It's really challenging to live far away from home, let alone not in a place where there are a lot of Filipinos. The closes Phil store is in Chicago so that's roughly three hours one way. Not to mention all the traffic!
On the bright side, I'm super glad that there are a lot of Asian stores here - mostly Hmong. They carry a variety of Asian brands and some popular Filipino items. I'm really glad that they do. Now it's up to me to improvise to actually make the things that I love to eat. Obviously I'm a foodie so I crave certain things every now and then.
I was just browsing around Facebook and came across all these different meryenda foods back home. Meryenda simply means a snack between meals. No, not a light snack. I mean like a delicious and usually filling snack. So I experimented with my own!
I just wish that we had fresh langka here, but still glad I was able to find canned ones. I was also able to use Saba bananas that I got from Chicago when we went to Seafood city. I froze them so they turned out a bit too mushy. Next time I'll probably try some regular plantain bananas.
Ah Palabok... or what we call in Cavite City "luglog".
This one, I have never tried making before so it was something brand new for me to make. I cheated tho, I used a sauce mix LOL. I still added more stuff into it and seasoned it to my liking. I didn't have the tinapa or the dried shrimps so I had to improvise. I got some calamares and added that instead.
Needless to say, Hubby Bear approved!
Tikoy (Nian Gao)
Come the Chinese Lunar New Year, I was definitely craving for some tikoy.
I tried to look for it in various Asian stores, I figured it should be somewhere, but apparently not. I then looked it up online. Thanks to Google, I found the original recipe and it wasn't so hard to make at all!! It's just rice flour, some sugar, coconut milk and some flavor (I decided to add pandan on mine) and steam for like two hours!
I'm not even gonna be humble about this because I'm gonna brag that it turned out really, really good - just as I expected! I was afraid it will taste weird but it tasted great, in fact a little better.
I'm also glad that it's also Hubby Bear approved. Cooking it sounds pretty unusual because you have to dip it in egg before you fry it, but AlexBear still liked it. That makes me very happy yay!
My obsession with French Macarons started a few years ago when I was still living in the Philippines. My office used to be in a building right next to a mall, so my colleagues and I frequently go there for lunch or dinner. One fine afternoon, while walking around the Mall of Asia, I passed by this French bakery called Tous les Jours. I quickly saw the colorful cookies and checked it out, and oh my crap (I'm trying to be child-friendly here, but I really did say profane swearing lol), they are expensive.
At 28php (around 60 cents) a piece, it's not a very cheap delight for daily consumption.
Well, it was still so enticing so I really couldn't help myself and tasting it was a big mistake - it's so delicious! I'm a big cookie person. I love cookies, period. But macarons are my... sin cookies. I can't resist these.
My Sweet Dream Come True
One of the things that I really loved when I moved here is have my own oven and my pink Kitchenaid mixer! Makes life a lot more sweeter. So okay, it's my turn to make these yummy treats! I've been here for almost three years now but I never really took the initiative to make the macarons.
It's another one of those impulse buy days, we were walking in the grocery and walked past the baking aisle. I thought, oh lets go grab some almond flour and powder sugar... and make macarons! I checked three different recipes and figured how much I would need. I have the rest of everything I need back home since I do bake every now and then.
The first try came out pretty nice! I think I underfolded it though, they didn't rise up as much as I hoped that it would. I'm sure I could do better!
I did the first attempt on a Thursday night and I was really glad they were good enough to bring to work. I really made a lot of happy team mates. So I figured - I just need to perfect the look. Taste-wise, they are awesome.
I thought the first batch was too sweet, so I tweaked the ingredients and... well.. they came out too flat and over folded... Still not bad, just needed to tweak it more!
I wasn't really happy with the previous results so I used a very similar ratio of ingredients as my first one - and I think I actually made my meringue and everything else perfect... except that I didn't fold it enough! You know, the cut and fold part - I didn't do it as much as I should...
So my little angels of delicious cookies puffed up to become crunchy meteorites!
They are still delicious! Yay!
So despite looking like flat patties and space meteorites, the taste is still "heavenly" according to my team mates at work! I'm really happy that they liked it, so I guess I'll be making more. In fact, I'll be making more this Wednesday. #MacaronLife #NoRagerts
The Craft Life
Arts and Crafts = My Life
That's how it's always been growing up and I've always loved making things. Creating basically anything is fun for me. I never thought that moving to the USA would open so many possibilities, and I have to say that I'm really glad that I got all these opportunities. I have to be very honest that there's so many things I didn't know actually existed - and even if they did, it was really expensive back home that I didn't really had the thought of getting into it.
It didn't stop me from doing art though. My mom used to make paper basket and dolls, and I would help her. I used to make my own as well. I painted, did photography and anything else creative - color inspires me so much and, simple as it sounds - it makes me happy.
Before I actually moved here, I got into clay crafts. Since we didn't have an oven, I bought air dry clay from Japan.
This is where my shop Starr&Sparkle started. When I moved to the US, then I started selling the same crafting supplies.
My own craft room, how exciting!! It all started as an office when I was working online at home. Obviously I started to have more stuff for crafting. One thing that I really love about being here is that I have the supplies I need. Thank you Joann, Hobby Lobby, and Michael's for making me extra broke and happy!
A couple of months later we moved to the lower unit apartment, which had a different room setup. This time I didn't have a craft room anymore!! So, I ended up taking up the supposed dining area and made it my craft corner.
During the same period, I discovered crafting machines. I also got a sewing machine gift, and eventually had access to woodworking tools and machines. Heaven omg! What else could I ever want right? (An X-Carve, that's exactly what I want & am getting next ^_^) This lead me to learning a lot more of other things to do which is super awesome. I mean, I will always choose a day at home crafting over partying. Omg, I think I am getting really old.
My Small Paradise
I'm a hoarder. That's not even a question or a mystery. I admit - I hoard almost everything.
With that being said, my supplies and everything else just keeps accumulating. My small paradise where I create is quickly expanding. Reasons to buy a house: need own bigger craft ROOM.
Today's goal : Get something done!
So this is an actual footage of today's mess! It's now time to get something actually done - create things with love <3
"Uhm, we're not going to do "accidentally" buy a bed when we walk out that door... ok?"
January 1st, 2018 - the first day of a brand new year. Technically, it's just another day but it gives us the chance to mentally reset things and try to start new, try to do something differently.
We went to a couple of stores including Menards. All Christmas decor was on sale so we got a bigger Christmas tree (yay!). Totally unplanned but we did talk about it a couple of times. Consider that it is 50% off, it was really hard to pass the deal. We got a small tree this year because we know they will be on sale after the season anyway. So finally, we got the big snowy Fir tree which was really nice! Now I have an small extra tree that I can put elsewhere around the house next year. My dad in law asked why, well Alexbear sure knows the answer... "Because she's her!" Yep, Christmas is me.
On the way home, we dropped by Harbor Freight with me hoping to find some sculpting tools. I didn't find what I actually need and I'm probably going to get them in Joann or Hobby Lobby instead. Then we went to WG&R, which was just next door. Who would've thought that this is such a dangerous place to be?
While walking across the parking lot to WG&R in 2°F (-16°C) in two sweaters, I warned Alexbear that we were not going to "accidentally" buy a bed on our way out. You see, we've been talking about getting a new mattress because the one he is currently using is already quite worn out. I said, well if we're going to replace the mattress might as well get a bigger bed because Hans is taking up a lot of space.
And it's like half of the bed...
Of course I suggested that we get a king bed. I mean come on, if we're going to spend on it might as well get a good one. Afterall, a bed is an investment. You sleep on it almost every night, unless, of course, if you are always on the road. Your sleep affects your actual life from your back's posture to your actual rest and health. Overall, sleep is a sacred thing! Being alive three decades now, I value the importance of this beautiful thing called sleep.
We started looking around and omg, I never thought I would say this but I just love furniture shopping. Actually - I love building furniture, I love refinishing furniture.
Oh... I just love furniture in general.
We started looking at the prices, and I started estimating how much we'll probably spend. After walking around, we saw a bunch of really nice ones. The store was also having a New Year sale with 20% off including items already on sale (except this thing they call "Power Buy").
I love the classic, rustic feel. I didn't like the shiny ones, but wood is just beautiful. I used to wonder why my mom and aunt were so into wood stuff and I never thought I would love it too! I used to be more modern, but I don't know - wood is elegant and beautiful.
Then we started checking out the mattresses. I almost had a heart attack, I never thought mattresses here were really expensive! Well, they're also nicely made relative to what we can buy back home. We had a lot of "affordable" options back in PH but they're also not the best quality - usually mattresses that you would like to replace after two years or so.
The sales guy checked up on us. I like his style, he didn't follow us around nor was he intrusive. I think he noticed how Alexbear and I liked our privacy. Then he just put it out there that he can do the Early Bird special that was 25% - which was until like 1pm. It was already about 5pm so... ah ok, he is doing his sales pitch. Not bad, well played.
The worst question to ask if you don't want to accidentally buy anything?
"Do you offer financing?"
I know they do, that's where we bought our couch. So, of course he said, yes.. but this time they offer it up to 20 months with no interest.
Welp... so this beautiful bed is getting delivered next week.
Happy New Year!
I've always kept a diary growing up, and come the digital age I always maintained a blog - until life got too busy.
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