January 30, 2016

#SupportLokalPH: Atsui | Perfectform

Recently, I've been discovering a number of local (i.e. Filipino) independent businesses. Some of them I've discovered online (on Facebook or on Instagram), others in bazaars. I realize how challenging it is for them to compete with the global market--just look at the shops in our malls and you'll see that most of the brands are from foreign companies ("local" businesses are usually re-sellers na lang)--so in my own little way, I would like to help promote their brand by featuring some of my favorite purchases in this blog.

#FitnessGoals2016

Fine.

I admit that I've jumped into the New Year's Fitness Bandwagon. Granted that I haven't binged that much during the holiday season (compared to the previous years, that is), I'm starting to accept the fact that my metabolism isn't the same as it was, let's say, ten years ago.

No matter how hard I try to reduce my carb intake (but I still won't give up rice. I'm starting to change to the more fibrous varieties, but I can't NOT have rice in my meals) and raise my protein (through vegetables and stuff), the most that could happen within a span of a month is to lose around .5 lbs of my weight. And I'm not even sure if what I lost is fat weight or water weight. So now, I'm trying to incorporate exercise to my daily routine (30 mins of cardio; weights pag sinisipag) in the hopes of losing relevant weight (or at least replacing it with toned muscles).

There are days when I'm motivated enough to sweat through my exercise, and realize that my current fitness wardrobe is lacking quantity. I only have a few pairs of sports bras and hardly enough exercise-worthy shirts to use. And since I'm not willing to invest 1,000+ PhP for a single article of sporting attire, I decided to try out some of the local fitness brands featured in Instagram's @trylocalph.

Atsui Alternative Athletics

...For the serious athlete and those in between.

(Online Shop: http://atsui.ph/)

What got me interested in this brand is actually the brand name--it doesn't sound local at all. It actually sounds Japanese, and if you've been around my blog for quite some time you know that I love all things Japanese.

Each order comes inside a nifty garment bag.


January 25, 2016

#SupportLokalPH: Free For Me

Recently, I've been discovering a number of local (i.e. Filipino) independent businesses. Some of them I've discovered online (on Facebook or on Instagram), others in bazaars. I realize how challenging it is for them to compete with the global market--just look at the shops in our malls and you'll see that most of the brands are from foreign companies ("local" businesses are usually re-sellers na lang)--so in my own little way, I would like to help promote their brand by featuring some of my favorite purchases in this blog.

Free For Me

Vintage Style Handmade Watches and Fashion Jewelry

(Etsy Shop: https://www.etsy.com/shop/FreeForme)

The watch I bought from 10 North Creative is starting to lose its power, but instead of having its battery replaced I decided to shop around Etsy for another inexpensive custom-designed watch.

I've discovered that there were other Philippine-based Etsy stores that sell custom-designed watches, aside from 10 North Creative. They share similar watch styles, but the design on the watches' faces are pretty much distinct. So for my latest purchase, I decided to try out Free For Me.

 

Their watches are 100 PhP cheaper than 10 North Creative watches, but I think the quality is pretty much the same. Free For Me, however, has more variety in the design of the bezel, hands, and strap.


The watch I chose has a rose-gold bezel and a "messy handwriting" effect on the face. Because the colorway is a bit girly, I was expecting a small diameter face, but it turned out that the size of the watch is pretty much the same as my 10 North Creative one.

January 19, 2016

Travel Japan 2015: Where (or What) to Eat (Part II)

Continuing my previous post...

Kyoto

Regional Specialty: ???

Admittedly, we never had enough time to explore the regional cuisine in Kyoto. There were so many temples to visit, but so little time to make the most out of our itinerary. We would usually end up picking a random restaurant to rest our tired feet and fill up our hungry bellies.

Needless to say, most of the food we tried out in the area turned out to be pretty good.

IMG_5710
I had yakimeshi during my trip to Kyoto in 2011, 
but we weren't able to find the restaurant when we went back in 2013.

To share some information, here are the areas in Kyoto where (we believe) you can find some food:
  • Kyoto Station (underground) - there are a couple of malls beneath the Kyoto Station where you can find various boutiques, souvenir shops, and restaurants.
  • Higashiyama Preserved Street - walking westward from the Kiyomizudera Temple, there is a downhill slope filled with souvenir shops and shops for sweets. When you reach the bottom, there are a few restaurants to chose from.
  • Arashiyama area -
    • Arashiyama Station - A lot of souvenir and snack stalls will welcome you as you walk from the Arashiyama Station to the streets of the area.
    • Main street along Tenryuji Temple - This is the temple nearest to the Arashiyama Station. Along this street  you can find a whole row of restaurants.
    • Togetsukyo Bridge - there are a few street food stalls by the riverbanks of both ends of the bridge, where you can buy grilled squid, fish or corn.

Tokyo

Regional Specialty: ???

Because Tokyo is a melting pot of lifestyle and culture, I find it hard to pinpoint its regional specialty. And because there is so much food to try out, I'll just list down food stuff we were able to experience, and not focus on just one particular type of food.

Beware; I have a LOT of stuff to list down.

January 15, 2016

Travel Japan 2015: Where (or What) to Eat (Part I)

There are a lot of blog posts circulating around the Web, teaching Filipino netizens how to travel around Japan on a budget. When it comes to food cost, most of these posts are able to share practical tips. But there are some posts that suggest grabbing their meals at convenience stores, or worse, buying groceries and bringing them in their flight to Japan.

Bullcrap.

Japan is one of THE best places to experience the foodie culture. Each region has its own specialty dish, and Japanese cuisine offers an extensive variety of dishes. From seafood to poultry, noodles to rice, and even the raw to the deep fried, an average person with minimal food knowledge can easily find his favorite dish in Japan. One cannot maximize his stay in Japan if he misses out on this gastronomic experience.

This being said, allow me to share some of my own foodie experiences in Japan. Hopefully this can be a guide for those planning for their trip; additional considerations in their budget and itinerary.

Itadakimasu!

DISCLAIMER: I've also included photos from my trip to Japan in 2011 and 2013, so there is a chance that some of the restaurants featured here are no longer in operation. My apologies in advance!

Kobe

Regional Specialty: Beef

Kobe beef is a variety of Wagyu beef, bred in the Hyogo prefecture. The practices in raising cattle for Kobe beef have caused a stir among animal rights activists; needless to say that its meat is considered as one of the highest grades of beef--higher than even USDA. Kobe beef is usually served as steak, cooked medium-rare on a teppanyaki grill.

High-grade beef is characterized by the marbling of fat on its meat.

Restaurants to Try:

I. Wakkoqu: Kobe Beefsteak

There are two branches of Wakkoqu in Kobe: one branch is near the Shin-Kobe Ropeway and Herb Garden, the other branch is closer to the city center. The branch we tried out during our trip in 2014 was the former one.

The steak is sliced and cooked in front of you by a chef. Kobe beef is cooked "bare", with no traces of marinade or rub. What I really liked about the experience is that each part of the steak has a particular slice in order to balance the amount of fat and meat. Also, each slice is paired with a particular condiment: a choice between salt, pepper, dark (balsamic?) vinegar, and soy sauce mixed with yellow mustard. The fatty part of the steak is left at the end, where it is mixed with bean sprouts to remove the umay factor. The best part is that everything is explained by the chef so you can better understand and appreciate the experience.

2015-11-22 07.11.21 1
Each dip brings out a different characteristic of the Kobe beef's flavor.

Additional Information:
  • Reservations allowed? Yes!
  • Walk-ins allowed? Yes!
  • Accepts credit cards? Yes!
  • English-speaking staff? Yes!
  • Price of a steak dinner? 8,180 JPY for 180g sirloin set (with appetizer, soup, salad, a choice of rice or bread, and coffee)


II. Steakland Kobe

Personally, I haven't tried this one, but this restaurant always comes up during my research for the trip. Steakland Kobe (Note: The website is in Japanese; just use Google to translate the page) is a cheaper alternative for Kobe beef steak, where dinner sets are priced at 4,480 JPY for 160g tenderloin set (with appetizer, soup, seafood, grilled vegetables, salad, a choice of bread or rice, dessert, and coffee). Not bad!

Its location is quite convenient, too, as it is located just by the Kobe-Sannomiya station.

January 14, 2016

Travel Japan 2015: Nara Prefecture

Humblebrag Moment!!!

This is my third time travelling to Japan, and I feel so blessed to be able to experience this opportunity. Japan has always been my favorite country for vacations, as I am forever fascinated by its culture, food, lifestyle, and overall first-world atmosphere.

Some of the places in this trip are places that I've already been to before, and I'll be putting the links of my previous blog entries at the end of this post. Nevertheless, there are still a few places which I've visited for the first time. Case in point, Nara.

My husband in front of a poster of Nara's mascot 
by the Kintetsu-Nara train station.

Where to Stay

Our trip to Nara was only a half-day trip, so we did not book accommodations within the city. In fact, we took a train from our point of origin, which was Osaka.

My technique in finding a place to stay is a rather unusual one; I start my search in Google Maps. What I did was to look for a bed () icon within the area I wanted to stay (in this case, near a shopping district). With this technique:
  • I can have an idea on the logistics of the area; what is the nearest train station, convenience store, etc
  • I can check if the hostel has a website that supports international languages
  • I can view customer reviews about the hostel

January 13, 2016

#SupportLokalPH: Costal Bags

Recently, I've been discovering a number of local (i.e. Filipino) independent businesses. Some of them I've discovered online (on Facebook or on Instagram), others in bazaars. I realize how challenging it is for them to compete with the global market--just look at the shops in our malls and you'll see that most of the brands are from foreign companies ("local" businesses are usually re-sellers na lang)--so in my own little way, I would like to help promote their brand by featuring some of my favorite purchases in this blog.

Costal Bags

Everyday Leather Bags



A new leather bag to add in my collection, yay!

I've been eyeing this shop for quite some time now; this was actually my original "second choice" bag while saving up for Bags by Rubbertree. But then KiN Leather Collection was having a bag sale that time, so I decided to push aside my plans for purchasing a Costal Bags leather bag in order to finance my sale purchase.

Now that the holidays are over, I was able to ponder on my outstanding personal wishlist. Guess what? This one tops the list.


January 11, 2016

Because I am SO productive today

I decided to open the proverbial baul of my blogging past.

Before moving to Blogger, I've set up camp on several blogging platforms--Blurty, Tabulas, and Multiply are the ones that come into mind--a couple of them still actually exist. I was a very moody blogger back then, wiping out entire archives when I feel frustrated or disappointed with my life (which I believe, is a better practice than slashing your wrist), thus removing from existence some entries that could've made a profound impact on a reader's life (chos).

Good thing I have backups of my journals. Heh.

Well not the entirety of my blogging life, just some entries that I managed to save. The oldest post in my archive dates back to October 23, 2003, which I believe was my first ever entry in Tabulas. In that entry, I was just listing down links of my other sites in the Web, but since most of the links are already defunct, it would be rather useless to share it here.

The next entries after that are mostly online quizzes and forwarded articles, but the oldest "profound" entry I was able to dig up was this one, dated February 5, 2004. It goes (I'm gonna highlight the good parts, haha):


Life and Death


Entry posted February 5th, 2004 @ 01:28 AM GMT


i don't know why, but every time i ride the shuttle going home, Death is the only thing that occupies my thoughts. throughout the ride, all i can think of is the idea that some tragic accident would happen to the van i am riding. [God, ok lang kung biglang mag-swerve ang sasakyan na 'to at tumalsik sa Skyway], [Sige pa Manong Driver, bilisan mo pa para mag-collide tayo doon sa sasakyan sa harapan natin], [Will nothing exciting happen to this ride tonight?!]... ...everyday i think of these things, everyday i challenge Death to show His face to me.

I guess last night was my lucky night, so to speak.

i did the stupidest mistake a few steps away from the gate of my house... i let a strange dog eat out of my hand. well, not that the dog was a complete stranger, being owned by the house next door (plus i had a number of encounters with her, gabi-gabi na lang tinatahulan niya ako habang naglalakad ako pauwi)... actually, it was the puppy that the dog was with that i intend to feed. it just so happened that that dog also approached me when she saw me feeding her puppy. so out of compassion (or stupidity) i also offered the food i was holding out to her. maybe she was really, really hungry, or that she mistook my hand as part of the scraps i was feeding them, but she kinda bit my hand as she was getting the food. the bite wasn't that big, just a itsy-bitsy puncture wound on my right index finger (kinda like a puncture would from a needle), but nevertheless, it IS a bite from a strange dog. i might have given myself the rabies.

Rabies is a viral infection that people ususally get from animal bites (particulary dog bites)... depending on the bite, symptoms may occur anytime from 9 days to weeks after the bite. symptoms start from a slight fever, to headaches, to restlessness and loss of appetite, to inability to drink water, and eventually to coma and death--if not treated early. this it what scares me. i have no idea is the dog is a rabid dog (i mean, she has a owner, so probably inaalagan rin siya kahit papano), plus the wound is so small, almost insignificant. i don't know if i should be paranoid or cynical, be careful or just go on with my life...

...question is, how long will by life be, given the stupid thing that i did? ...to think that a few minutes prior to the bite i was challenging Death to show His face to me.


be careful what you wish for, Iam. it may come true.

(off topic) Merriam-Webster Online's Word for the Day is:
contumacious (kahn-too-MAY-shuss) | adjective
: stubbornly disobedient : rebellious

...wala lang, everyday useless information for my patrons, hehe. :)


Geez, I never realized how morbid I was. Was I that much of a troubled soul before?

January 10, 2016

#SupportLokalPH: Zin Manila

Recently, I've been discovering a number of local (i.e. Filipino) independent businesses. Some of them I've discovered online (on Facebook or on Instagram), others in bazaars. I realize how challenging it is for them to compete with the global market--just look at the shops in our malls and you'll see that most of the brands are from foreign companies ("local" businesses are usually re-sellers na lang)--so in my own little way, I would like to help promote their brand by featuring some of my favorite purchases in this blog.

Zin Manila

Gourmet Finishing Salt

(Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/zinmanila/)

I first heard about this brand through Instagram's @trylocalph. See, all my life I've only known two types of salt: rock salt and iodized salt--that is, until now. With the globalization of the food industry, the local market is able to receive a great variety of exotic ingredients, and salt is of no exception. I've seen groceries selling Mediterranean salt, Himalayan salt, sea salt, pink salt, etc. right next to the regular table salt. Since then, I've been curious about how each type  of salt affects the flavor of food.

Zin Manila is mainly an online shop, which means that there is some waiting time involved between sending and confirming the order, also between confirming the payment and the actual delivery of the product. There is an option to pick up the product, but that doesn't really help make the purchase more convenient.
  
Zin Manila at last year's St. James Bazaar.
Thankfully, Zin Manila is actively participating in bazaars. I got mine last year in one of the big Christmas bazaars in the Metro. In fact, they currently have bazaar schedules for this month of January; I'll place the information at the end of this entry. 

Right: Himalayan Salt & Black Pepper (240 PhP)
Left: Rosemary & Lemon Salt (260 PhP)

January 09, 2016

2015 as told by my Instagram photos

Blogger's Note: This was originally posted in my Photoblog, but then I realized that the images in this entry aren't up to my standards of photoblog-worthy artsy-fartsy shots. So I decided to put the entry here in my personal blog instead.

I have a confession to make. These are the only photos I was able to take (using my DLSR) for the whole 2015:

Only two events??? WTF

One folder was for the company summer outing, wherein I didn't really have a choice but to take photos because I was part of the committee that organized the outing, and the other folder was for our recent trip to Japan last November. I can't really use any of the photos in that folder, because 1) the company summer outing photos are more for documentation and don't really hold enough sentimental value worth reminiscing, and 2) I've already posted my favorite Japan trip photos in the last four entries of this blog.

Left with this conundrum, I have no choice but to resort to social media. This is my first time featuring an archive from Instagram, and I ardently hope that their servers won't crash anytime soon. Burado din ang 2015 memories ko kapag mangyari 'yun.

A photo posted by Miriam P. See (@ako_si_iam) on

Most of the photos already contain their own captions, so I'll just be posting a few commentaries. Also, I'm not 100% accurate on the placement of the months; Instagram does not put the exact date of the picture (only 'N weeks ago') and I'm too lazy to compute. Oh, wait. *sees timestamp in the editor* There it is. Oh well, nevermind my excuses. I'm just lazy; let's leave it like that.

Without further ado, enjoy!

JANUARY



A photo posted by Miriam P. See (@ako_si_iam) on

This was the first year we spent the new year in our new home. We invited Ge's family to witness the fireworks from our balcony.


A photo posted by Miriam P. See (@ako_si_iam) on


A photo posted by Miriam P. See (@ako_si_iam) on

I was also a happy Disney kid for that month as I was able to watch the Broadway version of Disney's Beauty and the Beast. I did my best not to sing along to the songs that night.

January 08, 2016

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

Question: What is a Polycystic Ovary Syndrome?



Short Answer:

This is what a Polycystic Ovary looks like. And yes, that is mine.

Fig 1. A transvaginal ultrasound image of a polycystic ovary.

Long Answer:



BUT FIRST!!!


Allow me to share my background story, complete with (potentially embarrassing) pictures.


January 04, 2016

Urban Gardening: Moving on to Herbs

For your reference, here is a list of entries under the Urban Gardening series:



Before anything else, allow me to show you the latest photo of my urban garden:

No more tomato plants; I've moved on to herbs!

I've since given up on trying to grow fruit-bearing plants, mainly because they turned out to be quite high-maintenance. I can only go as far as making the plants flower, but it takes a certain kind of effort (and environmental conditions) for the flowers to pollinate. I wasn't able to bring my tomato plants to fruition, so screw it I'm moving on to herbs.

I haven't been keeping track on my herbs as diligently as I should, but at the very least I remember the order of purchase (and potting). I buy most (rather, all) of my herbs in Marketplace, it being near the office.

Sweet Basil

One pot contains around three seedlings; I separated them and planted
them in separate containers to ensure more yield.

Basil plants are rather easy to grow and also easy to propagate.

To propagate basil plants, simply snip a part of the thick stem, pull out around two rows of leaves from the bottom, and put the stem in a jar of water. In about two weeks root will start to grow. Once a significant root ball has grown, you can plant the cuttings into the soil.

NOTE: Basil plants are rather sensitive to sudden changes in watering schedule. Over-watering may cause the leaves to wilt, while under-watering may cause the leaves to shrivel up. Basil plants also need lots of sun, so it is best to water frequently.