Monday, December 31, 2012

I Open at the Close

As the year draws to a close, I look at my 2012 goals. Perhaps, if I'm to evaluate myself based on my accomplishments, maybe I'll give myself 75% to 80%. Not that bad, I guess.

2013 Goals

  1. Better time management. Sigh this is an old goal. I don't know if I'll ever do this right. I mean, I'm not THAT bad with time management but I know that I can still improve (and I do need to improve).
  2. Visit at least one new country. Maybe Nepal and/or Cambodia.
  3. Visit at least one new province. Maybe Baler or Cebu or La Union.
  4. Fix my academic life (Master studies). It's a mess. (And wow, that took a lot of courage to admit publicly.)
  5. No new hobbies for now. Focus on the existing.
  6. Follow-through: Good diet. More water, fruits and vegetables. Less junk, sweets, beef and pork.
  7. Follow-through: Be healthy. Jogging, crunches, arm exercises.
Cheers to the opening of 2013! My mom's making macaroni salad and steak while I'm making chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting and ramen. What's cooking in your kitchen? :)

Postcard Weekly 12-29-2012

I didn't get any mail last week (which is understandable due to the holidays). However, my high school classmate handed me a set of 24 (!!!) postcards from Taiwan.

This is what's written at the back of the box:

Color and Ink on Silk
35.6cm x 1152.8 cm (yeah, it's more than 10 meters long!)

It is a joint work painted by five court painters Chen Mei, Sun Hu, Chin Kun, Tai Jung and Chen Chih-tao during the first year of the Chien-lung reign (1736-1795) in the Ching dynasty."

Here's a nice image of the painting from Wikipedia. The scroll painting is a display at the National Palace Museum (though what I saw in 2011 was probably just a replica or an image and not the real thing). The museum is very big but the painting is hard to miss because the it's veeeeeery long.

I had wanted to buy the postcard set during my last trip to Taiwan last September 2012. However, we were too busy and didn't have any free time during the day so I wasn't able to go to National Palace Museum to buy it. Luckily, my high school friend Eric went there last November. I gave him a bunch of suggestions on Taiwan and then he asked me if I wanted anything from there. I'm really, really glad he bought it for me!

You have to lay out all 24 postcards side by side to get the whole thing. In this photo, I laid them out by 6's because it's too long to lay them all out in a single line!

Now, my postcard collection just shot up to a hundred!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

An Afternoon in Little Tokyo

I've been meaning to go to Little Tokyo for the longest time and finally, today, I had lunch there with some high school friends. [Pardon my photos, I forgot to bring my camera.]

I took this while we were going out.

Here is the nice walkway that leads to the shops inside.

I went inside to wait for the guys and the place was almost empty. There weren't many people even if it was Saturday (but maybe it's because of the holidays).

The place is beautiful and is actually very reminiscent of Asakusa in Tokyo.

We ate at Hana Restaurant because I've heard a lot of good reviews about the place.

Here's how Hana looks inside. There's a bar area, three normal dining tables and one Japanese-style  table (a low table on an elevated area) at the back.

I ordered a yakisoba.

Yakisoba (PhP220)

I also ordered takoyaki.

Takoyaki (PhP120 for six pieces)

I also ordered melon kakigori (shaved ice with flavored syrup, a typical summer treat in Japan). It's very basic (I mean, as I mentioned, it's just ice and syrup) but I wanted to try it at least once. However, after ordering, I suddenly remembered that I have actually had melon kakigori before in Sweets Paradise in Tokyo! (I think I forgot about it because I ate a lot of dessert in Sweets Paradise haha.)

Kakigori (PhP70)  + PhP10 for milk

Hana isn't exactly the most affordable place (our bill totaled PhP1,130 and there were only three of us although we actually had a lot of food) but I don't regret going because it was a great experience and the food was good!

Anyway, Eric also shared with us some green tea cheesecake made by Gregory Guy (pronounce "Guy" as "Gi"). It was pretty expensive (PhP550 for a six-inch cheesecake) but it was really really good and creamy!

And here are the guys. (Yeah, it was everyone's first time in Little Tokyo so we were all fascinated by the place hence all the photo-taking.) Some people were not able make it (due to work, due to vacation) but I'm still glad that we were able to hang out.

These people, like me, love to travel.

After lunch, Eric handed me the postcard set that he bought for me during his Taiwan trip last November. I'll write about that in my next post!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Turnover

I was practicing with watercolor yesterday and painted this:

I didn't know what to do with it until I saw my Moonleaf planner. (Yeah, I bought the Moonleaf planner this year because the weekly layout and the allotted space for each day are exactly what my busy academic life needs. However, I really didn't like the random photos of so many people inside the planner so I'm gonna do something about that.)

I didn't cover the planner with plastic yet because I didn't want to carry a planner with an almost plain black cover so today, I ended up with this:

I used the thing I painted and some washi tape. I also covered the back of the planner with one of my practice paintings. Now it looks very personal (and it should be because I'll be using it for a year!) :)

Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 in Photos and Bullets

Now it's time for a year-end review. It's been a roller coaster year once again-- super stressful, bordering on insane but full of adventure.

ACADEME (Teaching, Studying, Research)
  • We finished one research project and then started with another.
  • I presented a paper at an international conference in Tokyo.
  • I started my first year as an MS Energy Engineering student.
  • I joined a summer course regarding Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change Adaptation with participants from all over the world!
  • I joined an international shaking table competition in Taiwan with three of my co-faculty members and we won third place!
  • Our paper from the summer course got accepted in the Hiroshima University IDEC journal. This means that we're getting published in an international journal!!!

  • I went to Taiwan two times-- one for sightseeing (January) and one for the shaking table competition (September)
  • I went to Tokyo by myself for a conference. First solo travel abroad-- to one of my dream destinations, no less! I was able to meet Filipino friends there too. :)

  • I went to Batangas for a summer outing with my co-faculty members where I was able to try riding a jetski!
  • I went to Coron, Palawan (one of my local dream destinations) with my family. 
  • I went to Puerto Galera with my friends. It's our first out-of-the-island trip. :) Maybe next time we should go out of Luzon or something.
  • I went to Boracay (my first time) with my co-instructors where we tried flying fish and parasailing.

  • I had the TMJ splint removed and then got braces.
  • Quarter-life crisis strikes.
  • I joined and started seriously collecting postcards. So far, after nearly 8 months, I have spent ~PhP2,000 for mail-related things like postcards and postage stamps (yeah, I keep track of my expenses) and I have 70+ postcards from 24 different countries and 70+ different stamps from 23 different countries.
  • I started trying to paint with watercolor just a few days ago.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

First Attempts at Watercolor

I know I told myself that I should not start another hobby but I don't know... I just can't help it.

Here are my first attempts at watercolor. 

Have I ever confessed about being a frustrated artist? Haha now I just did. If I knew how to draw or paint as a kid and maybe if I didn't go to a high school with a special science curriculum, I probably would have applied to the College of Fine Arts. (Not to say that I regret being in the College of Engineering; I love engineering!)

I still need to read a lot of stuff, to watch a lot of tutorial videos and tons of practice. Darn, I dunno how to do that when classes resume.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas and Cake

This year, I decided to make red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting for Christmas. It was my first time and I used the recipe from Joy of Baking. Here's how it turned out!

My mistake was not cooling the frosting first before applying. I thought that the frosting was stiff enough but I was wrong. The flowers ended up having little form but I guess it's pretty tolerable. I'll just do better next time.

Right before noche buena, I decided to add some green swirls using the excess frosting to make the cake look more Christmas-y.

It was tasty and not too sweet and my family loved it! I also love how this cake is so easy to slice (it's a chore, okay?) Making this cake wasn't exactly easy but I guess it was all worth it. :)

Here's what I wore to Christmas mass: my favorite cardigan from Space, a sequined dress also from Space, and my new Aerosoles heels.

Cheers! I hope everyone had a great Christmas!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Postcard Weekly 12-23-2012

I got one postcard this week!

Here is another traditional Chinese art that I got through a direct swap with a girl from China.

The postcard is pretty weird because there's a huge blank space at the face but I still like it. I actually want more of these!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas, So Far

After a weekend of hanging out, my Christmas vacation, so far, has been very domestic. I sewed a lace top (which was difficult, by the way, but turned out wearable or so-so considering that no one really taught me how to use a sewing machine). I cleaned my room a bit. I put away the shoes that I'm no longer using so that we can give them away (I think I put away 9 pairs so finally my shoe rack can breathe and I can start shopping again... whoops... gotta control!!!). I went to the grocery. I did my laundry. I baked stuff.

Here's the first victim: chocolate chip oatmeal bars. I used this recipe from Carrots 'n Cake and threw in semi-dark chocolate chips instead of raisins. 

Second victim: chocomint brownies. I used a recipe from Joy of Baking sans the ganache and added some drops of peppermint oil. [Segue: Have I ever mentioned how much I love chocomint? A lot of my friends love it too and for a while, I thought that everyone loved chocomint that I was surprised when my workmates told me they didn't like chocomint!]

I missed baking. A lot. I don't even remember baking anything since June 2012 because I've been extremely busy and perpetually tired. While I was baking the oatmeal bars a few days ago, I was actually a scared that I might have already forgotten how to bake but it turned out fine. But more than me, I think my parents really missed the home-baked stuff.

Hurray, Christmas vacation! I know, I know I'm supposed to be working but still... Hurray Christmas vacation!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Cocina Juan, Parvati, Pantea

Okay now is the time of the year!! Goodbye diet! (or hopefully not)

Friday, after the Lantern Parade, Yanyan, Reena and I went to Cocina Juan in Maginhawa Street for dinner. As much as I wanted a chimichanga, it's gonna be too much for my tummy so I opted for chicken quesadilla instead.

Serving looks small but it actually got me full!

After Cocina Juan, we went to Moonleaf! I ordered my favorite Peach Yakult.

The next day, Saturday, was UP AME's Christmas party but I had early dinner with AME friends at Parvati in Trinoma. I've been seeing this restaurant for years already but it's my first time to dine there.

I ordered Shrimp Etouffee (PhP 230 for a whole serving, which I split with Airis). It's pasta with spicy tomato-based sauce. And what's Parvati without dessert? I ordered Coffee Indulgence (one of their cheesecakes). The coffee flavor was not strong enough for me but the texture was very creamy and the sweetness was just right! At PhP150, I think it's a pretty good run for the money!

And finally, this drink is fondly called "pantea". (Say it with me, "PANTEA!!!") My Aggre orgmates discovered this being sold at PhP25 at the food cart outside the College of Architecture. 

Looks cheap (well yes, it is cheap) but I'm not complaining

Monday, December 17, 2012

Lantern Parade 2012

Classes in UP this 2012 officially ended last Friday. And what's the best way to celebrate? Lantern Parade, of course!

UP PEP Squad's performance

UP AME plugging their major event on February: AME 1UP

UP Tomo-Kai's ramen

UP College of Engineering. Nope, it's not JUST an Ikot jeep...'s a Transformer!! They call it "DeceptIKOT"

Here's a video of DeceptIKOT's Transformation (taken by ME professor, Sir Ji Reyes). Isn't it amazing? The Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Electrical and Electronics Engineering Institute did it! I swear it's so genius! I mean, come on, they created a Transformer!

UP Babaylan (LGBT org) being bongga/fabulous as always

And finally, the lanterns from The College of Fine Arts (i.e. the highlight of the whole parade). This year, CFA's theme is flight.

Jack Skellington riding a sleigh pulled by his reindeer skeletons

Javelin throw

Pegasus pulling a carriage

And that's it. I didn't get a lot of photos because it was very difficult to take photos of moving objects in the dark and I was very tired too (I was running on 3 hours of sleep and I also hosted our Institute Christmas party that day). UP College of Engineering did not win best float this year but I am still amazed by DeceptIKOT.