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8.27.2017

Foodie Goodie | Bill's Bulgogi Burger.

Long weekends like this are the perfect time to go on a food trip, and the other day, my friends and I did just that when we visited Bill's Bulgogi Burger.
Bill's Carwash.
Located a few hundred meters away from the national highway, Bill's Bulgogi Burger is owned by Mr. Hwang Sang Won (more popularly known as 'Bill'), who also owns the car wash adjacent to it. Bill does most of the kitchen work, together with his Filipino wife, Lea.
Inside Bill's Bulgogi Burger.
Bill's menu features traditional Korean food such as samgyeopsal (grilled pork belly), japchae (stir fried noodles), bibimbap (mixed rice), and gimbap (rice rolls). They also serve Korean fusion dishes such as curry rice, buffalo wings, bulgogi nachos, and the bulgogi burger from which this restaurant started. Ironically, none of us ordered the bulgogi burger because we all wanted to eat something with rice. 
Jaymee tries on a hanbok.
Other hanbok colors.
As we waited for our food, Jaymee and I tried on hanboks (traditional Korean clothing) and had our photos taken. It's a service offered by Bill's restaurant at no extra cost - definitely a great marketing strategy with the growing popularity of Korean dramas and the Korean culture itself among Filipinos. (Case in point, the halmonis at the next table who came all the way from Los Banos just to take selfies in these hanboks.) 

Now here's what we ordered at Bill's.  
Omelette gimbap, Php 115.
For starters, we had Omelette Gimbap - rice rolls filled with egg omellete. The gimbap is tasty and sliced nicely in equal proportions. The rice, however, isn't as sticky as I expected it to be; hence, the gimbap tends to fall apart when you bite into it. 
Bulgogi Gimbap, Php 125.
We also had Bulgogi Gimbap, which came with a sweet and savory dipping sauce. Personally, I like this better than the Omelette Gimbap. However, this dish was served way too late (we were almost done eating when this came to our table) and all of us were too full to finish the entire roll.
Spicy Ramyeon, Php 90.
Aiz was also in the mood for ramyeon, so she ordered a serving of the Spicy Ramyeon for us to share. The ramyeon, to my amusement, was served in true Kdrama fashion - tin pot, lid, and trivet. None of us ate the noodles from the lid, though. Haha!
Buffalo Wings Platter.
My friends had a platter each of Bill's combo meals. Each meal is served with rice, japchae, and an entree of your choice. Aiz had the K-Fried Chicken Platter, while the other three ladies had the Buffalo Wings Platter.
K-Fried Chicken Platter.
Jaymee found the Buffalo Wings a bit too spicy, which isn't surprising since she has a low tolerance for spicy food. Aiz, on the contrary, ordered an extra serving of gochujang (red pepper paste) because she wanted her chicken to be spicy.
Samgyeopsal, Php 185.
As for me, I feasted on Samgyeopsal - something I had been craving for since we got back from Korea. One thing I love about their samgyeopsal is that they're already cooked when served. While most Korean restaurants have a table-top grill to cook these meat slices with, Bill's does the grilling for you in their kitchen and keeps you and your clothes from smelling like smoke.
Lettuce wrap! :)
Their mouth-watering and flavorful samgyeopsal comes with a bowl of rice, a small basket of lettuce, four varieties of banchan (side dishes), and a generous portion of ssamjang (dipping sauce). The taste reminds me of the samgyeopsal that we had the first time we came to Korea. Come to think of it, Bill's restaurant does remind me of the siktangs (diners) in our neighborhood in Seongsu-dong. From the taste to the ambiance, it's like one of those hole-in-the-wall mom and pop restaurants in Seoul that serve surprisingly good food.

If you're in the mood for some authentic Korean cuisine, Bill's Bulgogi Burger is the place to visit! I'll definitely be coming back to try the Bulgogi Burger next time, and I'll be taking Yue along so he can enjoy some 'homecooked Korean fried chicken' which he absolutely loves.

Bill's Bulgogi Burger
Purok 5, Brgy. San Roque, San Pablo City
+63908 175 9444

8.23.2017

Spotlight | Peripera Fashion People Carrier Mini Luggage Set.

For this summer, Korean beauty brand Peripera launched an eye-catching set of their best-selling inks and tints, all in miniature sizes. And I say eye-catching, because its packaging is an adorable pink trolley luggage, complete with wheels, a retractable handle, and stickers for you to decorate the luggage with.
Peripera Fashion People Carrier.
I was not able to buy this while I was still in Korea, as this product hit the stores a few days after we left the Land of the Morning Calm. Thankfully, Rox of Ciel Azure still had a few pieces available; I purchased one right away, because this limited edition item sell like hotcakes online!
Unboxing the Peripera Fashion People Carrier.
The Peripera Fashion People Carrier comes in two different colors - New Yorker Yellow, which features New York-themed stickers; and KPop Girl Pink, which features Korean-themed stickers. Mine is the latter, because... Korea!
Mini luggage with wheels + retractable handle.
Peripera logo at the side.
Product details at the back of the box.
Inside the luggage, you'll find miniature bottles of the following: Airy Ink Velvet (2.7 grams), Vivid Tint Water (3.5 grams), Ink Velvet (2.7 grams), Ink Concealer (4.2 grams), and Ink Multi-shadowing (2.7 grams). The luggage, by the way, has the same dimensions as my Samsung Note 5.
Inside the luggage.
The bottles are made of plastic, about 2 inches in size each, and all come with doe-foot applicators.
They're this small. 
Shade reference at the bottom.

Shade reference at the bottom.
The Peripera Airy Ink Velvet is a souffle cream lip stain with a velvety matte finish. The shade included in the set is #5 Elf Light Rose, a lovely, muted shade of pink and one of the most popular shades in the Airy Ink Velvet Line.
Peripera Airy Ink Velvet #5 Elf Light Rose.
True to its name, this product feels light as air when worn. It's also long-wearing, as the color does not budge even after a full meal and a cup of coffee. However, this product has a rather strong floral scent, which may be a turn-off to some. I certainly do not mind, though, and I might just buy a full-sized version of this shade the next time I fly to Korea.
#5 Elf Light Rose when worn.
The Peripera Ink Velvet is a creamy, lip stain with a lacquer-like matte finish. The shade included in the set is #2 So Grapefruit, a warm and bold red with orange undertones. 
Peripera Ink Velvet #2 So Grapefruit.
Like the Airy Ink Velvet, the Peripera Ink Velvet is lightweight, easy to apply, and does not dry the lips. It has a subtle, sweet scent - much lighter compared to the Airy Ink Velvet's. The color pay-off is gorgeous, and the wear-time - an impressive 12 hours. I've had lunch, dinner, went to sleep, took a shower the following morning and the color is still there. How amazing is that?!
#2 So Grapefruit when worn.
If matte lip products aren't up your alley, then you might find the Peripera Vivid Tint Water more to your liking. Made with real fruit extracts, this water tint has vibrant color and a mild and fruity scent. The shade included is #3 Apple Squeeze, a sheer berry red shade.
Peripera Vivid Tint Water #3 Apple Squeeze.
Like most lip tints, this one has a thin and watery consistency. It's lightweight, moisturizing, and has buildable coverage. However, it's not as fast-drying as my favorite Labiotte Wine Lip Tint, and has a tendency to seep through your mouth and stain your teeth. Despite that, I like this lip tint nonetheless. 
#3 Apple Squeeze when worn. 
Swatches (L-R): Airy Ink Velvet #5 Elf Light Rose,
Ink Velvet #2 So Grapefruit, Vivid Tint Water #3 Apple Squeeze.
Swatches under natural light.
Swatches, 12 hours later.
Now as for the two other products included in this set, I'm not too keen about them because both the Ink Concealer and the Ink Multi-shadowing come in shades that are a little off for my skin tone.
Ink Concealer on the left, Ink Multi-shadowing on the right.
What I do like about the Ink Concealer is its silky smooth and long-lasting coverage. This product is available in two shades - #1 Cover King Vanilla and #2 Blemish Hider Beige. I reckon the darker shade would suit my skin tone better, unlike the shade that came with the set which looks ghastly white against my skin.
Under natural light.
As for the shading cream aka Ink Multi-shadowing, I tried contouring with it, but the shade just sort of disappears when blended on my skin. This product also doubles as an eyeshadow, but I hardly wear eyeshadows these days.
Products used:
FACE: Beyond Alice in Blooming Skin Tone Sun Base,
Peripera Ink Concealer #1 Cover King Vanilla,
The Cellin Essence Cushion.
EYES: Shiseido Eyebrow Pencil in Brown,
Clio Kill Black Waterproof Brush Liner,
Clio Salon de Cara Backcomb Cara,
CHEEKS: Tony Moly Cristal Blusher in Pleasure Peach.
LIPS: Peripera Vivid Tint Water #3 Apple Squeeze.
All in all, this set is a nice collector's item, especially if you're into Korean (beauty) products and a sucker for cute packaging like me.

With regards to value for money, I'm on the fence because the concealer and shading cream didn't work well for me. Part of me wishes that they should have just included four lip products and a BB Cream, the way they did when they released the Mini Girl's Cabinet set last year. 

But then again, I do love the lip tints and the Airy Ink Velvet is such a wonderful beauty discovery!


8.19.2017

Spotlight | COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser.

I have recently been introduced to Korean beauty brand COSRX, thanks to a friend who's an avid user of the brand and vouches for the efficacy of its products.

At first, I had no idea where to buy this in Korea - until another friend told me that they're sold in ALand, a multi-brand clothing and accessories store with branches in Myeongdong, Hongdae, and Apgujeong among many others. I made my COSRX purchase at the ALand building in Myeongdong (located near the Onitsuka Tiger store), and my loot included the Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser.
COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser.
COSRX, whose name is derived from the word 'cosmetics' and the symbol 'Rx' denoting prescription, takes pride in their standard of 'good cosmetics' - more natural (minimized refinement of products found in nature) and more science (addressing skin concerns with a scientific approach). The brand is also known for its minimalist packaging, as evidenced in this tube of the Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser. The packaging is simple, straightforward, and speaks for itself.
Minimalist packaging.
You'll find pertinent information at the back of this 150 mL tube - product description, usage directions, note of caution, and list of ingredients in both English and Hangul.
150 mL tube.
One of the many things I love about this cleanser is that it contains Saccharomyces Ferment - the same fermented yeast found in the Missha First Treatment Essence. Dubbed as 'the mother of all K-beauty ingredients', Saccharomyces Ferment increases the rate of metabolism which leads to healthy, hydrated, and youthful skin.
English and Hangul text.
It also contains Betaine Salicylate, a natural skin conditioner derived from sugar beets. It's a kind of Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) which works by deep cleaning the pores and removing all the gunk (oil, dirt, all that icky stuff) built up inside. This ingredient is highly-preferred by those with oily and acne-prone skin, though you have to use it caution if you're allergic to aspirin.
Contains Betaine Salicylate. 
Now the key feature of this cleanser is its low pH level. By nature, our skin's pH level is a little acidic (around 4.5). Cleansers, on the other hand, tend to be more alkaline (pH level ranging from 6-12) because alkalinity is what helps remove grime and dirt. However, this alkalinity could cause dryness and irritation in the skin which can eventually lead to acne, breakouts, and other skin issues.
Screw cap + sealed opening.
COSRX addressed this issue by developing the Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser. Its pH level ranges somewhere between 5.0 and 6.0, an ideal pH level for a cleansing product.
Clear gel.
Clear and colorless with a gel consistency, this cleanser lathers quite well even with just a small amount. It cleans the skin thoroughly without the drying feel. It has an herbal, somewhat medicinal scent, which I attribute mainly to its tea tree component. I'm not too fond of the scent, and thankfully it doesn't linger on the skin.
Building up a nice lather.
I've been using this product as my morning cleanser for the past two months (relegating the Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Pore Cleansing Foam as my night cleanser), and I must say, using a low pH cleanser really does make a difference. I feel like my skin has become a cleaner, clearer, and softer canvas for the rest of my skincare routine. I have not had any allergic reactions either, so I would recommend this product to those with sensitive and troubled skin.

The best part? This cleanser is very affordable at just 8500 won (around Php 380 or $7) per tube! And although COSRX doesn't have a physical store yet in the Philippines, I've seen this product being sold at competitive prices at Beauty MNL, Althea, and WishTrend. Definitely buying another tube before my current one runs out, though I reckon that won't be any time soon. :)


8.14.2017

Five Expert Tips for Hiking with a Baby.

Hiking with babies seems much easier now than when I had my babies. Today, the baby carriers seem sturdier. The parents seem sturdier. So do the babies! Some of my fondest memories are of my babies in their carriers, their big eyes gazing around contentedly while the scenery rolled by.

I think it makes sense to get babies out on the trail while they're portable, light weight, and still figuring out what a "normal" family routine consists of. If they're indoctrinated into trail time before becoming verbal or mobile, they simply accept that hiking is what the family does together.

Hiking with babies and toddlers is more art than science— what works for one family may not work for another, but here are a few tips and tricks that we’ve picked up as our family has grown.
Hiking with the little ones? Why not?! :)
Invest in a Good Quality Baby Carrier
You’re not going to want to just hold your baby in your arms while you trek up the side of a hill or mountain, or try to push a baby across rocky terrain in a stroller. Instead, you’ll want to use a baby backpack carriers for hiking that can be strapped to your body.

Once the baby has good head support (typically after six months old), then a hiking backpack that props the baby up high so they can look around is golden for keeping baby happy on hikes.

Check the Weather Forecast Before Making a Plan
A trail can seem pretty easy until a little weather blows in. Take note of this as you head out. Ideally you want to make sure you always have stable footing when carrying baby, especially if it’s a new trail for you and you are carrying baby on your front. As you head out, think about how long the hike is going to take. Plan a turn-around time. Remember if you head out for 60 minutes, you’ll still have to hike back.

Dress the Baby Appropriately
It’s easy to spot a child when they’re dressed in bright colors and it’s easy for a child to spot a grown-up if we’re wearing bright colors too! Toddlers can learn the ‘Hug A Tree’ method if they are lost. The steps are to stop, sit down next to a tree and blow a whistle. We practice this with our toddler when we hike and he always hikes with a whistle around his neck. We like to hike with our toddler between two adults or directly in front of us so we can see him.

Bring a Partner and a few Vital Baby Supplies
Hiking with a partner is smart even without a baby in tow, but becomes even more important when a little one is depending on you. If something were to happen while on the trail, the other person can run for help while you stay with the baby.

Also, your hiking partner can carry either the baby or the backpack with the baby supplies during the hike. You don’t want to bring the entire contents of your diaper bag, but a few vitals are important to have: a couple diapers, wipes, pacifier if your baby uses one, bassinets for your baby, plus a change of clothes in case of a diaper blowout if the climate isn’t right for your baby.

Try a Quick Hike with Your Baby Close to Home
If you’re still feeling daunted by the thought of going out into the wilderness with your baby away from all your creature comforts and all that baby stuff you feel you need, or aren’t sure how your baby will handle a hike, just try a quick hike close to home. Even if it’s just a walk around the neighborhood, you can try out the carrier, see how your baby does on the walk, and start to get comfortable with the idea of hiking with a baby. You may even find you love it and that it’s time to get out there and explore with your little one!

We’ve learned not to set speed and distance goals when hiking with babies and toddlers, sometimes we spend more time playing with a log on the side of the trail than we actually do hiking— other times we never lose sight of the trailhead. But, with a little bit of planning and a little bit of patience, hiking with babies and toddlers can be a great way to see the outdoors.


8.12.2017

Make Home Cleaners with the Kids This Summer.

You have two tasks this summer, keep the kids busy and keep the house clean. Probably not always in that order. Why not keep the kids busy by creating a fun, sensory engaging activity that also helps keep the house clean? You know that sounds great!

Want to know what makes it sound better? They will all be green home cleaning products!

You’re going to have the kids make home cleaners that aren’t filled with harsh chemicals. Occupied kids. Clean house. No killer chemicals. Mom scores with the summer hat trick!

Get the spray bottles ready and the kids lined up on the patio table. It’s time to make some green home cleaning products, Portland style. Here are our three favorite greenhouse cleaners the kids can help make.
Busy as a bee!
Peppermint Shower Spray
Peppermint shower spray is a natural cleaner that fights icky shower mildew and shower scum. Once you have the mixture, keep a bottle in every shower and spray it down after use. You’ll love the lingering smell and feel great about keeping the shower clean without much effort.

To make the peppermint shower spray, you’ll need rubbing alcohol, water and peppermint essential oil. (If they kids aren’t helping you, feel free to substitute the rubbing alcohol for vodka; it works better and you can take a swig as needed.)

Mix 1 cup of water with ½ cup of rubbing alcohol. Add 10 drops of peppermint essential oil. Put it in the spray bottle. Shake to mix. That is it!

Disinfectant Cleaner
With the shower becoming such a happy spot in the house because of the new cleaning spray, you’ll want to expand to have the entire house clean with happy smells. This disinfectant cleaner is all-natural but truly does kill off germs.

Mix ¼ cup of white vinegar with ¼ cup of rubbing alcohol. Add 1¼ cups of water. Then add 15 drops of peppermint and lemon essential oils.

Again, vodka can be substituted for rubbing alcohol and lavender can be substituted for lemon. Add actual lemon rinds to the mixture for added effect.

To use the disinfecting cleaner, spray surfaces, allow it to sit for 10 minutes and then wipe away. For best results, us a microfiber cloth.

Note: This spray is not for granite or marble. The vinegar may actually etch the surface of these stones.

Stainless Steel Polish
If you don’t want to spend an arm and a leg on that fancy stainless steel cleaning solution, here is a cost-effective solution that really works too. And the ingredients are almost always in stock in the kitchen, because you really only need two things: olive oil and paper towels.

Rather than have the kids make this, challenge them to see who can get a better reflection in the refrigerator door.

Simply put a quarter-sized dab on a folded paper towel. Allow it to soak into the paper towel and then start at the top of the stainless steel appliance, applying the oil with the grain of the stainless steel. Work from left to right.

Once you’ve applied the olive oil to the entire appliance, rub away any excess. Buff out the finish with a paper towel or use a microfiber towel for a real sharp shine on the stainless steel.

For the days when the kids are busy at the pool, let the professionals do the dirty work. Get an estimate now for the best green house cleaning service in Portland.


8.11.2017

After Infertility: An Unexpected Path to Parenthood

Sometimes life presents us with uniquely difficult challenges. To be told that you aren’t able to get pregnant and have children with your own eggs seems insurmountable – and absolutely crushing. It can lead to a dark path of hopelessness, depression, and even anger. However, many couples and single women who have trouble getting pregnant are finding faith in others. IVF using donor eggs is one possible solution for your predicament.
Waiting for the sound of little footsteps...
Struggling with Infertility
Due to the nature of the female reproductive system, women over 35 have a greater chance of encountering difficulties with conception and carrying a pregnancy to term. There are many reasons for female infertility, but they can be categorized into two broad groups: problems with the environment (uterus, fallopian tubes, and hormonal balance) and problems with ovulation/egg quality. 

As women get older, the quality of their eggs deteriorates - along with their chances of getting pregnant and carrying a pregnancy to term. Women who decide on having a child in their mid-to-late 30s often discover that their eggs are no longer viable. These conditions are easily tested.

The emotional roller-coaster that follows the news can be quite emotionally taxing. Many women seek professional counseling to cope with the resulting anger, depression, or feelings of hopelessness. These emotions are perfectly healthy reactions to such a distressing situation. When the shock subsides, however, many couples choose to pursue fertility treatments to fulfill their dream of having a child.

Donor Eggs as a Path to Parenthood
Oftentimes, women go through several fertility treatments before they explore the possibility of undergoing IVF using donor eggs. In the past, donor eggs were considered something of a ‘taboo,’ as the future child wouldn’t bear the mother’s genetic legacy. This viewpoint, however, has diminished over time as more couples use donor eggs to beat infertility.

Finding a Suitable Donor
After you choose an IVF cycle using donor eggs, finding a suitable donor is perhaps the most time-consuming step. This process usually takes hopeful parents-to-be a few weeks to several months, depending on their preferences. Common considerations include: the donor’s physical characteristics, background, education, as well as ethnicity.

Legal Concerns
After you choose a donor, it is important to have all legalities regarding the donor’s involvement in the child’s life on paper. If you are using a donor egg bank, the bank takes care of these concerns for you.

Choosing Between Fresh or Frozen Donor Egg Cycles
Depending on the cycle method - fresh or frozen - the donor pool and procedures differ.

A fresh donor egg cycle requires a donor who is local to your area and available at a time of your choosing. Furthermore, all costs pertaining to the donor’s travel/medication costs are paid for by the recipient, which makes this method rather costly.

On the other hand, if you decide on using a frozen donor egg cycle, you have the chance to choose a donor from a national donor registry. This donor pool is significantly larger, and provides the opportunity to choose a donor based on more criteria relevant to you. Because the eggs in this cycle are already harvested, all medication costs regarding the donor are already covered in the price.

The Implantation Process
If you decide on a fresh donor egg cycle, you and your donor will undergo a hormonal treatment to synchronize your periods. The donor’s ovaries are stimulated to produce many eggs. From these, only the highest-quality eggs are fertilized with your partner’s (or a donor’s) sperm and then implanted into your uterus.

If you decide on a frozen donor egg cycle, your donor’s eggs are retrieved from storage and delivered to your fertility clinic. These eggs are then thawed and fertilized with your partner’s/donor’s sperm. Three to five days later, the strongest embryos are implanted into your uterus.

The Waiting
After implantation is successful, a rest period of about 2 weeks follows. This period is vital for you to recover your strength from the journey so far, and to emotionally prepare yourself for the outcome.

Giddiness, anxiety, or even mood-swings are completely normal. Professional counseling or an emotional support group can help you immensely with dealing with these errant emotions.

The Big Moment
After the waiting is over, you’ll go back to your fertility clinic for your pregnancy test. It is of vital importance to be emotionally prepared for the result. The blood test checks your hCG levels to determine if you are pregnant.
Almost there!
Final Notes
The decision to use donor eggs, of course, lies in your hands. However, many women use this latest advancement in fertility treatment to fulfill their dream of hearing their children’s angelic voices in their homes, and enjoy strong, stable, and happy families.