Trying Mostly Korean Skin Care

“Look after yourself from within, and your beauty will shine through on your skin.” -Shanina Shaik

I have always believed that one’s personality makes him or her more beautiful. I have met people who just became so much more beautiful in my eyes the more I got to know how good they were. While I advocate for inner beauty more than appearances, I also have to admit that taking care of our skin is one way of being kind to ourselves.

I’ve had acne since I was eleven or twelve. To be fair, my acne wasn’t that terrible. I did not have a lot of them and usually broke out only when I was on my period. However, my skin is so sensitive that I scar very easily. When I scar, they take years to get rid of.

I started wearing powder foundations early, in attempts to hide the imperfections on my skin, not realizing that they were making my acne worse. The worse they became though, the more dependent I became on makeup and the less confident I was to get out of the house barefaced. The makeup felt like a security blanket of a sort that I couldn’t go without.

fullsizeoutput_a4e-e1560190863853.jpegThese days, I still get acne, most of them the hormonal ones around my chin and jaw. They aren’t as plenty unlike when I was in my teenage years, but they still do scar. I have learned to accept them as a normal part of life and putting on makeup because something I enjoyed as a means of expression rather than a means to hide imperfections.    Most recently, I decided to try Korean skin care as opposed to just my usual face wash, toner, and moisturizer routine.

My ever loving sister who spoils me all the time recently went to South Korea and got me lots of Korean skin care products, most of which were from Innisfree’s bija line. I just loved the pretty blue color of the packaging! Aside from these products, she also gave me a Foreo Espada, Blue Light Acne Treatment, a Petitfee Koelf Madecassoside Clarifying Body Spray, COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch, and COSRX One Step Original Clear Pad. Whew! So many products!

For myself, I bought bentonite healing clay from Luxe Organix, which is an alternative to the Aztec Healing Clay that went viral in 2018. I also got the Jeju Volcanic Lava Pore Lotion from The Face Shop. Lastly, I got myself some lip care products such as the Bubblegum Lip Scrub from Lush and a sampler of Laneige’s Lip Sleeping Mask.

Currently, here’s my skin care routine:

1. Micellar makeup remover wipes (Night)

IMG_0864I use waterproof mascara and eyeliner pen every day, so it takes me a while to get rid of them. I use makeup remover wipes that I soak further with micellar water to get rid of my makeup.

When using wipes soaked with micellar water, I first wipe off the makeup on my face and neck before focusing on my eye area. That would help make sure I do not squeeze some of the micellar water and get some in my eyes because it stings.

I also like the micellar water from Garnier and from Nivea so you can try those as well.

2. Bija Trouble Facial Foam (Day and Night)

IMG_0851I only use a tiny bit because it suds up really well. I still wash my face to get off any last bit of makeup remaining on my face. I also read somewhere that micellar water shouldn’t really be left on the face, hence I make it a point to still wash my face.

This facial wash does not give me that squeaky clean feel, but I do feel like my skin has been cleansed thoroughly without being stripped dry. It smells more medicinal than the rest of the products in the Bija Trouble line. That is probably the soap content of the facial wash that makes it smell the way it does. Thankfully, I am not bothered by it when I wash my face.

3. Luxe Organix Bentonite Clay Mask (Once every two weeks)

img_0826.jpgThis dupe gets the job done, but I still prefer the original Aztec Healing Clay one. The dupe does not bubble and dissolve in apple cider vinegar, but dissolves well in water. It’s also a sickly kind of green that reminds me of Shrek and Fiona. After rinsing off, I still use a wet wipe on my face because I still get some green stuff that rinsing alone couldn’t get off completely.

Still, it still feels like the Aztec Healing Clay once it’s on my face. There is the familiar pulsing feeling on my skin and the warmth after rinsing it off. It helps dry my zits more quickly too.

4. Foreo Espada Blue Light Acne Treatment (When I have acne breakout)

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This pretty, pink baby uses blue light technology to get deep into the skin and kill acne-causing bacteria. It has a laser-precision targeting mechanism that allows you to target the imperfections you want to expose to the blue light. And because it has T-Sonic pulsations functionality, this little baby vibrates as you bathe your blemishes with light.

The wand does not react to anything but skin.

My sister swears by this device, but I have not tried it enough to know if it works as it should. Maybe that is something I can discuss in a separate post.

5. COSRX One Step Original Clear Pad (Day and Night)

I love the packaging, but I love the contents even more! Inside the pretty tub are 70 very thin cotton pads soaked in a toner that smells wonderfully of lemons! My day brightens when I smell the toner they used on this product and I feel instantly energized!

The toner does not sting my face, but it does contain a type of alcohol called Ethyl Hexanediol. I used the product on my face, neck, and chest too, because I also suffer from chest acne. I actually get acne on my back too, occasionally. The alcohol content makes it refreshing to wipe all over your face and neck.

IMG_08616. Any brand and type of sheet mask (Once every two weeks when I use the clay mask)

I go crazy when these go on sale and I then buy a lot of them. Yet, when I use them every now and then, I find the process a little too messy and wet for my liking. I am not exactly sure how sheet masks make skin care better and how it is better than just smoothing serum all over my face.

Anyway, after putting on the sheet mask, I leave it on for ten minutes, then take it off. I rub the crumpled mask all over my neck and on some parts of my body like my knees and elbows because there’s still so much product left of the sheet after ten minutes. Plus, there’s also so much serum left in the pack so I make sure to use that up as well.

7. Koelf Madecassoside Clarifying Body Spray (Day and Night)

IMG_0865I normally spray this on my chest and back after I shower, but at night, I spray it on my chest after using COSRX Original Clear Pad.

This product does not have a terrible smell, unlike other back acne sprays I have tried. It does not sting my skin either, so I like it a lot! I have actually noticed the acne on my chest (cystic ones most of the time) starting to become smaller and flatten out. If only it helped with scarring too…

8. Bija Cica Skin (Day and Night)

IMG_0852It’s another toner that moisturizes the skin while protecting it. I use this to bring back the moisture on my face that might have been dried by the COSRX toner pads with their alcohol content.

I like the texture of this toner; not too runny and not too thick. Because of the texture, I do not use a cotton pad anymore to apply the product on my face. Instead, I pour some on my hands and then I pat it all over my face.

The product does not smell like anything at all. I mean, I tried sniffing a little of the product that I poured on my hand and could say that it is fragrance-free.

9. Bija Trouble Lotion (Day and Night)

IMG_0853The lotion is lightweight and gets easily absorbed by the skin. It has a very faint scent that there’s almost none. It smells around 80% lighter than the facial wash from the same line.

I use only half of what I would normally use to moisturize my face because I am using another lotion as well. I use it all over my neck as well.

10. Jeju Volcanic Lava Pore Lotion (Day and Night)

IMG_0854This product, I like so much! It smells lovely because of the citrus fruit peel oils in the ingredients such as lemon, orange, and grapefruit. The scent isn’t as strong as the COSRX toner pads, but the lotion smells fresh and fun.

This lotion is not as lightweight as the Bija Trouble Lotion, but I like that it has volcanic ash that aims to absorb excess oil on the skin. I use this on my face and neck.

I am not a huge fan of sheet mask despite my habit of buying them, haha. I find it a little messy to work with and am not exactly sure how different it is from just putting

11. Whitening Pore Cream EX (Night)

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My skin scars very easily, but the scars take very long to fade. I need to use whitening products to help speed up the fading.

It smells faintly of citrus and it is not as lightweight as the Bija Trouble Lotion. It’s expected anyway because this is cream.

I use this product all over my face and neck with more concentration on areas with acne scars. I use it on areas of my chest with acne scarring too.

12. Bija Trouble Spot Essence (Day and Night)

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The product has a light beige color. It’s also thicker in consistency than the Bija Trouble Lotion. I use a tiny amount over trouble spots.

13. Capsule Recipe Sleeping Pack (Night)IMG_0856

To seal everything in, I use a sleeping pack which I believe is made with Jeju bija and tea tree. It smells stronger than the Bija Trouble Lotion, and I actually love the scent of this clear gel sleeping mask.

It’s so tiny, but I was able to stretch the contents to 10 uses because the product is easily spreadable all over my face and neck.

14. COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch (At night on cystic acne)

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I love these hydrocolloid patches! With these, I noticed that my cystic acne clear faster than they would.

The patches come in three sizes and there are twenty-four patches in one pack. I love the big ones for my cystic acne, but I kind of which there were more of the tiny ones too. Maybe they can increase the number of patches in a pack because quite frankly, twenty-four pieces only per pack is a huge waste of packaging materials.

So far, I still get hormonal acne breakouts, but they heal quicker than they normally would. I also noticed that my skin has become way more moisturized and soft unlike when I did not use all these products. Even after putting on mineral powder foundation, my skin has a dewy glow, which I am not used to because I’ve always loved the matte look. I still oil up a lot, as if I were still a teenager, but it’s not the sticky, grimy, yucky kind of oily. I just blot throughout the day with a paper towel.

I will keep using these products and see if my skin will improve over time. Since these products are not cheap, I guess I will have to use them up until I empty the containers. That’s going to take three to six months, I think.

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Finding Meaning While Jobless

“I have always believed, and I still believe, that whatever good or bad fortune may come our way we can always give it meaning and transform it into something of value.”
Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha

There was a lot of training sessions that I attended in the last few weeks, whether it was helping organize it, participating in it, or helping facilitate it. The last month was filled with a lot of realizations, learnings, and appreciation for everything I have now.

In one session I attended, we were made to watch a TED Talk video of Emily Esfahani Smith discussing the four pillars to a meaningful life. Her talk about the four pillars is a must watch, especially if you’re in that phase of your life when you’re finding meaning to your existence.

Smith’s discussion about having a meaningful life really resonated with me because a few years ago, I hit rock bottom and could not find meaning in my life at all.

Going jobless

My sister, Kristine, has a condition called patella alta or high riding kneecaps. This condition became apparent when she was ten years old when she had her first knee dislocation. Over the years, she would get two to three dislocations a year. We never knew when a dislocation would happen and some of them did even when she was only changing sleeping positions! By the time she was 26, her Medial Patellofemoral Ligaments (MPFL) were so overstretched from her knees’ constant going out of where they should be. I think it’s called partial dislocation because they always popped back on their own. Anyway, she needed to undergo surgery; on both knees.

In December of 2014, she had her MPFL reconstruction surgery on her knee. Everything seemed fine. She was recovering well at home after she was discharged. At least she was until she started having cramps. She had to be rushed back to the hospital. A slight error on the TENS machine during her PT sessions later, our lives took a sharp turn and everything went downhill.

Kristine was having cramps on her operated leg and the only way to alleviate the pain was to keep her on medicines and to massage her leg 24/7. Yup. Non-stop. A minute or two of pause would cause her leg to have intense cramps, so we had to hire nurses and caregivers on a shifting schedule just to massage her leg. When there were no nurses, we had to do it ourselves. We basically stayed in the hospital for almost a month, celebrating Christmas and New Year 2015 there.

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Our cousin Cristina, Kristine, and me.

At that time, I was working in an audit firm and I loved my job as difficult and tiring as it was. I would work in the hospitals at night and during the weekends because we were wrapping up the audit of a huge client.

I was earning very little compared to Kristine, but I was happy anyway. So, when it became apparent that it was getting more expensive to hire a nurse while I continued working and when our house help went back to her province and did not come back, I had to stop working to help take care of my sister.

I love Kristine, don’t get me wrong. At that time though, work meant everything to me. We were dealing with so many issues at that time other than her knee surgery and work became my escape. I was a workaholic at that time that my senior would even plead for me to go home because I would insist on staying and working. To lose my job felt like I was losing a limb. I was suddenly forced to face everything I used to run away from.

My job description changed after my last day in the audit firm. I became in charge of cooking breakfast and became a pusher. By that, I meant a wheelchair pusher. We had to bring Kristine to work in the morning and fetch her in the afternoon to bring her to her PT sessions at night. That was my job for five months.

In between caring for Kristine, eating and hygiene activities, I slept. I slept a lot because I could not handle feeling useless. I could not handle the envy from seeing my former colleagues move up in their career or start going abroad. I could not handle feeling so lonely because my friends from work were so busy at that time (which was not their fault at all) because of the nature of their work. I could not accept that I had to quit my job because we were basically penniless and dependent solely on Kristine’s salary to have a roof above our heads and food on the table. I felt that if only I were more successful in my career, we could have afforded to hire a nurse instead of needing me to stay at home. Sleeping afforded me peace from all the sadness I was feeling.

One day, Kristine talked about wanting to have her left knee operated on as soon as possible. Mom was very much against the idea and so was I. For one, we could not afford another complication. Mom wanted to save up first before the next surgery. I badly wanted to have a job. A fight ensued and my sister accidentally blurted something about being the only one earning. It felt like a bucket of ice water was poured on me. I cried for hours out of hatred for her. Looking back, I knew it was myself I hated more that day. I never felt as useless and worthless as I did on that day. I wasn’t the one who went through the surgery, but why was I the useless one? I asked myself that a lot.

Transcendence

The surgery was not easy on my sister. She has always been a go-getter, independent girl. To suddenly be so dependent on people to lift her leg for her when she got out of the bed, or a chair, or the car, was also taking a toll on her. As painful as moving around was, she had to show up at work because she was supporting our family. She must have had to swallow her pride and she might have felt like she was a burden too. I could not see that right away after the big fight. It took some time to understand her and what she was also going through. As difficult as the ordeal was for me, it was hella tough for my sister too. After all, she was the one who went through the surgery!

I don’t think we were both being selfish and self-centered at that time. It was more of a lack of communication between us that caused all the negative feelings. Maybe, if she were more vocal of her appreciation (which she later on expressed), and if I were more open about my guilt of not being able to help financially, we could have consoled each other. When we finally understood what each one was going through, we started being able to figure out what to do next.

I don’t remember having prayed as much as I prayed during this period. I complained a lot to the Lord, but even if my prayers were more about whining, just knowing I could talk to Him helped a lot.

Belonging

Kristine and Mom are my biggest supporters. Even if I was feeling useless, they knew I was going to be able to go back to work and they let me know they believed in me. We were a trio of strong women who always bounce back after a difficult situation and we always had each other’s backs.

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She used to help me stand. Years later, I was able to return the favor.

Purpose

I realized that being jobless did not mean I didn’t have a purpose in life. While it was not my life purpose, at that time, my purpose was to help take care of Kristine. I was not useless, I just had a different idea of what being useful was. At that time, I had a narrow-minded view on what being useful was that I could not see how much Mom needed my help in tasks like pushing Kristine’s wheelchair or lifting her leg.

Storytelling

Eventually, my sister could already walk with a crutch. That was somehow the go-signal for me to start looking for a new job.

The tougher part of job interviews for me was explaining the months I was without work. I wanted to be as honest as possible without making myself appear as a victim of circumstances. I had to convince interviewers that even if I was jobless for some time, that period that I did not have work was not a waste because the situation helped me grow. That growth may be useful to them because it spoke of my character, something that they could consider in hiring me.

 Throughout the interviews that I had over the last few years, the story I share about why I was jobless evolved. In my last job interview (for the job I am currently in) the story went something close to lines of:

My sister had a knee surgery that had a complication. I stopped working to help take care of her as it was the more financially smart thing to do at that time. I do not see it as a sacrifice. Instead, I see it as an investment because her knees are fully well now. Two years later, she started working in Hong Kong as a regional IT auditor for a multinational company. Her knees are now strong enough to handle all the traveling for her work. 

Before I arrived at those lines, I admit that I still felt bad about the situation from time to time. Yet, the more I said my story in a positive light, the better I felt about it and myself. The better I felt about it, the clearer the purpose of having to go through it became. There were so many things that I learned during that period that I was jobless, and most of them were things I doubt I would have learned has I kept on going to the office. I realized that you should never underestimate the power of the words you tell yourself. You might be amazed at how much they can influence the outcome of your ongoing story.

My story may not be that grand. I did not suddenly become a millionaire after a period of being jobless. I did not become an influencer afterward. Still, I hope that you learned something from my story.

No matter how difficult things are, hold on to the hope and the trust in yourself that you can make it through.

Just Tried: Fat Fook Kitchen

“I know what I bring to the table so trust me when I say I’m not afraid to eat alone.” -Anonymous

Last Friday, my workmate and friend, Karen, went all the way to the newly opened Ayala North Exchange to visit the Watsons branch there. While we were there, I suddenly had a craving for milk tea. Seeing how the line at Macau Imperial was so long, we turned to Fat Fook Kitchen instead.

img_0455Serving Taiwanese food, there was bound to be milk tea in their menu. Only, I was not prepared for how big their milk tea serving was.

They serve their milk tea in what looks like a disposable soup container instead of a tall disposable cup like we’re normally used to. I do not know if it’s optical illusion, but I do believe the serving size is so much more than from your average milk tea store.

Karen, on the other hand, ordered gindara tofu from their take-out counter. We had to wait for a few minutes for them to fry the gindara tofu.  You know what? The wait was so worth it because that gindara tofu was really good stuff! It’s nothing like any street food I have tried in my life! It was flavorful without being too much and all over the place! The texture was soft, yet firm enough to enjoy biting into it. It was not like tofu made from soy. It was then that I sort of had an idea why people lined up to eat at Fat Fook Kitchen’s Glorietta branch. I guess they serve really good food, that’s why they are always packed.

IMG_0564Last Sunday, I had to go to Glorietta to have my eyeglasses fixed. Again. Last time, I accidentally sat on my glasses. This time, I accidentally kneeled on them. I should really stop putting my glasses on the bed when I take them off for any reason. I would feel so bad if the people working at OWNDAYS remembered me for my broken glasses instead of my purchases.

Anyway, I decided to try and eat at the Fat Fook Kitchen branch there. As usual, the place was packed. Luckily, I was first in the waiting list and a family soon left, allowing me to have a seat right away.

I ordered five pieces of pork xiao long bao and a pork chop set meal. I also ordered gindara tofu to take home. My order took around 15 to 20 minutes to arrive and while I was waiting, I realized how badly the a/c worked at cooling the place. The temperature was not high enough to cause one to sweat, but not cool enough for my liking. That’s why I was so glad I did not have to wait too long for my order.

A male server came with my food and he asked, “Ma’am, are you alone again?” I was surprised at the question. Did he think I ordered too much for one person? Did he feel bad for me because I was alone? It was my first time to eat in that place, what was up with “again?” Was he a server in the past in a different restaurant where I went to eat alone as well? So, I just replied, “Yeah.”

I enjoy eating out alone as much as I enjoy eating out with friends and family. When I eat alone, I find that I get to enjoy the food and revel in the different flavors of the dishes I ordered so much more because I get to focus on eating. You see, if I were with someone, I would probably pay more attention to the person and the conversation rather than the food.

Going back to my order, the food looked and smelled wonderfully yummy! The serving was bigger than I expected and the set meal came with more food items than I thought would be included. For one, I had some lightly flavored soup to warm my tummy, half a boiled egg, and some veggies too. The pork chop slice was larger than I was expecting and it smelled so inviting! I also loved the meaty bits on top of the rice! Those tiny pieces were packed with flavor!

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I liked the soup despite being lightly flavored. The joy that I discovered though was it came with a crab roe bun. Gindara tofu, you have some competition! I will make sure to visit a Fat Fook Kitchen branch soon to order crab roe buns to take out.

The xiao long bao looked incredibly cute that I did not want to eat them at all. Having paid for them though, I had to try one. That was when I realized a problem. They only had a silver, regular spoon while I needed a duck spoon. You know, those spoons commonly found in Chinese restaurants that look like a mini ladle. So, I placed a piece on the silver spoon and when I poked a hole into it, the soup practically dripped from my spoon and went to my rice.

I did have some soup left on my spoon and when I tried it, I was thinking if it was the same as the soup served with my pork chop set because they tasted the same to me. The filling, though, was what I liked because it was meaty! While I admit that the xiao long bao was a little doughy than I was used to, they did not skimp on the filling at all. It was as if there was only space for meat and for soup; space for air or emptiness.

I ended up eating only two pieces of the xiao long bao. I had the restaurant pack the remaining pieces, along with a quarter of my pork chop that I already knew I wasn’t going to be able to eat when I saw how big the serving was. I was so full!

Our house companion loved the gindara tofu I brought home for her to snack on. In fact, she liked the first piece she ate that she decided she was going to eat it and the three pieces of xiao long bao with rice for dinner. I guess I am not the only one who loves Fat Fook Kitchen now. I bet she will also enjoy the crab roe buns and the milk tea as much as I did.

That’s it for now. I hope you enjoyed reading about my Fat Fook Kitchen experience. Also, always remember that eating alone is not always lonely.

Just Tried: John and Yoko Cosmopolitan Japanese, Greenbelt 5

I can always count on gyoza to make my day.

My sister is home over the weekend! The two hours I spent waiting for her at the airport was worth it because I missed her so much! The last time I saw her was back in March, when I went to Hong Kong with my friend, Jana. That is why I was so excited to be seeing my sister again.

She arrived a couple of minutes past midnight last Saturday. After getting some sleep, she wanted to have her nails done at Nail Tropics. She estimated that I would have to wait an hour and a half for her to be done. Having very short nails (damn nailbiting habit!), I felt it too expensive to have my nails done there so I just opted to have my eyebrows threaded at Browhaus.

Unfortunately, my eyebrow threading lasted only 15 minutes and I had nowhere to go in Greenbelt while waiting for her. I opted to have coffee or any cold drink somewhere while waiting. My feet led me to John and Yoko, remembering the big poster they had of their milk tea selection (which had like three options only). Learning that it served Japanese food, I decided to order gyoza with my brown sugar milk tea because I was a little bit hungry from not eating enough at breakfast.

I just loved the interior of the restaurant! It was cute and cozy, appealing to my girly side that loved pink and mint green color combo. The place wasn’t packed unlike the restaurants on the same floor, making it an ideal place for me to wait because I dislike very noisy restaurants. Not that I don’t want people talking inside the restaurant, I just get headaches when exposed to too many sounds all at once.

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My milk tea order came first. I did notice that there were huge chunks of ice in my drink to chill it. I was kind of disappointed because I felt like the presence of ice was going to water down my drink when melted. When I took a sip though, the caramel-like taste of the brown sugar tasted so yummy, though a tad bit too sweet for my liking. I then appreciated the ice knowing it will water down my drink a bit if I leave it alone for a couple of minutes, just enough to lessen the sweetness of the milk tea. Still, that drink was yummy and the boba pearls were cooked just right! John and Yoko’s milk tea is now part of my favorite milk teas list.

It took a while to have my gyoza served. It makes me wonder if they did not have pre-made pot stickers just waiting to be steamed because I doubt gyozas took that long to cook. Anyway, I was excited about it when it was finally served to me.

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I am normally not used to being served gyoza with the fried bottom facing up. There was some good browning, with a spot or too a little darker than the rest. Oh well, the gyoza was still gyoza no matter which side was facing up.

I was not prepared at all to love their gyoza so much! I mean, I am no connoisseur and is yet to learn how to describe food other than delicious, yummy, and tasty. I also have not been to a lot of Japanese restaurants to be able to say I have sampled so many gyozas to know what’s good and what’s not. Still, I loved how John and Yoko’s gyoza tasted! The filling was cooked well and the wrapper was not too thick or too chewy. While I did poke some holes due to my struggling with the chopsticks (lack of sleep makes my hands shaky), the wrapper did not tear that easily once you bite into the gyoza. You see, I already experienced having gyoza wrappers fall apart after a small bite, leaving the remainder of the filling between my chopsticks.

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After almost more than two hours, my sister was finally done with her mani-pedi session. I told her to just meet me in John and Yoko. I ordered her another gyoza set and brown sugar milk tea. We also ordered Samurai All-Meat Pizza. My sister ate five pieces of gyoza, one after the other. I knew she was hungry by that time, but hearing no complaints from her meant the gyoza really was good.

The pizza took the longest to be served. I was surprised how small the size was (the picture made me think of larger serving size), yet equally amazed at the amount of meat on that pizza with a super thin crust. They did not skimp on the meat at all! Just take a look at those big pieces of bacon! Doesn’t the pizza look so yummy!

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There were no uncooked chunks of meat and they were not overly salty. I do not know what cheese they used, but it wasn’t the stretchy, stringy kind. However, it was so creamy and it complimented the Pomodoro sauce and the meat toppings really well. The crust was crispy, but not too hard. The only downside though was that the inner slices were a little tricky to eat because of the weight of the cheese and the meat toppings. The outer slices still had some crust to hold on to while eating, but the middle part was not.

We were stuffed at the end of the meal! I really enjoyed what we ate and I am excited to try their other dishes. Overall, I was more than pleased with John and Yoko’s food and service quality. I will surely be back.

Another Reason to Love OWNDAYS

“The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight but no vision.” ― Helen Keller

I have shared with you my awesome experience buying spectacles at OWNDAYS. Today, I had another reason to love this optical shop.

This is my current eye prescription:

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Without glasses, I can still make out shapes and colors, but I cannot distinguish small features. For example, my laptop is currently an arm’s length away from me. Without glasses, I can just make out the edges of the picture above, the black lines, and some black, blurred stuff that are the letters of what I am typing. I know there’s a pink section in the paragraph above (hyperlink) but I cannot read anything at all. That’s how badly I need eyeglasses.

This morning, my eyeglasses met an accident. I forgot that I put it on the bed so I could put on my makeup while standing up. After doing my makeup, I sat on my bed, a little forcefully that I should have. I sat on my glasses because I wasn’t able to see it. The frame got a little deformed and the lens of the left eye popped out. Thankfully, I had contact lenses at home as a backup.

I called up OWNDAYS at The Landmark Makati to inquire how much they charge for fixing my glasses after what I had done to it. Turns out, I didn’t have to pay anything anymore and I could get my glasses after 20 minutes, just like their service time when you get new specs. It was convenient that I was going to Greenbelt to have lunch with my high school friends and that Landmark was only five minutes away.

After giving them my specs, I immediately saw three, beautifully designed cases for eyeglasses. I was drawn to the one with the panda design. Then, I turned my eyes to the sign that gave information on what these cases were about. Turns out, Owndays Philippines is currently helping raise funds for three organizations in the country: World Vision, PAWS, and WWF. For more information on this collaboration, please check out the video below from OWNDAYS Philippine’s FB page.

When I returned for my glasses, they looked like they were brand new. I guess they also performed cleaning on the lenses and the frame.

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Very much pleased, I decided to buy a new case because I was always conscious of the white case. It was the one that I got for free when I bought my glasses and I always feared that it would eventually be looking dirty and yucky from stains or whatever. I got the Panda design for Php 500 and the purchase helped support WWF. They also gave me a free wiping cloth.

OWNDAYS has not disappointed me yet. I hope the company continues being awesome!

Phantom Quakes and PTSD

“While the building was swaying and the ground was shaking, God remained the steady figure I could hold on to.”

It’s been twelve days since the 6.1 magnitude earthquake that shook Central Luzon. I shared the story in my previous post, Shaken. This time, I will be sharing what I have been experiencing the past couple of days.

I have always had a fear of shaky rides and shaky ground. That is why I am not overly fond of theme parks and their rides. During field trips when I was young, I hated it so much when we had to walk on hanging bridges. Turbulent flights scare the hell out of me and the slightest shake of the plane would cause me to hold on to the armrest of my seat while I try to calm myself. From time to time, I would do something unusual like hopping on a zip line or riding the cable cars like I did in Ngong Ping and in Ocean Park. I thought of them as attempts to get rid of my fear of anything unstable. I never realized how bad the phobia actually was until last month’s earthquake happened.

After having gone home the night of the earthquake, I was in my bed and I was watching videos on my phone when I suddenly felt something push my bed. I almost dropped my phone in the process. It turned out that a 4.4 magnitude earthquake happened in Bataan, a place around 50 km to 60km away from Manila. I didn’t sleep well that night.

I came to work the following day, seemingly okay. In my head though, I was already making plans on what our emergency bag should contain and what else will I need to get in case another earthquake happened. I was working just fine, completing tasks one after the other. Deep inside though, I was still scared. The 6.1 magnitude earthquake had its epicenter at around 67km away from Manila. I told myself it was not at all that bad compared to places near the epicenter. I felt guilty for being too scared and judged myself as overreacting. I could not understand why I was feeling that way.

Was it because for around five years now, we have been warned about the possibility of a major earthquake from the West Valley Fault that can damage the whole capital region and the recent earthquake gave us a tiny taste of a strong earthquake? We’ve felt earthquakes in the past here in Manila, but I don’t think there was anything as bad as the recent one.

In the past few days, it would take six to seven hours for me to finally fall asleep. I had migraine-like headaches and would feel as if the room is shaking every now and then. When I felt any sort of shaking, I would immediately check my phone for alerts sent by Phivolcs, trying to confirm if there was indeed an earthquake that just happened. I would suddenly feel dizzy and a little disoriented for a couple of minutes.

Phantom quake. I was experiencing a feeling like there was an earthquake even if there was not any. From what I have read on the internet, I am not the only one experiencing it. It would come when I am at work, it would come at night when I am in bed. I would feel as if the world was shaking, but it was only me. My mind was playing tricks on me.

I don’t think my productivity at work has been greatly affected, but I haven’t been able to go to my yoga classes anymore. My blood pressure is a little bit elevated, which probably explains the dizzy spells. Thankfully, except for the intermittent feeling of the room shaking, I can say I am fine.

Gradually, my sleep pattern is returning to normal. I still have difficulty falling asleep, but at least when I manage to, I don’t feel half-awake anymore. I still feel tremors from time to time, but knowing that it’s all in my head, I do not reach out anymore for my phone to check for earthquake alerts and posts over Twitter. I manage to calm myself more quickly now. Unless another earthquake happens so soon, I am pretty sure I’m on my way to getting over the whole thing already.

I also just want to say to those experiencing phantom quakes or PTSD that it’s okay to feel that way. We react to situations differently and even if the people around you do not appear as scared or shaken as you, it’s okay to feel that way. What is important is we acknowledge our feelings and we try to go back to feeling normal again at the phase we’re comfortable with. It’s okay to express our fear to our friends and family so they can help us feel that we’re in a safe environment.

Most importantly, pray. While the building was swaying to the shake of the ground, God remained the steady figure that I could hold on to. At the time of the earthquake, I managed to send Mom a message, asking her to pray for us (by that I meant everyone affected by the earthquake, including her). I told my sister the same thing, but she was unfortunately on a plane to Hong Kong from Korea at that time. It’s true that when all else fails, it’s only God that remains. That’s how powerful the Lord is.

I Mixed Lola Remedios With White Tea

I was not prepared for the number of people interested in the Lola Remedios supplement. In fact, my previous post about it surpassed all the combined views of my other posts on my blog since it started in January of 2018. That’s just mindblowing!

Anyway, I woke up with a stuffy nose today. Whether that’s due to the a/c in my room or the summer season (I always get allergic rhinitis during summer), all I know was my nose felt stuffed. So when I noticed that Mom was able to buy another box of Lola Remedios, I had the idea of putting it to another test; mixing it with white tea. I’ve only ever drunk this supplement from the sachet and have never tried mixing it with something else so, I figured that there must be some other ways to enjoy it and while reaping its benefits.

I poured a sachet’s contents to a cup of hot white tea and inhaled the minty freshness from the steam coming from my cup. It was like Vick’s inhaler in steam form. Did my nose feel less stuffy right away? Nope. Yet, the smell was comforting and calming at the same time. God, I love minty stuff so much!

Once the tea has cooled down enough for me to handle the heat while drinking (my temperature receptors are so sensitive to heat), I finally got to taste the concoction I have made. Basically, it tasted like watered down Lola Remedios syrup. Despite that, I was still getting the same feeling of warmth spreading throughout my body. Perhaps it was due to the mint reacting with a warm temperature that was coming from the tea. It’s rather a different feeling than if I downed cold water after drinking Lola Remedios syrup, which would have been more refreshing than comforting.

Unfortunately for me, before drinking the last 30ml or so of my white tea and Lola Remedios concoction, it started tasting like I was drinking toothpaste highly diluted in water. It was not such a fun experience anymore, so I decided not to finish my drink anymore. I guess I should not have diluted the syrup with too much tea.

A few minutes later, my nasal congestion went away. Hours later, I am still fine and writing this post. Too bad it cannot stop my emotions from bursting every time I see MCU actors over IG.

Damn, why did I have to follow a lot of them last night? If you haven’t watched the latest Avengers movie, please go watch it soon! However, be prepared to feel things that Lola Remedios will not be able to handle for you (insert cheeky wink here).

I’ll still try to find ways to drink up the Lola Remedios syrup apart from drinking it from the sachet. I’ll probably try the same with its competitor, Tolak Angin. I will be sharing with you whatever I will discover. See you next time!

Just Baked: Double Chocolate Cookies

“There is nothing better than a friend unless it is a friend with chocolate.” ― Linda Grayson

You know what’s better than a chocolate chip cookie? A chocolatey chocolate chip cookie!!!

I still had leftover chocolate chip morsels that I badly wanted to put to use already. I also had a little bit of dutch-processed cocoa powder left. Initially, wanting to bake brownies, I decided I wanted cookies instead. Searching for recipes that involved the two ingredients led me to the Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies by Kathy.

What I loved about her recipe was that it asks for a cup of butter. That being said, I did not have to bother cutting my bar of butter up anymore because I hate having to do that. I also liked the fact that it’s almost like making a brownie cookie.

Anyway, her recipe was very easy to follow. Except for adding another teaspoon of vanilla, I did not do any more tweakings to the recipe. Oops, I did use macadamia nuts instead of walnuts.

Guys, the house smelled of brownie heaven! The smell of chocolate was simply divine! It was a miracle I was able to wait for the first batch to cool before trying one cookie out. And, just as expected, the cookie tasted like a brownie that’s a little fudgy in the middle. It was so delicious and not overly sweet!

People at work loved the cookies too. I brought them to work together with the coconut oatmeal cookies and these brownie-like cookies disappeared faster than I expected.

Please do try her recipe out. To make it more aesthetically pleasing, don’t put all the chocolate chips in the dough. Save some to put on top after scooping them onto the baking sheets. That way, you get these little melted chocolate chips on top after the cookies bake. They firm up again once cooled.

 

Shaken

“An earthquake achieves what the law promises but does not in practice maintain,” one of the survivors wrote. “The equality of all men”.” ― Sebastian Junger, Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging

Close to seven hours ago, I was minding my business at work when I felt a jolt. I thought I was just dizzy, but some colleagues starting to look at one another. Then there was another jolt. Someone instructed, “duck, cover and hold.” I hid under my desk.

I am no stranger to earthquakes, but that minute or two of shaking was the scariest and closest I’ve been to an actual disaster. The building was swaying, the blinds were repeatedly violently slapping against the windows. I could hear officemates praying out loud for the shaking to stop.

It was the strongest earthquake I’ve felt my entire life and all I could think of for the first few seconds was my Mom. She was a city away and I knew she was feeling it too. I sent her a message telling her to pray for us, just as I was. Then, I texted my sister, who was boarding a flight from Korea to Hong Kong, to pray for us because the earthquake was strong. They were all I could think of at that moment.

After the shaking, we were waiting for the go signal to go down the emergency exits. You see, our company wishes to ensure that before letting us out, where we will pass is safe too. It took a couple of minutes to go down from the 25th floor via stairs. My knees were shaking by the time I reached the ground floor. Then, we headed to the closest open area.

It took a couple more minutes before we heard anything from the news. A magnitude 6.1 earthquake hit a place that was 67kms away from Manila, a city only a few kilometers from us. If that was how strongly the earthquake was felt in Manila, I could not imagine how much worse the experience was for those who lived closer to the epicenter. News reports about shaken buildings, toppled commercial buildings’ water tanks, and ruined airport soon surfaced. What we experienced was milder than most.

I thank God for keeping us safe. I guess it’s really important to be actually present in our lives and not just watch each day go by. We need to tell our loved ones that we treasure them and to let them feel it. We need to be kinder to one another because you never know who will come to your aid at the time of need. We need to take care of ourselves so we can help other people, not only those who are close to us. We also need to learn how to share, whether material stuff or not.

Be safe, everyone. I pray for all of us.

Just Baked: Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

For I am coconut, and the heart of me is sweeter than you know.” — Nikki Grimes

Technically, I baked these cookies weeks ago. I thought all the while that I’ve written about it already. After getting back from Hong Kong though, I have been busy with work that I forgot I only started writing this post.

This is almost an extension too of my Hong Kong adventures post. You see, the inspiration to make coconut cookies were because of the coconut-flavored egg rolls that I got from Kee Wah Bakery at the Hong Kong International Airport. I was only planning to buy penguin cookies, but a lady asked me to try free samples of the egg roll. She did not have to convince me much because I loved it right then and there.

When I got home, I knew I had to have something with a coconut taste. Therefore, I took it upon myself to find a coconut recipe that I can work with. The problem though, was that I only had desiccated coconuts in my pantry and all the recipes I was finding said to use shredded coconuts. To hell with shredded coconuts, I was going to use my desiccated coconut pack instead.

The recipe I decided to follow was from Food Network for coconut oatmeal cookies. It had five stars with 29 reviews and I think all of them only had praises for this recipe.

I did not do much tweaking except for adding 1 tsp of coconut extract and 1/2 tsp of salt. I thought to myself that cookies without salt will not have that added depth in flavor. Salt actually adds a little bit more oomph in baking. So, in salt went into my dough. I also added half a cup more of desiccated coconuts because they are not as bulky as shredded coconuts. I wanted my batch to yield a lot of cookies.

Guys, the whole house smelled so lovely and coconutty! It smelled like a vacation on a tropical beach, with coconut water for refreshment. It was simply amazing!

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Here’s the deal. Because I did not use shredded coconut, the cookies were a tad bit drier than I would have liked. Still, they were chewy because of the oatmeal. Boy, they were yummy though. They were so yummy that I was actually debating whether to still bring some to work and share them with my colleagues or to just keep them all to myself. Of course, sharing is caring. So, I brought them to work.

The thing with coconuts is that not everyone is a fan of them. Even I took some time to warm up to this drupe. So, while some loved them, there were some who weren’t as fond of them. Despite that, I was still told that the cookies were good.

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Perhaps I will try to find shredded coconut next time. Alternatively, perhaps I can just rehydrate desiccated coconut? I still think shredded coconut is different from grated coconut. Grated coconut is not difficult for me to get, but shredded coconuts? I have a higher chance of finding flaked coconut than finding the shredded version.

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That’s it for now, guys! Hope you try the recipe out too.