Posted in Own Story

New Year, New Place in Quebec

The holidays came and went by like a storm that swooped the city. We’re still in lockdown and while everyone was busy breaking their quarantine, I was in the process of moving to another place, another province, as a matter of fact. This time, I’m moving to Gatineau, Quebec. While I’m being so problematic that I won’t adjust well since it is a French speaking province, I believe it will turn out well. I’ve been off for a few days because of my move and so far, I’m loving it. I had a few trips to Tim Hortons and was still hesitant to say “bonjour” back to the person asking my order. I made another trip to the grocery store and while I can’t speak the language, I managed to communicate and ignore the look of disgust from the cashier when she spoke to me in French and I answered back in English. Sorry, newbie here. I’ll try next time.

Overall, I can ascertain that I feel home. My roommate/friend/coworker is the best. She made sure I was comfortable and I couldn’t complain. Moreover, the drive to work was certainly short and you can’t imagine the sigh of relief when I see the Ontario border. I’m still trying not to turn right on a red traffic light and figure out if I’m allowed or not! I got a few honks from Quebec drivers already on my second day. I will get by. C’est la vie.

My friend has a wonderful place. You can feel the warmth and coziness of the place. This year is going to be good.

Posted in Current Events & Politics, Health & Medicine, Insightful, Opinion

COVID-19 and Vaccines: A Guide for Skeptics and Conspiracy Believers Alike

Skeptics. Antivaxxers. Antimaskers. Conspiracy believers. Why do we still have them in today’s technologically advanced world? A part of it, we believe is the lack of information or excessive information obtained from the internet. While pieces of information from the internet provide comfort at times, it may also provide uncertainties and skepticism. You might be reading facts or hoaxes. How do you decipher that? What are the tools that one can use to sort out facts against hoaxes and conspiracies? Fuel your brain with factual information from verified experts and professionals. Interestingly, we’ve found this article from Ponyter about 8 must-reads detail how to verify information in real-time, from social media, users. This article mentioned three different points that just make so much sense on verifying and delivering information from social media and internet:

I find it helps to think of curation as three central questions:

* Discovery: How do we find valuable social media content?
* Verification: How do we make sure we can trust it?
* Delivery: How do we turn that content into stories for a changed audience?

We say, when you read a certain content, compare it against a peer reviewed research or better yet, against a published book with references and cross references. Research is undeniably a great deal of work, but you can only discover the factual answers to your questions by verifying the source. It is very meticulous given that researchers and scientists alloted their time and effort to come up with data that were tested and peer reviewed. Sadly, these works are discredited due to propagandas and short-sightedness of internet users.

The goal of this article is to guide skeptics into finding out what is factual and fictional. In today’s world where our health is mostly at risk, it’s imperative to verify the information. While I’m providing you some links to videos and articles that may change your perspective, feel free to conduct your own research. In return, it may provide the readers a more appropriate choice that would benefit personally and intellectually. We’re not here to argue or prove who is more politically correct. We want to open your eyes as it has been blindsided with overflowing information that can be overwhelming.

We’re all in the middle of this COVID-19 storm. What do we really know about this virus and the vaccine? I’m attaching some verified sources that may help. Read and verify at your own risk.

As explained by a doctor from Johns Hopkins University

So, as the vaccines begin to be procured and roll out from a scientific clinical trial, it fueled so much debates and arguments. But what do we really know about vaccines?

I found this video narrated by a professor from Harvard University.

A professor from Harvard University explaining how vaccine works

And another professor from Cambridge University.

A pathologist from University of Cambridge explaining the COVID-19 vaccine
ZDOGGMD debunks all conspiracies and ding dong comments.

Understandably, some readings may be too much to fathom but this is the only way to quench your thirst for knowledge. If you have to negate the scientists, physicians, researchers and nurses’ advices, you might want to think it over. Everything around you is a product of enormous research by professionals through years of study and hard work. One who discredits these works are contradicting themselves.

After all, Daniel J. Boorstin once said, “ “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.” 

Posted in canada, ottawa, Photography & Travel

Flower Photography for Happiness — Ottawa Tulip Festival 2020

Just parading a lot of tulip photos from this year. Every year, Ottawa celebrates Tulip Festival in celebration of Spring. It commemorates the time when the Dutch royal family took refuge in Ottawa during the Second World War, and Dutch Princess Margriet was born here in 1943. Two years later, Canadian troops played a key role in liberating the Netherlands. In gratitude, the Dutch government has sent Canada a gift of tulip bulbs every year since 1945, inspiring what has become the Canadian Tulip Festival.

It’s been a challenging year and all I want is to look back to good memories. 💐

Posted in Insightful, Own Story, Photography & Travel

Ottawa’s Magic of Lights

As we conclude 2020, we are hoping to wrap up the end of the COVID-19 era. An era that we never in our wildest dreams, will live to see and experience. Like most people, this year has brought me to a different terrain that was unimaginable especially in my career. When the news broke out that the virus has reached Canadian soil, I expected that it’s going to seethe and reach a boiling point. It was just a matter of time for it to spread and cause people to die like flies. I’ve seen it. I’ve experienced it. It was a horrific encounter and would not recommend to anyone.

As the vaccine begins to rollout, I am optimistic that somehow, this pandemic would end and our lives will go back to normal. This era has taught us numerous things that are important to our lives. We now understand and appreciate that our lives pre-pandemic era, was definitely secure and splendid. We have learned the importance of minute things that we choose to ignore because we’re too busy with our own everyday struggles. Moreover, we can appreciate the value of social connections and interactions as it was forbidden for awhile. Our human connections and bonds were strengthened. Our headspace transformed which forced us to reflect on our values as a human being.

Let us now shift our frustrations to something that is blissful and look forward to a better tomorrow. Don’t let the Grinch (COVID-19) steal our Christmas this year. We won”t let him! Sorry for the dramatic intro but I feel like it was appropriate before shifting gears. Haha! So, this week, I had a few days off and decided to check out Wesley Clover Park’s Magic of Lights Ottawa Show. It was truly a magnificent experience and a night to remember.

The show will run from November 13th, 2020 to January 9th, 2021, from 5:00 PM – 10:00 PM. Tickets are available online for $22 plus HST. You can also buy your tickets at the gate for $30 from Monday to Thursday and $35 from Friday to Sunday. Tickets are available here -> Wesley Clover Parks, Magic of Lights Ottawa Show. Now, if you’re looking to get away from the depressive mood of this year and start feeling the Christmas spirit, you should definitely check this out!

Magnificent lights
Magic of Lights Show

We also went to check out Ottawa’s famous Taffy Lane. This neighbourhood has traditionally been decorating their houses every year for the Christmas season. It’s one of the most famous streets in Ottawa during Christmas! You should definitely check this out and be amazed with their Christmas displays. The homeowners put a lot of effort into decorating their homes for everyone to see!

Taffy Lane, Ottawa

Posted in Insightful

Humble Beginnings: An Immigrant Story

Watching the Netflix Series called The Surgeon’s Cut inspired me to write this piece. It was when it tackled Dr. Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa’s story which captured my attention. Dr. Quinones-Hinojosa is a top neurosurgeon in Mayo Clinic who graduated from Harvard University. Dr Quinones is from Mexicali, Mexico and at the age of 19 years, has decided to cross the border to the United States of America. From his humble beginnings in Mexico, crossing the border to the USA without documents, working as a weed puller at a cotton field, a cleaner at a railroad to an excellent neurosurgeon, he is a force to be reckoned with.

As he pulled the weeds from the cotton fields, Dr. Quinones spoke to his cousin who also left school to cross the border and told him his dream, “I really want to go to school and learn how to speak English.” Dr. Quinones’ cousin said, “what are you talking about? What do you mean you wanna go to school? This is your future. All of us have come to this country. All of us have come as braceros, as migrant farm workers, and we work here and we’re blessed to have a job. And this is your future. You’re going to spend the rest of your life working as a migrant farm worker.” Those words reverberated into his mind. Hurt and still optimistic, he made a clear decision at that point not to look back at that moment and decided to move forward, no matter what. He left the cotton fields to work at a railway, became a welder and eventually became a supervisor. At the same time, he was learning English at a night school. During those times, there were legislations in the USA that allowed migrant farm workers to begin to work legally. By the time he went to Harvard Medical School, he was already in the pathway towards becoming an American citizen. He went from harvest to Harvard in less that seven years. The same hands that take tumors out of the brain from people from all over the world, are the same hands that were picking weeds from cotton fields not long ago.

As an immigrant myself, I’ve encountered arduous challenges when I immigrated to Canada. Immigration teaches you a skill that you seldom learn in school: resilience. One of the greatest challenges that an immigrant needs to conquer is to learn to believe in one’s self. Sometimes we encounter moments that makes us feel inferior to the rest of the world. We would always encounter such questions as, “Where are you from?” And one will say proudly, “I am from this or that,” and then you will get a reply such as ,“Oh, you’re from ________?”, “You speak good English!” or “You’re way too smart to be a ______.” These remarks oftentimes are very stereotypical questions and are impactful to other people. Not that we’re being too sensitive, for that matter. We are already struggling to adapt and adjust to a new country, we don’t need such tactlessness. What we really need is understanding that our culture is different from others, we are trying to learn the language and we are working towards pursuing an opportunity that happened to knock our doors and brought us to another soil. But that’s not always the case, brace yourself because these remarks can be a part of your daily lives. Never flinch.

While everyone tries to find their way into figuring out what they want to do when they landed in a new country, self-awareness is imperative. First, organize yourself as to what goals you are hoping to achieve for long term. Most of the time, we get sidetracked from our goals because we are in so much awe with our new environment and that alone limits our full potential. We can bounce from one job into the other, making more than what we’re earning from our country of origin but these are just minor accomplishments. In the long run, working two to three jobs could be exhausting with the addition of family responsibilities. It is not sustainable. Set yourself into planning for a long term career and cultivate community connections for tips and tweaks on how to be successful in a new country. Lastly, embrace gratitude and don’t forget your roots. Remember, you only get this opportunity once and it’s up to you to make the most out of it. Never flinch at any criticism about who you are or where you came from. Instead, utilize it as a tool to achieve those goals and keep on moving forward. We can’t change the fact where we came from, where we grew up, that some time ago, we had to work in the fields and start off with humble jobs to get by. However, we can change our future and work with our humble experiences to conquer the world.

So, what’s your story?

Posted in Current Events & Politics, Health & Medicine

Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine Explained From the FDA Document Released

A huge wave of skepticism and resistance against the COVID-19 vaccine flooded the internet a couple of days ago when countries began administering it to patients worldwide. Uncertainties continue to dominate as this new feat in medicine unfolds. Back when the pandemic hit a few months back and fatalities were increasing month after month, everyone wished for a vaccine. Everyone prayed that scientists could develop one to end this madness. So, here it is, I believe this extraordinary milestone is to be celebrated as the much awaited vaccine has started to rollout.

Hence, why the skepticism? Misinformation and too much information. As a result, it created another worldwide havoc. The death rates continue to increase and hospitalizations rise daily. Also, mental health issues and economic struggles engulf mankind. Where do we go from here? It starts with research. Although Google provides a lot of data, we should be keen in deciphering which information is factual and evidence-based. So here’s what we know about the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine and FDA briefing document released. This is what we found out.

The vaccine efficacy outcome was more than 93% across demographic subgroups. Approximately 44,000 participants is currently ongoing to evaluate the vaccine’s safety and efficacy. They used randomized and placebo-controlled trial for the vaccine trials. Additionally, a two-month follow up after the completion of the full vaccination regimen will allow identification of potential adverse events that were not apparent in the immediate post vaccination period. Adverse events may start 6 weeks of vaccine receipt.

ADVERSE EVENTS

  • Localized reactions: Injection site redness and swelling occur after each dose on participants 18 to more than 55 years old and lasted 1-2 days.
  • Systemic and unsolicited adverse events: Most common for ages 18 to more than 55 years old: fever, fatigue, headache, chills, vomiting, new/worsened muscle pain
  • Bell’s palsy was seen in 4 participants that appeared after 3, 9, 37 and 48 days after vaccination. One resolved in 3 days, and the others with a duration of 10, 15 and 21 days respectively.
  • Appendicitis appeared in 8 participants.
  • Three participants reported shoulder injury, ventricular arrythmia and lymphadenopathy and are considered by the investigator to be vaccine related.
  • Another participant between ages 16 to 17 years experienced facial bones fracture which was not considered related to study intervention.
  • A total of 6 of 43,448 participants died which account for 0.01%. 2 from vaccine group and 4 from placebo group. 2 of the vaccine recipients who died were >55 years old, one has baseline obesity and experienced cardiac arrest 62 days after vaccination #2. The other died of arteriosclerosis 3 days after vaccination #1. Of the 4 participants in the placebo group, 2 died of unknown causes and 2 died from myocardial infarction and hemorrhagic stroke.

DOSING REGIMEN

  • Administered intramuscularly, the vaccine is off white, sterile, and preservative free.
  • The vaccine is supplied as a multidose vial (5 doses) containing a frozen suspension (-80 to -60 degrees Celsius) that must be thawed and diluted with 1.8 mL of sterile 0.9 sodium chloride.
  • The 5 doses allows 0.3 mL each.
  • Administered in two doses, 21 days apart.

With this data yields a lot of uncertainties. Seeing deaths as a result in a vaccine trial is not plausible and that’s fully understandable. We’re scared. We don’t really know how it will affect us or how it will change our lives. The deaths resulting from the vaccine trial is 0.01%, which I don’t discredit. However, we have a known data that experts could work on and possibly find alternatives to counteract those adverse effects. This is very promising and exciting. We finally have a vaccine! As I’m writing, there are 12,867 deaths in Canada from COVID-19. Although humanity is still treading rough waters in the fight against this virus, one must look into the benefits and risks of this vaccine. For years, infectious diseases has been the leading cause of death worldwide. In Canada, they cause less than 5% thanks to immunization programs. We have to make a choice as to what really benefits us.

Understanding the true value of vaccines is difficult when a lot of misinformation, hoaxes and conspiracies are readily available. We know what’s more difficult: social distancing, mask wearing, plexi glass divisions, business bankruptcies, foreclosures, rise in mental health issues and suicide rates, overflowing hospitals, healthcare worker burnouts, travel bans and lockdowns; this virus has created horrific problems and it’s about time to change that. So, what is it going to be?

Posted in Current Events & Politics, Health & Medicine

The COVID-19 Vaccine is Coming To Canada This December

With the COVID-19 worldwide fiasco, pharmaceutical companies are racing against time to develop a vaccine that would settle the pandemic crisis. Today, the prime minister announced an important update on vaccine procurement and allocation to Canada. On his speech earlier he mentioned that Canada teamed up with Pfizer for the early procurement and delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine. The government has been working very hard on securing the most diverse portfolios of vaccines available and finally, it was successful.

The prime minister mentioned that the Government of Canada through the National Operations Centre, are working tirelessly with the provinces and territories to procure the said vaccine. There are 249,000 initial doses of COVID-19 vaccine coming this December with pending Health Canada approval. He mentioned that it will arrive next week and will begin to roll out as soon as approval has been established. He also added that shipments will continue to arrive with millions of doses in 2021. This milestone is a continuous effort of the government to protect its people from the deadly virus. Pfizer, public health agencies, provinces and territories are working hand in hand to prepare the first 14 vaccination sites this week. The prime minister wants to assure the public that any vaccine approved in Canada is safe and effective. While the regulatory process is ongoing and experts are working around the clock, Canada’s gold standard for medical approval is upheld to protect Canadians.

Posted in Current Events & Politics, Health & Medicine, Own Story

Nurse, can you get me a warm blanket?

Throughout history, nursing was regarded as a female dominated profession. From the works of Florence Nightingale to that of Jean Calista Roy, the pioneers were female and that along, yields a problematic history of misogyny and sexism. Women who were primarily caretakers and nurturers were responsible in taking care of the aged, sick, children and disabled; that was the expectation. When healing roles such as nursing became lucrative and technical, it was met with resistance since it promoted departure from women’s roles but it was viewed as a competition to men who were in the work force. In 2019, 91% of regulated nurses in Canada are female according to Canadian Nurses Association.

To date, we’re still fighting for our wages and fair treatment as a work force and profession. Male dominated professions are still paid higher compared to nurses which I find reprehensible, to say the least. In late 2019, the controversial Bill 124 in Ontario was passed and set a cap of 1% on registered nurses’ wage, which definitely was a slap in the face. In fact, male dominated professions are exempted from this wage cap such as the police. To add, they’ve reached an arbitrated settlement that guarantees up to 3.5 percent for 4 years. What is wrong with this equation?

I suppose the obvious reason of the above predicament is gender bias. It baffles me that up to this modern day and age, nursing is poorly represented politically and rarely have a voice in changes that not only affects them professionally but undermines their gender.

With the onslaught of the pandemic and as nurses continue to work harder in unsafe work conditions, institutional sexism is insidious and deeply ingrained in the profession. It remains a lost cause. Moreover, as Nursing remains stoic and powerless over proving its capacity to develop, adapt and innovate, the dynamic didn’t change over decades since Nursing doesn’t confront and remains busy proving how capable of a profession it is. In the public eye, nursing is still subservient to the physician and one a patient can call and ask, “Nurse, can you get me a warm blanket?”

Contrary to some popular belief, nurses don’t just get you a warm blanket when you’re cold, or get you some water when you’re thirsty or make you toast when you’re hungry. Or worse, nurses are not a physician’s assistant. We’re already in the 21st century where nurses are the glue to your health care journey. Nurses work tirelessly to protect and advocate for the individual in our care. Beyond this reputation for compassion lies a highly specialized profession that continues to evolve to cater the needs of the society. From ensuring standardized care to continuous education of the public’s health issues, nurses are indispensable. They deserve all the credit and that starts with revamping the wage cap, but one can only dream.

Nursing and its attempt to prove its worth to society is still an issue. Unfortunately, nurses are hailed as heroes, treated like dung. More importantly, nurses are continually to be belittled, and disrespected even as they provide the most compassionate and exceptional care to the society. In fact, the wage caps just proves how nursing doesn’t have a voice and still yet to be hailed as heroes, to say the least.

Posted in Health & Medicine, Own Story

The Plight of Internationally Educated Nurses in Canada

For most internationally educated nurses (IENs), Canada & United States are the top destinations for a nursing career in North America. With the high demand of health care and very favourable wages, it’s undeniably “too appealing”. Equipped with various skill sets and experiences, internationally educated nurses migrate to Canada as the country’s warmth and multicultural workforce invites each aspiring nurse to pursue their career and live the Canadian dream.

In 2013, according to Canada’s Regulated Nurses: A Look at Internationally Educated Nurses in Ontario and Canada publication, the top countries of internationally educated nurses in Ontario were from the US, UK, Poland, India, China and the Philippines. There was a significant decrease of  the growth in the supply of IENs in Ontario from 2009 to 2013. Additionally, in 2013 about 64.6% of internationally educated registered nurses (RNs) were employed at a hospital compared to Canadian educated nurses which was 63.4%. Moreover, internationally educated registered practical nurses (RPNs) who were employed at a hospital was 25.1% as opposed to Canadian educated nurses which was 43.5%.

Now, let’s go back to the part where there was a decline of IENs growth in Canada. The reason being was the assessment process became more expensive, lengthy and biased. The launch of the National Nursing Assessment Service (NNAS) added a fair amount of difficulty to IENs who were willing to reciprocate their international licenses to a Canadian nursing license and integrate into the workforce.  In fact, the proficiencies of these professionals are wasted instead of getting utilized as a work force asset in Canada. For those who are unfamiliar, NNAS is an assessment body that evaluates the equivalency of IENs’ education with that of the Canadian nursing degree. In short, they will tell you if your education is up to par or not. With a fee of $650 for the main application, IENs have to pay this amount upfront and fulfill the documentations needed for the assessment of their international nursing degree. Let me tell you, that’s just the beginning of never-ending fees. Along with this application comes a huge number of requirements such as English test, licensure verification and transcripts certification. UNDERSTANDABLE. They have to protect the public and that’s just fair.

What doesn’t sink in to me is for the price that the applicants have to pay, they’re not getting their money’s worth. What’s worse is the lengthy wait times. The application process came to a point when IENs have to wait 2-5 years of completion. RIDICULOUS! And after years of waiting, unfortunately, a few received an offensive evaluation such as, YOUR EDUCATION IS NON COMPARABLE OR SOMEWHAT COMPARABLE TO THAT OF THE CANADIAN EDUCATION, enough to crush one’s spirit trampled the years of professional experiences in highly acute areas and disregarded their almost perfect English test. By the time they receive their result, they have been stagnant for years from their practice waiting for a process that’s cocktailed with ineffectual arbitration.

I have met various IENs who have worked in ICUs and highly acute areas overseas who received a non-comparable result. Some of them have master’s degrees, numerous years of experiences and specialized skill sets. Surprising, isn’t it? The inconsistencies with the process to obtain a Canadian nursing license have to be terminated. I’m not complaining but it’s certainly a case of unfairness in plain sight and one has to speak up. I understand that the gaps for knowledge can be corrected by refresher programs  and they’re setting the bars high however, when does this systemic unfairness stop? Systemic unfairness or systemic racism? Internationally educated nurses are discriminated because English is not  their first language despite the fact that they have passed the NCLEX, met the requirements, have worked in highly acute areas and PASSED AN ENGLISH EXAM. What are we missing here?

I bumped into an open letter by the canadian-nurse.com where it tackled some few interesting points. It says that regardless where we came from, we are all Canadian nurses and opening up about racism in nursing and healthcare must be addressed.  Systemic racism education is omitted in the nursing curriculum and workplaces. I agree. While cultural sensitivity is greatly emphasized, systemic racism among  health care staff and fellow nurses are not discussed. It is a touchy subject that most people fail to address and even refuse to acknowledge. It exists and it is real. So, how can we tell that each application from an IENs is not viewed by an adjudicator without discrimination and prejudice? There is no valid proof to this claim but there should be a better system of transparency and open communication between the applicant  and assessment bodies. Be more accessible, perhaps? After all, they’re not paying for cheap fees.

Additionally, I also understand that each province have standards of their own. I’m not saying to make it easier, MAKE IT FAIR. One does not realize that these IENs have a life to live. The emotional turmoil and stress of waiting for result is too much to fathom. This is unacceptable on all levels. Stop wasting their time. Stop making the application processes a money grab. Shorten the wait times. Establish a pathway so each case can be dealt with appropriately. Develop an effective system where applicants and nursing bodies can benefit from each other. We are in need of more nurses!

The questionable processes, amounts and timelines are the problems we have to solve as it strains the applicants financially and emotionally. To add, I don’t think anybody has questioned this because of possible repercussions. And I doubt change will happen soon because of extreme red tapes. It’s a life altering process for the applicant’s end and some lose their hope and confidence on what this country has to offer.

And as the pandemic continues to hit, the shortage of nurses is obvious. The health care system is overwhelmed with patient overflow and short staffing issues. This is the time to expedite applications. On the contrary, I still think that the standards have to be maintained to protect the public at all cost. After all, we’re all in this together. Or, are we really?

Posted in Deals, Technology

10 Black Friday Deals from Amazon That Are Less than $50

Looking for great deals this Black Friday? You’re absolutely in the right place! Since the pandemic has been straining our budget this year, I found these inexpensive deals that are less than $50 CAD that you will definitely splurge your $$$ on and you would definitely enjoy! What are you waiting for? Treat yourself and your loved ones and to your shopping cart now!

10. Fire 7 Tablet 16 GB

This tablet has 2x the storage and a faster quad-core processor. Enjoy your movies and internet browsing on the go for cheap! This device is designed for entertainment with an access to millions of eBooks, movies, TV, games, apps and songs. Streaming Netflix, Prime Video and Disney+ with a tiny price to pay. Click here to buy.

9. Blink Security Camera

For a budget of less than $30, this security camera comes with 1080 HD video, motion detection and night vision. See the inside or outside of your home with its infrared night vision. This wonderful camera can be connected to your smartphone and alerts you whenever motion is detected. The camera also includes a functionality to hear and speak through the Blink app. Perfect for individuals who have pets at home or just for the sake of peace of mind. Click here to buy.

8. Everlasting Lumbar Support Pillow

This support pillow is made with 100% memory foam. Get your back pain relief with a proper support and universal curved structure. This cushion can be placed anywhere along the back of a chair or seat for upper, mid or low back pain relief. It’s also hypoallergenic and with a 3D breathable mesh that’s machine washable. Start living pain free for under $50. Click here to buy.

7. Rigoglioso Air Purifier

This portable and compact air purifier can fit in any small room or spaces. The HEPA filters keep your indoor fresh and clean and releases no harmful substances as it filters. The one touch switch is equipped with a blue LED light which turns into sleep mode to dim light. It also powers off after 8 hours of continuous use. Ideal as a soft night light, this is perfect for everyone who has a small space! Click here to buy.

6. Kbaybo Aroma Diffuser

This inexpensive aroma diffuser is remote controlled and with 7 Colour LED Change ideal for your office, home, bedroom and living spaces. Come home to a relaxing aromatherapy that will relieve your stress. This diffuser is equipped with 4 timer options that creates a soothing environment. The water tank can be filled up to 550 ml and lasts 6-12 hours. With its adopted ultrasonic technology, it’s guaranteed to make you work and sleep quietly. Click here to buy.

5. WIFI Range Extender

Having problems with your WIFI connection at home? This wifi repeater eliminates dead spots in your home with weak wifi coverage. Admit it, nobody wants a slow wifi connection. It is easy to install and this extender enables you to expand your wifi connection and connect any wired device. It comes with Ethernet port for boosted speed and performance. Click here to buy.

4. Peyou Selfie Desktop Ring

Trying to record your vlogs, selfies and take the perfect photo? This selfie ring light comes with a tripod stand and flexible phone holder. It also has three lighting modes, white, yellow and warm yellow. The 360 degrees rotation angles enables you to choose the best angle for your photography and live streaming activities. It is USB powered and can be connected to any device. It comes with a bluetooth remote shutter which makes it possible to take photos as far as 30 feet. Compatible with Android and iOS, this device is perfect for photographers, vloggers or anybody who wants to take that perfect shot. Click here to buy.

3. Timovo Stylus Pen for iPad

If you don’t want to spend your money on an Apple Pencil, this stylus pen is for you. It’s equipped with palm rejection technology that ignore palm touches and write naturally on the screen. No pairing is needed as this piece of wonder can be written directly on the iPad or iPhone. It’s USB rechargeable and provides 20 hours of continuous use. It also comes with a bonus tip and sleeve. The upgraded tip can be screwed and installed securely without any tools, durable and will not scratch your screen. This is a great pencil at a fraction of the cost of the Apple Pencil. Click here to buy.

2. Coralov Galaxy Star Projector

Welcome to the newest generation of projectors! This projector has a variety of colours combined with dynamic night sky projection of different speeds, creating a relaxed, romantic, colourful starry skylight. It is remote controlled with a speaker and USB socket. You can select your favourite music via bluetooth or USB. The automated control timer will automatically shut off at a preset time. This projector is an ideal gift for family and children and may be suitable for various occasions or just an indoor decoration. Click here to buy.

  1. Fire TV Stick HD

Originally $59.99, this stick provides powerful streaming plus convenient TV controls in full HD. The audio clarity is enhanced by Dolby Atmos audio offering a home theater or surround sound with almost any speaker configuration. Its voice button enables to easily ask Alexa to find, launch and control content. The stick supports your favourite apps such as Netflix, Youtube, Prime Video and play music on Spotify. The compact design plugs directly into an HDMI port and can be tuck neatly behind your TV. It’s easy to install, plug into your HDTV, connect to the internet and enjoy! Click here to buy.

Tell me about all your purchases!

Posted in Technology

10 Affordable Amazon Gift Ideas You Will Surely Love

Bring these clever and inexpensive solutions to life’s everyday problems back to your friends and watch as as they revel in excitement with these useful and affordable products. Go ahead and add these items to your cart right now! Your family and friends will thank you — even your wallet.

10. SZELAM DIGITAL CLOCK

This hip digital clock has a LED alarm is a must buy. It also has a mirror surface which can be used for makeup with 3 levels of dimming mode and brightness. Also a dual USB cord ports can be found on the side. It comes in white, black-blue and black-white. CLICK HERE TO SHOP.

9. iWALK POWER BANK AND PHONE CHARGER

If you’re an iphone user, this power bank has a built in lightning connector. It’s very compact and light. Works with iPOD and iPhone 6 and up. It comes in two colours, black and white. CLICK HERE TO SHOP.

8. HADINEEON MILK FROTHER

Love your lattes? This milk frother has 4 different settings from hot to cold plus also has a steamed milk setting without any foam. CLICK HERE TO SHOP.

7. POPBABIES PORTABLE BLENDER

This portable and compact blender is USB rechargeable. You can also use the blender while charging. Make morning smoothies in the car, office or everywhere you go! It’s easy to clean and dishwasher safe. The bottom is also detachable so you can just grab and go. This product comes with a mini ice cube maker to accommodate the smaller blades. CLICK HERE TO SHOP.

6. KEYSMART PRO

Know anybody who always lose their keys? Where is your phone right now? This product is a compact key holder with smart technology. It holds up to 10 keys. Also comes with a Tile app to make your Keysmart Pro play a tune so you can find your keys faster. This smart key holder has a button to make your phone ring even on silent. It also includes a flashlight, bottle opener and loop piece for a key fob. CLICK HERE TO SHOP.

5. SAMSERS FOLDABLE BLUETOOTH KEYBOARD

Keyboard on-the-go for your iPhone and tablet? This foldable pocket size keyboard has a bluetooth technology and works with iOS, Android and Windows. If you’re tired typing on your touchscreen, this gadget is for you! It comes with a free stand with 6 adjustable angles. The built in lithium battery can be used for 40 hours of continuous operation or 180 days on standby. CLICK HERE TO SHOP.

4. NAIPO DEEP TISSUE MASSAGER

This massage gun comes with 5 different types of massage heads to target different muscle groups. The high torque brushless motor provides powerful, deep tissue stimulation and is also extra quiet. It has a multi output cooling system for longer lifespan. The massage gun comes with a zipper carrying storage case. It comes with a rechargeable battery and works over 5-7 hours. CLICK HERE TO SHOP.

3. OCOOPA ELECTRIC HAND WARMER

Winter is coming and this portable hand warmer is ideal with the cold weather. Say goodbye to frozen fingers in seconds! It offers two sided source of heat for 8 hours on 3 levels of temperatures. Ideal for outdoors and camping, this gadget also provides muscle relaxation with body aches and pains. It’s durable, skid proof and shock proof. CLICK HERE TO SHOP.

2. LIVESCRIBE ECHO SMARTPEN

Perfect for students and note takers, this smart pen record everything you write and hear so you’ll never miss a word. Replay meetings and lectures by tapping on your notes. Transfer notes to your Mac or Windows PC where you can review, organize or share your notes. CLICK HERE TO SHOP.

  1. AIKELA SMART WATCH FITNESS TRACKER

This affordable waterproof smart watch is touch screen with 3 levels of adjustable brightness. It includes a 24-hour continuous heart rate monitoring and track calories burned. It also analyzes your sleep quality. Connect to your fitness tracker with your phone and receive notifications from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and SMS. It alerts you when you receive a phone call or a text message.This smart watch supports iOS and Android. Charging takes up to 2.5 hours and lasts for 7 days with regular use and 35 hours on standby. CLICK HERE TO SHOP.

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Posted in Food & Drinks, Photography & Travel

13 Delicious Filipino Cuisines You Should Really Try (If You Haven’t)

Looking for Filipino dishes to try for the first time? Or are you trying to convince your non-Filipino friends to try Filipino cuisines? These are the 13 must try dishes that are all-time favourites!

Filipino cuisine is a fusion of cultures and influences that sets the tone in every occasion. I will have to give you a heads up that Filipino parties are not always that simple. It’s a combination of table filled with scrumptious dishes and endless merrymaking. Don’t be shocked when you’re constantly told to eat more as you finish your first plate and be asked to come to the table and get some more. That’s just how Filipino hospitality is. The host will even ask you to take home some of leftovers.

So what do we know about Filipino cuisines? The Philippine archipelago with more than 7,000 islands is rich with ethnolinguistic groups and tribes influences including Ilocano, Pangasinan, Kapampangan, Tagalog, Bicolano, Visayan (Cebuano, Hiligaynon and Waray) and more. Additionally, the waves of influence from Spanish, Malaysian, Indonesian, Chinese and American style of cooking make Filipino food a melting pot of delicious tangy, salty, sweet and spicy flavours! With the abundance of seafood, tropical fruits, traditional cooking techniques and rich history, Filipino cuisine is a mish-mash of local, regional and ethnic influences that will surely satisfy your palate and a culinary experience like no other.

So, if you’re unfamiliar about Filipino cuisines but an adventurous food fanatic, you should try these delicious dishes! Let me remind you that these dishes come with boiled white rice which is a staple food for Filipinos. Are you ready for this?

PINAKBET

Pinakbet or Pak-bet originated from the northern regions of the Philippines. This dish is a colourful medley of bitter melon, tomatoes, okra, string beans, squash and more. This classic vegetable stew is accentuated with bagoong or fermented fish with a side of grilled meat or fried fish. Again, don’t forget the rice! Click here for the recipe.

BULALO

Ever tried beef shank with it’s bone marrow still inside? Bulalo is native to Philippines’ southern parts. This mouth watering soup includes leafy vegetables such as cabbage or pechay (similar to bok-choi), corn on the cob, onions, garlic and potatoes. Some add taro or carrots as well. It is commonly eaten on rice with soy sauce with calamansi (citrus fruit native to the Philippines). Click here for the recipe.

SISIG

I don’t think when you mention a dish made from grilled parts of a pig head and chicken sounds appetizing. However, this dish called sisig is seasoned with calamansi, onions and chili peppers will definitely change your mind. This cuisine originated from Pampanga in the island of Luzon. The ingredients are boiled, broiled and grilled, which is tedious but brings out the flavours. Sisig is often served in a sizzling plate and topped with fresh egg, ox brains, pork cracklings and mayonnaise. So, bring out the beer, shall we? Click here for the recipe.

PANCIT PALABOK

Noodles with shrimp gravy, anyone? Pancit palabok is a rice noodle dish with thick, yellow-orange sauce dressed up with shrimps, flakes of smoked fish, pork cracklings and layer upon layer of seafood flavour. This noodle dish is a variety that has a lot of Chinese influence that Filipinos commonly serve it birthday parties and special occasions as it represents long life and good health. It was also believed that when preparing this dish, the noodles should not be cut as it can bring about bad luck. Click here for the recipe.

SINIGANG

Sinigang is a savoury and sour stew combined with chili, vegetables such as bok-choi, chili leaves, onions and tomatoes with meat, fish or seafood of your choice.. If you wonder what makes this dish acidic, cooks often use tamarind. This dish provides you the comfort you need on a rainy day. Some also use unripe mangoes, calamansi, guava to give it that sour flavour. Get your 3 cups of rice ready because this is a dish you can’t resist! Click here for the recipe.

LECHON

Lechon (le-chon) is a Spanish word referring to a roasted baby piglet. It is also a popular food in Spain, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic. With its Spanish influence, Filipinos have acquired this tradition and every occasion showcases lechon as their main dish. Lechon for Filipinos, is a symbol of merrymaking and lavishness. Lechon is prepared with stuffed herbs that includes scallions, bay leaves, black peppercorn, garlic, salt and lemongrass. Lechon is typically cooked over woodfire or charcoal until the skin becomes crispier for several hours. A version called lechong kawali is cooked with hot cooking oil in a frying pan. Click here for the recipe.

PANSIT BIHON GUISADO

This noodle dish uses vermicelli (bihon) that is stir fried with various vegetables such as onion, garlic, cabbage, carrot, celery, beans and mixed with meat, shrimp with soya sauce. Just like the palabok, it symbolizes long life and good health and has since been a Filipino favourite in every function and occasion. Click here for the recipe.

TINOLA

Tinola is traditionally cooked soup with chicken, wedges of papaya or sayote, leaves of chili in broth flavoured with ginger, onions and fish sauce. The simplicity of this dish makes it so popular and a soup favourite. It was also existent during the Spanish period and was highlighted in Jose Rizal’s novel, Noli Me Tangere. This soup is so indulging and flavourful. Get your extra rice ready! Click here for the recipe.

CALDERETA

Caldereta derived its name to the Spanish word caldera meaning cauldron. This delicious stew is a cooked with goat meat. Some variations use beef, chicken or pork. It has a lot of similarities to dishes such as afritada and mechado which uses tomatoes, potatoes, carrots bell peppers and liver paste. Some cooks add pineapply to accentuate the dish. This stew is usually served with rice and a crowd favourite. Click here for the recipe.

KARE-KARE

Another popular Philippine stew is kare-kare. This yummy stew is eaten with shrimp paste, spiced with chili and sprinkled with calamansi juice. Kare-kare is made from oxtail, pork hocks, calves feet, beef stew meat and tripe. The meat is often tenderized and mixed with vegetables such as eggplant, Chinese cabbage and green beans. Best part? This stew is complemented with a thick savoury, peanut sauce. Again, this stew is served with rice and is often cooked when there is a special occasion. Click here for the recipe.

TAPSILOG

Tapsilog (tap-si-log) is a breakfast trio of “tapa, sinangag at itlog” which means beef steak, garlic fried rice and egg. This all-time breakfast favourite is enjoyed with fresh tomatoes, cucumber slices and spicy dipping sauce. A generous portion of rice is needed for this sumptuous meal!Click here for the recipe.

ARROZ CALDO

Arroz caldo or aroskaldo (a-roz kal-do) is a porridge made from glutinous rice and chicken infused with ginger and roasted garlic garnished with scallions, chicharon (pork rinds), boiled egg andblack pepper. It is regarded as a comfort food in the Philippines and is a popular breakfast meal. Arroz caldo is a Spanish name originated from congee which was introduce by Chinese migrants. The recipe has evolved over the centuries to use Filipino ingredients that suit the local tastes. Ready for your second bowl? Click here for the recipe.

ADOBO

This fan favourite is indigenous to the Philippines. Because of the country’s tropical climate, Filipinos cooked or prepared their food using vinegar to keep it fresh. This popular cuisine involves meat, seafood, vegetables and marinated in soya sauce, vinegar, garlis, bay leaves and black peppercorns browned in oil and simmered in the marinade. It is Philippines’ unofficial national dish. More rice please? Click here for the recipe.

Disclaimer: Photo credits to owner.