Monday, April 9, 2012

Why I love staycations

A new word I've learned from reading foreign articles is "staycation": just a fancy term for spending some time off from work to stay home, having little or no cash to spend on travel expenses, especially that the US and European economies are in recession. Since hubby and I resolved to have only one travel vacation every year, and we already have plans to travel some time at the end of this year, we decided to spend this year's holy week at home, just resting, having a "staycation" as American yuppies are wont to call it.

Now that our five-day long staycation is finally over, hear are some finer points of our homemade R&R:

Day 1, Maundy Thursday
After having spent three days at work, this day was spent being idle: napping, Facebook browsing, novel reading. Around night time, because of too much inactivity I began to fantasize about things to do, places to visit; this inspired me to purchase online a month's worth of belly dancing classes. So much for trying to save up but hey: at least I got it on sale.

Day 2, Good Friday
Okay, symptoms of boredom are finally becoming apparent. Now beginning to picture my office desk with longing. I did feel unnerved at the lack of ringing phones and / or elevator bells. To counter this feeling, I began to memorize cookie and cake recipes for when I save up enough to buy an oven for baking. In the end, I microwave-baked three batches of cookies: plain chocolate chips, and two experimental flavors of double chocolate chip and oat-cinnamon chocolate chip. Mental note: use decaf coffee powder in the double chocolate chip cookie dough next time.

Day 3, Black Saturday
An idle mind is evil. Or the playground of the devil? Whatever, I decided to begin rearranging our study room. Even with his cough and fever (which had been going on for about a week), hubby helped me move my desktop PC / study desk downstairs, right next to the kitchen. This way I can be baking cookies and working on spreadsheets, for when I start my own baking business someday. (As you may have noticed, I did a lot of building castles in the air.) My new desktop setup is so sweet, with hubby's geeky World of Warcraft minis and my own collector's edition games, The Sims 3 and Spore Galactic Edition. And the living / dining / kitchen areas are now spotless and pomengranate-scented, thanks to my new reed diffuser, a gift from last Christmas. All these because I needed an outlet for my energies.

Day 4, Easter Sunday
Finally got started on my borrowed Batman comic books. In between scenes of Gotham City, I began to plot out my plans for an herb garden. So right after lunch I put on some sunblock and went to the palengke, hoping to get some herb seedlings. Unfortunately, the Pasig Public Market does not sell these, so I decided to take a bus to the Farmer's Garden in Cubao, right in my sweat pants and ratty tsinelas. When I found the right stall that sells the variety of seedlings that I wanted, I had a field day trying to catch the tindera's attention, who was having a very deep siesta. Begrudgingly, I had to take a halo-halo break and wait for her to wake up, in which I discovered a shop selling commercial-grade kitchen items, but still in shopping mall prices. I got myself a potato masher and a spatula since my old spatula got broken from my intense cookie-baking episode last Friday. When I came back to the Garden, I bought seven species of plants (thyme, basil, oregano, dill, tarragon, rosemary and sampaguita) and some potting soil. Immediately, I planted these in a tiny plot near our front door. I was so inspired that right afterwards, I took a shower and went to the mall to browse for some more gardening items and herb seedlings.

Day 5, Araw ng Kagitingan
Despite promising myself that I'll wake up early since its a week day, I still woke up late. Mental note: tomorrow, I can't be idle anymore. (Yay!) I spent the whole afternoon clearing up some more garden space in our yard and gathered enough kindling wood to barbecue a whole pig. I didn't know we had so much yard space hiding underneath all those dried leaves.

Five days off from work and I still found myself being productive. I guess I can take myself off from work, but not take the work off from me. But I enjoyed all those five days immensely. Mental note: take a real breather next time!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Guilt-less Fantasies Cupcakes

Although I love sweets, I have never been a cake person. This is why I don't pay much attention to cupcakes. Besides being a heavy snack, a cupcake can be hideously fattening! Sometimes, though, very pretty and very cute cupcakes make me want to eat them!

If you do pay attention to the sugar content in food in order to keep from getting fat, or if you are a diabetic, these cupcakes will be good news to you. A supplier called Guilt-less Fantasies produces sugar free cupcakes in various custom made designs. For a recent baby shower, we got these wonderful cupcakes. Charming!

 More pictures after the jump!

Yabu Restaurant, Megamall

Cross-section of a deep fried oyster. Yum!
It is no secret that my husband and I love Japanese food. If we're out and the question of where to eat comes up, nine out of ten times the answer will be a Japanese restaurant. Since we are both creatures of habit (ie, we are too lazy to venture out of our usual stomping grounds) our favorite eating places of Japanese food are quite few. 

Luckily, we chanced upon a new restaurant in Megamall, called Yabu, quite near Teriyaki Boy where we have our usual Japanese fare. On the window is a sign that says "soft opening": we knew we were up for something new.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Mochi Balls: Conquered

Finally, I found galapong! It made a world of difference. Although my shelled sweet beans ended up in the trash, I used cubes of cheddar cheese and my mochi balls ended up sweet-salty-sticky, yummy!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Long Weekend Day 2: Glutinous Rice Balls

One of my favorite frozen yogurt toppings is mochi. This sweet, chewy treat compliments the creamy tartness of yogurt. You could say I'm a mochi fan. So when I found a magazine recipe for mochi, I was completely won over. Never mind that its a Filipino recipe and the type of mochi that I like are Japanese almond-scented ones. For weeks, I read and re-read the recipe and imagined myself chewing on a piece of home made mochi at home. 

Never mind that I never handled galapong before or that I don't even like beans. I wanted to make mochi filled with sweet bean paste, like the one in the picture above. I even spent the whole afternoon shelling red beans; a very long process involving not only one cup, like the recipe called for, but rather two, since apparently dried monggo beans expand when soaked overnight. My fingers are still smarting from squeezing out shelled beans from their peel. At the end of a long journey which took most of my free time, I ended up with these: 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Long Weekend Day 1: Chocolate Truffles

It's a known fact that I love chocolates, cream cheese and cocoa powder. Why not have all three in one bite? This is precisely the reason why I created these cocoa powder coated chocolate truffles - I did not exactly invent the recipe, I borrowed a recipe from a magazine for truffle acorns and ended up with these creamy, powdery chocolate treats. Not bad, not at all.

How could the one food that looks like poop end up to be the best tasting food ever invented?
Today was my second attempt at making chocolate truffles; I was confident enough to try making three kinds of them: dark chocolate, white chocolate and milk chocolate. My first attempt was the milk chocolate kind, using Philadelphia cream cheese and Ricoa Easy-Melt baking chocolate chips (semi-sweet milk chocolates). So far, so good: by the time Carlo had recovered from a recent bout of stomach flu (another story) he and I were literally at each other's necks for dibs on the chocolate truffles chilling in the fridge. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Filipino: Language of the Learned

Because I did not want to promote the article itself, I attribute this blog post to a link I found posted by a Facebook friend: AdMU student's essay on Filipino language raises online firestorm

Here's my two-cents on the issue:
For while Filipino may be the language of identity, it is the language of the streets. It might have the capacity to be the language of learning, but it is not the language of the learned.
In the same way that there's cockney English and pidgin Latin, there's Filipino spoken on the streets: salitang balbal. This is far removed from beautifully spoken Filipino, the Filipino language of the learned. Mr. Soriano has probably never read great literary masterpieces written in Filipino. His knowledge of the Filipino language is a slap in the face for Amado V. Hernandez, Lualhati Bautista and all of us who appreciate the beauty of Filipino as our native language.