for park-hopping. It is the cheapest form of R&R one gets to enjoy in this side of the world where parks are abundant. By foot, we visited two parks, snapped some photos via our iPhones, chilled and took things slow. After enduring a painfully cold winter (figuratively and literally), the coming of spring time is a sweet symphony to our souls.

Sometimes we need days like this, to just lie down on green grass, to breathe in and marvel in the beauty of the season and to be fully in it, to close our eyes and whisper a silent prayer of thanksgiving to the Great God who has it all figured out including our future, to have a hushed soft talk on the verses where we feel God is speaking to us, and to dream and plan a little.  The effect on us is always refreshingly good. Always.

On another note, it's been three weeks since R started on his new job and so far, he's been very happy. Which makes me happy that he is happy. I'm still on a hunt for a job and still praying for direction.  A medical procedure is on the way but we have hope that it's nothing too serious. Our mothers celebrated another year in their lives on the 5th of April.  And lastly, there are some beautiful plans being cooked up for summer. 

I know in my heart that better days are ahead. That's what spring does to me, it keeps my hope up. Hope you feel the same way too. And in case you have forgotten, God loves you! Very very much. If you have some doubts on God's existence, hope this one will shed a light. Cheers!

***


All photos taken via iPhone4s/5s

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