In the kitchen: home cooked meals (Part 3)

In this series I’m posting some dishes that I would like to bring to my parent’s table. Hopefully I can convince my aunt to cook these for me.

Shrimp sautéed with broccoli, corn bits, and mushrooms. We also added garlic and onions of course.

Coated shrimp. I love its sweet and crunchy taste!

Steamed veggies. Any will do as long as they’re not overcooked. I like my veggies half cooked. How about you?

Steamed fresh fish with tomatoes. In my parent’s home we rarely eat fresh fish. I just learned to appreciate them because of Teaz.

Fried fresh fish. I love the variety of fish! I hated eating this before because I need to debone. I guess we all need to grow up in terms of expanding our palettes.

My dad used to say, God has given has a variety of meat, fish, seafood, vegetables and fruits. God gave them all for us to enjoy! Let us appreciate the food that He has given us but let us not forget to thank Him. After all His creation points everything to Him.

Before this post ends, I challenge you to eat one type of food that you don’t normally eat this week. Let me know if you have taken part of this challenge by typing your comments below.

Stay inspired,



Thoughts: 24 lessons I learned as I turn 24 (Part 1)

Hi all! As I’ve shared in my previous post, I just celebrated my 24th birthday. As always, I write reflections and thoughts for every experience, event or learnings from people I meet. I deemed it timely to share 24 lessons that I learned through the years. I hope you’ll find this article useful.

Jannel at 24

ONE- Know God.

I believe that we exist because God created us. He loves us and He has a wonderful plan for us. We are not created by accident. He longs for us to get to know Him. We are wired to have satisfaction when we know Him. As John Piper used to say, God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him.

I learned it the hard way. I craved for new toys, new stationery items, and clothes. I delight in high grades and applause from relatives. I watched korean drama endlessly. All these give momentary pleasures but never really trully satisfy. I just feel tired chasing these.

Purpose driven life

When we know God or have the desire to know Him, we see a different perspective, a clearer perspective on life. We have that sense of purpose and peace and joy and satisfaction that only God can give.

Bible in One year

I encourage you to read your Bible. If it is your first time, start with the gospel of John. Read a chapter a day and write down what struck you in a journal. I just also started last year and God never fails to amaze me.

TWO- Know yourself. 

Knowing God is just a part of our existence. We also need to know ourselves. I believe that we are unique. Each one of us has a set of skills and talents. God also placed us strategically. He knows where we can best exalt Him.

Consider your strengths, weaknesses, personality and circumstances. Know where you excel and try to join in interest groups to gain more experience and knowledge. You can also look back to your childhood self. What do you enjoy doing? Are you good at it?

For example I like to draw, write, take photographs and sell stuff but I did not put in efforts to develop my talents. Recently I set up this blog to dedicate some time to practice writing and share some learnings with you. I am also helping my dad in the business. I hope it isn’t too late.


THREE- Set a vision for yourself. 

Well, it’s not really setting a vision for yourself in a way that you disregard God’s design. You envision yourself as God reveals.

I never really  sat down to think about this because it is mind boggling. However at this point in my life, I was somehow forced to do it because I got stuck. Although I still have a long way to go, I grabbed these pictures on the internet that somehow resonate with me.
I put it in collage form vision board as inspired by Nubby Twiglet. Create one for yourself too! Don’t settle to see it on your mind. Put it on paper and share it to your tribe. Start thinking about your future now!

Jannel's vision board

FOUR- Cherish time with your family.

family at manly

I think you heard this statement many times over. I cannot emphasize enough to value your grandparents, parents, siblings, uncles, aunties, cousins, and others in the family.

I am guilty of this because during high school years, I was so engrossed at extra curricular activities and anything school related. I was juggling leadership roles in several organizations while striving to top the class. I felt really exhausted but I was so thrilled in seeing myself get awards. I did not think about how my parents feel about this. I was selfish of my time.

When I studied in the university, I was living alone. I would cry because I miss them and would send random text messages to them. We became closer ever since. I would also constantly call my mom to share some stories. My dad on the other hand would share his stories to me!

FIVE- Share your life with someone else (and stick with it as long as you can).

lights and gloves

My parents brought me and my sisters along at church during sundays. I grew up in ‘sunday school’. We would perform during special occasions. My parents gave me and my sisters money to drop in the offering box. It became a tradition ever since.

I never knew something is lacking but I felt I was not growing enough. I struggled in my time with God. I also felt detached from other Christians.

When I joined a mentoring group in the church I am part of in Makati, that’s when I realized that we need others to keep us accountable. We also help them in their own journey in life.

To be honest, at first I did not feel I belong to this group. Or was I being a typical INFJ? I wanted to stop attending our weekly gatherings but I could not find any reason to leave aside from my feelings. Several years later I realized that I was hoping to feel loved but never really took the time to show love towards them.

After 6 years, I can see God’s work in our lives. We have grown more mature and our bond just got stronger. Several people come and go but we still keep in touch.

SIX- Meet new people and don’t be afraid to ask. 

 A muni meet up. Photo from Jen Horn

I was a very shy person back in elementary. I even refused to join a contest because I felt I will just humiliate myself. In the contrary, during the latter parts of high school, I joined a lot of events because extra curricular activities would result to additional points.

During university days, meeting new people meant gaining additional insights on various topics. It also meant having connections when you need people for surveys, professors as resource speakers and books for the term.

My dad encouraged me to meet new people. This gave me motivation to initiate conversations. I was also able to meet new people by joining an organization. Through Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC), we did outreaches together with other volunteers. We would approach students during free times and talk about life and Christ.

It was quite exciting to hear their thoughts and reactions.

SEVEN- Spend time with like minded people.

While it is good to get to know new people, I realized that we also need to choose our friends wisely. I’d rather have a few close friends who share the same values and principles and who strive to move forward than friends who want to remain in status quo. People who want to grow and learn and be unconventional. People who want to make a difference and use their influence for good. People who want to do hard things.

EIGHT- Welcome spontaneity and be adventurous. 

jumping kid

I am a routine person. I’d like to know how my day looks like. I’d like to minimize surprises. As a student, I would prepare homework in advance. I am content of eating the same dish almost every day. I hated spontaneity. I carried this behavior even during my free times!

After I graduated from college, my week ends were usually free. I got a bit bored of the routine stuff. I cannot believe it took me five years before I get to see the shops near our place!

In the past several years, I would make a conscious effort to be more adventurous. I have to push myself to try going on a different route. I have to accompany Teaz so that we’ll get to buy ingredients we don’t normally use. I have to force my relatives to try a different cuisine or restaurant.

I realized that new places, food and experiences inspire us and make us more creative.

NINE- Life is full of choices. It’s either you choose one or the other.

market finds_ choices

For the longest time, I am troubled by this question–Can we live in luxury (or have a very comfortable life) at the same time have integrity in the business? I still cannot figure out the answer but one thing is for sure–for every decision that we make, there’s a trade off.

I realized that we need to make choices. Not deciding on anything is also a choice! These choices reflect our values and beliefs.

As an INFJ, I struggle in this area. Every viable option seem interesting. Until now, I haven’t figure out where I can excel but I choose to get to know myself better.

TEN- Reflect. 

notebook, pen and camera ready

Reflecting on life gives me the thought that I am making a progress every single day. I cannot pass a day without pausing. More so, I cannot pass a day without writing my thoughts, feelings and ideas. I hate hurried life! It just doesn’t make sense.

Reflecting allows us to be honest with how we feel towards God, ourselves and other people. It helps us process the things that occur to us or to the environment around us.

If you haven’t tried this yet, you might want to start writing a line per day. If this is still difficult, words or phrases may do.

Identifying songs relatable as of the moment is also good. Or how about taking a picture of what your day looks like?

ELEVEN- Discipline on sleep and exercise 

sleep essentials
sleep essentials–Pillow, socks and blanket

I disliked sleep and exercise especially when I was a kid. I just can’t wait to play and get everything be fixed. I suck in sports and couldn’t figure out why we need to exert effort to be in shape.

Later on, I realized that when we sleep and exercise we nurture ourselves. We help ourselves to do our tasks better. Both activities are not a waste of time.

I learned that when we sleep, we are trusting God that He will restore our bodies, protect us from harm and equip us for the tasks ahead.

I also learned to enjoy exercise when I learned how to swim and do pilates. I realized that we need to find the exercise that fits our style as well.

TWELVE- See beauty in everything 

Rainy day at Hosier Lane

I used to hate the rain and having to walk in the rain. I cannot bear the feeling of wet shoes and feet. I hate it when we are served with dishes that I disliked. I hate it when our flights get delayed.

Through the years, thank God my patience grew! Despite these seemingly unfavorable circumstances (on my part), I try to see the hidden beauty in the moment. I try to capture the rain drops or the people walking in the rain. I try to experiment on the food that I disliked. I try to talk to people when flights get delayed.

When we accept these circumstances and turn them into something good, we do not waste time. More so, we are able to have new realizations, create art or make new friends.





Words on Wednesdays: Say no


After reading this book, I realized how entitled I am. Our parents, being baby boomers, really worked hard almost all their lives. They are used to working almost 24 hours. They cannot live without work. Our generation is more prone to self-entitlement. Everything is accessible in an instant. We want results now. We want to have life outside work. We are dissatisfied easily. At least that is in my opinion. What do you think?

I have to remind myself especially in the area of work that I need to do my best because it is not just me who’s in the line. As a believer of Jesus Christ, I ought to follow His example.

Dr. Townsend described two kinds of pain–success pain and symptom pain. Success pain is experienced when we push ourselves beyond our limits. For example, we do five more pilates stands despite the ache that we are feeling or keep on writing despite the rejections that we faced after we submitted articles to a news company. On the other hand, symptom pain is experienced as a result of mediocrity. For example, we notice that our work isn’t good enough. We feel that discomfort and yet we did not act on it.

As much as I want to feel more success pain, I can relate to the symptom pain more. Let’s not forget that we are here to excel and give our best. Let’s not forget to do hard things now rather than regret later.

stay motivated,


Tips on Thursdays: How to stay fit

Recently, I realized that I am starting to have a bulging tummy. It disturbs me. After three months of having only an average of 30-minute exercise on a weekly basis and almost 4-5 hours of sleep daily the results are showing. My appetite is also starting to increase recently. I don’t know why but is this related to getting old? Or is it because I check food blogs to inculcate new recipes at home. Here are some tips that I have also read from several blogs and articles:

Tip #1: Eat Right. Eat more fresh and natural food like whole grains, vegetables, fruits, fish and meat. Lessen food that are high in sugar and salt. Recently, I have been trying to apply this but there are so many temptations like the Korean cookie that I was holding in my previous post. Good thing I can’t read the label because everything is in Korean. Anyhow, I’ll be posting these recipes for you.

Tip #2: Devote time for exercise. Look for a routine that will work for you and follow through. I hated exercising before because usually ball games were emphasized in elementary and high school. I suck in sports especially those that have something to do with balls. If you’re still having a hard time because you’re not a naturally disciplined person, tag your friends along!

Tip #3: Sleep. As experts say, have 6-8 hours of sleep. To be honest, I’m not good at these. Of these three, I struggle with this a lot. I should go to bed by 9:30 or 10 pm otherwise, my wake up time will still be 6:00-6:30 am. I’m always a morning person and I love it!

1422This monument is doing the hundreds (a warm up in Pilates)

1550While I’m doing downdog. Not yet perfect but going to get there!

Always remember that no matter how many times we fail in keeping these habits, we can still get up. What matters most is the choice that we make.

Stay posi,


Tips on Thursdays: How to use your time wisely

24 hours in a day is a lot. Imagine if we allocate five minutes daily to read it will accumulate to 1,825 minutes in a year. However we always want to make excuses and say we don’t have time. What we really mean is that we don’t want to make time or it is not important for us at the moment.

I have wasted so much time watching k-dramas during my elementary years. It was an eye opener for me. I should have used it to read more books or help my parents. Since then, I became more responsible in handling time. Although I still catch myself wasting time on social media and other stuff, I choose to do better. Here are some useful tips that I like to apply and check myself.

Tip#1. Invest in your personal growth

  • Meditate. Read the Bible and set time with God first. It enables us to be reminded that we are stewards of the time he has given.
  • Do exercise 20-30 minutes a day (preferably do high interval work outs)
  • Read short books/ articles/ newspaper during commute
  • Study online. There are a lot of free sites such as coursera that offer audit courses and scholarships.
  • Rest and sleep. Set a schedule to be still and do nothing.

Tip #2.  Invest in the lives of other people

  • Set time to bond with family. If you are living away from your parents, call them over the phone. Don’t forget to attend special events that are meaningful to them.
  • Ask intentional questions over lunch or dinner. Ask how your friends or family is doing.
  • Mentor others. Pass on what you’ve learned to people who are willing to be mentored.
  • Volunteer in a community during your free time

Tip #3. Do Less

  • Minimize watching TV/ youtube or browsing social media. Set a designated time and stick to it. After watching/browsing, ask what did I get from this activity?
  • Put time blocks in reading emails and choose your subscriptions wisely.
  • Only limit to do list to 3-4 major tasks in a day and focus on them. Choose minor tasks that are highly important.
  • Select social events wisely. Do not overcrowd your schedule. Learn to say no.

More importantly while applying these tips always begin with the end in mind as Stephen Covey likes to say. Ask yourself about your long term goals and make sure that what you’re doing is in line with it.

Stay posi,


Thoughts on Tuesdays: Take risks

I grew up in a conservative Chinese family. My parents would often blurt out that they always wanted to expand the business but cannot because they need to be hands on in the daily operations. Expanding the business means partnering with other people and letting go of control in some aspects. However restricting access result to restricting growth.

I kind of picked up this “play safe” mentality unknowingly and foregone opportunities accumulated over the years. I turned down my teacher’s invitation to join a math competition back in elementary because I was afraid that I will not get anything right. I did not join our university school paper because I was afraid that it will take up too much of my time. I did not join the debate society because I was afraid that people will judge my inability to express thoughts and monotonous voice. I was and still am afraid of a lot of things.

As I was reading The Entitlement Cure by John Townsend, I realized that I am living my life in a comfortable and predictable manner. I realized that I have not taken enough risks in order for me to learn new things. I also realized that having confidence is rooted from experience. When we are able to develop our talents, we are confident that we will do well and not the other way around. I was also able to understand what Jesus is trying to say in the Parable of three talents. When I first heard of it, I thought the servant who kept the talent did best because he safeguarded it. I thought he is being a good steward because he protected the money from unforeseen events.  I was shocked that Jesus didn’t meant that. Instead, He wants us to grow and cultivate not just our talents but the money He has entrusted us. How are we to do it? by taking risks. Of course, we need to take calculated risks. What I mean is that we study the pros and cons and ask help from other people who are experts in the field. Most importantly, we ask God for wisdom in the decisions that we are about to make.

I remembered in one of the books that I’ve read, the author mentioned that the biggest regret that you can have is not trying anything at all. We may fail but we can rise up. Cliche as it may sound, there’s always sunshine after the rain.

Stay posi,


Tips on Thursdays: Introducing yourself

How many times were you asked to introduce yourself? As an introvert, this falls under one of those awkward situations where in I’d rather back out of the meeting or leave the event. Every time I say a word, I panic deep inside. Over time, I have managed to face this fear by preparing and practicing before hand. I hope these tips can help you whether or not you’re an introvert like me.

Who says it’s easy to introduce yourself to a babe?

Tip #1. Know the purpose of your meet up. Is it for business, fun, or a favor? By setting an expectation of the event, you’re preparing your mind that you’ll be doing this for good–for yourself and for others. There were several times that I had to introduce myself to random students during university days as part of a movement in our organization. Through this I was able to be more confident that they will not bother what I say as long as they make them feel better.

Tip #2. Ask yourself what adjectives best describe you. Research in advance several adjectives that defines your personality, your hobbies, or your passion. Be creative! I got my fair share of a embarrassing moments when I sat down as participant in a couple of events and seminars where the host usually conducts a brief ice breaker. We are often asked to introduce ourselves by saying an adjective that starts with the letter of our first names. For some, this might be easy but given that the starting letter of my name is J, I find it difficult. One time I was in a class when we were asked to do this ice breaker and I ran out of adjectives that start with letter J! Two of the words that I knew was taken by my classmate–joyful and jolly. After the class, I researched other words that can be used to describe me but found none. I found the word jaunty to be an aspiration to self. According to Merriam Webster, it means lively in manner or appearance: having or suggesting a lively and confident quality. I still mention jaunty Jannel in my head until now. What adjectives best describe you? Have you thought about them?

Tip #3. Choose the type of clothing suitable for the event.  Check if there are dress codes, themes and other recommended attire. Always wear clothes that will make you feel confident. Know what type of clothes fit your body type and skin tone. There are many sites online including pinterest for our easy reference. Wear comfortable clothes as well. You don’t want to feel uneasy while introducing yourself. I tend to research also the vicinity or the room type. If I do not find any from the internet, I ask my friends who have been to the place. If I cannot find information regarding the place, I make sure that I wear light clothes and bring cardigan or jacket to put on in case the room gets cold. If the place will be held outdoors, I check the weather as well. Most of the time I do commute so in case I need to wear heels or bring my beauty kit, I make sure I just bring the important stuff.

Tip #4. Lastly, know the people you are meeting with. Ask what they do, what they love doing, their passions, and their dreams. You can also ask them tips if they happen to be an expert in some subject matter.  If you are brave enough, you can ask them their biggest regrets and what would they do if given a chance to go back to the situation. Older people tend to tell stories even when not asked to do so. They love to give words of wisdom to us.

I love meeting new friends because I find their stories and experiences very interesting and different from each other. Ironically most of the time, I am often caught up by their questions! I end up wondering what’s theirs. Recently, I write down questions that I want to ask to anyone before hand because it is not natural for me to do so.

Here are some questions that I wrote down as starters:

  • How do you see your life?
  • What do you do for a living?
  • What do you do during your past time?

When meeting older people, I like to ask:

  • How do you manage your finances?
  • What was the biggest regret that you had?
  • How can you sleep peacefully at night?

I hope these tips can help you!

stay posi,