Travel Tips: Manila, Philippines

I just got back from my first trip to Asia! My first stop was in the Philippines. If you’re looking for tips or info on traveling to the Philippines, particularly Manila, check out my latest video!

I’ll be sharing more of my tales here soon!

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The Winter Blues with Stitch Fix for Men

Photo Courtesy of Stitch Fix

Disclosure: This post contains Stitch Fix Affiliate links, and I may receive compensation.

It’s time for another men’s Stitch Fix review! This week we’re looking at winter picks for the guy in your life, or yourself, depending on who is reading this.

Brian was hoping for a box that would add to his cold weather clothing options. Let’s see what Stitch Fix sent.

#1 – Grayers Athletic Tonal Garment Dye Thermal
While Brian was looking for winter clothing pieces, I’m not sure he had a thermal shirt in mind, even though it would be a good item for some of those more brutal wintry days. I really like the blue color of the shirt, and it compliments blue eyes very nicely. If you’re looking for a nice layering piece, I’d suggest adding this to your closet.

Brian’s Thoughts: Thanks, but no thanks. I can appreciate that this thermal top would help keep me warm during the winter, but I’d much rather wear a shirt with a collar than be comfortably warm.

Grayers Athletic Tonal Garment Dye Thermal from Stitch Fix
Grayers Athletic Tonal Garment Dye Thermal from Stitch Fix

#2 – Grayers Drake Micro Stripe Lux Polo
Next up was a dark colored polo with a subtle print, that his stylist hoped would elevate a casual look. Now Brian likes a nice occasional polo, but typically only short sleeved polos. I may have seen him in one or two long sleeve polos in our 12+ years together. I knew immediately this polo wasn’t going to be a huge hit, one because the color was dark and dreary, and two the style.

Brian’s Thoughts: Eww, a long sleeve polo.  In the summer I’m a big fan of polos, the short-sleeve variety is comfortable to wear and doesn’t look too casual.  Their long-sleeve brethren, on the other hand, look like someone glued a collar onto a thermal top.

Grayers Drake Micro Stripe Lux Polo
Grayers Drake Micro Stripe Lux Polo

#3 – Descendant of Thieves Tinto Plaid Poplin Shirt
I’ve always been a fan of plaid shirts on men, when the patterns and colors aren’t too busy. This shirt ticks my boxes as a nice long sleeve plaid shirt that you can dress up or down pretty easily. Pair this shirt with some jeans for a casual look, or layer with a nice sweater or sports coat to take it up a notch.

Brian’s Thoughts: Finally, something in this box I can get behind!  I very much like this shirt, it’s on the fitted side but still feels comfortable to wear.  The non-standard blue tones are a nice addition to my wardrobe.

Descendant of Thieves Tinto Plaid Poplin Shirt
Descendant of Thieves Tinto Plaid Poplin Shirt

#4 – Knowledge Cotton Apparel Ludvig One Pocket Twill Shirt
More men should wear button up shirts. I always thinks it makes them look so much more put together than a casual shirt. This Knowledge Cotton Apparel shirt is a nice medium greyish blue color that is a bit textured. Most of Brian’s shirts are all the same plain old smooth cotton texture, which is totally fine, but it can be fun to spice up a wardrobe with a nice textured piece every now and then, and this shirt does it nicely.

Brian’s Thoughts: I liked the style and pattern of this short, but a medium was too short in the sleeves for me.  I sent it back and got a large.  The collar is on the thinner side, but the fabric is nice and warm for winter days.

Knowledge Cotton Apparel Ludvig One Pocket Twill Shirt
Knowledge Cotton Apparel Ludvig One Pocket Twill Shirt

#5 – Mavi Zach Straight Leg Jean
The last item included in this Fix was a nice dark washed blue jean. It can be so hard to find jeans for tall skinny guys, but Stitch Fix has done it again with this great pair from Mavi. The fit and color are perfection. I absolutely love these pants on Brian, and highly recommend them for those looking to add a more stylish pair of jeans to their wardrobe. They are definitely worth the price!

Brian’s Thoughts: My previous go-to pair of blue jeans were showing their age so these arrived at the right time.  They fit comfortable, have adequate pocket space, and don’t have any of those holes or pre-stained spots that ravage modern jean suppliers.  I pair these often with the Descendents of Thieves top.

Mavi Zach Straight Leg Jean
Mavi Zach Straight Leg Jean

Final Impressions: This Fix was full of dark colors, hence the title of the blog, but there were a few great pieces in there that have really added some great fit and style to Brian’s day to day wardrobe. Considering the items that Brian kept, I’d say he made out pretty well. He’s already got another Fix scheduled in hopes of getting some more great fitting pants.

Brian’s overall impressions: Statistically, 3/5 feels like a disappointing fix. The first two items were pretty strong misses in my book, but the jeans and blue shirt made up for it.  I’ve been wearing these for a few weeks now and they seem to be solid additions to my wardrobe.

BREAKING NEWS: Haven’t tried Stitch Fix yet? Well, Stitch Fix is doing something amazing, from now until the end of January they are waiving the styling fee! That’s right, you can finally try Stitch Fix worry free because you won’t have to pay anything to give it a try. Traditionally, you have to pay $20 for each fix (a styling fee) but in spirit of the holidays, they are waiving the fee!

Get your first styling fee waived and try Stitch Fix risk free! Sign up today!

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2017 Reading Challenge Recap

Two years ago I was introduced to Goodreads, a neat site that lets you discover books, track what you’re currently reading, what you want to read in the future, and even create yearly reading challenges. 2016 was the first year I create a reading challenge for myself, and ever since I’ve been reading constantly.

For 2017, I decided I would increase my reading challenge book number slightly, to 20 books. I’m happy to report I reached my goal!

Here’s a peek at the books I took on this past year. You’ll see they are pictured in ranking order. After each book, I was able to give it a certain amount of stars based on how good I thought it was.

Screenshot courtesy of Goodreads

If you haven’t read The Queen of the Tearling series, you need to. It’s one of my favorite series, and it’s great for empowering young girls or women since the main character is a strong but fun and interesting female character.

For 2018, I’ve signed up for another reading challenge, but have kept my number of books to read to 20 again. I’m expecting this year to be pretty busy with work and travel, so I may not have as much time as I’d like to curl up with a good book, but I do plan to share my travel stories with you here, so stay tuned!

First book of 2018: Uprooted by Naomi Novik
What’s it about? A girl from a small village chosen to go and live with a wizard called The Dragon, where she soon discovers she may have some secret powers of her own.

Happy reading!

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My first Reddit Secret Santa

My boyfriend convinced me to participate in Reddit Secret Santa this holiday season. It was a first time experience for both of us. Going into it, we didn’t have high expectations, but were mostly excited about making someone else excited.

I spent a lot of time, effort, and a decent amount of money into the gift package I created for my recipient. I won’t spoil the fun here as to who I got, but some of her interests were in cats, puns, and horror. I looked around for some neat gifts, threw in some surprises too (Google Home Mini) and really hoped she would enjoy them. Looking at her review, looks like things went over well.

Now for my Secret Santa…

There was a deadline given that we needed to send our gifts out by, and mark on the Reddit Gifts site that our gifts had shipped. I did this for my person, but noticed my Secret Santa never did. The deadline came and went, and I was under the impression I had been forgotten. I gave up hope, moved on, and went on with my holiday plans.

Eventually, a random Amazon box came in the mail that we are assuming is from my Secret Santa, but they didn’t mention anything about Reddit, who they were, etc. Here’s what I received:

I was feeling a bit optimistic when I saw the outside of the box said “Harry Potter,” something I mentioned as one of my interests. I should note I gave my Secret Santa a lot of information and things I liked to choose from.

The box says it’s a “fantastic” gift box of Harry Potter goodies.

A lot of the items are off branded, and some things are down right random like the finger puppets in the picture above and the pencil with a creature on it.

It wasn’t the most exciting box, and I’d say the Amazon seller shouldn’t really call this Fantastic or claim it’s very Harry Potter-y, but it might be an ok gift for a young child who really likes Jelly Beans, as that’s most of the box.

Ultimately, the gift was a little bit of a letdown since it feels like it wasn’t super thought out and a bit rushed (order placed at the shipping deadline), but I’m grateful that I was remembered in the end with a surprise in the mail. Getting mail is always fun.

I’m not sure if I’ll do Reddit Secret Santa again next year, because it can be a hit or miss, but it was kind of fun finding gifts for a random person and hoping to make their day. Let’s see what this new year brings.

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