Year: 2016

How we sprinkled some Christmas vibes away from home

Leaving home is no feat. And spending holidays without your people? It's awful. Homesickness will haunt your core. Stress, anxiety, and loneliness will be your three enemies when dealing with constant longing. 

Doing travel nursing is one of the best decisions I've made, and I don't know any other career path that is more appropriate for me than what I have right now. However, one major downside of it is being away from your comfort zone. That doesn't get to my nerves anymore because I've been working overseas for three years now. And I love it. Luis, on the other hand, had never left his hometown before we ventured into travel nursing. So it's natural for him to feel more homesick than I do.

This Christmas is his first Christmas away from home. This Christmas is also the same holiday that I'm not in my permanent flat. But that doesn't mean we don't get to experience Christmas, because love find ways. Lol, cheesy❤️

This photo was taken from my permanent flat. I bought some Christmas-themed pieces last November. During that time, I was still convinced that we'd be celebrating our Christmas in the valley. But, here we are in Lufkin just a month after! 😂

I was planning to buy some Christmas lights, at least, to have something in our temporary crib but Luis doesn't like the idea of it because it'd take some space when we move again. And he's right.

So what did we do, really?

Here are some ways to put extra holiday ambience to your temporary home:

  1. Light up those scented candles


Aside from its relaxation properties, candles can also set the mood in your home. While you can choose essential oils and fragrance sprays over candles due to fire hazard reasons, they have been known as Christmas symbol for ages. The warmth it gives to a certain place is just so homey!

We chose Pine and Apple&Evergreen scents because they are Christmas related. My other favorite candle scents are pumpkin waffle (You should try this one!) and vanilla caramel. Get yours here.

Now, you might read some negative effects of scented candles, like it might cause cancer, asthma, those kinds of stuff. (Refer to Huffington Post)

According to Anne Steinemann, an environmental pollutants expert who is a professor of civil engineering and the chair of sustainable cities at the University of Melbourne, certain candles may emit numerous types of potentially hazardous chemicals, such as benzene and toluene. They can cause damage to the brain, lung and central nervous system, as well.

“I have heard from numerous people who have asthma that they can’t even go into a store if the store sells scented candles, even if they aren’t being burned,” Steinemann added. “They emit so much fragrance that they can trigger asthma attacks and even migraines.”

Researchers at South Carolina State University tested both petroleum-based paraffin wax candles and vegetable-based candles that were non-scented, non-pigmented and free of dyes. Their 2009 report concluded that while the vegetable-based candles didn’t produce any potentially harmful pollutants, the paraffin candles “released unwanted chemicals into the air,” said chemistry professor Ruhullah Massoudi in a statement.
“For a person who lights a candle every day for years or just uses them frequently, inhalation of these dangerous pollutants drifting in the air could contribute to the development of health risks like cancer, common allergies and even asthma,” Massoudi said.

BUT

The National Candle Association refutes these claims, stating in a comment to The Huffington Post: “The safety of scented candles is backed by decades of research, fragrance testing and a history of safe use. The fragrances approved for candle usage — whether synthesized or ‘natural’ — do not release toxic chemicals. Health and safety studies are conducted for fragrance materials used in candles, including toxicological and dermatological tests.”

2. Prepare your favorite holiday treat


For us, it's Christmas meltaway cookies. Meltaway cookies are a soft, lightly sweet shortbread cookie that literally melts away in your mouth.  Okay, I didn't bake this one. I got ours from Walmart.

Cookies are Luis' favorite treat. And having ready to eat cookies in our kitchen brings wonders to his mood. Lol. I don't like baking in general so I don't have any go-to ingredients for this. But I was able to search one that matches what we got so HERE:

Yield: 20 cookies

Ingredients

Cookies:

¾ cup butter (1½ sticks, or 14 Tbsp), room temperature

½ cup powdered sugar

½ cup cornstarch

1 tsp vanilla

¼ tsp salt

1 cup all-purpose flour

Glaze:

1½ cups powdered sugar

3 to 4 Tbsp milk

¼ tsp vanilla or almond extract

Optional:

red & green sprinkles

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment cream the butter with the powdered sugar and cornstarch. Add vanilla. Mix well.

3. Combine the salt and flour. Add to the batter. Mix until dough clumps together.

4. Scoop cookie dough onto silicone lined baking sheets. Flatten dough balls with the bottom of a measuring cup dipped in powdered sugar.

5. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 8 to 12 minutes until just set. Do not over-bake.

6. Whisk together the ingredients for the glaze adding extra milk 1 tsp at a time until desired consistency. (Keep it slightly thick, a little milk goes a long way.) Spoon on top of cooled cookies.

7. Immediately shake sprinkles on top of wet glaze. Allow glaze to harden. Store cookies in an airtight container up to 5 days.

3. Have a sip of some peppermint drink


What goes with cookies? Milk chocolate drink. And it should be Peppermint! Or else it's just another chocolate drink without the Christmas spirit. lol.

Sorry for the burnt mallows, I just like it toasted (for more caramel flavor). This is by far my favorite experimental drink I've made. I bought peppermint candies, crushed and sprinkled them on top of my Swiss Miss Chocolate drink with marshmallows. This hot drink is perfect before sleeping! We usually drink this after work so we can have a good rest.

Also, I got the idea from Ihop's chocolate drink.

4. Play your Christmas playlist

Click here for the Playlist that we play every morning.
Luis also plays Christmas songs from Youtube. It became a habit that we seriously enjoyed. Although he gets annoyed when I sing along. 😅

Okay, this may not be suited for the holiday vibe of this post but I just find it poetic. The timing is just perfect:

As BBC News reported and Michael’s publicist confirmed, George Michael died Christmas Day at age 53. He is the star beyond the iconic song, Last Christmas.

Mind blowing, right? Of all the days, of all the holidays, he died on Christmas day. We've played this song endless times! I even did my knock knock joke (song related) to Luis!

Knock knock!

Who's there?

December 25,2015

December 25,2015 who?

Last Christmas, I gave you my heart

Knock knock!

Who's there?

December 26,2015

December 26,2015 who?

But the very next day, you gave it away

Knock knock!

Who's there?

2016

2016 who?

This year, to save me from tears

Knock knock!

Who's there?

Luis

Luis who?

I'll give it to someone special

❤️

You just never know when your last Christmas will be. But maybe his spirit knew. And isn't a good time to go? With high spirits everywhere, carolers in the streets, happy scenes scattered in malls and in homes, such a good time to be alive, too! It's just me and my poetic self talking. Don't mind it.

5. Order a Holiday special at your favorite restaurant

If you don't plan to cook, go to your favorite restaurant and order their Holiday special on Christmas morning.

We didn't have the time to roam around because we worked both Christmas eve and Christmas night. So we figured going to our favorite breakfast place will do. And of course, don't have to guess, it's Ihop!

Because pancakes!

Annddd that's about it for this holiday post.

Just kidding. Last but not the least:

6. Gift giving

These gifts are actually from his family. And we love everything in this box!

From cookies to shoes to leggings and pens, they sure know how to make it personal. You see, it's not about expensive gifts. It may be cliche to say this, but it is really the thought that counts. This year, I gave him a leather jacket. He didn't bring one going here because he never thought it'll be cold this season, considering Lufkin's still Texas. Good thing, he left his jacket in my flat and I thought of bringing it with me. That jacket though is not as appropriately insulated as the one I bought. And honestly, he asked for that gift. Practicality goes a long way, they say. We went to Houston and roamed around Galleria mall and found one that suits him best at Macy's. It's INC hooded jacket with removable hood, drawstring closure. Its original cost is $225, but we got it for only $95.90! If you want to purchase one for you with the same discount, go ahead and click >>this<<< and enter code: JOY upon checkout.

Could you guess what he gave me?

The art of fixing what I thought I never needed. Okay, that's too dramatic.

Last September, we went to HEB after our cruise getaway, and unfortunately, I dropped my phone against a metal bar  at the bottom of the ice cream stall. My screen was broken (and it's not the tapered glass you guys!). So for three months, my phone has cracks all over it, I sometimes chip my thumbs. So when we went for gift shopping, we stopped by CELLTECH. It is a one stop for your repair needs, from cellphones, to tablets to laptops. They also specialize in carrying unique and trendy cellphone accessories. They have two trained professionals who patiently assisted us in finding the right case for my phone.

It's almost closing time (0930PM), and I thought they won't accept my phone anymore, but props to their tech team! They repaired it for only 10 minutes. It costs $235, all in all, including my new phone case which is shock and water-resistant. I didn't ask for a gift so my Luis, being the thoughtful guy that he is, paid for everything. I volunteered to pay for the case but he insisted to pay the whole amount. Here is the breakdown: $150 for repair, $60 for the phone case, and the remaining $10 for taxes. The moral of the story: Don't ever drop your phone! And invest in tapered glass! You just never know when your phone's going to give up on you and your tantrums. Lol.

My 2016 Christmas is different from my other Christmases. Last year, I celebrated it with my family and friends in the Philippines. It was fun-filled and I was hyper most of the time. This year, it was quiet and relaxed. Plus, I was with Luis and Pumpkin. During my **single** ages aka boring years, I'd always wish to celebrate this season with someone I love. You know, sharing a cup of warm drink on this cold and cuddle weather. This year is THAT year. All those years of waiting and praying and hoping that someone is out there waiting for me to be his other half, they just made sense. Love is truly worth the wait.

Christmas time is that time of the year when you acknowledge Christ's presence in your life. Isn't he the reason for this season? Aside from the things that everybody look forward to- gifts, travel and all- we should keep in mind that Christmas is never about the physical things. It's about the never-ending grace from our creator. We live because He died for us and our sins thousands of years ago. We love because He first loved us. We give because He had given us everything. We forgive because He had forgiven us even before we commit our earthly sins. (Related post: Christmas story)

If ever you don't celebrate Christmas, for whatever reason, please know that my happy soul is reaching out to you! It may be Happy Hannukah to you, or just another ordinary day. I don't know, but I want you to feel that wherever you are, whatever season you are in right now, you are loved and adored!

How did your December 25th go? Share your story!

The Christmas story

If you’re looking for the best source of a Christmas story, go get your Bible. No really. I’m not kidding.

Here are some bible verses that tell us what happened on Christmas years ago:

Isaiah 7:14 (NIV)
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.


Malachi 3:1-4 (KJV)
Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. But who may abide the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: and he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years.


Micah 5:2-3 (CEB)
As for you, Bethlehem of Ephrathah, though you are the least significant of Judah’s forces, one who is to be a ruler in Israel on my behalf will come out from you. His origin is from remote times, from ancient days. Therefore, he will give them up until the time when she who is in labor gives birth. The rest of his kin will return to the people of Israel.


Isaiah 9:2, 6-7 (ESV)
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.


Isaiah 40:1-2, 9 (GW)
“Comfort my people! Comfort them!” says your God. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and announce to it that its time of hard labor is over and its wrongs have been paid for. It has received from the Lord double for all its sins.” Go up a high mountain, Zion. Tell the good news! Call out with a loud voice, Jerusalem. Tell the good news! Raise your voice without fear. Tell the cities of Judah: “Here is your God!”


Hebrews 1:1-2 (HCSB)
Long ago God spoke to the fathers by the prophets at different times and in different ways. In these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son. God has appointed Him heir of all things and made the universe through Him.


Luke 1:26-35 (ICB)
During Elizabeth’s sixth month of pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to a virgin who lived in Nazareth, a town in Galilee. She was engaged to marry a man named Joseph from the family of David. Her name was Mary. The angel came to her and said, “Greetings! The Lord has blessed you and is with you.”

But Mary was very confused by what the angel said. Mary wondered, “What does this mean?”

The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, because God is pleased with you. Listen! You will become pregnant. You will give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and people will call him the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of King David, his ancestor. He will rule over the people of Jacob forever. His kingdom will never end.”

Mary said to the angel, “How will this happen? I am a virgin!”

The angel said to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will cover you. The baby will be holy. He will be called the Son of God.


Matthew 1:18-23 (PHILLIPS)
The birth of Jesus Christ happened like this. When Mary was engaged to Joseph, just before their marriage, she was discovered to be pregnant—by the Holy Spirit. Whereupon Joseph, her future husband, who was a good man and did not want to see her disgraced, planned to break off the engagement quietly. But while he was turning the matter over in his mind an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife! What she has conceived is conceived through the Holy Spirit, and she will give birth to a son, whom you will call Jesus (‘the Saviour’) for it is he who will save his people from their sins.”

All this happened to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet—‘Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel’. (“Immanuel” means “God with us.”)


Luke 2:1-7 (CEV)
About that time Emperor Augustus gave orders for the names of all the people to be listed in record books. These first records were made when Quirinius was governor of Syria.

Everyone had to go to their own hometown to be listed. So Joseph had to leave Nazareth in Galilee and go to Bethlehem in Judea. Long ago Bethlehem had been King David’s hometown, and Joseph went there because he was from David’s family.

Mary was engaged to Joseph and traveled with him to Bethlehem. She was soon going to have a baby, and while they were there, she gave birth to her first-born son. She dressed him in baby clothes[d] and laid him on a bed of hay, because there was no room for them in the inn.


Luke 2:8-20 (NET)
Now there were shepherds nearby living out in the field, keeping guard over their flock at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were absolutely terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid! Listen carefully, for I proclaim to you good news that brings great joy to all the people: Today your Savior is born in the city of David. He is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a vast, heavenly army appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among people with whom he is pleased!”

When the angels left them and went back to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, that the Lord has made known to us.” So they hurried off and located Mary and Joseph, and found the baby lying in a manger. When they saw him, they related what they had been told about this child, and all who heard it were astonished at what the shepherds said. But Mary treasured up all these words, pondering in her heart what they might mean. So the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen; everything was just as they had been told.


Matthew 2:1-12 (NIrV)
Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea. This happened while Herod was king of Judea. After Jesus’ birth, Wise Men from the east came to Jerusalem. They asked, “Where is the child who has been born to be king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose. Now we have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard about it, he was very upset. Everyone in Jerusalem was troubled too. So Herod called together all the chief priests of the people. He also called the teachers of the law. He asked them where the Messiah was going to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied. “This is what the prophet has written. He said,

“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are certainly not the least important among the towns of Judah.
A ruler will come out of you.
He will rule my people Israel like a shepherd.’”

Then Herod secretly called for the Wise Men. He found out from them exactly when the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem. He said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report it to me. Then I can go and worship him too.”

After the Wise Men had listened to the king, they went on their way. The star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them. It finally stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy. The Wise Men went to the house. There they saw the child with his mother Mary. They bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures. They gave him gold, frankincense and myrrh. But God warned them in a dream not to go back to Herod. So they returned to their country on a different road.


John 1:1-4, 14 (NLT)
In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.

So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.


John 3:16-17 (NRSV)
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.


John 20:31 (NABRE)
But these are written that you may [come to] believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.


Hebrews 1:3 (VOICE)
This is the One who—imprinted with God’s image, shimmering with His glory—sustains all that exists through the power of His word. He was seated at the right hand of God once He Himself had made the offering that purified us from all our sins.

“Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit that is from God, so that we may understand the gifts bestowed on us by God”

1 Corinthians 2:12

How to make Tostada (the lazy version)

I am always looking for options to simplify cooking and preparing food. I’d rather sleep most of the time than roleplay chef because of my demanding work. But one Saturday night, I found myself craving for Tostada.

Tostada is a Spanish term meaning “toasted.” According to some of my Mexican co-workers, it’s basically fried tortilla. When you have tortilla that is close to its expiration date, you can just fry them and make a set of tostada. The tortilla is fried in boiling oil until it becomes golden, rigid and crunchy, rather like a slice of toasted bread. That way, you don’t contribute to America’s oversupply of leftovers.

Is it just fried tortilla? Actually no.

Tostadas are a dish on their own in Mexico and the American Southwest. Mostly, the toppings used are the same as with tacos, known as “guisados”; beans, cheese, sour cream, chopped lettuce, sliced onions, and salsa are mainstays that may be spread on a tostada, which is then topped with diced and fried meat, usually chicken or pork. They are also popular with seafood such as tuna, shrimp, crab, chopped octopus, and ceviche. 

Sounds like a lot of preparation time right? As they say, the lazy ones always find an easier route. 😂

Here are the ingredients that I bought straight from Walmart:


From left to right, top to bottom: Old El Paso Tostada shells (12 pcs), Rotisserie chicken, Marketside shredded lettuce, Eden Organic Refried Black beans, Cacique Crema Mexicana (sour cream), and Kraft Mexican cheddar jack. All these are under $15, including another box of tostada shells. It serves up to six to eight people.

Prep:

1. Microwave beans according to instructions. I heated mine for two minutes.

2. Dice the chicken. This is the most time-consuming part of it. So maybe if you can find cooked chicken tenders, it’ll be easier. It’s perfect for leftover meats- Shrimps, beef, porkchops. You can tostada almost everything!

3. Assemble. This is real easy if you know the basics of layering: just don’t mess it up.

In order:

Tostada (of course)

Beans

Lettuce

Chicken

Cheese

Sour cream

You can also add salsa or even hot sauce if you prefer a spicy version.

Here’s the finished product:


Luis liked it as much as I did! Super yuuummm. And it’s really easy to make. It’s good for appetizer but we ate this for dinner while watching Lost on Netflix. Filled us right up!

As what I’ve said, this is the lazy version. There are much more complicated recipes of Tostadas in the internet. And I bet they’re tastier, too! But we enjoyed this one so I guess it’s win-win. ❤️

Travel Nursing: Exploring Lufkin

Lufkin is 120 miles northeast of Houston, and is considered to be the county seat of Angelina County. It is at the crossroads of East Texas at the intersections of Highways 59 (leading to Houston and Rio Grande Valley) and 69 (leading to Port Arthur and Beaumont).

Yesterday after work, Luis and I went to Suddenlink to pay for our internet application and installation. Going there, we passed by a park that is located at the corner near our hospital. Nope. We didn’t notice that before! It’s only five minutes from our workplace! I think that’s the advantage of going to a small city. You get to see lots of cool stuff in a 5-mile radius.

Chambers Park


There’s nobody there. We owned the place, literally. Or maybe because it’s Monday, and everybody’s at work. There’s no car, no entrance fee whatsoever. It’s just there, beautifully existing, free, and open to strangers who want to enter the place. Like most of my pretty friends. Just kidding, you guys. 😂


There’s not a lot of parking space. I think it’s only good for ten cars tops. The place is quiet and intimate as it is. We feel like we can shoot a movie here, us throwing romantic pick-up lines and cheesy comebacks, but *spoilers 🚨 * we’re just like those ordinary couples who love to annoy each other. 🙈


This is Luis making sure he locked Gavin… and isn’t the backdrop so captivating? Sometimes I wish Luis can take photos of me like this. You know, all natural with hypnotizing background and is balanced in all angles. But he’s not really into photography, much more into selfies, or taking photos in general. He’s a private person who doesn’t enjoy these kinds of stuff. He loved the place though. He didn’t really say it, but I can feel it from his comments about the park.


This caught our attention because what if this place isn’t open to the public? Lol. My imagination sometimes runs wild, and I think of murder cases and bloody plot twists. I can blame Netflix for that or Patterson’s knack for suspense. Near this sign is a house(?) or a gathering place (?) which has a tarpaulin on it saying, “Narcotics anonymous.”

I looked at Luis and jokingly said, “Love, this is getting scary.” lol You know those horror scenes where the main characters find a creepy spot out of nowhere and the skies suddenly turn dark? Well, it didn’t happen. Too bad. There’s nobody in there though, and if there were we can just say hi to people and leave. We’re nurses, and part of our job is to maintain the integrity of our patients. Most people in those kinds of help groups are there because they want to change their lives, or at least have a support group that understands what they’re going through.

*No photo of the facility for private reasons.*

But here are other cool photos from our new favorite spot:



Dropping these babies on instagram made my feed so pretty in an instant!

We’re on our scrubs (straight from work) but that didn’t stop me from asking Luis to take a photo.


As usual, I cropped this photo because of aesthetic reasons. 😂

Oh I almost forgot. Here’s my takeaway gem from this place:


This reminded me of my home country, Philippines 🇵🇭 

Filipinos love basketball like how Americans love their football. Anywhere you go, may it be in rural or urban areas, you can always find a basketball ring like this. Our culture teaches us to be physically active and socially engaged. I don’t know about you but this is one thing social media ruined for us. Yes, it helps us connect to friends from miles away, but you can’t deny the reality that it disconnects you from people close to you. Maybe it’s time for Google to adopt a culturally engaging task search. Would it hurt of they add local words like “Basketbolan nearby.” Or “tambayan near me.” It must be so convenient to create friendly circles again. That’s just me daydreaming.

We found this near our parking spot, just around the mini bridge (which of course is under the big maple tree):


I’m like, “Who are the Baha’is?” I’m not really familiar with local groups but I have encountered names of ancestral lineage but nothing like this word.

So thank God there’s Google.

And surprisingly, here’s what I found:

A webpage for Baha’is, a faith-centered group of people who believe in modern teachings of God.

“Let your vision be world embracing…” — Bahá’u’lláh

Throughout history, God has sent to humanity a series of divine Educators—known as Manifestations of God—whose teachings have provided the basis for the advancement of civilization. These Manifestations have included Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad. Bahá’u’lláh, the latest of these Messengers, explained that the religions of the world come from the same Source and are in essence successive chapters of one religion from God.

Bahá’ís believe the crucial need facing humanity is to find a unifying vision of the future of society and of the nature and purpose of life. Such a vision unfolds in the writings of Bahá’u’lláh.

My curiosity was satisfied. I looked up and as I watched those leaves dancing with the wind, I couldn’t help but to appreciate God’s creation and purpose in our lives. 

I’m a Christian who believes in Jesus’ way of life. But that doesn’t hinder me from acknowledging and embracing others’ beliefs and faith.

Thirty four years after it was planted, this big maple tree right here is standing tall, looking like a masterpiece of its own.

Faith is when you plant the seed of hope, not knowing how or when you’ll see the fruit, or if it will have a fruit, it’s putting your energy in something, just knowing that something great will happen. Just think about it, if you’re the one who planted this tree thirty four years ago, would you really think that something so small will grow THIS BIG? And BEAUTIFUL?

It’s just amazing, isn’t it?

We hope to find more places like this here in Lufkin. ❤️️ This place really continues to surprise us!


Thank you to those who drop some LOVE in my Notebook Fund. 👋🏼🤗💕

You guys, I’ll continue to write for y’all! ❤️

First travel nursing assignment: Deep East Texas

After contemplating on whether to pursue the life on the road, weighing the pros and cons, and foreseeing judgments that will come along our way, we ended up accepting the travel offer.

We did it! We actually did it!

Applications done. Interviews over.

After eight long hours of drive, we’re finally at Lufkin, TX.

Here is a pair of my tennis shoes on our second day at work:

This photo was taken during our break time. I made Jalapeño bologna sandwiches and sweet iced tea for lunch. Since the weather is great and I’m still amazed by our parking lot view, I was able to convince Luis to do mini picnic with me. (So corny of me, right?) We only have 30 minutes to spend for break so I made sure to time ourselves. We opened the trunk of the car and arranged our food. My Caddy is spacious for the two of us so we didn’t really have a hard time setting it up. We had an amazing view, cool atmosphere, and hearty food. I was reminded of our very first 4th of July together. We also gazed at the fireworks display while sitting inside the trunk of my car. *Oh memories*

I love the location of our new workplace because it’s only ten minutes away from our temporary home. The view is terrific! All these autumn trees are enough for me to feel the vacation vibe.




On our first week, we stayed at Quality Inn. All amenities are great except that I need to pay an extra $10 per day for Pumpkin, and there’s no kitchenette available. They only had microwave, fridge, and coffee maker. I bought a portable burner at Walmart for only $25 so we can cook pasta. I brought my rice cooker with me (proud Asian here! lol) so that helped, too. I told Luis we can actually pull it off in that hotel. But I computed all our expenses together with the hotel fee, and there’s just no way we can stay there without compromising our travel fee. It would cost us $2000 per month and that doesn’t include my apartment in McAllen (yes I’m paying for two apartments right now).

We had “the talk” and I told him that getting an apartment is the way to go if we wanted to maximize our travel fee. We agreed to travel in the first place because of the higher pay. Travel is a big plusss though, but money plays a big part as well.

We googled for places, apartments, extended stays, even airbnb, and some rent-a-room in Craigslist. I made calls to different facilities, and I realized it’s harder to find pet friendly communities than finding places that accommodate short leases. We eventually found one, Fox Run Apartments leased the unit as unfurnished but move-in ready.

The next day, we drove to look into it and we’re surprised that it’s like a curve away from the hospital. We talked to the manager, Ashley, and she immediately catered to our needs. We toured the place and we’re sold right there and then. It’s a 500 sqft place, has built-in gas burner, fridge, and dishwasher. It’s cable-ready and pet friendly as well. The deposit for pet, first month pay, and application fee costs us $1200. Monthly rent is $650 which is not bad compared to supposedly 2k Quality inn has to offer. Here’s our unit on the second floor:


That, however, excludes water, electricity, and Wifi. For water, Ashley informed us that it’s in the $35-40 range. For electricity, I’m estimating it to be lower than $100. And for Wifi, I applied at Suddenlink for 100/month. (Luis just can’t spend the day without streaming channels and playing videogames). Our monthly allowance for housing would reach 1k all in all. Food is another story, but I allotted $100 per week for that, including our eat outs.

We moved the weekend the room was ready. We got everything we needed and brought with us some sample-sized toiletries that we weren’t able to use. I’m just being practical, guys. And I don’t know why but Luis actually loved their conditioner. Lol.


Workwise, we find it easier compared to where we previously worked. The software that the company uses is called MedHost and the learning curve isn’t that sharp at all. It’s very user-friendly to us. Workplace atmosphere is also great. The people are friendly and cool, the overall ambience is highly recommended for first timers. We work three days per week and we’re paid $1,400 every Friday. Not bad, right? We’re guaranteed 36 hours of work per week. If we do overtime, the rate is higher. It’s additional $70/hour. We are not that motivated to do OT because we value our health and quality life. Work-life balance is hard to achieve, and we’re fortunate to have it by doing travel nursing, so we just want to keep it that way.

Woodland Heights is located at the medical heart of Lufkin. It’s near Walmart, CVS pharmacy, most convenient stores, restaurants, hotels and apartments.


I also admire the diversity here. I was used to seeing Hispanics at McAllen. I learned that Deep East Texas’ racial makeup was 59.92% White, 26.58% African American, 0.26% Native American, 1.37% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 10.31% from other races, and 1.54% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 17.59% of the population. (Wikipedia)

What I learned so far:

1. Patients are the same. It doesn’t really matter wherever you are, as long as you can establish rapport with your patients, and you know the ins and outs of patient care, the procedures needed, skills to have, you can actually pull it off.

2. Being in a different place keeps you on your toes. It stimulates critical thinking and your ability to cope up with adversity. It’s not easy starting all over again, but it sure would add something to your life moments.

3. Workplace would make or break your hospital stay. I’m smiling because my coworkers are great! And if they happen to be the opposite of what I dreamt of having, I’m still going to smile because I know I won’t stay in that place for long.

4. Luis doesn’t like Pumpkin as much as Pumpkin doesn’t like him, but the other day, I saw Pumpkin sleeping near Luis’ spot, so I guess it’s safe to assume that they’re adapting pretty good.

5. Travel nursing is the way to go if you like to learn new things and explore places. I get bored easily with routine stuff so this one is a big revelation to me. I realized that I can’t stay in one place if I want to up my game. After all, I left my home country for the very same reason.

6. I cook more because I find it therapeutic and we save a lot!


7. Compromise is a must if you’re going to travel with your kitty companion. The pet deposits these days are on the roof! But it’s worth it; I really enjoy Pumpkin’s company. And she’s getting fatter day by day! 😂

8. You get to know someone by asking about their interest. I find it surprising when my coworkers ask what we usually do on our days off. In return, we get to ask them. And it’s fun because somehow, they share with you a piece of their life.

9. There are Pinoys everywhere. In our unit, I already met four, and counting. There was a doctor who’s Pinoy and he immediately invited me to a party! I wasn’t able to make it though because it was raining…but the comfort of knowing that there are kababayans near you? I felt relieved. It never fails to hit home.

10. God brings you to a place because He wants to reveal something to you. He lets you wander because He wants you to see the beauty that you’re taking for granted. He introduces you to people because He’s introducing Himself to you all over again. Jesus is Jesus, the name above all names, and I am reminded once again that His victory over my sins is a promise of a lifetime. God fulfills His promises at the right time. I’m really grateful for this opportunity.

More of Lufkin here:





I loved the autumn palette so I also enjoyed posing for #ootd and #wiw with these backdrops:


We haven’t gone to the Lake nearby but maybe one of these days. We’re planning to go to Jollibee next week by the way! ❤️️

I’ve been posting updates on instagram. Follow me there: omgelli is my username.

See you around!

10 Secrets Only Night Nurses Know

There are coffee bags under the linen’s drawer. Spoons and forks are inside somebody’s locker. And there are other little secrets that only night nurses know aside from where to get supplies that are sourced from morning’s haul. If you’re a graveyard nurse, this can be a good laugh for you. If you work day shift and have a sensitive funny bone, umm, you can read other articles. Lol. Or you can just find humor in this post and think twice the next time you receive report from a member of the zombie family.

  1. Almost every confused patient gets more confused or agitated right after the sun goes down. It may be Sundowner’s or it’s just full moon. Up until now, discussions  on  whether moon appearance has effect on human behaviors are still not over. Luna isn’t the Latin word for moon for nothing right? I mean, are we going to just tolerate our lunatic coworkers when they’re on their “mood swings?” But seriously, most of the crazy things happen during the night. When your confused patient tells you there’s a child in the room at 12mn, are you going to shrug it off or run for your life, bathe in your sweat then pee in your pants? Oh gee, don’t even get me started on this story. HAHA!
  2. That coffee maker at the corner is our best friend. We can stay up without enough sleep but not without coffee. And when it malfunctions, it will be a disaster. Sorry admins, no coffee, no admission! Business is closed!
  3. Quiet environment results in intimate patient care. Not intimate as in intimate, but let’s just say patient care that’s special. At night, there are less people roaming around. No cafeteria people each meal. No administrators hovering. No relatives disrupting your patient’s thought process. It’s just you and your patient, and it makes care management a breeze.
  4. Graveyard nurses take longer breaks. We don’t do breakfast break you guys. So it’s just fair for us to take longer than usual breaks. Or do I sound defensive? Thirty minutes is a *snap-snap* anyway. Give this to us. We are always so hungry, and we don’t know why.
  5. We hate calling doctors in the middle of the night just as they hate night nurses for waking them up.
  6. We classify doctors according to their response: “AmiozZzzjksbjkbs one time dose jbkszdfisbf” and “DON’T CALL ME! NO ORDER!”
  7. That night differential we get is for giving up enough sleep.
  8. Because sleeping during the day is more difficult than you think.
  9. Believe it or not, the kind of stress a night nurse endures is a lot heavier than day nurses’. We can admit and discharge at the same time and have loads of patients all at once and not feel a thing, BUT fighting your body’s natural circadian rhythm is a fight of a lifetime. LOL You know you just can’t win.
  10. The bond that a night nurse has with other member of the zombie family is incomparable. You rely on each other for support, in code blues and in browns! And while there are other shift nurses, you can’t deny the cool groove of the graveyard crew!

Cheers, zombie family!

Boutique & Beauty Bar: Recipe for a Unique Shopping Experience

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored content from Madonna & Co

There’s always a risk when you create something new. Will people like it? Will it succeed? Will it be worth it?

When Madonna and Co. re-launched in Mid-town East Side, (bordering on the Upper-East Side) from our former location in Soho, we emerged as a different entity, incorporating what made us great in the past, but with new additions. We were more.

In addition to our new location on 60th street, we opened a full service salon and beauty bar within the store, bringing to a life a completely unique shopping experience.

Fashion and Beauty: An Innovative Convergence

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The inclusion of the beauty bar inside our boutique converged the worlds of fashion and beauty in a way that’s never been done. For the first time, women have the opportunity to receive comprehensive beautification in a one-stop shop.

Bringing together fashion and beauty as we have done was not without risk, but innovation always involves a leap of faith. New creations don’t arise from the ether. Innovation comes as the result of unique combinations, whether it be a boutique and a beauty bar, our designs and exclusive designer capsule collections, or glam and chic, etc. Creating one-of-a-kind experiences from unique combinations is what Madonna & Co. has always done.

Our willingness to break barriers and defy categorization is what makes our selection of fashion and accessories so vibrant and original. All of the clothing in our store has been designed and hand picked from collections around the world. By dealing with the designer themselves and direct with our factories, we are able to offer luxury items at affordable prices.

The vast selection of unique affordable clothing featured in our shop is what makes us the best NYC boutique operating today. By shopping at Madonna & Co., you receive the peace of mind in knowing that you’ll never cross paths with someone wearing the same outfit; one-of-a-kind, wearable and affordable clothes for independent woman is what we do.

Community of Independent Women

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While the ability to get a full-service haircut, styling, and complete makeup treatment in the same place where you find all of your exclusive designs and luxury clothing is extremely convenient, the impetus behind opening the beauty bar had more to do with community than convenience.

We wanted to create a space where independent women from all walks of life and ages could come together to shop, socialize, and express their femininity. We imagined a world where the social aspects of a salon coalesced with the activity of shopping. Our love of fashion and beauty led us to invent a world that unites these spheres and offers women a place to have fun and engage in a dialogue about fashion and style.

At Madonna & Co. we believe in creating a personal style. We see it as our job to assist women in crafting their own individual aesthetic. Every woman that walks through our doors is a unique assemblage of beliefs, values, and traits. Her aesthetic preferences are a function of her entire worldview and identity.

Creating the perfect outfit involves a translation of sorts. Our aim is to help the women who shops in our store translate their core identity into an aesthetic that embodies and represents who they really are and how they feel. Every woman who comes into our store receives a unique treatment that results in a unique style – whether her preferences lean towards glam, chic, posh, or edgy.

The beauty bar allows us to take the crafting of a unique style one step further. In addition to helping women find their dream new fashions, our stylists bring years of experience and knowledge to the table, assisting women realize their dream hairstyle!

We offer every customer a free consultation at the salon and beauty bar before her first appointment. This consultation gives us the chance to learn about what the specific customer likes about her hair or makeup styling and what she’d like to change. Our stylists and make-up artists will then present some possible ways to enhance the aspects of her appearance that the customer would like to shake up.

While our head stylist is an expert in all types of hair, her specialty is curly hair and we call her "The Curly Hair Expert." Our custom line of No Frizz Miracle Gel – designed specifically for curly hair – mirrors this focus.

Come Join our Community

What are you waiting for? Come join in on the fun! Today’s the perfect day to unleash the beauty within you and find that perfect outfit you’ve been longing for.

Booking an appointment at the salon and beauty bar can be done either by phone or via styleseat.com or on our new on-line store www.MadonnaAndCo.com, for your convenience.

We also provide off-site makeup & hair services as well and can help you plan the perfect party or host all kinds of events in our luxurious boutique, including bridal/baby showers, fashion product launches, etc.

So come on down today and introduce yourself!

Learn About the Brand

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We figure you're tired of seeing the same old, same old so we've put the thrill back in shopping.

Simply put, it's not "about us" - It's completely, and uniquely, about you.

Are you searching for a place that understands how you can create your own style point of view? A place that brings together Beauty & Fashion all under one roof? Well, look no further.

At Madonna & Co (M&C) you're entering a world where fashion isn't copied, it's created. Where luxury is about being one of a kind, not how much you spend. Where you'll discover exclusive designs, designer capsule collections, and exciting mixes of fabrics. Everything is easy to wear, yet sophisticated, feminine, but inspired by the art of edgy fashion details.

For the ultimate beauty experience, don’t forget to stop by our Beauty Bar. We believe that gorgeous hair and flawless makeup is essential to complete any look. For this reason, we strive to provide a plethora of beauty services that will help you look your best no matter the occasion.

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We offer a variety of hair treatments and we work with all types & textures, with a specialty in Curly Hair! (Curly hair gals…Our new Miracle Gel formula will be your favorite hair product, it locks in moisture and prevents frizz for days!)

You can also come to us for all your makeup needs including makeup lessons and trials. We also provide off-site makeup & hair services as well and can help you plan the perfect party or host all kinds of events in our luxurious boutique, including bridal/baby showers, fashion product launches, etc.

Our customer is an independent woman, not a woman of independent means. She stands out in her own style, rather than following the fashion pack. And wherever she lives, she has a New York state of mind.

Madonna & Co thinks you are uniquely you and it's all about attitude.

And you can't afford not to look fabulous!

So come check out our unparalleled apparel collections, an assortment of fashion & real gem jewels & expressive accessories and treat yourself to a cut & style or a makeover all at the same place.

 

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Urban Decay

10 travel-inspired items we know you can’t resist

You know you have a travel bug when you browse stuff online and you associate everything with your thirst for adventure. I know the feelin'! And since holidays are just around the corner, I'll be featuring gift ideas that are GOLD compared to your last resort which is *drum rolls* gift card. These 10 items are curated for wanderers at heart and from artists that I personally support. You should check out their arts and support them by buying their beautiful products! 

10 travel-inspired items you can't resist

1. Good vibes wall tapestry Get it here

2. Stay wild moon child tote bag Get it here

3. Let's go hoodie Get it here 

4. Vintage Pastel Palm trees iPhone case Get it here

5. Tropical travel mug Get it here

6. Compass wall clock Get it here

7. Storms over Keiisino laptop sleeve Get it here

8. Nebula Vintage Paris comforter Get it here

9. Wild woman tank top Get it here

10. Eat well travel often mug Get it here

 

 

 

Bible verses that are sure to lift your mood

I’ve been hearing a lot of suicide attempts and cases of depression lately. The bad thing about mental illness is its connotation to the crowd. We’ve all heard of the story about a funny individual who committed suicide. That kind of story isn’t new anymore. The stigma is the real struggle. When you don’t admit to yourself or to your closest set of people that you are having problems, that’s when you resort to doing things that are the opposite of what you really feel. And it’s hard to notice the signs and warning signals because you conceal it in your safety box. Or just so you thought. Because one day, that little box will explode, and it will be the end of your dreams and hope.

Every day, there is somebody somewhere thinking that his end is the best way to go. Truth be told, and please believe me that it’s not. And while hope is something you can share, divine intervention plays a big part in this. These bible verses that I’ll share are my life savers! I collect verses that bring me back to my tip top shape. And it’s very helpful when I feel sad, or hormonal, or empty. If it helps, I always think that there’s always Someone bigger than me, and that’s one thing that keeps me going.  If you are in need of someone to talk to, I’m ready to lend an ear. May you find peace in this post. 

John 16:33 – I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.


Zephaniah 3:17 – “The Lord your God is in your midst; a mighty One who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing.”


Romans 8:28 – “And we know that for those who love God all things work together, for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”


James 1:2-5 Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you are involved in various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But you must let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to everyone generously without a rebuke, and it will be given to him.

 Ecclesiastes 7:14 On a good day, enjoy yourself; On a bad day, examine your conscience. God arranges for both kinds of days So that we won’t take anything for granted.

John 14:27 I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.

Deuteronomy 31:8 The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Psalm 32:7 You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.

 


2 Corinthians 1:4 He comforts us whenever we suffer.That is why whenever other people suffer, we are able to comfort them by using the same comfort we have received from God.

 


Philippians 4:6-7 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 23:1 A psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.

Psalms 34:17-19 Yes, the Lord hears the good man when he calls to Him for help, and saves him out of all his troubles. The Lord is close to those whose heart is breaking; He rescues those who are humbly sorry for their sins. The good man does not escape all troubles – he has them, too. But the Lord helps him in each and every one.


Isaiah 40:30,31 Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Ecclesiastes 9:7-10
Seize life! Eat bread with gusto,
Drink wine with a robust heart.
Oh yes—God takes pleasure in your pleasure!
Dress festively every morning.
Don’t skimp on colors and scarves.
Relish life with the spouse you love
Each and every day of your precarious life.
Each day is God’s gift. It’s all you get in exchange
For the hard work of staying alive.
Make the most of each one!
Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily!
This is your last and only chance at it,
For there’s neither work to do nor thoughts to think
In the company of the dead, where you’re most certainly headed.

 


Hebrews 13:5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Such comforting words from thousands of years ago!

Micropoetry: Time to walk away

Scream

Her throat’s growled
its dryness since
That day she
thirsted for
you

Mourn

She woke up to the
nightmare softly lullabied
By the evening grief

Denial

Good news / bad news
morning light, nightmares take flight
grief forgets to leave

Frogs

Muddy lil creatures
Love-hopping from leaf to leaf
Nonsense head. Kokak.

End

You made her say done
After your lies-filled lips swelled
Respect left. Gone.

 

 

❤︎

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