Thursday, May 4, 2017

37 Asian and Pacific Islander Blogs to Follow

May in America means it is Asian Pacific Islander Month! Two years ago I tried to dedicate the month of May to a bunch of content focusing on Asian and Pacific Islander cultures and stories, but I massively failed and only had one post. It was a good post and I'm very proud of it, but I definitely wanted to do more.

So this month, I am not trying to commit to a whole month filled with posts every few days, but a few meaningful and informational posts that focus on API people.

To start it off I thought I would provide a general directory of bloggers and vloggers who are of Asian and/or Pacific Islander descent. These people may not necessarily talk about their experiences as an API, but I'm sure it's always nice to find someone who looks like us online :) #Representation

I'll divide the directory into niches and talk a little bit about each blog and you can click through and check out whichever ones you'd like! I also have a freebie available at the end of this post for you to download and keep for reference and if you are interested in another freebie featuring Asian and PI-owned businesses later this month, sign up to my email list and you'll have first-access as soon as I finish compiling my list, among first access to a video I am creating especially for APIHM :)

Okay, now onto the bloggers:

The Caryl Edit - a 30 something Filipina beauty blogger with a family (although her blog focuses almost completely on beauty) from Sydney, Australia

A Pair of Ones - Twin Chinese & Vietnamese Australian bloggers Michelle & Katherine, also from Sydney Australia

Lily Not Louise - a Chinese Australian beauty blogger that attends a ton of beauty-related events, writes a lot of reviews, and has the occasional travel post

Aussie Beauty Talk - Half Filipina Aussie blogger who is an engineer by day (wooo yay for women in STEM fields) and a beauty blogger by night. She writes tons of reviews!

That's Heart - Filipina vlogger from America! She does lots of one-brand impression videos and challenges and she's a newlywed like me! I appreciate her because she is more or less the same color as me so swatches on her give me a fairly good idea on what they'll look like on me.

ItsJudyTime - ANOTHER Filipina vlogger that I follow on Youtube! She has millions of subscribers over multiple channels, with itsJudytime being her beauty channel. I first discovered her from my cousins who talked about how she did daily vlogs, and it is her most popular Youtube channel.

Rehan Shrestha - a Nepalese male luxury fashion influencer I met at Sydney Fashion Week last year! He doesn't currently have a website but he has a pretty posh Instagram. 

Joojoo Azad - Hoda Katebi is a Muslim-Iranian fashion blogger and activist who originally started getting big as a blogger for very openly talking about wearing a hijab and also posting some really great outfits with one. She's even recently published her first book on street style in Iran

The Ambitionista - Heidi is a Malaysian luxury fashion blogger who has been featured on magazines such as Marie Claire Malaysia, attended Fashion Week all over the world, and is just all around a very chic and accomplished entrepreneur. 

Chriselle Lim - I actually have a very soft spot for Chriselle because one, we have the same name, and two, I've been watching her ever since Michelle Phan used to feature her on her Youtube channel years and years and years ago. She is a Korean American fashion blogger.

She is the first fashion blogger I ever regularly followed, before I even realized that if I wanted to I could start a blog/Youtube channel and create content the way she did as well. I even met her almost 3 years ago at a meetup in Newport Beach and she's just as nice in person, which was great because I feel like sometimes super chic-looking people can come off very cold. Although her main focus is still fashion, her Youtube channel also now talks more about marriage, parenthood, and travel as well!

+ Wendy's Lookbook - Wendy is a Vietnamese American fashion Youtuber, where her most popular video to date is a video called "25 Ways to Wear a Scarf in 4.5 Minutes" with over 39 MILLION views! She doesn't post videos as frequently anymore but she does maintain a blog fairly regularly if you want to check that out. 

+ Mo Explores - Mo is a Filipina American Youtuber living in Arizona but is originally from Hawaii! Her channel features a variety of things: vlogs, planner videos, travel videos, and other DIY things. She is actually one of my favorite people as we've been friends in the blogosphere for about 3 years now even though we've never met in person! I feel like we are so similar which is why I like her so much! 

+ Harper Honey - Harper is a Korean American blogger that I have been friends with in the blogging world since I started 4 years ago. She writes about careers/post graduate life, geek things, book reviews, and many other things like that! She does also occasionally post about social justice issues on social media as well. She's a quirky blogger and I love that about her! 

+ Feast Fashion Faves - Amanda is a Vietnamese American blogger whose blog focuses primarily on fashion, food, and travel. I had the chance to meet and hang out with her a couple of times when I was still living in America. 

+ Leonie Sii - Leonie is a Malaysian/Chinese Australian blogger/vlogger that I actually met through church! I didn't realize that she was on Youtube until one day at our connect group she mentioned that she had surpassed a pretty major milestone of subscribers! 

She plays videogames, talks about mental health sometimes, travels, and is most well known for her (then) long distance relationship with her Swedish boyfriend, Mattias, that she met after discovering him on Youtube as a videogame vlogger. They have a great story and in general I appreciate her point of view different topics as well!

+ Darell Gabriel - Now what kind of wife would I be if I didn't give a plug for my husband? Darell doesn't actively advertise his Youtube channel (so he might cringe at me for adding him to this list) but he posts some cool-looking vlogs about life in Sydney and I know he is working on creating more interesting and cool content beyond that. He's always experimenting so check out some of his stuff!

+ Alonzo Lerone - I don't even remember how I discovered him, but he is HILARIOUS. Alonzo is a black & Filipino Youtuber whose videos focus primarily on bad grammar and general stupid Twitter and Facebook posts. His reactions and tones of voice when reading some of these posts are enough to get me screaming and laughing so hard!

+ The Episodic Eater - Diane is a really great food blogger that I had the chance to connect with a few times a couple years ago. She is half Filipino and just really really loves food. If you want your mouth to water (and are also located in LA/the OC), she is definitely worth following for more recommendations! 

+ Fung Bros - The Fung Brothers were the first Youtubers that I ever followed that created a significant portion of their content acknowledging their cultures (they're Chinese) and talking about different aspects of it and other issues within the Asian community! Nowadays, they do primarily foodie videos highlighting all different kinds of foods (not just Asian) not only in and around the US, but around the world as well. 

+ Nathan Figueroa - I heard about Nathan through my husband. He is pretty much a body builder who does a lot of food challenges and videos. Depending on the person, some of it may make you feel disgusting but honestly it just amazes me how he eats so much because I wish I could eat that much. A lot of the food featured is fast food so that may be why some get so disgusted by his videos. 

+ Tanaya's Table - Tanaya is an Indian American food blogger based in LA/the OC who goes on some pretty epic food adventures. I pretty much want to eat everything she posts, and she will occasionally get to travel to some cool places and hang out with some celebrities all in the name of food! 

+ Mark Wiens - Mark is a half Chinese food blogger from America but is now based in Southeast Asia with his wife (Thailand to be exact). Although most of his Youtube channel involves travel, the main focus is food and how it intersects with travel and showcasing different cuisines. 

+ The Warrior Husband - This blog was started by our really good family friend, who is a new dad and a somewhat new husband (almost married 2 years). He is Filipino American and all he wants is to encourage other husbands and seriously dating boyfriends to change their mindsets to better not only themselves, but their relationships! The website is still under construction but follow him on Facebook! 

+ Lita Lewis - The first PI on my list (trust me I tried hard to find some PI bloggers)! Lita is a black, Samoan, and Tuvaluan health and fitness blogger. She does intense workout programs and is just beautiful all around. 

+ Barbra Auva'a - Barbra isn't exactly a blogger with a website or Youtube channel, but she does post her workout routines and overall health journey on her Instagram. She's Samoan and New Zealander! 

+ Diana Ratana - Diana is a yoga teacher from Seattle, WA and is super passionate about health, wellness, and traveling! Her blog focuses primarily on yoga and travel. 

+ Angry Asian Man - This blog is run by Phil Yu, who is Korean American. His blog isn't like the other blogs where they just talk about their own thoughts on different topics, he typically posts news articles or uses news articles as a starting point to explaining his opinions on his blog. He aims to bring light to what is happening in Asian America, whether good, bad, or straight up racist. 

+ Reappropriate - This blog is run by Jenn, and it is similar to Angry Asian Man in the sense that the blog focuses on talking about news happening in the Asian American community with the news being a basis for Jenn bringing up her opinions. The blog centers around activism, identity, feminism, and pop culture. 

+ Jasmine Win Wanders - Jasmine is a Vietnamese American digital nomad traveling the world and writing about it. She's currently living in South Korea teaching English, and so she talks about the process of teaching English, destination guides, as well as her experiences as an Asian American in the world. I really enjoy her blog and her post on where she fits in the world as an Asian American traveler!  

+ Expatolife - Ha is the writer behind this blog, a Vietnamese woman whose blog centers around travel and living life as an expat. 

+ Senyorita - Micaela is a Filipina from the Philippines, documenting her travels but focusing primarily on travel within her own country. It makes me miss the motherland! She also has an extensive list of international as well as Filipino travel bloggers as well!

+ Tara Lets Anywhere - This blog is about a Filipino couple, Katherine and Hali, documenting their travels around the world, also focusing on travel within the Philippines. 

+ Air Keena - Keena is a Filipina and Chinese American blogger from Chicago and now living in LA! Her blog talks about everything travel--from the actual travel, things like Global Entry, and gifts for travelers. She posts more often on her Instagram than her blog so check that out too!

+ Wil Dasovich - Wil is a half Filipino from America and now living in his mother's homeland of the Philippines. His videos vary, from travel around Southeast Asia to his experience on Pinoy Big Brother (pretty much the Filipino version of the American show), his family, and more! 

+ Garcia Memories - This is a mom & family blog run by Lysa, who is a Filipina American school counselor in Southern California. Her blog focuses on things to do in San Diego and other parts of Southern California, all family friendly as well! 

+ Lora Says So - Lora is a Filipina educator based in Southern California with her husband and 2 kids. She is a 40-something mom blogger whose blog talks about things to do for both families and adults around the west coast, preparing for college, and lots of Disney! 

+ Sparks of Magic - Sparks of Magic is written by Camille, a Filipina and black blogger based in Northern California. She writes a lot about Disney and family friendly activities! 


Okay wow I'm impressed with this long list! If you are interested in having this resource saved on your computer or if you would like to just have it printed out, I have also created a Blog Directory for you to download for free! It features all of the people featured here, plus clickable links to their sites as well. 

I plan on creating another directory of Asian & PI owned businesses (both online and local to certain areas) that will be sent out FIRST to my subscribers! I also have a project that I'm working on in regards to Asians and beauty standards that I will be sharing details with my subscribers first as well. If you are interested in seeing more of this kind of content as well as freebies for y'all whenever possible, sign up to my newsletter below! 

love always, Kriselle

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Marrying Young Shouldn't "End" Your Life

young love and marriage

Whether you just discovered my blog right now or you've been following me for a couple of years, just one look at my blog or even my Instagram account will show you real quickly that I am married.

A little more digging will also show you that I am quite young to be married (at least by today's standards) at the age of 22.

P.S. We've been together for almost 7 years.

I understand why society would have hesitation towards couples who marry young. Back when women didn't have as much freedom career-wise, getting married and having babies was pretty much the only thing you could do. With all the knowledge we have access to now, it can seem unwise to get married so young too. I get all of that. My family had the same viewpoint as well so I am very familiar with the reasons why people don't get married before the age of 25 too much anymore.

For me personally, there were many reasons why I got married. A good chunk of it was my faith directing us towards that, but a lot of it was also that we had dated so long and it all felt right. I knew in my heart that the timing was perfect, no matter how unexpected getting married was for us.

If you grew up with or are familiar with Christian circles, then maybe me being married at 22 isn't a surprise to you. If you didn't, then you might be scratching your head as to why someone like me might be married already. I have a degree, I am very independent, I am career-minded, and I also don't want children yet, so why would I want to be "tied down" at this age?

In the weeks leading up to the wedding, we had both friends and family tell us that it wasn't too wise of a decision to get married partially because for me, as a woman, I was "giving up" my life. It meant that I'd have "no freedom" anymore.

I saw things very differently and saw our marriage more of us just joining our lives together. I didn't see it as a restriction but more of opening the door for us to fully share our lives together. Ever since I was 15, 16 years old we talked about these very things and at the time we got married, the timing was right. We dated with the intention of getting married somewhere down the line and it was always a given with us, never a question.

Tweet: Marriage shouldn't change your goals and dreams for life.

A few years ago I wrote a post addressing people who bashed those who got engaged before the age of 23, but I also addressed the people who did get engaged before 23. (Funny enough, I said in that post that I might also be engaged/married before 23. I was right!)

Obviously, people are going to do what they want regardless of what you think about their decisions. Personally, I think that as long as you and the person you are with have gone through enough positive and negative experiences together then why not make the commitment to get married if you both want to and are able to?

If you are considering marriage in any capacity (regardless of age), just know what marriage won't nor should it "end" your life. If you have certain goals you want to accomplish, getting married shouldn't change those goals. If you are already committed to dating someone seriously, how would your goals while dating them change when you get married besides living together?

Honestly, it is a pet peeve and after being married for almost a year I still don't understand why people have that mindset. It shouldn't affect your dreams in the sense that you automatically can't accomplish them because you're married. I get it when life happens and you can't pursue your goals anymore, but marriage in it of itself will not and should not affect what you want to do in life.


Where are my young married couples at? I gotchu guys! Also, my inbox is always open if you want to chat more about topics like this. I will be writing a couple more posts like this mostly to encourage people in similar situations and also to shed a different light contrary to what people may think about certain people in these kinds of situations :)
love always, Kriselle

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Bloggers United AU x Lush Event

HI EVERYONE. I took a break from blogging the last two weeks to get started on a long-overdue overhaul of my blog, what I want to do with it, and how I'm going to do it. I still have a long ways to go, but I've gotten into the groove and am SUPER excited to be doing some new things on this blog and refining some old ones. 

I found Bloggers United Australia through another blogger friend of mine that used to live in Sydney that I knew from America (shoutout to Shane of Atlasadrift). I had posted in the group looking to collaborate with other bloggers in the Sydney area, and was then also sent an invite for the upcoming Sydney event!

If you've followed this blog for at least 2 years, then you will know that I used to go to (and sometimes plan) blogger events much more often than I do now! I met some amazing people through it and have had so many amazing opportunities as a result of this blog. 

Shoutout to A Foolish Obsession and Simple Social Sister

For most of the last two years, this blog had gone on a hiatus with random posts here & there due to a burnt out me and many changes happening in my personal life. The last month or so I've really started pushing and hustling hard to get this blog back up & running and also reassessing my goals for LNL and any future endeavors I plan to jump into this year! I have brand new clarity on what I want to do with this blog and so to start, I wanted to connect with some local brands and bloggers. This event was the perfect segue into that. 

I got invited to BUA's 2nd birthday event, hosted by Lush AU/NZ over the weekend and it was so great to attend my first blogger event in Australia!

Everyone I met was so nice and welcoming and I quickly connected with a few of the girls there! 

We had a few activities over the night, but the main event was creating one of the face masks that the store sells in-store. We also got to spend a lot of time sampling the items and figuring out what products would be best for our own needs. 

We also got a fun goodie bag with a few items to try out, including the face masks we created earlier in the night! So far, I've tried Catastrophe (the blueberry mask we made) and American Cream (a conditioner that I got to take home for myself). So far, both are great, and I feel even better knowing that everything is organic and good for you. Lush is officially one of my favorite brands ever!

I am so thankful for the blogging community in general. It has changed my life in so many ways and I wouldn't trade it for the world. It's more than just fun and free stuff; it's also about connecting with others through the sharing of stories. It is my favorite part.

Thank you BUA & Lush for hosting such an amazing event, and I cannot wait for more!

*post is not sponsored :) 

love always, Kriselle

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

A Simple Guide to Sydney Public Transit

Sydney Public Transit

If you are from LA like me, public transit isn't a phrase that you hear very often. In LA (and even Southern California in general), public transit isn't very commonly used, nor is it made to be very practical for most people. Most of us use cars to get everywhere, which is why we are one of the most congested places in the world. 

However, in many other parts of the world, public transit is not only much better, but it is much more commonly used by the average citizen. Living in Sydney has allowed me to greatly appreciate and enjoy public transit, despite some of its inconveniences it may have at times. Besides, it is a common mode of transit in most major cities of the world other than LA.

Talk to any Sydney local about public transit & most of them will say that it sucks. But I tell them that in LA, to go from the suburbs to downtown by bus (because there are not many train lines) would probably take like 5 buses and a few hours one way, whereas you can usually get by with 1 or 2 buses and an hour here. Their system is GOOD. At least, much better and easier to use than LA's. 

Opal Cards

To use any public transportation in Sydney, the easiest way is to use an Opal Card. It is a card that is used to tap "on" and "off" of whatever mode of transport you are using in the state of New South Wales. For trains and I believe ferries as well, you can only use an Opal card to get on. I don't think cash tickets are allowed here anymore, only on buses, but even then it can be a hassle to get a paper ticket on a bus. 

There are different cards depending on your age and status. There are 4 different types: 
  • Child/Youth: any kid aged 4-15 and any full-time NSW student over 16
  • Concession: university students and other people receiving special benefits from the NSW government
  • Adult: any person over the age of 16 
  • Senior Gold/Pensioner: anyone who is old enough to be considered a Senior in the state of New South Wales

You can get an Opal for free; all you have to do is "top up" the amount of money you want to put on the card. Different cards have different rates (adults pay full price fares), and so for the adult cards you can top up the following amounts: $10, $20, $40, $50, $60, $80, $100, $120. More info on other cards can be found on the Opal card website.

When I visited here for 10 days and we used public transit almost every day I was here, it costed about $30. However I stayed with friends, rode only buses (I rode the train once to go to the airport for a domestic flight), and sometimes rode in a car, so I would recommend a minimum of $40 for a 10 day stay. 

Main Forms of Transit
This is by far the most common form of transit in Sydney! Buses are EVERYWHERE and reach most places. This is the form of transit I take every day I go to work. 

Buses have codes for the name of the bus and they always list where the route is ending with some of the suburbs/neighborhoods it is passing through. If you are heading to a major shopping mall (that is typically where buses start/end) then it will be easy to figure out where to get on, but if you are trying to get to a house or a smaller shopping center then you will probably want to download an app or use your maps app on your phone to figure out which specific route to take. 

Buses can go just within a particular city or it can stretch from the suburbs all the way to the Central Business District of the city. They are convenient in the sense that buses cross through most neighborhoods, even residential areas, making it easier to get to places. I only have one bus that runs through my street, but it stops at 3 major shopping malls and my stop is located just a few steps from my front door. 


Trains have to be my favorite form of transit! They make me feel like a city girl (after watching all the movies of people catching trains in New York City).  

They connect many of the major cities/suburbs to each other, and they run pretty frequently, running every couple of minutes during the busiest parts of the day. They are pretty self explanatory. *Fun fact: I rode a train for the first time on the Sydney trains back in the year 2000 when I visited family in Sydney for the first time!*

Ferries run through the major harbors in the city of Sydney (with the exception of the Parramatta River in Parramatta, a city probably half an hour from Sydney city). I've only ridden on them twice and it's definitely a nice place to look out at the city from a different angle. 

From the NSW Transport website

HOWEVER, I will say that if you do tend to get seasick or dizzy from moving boats, I would recommend refraining from looking at your phone while on board, sit down, and if you can get a seat outside or near a window, do that! Also, unless you are going on the ferry at 12 noon on the hottest day of the week, it can get pretty chilly! If it's a summer night I'm not saying to bring a jacket, but it's just something to be aware of :) 

Light Rail
The Sydney Light Rail system is the last form of public transit for New South Wales, and there is only one light rail line running through Sydney. It is the tram system. 

I, personally, have never ridden on the light rail nor have I even seen them in Sydney (I have seen them in Gold Coast when we were there on our honeymoon last year). They aren't super common as far as I know, but I also do not live nor do I visit the city often. 

The line goes from Central Station to Dulwich Hill. It passes through Sydney's Chinatown and the famous Paddington Markets (kinda like a big swap meet or farmer's market) and it runs 24 hours a day, every single day.

I hope that this helps a little bit with travel in Sydney when you decide to come out and visit! This post is not sponsored by the Transport NSW but I thought I would share some tips and basics if you decide to visit Sydney one day. You will not need a rental car and you will save tons of money this way :) 

Did I miss anything? If you have any specific questions my inbox is always open! I will be posting more Sydney travel-type posts talking about the logistics like travel and also legal aspects regarding moving here and my experiences, so if you are thinking about visiting or moving to Sydney anytime soon keep an eye out! Until then, check out my other posts about visiting/life in Australia xx

love always, Kriselle

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Top 5 Filipino Comfort Foods

Filipino Comfort Foods: sinigang, dinuguan, arroz caldo, lechon kawali, tosilog

I feel like my last few posts have been a little heavy so today I've decided to talk about something that everyone loves--food!

When you ask most non-Filipinos or even non-Asians about Filipino food, most of them will say lumpia. It's not bad to say that because of course, it is a dish made typically for parties and because most people are familiar with Chinese egg rolls, these are an easy transition into Filipino food. 

So today, I'll be talking a little bit about some favorite Filipino comfort foods :) I asked a few different groups of people for opinions on this, so I'll be posting based on the top 5 answers!


1. Sinigang

This is sinigang na baboy! Photo credits to Casa Veneracion

This is by far my favorite food as well as many many Filipinos! Sinigang is a tamarind-based stew with a very sour taste. It's always some kind of meat with a lot of veggies. There are 5 main types of sinigang: 
  • sinigang na baka (beef sinigang)
  • sinigang na baboy (pork sinigang)
  • sinigang na hipon (shrimp sinigang) 
  • sinigang na isda (fish sinigang)
  • sinigang na manok or sinampalukang manok (chicken sinigang) 
Honestly, the broth and the veggies are my favorite part of any sinigang but my favorites would have to be the sinigang na baka (the way my mom makes it) and sinampalukang manok. The chicken sinigang varies slightly from the other versions and usually has more ginger and actual tamarind leaves in the broth which are very yum to me. 

This is a dish that is meant to be eaten with rice, unlike most stews/soups in other cultures where it's okay to eat it on its own. I mean you can definitely eat this on its own but if you're with Filipinos you will probably be eating it with rice. It's perfect for a cold or rainy day outside but honestly no matter the temperature I will gladly eat this because I love it so much. 

2. Arroz Caldo/Lugaw/Goto

This version is arroz caldo. Photo credits to ParTaste

This is a breakfast staple in Filipino households! I remember as a kid when my dad would go to the goto place to buy goto & puto (Filipino rice cake, not a Spanish bad word) for us to eat. 

This is our version of congee or porridge. There are different variations, hence the different names. We also like to top it off with calamansi, or a citrus fruit found in the Philippines. Think of it as a cross between a lime and an orange (green on the outside, orangey on the inside) and the taste is slightly tangy. It's even a popular juice in the Philippines!

Anyway, here are the variations: 
  • Arroz caldo: the spanish wording for it, but also the version with chicken. 
  • Goto: the beef tripe (stomach lining) version
  • Lugaw: the plain version with no meat. 
Usually, there may also be a hard boiled egg in it and it is usually topped with green onions. Most people eat it for breakfast or merienda (midday snack). Just thinking about it now is making me hungry, haha. 

3. Silog

This is another Filipino breakfast, and "silog" is the suffix used in the dish with the type of ulam (or meat) being the prefix of the word. Silog is short for sinangag (garlic fried rice) and itlog (egg usually cooked sunny side up or over easy). 

Tosilog, or sweet pork as the ulam! Photo credit to Ang Sarap

Main types of silog: 
  • Tapsilog: Tapa (a form of beef) as the ulam
  • Tocilog: Tocino (sweet pork) as the ulam
  • Longsilog: Longanisa (pork sausage that can be sweet, spicy, or garlicky) as the ulam
  • Spamsilog: Spam (canned pork) as the ulam 
It is such an easy and classic breakfast, which is of course why it made it onto this list! There are other variations beyond this; for example, Filipino fast food chain Jollibee has a hotdogsilog where Filipino hot dogs (they are colored red and slightly sweeter than American ones) are the main meat. We love our meats. 

4. Dinuguan

The infamous "chocolate meat," a favorite of many. Photo credit to Casa Veneracion

This is a fun one, haha. You may have heard it before or you may have heard of it as "chocolate meat," but no, it is definitely not chocolate haha. 

Dinuguan is a dark brown colored stew made with pork blood. For many people from western countries it sounds weird but you also have to remember that people from most parts of the world don't waste any part of the animal. Which, although I don't like dinuguan myself, is a great thing because as a society we waste too much already. 

Anyway, back to the stew :) Dinuguan is spiced with garlic, vinegar, and chili, along with the pork blood, so it has a tart taste, which is why I'm not a big fan of it. As a kid I didn't like it because I thought it looked nasty, but now that I'm older it's more so the taste. However, if there is absolutely nothing else to eat I will eat it with rice, which I'm sure you know we eat everything with by now. haha. 

5. Lechon Kawali

This is not exactly a "comfort food," but many of the people that I surveyed really love it for its crispiness and fattiness but also because for many, like me, it reminds us of our childhood. 

The deep fried goodness of lechon kawali! Photo credit to Choose Philippines

It is pretty much fried pork belly, known for the super crispy skin and the very fatty meat. Because it's very fatty people either love it or hate it for health reasons but besides that it's pretty delicious. It is usually served with Mang Tomas, a very common brand of lechon sauce. It's kind of a gravy, but it is much more peppery and vinegary with traces of liver in it (which I didn't find out until just now!). I, personally, don't usually use Mang Tomas with my lechon as I prefer to savor the crispy skin as it is, but most people dip their meat in it and it's delicious. Again, this is also typically served with rice but nowadays more and more Filipino restaurants trying to appeal to a more younger and westernized crowd serve it as an appetizer with no rice. 

Okay I'm really hungry now but I hope this gave a good taste into Filipino food beyond lumpia! Which one is your favorite or which one would you try if you haven't had any of them? Let me know if there are any other foods that I missed! I might just write a part 2 to this :) 

love always, Kriselle

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

When You Have to Give Up A Dream

Sometimes, giving up a dream is the best decision you could make. And you won't regret it.

I am sure that today's title is a little depressing-sounding, but don't worry, today's post will not be. Giving up dreams always suck, but for the case of today's post, it is not the worst thing, nor is it the end of the world. 

Recently, I had to give up one of the longest dreams I've ever had in life--to attend a Bible school that I discovered when I was a freshman in high school and study music (or to be specific, worship). 

Although it is not a main focus in my life anymore, one of my biggest passions I've always had was to sing. As I got older, I wanted to focus on singing in the church as a ministry instead of performing in front of crowds in an effort to become the next star. In the time of my life that I found Hillsong College, I was just starting to get involved in my church at the time and I had discovered the band Hillsong United just a couple years beforehand. Even though you should technically not be getting fanatical about a church worship team, I didn't realize that at the time and so the idea of attending a school and learning from all these amazing worship leaders sounded amazing to me. 

Unfortunately, I encountered a few issues with this: 

1. At the time, the school did not offer a bachelor's degree like a traditional college/university (although they do now), and getting a degree was a big deal to me. 

2. Tying into number one, Hillsong church is done differently than what my family is familiar with. And if I were to have gone to a school on the other side of the world to study music that is intended for church and not even get a full college degree for it, I knew that I wouldn't hear the end of it. My family pushed my sister and I very hard to get college degrees before doing anything else, especially because so many of my family members, including my mom, were not able to get them themselves. 

Long story short, I would've studied music and I wouldn't have gotten a degree, and quite frankly I did not want to deal with any backlash I would've gotten for it (and I'm actually glad I didn't go right out of high school), so I decided that I would go the traditional university route first then see from there. 

As I went through high school, although I thought about Hillsong College every now and then, it just didn't seem like a realistic dream for me, not because I couldn't do it, but it just wasn't a priority in my head anymore. Darell and I would talk about how awesome it would be to get married after university then someday go there, but we weren't being too serious when we said those things. 

However, in university, the dream started creeping back into my life. 

First, it was finding out my home church's head worship leader at the time had graduated from the school. When we attended Hillsong's first conference in LA that year, the college came up again. Then I had a friend decide to leave university for Hillsong College the year after (she's still going there and since then I've had another friend from high school go as well!). 

Of course, these all could've been coincidences, but then Darell took the leap and went for it. 

I didn't believe him in the beginning but then he went for it. It was hard on our relationship at first because I had known of so many people who went into long distance relationships expecting it to work, only for it not to work. But we made it work, and I moved to Sydney a few months later. 

So close, but so far

For the past year I have been so close, but so far. Having my boyfriend-then-fiance-then-husband as a student at my dream school surrounded me with the people and the culture without actually being a student and paying for it. I got to know a bit about the program I wanted to do and even attended the year-end showcase that first year students do, which got me really excited to go back to school! I had already gone to school for the "stable" job and now wanted to do something just for myself, something that had been on my heart for 9 years. I even applied & gotten into the school and was one day from starting my enrollment!

But then I had to give it up. 

See, we had two options: 

  • Dive in head first with blind faith that God would provide and attend the school of my dreams while also being in debt and both of us working very limited hours due to our packed school schedules. 
  • I give up the dream and potentially regret it for the rest of my life but not be in a hole of debt and for the first time in two years finally give myself an extended period of time to rest and not overwork/burn myself out. 
The day before we had to make a decision, we attended church and I went down to an altar call for the first time in who knows when. I prayed and cried out to God because we honestly had no idea what to do. We could see our lives going either way. 

That night, I didn't receive a clear answer, but instead I received peace in knowing that regardless of the decision, we would be taken care of. 

The next day, Darell & I talked to admissions to see if there was anything that could've been done for us, but there was nothing. We talked out all of the pros and cons and talked to a couple people close to us about it, and it wasn't until we talked to one of our married friends that the answer finally became clear. 

He said that he & his wife had been in a situation similar to us before where they chose the debt over the "safe" route. Of course for them it was worth it and God had provided for them every step of the way but the burden they had to carry as a result put a strain on them individually and as a couple. He said although he knew God would somehow provide a way if we both chose to go to school, he also said God would honor our choices to be good stewards with the little that we did have. 

What I took away from that conversation is that God is faithful, but it's also good to be wise. We've been on edge financially for the last year so we decided it was time to go the safe route and be wise with what we had. And honestly, I feel perfectly fine. It really sucked to have to come to the reality to give up a dream I'd had for as long as I could remember, but I am at peace with my decision. I don't feel any anxiety about it.

Many times we hear of the stories of people who took the leap of faith, having nothing and everything working out in the end. And those stories are great; I don't want to minimize the greatness and faithfulness it takes to live like that... because I often live that way too.

But, I think that it is also important to recognize that going the safe route, if well thought out and not done simply out of fear, is also just as brave to do. I remember a sermon in my old youth group about sacrificing something you really want and giving it up to God and how He will see your sacrifice and honor it. He blesses those people as well.

If you are in a crossroads and are unsure of what to do next in your life but are scared of regretting your decision, I urge you to pray hard and seek deeply for the pros and cons of both decisions and also seeking why you, deep down in your heart, may want to make those decisions. I hope that you are encouraged and if you ever need to talk to someone, my inbox is always open. Until next week xx

love always, Kriselle

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

6 Months of Marriage + Wedding Photos (FINALLY!)

Last week, the hubby & I celebrated 6 months of being married! Woo! Six months isn't a lot, but it's hard to believe sometimes how fast time passes. For us especially, since we dated for so long as well, getting married was the cherry on top of many things happening in our lives last year. So to get to the 6 month mark already was amazing and unbelievable. 

All wedding photos featured are courtesy of Alexandra Burnett, who gave me exactly what I was looking for in wedding photos!

I also thought that this would be the perfect excuse to finally show wedding photos here on the blog! I posted a good chunk of them to my personal Facebook and I post couple photos of us on Instagram every now and then, but I think it's now the time to finally show a glimpse into our wedding day. 

It was a cold, rainy day in the middle of Australian winter (July 20th). Funny enough, it rained the day we got engaged too. They say that it is good luck for it to rain on your wedding day; I saw it as renewal and refreshing of us as we enter this new season of our lives. Despite the rain and our ceremony being outdoors, we made it work and it did not stop us at all.

Wedding Day makeup -- nothing too extravagant here, we were on a budget and made it work :)

We only got engaged 6 weeks prior to our wedding so it was the culmination of a very busy, somewhat rough few weeks. It was great. I won't talk too much about the process of planning the wedding because I will save it for another post, but I will say that other than it being worth it, everything came beautifully considering our low budget we had for it. I'm pretty proud of myself, hence me writing about the wedding planning process in another post :)

We got married at a Chinese garden at an aboriginal reserve not too far from where we live. It was a beautiful backdrop for our ceremony, and because we were on a budget, we later had our reception at a friend's house.

It was a small, 40 person wedding that was nothing the way we ever thought our wedding day would turn out, but it was such a special and perfect and amazing day. I wouldn't change any part of it.

We do still intend on doing some kind of wedding or formal celebration when we move back home to America in a year or so to have our families formally become one and to meet each other as well! Until then, I just want to appreciate my blood relatives here in Sydney, as well as our friends that we have come to call family as well. (BIG shoutout to our wedding photographer, Alexandra Burnett for the beautiful photos!) I will mention this again when I talk about my wedding planning process, but honestly this couldn't have been done without them.

Friends, family, brides to be, or even just someone who stumbled upon my blog by chance, I hope you enjoyed our wedding photos! If you or someone close to you is planning a wedding, I hope you got some ideas through our photos, but stay connected with me on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) or send me an email if you have any specific questions, as I will soon be writing a post on planning a less than $1500 USD wedding in 6 weeks :) Stay tuned!

love always, Kriselle