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19th Street Halloween Shindig 2018

We didn’t prepare much for last night’s Halloween Party at 19th Street, yet I still think it went quite well.

The youngest (human) resident of #99 was the star of the show – in these photos she she was trying on the masks that the two competing teams made on-the-spot for her:

Stitches & Words | 19th Street Halloween Shindig 2018

Though she may not look like she’s having fun, I really think she was!

A major difference this year – we had no candy! Yup, no sweet treats for everyone though we still had sugar rush thanks to the drinks and donuts.

Today, I am kicking off 30 Days of Thankful 2018 with a big thank you to everyone for indulging me in keeping up with this wonderful tradition that I truly hope we continue for many many many years to come: our annual Halloween party.

Last night was all about coming together and having loads of fun. We didn’t have to proclaim a best in costume winner because it wasn’t about dressing up or putting on scary make-up. There was no prize for the winning team apart from the recognition for a job well done, because it wasn’t about bringing home a prize.

It’s an opportunity to spend time with family and laugh so hard. It’s a chance to play games and be silly. And yes, it also gives us a reason to dress the kids up and take photos that we can blackmail them with for when they grow up. Like this one, my favorite Halloween photo so far, from 10 years ago:

Stitches & Words | 19th Street Halloween Shindig 2018

And I already have an idea for next year’s party, one that I’m writing down now so we don’t forget: Favorites. And scavenger hunt.

How did you spend Halloween?

**30 Days of Thankful is an annual album project started by Cathy Zielske. I made an album for last year, and I decided to try to write a daily post for this year. I may also still decide to do a physical album because, why not?

The Good Trade Fair – October 2018

Just as we did back in July, we went all the way to Central Square at the Bonifacio Global City last week for The Good Trade fair. It’s a weekend pop-up of small businesses espousing a zero-waste and sustainable lifestyle.

I finally restocked on the first organic deodorant I’ve used that didn’t have me worrying about smelly pits after a long day – Zero Basics Deodorant is all natural, keeps you dry and smell-free for 24 hours (maybe more), and doesn’t leave chemical residue that darkens your pits. Believe me, I have tried deodorants from a couple other local organic brands and this is the best so far.

One bottle will go a long way, unfortunately for me, I dropped my first bottle which is why I needed to restock so soon. Sa totoo lang, ikinalungkot ko yun. The bottle was still more than half full, and I just really had such a good product experience. My deo of choice used to be Dove Original. I love its powdery smell. I was quite happy with it except that the container ends up in a landfill and will probably exist longer than I will. So I made the switch. 

This one comes in an amber glass bottle with a spray nozzle and is refillable at a discount. Zero-waste, and cost-effective. 

I also got a pair of bamboo toothbrushes from the Zero Waste Hub, and filled a bottle that I brought with me with peppermint hand soap from Ritual.Ph. I love that there were a number of brands there that allowed for package-free, buy-what-you-need purchases. It does feel a little weird to already be lugging a shopping bag of empty containers BEFORE you do any actual shopping, but it really wasn’t all that bad, and not an inconvenience.  

It was also great to see Anthill Fabric weaves up close and personal. I didn’t buy any this time because sizes do tend to be for the average Pinay (translation: maliit para sa’kin), and they do cost considerably more than fast-fashion options.  I have my eye on a couple of pieces that I might save up for a custom order though. 

It was also great to dialogue with some of the shop owners and learn a little bit more of their products and advocacies. I was really trying to be intentional with my shopping and didn’t want to just purchase whatever I fancied – but there are definitely new-to-me brands that are now on my radar ?

What these fairs do, really, is make us more aware of the small changes we can do that can have great impact in reducing plastic waste, and leading a sustainable lifestyle that will be friendlier to Mother Earth. I was really looking for an alternative to dishwashing sponges. We go through one of those every couple of weeks and I know there’s a better alternative out there. I was hoping to find wood brushes or those abaca scrubs that weekend. Sadly, whatever stocks were available had already been sold out.  

Luckily, the Daily Convos Shop had these:

I didn’t buy any. But the lady who makes them was nice enough to talk to me about her products. I mentioned that I’m a yarn hoarder and could probably make one for myself. She recommended using cotton thread and even told me about how to keep these scrubbies clean and sanitized so they can be used for a long time.

SO I made a couple of squares to try. I actually still have a few sponges for backup but so far, the scrubbies are holding up and doing the job just fine. We have a silicone pot scrubber that we got from Taiwan for the tougher stains so I’m hoping that this is a switch we can do without any hassles. I just have to convincethe hubby to use the scrubbies instead of the sponge. 

I made a couple more to give to a friend to test-drive too. Friends and family out there who would love to switch too, I can make a couple for you as Christmas presents, just let me know!

Secret Paths Shawl

The truth is, I was not feeling too well on Sunday. I didn’t exactly have a headache, but it kind of feel’s like I was walking around with one. My hips too felt sore while the rest of my body was screaming for a massage.

Hello, monthly period.

But I still decided to show up. I wouldn’t waste the day lying in bed.

With my husband, we made it to a friend’s mom’s 70th birthday celebration. While my friend was faciliating a trivia game, and as we listened to messages of love for the birthday girl, I kept working on my second Secret Paths shawl (designed by Johanna Lindahl).

Yep, I was crocheting at a party. I just needed to finish one row, plus the edging. And I was determined to do it so I can give it to Tita.

It turned out beautifully, if I may say so myself.

Stitches & Words | Secret Paths Shawl http://verabear.net/2018/10/secret-paths-shawl/Stitches & Words | Secret Paths Shawl http://verabear.net/2018/10/secret-paths-shawl/Stitches & Words | Secret Paths Shawl http://verabear.net/2018/10/secret-paths-shawl/

I’ve had my husband’s full support on this project. Aside from modeling the finished work, he also helped me pick the colors. I used three different kinds of yarns including a Bernat Satin but I didn’t take note exactly which kinds. The darker shades are worsted weight, and the light ones are fingering. I used a size 4 hook all the way.

Since this is my second go at this pattern, it went on without a hitch. I didn’t have to concentrate on the pattern so it meant being able to watch Grey’s Anatomy while hooking.

I love trying out different patterns because that’s how I learn new stitches and techniques, but I feel like Secret Paths will be my go-to pattern for a quick and easy shawl. It’s uncomplicated, and Johanna Lindahl’s pattern is so easy to follow.

Here’s the link to MijoCrochet for the Secret Paths shawl pattern, if you want to give it a try. Be sure to let me know if you do and share your WIPs and finished projects! 🙂

Eat Well, Sleep More

I really truly thought I haven’t been this stress-free in so long. 

Until I got sick and the doctor told me that people get ATP when they’re under a lot of stress.

Sure, work isn’t as physically and mentally draining as it used to be for me (thank GOODNESS for that!), but there are other stressors around.  I figured that for me it was not sleeping enough and (sometimes) over fasting.

Having trouble sleeping

It’s been over a year since my Sleep Apnea diagnosis, yet unfortunately, I haven’t made much progress in creating habits to promote better sleep quality. Heck, I don’t even use my CPAP regularly. And I should. The sleep doctor recommended that I use that machine everyday, and even during travel.

When I got sick, I noticed an increased challenge in getting myself to relax and ease into slumber. At times, I even felt anxious. Of what, I couldn’t really tell.

My Fitbit comes with a Sleep Tracker, and if it’s accurate, I’m only getting an average of 3 hours of sleep. I have more Awake and Restless hours logged than actual Sleep! 

Getting enough rest and quality sleep should be a priority. No matter where you are in your life right now, it’s important to accept this. Getting sick, and being instructed by the doctor to rest at home for three days (without doing ANY work), is a sure way to get one to take this seriously. But we shouldn’t really wait for any Medical issues or emergencies before we take heed.

What happens we don’t get enough sleep?

This is Your Body Without Sleep (infographic) - see Pinterest link for image credits

This Is Your Body Without Sleep (Infographic)

Virtually everyone has experienced the negative effects of a bad night’s sleep: grogginess, crankiness, lack of focus and a host of other nasty feelings that hover over your body and mind the entire

So you see, there is A LOT riding on getting the right amount of shut-eye regularly. Our well-being depends on it.

Deliberately sleeping less

But I get it. Sleeping 8 hours or more daily means spending a third of our lifetime in bed. And when you’re dreaming big, and have so much to accomplish, that seems like too much time wasted.

So we try to make our days longer by cheating ourselves of a few minutes of sleep. Then we find that we need more time to do the things we want to do, so we wake up earlier, and go to bed later. And it keeps going on and on and on.

We tell ourselves: Oh I’m okay with just four hours of sleep. We convince ourselves that we can function just as well with four hours as we would if we had eight hours of sleep. But do we, really?

Skipping Meals

Have I mentioned that I recently lost about 40 pounds? That’s over the course of a year. The most weight I have lost and kept off EVER. Yay me.

I got here by eating well, and incorporating exercise into my routine. There’s actually a ways to go to get to my ideal weight (the answer to many health issues, apparently) but already, I know that I am in a good place in terms of my health and well-being.

My wellness plan involves having three balanced meals a day. There’s a prescribed timing for meals, but we’re cautioned not to starve ourselves. The problem is, I have unintentionally been skipping meals while at work the past few weeks. Doing so hasn’t helped me lose more weight. Instead, it just put me at more risk for getting sick. And get sick, I did.

That day I started having chills, and complained of a very sore throat, my husband immediately pointed out that I must not have been eating well. He accused me of skipping meals! I was on the defensive right away – telling him that that was against my wellness plan. But when the doctor was asking me questions around the same topic, I had to stop and really think about what I had been doing in more recent weeks. I had to admit to myself that yes, indeed I have been skipping meals to the point where I was starving. And I should have known better.

Purpose and Priority

Think about this: Instead of deliberately depriving yourself of sleep, how can you make more out of 16 hours that you’re already awake? Take an accounting of each 15- or 30-minute block of your waking hours and ask yourself: does the time you spend on the things you do, represent the life you want to live?

Do your current actions take you closer to your goals?

It isn’t easy. First you need to determine what you want to achieve. Have you painted your big picture? Do you know where you want to go?

Knowing your purpose, setting your intention, makes it easier to decide what your priority is. It makes tough decisions easier to make, like how you spend each minute, and with whom you spend it with.

If you haven’t decided yet what your big goals are, then maybe you can make to prioritize. So you can spend less time doing unimportant stuff, and have more time for what matters most – including rest and sleep.

As for me, I have my Passion Road Map (thanks to my Passion Planner). It’s still changing from time to time, and I’m not sure that I’ve already found my purpose in life, but I understand the general direction I want to head towards. But I’ve realized too that I will not achieve my goals, or it will take a lot of extra effort to do so, if I keep pushing my body to the limit without giving it the proper nourishment, exercise, and rest that it needs.

So getting better sleep, and NOT skipping meals, are currently my priority. Locking these down help assure that I will have the physical and mental energy, for everything else I need to do.

How about you? How much sleep do you get? And do you eat three balanced meals daily?

 

I don’t like this picture!

I enjoyed our vacation in Taiwan so much – there was a lot to see, and we were in good company.

But I’m not LOVING this photo so much. Haha!

Here, we were about to go up the steps in Jiufen Old Street that is famous for being the inspiration for the animated film Spirited Away (not just the steps, ha). Somehow though, instead of igniting memories of sights and sounds of that rainy but FUN day, looking at this photo has me fretting over my not-so-crowning glory. Ugh!

But I am still sharing this photo. Why?

Because I realize that having thinning hair has been bothering me MORE than it should. I mean, of course I do worry about it – it could be a sign of some health issue (and as it turns out, of low levels of a particular hormone). And I am dealing with it.

But I shouldn’t let this bother me SO MUCH, and in THIS WAY.

Not SO MUCH that I wouldn’t want photos of me being taken. And definitely not SO MUCH that I see a photo and completely overlook the more important memories and experiences memorialized in that captured moment.

Sure, I don’t look perfect (ha! It’s not just the hair, hon), but I was having a GREAT TIME.

It had been raining; my hair, scarf and jacket were wet – so I was getting really cold. And I was thinking, I should have brought a backpack instead. But I didn’t mind. I just really wanted to keep walking and keep exploring. I didn’t care about how I looked right at that moment. It was the weekend and Old Street was teeming with tourists, stopping for a photo already meant blocking the way up. I didn’t feel the need to take the time to fix my hair and everything else right then. Besides, why be bothered NOW about how I looked THEN when all I’m supposed to be doing is looking back at that memory?

Of course, most of the time I would also try to look better when being photographed, just like every other person. There is nothing wrong with that. Who doesn’t want to look good? I just also have to admit that I don’t look good all the time. Not Instagram- or Pinterest-worthy every second of the day. And I am okay with that.

This quick visit to Jiufen is one of my favorites of the entire trip because I felt that the place had a vibe like Sagada’s – it’s in the north of Taiwan, and the quieter street had interesting artisan shops and cafés. It is definitely a place I would love to visit again.

Over at the very busy Old Street, there was so much food and it was interesting to just stand back and witness all that was happening. Even watching food being prepared is quite the treat.

All that, and more, is what I should remember. And that’s what you should see too.

The next time you look at photos of a vacation, event, or even everyday life, and it sparks a good memory BUT also shows you in a funny or unglamorous light – choose to look beyond your perceived imperfections. Remember its context and remind yourself of the stories associates with it.

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