DEVO 003 | I Wanna Know What Love Is

Devo

It’s the love month & I wouldn’t miss this chance to share about LOVE. Straight to the point! As we celebrate our relationships this February, may we not forget our first love- Jesus.

We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19

He is WHY we are able to love for HE is LOVE. And I believe it is in knowing, acknowledging & experiencing that, that we are able to give true love. True love? I love how Joel A’bell puts it in one of his sermons. He explains, “God is love but love is not God.” Also I remember in college a saying we printed in our org shirt which says, “Art is not art for art’s sake”. Let me change art to love, Love is not love for love’s sake. The world has defined love in sooooo many ways that I couldn’t have said it better myself. To explain further, I could say I “love” my husband but love is not my husband. I “love” to sing but singing isn’t love.

Wanna know what love is?

The love that never runs dry?

The love that won’t leave you?

The love that accepts you?

The love that takes you higher?

The love that died & lives for you?

JESUS

So, especially at this time when LOVE’s a buzz, again, as we think of our relationships, the flowers, chocolates & all the sweet nothings… or maybe you feel left out from the celebration because you have your reasons… switch whatever emotions are weighing you down to light & love because HE IS THE ONLY REASON YOU’LL EVER NEED TO FEEL LOVED. May we think of our relationship with Jesus, feel his embrace as we look to the heavens, bask in His presence, offer our hearts & say “I love You too”.

DEVO 002 | Think Again

Devo

Have you heard of the saying, “you see things as you are, not as they are”? This has a lot to do with your mind. If you’ve thought negative on things or on people lately, you probably should think again… but now, towards yourself.

How you see things or people starts within. If what’s inside is rubbish, everything else outside may seem that way. And maybe you’ve wondered why everything seems to be going against you. Well, maybe you’re going against you & what’s inside needs general cleaning.

It says in His word, Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—THINK ABOUT SUCH THINGS. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—PUT IT INTO PRACTICE. And the GOD of PEACE will be with you.(Philippians 4:8-9)

Today, pause, do a self-check, renew your mind through laying it all down at His feet, allow God to do what only He can- transform you. And start to think of whatever is… With that, may His peace embrace you.

Let Your Outfit Do the Roaring

Lookbook

Animal prints became a trend, now they’re back & they’ll keep coming back! Not because they’ll do the talking… they’ll do the roaring. Straight to the point, style on point. Match them with your basics & they’ll do the roaring. Why ‘meow’ when you can ROAR?

GET THE LOOK

Shirt | Zara

Skirt | Zara

Boots | H&M

For more looks, see you on my socials!

DEVO 001 | Pass It On

Devo

Most of the things you know in life are passed on. Do you realise that? The things you believe in, mantra, perspective, songs you make covers on, original ones from passed on insights, realisations, emotions & etc. Now, could you imagine something beautiful that has been passed on from generations to stop all because you decided to keep it to yourself? Or maybe you just weren’t aware of it. Generations thereafter would not know that one beautiful thing. Of course, life goes on but have you ever thought that maybe if you didn’t keep IT, that if you passed it on, it could’ve made a difference to the life of the person you shared it to or maybe it could’ve made an impact to the generations to come?

Reasons. You keep IT to yourself because maybe you feel small & you doubt yourself for sharing? You’re not aware of the power you posses through the IT that you have? Worse, you couldn’t care less or selfishness has taken over, “IT has helped me, made my life better, I want to be above everybody else, why should I share it?” Too much? Probably, but not impossible.

Let’s refer to the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 24:14-30, where one man/ servant kept his treasure because he was afraid it would get lost. (so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.” Matthew 24:25) FEAR got in the way & because of that his talent was taken away. (“So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” Matthew 24:28-29) On the other hand, the man who shared, passed on & multiplied his talent was rewarded by the master. (“And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.” Matthew 24:22-23)

Jesus encourages us to use the talents or whatever He has given us, whether IT was passed on from a family, friend, pastor, leader, social media or directly from God through His word or from your quiet time with Him… for it or them to grow & multiply, more importantly, for you & me to grow. And notice the master says “enter into the joy of your master”. Isn’t this what we’re here for? To please, worship & glorify God? More than the multiplication of talent, skill, riches, resources, character… it glorifies God. That is what it ultimately does.

So I encourage you to be a light & intentionally pass on what you know, whether it’s a verse, quote, advice or even a greeting or a compliment.  You just don’t know where that simple gesture will take you & that person too. You might just save a life!

Look beyond the reasons that are holding you back or down from passing it on. Look to Jesus, reflect on & glorify Him.

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Taiwan Tours

Travel

Traveling in Taiwan anytime soon?

Whenever my husband & I travel, we book tours to get to know the place better- culture. We understand that each place has its gem & story & tours give us a taste of that. Touristy, only because of the amount of time we’ll be spending on the place. We probably would’ve been more daring when it comes to booking tours but since we now have a baby, convenience is very important. These tours gave us a glimpse of Taiwan that left us wanting more. 5 days isn’t enough! We’ll definitely come back for more!

In this blog I’m passing on the tours we’ve booked. All the information about the places listed below are provided on the tour links. Hope this will give you a head start on your research & planning.

TAIPEI CITY TOUR

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Itinerary:

  • Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall
  • National Palace Museum
  • Presidential Office Building
  • Martyrs’ Shrine
  • Traditional Taiwanese Temple
  • Handicraft Center

Tour by KLOOK | Link: https://www.klook.com/activity/456-explore-taipei-city-taipei/

JIUFEN | YEHLIU | SHIFEN DAY TOUR

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Itinerary:

  • Yehliu Geopark
  • Jiufen Old Street
  • Shifen Falls
  • Shifen Old Street | Lantern Flying

Tour by Klook | Link: https://www.klook.com/activity/2953-yehliu-geopark-shuttle-bus-ximen-taipei/?gclid=Cj0KCQiApvbhBRDXARIsALnNoK3g8lqd24DpfQehWQQTYB0bYa3hXiC3fBSxKZMcDG5WLaa617PXfsMaAu71EALw_wcB

TAICHUNG TOUR

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Itinerary:

  • Zhongshe Flower Market
  • Carton King
  • Xinshe Castle
  • Rainbow Village

Tour by Yamventures | Link: https://www.yamventures.com/

MAOKONG

Gondola Ticket by Klook | Link: https://www.klook.com/activity/16000-maokong-gondola-combo-ticket-taipei/

Maokong was supposedly the last place on our itinerary but we were very tired from having to carry our baby in all the tours listed above & the night markets plus the food trips. So we just had to sit this one out & mostly stayed at our hotel. Nonetheless, this was part of what we’ve booked. Next time then!

For other Taiwan blogs you may click links below.

Taiwan Eats | https://trulytara.com/2019/01/14/taiwan-eats-list/

What to Wear | Winter in Taiwan | https://trulytara.com/2019/01/03/what-to-wear-winter-in-taiwan/

Should you have any questions, I’ll gladly help! Drop a comment &/ or see you on my socials. And if you want something extra… up on my Youtube channel is our Taiwan trip in action!

Vlog link: https://youtu.be/IYYce9LRtnI

Xiexie!

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Taiwan Eats List

Travel

What did you do in Taiwan? We ate… a lot! Milk tea? Fuelled by them! Hah! Food tourism is definitely bustling there. Some, from what we originally planned, we weren’t able to try due to challenges with our baby but that didn’t stop us from our food trip. Anyhow, I’ll cut to the chase & share with you our eats list.

Enjoy!

C H U N   S H U I   T A N G

ADDRESS | No. 9號, Songshou Road, Xinyi District, Taipei City, Taiwan 110

OPERATING HOURS | 11am- 10pm daily

WHAT WE GOT |

  • Brown Sugar Mochi with dipping sauces of Coconut Cream and Black Sesame Powder
  • Original Bubble Tea
  • Pan fried Turnip Cakes

TIP | As much as possible, go to the restaurant on a weekday as Taiwan’s general day- off fall on weekends. Restaurants get really crowded & queues are long.

D I N  T A I   F U N G

ADDRESS | 10, Taiwan, Taipei City, Xinyi District, City Hall Rd, 45

OPERATING HOURS | 11am- 10pm daily

WHAT WE GOT |

  • Pork Chop Fried Rice with Egg | Besides the Pork Xiaolongbao, this is our fave!
  • Pork Xiaolongbao
  • Truffle Xiaolongbao
  • Noodles with Spicy Sesame & Peanut Sauce
  • Steamed Taro Xiaolongbao

TIP | Go there early or way before your scheduled meal time to get a number for reservation. Queue is long all week long. Went there on a Saturday & waiting time was about 2 hours.

How to devour your Xiaolongbao |

R A O H E   N I G H T   M A R K E T

ADDRESS | Raohe Street, Songshan District, Taipei City, Taiwan 105

OPERATING HOURS | 4pm- 12am daily | Best to go there by 7pm as not all stalls open at 4pm.

WHAT WE GOT |

  • Fuzhou Black Pepper Bun | Fave!
  • Chen Dong Ribs Stewed in Medicinal Herbs
  • Taiwan Sausages
  • Xiaolongbao
  • Muah Chee
  • Fried Dumplings
  • Breaded Hotdog & Cheese
  • Grilled Chicken Thigh Skewer
  • Torched Beef Cubes | This for me was quite overrated, meat was chewy.
  • Stinky Tofu

WARNING | Sticky Tofu tastes as it smells. I’m sorry!

TIP | Do your research & familiarise your list  & when you get to the place, just go through the stalls one by one. Looking for each one on your list will take up most of your time which may hinder you from having an enjoyable experience because you’re hooked to it.

J I U F E N   O L D   S T R E E T

ADDRESS | Jishan Street, Ruifang District, New Taipei City, Taiwan 224

OPERATING HOURS | 8am-10pm daily | Not all stalls operate on the same time.

WHAT WE GOT |

  • A-Zhu Peanut Ice Cream Roll | Fave!
  • Curry Fish Balls
  • Grandma Lai’s Taro Balls
  • Deep Fried Battered Seafood
  • Taiwanese Sausages
  • Egg Tart
  • Original Bubble Milk Tea | We bought from this vendor that didn’t have too much signs. You could say it wasn’t commercialised. They’re just a few steps away from entering Jiufen & is on the right side of the street.

X I M E N D I N G

ADDRESS | Shi-men Ting Wanhua District, Taipei City, Taiwan 108

OPERATING HOURS | Open 24 Hours | Not all stalls operate on the same time.

WHAT WE GOT |

  • Grilled Mochi | Fave!
  • Hot Star Fried Chicken | Fave!
  • Red Sakura Butter Crisp Cake | Fave!
  • Prince Cheese Potato
  • Cream Puff
  • Chiffon Cake
  • Ji Guang Fried Chicken
  • Ay Chung Flour Rice Noodle
  • Torched Beef Cubes | Again, overrated. Beef was chewy.
  • Stuffed Pancake | Taro, Custard & Red Bean.
  • Xing Fu Tang Brown Sugar Bubble Tea | Fave!
  • Coco Bubble Tea
  • Starbucks Iced Coffee with Matcha Green Tea
  • Tenren Original Bubble Tea | This was hubby’s fave! If you want to taste more of tea rather than milk from your milk tea, this one’s for you! You can opt for the green tea base for a refreshing milk tea fix!

TIP | Copy paste tip from Jiufen.

We mostly spent our time in Ximending since this was just across our hotel (Richardson, great place to stay by the way! It’s just across Ximen station). On our last night, we were quite weary from exploring the city, Ximending even, so we decided to just eat from the vendors in the building. Glad we were on that state because then we discovered two places that are definitely worth putting on the list- Ice Papa & a noodle place that had Chinese signs all over the restaurant. If you’re in Ximen, these are just at the Hotel Richardson building which are very easy to find.

Got this super pearl milk tea snowflake ice & it was the bomb! Also got the Taro balls flavour which was great but the other one was my fave, yet.

N A T I O N A L   P A L A C E   M U S E U M

Took a break from the tour  & had this drink. SOOOOOO GOOD.

ADDRESS | No. 221, Sec 2, Zhi Shan Rd, Shilin District, Taipei City, Taiwan 111

OPERATING HOURS | 8:30am-9pm daily

WHAT WE GOT |

  • Nespresso Bubble Tea | FAVE!!! Milk Tea + Coffee in one drink? A dream come true!

T A I C H U N G

Went on a tour in Taichung & dropped by these places for some food & drinks.

50 LAN

There are a lot of branches in Taichung for this.

WHAT WE GOT | 50 LAN Original Bubble Tea

CARTON KING

ADDRESS | No. 2號, Lane 2, Section 2, Dongshan Road, Beitun District, Taichung City, Taiwan 406

OPERATING HOURS | 10am-9pm daily

WHAT WE GOT | Chicken & Noodles


There are still A LOT of FOOD & DRINKS to try in Taiwan! We haven’t even tried the ones in Michelin Star restos. Should you have any questions, would gladly help. Drop a comment &/or see you on my socials!

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Cherry Dress for all Seasons

Lookbook

Seeing cherry print in different styles & cuts, all looking fab! I wouldn’t miss the cherry party! But I’m here to tell you that the cherry dress isn’t just your summer dress, it’s your dress for all seasons! Last month we went to Taiwan where I wore mine despite the winter weather. With the right pairings, you too could flaunt your cherry dress in any season!

Wore Uniqlo’s heattech leggings under, a coat & scarf over, for the win!

GET THE LOOK

Coat | Primark

Dress | Superfinds

Heattech Leggings | Uniqlo

Sneakers | Nike

📍Yehliu Geopark | Taiwan

For more looks, see you on my socials!

What to Wear | Winter in Taiwan

Travel

Before we travel, we do a lot of research, right? One of the things I look into is what to wear. Not just because of fashion (but yes, that’s included Haha) but because I want to be comfortable, especially when I’m going to a place where the weather is different from where I come from. More importantly, I’m a mom, having a baby is a handful & I need all the comfort I can get in the other areas of traveling.

Went to Taiwan last month & it’s currently winter there which runs from December to February with temperatures moving around 10ºC- 25ºC. This is considerably mild based on North American or European standards. December is the driest month with average weather between 13ºC to 18ºC average. January, the coldest month between 13°C to 16°C average t& February, between 10°C to 25°C.

As stated on my previous blog, reminding you again that “WINTER” weather varies. It varies in different countries, cities, date & even the time in a day. So before you go on your trip, make sure to check the weather forecast. Another factor I noticed is where you come from, I come from a tropical country so I’m not used to temperatures dropping to 20 & so on, so what I wear may differ from somebody who’s used to temperatures dropping to 0.

With this, I pass on a few photos & recommendations on what to wear during Winter in Taiwan.

2 layers are enough, sometimes even one when it’s sunny.

Bring a scarf just in case temperature drops & a beanie or knit band would be helpful in case it gets windy.

A hat or an umbrella might come handy should it rain or if the sun gets quite harsh.

I guess that’s really all you need to know! Unless you’re going to the mountains or some areas in Taiwan where it requires more layers. But basically, this is it. Should you have any questions about this, would gladly help out. Leave a comment here &/or see you on my socials!

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Taiwan Winter Baby Packing List

Travel

We just got back from Taiwan & will be sharing a few things from our trip! It’s our first out of the country travel with our baby so im excited to share this first- what to bring when traveling with an infant/ toddler during Winter in Taiwan.

Before I go on with the list allow me to remind you that“WINTER” weather varies. It varies in different countries, cities, date & even the time in a day. So before you go on your trip, make sure to check the weather forecast.

Winter in Taiwan

Based on research, winter in Taiwan runs from December to February with an average weather between 10ºC- 25ºC. This is considerably mild based on North American or European standards. December is the driest month with average weather between 13ºC to 18ºC average. January, the coldest month between 13°C to 16°C average t& February, between 10°C to 25°C.

Nonetheless we had to prepare because we come from a tropical country, really not used to weather below 25°C, which is also another factor. And again, it’s our first time with our baby. Better safe than sorry!

Here were the things we brought that we were able to use for our baby to counter winter weather in Taiwan.

1. Beanie/ Turban

2. Tights

3. Sweater

4. Thick Socks

5. Fleece Leggings

6. Down Jacket

These were the things we brought that we weren’t able to use.

1. Fleece Gloves/ Mittens

2. Foot Muff

3. Fleece Blanket

4. Boots

5. Scarf

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Zhong She Guan Flower Market | Taichung | Taiwan

Thankfully when we got there, it was sunny so we didn’t need to use some of the things we brought. If it were raining & windy, I bet we would’ve used everything on the list, so we’d bring everything anyway. When it comes to traveling with a baby, I guess it’s better to be over prepared than the latter. Should you have any questions about this, would gladly help out. Leave a comment here &/or see you on my socials!

Mom Confessions: What You Don’t See

Motherhood

7 months & counting since our baby was born & what a journey it has been, is & will be. I’m still very near the starting line & what a whirlwind of emotions this journey has taken me. Don’t get me wrong, BEYOND BLESSED & GRATEFUL to be a mother but I guess that doesn’t disqualify me from feeling down on some days. After all, I am human, still. My heart has been bugging me to write about this blog & it has been a tug of war to publish it or not. My biggest reservation is probably being judged however my push is for fellow moms who feel the same way but are silenced with the same reasons. It gives me confidence to share these things knowing I am not alone, we’re actually a neighborhood (motherhood,gets?) haha. And the most important reason revealed at the latter part of this blog. With that, I hope these confessions will also do the same to fellow moms & shed light to those who aren’t.

I guess this uneasy feeling started when people started complementing me. Not that I don’t appreciate them. It’s just that every time someone does, I think to myself… “if you could only see what I do, if you only know”, #honestmotherhood. 

So here it goes, this Momma confesses that…

Confession 1 | My baby irritates me

Starting with probably the hardest one to admit. Yes, that cute, angelic little human you see irritates me & only moms will get that 100%. (I feel the judgement now) Of course it’s not her fault & technically it’s not her, it’s what she does. It irritates me when I don’t know what to do whenever she cries. And the things you do to stop those tears right?! This doesn’t only happen in 1 or 2 days, it happens every single day so imagine the energy that’s being released 24/7. You have no idea (only moms do) the amount of work that goes through in a day in raising a child & although it gives indescribable joy, it also gives stress. Just being honest here. Which leads me to confession 2.

Confession 2 | I ask for a breather 

You take a break from motherhood?! No mom does really. I remember the time when I asked my husband to give me a break & get a massage. Horray! But I felt quite uneasy, my body was there but my mind to my baby. Kept the phone close to me so that should anything happen, I’d stop the session & go home. True enough, just before it ended I was on my way back. I ask for this because I can’t be effective when I don’t. And if I don’t rest once in a while, the chances of me getting sick is very high. I can’t nurse my baby while nursing my sick self. A healthy mother means a healthy baby & vice versa.

Confession 3 | I take time to beautify 

You still have time to do that, how about your baby? I thought you’re busy with her? How vain?! Aren’t you being selfish when you think of yourself when mothering? I thankfully have a husband who co-parents. I get a lot of people saying “Mura kag wala nanganak, Tar” (You don’t look like you’ve given birth,Tar), “Nagkabata mn ka Tar oi!” (Looking young, Tar). Flattering, but I must confess, A for effort! And I take the effort because it honestly keeps me sane. Again, only moms will completely understand that. I don’t have to explain myself but hey, it doesn’t mean I’m selfish when I think about my well being when I mother my child. 

Confession 4 | I don’t have it all together 

Doesn’t mean I post nice shots of me & my daughter, I have it all together. So many things happen behind the scenes. Doesn’t mean I’m faking it either. I’m just artsy that way. Haha! But contrary to my feed, I don’t have it all together. In fact nobody is perfect & no mother gets an A. There are countless times already when I forget to bring something that my baby needs whenever we go out. And many times I just have to wing it. But not having it all together doesn’t make me less of a mother. It makes me better every time & over time. 

Confession 5 | The FOMO is real 

FOMO: Fear of missing out. No place I’d rather be but… it doesn’t mean I don’t get affected when I am not able to do some things anymore because I have to prioritize my baby. Many instances when I had to turn down opportunities & I confess it affects me. One time I had a conversation with my husband on attending events & after weighing things, we decided I can’t due to some factors that might affect our baby in a negative way. I cried & told him “I completely understand but just allow me to cry”. 


REFLECTION

I mentioned earlier how this flow of emotions started. I felt uneasy because of what was mentioned but more importantly because I was thinking if the compliments meant that people didn’t see the struggle & only saw what was wonderful, that they only saw me but not Jesus who brought me here. Who is my constant giver of abounding grace that I am able to look the way I am. Truly I say, ONLY BY HIS GRACE.

“Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 10:17

Before publishing this I gave time for myself to process these confessions. To allow God to work on me, on my heart. As my child runs to me, I run to my Abba Father. 

God says, “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.” Isaiah 66:13

I could still remember specifically praying to God to prepare my heart for motherhood when I was pregnant. There really is struggle in transition. And truth is, nobody will ever be prepared for this role, nobody is exempted from the struggel, whatever they may be to every mother. It’s a JOURNEY of dying to self, it is not a title, it is a CALLING & we mothers have a specific PURPOSE for this and that’s WHAT YOU DON’T SEE. Like what my friend Carmina says, “God strengthens us to do our calling but at the same time it requires a certain level of participation to carry out His purpose. And choosing to participate can also take it’s toll on us yet we choose it everyday.”

Again, it may seem like a fairytale especially when I’m being creative on my feed but just so you know, I don’t have it all together & it is only through Him that I am able to mother my baby, be a wife to my husband & etc. We are all a work in progress.

“And God is able to make grace abound in you, so that in all things at all times, having all you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8

 I still remember the days I prayed for the things I have now.

 

I prayed for this. We prayed for this & wow. He gave us the desire of our hearts to have a baby. Truly, there is responsibility to every concept you fall in love with or that with power comes great responsibility. It’s beautiful how this has brought me to a deeper understanding of who God is. He constantly reminds me that He makes all things beautiful in His time. And TODAY IS BEAUTIFUL. I am living yesterday’s He-makes-all-things-beautiful- in- His- time. His promises are already yes & amen. But He doesn’t give the blessings one time big time. As parents we check if our babies are ready to receive what we have for them, right? Same is true with our heavenly Father, He checks if we’re ready to receive what He His in store for us, time & time again, from glory to glory.

To every mom who is going through the struggle,

Remember the time when you were praying for the things you have now… or you are now. He who promised is faithful. He is just working through your heart. He can’t give what you desire, may it be something tangible or not,  if you’re not ready for the blessing, if your heart isn’t. He’s the only one who knows when you’re heart is right to receive. Always workout to have a good heart. A heart where He alone resides & watch how He’ll bless you. You are definitely not alone. Cheer up because we’re too blessed to be stressed!

He makes all things beautiful in His time. Ecclesiastes 3:11

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For more updates & blogs or questions, visit my Instagram & Facebook page, @travelwithtaraph. See you there!