Author: Pao

It’s Beginning to Feel a Lot Like…

Oh my goodness. Is it really just a week and a half before the end of November? Why does it feel like this year just barely started, now it’s already ending? I’m super excited for our Thanksgiving weekend at work. I have a lot of catching up to do with my reading and some journal entries that I want to write. I’m also preparing to visit my kuya and his family soon in Bulacan.

I’m happy that I work with a company that values work-life balance. They really did a great job at making sure that I can go on extended leave if I want to. I must say though that I’ve never really wanted to take too much time off work. I haven’t had any reason to. I enjoy my work, and I’m happy to be able to honestly say that. When I look back and think about how exhausting my past employments were (physically and emotionally), I am reminded that I love where I am right now. I love the company, the people I work with are awesome, and I love being able to work from home. Only a decade ago, I was wasting away in an industry that did not value my contributions. I felt completely lost, and I had not time to even read. I had no time or energy for anything other than work.

It has been said so many times that it feels trite, but life really is short. It’s too short to be unhappy with what you’re doing majority of your waking hours.

Milk Caramel Candies

Today’s food journal entry is about this little box of yummy milk caramel candies. It’s also about the things we love best about Korean food culture and how supportive their government is to their agriculture and food production industries, among other things. Yummy caramels!

2nd Street Oysters

My journal entry last week was about this delightful little oyster stall in Evia Lifestyle Center’s Commune Hall called 2nd Street Oysters. I first heard about them on Instagram and made a note to give them a visit to try out their oyster sisig. We don’t usually drive out to Evia, even if it’s just a few minutes away. Traffic can be unpredictable sometimes and the mall itself didn’t have too many good food spots when we last visited, which was several years ago. We didn’t know that they opened this cute little corner near the theaters called Commune Hall which has several food stalls. We enjoyed everything we ordered at 2nd Street Oysters. I was kind of expecting small oysters smothered with too much cheese and garlic but their oysters were pretty plump and juicy. Their sisig uses small oysters, breaded and deep-fried, tossed in sisig sauce, and with lots of onions and pepper. It’s a must-try! We’ve been here a couple of times already since I made this journal entry. I’m glad they opened a branch near us.

Zoot It Up’s Izu Babi Keycaps (Cherry Profile)

Today I received some custom keycaps that I preordered from February of this year. These are Zoot It Up’s Izu Babi keycaps in cherry profile. I preordered it because it was going to be the first locally-produced custom keycaps in the Philippines. Once Zoot It Up is able to raise funds to buy the machinery and materials needed to produce these keycaps, then future orders will be produced and shipped out quicker. I preordered a set with cherry profile for myself and another set with SA profile for my nephew. They missed their target dates by several months and they’re actually still raising funds to be able to produce the SA profile keycaps. They faced a lot of challenges but they were transparent about these and provided updates to their customers.

Today my Izu Babi set with the cherry profile was finally delivered and I couldn’t be happier with it.

Pusheen cat and Pokemon, and Korean “I Love You” keycaps not included, of course. ^_^

They material they used is PBT. I liked the matte texture and the thickness of the keycaps. The printing of the characters and legends are pretty clean, nothing problematic jumps out at me. I also liked the colors that I picked–soft peach, nude, coral and pink tones go so well together. Since I’m a complete mechanical keyboard noob, I didn’t know that cherry profile keycaps often have issues with interference on switch stems, so I was worried that I might experience interference on my new keycaps. I had already ordered them, though, so I decided not to cancel or change my order anymore. I’m glad I didn’t because I don’t really detect any interference while using the keycaps. It’s also my first time to try the cherry profile and I’m pleasantly surprised that (unlike xda profile), this feels really comfortable to type with. I like the height of the keys and there’s almost no adjustment from the OEM profile that I’m used to. My typing speed wasn’t reduced at all and I don’t feel any strain on my fingers or wrist. Overall, I am pretty happy with the appearance, thickness, material, and printing.

Was it worth the wait? Considering the quality of the product and the fact that it’s locally made, opening the potential for faster production in the future, I would say yes! Can’t wait for the SA profile to be produced soon.

Zoot It Up keycaps can be purchased through their website.


Sinsun at Koreatown, Manila

Today’s journal entry was about the awesome meal we had yesterday at Sinsun, at Manila’s Koreatown, with my husband’s aunt. My husband and I actually didn’t know that there’s even a Koreatown, we don’t go to Manila too often. We enjoyed our meal very much, everything was so delicious. My favorite is still the bibimbap, though. It’s probably the best bibimbap I’ve tried so far.

This is also the first time that I tried using gouache for an entire spread. It feels quite different from watercolor, it moves less on paper. Since it’s opaque, the output also looks different. It certainly made a few things easier, like layering opaque colors, but I miss the transparency of watercolor. I’m still getting used to it, but I’m liking it so far.

Review: Niimbot B21 Thermal Printer

I was looking for a quick and affordable way to print out bookplates and journal labels so that I can organize my journals by date. I found many users recommending Niimbot B21. I liked it right away because of the vintage aesthetics. It looked a lot like an old typewriter. It came in black, red, and green, all with glossy finish. I picked the green one because it looked most vintage to me and ordered it off the Niimbot shop in Shopee. I bought 40mmx30mm and 40mmx60mm labels as well. I installed the app while waiting for the printer to be delivered. The app was really easy to use. Just pick the size of your sticker and you can add graphics, texts, qr codes, bar codes, etc. It was really user-friendly, even beginners will find it easy to create and organize labels.

The printer came with some colorful cartoon sticker sheets that can’t be used with the printer, as well as an extra 40mmx30mm refill. It’s heavier than I expected it to be and the glossy finish is way prettier in person. This new version does not have a reel inside it so you just load the roll of sticker paper properly (there’s a little graphic inside the cover to help you out), clamp the sides so that the sticker fits snugly (this is important, it helps center the print on the sticker sheets), close the cover, and then turn the printer on. The machine automatically aligns the paper for you.

From there, it’s just a simple matter of connecting the app to the printer via bluetooth and printing out your template. I like that it’s pretty fool-proof. You can’t print out a template unless the sticker size matches it, so it’s practically impossible to get a misprint. Printing is fast and easy, and the labels are waterproof and smudge-proof.

Here’s an unboxing video and some instructions on printing.

Overall, it’s a pretty nifty journaling tool to have and you can choose from many different sticker sizes to fit your needs. The printer is pretty affordable too, at a little over Php 1,800.

Mapishi: Authentic Swahili Cuisine

My husband and I finally tried this new place at BF Homes last Sunday. I’ve seen their social media posts and was really intrigued if they made good lamb biryani. So we went there on a beautiful Sunday morning. At 11am there were already other diners in the place but we were able to sit in a quiet spot. The place was small but had a lot of tables, and an outdoor dining area at the back. Some of the tables were placed on a platform so people can sit down cross-legged to eat. We ordered the Salmon Wali Samaki, Lamb Biryani, and the Beef Pilau. After a few minutes our order was served on our table. I was quite happy because the service was quick despite the fact that they seemed to be understaffed that day and there was a big group that came in shortly after we did. I was also pleasantly surprised that the servings were really generous.

The smells that wafted from their kitchen were delicious. It really made us excited to dig in. The salmon was really delicious, I loved the masala sauce it was served with and the fluffy basmati rice. However it was completely upstaged by the lamb biryani and beef pilau. The lamb was melt in your mouth tender and it did not have that gamey taste that lamb dishes sometimes have. The rice was so fragrant, you can really smell the spices that were cooked with it. The beef pilau was puzzling at first because it was like a plate of fragrant rice, but the generous chunks of beef were under that pile and like the lamb, the beef was so, so tender. The rice was cooked in the broth of the beef so you can imagine the flavor bomb that ever spoonful of rice has.

It was a very satisfying meal, and surprisingly affordable too, considering the generous portions and the quality of the food. My husband and I enjoyed it very much. Mapishi is located along Aguirre Avenue inside BF Homes, Paranaque.

Here’s a video of the process below:

What the Actual Eff?!

Yesterday’s food journal entry is about the issues of food security and rising prices of food in the country, triggered by the fact that while buying groceries yesterday, I was shocked to hold a little ball of supposedly local cabbage which costs P88. I can afford it, it’s not a problem, but the thing is that cabbages this small usually cost between P2o – P40. Now it’s P88 for a teeny tiny ball that fits comfortably in the palm of my hand. Goodness gracious. I tell myself “veggies are cheaper in wet markets”, yes, but that doesn’t change the fact that prices are rising and poor Filipinos are able to afford much less food now than before. Aljude and I bought a pack of 10 small cans of sardines at S&R for a little over P200, and It reminded me that Filipinos are struggling more to eat healthier meals. When faced with a choice of healthy vegetables or fish and cheaper cans of sardines, guess which one makes more sense. Meanwhile, our farmers are struggling to sell the produce that they grow. Nabubulukan sila ng mga gulay. I reminded myself to buy from Session Grocers instead next time. I know it’s much easier to just go out and buy sa supermarkets, but it’s better to support initiatives that help our farmers. It just takes more planning to make it work for our household.

Cold Press Peach

When I was young, I always made coffee for my father. It was easy enough; just boil water, add a teaspoon of Nescafe instant coffee, add Coffeemate and white sugar. I always found the smell to be so wonderful and sometimes I would sneak a sip before delivering the cup to my father. My mom didn’t want me to drink coffee because it was addictive, so I dutifully avoided it until several years after I started working in call centers. Mainly I drank the instant kind that flowed freely in company pantries and the occasional frappe from Starbucks. That shaped my idea of what coffee should taste like. Then in 2012, one of my friends took me to a little cafe where I tasted my first french press coffee. Shortly after, she took me and my husband to this quaint little cafe inside BF Homes which serves specialty coffee. I remember being at a loss because the handwritten menu did not include any frappes haha. The owner gamely talked to us about specialty coffee and I was pretty overwhelmed by how new everything is to me. She brought out a small bag of beans (Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Beloya) from her personal stash and asked the barista to prepare it for us. He commenced to grind the beans by hands and I watched as he prepared the first pourover I ever tried in my life. He handed me the glass of coffee that was more red than black, and I was so shocked when I tasted it. Grapes! It tasted like wine. Wine coffee. That coffee could taste different from just bitter and not leave a tobacco-like aftertaste to my mouth was unbelievable for me.

I still consider myself a specialty coffee newbie and I’ve discovered many beans and brewing techniques that made me go wow, coffee can taste like this?! It’s been a pleasant adventure so far! The illustration in this journal entry is of the cold press peach that I ordered last night from Alch3mist Coffee inside BF Homes. This really tasted like peach iced tea and again I exclaimed wow, coffee can taste like this?! Apparently it can, and it’s pretty awesome.

Comfort Food

Yesterday’s food journal entry was about finding a new comfort food spot. My husband and I found this spot inside BF Homes the day we were coming home from getting our second COVID booster shot. Since my husband hates needles, eating is always a good way to comfort him after getting shots. These days, I’m relieved that things have gone back to almost normal. The economy will be in recovery mode for the years to come, yes, but people have started to go out again. If not for the masks that everyone still wears dutifully (and without drama, I must say), things seem pretty much back to normal now. I am thankful for this. I am thankful that somehow we got to the tail end of this pandemic and so far we’re doing okay. I’ve lost friends, and friends have lost friends and family members. There has been so much loss these past two years that just being able to eat outside without being afraid is incredibly precious.