The Gift of Starbucks, 2012 edition

The 5 colors of this year’s Starbucks Planners

I don’t know if you recall but in 2009 and 2010, I wrote about how I was a Starbucks Planner girl. A few days ago, mom went to an event with Starbucks for their Christmas season opening, or something like that. Of course, with every Starbucks Christmas season, there are 2 things people look forward to – planners and seasonal drinks. So when mom mentioned that she received a planner for 2012, I immediately asked for it. I’ve been using the Starbucks planner since 2006, and last year both my parents gave me a Starbucks 2011 planner EACH (so yes, I have 2 and use only 1), which was a surprise after I came back from Beijing for a short vacation.

Boxed

Unboxed Front

Unboxed Back

Funny how some things work out. I only got my Starbucks 2011 planner around February because that’s the time I came home from Beijing, and though I really wanted to buy a Starbucks Beijing planner…it was just too expensive. And now, I have the Starbucks planner, even before the stamp collection starts. It’s amazing. 🙂 Also, with a lot of things brewing for next year, having the Starbucks 2012 planner early is a good thing. It lets me set aside time to see how the future is panned out, how to organize things, and the like.

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TeaTap’s Meowk Tea

If you’re in Metro Manila, you probably know about the Milk Tea addiction that a lot of people are getting into or are already obsessed with. There’s Happy Lemon, Chatime and Serenitea, to name a few. Another one comes to town, and its name is TeaTap. Located just along P. Guevarra (corner Wilson) in San Juan, it’s close enough to Serenitea and Chatime Wilson to encourage healthy competition. It’s also within walking distance of the houses that litter Little Baguio, Addition Hills and Greenhills. It’s located in the building where the old Barrio Fiesta (Singing cooks and waiters) restaurant used to be, at the Ongpauco Sisters building.

Set-up by the same owners as Kozui Green Tea, TeaTap Cafe is a milk tea shop with a unique environment. If you’ve been to Hong Kong or China (I’d like to add Korea, Taiwan or Japan, but I haven’t been to those places yet so I can’t really say for certain), you can sometimes spot cafes and small shops with certain cute-sy themes. TeaTap Cafe is just that, with its cat-themed decor and cozy interior, you will definitely get a surprise as the outside doesn’t really reflect what greets you on the inside.

欢迎光临 (Huānyíng guānglín) is the sign that greets you as soon as you walk in the door. It basically says “Welcoming your presence”. If you’ve ever been to China, you’ll hear the UNIQLO stores there say the exact same thing, though they add another phrase after. It’s really too cute, and this coming from the me who is not too fond of cats.

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I’m no master of my kitchen

Rewind back to about a year ago, I was discussing with my friends about how we were going to go about living together when we were in China, and we decided to try to live in a flat if we could find and afford one. One great thing about living in a flat, and not in the school dormitories, is that you get a chance to cook for yourselves. At times it can be quite helpful especially when a person gets sick and tired of the food in the area, or if you’re saving on money and just want to have something simple to eat.

Me? I’ve never really been fond of food. I ate food because I needed to, and I didn’t really enjoy eating much. It’s only been recently, and when I say it like that, it’s only in the last maybe 3-4years that I’ve actually gotten to really enjoy eating. Last year, I got introduced to a good number of people who enjoying eating as well and they invited me to join them on their food escapades, and as a blogging group, we began to call ourselves The Food Club.

Besides that, being in China and being independent in a flat gave me the opportunity to be able to try cooking for myself. I’m no food cooking expert, and most of the things I know how to cook are canned goods and well, eggs and spam. That’s basically most of what i know. I took a year of cooking back in High School because it was required of students in my all-girls school to do so, so I had one semester of cooking and one semester of baking. The great thing about learning what I did in High School was that it gave me the chance to be familiar with cooking and how to handle utensils and how to try to understand the basics and workings of the kitchen. So when I got to Beijing, I was a bit afraid of how things would work out at first, especially when I moved to my second flat and the sparker for the stove in our kitchen wasn’t working and I had to manually use a lighter to start a fire going. Other than that, I had a few opportunities to cook when me and my roommates would try something, or when our friends would cook and we got to help out in the kitchen.

So recently, I got to watching Masterchef Australia, and Junior Masterchef Australia. And the show, is just amazing. I’m watching all these cooks and kids prepare these amazing dishes, and I am impressed beyond comprehension. I’ve never really been allowed to cook at home since the maids get mad at the possible mess I would most likely make, so my only chance to cook is when I’m out of the house.

I may not exactly be following what the chefs are cooking, but I’m watching in amazement at how fast they’re making these dishes and how beautifully prepared the end results are. And when the camera pans closer and they show photographs of the dishes made, I can feel my mouth watering. I would probably never be able to make a dish that good or that aesthetically-pleasing, but having watched so many episodes in recent days, it reminded me of how I had asked my mom if she would enroll me in cooking classes so I could try to learn simple dishes, not just for me when I inevitably have to leave the house to live independently, but also in preparation for my future as a wife. It just got me thinking that if ever I had to live abroad, I wouldn’t have a maid to do the cooking and well….I would not be ale to fend for myself, especially if I was married. Here’s wishing I marry a guy who knows how to cook well. 

Ever since my stay in Beijing, I’ve gotten to appreciate both cooking and eating. Beijing foods are delicious, and I’m not just talking about the usual Chinese food. Restaurants in Beijing serve delicious food, like Japanese or Indian food and the like, which is why me and my friends often went out to eat. Sure it was a bit more expensive than the normal Chinese side-street restaurants, but the food experience was worth it. Since arriving back, my appetite hasn’t been all that good though I’m still trying to appreciate the foods I eat, especially when I go out with friends. Hopefully soon, I will not only appreciate eating but being able to cook simple dishes as well.

As they say, the way to a man’s heart, is through his stomach. And not only that, food should not only be a necessity to survive, people should enjoy making food and eating food. It is an art in so many ways.

Delayed Serenitea-lovin’

Today’s my last day in Manila for the next few months. It’s back to Beijing for this young student, and back to everyday homework and waking up early. Back to the cold weather, and possibly snow. Back to independent living and back to getting fat because of oily food and the no-sweat weather.

Since arriving in Manila about 3 weeks ago, I can’t help but admit that I’m on a delayed Serenitea addiction. Maybe it was being in Beijing and surrounded by no-Serenitea and only-Happy-Lemon flatmates, since coming back I have had Serenitea at least 5 times. One within my first week of arriving, one last week, and three times within this week. A few months ago, I recall telling myself that I preferred Starbucks over Serenitea since I was into sweet drinks. Maybe it was because my first drink was the Okinawa one and despite it being on full-sugar mode, it didn’t strike me as being that delicious. About a week before leaving for Beijing though (the first time around) I got my first taste of the Hokkaido drink and liked it. I’m not the kind of person who loves to experiment on food and drinks, so when I like the taste of something, I tend to stick to that one thing for as long as I possibly can.

My first Serenitea drink (May2010)

Now I’m quite hooked on Hokkaido with Egg Pudding, though I’m still testing the waters on which sugar level suits me best. All my friends from the Food Club were really into this a few months ago, and I couldn’t understand why they were so hooked on it. Congratulations Christa for discovering your love for this brand of Milk Tea too late. Haha. Doesn’t really matter how late though since a lot of people are still into Serenitea, with them making more branches than the original branch in Little Baguio (San Juan). It also doesn’t help that there’s a Serenitea branch quite close to my house, making the need to head on over there and order a drink, or simply order a few drinks and have it delivered to my house, quite tempting.

Oh well. I guess there’s a time and place for everything. I wonder if I’ll go on a Serenitea-withdrawal in Beijing. Better find a substitute fast, though Happy Lemon there is pretty good and quite cheaper than Happy Lemon here in Manila. Also, distance to Happy Lemon in my area of Beijing is not that far. Temptation!

Serenitea details (As taken from the ILoveSerenitea Facebook page)

Branches:

♚ Little Baguio, San Juan
♚ Aguirre Ave. BF Homes Paranaque
♚ N Roxas St. Banawe, Quezon City
♚ Cinema Area, Alabang Town Center
♚ Adriatico Wing, Robinsons Place Manila

Email: sereniteakitchen@gmail.com

Phone Numbers: 379-4166; 794-3288

Beijing HuanYing Ni 北京欢迎你 (Beijing Welcomes You)

A lot has happened in my first week in Beijing. Sometimes, I feel that it’s not real, but waking up to this new environment everyday just strengthens my recognition of this being so real. The people, the environment, the language, it’s a wonderful feeling albeit a bit scary because I’m always so afraid that at one point, I may not be able to get my point across to them. Haha.

I’d like to say that our first few nights were the most adventurous, but it seems like each day brings new adventures with it. New food, new people, new places, there’s always something new. Our first real meal after we got settled at a hotel somewhere near the WuDaoKou area was KFC. Hilarious, but it was fun. Was able to converse well enough with the lady at the counter. I guess lots of people in this area are really familiar with foreigners, since there are lots of students here (including foreign students). Walking along WuDaoKou area, I think I’ve seen more foreigners than I have back home. There are so many students from the US, from other Asian countries, from England, and elsewhere. It’s amazing, like a gathering of foreign cultures in this one area.

Now, me and my friends are sharing a flat. We went to the dorms at TsingHua and discovered them to be very small and somewhat isolated. Not saying it’s really bad but if we could find something along the same price range that was a flat, why not right? During the first 2 days here in Beijing, me and my friends did a lot of errands like opening bank accounts, visiting the University, and other such things. On our second day to Beijing, we were able to find a nice flat, after much stressful moments looking around and scouting and visiting with real estate agents and landlords.

One thing about being independent is probably the cleaning and fixing everything yourself. So far, we’ve had to buy all our household materials like pillows, blankets, comforters, basins, hangers, water, trash bags, and other such necessities. Cleaning was also so very stressful during the first few days. The last tenants left a few things dusty so we had to do a major cleaning routine. Our place looks pretty livable in now, though our luggages are still in the living room as we can’t find a real place to fit them in. Haha.

In some way, we’re getting used to calling this place home. We’ve even familiarized ourself with a side street that goes directly from the main road – Chengfu Lu, to our apartment complex. Being a local is not too hard though. I’ve gotten mistaken as a local by so many people. Locals and foreigners alike. Every time I go to look at something, people always think I’m just one of them, though the Beijing accent is a bit hard to decipher at times. My Mandarin seems somewhat pass-able though. Even foreign students at my university have mistaken me as a local. On the day I went to get my bike, I was stopped by a Westerner asking for directions. He said 小姐 and followed the greeting with something related to directions and a building within campus. Apparently he was lost. I think he was surprised when I replied in English saying “Oh you mean this building….dot dot dot”. Somewhat relieved and somewhat surprised too. 🙂 Haha. Yesterday i n enrollment at school, I was sitting beside this service table for visas which was already closed and a Westerner came up to me asking something, and I replied in English. When some people hear me speak though, they first ask if I’m not from Beijing/China since I look like a local. Then they guess that I’m from Japan, or Korea, or the like. A guy at the mall I was buying a winter coat in even thought I was an American because among my friends, I had an American English accent. Hilarious, though I can’t deny that I feel flattered as well.

Food-wise though, I’ve been more adventurous than I have back home. Sure, I still ask about the food since I’m still iffy about trying those very dangerous/mysterious kinds of food, but I’ve been trying food from side-streets and local restaurants as well. As long as it’s meat (beef, chicken and pork), I’ll most likely eat it though. The rice and veggies here are so delicious too! It doesn’t help that most of the food here is cheap and has big servings, you just want to eat it all. A few days ago, me and my friends went to this local eatery near our complex that served 25 dumplings for 6rmb! Me and my friend just shared and ordered a cup of rice each at 1rmb. I’ve also already eaten at this Fujian food-serving eatery near our complex, a little taste of “home”. There are so many places to eat in this area, it’s just amazing. Friends from back home are asking if I’ve tried scorpion, but I’ve yet to consider trying it. Haha.

Will end this entry and maybe post something more about Beijing soon. I just love how WordPress is not blocked!

P.S. Sorry, pictures don’t seem to want to come out. Will try to fix it later. >,<


Chicken Massacre

Last Friday, me and a few friends from my college org (all my batchmates) decided to get together for a dinner since we don’t get to go out that often. Because we wanted to take advantage of Max’s Chicken All-You-Can-Eat which would end the day after, we all decided to pig out and see how much chicken we could all eat. Apparently, lots of people wanted to try out the Chicken All-You-Can-Eat too, since it was available only from 6-10pm, and that’s at Php165! Imagine!

So we waited in line for about an hour till we got called and took our spot. Out of the 9 of us, 8 of us opted for the Chicken All-You-Can-Eat, while my other friend opted for lumpia since she had just gone to Max’s a few days before. While everyone wanted to make the most out of their meal and didn’t order rice, me and a friend each ordered one plate of rice. Usually, I don’t like putting  Banana Ketchup, but as I noticed all my friends eating their chickens with it, I decided to give it a try and noticed that banana ketchup actually tasted good with Max’s Chicken.

What’s even funnier is that the boys at our table (4 of them) who were all on one side, emptied an entire bottle of ketchup unto a plate! When we had to ask the waitress for another bottle since our side didn’t had any left, soon after the 4 of us girls poured out a little ketchup, the boys again took hold of the bottle. The waitress came back with a new bottle soon after, even if we didn’t ask for one. Hilarious.

Somewhere nearing the end of our dinner, or amidst our dinner, one of the servers who was going around serving chicken told us that it would be the last round as they had run out of chicken. Actually, they came back one more time after that before we decided we had enough.

In contrast to my usually not-eating-a-lot, I had 4 chickens, one plate of rice and loads of glasses of Pepsi. I could have eaten more though. The rest of us girls had about the same amount of chicken while the boys…well..they’re boys. Haha.

My chicken tower.

Combined chicken feast of the girls’ side.

Appetite Markers (Almost Final).

I’m “Xta”. Haha. Actually come another round of chicken, my friend whose name above is “Porky” was able to finish 9 pieces of chicken! Twas so cool. According to my friend’s calculations, as long as you’ve eaten 3 pieces, you’ve already gotten your money’s worth.

I wish they hold something like that again soon. It was just so good. And maybe next time, me and my friends won’t go out on a Friday as more people are likely to attend something like this.

MEL’s Cafe

[cross-posted from my other blog]

On my recent trip home to Dumaguete, I decided to try out this new cafe that my cousins’ opened that they’ve been raving about on my Facebook. The location is in a quiet area of the city, though not far away from the busy places as it’s near what you would call the downtown area of the city. It’s about a street away from the Rizal Boulevard, a popular location for both locals and tourists alike. Another thing my cousin mentioned about their cafe is that it serves healthy food, which is a good place to visit for those health-enthusiasts in Dumaguete City. A gym is coincidentally located in the same building.

The cafe is small, quaint, and doesn’t look like it can accommodate a lot of people,  not that I mind since it’s still new, and I prefer there to be less people so you know that the waiters can serve you quicker. Me and my aunt arrived there for lunch so they had more or less just newly opened. We arrived with no one there, and I was able to greet my cousin who proceeded to show us the health food available.

Below are pictures of the menu, though sadly, not so well taken. I apologize.

Me and my aunt decided to half all the meals so we can each try a lot more things. We ordered a Cheesy Burger (Php65), Spring Mandarin Salad (Php50) and Mojos (Php50) then we each ordered a drink, me ordering a Black Forest Ice Cold Shake and my aunt ordering the Banana Ice Cold Shake (Php55 each). Coming from the city where most meals are more-or-less expensive, with healthier meals tending to cost a higher price, I’d honestly say that these meals are worth the price.

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My Starbucks 2010

As most of you might already know, I already have my Starbucks 2010 planner! Yey! It’s all thanks to my friend Bong (check his blog on my links tab at the right side of my blog page) who offered me his Starbucks card which had a ton of stickers already on it. He had already gotten his planner a few weeks back and was already quickly filling in a new card so it was very kind of him to offer his to me.

So together with my card which had a few stickers on it, plus his, all I needed was one more sticker to finally get my planner. I rushed to the Starbucks branch closest to me at that time, which was the one at Robinson’s Galleria (me and a few blogger friends were at Goodles having dinner) and bought my last remaining drink before I traded my cards in for my planner. Luckily, I was able to get the planner cover I had wanted.

Actually, a few weeks back, me and my blockmates were discussing the Starbucks planners. A friend of mine, Jayvee, had gotten the cover he wanted. He got the berry cover with a furry surface. Me and my other blockmate weren’t into the cover design, but as soon as my other blockmate saw how nice the cover of the “Berry” one was, she decided to shift her aim at that planner cover instead and got it a few days after. Me on the other hand,  I much prefer the “Roast” cover, even without the furry feel. I actually like how the cover feels, it’s quite classic, and a little on the serious side.

Seriously, I cannot imagine myself without a planner. Even with my Nokia E63 phone, where I place all my schedules for meetings and such, I still cannot live without a planner. Here, I pencil in all my small things like quizzes, details to meetings and deadlines, birthdays, things I’ve done and such. I cannot imagine a life without a planner by my side, and for the past 5 years, my planner has always been a Starbucks planner.

Oh and yes, I’m very much OC. Haha.

Starbucks 2010

I can’t wait to get a Starbucks Philippines planner!

Starbucks Philippines just launched their yearly planner project yesterday. I saw pictures through my friends’ various blog pages, and I can’t wait to finally hold the 2010 planner in my hands.

I’ve had the 2006, 2007, 2008 and the 2009 one. I can’t bare to throw them away after the year is over because all the memories I have of that year are all embedded into my planners. XD

My blog entry on my Starbucks planners.

I really can’t wait! Stickers, here I come!

Other Starbucks2010-related entries:

Fran Haw

Brian Ong

Anton Diaz (Our Awesome Planet)