A Life Update / Quarantine Kitchen

Hey everyone! 👋🏻

It’s now mid-September, but to me, it feels as if time really slowed down, and I’m still stuck in April or May. Ever since we’ve been quarantined, it’s like the days are slowly blurring together and I’ve completely lost track of the concept of time itself.

I am lucky enough to have a work-from-home situation, but I’ll be honest, it’s been a little difficult juggling different kinds of work. For context, I work in my room. My room doesn’t have windows, so I completely rely on a clock and unnatural light for the passing of time. (That, and the times when I would have my meals, lol.) I’ve read how seeing actual sunlight and watching the day pass by provides a subliminal message to your body and your brain, telling you “hey, it’s time to wake up and work” or “stop working, it’s time to sleep.” Alas, I ended up ruining my already messed up body clock. There are days where I work until 4AM and wake up at 8:30AM a few hours later just to attempt to reset my body clock back to “normal.”

Honestly, I’ve been pretty calm at home. I’m an introverted person, so I thrive on alone time. I’ve been keeping myself busy by getting back into my hobby of baking, as well as learning new things like embroidery. The outside world is scary (and I’m not just talking about COVID), so the best we can do right now is to practice social distancing, and be responsible citizens.

It all started when I ordered a bunch of ingredients online.
(All of these cost me less than Php 1,200, wow!)
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Driving Again

Note: All the activities written here were done before NCOV-19 + lockdown.

(Hey guys, it’s been a while again. Whoops. Initially, when the lockdown was implemented, I thought I would have a lot of free time to actually update here, but I was wrong—haha! I’ll write more about that in the coming blog posts, but now, I want to share with you a little story + personal achievement that I did before the lockdown!)

After five long years, I finally enrolled myself into driving school again. This time, I decided to learn how to drive an automatic car (I learned manual the first time.) It’s funny to me to see my progress here because my first blog post on this blog was about driving school, haha!

Initially, I was nervous to drive again. I had so many thoughts circling my head: What if I cause a lot of traffic? What if I damage the car or accidentally bump someone? What if I forgot everything I’ve learned five years ago and make a total fool out of myself now?

All these thoughts kept swarming my head as I attended my first actual driving session—I was scared it would be as difficult as the first time I drove. I admit the first few sessions were a little rough. I was so used to all the foot positions (due to muscle memory/habit) of a manual car so much, that re-learning everything was nerve-wracking.

DrivingAgain1Outside the LTO (Land Transportation Office) to get a driver’s license application!

I had good days and bad days. The good days were when there was barely any traffic and the weather was great. The bad days were times when cars were all around me, and I felt claustrophobic, thinking that I would get squished on the road. At times, it was really overwhelming and I felt like giving up.

It was when I finally stopped thinking too hard about driving and stopped doubting myself, I realized that driving can be relaxing. I realized that driving is all about being in the present. You can’t think about on-road decisions that happened already once you get through it, and you can’t keep getting apprehensive about every move you make—it’s about how you react to what’s going on and trying to make the best out of every situation there.

After completing my lessons, I studied up for the licensing exam and went to the LTO a month after to take the test. After around 6 hours of waiting, I walked out with a driver’s license. Sure, I had several (and literal) bumps along the way, but I am proud to say that I did it! Yey!

(Sorry I don’t have a lot of pictures—but I guess, that’s self-explanatory, haha! Couldn’t really be taking a lot of photos while I drive, lol.)

‘Till the next blog post,
Sophie

 

Sophie Makes: Crepe Cake

Hey guys! Happy New Year! (Sorry for the late greeting—whoops! I guess at this point, it’s past Chinese New Year now, haha.)

Welcome to the first blog post of the year. While the start of the year feels fresh, it feels like it’s already been a month with all the events happening both in my personal and professional life AND with all the world events going on. I can’t believe it’s just been a couple of weeks in the year!

Anyways, I’ve been keeping myself busy. The last time I’ve posted here was November. Shortly after that post, I decided to make a crepe cake for my family’s annual Christmas potluck. (A little backstory: I’ve gone to a crepe cake class last year and know that making a crepe cake is no easy task!) My aunt suggested that I practice before Christmas Eve to decrease the chances that I will mess up so that I’ll know what I’ll be getting myself into. I took her advice and make a vanilla crepe cake.

Man, it took me a solid six hours to make it! There were some bumps along the way, but it turned out light and delicious!

 Just look at those layers!

One month later, I bought all the ingredients needed to make the crepe cake again for Christmas. I decided to replace sugar with agave and vanilla extract with vanilla bean powder for a healthier option. Honestly, I was worried about the new adjustments to the recipe—I hoped that it wouldn’t alter the taste too much.

And since I was making it for the second time, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and make a blog post for it (so here we are, haha.)

Ingredients are prepared (and scattered, I may add.)

The first step was to combine all the ingredients needed to make the batter. I learned that crepe batter (at least for crepe cakes) are extremely watery and thin. This is because you need the crepes to be as soft and as thin as possible to make it ideal for stacking and eating. Crepe cakes are otherwise known for their soft and melt-in-your-mouth kind of texture, after all.

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Hobonichi 2020 Haul (ほぼ日 2020)

The last Hobonichi update I’ve done was way back in 2018. After a “Hobonichi 2019 Haul” last year, I haven’t posted anything since then.

The truth is that after tons of spreads filled top to bottom in my 2018 Hobonichi, I got burnt out and felt tired to write or fill up my 2019 Hobonichi. It’s sad to see that my pages aren’t as inspiring or they aren’t as fun to do like my 2018 Hobonichi. While I do fill up pages and some spreads from time to time, I didn’t enjoy it as much.

Sad, but not discouraged, I decided that for 2020, I would be getting a Day-Free Hobonichi so that I won’t be restricted to the number of pages (or the lack thereof) I use for the year—this way, I’ll only record those moments in the year that are truly meaningful to me! Wish me luck! Now, on with the haul:

This year’s box is larger than last year’s and when I saw it, I got really excited!

(insert angels singing here)

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PaperCon 2019 Haul!

Two weeks ago, I worked at PaperCon under Abbey’s booth with two volunteers: Trina (who so happens to be a friend from college) and Nice (a new friend, yey!) It was ultimately a rewarding experience—we had so much fun manning a booth and talking to the customers! Before it got too busy, I was able to take a couple of photos of the event:

It still amazes me that people lined up around 2-3 hours before the event itself to get a hold of the VIP ticket (which was limited to 200 only!) Salute to you guys for bracing the hot weather and standing up for so long, haha.

Just look at that line!

Setting up (a.k.a. the calm before the storm.)

At 10:00AM on the dot, the doors officially opened, and a swarm of people entered. We were selling stationery and books left and right, and we didn’t realize how much time has passed until one of us called for a lunch break!

Team ABC! (L-R: Abbey, me, Trina, and Nice + special mention to Auntie Z for helping us out!)

We took turns taking breaks and going around when it wasn’t too busy. Actually, before PaperCon, I already had an idea of what I wanted to buy (from stalking the online shops of each seller, haha!)—and I’m proud to say that I stayed within my budget. Now, on to my haul!

Cute PaperCon ticket!

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Malaysia 2019!

Hello everyone! 👋🏻

It’s been a couple of days since I’ve been back from my latest adventure, and I’d like to share it with you guys while my memory is still pretty fresh, lol. At the end of last month, from September 25-30, I went to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with Abbey for work!

Day 0

For the first time, I’m starting a travel blog entry with Day 0, haha!

I went to Abbey’s house the day before our trip for work + last-minute packing and we headed for the airport later that evening to “camp out” until our 6AM flight. After hopping from coffee shop to coffee shop to work and kill time, we finally dropped our luggage off and headed for our gate.

Day 1

It was my first time to fly AirAsia, and I had a pleasant experience. Honestly, I don’t remember much of what happened during this flight exactly because I pretty much napped on and off until we landed.

View from my seat.

Once we landed at 10AM and got through the usual airport procedures, we had some time to kill (because our AirBnb check-in wasn’t until later that afternoon)—what better way to start the day off with breakfast? Our first official eat in Malaysia was at OldTown White Coffee. I ordered the iced lemon tea (yum!) and the French toast. The tea was excellent, but I found the French toast too buttery? (Still ate everything though, haha!)

First meal in KL!

After our meal, we booked a Grab and headed for our AirBnb. It took a while to find, but we made it. We dropped our stuff off and rested for a bit before heading for the nearby IKEA (insert choir singing here.) We each grabbed a shopping bag and slowly filled it with things as we walked through each section, finally reaching the end and paying for our things. The funny thing is that we both forgot to buy the things we needed to buy and had to go around once again (after dropping our things off in the lockers!) In the middle of our second round, we had a break at the IKEA Food Hall for dinner:

Dinner at IKEA’s food hall!

Abbey and I ordered the salmon fillet with lemon and dill sauce and vegetable medallions (and an add-on of two more pieces–these are my absolute favorite!) We also got a serving of soup and a cup of iced tea. For takeaway, I ordered some juice and bread for breakfast for the coming days.

Day 1 damage!

We booked a Grab back to the AirBnb and relaxed until it was time to sleep.

Our AirBnb! (The stairs are scary for me, but it was a great place!)

It’s barely been a day, and I’ve managed to fill up half of my suitcase already! (It amazes me how I was able to fit everything in my luggage.)

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MIBF 2019 Book Haul

Hello, it’s been a while!

Lately, I’ve been busy with work (a welcome thing compared to earlier this year when I was uninspired to work or do anything really)—but the next few months are full of adventure and events, which I’m excited to share with you! For now, I’ll share with you my MIBF (Manila International Book Fair) haul this year. I’ve posted my haul every year since 2015, and it’s nice to see how my tastes have evolved. I’ve been more and more conscious of book-buying every year. I ask myself questions like “Will I read this more than once?” “Will I want this to be on my shelf for several years?” “Will this book add to my being or not?” Armed with these questions, I went to the book fair with a list of book-investments I’d want to purchase.

First, I got the 75th-anniversary edition of Edith Hamilton’s Mythology. I first read this book in my first or second year in high school (nearly 7 years ago?!) and fell in love with the stories. I got myself a copy at a local second-hand bookstore and reread it once every so often when I get the urge to jump into the world of gods and Greek tragedy.

Look how beautiful the cover is!

Gorgeous illustration inside!

I can’t wait to re-read the stories one of these days!

My older, worn-out copy of the book!

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Big Bad Wolf Book Fair Haul (2019)

It’s time for another book haul!

I first went to the Big Bad Wolf Book Fair last year with one of my best friends, Nicole. I’d won VIP tickets and we excitedly went book shopping before class that day (it was really convenient that the book fair location is near our university!) The Big Bad Wolf Book Fair is easily one of the best book fairs I’ve been to. The books offered were all interesting (not to mention very cheap!)

This year, they announced that they will be holding their book fair in Pampanga, which is easily accessible to me via the highway from where I live. I tried out for their VIP Day contest again and won! I invited my aunt, my sister, and our driver to tag along (each pass is good for two people) and off we went.

The VIP tickets—it looks so nice!

Coming to the book fair, I prepared a specific budget and didn’t really have specific books to look for. For me, the Big Bad Wolf Book Fair specifically is a chance for me to discover new and wonderful books.

The entrance to the book fair!

Not surprisingly, there were a lot of people at the book fair. (And this was VIP day! What more when it opens to the public the next day?) After around 2-3 hours of going around gathering books, we finally finished our shopping and left the events place.

Lots of people and books inside!

Without further adieu, here is my haul for this year’s Big Bad Wolf Book Fair:

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Instant Memories of 2019

I finally had my latest instant camera film developed and scanned. As compared to my previous roll, this one lasted me almost three months before I finally finished up all the film inside. I was able to bring it with me to Japan during my “hooray-we-finally-graduated” trip last March and my trip to Seoul last April. Shockingly, I didn’t even use it up during the two trips (mind you, this camera had just around 30 shots, too!) I was surprised with how sparingly I was using the instant camera. Maybe I’ll use it more generously next time.

Anyway, here are some of the best/cleanest shots from the roll!
(Note: None of these images were edited/color corrected aside from resizing it + adding my logo!)

Some shots from my Japan trip:

Alecca took this photo in our Osaka hostel—we were in the lobby/common room for hostel guests.

Alecca took this photo of me in USJ, behind the Flying Snoopy ride (which was closed for the day.)

Took this quick photo of Alecca (L) and Nicole (R) while we were waiting in line at USJ!

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Our First Visit to Masungi Georeserve

For quite some time already, my friends and I have been wanting to visit Masungi Georeserve for a trek. We’ve read blogs about it, saw it circulating on social media, and was hooked with the advocacy of the place and the idea of hiking with gorgeous views around us (and, as a bonus, it’s a great bonding experience!) Finally, our schedules synced up and we booked slots (via Klook) to a Masungi tour and counted the days down ’til adventure. The agency that handled our tour was Tanlines Philippines and they did such a wonderful job. The tour included a round trip van ride to and from Makati and Masungi—which is the main reason why we booked a tour rather than go there ourselves.

On the morning of our hike, we woke up bright and early and made our way to the Tanlines PH HQ for breakfast and briefing. We also met up with the other people who would join us on the day’s tour.

Filipino breakfast courtesy of Tanlines PH.

After breakfast, we made our way to the van and headed for Masungi. The ride there took around two hours, which gave us time to catch up on some sleep (we did wake up at 4:30 AM, after all!) When we finally arrived at Masungi, we headed for the final briefing (and last bathroom break!) before starting our trek.

Before the hike when we’re all still so fresh and energetic, HAHA.

The whole group on today’s trek!

We were immediately faced with our first challenge. Our guide told us that this was the “training course” of the entire hike—he said it was the easiest climb we’ll see in the entire trail. I swallowed my fears and climbed up the rope. The feeling I got once I finished the climb was immediately satisfying. I wanted more.

Courtney and I smiling as if what we were doing was nothing, LOL.

After a couple of minutes, we finally reached the iconic Sapot. The view from the top of the web was amazing. Both the hike and the view made us breathless, hehe.

Do you see the spider on the left?

Continue reading “Our First Visit to Masungi Georeserve”