Sunday, July 5, 2020

Top 3 Sushi Bakes You NEED to Try (South Edition)

I just wanna warn you guys that it is very, very, very likely that my blog will partially turn into a food blog. Due to an unexpected turn of events at work, I have been receiving a humongous amount of food at home recently and I figured writing some personal reviews wouldn't hurt.

In the past two weeks alone, I have tried a ton of sushi bakes. And that's when I realized that no two sushi bakes are alike at all. I say this because some people choose to go for a cheaper sushi bake because they think they can get the same thing at a lower price, but that is definitely not how it works.

I have tried 10 sushi bakes from the South in the past two weeks (this doesn't count the sushi bakes that came from other parts of the Metro), and here are my top 3 picks (in no particular order):


Baked by Erika



I didn't know that sushi bakes could be this creamy! The minute you scoop out a portion of Baked by Erika's sushi tray, you'll know that it'll be a different experience. And when you pop it in your mouth and feel the creaminess envelop inside... ugh... there are no words!

Available in three sizes, you can get a 300-peso tray good for 1-2 pax, a 650-peso tray good for 4-6 pax, or a 1,250-peso tray good for 10-12 pax. Like them on Facebook here and follow them on Instagram: @baked.by.erika

Baked Cali Maki LP




Aside from being ultra delicious, what I love about Baked Cali Maki LP is the fact that they have extra small trays available for only Php180! They're perfect for those who live alone, those who live with people who aren't fond of sushi, and those who are on a budget. If you still go to work, the extra small trays are also the perfect baon - and its size won't make you feel obligated to share. :p

Even their regular trays are affordable, too, without compromising on quality or taste. Small trays are available at Php300, medium trays are Php480, and large trays are Php570.

The best part is that part of their profits go to frontliners; so you won't just fill your tummies with deliciousness; you'll get to help out, too. Like them on Facebook here and follow them on Instagram: @BakedCaliMakiLP


Aburi Maki




The first word that comes to mind when I think about my Aburi Maki experience is: quality. Aburi Maki is actually the first sushi bake I had ever tried - and it did not disappoint. It's actually a little funny because I swore never to try sushi bakes because I felt like they were over hyped. THIS SUSHI BAKE EXPLAINS THE HYPE. I even made a TikTok video to prove my point:


Aburi Maki does not scrimp when it comes to ingredients and you can really taste the quality in every bite. I don't even know how to describe it better. At Php575 per tray, know that this sushi bake is really worth every peso. They also have new flavors you can check out! Like them on Facebook here and follow them on Instagram: @aburimaki

Which store has the best sushi bake that you've tried so far? Let me know, so I can try it, too! :D


Monday, June 29, 2020

The Silly Story Behind My Tarte Unicorn Brushes

I have what you might call an unhealthy obsession with unicorns. I don't quite remember how it started; but a few years back, I started to collect all sorts of unicorn memorabilia. I had customized shirts made. My bed was full of unicorn stuffed toys, including one that was as big as me. And then I saw some gorgeous unicorn makeup brushes online and I just needed to have them. NEE. DED.



This limited-edition set consists of 5 vegan cruelty-free brushes inspired by unicorn kisses and fantasy dreams.

I mean: just look at how beautiful they are on the box!

Inside, they're wrapped with cute unicorn paper which I (naturally) did not throw out.

So. Pretty.

With an array of contour, powder, eyeshadow, and foundation brushes; each one of these gorgeous brushes has a gold unicorn-inspired handles and plush pastel bristles to add a touch of magic to your makeup routine.


But enough of the gushing, I'm here to tell you the story of what I went through to get them. :p

Back in 2017, my friend TJ and I had a work trip to Singapore, where we visited Universal Studios:


And the Trick Eye Museum:


We were only there for a few days, but get this: the only reason why I actually agreed to take on the assignment was... BECAUSE I COULDN'T FIND MY DREAM BRUSHES IN THE PHILIPPINES AND THOUGHT I COULD FIND THEM THERE. :p This was a time before Sephora Philippines was a thing and before there were heaven-sent places like Tupped Cosmetics at our convenience, by the way.

Being limited edition, I knew my best bet was to check out Sephora in Singapore mismo. So early on during our SG adventure, we went to Sephora... but they didn't have it there!!! My heart broke when the saleslady pointed out that it's a limited edition collection and that I probably wouldn't find it in other branches, either.


Being the obsessive person that I was, though, I still went to various branches. Sadly, she was right. They were nowhere to be found. Since we were still going to be in Singapore for a few days, though, I figured that I could order them online and pick them up at one of those cool locker pickup things that they have. So that's what I did. I ordered then online and obsessively refreshed the tracking page and crossed my fingers that they'd be able to deliver them before we left.

Day One went by and then Day Two, but still nothing. I got so desperate that I actually asked TJ's cousin, whom we had dinner with one night, if he could pick it up for me if they didn't come in time and deliver them to me in Manila. Pakapalan na ng muks! Feeling close si mama!


But lo and behold! The day we were going to leave, the brushes arrived at the locker. I. WAS. SO. HAPPY. Never mind the fact that we had to take an Ɯber to a place three hours away to get it (because I was so excited, I didn't check which locker was closest to our hotel).

I know it must have been a hassle for TJ to hear me whine and obsess about these brushes all the time, but I hope that silly experience was still memorable for him in some way.

Yes. All for the love of these unicorn brushes. Were they worth it? DEFINITELY!

How far have you gone to get makeup products that you wanted? Share your silly experiences with me, so I don't feel alone. :p


Sunday, June 28, 2020

Kwak Dong-yeon is Such an Underrated Oppa

I follow a lot of people on social media who are fans of Korean dramas. However, not once have I read anyone rave about Kwak Dong-yeon.


Back when I was still a closet K-Drama fan, I first saw Dong-yeon in 'My ID is Gangnam Beauty' and while most people that I know swooned over Cha Eun-woo (he is admittedly a very beautiful man), my heart in that series solely belongs to Dong-yeon. I loved his simple character in the show: the unassuming and kind teacher's assistant with a smile that lit up my entire life. My heart broke when he admitted why he actually liked Kang Mi-rae in the show, and that's the only time I started rooting for Eun-woo.

Dong-yeon is actually the reason why I watched 'Fight for My Way', not Park Seo-joon. And I absolutely ADORED him with long hair in 'Moonlight'. In fact, Kim Byung-yeon was my phone's wallpaper for months; I loved him so much!


I started watching 'It's Okay to Not be Okay' last week when it started streaming on Netflix (read my review of the first two episodes here), but the only things I knew about the show were the things that I had heard about it from Kim Soo-hyun and Yeo Se-ji at a recent online press conference that I was a part of. I had no idea Dong-yeon would be in it.

So when he appeared in Episode 3 this past weekend as Kwon Ki-do, I literally squealed! Ki-do is one of the patients at OK Psychiatric Hospital, where Soo-hyun's character Moon Kang-tae currently works. He is also the son of a member of the National Assembly and suffers from manic episodes.


One of the main reasons why 'It's Okay to Not be Okay' has captured my heart is because they shine the light on people who suffer from mental health issues. Living with mild schizophrenia myself, it makes me so happy and proud that a K-Drama is showing people what living with mental health disorders is like. And Dong-yeon did such a fantastic job portraying his role. I love him even more now.

Manic episodes are characterized by intense bouts of energy, racing thoughts, and other extreme behaviors - all of which Dong-yeon incorporated in his performance. People who suffer from manic episodes may also experience psychosis in the form of hallucinations and delusions, which the show beautifully showcased at the end of the third episode.

The energetic bouts aside, Ki-do also touches our hearts with the backstory of his family and how he really feels having to live with these manic episodes. And while he may have brought us a few laughs in the beginning of the episode with him whipping out his "teeny weeny wiener" every chance he gets, he brings us back to the reality of the situation by the end of his special appearance.

The role was definitely a difficult one and it was important to be able to bring so many emotions and actions to the table - but Dong-yeon did it perfectly. When talking about the role, Dong-yeon excitedly shared that this was one project that he wanted to be a part of, no matter what. (My heart is melting!) I am so happy that they brought him into the show for this, and so far, he has been the highlight for me.

What did you think of Dong-yeon's performance in 'It's Okay to Not be Okay'? :)

Friday, June 26, 2020

Tips on becoming a Social Media Influencer

What is an INFLUENCER?


It's someone who has the influence, the authority over or trust of, a certain group of people. In marketing parlance, an influencer is someone who causes others to make a specific consumer decision.

On the other hand, a person with the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending the items on social media is called a Social Media Influencer.

Even before this pandemic hits the world, influencers have been considered the new celebrities, and influencer marketing is already a billion-dollar industry.

In the new normal setting, a lot of workload in the office or inside the plant was converted to be done at home. Hence, the work-from-home setting has been the trend, so everyone can still earn while securing their safety from the invisible threat of COVID19.

Apart from online jobs, a lot of people are shifting to becoming influencers as they know that brands collaborate with influencers and pay them in cash or in kind. 

How do you start becoming a social media influencer?


First, you have to have accounts on different social media platforms. Basic but famous platforms that most brands require every influencer to have is Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and TikTok. If you want, you may also add Pinterest, Linkedin, Reddit, Twitch, and more. These social media platforms are being used by brands to reach out to potential customers through the help of influencers.

Second, you have to have a good number of following and engagement. What is a good number of following mean? The following or fan base is the number of people who can see what you post and/or react to your posts. The minimum number of following to be considered an influencer is at least 1000.

What about the engagement?


Social media engagement measures the public shares, likes, and comments for a social media post - video, photos, articles, etc. Engagement, although it doesn't necessarily translate to sales, has been a common metric for evaluating social media performance.

The higher the number of following and the more likes, reactions, and comments on posts - the better because that would mean greater opportunities online.

Third, you have to have good content. We have seen a lot of viral photos and videos on social media. They made it to the top list because they are unique, witty, relatable, and relevant. You don't just post anything and everything. Remember that an influencer affects someone's decision and you don't want to be labeled as a bad influencer. Remember: CONTENT IS KING.

COVID-19 might have affected all of us, whether small or big businesses, whether emerging or established enterprises; and the influencer marketing status seems to slow down because brands are cutting their budgets for marketing and advertisement. But this industry will never die and will still be one of the most promising as the whole world shifts to the new normal. This industry can easily bounce back in this trying time as social media is no longer just a platform but a way of life.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

This Online Game Gives You Discounts for Gin!

One of the biggest changes and hurdles I faced when quarantine started was the sudden loss of alcohol in my life. Drinking used to be my ultimate stress reliever, and going to bars was a weekly... okay, fine, nightly, thing. Add the liquor ban to that, and you can just imagine how shocked my body was by the lack of happiness in it.

2020 definitely took my alcohol-loving self by surprise and quickly cast a gloomy shadow for the days ahead. While alcohol is now available in my city, though, happier bar-hopping days are still months away. To spread some good cheer and uplift our spirits, though, Hendrick’s Gin has launched a fun augmented reality game called The Cucumber Horticulturist.


Now available on http://worldcucumberday.asia, you can earn money by cultivating cucumbers from the comfort of your own home. Plant the seeds of delightful peculiarity and the best part? You can get the chance to win discounts off of your next Hendrick’s Gin purchase! 

To win the game, simply grow the cucumber plant by collecting falling water droplets on the screen and avoiding the roses. A stray rose petal can bring the round to a thorny end. With enough water gathered in the pot, you’ll be able to grow a majestic vine with fruits ripe for the picking.

Upon proving your green thumb, you’ll get your cucumber currency over email presented as an e-ticket coupon for 15% off of Hendrick’s Gin capped at a limited number of coupons. The discount can then be redeemed at boozeshop.ph until July 31. You can only win a coupon once, but it's still hella fun!


Why cucumbers? Well, aside from June 14 having been World Cucumber Day, Charmaine Thio, Hendrick’s Southeast Asia ambassador, explains, “There would be no Hendrick’s Gin & Tonic without the cucumber!”

The cucumber plays a pivotal role in giving Hendrick’s Gin its delectably unusual flavor. The spirit’s distillation process includes infusions of rose and cucumber, which yields an extraordinarily inviting gin that is a rare union of lightness and complexity. The cucumber gives ample opportunity for expressive experimentation that pleases both the eye and the palate. Its remarkable versatility is the very reason that Cucumber Day was invented in 2011 by English horticulturists, paving the way for the yearly celebration by Hendrick’s Gin.
For more information on World Cucumber Day, please visit www.hendricksgin.com :)

Monday, June 22, 2020

5 Reasons Why 'It's Okay to Not be Okay' is Worth Watching

The Korean drama 'It's Okay to Not be Okay' started airing on Netflix this weekend, and I am already hooked! The minute I started watching the first episode, I knew this K-Drama was going to be different. And I knew that I would love it with all my heart and soul. And I already do... so far, anyway. Here's why.


5 Reasons Why 'It's Okay to Not be Okay' is Worth Watching



5. The direction is superb.




The director, Park Shin-woo, does an amazing job in this. From the direction in the animations to the direction in real-life situations, you'll definitely end up appreciating things more. Some of my favorite scenes were the road scenes, like Moon Kang-tae and Jo Jae-soo riding on a motorcycle at night, and Ko Mun-yeong driving to the countryside. Gorgeous!


4. The animation is beautiful.




This is the first thing that got me hooked. Aside from having a chibi Tim Burton vibe to it, the story of the opening animation really spoke to me. It's no secret that I suffer from mild schizophrenia; and, well, that short animation really spoke to me. The same goes for the stories in Mun-yeong's children's books. I love everything about them and wish they actually existed in real life. I would definitely hoard those books if given the chance!

3. They touch on sensitive issues.


'It's Okay to Not be Okay' doesn't just touch on autism in the form of Kang-tae's older brother, Moon Sang-tae, it also touches on other true-to-life issues. We see things from the point of view of Kang-tae, who loves his brother, but also struggles in other aspects of his life to be able to provide their needs. We also get a glimpse of Mun-yeong's backstory, which sort of explains why she is the way she is: cold, unapologetic, and borderline scary.

These are things that we don't talk about often for fear of being judged or even hated. If you are experiencing anything similar, this show will make you feel understood. And even if you aren't, you will walk away with the reminder to treat everybody with kindness because you have no idea what they may be going through in real life.


2. Kim Soo-hyun is in it.





Admit it. You missed him, his sad eyes, his adorable smile, and his kissable lips, too. There's something about closeups of Soo-hyun that really make me think, "Damn, I want him to kiss me." :p  And while he seems more mature after his stint in the military, he is still every bit as heavenly as I remember him to be. As usual, he makes us kilig from the very first episode and does things that make us wish we had an oppa like him handy whenever we need calming down.

And get this: 13 minutes into Episode 1 of 'It's Okay to Not be Okay', Netflix gives us an unforgettable slow-mo closeup shot of his abs. I backtracked twice. Not even gonna lie. :p


1. Seo Ye-ji is my new spirit queen.




Believe it or not, my number one reason to watch 'It's Okay to Not be Okay' isn't Soo-hyun; it's his leading lady, Seo Ye-ji. I. LOVE. EVERYTHING. ABOUT. HER. I love her elegant modern goth queen vibe - the way she dresses, the way she walks, the way she wraps her robe around her waist, the way her hair always looks perfect, the way she stares at sharp objects, the way she daydreams, the way she talks... EVERY. FREAKING. THING.

Most importantly, I love how she just chooses to be herself, fuck what everybody else thinks. Even when she was in public and there were a ton of people taking videos of what was happening, she stayed true to herself and stood up for what she believed was right, all the while maintaining an IDGAF air. Of course, in the real world, this isn't advisable because of the consequences; but it makes me wish that I could live the kind of life that she does in a way... not that extremely, of course.

So far, there are only two episodes of 'It's Okay to Not be Okay' on Netflix; but I am already hooked. There is absolutely nothing about it that I don't like so far, and I can't wait to see how the story develops.

Have you watched 'It's Okay to Not be Okay' yet? What did you think of the first two episodes?

Sunday, June 21, 2020

6 date night ideas to help you stay closer while apart

Couples, even those living within a few kilometers from each other, have unexpectedly shifted to long distance relationships because of COVID-19. And even though the country is slowly moving towards easing restrictions, safety under these changing times is still of the utmost importance.

Without a doubt, life in quarantine has forced all of us to get creative in terms of our relationships. How do we send love to our partners while self-isolating and keep the spark alive? While the distance remains, here are some date night ideas - data and Internet capability allowing - to help you #StayCloserApart and your hearts growing fonder:


Have an online game night.



For couples with a competitive streak, keep the spark alive by setting up a game night. Whether it’s an RPG you play via platforms like Discord or Twitch, or a virtual escape room you try to solve together; there are many available ways to bond over a shared desire to win.

There's also Animal Crossing on Switch, where you can even go on virtual dates in-game. And of course, there's always good ol' Mobile Legends... but I can't promise that will end well. :p


Complete a workout together.


If you get motivated to exercise when your SO is beside you to cheer you on, maybe you’ve become a bit lazy or uninspired to finish a routine alone. If this is the case, try taking an online class together. Whether it’s an intense HIIT workout or a fun and energetic Zumba class, you can still be each other’s workout buddies while apart.

Try out a new recipe.



We’ve seen all kinds of cooking and baking challenges since the start of quarantine - from Dalgona coffee to sushi bake - with lots of people trying their hands at these DIY recipes. If neither of you are very good in the kitchen, help each other out virtually and try the same recipe together for a new spin on sharing a meal.

Tip: dress up and light a candle, too, so you can bask in the ambience of your date night.


Go on a virtual movie date.


For the cinephile couples who used to go on movie dates in the cinemas on a regular basis, you can now replicate that experience digitally. Whether it’s through a shared screen, the Netflix party extension on Google Chrome, or simply pressing the play button at the same time; your movie dates and marathons can continue even under isolation.

Plus, you can get to know each other better by binge-watching each other's favorite shows or sharing your favorite movies from your childhood and adolescence.


Create Spotify playlists for each other.




I don't know about you, but mix CDs were a big part of my early puppy lovelife. I can't even begin to explain how kilig I got when a guy I liked made me a CD with songs that reminded him of me. With today's technology, doing this is so much easier now. Just put together songs that remind you of your partner, save them all on a Spotify playlist, and send the the link - easy peasy!

You can even create special playlists for different things, like for when they're feeling down, when they need to do chores, when they're working out, or when they're about to go to sleep.


Enjoy some good old-fashioned telebabad.


My age is totally showing by now, huh? But come on... what's the best way to feel like you're spending time with each other than having a good old telebabad session? You can, of course, have a video call session, too; but there's something about lying on your bed in the dark and just hearing their voice in your ears with your eyes closed that takes me back to simpler days.

Tip: I highly recommend using earphones for this, though, so you don't sweat all over your phone in the Philippine heat.

Now more than ever, couples need to get creative to stay close and spread the love despite the distance. If you’re looking for more inspiration, check out Closeup Philippines’ latest #StayCloserApart video here:



To make your next virtual date night extra special, Closeup and Shakey’s are giving away free pizza to select lucky couples! All you have to do is join the Instagram Live of Laureen Uy and Miggy Cruz on June 24 and tag someone you want to #StayCloserApart with.

For more information, visit the Closeup Philippines Facebook page.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

WATCH: This Video Shines a Spotlight on Dads Who Make Life Simple and Easy

Have you ever thought about what your life would be like right now if it weren’t for your dad? It would undoubtedly be much different, and maybe a little harder.

They may not always be the flashiest or loudest in the family, but our dads are definitely the unsung heroes of our lives, making things easy so that we can enjoy what we have—something we can appreciate through the good times and the tough times.

This Father’s Day, Smart pays tribute to the dads who always have our backs and do the most in a touching new video. The heartwarming new tribute video underscores the quiet but impactful roles our fathers have in the enjoyment of our lives as they put the happiness of their families first.

Watch the video here:


At the end of the day, it’s our dads who make things possible by always having our backs.

Much like our great dads, Smart also takes care of every subscriber, doing everything they can so that we may enjoy our passions and focus on life’s more meaningful moments in manner that’s “Simple. Smart ako.”

To all the dads who missed out on some of the moments when we were growing up, we know you're behind us all the way. Happy Father's Day!

What's a message you'd like to give to your dad this Father's Day? :)

Chooks-to-Go is Ready for the New Normal

If there's one thing my mom loves to order for lunch when she's too lazy to cook, it's Chooks-to-Go. In fact, every time we pass by one, she casually asks if it's open, even if we hadn't planned on buying Chooks to begin with.

Well, with the country's food industry starting to make a comeback, I'm sure she'll be happy to hear that Chooks-to-Go is making sure that all of their stores comply with the new standards set by the government.


Chooks-to-Go-President Ronald MascariƱas shares that Bounty (Agro Ventures, Inc.) takes health seriously. "We can do this not just by producing the healthiest chicken with no antibiotics ever, but also keeping our people and customers safe. I can proudly say that all of our stores will be what they call 'new normal-ready' in the coming months."

Although renovations and innovations ended up costing the company a lot, MascariƱas says that it was worth it to ensure the safety of their customers and crew during this pandemic.


For starters, Chooks-to-Go is strictly implementing social distancing in their queuing system, putting stickers on the sidewalk that is exactly a full meter apart for their customers. You will also be advised to go to the hand-sanitizing stations before ordering.


Acrylic panels are also installed in each counter to ensure that no contact will be made between customers and store crew. This includes a metal sliding tray for transactions.


Speaking of the crew, every member of the station will need to go through a mandatory temperature check before and after their shifts The results are logged daily in Chooks-to-Go's system.


All staff members are also required to wear faceshields and facemasks besides their standard hairnets and gloves.

All of this is being done to ensure that customers do not just get the healthiest chicken in the market, but also stay safe at their stores.

Are you a Chooks-to-Go fan, too?


Pros and Cons of Living in a Rural Area

One of the most recent trends in the nation’s demographics is the mass movement to the cities and suburbs. Many people believe that these places have a lot to offer, leading to a mass exodus from rural towns and communities. While it certainly is true that cities and suburbs have a lot to offer residents, rural areas also have some major positives about them as well. What exactly are these great features, and how do they hold up versus the negatives? Here are the pros and cons of living in a rural area. 


Cost of Living


One of the biggest positives you’ll notice about living in a rural area is the reduced cost of living. Obviously, having to deal with lower costs is a huge advantage, as it allows you to save up more money and use it on other aspects of life. Things like housing are typically much cheaper in rural areas. For example, Madison houses for sale and L.A real estate are usually a lot pricier than housing in rural areas. However, housing isn’t the only thing that is cheaper in rural communities. Things like food and entertainment may also be cheaper as well. All of these savings can add up, allowing you to put more towards things like retirement or take vacations. 

Privacy


Another huge benefit of living in a rural area is the privacy that comes with it. When you live in a rural area, houses are typically spaced out more. Because of this, you’ll have more land to yourself and fewer neighbors to deal with. Living in extremely rural communities may lead to you owning several acres of land and only having a handful of neighbors. Obviously, in situations like these, you have much more privacy than you would if you lived in a city that was jam-packed with residents. Living in rural communities often comes with a lot more freedom and privacy, something that can be a major attraction for those that are more free-spirited. 

Restaurants and Stores


When it comes to the major cons of living in a rural area, the lack of variety in restaurants and stores is a major negative. When you live in the city, you have access to just about any store or restaurant imaginable. Just about every large company will be present in your city, and there will be plenty of local shops to fill in the gaps. However rural communities simply don’t have the population to support these businesses. These rural areas may have a few big stores in their area, but many will be absent and shopping options will be limited. In addition, many big restaurant chains likely won’t be in your town, and the area will lack the wide variety of food options that bigger cities have. If you’re someone who loves having lots of stores and restaurants to pick from, then living in a rural community might not be for you.

Economy


The lack of stores and other businesses in rural communities greatly hurts the local economy, oftentimes meaning that rural communities have much weaker economies than larger cities. You may have a hard time finding job opportunities in rural communities, and those that you do find will likely be concentrated in one particular industry. On the other hand, most cities have large businesses and corporations that call the area home, strengthening the local economy, and providing job opportunities to residents. Although the lack of large businesses in rural communities certainly doesn’t mean you won’t find a job in rural communities, it might mean that you’ll have to look a little harder.