Ring Bling

[late post] kilig ng burberry light upon seeing bride and breakfast’s blog post featuring beautiful engagement rings, because #4 entry looks very familiar. click HERE for the link. ;-)

of course, each girl has its own taste when it comes to jewelry especially engagement rings. my choices in life and general, are always unconventional and i’m always vocal when saying that i don’t like anything that is like by everybody else. whether it’s classy or tacky, i don’t mind and i don’t care at all. i always perceive myself as not the ‘diamond’ type of girl. i admit it, my taste is really weird. ever since, i always want it non-traditional so a big screaming diamond is not my cup of tea.

my ring, a ruby stone encircled in small diamonds in a gold band, is very me. ruby is my birth stone as i was born on july. as the blogger said in the post, it’s a statement. yes, it means to say that there may be a lot of (diamond) girls out there…pero nag-iisa lang ang ruby na “bidang/kontrabida (sa buhay ni Sir)”. loooool haha haha haha! 

the ring

the ring

hindi man made in tiffany, as long as i’m very happy, that’s all that matters. ;-)

Travel: Lake Tekapo

to capped off 2014 (and make up for the boring new year’s eve celebration) here in new zealand, husband and i went on a road trip and joined our friends in lake tekapo. it is a 3 hour-long drive, 250km away from christchurch. road trips are fun here in new zealand as they have good and well maintained roads, no traffic and the scenery along the way will keep you awake all throughout the travel.

road trip NZ style

road trip NZ style

we stayed in lake tekapo for 3 days and 2 nights. our friends rented a 3 bedroom holiday home and all we did was just relax, eat, drink, played poker and strolled along the beautiful lake. we were blessed with a very good weather, scorching summer heat that almost reminds us of the PH summer, perfect opportunity to take photos of the lake and its beautiful surroundings. the water from the glacier, which flows through the rocks, make up for the lake’s turquoise-blue color.

we arrived 30 minutes ahead from the rest of the bunch. while waiting, we went to the lake and church of good shepherd first. there were lots of tourists that day. it’s quite challenging to take photos of the small church as there were too many people on it. it’s like taking a photograph of the merlion with many people surrounding it. haha!

wild lupins in bloom

wild lupins in bloom

tekapo bridge

tekapo bridge

the driver

the driver

perfect weather

perfect weather

peaceful lake

peaceful lake

church of the good shepherd

church of the good shepherd

overlooking the hills

overlooking the hills

large rocks along the lake

large rocks along the lake

after that, our friends called us and we joined them for check-in. the house looks old but nice. it has large windows that have a view of the lake and the mountains. lakas maka retire!

living room

living room

living room

living room

kitchen

kitchen

the following day, we woke up early for the sunrise. yehey! no other tourists to spoil the view. hahaha!

church of the good shepherd at sunrise

church of the good shepherd at sunrise

after lunch, the group decided to hike and do some walking activities. since i’m no longer fit to hike and do long walks, husband and i decided to stay behind and just stroll beside the lake. we’ve decided to meet them later on by driving towards the summit instead.

horses and trekkers

horses and trekkers

turquoise blue water

turquoise blue water

soshal!

soshal!

the lake

the lake

it was very windy upon reaching the mount john observatory at the top with wind speed of 60km/h. i felt like the wind’s going to knock me off but thank goodness, i’m swelled and heavy, haha!

mt john observatory

mt john university observatory

view from the top

view from the top

new year’s eve, we headed back to christchurch. not as exciting as celebrating in the philippines. we just ordered pizza and noodles for take away and spent new year’s eve at home. regardless, celebrating it peacefully and quietly is a change and we’re also looking forward to the peaceful and quiet 2015 ahead. chinese feng shui says it will be a lucky year for those born on year of the rat (1984), so there at least something positive to start with. ;-)

happy new year everyone! i hope you had fun celebrating with your friends and family.

Baking: Cornbread Muffin

10 more days to go before christmas! i’m sure everyone’s very busy doing their last-minute shopping, attending parties and pigging out left and right. i surely miss the festive mood of holidays in the philippines. here in christchurch, i don’t feel the christmas spirit unless i go to the mall and see the decors, massive sale and the throngs of people with their big shopping bags. but looking elsewhere, it just look like an ordinary day.

for some reasons, kenny rogers roasters restaurant crossed my mind and i suddenly thought of their cornbread. yep! it’s the cornbread that i miss and not the chicken. haha!

so now, you know what my latest project is. ;)

ingredients:

cornmeal, flour, buttermilk, baking powder

cornmeal, flour, buttermilk, baking powder

salt, sugar, eggs, butter, honey

salt, sugar, eggs, butter, honey

whole kernel corn

whole kernel corn

  • 3/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup butter milk
  • 1 can of whole kernel corn, drained
  • 110 g of butter
  • 2/3 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt

steps:

  • preheat oven to 200 C.
  • combine the dry ingredients (cornmeal, flour, salt and baking powder) in a large bowl and mix altogether.
combine all dry ingredients

combine all dry ingredients

  • on a separate bowl, beat the butter while gradually adding the sugar until texture becomes creamy and mixed thoroughly.
  • add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture.
  • add the honey, eggs and milk then continue mixing until all ingredients are well combined.
  • add the can of whole kernel corn to the batter. you can use a spatula for this.
mix the whole kernel corns into the batter

mix the kernel corns into the batter

  • pour the mixture to the cupcake pan and bake for 20 minutes. check that the cornbread is well done by doing a toothpick test. if it comes clean, you’re good to go!
pour batter into muffin tray and bake for 20 minutes

pour batter into muffin tray and bake for 20 minutes

  • remove from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes.

…and here’s the finished product.

soft and yummy cornbreads

soft and yummy cornbreads

i’m good just eating the cornbread without the roasted chicken. hehe!

Book: December Reads

as the year nearly comes to an end, i was thinking if i fulfilled one of my last new year’s resolution – that is to read at least two books per month. i am pretty sure that i did not meet the goal since i was busy during the first half of the year with the wedding preparation then after that, i slacked off. it was only recently that i got back on track and started reading books again. i just want to cherish the few remaining free months as i don’t think i will have the luxury again once the baby comes out. 

for this month, i would like to share the books that i have finished reading, my current reading and about to read. i hope to be able to get good recommendations from you or anyone out there who also shares the same passion in reading books. :)

finished read

the perks of being a wallflower

the perks of being a wallflower

  • title: the perks of being a wallflower by stephen chbosky 
  • genre: fiction/young adult
  • fave quote: “it’s much easier not to know things sometimes.”

i already saw the movie before i even read the book, so i have more or less of an idea what the book is all about. it’s a book for young adults which contain topics on family drama, relationship, drugs and sexuality. it’s a good book, way better and serious than the flirty tfios (i don’t really like that book to be honest) so it’s not hard to finish at all.

current read

and the mountains echoed

and the mountains echoed

  • title: and the mountains echoed by khaled hosseini
  • genre: fiction/drama/historical

i like the two books written by khaled hosseini which are the kite runner and a thousand splendid sunsso i searched for any other books that he had written thus i learned about this book. though his books are all heavy drama in nature, i like them because they mostly depict the reality of life in afghanistan and that i get to learn the culture of the country. also, the kite runner, was made into a film and i like it. i guess i’m into drama stories after all. 

i’m still in the first few chapters but have noticed that it was written differently compared to his first two books. i hope to finish it soon as the library’s due date is fast approaching!

next to read

franny and zoey

franny and zoey

  • title: franny and zoe by j.d salinger
  • genre: fiction/short story/novel

this is next on my list to read. i randomly saw it in the library and pick it up right away because it’s another j.d salinger book and he’s one of my favorite because of the catcher in the rye. looks exciting just by skimming the pages. :)

Travel: Weekend Farm Staycation

i’m still over the moon from our farm staycation experience last weekend. it was our first time and i’m so grateful to my husband for finding such a lovely accommodation for our short and sweet getaway in ashburton, a small town 80 km away from christchurch. my husband joined a mountain biking event yesterday thus we traveled a day earlier so we can explore the town and relax a bit. what a perfect time to escape my weekend work! ;-)

unfriendly dog

unfriendly dog

here in christchurch and i guess the rest of the south island, they don’t have big hotels like we have in manila or singapore. you will only see them in the major cities such as in auckland or wellington. most accommodations here are motels (clean and wholesome…if you know what i mean) or a bed and breakfast type. there’s no point of having a big hotel when all you can see around are vast swathes of countryside.

land...

land…

another land...

another land…

...and the countryside

…and the countryside

here are some of the photos of our b&b accommodation. indeed a very lovely place! my ultimate dream house – a quaint small house in a country side, filled with sunshine, rustic, charming and peaceful. a home where every one can see each other, not too hard to clean up and the entire place filled with aroma of brewed coffee and toasted bread. shux sana yumaman kami ng makabili ng farm! and of course, not being totally isolated from the world, mandatory ang may wifi. hahaha!

right view of the cottage

right view of the cottage

left view of the cottage

left view of the cottage

side view of the cottage

side view of the cottage

walk way towards the house

walk way towards the house

a swing where you can talk about your dreams

a swing with a nice view of the mountains

overlooking the countryside

overlooking the countryside

veranda for your tea time

veranda for your tea time

old and rusty stuff

old and rusty stuff

from a distance the world looks blue and green, and the snow-capped mountains white

this is what the cottage looks like from the inside. my house inspiration having white or bright painted walls, to brighten up the day.

bedroom

bedroom with simple furnitures

hallway

bright hallway

living room

cozy living room

kitchen

cute kitchen

toilet

immaculately clean toilet

the host, debbie, is nice. she showed us around her property and told us the places to go if we want to go cycling or stroll along the walking tracks. she also showed us her few animals, two small cows and a couple of hens. in the afternoon, she checked on us and offered to give a tour but we said we are very happy just staying in the cottage and do nothing. just like in the book Eat Pray Love, the italian phrase il dolce far niente means the art of doing nothing.

of course just like any vacation, it’s short and we wished we stayed longer like, forever. haha! but there’s a life awaiting for us in the city so until our next journey. thanks to my husband for joining the mtb challenge, we suddenly had an instant babymoon adventure. :)

taking a break from the city life

taking a break from the city life

thank you riverfields, we love your place and definitely had a great time. we will surely recommend your place to our friends. ;-)

Baking # 15: Chocolate Crinkles

i took a day off from work yesterday as i don’t feel like working and i was told that ‘nobody really cares if wherever or when one is in the office’. so there, i took it literally to my heart (blame it to the sensitive hormones) and just stayed home the entire day. playing ‘sick’ prove to be therapeutic and i feel that i was equally more productive since i was able to clean the house, do the laundry, washed the curtains and baked during the afternoon. now, i’m very excited and looking forward to my maternity leave. woohooo!!!

yesterday’s baking project is chocolate crinkles, which appeared in my news feed from some facebook page i’m subscribed to. i suddenly remember how chewy and yummy this food is, so my craving starts again. how come i always crave for the bad things when it’s only few days left before the next monthly checkup? i’m pretty sure that the glucose levels will shoot up and the midwife will find out and i’m doomed.

sharing here the chocolate crinkle recipe (credits to: allrecipes.com). perfect gift for the coming holidays!

ingredients:

  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup baking oil (i used canola)
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar (icing sugar)
the ingredients (l-r): oil, eggs, vanilla extract, icing sugar, flour, sugar, baking powder, cocoa powder

the ingredients (l-r): oil, eggs, vanilla extract, icing sugar, flour, sugar, baking powder, cocoa powder

steps:

  • in a large bowl, mix the cocoa powder, sugar and oil. then, beat eggs one at a time and add the vanilla extract.
cocoa mixture for the dough

cocoa mixture for the dough

  • add the flour, baking powder and salt to the cocoa mixture until well blended.
  • cover the dough and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours. this will make scooping the dough easier before baking.

[after 4 hours]

  • preheat oven to 180C.
  • line some baking paper into the baking tray.
  • using a tbsp scoop for the dough, scoop and roll the dough into a ball and flatten using your palms.
  • coat with icing sugar before placing them in the baking tray.
coat the dough with icing sugar

coat the dough with icing sugar

  • bake for 10-12 minutes then place in a cooling rack afterwards.
well done!

well done!

this is one of the easiest to prepare and a very good gift idea for this coming holiday seasons. perhaps put it in a nice container like a box or a jar, then add some ribbons on it and you finally have something to give this christmas. personalize and home-made stuff makes it extra special. ;-)

perfect idea as a holiday gift

perfect idea as a holiday gift

Baking # 14: Yema Cake

if plato says that “necessity is the mother of invention”, then i would say “craving is the mother of bake-off projects”. that applies to me in most cases. living miles away from home where some foods are hard to find, one must find a way to come up with something.

i got intrigued the first time i saw a yema cake appeared in my news feed. it looks inviting and very mouth-watering and i suddenly had that ‘love at first sight’ kind of feeling. so i told myself, “makakatikim din ako nito“.

then, i saw an online seller in fb selling yema cakes for $25. wow that’s expensive! so i’ve decided, “why buy when i can make my own?”. good thing, one of my friends also bake a yema cake so she gave me her recipe. i was not supposed to be eating too much sweets and i almost totally forgot about the yema cake until my ‘glucose police’ reminded me about it yesterday. talking about ‘low EQ’ when it comes to food. haha!

ingredients:

flour mixture for the chiffon cake

baking soda, white sugar, flour, salt

baking soda, white sugar, flour, salt

  • 1 and 1/4 cups of flour
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup white sugar

egg yolk mixture

buttermilk, canola oil, vanilla, eggs and lemon

buttermilk, canola oil, vanilla, egg yolks and lemon

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • 1/4 cup oil (i used canola oil)

egg white mixture

cream of tartar, egg whites, white sugar

cream of tartar, egg whites, white sugar

  • 4 large egg whites (these were separated earlier from the yolk)
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar

yema custard mixture

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

toppings

  • grated cheese like cheddar

steps:

part 1 (the chiffon cake)

  • pre-heat the oven to 180 C.
  • in a large bowl, mix the flour mixture altogether until well blended. then sift to make sure there are no lumps.
flour mixture for the chiffon

flour mixture for the chiffon

  • in a separate bowl, combine the egg mixture by whisking until smooth.
egg yolk mixture

egg yolk mixture

whisk and relax

whisk and relax

  • create a well then combine flour and egg yolk mixture and mix until it’s smooth and free of lumps (i think it’s better hand mixing using a spatula instead of a mixer based on the youtube videos i saw).
combine the flour and egg yolk mixture

combine the flour and egg yolk mixture

mix until free of lumps

mix until free of lumps

  • we will now start working on the egg white mixture to create a meringue. combine, egg whites and cream of tartar and beat until frothy and starts forming peaks.
  • gradually add the white sugar as you continue blending the egg white mixture.
egg white mixture for meringue

egg white mixture for meringue

  • now, add the egg white mixture to the flour and egg yolk mixture we had on step 4.
  • add the oil and fold some more.
  • in a cake pan, grease the bottom and place a baking paper at the bottom. then add the batter mixture and bake for 40-45 minutes. once it’s done, let it cool for a few minutes then put in the fridge to cool some more.
cool and ready for frosting

cool and ready for frosting

part 2 (the yema custard mixture)

  • in a sauce pan, combine the yema custard mixture together and cook in a lowest heat setting mixing non-stop until the sauce thickens. make sure to always mix it to prevent from burning.

part 3 (frosting and glazing)

  • remove the chiffon cake from the fridge.
  • since we only had a small cake pan, our chiffon cake turned out thin. so what we did was split the cake in half, slicing vertically and not mid-cross section then placing them on top of each other to create two layers.
chiffon cake cut into two

chiffon cake cut into two

  • we spread the yema custard mixture in between the chiffon cake to create the filling, just like spreading jam on your favorite sandwich.
spread the yema custard in between the cake

spread the yema custard in between the cake

  • then cover the cake with yema frosting. top, side and everywhere!
yema frosting all over

yema frosting all over

  • sprinkle with cheese on top or however you like it. the cheese will help balance the too much sweetness from the custard.
cheesy!

cheesy!

and the finished product…

cravings satisfied :)

cravings satisfied :)

dream come true! ;-)

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