Saturday, March 30, 2013

Stories from Home

Passion, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is intense, driving or overmastering feeling or conviction. Alternatively, it means a strong liking or desire for or devotion to some activity, object or concept. I admire people who are passionate on what they do.

Take this old pianist as an example. Before the start of the 4-day weekend, we walked past this old man at the mall while looking for a place to eat. We took note of him because a number of people were smiling watching and hearing him play and he was stringing a song from Moulin Rouge. He played the piece with so much gusto and passion that it emanates through every note that he struck.

And because we were so moved, we chose to eat outside of the restaurant so we can hear him play.

He was well-cheered by the mall-goers. Had you been lining up for J.Co donuts last Wednesday, it wouldn’t be so bad for you.

To prove a point that he’s a good entertainer, here he is giving his number to a woman (who I suppose wants to hire him for an event) and being appreciated by two old men.

As for me, I am the ultimate stalker.

Like most of you, I spent the long weekend in my parents’ home and I had a reflective Good Friday. I woke up at 5 to attend the early morning station of the cross.

I had  a meaningful reflection after a 2-hour walk around the barangay and hearing the priest’s sharing after each station. It’s a wonderful experience early in the morning. I sent a message to Person A suggesting that we should do this together some time… in the province. Maybe on our first Holy Week as Mr. & Mrs. *kilig* I am so babaw.

At about 3, I went back to church to attend the Pasyon (that’s in Bisaya, because I am Bisaya). This is done after the siete palabras and the service is pretty much like a mass with the Christ’s journey to death shared in the Gospel. The second part of the Pasyon was kissing of the cross. People line up to kiss the cross and my hypochondriac self automatically switched to

“What virus will I get from doing so?” I resolved it by saying “God will take care of me and shoo away all the viruses of the people who kissed Him before I do.” After each person, the sacristans wipe the cross with what smells like alcohol… though my mind is saying the cotton might not get sanitized enough. I overanalyze like that. The last part is receiving the Holy Communion. Pasyon ended with the procession of Christ's "dead body".

It was an interesting Good Friday and I encourage every Catholic to properly observe it.

Now on to food! What’s a report without a chronicle on what I ate. I found these red bananas on my mom’s dining table.

It looks normal and tastes good if you don’t mind the mineral-y after taste.

Then my aunt and my cousins and nephews from Cebu are also home so we’re spending part of our time with them – with the rest of the family. Here's dinner last night.

Grilled fish (aka as sinugbang isda sa bato). 

The meat is tasty, tender and absolutely perfect. Everyone was whining that the face of the fish looks scary and ugly. I really don’t care…  I wanted them to whine while I consume all of it.

Some shell-fish which I din’t partake of because I was too busy with the fish and my peyborit kinilaw!

Raw bangus cooked in vinegar, tabon-tabon, a mix of herbs and spices and all the dirt from my Papa’s hand because he prepared this himself! Hahaha!

There were still a lot of food on the table and it’s absolutely all fresh and good. One of the best things about Dipolog.

This morning, I had my favorite sikwate (chocolate drink from Tablea).

Chocolate = shokolit =  sikolate = sikwate. Get the evolution? Another all-time peyborit!

And fried dried pusit! Our househelp still needs to perfect her frying skills because this one is so chewy and … chewy.

Ayayay! The things I can rarely get in Manila.

Oh, I also did some baking this morning. Tadaaa…. Presenting my brownie fudge with the sweetest-smelling frosting!

Shhh… Don’t tell anyone that I cheated by using the ingredients and instruction from this box.

Lastly, I am thinking about the progress of our wedding monogram when I noticed this marking at home

And the lower photo is what's on our gate… you see, my Papa’s initial starts with an “O” and my mama’s is a “G”…

And there you have it, my folks beat me to the monogram thing!

On another note, I’ve been catching up on my reading. 

I am happy to say that is a well-written piece. I wanted something controversial, yet intellectual.

Hahaha! Choosy pa!

So, I’m really hoping that everyone gets to reflect, rest and enjoy the Holy Week.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

For a Peso

I will gladly drop a peso

and hire these folks as my wedding musicians and I will most likely drop another coin to entertainment my guests at dinner. You know, let their classical instruments play pop music ala The Piano Guys.

Well if I can't hire Maroon 5 or Coldplay to entertain my guests at the party then I'll just settle for this.

Because, that's how I roll, baby!

Dream big.

Haha! -(",)-*wink*

Monday, March 25, 2013

Musings Over Bulalo

While driving my girl friends to Tagaytay and back via the Tagaytay parking lot (aka Aguinaldo highway), our discussion veered towards bulalo. Not the Leslie's nor Rose and Grace bulalo but the Bisayang nilagang baka. Fresh cow meat, slow-cooked for at least 2 hours (not pressure-cooked), flavored by rock salt and sweetened with cabbage and bananas. 

This is what my childhood and Sundays were made of back in the day. Ahhhh... heaven. This what you discuss when you're turtle-ing and snailing your way back to Manila. 

So, for a week, I craved for my home-cooked nilagang baka. At its worst, my mouth watered. I am that gross. Anyhoo, last Saturday, I ordered a bowl from Kanin Club and while savoring the almost-there taste I am looking for, I opened up the topic to Person A, 

"Do you think I will be a housewife?" 

It was an interesting conversation, we both dreamt (he and I like that I become a housewife) but we are realists (our bills, commitments and responsibilities) are piling up and it's nowhere going down in the next decade so we came to a conclusion that yes it may happen but I might have to become a Martha Stewart or a Daphne Osena. Tipong pangalang pa lang, kumikita na. Lifestyle brand.

Dream big.

So anyway, in my quest to become the next Martha Stewart, allow me to share the decors I made for a Baby Shower that I organized.

I apologize for the blurry photo, my camera decided to conk out on me that day. Also, it is on purpose that I blurred out the face of the lovely pregnant lady - privacy reasons. 

Here's the bunting.

And the registration game that occupied the participants while waiting for the event to start. 

Back of an illustration board and pink chalk. Throw in a bunting pinned with a clothes pin and add a bowl of pink and white marshmallow. Dainty DIY.

This is my pinterest board for this baby shower.
You know, what's the best part, everything is so easy to prepare. A quick search on google for free baby shower printables and invites, I requested a certain group to cut it out and set things up, another group ordered the food, I did a google search of possible games and voila, baby shower with 5-minutes conceptualization, 1-hour to set-up (I am not really sure) and an hour of friends getting together.

Easy peasy.

Here's another project in my studio (aka my home). This is the wall by my mini welcoming area. 

Photo montage and asymmetrical posters from SM. I thought hard what should be on the wall (clearly, pagkain na naman nasa utak ko), the color scheme and the photos. 

Person A helped me execute everything. Read: wala na naman akong ginawa at nang-utos na naman ako!

Baby steps... to become the next Martha Stewart. Or maybe I should stick to what I do best: bully people.

Here's a cupcake that I want to bake and design in the future.

Soooo cuuuutteeee.... and it tastes yummy.

And so... until my next Martha Stewart attempt. 


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Mandarine Spa

Massage is one of the best stress-reliefs known to mankind. I love getting my muscles released of tension through Swedish strokes. Now that I've transferred neighborhood, I am excited to try the massage places in the good ole South. After a quick Google search, I was convinced that Mandarine Spa offers the best massage in the Filinvest area. 

One Friday night, I invited Person A to Bellevue Hotel to try Mandarine Reflexology and Spa. They are known for their foot reflexology but I wanted to get a full-body massage, so we availed of a 1.5 hour full-body Swedish massage. Due to a prior appointment, the establishment is kind enough to accommodate us on a different time slot. This is Mandarine's lobby: much better than most spas welcoming area: 

plush carpet, cold temperature, calming music, nothing less of a 4-star hotel spa

and the exclamation point: hot red dates tea!

I tell you, this tea is very soothing, calming and sweet! Anyone who's a non-tea lover would like it. According to, when dried... red dates are high in potassium, vitamins B1&B2. It is believed to relieve stress, an antifungal and anti-inflammatory, improve digestion and used to relieve sore throat.

After 5 minutes, we were ushered to our massage room. The amenities exceeded my expectation considering that I paid much less than your average 4-star hotel spa.

The room has 2 massage beds with soft but firm mattress. A lot of side pillow to provide support to different body parts and lots of soft, fresh towels.

Then if you don't want to use the jacuzzi, the room comes with your own bath where you can take a shower before the massage. That's the door to the right. It is a must for me to take a shower before a massage because after one, I end up going home and sleep - without taking a bath. I am not a fan of taking a bath at least 4 hours after a massage. 

The bath is very zen, Asian: rain shower, nice stones and comes with liquid bath amenities. Towels and robes are also fluffy.

I tell you, for PhP 1350 for a 1.5 hour massage, I say everything is a steal.

Now on to the massage!

When our therapists arrive, massage begins with stretching then an hour is spent kneading the back and legs. The strokes are very soothing and consistent like you can't feel that there's only one person massaging you. An hour into the massage, the therapist will get a warm towel to wipe off the oil and soothe your body. 

I like the massage. Person A is still undecided - he's meticulous, like that. 

Here's the list of services.

I will definitely come back if I can't think of any better massage place and I have the moolah to splurge. My value for money massage is somewhere in Pasay Road, Makati and comes at PhP 300/hour. The amenities are very spartan but the massage is good and you can go get 3 hours of bliss, if you like.

While driving along Commerce Avenue, we noticed the sign that Mandarine Spa is opening in West Gate. 

Stay tuned.

Mandarine Spa
Westgate, Filinvest Corporate City

The Bellevue Manila
Filinvest Corporate City
Alabang, Muntinlupa
Daily 1PM-11PM

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Weekend Report

I am starting to realize that I am indeed busy. I used to have all the time in the world to blog but lately I have a lot of random things in mind that I'd like to share but I simply can't sit down and write it all. In fact, I used to sit for hours just to stalk everyone on Facebook but lately, 5 minutes on FB twice a day is a luxury. Nonetheless, I am happy how I spend my time: exercise, fixing my new place, wedding planning and establishing relationships. 

Not complaining at all. 

Because my mind is all over the place, allow me to share random things that happened over the weekend and some pictures I discovered in iPhoto while looking for some pictures to put on my picture wall. 

When I arrived home last Friday night, this was the view from my window. 

The noisiest political rally ever. Sound system greater than 85 decibels, like industrial noise hazard alert and entertainment ala J.Lo that's nowhere near J.Lo.  

Made me wonder will my building be subjected to this until election is over? 

It was my perfect cue to head to the spa and get that much needed massage that I owe the move out partner. He was the best move out partner ever: driver, kargador, interior designer, cook, etc so the least I can do is treat him to a more than decent massage.

Here's Miss Pointy Toes while the massage room is being prepared. 

She also enjoyed the most heavenly red dates tea. I tell you it's sweet, hot and very calming. I like it more than your regular green tea. Perfect anytime of the day.

Come Saturday, to reward ourselves after meeting with a wedding partner (supplier), we headed to Moonleaf and made use of the community board.

Person A posted this. Plug shamelessly lang ang peg.

Then Sunday, I had a date with this very smart, little guy.

Scratch that! He had 6 gorgeous dates in Tagaytay that day. He requested us girls to draw him a mouse and this is what we came up with:

Girl #1's mouse

Girl #1's second attempt at a mouse

Girl #2's attempt to draw a Mickey Mouse

To refresh your memory, this is Mickey Mouse

Mukhang wala kaming mga talent!

And I'd like to end this post with an interesting photo that I browsed  in iPhoto. The photo on the left was taken 3 years ago and the photo on your right is a recent one.

Uh-huh! I was 15-20 lbs heavier some time ago. Not good. Exercise and proper diet are the key. As shared here, I took charge of my body, ran 5 kms 3-4 days a week, abstained from red meat, minimized dessert and survived on rabbit food for dinner. '

Another important thing, it's not a fad. It's a lifestyle. These days, I still watch what I eat, I do cardio 2-3 times a week and I am serious on Yoga for core strengthening and toning twice a week. I feel much healthier  3 years into my attempt at a healthy lifestyle.

With that, may we all have a healthy week!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Jessica Be Happy

Take a look at my finger nails

And my toe nails 

Jessica's Be Happy, Nail Polish # 431. I chose this because I wanted something pink but not so pink. I got what I wanted, if Barney was Pink, then this will be Barney's shade. It is not recommended for corporate look hence I removed it after a week. The quality of the nail polish is excellent, doesn't chip easily and applies uniformly on the nails.

Jessica nail polish is a line of customized colors by Jessica Vartoughian. She is known as the "First Lady of Nails."

Do read her story here. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Afters Espresso and Desserts

There's something about dessert places that I can't say no to. Before starting any meal at home or a meal out, you can expect me to be the person to ask "What's for dessert?" or "Where are we having dessert?"  So, the other Saturday after a night of buffet food for my college organization's alumni homecoming, I asked my friends, "Can we have dessert?" at 12 midnight.

I'm very consistent when it comes to dessert.

So off we went to Afters, a quaint coffee shop along Tomas Morato, Quezon City. 

The Place

Classy but relaxed are the words that came to mind when I entered Afters. The color scheme is brown, rich furnishing with a mix of eclectic modern pieces, soft lighting and with quirky posters on the wall. 

It's a ~ 50-seater restaurant, very cozy and has a wide selection of coffee, cakes and gelato. When we visited, the crowd is more mellow compared to most coffee shops.

The Food

Ferrero Cake (PhP 160)

Rich, moderately-sized slice, hazelnut and chocolate cake with hazelnut (?) cream frosting. The cake is moist while the frosting is thick. 

It tastes good. I will order this next time.

Reese's Cheesecake (~PhP 150)

Another interesting and unique flavor.

If my memory serves me right, the cheese cake is rich and the frosting is peanut-buttery. I can remember that it's really good.

Nicaragua and Brazil Single Drip Coffee (PhP 150/cup)

Afters serves both brewed and single drip coffee. According to Wikipedia, drip brewing is a method which involves pouring water over roasted, ground coffee bean in a filter. Water seeps through the ground coffee, absorbing its oil and essences, solely under gravity, then passes through the bottom of the filter. The used coffee ground are retained in the filter with the liquid falling into a collecting vessel. 


Because Person A and I are curious, we both ordered a cup of single drip coffee, mine is Brazil and his is Nicaragua blend. Because of the short time that the water passed through the coffee, the flavor isn't strong: think coffee-flavored tea. I like that the coffee itself has a distinct flavor, sweet, nutty and mildly acidic. Brazil blend has stronger flavor than the Nicaragua one. 

It goes well with the cakes that we ordered.

Its downside is its steep price. I suggest you order this if you want delicate tasting coffee and you don't mind shelling twice the price of a regular brew cup.

Plus the single brew set-up is cool. Take a look at the ground beans after all the water has dripped.

Moroccan Mint Tea (PhP ~150/pot)

Loose leaf, excellent, strong-bodied mint tea. Tea and cake always go well together.

In Summary

1. Afters is a great place to have dessert. The ambiance is pretty mellow and very relaxing. Great for a casual date, meet ups with friends and celebration with families. It's a plus that it's located in Tomas Morato, think of it as your wind down place from the hustle and bustle of the area.

2. Cakes are goods with unique flavors. Most are derived from your favorite chocolates. Coffee is also excellent and they serve gelato, too.

3. Price is a little above average. They're a little expensive than most coffee shops in the area.

20 Lansbergh Place
Tomas Morato cor Scout Castor St
Quezon City
Sun-Sat 10am - 4am


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