Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A better birthday post

I don't want to end 2014 with a melancholy mood. I remember making a very sad post about my 31st birthday. I browsed my picture files and noticed a few photos from my past birthday.

First time to take a birthday leave - I started my day by waking up late.  No pressures from the always irritating alarm clock Haha

I treated myself to my favorite home-cooked meals. I had Kare-Kare for lunch with my family, nachos and McDonald's delivery to end the day.

Pizza! Pizza! - I treated my workplace friend for pizza the day after my birthday.

Early birthday celebration with my best friend T! I was able to finally try 8 Cuts Burger. Wish I had taken more photos of the place for my review. I enjoyed my short meeting and overflowing stories with my best friend. On the way home, I was able to buy a slice of my favorite Banoffee pie from Banapple. 

Next year, I'm not sure if I will still celebrate my birthday at home. I surely love the day off but I would love to spend it in another place with my family. 

30 Things Life Taught Me # 30 - The last post

This blogging series is way out of my self imposed deadline. My initial target is to finish this post before my 31st birthday. (I still feel a little cringe when I say my current age.) I was aiming at least two posts in a month. As always, I was doing great in the beginning. As months passed, I became the lousy blogger. There were months with no post at all, except for the Beautiful Sunday series. Work and some personal grown up issues occupied me this year. Another casualty of my blogging series is the book reviews. I failed to make my 12 book reviews this year. Good thing, I have my usual holiday break every December. The two week break gave me time to write and almost revive my blogging targets.

I knew from the start that my last post has to be the best. If not the best, at least half decent of my past 29 posts. But honestly, I never prepared anything. It has never even alarmed or bothered me. My mind is totally on vacation mode. I'm loving my slow and quiet time at home. A few times, my cousins would invite me to go out. A few days ago, I had my usual mall date with my friend AK. I checked the calendar and realized that 2014 would soon be over. A few more sleeps and I'm back to work. Where did the days go? I haven't even done my yearend decluttering tradition. 

Given that my current environment does not permit me to write anything meaningful, it now became a challenge for me to close this series. Call it lousy, but I'll be taking everything from a recent conversation with another colleague turned friend.

Aside from challenging me to the fullest, I will always remember 2014 as the year of resignations and farewells. Two of my friends tendered abrupt resignation on the first quarter of the year. My best friend T found a better opportunity in the industry while W sought for greener pastures. I can still see T once in a while but there are still days when I just miss having a great lunch buddy. In the case of W, I failed to utter my farewell. Her resignation almost happened in a flash. If not because of my Facebook account, I wouldn't discover that she's already reunited with her better half abroad. W never fails to surprise me because I just had the longest Viber phone call with her yesterday. I updated W with all the happenings at the workplace, but most of our conversation centered on her struggles and lessons on working abroad.

So after the longest phone call in my lifetime, I went straight to bed and suffered the weirdest headache. Hahahaha I don't know (maybe signs of aging again) I begin to experience more headaches lately, very rare for me during my carefree 20s. In case W is reading this, please don't feel bad. Blame my overweight self and my weirdest hormones. Hahaha But seriously, that phone call gave me something to think about again... maybe another source of headache. Hahahaha I have mentioned my personal grown up issues here and if I would discuss everything, a blog post will never be enough. Of all the realizations that dawned on me, the constant and strongest force that compelled me was my dreams and ambitions in life. I have my own bucket list but somewhere along the way, I lost that passion to dream. 

Ten years ago, my dream was very clear. I have to get a job in the research department of a reputable company, I have to get my permanency status, and finish my masteral degree. At that age, I wasn't oriented on spending and shopping. All my resources are directed to these dreams. In God's grace and my hardwork, I achieved everything before I reached my mid 20s. After these years, I became too relaxed and complacent. I had another 5 years and worked out my promotion and this was when I become the lousiest spender. When I turned 30, I reached the highest possible rank for my position. Almost happy not until I realized that this is dead end for me. The major project at work did help me to forget but deep inside, I felt trapped and lost at the same time. I was trying to diagnose myself and after all the over analyses, I figured out that I lost that passion to dream. I have goals but I'm no longer the same passionate person 10 years ago... I savored my small successes and achievements and now, I'm stuck and hanging in the tree of uncertainty. 

With all the drama and posts I made, I now conclude this series with the greatest lesson I learned 


Setting aside the hardwork and perseverance, all of my little achievements started from a dream. Much of my life's story was crafted from the fulfillment of my dreams. The Boss above may have other plans for me but as I look back, I was never really deprived of fulfilling my dreams.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Beautiful Sunday # 140 - Best of 2014

How timely that my 140th Beautiful Sunday post corresponds to my last Sunday post for 2014. Instead of writing another melancholy and sentimental post, I decided to compile my favourite Beautiful Sunday photos. 

Family Celebrations comprise most of my Sunday post.

My Lolo's (grandpa) 90th birthday celebration! We had an instant reunion with my paternal family. We were able to successfully invite Lolo's remaining classmates and the cutest kid in the family never fails to make everyone the happiest.

Another member of my fun fab fam acquired the best discount card of all time ;) welcome to senior citizenship Tito O

Aside from my family, FRIENDS will always make it to my beautiful memories

Last days at work of my dearest friend T. Count a few more months and it's been a year since I'm having lone lunch breaks.

Holly's Coffee - This coffee shop is special to me because it housed some of my favourite Korean drama series. Glad that it also landed in the Philippines!

Another Korean coffee shop in the Philippines - I love Cafe Noriter!

One last photo with T and snippets of our favorite weekend toy ;)

My BFF might have left me but I wasn't alone on those special occasions at the workplace.

The most awaited Christmas party at the workplace.

The edited photo can't hide my exhausted and lousy face. Check my photo below with my dear friend CC. I look more fresh and relaxed. 

And how could I remove work from this blogging series

The major project at work - My first time to leave work beyond 10 pm and our office has never been this disastrous. The outcome of this major project is still uncertain. We are still waiting for the results but deep inside, I'm conditioning myself not to expect anything. Not another grown up heartache ;) 

It was this year when the Boss started to tag me to management committee meetings. I will also remember the rare cold temperature of January 2013. I was able to legitimately wear turtle necks and jackets to work. I will never forget that night when we walked along Lucky China Town Mall and Binondo feeling so cold. Almost like Hong Kong! I was able to document some nice photos here.  

The annual employees' awards night with CC. I love that I don't look so fat and bloated in a not-so-cheap black blouse. I look way better here than the annual Christmas party. 

Working on weekends, my first time to finally watch Frozen, my bag from Lands' End and a rare photo with the last batch of my Economics kiddies.

The annual dance festival at the workplace, I finally got a decent seat to capture photos. 

Cold and gloomy mornings I appreciate. Photo on the left is my favourite sight because it meant no sleep after completing a freelance work.

This year officially started with my addiction to online shopping abroad. 

I forgo international travel for me this year.  I was however not deprived of discovering beautiful places within my country. 

The venue for our team building activity. Nothing special and fancy about the place. I however appreciate the greeneries and the open spaces.

I also believe that these photos gave me my best editing output.

Another new place I visited this year 

Probably my best shot from Bataan White Corals Beach Resort

Another new place, Isdaan is is one of the must see places in the Philippines.

I went back to school last November. It was a decision I will never regret. Hopefully, I'll finish the entire course on March 2015. My favorite slice of cake from Banapple and for this year, The Master's Sun is officially my favorite Korean drama series.

And how could I forget all the foodie uploads

Brownies Unlimited's Php 35 cupcake is always a regular item in my blog. I also have my favorite cookies from Sophie's Mom, and green mangoes with shrimp paste.

There was a time when my friend CC became addicted to Auntie Anne's pretzel. Being the supportive friend, I cannot count how many times I've eaten to Auntie Anne this year. Mrs. Fields' cookies is finally available to a place near me, the french macarons has to make it in my list and the classic Filipino street food.

Red Lanterns and Sincerity Chicken remain as one of our favorite staple from Binondo

CaliBurger! While the reviews are not great, I enjoyed my first time here with my dearest friend T.

One of the most awaited movies of the year!

Bon Chon chicken, favorite "dirty " ice cream, chicken intestines and this massage chair that gave me the best expenditure for Php 20.

I was able to complete my Beautiful Sunday post this year. I never missed any Sunday although I have to say that my posts can still be improved. I don't want to impose a specific target for next year. I will continue to post my regular Sunday series and hopefully improve my post and photos.

I may not have seen the Land of the Morning Calm but my dream of wearing a handbok came true. Almost there, South Korea! :)

Till my next Beautiful Sunday post on 2015! :)

Friday, December 26, 2014

Click Selfie : The Philippines' First Selfie Studio

The last week at work also meant the last leg of all the dinner and parties I have to attend. The earliest I went home was 11:30 pm. Most of the time, I reach home the next day already. Haha In the middle of the past week, I thought I was free. I was hoping to go home early. Everything changed when a few workplace friends invited me for dinner. Change of plans, what should I expect? I failed to catch the last trip of the train. We only ate at McDonald's because something unexpected happened inside the department store. Wish I could relate everything here, can I just say that my good friends went shopping for their prospective Mr. Right?!? While me? I was contemplating how to stretch my last few money before Christmas. I'm beginning to become talkative again here. I'm already losing the real intention of this post. Sorry, naman. Hahaha

Before we left the mall, our attention was caught by this colorful signage.

A selfie studio? Why the need for a studio? Selfies can be taken anytime and everywhere.

Our curiosity led us to check out what is it about the studio. And before we knew it, we became their last customers for that day.

In a nutshell, Click Selfie offers "photography services without the photographer." True to the concept of selfies, the clients themselves become the photographers. The studio offers rooms equipped with a mounted DSLR camera, LCD TV that provides the camera preview and a remote control that serves as the clicker. Clients can choose the duration of the pictorial session that ranges from 15 mins to 1 hour. Despite the limited duration though, clients are free to take unlimited number of photos or selfies. 

What makes their services unique and special, clients can choose from an array of costumes and background that provides the theme. Clients are given a catalogue of costumes and backgrounds. In our case, we chose the around the world or travel theme. For my costume, I chose a Hanbok or the traditional Korean dress. I believe I don't need to explain why. ;)

From left clockwise : The Bride, The Egyptian, Frustrated Korean and Maya ni Sir Chief wannabee haha

The more important question is the price of Click Selfie's services. I failed to take a photo of their price list. In our case, we paid Php 130 per head for a session that lasted for 15 mins. The payment is inclusive of the electronic copy of the photos and a few print outs. This is the best thing I appreciate about Click Selfie, clients are given the raw jpg files. And since the studio uses a Canon DSLR, pictures appear with high and clear resolution. Note: I added some filters to the photos uploaded. 

The pricing of the studio is dependent on the duration of the session and the number of heads. Although personally, I believe that the studio is best only for a group of three persons. The mounted camera can only capture portrait shots. No opportunities for wide or landscape angles. Likewise, the limited size of the studio provides a little challenge to fit four people in a fixed angle shot.  

Despite the minor constraints, I highly recommend Click Selfie's services. More than the photos, everyone will surely have a great time during the session. True to the owner's claim, everyone is leaving the studio with big smiles on their faces. I didn't regret the fact that I was left by the train's last trip. The staff of the studio are very accommodating too. They accepted us even when it's almost closing time. I can say that this is one of best Php 130 I spent. 

As of date, Click Selfie maintains one branch in SM Manila. Click here for more information about Click Selfie.

P.S. This is not a sponsored post. 

30 Things Life Taught Me # 29 - On Money Matters

I have been on self-imposed house arrest over the holiday break. I'm loving my slow and quiet time and best about everything, I'm able to spare myself from spending. I'm saving myself from the temptation to become shopaholic again. :) I'm also preventing myself from savouring those unhealthy food intakes. Days after being confined at home, I was able to get out this morning to meet my friend A. We chose a more discreet mall to watch a movie and indulge to my favourite unhealthy restaurant meals again. On the way home, I felt uneasy and realized that I lost one of my favourite wrist watches. My guess is that it was snatched away as were walking out of the movie house. I remember walking with the crowd of people and felt a slight force from my left wrist.  

We were inside the mall and it was easy for me to replace my favourite wrist watch. I have a credit card and I can easily apply for a zero based instalment program. But I didn't allow myself to get to another trouble. Whew! I was able to resist the temptation given that most shops are hosting a yearend sale. I can further console myself by buying another pair of shoes or nice blouse. But my self-control hormones are finally working. I walked out the mall without buying anything for myself. I felt sad but not necessarily deprived. My mind jumped to another problem, the upcoming bills to play and plans for 2015. Oh well, there's another set of financial matters to deal with. This later gave me a flashback of my first decade of working, my first 10 years of earning money. Did I really manage my money well? One thing later dawned on me, my next decade of earning and working should be better. Maybe I messed up in my 20s. Or perhaps, I didn't totally mess up. I just grew up. I'm finally enlightened of what should I have done more. 

I have to make a mental note to get back on this post years from now. A decade from now, life should be better. I should be wiser and happier. I have an emergency fund. I have my target savings account. All insurance premiums are paid. I have my own set of investments and my next goal then, my own real estate property.  

30 Things Lie Taught Me # 28 - Setbacks and Comebacks

30 Things Life Taught Me # 27 - Of Failures and Success

The irony of achievements and failures...

You succeed once, no one remembers.
You fail once, everyone remembers.

One of the harshest and painful realities of life I'm still learning to handle. Success in the form of awards and achievements easily fade away. This further taught me not to develop any attachment to any form of success. Savoring success once is enough. 

Another irony about success, people tend to raise their expectations and standards. More success, more pressure, more stress ... life shouldn't be lived this way.

The problem with failing once, people tend to build that stigma of weakness against the unfortunate being. It's like being forever punished for a mistake that only happened once.  

While I cannot change the perception of everyone, I TRY MY BEST not to join the crowd of this ironic norm. I try to seek balance over the contradicting situations. At the workplace on one hand, I  sometimes cannot blame colleagues who refuse to trust the hard headed and non-performing colleagues. On the other hand, I don't want to see and identify myself in the group of the antagonists. I'd rather be someone who provided opportunities for people who have the sincerest intention of redeeming themselves.

While I don't often read self-help or inspirational books, one of the best quotes about failures and success is from Bill Cosby.


Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

And yes, we are having a colder Christmas :) Manila is having rare rainfall on the 24th. 

In case you have noticed, I have become a very active blogger lately. I can prepare a blog post everyday. Blame the my two-week holiday break. I'm enjoying my slow and quiet time at home. After all the Xmas parties and random dinner last week, I have been occupied with nothing. :)  I go out once in a while for errands but the entire day is spent mostly at home. I'm on house arrest and surprisingly, I don't feel bored at all. Yes, these are shouting evidences that I'm really ageing. I begin  to appreciate all the silence and stillness. 

I've prepared this post before Christmas eve. In a short while, I will attend the anticipated Xmas mass with my mother. When we get home, we will have our usual family dinner. Hopefully, there will be a nice movie in Cinema One for my parents. On Christmas day, we will have lunch together and I might visit my paternal family. I have been doing this holiday routine for years and I will never get tired of it. I look forward on spending more time with my family. Nothing really grand, loud and fancy. I'm happy and thankful of my monotonous, simple and traditional Christmas celebration with my family. 

Merry Christmas! Hope everyone is having a great one too. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Reviewed! Cookie Bar Manila and Speed Regalo

So I was one of those who were amazed with Dominique Ansel's Cookie Shots. He is the same genius who invented the cronuts. The cronuts didn't appeal much to me. I was rather interested with the cookies molded to a shot glass, served with fresh farm milk. While I don't have any chance to taste his creations, there are local bakers who made their own version. Among the local versions, it was Cookie Bar Manila that captured my attention. Most of the reviews I've read related positive results. Added to this the mouth watering photos I encountered from Instagram, I was convinced to try Cookie Bar Manila's version. 

Cookie Bar Manila's lone shop is situated in Kapitolyo Pasig, quite far from home and I'm not really familiar with the area. When we learned that they deliver, I excitedly took advantage of the opportunity. Delivery however is outsourced via Speed Regalo. I don't have problems because they have extensive payment channels and all of Cookie Bar Manila's items are available. I thought I will be able to proceed not until I discovered that shipping will cost Php 250 ?!? Paying Php 250 shipping for a set of cookie shot glasses that cost Php 320, doesn't sound like a practical idea. To compensate the very expensive shipping fee, I encouraged my cousin (my partner in crime haha) to purchase another item. We decided to avail the next cheapest item, the mini premium cookie cups. All in all, we paid around Php 800 for two boxes of cookies. Expensive but for the sake of curiosity, we are willing to take the risk ;) 

I placed my order the night of December 16.  We considered that our order is good for posting on December 17. Ordering online was a breeze. No technical problems at all. Payment was posted in my Paypal account and I received confirmation to my registered email. One thing I noticed about the transaction, they never gave me an exact date for delivery. Although they have a tracking facility, I have to log in to my account to access. I find it quite inconvenient.

Given that I paid Php 250 for shipping, I was expecting that Speed Regalo will perform "speed" for the hefty fee. Like next day delivery to two days.  I made a follow up call twice and was told to expect the item by December 22. True enough, our orders were delivered around lunch time. All in all, 3 business days for delivery. If I will include weekends, that would be 5 days. Learning point, never place orders in the middle of the week to avoid prolonged waiting period.

I was willing to let go of the longer waiting period and the expensive shipping fee. 

Almost not until we opened the first box, SURPRISE!!! hahaha

Anyare? (What happened?) I lost my appetite... to take photos. Obviously, the box was not properly handled by the courier. 

This should have been the photo of our cookies.

As for the cookie shot glasses, we don't have problems except that some cups were starting to wear off.

Hold on for one more day... don't go breaking my heart... I don't have decent pictures yet :'(

All the while, we expected that our cookie shot glasses will be carefully packed like this


Maybe this was the fault of Speed Regalo. In fairness to them, it wasn't a total disappointment because the cookies still arrived as "cookies". Hahaha At least we can still recognize them  :)

As for the taste, I would give both the cups and shot glasses 5 out of 5 stars. I love that its soft and chewy and each has enough level of sweetness. The cookies also don't seem to change its taste and texture even after several days.

sorry, medyo hindi na photogenic

 And yes, this tastes as good as its looks!

The more important question though, am I willing to purchase again? Yes, but I'm quite reluctant availing the services of Speed Regalo. If I will have the chance to visit the Kapitolyo area, I will definitely drop by and purchase. But if I don't have a choice, I will be forced to avail the services of  Speed Regalo. Maybe I'll just lower my expectations and pray that my cookies will still arrive as cookies