Getting New Glasses

“Looking but not seeing is the hearing but not understanding of the eye.” ― Mokokoma Mokhonoana

Before knowing my eyes are weak, I was in second grade. One day, the writings on the blackboard were just too blurry for me to understand. I always had to sit on the floor in front, very close to the board, so I could take down notes. Some days, I had terrible headaches that had me throwing up and dizzy.

I was eight when I learned I have weak eyes, mainly because of genetics.  On top of that, I had astigmatism too, which explained the dizziness and vomiting. I didn’t like to wear my glasses which had frames that were round. They were like Harry Potter’s, except that I didn’t know Harry Potter existed yet at that time and the movies were not out until I was ten. Else, I might not have disliked my glasses that much.

I started at -0.50, I think, and some level of astigmatism. Almost twenty years later, my right eye’s at -5.25 while my left is at -5.50. No astigmatism. However, it’s been tough seeing in the dark as I may have some mild kind of night-blindness. It’s self-diagnosed so I cannot say for certain, haha. All I know is in the dark, I am freaking blind.

The rate by which my vision worsens has tremendously decreased over the last five years. Before, I had to change my glasses every year and that was very expensive. My astigmatism came and went. When I had it, getting eyeglasses was even more expensive because I had to pay extra for “special” lenses.

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Been wearing this since 2016 because my old pair broke in half due to age. It was a rush purchase on a very limited budget. This always falls of my face when I look down or bow down.

For the past four years, my eye doctor has been Dr. Richard Nepomuceno from Peregrine Eye and Laser Institute. My sister recommended him after her successful PRK procedure that brought her vision back from -7.50. If you want to read about her experience with Dr. Richard and the procedure, click here. Trust us. He’s an amazing doctor.

For the first time, I tried getting my glasses from OWNDAYS. Originally from Japan, this optical shop attracted me because of the gorgeous frames on display that one can try on without having to ask for assistance from the staff. Typical optical shops would hide the frames in glass display cabinets and you will have a hard time pointing exactly which frame you wanted to try on.

The other thing that attracted me to the shop is that OWNDAYS is able to give you your new spectacles in twenty minutes! Other optical shops will make you come back the following day or the day after that before you can go home with your purchase. Some can work on your glasses within the day but they take hours to do it. That can be too much of a hassle when you have no spare glasses to use in the meantime.

The best part, though, is that whatever price tag is on the frame, it’s already inclusive of the clear, ultra-thin lenses with UV protection and soil-resistant coating. Plus, their FAQs page says there’s no additional charge for astigmatism correction. Yippee! Although, they will give you an option to get their more expensive lenses with sort of a brownish tint that has higher protection for those who frequently use computers. I didn’t get that anymore because I was being stingy. Haha…

I used the prescription from my doctor so, they made me sign a waiver that I instructed them to use that prescription. You see, part of their services is getting your eye grade right there in their shop.

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Anyway, except for the fact that a staff member kept on tailing me every time I moved around the shop (I hate it when sales peep do that!), they were very accommodating and very thorough in their explanations of the warranties, after-sales services and some FAQs. There was no mild pressuring on you to buy a more expensive pair, which, I also hate having to deal with.

My new glasses came with a white, sturdy case that feels satiny on the outside. Inside is black velvet, I think, and a wiping cloth for the lenses. The design of the case is so minimalistic, sleek, and chic! I love it so much!img_9428

They also gave me a Php 500 discount coupon that is valid for one year from the date of my purchase. It can be used to discount any Php 2,990 and up worth of prescription glasses purchase. It is transferrable so that a friend or family member can get their pair and have the same amazing experience as you without being too hard on the wallet.

Currently, I am saving up for my own refractive surgery. I might have it in a year or two. I will also have Dr. Richard restore my vision as he has become our trusted eye doctor over the years. My sister and I, including our mom, go to him for our eye check ups and we’ve established a good patient-doctor relationship with him already. Until then, I shall be wearing my glasses and making sure I do not lose them because it’s tough having a blurry world.

Please do check out Dr. Richard Nepomuceno’s clinic at Peregrine Eye and Laser Institute and OWNDAYS for your eye care needs.

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Memory Lane: Candy-Coated Chocolate Chip Cookies

“Mere color, unspoiled by meaning, and unallied with definite form, can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways. ” ― Oscar Wilde

I was around seven or eight years old when Mom bought a set of cookbooks that opened the door for me to the world of baking. Back then, we only had the small oven you put on top of the stove. Despite how tiny it was, Mom was able to make some treats from the recipes in the cookbooks come to life.

A few months ago when I was feeling nostalgic, I decided to re-create the very first cookies I tried making–candy-coated chocolate chip cookies–with a few twists to the original recipe. To help me was with my super nice (and super pretty!) colleague, Zammy.

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Now armed with an electric mixer, we started to cream 1 cup light brown sugar (packed), 1/4 cup granulated white sugar and 1 cup salted butter for a couple of minutes. We stopped when the mixture was light and fluffy already. I bet I took so much longer when I was a kid, but these days, two to three minutes should be good enough, depending on how soft the butter is when I start.

Yes, we used salted butter. You see, I always use salted butter for cookies because I feel like the additional salt in the butter helps bring more life to the taste of the cookies. Also, I am not sure if it’s just my imagination, but I have a feeling salted butter makes the edges of the cookies taste more yummy. It kinda teases one into devouring the whole piece quickly and get another one.

Once the butter and sugars were creamed together, we added one large egg and 1.5 teaspoons of vanilla extract. I always use the dark vanilla extract but the clear kind should be fine. A few more minutes with the electric mixer should do it.

When I was a kid, I used to be frustrated when the eggs took so long to be combined with the butter mixture. It was worse when I used to make muffins or banana bread. I realized only now that back then, we used margarine instead of buttee because butter was simply very expensive. That must have been why the eggs won’t combine well with the rest of the mixture.

To a sifter, we put in 1.75 cups of all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 0.5 teaspoon of Himalayan pink salt (just to be fancy). Regular salt should be fine though.

I always make it a point to sift the baking soda with the flour because that baking soda is such a traitor! Sometimes, it won’t mix well with the batter or the dough. When it clumps together, no matter how long you bake you cookies or cakes, they will remain clumped. The worst part is when you unluckily bite into clumped baking soda, it tastes like soap. I was victimized for a number of times when I was a kid and it was awful!

Zammy mixed the dry ingredients to the wet one just until they were all combined. Over mixing causes the cookie to be tough and we didn’t want that. After all, we still added 1 cup of sliced almonds and 1 cup of colorful, candy-coated chocolate chips that we had to mix to distribute evenly throughout the dough.

Using a small OXO scoop, I scooped little mounds of dough on my cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Zammy placed additional chocolate candies on top of the scooped dough for added pop of color. She was having a lot of fun with the candies!

Then, we placed the first tray in the fridge to chill for about 15 minutes while we pre-heated my oven to 375°F.

The recipe made 4 dozen cookies. We placed each tray in the fridge to chill for a bit before baking. I find that it helped them not to spread too much in the oven when they bake for 8 to 10 minutes.

Ta-da!!!

They’re just like the cookies I baked as a kid. These time, though, they had none of crazy shapes that I used to get as a kid because I only used teaspoons to drop the dough on the cookies sheets back then.

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Hong Kong – September 2018 (Part 3 – Shopping)

As expensive as Hong Kong may be, it can actually be a nice place to go shopping.

On my second day of visit, Trixie and I went to Times Square in Causeway Bay to shop and find stuff to send to her boyfriend who’s currently studying abroad.

Our first stop in Times Square was the Apple Store. I was shocked at how packed the place was. It was as if there was a celebrity having a meet-and-greet that time.

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The staff who attend Trixie as she bought her AirPods were very nice and thorough as they explained to her everything she needed to know about usage, charging time, warranties, and what to do should she lose one from the pair. They were very efficient too as there was no need to fall in line to pay at a counter. They handle the sale right where you stand.

img_9030Our next stop at Times Square was LOG-ON. It’s a brand under the City Super Group that focuses on trendy items from stationery, beauty and wellness products, and gadgets like Fitbit. I love this place because of its adorable setup and super cute products that I cannot find in National Book Store or at Fully Booked.

Here, Trixie got herself a new Fitbit. I do not remember which type it was, but it’s the kind that has a heart rate monitor or something like that. She also got herself a Klean Kanteen insulated bottle because the one I bought for her in the Philippines turned out to be meant for her boyfie (insert rolling eyes here).

If you’re planning to buy Klean Kanteen products, it’s a little bit cheaper in the Philippines.

Our next stop was at city’super, another brand under City Super Group. This one’s kind of like their grocery/household department store. I like going to the household stuff area because they carry so many products that I wish I can get for our kitchen.

Here, I was able to get Mom the omelet pan she’s been looking for. She’s trying her hands at bento making and I think the omelet pan is needed for some of the designs she wants to go for.

For myself, I got this silicon pastry mat for my baking activities. Can’t wait to try making pies and more types of bread!

That was just one day of shopping and we already bought a lot of stuff!

If you like pretty trinkets, I suggest visiting Joe’s Creation. It’s like Broadway Gems but with better quality products and classier designs. If we weren’t on a budget, I bet I bought a piece of every single design of hair accessory there!

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If you want to buy cosmetics and beauty products, just very close to Time Square are plenty of shops like Etude House and Innisfree. Personally though, I like going to Sasa.

Every time I go to Hong Kong, I try to go to a Sasa store to buy my The Saem or Innisfree oil control powders. This time though, my purpose for going was for the mini perfume samplers because I promised my awesome office buddy and friend, Karen, that I will get her an Elizabeth Arden Green Tea perfume.

What was actually a search for one perfume bottle turned into buying a couple other perfumes. We fell in love with the Salvatorre Ferregamo perfumes so Trixie bought a few bottles for each of us.

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The tiny size is perfect for me because I have commitment issues with perfumes. I get tired of a scent too easily and so it takes me one year to use up a 50ml bottle. These tiny babies allow me to consume one before getting tired of the scent.

If you are after nuts and chocolate that are not very expensive, PrizeMart is the way to go. I was able to get a big bag of pecans for a cheaper price than if I bought them at the baking supplies store I frequent here. I was also able to get cured pork for my office mates.

Some of the stuff I saw at PrizeMart were Merci chocolates, M&Ms, shortbread cookies, pineapple cakes, a huge range of nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, etc.), laver, Bonne Maman fruit preserves/jam (almost Php 100 cheaper than in the Philippines) and so much more!

If you’re after Asian snacks, Ameyokocho is a good place to find them. I personally love the cheese puff sticks with the Doraemon packaging design. I wish I got ten packs instead of just one.

If you think you’re done shopping by the time you get to the airport, you’re very, very wrong. Hong Kong International Airport has dozens of stores for shopping at the last minute. Among my favorites are those that sell cookies and other treats in very cute packaging like Okashi Land, Kee Was Bakery, and Wing Wah.

The best thing I noticed in Hong Kong was that they do not fail to ensure they have awesome packaging for their goods. Even the packaging counts as gift already. It just goes to show that even though stuff are expensive in Hong Kong, they make sure every bit of what you get is worth it.

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Treats from Wing Was. To be honest, I was more after the packaging than the contents. 😀

Across the Wing Wah stall near the immigration entrance was a shop called Homeless > HKG. Despite the name, it’s filled with pretty stuff that I can only wish to decorate and fill my house with! There were so many things to look at I did not know where to start!

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I want that Hello Kitty and that bunny night lights!

They have adorable decors for the young-at-heart like wall clocks. They remind me of the clock that my Mom bought for me when I was a little girl just so I will stop calling my aunt very early in the morning. I did it because I wanted to hear the sound her clock made when long hand hit twelve.

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The pug’s eyes move from left to right.

If you are an old soul and prefer vintage designs, they got some for you as well.

img_9438The best part of this shop is the hot water bottle that my sister bought for me as a gift. Awww… That’s my sister. She does not shower you with hugs and kisses, but she showers you with gifts.

Aside from the very sweet and cute design, what I like about this hot pack is that the rubber water holder is kept inside this owl pack that’s made of fleece. Being someone who is sensitive to anything hot, I do not have to worry anymore about burning myself when I need to have the hot pack.

I am pretty sure there are loads of other awesome shops that I have not been to. I am so excited for March next year because I’ll be back to Hong Kong, this time, with my former office mates! Must save up and plan the places we’ll visit so we can get the most out of our trip!

Hong Kong – September 2018 (Part 2 | Food)

“Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.”  ― Mark Twain

Hong Kong is not cheap. I can eat three meals in the Philippines for every meal in Hong Kong. Despite that, I cannot deny that Hong Kong has so many restaurants that serve really delicious food.

When I was there, Trixie made use of food delivery services so we did not have to go out to eat. FoodPanda was familiar because we also had it in the Philippines. The other delivery service I learned about was Deliveroo.

One morning, Trixie wanted to eat some Korean food. I am not sure which food delivery service she picked, but for our food, we opted to buy the chicken bento and cheesy fries from Seoul Bros.

I loved the fries! Cheese and potato make me happy so when you put them together, I am filled with glee. The fries were not soggy when our order arrived even if there was quite a lot of cheese. It was great because as much as I love fries, I hate it when they’re soggy.

The bento, however, was another thing. I did not touch the kimchi because I do not eat that stuff. The corn salad stressed me out because I could taste the red onions (which I hate). The rice was a must. For an Asian like me, rice is life! The chicken had this sticky glaze that I could not figure out what it was all about. The bento costs HKD 78, I think.

OMG, the chicken. The chicken! It was spicy in a good way. Being someone who is very sensitive to spicy food, I actually liked the chicken a lot. My nose was starting to get runny already from all the spices but I managed to finish it all. Damn, my tummy felt like it was going to pop!

One day, we wanted to eat pizza. I personally like thin crust better because the thick ones make me full right away. Despite that, I was never really a pizza person.

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We only had a small table so I could not get a proper shot without having to remove everything else on it. 😀

Paisano’s Pizzeria is a restaurant I often heard from Trixie during our FaceTime calls. She figured that I should get to try it while I was there. I was not prepared for how big a slice was. It was so big that a paper plate could not handle it at all! It was almost as long as my hand and forearm!

I really loved this bacon cheeseburger pizza slice. The dough was not too thick and was not very chewy. It was actually soft and easy to eat! For HKD 45, I found it worth the money but I just wish they will do a better job at packing their food for takeout/delivery.

One of the things Trixie and I do not have in common is her courage to eat street foods. Back in our childhood home in the Philippines, there was this house that sold street food from fish balls to grilled chicken blood (we call it betamax). Trixie would drag me there to have her isaw (barbecued pig or chicken intestines) fix. It would take lots of convincing before I would even accept defeat and eat a grilled hotdog from the same store.

That is why it is no wonder that my sister knew a place that sold delicious street food. She bought a small bowl of fish balls for HKD 15. I ate too because I did not want to be brat that time. Surprisingly though, I liked them a lot. The sauce was not spicy either and that made me enjoy the meal more.

What I did enjoy better, however, was my Taiwanese milk tea from the Sharetea stall beside the street food stall. Despite not asking for any adjustments to the sweetness level, they pretty much nailed how I like my milk tea.

The street food and milk tea shop are located in O’brien Road, Wan Chai.

From time to time, we would just order food from McDonald’s. Sadly, they do not have rice meals there. I liked their burgers though.

At the airport, on the day of my flight back to the Philippines, Trixie and I had one last meal together. Being the emotional person that I am, I took every chance to have more time with her before going home.

We settled for Tsui Wah and ordered a beef curry meal, a pork chop curry meal, some spicy shrimp dumplings and lemon iced tea. We may have underestimated their serving size because…

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…look at the size of that pork chop! It’s as big as my face! It’s even bigger in real life than in the picture!

Both the beef and the pork were Malaysian types of curry and you simply must try them! Curry? The pork chop was crispy, but the beef was like melt-in-your-mouth tender. But, aren’t they spicy? Oh yes! But, they were the comfortable type of spicy for me because I enjoyed pouring the curry sauce over my rice. Granted that I had to frequently reach out for my iced tea, I was not turned off by the heat in my mouth and on my lips while we devoured our food.

The best part of the meal? More conversations with Trixie!

Aside from the shops near the boarding gates, the airport also had vending machines where you can buy using your Octopus card. Having felt thirsty after a couple of hours waiting (the downside of arriving at the airport too early), I opted to get myself a drink.

img_9116I noticed a bottle of sparkling water that was just around HKD 17. I thought to myself, why not give this a try and see why such was even made.

Sadly, I only drank around 25 ml of the stuff and never touched it again. It wasn’t because it tasted awful. It had no taste at all, actually. Or, maybe it did taste like normal mineral water. What I could not get was the feel of the water in my mouth. It’s like I am expecting to drink Sprite or 7-Up but wasn’t getting the taste. My senses were confused. I could not understand the hype at all.

Despite our lack of adventures during this trip to HK, I really enjoyed meals with Trixie. We miss her at home so much. Hope to be back again soon!

Perks of Having a More Successful Older Sibling

“Sister is probably the most competitive relationship within the family, but once the sisters are grown, it becomes the strongest relationship.” –Margaret Mead 

They say the youngest child is the luckiest child in a family. I am not sure I can say that with the deepest conviction. Maybe it’s because in our family, there’s only my elder sister and me. That makes me the “younger” child and not the “youngest.” That does not make me the middle child either so I do not think I have the right to say I feel the sufferings of a middle child. Let’s just settle on being the last kid.

Growing up, I always felt like I was my sister’s shadow. It was like my whole being was attached to my sister’s. As a kid, I remember Mom buying two sets of the same clothes (some exactly the same or some in the same style but in a different color) for me and my sister to wear. Lots of people thought we were twins with my sister having the advantage of being the taller one. That was when our sizes were not too far apart yet because when my sister eventually grew at a much faster rate, we stopped wearing similar clothing. That is, she got to wear new clothes while I wore her old ones.

Hand-me-downs. When I was younger, I really felt bad about always having to use stuff my sister outgrew or got bored with already. I felt so undeserving of being spent on. It wasn’t until I started working that I truly learned the value of money and learned to see the positive side of hand-me-downs.

I recently went to Hong Kong and my sister wanted to buy a new Fitbit watch. She wanted the one that had a heart rate monitor because her Fitbit Alta did not have that feature. Guess who goes back to Manila with a Fitbit on her wrist? Uh-huh. You guessed it!

I remember all the other stuff that I my sister passed on to me every time she bought a newer version or model for herself. The first was her iPhone 4s, then the iPhone 5c in that bright pink color, then her iPhone 5s. Yeah, my sister is quite the Apple fan. I’m waiting for her to buy herself a new Macbook laptop so I can get my hands on her Macbook Air that she bought several years ago.

Being given hand-me-downs meant not having to buy expensive stuff for myself. Since I was not so particular about always having the latest model of phones, I was contented with her hand-me-downs even if that meant having the phone on life support (frequent plugging to the power bank) a year later. I used to be pissed about using stuff she already used but these days, when she asks me if I would like one of her old stuff because she’s planning on getting herself a new one, I highly encourage her to make the new purchase. I dare not question her choices at all (insert an rotfl emoji here).

Oh how things and priorities change when you reach adulthood…img_9159