Welcome to My MissAdventures, a spin-off of my personal blog which you can find at miss-monologue.livejournal.com.

My MissAdventures is where you'll find wonderful, descriptive tales of my travels, shopping finds, food trips, and anything under the sun that brightens my day.

So sit back, relax, and let me do the talking.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Up All Night

I've been having such a hard time sleeping these past weeks. I've been working late and my body clock's messed up. If I go to bed at 1 am, I end up sleeping at 3 or even 4 am. I even find it harder to sleep when I know I have to wake up early the next day.

I don't know if I should be amused or stressed about it. At night (or early morning) my mind goes into overdrive and I end up thinking of just about anything! I have epiphanies and new ideas, realizations and become reminiscent. I wish I had the patience to write all my thoughts at night so I won't forget them. I know I've had brilliant ideas at night but I can't remember them concretely anymore.

Another reason why I can't seem to catch some sleep is because I often experience sleep paralysis. It wasn't until recently that I found out that it's an actual disorder. I always thought I was just prone to nightmares. By nightmares I mean waking up during a scary dream and not being able to get up and move. I've had these kinds of nightmares since I was younger but I would have them only when I had high fever so I thought they were related. It wasn't until high school that my dreams became more frequent and I started to get used to it. I can already distinguish when I was still dreaming and I already knew what to do to wake myself.

During college, I started to get "nightmares" even when I took naps during daytime. They weren't scary dreams but I would try to move and shout and I would be aware of the activities around me but I couldn't wake up. They also became more frequent at night especially when I slept late after working on plates. When I would go to bed at 2 or 3 am, I could already expect that I will have around 2 rounds of nightmares. It was a bit stressful, and I would try to call a friend to assure me I was awake. I realized recently that it was similar to the movie, Inception where they used totems to assure themselves that they were already awake. Haha!

I only thought about Googling my situation last year and found out about sleep paralysis. All the descriptions were spot on! I also read that most people who were diagnosed with the same condition were prescribed with medicines but they didn't really help. Some people even took advantage of the situation and controlled their "hallucinations" once they knew they woke up in their sleep. I actually tried it but I can't.

As of late, I've had less of these episodes and I've learned to handle them so most of my hallucinations aren't scary anymore. It's just the not being able to breathe part that I'm not able to control. I still sort of panic that I can't breathe.

I still haven't decided if I should have myself diagnosed, I am not sure if there are actual diagnosed cases here in the Philippines since most of us just consider it as bangungot. (I did!) i'm also not keen on the possibility of taking medication for it since it's not life threatening in any way.

Have you experienced the same? Let me know! For now, I shall enjoy all the sleep I can and try not to stay up all night.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Hello August!

Yes, I am one day late, but still, hello August! 

I need to motivate myself to write and because August is Jan's birthday month, I shall use him as inspiration for my posts! (Yay! - cheerleader inside me.) Jan introduced me to e-commerce and my whole life has drastically changed since then. It started with eBay and his bidding and buying stuff online. Then during my "in-between-jobs" a.k.a. unemployed days, I opened my own online Multiply shop which later expanded to eBay, too. I didn't become rich overnight, I didn't earn my own million that way ( I still haven't actually) - but I was able to earn enough to live without asking for money from my parents for those four months before entering the corporate world again. I've since stopped selling on eBay, but my Multiply shop is still active and I still sell new stuff now and then. 

The whole point is, Jan introduced me to e-commerce and most importantly, online shopping! And now I am a slave of online shopping. Slave is a big word, but I don't think I can live as conveniently without it. There are things I'd rather not buy online, but for most things I can always rely on Multiply, eBay or Amazon to find great deals on stuff I badly want (impulsively). With credit cards and online fund transfer (which Jan also acquainted me with obviously), it's so easy to buy items at any time of the day. And one more reason I like online shopping is, I like getting things in the mail! I kind of forget I paid for them and feel like I'm thought of and I have a gift! There's also the anticipation of receiving what you just saw onscreen. For this month, I'll  make posts on all the things I've purchased and sold online since 2010. I can't recall my first purchase anymore so I'll do it in random order. 

Today I'll start with my most recent purchase, craft tapes and stickers from Quaint Desk and Hey Kessy! I would often browse through their sites and plan to buy but would always hesitate when I realize I won't be able to use them anyway. I don't know what got into me last Monday when I stumbled upon Quaint Desk's site and realized the stuff are more affordable than I thought and out of impulse, made an order. I also checked Hey Kessy's site since I knew she sold similar items to compare prices and placed an order, too. 

Washi tape is a popular item with crafters but it's quite expensive for my budget, ranging from Php 80 - Php 150. Washi apparently translates to Japanese (Wa) Paper (Shi) so washi tape is paper tape. Since I'm not particular with brands anyway, I decided to stick to a variety of cheaper items rather than one expensive one. I bought a couple of tapes and a set of greeting cards I've long wanted to buy from Quaint Desk and a set of masking stickers from Hey Kessy. Yes, I bought them all in one night! I only realized I spent a lot afterwards. Haha! 

Here's the haul!

I love the simplicity of Hey Kessy's logo.

The set had its own packaging!

Here's the Masking Sticker set in Basic colors. I had a tough time choosing between Basic and Pastel since I loved pastel colors but I wanted bright colors and blue and green. Good thing pastel was already out of stock. I consider this a steal at Php 220 (plus Php 50 shipping fee). Compared to a roll of washi tape at Php 150 with just one design, I have 27 different sheets with different patterns. I felt like a kid while ogling at the stickers. There's such a multitude of colors and patterns that I'm having a hard time choosing which to use first.

Lots of colors and patterns to choose from!

Instagam photo

Clever logo by Quaint Desk
As soon as I received the package from Quaint Desk, I was giddy as a child (again). I felt like I just received a gift! Her packaging is so pretty even if it's so simple. I was also touched by the note. Joanne probably sends everyone notes ( I do, too!) but it was thoughtful of her to write every single one of them! And to top it all off, she included a cute paper flower to boot!
A thoughtful note from Joanne
A freebie, too! Sweet!

Whenever I hear of fabric tape, what comes to mind is neoprene tape, the one mostly used for medical purposes. I first encountered Quaint Desk's fabric tapes in Alessandra Lanot's Calligraphy Crafternoon (more about that soon) as we used the tapes to stick our works at Pino's wall. I made a mental note to buy myself some soon, but I forgot it easily as I always do. I chose to buy a set of 3 tapes at Php 130. I'm not the biggest fan of floral designs - I prefer Cath Kidston's polka dots and stars over floral patterns - but I liked the contrast of blue and pink on this tape. I wanted to buy another set, one with orange and yellow, but I knew I would already be going over my budget. I also bought 2 tapes called Coffret du Couturier Autocollant at Php 50 each - Quaint Desk describes it as vintage European-inspired deco tape, which I actually find too pretty to use! Oh, and I also bought pink scallop lace tape (Php 80)! I bought so much tape in one night that I need the creative juices to flow soon! Oh yes, before I forget, I also bought envelope note cards / greeting cards which are the same as the one Joanne used for her note. It's a cute steal at Php 40 for around 40 sheets.

Lots of tapes to tire myself with 

I also bought greeting cards shaped like mail envelopes!

Instagram photo
I must say both Joanne of Quaint Desk and Rowena of Hey Kessy are very efficient sellers. They confirmed my orders a short time after I placed them and confirmed my payment right after. They were both surprised of the fast fund transfer at around midnight thanks to online banking, and confirmed that my items will be shipped the next day. My Hey Kessy items arrived immediately on Wednesday while Joanne texted me that Xend was not able to pick up the items. She didn't really have to explain as the rain was crazy and Xend has its hands too full these days, and as an online seller I experience these situations myself. My Quaint Desk haul arrived early today without any mishap. 

I also admire these two ladies as they are crafters and sell the stuff they use themselves. I started selling online because I wanted to share stuff I have discovered from scouring different shops and suppliers and make it available at an affordable price. I think these ladies have the same mindset as well. 

I've yet to use my new tapes and I'm really excited but I still got my hands full at the moment. I'll post my crafty ideas soon!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Mezza Norte : Mercato of the North!

The past week has been crazy as there had been so much to do. I had recognition dinners to attend to,  braved the rain and flood for the PRC Oathtaking Ceremonies last Saturday, and started with a new project right away last Sunday. There's so much to post and share, but given the amount of time I spend on our new project, I shall do that soon. 

For the meantime, I just want to share that Mercato's spin-off in my dear Quezon City is finally here! Aptly named, Mezza Norte The Mercato Experience in the North, it's the same Mercato feel at our own turf! As I'm writing this, I am in the coffee shop in front of the venue and they have started setting up. The space is smaller, but I expect it will expand as soon as the people and the concessionaires start flowing in! 

It's a dream come true to have a foodie's haven in Quezon City. We used to go all the way to BGC to have some of our favorite foods only found in Mercato. I'm also happy that Mezza Norte begins at six in the evening, making it a good dinner venue. We always had the problem of arriving at Mercato either still full from dinner, or too hungry because we didn't have dinner and we get that nalipasan na ng gutom feeling. I'm excited to discover the new food finds and eat my favorite food tonight! Then I might go back tomorrow with my family. Talk about an overload. 

I'll get back soon to share my food finds. Let me know if you're dropping by Mezza Norte tonight as well. :)

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Days Spent in the Hospital

I'm currently at The Medical City to keep my mom company and since my blog is full of food entries, I've decided to hold that food entry for a bit. If you asked me how many times I've spent in this hospital, I would just say a lot. I don't know all the nooks and crannies but I sure know all the food spots and where I can get the better deals on water and other hospital essentials. The hospital isn't my favorite place but I am lucky I am able to get services from a good hospital. 

Besides that, having a health care provider is heaven sent. Yet it is a privilege that's bound to be abused, or at least overused. I'm sure mine is. I'm still supported by my dad's company's HMO even at 24. I don't know how that came to be but I'm glad about it. (Shhh!) Whenever I feel that I'm on the verge of an infection, fever or I'm just paranoid that I've some illness, I could easily go to any hospital and have a checkup care of the HMO. What makes it more convenient is that there is a The Medical City Satellite Clinic at our neighborhood malls, a.k.a. Waltermart and Trinoma. It doesn't feel like going to the hospital at all because I can go shopping right after or while waiting for lab results. 

Lab tests are another story. The benefit of having a health care provider is that most of the lab tests are covered as long as they are requested by a doctor. I have had countless lab tests, x-ray and ultrasound procedures that cost up to Php 4,000 a pop! The only thing that isn't covered is outpatient medicine. I cry inside whenever I have to buy medicine. But it's not like I can forego taking them anyway. The only consolation is the sudden generic medicine boom. Php 50 meds sell for Php 2 at the generic drugstores. 

Back to The Medical City, I'm glad the Rockwell Business Center put up all sorts of establishments. It doesn't only cater to their employees / tenants but to the people here in the hospital, too. There's a bank, a salon, and lots of food establishments to choose from. Now I don't have to choose between North Park and North Park. Haha. The volume of people at night ( thanks to the BPO) also makes it a more comfortable place to go to. The 7-11 with it's pine-orange juice, hot choco, yema and Dole bananas is a home away from home. The Strip seems like a very far place already.

It seems that no matter how I try to veer away from writing about food, it still wraps me in. I probably should end here or I'll end up talking about more food. But don't worry, I will never, ever write about hospital food. They really are no good. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Baking Afternoon: Nestle Toll House Easy Double Chocolate Chip Brownies and OREO-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ever since I've become an official bum (after the boards), I've started baking again. What else is there to do when you're stuck at home?

Two weeks ago, I was craving for some brownies. My GIANT pack ( and I mean giant at  72 ounces) of Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chips had a lot of recipes on the back and it had a brownie recipe aptly called Easy Double Chocolate Chip Brownies which included melting the chips instead of using cocoa powder and(!) adding more chocolate chips to the batter. Now that's a brownie!

The result was chocolate heaven! It was moist and fudgy, and the burst of chocolate per bite was a chocolate lover's dream! I realized I put a little too much chocolate chips and should lessen them the next time I make this recipe. Yes, it is a bit too much even for a chocoholic (me!). I should also buy the Baker’s Edge Baking Pan i first mentioned in my older brownie post. Chocolate and chewy-crunchy edges are the perfect match, right? 

Hello Brownies!

The Baker's Edge Pan

The brownies live up to their name as they're so easy breezy to make. I was still bitin and wanted to make more so I tried to look for more recipes that used chocolate chips and basic ingredients but wasn't the usual chocolate chip cookie. I use Epicurious on my iPhone to search for recipes because it's so convenient and I came upon an ingenious recipe! It was Oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookies! And all I could think was, "Where was I when people discovered this?". Haha! It's like a wicked Oreo or fried Oreo, however you called it, but it's baked (not fried!) and packed with a lot more calories and chocolate goodness! And it was fate because I had a huge box of Oreos in the pantry. I Googled more on the recipe to find if there were other variations but they were pretty much the same. Here's the recipe I used. 

Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies
recipe from Jenny of Picky Palate
2 sticks (1 cup) softened butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla
3 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
10 oz bag chocolate chips
1 pkg. Oreo cookies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream butter and sugars together with a mixer until well combined.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.
In a separate bowl mix the flour, salt and baking soda.  Slowly add to wet ingredients along with chocolate chips until just combined.  Using a cookie scoop take one scoop of cookie dough and place on top of an Oreo Cookie.  Take another scoop of dough and place on bottom of Oreo cookie.  Seal edges together by pressing and cupping in hand until Oreo cookie is enclosed with dough.  Place onto a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet and bake cookies 9-13 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.
Makes about 2 dozen VERY LARGE cookies. 

Baker's math : Chocolate chip dough + Oreos = ?

It's a very hands-on recipe where you get to cover the Oreo cookie with dough. What I did was keep the dough in the freezer every time I didn't need it so it wouldn't be so soft when I had to wrap the Oreos with it. I was scared my cookies wouldn't turn out perfect but I was glad the dough didn't run off and baked beautifully. 

How to explain the taste? It's like a Fried Oreo but better. Jenny actually recommends using Double Stuffed Oreos, which will probably result to a much sweeter cookie. I don't think I can take eating that much calories though! With one cookie, I'm already eating 2 chocolate chip cookies and 1 Oreo! It's great to eat warm and a la mode. 

The Final Products. Ta-dah!

I can't say which I loved better; being a chocoholic, I prefer the brownies while my Oreo-loving sibs loved the cookies. But overall, it was a successful bake. Today is another baking afternoon. I shall update you about it sooner! For the mean time, you can read all things brownie in my older post, here

I'm back!

Hello! I'm back! After resigning from work, taking the Architecture Licensure Exam and passing it, here I am ready to write again! I have to write. I need to write. For my sanity! Being unemployed, or self-employed, gets boring and I have long wanted to revive my blog! I'm losing touch of my writing skills. I'm losing touch of everything I love to do! 

So here's to my new attempt to write, and chronicle my experiences. Yay! Cheers!

P.S. for the next few weeks, or months, I'll be doing a lot of backlog writing. So please bear with me. :D

Friday, April 8, 2011

All That Hype for Cake Pops? Starbucks Cake Pops Review

I realized I haven't gone to Starbucks for a long time as part of my calorie and money saving goals. I used to eat breakfast or dessert there whenever I was at 6750. Having read so many tweets about Starbucks' new Cake Pops, I Googled about it yesterday and saw a lot of comments about it. It's part of Starbucks' Petites Selection introduced for their 20th Anniversary (together with that logo overhaul). Most of the posts and all of the reviews (most of them negative) I saw were from the US and that got me even more curious if they served the same stuff here.

So this morning, after my nap, I decided to break  my diet and headed to Starbucks 6750 to try it. Starbucks Cake Pops here comes in 3 flavors, flavors that don't give a clue to what their flavors are at all. These are Pinky Pop - a pink cake pop; Nutty Pop - a chocolate pop with nuts and marshmallows that's most likely rocky road; and Rocky Red Pop - a white icing covered one with red sugar "rocks". The names themselves are not so appealing nor creative. I would've appreciated if they gave better, descriptive names. In the US they have Birthday Cake Pop, Tiramisu Cake Pop and Rocky Road Cake Pop. At least you knew what you were getting. So right from that point, I could see they had variations. We have the Birthday Cake ( the pink one but without candy confetti), and the Rocky Road. We don't have the Tiramisu Cake Pop here, which I would have liked to taste.
The US Cake Pops 
source: www.starbucks.com

Back at Starbucks 6750, I was internally debating on spending a hundred bucks on all three flavors or just trying one and come back for the others if I liked it. This was easily decided when I saw another new item, a whoopie pie, which looked so yummy. (More on that whoopie pie on another post) So there I was, staring at the display thinking which color would be enticing to eat.

Just a side story, being on a food and money diet, I don't really have cravings lately and I don't get enticed by food. Today, I just bought food using my eyes and as much as I want to devour the food, I don't really feel like doing so. 

The barista might have noticed my dilemma and told me the brown one tasted good. So I said I'll take it. I was kind of veering away from it because the whoopie pie was already chocolate, but a quick Google search just now tells me that all of them are chocolate cakes inside anyway.

Back at the office, I began my experiment. Just to let you in, I wanted to know if they serve the same stuff here and in the US. Reviews from the US, especially from bakers, say that it wasn't a cake pop at all. I haven't ever tried a cake pop, but based from its name, I would expect a cake that looks like a lollipop. I'll probably try making one, if I find the time, but for now I satisfy my curiosity with this. With the variation in name, I was already hoping that we had a different version and perhaps a better cake pop.
Step 1, I took some photos, and then dissected the cake pop hoping to see cake inside. There was chocolate dough, bits of nuts and marshmallows.

Does that look like cake? I don't think so. It looked like a flourless brownie. (which I really liked from Starbucks)

Step 2, I took a sniff of it and started eating it. It smelled like chocolate, it tasted like chocolate, but it didn't taste like cake. It tasted like flourless brownie, especially with the nuts. I was expecting cake, like the chocolate cake they sold or whatever cake. Cake has a different flavor from dough because it's baked and it went through chemical reactions. Cake can be moist, but cake has a texture that's soft, spongy, cakey.. even if it's in crumbs.

 I didn't even finish the half of the cake I've detached from the stick and it wasn't from my lack of appetite. I just put it back and will give it to my mom or siblings later. The conclusion to my experiment, we have the same stuff as they do back in the US. They probably make it here but they use the same recipe. Speaking of the recipe, I found this interview with the Starbucks guy who thought about making those cake pops. He was asked how he made the cake stick. If you ask me, I would say they just rolled a flourless brownie or some similar dough into balls and stuck them to sticks. Here's what he said.

Question: I confess, I tried to make a Cake Pop and it slid off the stick. Any secrets to get the pop to stay put?
Answer: Oh boy! This was a significant problem early on. We spent months trying to stabilize the cake. At one point we thought of using a two-pronged stick to pierce the pop in place or adding a basket holder for stabilization. Ultimately, reducing the size just slightly and double-dipping the stick in chocolate solved the problem. I must admit, the night before launch I could hardly sleep with visions of Cake Pops falling into coffee cups as people tried our new treat. I’m now sleeping much better.    
You can check the whole article here.

My verdict? The Cake Pop at Php 45 a piece and Php 35 for 2 or more is quite expensive. It's small and though they claim in the US that it's just  200 calories, it's 200 calories wasted. I would suggest you just buy a flourless chocolate brownie and share it. They just taste the same and the flourless brownie is creamier and richer, if you want that kind of experience.If you had a different Starbucks cake pop experience, let me know. Do the other flavors taste better?

 But for now, I am on the quest for the real cake pop here in the Philippines, or at least a recipe I can try and ace.

Any suggestions?

Update: I found Bakerella! Thinking of baking some this weekend :)