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Foodie Goodie | Finlandia Swiss Cheese.

If you're a huge fan of the Bravo TV reality cooking show Top Chef like I am, then the name 'Ariane Duarte' probably rings a bell. Yes, she's the season 5 contender who won an elimination challenge and had the chance to cook live on the Today Show.

It's been five years since Top Chef season 5, and now Ariane is the chef/owner of a four-star restaurant in Montclair, New Jersey aptly named 'CulinAriane'. She's also the brand ambassador of Finlandia Cheese Inc., a New Jersey-based brand of dairy products, and also one of the most popular brands in the global dairy industry.

One of my real secrets is knowing that all cheese is not created equal,” advises Ariane. “Whether I’m choosing ingredients for the restaurant or for my family, quality is my first concern. So when I’m choosing cheese, I prefer Finlandia®. Regardless of the cheese type, all Finlandia cheeses are all natural, hormone-free and naturally lactose-free, and I especially like the superior taste and end results when used in my recipes.

Today, my friends and readers are in for a treat as I share with you these recipes created by Chef Ariane Duarte. They're some of my favorite comfort food, and they're perfect for chilly, blustery days (like today).

Finlandia Swiss Chipotle Mac & Cheese

3 c cooked elbow noodles
1 small onion diced
2t garlic minced
2 T butter
1/3c flour
3c skimmed milk
3/4c cottage cheese
4 packages sliced Finlandia Swiss, Light Swiss or Lacey Swiss (cut into small dices)
2c parmesan
1T chipotle peppers, pureed
salt & pepper
seasoned bread crumbs

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a blender, add skim milk and cottage cheese. Blend until smooth.
3. Add butter in a sauce pot, and once hot add onion and garlic.
4. Add flour, mix well and then add milk mixture. Stir and let thicken for about 7 -10 minutes.
5. Add chipotle pepper. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Add cheeses and cooked pasta. Mix well and put into a casserole dish.
7. Top with bread crumbs.
8. Bake for about 25 minutes until golden brown and bubbly.

Ariane says: I love macaroni and cheese and this contemporary twist on the classic combines three distinct cheeses with the subtle smokiness of chipotle peppers. Finlandia Swiss cheese is essential to the recipe because of the creamy and full-bodied flavor it imparts. I was inspired to add cottage cheese to the recipe because it also adds even more creaminess, but without the calories and it provides a lot of protein, too. The cheeses are the perfect counterpoint to the sharpness of the peppers and the full cheese flavor delivers the comforting texture that gives the nostalgic dish its staying power.

French Onion Soup with Finlandia Swiss Cheese

¼ c butter
3 onions, thinly sliced
1 t white sugar
1 T all purpose flour
2 ½ c water
½ c red wine
1 ½ cup condensed beef broth
1 French baguette, sliced thick
8 oz sliced Finlandia Swiss Cheese

1. Melt butter or margarine in a 4 quart saucepan. Stir in sugar. 
2. Cook onions over medium heat for 10 minutes or until golden brown. 
3. Stir in flour until well blended with the onions and pan juices and cook about 5 minutes. 
4. Add water, wine, and beef broth; bring to a boil. 
5. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
6. Cut four thick slices of bread from the loaf. Toast the bread slices until browned and crusty. Reserve the remaining bread to serve with the soup. 
7. Ladle soup into four oven safe bowls. Place one slice of toasted bread on top of the soup in each bowl. 
8. Cover top of bowl with Finlandia Cheese slice until it just falls over the edge. 
9. Place soup bowls on a cookie sheet to avoid spills in the oven. 
10. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes or just until cheese is melted and golden brown.

Next week, I'll be sharing a few more recipes from Chef Ariane. In the meantime, you can check out the Finlandia Cheese website for more information and other recipes. Happy weekend eating! :)

Shared with Food Friday and Food Trip Friday


Spotlight | The Face Shop Lovely ME:EX Design My Eyebrow.

As many of you already know, I have a great obsession with my eyebrows and a penchant for eyebrow products. Today I'll be featuring another eyebrow product from one of my favorite Korean brands, The Face Shop. They've recently opened a branch here in SM San Pablo, making it easier for me to restock on my all-time favorite products such as the Power Perfection BB Cream and Velvet Skin Primer.

Anyhoo, this is the Lovely ME:Ex Design My Eyebrow, which sells for Php 228 (about $5) a pop.
Design My Eyebrow. 
It's an automatic eyebrow pencil that comes in five different shades - Gray Brown, Dark Brown, Black Brown, Brown, and Dark Gray.
#4 Brown.
Mine is the #4 shade, Brown. I reckon it's also the lightest among the five shades.
As per label, this product is good for 24 months upon opening. :)
Now here's how the product looks like.
Slanted tip.
The retractable, slanted tip is perfect for shaping brows and filling it (the eyebrows, I mean) in with color. It has a unique, triangle shape which allows you to create thick lines for the inner eyebrow and thin lines towards the outer part.
Unique, triangle shape.
It also comes with a spoolie, which is an important tool in blending the color and making your brows look natural.
Yay for the spoolie! :)
And now, the swatches.
Thick and thin.
The shade comes off light at first, but it's quite buildable. It has great staying power, too as I was able to wear this for about 12 hours with a primer on. Best of all, the shade is a good match for my current hair color.

What I love:
- Easy to use.
- Unique triangle shape allows you to create precise strokes with varying thickness.
- Buildable color.
- Fills in color evenly.
- Great staying power.
- Comes with a spoolie.
- Five different shades to choose from.
- Affordable price.

What you might not like:
- I broke the tip twice!
Putting extra pressure on the pencil can make the tip snap! :(
Ugh. Pardon the tired eyes. 
Products used:
FACE: The Face Shop Velvet Skin Primer,
Lioele Beyond the Solution BB Cream, Missha Under Eye Brightener,
Hera HD Fix Powder.
EYES: Sleek MakeUp Flick It Eyeliner,
Fairy Drops Volume Burst Mascara,
The Face Shop Lovely ME:EX Design My Eyebrows.
CHEEKS: Human Heart Nature Perfect Glow Mineral Blush.
LIPS: EOS Lip Balm in Sweet Vanilla Nonsense,
NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Antwerp.
This product is now a staple in my makeup kit and has easily become one of my favorites. I recommend this to just about anyone, even to makeup newbies! :)


Project BB Cream | Lioele Beyond the Solution BB Cream.

If you're a fan of the Korean brand Lioele and live within my area, you'll be glad to know that we now have easy access to Lioele products. Lake Zen the Medical Spa, one of my favorite beauty and wellness centers here in San Pablo City, is now an authorized distributor of Lioele. And during my last visit to the spa, not only did I get a massage, I went shopping for Korean cosmetics as well. :)

One of the few things that I bought was this pouch sample of the Beyond the Solution BB Cream - one of the best-selling products from Lioele.
Lioele Beyond the Solution BB Cream.
This BB Cream comes in four sizes - the pouch sample which sells for Php50, the 5ml miniature tube at Php 250, the 30mL tube at Php 570, and the full-sized 50mL tube which sells for Php995. I decided to get the smallest size, since this will be my first time to use this product.
As usual, everything is written in Hangul.
For your reference, here's how the full-sized tube looks like. Don't you just love their uber cute packaging? The brand logo itself is very chic and stylish, and yes, it's reminiscent of Cinderella's carriage.
Full-sized tube.
The product is described as such in their English website: 
Long-lasting BB cream - soothing and keeps skin smooth without sebum secretion. Helps to create a clean and natural skin tone by being absorbed into your skin with a soft usage. This enables speedy make-up application due to the unnecessary need to apply makeup base or foundation. 

I took note of the active ingredients found in this BB Cream and some of them are: squalene (hydrates and moisturizes the skin), jojoba oil (soothes the skin and fights skin irritation), macadamia nut oil (smoothens the skin), allantoin (moisturizes and protects the skin against irritants), marine collagen (makes the skin tight and firm), and hyauronic acid (keeps wrinkles at bay).

Now here's how the BB Cream looks like.
Swatch it! :)
It comes in one shade only (natural beige), and while the product itself appears lighter than my skintone (as you can see on the back of my hand), I'm glad that it worked differently and adjusted to my skintone quite well when applied on my face. I've read reviews saying that this BB Cream leaves a grayish cast, but there was none based on my experience.
Left without BB Cream; right with BB Cream.
Beyond the Solution has a thick and creamy consistency similar to that of The Face Shop's Power Perfection BB Cream and Nature Republic's By Flower BB Cream. It gives medium to full coverage without feeling heavy on the skin and leaves it with a semi-matte finish. Its mild, floral scent on the other hand, reminds me of my favorite BB Cream from Missha. As for the wear time, this product stays put for a good eight hours without a primer on. When worn with a primer, I reckon this product can stay on my face for twelve hours, maybe even beyond.

My only gripe about this product? It has no SPF! :(

What I love:
- Cute and stylish packaging.
- Comes in four different sizes.
- Affordable price.
- Easy to apply and blend.
- Creamy texture, but doesn't feel heavy on the skin.
- Gives medium to full coverage.
- Semi-matte finish.
- Mild, pleasant scent.
- Long-wearing.
- A little goes a long way.
- No breakouts, no allergies, safe for sensitive skin.

What you might not like:
- Comes in one shade only.
- No SPF.

And finally, here's how the BB Cream looks like on me. :)
Products used:
FACE: Lioele Beyond the Solution BB Cream,
Missha Under Eye Brightener, Hera HD Fix Powder.
EYES: Sleek MakeUp Flick It Eyeliner,
Majolica Majorca Lash King Mascara,
The Face Shop Lovely Me:EX Design My Eyebrows.
CHEEKS: Skin Food Sugar Cookie Blush in Bebe Pink.
LIPS: Jordana Lip Liner in Rose,
EOS Lip Balm in Sweet Vanilla Nonsense,
NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Addis Ababa.

Lioele Beyond the Solution BB Cream and other Lioele products are now available at Lake Zen the Medical Spa, located at GMC II Building, Barleta Street, San Pablo City.
For inquiries, you may reach them via the Lioele San Pablo City Facebook page.


Foodie Goodie | Kalbi Taco.

It's Korean meets Mexican in this week's edition of Foodie Goodie!

I've been craving for Kalbi (Korean barbecued beef short ribs) the entire week - ever since the husband mentioned that he had Kalbi last Sunday. So I went to the supermarket today, bought a pack of Kalbi along with a box of taco shells and decided to make some Kalbi Taco for dinner. It's a dish I learned from watching too much Arirang TV, haha! :)

Kalbi Taco

250 grams Kalbi, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
a pinch of sesame salt
black pepper/paprika powder to taste

1 can of sliced mushrooms
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tomato, diced
1 cup shredded lettuce
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup mayonnaise
6 taco shells

1. Prepare the Kalbi mixture by combining the first six ingredients in a bowl. Let stand for at least an hour.
2. Heat a frying pan on medium-high, add Kalbi mixture and cook until brown.
3. Add mushrooms to the pan, stir-fry for about two minutes.
4. Add onions to the pan, stir-fry until the onions soften.
5. Add the tomatoes next, stir-fry for about a minute.
6. Spoon the Kalbi mixture into the taco shells.
7. Top with lettuce, cheese, and mayonnaise. Serve.

Shared with Food Friday and Food Trip Friday.


Spotlight | Sleek MakeUp Flick It Eyeliner.

I've tried quite a number of products from Sleek MakeUp and my previous experience/s with the brand have always been good. This week, I road-tested one of the newer products - the Sleek MakeUp Flick It Eyeliner, and I must say, the brand has impressed me yet again.
Flick It! :)
Launched early this year, Sleek MakeUp's Flick It is a liquid eyeliner that looks a lot like a colored pen at first glance. Haha!
Not a colored pen, haha.
It has a very fine, precise felt tip point that allows for easy control and smooth application. If you're a newbie at wearing makeup and isn't sharp as a tack when it comes to eyeliners, then this pen-type product is a good way to start.
So fine!
The Flick It Eyeliner comes in three shades - Dazzling Black, Purple Aura, and Royal Blue. What I have here is the Royal Blue, which is a very wearable shade. I was actually quite hesitant to use this at first, thinking that blue would look funny on me (I've always had this stigma that blue eyeshadow/ eye makeup does not suit me). Sleek MakeUp, however, proved me wrong.
Flick It in Royal Blue.
Another impressive thing about this product is its color payoff. This Royal Blue shade is so pigmented that a single stroke would be enough to produce a gorgeous semi-matte finish.
One stroke on the left, two strokes on the right.
Wear time is quite remarkable, too. I was able to wear this for a good 14 hours without budging. It doesn't smudge, doesn't fade, resistant to sweat and water, but can be removed easily with a makeup remover.

What I love:
- Easy to use.
- Precise felt tip applicator lets you create both thin and thick lines.
- Highly-pigmented.
- Three shades to choose from.
- Fast drying, long wearing formula.
- Not tested on animals.

What you might not like:
- I've read somewhere that the product dries out quite quickly despite keeping it tightly-capped. 
I just hope that I'll be able to use this eyeliner down to the last drop (lol) 
before it actually dries out on me, haha!

Products Used:
FACE: Majolica Majorca Skin Lingerie Pore Cover,
Etude House Correct & Care CC Cream, Etude House Any Cushion,
Missha Under Eye Brightener.
EYES: The FaceShop Lovely Me:EX Design My Eyebrows,
Sleek MakeUp Flick It Eyeliner, Fairy Drops Volume Burst Mascara.
CHEEKS: Sleek MakeUp Blush in Pomegranate.
LIPS: Jordana Lip Liner in Rose, EOS Lip Balm in Blueberry Potion,
NYX Soft Matte Lip Cream in Addis Ababa.
Sleek MakeUp Flick It Eyeliner sells for Php 475 each (a little over $10) and is available online via Beauty Corner PH. You can also check out the Sleek MakeUp counters at The Ramp Crossings Shangri-la, The Ramp Crossings Quezon Avenue, and The Ramp Glorietta 3.


Wordless Wednesday #55 | Happy Chuseok!

It's that time of the year again! It's Chuseok (추석) - Thanksgiving Day in Korea, and the most important holiday in the Land of the Morning Calm.

Chuseok falls on September 19 this year, but the holiday is actually observed for three days (September 18-20). We're joining in the festivities by letting the little man wear his hanbok - the traditional Korean clothes.

To our Hanguk chingu (Korean friends) and to everyone in Korea... 
Happy Thanksgiving! 추석 잘 보내세요!


How to Create the Right Product Review.

When you check out blogs on the Internet, you may encounter various product reviews. Various items are presented, all of which aims to provide readers the data they may well need. In product reviews, people aren't only offered details about the item itself but additionally a truthful opinion about using the product.

Product reviews are presented in distinct methods, and a few of them may well not be as truthful as you think it to be. Because of this, we made a decision to develop a post that can guide you on generating the perfect product review.

Test, test, test.
You won’t have the ability to write an evaluation about a particular product if you haven’t utilized it personally and tried its functions and features. While experiencing the product for yourself, ensure to list down its pros and cons. The more you know about the product, the more comprehensive your review is going to be.
Photo credit: Lioness Woman.
Consider the Five Ws.
• Who will use the product? 
• What does the product promise? Shinier hair, a better night’s sleep, finding out improvement in under-5s? Whatever it is, ensure you explain it for your readers. 
• Where can your readers buy it? Include hyperlinks and relevant contact data if the product cannot be purchased on the Internet.
• Why should your readers purchase this product?
• When will provide a bit details about the product’s history, nevertheless it is not really important.

The final key word to concentrate on is “how.”
How can this product satisfy the consumers? At this part, you are going to start to recall your experience with the product and what your opinions are. This portion is very critical due to the fact that people read your blog for your opinions.

Photo credit: A Writer's Process.
These parts will give the proper data that readers must know to find out if the product is suitable for them. An excellent review doesn’t need to be glowing… At times, a brand or PR business supplies you their merchandise that they want you to discuss about in your blog, and no matter how tempting it is to gush about it, there is really no need for that simply because readers need an honest opinion more than anything else. 

Point out everything that the readers may want to know, including the tiniest problems that you experienced while using the product... But it shouldn’t be rude either.

It's common for bloggers to provide constructive criticisms but doing so by displaying rudeness just isn't a smart decision; you will end up with readers hating your opinion. Your opinions are what makes your readers keep coming back for more, but a rant is extremely different to a review, and if you frequently post adverse reviews you could lose credibility in your field.

Get snap happy.
Include photos in your evaluation to make it more reliable and appealing to the readers. If a product’s colour or certain functions are worth mentioning, readers will want to see those characteristics, and with images, they could surely see them.

When taking photos of the product, use natural light where possible to avoid the need for over-editing the picture in your computer. With images, you will be able to catch the focus of readers, even those who are utilizing their smartphones to look at blogs. Adding captions below every image will allow you to broaden on descriptions or viewpoints.

Photo credit: Picgifs
What you will need to keep in mind
• Do give the product a week or two week’s test to understand more about it and be capable to write up a perfect review. 
• Do not have doubts regarding supplying an honest viewpoint, but make it a point that it's purely a review, and not a rant.
• Do get numerous pictures of the product under natural light only, if possible.
• Do not forget to add links and contact info on your website post so readers will have access to more data. 

You may use this guide to create that ideal product review, and for those who have further tips to share, do not think twice to list them down below.

Daniel Johnson creates reviews about travel gears. Learn more about the best Travel Gear from his blog.


A Quick Guide to Stress-Free Holiday Shopping.

I don't know about you, but I'm already starting my holiday shopping - especially now that Christmas is just 99 days away. I try to keep this task of picking out presents as fun as possible and avoid long queues and last-minute panic buying as much as I can - which is why I try to get things done even before malls and shopping centers could even put up their Christmas decors.

And because I'm in a festive and giving mood, I'm sharing with you some tips on how to make your own shopping experience fun and stress-free - and friendly on the pocket, too.
Photo credit: Visit Korea.
1. Make a list, check it twice.
Write down the names of people you are planning to buy gifts for. List down the things you plan to give, along with the price of the items you are planning to buy. Also include in the list the people who will receive cash gifts such as your godchildren, employees, the trash collector, etc. Doing so will help you manage your budget for the holidays.

2. Do your homework.
Not sure whether you'll buy a Samsung Galaxy S4 or the Galaxy Note3 for your husband? Can't decide between an NX2000 or NX3000 for yourself? That's easy. Simply Google for product information and customer reviews to help you decide which item/s to buy. Who knows, you might also be able to stumble upon a great deal on online stores and group buying sites.

Photo credit: Uber Gizmo.
3. Start early.
You need not wait for the 'ber months to kick off before you buy Christmas gifts. You can actually start your Christmas shopping way ahead, any time of the year. Just make sure you keep track of the gifts that you've bought, and keep them hidden so as not to spoil the surprise!

4. Take advantage of sale events.
Black Friday, Cyber Monday, end-of-season sales, clearance sales... Take advantage of events like these as merchants usually offer huge discounts on almost all of their products. Online shopping sites such as Zalora PH usually give their loyal customers first dibs on discounts and promos, so make sure you stay in the loop and sign up for newsletters and SMS notifications.
Photo credit: Zalora PH.
5. Avoid the rush.
No time to go the mall? Too busy to go to bazaars? Or you simply don't want to battle large crowds and long queues? Then online shopping is your best bet. Thanks to modern technology, you can now do your Christmas shopping without having to leave home or play hooky from work. Some online stores even offer free shipping, which allows you to save on handling fees and charges.

And there you have it, my quick guide to stress-free Christmas shopping. Now it's time to hit the malls (or online stores for that matter) and empty our wallets, haha! :)


Foodie Goodie | Brazo de Mercedes.

Today's edition of Foodie Goodie will be different. I won't be sharing the recipe. Instead, I will shamelessly promote these uber yummy Brazo de Mercedes that my sister April makes.
Yummy! :)
They're being sold at Php 400 per box of 10. (Do the Math that's Php 40 per piece.)

She delivers within the San Pablo City area, and you may reach her at 09178133016. For those in neighboring towns here in Laguna (Alaminos, Nagcarlan, Calauan, Los Banos, etc...) you can arrange a pick-up/meet-up schedule with her should you wish to order. :)

Shared with Food Trip Friday and Food Friday.


Spotlight | B&C Browlash EX Water Strong Eyebrow.

I must admit, I am greatly obsessed with my eyebrows. It's that part of my face that I pay the most attention to (and spend the most time on) whenever I do my make-up. I guess this obsession stems from the fact that I have really sparse eyebrows. And that's also the reason why I'm all too happy to receive this product from Beauty Corner PH and try it out for myself.
B&C Browlash EX Water Strong Eyebrow.
At first glance you'd think it's the oh-so-famous K Palette 2-Way Eyebrow Liner (because that's what I originally thought, lol), but this one is actually the Browlash EX Water Strong Eyebrow. It's from the Japanese brand B&C Laboratories, and are sold at Sasa retail stores and counters in Hongkong, Macau, Singapore, Taiwan, and mainland China.
If you can read Hiragana/Katakana, then good for you. :)
Here in the Philippines, this can be bought online via Beauty Corner PH. They sell for Php 650 each (somewhere around $15) and come in three different shades - Light Brown, Natural Brown, and Grey Brown, which is the shade that I currently have.

Pencil at one end and liquid on the other, the B&C Browlash EX has a waterproof formula that resists water and sweat, and lasts all day long. 

Here's how the pencil part looks like:
And here's how the brush on the other end looks like:
The retractable pencil is meant for drawing out thick lines, while the fine-tip brush is for creating softer, fine lines. As illustrated in the packaging (see first photo), the pencil should be used on the inner part of the brows, while the brush is for the outer/ending part of the brows.

Here are swatches of the product:
Two strokes of the brush on the left; two strokes of the pencil on the right.
Personally, I would prefer a lighter shade than this one as I usually match the color of my eyebrows with the color of my hair. Perhaps the Light Brown shade would be a better match for my eye color and my current hair color. But nonetheless, I love how this subtle shade is buildable and how this product doesn't make my brows look too fake or drawn in.
Eyebrows courtesy of the Browlash EX. :)
What I love:
- Easy to use.
- Dual-sided product; can be used in two different ways.
- Waterproof, sweat-proof, smudge-proof.
- Good staying power (at least 12 hours, in my case).
- Three different shades to choose from.
- Doesn't make my brows look too fake.

What you might not like:
- The price. 
It may be a bit too steep for some, but keep in mind that it's from a famous Japanese cosmetic brand. 
And at least, it's cheaper than K Palette. :)