Spring Rolls and Baguettes

10 Sep

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Dante and I, once a year, we always have that trip… the “let’s go somewhere we’ve never been before” trip.  Hehe!  This year it was Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam :)  We didn’t know what to expect.  We didn’t have any itinerary.  The plan was to eat, sleep and be merry for four days.

Our first authentic Vietnamese meal was at this place called Nha Hang Ngon :)  Recommended by a friend and was also suggested by the concierge at our hotel.  It was a really nice place!  It didn’t look so much like a restaurant but more like someone’s house :)

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First we had the salad roll with shrimp and pork.  These are dishes rolled with rice papers :)

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Personally I’m not fond of bland, green, healthy stuff.  Haha!  But Dante loves these :)

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But in fairness to this salad roll, it tasted really fresh! :)

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Moving on to another dish, I ordered the fried pork and crab spring rolls served with vermicelli and fresh herbs :) I liked this very much!  It’s like an extra large lumpiang Shanghai :) Hehe…

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Can’t live without rice.  We ordered the steamed broken rice with grilled pork chop :)

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I also ordered fresh grape juice :)

We only spent about Php400.00 for this meal!  How reasonable for a great lunch!  And it was a really nice place :)  Would definitely recommend this place when in Ho Chi Minh :)

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Another place the concierge lady at the hotel recommended was Nhu Lan :)  I told her I wanted Banh Mi and she told us to go here.

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I was so amazed how reasonable the prices were in Ho Chi Minh! We can totally eat all we want here! Haha!

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This Banh Mi place had a different vibe from the first restaurant we ate in :)  The first place was more pang date-date.  This place had a carinderia vibe which is what I loved about this place :)

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Came at the right time :)

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I first tried Banh Mi at this vegetarian place called Wabi Sabi at The Collective, Makati :)  I am so not a vegatarian nor do I love eating vegetables but I really fell in love with the Banh Mi in Wabi Sabi.  It tasted like real meat.  Haha!

Below, my friends, is the real deal :)  Banh Mi means bread… a baguette, specifically, that was introduced by the French :)  It’s a sandwich with meat and vegetables :)  LOVE THIS.

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A closer look at my Banh Mi :)

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Of course, again, we need rice.  LOL!  So ordered barbecued pork with rice with our Banh Mi.  Haha!

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Dante’s favorite… more spring rolls.  You can have them both, Dants :)

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This is the meat they put inside the Banh Mi :)

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And the perfect looking baguettes :)  They remind of me of the texture of your rings, Dants!  Haha! :)

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Saya kumain sa Vietnam, affordable na, masarap pa!  Puro gulay pero ok lang… paminsan minsan lang naman.  Haha! :)

My Yogi Bride: Isabel

3 Sep

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It was a beautiful Saturday morning at the Manila Peninsula Hotel last February 15, 2014 :)

Gorgeous and flawless yoga teacher, Isabel, was getting married that day! :)  I first met Isabel during a photo shoot for Metro Weddings Magazine.  She was one of the brides that were featured and we clicked instantly.  Thankful for that day we met! :)

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Here were Isabel’s beautiful bridesmaids helping her get ready :)

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I need to do yoga again.  I want arms like Isabel’s.  Haha! :)

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Isn’t she lovely??? :)

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One of my favorite hairstylists to work with is George Aliben for Kiehl’s :)  Here he is attaching Isabel’s veil.  Thank you, George!

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Isabel was glowing inside and out.  She was a stunning bride! I loved her bouquet, too :)

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Thank you, Isabel, for such an easy, breezy day!  Good vibes all around! :)

Congratulations once again and thank you for making me part of your wedding preps.  Truly a pleasure :)

Til we meet again :)

 

Blessing

30 Aug

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Last February 9, 2014 was Blessing’s Big Day :)

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Beautiful bouquets everywhere! :)

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Blessing’s beautiful gown was designed by the super talented Julianne Syjuco :)

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Hand-sewn details and beading :) Amazing :)

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The calm before the storm :)  Here was our blushing bride, Blessing :)

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Blessing reminded me so much of a beauty queen :) Very poised and graceful :)  Here is celebrity hairstylist, RJ,  finishing up Blessing’s loose updo :)

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Pretty hair accessory :)

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Here comes the bride! :)

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Me and Blessing :)

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Blessing’s mom… Such a sweet lady, I love her :)

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Julianne getting Blessing ready! :)

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Thank you so much once again, Blessing, for sharing your big day with us! :) It was such a pleasure to do your hair and makeup :)

You were glowing and I could feel the love and joy that day.   All the best to you both!  I’ll be seeing you around, Blessing! :)

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Au Naturel

28 Aug

Discover the nourishing traditions of our country with locally made organic beauty products.

            I have always been a big fan of products that were lovingly made at home. Whenever I would visit weekend markets, I’m always drawn to goods that are all natural, unique and locally made. Although, I admit I still enjoy shopping in department stores for beauty products. But I will always have a special place in my heart for homemade and local discoveries.

           One of my favorite all-natural beauty products is called The Heart Shrine Oils. I discovered this at The Yogi Fair. This body oil is based on premium organic virgin coconut oil, infused with camia, sampaguita and ylang ylang. The creator, Chaya Go, says that all ingredients are sourced locally and every bottle is mixed by hand and in small batches at home. “It really is a kind of cottage industry. We do not rush to create large batches but instead we take time to create things by hand, allowing the flowers to steep in the oils. It’s a slow craft and to make the oils in itself a therapeutic practice,” shares Chaya who is also a yoga teacher. The Heart Shrine Oils are best enjoyed as an after-bath moisturizer. I also use it on my face every night and my hair to keep it shiny and less frizzy. I noticed my skin glowed every morning and my breakouts lessened noticeably. (www.facebook.com/theheartshrineoils)

          Another local brand I was so glad to discover is called “Simoy ng Haraya”, which means whiff of imagination. Lala De Leon, the owner of Simoy ng Haraya, was looking for something to focus on outside her stressful job. She was fascinated with natural ingredients and essential oils and this pushed her to study aromatherapy. In fact, she is currently working on her clinical aromatherapist certification. Simoy specializes in perfumes, soaps, reed diffusers, yoga mat sprays and balms. She uses local ingredients such as sugarcane alcohol, citronella and lemongrass in some of her products. However, Lala says, it’s inevitable to get some ingredients from other countries. I also love how she named her products using Filipino terms like “Alaala”, “Unang Halik” and “Tiwala”. My favorite Simoy ng Haraya product is their 4-in-1 nail care fix that’s made for dry, brittle and discolored nails. It’s a strengthener, whitener, conditioner and anti-fungal oil with vitamin E, lemon, tea tree, lavender and rosemary essential oils. It really does strengthen my weak nails. (www.facebook.com/simoyngharaya)

          My love for homemade products is probably because of the influence of my childhood friend, Isabel De Dios, the creator of Sparrow Fresh, a new line of skin care products that are chemical and preservative-free. These are only available upon order to ensure freshness. She wanted to shift to a more organic lifestyle. She would make body scrubs and moisturizing massage salves at home and I would gladly try them.   “They are skin food sans the carbs”, Isabel says. She uses ground organic rice, sea kelp, wasabi powder and sesame oil to use as an exfoliant, which she calls her sushi body scrubs. Her creamy cocoa massage salve is made with natural beeswax, cocoa butter and olive oil, which may be used as a body moisturizer or for massage.   I use her sushi body scrubs twice a week on my face and body and I noticed a smoother and brighter complexion after every use. (Instagram: @sparrowph, sparrow.fragrances@gmail.com)

          It is just so amazing what wonderful things you can make from a simple flower or plant. And I will never forget what Chaya told me, “Our islands have long held healing and nourishing traditions using what the flowers, fruits and trees provide us. It seems but natural to love once again what is abundant all around us.”

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1. Simoy ng Haraya 4-in-1 Nail Care 2. Sparrow Fresh Body Scrubs 3. Simoy ng Haraya Foaming Hand Wash 4. Heart Shrine Body Oil 5. Simoy ng Haraya Ginhawa Natural Foot Mist

Photography by: Nico Nuyda

Kristina: A February Bride

28 Aug

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It was a beautiful Saturday morning on the 8th of February this year :)

(I know, super late post… Hehe!)

It was Kristina’s big day!  Her wedding preps were in Acua Verde Beach Resort in Batangas :)

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Special thanks to my wonderful assistant makeup artist that day, Ham! I miss you!!!

You were such a big help, thank you, Ham! :)

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The bride all dressed up and ready to go…  I made the makeup very fresh and natural with some bronzer on the cheeks, perfect for a beach wedding :)

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I love beach weddings.

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Congratulations once again to one of my beautiful February brides, Kristina! :)

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Market Market in Vietnam

27 Aug

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One of the places I had to go back to several times when we were in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, was the Ben Thanh Market.  It kind of reminded me of our typical “tiangge” in Greenhills.  The difference was I pretty much memorized what they sell in Greenhills already because I’m always there.  Haha!  But here at Ben Thanh, I had to look carefully at each stall and check out the local goods! :)

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Looks familiar, right?  Parang nasa Greenhills lang :)

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“Like a moth to a flame…”  – Dante.  This is the line I always hear Dante saying to himself when I start approaching stalls that sell cute things… :)  Haha!  Well, “That’s the way love goes…” – Janet Jackson.

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Was tempted to buy a tea set… But I drink coffee more than tea.

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Beads! Beads! Colorful beads and things!!! :)  (“Like a moth to a flame…” – Dante)

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One of my great finds at Ben Thanh! :) I couldn’t leave this crocheted doll behind…  SOOOO ADORABLE :)

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Aside from all these trinkets and cute Vietnamese dolls and souvenirs, there are also so many stalls selling candies, nuts and other snacks I have never really seen before.

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Lots of dried fruits :)

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And oh my goodness… coffee everywhere!!!

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There is also a wet market at the back :)

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Food stalls in the center selling drinks with all sorts of beans and jellies and Vietnamese food.

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We did spend most of our time at the coffee bean stalls.  The beans smelled so good and fresh!

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Out of all the coffee beans, we chose to take home “Weasel”.

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Lots of it :)  They smelled like chocolate :)

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While waiting, the coffee lady made me try some sampaloc candy!  OMG :)  I’ll take some!  I only bought 1/2 kilo.  I wish I bought more!  It was the best sampaloc candy everrrr….

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While waiting for our coffee beans, sampaloc candy and dried fruits to be packed, picture muna! :)

I really enjoyed seeing the local Vietnamese goods here in Ben Thanh.  Medyo nataranta ako.  Haha!

Ok, fine, I am a moth.

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A Home Away From Home In Vigan

4 Aug

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Last May 14 to 16, 2014, I had an on location shoot for Style Weekend Magazine in Vigan City.  It was my first time to go there and I was so excited.  I’ve always wanted to go here.  I know this is such a late post but I was reminded about this beautiful place because of a recent post by @peterjuan who was in Vigan with my handmade Batman! :) Hehe…  I truly loved Vigan :) It was so worth the eight-hour road trip!!!

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All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go :)

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Arrived in Vigan City during sunset…

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Check out our home away from home in Vigan :) There were just too many pretty things to see in this hotel! We stayed in Hotel Luna, a very charming Museum Hotel, the first of its kind in the Philippines.  This used to be an old mansion just like a lot of the places here :)

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Check out their lobby…

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So many beautiful things to see :)

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It really was like being in a museum! :)  These artworks were in the dining room :)

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Then outside, in the middle of the hotel, is where the pool is :)

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The extension of the coffee shop.  Look how pretty this hotel is :)

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I felt like I was little orphan, Annie, inside this beautiful mansion :)

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This was the view from outside the rooms :)

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Loved our room :)

 

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And this… the highlight of my bathroom experience.  Haha! :)

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They served us excellent meals.  But I was only able to take my breakfast during the first day.  Haha! :)  Breakfast, my favorite meal when out of town because I don’t normally eat breakfast at home :)  Of course, there’s Vigan longganisa in the mix!

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And my perfect sunny side up :)

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Coffee.  Black.

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When we arrived inside the hotel, we were looking for places in the hotel to shoot in…  And we had such a hard time choosing because every corner of this hotel is photogenic! :)

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Thank God for sunny weather!

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Loved the ceilings inside the coffee shop.

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And this was the view from the rooftop of Hotel Luna :)

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Meet these gorgeous ladies :)  Valerie, our fashion stylist for this shoot, and Anna, our model :)

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It was an all girls team! :)  Loved working with such talented and funny ladies! Meet Miss Helen, our hairstylist from L’oreal Professionel,  Mau, our photographer, assisted by Kat and our dearest Clara from Style Weekend :)

I will be posting more behind-the-scenes photos of what went on in Vigan but for now hope you enjoyed this little tour of Hotel Luna.  There is still more to see in the hotel which I haven’t included yet.

Thank you so much to the staff of Hotel Luna for being so accommodating and helpful, especially regarding our important concerns such as where to find Vigan empanada and longganisa, etc! Hehe… :)

We loved the hotel and would highly recommend Hotel Luna if you’re planning a trip to Vigan!  Class talaga! :)

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Have a great week ahead, my friends! :)  Happy Monday! :)

 

Chinkee

7 Jul

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Here’s a short post to brighten up this gloomy Monday :)

I just wanted to share with you all my latest handmade creation, her name is Chinkee.  I wanted her outfit to be a simple black dress so she will always be in style, ready for her meetings :)

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I also made her two necklaces.  One is a key and the other is a keyhole heart that says, “made with love”.

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Chinkee is probably the happiest doll I’ve made so far.  Hihi… :)  She’s one of the few who has a smile on her face.

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Have a great week ahead, my friends, from me and Chinkee! :)

A Binondo Wok

7 Jun

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Meeting place was Binondo Church at 9am :) But first I lit a candle for thanksgiving.

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I always pass this Church when I’m on my way to Divisoria.  But I never saw the inside.

What a beautiful Church!

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Cute trinkets.

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I have always wanted to join this Binondo Food Tour.  And since my sister was in town, we decided to book four slots last Saturday, May 31, 2014.  It was me, my sister, mom and dad.  I think I was the most excited.  I love food, especially Chinese food.

This blog post is a little bit long and it will show you what we did during the entire tour.  Haha!  Scroll down if you have the time or if you’ve already taken the tour.  Warning to those who haven’t:  Spoiler alert!  Haha! :)

This Binondo Food Tour was brought to you by Old Manila Walks. :)

We begin with a little bit of history… :)

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My sister and I just had coffee that morning.  Saved our stomach for all the food we’re about to eat! :)

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It was a lazy, catty morning :)

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Goodmorning from our dear tour guide, Ivan Man Dy :)

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Hot tea for everyone.

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The tour begins with our appetizers :)

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 A very fresh lumpia… :)  There was so much filling, I felt like I was eating a burrito :)

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My dad about to try the fresh lumpia :)

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This is what’s inside :)

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On our way to the next stop, saw some fresh fruit stands :)

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Beautiful colors.  Beautiful morning :)

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At our next stop :)

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So excited to find out what we’ll be eating next :)

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Ivan brings out a plate full of “kuchay”!!! My favorite Chinese empanada :)  YUMMERS.

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This was sooooo good.

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A plate full of extra large tofu! :)

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A plate of spicy pansit.  LOVE.

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Ivan told us that the owner of this little restaurant was Amah Pilar :)  She opened this restaurant at the age of sixty.  It’s never too late to open up your own business! :)

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Outside the restaurant, there is an abundant supply of tofu :)

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So many interesting food to see in the streets of Binondo.

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Can you guess what some of these are? :)

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On our way to the next destination, cute girl scouts were selling yema :)  Yema for everyone!!! Thanks, Ivan :)

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My dad, mom and Ate ready for the third course.  LOL! :)  Kaya pa???

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They make the dumplings by the entrance for everyone to see :)

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But the secret is in the filling :)

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I wonder how many they make in a day!

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Manong Taho!!! :)

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Taho for everyone!  Who doesn’t love taho?!?! :)

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Special sauce for the dumplings.

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More tea?

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Dong Bei Dumplings!!! :) Winner!!!

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My mom’s favorite :)

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“Pancakes”, anyone? :) These were so yummy, too!

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Chicken with an Indian twist :)

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The next stop was a little stall that sold fried siopao :)

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I was already so full so I took home my fried siopao and had it at home for merienda.  My only regret… Not taking more fried siopao home!  I can’t stop thinking about these!!!  I have to go back to Binondo ASAP for these.

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Bicho Bicho! :)  This is so good with sugar and some hot chocolate.  But maybe not on that very very very hot day :)

Reminds me of churros! :)

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I am so not good at directions.  I really didn’t know exactly where we were :) Haha!  But these street signs may help.

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A quick stop at a “sari-sari” store.  Sari-saring snacks and preserved food :)

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Yummy treats and snacks :)

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My favorite, good ‘ol cornicks :)

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My dad enjoying all the snacks handed to him.  Haha!  Going strong!!! :)

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I’ve never eaten so much within three hours.  Oh wait, yes, I think I have…  Haha!

So this was our final stop! :)  Before we go, picture picture first with our super fun tour guide, Ivan! :)  Thanks so much, Ivan, for the tour!  We enjoyed all the places you took us to and we’ll definitely be back in Binondo.  And I won’t forget to take out my fried siopao (as in maraming fried siopao!) next time! Hehe…

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That was really the perfect way to spend our Saturday morning :)  Thanks also to my super talented sister, my Ate Candy, for taking this photo of me and my folks.  Never had a happier photo with them :)  I will remember this image forever! :)

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Sio-meow, anyone? :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Polished to Perfection

3 Jun

I have always been a fan of nail art. My nails are like an extended accessory. I feel bare without nail polish and it’s an easy way to spice up my everyday work wear. There are times when I would get bored with just one plain color on my nails. Here are a few ways to give your plain manicure an instant upgrade.

The Diagonal French Manicure:

The French Manicure has been around since the 70’s. Sometimes it can look old-fashioned if you stick to the usual pink and white combination. Time to modernize it. You can play around with bolder colors.

The traditional French Manicure is usually a thin white line on the tips. With our French Manicure with a modern twist, we used a nude shade for the base and two shades for the diagonal tips.

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We used Orly’s Coffee Break for the base and Orly Luxe and Liquid Vinyl for the gold and black diagonal tips.

Half Moon Sparkle:

Another design that’s been around for a while is the “Half Moon”.   Most of the time, sparkly nails are only done during the holidays. But you can create a very subtle nail art design using the glitters only for the half moon.

Just apply your favorite base color and add the glitters to add a little drama.

 

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We used Orly’s Mirror Mirror for the base and Orly’s Halo for the half moon.

 

Minimalist Chic:

For this design, I chose colors that aren’t used very often but can look so chic and modern together, black and white. I chose opaque white for the base color and using black nail polish, just drew a line on each nail going in different directions. This is quite easy to do and the lines don’t need to be straight nor perfect. It’s part of that “hand-drawn” kind of look.

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We used Orly’s White Tips for the base and Orly’s Liquid Vinyl for the lines.

 

Have fun creating your own nail art designs. They don’t have to be so intricate. Sometimes a simple line or a dot here and there can already create something very chic!

Nails by: Honeyca Obena and Diane Noriel for Belle & Cat Nail and Wax Studio located in 131 Sterling Centre, Esteban Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City.

*Photography by Nico Nuyda

 

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