October 2015 Favorites

I don’t know if any of you are wondering but I’ve moved on to using Canson Montval, almost exclusively, for all my watercolor needs. And that means a bigger canvas to play with for my favorites!

I used to paint my monthly favorites on a smaller sized Berkeley watercolor pad but they’ve since changed their quality and their paper doesn’t work for me anymore.

Montval is a much more expensive pad but that also forces me to up my game whenever I paint something, whether it’s an exercise or for a more important project. I see that as a great learning opportunity!

Anyway, here are my October 2015 favorites – which are mostly sweet food items because, well, read on and find out!

Philippine Homeschool Conference 2015

A few years ago, I discovered homeschooling and had been slowly reading up on it and then brainwashing my then-boyfriend and now-husband to give it a chance. I’ve also started talking about it with loved ones, and as expected, I’ve received some not so favorable responses from most of them.

The biggest concern for them is always the danger that the child might not develop social skills because he won’t have classmates to interact with. But, as I’ve learned, this isn’t true! This responsibility of creating an active social environment falls on the parents and it really depends if the parents give the child enough encouragement, opportunity, and room to develop the skills and knowledge that he will need as he grows. I’ve also learned that not having classmates who are all the same age as the child will actually open the child to the idea of socializing more with people of all ages.

We were already taking the idea seriously back when we didn’t have a real child to think of, but now that we’re expecting our Babybee, it’s a much more real and tangible option for us. So when we heard of the Philippine Homeschool Conference, it was a no-brainer to go and try to learn as much as we can about homeschooling in the local context.

Not that I needed any more convincing but attending the event solidified my desire to be there 100% for my child’s learning and growing. Not just mentally and physically, but also (and more importantly) emotionally and spiritually. It’s not just an opportunity for me to bond with my child, but it’s also a great way to shape his heart and mind into knowing the Lord and building a relationship with Him.

Photo credit: Teach with Joy

Passing My Glucose Tolerance Test

The Oral Glucose Tolerance Test or OGTT is a recommended test for pregnant women to check for gestational diabetes (occurs only during pregnancy), and is usually done between Weeks 24 and 28 of pregnancy. There are several versions of this test, but the one I took lasted 2 hours, a bottle of the 75 grams glucose concentrate, and required three blood extractions.

Before taking this test, I heard so many horror stories about it. How some women even vomited during the process because drinking the concentrate was unpleasant. How they had to drink the concentrate again after they vomited. How the ordeal was so horrible. So I was prepared for the worst.

But the worst never came. It wasn’t the best experience, but it also wasn’t so bad. The concentrate tasted like fizzed out orange soda, but not overly sweet like some people have described. And I’m not even a big fan of overly sweet things (for example, I take my milk tea with only 25% sugar if I can) so I was surprised that the concentrate didn’t make me barf. Later on, I read that the vomiting was actually due to taking the concentrate on an empty stomach, and not just because of the concentrate itself.

Anyway, the process starts with a baseline blood extraction to check where your sugar is at normally. Then you drink the concentrate, and after an hour, another blood extraction is done to see how the sugar has affected your levels and how your body is processing the sugar. After another hour, the final blood extraction is taken to further check your body’s ability to process the sugar.

I didn’t really worry about this test so much because I knew that my sugar levels were good, especially since I didn’t make a habit of eating desserts after meals and I normally go for savory treats more than sugary ones.

And true enough, my results were good! Hooray! And then I kind of went overboard with celebrating with sugary sweets. So now I’m watching my sugar intake and weight gain, but that’s a story for another time haha!

Cotton On

I first saw Cotton On on a trip to Singapore a few years before they decided to open in the Philippines and I was not impressed. The clothes they offered there just weren’t my style and I felt that the quality was less than expected.

So when they opened their first store in Manila, I wasn’t excited like most people were. Boy! Was I wrong!

Later on, I noticed that the Cotton On branches in the Philippines offered a different collection (and I was able to compare on another trip to Singapore recently) and the quality seemed a whole lot better too!

But I only truly appreciated Cotton On when I got pregnant and found that they had a lot of loose clothing and dresses that worked well with my growing belly, but still made me feel like a normal non-pregnant person. I needed to feel not pregnant on some days, you know.

So now, I have a bunch of clothes from Cotton On that are extremely comfortable during this pregnancy but also still very much useful after the pregnancy. If they started offering nursing clothes, I’d love them forever and always! *hint*hint*

Photo credit: Cotton On

B&P Just Like Home’s Don Malutong

On a sleepless night, a few hours before we had to go to the Tomas Morato area, I decided to obsessively look for a place to try for lunch, to meet up with friends, and to work on some paintings. And by obsessed, I mean I spent around 5 hours researching on my dying phone even when I HAD to go to sleep because we were supposed to leave in a few hours.

And that’s how I found B&P Just Like Home.

It might have been the hormones working but I’m glad that I obsessed about it because I really liked my B&P experience. Besides the bonus of being in Il Terrazzo where there was ample parking space, the place itself was charming and spacious. I loved the sunny, yellow interiors that made me feel extra happy to be there.

For lunch, I decided to get their Don Malutong rice bowl (P285). It was their version of crispy pork belly served with garlic rice, your choice of egg, and papaya relish. I liked everything and the pork belly was definitely crispy and flavorful – the star of the show! The serving was very generous too, and had we known beforehand, the husband and I would have definitely shared this dish as it was enough for the both of us.

The Bald Baker’s Compost Cookies

Remember when I said that I wasn’t fond of sugary treats a sentences ago? Well, for some reason, after passing my glucose test, I couldn’t help but indulge in desserts and sweet treats.

I blame the hormones again, but also the fact that the Best Food Forward 2015 fair at the Rockwell Tent was filled with so many sweet treats that I’ve been wanting to try for so long.

One of the irresistible finds was The Bald Baker‘s Compost Cookies, made with everything you can think of to put in a cookie. I loved how the texture was crispy on the edges but super chewy and gooey in the middle. That’s the perfect kind of cookie for me.

As for the taste, it wasn’t just sweet. There were different levels of sweetness, and even some salty bites here and there, which is probably why I loved it so much.

And because the photo I took with my phone doesn’t do this cookie justice, here’s a photo from their Facebook page.

Isn’t that such a lovely-looking cookie?

Photo credit (bottom): The Bald Baker

Mrs. Graham’s Pumpkin Spice Macaron

Another sweet treat that I got from Best Food Forward 2015 was Mrs. Graham’s macarons.

Honestly, this was the main reason why I even wanted to go to Rockwell in the first place because I’ve been craving for Mrs. Graham’s for a while but was too tired to go to their cafe in Quezon City.

So when they posted about being at the Rockwell fair during that weekend, I immediately convinced the husband to go! I NEEDED THOSE MACARONS!

I met Anna Graham, owner of Mrs. Graham’s, a few years ago during a crafternoon and she is one of the nicest people ever. And that’s already aside from being talented in both the arts (she sings and makes artwork too) and in baking.

I’m not overly interested in macarons, and was even disappointed with the famous French brand that we tried during our honeymoon in Paris, but Anna’s macarons are one of the best that I’ve ever tried. They’re just so yummy! And just like how I prefer my cookies, Mrs. Graham’s macarons have a crispy edge but chewy and moist interiors.

They have a lot of interesting flavors too, including Pinoy-themed ones such as the ensaymada and champorado with tuyo.

I decided to buy their Box of 5 – Champorado with Tuyo, Tiramisu, French Toast with Peanut Butter Cream, Frosties + Maltesers and Malted Milk Buttercream, and Pumpkin Spice. I got to try the Lemon Meringue Pie too, which Anna generously gave to me, and it had the right kind of sweet-tangy mix.

As I’m a huge Pumpkin Spice fan, I was really excited to try that one out and I WAS SO NOT DISAPPOINTED. It was so smooth and the flavors reminded me of a warm, toasty, and relaxed evening spent with family. I’m a little bit sad that it was just a seasonal flavor but I’m still really happy that I was able to try it out. I just wish that I got more of it before they removed it from the menu.

Photo credit (bottom): Mrs. Graham’s

Pasteleria Costa Brava’s Caramel Cake

I’m really sorry (speaking to myself) that I didn’t take a photo of this glorious caramel cake slice before I devoured it. Now, I just have fond memories of it…until I visit SM Aura again during the weekends to get another slice.

Costa Brava‘s cakes might not look like much compared to really fancily decorated cakes, but the taste is lightyears better!

Their chiffon layers are so soft and each bite melted in my mouth, letting me taste a bit of heaven each time. The caramel surrounding the cake slice is equally amazing, not too sweet and not too heavy.

They also have the yummiest chiffon cakes with marshmallow icing and mocha cakes, which totally reminds me of my childhood birthday cakes back in Davao.

Ugh. Now I want a Costa Brava cake. Or two.

5 Comments

  1. Clarissa Carino December 7, 2015

    Your blog is very lovely and your illustrations are very cute! :)

    Kisses from Brazil,

    Clarissa Carino :*

    Reply
    • starsfordreams December 8, 2015

      Hi Clarissa! Thank you for leaving a comment. And all the way from Brazil too! :)

      Reply
  2. Drea December 9, 2015

    TYANG!!!
    I’m excited for your homeschooling adventure–a lot of people I meet who have been homeschooled are very creative and independent with a strong sense of self– seems awesome! :) Plus they can focus on their interests more, I think (because I would gladly take more units of art than calculus/trigo lol)?

    I LOVE LOVE costa brava’s caramel cake! They had 3 for 100 mini cakes at Rockwell before but I don’t think they offer it nowadays. I used to buy 6 cakes lol because I loved them so much. :)

    Miss you!

    Reply
    • starsfordreams December 10, 2015

      Tyang! Are you going to Type Kita this Sunday? :)

      I’m excited for the homeschooling adventure too, and hope that I do a good enough job guiding this baby haha.

      I don’t think they have the 3 for 100 anymore, didn’t see it the last time I checked their stall in SM Aura. But it doesn’t matter because those caramel cakes are sooooooooo good.

      Reply
  3. Drea December 10, 2015

    I’m sure you and Elbert will do great :) I’ll be there both days probably hehe I live nearby lang e. So excited! See you soon! :)

    Reply

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