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Þetta reddast

05 January 2017
It's 2 am in Reykjavik, and I am wide awake because yesterday I fell asleep early in the afternoon while trying to figure out where to have dinner (which as you can probably tell, did not come to fruition). There's a storm brewing outside, Abe is happily snoring under the sheets, and I have a steaming cup of coffee on my bedside table. I figure it's as good a time as any to inject some life back into this blog.

There is this Icelandic expression, Þetta reddast, which means "things will work out okay". I cannot think of a better way to describe the year I've just had.

I spent a good chunk of 2016 adjusting to life in Yokohama. Moving here was an attempt to push myself out of my comfort zone - I did not know a single soul in our Japan office (or so I thought - as it turns out I had a bunch of ex-colleagues in another department), and to be honest I had very little grasp of what the job entailed. All I knew was it was going to be an uphill climb, and all I had was enough faith in myself that I am capable enough to do what needs to be done.

Now that the assignment is over I can only be thankful that I seized the opportunity when it presented itself. Not only did I gain valuable experience, but Yokohama is also a wonderful, wonderful place to live in. Whenever I would make my way towards the apartment, even after a particularly long day at work, I would find myself smiling and thanking my lucky stars for bringing me here. See? It all worked out in the end.

Japan will probably never be home, but it will always have a special place in my heart, and I'm sure it won't be long before I find my way back here again.

And then there was December.

I did not want to be the crazy bride who could only talk about her wedding, but during the weeks leading to it there was little else on my mind. Truth be told it consumed a lot more of my energy than I would've liked. There were important things - legal and church papers, the guestlist - and there were superficial things - my nail polish color, the type of embossing on the invites - but they were things that have to be attended to nonetheless. It was exhausting, the number of decisions that had to be made, and I would be lying if I said I didn't entertain the possibility of eloping just to get it done and over with.

There were a billion things that could go wrong - and a few things that actually did go wrong - but at the end of the day, I only needed to get one thing right. And that I did.

Hello, 2017.
We're ready for you.

Just Japan Things: Terrace House

11 October 2016
Terrace House: Boys and Girls in the City has just recently concluded and my Tuesdays have never been the same since.

I've been trying to get people to watch this show, often times to no avail, and I kind of understand why. It's a reality show, which the world is trying to collectively move on from, plus it's in Japanese so it's not something you can watch passively. I myself had to be prodded by Netflix for months before I gave it a try, and when I finally did I didn't make it past the first episode before I moved on to something else. When I have finally exhausted all my other options, I gave it another whirl, and I was up until 3 or 4 in the morning and I had work the following day. Unbeknownst to me, Abe was also up at the same time, because I ordered begged him to please please please watch just one episode so he has an idea what I'd most likely be yammering about in the days to come, and he ended up watching the entire first season and hating me for having access to the next one.

Terrace House is a local TV show that was picked up by Netflix. The first season is available in most countries as far as I can tell, and second one should be available soon. So the premise is you have three boys and three girls and they live together in one house. Yes, you can roll your eyes because heaven knows I did.

What separates it from every other reality show ever is that everyone's life outside the house still goes one as it normally would - they still go to work, their families and friends can visit, and they even get to watch their own episodes as they air. And, it's Japanese. They just do things differently.

Like birthday party conversations.

And "everyday" grub.

And professions that are popular with women.

Terrace House Tip #1: Hairdresser > Jock. Yep. 

Also, people keep waking everyone up, and no one gets mad. Like they don't even shout or anything.
I mean, he's buried under the covers for crying out loud. Is that what you look like when you're up?!?

Some things remain the same across all cultures, though.

The show also includes a regular commentary from a very entertaining group of local celebrities (seriously, at certain points they're the ones that actually keep the show going), which provides even more wonderful insight.

Terrace House Tip #2: Keep that voice nice and deep. 

Terrace House Tip #3: Never ever tell people you're hungry. 

But seriously, though. Keep that voice deep.

Like real low and deep.

Maybe even consider vocal chord surgery?

Seriously, just give it a go. If you stick with it long enough you shall be rewarded with an episode where a guy bursts into tears because everyone else ate his meat. It's glorious, I tell you.

You Win Some, You Lose Some

22 September 2016
Reposting (and rephrasing), because I accidentally deleted the last one while editing a typo. That's what happens when you place your mouse which controls the Macbook beside the trackpad that controls the Mac, and your mother who is visiting Japan for a week really, really, really wants to watch her telenovelas and you have been awake since five in the morning (having four real adults in the house means being all showered and breakfast-ed by the time my first alarm of twenty goes off).

So anyway, the point is: (1) I lost weight, and (2) I lost the minimalist battle (but not the war). The latter sort of because of the former but not entirely so.

2015 was when I hit my peak weight, and I felt and looked like a fucking mascot. When I would meet friends I haven't seen in a while, they'd always tell me I look "different". When you gain a few pounds people don't usually hesitate to tell you so (it's practically the traditional Pinoy greeting, isn't it?), but when it's a lot, then it becomes awkward. Hence, "different".

I was fine with it at first; full-fat food, after all, is glorious. But when I started getting depressed whenever I look in the mirror and felt myself cringing when looking at my photos, I knew it was time to make some changes.

For a week (and only a week - it's tedious work), I counted calories to figure out how much I am overeating (answer: a lot). From there it was all a matter of making better choices. Actually no, scratch that. I just stopped making really bad choices. Like giant cup ramen (500 kcal - that's two quarter pounders!). Or an entire bag of Lay's (1200 kcal, or my entire daily allowance). So essentially what I'm saying is I just started eating like a normal human person. Also, no more extra rice. It's sad but there is more rice to be had tomorrow, and there is no need to attempt to inhale all I could possibly can in one meal.

Admittedly the progress was slow, but it was at least steady. I am still nowhere near the level of skinny-ness I would like to achieve, but at least I can look at myself in the mirror with less and less horror each day. And when I board the train, I am no longer afraid that people might give up their seats for me because they think I'm pregnant.

Spot the difference

To be honest I feel like the weight loss is noticeable to no one but me (and Abe too, but that's because he has too :p), but at least the weighing scale and my pants agree. I went down two sizes, and that was when the shopping fast was broken, so to speak. I used to have a section at the back of my closet reserved for clothes I will wear "when I finally lose ten pounds", but I threw them all out when I started going "minimalist". And now I have to go and buy the exact same (-sized) clothes. The irony of it all is not lost on me.

Once I started shopping I found myself unable to resume the fast. "But I also need new tops, because it's summer." "But my favorite dresses are now too loose and must be replaced." "But I want new lipstick."

And so here we are. Sometimes I ask myself if maybe, maybe this isn't for me. Maybe I should just start accepting the fact that I am a hoarder and just, you know, buy more storage. But last week I pulled out my makeup drawer, feeling totally guilty because of the aforementioned new lipstick. But as I started pulling items out in an attempt to edit, I realized I have, despite the setbacks, managed to significantly whittle down my collection, and at no point did I ever feel like I did not have enough. So I guess I've been making progress after all. ^^

Favorite Things: Goody Spin Pins

08 September 2016
So these have been around for ages, but nobody ever told me they actually worked.

In fact I think I tried everything else in the hair section before I snapped them up out of desperation. They just didn't look particularly effective. I mean, they're just screw things that also kinda look like a double helix.

Goody claims that a spin pin is equivalent to ten bobby pins. I don't really know how true that is, but I can confirm that not only were a pair of them able to hoist all of my hair up, they kept it there the entire day, and that to me is nothing short of miraculous. I have very fine hair, and not a lot of it, so clamps and clips will inevitably just slide down for lack of anything to grab on to. But these wonderful little pins, they stay. 

Usage is pretty straightforward, too. Just twist your hair into a bun and screw the pins in, one on either side. To remove, spin them in the opposite direction (remember: "righty tighty, lefty loosey" :p). It takes two minutes, tops.
In fact, this picture took longer to take than it did to create the bun.

I've recommended it to friends with hair types way different from mine, and it worked for them as well. I think it's worth giving them a spin *wink*. Seriously though, it's kinda awesome.

Just Japan Things: Kanebo Evita Beauty Whip

28 August 2016
So let's just pretend that I didn't go off the radar for nearly two months. Things just happened and by things I mean Pokemon Go (I know, I know, for shame). I also got all four wisdom teeth removed (not all at one time - it took two sessions), and made a quick trip home to the Philippines where I was welcomed with heavy rains which I somehow brought back to Japan with me in the form of a typhoon which left me with a nasty case of the sniffles.


So Anj alerted me to this thing one afternoon and I kid you not, it was on my bathroom counter that very night.

It's a facial wash that is dispensed in the form of foam roses. Yes, roses. Because, you know, Japan.

To be honest as far as facial cleansing innovations go I'm still waiting for one that foams whilst maintaining the correct pH, but have I mentioned you get ~perfectly-shaped~ roses? Like with individual petals and shit?

And that you can scoop it up and smoosh all that loveliness into your face?

The texture is very similar to shaving cream - it's dense and soft and feels a bit like spreading icing onto your face, which I may or may not have done irl. It's just very, very luxurious. Like at one point I started thinking to myself that this must be what it feels to have made it (until of course, I rinsed it off and went back to the reality of not actually having made it).

Performance is quite meh - the foam doesn't lather (again, really like shaving cream), it leaves my face squeaky (read:drying), and yet it is powerless against airbrush foundation and waterproof mascara (I use cleansing oil for that anyway, but I just tried for the heck of it). The rose scent is also a tad overwhelming. But let's be honest, is anyone actually buying it for its facial cleansing prowess? Didn't think so.

Yes, it's a gimmick.

A video posted by ella yap (@ellayap) on

And yes, you need it in your life.
It retails for around 1200JPY in  your friendly neighborhood Japanese drugstore - I got mine in Matsumoto Kiyoshi.

Final word of warning: If you press the levers a little too eagerly it goes from floral to phallic very quickly. XD
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