Friday, January 30, 2015

New Year, 2015

Before the month ends, here’s my post for the new year. Or, here's me trying to post more than I usually do!

Last year, I tried for at least 4 posts a month to keep me going... and more or less succeeded. I'm really happy because it’s so hard to achieve some of the goals I’ve set for myself (as seen by a review of posts of the past), and I'm glad I was able to do at least this. Because I believe that you should:

Set tangible goals for you to see how you’ve improved. It’s easy to say I’ll be a better person next year, but how will you actually show you’ve improved?

Celebrate reaching your goals, no matter how little. A little motivation goes a long way.

This year, I'll try to post a little more… and hopefully improve upon my writing. Looking back at previous posts, I can’t really find a voice in what I’m reading. It’s all just a jumble of words and thoughts to me. While I’m madly jelly of authors (published or otherwise) that can create universes in their own heads, and share this with others – I’m also a bit green about those that can express their thoughts in words… in a style so distinctive that they have their own voice (like when you hear Morgan Freeman in your head).

This year, I hope to find my own voice. And I’m not quite sure how to do that except by learning to be more comfortable with my own words on metaphorical paper.

A belated western new year to everyone, and an early happy chinese new year.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Lip Naturals Lip Balm

Gifts don't have to be expensive to be appreciated by the recipient. For example, this tiny little lip balm was something I really liked. Why?

Lip Naturals Lip Balm in Vanilla Bean
It's really tiny! Around the size of two thumbnails, this bullet shaped mini, weighing 3 grams, is perfect for those purses/pockets with valuable real estate space.

Lip Naturals Lip Balm in Vanilla Bean

 Made by OraLabs and smelling of Vanilla, this product packs Octinoxate and Oxybenzone for its SPF.  Some people may choose not to purchase this product because of worries of Octinoxate's potential as an endocrine disruptor. While I will keep my eyes out, I'm not too worried about it right now.

The product comes out by pressing the bottom of the bullet. Once it comes out, it doesn't really go back in so be careful!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Coffee: Starbucks, Black Canyon Coffee, Toby's Estate

With all the coffee I've been having at home, I've rarely gone to coffee shops this year. While it's been good to my wallet, I have missed the taste and vibe of coffee shop coffee. Thus, this week, I've abused my wallet for coffee at Starbucks, Black Canyon Coffee and Toby's Estate.

While I won't get into Starbucks much, I'll just say this - yes to the Raspberry and NO to the Chestnut. Starbucks this year has been a bit of a disappointment from both the sales side and the coffee (at least one of the drinks just tasted like Nescafe 3 in 1).

Black Canyon Coffee is a Thai coffee shop known for its latte art. While D got a cappuccino which came with biscuits and a shot of hot tea, I got the Mexican Iced Coffee.

Black Canyon Coffee

Cappuccino P120

The latte art for this wasn't that remarkable but I did like the fact that they gave biscuits and that they had a special plate for it. Minus points for powdered creamer. I believe in real cream!

My iced coffee was ok, not that remarkable and not that strong. The biggest selling point was the boot - because coffee in a boot. XD

Mexican Iced Coffee P150

Chilling at Black Canyon Coffee at night was quite fun since they had magazines, comfy couches and free wifi.

On the other hand, this branch of Toby's Estate just opened a week ago. Toby's Estate is a 3rd wave coffee shop from Australia. I got the Gibraltar, which is one of their signature drinks.

Toby's Estate

Gibraltar P130

I love this coffee - not to bitter or sweet and not too strong but not at all weak (the awesomeness of ristretto over espresso!). This drink wasn't made with the popular Woolloomooloo blend but with the Broadway (I think), with stronger berry notes that lingered long after I finished the drink.

I couldn't really chill at Toby's with how crowded it was (with no armchairs!), but I was quite chilled (it was quite cold). I had to finish my coffee quickly before it turned tepid. I liked that they did sell hard to find merchandise such as Chemex and their filters (which, being the Phil, is still quite expensive). This branch, being new, still has a little way to go. While they have a lot of staff, and they're very attentive (especially with water service), service isn't streamlined. I think I'd recommend going here sometime mid-February, but not now when their still so new.
Both Black Canyon Coffee and Toby's Estate have 5% service charge.

Black Canyon Coffee branch at Tuscany Building, McKinley Hill, Taguig
Toby's Estate at Cyberscape Beta, Ruby Road, Ortigas

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Beauty and the Beast, Manila

I love Disney musicals - bar one - and Beauty and the Beast is one of the earliest ones I came into contact with. I was, therefore, quite excited to watch it here in Manila. Luckily, the show I got wasn't cancelled by the Papal visit, so I was successful in watching it this weekend. Yay!

This may have been due to the Papal visit, but the performance I went to started significantly late - around 20 minutes. Now this may not be a big deal in some venues, but for a CCP production, I was a bit disappointed. Since Beauty and the Beast is a relatively short production, and I was able to eat beforehand, it's not too bad, but it definitely set my mood down.

Now, for those who do plan to watch - I won't spoil it for you. I definitely enjoyed watching it. It's sufficiently different and equally diverting for those familiar with only the film. The Beast is better characterized in the musical - although I do have issues with how Prince Adam's whiny self translated to hypernasality while singing. The more adult themes are also more obvious. However, I was definitely disappointed at the library set (my favorite moment) and the backdrop for "Be Our Guest," (the crowd pleaser), and other little things at the first and last scenes. I also found the orchestra too small for the musical, which was obvious at the overture. It's definitely much simpler than its Broadway counterpart, which is understandable, but not enough for me to justify its price at price Zones 1 and 2 (on Ticketworld).

On the whole, I wouldn't say that I'd recommend it but it's not bad at all. I felt more joy with the audio recordings (some parts were shorter, and they did cut Maison des Lunes), but I enjoyed watching it nonetheless. If you're looking for some Disney entertainment for the family and for yourself (and you can afford it), then you might want this.

Beauty and the Beast at CCP will be performing until Feb 1, 2015.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Watsons Deep Cleansing Nose Pore Strips

You know how some people like to end the year with the best and worst products they've tried? This is one of them… the worst product I've tried this 2014. Found in the bowels of someone's closet early 2014,  this package of Watson's Nose Pore Strips was probably buried for a reason.

Each package consists of 10 individually wrapped packets.  Once opened, my first glance at the strip disappointed me since product was not as described in the packaging: there are no nifty slit things like the ones in the Biore strips to contour the strip to your nose. You can cut it individually, I suppose, but it doesn't hug the nose-cheeck interface as well, which is a blackhead prone area for me. 

Watson's Deep Cleansing Nose Pore Strips

I've tried it several times on myself and my siblings… but unlike the Biore strips where I was unsure if what the strip took out was actual blackheads or dirt, a lot of the surface area of the strip was plain white. The strip was able to pull out a few blackheads, mostly the superficial ones… but at half the price of Biore, it only had around 25% effectiveness.

Would I buy again? If I did buy it, definitely not. I am hoping that with different Japanese brands entering the system, I can get a hold of superior strips once again.