Fancy Cages

A woman makes an outfit her own with accessories.” — Oscar de la Renta

When I was a little girl, I remember always asking to wear my Mom’s jewelries or my Dad’s heirloom necklace. Jewelries and accessories made my eyes shine with glee when I lay my hands on those sparkly things. My Mom would always remind me that when I was around two years old, I kept on begging to have my ears pierced and I felt so “grown up” when I finally had them.

img_7754I guess it’s karma for my insisting to have them early because my ears developed an allergy for gold earrings. My lobes would swell and get wounded so I stayed away from those things unless absolutely necessary. Even then, I would remove them after a few hours. As I grew up, I lost that fondness over accessories. I either just wear a necklace or a bracelet, but never the whole shebang.

Lately though, I have rediscovered my penchant for gemstones or crystals. I used to love reading about them as a kid and wondering if their so-called healing properties were real. I am not sure how a stone could make one more tranquil or relaxed but what I am sure of is that they are pretty things, regardless of whether they are impregnated already (with added materials) or in their pure state. So, when I discovered the Caged Crystal Jewelry Making Workshop hosted by Maartsy, I made it a point to make sure I could attend it.

After attending church service, I went straight to the workshop. An hour early there, I saw Ms. Benj of @penumbra.ph (the instructor) preparing the materials to be used throughout the workshop. She was as pretty as her jewels and charms! It looked like she really made sure to prepare everything we will need. We had tools, handout, and a buffet of crystals and charms to use that afternoon.img_7671

Ms. Benj was very hands-on in teaching us, going around the table to make sure we were getting the instructions from the manual right. She would make it a point to show everyone our finished work of art every time we would complete one. I think she taught us a total of six ways of caging crystals.

img_7712My most favorite is this tree of life style I used on a very adorable heart-shaped rose quartz. It looked so feminine and sweet! I paired it with a long chain because I have not tried wearing long necklace pieces. I figured, I should try experimenting on wearing such kind.

I had so much fun bending and looping wires that I forgot all my worries at work that day (deadlines coming up). All I could focus on was the design I was trying to make. And despite struggling with the silver wire that was a little too thick for comfort, I was so happy that I was learning how they made those pretty accessories I would see from online shops in my IG feed. It was not easy but I was glad to know doing it was not too difficult for me not to manage.

img_7728I went home with the accessories I made and some extra wire. I remembered the amethyst crystal I bought not so long ago and tried to apply my learnings from the workshop by caging it in my remaining gold wire. The result was so cute! I guess I now have two favorites.

I realized how much I loved creating stuff with my hands. I may not find happiness in drawing or painting because I was not gifted in those areas at all, but I found that I enjoy creating stuff with my hands like when I bake or when I mix up some concoctions. This was not any different. I loved it so much! I found the process therapeutic for a reason.

img_7742
Products of my hard work.

Do I recommend this workshop? Yes! Whether you’re a girl or a guy (yes, we had a male participant that day), learning how to turn crystals into wearable accessories will not only be a good pastime but might also turn into an income-generating activity.

What will you need?

Patience

You cannot create a beautiful piece in one or two twists of the wire. You have to be patient when working with it especially when you have to loop them around.

Hand dexterity

Some designs can be intricate and will require careful and calculated maneuvering of the wires. The thicker ones are tougher to bend into place. I even cut myself a little bit in the process. But, that should not stop you from enjoying this activity.

With practice and time, you will be twisting and bending wires like a pro to create beautiful crystal cages to house your favorite gemstones.

A creative mind

There is no such thing as an ugly design but you can let your creativity flow in this activity. You can twist and bend the wires in multitude ways and no work can ever be exactly the same as another.  You just have to trust yourself and the design you are aiming to create.

I am glad to have found another activity that I am sure to enjoy doing. I am already scouting for sources of materials to make accessories for myself and for friends and family. I am pretty excited about what I can create once I have all that I need.

Advertisements

Eight Months of Migraine

It started with a stye back in 2016. It’s going to be a loooooooooooong story.

I do not know how I got it but I did. I went to my eye doctor to get a prescription because apparently, even if your eyes are red and swollen because of a stye, the pharmacies won’t sell you any medicine. The doctor prescribed an ointment to put in my left eye a couple of times a day. I was on an out-of-town assignment in Tarlac at that time and that meant doing audit with one eye closed.

One day though, I was so damn sleepy for no reason and the eye that had a stye kept on closing shut. It was weird because I was not putting on any ointment anymore because the stye was gone the day before. But my eye had other plans. It kept wanting to remain close. The next day, a terrible headache followed.

After one week of having terrible headaches as soon as I woke up, I knew something was wrong. My left eye won’t stay open for more than a few minutes (with blinking, of course) and the headache became worse when I try to stop it from shutting close. My head felt like it was being sliced in half and I would cry in the middle of work because it was just so painful. At times, it would feel like there were mini electric shocks going through my head or a hundred mini stabs in a matter of seconds. I also saw splotches of color floating around.

So, I searched for a neurologist (let’s call him Dr. V.) from the hospital closest to my work. The first thing he asked me was if my family had a history of aneurysm. It scared me because I had an aunt (mother side) and a cousin (father side) who both died from aneurysm. He took my blood pressure and it was a soaring 140/80! He ordered me to get a brain MRI and MRA right away. And Lord, was it expensive!

The hospital staff involved in my MRI and MRA scan were all pretty awesome people. They made sure I was not worrying too much and assured me that all was going to be well when I go through the process.

I think I had to wait going 2 to 3 days before the results came out. It felt too long for me. Finally, I got to know my results were ready and so I rushed from work to the hospital to get them. My hands were shaking at that point because I was worried about what I was going to read. Still, I opened the envelope and read the results. My world came crashing down. It read “2mm outpouching arising from the A2 segment of the left ACA.  Possible small aneurysm.” It instructed to go see my doctor immediately.

At that point, I was already imagining about my head being split open and my blood getting everywhere. I was so damn scared. But, after reading the results, Dr. V. just said, “It’s just 2mm. It might be nothing. Let’s try a CT-scan with contrast.” He reassured me that aneurysms that small should not make me think of the worst possible scenarios just yet because they aren’t usually very alarming.

Another scan. This time, it was much more expensive than the first. I maxed out my HMO coverage already and had to pay with my own money. I did not know anymore if my excruciating headaches were from whatever medical condition I had or from the stress of having to pay for medical bills.

The CT scan experience was not as smooth as the previous procedure. For one, the staff who had to test whether my vein from my right arm could take the amount of dye they had to inject managed to burst it. All because she would not listen to me to use my left arm instead. The next staff to take her place used my left arm, confirming that there’s no difference if they used my left instead of my right arm. Anyway, the dye felt very warm and I even thought I peed and wet myself during the procedure. I was so conscious about it but I couldn’t do anything about it because I had to stay still. Thankfully, it was just the dye that made me feel that way.

Another three days later, I got the results. It negated the results from the MRI and MRA. I was aneurysm-free! Dr. V. ruled it as a migraine with aura. I was told to stay away from a lot of stuff like caffeine, red wine, MSG and cheese. Cheese! Well, aged cheese. He told me mozzarella was okay. Whew! And, he did tell me to stay away from Chicken Joy (Jollibee’s signature fried chicken). Humph!

The medicines that were prescribed to me were topiramate and orphenadrine citrate paracetamol. However, the headaches still kept on coming at the most inconvenient times. It hurt worse and getting up to go to work was extremely difficult. To top it off, my boss could not understand how painful a migraine was.

A week or two later, I had go to Surigao and Cebu for audits and was away from home for around 2 months. At that point, Dr. V. has already added pregabalin in the mix of meds I had to take.

Because the headaches were becoming worse while I was still in Cebu, I had my mom go to Dr. V’s clinic to try if we can talk over the phone and get him to prescribe me something else. At that time, I have also started throwing up. I was also worried I might get addicted to pregabalin because I read that some patients get dependent on it. Dr. V. was laughing and teasing me that if I got addicted to it, I’ll be the first person in the history of that drug. He increased my pregabalin dosage and told me not to worry about dependency issues. It should not be a problem.

The problem was, the higher pregabalin dosage was knocking me asleep. I could not work properly and it was a very stressful period in our work. My team leader and I would stay up until 3 in the morning because we had to juggle three types of audit all at the same time. And so, as painful as it was, I had to stop taking pregabalin.

When I got back to Manila, I went to see Dr. V. again. He changed pregabalin to gabapentin. He did warn me that it will take me around four days to get used to gabapentin. That same night, after taking gabapentin, I had a crazy dream that I was a medical student and Dr. V. was my professor/superior. He was throwing all his medical books at me because he was so angry that I forgot to check on a patient. So, that patient ended up in coma. I was crying and told him it was his fault for prescribing me a medicine that would make me lose focus and that he should be understanding because I was having daily migraine attacks. So much for my dream of being a doctor. At least Dr. V. got a laugh at it when I told him about it.

The combination of topiramate, gabapentin and orphenadrine citrate paracetamol seemed to be the perfect mix for me. I noticed a huge improvement although I would still get terrible headaches from time to time that lasted for hours. The mini stabs and mini electric shocks in my head dramatically reduced.

It took me eight months before the daily headaches stopped. At one point, I woke up to realize I could not see anything from my right eye. Granted that it was dark in the room at night, my left eye could still make out some images but my right eye could only see pitch black. I thought I was going blind. Turns out, it was still related to my migraine.

It was a difficult eight months for me and my pocket. My medicines were crazily expensive even if I only bought the generic kind. Check-ups were also costly. Still, I was glad I had a doctor who was kind and patient towards me.

To date, I still get an attack from time to time but it does not last for more than two days anymore. I can enjoy my caffeine fixes again but some Chinese foods that are packed with MSG still give me migraines. I guess it’s going to be a lifetime of making sure I stay healthy and staying away from my other migraine triggers.

Migraines are not just simple headaches. Some people just take it lightly (take my former boss for example) and think you’re just acting up or making excuses. So, the next time someone says they have a migraine attack, please think first before making a curt remark that might make it harder to the person to feel better. You might not be able to imagine the pain they are in.

person people woman hand
Photo by Public Domain Pictures on Pexels.com

First Attempt: Brazo de Mercedes

“Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.” -Mahatma Gandhi

One of the reasons I made this blog was to document my attempts at trying new things and learning along the way. This means I will not only write about my successes, but also my failures. The goal is to always discover and to always do better next time.

Recently, I got to make my version of a big pionono, which is similar to a jelly roll cake. Since I was very happy with how it turned out, I thought of going for a similar dessert called Brazo de Mercedes.

Translating literally to “Mercedes’ arm,” it’s more accurately translated to “Arm of our Lady of Mercy.” This is not surprising since the Philippines was once a Spanish colony. And while this dessert seems similar to Spain’s Brazo de Gitano (gypsy’s arm) and the Swiss roll cake, the Brazo de Mercedes contains no flour at all. Instead, it’s a fluffy delight that’s basically a meringue.

The recipe I used was from Foxy Folksy and she included tips on how to make a damn good Brazo de Mercedes (some of which I did not bother following, tsk).

I started with my favorite part–the meringue. I got hooked on making meringue when I did my first attempt at Japanese cheesecake. I am still amazed at how egg whites could turn into this opaque, fluffy goodness.

The recipe called for five egg whites, 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp of sugar and 1/2 tsp of cream of tartar. It took a few minutes of beating until I got to stiff peaks. I did not bother with those lines/ridges traditionally seen in this dessert because I had no pastry comb. I baked it at a pre-heated oven at 180°C.

Mistake number 1: I placed the tray on the top rack. The meringue browned too much than it was supposed to. I guess the recommended baking temperature was fine had my oven not been an electric convection type. I shall lower the temperature next time and bake at the lower rack with an empty baking tray on the first rack for the first few minutes.

Next was the custard filling. Using the five egg yolks separated from the whites used in the meringue, I added 7oz of condensed milk. I combined them in a saucepan and went to the stove to heat the mixture until thickened.

Mistake number 2: The saucepan I got had too thin a bottom for our induction stove that has no notion of consistent temperature. In a matter of minutes, the temp shot up to 160°C and in seconds, my custard started to burn a little bit.

Fortunately, I did not burn the whole thing. So, I sifted the custard mixture to a new pot that had a thicker bottom to leave the few clumps that burned. What I did like from what happened was that it gave my custard a sort of caramel taste (think dulce de leche). I heated it until it reached a spreadable consistency. I added the vanilla after taking mixture out of the stove.

I got my meringue from the oven and waited for it to cool down. Then, I dusted the top with powdered sugar and flipped it over. I peeled the baking sheet/parchment liner that I used and spread my custard over the meringue. I love it when my Brazo de Mercedes oozes with the filling so I made sure to be generous with it. Then, I rolled the meringue like I would a jelly roll cake.

See the little spots of dark browning on top? Thankfully, it did not taste like charcoal. Like the custard, the browning of the meringue gave it a deeper, richer flavor. A few extra seconds would have probably burned the entire top, geez!

Let’s forget the browned top for a second and focus on the inside. Ooooh yeah! The filling should have been a bright yellow had I not almost burned all of it. Still looks yummy to me though.

Despite my blunders, I still liked it. It only took two days for us at home to finish the whole log! That being said, I bet that if I didn’t make my two mistakes, it would have been so much more of a hit!

I tell you, my Mom will not hold back from criticizing it if it really was bad. She is so hard to please when it comes to food and is not shy at expressing her displeasure when she is not happy. But, since she ate slices from it more than once, I am sure it truly wasn’t awful at all!

I am so excited for attempt number 2!

Epiphanies

“Sometimes, things happen because we make them happen. And sometimes, things happen because they are meant to lead you where you’re supposed to be in that exact time and moment–because that is exactly where you need to be.”

I was raised a Catholic. I went to Catholic schools from grade school to college. In my high school years, I happened to often be assigned to be the commentator for mass celebrations. I am not sure if that’s what you call that role but I basically led the people in their responses and I instructed them when to stand, sit or kneel. When I wasn’t doing that, I was in the choir.

However, what most people did not know was how detached I felt every time I was doing it. Okay, maybe not the part when I sang with the choir because I liked singing even if I was far from being an awesome singer. Still, going to mass was something I didn’t voluntarily do. Growing up, most of my mass attendance were because of the first Friday mass celebrations in school. The rest were for special occasions that called for a thanksgiving mass or something of that sort. It felt mandatory.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe in God, I pray (mostly in my head) and I base most of my decisions to what I grew up thinking was right. But, I didn’t feel like I fit in. Because of that, I would feel ashamed when asked if I went to church on Sundays and I would say I don’t. I would feel like I am this delinquent child of God who would rather spend time at home than go to His house.

But lately, I’ve been feeling that I should do something about my faith. I just do not know whether I should be doing less of something or more of something. I do not know where to start. Granted that I’ve always relied on God and Jesus through everything I had to go through, I felt a compelling need to know or discover more than what I grew up with.

Last Sunday, I went to a Christian church service where my third cousin was serving as the pastor. I have never heard him speak about faith until that day. The last time I saw him was eighteen years ago when we had this huge family reunion and I don’t even think he knows about my existence at all (although he was my Facebook friend in my old account that I recently deleted).  All I knew was that if I was going to a Christian church service, he had to be the pastor on that day. So, I braved myself to send him a Facebook message and prayed to God for him to notice that message and reply to it because, yeah, Messenger has a separate storage for messages from non-FB friends. By God’s grace, he replied and I made it a goal to see how he leads a service for myself.

Their whole service was so much different from the Catholic mass celebrations I grew up knowing. But for some reason, I didn’t once feel like an intruder or asking myself what the heck I was doing there. I felt like I was supposed to be there and that recent events were all leading to that day when I would find myself there. My cousin was so awesome in his sermon. I was not bored at all and there were parts of his sermons that were not even his major points but managed to hit me close to home.

I left the assembly place feeling as if a bunch of questions I had suddenly had an answer. Although, more questions also came up but figuring out their answers will be for another time. It was a wonder how one church service could make me realize so much about myself and my fears.

I’m going back this coming Sunday to see if it still feels the same. I want to see where this will lead me. Whether I will convert or not remains to be seen. I want to grow spiritually and I shall do what I have to do in order to achieve that. All I know is that at this moment, what I still hold most important is that no matter what we believe in, what is important is that we treat each other with love.

belief bible book business
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

New Favorite Show: Partners for Justice

“I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it’s for or against.” -Malcolm X
Being a doctor was my dream and I wanted to be the best neurosurgeon I could possibly be. I didn’t end up being a doctor who cures the sick. Instead, I am searching for defects to “cure” in my audit/compliance assignments.

But, I had another dream. I attribute it to watching to many shows about detectives while I was growing up with Criminal Minds having the most impact. I wanted a job that deals with solving criminal cases, catching crooks and getting justice for the victims. However, this is not a dream I have every intention of pursuing in real life. I do not have the makings of an awesome detective/FBI agent.

While I am not a huge fan of Korean dramas, I just got hooked on this new show: Partners for Justice. It’s about a warmhearted rookie prosecutor (Eun Sol) relying so much on her intuition and a grumpy former surgeon (Baek Beom) who is now a medical examiner performing autopsies. It’s both my dreams in one story!

ecb99ce5-2659-4f21-ae9f-a7592abea8bd

What makes me love this show? The plot twists have always been unpredictable. They always manage to ties the ends together in a way you’d never expect. Yet, in the end, it made the most sense.

It also looks like the show will develop the character, showing their motivations and what makes them who they are. I am glad they did not start with a flashback of the characters’ lives. Instead, they give you a look into their past little by little, getting you to relate to them one story at a time.

The supporting characters also make the story even more interesting. You got a lazy assistant, a detective so infatuated with a pharmacologist, a senior prosecutor who harbors so much anger for the lead male character and so many more!

I don’t want to give any spoilers here but one of the reasons I love it too is because it does not look like they’re going to turn the story into a love story anytime soon. I mean, I am not against the prosecutor and the medical examiner ending up together if that is in their plan. However, it’s already episode 18 out of the 32 episodes planned for this show and it has not shown any sign of a love interest between the two main characters. That’s good because it’s the crimes they are solving that’s got me hooked.

This show airs every Monday and Tuesday. On each day, they air two episodes at roughly thirty minutes each. I love it so much that I sometimes get impatient waiting for the next week to arrive because I want to know what happens next. I will watch this show until the end!

 

Pedestals

Imagine how much better the world can be if we were all kinder to one another…

It’s been a little tiring spending time on social media. A lot of people have been more open about their prejudices and distaste for anyone or anything they feel are “beneath them.” Comments sections are mostly filled with arguments, name callings and harsh words. I wonder if they are the same to people they talk to in person.

It’s not nice to think too highly of ourselves. People who have opinions different than ours are not automatically dumb, stupid, crazy or weird. People who are not as smart as we are cannot be simply regarded as imbeciles. People who do not look like us are not naturally ugly. People who do not share the same interest as ours are not undoubtedly boring.

Let’s be more forgiving and more tolerant of our differences. We have to accept that in one way or another, we all need each other.

achievement confident free freedom
Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

We cannot always look at other people as beneath us and that dealing with them is an act of stooping down. It’s so lonely at the top. More so when the pedestal we think ourselves are in were just made by us.

Currently Playing: Harry Potter Hogwarts Mystery

“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.” –The Prisoner of Azkaban  

Harry Potter was a huge part of my life. It’s the series that got me hooked on reading books. Those seven books turned me into a bookworm.

Every new book or new movie release was something my sister and I always looked forward to. We did not splurge on luxuries when we were younger except for books. When we read, we got transported to a different world that became our escape from the realities of life.

I was truly excited when I heard about this new game: Hogwarts Mystery. I made sure to subscribe to the newsletter to know when it’s already available for download. I couldn’t wait to see what adventures were in store for me in that game.

Currently, I am in my second year at Hogwarts. I thought I got to choose the character I wanted from the books but it appears that the game is set years before Harry Potter was born. Only the professors and Hogwarts staff are the familiar characters so far (although I know Bill Weasley will soon make an appearance).

It pains me so much because no matter how I try to love the game, I find it boring. I was expecting exciting challenges and mind games or something. But, it’s almost the same thing over and over again. All I needed to was to keep on tapping on my screen for lessons to be over, trace figures to cast a spell, and keep on tapping during duels. Not much variety so far.

Energy takes so much time to get reloaded too. Most of the time, I’ll start a challenge, use up all my energy, wait for it to refill by getting work done, and then completely forgetting about the game.

I am not sure if I’ll continue playing this game at this rate. It makes me so sad because I normally love anything related to the Harry Potter universe.

My Dream House

“Houses are like people – some you like and some you don’t like – and once in a while there is one you love.” -L.M. Montgomery, Emily Climbs (Emily, #2)

I haven’t found the perfect house for me. Currently, we’re renting a condo unit that is very convenient and safe. But, a part of me still wishes for something that is our own. You see, when you’re renting, you’re bound by the rules of the lessor, making the house feel simply just a house and not a home.

When I have time to daydream, I think about my dream house and what I want in it.

A Study/Library

Thanks to Harry Potter, I grew up loving books. They were the best companions during summer breaks and they allowed me to be transported to other places using my imagination.

We had two large bookshelves at our old home but I felt like they were never enough for all the books I wanted to read. Even though these days, e-books are more convenient, there’s something about holding a real book, touching its pages and smelling the combination of ink and paper that still makes it a more enjoyable experience for me than reading from the screen.

I want my library and study to be a place where I can withdraw from the world and just do my thing.

An Entertainment Room

I want a room with a large TV that’s perfect for playing video games, watching movies and doing karaoke.

We didn’t have much video games growing up. We only had the first generation PlayStation that my dad won in a raffle. The games we had were only the games that came along the prize. Still, we’re grateful to have those.

I loved playing Tekken3, Front Mission 3, Grand Theft Auto 2, Syphon Filter and Harry Potter 1. I also played Resident Evil 3 but it used to give me nightmares.

I want the room to be a place where you can blast music or heighten the volume of your movies or games without disturbing the whole house. It’ll be perfect for when you have guests over.

A Large Kitchen

The love for cooking and baking runs in my family. We love feeding people! There’s a certain happiness in preparing food for others that I cannot explain.

If you frequent my blog, you’d know I love baking. I love it more than I love cooking (which I should really improve on). It has always been my dream to have those large ovens that have a stove on top. Oh, the treats I can make with one! I can bake several batches at once!

I will also need lots of room for equipment such as my dream stand mixer. A food processor and power jucier would also be nice to have so I can make tons of stuff from scratch. Also, an ice cream machine would be amazing to have because my Mom loves ice cream so much!

I want a large kitchen because I want a large storage too for my ingredients. That would mean a large pantry and large fridge and freezer that I can organize the way I want. I can already picture tons of storage containers with labels of names and expiration dates!

Lastly, I want quality pots and pans!

img_6468.jpg

I am not so picky anymore with the rest of the house although I’d like each bedroom to have its own bathroom so there’s less waiting time in the morning because there’ll be no waiting for your turn.

A piano would be nice to have in the living room. A spacious dining area will be awesome so we can invite people over.

But, I don’t like gardens. I hate the smell of wet soil after the rain and I dislike creepy-crawlies and insects that a garden will attract.

For now, all of these are dreams. I shall have to work very hard so I can turn these to reality. What’s more important is that the house does not become simply a house. It has to be a place that its residents can look forward going home to.

In the meantime, I enjoy playing Design Home on my phone. With this game, I get to design houses and imagine that I am designing my own. Through this game, I get a picture of what I want and do not want.

I have discovered that I love space. I hate having too many decorations and whatnots. I like classic or timeless pieces for the furniture.

The game will allow you to design different parts of the house. You get to “earn” from your designs so you can buy more stuff for the next project. You get to win items too if you reach 4 stars from the voting. Truly an enjoyable, relaxing game!

What’s your dream house like?

Just Baked: Pionono

“You just gotta roll with it.”

Another weekend, another baking day for me! This time, I shall be making pionono.

What is pionono? This is difficult to answer. You see, depending on where you are from (e.g. Spain, Philippines, South America, etc.), we may not be talking about the same thing. Pionono varies depending on where it is made. The common factor though is that it is said to have been named after the Italian name of Pope Pius IX, Pio Nono.

In the Philippines, these are small, Swiss roll-like cakes. I loved them as a kid and used to buy them at the Landmark, Makati when they still had Fortune Bakery. Today, it’s not very often that I see pionono in bakeries and I truly missed them lately. That’s why I decided to make my own.

Actually, this is already my second attempt at this because I did not document my first try. Half of the first one I made went to my aunt who came over to visit. Mom mentioned lately that she wanted to have it again because she did not get her fill the first time. So, I decided to make it for her as soon as the weekends came.

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 150°C/300°F. Separate the whites and the yolks of 5 large eggs. Make sure the egg whites will have no trace of the yolks.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks, gradually adding 30 grams of white granulated sugar. Add in 25 ml milk, 1 tsp vanilla, and 25 ml melted butter.
  3. Sift 1/3 cup cake flour and 1/8 tsp salt and add to the egg yolk mixture. Fold in gently and stop once combined.66060928_unknown
  4. With a clean whisk/beater attachment to the electric mixer, beat the egg whites until frothy. Add 1/4 tsp cream of tartar and continue beating. Gradually add 70 grams of granulated white sugar and beat until stiff peaks form and the egg whites do not slide or move when you tilt the bowl. This is the meringue.
  5. In three batches, add the meringue to the egg yolk mixture and fold in gently. Be careful not to over mix to avoid knocking all the air out from the meringue.66061200_unknown
  6. Line your baking tray with a parchment/baking paper and gently pour in mixture. Gently spread it around to get to the corners of the pan. Give the tray a light tap on your counter/table.
  7. Bake at 150°C for 15 to 18 minutes or until a toothpick test comes out clean.66061312_unknown
  8. While still warm, sprinkle the top with powdered sugar. Then, cover the top with parchment paper. Get another baking tray and flip the cake over. Gently remove the parchment paper that was used for baking.
  9. You may either divide into four or six portions to make small, individual rolls or just make one big roll. Gently roll the cake into a log using the new parchment paper to guide it. Let it cool while rolled into a log.
  10. While waiting for it to cool, combine 1/4 cup of softened butter and 2 tbsps of powdered sugar. If using unsalted butter, you may add a pinch of salt just to liven the taste of the filling. You may just use butter or margarine too. That should work fine.
  11. Once the cake has cooled, unroll it and spread the filling. Make sure to leave one inch on each side without filling. Then, gently roll back the cake into a log.
  12. If desired, you may brush the top of the cake with melted butter and sprinkle with granulated sugar.

66061360_unknown

When it came out of the oven, it smelled strongly of eggs. It’s not a wonder given that five eggs were used in making this treat. I was too lazy to make 6 individual pieces out of the whole pan I baked so I decided to make it into one big Swiss-roll like piece.

I might have been a little impatient because I realized that it has not cooled enough to keep the butter filling from melting. Tsk. Also, I have to work on making a tighter roll.

66061392_unknown

The good news is, it still tasted great! It tasted exactly like the pionono I loved as a kid. Even Mom liked it too. She was even teasing me that when I was younger, she baked and I taste tested. Now, it’s the other way around.

It’s true. I learned how to bake from my Mom. We just used a stove-top oven because we could not afford an electric oven yet. Today, we still dream about a large oven and a stand mixer. Hence, I must work very hard to be able to afford these.

Anyway, there you go, guys. My go-to recipe for pionono. What’s the pionono like in your country? How do you make it?

Beating the Heat with Icelavie and Booky Prime

The first time I heard (read, rather) about Icelavie was a little over than a year ago. My friends from my former workplace promised ourselves we were going to treat ourselves to the giant cup of icy-cool goodness. Our schedules and frequent need to travel out of town made us forget about that plan.

IMG_7497Thanks to Facebook’s “On This Day” feature, we got reminded by that plan. Mark tagged us all in the post that started it all. I told them to push for it the following day. Unfortunately, when you raise ideas like that, you get teased to treat everyone else. Since I missed them so much and since we got informed that there’s a buy 1 get 1 promo in Booky Prime, I figured it wouldn’t hurt my wallet so much. So finally, we were getting those drinks. I made sure to download Booky Prime, or Booky for short, to be able to claim that promo. I also told my friends to make sure at least one of them downloads the app too so that we could get four drinks and pay for just two.

What is Booky Prime, then? Its website says it’s a membership program allowing a member access to buy 1 get 1 coupons monthly. It also allows them to get unlimited bookings to partner restaurants with up to Php 500 bill discount on top. When you sign-up for a free trial, you initially get Php 1,000 worth of savings that may be in the form of coupons to be claimed. Booky Prime’s app is available on the App Store and on Google Play.

IMG_7498Don’t be too excited! There’s a catch. When you claim coupons on the app, you only have 10 minutes to present it to the partner establishment you’re going for. Otherwise, you will have to claim a new coupon, the saved amount value of which shall be deducted again from your initial balance. So, make sure you swipe claim when you’re at the counter already.

Going back to Icelavie, it turns out to be a Malaysian brand that’s famous for their huge drinks. They currently have four branches in the Philippines: Circuit Mall (Makati), The Paseo Center (Makati), Glorietta 4 Cinema (Makati), and U.N. Square Mall (Manila).

IMG_7405We went to the Paseo Center branch and opted to get 2 orders of Tropicana and 2 orders of Fruit Paradise. For myself, I got the Fruit Paradise which is a fruit juice mix with a splash of milk. Thanks to Booky, I only paid Php 198 for all four drinks!

What makes Icelavie special? Well, aside from its really huge size, it boasts of its special kind of ice that does not melt easily. It comes with a cup holder with a string attachment so you can carry it like a mini gift package instead of holding that giant cup in your hands. If you got tiny hands like I do, the cup holder will be very, very helpful.

Look at how big it is! I could not wrap my hands around most cup!

I also cannot believe it was only Php 99 for that huge cup! The drink was very refreshing and was not too sweet. True to its word, the ice cubes they use do not melt easily. It took me four hours to finish my whole cup and there were still a couple of ice left! This is coming from someone who finishes a half liter of drink in 3 minutes!

Just when I thought great things were over, I found out that I can claim another coupon from Booky to use in the same establishment! I initially thought that I could only claim it once from Pase Center and that I would need to visit other branches should I want to claim the promo again. Amazing!

So what happens once you’ve consumed all your Php 1,000 free trial savings? You’ll have to subscribe monthly for Php 199. This will give you access to more than 16,000 new Buy One Get One coupons every month, up to P500 off your bill every time you book a table, and a free dessert every time you submit a feedback form. Plus, you get to sponsor at least three school lunches to a child every month through its partners, ARK and Gawad Kalinga.

If you’re a foodie and would like to get discounts from around 1,063 partner restaurants, Php 199 per month is already a great deal! Plus, you get to help put a stop to hunger where it matters most.

By the way, I got to try the Tropicana variant too the other day. It tasted like apples and lime. So delish!