Not Your Ordinary Salmon

I have always stayed away from the kitchen. ALWAYS. The times I cook when I was still staying at our family home resulted to either injury, smirks of disappointment, or worse, combination of the two. It didn’t help that we still have a helper inside the house that takes care of the household chores. So when I decided to put my foot down and seek out the independent life, I had no clue how the hell am I going to feed myself.

Dining out isn’t an option for me, at least, given that the Philippines is still badly affected by the pandemic and of course, it’s gonna take a fortune to be dining out all the time. I can opt to have food delivered by meal plan businesses or from small local food stores but combining its costs will also take a huge chunk out of my budget. The best way to keep me and my wallet healthy is to learn how to cook.

It’s been almost two weeks now that since I moved in to my condo unit and after filling up my ref with groceries, I realized that I completely suck at grocery shopping. I ended up buying incomplete ingredients, stuff I don’t necessarily need (I have a whole level of my ref with beers and chips), and produces that I don’t know how long they’ll be good for.

I may be good inside the academe, I may have take on numerous tests, and even passed a licensure exam without much trouble but I am in utter surrender to the fact that I am yet clueless to the things that matters most in real life. I am taking it as a challenge and allowing myself to learn from experience, even if this feels like it’s the hard way.

At the start of my journey, I was able to whip up a truly delicious grilled cheese sandwhich and Filipino Pork Adobo. But what truly inspired me to write is the Pan Seared Salmon I did for lunch today. Not only because it ended up having perfectly cooked meat, and surprisingly delicious, it also challenged me to improvise and cook by my guts instead of the page of the recipe.

I am far from being an expert, I am not even knowledgeable, but I was able to come up with a Pan Seared Salmon with Calamansi Garlic Butter and if you’re interested, continue to scroll down.


Ingredients:

Salmon Calamansi

Butter Salt

Garlic Pepper

Oil

  1. Peel and chop the garlic cloves horizontally. Personally, I like to use plenty of garlic.
  2. Slice the calamansi in half. (It was supposed to be lemon but I forgot to include it in my grocery list.)
  3. Pat dry the salmon using paper towels.
  4. Rub some salt and pepper on both sides of the salmon.
  5. Put a little bit of oil in your pan and set the heat to medium.
  6. Cook the salmon skin side up first for like four minutes first or until you think the flesh is crusty or crispy?
  7. Flip the salmon and put in some butter and add in the garlic cloves too. Baste the salmon with the butter.
  8. Wait for another four minutes or until it is cooked (but do not overdo it).
  9. Dish out the salmon from the pan and put squeeze out calamansi juice all over it.
  10. Let it rest but serve while still hot.

Leaping Out of Comfort Zone

None of us has imagined this is how things are gonna go when the year started. 2020 took all of us in a path we aren’t accustomed with, and shaped us into a new version of ourselves, or so I believe.

When the pandemic hit and the Philippines was declared on lockdown, I was living under the roof that my dad pays for completely. Quick note: it is part of the Filipino culture to stay with your parents well until a.) you get married, b.) you rent out closer to your workplace, or c.) you put your foot down and start living by yourself. And most of the time, Filipino parents wont allow you to take the C path. As a 25-year-old young professional, I was living under the privilege that my parents paved for me. We aren’t crazy rich, but we can live comfortably, even in the midst of a global pandemic.

In a previous post, I mentioned how half of the year in lockdown took a toll on my mental health. But I opt not to discuss the factor that also affected my deeply was members of my family not taking the pandemic seriously and not doing their part on trying to flatten the curve. You see, the Philippines isn’t the country best equipped to battle out pandemics like the COVID-19 – as what happened in the earlier part of the year, our health care system can’t keep up with the demand. And for this reason, I believe we all have a civic duty to do our best to flatten the curve, not only for our own good and those around us, but also for the frontliners too, our modern day heroes.

One anxiety attack after another, I finally lost the patience and had the last straw when my family took my 70-year-old grandmother to the casino. I told my dad I’d be staying a few days with a friend to avoid further confrontation but I realized that this is a recurring issue that I have to work on. It costs me my inner peace, and I have to do something about it.

After contemplating and basically begging my dad to let me, I stayed with my mom for a few weeks while condominium hunting online. I realized that the only way I can deal with my newfound work without the risk of a burnout caused by anxiety while staying in my dad’s house is to finally get a place of my own. And for someone starting over career-wise, this is such a bold move that requires tons of faith, adding the fact that I know nothing how to keep the house or live by myself.

As one of my best friends called it, I bravely took on the last quarter of the year by stepping out, no scratch that, by leaping out of my comfort zone. And as I adjust to this new found independence, I will write about it as a series of posts. Hope you enjoy the ride with me!

Bye, Rolly!

In times of trouble and despair
when the world is dark, frightening
and heavy to bear.
When rains rage and heaven rumbles,
even as the skies hurl its terrors,
in Your tight embrace I find shelter.
In Your promise I seek refuge,
Your strength and grace I look up to –
my rock, I lay it all up to You.


I’m not the biggest believer and I have to admit that my faith needs a bit of rekindling. But in a time like this, when the Philippines is currently battling and trying to survive the world’s strongest typhoon of the year (#RollyPH), one of the things that really calms me is not the thought of the government making decisive and definitive actions (it’s damn hard to put your trust in it) but really just anchoring my hope on nature’s own way of weakening the storm and trusting in God’s wisdom and plans.

Blessed to be spared from the super typhoon’s wrath. (Staying w/ my mom until I move in to my own rented condo back in the city but that’s for another post)

The fact that I was able to still write and post right now means that I am lucky to have stayed in an area not being greatly affected by the raging storm. However a lot of our countrymen has been badly affected and whose livelihood and homes were destructed. My prayers, thoughts and help are with them. If you can spare the time to pray for them, I kindly ask you to do so. You can also try to lend a hand in this site to send relief food packs and other essentials to those in need: forthefutureph.com

Thanks and keep safe! 🙂

Breakthroughs, Breakouts, and Workouts

Libra season is here and it’s slayin’

If you’ve seen this blog before, chances are you already know that I created this to help with the burnout that I am experiencing from work, to rekindle the passion that I have for writing, and also to meet people over the web who shares the same passion and interests that I have. And now three months into this blogging life, I can already notice some great changes in my daily life and I also have you, yes you — the one reading this to thank for.

In my last post, I mentioned that I resigned from my job. A fierce, bold move in the midst of the pandemic when a lot of people are being laid off and looking for work. I myself am dumbfounded with my decision but it is one that I had to make if I wanted to keep my sanity in check. With an economic crisis, this thought should not even be entertained, but after some careful and dreadful thinking, I still believed that it was the right thing to do – I have to quit my job, even without a job prospect in sight.

It might even be called reckless or stupid, but I wanted to see what I can get away with. Sometimes, life requires you to take the leap off the edge to teach you how to fly. And as the last quarter of the year started, 2020 decided to throw in an awesome plot twist my way: I got offered a job opportunity that was better than what I even hoped for.

And to top it all off, I also experienced significant improvement in terms of my mental health. Of course it hasn’t been all up to fate and the universe, I also did a lot of changes and tried to incorporate mindful techniques and other healthier lifestyle habits as much as I could in my every day life. And as it has helped me, I also want to be able to share some of it with you:

  1. Workout – With all the snacking and food deliveries that became a routine during the six months of quarantine in my country, I had to find a way to keep my body burn those calories off. I found some good and fun exercises on Youtube and on the Rebel app that keeps the endorphins coming. I’m admitting though that I still am not that disciplined yet.
  2. Skincare – I totally disregarded my skincare routine when I suffered burnout from work. Months passed by that I did not even bother to put on any moisturizer or even wash off my face with some cleanser before sleeping. I was too tired to care, and even more to function. But last month, I decided to step up my game and bought a whole new skincare set and has been religiously taking care of myself in that area.
  3. Mindfulness – I learned about mindfulness from a couple of self-help books that I was reading a few months ago but only truly gave it a try when I hit rock bottom. Simply put, it is a type of meditation wherein you focus on the present, and nothing else at all. My favorite exercises are breathing exercises as it really works like magic on me. You can also checkout a beginner guide here.

Honestly, I just wanted to share the good news and also to bring some positive light to this blog too. And if you’re reading this and need an ear to listen, or a virtual friend to talk to, please don’t hesitate to let me know. I’m also open to suggestions! 🙂

Cheers to the sunrise and new beginnings!

Stick It!

I started this blog for a sole purpose – to act as my passion project as I start working on my self-care. For the first few weeks, I have tried to write religiously as possible to justify the cost of purchasing the domain, and honestly, because I am excited with the community I found here and it also was my sort of escape. However, I have been in a slump for about two weeks now not because I don’t find this fun anymore, nor because I felt lazy and decided to just quit out of the blue but because I realized that there’s more than one way to practice self-care during this time of pandemic.

A month ago, I decided to quit my job. Yes, during such a crazy time. And yet, as I am writing this, I know deep in my heart that it is the right thing to do – the job has taken the life out of me and the anxiety and the sadness (depression(?), I wasn’t medically diagnosed yet since I haven’t had the courage to see a doctor in this pandemic) that it brings outweighs the pros of staying – mainly, just my salary. It was such a bold move and my anxiety got even worse, there were times that I could not function the whole day -I would just stop and stare at my laptop screen instead of doing my job, then breakdown. It wasn’t a pretty sight. I wanted to write but I also could not find the energy to open my laptop and do it without thinking about the work I should rather be doing. I know I had to do something about it so I took a few days off from work to give myself some space without feeling guilty.

I filed for two days off before and after that weekend to have more time to gather up my thoughts and “fix” whatever it is that I’ve been feeling. I also did not tell my family about the leaves so that they’d give me my space, thinking I was working. It was during those days that I realized that self-care truly comes in different forms but it always starts with this step – you’d do something good to yourself, for yourself.

And while I’ll be talking about these newfound habits and interests of mine in other posts, I’d like to use this post to highlight the help of essential oils to help me relax during such stressful time. During the nights that I have a hard time sleeping due to the anxiety, I’d pop in the diffuser we have at home and let the lavender scent caress me to sleep. Aromatherapy is a practice that has been around for centuries that uses essential oils for its therapeutic benefit. And with the rise of the popularity of holistic living and alternative medicine, also comes the rise to stardom of essential oils. In fact, in the Philippines, there’s a term for people who uses essential oils for healing or those exploring its wonders – “oilbularyo”. The oils have different effect on the body and mind but one particular scent that I like is rosemary as it is said to combat fatigue, mental exhaustion and it smells really fresh too!

The universe’s magic also intervened as Princess from The Mindful Modus shared in her previous post that she’s recently decided to sell her own essential oil inhalers on Shopee. It was exactly what I need – a pocket sized essential oil inhaler of the scents that I already like and trust. Ordered it right away and was delivered shortly after two days.

I tried her three available scents – Dream (lavender and eucalyptus), Focus (rosemary and eucalyptus), and Breathe (lavender and rosemary). I knew before I ordered that I’d like breathe because it’s my two favorite scents from our oil collection at home but I was surprised to find myself really liking her mix of rosemary and eucalyptus for her Focus scent.

So if ever you find yourself dipping your toes on the world of essential oils and would like to test if the hype about it is real, feel free to check out Princess’ oh ma therapie! for affordable personal inhaler sticks. 🙂

Replay Or Rewind

If you had a chance for a “do-over” in life, what would you do differently?

At the young age of 6, I got tested and was said to be ‘gifted’ by a respectable doctor from a research facility here in the Philippines. My grandparents who were living with me during that time deemed it necessary to hone the talent that I was given with. Unlike most children my age, I did not get to experience the typical childhood life outside of the house – I did not get to play physical games with peers, ride around town on my bike, or simply have playmates. Heck, my childhood best friend is my classmate who I competed with for gold medals during quiz bees and school competitions. I was a total nerd but it wasn’t because my grandparents forced me to study or hindered me from a normal childhood life – it was because as early as 7 years old, I already liked to rise up to the challenges presented to me and they made it seem like finishing at the top of the class was a feat.

Come the end of my high school life, when we were all deciding what course to take that’ll help shape our future. I wanted to do something related to Communication Arts but everyone was telling me that I’d throw away my gifts if I pursue it. I ended up going for a ‘tough’ choice, a course everyone thinks is challenging for most, a degree worth pursuing they say – Electronics and Communication Engineering. Up to now, I don’t know what people should really be doing given this degree.

I got through engineering school even if I didn’t like it in the first place, going through each class thinking that it’s only a challenge to conquer, I looked at complex circuits as riddles to be solved. Then right after graduation, I took the board examination and passed the ultimate test. It made me proud but I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t even satisfied. And yet, my dad was ecstatic and proud of his little girl who has just become a licensed engineer. I will never forget the look on his face. For that alone, if I were given another chance, I still would have taken the degree. Even if it leads me to where I am right now – a place full of confusion.

Well, if I am to go through that again, what’s the whole point of the post? What’s something that I would “do-over” if given a chance to hit the rewind button? There’s only one thing that I could actually think of: I’d let myself experience failure. I will not be scared to lose, to fall down, and fall right flat on my face. It took me 25 years to realize that experiencing failures and rising on your feet again is its own reward and would only make success a bit sweeter. I know, there’s no going back in time, so instead of having to “do-over”, I will let this be a reminder as I continue to shape my future and face the hurdles of fate: winning isn’t everything and there’s no such thing as failures, only lessons learned. 😉

Today, V knows the difference of being ‘good’ and being happy.


I would like to thank Think Talk for nominating for the Liebster Blogger Award and for providing a beautiful set of questions which inspired me to write this post. I feel deeply honored knowing that someone out there appreciates the things I write.

words enchanting


Skulls and roses,
the heart and the mind,
Thoughts and emotions,
butterflies and bones;
each are alike,
yet each seems to oppose.
*
Through rise and fall,
of celestial orbs;
Through the constant tick and tock
of mechanical clocks;
Through doubts and indecision,
suddenly,
a magical moment found.
*
Years passed,
caged in an enchanted sleep;
Yet in this magical night,
and the splendor of words,
ignites the sleeping beas
t


The notebook in the photo was what I once called as my perfect notebook the moment I laid my eyes on it. I can’t seem to find the courage to start writing on it since it was given to me as a gift. I hold it with so much reverie that I think that my thoughts and my emotions aren’t worthy enough for the blank pages it beholds. In fact, I even searched and bought for a new one. Yet, just only last night, this magical moment happened, and I was finally able to gather up the confidence that I need to start devouring the pages and fill it with my own wonder.


one of those nights

I stare at the keys, taunting me
illuminating blue light, dark thoughts
it’s crazy how these feelings do.
Raw, unfiltered, unmasked
letting it all go in heavy, little presses.
Where to start, how to continue?
Ten thousand more hours I need,
to make little pieces that count.
Trying times, jaded mind,
the white canvas, blank lines
my bunker underneath this mess.
A scream of plea, a cry for help,
created a world to keep me safe.


Pandemic Made Me Do It

By now you’ve probably seen tons of photos, articles and blog post that are all related to this pandemic. What can we do? This has been monumental for everyone of us – like it or not, we’re all affected by the rapid spread of this virus and it is such a game changer. We were all forced to take a pause from our daily routine, our sense of normalcy disrupted and have since been adapting to our new normal. But as social beings stuck in this world of capitalism, we still found ways to create new fads.

It started when Dalgona coffee took the internet by storm. This easy to make beverage is everywhere on the first few weeks of quarantine – you name it, it’s all over your face each day. The fact that it is easy to make, its ingredients readily available (for a fair price too), highly aesthetic and actually tastes good got the most of us whipping our hearts out. Then came the basque burnt cheesecakes and other pastries. By now, some of your friends have probably opened their own homemade bakeshops that you’ve already tried (
#supportlocal). And let’s not forget the release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons that everyone (including the celebrities we follow. Hi Elijah Wood and Brie Larson ) jumped on the hype train and went gaga over the deserted island life simulation game that even Nintendo was surprised by the sales not just of the game, but the consoles too. But I think, one of the most common guilty pleasure we all share right now is online shopping. It’s convenient, it’s hassle-free, and yes, it’s plain old “retail therapy”.

Again, what can we do? We all have our own coping mechanisms and online shopping can boost our mood or at least gets us something to look forward to. Careful though, it’s a slippery slope to going broke. I myself am a culprit of spending some hard earned cash during this pandemic period to help me get by and let me share with you some of the stuff I loved
:

  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons
    I am guilty of being completely crazy over this game for the first two months since its release. I was playing (more like grinding) this simulation like game which helped me escape from the clutches of reality during the first few weeks of the quarantine. Check out my thoughts on this game here.
  • Kindle Paperwhite
    Late last year, I broke my Kobo (another ebook reader) and has been meaning to replace it ever since but only got around to it during this quarantine period when I stayed with my grandmother. All my books were at home and it also didn’t help that I slept in the same room as to keep tabs on her and therefore could not continue with my late night reading. For those reasons and the sale on Lazada (the leading online shopping platform in Southeast Asia) got me eye-ing this new version of the Paperwhite, I haven’t been disappointed by this since I was able to get my hands on it!
  • UVC Sterilizer
    Even before the virus outbreak, I already have a small bottle of alcohol with me inside my purse or my pocket. I bring it with me when stepping out for lunch or while drinking with friends. When traveling, I see to it that I buy some sanitary wipes and alcohol on the first or nearest convenience store that I could find. So when this pandemic hit the Philippines, I was one of those people who are a bit more careful – spraying alcohol everywhere, getting my hands clean all the time, wearing mask even inside the car, and now, carrying with me a UVC sterilizer too. I just had to up my disinfection game! The efficacy of this product is debatable especially when dealing with the corona virus, but I did my research on the dos and don’ts, and also looked for a reputable brand that I believe in.

Aside from these three and the local food businesses that I support, the best purchase during this period is actually this: yes, this blog. engrvwrites.com. I was a bit hesitant at first because this is my hard earned money that I’d be spending to fund this little passion project of mine but then I realized that if I’m not gonna believe that I’m worth it, then probably nobody else will. I took a bet on myself, and it has not been the same since then.

How about you? What are your favorite purchases this quarantine period? 🙂

Mondays And Headaches

How are you feeling today?
What is the root of that emotion?

1 Page At A Time by Adam J. Kurtz

It’s the 125th day of the quarantine here in the Philippines. Since last March, I’ve been working from home and about two weeks ago it was announced that as a part of our organization’s business continuity plan, we’ll continue with this work from home arrangement until the end of the year. It gave me a sense of relief given that I won’t have to face the risk of going outside to carry on with my job unlike most Filipinos struggling in this situation.

Had someone told me that I’ll be working from home six months ago, I probably would have entertained that news with glee. But now, being holed up in in my room for more than four months, I feel the psychological impact of this set-up, and it doesn’t help with the burnout that’s been looming over me for quite some time now. You might be reading this and feeling the same way or maybe just stumbled upon this post without having been affected by this global pandemic, anyway, let me share with you a little tip I got from a self-help book:
your feelings are valid, and when you get to the bottom of it, it gets easier to ride the wave.

To answer the question above, I’m actually feeling frustrated right now – I always look forward to the weekend, especially when the work from home arrangement started that when Sunday afternoon hits, I end up feeling well, yeah, frustrated. How come I haven’t made the most of my free time and WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE MONDAY AGAIN?!

I sat down, grabbed my trusty notebook and the nearest pen I could get my hands on. As I scribble down my feelings, I realized that this strong negative emotion stems from the work related problems that I’ll be forced to face again tomorrow. It takes me back to the responsibilities that I am obliged to do, and the tedious tasks that I have to repeatedly do for another five days. If I’m honest with myself, hell, I may be feeling this way because of my fear of failure and that I still might not be able to provide the solutions that I’m responsible to come up with. It’s not about my weekend activities or lack thereof, because in reality, I was able to spend time with my family, watch the 2020 Hungarian Grand Prix and even the qualifying, play console games for a few hours and even see an anime film for the first time. In the end, it’s about this hard truth: my frustration stemmed from my fears.

Knowing and understanding this makes a great impact, because now I can address my feelings better and accept that there are things that I have no control of, and those that I do have, I can start working on. Instead of feeling miserable for the rest of the night, I now have the choice to refocus my thoughts on solving my problems or pushing them at bay to deal with tomorrow to take the rest of the night off peacefully reading blog posts and news.

Good night and as a reminder, keep in mind that:

Faith smothers your fear of the unknown

Jen Sincero