Tuesday, June 29, 2010

EVO Conference: Where Do I Even Begin ...

I cannot find a title more appropriate to describe the exact feeling that I have right now. As most of you know, I attended a wonderful gathering of women in social media in Park City, Utah called the EVO '10 Conference.


Here is a link to a previous blog entry briefly describing my journey on being able to participate. Throughout this experience, I felt an outpouring of blessings one after another!


I have A LOT to share with all of you and I know I will be able to do so in my next posts. However, I will get started today.

Here is a list of my observations, insights, and powerful statements during the EVO Conference. A little warning for you though: the list is very random!

I really needed this getaway. This season in my life is bringing me to places of personal discomfort that challenges the grace that comes out of my heart and spirit. It's been quite an interesting journey and yes, it's been great. But is it hard at times? Absolutely. The opportunity to go on a long road trip up the mountains was needed and I believe wholeheartedly that God saw that.


Utah is breathtaking. 'Nuff said.


"Your numbers are not the measure of your value or impact." - Stephanie Quilao. I personally have a lot to say about her statement (meant to encourage all of us) and will do so in a future blog post -- a challenge to all of us who want to make a difference.


I want to work for Make-A-Wish-Foundation! I have always helped this organization from afar but I finally felt personally connected with it. Their social media efforts are really impressive and it would be really nice to learn from them by being more involved.


Callahan and Nikki Williams spoke about the power of social media on helping them cope with their daughter's life threatening disease. Didn't bring enough tissue to cope with the tears that streamed down my face.


"Incongruent living is exhausting." - Brene Brown. A challenge for every blogger who "switches" personas between online and real lives.


There was a LOT of good food to go around! Strict calorie-counting was not an option. Not complaining!


LOTS of free gifts too!


I was warned by my friend Jennifer about the altitude making it really harder for me to breathe during physical activity. And she was NOT joking. Just merely going up the stairs is already extra hard! Walking and running activities were more challenging but I had to stick it out.


So grateful to make meaningful connections with Drew Bennett of BenSpark.com and Joyce Shulman of MacaroniKid.com. Very kind-hearted people!




I love taking pictures but hardly good at any photography technique. The photography and Photoshop workshops equipped me with so much information to take my hobby to the next level. And you just can't beat riding a gondola up the mountains and doing a photo walk with such a spectacular view!


The sponsors hosted parties in their suites! More food, lots of cupcakes and amazing views from their hotel rooms.


Organizers Jyl Pattee and Rachael Herrscher did a fantastic job in putting the agenda together. There was enough time to breathe in between sessions. They were both a shining example of graciousness and hospitality.


And since there was plenty of breathing time, Robert and I were able to go down Park City's Main Street, go out on a pizza dinner date, view some art galleries and walk around.


One of the biggest highlights of this experience is going to Park City Mountain Resort (where EVO had its closing party). Going down from extremely high places generally make me really super scared but I decided to conquer my fears by riding the Alpine Slide, ZipRider and Alpine Coaster. I am so glad I did it! Yes, my knees were literally shaking right before each ride but I ended up having the BEST time ever.


Grateful for MomSpark.net and my good friend Liza Nieto for making this happen. I am forever grateful.


And finally, I am praying really hard on bringing something like this to the Philippines. For all my Pinoy readers, what do you think? Your feedback on your needs will steer me in the right direction. Looking forward to hear from you!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Twilight on a Saturday Afternoon

This story has been all over my Facebook page but I thought of sharing it here because chances are, you are a Twilight fan.

My husband Robert had to attend a sports camp last Saturday. He had to leave the house 6am and was planning to spending the entire day being part of it.

I decided that it would be the perfect day to sit all day in Borders and catch up on my reading. I have my favorite brown leather couch there that I was looking forward to be in.

Fast forward into the story. There I was, sitting down and enjoying my awesome quiet day. And then I feel some minor commotion going on around me.

I asked a Borders employee what was going on. She told me that Peter Facinelli is in for a cup of coffee. He is in town for a meet and greet event in an amphitheater nearby.

Okay, that explains the unusual gathering of females (although there was really just about 20 clever ladies who decided to "stalk" him instead of waiting by the amphitheater in the scorching weather).

Then I saw him right in front of me. I have become familiar seeing PF as Dr. Carlisle Cullen looking like this.

I suddenly thought of my Mom who is biggest fan of the Twilight series that I know. Now I had to take a picture of him!

Only there were a couple of little problems. First, to have a picture with him will cost $65 (the mall's policy on the whole meet and greet thing) -- which I am definitely not willing to pay for. Second, the camera was with Robert because of that sports camp.

I decided to ask the lady beside me (who was taking pictures from her Blackberry) if she can bluetooth just one picture to me so that I can give it to my mom. She said she doesn't have bluetooth. Okaaay ...

So I asked another lady. And she was nice enough to email it to me from her phone. This is the picture that she took.

A few hours later, Robert finally arrived to pick me up from Borders. I was happy to see that PF was still out in the amphitheater and women were still lining up to get his autograph and photo.

I quickly grabbed my ever reliable Canon G9 and started snapping away. A lot of my female friends "appreciated" the pictures I took -- and I don't blame them. He is indeed a good-looking fella.


Enjoy the photos ladies! Eclipse is opening really soon. Are you going to be in line at midnight to be one of the first to see the movie? I might wait a couple of weeks!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Looking Forward to Evo 10!

This week marks our second month in Nebraska. On this trip, we intentionally chose to stay put instead of traveling from city to city (which we did in 2008: 9 cities total). I am so happy about our choice and have been feeling more and more at home in Bellevue.

However, living with Robert's parents (who have been so kind, loving and gracious) means our privacy as a married couple becomes a luxury. I don't mind at all (and my in-laws have been just great at giving us space) but I have been expressing to Robert how a quick getaway would be nice for both of us.

I found myself looking at the EVO 10 conference website often and thinking to myself, "How nice would it be to join a summer camp kind of conference for women lifestyle bloggers!"



I thought this was a great conference to go to for the following reasons:

1) I am certain that God gave me the gift and the opportunity to use this blog as a channel to inspire women to be the best people that they can be in all the roles that they take on. This blog is only 2.5 years old. Learning how to be better at this is something I always want to humbly seek. I still have a long way to go and still a lot to learn.

2) I have been here to the United States a few times but I have never been to the mountains. Just the thought of  visiting Utah for the first time really brought excitement to my heart.

3) Getting away with my husband (as I have mentioned) would be really nice. This I can guarantee: Robert is the best person to go on a road trip with!

4) I don't have a lot of female friends here (and it's totally okay) but I thought it would be nice to connect to a group of women who also happen to love doing the same thing I love doing.

5) With a conference agenda like this, how can I not want to go?

6) Last but definitely not the least -- I have been telling God how much I want to bring something similar to the Philippines. A summer camp lifestyle event for women. I wanted to get ideas!


I had a "little" problem though. The conference fee cost $350. That does not even include the expenses to travel and stay in Utah. I knew that I did not have that kind of money to spare.

Now here is the part where God just shows how cool He really is. Amy Bellgardt of Momspark.net was giving away one conference pass through a raffle on that blog. I decided to join the raffle but found out in a couple of days that I didn't win it. I was not surprised at all -- a lot of women joined and wanted to go!

But the coolest thing is this. Amy got in touch with me the next day after the winner was announced. She said the winner couldn't make it and asked if I could. My reply was instant and direct to the point: "YES YES YES!"

And the next thing I knew -- I was registered at the conference for free! We have made the sleeping arrangements (a combination of a great Internet deal and friends offering their home) and we plan to drive there on Wednesday.

This goodness of our Father was just shining in this personal story. He generously gave me favor and I cannot stress enough that I have done nothing to deserve this. This opportunity is before me because He loves me. I looking forward to be an example of His kindness to everyone that I will meet on this trip.

Please pray for a safe trip for me and Robert. It's about a 14-hour drive. I am looking forward to sharing my experience with you next week!

"Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he sets up kings and deposes them. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him." Daniel 2:20-22

A Heart for Achile

Hi everyone! Today I wanted to share with you the story of Achile. I heard about his situation through one of my favorite child advocacy ministries Compassion International.



Achile is an 8-year-old boy in Burkina Faso with a congenital heart defect known as Tetralogy of Fallot. Because of Achile's heart condition, he has been in pain for five years and hasn't been able to attend school regularly and receive the full of benefit of sponsorships through Compassion International.

 Compassion International has provided medical care for Achile for the last two years at the National Teaching Hospital Yalgado Ouedraogo in Burkina Faso in Western Africa.

However, doctors there now believe his condition requires urgent heart surgery, which is not available in Burkina Faso.

Achile will be transported to a specialized hospital in India for a lifesaving operation that will cost an estimated $20,449. I am asking you to prayerfully consider donating to Achile's surgery.

If you feel moved to bless him, please go to this donation link.

Any funds raised in excess of the cost of Achile's surgery and transport will be rolled into Compassion's Medical Assistance Fund to aid children in need of medical help in the future.

Thank you for your prayers and words spent on his behalf.




Thursday, June 17, 2010

Link Love: June 2010

Sharing with you today some resources, articles, and blog posts I enjoyed reading since my last Link Love post. Enjoy!

How to Create Compelling Content by ScribeSEO
A free 29-page e-book packed with great lessons and tips on creating great website content.

A Peculiar List of Facebook Facts by Church Crunch
Fun, new facts I never knew about Facebook.

21 Tactics to Increase Blog Traffic by SEOmoz
Pieces of advice to generate more readers for your blog. Very valuable!

Three by Enjoying the Small Things
Another beautifully written blog by one of my favorites: Kelle Hampton. This entry she writes a letter to her daughter who just turned three. Her photos are always gorgeous. Such a visual treat!

Workflow and Timeline for Media Arts by Shrink the Church
Another free resource for people running church media. Wonderful graphics. Great tool for more effective internal communication.

Something Blue Shower by Hostess With The Mostess
A fantastic bridal shower idea! Look at the photos to appreciate.

The Ultimate Mom's Guide to Looking Good After Having Kids by House of Grace
I absolutely love this entry! I can only imagine how hard it must be to look your best when there are kids but I just love it when wives honor their first human priority (the husbands of course) by looking good and attractive!

Grace Giving by In The Name of Love
Bianca Juarez's video blog on the grace of tithing. Her insights are, as always, worth checking out.

An Open Letter to Noynoy by The Philippine Star
The one letter I hope the new Philippine president reads and takes to heart. Author F. Sionil Jose became the voice of every Filipino post-elections.

Fuji Instax Mini 25 Instant Camera
I want! Adding this to my wish list.

16 Questions for Free Agents by Seth Godin's BLOG
Marketing genius Seth Godin gives great advice to people who are starting out as an entrepreneur, freelancer or as project manager.


Any new web discoveries you made lately? Please share them in the comments section!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Book Review: Mystically Wired

I just got done reading Ken Wilson's book "Mystically Wired: Exploring New Realms in Prayer." My gratitude goes out to Thomas Nelson's review program for allowing me to enjoy a copy of this book.


The author's central message in this publication states that our brain is designed to instinctively tell our body that we need prayer in order to function better. While this was a fascinating perspective to me, I found myself stumbling through the first few chapters with a lot of difficulty.

It was not because I had problems with what Wilson was trying to say. At that point, there was just too much analysis of neuroscience. I could not connect with the language being used.

As I read further, I clearly knew this was not one of those "prayer books" I have come to expect from most Christian authors who talk about this subject. There is nothing wrong with that. A fresh perspective on the function of prayer is always something I look forward to.

The author makes compelling statements that prove that a brain's activity is to induce a person into a state of prayer because it is good for his physical self. The discomfort that I feel with this method of "exploring new realms in prayer" is that I am not that excited at the thought of manipulating the functions of my brain in order to produce stellar results in my prayer life. I am keeping an open mind on some of the recommended activities on being still and developing focused attention. However, I will also continue to enjoy my frequent moments of connecting with the Lord in the its most organic manner.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Last of Two Parts: Favorite Skin Care Products

Thank you to every person who has responded to the previous blog entry with so much enthusiasm! I received all the comments, direct messages, tweets and e-mails. I am looking forward to trying most of the products that you recommended.

Today, I am excited to share with you the last part of this series. I asked several women (who are all beautiful inside and out!) about their skin care secrets -- products that they have come to rely on throughout the years.



Abby Cruz (@itsmeabbytots)
I love Shu Uemura's Skin Purifier for taking out makeup especially waterproof mascara. Good for cleansing too!

Anna Moran (@annadmoran)
I use mild facial soap, toner, and moisturizer from LAB 46 (a brand my sister-in-law sells). I use Johnson's Milk Baby Lotion too. I use it everyday before I sleep.

Anne Jackson (@FlowerDust)
Simple, old-fashioned Oil of Olay moisturizer. The kind that my mom used! She is 60 and barely has a wrinkle!

Carisse Escueta (@carrisescueta)
It'll have to be Aveeno Facial Sunblock with SPF55. I never leave without putting some on, no matter what.

Cesca Litton (@checklit)
I use moisturizer with SPF everyday. Right now I'm using Neutrogena Ultra Sheer SPF50. The SPF factor is a bit high for daily use but it's non-greasy and it hasn't made my skin break out. I'm still on my first tube but so far so good.

Charmaine Guiao (@lotsaCharms)
Neutrogena and Celeteque works for me. I like their compact powder. It doesn't make my face itch unlike other products.

Donita Rose (@RealDonitaRose)
Creme de la Mer is the best ...

Gemma Alburo (@gandagemgem)
My all-time favorite is Photo Finish Foundation Primer by Smashbox.

Jackie Forster (@jackieforster)
My favorite skin care product TODAY would be my Origins moisturizer with SPF30. But my all-time favorite is St. Ives Apricot Scrub! The old school version. That will forever be by the sink!

Karen Rigoroso (@justkakers)
My most favorite is Neutrogena Acne Stress Control Power Cream Body Wash. Makes my skin smooth and soft.

Kookie Guzman (@voodoogirl)
I love Dermalogica's Multivitamin Power Recovery Masque. My skin feels smooth instantly. It smells good too! I also love their Intensive Moisture Balance. It's what I use everyday and it doesn't feel heavy or sticky. I have dehydrated and sensitive skin.

Kristie Enriquez (@kristieenriquez)
Shu Uemura cleanser! And VMV moisturizer.

Kristina Maralit (@KristinaMaralit)
I'm not so much into beauty products but I use Cetaphil. I also like Ponds facial wash and toner. That's pretty much it!

Liz Claudio (@lizetteclaudio)
Normaderm Anti-Imperfection Hydrating Care moisturizer. Kind of pricey but it doesn't make my skin break out. I can't find it in the Philippines though! Only in CVS/Duane Reade.

Liz Tokushige (@liztokushige)
I use Cetaphil Moisturizing Lotion. I love its lightweight hydration. It's fragrance-free too. Perfect for my sensitive skin!

LJ Moreno (@daredevilchic)
My favorite is Oil of Olay Anti-Aging Night Cream.

Mafae Belasco (@MafaeB)
My favorite would have to be Ponds Age Miracle with SPF15.

Maia Reyes (@maiasky)
Does Ivory soap count? That, plus Proactiv Repairing Lotion and MAC Volcanic Ash Exfoliator.

Malou Atienza (@malouatienza)
Neutrogena!

Margaux Cortez (@PnutButterNoJam)
In high school, all I ever used was Noxzema. Can't find it in Manila though!

Miakka Lim (@Miakka)
Ponds Cold Cream and Age Miracle. Did you know that as soon as a lady hits 20 she should start using the Age Miracle line already? It's great for evening out skin tones.

Patricia Hizon (@patriciahizon)
Clindamycyn 2% and Vitamin A by Dr. Sylvia Huang. Put the Clindamycyn on your pimple and it's gone without a trace the next day!

Patricia Malay (@patriciamalay)
Dove Beauty Bar. The plain one.

Rica Peralejo (@ricaperalejo)
Shu Uemura Cleasing Oil!


Hope you enjoyed reading all these skin care recommendations! How about you? Any tried-and-tested skin care product or regimen that you would like to share with us?

Friday, June 11, 2010

First of Two Parts: Favorite Skin Care Products

About a month ago, I found myself in complete enjoyment sharing with you my favorite makeup products that can be brought from the drugstore. And you know what drugstore brands mean: affordable!

Who doesn't love an inexpensive product that works really well ?

When it comes to skin care, I do not mind investing a bit more if it means I can rely on it for fantastic results. I am loyal to a lot of drugstore brands but I also have favorites that require me to save up and set aside some of my hard-earned paycheck.

No makeup can ever replace the glow of a clean and healthy complexion. That is why taking care of our skin is worth every penny.

Today, I am excited to share with you some products that I have come to rely on throughout the years. Not only that, I have also asked some of my female friends (who are all beautiful inside and out!) what their skin care favorites are.

Disclaimer: I have very oily skin. What might work perfectly for me might not work for other skin types. However, you can look for other stuff in their product lines that match your skin type.

1) Neutrogena® Oil-Free Acne Stress Control™ Power-Cream Wash ($7.99)
Robert and I both rely on this facial wash to keep our complexion in check. I tend to break out a lot in the chin area during times of stress. It has always been that way since I hit puberty. Using this wash helps out a lot in this problem area.

There is a debate out there whether this is good for us or not. Legitimate sources claim that absorbing oil from the face makes our skin produce more sebum -- making it a whole lot oilier. 

It's probably true; and to tell you the truth, I never wanted to verify it. My reasons are very superficial. I just don't like an oily face in photographs. I just can't stand it. Therefore, I will always rely on these sheets to mattify my skin without adding any more pressed powder.

Has it made me break out more? I haven't really experienced a facial attack that makes me question my blotting habits. That's just me!



3) RoC® RETINOL CORREXION® Deep Wrinkle Night Cream ($15.44)
Something I wish I knew when I was way younger: start using an anti-wrinkle night cream as early as possible. I started in my late 20s when I could have been doing it for ten years. RoC makes the neglect much more bearable! I'd like to think I still look okay for my age (34)!




4) Biore Deep Cleansing Pore Strips ($7.99)
This is a product that I completely rely on when I live in Manila. I walk around a lot in this congested city (read: heavy pollution) which makes my pores prone to blackheads. Ugh! Thank goodness these strips get the job done.



















5) Noxzema Deep Cleansing Cream ($4.99)
Nothing beats a classic! I use this when I need to take off a fully made-up face. It takes it all away! I will always love its minty smell and the tingly feel.



















6) L'Oreal Eye Makeup Remover ($6.59)
Everything I want and need in a product that removes thick, waterproof mascara: effective, very gentle, clean, and non-oily.

Yes, I have a cleanser to beat acne in humid weather. Another one to take off makeup completely. Here is another one that I use for daily general cleaning of my face. It's gentle on the skin, not masked with with some weird fragrance and it leaves everything soft.

















8) Neutrogena® Age Shield Face Sunblock ($8.24)
The most important thing of all! You probably hear this all the time and I will say it again: we must use sunblock at all times :-)

Here are some reasons why this particular product works so well. It is a broad spectrum UVA-UVB sun protection. It works really well under makeup. It has antioxidant vitamins that our skin needs. Never clogs my pores (so important to me).


















That wraps up the first part of the skin care series! Up next: favorite products by women I love!

How about you? Please share products that have worked well for you throughout the years :-)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Boys Town

Staying in Omaha for a while gives me a chance to discover new places and appreciate new things. I made a mental note that the Village of Boys Town will be one of the first places I must visit.





I have heard so much about the historic campus and how it saved lives of many kids who thought they had no future. Let me share with you a brief history of Boys Town (re-posting this part from the website).

In 1917, a young, immigrant priest from Ireland had grown discouraged in his work with transient, homeless men in Omaha, Nebraska. So in December of that year, Father Edward J. Flanagan borrowed $90 from a friend to pay the rent on a drafty, downtown Victorian boardinghouse that became his first home for boys. Father Flanagan’s Home for Boys welcomed all boys, regardless of their race or religion, and youngsters from all over Omaha and beyond began showing up at the doorstep.


Read the rest of the history here.

Today, a person with a vision, a heart and $90 started a movement that continues to run programs and services to children in need. I just love stories like this!



If you have plans on visiting the village, make sure your first stop is at the Visitors Center. Maps are available so that you know your way around. You can tour the entire place on your own absolutely free-of-charge.





Walking through the village is such a pleasure seeing all the trees!





Loved the timely reminder :-)



If there is just one facility that you must visit, please go to the Hall of History. You will find the detailed evolution of Boys Town. You will be inspired -- trust me!





If you want a sneak peak of our visit, check out the slide show below.



And God is glorified as more kids start dreaming and thinking of limitless possibilities!




Information on Boys Town:
137th & W Dodge Rd
Omaha, NE 68010
Toll-Free: (800) 625-1400
Phone: (402) 498-1140
Alt. Phone: (800) 625-1400
Website: http://www.boystown.org
National Historic Landmark. Visit the Hall of History, Visitors Center and the Father Flanagan House to get a first-hand look at the world-famous Village established by Father Flanagan. See where our children live, work, play and pray while building successful futures. Visit www.boystown.org for more information. Accessible.