Time to Indulge

Saturday, April 28, 2012

It's my summer vacation! I now have more time to do non-academic things - for leisure and for helping around the house. I wish I could go somewhere out of town to really experience summer but I'm terribly broke and stuck in Manila. To cheer myself up, I have been trying to spend each day of summer worth while.

I sleep really late every night (or rather, very early every morning) because I have been doing my chores and watching dramas/movies online. I have been engrossed in the world of Asian drama, particularly the Korean drama Love Rain, starring Im Yoona (from SNSD) and Jang Geun Seuk (I've been a fan of him since his appearance in Hwang Jin Yi and You're Beautiful ♥). They say that the show had low ratings in Korea, but that did not stop me from watching it! I'm still waiting for the release of episode 11, so I could not say much about it as a whole.

Being in front of my laptop the whole day gets pretty lonely and dragging at some point, so once in a while, I try to spending time with close friends, both from high school and college. I chat with Tricia almost every night, just exchanging ideas about film and fashion, and when we're both free, we go to the mall to shop. I also bond with my high school friends. The girls came over to my house the other day to play, and they made other plans for next week too, I hope they push through!!

spent Friday the 13th having fun with high school friends
I have been writing a lot as well, revising a few pieces of poetry and journalizing my personal thoughts, hence, this blog. I have a bunch of books to read in my bookshelf! Seeing them keeps me excited because I never had the time to read for fun with my majors and thesis work last term. I have been reading and familiarizing myself with other blogs too. A week ago, I managed to win a pair of purple-white shades from Matchmakerme x Firmoo blog giveaway (see their press release here to find out more) and a couple of lovely cupcakes from LLC x Style Surgery by Megann. Yum! Thank you, guys!! ♥

Because this blog is all about my summer indulges, I could not help but confess that I also have been eating like a pig. Seriously. I have been trying to reduce my calorie intake but my mom brought home a sack full of chocolates, so I have been eating nonstop. Self-control, where are youuu? I have been having a yoyo kind of diet, which is not good. I'm trying to convince myself that by eating, I am making myself happy. And well.. I really am, honestly. I'm helping other people decide what to eat, too! How? By writing food reviews~

Today, I commuted under the scorching sun, traveled via Jeepney-MRT-LRT to Taft for my love for cupcakes. I think I have gotten two shades darker because of the Manila heat and sun, but I'm not complaining. I got to spend time with my best friend, doing what we love best - eating! I'm still so full from what I ate earlier. It's kind of funny when I remember how my day went. Here's a part two of my Little Louie's Cupcakes flavor adventure, including two of their latest flavors--

Overstuffed PB&J Chunk: The taste is definitely different from other cupcakes. It's like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich plus more. You won't get bored eating it because it's loaded with flavor. The first layer of vanilla cake matches well with the peanut butter and you get a bonus of chocolate frosting topped with nuts and a drizzle of strawberry jam. The design is also very chic: a heart-shaped fondant is placed on the middle, surrounded by honey roasted peanuts. Sweet!

Hazelnut Dream: Since I am a huge fan of chocolate cakes, this has become one of my faves! It's yummy and rich. The frosting melts easily when you bite, giving you a taste of Nutella mixed with the buttercream frosting. The hazelnut on top gives me the same delight as when I eat the almond in a piece of Ferrero Rocher chocolate. Will definitely buy more of theseee!

Jack Daniel's Cupcake: I ordered this cupcake for my sister because she was curious about how it would taste. I took a bite of it myself. There's a faint taste of alcohol in it, adding to the richness of the chocolate. The crushed nuts sprinkled on top seals the overall flavor. 

Golden Banana Crumb: The banana is my favorite fruit of all time. I love everything banana - banana split, banana bread, banana shake, bananaque, turon, banana chips, and now this. The whole cupcake design is simple and is very true to its name. The golden crumbs add crunch to every bite, and the sponge cake, with noticeable banana dots, is moist and full of flavor. For me, it's like a yummy cupcake version of a banana bread.

I wish I had pictures, but the cupcakes have been through so much that they became unphotogenic by the time I reached home. It was reaaaalllyyy crowded in the train; people were pushing each other, including me, cupcakes in hand - but that's really no surprise. It's a good thing that I still get to eat them. See the first part of my LLC blog post here! ☺

A Mind-Blowing World of Science

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A couple of weeks ago, Ivan and I went to The Mind Museum at Bonifacio Global City, Taguig as an alternative class for Physics. I have always wanted to go, but I never had the time to. My sister gave me four passes to their soft opening last month, but I was not able to use them, so I was really happy about this fun, albeit spontaneous, trip.

The Mind Museum completed its construction last December 15, 2011 and it finally opened to the public on March 16, 2012. It celebrates the infinite story of science and promotes learning to Filipinos, both young and old. The museum is the very first world-class science museum in the country, and encourages the understanding and advancement of science to help with the development of our nation as a whole. We went to the 3-6pm time slot. When I got there, there was already a crowd of people lining up to enter the museum. Parents were trying to get their restless children to behave, while some others were taking pictures at the Introduction Hall. The facilities were wonderful. Even the lavatories were clean and modern-looking.

The very first thing that you see in the museum is Aedi, the robot. She welcomes the guests, advises them to read the signs, and tells them to enjoy their Mind Museum experience. I would have to admit that I was not able to really maximize my stay there because I was too preoccupied with taking pictures. The signs are insightful and they are there to help the visitors understand the nature of the display. There are four main galleries found in the first floor: Universe, Earth, Life, and Atom. The second floor showcases the Technology gallery, and it is also where the function rooms, cafeteria, and auditorium are located. I felt like a little kid exploring the whole place. Ivan kept asking me, "Why are you so happy?" because I could not stop smiling in awe of the whole place. Each gallery has a unique and enlightening story waiting to be shared.

The Majesty of the Universe

The Universe Gallery gives one the feeling of being outer space. It features a mini-planetarium, a ceiling of stars, images from the Hubble Space Telescope, and models of the planets. Unfortunately, during our visit, the Mars Rover exhibit was not working because it got too tired from too much rough play. Still, the exhibits are fun in a way that one could explore the story of the Universe on his/her own, by listening to the speakers, pressing touch-screen monitors, and just appreciating how much space travel has developed. My favorite part of this gallery would be the part where you can control and see different phases of the moon. It was fascinating and educational at the same time, and I think it was the closest I can get to attaining my childhood dream of becoming an astronaut.

Nature Across the Breadth of Time

From the Universe Gallery, there's a Tunnel Craft corridor that leads to the Earth Gallery. It makes one dizzy because the whole thing kept spinning but it was really cool because I felt being warped into a different zone - from a star-filled galaxy to the prehistoric age of the Earth. The Earth Gallery focuses on nature and the history of our own planet. From viewing the exhibits, I learned how the natural history began with the Hadean Eon 4.6-4 billion years ago, followed by the Archean Eon, Proterozoic Eon, the Cambrian period, all the way to the Quaternary period where the evolution of man came. The highlight of this gallery would be the “tyrant lizard king” or T-Rex named Stan. It amazes me how about 65 million years ago, this dinosaur was alive and walking on land. I also read that the scars on his bones are signs of the wars he fought for survival. There were footprints of Stan and some rocks (one guide said it was actually his feces that hardened and turned to rock. Uhh.) around the 40-feet skeletal creature. The gallery presents the development and lifetime of the T-Rex and also other educational exhibits such as mass extinctions – how destruction was “a part of life,” the formation of the tornado, fires/eruption of a volcano, oceans, and the how the sky gets its blue color from the scattering of short wavelengths.

The Exuberance of Life

The Life Gallery is all about the human body, the living organisms, and its habitats. The exhibits shows theories on how life began, the Human Story – from “Lucy” to Homo Sapiens, DNA, and other parts of the body. One feature was the enlarged human brain and its different functions. For example, the Hypothalamus is responsible for hunger and thirst, while the Amygdala for feelings of anger, fear, and distress. There was also a life-size model of whale shark, the largest fish in the world, on display. I also enjoyed the rubber displays of different animal teeth, the Amino acids that light up when you press them, and the exhibit on taste of the human tongue.

The Strange World of the Very Small

Beside that is the Atom Gallery, which showcases the world of the very small - things we do not often notice. What lead me to this gallery was the huge melting chocolate bar that represented how all of the things are made up of atoms. I had to hide my disappointment when I found out that it wasn't a real chocolate bar. Haha. One of the things I liked most about the gallery is its interactive displays. I had fun posing in the shadow box, where the wall absorbs light flash and retains my silhouette for a few seconds. There were also exhibits on the Static Van de Graaff, where experimenting with electrons and current leaves your hair strands standing, the Newton's Cradle, frequencies, energy forms, and functional groups of the organic molecule. I remembered things I learned in high school, which was really nice and kind of nostalgic. There is also a Light Tunnel that is connected to the Universe Gallery. It shows the decreasing wavelength, examples of Gamma Rays, X-Rays, Ultraviolet, Visible Light (my favorite part - the lights were colorful and pretty), Infrared, Microwaves, and Radio Waves.

The Showcase of Human Ingenuity
From the original Gutenberg printing press to helper machines like the MIROSurge Robotic System, the last gallery, Technology, shows the development of human life itself. It presents different fields: mathematics, literature, agriculture, as well as technological innovations like robots and cars.

The Mind Museum definitely offers a very unique learning experience for everyone, and I was glad that I was able to see the wonders of science in a dynamic kind of way. Here are some suggestions for those who want to visit The Mind Museum:
  • Come on time so you can maximize your stay. Three hours may not be enough to explore the whole place.
  • Bring a nice camera so you can take good pictures of the exhibits. I only used my iPhone camera so the images I have are a bit low-res.
  • Read the signs and use the touch-screen monitors. Some people don't notice these things but they are really useful and educational. There are even mini games in some touch screen monitors.
  • Have fun! You don't have to be a science geek to enjoy the experience, just let curiosity take over your mind. ☺
You can buy tickets online or at the museum itself. Visit their website to find out more. ☺

Forever Grateful

Friday, April 20, 2012

"Remember, there are no mistakes, only lessons. Love yourself, trust your choices, and everything is possible." - Cherie Carter-Scott
I'm typing this because grades were just released online. This blog is an avenue for me to over-share, and at the same time, encourage some readers out there who might be going through a similar situation. This is not an I'm-so-happy-I-feel-like-bragging kind of post, but a way to express my thankfulness and awe to the Most High. I checked my My.Lasalle account this evening, not really hoping for anything. Being that it is already my third year in college, I have grown accustomed to the servers crashing, students complaining, and, yes, failures.

Just to give a background, during my 1st year I was a consistent dean's lister. Back then, we were still adjusting from high school and only had floating / general ed subjects. ENGLRES (Basic Research) was probably the most difficult class we had that year. My second year grades were mediocre. It was my first time taking majors. I was no longer a dean's lister, and I told myself I would do better next term. I never had a grade lower than 2.0, so I was still in running for Latin honors, which was kind of a big thing for me. My third year started okay. It was fun and I enjoyed being one of the veterans or the more experienced people on campus. Sure, classes became even more challenging but I felt unbeatable. Eliza is someone who never fails. She's smart and responsible, an admirable student... Little did I know that I was going to get the biggest slap in the face that term. I did all I can as I soon became aware of the danger I was in (academically), but in the end, I failed not one, but two classes - which is equivalent to six units total. I don't have to share all the details, but I felt terrible. My friends and family, especially Ivan and my brother, had to deal with me crying all the time. It was the worst feeling I had in a long time. I could no longer get a Latin honor award even if my CGPA reached the minimum requirement because of those 6 units. I was no longer graduating on time because one class I failed is only offered seasonally, so I have to extend a term to take it again. It seemed like everything was going against me. I was ashamed to be in front of my friends and my parents. People who don't usually show concern would surprisingly try to make me smile and all. My seatmate tried cracking jokes, another friend hugged me in the hallway when I passed by her. Some sent encouraging text messages. It was comforting and I appreciated it, but I was still so disappointed at myself. It does not erase the fact that I was a failure.
"When a person's steps follow the LORD, God is pleased with his ways. If he stumbles, he will not fall, because the LORD holds his hand." - Psalm 37:23-24 (NCV)
Even though I felt down, I knew I couldn't stay like that for long. I still made mistakes here and there, and I even almost failed again because of tardiness, but God was faithful all throughout. Everything He created is a solution to a problem, and in my case, failing that one time became a huge wake-up call. I could not blame anyone else. I have broken my focus, and that was why I have fallen, but God is holding my hand and helps me back up. It's okay not to be perfect all of the time, and my parents would still support me no matter what. A WWJD Power Statement says, "Jesus' style was to take the value system of the world and turn it upside-down. Winning and success are highly prized in our world but God can use failure and defeat to make us more like Himself." :) I could not agree more. My mistake made stronger and strive harder. I am not proud of that really ugly mark in my transcript, but I am sure proud of my God. By faith, I handled failure well. It doesn't matter how deep you fall, but how high you bounce back!!
"Have faith in God today. He holds all the answers. He sets miracles into motion. He will begin to change things in your favor." - Joel Osteen
Back to my story: So I checked my grades. Surprisingly, My.Lasalle was working well and I was able to see them without delay. I was still lacking one grade, but I already knew what I got because we computed it earlier in class. It was already my second take that one class, so I worked extra harder. From 0.0 I got... a 4.0. ☺ Imagine the whole hallelujah chorus in the background when I computed my grade. As for my other subjects, I am really happy with them - thesis, majors, and floating classes alike. 1st honor Dean's Lister again this term - I'm back on track! I really could not get over the fact. After seeing my grades and computing my GPA, I ran to my brother's room and really cried. I think I got tears and snot all over his pillow, haha. He laughed at me and gave me a hug. After a really terrible 1st term, I ended my third term of my third year well. I'm praying for even more wisdom and guidance so I will be able to keep this up. Thank you, Lord, for your goodness and overflowing love for me. I take back what I said - I am not a failure. I may have lost a couple of times, but I definitely won the battle against myself and my own ego. Working my butt off was really worth it!

Love for Literature

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Last Wednesday was one of the biggest days of my life as a literature major - we had our very last major class with my block and the dreaded Thesis1 Defense. The night before, I was very unsure of how I should prepare. I was really worried that I might fail, afraid that the panel was going to grill me alive. I ended up doing my nails while re-reading my thesis to ease my nervousness. On the day itself, I arrived three hours early so I could watch my classmates with their defense. I met my mentor outside the classroom. He was very kind and supportive. He told me that there is nothing to worry about and that I should just be confident with what I have prepared. I made at least five trips to the library that day. At 1:30pm, the Vice Chair asked me to begin with a word of prayer - this really helped because one can never say too much prayers. God always listens. ☺ The defense went smoother than I had imagined. Despite my stuttering and inability to express my thoughts well, the panel was honest and suggested a lot of ideas to improve my work. I would look at my mentor from where I was and he would give a reassuring nod. I'm doing okay. After deliberation, they told me my grade. It was a lot higher than I expected, and I was really happy. 

Thesis1 Defense done! ☺ with lit blockmates Clari, Marian, and Bea
As I was walking along SJ Walk, I passed by one of my batchmates. He had his final thesis defense that day and passed with flying colors. I congratulated him because after three grueling years in college, he was graduating. As cliche as it may sound, really, time flies so fast. It made me think a lot. Just one more term, I would say to myself. I would make my parents proud too.

After a few hours of chitchat in school, Sharmaigne, April, and I proceeded to Bistro Remedios in Malate for our Southeast Asian Literature class Fellowship Night. It was our very last 'class' together so everyone was feeling nostalgic. The whole restaurant was designed like an old Filipino household, with stained glass and classic wooden interiors. Several musicians serenaded our evening with traditional Filipino songs and a couple of Spanish songs. The food there was also very delicious. They served our rice from split bamboo shoots. It's sticky and flavored with small pieces of chicken, mushroom, and shrimp. Aside from the yummy Bamboo Rice, we also had the Adobong Kambeng (goat meat stewed in soy sauce, vinegar, and garlic), Binukadkad na Crispy Pla Pla (butterflied fried pla pla fish served with bato bato and fresh mustard leaves), Sinigang na Tapi at Bangus (traditional Filipino sour soup with milk fish and vegetables), and another white dish with sauce (I think it was the Hipon sa Saluyot at Labong, tender bamboo shoots and jute's mallow sauteed with shrimps and enriched with coconut cream).

Binukadkad na Crispy Pla Pla - my personal favorite

We had Golden Banana Crumb from LLC for dessert. Thanks, Jes! 

Smile and I were both in costume~

Peter was reciting a poem that he wrote.
We ate heartily, played guessing games, and just walked down memory lane. Some classmates presented their final creative project and gave parting gifts, while our professor, also the Chair of the Literature Department, took commemorative photos. It was a pleasant time to eat good food with great company. After dinner, we proceeded to Cafe Adriatico to end the night with a more conversations in a relaxing atmosphere.

I took a cab with April and Sharmaigne back to La Salle because it was already getting late. It was overall a wonderful and memorable day. As I was in the train going home, I got a message from April saying that she had a great time and was thankful for our company. Again, it reminded me of how much we have gone through as a block together. Surviving the qualifying exams and interview, a probationary period as majors, the comprehensive exams, and now, thesis - I have gotten so far in the program. I could not count the times I have wanted to give up or shift to another course, something that others would deem 'useful' in the corporate world, but I always convince myself that I am pursuing my passion.

After three years in college, I have learned that it takes a whole lot more than love for reading to survive in the literature program. You would be forced to read things you may not like or agree with, to finish a number of novels and write critical papers in less than a week, to theorize and over-analyze, think twice about your taste for books, and you may end up disliking the very thing that you love doing all together. It happened to me, and at some point in my lit 'journey' I had wished that I had taken a different course in a different college. When people find out that I am taking lit as a degree, they would follow up with a question of "what will that make you?" or "what job would you get after graduation?" A lot of my close friends know that I have been constantly asking myself whether I want this or not. Am I doing this right? How will this help me with life or business in the long run? I'm still striving. And little by little, I get answers.

I am very thankful for the professors and the friends that had been with me in the program. They make me feel that what I am doing is really worth it. I still have a term (hopefully) to go before I finally march down the graduation aisle, so I still have a lot to do and learn. I may not have classes with my blockmates any more, but I'm sure I would still see some of them around campus. At the end of my third year, I now find myself looking back at how fun and stressful the years had been.

There are days where I feel like I don't want to do anything productive. I was already taking Thesis Writing 1 along with my major and general classes, so it was really one helluva term. I have already experienced failures and disappointments, and yet I am a queen of procrastination. I find a lot of reasons to keep myself from doing what I have to do. People say that when choosing a course or a job, one should pursue the thing that they love the most. I took up literature because I love reading. It was as simple as that. Reading is a way to explore the world outside my own, to learn and appreciate life through the written word. I like the smell of freshly printed ink on paper, the feel of running my fingers through pages and pages of paperbacks, the sound of someone reciting lines of a sonnet... No matter how tough it gets, I'm finishing what I started.

I love literature. Let's leave it at that.

Credits to Peter Pichler for some of the photos. ☺

Crazy over Little Louie's Cupcakes

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Cupcakes! Fresh and yummy home-baked cupcakes!
I felt the need to blog because I have been craving nothing but sweets these past few days, and Little Louie's Cupcakes have always been my go-to store to get my cupcake fix.

From Top to Left: Little Louie's Peppermint Oreo, Granny's Spiced Red Velvet,
Salted Caramel, and Golden Caramel Cupcake

Ever since Cupcakes by Sonja opened its store in Serendra, a lot of bakers and pastry enthusiasts tried starting their own cupcake business. It's not just a fad. In fact, because of the variety of flavors and designs, these yummy sugary sponges have replaced chocolates and flowers as presents for special occasions. You see them in food bazaars everywhere. They have become every girl's guilty pleasure.

I've been ordering cupcakes almost every week now from my lit blockmate, Jessica Clemente. She runs her own cupcake business named after her younger sister, Louie. What started as a hobby to treat her sister with scrumptious goodies grew into a booming business today. Little Louie's Cupcakes are made from the freshest and finest ingredients. Jes personally bakes each piece with heart and creativity. I say this with certainty because I have observed that the cupcakes that I order from her are perfectly frosted and embellished with lovely toppings, making the whole look appetizing. My friends and I all love and support LLC! A few weeks ago, I ordered a box of customized Milk Chocolate cupcakes to encourage a good friend of mine, in line with the campaign happening on the USG General Elections at that time. From the look of the cupcakes alone, LLC does not disappoint. The presentation is very clean and simple, following the colors of the political party. They look too good to eat!

Santugon (Blue and Yellow) Themed Cupcakes for Ivan
Customized orders are perfect presents! Ivan was so happy when he received the cupcakes that he tried preserving them in the fridge for as long as he could. :)) It really amazes me how Jes is able to design such delicious cupcakes in exactly how the customers want them. After reading about it on Facebook, a guy friend asked me about LLC because he wanted to surprise a girl he likes with a box of these sugary treats. It's the best way to be sweet to a special friend, literally.

Just this morning, we had to present our final creative projects in our Southeast Asian Literature class. This is what Jes did for her creative output:
Cupcakes that Jes specially baked for our SEALITE class
They're so creative and cute! The designs symbolize certain points from the texts we had read. This was given to our professor at the end of the period. The whole class was impressed by Jes' work and was silently wishing for free cupcakes too. Haha.

The flavors that LLC offers are rich and original. Aside from the classic vanilla and chocolate flavors, LLC makes use of unique ingredients like Golden Oreos, fresh zucchinis, Bailey's® Irish Cream, and Jack Daniel's whiskey to add more mouthwatering goodness in the recipes. They have also recently released their sugar-free line! Now more people can enjoy these lovely cuppies (Apple Carrot, Dark Chocolate, Lemon Zucchini, and Granny's Spiced Red Velvet) without feeling guilty from eating too much sugar.

I have personally tried some of their best selling flavors: Salted Caramel, Granny's Spiced Red Velvet, and Golden Caramel Cupcakes.

The Salted Caramel cupcake has been a favorite among LLC lovers and first-time customers. It has the right amount of chocolate spongy sweetness and a salted core that makes you 'puke rainbows' (as one customer commented on the LLC page). My brother really liked it too, and he just had a single bite. Eating this goodie left me wanting for more.

Granny's Spiced Red Velvet is not just your ordinary red velvet cupcake. It is rich and moist, with an added twist of special blended spices. The swirled cream cheese on top complements the whole taste of this red treat. A friend  of mine (who does not know Jes personally) commented on how this was the best red velvet cupcake she had ever tasted. It's definitely different because of the distinct zingy flavor added to it.

The Golden Caramel Cupcake is a newly added flavor in the menu. I ordered it on a whim because at that time, the Vanilla and Milk Chocolate cupcakes were not available. I love ittttt. The taste is not too sweet. It's soft to bite and the bits of golden oreos on top provide the right amount of crunchiness to the whole cupcake. It's made a classic vanilla base with caramel and yummy Golden Oreos, plus a mix of Swiss meringue buttercream. I like the whole look of this cupcake. It's a definite must try!

For my next order, I want to try the Golden Banana Crumb (I should have ordered this long ago because it's made from my favorite fruit!), Lemon Zucchini (I'm really curious about how this would taste. They say that it doesn't taste like the veggie at all because of the good mix of spices and vanilla cream cheese), and Bailey's Irish Cream. I just can't get enough. LLC should open a bakery / cafe near Taft so I could satisfy my cravings (in the near future, maybe?). I'm so excited to eat and try them all!

Check out their Facebook page or email Jes Clemente at littlelouie_cupcakes@yahoo.com to view their complete menu. :) Order NOW! You know you want to! :>