Thursday, December 26, 2013

Happy Holidays!


I would like to greet everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Prosperous New Year! Can you believe 2014 is just around the corner? The days are long but the years are short. This is one of  my favorite Gretchen Rubin's (the author of the Happiness Project) realizations. Time flies and let's try to focus on the things that really matter.

Enjoy the rest of 2013 and let's start 2014 with gratefulness.

Image Credit: VMacandCheese

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Bukchon Hanok Village

During our trip to Seoul, we wanted to focus on observing the local culture and lifestyle. But, we also wanted to get a glimpse of old Seoul. So we headed off to Bukchon Hanok Village to appreciate the charming wooden houses known to be homes of the elite society in the olden days. This traditional Korean house is called a Hanok.


Since we were staying in the Gangnam-gu area, we took the train from Apgujeong station, went down Anguk station on Subway Line # 3, Exit 3 and walked straight a few meters. It was a very cold day when we chose to visit this place but it was all worth it. This area has plenty of uphills and downhills. I would recommend wearing comfortable shoes.



I can't stop admiring the architecture. I love the intricate design of the roofs! 


This place reminded me of a "hutong" which is an alley lined by traditional courtyard houses when we where in Beijing. 


This Korean traditional village is surrounded by the infamous Gyeongbok Palace, Changdeok Palace and Jongmyo Royal Shrine. My husband and I agreed to visit these palaces on our next trip. This picturesque village is also surrounded by cute cafes, restaurants and art galleries. 




More photos...





Bukchon is a great place to trace back Korean origins. I've read that these hanok houses are starting to get fewer. It's a good thing that the government is taking measures to preserve and protect the remaining ones.

Most of the photos taken using a Canon 550 D 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Garosu-gil

There are plenty of things going on around here lately, I can't wait to share them with you. But first, I have a confession to unload today. Remember my no to cold coffee-drinking challenge? I was able to abstain until October 26 then...Epic FAIL. Boo! At least I tried. I was able to make it for more than three weeks.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who helped and supported my fellow countrymen who were victims of the Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan. As a Filipino, I will forever be grateful to all of you who've been there for my country.

Anyway, a week ago, we were in the beautiful city of Seoul. I believe in the law of attraction. I think a post I made about Seoul a few months ago worked its magic and we ended up staying in the Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu district. Two words to describe how I feel about the area? I'm in-love!


We chose to stay near Garosu-gil (meaning tree-lined street). The studio apartment we booked through AirBNB was perfect in every way. When we arrived, the place was immaculate, furnished with IKEA and equipped with all the basic necessities. It was just a 3-5 minute walk from the trendiest and hippest street in Seoul. Proximity is one of the factors we consider when traveling to save time and energy.

Photo taken from AirBNB (Julie & Karen Sister House in Gangnam-gu)
Garosu-gil is a change of pace from the other districts in Seoul. I am totally smitten over the artsy cafes, quirky names of establishments, cozy wine lounges, unique shops of local designers and the Ginko trees lining the whole street. It is also known as Little Europe. It has a romantic vibe.







I like how South Koreans put a lot of effort into the aesthetics of their shops!





Cork for Turtle, Mug for Rabbit. The first floor is a coffee and cupcake shop. The second floor is a wine lounge. 


Aren't these pigs adorable? I wanted to bring them home.


We spotted a Korean model/celebrity having a photo shoot who kept waving to the public in between takes despite the nippy weather. I wonder who could he be?


Despite the language barrier, we were able to communicate effectively and got the right stuff we ordered during our whole stay. The food in every place we ate were delicious. The people are very friendly, gracious and respectful. The photo below shows our first official lunch in Seoul. 


We were so lucky to be in Seoul on the first day of snow. Wohoo!


We shared a mug of hot chocolate in Coffeesmith while watching the snowflakes fall. It was breathtaking! 


According to the locals, Coffeesmith is a landmark in trendy Garosu-gil that is a see-and-be-seen cafe.



They say pizza is popular in Korea. So we ordered a margherita in Sognare. Yum!



Garosu-gil at night. It's so full of life!


We capped our first night off with chocolate muffins from Paris Baguette. They say Koreans have an affinity for pastries and anything French-y.



During this trip, we decided to ditch the palaces and museums and focus more on the local culture and lifestyle. We are probably going to see them next spring should our schedules permit it. Stay tuned for more of our Seoul-ful adventures!

Be a traveler, not a tourist!

Most of the photos were taken using a Canon 550D 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Life Lately...

These past two weeks were sooo busy.  My schedule was crazy, it was such a blur! 

Two Saturdays ago, I had late lunch and dessert with my best friend M and my god-daughter Z at The Sweet Spot Bakery & Cafe. I ordered their pulled-pork adobo sandwich and turtle pie. It was delicious! 


I also received homecoming presents from my other best friend R who just arrived from Tokyo. My favorite among them are these strawberry-flavored KitKats.


Then, Sunday was spent with my closest friends in college A and R. A is visiting from London. R and me organized a mini-reunion starting with merienda in Pancake House, a little shopping spree, met up with R's significant other S, dinner at Misohana and we capped the night off by having ice cream sundaes at the Magnolia Flavor House in New Manila. 


Thanks A for such cute presents!


All I need is a cup of Earl Grey or Peppermint tea!


We celebrated Halloween early at work. Our theme for this year is scarytales. I did zombie Snow White's hair and most of the credit goes to my friend Purple Rain for the frightening makeup!


Did some catching up with B and C plus a hearty and filling breakfast last Saturday at IHOP BGC. B is a friend and a former colleague from the oil/gas/petroleum industry. C is his significant other.



Finally, last Sunday was spent in my old stomping ground (hometown) with my best friends for pizza, scrumptious chicken wings, potato wedges and some alcohol for my alcoholic friends. Lol.

I've been blessed with such good friends. It was a treat to be able to spend some time with them despite this hectic lifestyle. I believe that no matter how busy you are, you can always find a little more time for things that are really important and for those who matter to you dearly.

 Life is good!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Nike Dunk Sky High: Purple Dynasty

I have been contemplating to buy a pair of Nike Dunk Sky High sneakers since May. I finally bought one from Planet Sports BGC two days ago.

I was debating with myself whether I should acquire the Purple Dynasty or the Tokyo Quickstrike. The latter is already hard to find because it is limited edition and the ones from the resellers here in MNL are way too overpriced. I settled for the Purple Dynasty instead.


So far, I'm happy with my choice!


I don't usually wear sneakers unless I have to, but when Nike released their Classic Dunk design with a hidden wedge, I was mesmerized. My size is more on the petite side. I'm glad I can do more sporty looks this time. This is perfect with a skater skirt, a pair of shorts/skinny jeans/leggings or a cute dress.

I wore this today with a white knit pullover from Zara on top of a blue flippy dress from Topshop.

How about you? What's your favorite pair of Nike Dunk Sky High sneakers?

Photos taken using iPhone5, Second photo was taken by my friend Purple Rain

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Katsu Cafe

Tonkatsu are deep fried pork cutlets with breading. It is one of our favorite Japanese dishes. So far, Mike and I have tried five different local restos that serve this, from the relatively affordable up to the seriously upscale ones.

Last Sunday, after grocery shopping, we brought Mike's parents to Katsu Cafe in Maginhawa Street for dinner. 


We ordered their pork katsu set. It consists of the tonkatsu, miso soup, cabbage with sesame dressing and unlimited Japanese rice. I find the process of grinding the sesame seeds before adding the sweet brown sauce entertaining.





We also tried their gyoza, a dumpling filled with ground meat and vegetables.


Everything tasted delicious but some parts of the pork were a little over-fried.

Overall, I give it 3.5 stars. The restaurant is very clean. I like the relaxing vibe the place exudes. The staff is very friendly and the food is reasonably priced. It's definitely worth a try. 
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