Quarantine Birthday Cake

This past five weeks in quarantine has been a weird time, to say the least.

Now that I’m spending more time at home, I have created the following routine: eat, sleep, social media, movies, repeat. My usual routine of hitting the gym after a workday and making dinner with friends is out the window and has now been replaced by the routine above. I hate it, I love it, I’m adapting with what I have. Happily for my dog, he gets the most walks now compared to my previous normalcy.

I can confidently say, that I’m coming out of quarantine with a couple more pounds on. I find myself more in the kitchen if I’m not in front of my computer. Unfortunately for my sister-in-law, my baking and cooking adventures have increased the temptations to divert her from her diet. She was complaining to her mom over the phone that my baking/cooking fest made the house smell too good.

My latest baking adventure was to create a birthday cake for my friend. I followed A Spicy Perspective’s recipe for the perfect lemon buttermilk cake batter. The key to this perfection (in my opinion) was spending the time to cream the butter and sugar. Don’t rush the process. Let it cream in that stand mixer.

I then threw the batter into two round 6 x 3 inch baking pans that have been lined with parchment paper. The leftover batter was then used to make some cupcakes.

After baking the cakes, I layered it with some raspberry preserves and used Five Heart Home’s recipe for cream cheese frosting. I did throw in some lemon zest to bring in more of that lemony flavor to the lemon cake.

In the end, the cake was fluffy and light. It was a perfect match with the cream cheese frosting and raspberry frosting.

(I apologize for my lack of food styling here. I ran out of time to do so…).

All in all, I felt super accomplished making this for my friend. To clarify: I didn’t get to celebrate my friend’s birthday with him. His sister (who commissioned me to make this cake as a surprise) came by to pick up the goodies and drop off some of the cupcakes with another friend of ours. We then joined everyone in celebration via Zoom. What a time we live in.

For more food adventures, follow me on my IG foodie account: convivial.corner.

Hope you all are staying safe and being creative during this time!

With love,


2020 Goals

I’ve been too silent this past couple of years. 2018 and 2019 have come and gone. Each year filled with a ton of stories I’m yet deciding to share with you or not. If I never do, just know they were years of growth, and self-reflection.

During those two years, I continued working as an accountant for a small, non-profit college preparatory school, enrolled and graduated with my Master’s in Business Administration at the University of Redlands, traveled to the Pacific a couple of times, generated a ton internal self doubt and ate a ton of food.

Now as we’ve ended a decade and entering into a new one, I can’t help but reflect on what has happened and set goals for what is yet to come.

One thing for certain: 2020 is going to be a busy one for me.

Other than the upcoming trips to fulfill my need to travel, I’m hoping it would also be a financially fulfilling one as I save money for a couple of sinking funds I’ve set up and eradicate a couple of debts I’ve dug myself into (*cough* student loans and credit card *cough*).

So the 2020 goals are simple: take care of my finances, take care of my health, create and share more, and be content.

Moving forward with this space, I want to focus on three themes: Explore, Create, Transform (as illustrated by the images above).

As mentioned earlier, I’ve generated self doubt these past couple years. The diminishing of my creativity plummeted me deeper into it thus my silence in this space, on YouTube, and my producing of somewhat mediocre Instagram posts.

As I delve back into these three themes, I’m hoping that it would inspire me as I re-educate and remind myself on why those three themes are so important to me. And why I’ve had them tattooed them onto myself that one night in South Korea.

As simple as it is, I know it encourages me towards self growth and I hope (*fingers crossed*) that it inspires me to REGULARLY share my journey of self discovery and improvement in 2020 and onwards.

For now, I wish you all a wonderful and prosperous New Year!

When the People Speak

Last weekend, on our way to Seoul, my friend Melissa and I met a young man who was heading to Seoul for the very first time. It was hard to believe that it was his first time heading to the capital. After having some small talk, we both asked him again, “Is this really your first time? Did you really never have the chance to visit Seoul before?” Which he then confirmed that this trip really was his first time.

After talking about basic English grammar and some conversational cues and it’s meanings (we shared with him that we were English teachers), he then reveals to us his purpose for heading to Seoul. He, along with many others, are on their way to the capital to participate in the protest against the current president (story here). He hopes that the people gathered together would speak to the current president’s heart and move her to resign from her position. He then invited us to go to the protest.

Out of curiosity and with my friend, Matt, in tow – I went.

Being in the midst of the protest was very powerful. There was a moment where I had to quell the emotions I had deep inside of me. Just think, a few days ago the results of America’s presidential elections were announced and it was very disheartening to see that hours after it’s announcement, people struck to the streets and were sharing on Social Media the aftermath of it’s results!

Although the purpose of this protest isn’t related to the American elections, it showed the power of the people gathering together. And that alone was amazing in itself.

Sometimes, I questioned whether or not I was actually in a protest. There were bands performing live and people dancing. And there were many volunteers helping with the clean-up. But as I shifted towards another part of the protest, I found myself in the midst of the “real chaos.” Loud chanting and banners flying high about the people’s sentiment against the president. Policemen atop of police busses to ensure that the crowd didn’t push through to get to the Blue Palace (where the president lives).

As you browse through the photos I’ve taken, please note that I hold no political stance in this issue. Out of curiosity and through that young man’s invitation, I have decided to attend the protest. I wanted to witness what Korea’s democracy looks like. Please also note that there is strong language in the photos.


– A

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Reflecting on #happyarvedays

Reflecting on my #happyarvedays

If you don’t follow me on Instagram, I began and finished my #happyarvedays (the 100 Happy Days Challenge).

And that was about over a month ago.

Day 84: Happiness is a day filled with tiny successes.



It was pretty funny how it ended. It didn’t end in a bang as I thought it would. I thought I was going to be enlightened like Buddha or become closer to God (although it made me appreciate the power of prayer even more). Rather, it was just a normal day with a normal reason to smile. What got people noticing that it was finished wasn’t because they saw “Day 100”, but because of the fact that I wasn’t posting a photo on a daily basis anymore. It even resulted in my mom calling me several times in one night because she didn’t see me post anything online for the past couple days. My poor mama thought I was hurt. Sorry Mama for scaring you…

So, it’s done. What now?

Day 98: Ever since @kitsu has introduced me to Korean music in junior high, it has been my dream to go to a Korean concert. Well, today, that dream has been fulfilled. Happiness is when you’re patient enough to wait for something – even if it takes years!

Well, something I didn’t expect was motivating others to also do their own Happy Days Challenge. The kids from my church back at home are now several day’s into their own challenges. Even my own dad has stated that he’s going to begin doing the challenge when the new year begins. It’s pretty amazing to know that you’ve sparked a little inspiration for others to do something like this.

Day 26: Happiness is having a picnic.

Otherwise, when it comes to it, the lessons I’ve learned are the following:

  • Happiness comes in different sizes. Don’t always look for the big things.
  • Don’t expect yourself to be happy all the time. It’s “OK” if you have a downer day. Just make sure that you’ve got something to smile about.
  • I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by beautiful people – family, friends, and students alike. Without them, I wouldn’t have had a reason to smile.
  • Lastly, as I stated on Day 100: “…do not rely on just happiness to make you happy. There are other factors that come into play, such as love towards others and self-love. If you don’t have that balance, then it’s pointless to seek happiness.”

Day 100: These 100 days of seeking those moments that made me happy were such a challenge, especially on difficult days. So today’s happiness is: do not rely on just happiness to make you happy. There are other factors that come into play, such as love towards others and self-love. If you don’t have that balance, then it’s pointless to seek happiness.









So there you have it. I’m glad that I finished it and learned more things about myself. So what’s the next challenge for me? Nothing plan so far. I’ll keep you guys posted.

With love from the land of the kimchi,


– A


A student walked into the institute today with his arms covered in stickers. Turns out that his children put those stickers on him. It was so adorable that he didn’t bother to remove them when he came to attend his class. It’s as if he’s proud of the fact that his children just decorated him.

After a brief chat, he then went ahead, took one sticker off his arm, and placed it on my arm. 

Lunch break

It must be fall season now. The weather is getting cooler and my trench coat has been pulled out from my closet. Next thing I know, I’m back to wearing boots! Just waiting for the leaves to turn into its fiery color this year.img_1313-1img_1372-1With cooler weather beginning, I find myself making my way outdoors more often. Maybe just to catch more sunlight for myself or just to soak in more warmth as I brace myself for the cold winter months coming up ahead.

I’m fortunate to be living very close to a big park. When things can get a bit busy at work, during my breaks, I can just easily drop by this place for a quick stroll.img_1353-1My lunch breaks are usually the best times to go to this place. Other ahjumma’s and ahjusshi’s would be found doing their noon-time exercise out here, but it doesn’t interrupt the birds from singing. Otherwise, I’m always be lucky to find a very quiet spot to read a book and write.img_1316-1img_1363img_1318-1img_1344-1img_1379img_1382-1Hoping that even as the weather turns, that I still find myself outside just to enjoy nature’s presence.


Exploring Seoul with Chea

Meeting friends on this side of the planet is always a great treat! This time around, I’ve finally caught up with my friend since high school – Richard Chea. Or Chea for short.

The last time we saw each other was about six years ago, after I left the high school we both attended for a private academy. Since then, along with a couple others, I kept in touch with him.

When I learned that he was here in South Korea last year, I reached out to him to ask him about his own experience living and teaching here. Before I arrived, he has finished his work-study experience and has returned to California before we could have the chance to meet up.

Until this past month. He came back for a visit and we finally got the chance to hang-out!

For lunch, we hit up one of his favorite restaurants – Nine Road Pizzeria in Gangnam. It was my first time trying out the restaurant’s food, and it wasn’t disappointing!


After lunch, we explored a bit of Gangnam – only to quickly head off to Banpo Bridge (since he hasn’t been there before). Personally, I think the best time to go to this place is at night, when you can witness the Rainbow Fountain show, whilst eating take-out chicken. But since I had to head back home that night for work the next day, we had to make do with daylight.

On a clear and sunny day, Seoul is amazing to be in. This is especially true when you’re strolling next to the Han River and you can easily spot Namsan Tower from where you’re standing. While in the Banpo Bridge area, I highly suggest visiting Some Sevit (Seoul Floating Islands). It has a couple restaurants, shops, and a Hello Artist exhibition featuring a digitalized rendition of Vincent van Gogh’s artwork. The exhibit was was both educational and beautiful.


Although our hangout was brief, it was great catching up with Chea. Especially on this side of the planet!



Breakfast for one

Sabbath morning.

I forced myself to sleep in some more, even though my body woke me up around 6AM – the usual time I would get up during the week. This time around, my body is sore from the workout I had this past week, especially from yesterday’s workout when my friend helped me pump some steel. I made a promise to myself to care better for myself by exercising, sleeping more, and eating better. Especially breakfast.

On the breakfast menu:

  • Chicken (simmered in doengjang) sandwich
  • Coffee
  • Cucumbers




P.S. Because I live alone, I’m still learning how to cook for one. It’s been a challenge, but a good learning experience. For those living alone too, how do you do it?

Teaching English in South Korea

It’s been about ten months since I began teaching English here in South Korea. The experience in the classroom  was initially very intimidating. Although I was trained, I was nervous and somewhat dreading that first term of teaching. Eventually, I got over the nervousness and improved on my teaching style. This is thanks to my coworkers and students who were willing to teach me and were very patient with me.

If you are interested in teaching English here in South Korea or just simply need another source of inspiration when it comes to teaching, here are some tips from me to you:

  1. Understand the basics of the Korean language. Although you can get away with not speaking the language when teaching them English, I found it much more effective to be aware of the basics of the Hangul pronunciation and sentence structure. Being aware of that allowed me to better help my students pronounce their words much better than when I didn’t know. I am able to also explain to them that there is a difference between “fun” and “funny” (they use the same word in their language. My students tended to confuse them both often).
  2. Understand how sounds are being formed in your mouth. If you are able to show and explain how to do this right, it makes pronunciation much more easier for them. for example, in Korean, they have no differentiation between “R” and “L” as in their alphabet, it is represented by the same symbol. Note that for the “L” pronunciation, the tip of the tongue toes to the roof of the mouth, whereas for “R,” the tongue touches nothing.
  3. Grammar matters. Know the basics so you can explain well. Plus, students tend to hunt you down with a grammar question.
  4. Don’t be afraid to correct your students when they speak. Even if they’re mid-sentence. Be proactive in their learning so it would let them know that they are being looked after.
  5. Be patient. Not only with your students but also with yourself. You’ll learn the ropes of teaching soon enough as you continue to teach. But if you’ve already been teaching for a while, remember to be patient and forgiving with yourself. Not only will your students appreciate you for your patience, you will also appreciate yourself for doing so.
  6. Be brave. Don’t be scared when your students speak in Korean and you have no idea what they’re saying. They’re just helping each other clarify things – especially when you cannot.
  7. Smile. Show them that you’re enjoying spending time with the class and the work you’re doing. If you look like you’re enjoying yourself, your students can relax and enjoy too. (They are nervous themselves!).
  8. Pray for them and their success. And let them know that you’re doing so!

Hope these tips are helpful to you! Have something to share? Let me know!
– A


For the past 24 years of my life, I’ve received nicknames from family, friends, and schoolmates. Some of them are unique whereas others are just… random with no connection to who I am. These nicknames do reveal something about myself as an individual. Well, some do at least.

  1. Dimple. Since my birth, this name has always been a part of my identity. How did I get the name? I was told that when I was born, I had about 18 dimples on my face (I must’ve been one chubby baby). Thus the name stuck with me. It was so that I didn’t even know what my real name was until I entered elementary school. Although I knew that Dimple was just my nickname, I never used my real name until my family emigrated to the U.S. Then, I became Arve. I’ve always thought that this nickname was my Philippine identity, whereas the name I now go with is my American me.
  2. Harajuku Girl. Back in high school, when I was part of the show choir, my friend Vallene Karamoy (now Mrs. Hasibuan) and I spent so much time together. It got to the point that our show choir leaders noticed. Apparently, we’d always be walking into our rehearsal room together and would always be spotted together around school. Our leaders dubbed us as the Harajuku Girls for our “twin-like” and inseparable habit. And also because we were both Asians…
  3. Agave. The most randomest nickname of all. This came from my best friend’s ex. Apparently, my name reminded him of “agave.” Go figure. Because of that, my best friend, Nadinne, became Nektar – dubbing her and I as “Agave and Nektar”.

Have a nickname? What is the story behind it? Share with me!

– A