Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Best Makeup Guru: Wayne Goss

There was a time when I loved putting on makeup. I hardly ever put on makeup when I was still as student so when I finally started working, I started wearing makeup to work and whenever I needed to go out. Lately however, I have shied away from using too much makeup. My policy on it is to wear as little as possible, meaning just a dab of lipstick, eyebrow brush and a dusting of powder to cover up any oily spots. It goes without saying that this habit means that I am a little rusty when it comes to doing the best makeup application on my face. This is where my favorite YouTube channel, Wayne Goss, comes in.

Wayne Goss is a makeup artist who has a YouTube channel and website where he shares his best makeup tips and tricks. If there is anyone that I trust when it comes to makeup these days, it would have to be him.

wayne goss
The Wayne Goss YouTube Channel

I can’t remember when I first discovered Wayne Goss but I think it was when I was looking for ways to put on makeup for a certain event that I was supposed to attend. As I have mentioned in an earlier post, I have gained considerable amount of weight and doing makeup to make my face slimmer was something that I was not used to. Enter Wayne Goss and his tutorials on contouring.

The first time I found Wayne Goss and his makeup tutorials I got out my makeup bag and tried to copy what he was teaching in the tutorial. I ended up making a mess of myself (this was a contouring video) but I did learn from the experience and managed to do better the second time around.  I can even do some of his tips now without having to watch the videos first.

What I like about Wayne Goss is that he speaks with authority, but he does not talk down on the people who are watching his videos. He speaks to you like a friend trying to make sure that you are doing your makeup right. He does the tips that he discusses on models and sometimes even on himself and you can see that he really knows what he is talking about.

It’s amazing how what he does on his models can sometimes seem scary initially but as he blends it all together you see how everything works together and achieves the look that he is teaching. I don’t think I ever knew about proper blending until I discovered his tutorials!

Another thing that I like about Wayne Goss’ channel is when he talks about beauty trends that he thinks are ridiculous. I hear about all these trends that people do and I try not to follow them unless he says it’s OK. He explains why some trends are just plain crazy and why he thinks we shouldn’t follow them. I like that he’s not afraid to point things like that out.

The channel also features reviews of various products – not just makeup but skin care products as well. He also recommends the best makeup based on his own experience for the various makeup categories like blusher, highlighter, foundation, lipstick…the list just goes on and on.

The Wayne Goss YouTube channel started years ago, and today, he posts video updates every three days. He currently has around 3.4M subscribers, which just proves that so many people trust him when it comes to makeup. I’m surprised that all he has out are his line of makeup brushes – he should have his own makeup line! I mean come on, he is the real deal, someone should help him set that up!

I think that anyone who wants to learn about putting on makeup can benefit from watching Wayne Goss’ videos. It is not intimidating to follow and you don’t necessarily have to own the same brands that he uses on his tutorials but you must follow his process to get the desired result. I’d just advise that if you need to go out and you want to follow the makeup in his tutorials that you should do a trial first: try it when you don’t need to go out so that you can see how you can adapt the tutorials to whatever tools you have at your disposal and see how the process will work for you before you do it again and actually wear the makeup out. Other than that, I think that anyone will turn out fine if you follow the advice he gives. I know I do.

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Friday, December 28, 2018

Miss Fix It

A little bit of trivia: I like tinkering with stuff and figuring how things work. If I can fix things on my own without bringing it to a repairman, I will try to do it myself. I’m such a guy that way.

My parents told me that it’s something that I’ve been into since I was in pre-school. They used to catch me tinkering with our betamax player (unplugged, of course), trying to figure out what goes in inside the machine when I put a tape in. These days I don’t really have time to tinker with appliances and such during my free time but when the situation calls for it, I still channel my inner MacGyver to try and fix things. Call me Manang Gyver (get it, Manang = Old woman and Gyver = McGyver?).

Girl Repair
Photo from Merylin on Pixabay.com

I’ve been known to take apart an electric fan to clean it up to the motor part. I’ve taken apart a paper shredder to clear away stuck paper between the blades. I’ve even taken apart my point and shoot camera to take out a speck of dust that managed to get in between the LCD screen and the cover. I’m not afraid of taking a screwdriver and taking stuff apart – as long as I remember what went where I know I can put everything back together again. I’d probably tinker with a car if I ever owned one (which I don’t, sadly).

It’s not always appliances that I take apart or fix. My mom recently gave me a couple of rosaries to fix. The rosaries both had broken chains and beads that weren’t set anymore. Thanks to a childhood where I hung out with a monk making similar rosaries, I managed to fix and make the rosaries good as new. You wouldn’t even think that anything happened to them in the first place. I was pretty proud of that. After all, it’s been a couple of decades since I last made a rosary.

My best fix-it project by far however is not for a gadget/appliance/rosary: it’s an old statue from the 50s of the Virgin Mary that my father owned. I think that it was from his mother because it has a date from when he was a child and it’s been old and faded and broken – all that held it together was a strip of masking tape and a telltale stripe of rugby. After years of neglect, I glued and patched the statue and repainted it to cover up the parts that were chipped (which was practically all over the back of it, it took a lot of paper and glue and paint to make it look like it was never broken in the first place). My mom was very happy with the result.

I'm not completely satisfied with the finished product because I only worked with poster paint. I think using acrylics would have been better and would have given a different effect with the coloring. It might still need more on the contouring department for the clothing part of the statue. If I get the chance I just might redo it one day but for now, it's good enough and is on display in our living room.

I think this is definitely a trait that I got from my father. I don’t really mind because I enjoy doing it and figuring things out when I can. I know it’s not a girly thing to do but I like it anyway.

One of my goals was to paint something good enough to be put on display...I think I accomplished that with this restoration project! Yay!

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Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Review: Maybelline BB Cream

I love wearing makeup when the occasion calls for it: Base, Foundation, Concealer, Eyeliner, Mascara, Eyebrows, Lipstick, Blush, Powder…I can go all in. I love how makeup gives me that boost of confidence whenever I feel that I need it. Most of the time, however, I am low-maintenance when it comes to the makeup department. It’s just lip gloss and and powder for me sometimes. More often than not, I stick to plain lip balm and moisturizer.

maybelline
If you think the packaging is different, it's because this is an old photo. :P


If there’s one beauty product that I find really useful when I’m on low-maintenance mode it’s Maybelline BB Cream. I’ve read about BB creams online and how they help to lighten blemishes so I decided to try it. Maybelline is the most affordable and effective of all the BB creams I’ve found and I think that it’s worth the money.

I was originally after the BB cream because of the anti-blemish benefits but I was happy to find out that Maybelline’s BB cream also had moisturizers and sunscreen (SPF 26). Not only that, it covers my blemishes and is good as a makeup base. Actually, it’s even good on its own. When I don’t feel like putting on makeup I just put it on and some lip balm and I’m good to go. It’s like a lighter version of foundation. It does the job for me even without powder to set it because it looks matte when it dries.

The cool thing about the BB cream is that you don’t need that much to cover up. One small tube of Maybelline’s BB cream lasts me more than a couple of months even if I use it daily. It only takes a couple of drops to cover my face up with it.

It’s very effective as a moisturizer because it doesn’t feel too oily on my face the way some moisturizers do and it keeps my face hydrated. I like that it really does help lighten blemishes and pimple scars too. I had this nasty pimple scar on the bridge of my nose and it was only after using the BB cream for a couple of months that it actually faded.

Some people have commented that the BB cream from Maybelline has made their skin look grayed out and that it’s not good for their coloring. I guess it has to do with the fact that there are only two shades: Fresh and Natural. I’ve been using their Fresh shade and so far, so good.

One Maybelline BB Cream experience I’ve had was when I went on a trip last year where I had to go on an unexpected hike up a mountain. It was such a long hike and all I had on my face was the Maybelline BB cream as my sunblock/foundation. I was surprised that when I got up to the top even if I was all sweaty my face still looked good. It wasn’t oily at all! There was sweat yes, but it still looked good! I was very happy!

I have tried other BB creams out there, even some from Korea but they haven’t matched up to Maybelline’s BB Cream in terms of price and results. I have also tried CC creams but I haven’t been happy with them. I’ve even tried a CC cream that stings my eyes when I sweat because it melts so fast and gets in my eyes. Not a good experience!

For now, with my budget and experience I decided to stick to Maybelline because it still gives me the results that I want at an affordable price. Unless I can find something else that would serve me better, I’m sticking with what’s tried and tested.

I leave you with a Maybelline Commercial (of sorts) starring Gerald Anderson and (surprise!) me -- made through an online promo thing that Maybelline had for their BB cream a few years ago. Enjoy!

A post shared by Clare (@clarehenney) on
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Monday, December 24, 2018

Memories of Christmas Plays

Back when I was younger, I used to participate in Christmas plays for elementary school. I was part of the manger nativity scene, where Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus were the centerpiece of the program. The Christmas play is the start of the school program and for the entire show, I had to sit with another classmate playing Joseph in the manger watching as the rest of the performances for the day are performed. We only got to leave when the entire program was over.

Christmas plays
Me smiling as the innkeeper turned us down (fyi, I thought my shawl covered my smiling face)

I was very young when I started to do these Christmas plays. I think this was in Prep until the second grade. I have pictures of the different times that I did this. Basically, being part of this play meant being dressed as the Virgin Mary and walking around the stage with the classmate playing Joseph as we tried to find shelter where I could give birth to Baby Jesus. Several of my classmates were the innkeepers who had to say no to us until we could find the manger where a strategically placed baby doll is hidden and later placed in the middle in a basket with hay to symbolize the birth of Jesus. I was in charge of putting the baby doll in the hay, while my classmate playing Joseph had to remind me to do it.

I remember that there were rehearsals for these plays. The only thing I liked about it was that we got time out of our regular classes to take part in the rehearsals. The boring part? Our teacher asked us to make our rounds repeatedly until we got it right in her eyes. Funny thing is, on the day itself we end up doing it our way anyway. I mean, we were kids, things tend to go blank when we know there are so many people watching! We usually ended up winging it!

My mom, being the devout Catholic, made such a big deal of me being chosen as the Virgin Mary for these Christmas plays. She seemed to think this was a big honor and often had my costumes specially made for the occasion. I think she was a little disappointed when I ended up begging off from doing it again after a few years even if my teachers still wanted me to be the one to play Mary. I can’t remember why I didn’t want to do it anymore, I just didn’t. If I were to guess it was probably because I couldn’t joke around with everyone else when the plays were going on and I couldn’t wear Christmas party clothes since I was in costume and had makeup on, which I didn’t enjoy.

Christmas plays
Joseph and Mary (isn't it obvious how much we were bored out of our minds sitting there?)

About a decade ago I reconnected with the guy who played Joseph during those Christmas plays (isn’t Facebook amazing?). He’s now married and lives in the US. I sent him a photo of us from the Christmas play when I found out that he wasn’t able to bring much photos of himself from when he was younger when he migrated. I’m sure his wife and kids got a kick out of seeing him as St. Joseph complete with the accurate costume and staff.

Sadly, I don’t have kids of my own that I could watch in Christmas plays the way my parents did with me. My niece never had any Christmas plays in her school so I couldn’t even see her in things like that either. Do they even have Christmas plays in schools now? Plays that feature the manger nativity scene with actual kids doing the whole Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus bit? I’m curious! If anyone knows if this still happens, please share in the comments and let me know!
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Sunday, December 23, 2018

Book Review: Still Star Crossed

What happened after the death of Romeo and Juliet? Did the families stop fighting as the Prince instructed? How did the death of the two young lovers affect the lives of those around them? Melinda Taub imagines a world after Romeo and Juliet with her book, Still Star Crossed, which, incidentally, became a TV series produced by no less than Shonda Rhimes.

book review
I don't know about that cover...I thought it didn't do Rosaline justice. I imagined her stronger than that.

The story begins just weeks after the death of Romeo and Juliet, just as the Prince, Escalus (yes, he has a name apparently, I don’t remember him being mentioned by name by Shakespeare), suddenly has an idea to put an end to the rift between the Capulets and the Montagues by binding them together in marriage – this time an arranged marriage between Rosaline (Juliet’s cousin) and Benvolio (Romeo’s cousin).

For the non-Shakespeare fans, Rosaline happens to be the young woman that Romeo first fell in love with and was mentioned in Romeo and Juliet. Benvolio, on the other hand, was also in Romeo and Juliet. He was the one who encouraged Romeo to go to the party where he got to meet Juliet.

As can be expected, while the two families agreed to the Prince’s idea, both parties are not exactly willing participants in the arrangement. For one, Rosaline and Benvolio bicker like a married couple (I love this hate-turns-into-love trope). The Montague and Capulet boys are still fighting with each other and defending their respective families like it’s no one’s business. There’s also the matter of Rosaline still having feelings for a childhood love, a man she cannot be with anyway.

While the book retains some characters from the original Shakespeare, this is still a completely different story. Nevertheless, it was nice have familiar characters who had crucial roles in the original in this book like the nurse and the priest.

The book tries to use the language like that of Shakespeare’s but sometimes reverts to modern language, which gives you a feel that it is a continuation of the previous story but still a very new and different one at the same time. I’ve read other reviews that said that they found this confusing but it didn’t feel that way to me. I think it’s all a matter of perspective.

What I loved about the book is that it had very strong female characters. Rosaline and her sister Livia were both presented as very strong-willed young women but in very different ways. They both ended up doing amazing things by the end of the book. It would have been interesting to see if the TV show would have done them justice but sadly, the show was cancelled before it could finish the story.

I thought that this book, based on the title Still Star Crossed, would have a similar sad ending as the story that preceded it. I thought that this would be more of another tragic love story rather than the mix of romance, drama, intrigue, mystery and action-adventure that it actually is. I think that helped to make the read interesting for me. There was more than one facet to the story and as much as you got to know the characters, you did not know what to expect from them once situation was presented to them. It was entertaining and I was looking forward to seeing how this will all play out on TV. From what I’ve seen from the Instagram accounts of one of the actors in the series, they’ve shot in several locations that make the look of the show more realistic compared to filming this from a studio set.It's really too bad that it didn't do well enough for it to at least finish the story in one season.

This book reminded me of something that still blows my mind about Romeo and Juliet: the two were very young teenagers when they fell in love. The lead characters in this book are also very young. It amazes me how they all live such grown-up lives and make such mature decisions considering their ages. I guess that’s why Romeo and Juliet are usually played by actors older than the actual age of the characters (and that’s also why I forget why they are so young). The TV series casting also shows older actors playing the lead roles.

If you loved Romeo and Juliet and are fascinated by that story and period, you would enjoy reading this book. I think that it is entertaining and an easy read. Too bad about the TV show.


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Friday, December 21, 2018

Green Bags

I've always been the type of person who has concern for the environment. I'm the person who fusses if someone in the car wants to throw trash outside the window or if someone wants to throw those toll receipts while in a running vehicle. I fuss over people who burn their trash (to the point of tweeting the DENR when I spot one, hahaha) and really look for ways to be more environment-friendly. I can be incredibly annoying and OC when it comes to these things. I will nag you over and over until you do it the right way.
reusable bag
Image from OpenClipart-Vectors on Pixabay.com

When the concept of using green or reusable/eco bags for shopping started in the country I breathed a sigh of relief because I've wanted to use the bags I got from my mom for so long but the people at the stores wouldn't let me. They used to look at me like I was a crazy person.

When the government started encouraging the use of these reusable bags I started bringing mine with me when I had to shop anywhere. Funny thing is, even with the green bags for sale at the malls and such, it was still rare for shoppers to actually bring their own bags because it still puzzled salespeople when I ask them to put my purchases in my bags. I find it weird that they have to stop and ask their supervisor first before they let me do that. They often prefer if I used their bags, which I would have to buy from them. I think it defeats the purpose of saving on trash if I have to keep buying their bags every time I make a purchase, right?

As much as I appreciate that malls like SM have their green/reusable bags, I still have a few issues with them. I find the reusable bags too small. Those wide ones may look spacious but you can't really fit much in them. They need to be thicker. For a commuter like me that's an issue. I don't like the shoulder bag type of straps on them too, it's much more difficult to carry around if it's full because you keep on hitting people with it.

The concept of biodegradable bags, on the other hand, is something I both like and dislike. While I am happy that these bags are indeed biodegradable (I've seen one that I've kept in a closet degrade on its own), I got pissed using them one time when I had a heavy purchase and the bag tore as I was walking out the mall. I commute, so that was a big deal to me. A sturdier but biodegradable bag would still be a good idea though. Or maybe stores could sell more reusable canvas bags. I have way too many reusable bags with torn out straps that need to be thrown in the trash.

Most shopping centers have stopped the use of plastic completely. Some have started recycling delivery boxes for large item purchases. I think that is a big step in the right direction. I just wish that they'd let the shoppers choose the types of bags they want to use (I find the canvas bag from Healthy Options big and strong enough for basic shopping, I highly recommend that). I know that they prefer the bags from their stores for security purposes but I hope they can be more lenient with reusable bags or at least have some sort of process that will let shoppers use other bags.

What do you all think of “green” bags? Do you use them? What type of bags do you prefer when shopping? Let me know at the comments section please!
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Wednesday, December 19, 2018

My Take on Cafe Delite's Creamy Garlic Parmesan Mushroom Chicken and Bacon

If you’ve read my previous recipe posts, you’d know that I’ve been tinkering around in the kitchen trying out recipes that I’ve discovered through Pinterest. I prefer recipes that are simple and something that I’d love to eat. When I found an easy baked chicken recipe, I knew that I had to try it.

Here’s a recipe for Creamy Garlic Parmesan Mushroom Chicken & Bacon from the website Cafedelites. It’s tweaked a little to make it easier for me to prepare. The portions are from the original recipe but I did twice as much since I had more people to feed. It’s an easy dinner recipe so I thought it was good for the entire family to try!


Ingredients

Chicken:
6 bone-in, skin-on or off chicken thighs (I did it skin on.)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
Salt and Pepper to taste

Cream Sauce:
4 cloves garlic, crushed
7 ounces | 200 grams diced bacon
14 ounces | 400 grams sliced brown mushrooms (Supposed to be cremini but I got canned button mushrooms because that was all that was available at the store.)
1 cup cream (I used an all-purpose cream from a box)
1/2 cup chicken broth (I made broth from some chicken cubes!)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (Didn’t have any so I used the grated ones from a bottle.)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Extra chopped fresh parsley, to garnish
Fresh shaved or grated parmesan, to garnish (I used the same bottled parmesan from earlier.)


Instructions

Preheat oven to 200°C | 400°F. (No oven so I preheated a turbo broiler instead.)

Put the chicken together on a plate. Put together the olive oil, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper in a container. Rub the oil mixture over the chicken to completely coat all the pieces.

Heat a large, pan or skillet over medium high heat. Sear the chicken, skin-side down first, until skin is crisp and golden brown. Rotate and sear the other side (about 2-3 minutes per side). (Make sure you heat the pan well before you do this, I was impatient and ended up messing up the chicken a bit because of it!)

Transfer to oven (turbo broiler, in my case) and roast until completely cooked through, about 25-30 minutes. (I had to move the chicken to a turbo broiler friendly container to cook it.)

Once chicken is done, remove from oven/broiler; set aside. Pour out HALF of the chicken juices left from the container.

In a pan, fry the garlic in the reserved chicken juices over medium heat, stirring frequently until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the bacon and fry until just beginning to crisp. Add in the mushrooms and cook until mushrooms begin to soften.

Pour in the cream, chicken broth and Parmesan; allow to simmer until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. (For some reason, my cream didn’t thicken well enough, but it still tasted good.)

Season with pepper. Taste first before adding in any extra salt, as the bacon will add the salt.

Add the chicken back into the pan; allow to simmer for 1-2 minutes in the cream to take on the flavours.

Garnish with parsley and shaved or grated parmesan, if desired. Serve over rice, pasta, or steamed/ grilled vegetables. (We served it over rice, as we Filipinos do.)

Easy Recipe
My take on the recipe.

I know that I said that this recipe would be easy because when I read it I thought it was simple enough but it turned out harder than I thought. I had to get help from my sister because I didn’t heat the pan enough before I seared the chicken. Using a turbo broiler instead of an oven brought even more challenges than I expected.

Thankfully, challenges aside, the chicken turned out good. My family loved it and I’m just relieved that they did. Would I prepare this again anytime soon? Probably not, because I was so stressed out preparing it that I was so tired by the end of it all! It's yummy but my stress in preparing it was not worth it!

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Monday, December 17, 2018

Famous In Love Review (Books and TV)

Usually I’m the person who reads the books first then watches the movie or TV show later but this time around, I saw the TV show first. When I heard that there was a series called Famous in Love that you can watch online, I downloaded a VPN app and watched the pilot. After that I decided that I couldn’t wait to watch the show when it airs here (if it does, which is not likely since it has already been cancelled in the US) so I watched all the Famous in Love episodes online. I liked the show and I couldn’t help myself. I just had to read both books: Famous In Love and Truly Madly Famously.

Photo from Sophkins on Pixabay

Famous in Love (the book) is written by Rebecca Serle and is about Paige Townsen, a young unknown actress who is cast in one of the biggest franchise films in Hollywood. It’s about how this girl who was once leading a normal life is suddenly thrown into a new world that she has to get used to while at the same time she is falling in love with two of the men who are with her in the movie.

First off, I was surprised at how many changes were made in the series compared to the book. Some changes were disappointing (would have been nice if they did film in Hawaii) but some I felt were for the better because it made the story much more interesting. I think that the series tweaked the weak parts about the book and made it better. They added more depth to the characters and more interesting plotlines.

I think the book was a bit bland compared to the TV show but then as a 40-year-old reading a book for young adults I felt that maybe I just wasn’t the market for the material. Having it from a point of view of a teenager was probably what made it a little boring for me in spite of the potentially exciting setting of a young girl thrust into the Hollywood life.

I was surprised that the first season was basically the entire book (well, since the end was very similar of her having to choose between two guys). It had me wondering if Famous in Love Season 2 would tackle the second book, the part where Paige had already made a choice on who to be with and was dealing with the consequences of it. Unfortunately, that did not happen in season 2, which was too bad.

I think that the second book was more interesting than the first, but it still had the Paige POV which was, as I said previously, a bit bland for my taste. I do think that it would have been interesting to see how the series would have shifted the story to sort of adapt the second book but still stay true to their revised plot.




Reading the books and seeing the TV show has me conflicted about who I like for Paige. In the books Jordan was the better guy, in spite of the bad boy image. BUT in the TV show, Jordan isn’t even interested in Paige. Rainer, as troubled as he is, seems to be the more interesting guy.

For both the TV show and the books though, I feel that Paige is a blah. She needs to have more of a backbone and have more of a personality. I feel that there’s just something missing with that one. I was hoping that in the second season of the show they could have improved on the character because even if she is the lead, she can be a bit boring (at least they got that consistent with the books). Maybe that was the reason the show was cancelled?

My opinion on the books? Read at your own risk. If you want to short cut it, watch the series instead. It’s much more interesting.
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Sunday, December 16, 2018

Like Churros? Try This!

Churros seem to have become a popular snack these days. Shops that offer churros as a specialty have been popping up everywhere. It would be a safe bet to say that there would be a churros place near me in every area I go to. Instead of trying these places out, I decided to go the practical route and find an easy churros recipe to try to see if I can make it myself.

I have this friend from back in college who got burned with oil from frying churros so I have to admit I was a bit hesitant to give this a try. I think I had to get my sister to watch me to make sure I didn’t mess things up!

This version I found is a copycat version of Disneyland mini-churro bites from Family Food Fun. I made some changes to the recipe, but nothing too different. I would have preferred baked churros because it’s healthier but I didn’t want to mess it up so I followed instructions and deep fried it instead.


Ingredients


Churros Dough:
1 cup water
2½ tablespoons white sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 quarts oil for frying (I used vegetable oil)

Churros Flavor/Powder:
½ cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I used cinnamon powder instead)


Instructions


Combine the ingredients for the dough together and place in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once it boils, remove from the heat and stir in the flour until the mixture forms a ball.

Prepare oil for frying in a deep fryer or skillet at 190 degrees C. Pipe strips of dough using a pastry bag or churro maker into the hot oil. (I didn’t have any pastry bag or churro maker, so I opted to roll out strips of the dough for frying.) Fry dough until barely golden and drain on paper towels.

Combine ingredients for the flavor mixture and roll drained churros in them.

Serve with chocolate sauce.


churros recipe


If you’re like me and you love the flavor or cinnamon, you can add a bit more than the recommended amount to add more flavor to your churros. Don’t add too much though because it can become overpowering to some.

I also found that instead of doing strips, it was easier and quicker to fry the dough if I made them into small cubes, literally bite-sized pieces that you could pop in your mouth. My family preferred those to the strips, although they say you tend to forget how much you’ve already had if you eat them in small pieces (meaning, they ate more than they planned to).

As for the chocolate sauce, most people would say that you should follow a recipe for ganache to make your dip. Basically, the ganache should have a mixture of chocolate (duh) and heavy cream that you melt together and whisk to create the sauce/dip. Most people use semi-sweet chocolate or chocolate chips but for my version I decided to use Ricoa Flat Tops. Six ounces of it to half a cup of heavy cream. It came out a bit thicker than I expected but it worked well with the churros.

The recipe is very easy to follow and I did not have a difficult time with frying it than I thought I would. It was a bit difficult to make the dough because stirring the flour in and making sure you didn’t have lumps of powder in the dough was hard on my arms. I was a bit OC about it and really made sure I had a smooth and even dough to fry.

If you ever give this recipe (and the ganache) a try, please let me know!

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Saturday, December 15, 2018

Thinking About Septage Management

We never really know how lucky we were as kids until we had to be the adults themselves. Being an adult, aka “adulting,” is not an easy job. On my end, I just wing it and hope for the best.

The thing about adulting is that you become more aware and responsible of how things are around the house. When I was younger I never worried about plumbing, home repairs and all that. Now I do. I wish I didn’t have to but when you’re faced with leaks that need repairs and no one else to turn to, there’s no other choice.

One other thing I never thought I’d worry about? Septage. Specifically, septage management. Worrying about where the wastewater from our home (and toilets) go and when I have to get our septic tanks cleaned. It’s a dirty job (pun intended) but someone has to think and worry about it.

sewerage
Septage Management --- it's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it! (Photo from Bevlogenteams on Pixabay






In the Metro, I think that the water providers there also provide septage management services. For the provinces it's a bit different. I live in the province and out here, most homes have their own septic tanks where the sewage (wastewater from your home/toilet) goes. For most people, that means that every half a decade or so depending on the size of your home’s septic tank, you need to have all that removed or it’s going to overflow, which will cause more issues than having it removed/cleaned in the first place. Just picture it --- scary, isn’t it?

In recent years, I’ve heard that there is a law that requires all cities and municipalities to have a Septage Management Ordinance to ensure that all homes will have this whole septic tank issue taken care of by their local government (for a fee, of course). I think this is a good idea because hiring private septage service providers can be a bit of a hassle. It’s high time the government took action on this (I can’t stop wondering where some people might be putting their wastewater and as a germaphobe, it’s making me antsy.)

Septage management in the Philippines, these ordinances considered, is going in the right step environmentally. This would mean that all homes would be required to have their own septic tank. I know there are still homes that do not have this (which makes me wonder where all their wastewater, particularly from the toilet, goes) so to obligate them to have one or for the city or municipality to have its own sewerage system would be beneficial to the environment and to homeowners. The waste would be collected and would undergo a septage treatment process that would avoid waste water seeping into the soil and into groundwater sources. After treatment, the cleaned water can be reused for other purposes. I heard one municipality has already decided to store and give their treated water to the fire department.

I have no idea if our municipality has a septage management ordinance already, but I’m hoping since this is something that the national government wants that it’ll happen sometime soon. I don’t mind paying the local government to take care of the whole sewage problem, as long as the prices are not exorbitant compared to how it would be if a private contractor did the work – which brings me to the question: if the local government will have a septage management treatment process for sewerage in the municipality, what do the private contractors do with all the sewage? It’s not like I see treatment plants anywhere nearby. Do they – gasp – throw it somewhere that further pollutes the environment?

Sometimes I wish I wasn’t an adult, I really don’t want to be thinking and worrying about these things. It brings my anxiety issues to a whole new level of dread!

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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Recommended Blog: One Good Thing

Getting older means having different interests. Growing into the whole adult phase of my life has meant being interested in things for the home: quick fixes, tips and tricks and whatnot. I’ve read through home improvement books and magazines to find solutions for the things I want to get done at home but for the most part, they have not been simple and practical solutions. I don’t have a lot of money so some of the suggestions I’ve read were just too unrealistic and expensive for me.

One website that I regularly read and appreciate is One Good Thing by Jillee. It’s a blog that features home solutions for cleaning, organizing, home décor and all the other things that I have been looking for in home improvement magazines and books.

one good thing

There are so many tips and tricks on how to solve home improvement issues on this blog – I can’t even count how many pages of hers I’ve bookmarked so that I could get back to them when I know I’ll need them. The best part about all this is that Jillee always has solutions that are not that expensive and that are simple to follow and accomplish.

What kind of home improvement tips did I bookmark? Here are some of them:

Different Uses for Hydrogen PeroxideI’m a bit of a clean freak and reading about the many ways that Hydrogen Peroxide can clean and disinfect made me go and buy a big bottle that I can use so I can try out her tips for myself!

How to Remove Armpit Stains – Come on, we’ve all experienced this before. I noticed that my white shirts had armpit stains on them. I eventually avoided the problem by changing deodorants but I didn’t know until reading her post that you can actually remove the stains once they’re on your shirt.

How to Ditch Your Microwave – My family is dependent on this. I used to be too but once I found out how using microwave ovens is not healthy, I decided to not use one as much as possible. Once our microwave at home gave out, I made it a point not to have it fixed or replaced. I think that once you get used to it, you tend to feel that it’s not possible to live without it but it can be done. Jillee’s blog shows alternative solutions or what you can do if you don’t have a microwave to depend on.

DIY Polaroid Photo Coasters – This is something I have yet to try but I am looking forward to doing it. I’ve seen posts where the coasters are made of wood but tile might be a cute way to go. What do you think? Tile or wood?

Various Tips and Tricks – Jillee has a series of posts called “Why Didn’t I Think of That” where she gives various tips and tricks that can help you reuse or repurpose items to solve some home problems. At the time of this post she’s on part 5 of the series.

How to Clean Your House After an Illness – It’s a post that’s perfect for a germaphobe like me. I think that she has some really simple suggestions that we can all follow to make sure that our room is clean and germ-free after we get sick so we can fully recover. You don’t even have to be on a post-illness phase to do this. I think we should try this to avoid getting sick too.

Ideas for Reusing Disposable Items – I think that this is something we all can follow so that we don’t produce too much waste. You’d be surprised at how you can reuse so many items that you normally would just throw away!


Jillee also posts renovations she has made with her home and gives tips about how you can do the same thing for yourself. It’s inspiring to read because she really does all the improvements with her family and doesn’t have a contractor to do it for her. It makes you think that you can do it yourself too, no matter how scary or intimidating that sounds.

The blog also features recipes and great DIY gift and décor ideas for the holidays. I think that it’s a blog that you would enjoy reading if you are into that sort of thing. I know I am!

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Monday, December 10, 2018

Cheese Recipe: Rattlesnake Bites

I was going through some copycat recipes on Pinterest when I came across this copycat recipe of Texas Roadhouse’s Rattlesnake Bites from Alli of Tornadoughalli.com.  I have never been to Texas Roadhouse even if there is a branch here in the Phiippines so I have never tried this. I just know that I wanted to give it a shot. My nephew had also commented that I love cheese dishes too much too – so maybe that’s another reason why I wanted to try it.

My version technically isn’t a copycat of the Texas Roadhouse one since I skipped on the jalapenos – that’s what happens when you have kids in the house who you know will want to try whatever it is you’re cooking! I guess that means it isn’t really a rattlesnake bite since it doesn’t have that much of a kick to it but I will still call it Rattlesnake Bites. I kept a bit of the spice with pepper and paprika so technically it should still have a bit of a chili feel to it.

Ingredients

2 blocks of cheese, shredded (the original recipe called for Pepper Jack cheese, a spicy variant of Monterey Jack but since we don’t have that here I used plain cheddar cheese – 8 oz blocks)
1/2 cup flour
1 egg
1 cup milk (I used Magnolia fresh milk)
1 1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
Oil for frying

Instructions

Combine the shredded cheese and shape into balls. (According to the original recipe, shredding the cheese makes it easier to combine it into balls, in case you’re wondering why it was shredded if you were going to shape it into balls anyway.)

Prepare separate bowls for flour, milk and the bread crumbs mixed with pepper, paprika and garlic powder.

Roll the balls in flour, dip in milk and coat with bread crumbs mixed with seasonings.  Freeze.

Preheat your oil for frying.

Fry until golden brown and drain on a paper towel.


I have to note that the instructions called for the cheese balls to be 1 ½’ but I ended up having balls of different shapes and sizes because I didn’t know how to estimate the size of it. The cheese balls in the original recipe were also supposed to be dipped in milk and coated AFTER they are frozen and before you fry them. Due to time constraints, I dipped and froze them and fried them a few days later (the original recipe suggests 30 minutes). That might have had some effect with how the cheese bites where fried but they still turned out OK.

appetizers

The deep frying was a bit difficult since the cheese balls were frozen and once I put them in the oil the cheese just started melting away. I was worried that I wasn’t going to be able to produce anything considering what was happening!

I lowered the heat and let the cheese balls thaw a bit before I tried again. It was still a challenge but it was more manageable than the first time. I think that the whole dip-and-fry-later thing was a big reason for the fail, although it was also suggested that maybe the lack of jalapenos to hold it all together inside could also have been a big factor.

Considering that I kept in some of the spicy seasoning, it still wasn’t that spicy. Even the kids were dipping the cheese balls into chili sauce by the time we got around to eating it. I guess not having spicy cheese and jalapenos meant I should have been more generous with the spices.

Still, I’m happy with the turnout. It was scary to fry but it still turned out alright. The kids loved it. My sisters said it wasn’t as bad as I thought it turned out and I think it actually looks photogenic enough to pass for a good appetizer.

My favorite part about all the preparation was that I got to do this with my niece, who helped me every step of the way from the making of the cheese balls (there were a lot of them!) up to the frying (she was even better at it than I was).

Thank you Alli for posting this recipe. As far as appetizer recipes go, this was a good one!


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Sunday, December 9, 2018

Bookworm

If there’s one thing that people remember about me from my childhood days, it’s that I’m a bookworm. I love books. I love reading and being entertained by books and the stories they tell. I used to start reading in the morning and by the time the sun is setting people would have to remind me to turn on the light because I literally cannot get up to do it myself unless I cannot see anything at all anymore.

When I was a kid I was hooked to the Choose Your Own Adventure and Nancy Drew books. As I grew up, I liked the Sweet Valley and Sweet Dreams series of books. These all inspired me and made me want to be a writer. I remember that I used to write a lot of stories back then in my notebooks because I was inspired by the books that I was reading at the time.

bookworm
Photo from 4956365 from Pixabay.com

I think I had a sort of falling out of reading books for a while when I was busy in school and with work but lately I have been back to reading more often. I’ve even made a promise to myself that I would read at least one book a month and so far, I've done good in that department.

Here's a quick review on some books that I've read:

The Woman of Rome (Alberto Moravia) – The story of a young woman who started off as a model for painters and later became a prostitute to fulfill her dreams of a better life. I didn’t really like the story much. Not to say that it’s a bad book, maybe it’s not just my kind of story.

The Witch of Portobello (Paulo Coelho) – The story of a woman through the eyes of the many people who knew her. For me it was a story of how we can be different people to each and every person that we know or have met. I liked how the story was presented to the reader, moving from one point of view to another. Not the best book by Coelho but it was a good read.

A Whole New Mind (Daniel Pink) This isn’t really a novel but a book encouraging people to use both our left and right brain, something that the writer says is necessary for today’s world. It’s an interesting read with exercises and recommendations of websites to check out that can help understand the concepts explained in the book.

Beastly (Alex Flinn) – I haven’t seen the movie, but the book is merely a modern retelling of the classic fairy tale. I found myself imagining the actors in the movie but from what I’ve heard from people who have seen the film I think I like the book more than the movie.

I Am Number Four (James Frey and Jobie Hughes) Another book turned into a movie. Again, I liked the book more than the movie. I liked this book so much that I wasn’t able to put it down when I started it. I actually finished the book in one sitting (and it’s a pretty thick book). I was able to watch the movie and I was a little disappointed that there were a lot changes from the way the story was in the book.

The Guardian (Nicholas Sparks) I’m still in the middle of reading this and I’m not sure what I think about it yet. I heard it’s different from the Nicholas Sparks books I’ve loved like A Walk to Remember and The Notebook so I’m looking forward to finishing this one. Hope I’m not disappointed.


Hopefully I can read more books now that I have a tablet because I can bring so many books at one go with just that in my bag. There’s no excuse about not having the books easily accessible since I can now order the books online and have it downloaded onto the tablet when that happens.

So far I have read more than twelve books this year. I’m really looking forward to getting at least one Meg Cabot book on my list, along with all the other books I own but haven’t read yet like Blessed John Paul II’s Crossing the Threshold of Hope and the Dalai Lama’s A Good Heart. I also want to read Let the Great World Spin, which was recommended by Oprah Winfrey on her website a while back. My mom gave me a couple of new books as well and I plan on reading them too.

I hope that I can have enough time to read everything soon. I really need to turn off the TV more often.

If anyone has any book recommendations, please feel free to leave me a comment and tell me about it!

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Friday, December 7, 2018

Thoughts on Before the Flood

One thing that pushes my buttons a lot is the subject of the environment. I’m not an expert but I am concerned about the state of the world today and the effects of climate change on our daily lives and in the lives of future generations. I’m the type of person who would read the latest news for climate change. I’d try to learn about the facts of global warming and climate change when I can and subscribe to several environmental websites to learn more.

pollution
photo from kartal8167 on Pixabay

When it was announced that Leonardo Di Caprio’s film on climate change called Before the Flood was going to be streamed for free, I patiently waited for the release date and watched it online.

It was interesting to see the approach made by comparing the artwork The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymous Bosch to the state of the world today. Showing how we started from a paradise to a world being wasted to a future so ominous and dead, the painting does show what we are doing to the world if we don’t put an end to the way we live our lives today.

The film painted a clear picture of the damage being done to the world due to the use of fossil fuels and how big business is the reason that the words “climate change” is being ignored by many people in power. It was heartbreaking to see the places that Leonardo Di Caprio visited in Canada, Sumatra, India and in the North Pole and how climate change and man-made actions have changed the environment radically in those areas.

It was inspiring to see people who were acting and doing their part and admitting that it was just not enough if the people in power do not do their part. The Mayor from Florida who was raising roads and building drainage for flood control admitted there is only so much he can do since his Governor and Senator do not believe in climate change.

The President of Kiribati spoke of the reality that their country is sinking and he has even adopted a policy of migratio. He invested in land in another country where his people can migrate if they choose to do so because he wants his people to have a future. To make that effort means that the effect of climate change in his country is already very evident and migration is an option they would have to take.

I particularly loved the conversation with the outspoken woman from India who told Leo to that we must face facts and that the US consumption is really putting a hole in the planet and that it is the action of the US that would mean a lot for other countries to follow suit.

A part of the film that caught my attention was the conversation Leo had with Elon Musk of Tesla on how much would it take to power the world on sustainable energy. He said that it would take a hundred Gigafactories (producing batteries that can be charged by solar power to power villages, cities, etc) -- the tone of Di Caprio’s voice went up in surprise at how simple it sounds. It does make you think why is this not being supported when it is such a big solution to the problem at hand? Yes, a Gigafactory may be expensive but surely it is not as expensive as the cost of or the damage being made on the world to harvest oil and natural gas or burn coal. It really all goes back to how big business, the ones that support politicians, lobby against it. Why can’t these big companies work with Tesla and make their own Gigafactories instead? Why can’t we as voters do what we can to demand that our leaders take a stand for the environment and do something to make things better?

It was also inspiring to watch the part with Dr. Piers Sellers of NASA. It’s inspiring how this man, who has stage 4 cancer, is doing his part to inform people about climate change. It shows how passionate he is about this and for me, it just proves how real this is for a man near death to warn people of what is happening. He said that we can reverse the damage done to the atmosphere. He said that if we were to stop now, the heat will continue for a while but after that the earth will start to heal itself. There is hope!

Hope is the big element about this film that I loved the most. I’ve seen several documentaries about climate change and they’ve all been about doom and gloom but this one did not do that. It didn’t just show the damage that has been done but it also gets into the heart of what can be done to change it and the hope that we still have that we can make things better.

Here’s to hoping that a lot of people watched the documentary and were affected by it and will do their part to help the environment. I hope that things do change for the better in the future.
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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Bellevue Alabang -- I Want to Go Back!

There are times in my line of work that I get to travel. Prior to my trips, I try to find the best deals on hotel rooms, because I usually stay in low-budget hotels as per office policy. I try to make sure that I read hotel reviews before making a booking just so there would be no surprises during my stay. The best hotels, however, are usually off-limits unless there is a need to be at the same hotel where an event is being held, as was the case a couple of years back when I attended a convention at Bellevue Alabang.

The previous time I stayed at Bellevue I had stayed at the Main Wing. The room was OK, but it wasn’t anything notable. The second time around we were booked at the Tower Wing and I think the room was much better than the last one that I stayed in. I don’t know how to explain it, but the room at the Tower Wing seemed bigger and more luxurious looking than the previous room I stayed in at the Main Wing. I heard from a friend also staying at the hotel that the Tower Wing was newer than the Main Wing so maybe that was the reason for it.

hotel room

hotel room

Like most hotel rooms of this class, this room had a mini-ref, provisions for coffee and tea, a safe, an ironing board and hair dryer. The room had two pairs of slippers, robes, sets of towels and toiletries as well. There was also a welcome fruit bowl and a couple of bottles of water.

hotel room

hotel room

hotel room

I loved how spacious the room was. There was enough space for a study/dresser table, coffee table, and a comfortable seat by the side of the room. There was also a large flat TV with enough cable channels to entertain you if you couldn’t fall asleep.

Most of my friends know that the big deal for me when choosing a place to stay is a good toilet and bath. It is the deal breaker for me. Luckily, the one in our room did not disappoint. There was a tub, a separate shower, a large sink area and mirror and a clean and relatively new (I think) toilet. I wanted to try the tub when I was there but we were too busy with our convention for me to do so. Maybe next time.

hotel room

My only comments about the room are about the shower and the toilet: the shower only had a telephone shower – I would have preferred one of those rainfall shower heads considering the kind of hotel I was staying in. As for the toilet, I think it was a little too high for me (or maybe I’m just a bit too short) that I felt that my feet were dangling whenever I was on it, which was a bit uncomfortable.

hotel room

hotel room

The bed, on the other hand, was so comfortable that I didn’t want to leave once I was in it. The moment I checked in and sat on the bed I was having second thoughts about going downstairs and attending our event because I just wanted to lie down in bed and get under the equally comfy covers. The pillows were a bit too soft for my taste but once I put one over the other it was all good. It would have been nice if I had extra pillows though because I’m a crazy pillow person when I sleep.

hotel room

Breakfast was free for our booking and we had it at their Phoenix Court restaurant, which is also at the Tower Wing. There was a wide selection to choose from, but I think the selection at their other restaurant at the Main Wing was bigger based on the last time I was there. Still, it was a good meal and I have no complaints.

At P4,500.00 for one night, the stay at Bellevue Alabang was worth the money. The room, the food, the very courteous hotel staff made that last stay memorable for me. I wanted to stay longer if I could. I’m hoping that I could bring my family over for a staycation sometime soon because I enjoyed my stay. I've stayed in similarly starred hotels but this hotel is the better one of them.

I was supposed to book my family a stay at Bellevue over the holidays but I just couldn't find an available date that would fit my schedule. Maybe sometime next year I can come back and relax there a bit.

Bellevue Alabang, I’ll see you again soon (I hope). Stay lovely.









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Monday, December 3, 2018

Appetizer Recipe: Crab Rangoon

During my random attempts at cooking, one category that I wanted to accomplish was seafood cooking. I had tried the Steamed Cream Dory in Light Soy Sauce and it was a success so I decided to try another one.

I was searching for seafood ideas and found some appetizer recipes featuring seafood. I found a recipe from Alison of Pint Sized Treasures for Crab Rangoon and decided that this was the recipe that I was going to try. I changed up the crab meat and opted to use the crab sticks you can buy at the grocery store but other than that, the recipe stays the same.

appetizer recipe


Ingredients


2 cups vegetable oil
5 ozs crab meat (I used two packs of crab sticks – I decided to use more than recommended since it wasn’t the real deal)
1 box cream cheese (at room temperature) – recommended was 6 oz but I used an 8 oz box, the more cheese for me the better!
1 clove garlic (minced)
1 green onion (thinly sliced)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1 dash lemon juice
Egg Roll wrappers – I used more than the recommended 12, I think I used one pack of the wrappers

Instructions


1. In a large bowl, beat together cream cheese, garlic, onion, Worcestershire sauce, salt and lemon juice until thoroughly combined.

2. Stir in chopped up crab sticks until mixed completely through.

3. Place a generous serving of the crab mixture on each egg roll wrapper and roll up. Be careful not to put too much to make the egg roll too bloated and ruin the wrapper.

4. Fry egg rolls in 2 cups of hot oil on medium-high heat for approximately 2-3 minutes per egg roll. Drain and serve. (Another change I made to the recipe was to slice up each of the egg rolls into two, which meant there were more servings that there originally were supposed to be.)


This recipe was something I worked and bonded over with my niece, who was my assistant throughout the entire process. She oversaw the mixing together of the cheese mixture and wrapping the cheese into the egg roll. It was good to see her interested in the process and helping because it usually takes a lot for us to get her to help with housework.

The entire process was easy to do. My niece and I prepared the egg rolls a few days in advance so that all we had to do on the day was to deep fry the pieces and cut them up for serving. We set everything up and kept the rolls in the freezer until it was time for frying.

One thing that you must remember when deep frying something from the freezer is to let it thaw out first before frying. I tried one egg roll straight from the freezer and the cheese mixture was practically melting away before I could thaw it out and get it ready. Once we got the rolls down to a reasonably thawed state, frying was easy and the result was a golden-brown egg roll with a warm, melted cheese mixture on the inside.  We added some chili sauce for dipping but the egg roll was good enough by itself so we ended up not dipping it into anything.

The Crab Rangoon I remember trying a few years ago: it was in a small, triangle shaped wrapper. This version for me is much better because biting into all that cheese is part of the satisfying part of the meal. The small triangle-shaped Rangoon I had before had too small a serving that I didn’t enjoy it as much.

This is one of the recipes that I will try again in the future. It’s simple and the ingredients are easy to acquire. I’d probably have to make more next time though because I don’t think we had enough of it the last time. If I could change one more thing about the recipe next time it would be to add more green onion or at some celery to make the filling more colorful and crispy. I’m not sure if that will work but I’d love to give it a try.

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