Top 10 books that stayed with me in some way

I’m currently re-reading Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus — a total of nine books. The most recent book came out and, due to my literary amnesia, I usually read the previous books all over again to prep myself before getting to the newest one. What I hate most while reading a series is forgetting a small but significant detail. “Who’s Tyson again?” “How did Bianca die?” “… etc.

There’s a meme going around in Facebook asking for a list of the top 10 books that stayed with you in some way. My friends Chie and Alet tagged me so the ardent reader in me felt obliged to share some of my greatest literary loves in the world to my 2,800 Facebook friends. Now I’ve read thousands and thousands of books since I was a kid so I may have forgotten some. And I do have a lot of favorites. But this list below is a good representation of the books that I will never forget spanning several genres. 

In no particular order:
1. Foundation (series) – Isaac Asimov [My one and greatest sci-fi love from the king of the genre. I thank my Dad for this.]
2. Discworld series – Terry Pratchett [I can re-read these books over and over and over again. So good!]
3. Wicked – Gregory Maguire [This stole my cold, little heart. I got so mad when someone stole it in Riyadh.]
4. The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho ["I am an adventurer, looking for treasure." -- personal mantra.]
5. Broken Empire Trilogy – Mark Lawrence [Not the gentlest of books but oh so worth it,]
6. Percy Jackson & the Olympians – Rick Riordan [Probably one of the most inventive modern rendition of Greek mythology.]
7. Relic and all Pendergast books – Lincoln Child and Douglas Preston [All hail the glorious weirdness that is Pendergast.]
8. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams [DON'T PANIC.]
9. Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman [Only Gaiman can make a dirty subway system seem glamorous and mystical.]
10. Codex Alera – Jim Butcher [Butcher is probably the only fantasy writer that could leave me wanting more even after six long books.]

Books that almost made the list. Honorable mentions:
1. Harry Potter series – J.K. Rowling [Mainstream but, what can I say, they're just really awesome.]
2. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley [This book as the ability to make you think for the rest of your life.]
3. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden [By the end of the book, you'll feel like moving to early 20th century Kyoto and train to be a geisha.]
4. Perfume – Patrick Suskind [Utterly horrifying and fascinating. Very original.]
5. The Vampire Chronicles – Anne Rice [I was obsessed with this when I was in college.]
6. Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card [I only read it before I saw the movie so I can compare both mediums. But I ended up really liking it.]
7. The Eyre Affair – Jasper Fforde [Another very original book. Literary Detective must be the best job title of all time.]
8. Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel [For get all the Henry VIII books floating around in the lit ether. Buy this and you'll realize what makes it special.]

When I come home tonight, I would love to curl up on the daybed (possibly with one of the chihuahuas on my tummy) covered in an ultra-soft throw and a cup of lavender earl grey tea on the coffee table. But alas! This girl has a lot (and I mean TONS) of schoolwork to do before she leaves for a short vacay to the Poconos tomorrow. So my recreational reading would have to wait until I’m chillaxin’ on a rocking chair with a glorious view of the mountainside and the Delaware River before me.

Until the next note. 

Shoe Shopping Tip: shop in the kid’s department and save a lot

I learned a very useful tip recently. Most shoe brands have similar designs for women’s and girl’s shoes but the latter is sold for a lot cheaper. There are sizes that overlap. So if you’re a woman who has small to average sized feet, you can get a nice, cheaper pair from the kid’s department.

Just deduct 2 from your regular size to find your corresponding kid size. For example, I’m a 7.5 women’s US so a pair of 5.5 kid’s US would fit. See the chart here from The Krazy Coupon Lady.

I wish I knew this before I bought my several pairs of Toms.

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Anyway, I got a pair of new petal grosgrain slip-ons for myself and a pair of lace-ups for Chris since it’s 25% off until August 25, 2014.

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Click this link for a $20 off coupon for your first purchase of $75 or over.

Why TOMs shoes’ charity model is overrated

I find it funny when I read or hear about people defending their spending $40-60+ on a pair of TOMs shoes by saying that, for each purchase, the company donates one pair of shoes to children in need. Okay. That sounds nice. But please use your brains for a minute.

A pair of classic TOMs: $48
Possible manufacturing cost of retail shoes: (I’m being generous here) $8
Possible manufacturing cost of free shoes: $8

Gross profit: $32

Even if you deduct overhead fees and other costs, the company still makes a pretty penny. Given that their revenues for the last year are estimated to be between 250 to 300 million dollars, I’m sure the founder and owner of the company doesn’t just have charity and sustainability in mind.

Now don’t get me wrong, I do own a couple of pairs. I bought a purple/yellow one for myself (seen in picture below) and a glittery black pair will be delivered soon. I bought a red/black pair for my mother (in photo) and a pattered striped blue pair (in photo) for my little sister, Sofia. I also got a pair of classic red for my friend, Kamille, which will be arriving along with my glitter shoes.

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You know what else makes me laugh? The ones who are too snooty and look down on similar shoes that are not TOMs. Like Skechers’ Bobs. Unless you’re blind, it’s obvious that Skechers stole the idea and model from TOMs (and earned a lot of money by doing it). But you know what, I don’t really care. They’re cheaper and very comfortable since Skechers added a memory foam insole, which feels heavenly especially if you walk a lot. In fact, I own a pair:

bobs

I own TOMs not because they’re popular or have a “good cause.” Not even because they use organic cotton or recycled boxes with soy ink. *rollseyes* I own them because they are cute and comfortable. I own a pair of Bobs for the same reason. I plan to get another pair of Bobs — the silver glittery one similar to TOMs’ black glitter slip-on that I just purchased.

They are a tad expensive, though. I’m a known Scrooge so spending more than $30 on a pair of shoes makes me cringe. My advise is to use coupons. They have good ones out there. When I bought the purple/yellow and red/black shoes, I got $15 off PER SHOE since the Campus Classic line were on sale for a limited time. So that’s $33 per shoe. When that expired, I used a $20 off for $75+ purchase to get the black glitter pair for me and the classic red for Kamille. I got my sister’s blue biminis on sale at the mall for $30. The total retail price for all five shoes is $240 but I only spent $178. Never pay retail price for anything. Except for my sister’s shoes, I purchased everything from the TOMs website and used coupons because I’m leery of fakes when it comes to popular trendy stuff like these.

I would have bought my husband a pair but Chris only wears sneakers and the occasional dress shoes. He looked at the men’s alpargata shoes suspiciously. I think that he puts them in the same category as men not wearing socks with lace up leather dress shoes. Eew.

As a side note, a lot of company donate to charities. Even Skechers does, Bobs or no Bobs.

After Typhoon Haiyan.

On a side note, I hate it when people say, “Oh, you must have had a hard life,” (emphasis on the HARD) and look at me with pity after I mention that I am from the Philippines. Puh-lease. I had a great life while I was there, I love it more than any country in the world, and if it were not for certain circumstances in my life, I would rather be home right at this very moment. Not everyone is destitute and we are not an unhappy people. We certainly gripe and complain a lot less than people I’ve met in more developed countries because we know how to work hard but live life to the fullest at the same time.

I miss packing up yummy homemade food for a day-long trip to the beach for free (or a small sum), having great meals at a fraction of the cost of a fast food takeout here, my mother’s sinigang na boneless bangus, going to some of the biggest and greatest malls in the world that are one-stop shops for everything you need, hearing people speak the same expressive language you speak, getting super fresh seafood, eating baskets of the most luscious mangoes on earth, sorbetes ice cream, taho, jeepneys and trikes (I know, right!), living a few hours from places that remind you of paradise, and many many more. I took a lot of things for granted before I realized that I could not experience them here unless you spend an ungodly amount of money for a trip or a cruise.

There is a reason why people who have worked abroad for most of the year clap when the plane lands in NAIA. Someday, I will take my husband and retire there. We still have a lot of things to do here in his home country but we will eventually go (to my) home.

The DOT was right, It is more fun in the Philippines.

What to Wear

Ten years ago, I would stand in front of the mirror and decide what to wear the next day every single night. Don’t get me wrong, I was NOT fashionable. I didn’t have a lot of money — I spent most of my college allowance on books (duh!), food (double duh!) and, again, food. My clothes and shoes consisted mainly of basic items and the only relatively pricey and brand name items I had were the ones given to me by my parents. I also had major body dysmorphic disorder. I felt fat and extremely unattractive and this affected my self-confidence and poise.

So whenever I stood in front of the dormitory mirror every night, it wasn’t because I was a vain, teenage SOB. I was just thinking of a way to not look too pathetic the next day.

Ten years later, THANK GOD that I’m cured of that. I was not skinny as I was in college. (WHY did I ever think that I was FAT?!) But I don’t feel unattractive anymore. I don’t feel self-conscious. I’ve also realized a few years ago that trendy does not mean fashionable. Fashionable is wearing what suits you. And even if that darling dress looks wondermous on a size zero, six-foot tall model, it doesn’t mean that it would look just as fantabulous on your size 4 or 6, 5’4″ body.

Know your body. (Even if you feel fat.) Wear what suits you.

Now… what should I wear tomorrow?

I’m fat. Grrrrr. Yes, it’s one of those days.

I stubbornly insisted that I didn’t know who or what the eff Led Zeppelin was and I didn’t care. And that Joe Perry and Buckethead were guitar gods as far as I was concerned. When I was told that no self-respecting American would not know who Led Zeppelin is, I instantly growled “I’m not American, dagnabbit!”

And then I was forced to listen to it. With particular stress on Jimmy Page’s guitar solo. And you know what? I liked it.

I need a studio

The second room needs to be cleared out. First, we need to get rid of that monster of a TV unless Chris decides to leave it there permanently. Then there’s the bike. I can probably shove it into a corner. *sigh* Perhaps I should have had my hubby buy me one of those fold-able bikes that are so much easier to ride. Third, should the man-fridge stay there or not? It seems to be better if it were more accessible, like if it’s in the living room.

I badly need a studio. Right now, I’m working on a sketch of Shelby with my massive easel by the bed. My tools are close by — the little, counter-height table is crammed with my laptop, a mug stuffed with pencils, a few charcoal sticks, a kneaded eraser, a regular eraser, brushes for smudging.  As for me, my bum is parked on the bed itself and I’m trying to ignore the fact that I’m losing circulation in my legs. Our bedroom is tiny and most of the free space is dominated by the computer table.

I need my own space.

I need the well-lighted room.

I need a place where I won’t drop bits of charcoal on my lovely, deep red sheets.

Basically, I need office space. This art thing is not just a hobby, this is also my second job. The job that I like to do after my day job that pays the bills. Granted, I am just starting so it’s not like I’m earning loads of money from it but everyone has to start somewhere. Hell, even McDonald’s had humble beginnings.

I have my equipment, a box full of flashy fuchsia, black and gold business cards, and a mind full of so-called talent that I inherited from my Dad. So please help me earn some moolah or just simply like this page:

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What am I working on right at this moment? (Aside from writing this post, of course.) Shelby:

2013.01.19 working on shelby

I’m not even half done. Hell, I’m not even 1/4 done! But it’s not bad for someone who suffered from a 10-year artist’s block.

Pick me up at 7:30. – Tiffany (Silver Linings Playbook)

Possible the funniest, quirkiest, and most dramatic response to a not-really-date invitation.

Grrrr… BMI

For the past 2 months, I’ve been eating like a monster. Or a professional football player, whichever is worse. I’m still not fat, I can still wear a swimsuit without being an eyesore to the public. But I’m not very  happy with my BMI.

I’ve always had an issue with this BMI thing. I’ve always been heavy, probably because I’m big-boned (this is not an excuse, I really am!), compact, and tightly put together. Even when I was in college, I was the heaviest girl in PE class — heaviest, not fattest — and I had to use bigger weights compared to girls twice my girth. I’m not very tall either, just 5’4″ and I’m a healthy size 6. If you look at me, I look like I’m at least 10 pounds lighter. But because of this trait that I inherited from both sides of the family, my BMI will forever be screwed up. This is why I’m not aiming for a 19 and I decided that I’m going down to a 22 instead. I don’t have a scale because I refuse to bow down to the tyranny of constant weight obsession that strikes many females in this unfortunate thin-centric society! Which is why I’ll concentrate on size now. My target is to go down to at least a size 4, the BMI and weight should follow.

No, I’m not going to start eating rabbit food. But I will try not to snack on unhealthy things and stay away from candy bars and cakes. The occasional indulgence is okay but only in moderation! No more second servings. Instead of big, complete meals, I’ll snack the whole day, eating small servings 4-5 times. I did this before and it really worked. And, most importantly, I need to increase my physical activity. I promise to walk my fat dog everyday so we can both lose weight.

There.

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