Friday, October 7, 2011

The Sim Social – Play with Friends not Farm Animals

I have long been an avid SIMS player – from the SIMS 1 through 3, the SIMS Life Stories and more recently, SIMS Medieval. My home computer have been continuously going through video and sound card upgrades to keep up with the hardware requirements of the game. So when the SIM Social finally launched on Facebook, it was only a matter of time before I would start playing it as well. And now, FB is basically my gaming portal - with the occasional updates from friends.

So far? I’m really enjoying this SIM spinoff. Sure, it has a similar gaming format to the other FB games (encourage gamers to buy the cash items in order to make a profit) but it’s the fun of the SIM games without the hassle. Hopefully, they’ll be able to provide more items and quests (since it’s still relatively new, I’m sure they still have loads under their sleeves).

If you’re looking to while away a good chunk of your day online, create a sim today! And send me an invite to be a neighbor. :)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

On Why I Love Pasalubongs

Whenever anybody I know leaves (for a business trip, another city or even for the day), I often tell them to remember my “pasalubong”. It doesn’t really have to be something extravagant or expensive – just something that would make me feel special and loved. That even if we were miles apart, at one point wherever they were, they remembered me. Nothing makes me happier than a loved one coming back home, safe and sound, with my pasalubong in their hands. :)

I thought I’d share the recent pasalubongs that I got from some of my favorite people.
oatmeal bars

1. Oatmeal Bars from Claudette’s – Ian usually buys this for me when he’s not able to buy me anything from wherever it was he went to. Or sometimes he brings me this just because. These oatmeal bars are very delicious – chewy and moist – with chocolate chips generously sprinkled on top. Claudette’s have a stall in Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3, near one of the exits in the ground floor. Perfect last minute pasalubong to family and friends.


2. Borneo White Coffee from Kota Kinabalu – My friends Chat and Lyn went to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia last month and brought these coffee grounds back with them. As a coffee lover, I love this pasalubong! I’m just waiting for the right moment/equipment/container in order to brew it.


3. Kindle Power Adapter from – I ordered a Kindle last June but unfortunately, my shipment was sans a power adapter. Fortunately, my Tito Jeff was scheduled to arrive in the Philippines and was able to bring my power adapter with him. Nowadays, charging my kindle is easier and faster thanks to direct charging (and not thru USB cable).


4. Round Necklace from Mansoureh – My Iranian friend Mansoureh came to the Philippines to renew her passport and she brought with her this awesome necklace. I love it! The chain is light enough that I don’t feel like I’m being strangled and the pendant is very colorful. The photo above shows us together with me wearing the said necklace.

I love, love pasalubongs! Not only because of what they are (gifts!) but more importantly because of what they mean (I’m thinking of you).

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Finally Got A Kindle!

I have been, and still am, an avid reader. I used to be one of those people you see browsing bookstores, looking for new releases from my favorite authors. Nowadays, I still read books but almost exclusively, the electronic kinds. I've ran out of space in my room to store actual books and ebooks can be stored very easily on a computer with loads of space to spare. 

I used to do my reading on my pda - a Tungsten T5 - with Mobipocket reader. It could actually do a lot more than that but I just mostly used it as an ebook reader. However, it started giving signs that it wanted to retire. And so the search for a new reader began.

I read about various readers but finally chose the Kindle from Amazon. What ultimately sold me about this product was the fact that I could use it in broad daylight because it had no glare. In fact, its screen looks just like a page from an actual book. 

After a few weeks of hemming and haw-wing, I placed my order and had it shipped to my uncle's place in the US. My cousin brought it when she came to the Philippines to visit last June. Now, my Kindle is one of the gadgets that I must always have with me (along with my phone). And It has made waiting painless and enjoyable.

Of course, any device needs a decent cover - and mine's the Kindle Lighted Leather Cover in Burnt Orange from Amazon. This was an easy choice since it uses the Kindle itself as its battery source (so no need to worry about running it ever running out of charge) and one only needs to charge the device. It makes reading at night or in the dark a breeze.

If you're in the market for an ebook reader, the Kindle is definitely a good one to get. Special thanks to Ian for funding my Kindle and for my uncle Tito Jeff for my lighted cover. I love them both! :)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Currently Obsessing on Eliza Doolittle

I’ve always been a fan of those jazzy-bluesy voices ala Amy Winehouse and Adele. So it’s not really surprising that I am now an uber fan of Eliza Doolittle.

Born Eliza Sophie Caird, she adopted Eliza Doolittle (the female lead character in My Fair Lady) as her stage name because it was her childhood nickname. Another fun factoid: She is the daughter of Frances Ruffelle – the woman who originated the role of Eponine in the English version of Les Miserables.

Eliza seems to be a quirky, cheeky young woman but I absolutely love her voice. She released her self-titled debut album last July 2010 in the UK. Do, do check her album out.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Food Trip: Bubble Tea, Megamall

One Sunday afternoon, while running errands at Megamall, Ian and I found ourselves feeling a bit peckish. And since I heard good things about Bubble Tea from my younger sister, Eri, we decided to try the food here.

We were thinking of just having merienda so we ordered the tonkatsu yakisoba - with the idea that we'd share it. But once Ian saw the takoyaki on the menu, we had to order it as well. 

tonkatsu yakisoba - Php245
takoyaki - Php175
The takoyaki was a good choice! I really enjoyed it. The pancake batter was moist and the takoyaki themselves were piping hot. (I don't enjoy cold takoyaki - i like 'em freshly prepared). Another good thing was they didn't scrimp on the tako (octopus) inside - so it was a perfect balance of tako and batter. We finished this dish off almost immediately. The side salad was fine, some cabbage and corn drizzled with dressing. As for the tonkatsu yakisoba, it was okay. Nothing extraordinary about it. I'm afraid the takoyaki outshone it in this instance - and we just took the remainder of it home.

Of course at an establisment called Bubble Tea, we had to order bubble teas! Ian ordered Royal Milk Tea while I had the Azuki Red Bean Milkshake. Both drinks were good - but I prefer mine. XD

Royal Milk Tea - L Php125
Azuki Milkshake - L Php145
If we do eat here again, I'll definitely order the takoyaki and the azuki milkshake. And I'll probably try some other dishes. The food is moderately pricey but I think its better for lunch or dinner rather than merienda. My only comment was when we ate here (back in February), the waitstaff was less than stellar. They seem to be new or at a loss to what they were doing. They seem to forget who ordered what and even failed to bill us for some of our food (a fact that we had to bring to their attention)

Bubble Tea is located in four branches:
SM Megamall, The Block, Greenhills and Tomas Morato.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Top Chef Mania

I was on a Top Chef marathon a while back - my interest in the show (and others of its format) was a result of my having watched Junior MasterChef Australia. I wanted to see how good the adults would have performed.

Top Chef is interesting because the cheftestants are all already chefs of their own right. They have had years of experience and most of them are chef owners or chef de cuisine of top restaurants. Its amazing how they are able to make dishes seemingly on the fly - whether it be a Quick Fire (given only 15-45 minutes to create a dish based on a theme/challenge) or an Elimination Challenge (wherein cheftestants are given hours to create and shop for their dishes).

I, of course, have a list of my favorite Top Chefs. And if I ever have the luxury of coming to the US for a vacation, I would definitely try and go to one of their restaurants. Provided, of course, that it's reasonably near and not, say, on the other side of whichever part of the country I would be in.

My favorite season would have to be Season 6 - having three of my fave Top Chefs taking part in it.. going all the way to the finals. The Voltaggio Brothers (Michael and Brian) and Jennifer Carroll. To be honest, while watching the finale, I didn't know who I was rooting for to win - Michael, the more avant-garde chef with his out-of-the-box way of cooking or Bryan, the older, calmer and intense one with his attention to detail and on the spot flavor profiles. Jennifer Carroll is just plain bad-ass. I really like her. I was really disappointed when she left early during Top Chef All-Stars.. I wanted to watch her more.

I can't wait for the next season of Top Chef. This show is highly educational, very informative - and I find that I'm usually either hungry or eating while watching it. It's that mouthwatering.

* photos of the cheftestants taken from

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


I've been neglecting my blog(s) for quite some time now.. Life sometimes gets in the way of blogging. But I was struck by the writing bug today so here I am once more.

A lot has happened these past few months - some bad, some sad but overall.. mostly good. So I guess that more than makes up for anything. An example of the sad, bad things - I damaged my camera during my trip in Batanes.. so I wasn't able to take photos to my heart's content. This is definitely one of the worst things to happen on a trip. *sigh* Thankfully, my camera was still salvageable though they had to replace the lens assembly. It still cost me a pretty penny to get it fixed. 

The lesson of the day: take extra care of your camera especially if you don't have a spare. XD

Monday, March 7, 2011

Food Trip: Jalapeño Cantina Mexicana, Ortigas

There's something about lazy Sunday afternoons that inspires the free spirit. No schedules, no need to run around rushing about. Just doing things that you like as soon as it hits you. It was on such an afternoon when Ian and I decided to try dining in Jalapeño, a mexican restaurant situated along Food Street in Home Depot Center, Ortigas.

Baked Jalapeño Cheese Dip - Php 150
Nacho chips
We ordered the baked jalapeño cheese dip served with nacho chips as an appetizer. Ian ordered the enchilada while I ordered the burrito. The jalapeño cheese dip was served on a hot plate and is full of cheesy goodness. Huge slices of jalapeño can be found within the dip, giving an extra kick to an otherwise ordinary dish. 

Mexican Chicken Burrito - Php 140
I find that I usually order burritos whenever I'm in a mexican restaurant and this time was no exception. The chicken burrito was served piping hot with tomato salsa and sour cream on the side. I loved the salsa - it had that fresh, tangy tomato flavor. The burrito itself though was just alright for me. It wasn't bad, I just still prefer Cantina's Grande Pollo Burrito. (Probably because the grande burrito has a lot more ingredients inside it).

Mexican Chili Beef Enchilada
Mexican Chili Beef Enchilada - Php 220
The beef enchilada was a pleasant surprise. Although it was very cheesy, the tortilla was still able to retain its texture and did not become a soggy mess. The dish wasn't spicy though (which is weird given the chili in its name) but a dash of their hot sauce did the job.

Bacardi Light Mojito Pitcher - Php 370

We also ordered a pitcher of Bacardi Light Mojito. They were considerate enough to give us a taste each of this drink because I wanted to see if I should order a glass or a pitcher. Needless to say, it was delicious. Jalapeño just became a possible venue for future mojito nights. Good food and good mojitos - perfect combination. :)

happy karriepanda :)
This place is definitely worth coming back to. Reasonable price, good food, good drinks, pleasant service and most of all, free parking. :p If you plan on sharing a pitcher (of mojito), its best to have a few drinking buddies with you. The ice would melt if you take your time drinking (It's still good but it's best served cold).

*Jalapeño Cantina Mexicana
The Food Street, Home Depot Complex
Julia Vargas Ave., Ortigas
Mon-Sun 10am-4pm, 6pm-2am

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Now Watching: Junior Master Chef Australia - Road to the Top 12

About a month ago, my friends Lyn and Cho were raving about this great cooking competition/show wherein the cooks were 12 and below (hence the Junior in the title). After a few conversations of just listening in, I thought why not check it out. After watching the first episode, I was hooked.

The show started with 5500 applicants that they narrowed down to 50 and divided into 5 groups of 10. They asked each group to cook a dish within 45 minutes depending on their theme (international food, dessert, seafood, young cooks (8-10yrs) and meat). From the 10 dishes of each heat, they pick the top 4 dishes which will make up the Top 20. 

These kids are beyond amazing. They astound me with their skills, creating dishes that I've only ever seen in fancy restaurants. Some standout dishes for me (in the Top 50) were Isabella (12) with her Ricotta Gnocchi, Sam's (11) Quatre-Quarts, Alex's (11) Le Gout de la Mer (Taste of the Sea), Siena (9) and her Lemon and Lime Curd Tart and Anthony (10) with his Garlic Prawns. I can imagine actually ordering these food!

The Top 20 then had to be winnowed down to the Top 12 contestants who will be able to actually enter and cook in the Master Chef kitchen. In the first challenge, an invention test with 2 core ingredients - chicken and vegetables - the best 6 dishes (created within 1 hour and 15 minutes) were chosen to be in the Top 12. The remaining 14 contestants then battled it out with a pressure test, duplicating a dish brought in by a guest chef, and the best 6 dishes rounded up the remaining 6 spots of the Top 12.

I really wanted to be able to taste the twin's dishes, Isabella and her Nonna's cotolette and Sofia's canneloni. They seem to be sooooo good! I wasn't surprised that they both were in the Top 6 from the first challenge.

The second challenge, the pressure test, was brought in by guest chef Callum Hann (who I believe, participated in the Masterchef competition in 2010). The 14 remaining young cooks needed to duplicate his Chocolate Croissant Pudding with Berries, Cream and Chocolate Sauce within the 1 hour time limit.

I really wanted to taste Pierre's and Lucy's (both 11) chocolate croissant pudding. Pierre's was declared to be tasting almost like Callum's while Lucy was dubbed the "Princess of Pudding" from hers. (So these must be some kick-ass puddings. :P)

The Top 12 was ultimately composed of Alex (11), Jack (12), the twins Sofia and Isabella (12), Siena (9), Sam (11), Emily (12), Cassidy (12), Pierre (12), Lucy (11), Anthony (10) and Nick (10). Coming up to the Top 12, my favorites would have to be the twins and Pierre. The twins are just awe-inspiring. They seem to be very skilled and very good at what they're doing. Pierre is just adorable - very serious in the kitchen.

This show is really addicting. And I love the dishes these kids come up. Makes me be inspired to cook and to ultimately encourage (my future) kids to cook if they so want.

Junior MasterChef Australia can be seen on StarWorld in the Philippines.
Sundays 19:15-21:05, Mondays 18:25-19:15 and 22:50-23:40, Tuesdays 11:55-12:45 and 18:25-19:15, Wednesdays 11:55-12:45 and Saturdays 12:50-13:45.

*all pictures taken as screen captures from the episodes.