Shopping at Duty Free Fiesta Mall.

During the 90s, I'd say going to Duty Free Philippines was more associated with balikbayans because traveling in and out of the country was mainly for business or visiting family. The only reason I am familiar with it is because my family travels often when I was younger and despite the availability of products abroad, we still make it a point to visit Duty Free when we get to the Philippines to buy products that would occupy too much space and weight in our luggage like chocolates, snacks, and canned goods (hello Palm corned beef and Spam!)

But now that traveling for vacation is quite common nowadays, I think you guys should check out what Duty Free has to offer after your trip. You would be surprised to see brands such as Kate Spade, Pandora, Lacoste, Longchamp, Coach, and Mac Cosmetics in prices much lower than boutiques and malls. They also have Japanese and Korean beauty products there as well as Nike, Adidas, and other sports and leisure brands. Ang dami talaga!

So read on and I'll give you a virtual tour of Duty Free Fiesta Mall.

T + J Wedding Diaries: Ceremony and Reception Highlights.

T and I can't believe we celebrated our first wedding anniversary already! We haven't picked photos for our wedding album yet so we went through the first batch of files two weeks ago. Let me share with you a few of our favorites.

Daisee's Bakeshop Turns 35.

Daisee's Bakeshop started only as a hobby and is now 35 years old! To celebrate this milestone, Daisee's relaunched a classic favorite of theirs, which is a good addition to your holiday parties or potlucks.

A Preview of Healthy Options' Christmas Collection 2018.

And just like that, it's that time of the year again.. Christmas! Have you made your list already? Come  and take a sneak peek into Healthy Options' Christmas Collection 2018 so you can get started on your gift shopping already. You'll definitely find something for your family and friends with this assortment of food and beauty products.

The Reason for My Hiatus.. Again.

I'm back! After traveling to three continents, five countries, and over 30 cities around the world.. Our journey has come to an end. During our trips, I made a conscious decision not to post (save for no-brainer IG stories and photos on memorable dates such as our 'elopement' in Vegas) because I didn't want to have to deal with the 21st century problem of worrying about what photo to post instead of enjoying every precious moment of our vacation and I have to tell you, the social media detox was the best decision ever. Plus, I'll get to relive those memories when I share our photos on my Instagram account @joeiandme and publish posts about our experiences here in my blog. Soon! 

Another Year, Another Adventure.

Just checking in to say hello to everyone. It’s been a while since I posted because much has happened! But now I have time since I am currently on board a plane with an hour to spare so I decided to update my Joei & Me diary.

I turned another year older two months ago. While everyone considers January 1 as the start of a new year, I consider my birthday as ‘my new year’. T and I spent that week staycationing at Nüwa Hotel in City of Dreams Manila. Aren’t staycations the best? Sleep, eat, swim, eat, eat, sleep, sleep, and sleep. I also actually get a lot of work done whenever I’m on one.

Enbu Robatayaki in Okada Manila.

Time check: 2:22am.

They say that when you feel hungry in the middle of the night, you're just thirsty. I drank two bottles of water and five cups of chamomile tea and yet I'm still craving for the Kung Pao Chicken I had for dinner yesterday.  I'm actually in a hotel room working on a paper and can order room service (one of my favorite luxuries of life because I get hungry until the wee hours of the morning) but before I do that, I’ll distract myself first by writing about where we had dinner this evening. Maybe after posting, I'll feel sleepy instead of hungry. I can continue working tomorrow morning anyway since my mind is already spent.

Earlier this evening, T and I had dinner at Enbu (Robotayaki) in Okada Manila.  Robatayaki (or robata for short) is a method of cooking in Japan where food is cooked over charcoal, similar to barbecueing.

Commune Hall at Evia Lifestyle Center.

T and I went to Evia to watch Jurassic World 2 when we saw this place which just opened at the cinema area called the Commune Hall.  We were rushing to catch the movie so we weren't able to eat in any of the stalls (so no food review yet) but here's a quick run-through of the stalls inside.

Paperless Post: Designer Greeting Cards and Invitations.

I have always been a paper-and-pen kind of gal and would buy all kinds of stationery out there with matching stickers. Remember Lisa Frank? Unfortunately, with the advent of technology, those letter-writing days have been reduced to emails and text messaging. Luckily, there are websites like Paperless Post which produce beautiful online greeting cards, stationery for our notes, and even invitations for birthday parties and wedding suites.

Paperless Post is a company based in New York who has partnered with several world-famous and lifestyle brands, including Kate Spade (God bless her soul), Oscar de la Renta, Jonathan Adler, and Rifle Paper Co., and has delivered over 85 million cards to date. 

Landers Superstore Alabang West.

For the longest time, S&R was the only membership shopping grocery in the area so the opening of Landers Superstore Alabang West was very much anticipated. The crowds and lines were crazy during opening week so T and I decided to wait a little longer to schedule a visit. We went on a weekday and had no problems with parking or cashier lines. 

Our visit was quick, just to buy a few things and not to check out each and every item per aisle. So for this post, I'll focus on what I saw in Landers that I haven't seen in S&R or what Landers has that S&R doesn't.. Sort of a little Landers vs S&R thing.

Da Gianni Cucina Italia in Westgate Alabang.

My good friend from high school Leah is giving birth soon so we all got together for a baby shower at the new Italian place (because pregnant momma said she is craving for pasta) in Westgate Alabang, Da Gianni Cucina Italia. You've probably heard or read about this even if you're not from the area because the restaurant is owned by the family of actor Matteo Guidicelli.  This is actually their second, the first one being Trattoria Da Gianni in Cebu.

Shops & Restaurants at Ayala Malls the 30th.

I rarely go to Ortigas except if I have meetings but since the venue of the finance classes I enrolled in is in the area, I agreed to meet one of my colleagues at Ayala Malls the 30th. I learned that it's a fairly new mall so I went around to see what's inside. This is by no means an exhaustive list because I just went around to explore and I was lugging my class materials plus heavy books I got from Biblio, a used bookstore.

Wildflour Restaurant at 8 Rockwell Center.

You may have noticed that I've been writing a lot about Rockwell lately. It's because so many new things are popping up there. Another new establishment is Wildflour Restaurant in 8 Rockwell. Yes, you read it right.. Restaurant. It's the first Wildflour branch which is not using "Cafe + Bakery" after its name and it's also the biggest. T and I are happy they've expanded to Rockwell because Wildflour is one of our favorites ever since we ate in their BGC branch in 2013 (read my blog post about our Sundate Lunch in Wildflour Cafe + Bakery).

Cintai Corito's Garden: Bali in Batangas.

I brought my friends for a day trip to Cintai Corito's Garden, a Bali-inspired garden situated in Batangas. It was supposed to be my birthday treat but because of our busy work schedules, it got postponed two months later. By then, T and I got engaged so it became more of our mini engagement lunch instead. I chose this place because T and I really enjoyed our trip to Bali (read about the highlights of my Bali Birthday Trip).

Thomson Road Chinese Bistro in Molito Alabang.

One evening, T wanted to go on a dim sum spree but didn't feel like dining in our usual places. Problem was we pretty much exhausted almost all of the Chinese restaurants in the nearby Alabang area and then we remembered the newly opened Thomson Road at the Molito Commercial Complex.

Highlights of Our Sagada-Baguio Trip 2018.

I have so many travel and staycation posts left in my drafts folder yet again and I realized that whenever I become oc (aka going about every detail of the trip) about my posts, I usually don't get to write about them anymore. So before I forget about our recent Sagada-Baguio trip, let me share with you a few photos T and I took during our vacation.

To see more photos, you can visit the Instagram accounts of @teemeetee, @neil_arce, @therealangellocsin, @bubblesparaiso, @dos2quizon_, @ronaofiana, @angelocolmenares, @ryanordonez, @gideonlasco, @cholobarretto, and @iamryzacenon, as well as the hashtag #SagadanSaSagada.

Book of the Month: The Lying Game by Ruth Ware.

I used to read a lot but because I have many tasks to finish, I rarely get to read now. Starting this month though, I will be incorporating reading in my schedule as necessary "me time" so I will be able to read without feeling guilty that I am doing something not on my to-do list. I also set a reading goal of 12 books this year and to encourage myself to meet this, I will be posting book reviews at least once a month. 

The latest book I finished is "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware. I really liked the author's first book called 'In A Dark, Dark Wood' and was excited to learn that she has another book coming out. However, her second book 'Woman in Cabin 10' extremely disappointed me. Ruth Ware had a good premise for this-- a journalist who was invited to a cruise sees a woman go overboard but when she reports it to the authorities on the ship, she was told that all passengers were accounted for. Intriguing right? But it was badly written, the story just went in circles, and the ending didn't really make up for all of that. 

So when her third book called 'The Lying Game' came out, I didn't want to get my hopes up. The premise is pretty solid again-- a group of high school girls play this game where lies are given corresponding points, the lie that affects people the most will garner the biggest points but someone died and now that they are adults, their adolescent lies are catching up with them.

Chef Du Partie (CDP): The Global Table Restaurant in Power Plant Mall.

There was one weekend last month when I felt like I was suffering from fatigue because of the chain of events from the previous day (a long story). So instead of going out, T suggested having a simple dinner-movie date in Rockwell.  We walk around the outer area of Power Plant Mall to see what else we haven't tried when we see a nice restaurant called Chef du Partie.

Bean & Yolk, Now Open in Westgate Alabang.

Hey South peeps! There's a new cafe in town.. Check out Bean & Yolk which just opened last Friday in Westgate Alabang. 

The First Din Tai Fung Xiao Long Bao Bar in Power Plant Mall.

The first time T and I tried Din Tai Fung was in Hong Kong with our friends (read my blog post about our Hong Kong Trip).  When they expanded to the Philippines, T and I would dine every once in a while but it was only when they opened a Din Tai Fung branch at the new wing of Power Plant Mall in Rockwell would we eat there almost three times a week! Let me give me you two reasons why you should visit this particular branch even if you've eaten in Din Tai Fung already.

T + J Wedding Diaries: CEFAM's Discovery Weekend Manila.

T and I just made ourselves Facebook official by changing our relationship status from 'engaged' to 'married' (honestly, we just forgot to change it because we're not very much into the social media-couple thing). I'm placing an emphasis on the word married for my post today because sometimes couples get so involved in the wedding preparations that they forget to prepare for what's really important.. The marriage itself. 

One of the requirements of getting married in a Catholic Church is undergoing a pre-cana seminar at the diocese of the parish where you are getting married. Instead of doing this, T and I attend Discovery Weekend, a three-day retreat conducted by the Center for Family Ministries (CEFAM).

Before signing up, I consulted T about it but I got a vibe that he didn't want to attend.  I found that very unusual though because he has been very hands on with wedding planning and in anything that has to do with our relationship. I find out later, before our Discovery Weekend starts, that it's because he doesn't see the need to attend this retreat.  He thought the retreat is akin to a "self help book" for relationships and he felt we didn't need one because we are doing more than ok.

I totally agree with his sentiments but I've read stories of couples (even those together for a long time like us) who, after going to Discovery Weekend, realized there were issues they still had to settle between them.  So even if we've worked hard to where we are now, I just want to make sure that there isn't a stone left unturned in our relationship.

2018 Book Fairs (part 2): National Bookstore's Book Binge Bazaar.

It was crazy (in a good way) to see a lot of posts on social media about the Big Bad Wolf Sale in the last two weeks. I didn't expect that people my age or older were still into reading. Some were also parents buying books for their kids. But in any case, as an advocate of reading, I am truly happy to see all of those people who went to the book fair.

But before the arrival of that much hyped Big Bad Wolf Book Sale, National Bookstore had its first Book Binge Bazaar just the week before (February 9 to 11) at the SM Mega Trade Hall in SM Megamall. I'm surprised that I didn't see this in anyone's feed.  And that's why even if this event is already finished, I am still writing about it since everyone is suddenly into book fairs now and NBS will probably have another Book Binge Bazaar in 2019 *crossing fingers*

2018 Book Fairs (part 1): The Big Bad Wolf at the World Trade Center Manila.

If there's one thing that could beat my love for shopping, it would be my love for books. When we were younger, my Dad would always give me and my sister 100 pesos to spend on books (our training of handling money was by being given specific amounts for certain items but if we needed more, we could ask for it but we just had to justify why). Books were cheaper then so I remember being able to buy two Sweet Valley books already with that allowance. I also love reading R.L. Stine and Christoper Pike but unfortunately, not all of the titles are available in the Philippines. So when we go to the US, I would always go home with a luggage or a balikbayan box filled with books (Waldenbooks was the shizz!). I thank my mom for always encouraging us to read and my Dad for indulging us in this hobby, even if they were not readers themselves.

There were back-to-back book fairs this month and I plotted them both in my calendar. Let me start with the Big Bad Wolf Sale at the World Trade Center. I've been receiving direct messages on Instagram ever since I posted about it in my IG stories. Two million books at 60-80% off housed in one hall. How amazing is that!  The sale coincided with Valentines week so I told T no fancy restaurant for me this year.. Just bring me to this book fair and I will be more than happy. He stayed true to his promise and we went on the first day of the sale.

Ideally, the best time to go would be at 9am when the sale opens but with my bad back and all, I'm not sure if I could handle the crowd.  We went at around 11pm and there were still a lot of people but only a short line to get in. I knew it was going to be a long night so I came prepared and wore sneakers, donned a backpack instead of a handbag, and brought eco bags (dapat pala maleta but more on that later).

The Stress Remedy by Dr. Doni Wilson.

As a working professional, I'd say Sunday is my love-hate day. ‘Love' because it's the day which I get to spend to rest or with my family and loved ones but 'hate' because at the end of it, I know the next day would be a Monday. Don't get me wrong.. I love what I do and I am passionate about my work no matter how stressful it can get. I have a high capacity for stress (I'd say tried and tested!) and I actually live for high-stress events or cases but for some reason, the thought of Monday always gets me down.  What more for people who don't love what they do?

Our bodies are designed to deal with the normal stresses of every day life. But our bodies' natural 'stress response' can get out of balance and seriously impact our well-being. Living with high level of stress can put you down and affect your emotional, physical, and mental health. It actually puts relationships at risk and makes work less productive.

Date Ideas for Valentines 2018.

February 14 was also Ash Wednesday so T and I heard mass first and then watched Black Panther afterwards. Like I mentioned previously, we don't really 'celebrate' Valentines because T doesn't believe in needing a holiday to make me feel special (yay lucky me). So when he got me two bags of candies from Candy Corner, I thought that was it. When I got home, I was surprised with a delivery of a three-dozen Ferrero Rocher bouquet! We joked that it was a win-win situation since he loves Ferrero as much as I do.

But since most of us have work yesterday, I'm sure it was a bit hard to celebrate Valentines. Don't fret! There's still tomorrow and the weekend to do something special with your loved one. Here are a few suggestions based on what your partner is like.  Plus, I'm giving away a few freebies! Happy Valentines from me to you.