Monday, 15 November 2010

Taking you back to 2nd March 2007

2 weeks to go!

Current mood: Excited

Friday 2nd March 2007

"Two weeks to go!  I'll soon be jetting off to sunny Tacloban City!

Strange to think that in just a matter of days, I'll be on the other side of the world, staying with and working with strangers and trying to communicate in a language I can't speak.  The cultural difference is going to be amazingly, and I don't think anything is going to prepare me for the poverty and conditions I'm going to experience, both at the orphange and in "my new family's" home.

Details of my new family arrived in my inbox a few weeks back.  The agency place all volunteers with nearby families so can fully experience Filipino life.  Whilst I think this is a great idea, I might not have been so keen had I been travelling alone instead of with Grace!

The family we are staying with are called the Llanto family.  It's a large family compared to our standards - 9 people living in one 4 bedroom house!  This includes the Mother, Father, Daughter, Son, Son's wife, Son's baby, 2 granddaughters, sister-in-law, niece and 2 nephews.  Phew!  And if that's not enough, another volunteer will also be staying with the same family!  The more, the merrier eh?!  Anyway, I've been informed by the agency that the house DOES have running water and electicity and all family members can understand and speak English.  However, showers rarely exist out there - I am to expect a tub and a bucket.  Washing my long thick hair is going to be a nightmare!

I've been racking my brains for weeks trying to think of a good present for my hosts.  Novelty teapots in the shape of London double deckers, tea towels with a map of Britain on it, that kind of thing.  The agency suggests in my pre-departure information packet that something from my home town is a good idea - a book from my town, special 'candies' or delicacies, foods from my hometown etc.  Now, as far as I know, I don't think Milton Keynes has any delicacies!  So I was considering typical British food - baked beans, tomato ketchup, Yorkshire puddings, tea, Marmit!  However, I'm not convinced these would go down too well so I may stick to good old chocolate!  So plenty of Cadburys, Galaxy etc will be going into my suitcase, particularly Easter eggs!

Anyway, back to packing (remember Joy, less is more)..."

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Forever 21 UK and general clothes haul!

At the beginning of the year, my fiance-now-husband and I flew to New York for 5 days, fully expecting to spend a fortune in supposedly THE fashion capital of the world.  After 3 days of flicking through rail after rail of dull-as-dishwater middle-aged or market stall quality clothes, and eagerly peeking round each block corner hoping to find a store that excited me, I found Forever 21.  The only decent high street shop I could find, other than the usual H&M, Gap etc that I could find at home.  It was fab!  And affordable!  My suitcase could finally be filled!

So I was thrilled to discover that Forever 21 was opening a store in Birmingham, UK on my birthday weekend, when I had already planned a shopping trip to that very city! 

Once I had navigated my way out of Selfridges, after a getting momentarily distracted and pausing at the Mac counter, I raced excitedly to the new store location in the Bullring.  Oooooooh so pretty!

Adorned with chandeliers, this light and airy shop is HUGE!  3 floors of lovely tops, dresses, jumpers, leggings, shoes, bags, scarves, jewellery...  Luckily they were handing out large shopping bags so that us girlies could comfortably toss in the many items that would weigh us down!

For the first time in years, it did cross my mind that it's lucky that I'm not a slender size 10 - as I probably would have wanted to buy the entire shop, I have no self control - I see, I like, I want!  Here's what I picked up from the regular section:

Forever 21 Wooly Leggings with Silver Flecks- £20.80

Forever 21 Long Length Jumper with Gold Sequinned Cap Sleeves - £22.80
Forever 21 Adore Vest Top - £14.80
Forever 21 Black Sparkly Drape Cardigan - £27.80

Forever 21 Charcoal Grey Maxi Skirt - £22.80

 Elsewhere I also bought:
Vero Moda - £7
H&M Gold Jumper - £24.99

H&M Silky Shorts - £14.99

I'm planning to wear the H&M gold jumper with the above shorts and these boots:
Priceless Shoes Nude Lace Up Boots - £25

And if you were starting to think: This girl has no colour in her wardrobe!

Jane Norman Grecian Dress - £30

H&M Green T-Shirt - £7.99
I love bright colours but don't tend to wear them together, it's usually 1 vibrant item mixed with black/grey, hence the mainly dark items!

In Forever 21, I also picked up a couple of hairbands and a string of dusky pink pearls that will match my favourite earrings at the moment - gold & dusky pink pearl dangly ones.  I plan to wear these with my gold H&M jumper, silky shorts & nude boots.

I have to admit, it wasn't all great.  Unfortunately the corner of Plus Size at Forever 21 wasn't "all that"; Hubby didn't seem all that inspired by the men's section and I was disappointed to learn that there was no Home section as I'd seen some pretty cake stands and home items filled with sparkling accessories.  But hey, you can't have everything!

Did any of you girlies do any shopping today?  Have you visited a Forever 21 shop?  If so, what did you think?

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Taking you back to 12th Feb 2007

Feeling a little tired and lazy this week as work is super busy but I would like to post every few days so I thought I would post a blog that I wrote a few years back when I was going to the Philippines, a sort of get-to-know-me post and a little insight into my travel experience.  I will put up the rest of the posts over the next few weeks and mix them in with regular posts, I hope you enjoy them - this trip meant a lot to me.

"Monday, 12th Feb 2007

Current Mood: Nervous

"If you ever went back to the Philippines, would you take me?" my 12 year-old older olive skinned sister asked my mum.
"Yes, probably.  If you wanted to go."
"Would you take me?" Eight-year-old me asked, expecting the same answer.
"Why?!"  I was outraged that she thought I was too young.
"Because you're white."

My mum wasn't being harsh, and she didn't mean to be nasty.  But my mum who was born in the Philippines and came over to the UK to be nurse when she was 18, and she knew that white people were treated differently over there - and being white would mean "the bad guys" would automatically think that I was rich.  And that could mean anything from kidnapping to mugging.

But I am going to go, in 4 weeks time - finally, at the age of 23.  Luckily my skin has got darker as I've got older but my sister Grace still looks much more like a Filipina than I do.

This trip all started because of Grace.  She was planning a trip, going to the Philippines first, then around Asia a bit before going to Australia and New Zealand, and finishing up in the States.  She put me down a a character reference when applying to volunteer in a Filipino orphanage, and I was really interested in it.  I looked at the website and testimonials of some people that had volunteered there before and thought it was a really good, interesting thing to do - and all for a good cause.  I said in passing that I'd like to do something like that, quickly got caught up in her excitement and, before I knew it, I was going!

Persuading my mum to help me out with paying for it was another matter.  I'm 23, work full-time and don't live at home so she could easily have told me "no way".  But my sister and I went for the 'safety in numbers' approach and she realised that she would feel much better if Grace and I went to the Philippines together, than letting her go by herself.

The volunteer organisation that we are going with is called Volunteer for the Visayans.  They're a non-profit organisation who, not only place foreign volunteers in community projects, but also raise money for local projects.  They're helping to support a new facility under construction, which will be used to house the street children and they collect donations and basic necessities such as used clothing, to distribute to these children.  VFV also collects educational resources to distribute to rural schools where basic books and school supplies are not available.

There are a number of different volunteer programs to choose from - teaching English, working with the Social Department/City Nutrition Office/Community Health Clinic, working with street children.  I immediately chose the orphanage, as I'd previously worked in a nursery and had childcare qualifications.

I was quite surprised that we had to pay to volunteer [2010: Naive little me!] but they can't keep running on kindness alone, and they do provide the accommodation.  Volunteers are placed with Filipino families, close to the placements.  This is going to be a challenge for me, as I'm fairly shy with new people and can't speak the language!

My only experiences of Filipinos are occasional visits to my mum's cousins who live in London, and house parties of one of my mum's friends - both of which, were years ago when I was much younger.  And the annual Filipino Festival that is held in Campbell Park in Milton Keynes - I've only been 3 times, despite living here for 21 years.  So from what I can remember, Filipino people (I can only really comment on the women) are extremely friendly and are always encouraging you to eat!  I only know one word in their language, which I'm told is Tagalog - "pancit" which is my favourite dish, noodles with vegetables and meat!  My mum always spoke English at home but her relatives/friends mainly spoke Filipino and still had the accents - maybe because they were around each other more, and regularly visited home.  A few years ago, my little cousin came to visit me and, although being 14 and living in London all her life, she knew much more about the country and culture than I did.  I felt quite regretful and ashamed that I never knew the customs or language, and yet I still call myself half-Filipina.

So that's one of my main aims for my trip.  To see my mother's country and learn about the culture."

Monday, 8 November 2010

My style icon's new book!

Ooooh!  I'm so excited!  I've just spotted this on Amazon - I didn't even know she'd done this book! 

I loooove Lauren's style!  She wears gorgeous clothes that I can only dream about (due to my small amount of change forever in my purse and my large waistline!) and seems to suit everything!  I am a big Hills fan and this is "right up my street!" (to quote Cheryl Cole in her Geordie accent!).  I  frequently make a passing comment about a top or dress that I see whilst shopping with The Hubby that it's similar to something Lauren has worn (usually French Connection as she does wear that brand often, but sometimes Kookai and the other day H&M).  And the biggest compliment I think I've actually accepted from him is that I "look very Lauren today"!

She seems to favour block colours, especially mid-dark blue.  Personally I thought she looked awesome when she stepped out of her comfort zone both on the episode when the Hills posse threw her a birthday party on a boat and the 2009 MTV Movie Awards and she rocked a darker look complete with red lippy:

I've never bought anything from Lauren's line though.  If they were more widely available over here, I would probably succumb but even without the extortionate shipping fees, they seem a tad overpriced for basic jersey dresses.  What do you think?  Am I wrong?

Favourite Lauren Conrad dress:

Love the shape and fit of the dress, love the mustard yellow shade, love how she's teamed it with a simple tan belt and tan heels (not seen), love the simple gold jewellery, love the tan, love the hair... Love, love, LOVE IT ALL!

Anyway, back to the book...

I was originally going to look at the reviews of her second novel, Sweet Little Lies.  I read her first one, LA Candy, earlier in the year and wasn't very impressed, to be honest.  And you may have gathered from the above that I am a big Lauren fan so that confession was hard to admit!  But I am entirely aware that it is very likely that she didn't actually write the book, that some unnamed person actually penned it, basing it largely on the early Hills storylines and that Lauren just had to pout for the cover photo and do the PR for it!

In addition to the Style book, I also discovered that there is even a third novel, Sugar and Spice.  "Lauren" has been busy!  Hmmm...

But, who am I kidding, I'm probably going to buy them all anyway!

Can't wait to get this Style book!  Apparently, Lauren "offers tips on exactly how to create your own beautiful, unique look – ensuring you look your gorgeous best for every occasion, without breaking the bank.".  I will be savouring each word and picture!  If I can absorb just a teeny ounce of Lauren's style from the pages of this book, I will be happy!  I've even bought a second one for my best friend as she's a big Hills fan as well.

(obsessed much?!)

Will keep you posted!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Fave "Happy Song" at the moment

Just The Way You Are by Bruno Mars

This is such a gorgeous song, with a beautiful tune and amazing lyrics!  Brings a smile to my face as it's the kinda sweet stuff my new hubby would say, even after 10 years of dating... aww...  :-) 

It may be a tad cheesy but love is a little bit cheesy!  It makes you feel and say all the things you vowed you'd be too cool for!

And Bruno is of Filipino of descent (as am I) - which I looove!

Don't worry, be happy.

"The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up." (Mark Twain)

Don't get me wrong, I'm not the kind of person to have buy those teeny weeny books full of quotes from shmaltzy gift shops or even have a 'favourite' quote.  But I do find some truth in the saying above.  I hate all the quotes on happiness that include money.  To me, wealth shouldn't even enter the equasion.  I find the simplest way to bring a smile to my face is to bring a smile to someone else's face.  My favourite part of Christmas Day is watching my loved ones open their presents, knowing that my effort in choosing the PERFECT present has made them happy (or desperately hoping!).

But my blog is NOT going to be deep or full of lectures, I don't claim to be serious enough to blog about the meaning of life... even if I knew it!

It will be exactly what it says on the tin.  My name is Joy and I'm a happy-aholic, lol!  Full to the brim of all of my favourite things!  Whether it be a gorgeous purchase, a funny line from a sitcom or soap, a recipe to the best ever brownies (watch this space).  If it makes me happy, hopefully it will make someone out there in the big blogging world happy.

And that's all that matters.