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Review: The Bride's Guide to Wedding Photography

The Bride's Guide to Wedding Photography The Bride's Guide to Wedding Photography by Steve Sint
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Finally finished this book as I was researching and trying to learn more about things I need for my wedding day. I was actually shocked at how much wedding photographers cost - if I wanted someone really good, it will eat up more than half of the original budget I intended, so I thought of staying away from having a professional and just let my friends do the photos. Yes, regardless if people say that I will want to look back at it and I'm paying someone for the creative styling, it just doesn't make sense to spend that much money for just one day.

Yes I know it's also once in a lifetime, but hey, my money can last me longer than that one day if I saved it and invested it, right?

Back to the book - it is dated, it was still talking about film, and really - who uses film nowadays (except maybe for Instax or Polaroid) - and with the new day & age of everyone having smartphone cameras with huge megapixels and HDR, then again, what is the point of having professional photography right?

Instead of the book trying to sell me a photographer, it actually said an option I liked, to skip it all together!

So, would I recommend this book? Probably not - because it's not really that useful in this day and age right now, plus you can see excellent photos from magazines instead.

View all my reviews

Review: Minions Volume 2: Evil Panic

Minions Volume 2: Evil Panic Minions Volume 2: Evil Panic by St├ęphane Lapuss'
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It was a great, quick read - there is literally no dialogue in this book, just the illustrations of the minions, but it was cute and fun to read. I love the minions, they make me happy - so reading this after a long day at work makes it all the more better! This is also my first book read for 2016, so many more books to come, hopefully!

You don't need to pick up the first book in order to get what's happening in the second book as their stories stand alone from each other. The theme of this book is the evil minion - where one spray can actually cause your good, old minion friend to turn into a purple evil minion that wants to eat everything!

Of course there are plenty of other stories in the middle that makes it even more entertaining.

Definitely recommend reading this book - but probably not to buy it, as the price is a bit steep. I picked it up from my local library (Jacksonville, FL) - I'm always in the library a couple of times a month (sometimes even multiple times a week!)

View all my reviews

2015 in Books

As we nearly end 2015, we look back at the things that we have done mostly throughout the year. I was updating my Goodreads account based on the books I have read (that will count for 2015), and got the below Year in Review.

Overall, it was a great year for reading, and for blogging as well. When I was younger, one of my goals was to read all the books ever published. Yeah, not so attainable a dream is it? I'm slowly reading through books that engage and excite me - and no, these does not include self published e-books on my Amazon account. These are purely the books that I've picked up in hard copy form (from the library, of course - can't live without it!)

2015 in Books

Books I've read

More books read for 2015

I've completed the reading challenge!

Review: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Great book about the power of human habits, and how they ultimately shape (and maybe destroy) your life. It makes you more aware of the innate habits that we have as humans, and how to effectively change them (hard, but definitely doable with a lot of discipline and willpower). Also mentions the habit loop: the cue, the routine and the reward. Every habit has these three, and how to address your habit and change it means identifying a cue, and maybe changing the routine or the reward.

Absolutely amazing book, really glad I picked it up.

View all my reviews

Moving Domains




Hello All,

Just a quick note to say that I haven't been blogging here for a while because Peter and I decided to get our own domain! You may now follow us at A Journey We Love (www.ajourneywelove.com)

We'll upload our travels on that new websites, as well as how much we spent, itineraries you may replicate if you happen to go to the same destinations as us, trip reviews, and everything in between.

That's also the place where we discuss more about our small business (AirBnB-ing our spare bedroom & freelance writing), wedding planning & details, as well as looking after our home.

I might still utilize Ruby Loves Adventure for one-off personal posts & maybe a bit of book reviews, but most of the activity will definitely be in the domain. This blog has been up for the past 8 years and I couldn't be more happy about it, but we all have to move on at one point to better things ahead. I don't know why it took us a while to finally get a domain but we finally did it - better late than never!

Join us on our new website, and thank you for your support on Ruby Loves Adventure!

Ruby
Tag : ,

Happy Thanksgiving!



It's November 26th in the US, and it's Thanksgiving! 

I'm thankful for a lot of things, mostly going to be posted starting next year on our brand new website, A Journey We Love. It's still under construction, but hopefully it'll be up within two weeks (or more, depending how long Peter will get to reconfigure the template)

For the meantime, we are busy booking our trips for 2016! It's going to be very exciting, and hopefully you'll still stay with us for the ride.

Until then, I'm off looking for shopping deals for things we need for the year (yes, we stock up). Have a nice holiday for those of you in the US

Schengen Visa Application for Filipino Passport Holders in the USA

In my last visa post, I delve into the Chinese and the Korean visa applications. This time, I'll tell you how I applied for my Schengen visa application last year when I went to Germany, Austria & Slovakia.

Neuschwanstein Lake
Me in a lake near Neuschwanstein
Our itinerary was as follows:
Arrive Germany, spend 5 days
Austria, spend 3 days
Slovakia, spend 5 days

The Schengen visa stipulates that you apply for the visa on either 1) the country you're spending the longest time in, or 2) if spending an equal amount of time in different countries, apply at the first point of entry, which in my case was Germany.

NOTE: The German embassy in Miami does not accept walk in applicants. You have to schedule a visa interview on their website in advance.

Here are the requirements I had to give:
  1. Filled out visitor visa application form 
  2. Passport Photo
  3. Roundtrip airline tickets (USA to Schengen countries & back)
  4. Hotel Reservations (for Germany & Austria)
  5. A letter from Peter's aunt inviting me to Slovakia with her home address & details 
  6. Proof of income (3 months of bank statements, both from my checking & savings account here in the US as well as three months of payslips from the company I'm working for)
  7. Employment letter (with annual salary) 
  8. Insurance covering the Schengen area + Switzerland from AXA Schengen covering at least $50,000 worth of incidentals if something were to happen to me. 
  9. Photocopy of my US resident visa (I don't have a green card)  
 Not that much, right?
In Strecno Castle near Martin, Slovakia
 I initially tried to apply for a multiple entry visa, and asked me why I need it. I told the consul I am going back to the Schengen area next year for the Euros in France, but the consul told me that they do not grant multiple entry visas for first time applicants. She did tell me that I can just mail my application to France if they have my records in the database. Hopefully they still have it.

So, what were the questions I was asked:
  1. Where do I work?
  2. How many days are you spending in each country? It is imperative that you know your itinerary by heart. No shuffling through papers, you must be very prepared for this interview. 
  3. Is Slovakia included in the Schengen Treaty? Yes.
  4. Then she asked for all my documents in the order she asked for.
When all my documents were in order after her review, I gave the fee (in cash, including the shipping fee from Miami to Jacksonville as we won't be able to get the passport in person).

Then I'm done, easy peasy, I'm in and out within 15 minutes! My visa was approved and I should get it in the mail within 3 days!

Things to note:
  1. Make sure you have complete requirements with you. They had me retake a photo because the AAA passport photo I had was not close enough. Good thing there was a CVS a block away from the embassy and I had my photo taken in no time. 
  2. Make sure you have more than enough money in cash when you go to the embassy. They do not take debit or credit cards. 
  3. Look presentable! 
  4. Make sure you have all the documents in order. In my case, I made sure everything was in place because there is no way I'll drive another 10 hours just to go back to Jacksonville to Miami (Well, Peter was doing most of the driving but we don't want to spend the extra money on gas & food and the time getting there anymore). I quadruple checked everything to make sure I had it and I made backups in my gmail account just in case I need to get anything.
So, that's my easy breasy Schengen Visa application in Miami. My next visa application will be May 2016, for my Euro 2016 trip in July. Fingers crossed I get a multiple entry one!



October 2015 24-Hour Readathon

Rosie the dog of Furry Reads reading Roadmap by Roadtrip Nation
I already have a Roadmap..to my food bowl behind me!
Woof! My name is Rosie and I'm taking over my mom's blog to join in the 24-Hour Readathon. My parents have been building a website for me, but they didn't have time to finish it so I said I'll take over the blog for now. They happily agreed.

If you are interested in following more of my adventures, you can do so on Facebook, Twitter, on Instagram or you can email me here.

The 24 Hour Readathon gives me a chance to read all the books I want in a span of 24 hours. Now, I'm a very active dog and I like to play with my dad so I'll take a few lot of breaks to snooze, rest, and eat, but I'm doing what I can, right?

Rosie from Furry Reads reading Orson Welles's Last Movie
Me and dad reading Orson Welles's Last Movie

I'll post all my updates on this link (boo my parents don't want me to create new pages for them) - so here's an introductory meme.

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

I'm reading from sunny Jacksonville, Florida. 

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

Roadmap by Roadtrip Nation - mainly because I need to only read 50 pages in it. Woof!
Another book is Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between, because you know, it's a cute book. 

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

My doggie treats, crumbs that my parents left behind, cereal, bread, oooh a lot of them. With these doggie eyes, my parents can't resist anything I ask for. 

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I was adopted from the Humane Society by my parents, and was a stray dog. My dad was patient enough to train me and both parents loved me, and I now love my new home and am spoiled to bits. Most people say I look like an ewok, from the Star Wars movies. Do I?

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to
?

I haven't participated in the readathon yet, but my mom had, on several occasions, when she was still living in Manila. My parents are busy with a guest renting out our spare room today so I'll sneak in their room and read while they're distracted!  

The 2016 Travel Calendar [Luxury Travel on a Backpacker's Budget]

A blog has gone viral recently when Rolling Stone magazine published an article that this guy travels for free. I follow his blog, and also want to show the people that no, he didn't really do it for free, these points & miles have a cost in it (ie credit card spend, etc).

This post is to show that lowly people like me and you can indeed travel for free. You don't have to become a popular travel blogger, nor email a lot of establishments asking for free stays and activities. In fact, I find that it is actually easier to just pay for your own travels than ask for sponsored trips. That way, you don't have to be biased when you write about the destination and you get your own experience instead of someone painting a picture of a destination for you.


 
Here is a list of our 2016 plans of (almost) free travel:

January 1-3, 2016:  Orlando, Florida

Why?

February 2016: Montego Bay, Jamaica

Why?

Hotels -

May 21 - 23, 2016: Miami, Florida

Why?  Need a visa to get back to Europe (third world passport and all). Plus his cousin is landing in Miami for our wedding! (cousin-in-law managed to snag a $500 RT direct flight from Vienna to Miami, which was a great deal)

Hotels - Eyeing the Hyatt Renaissance in Miami for 12,000 Hyatt Points a night or perhaps an 8,000 Hyatt near the airport. Any suggestions?



June 18 - July 3, 2016: France, Switzerland, Austria & Slovakia

Why? Euro 2016 - as you probably know by now, my fiance is an avid soccer fan, so we're flying there mostly to see if Slovakia (the country he's from) will play. We got ticket to one game already in Lyon. 

The Routing: TPA - FRA - LYS - GVA - VIE - RSW.


We start from Tampa on the 18th of June, as we have to bring our dog to my future in-law's place. Myself & Peter will travel to Frankfurt, spend an 8 hour layover (free c/o United), then get on a plane to Lyon to meet his brother. We'll then make our way to Geneva, where I'll get on a plane to Vienna. Will spend a day or two in Vienna to wait for Peter & his brother to arrive, then spend a week in Slovakia, his home country. From Vienna, I'll fly back to Ft Myers, where my future in-laws will pick me up.

Airfare: Used 60,000 United Points (transferred from Chase Sapphire Preferred/Ultimate Rewards)  + $150 in taxes & fees (reimbursed using Barclaycard Arrival+). Total spend: $0.

Hotels:

  •  Lyon - 
  • Annecy -  
  • Chamonix -
  • Geneva - 
  • Vienna -

Please think of the animals

 We were driving home today from a day out at the outlets. We just dropped off our friend who now lives in our previous apartment, and I saw three rabbits peeking out near the sidewalk, eating or just genuinely staring at the road. I've seen these rabbits before in almost the exact same spot, and almost the same time. I knew deep in my heart that they were grazing, and that it was their supper time, so to speak.



My heart broke when I realized that most of their previous shaded and tree lined space is now going to be commercial property. How did I know that? Well, because of the rezoning signs.

I'm wondering - where will these rabbits go when these developers come in with their bulldozers and other construction vehicles? Do animal protection people sweep the land first, saving all the animals that used to live there before deeming it okay for the developers to start building? Do these said developers even care?

I remember I had a huge fit of joy when I first saw rabbits in the "wild" in the forested area beside my old apartment as I walked home from work. It was during my first week in America. Coming from Manila, it was such a great thing for me to see nature this close. To see these many trees. Only to realize nearly two years later that those trees and that land will make way to another building, or another condo, or another rental property.



What do people think of when they see roadkill on the streets? Or when they see that a previously forested area becomes nothing but bare land, or worse, buildings? Do they become happy that such a development means that everything is going well, the economy is good? Do they think it will become another shopping mall that will be close to their home or work that they can hit right to buy a thing or two?

We have become too consumer minded. We have become too excessive. We have decided we wanted too much. Too much land, too much development, too much stuff. We are taking more from mother nature and the animals are hurting for it. One of the last handful of white rhinos died recently, people hunting animals for sport, or just for fun. It's just too much. It's all hurting. We see it all on Facebook and start sharing them, but then what do we do? Nothing. We continue to consume more than what we need, and we just sit here and read the news again.

It's just becoming sad. And cyclical. And it's heartbreaking. 



There's people who love animals as a whole, those who love only domesticated animals, those that hate them, and those that just don't care. Whatever type of person you are, please know that we are an ecosystem, we all depend on each other. If we exploit other species, think about what will happen to us.

Think of it as if animals and nature were other people too. How would you feel if someone else exploited you? Pushed you out of your home to make way for buildings and other residential property? If people started hunting you for sport because you are pretty, you are a prized trophy for them? Wouldn't you feel insulted, and would demand for a lawsuit?

I wish animals can do the same too, but they can't. Don't think they don't have any feelings or a brain. Because they do. Sure the are not as advanced as us, but they're alive, they're breathing, and killing them is like murdering them.

The next time you decide to harm an animal, think "what if it was a person - would I do what I am doing to another person I know or meet randomly for the first time?"

Why goals are essential to your life success

During the 2014 World Cup, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil









Early today I was chatting with my friend about goals. She said she finally quit her job and is trying to look for another one at a multinational company. Staying 10 years at a local company, she realized she had enough, and looked for something better. Same friend told me her goals: she wanted to go abroad. It took her approximately 3 years before she made the leap.. and I'm glad she did. 

So, why are goals essential to your success?

Let me back up a bit here... and tell you some goals that I wanted to achieve:  


  1. 1998: I wanted to go to London: Blame Boyzone, but yes, I wanted to see them live
    •  2008:  I finally got to London, for free on a business trip. (Yes, business class all the way). You can see a very, very old post here
    • Lesson learned: You will always find a way to make your goal into a reality, regardless of how much time it takes.
  2. 2001: I wanted to move abroad. The Philippines got too corrupt, annoying, and the president was an imbecile. It really got annoying come 2012, when I definitely decided to move, by hook or by crook. 
    • 2013: I moved to the USA. My original plan was to move to London but sadly, it didn't work out. Had another offer in Birmingham but since the USA came first, I decided to go with it. 
    • Lesson learned: Sometimes what you want may not always be what you get. And sometimes what you get may turn out to be even better than what you wanted in the first place.

Those are just some of the goals I made happen for myself. There's a few more that I can mention: travel more (started backpacking around the UK in 2011, and Asia from 2012-2013)

Camburgahay Falls, Siquijor, Philippines
Cambugahay Falls, Siquijor

How did I make it happen? Does this mean I'm successful?

First off, success is subjective. You can define your success in your own way.

Your goals are essential to your success because:  

  1. It gives you focus - they say when you write down a goal, the more you get to make it happen. And that's true. I kept on writing down what I wanted to do, I told people who would dare listen what I wanted. I wanted to be the person who made things happen, and not just someone who says something and does nothing. A goal keeps you focused on what you want to happen, and then you move on to step 2

  2.  You get creative - When you have a goal, especially a challenging one, you get more creative about how you would reach it. You start thinking outside the box and you're getting frustrated. Getting frustrated is amazing. It gives you something to obsess about: How do I do this? What do I do? What resources can I tap on? And that, my friends, is the start of step 3

  3.  You make things happen - These goals tend to multiply: you get more and more of it. When you have a new goal, write it down, and set a date to review it. In my case, I write down goals whenever, but short term goals (ie within one month), I check the last day of every month. These are written down at least the month before. It feels so good to tick off things from my list and making things happen. The bigger goals, like moving from one country to another (not so easy, especially if you live in the Philippines), can go in a longer term goal and be on a separate notebook. 

  4. It is so much fun to look back and realize hey, I made this dream (goal) happen!


Hopefully this has inspired you to make a goal. As of writing, here are a list of our goals to help inspire you:
  1. Be financially independent (FI) - I became convinced I want to retire early after reading "Your Money or Your Life" and "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" - I've always wanted my money to work for me instead of me working for money. In fact, I even convinced Peter to get in on the FI mindset! We're slowly making our way there, and we're taking the necessary steps to do it. 

  2.  Get married on a budget - Weddings are expensive all over the world. And ever since we got engaged, I've been trying to think of ways to make our wedding very affordable. Our starting budget is $3,000 but it looks like it can balloon to $5,000. Keep posted. We're posting our progress here on this blog.

  3.  Travel a lot (weekend, vacations), even with a full time job - 2015 has been good to us, travel wise. Here's hoping 2016 will be even better (note: planning trips to France & Slovakia in 2016, as well as mostly local travel).

  4.  Monetize this blog as another income stream - Still a work in progress, but hopefully we can do it. Still trying to learn the ropes on this.

  5. Get sponsored trips - We love to travel after all, and sponsored trips will be the icing on the cake!
Good luck on your endeavors! 




Review: Where Should I Go in Southeast Asia by Lois Yasay


When I was still living in the Philippines, and way back in the late 2000s, I stumbled upon the Sole Sisters site and that blog was what my friends read when we went to Sagada. It's one of the biggest travel blogs online, and we got hooked to reading her adventures. Note: this was the time when I was still starting out on travel, and was still saving a lot and figuring out some finances to afford my subsequent trips.

Let's fast forward a few years later when Lois released her book, "Where Should I Go in Southeast Asia?" - Full of photos taken from her trip and drawings, it aims to give you an idea of where to go, stay, and how much to spend in the countries she discusses in her book. It also has a ranking of the countries of which ones are the best from her experiences and lots of links to read blog posts that complement what was written in the book. Another plus? You have direct links to hostels she stayed in, so you can book your dream SE Asia trip using the book.

The book is short, and is mostly designed to be like an art/coffee table book - downside is it's only available in an ebook format. But look at the bright side: should be great as an inspiration every time you turn on your computer! Not exactly written as a how-to guide, please don't expect details as you would get from a Lonely Planet (or other travel guide) book.

I miss Southeast Asia: wish I went to Laos and Myanmar, but there's always a next time. This book created a big urge for me to revisit some countries I had on my SE Asia list when I go back home as a stopover.

You may buy the book at this link - book is for sale for $12.99


The book was provided as a review by Lois, but all the opinions & text posted are of my own. 


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