28.5.11

photo project | 08: Fresh from Bacolod!

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No, I didn’t go to Bacolod recently. How I wish I did, though. A workmate’s relative just flew in from Bacolod and I asked her to buy a box of Napoleones for me. Last week, she had her sister buy two packs of cheese tart. Oh my, I might get used to this.

Pendy’s is one of the pasalubong havens in Bacolod. The other the are Merci, Virgie’s and Bongbong’s. (And yes, they’re all first names.. Probably of the owners?) They make or sell the province’s specialties like butterscotch bars, piaya, napoleones, muscovado, caramel tarts, cheese tarts, to name a few.

Napoleones is very much similar to cream puffs, except that it’s not puff pastry. I think it’s made of pastry sheet and pastry cream, The cream is similar to a light custard filling or lemon curd, I am not really very sure. It is sandwiched in two pastry sheets and the whole thing is topped with sugar glaze.

As with anything sweet and tasty, I was in heaven in half a bite. Seriously.

photo project | 07: Idle

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This is what I normally do when idle: look for and ogle at recipes on the web and write them down on my trusty notebook which I bought for Php 13.00 (approx $0.30).

Please don’t laugh at my handwriting, it’s one of those days that my pen had a love-hate relationship with my hand. Haha.

27.5.11

photo project | 06: Light My Fire

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1st photo: Successfully stopped the moving flame. ;)

 

2nd photo: Moving along with the flame.

TPW’s “Life by Chocolate” cupcakes

Last night, I found myself ogling over some recipes online. That’s not new. I actually do that everyday. Yes, every freakin’ day.

Now that my Mexican fascination is over, I went back to my usual chocolate and cupcake crazy self. I know for a fact that I already have a lot of chocolate and cupcake recipes stashed and bookmarked away, which I have yet to try, but there’s no harm in hoarding more, right?

So yeah, I ogled and salivated over a lot of chocolate and cupcake recipes that I didn’t know what to try today.

I slept, as I always do, asking myself the most important question in my baking “career” (as if I can call it a career, but it sounds so nice…) -- “What to bake today?”

Seven or so hours after, the question was still lingering in my head, and I was torn between Ree’s Devil Dogs, Bridget’s Triple Chocolate Muffins, and Ree’s Chocolate Cupcakes. Thinking about it, all three recipes are not too different from each other… So, I just trusted my gut and went with Ree’s Life by Chocolate creation.

And since I didn’t have and didn’t want to buy Hershey’s Kisses, I opted to use a local Filipino favorite – Flat Tops!

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It turned out pretty well. It was perfectly moist. It was just the perfect pair, and had I used Hershey’s Kisses, oh my, it would be even more perfect! Can I say perfect over and over again? Haha.

I didn’t use chocolate ganache to frost the cupcakes, though. I still had some chocolate buttercream left from the vanilla cupcakes I baked earlier this week, and just to amp up the chocolate flavor, I decided to use it all up on these babies. Oh my, oh my, oh my. Chocolate overload, it is!

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Without further ado, here’s my take on Ree’s “Life by Chocolate” Cupcakes.

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Chocolate Cupcakes with "Surprise" Inside
Adapted from Ree, The Pioneer Woman, scaled in half

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
1/4 cup buttermilk (did the milk + vinegar method)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
2 (heaping) tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup (boiling) water
10 Hershey's Kisses or Flat Tops chocolate, unwrapped

Grease/spray/line muffin pan. Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine sugar, flour, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk buttermilk, eggs, baking soda, and vanilla extract. Set aside.

Melt butter in a sauce pan over low heat. Add cocoa powder, stirring to combine. Add boiling water, allow to bubble. Stir until incorporated. Turn off heat.

Pour chocolate mixture over flour mixture. Stir to cool chocolate. The batter might seem too thick, but don't fret just yet. Pour buttermilk mixture and stir until just combined.

Using a 1/4 cup dry measuring cup, pour batter into each muffin cup. Lightly set one Kiss or Flat Top in the middle of each cupcake. Don't press down (but because I'm stubborn, I tried, to no avail. The batter was stronger than I was). Ree said it should naturally sink, but mine didn't. Boooo.

Bake for 18-20 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes in pan before transferring to wire rack.

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Once the cupcakes are completely cool, frost with your favorite frosting. Ree used chocolate ganache, and it looked pretty and perfect.

And don't forget to eat to your heart's content. Enjoy the play of chocolate flavors. I was in heaven in half a bite.

Seriously. No kidding.

26.5.11

cinnamon penuche frosting.

I made Oreo-Graham Marshmallow Cupcakes last weekend. I wasn’t in the mood to make Rich Chocolate Frosting so I decided to experiment. As always.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to make white frosting, but decided against it. I’m not too good with egg whites. Heh. I decided to make cinnamon penuche frosting instead. I saw it in one of Cupcake Project’s recipes, and I have been intrigued since.

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Here’s the recipe:

Cinnamon Penuche Frosting
Adapted from Cupcake Project 
1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cup sifted confectioners' sugar

In a saucepan, melt butter.  Add the brown sugar. Bring to a boil and lower heat to medium low and continue to boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the milk and cinnamon and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Cool to lukewarm.

Once cool, gradually add sifted confectioners' sugar. Beat until thick enough to spread. If too thick, add a little hot water.

I used this to frost my Oreo-Graham Marshmallow Cupcakes and topped with a single colored marshmallow.

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Notes:

  • It was a tad too sweet for the cupcakes, maybe next time I should lessen the sugars. Methinks this is also good for filling sugar cookies and frosting vanilla cupcakes. Hmmm..

photo project | 05: I am a cupcake monster.

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I can’t help myself. I just love making cupcakes. They’re easy, no-fuss, no-frills, downright yummy. It’s simply heaven in a cup.

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Last week, it was Devil’s Food Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting. During the weekend, I had Oreo-Graham Marshmallow Cupcakes with Cinnamon Penuche Frosting (recipe to follow). On Monday, I made Vanilla Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream.

Hmm, I wonder what’s next?

what I had for brekki: Mexican-inspired tuna wonton wraps and taco cups.

Last night, I found myself salivating over a handful of taco/nacho/enchilada recipes. Yes, I had a Mexican thing going around my head. I was daydreaming about their meaty/beefy goodness for a good eight hours – the whole time I was at work.

I always knew thinking about food 24/7 would do me no good. Um, wait.. No. It is actually good for me. I get to experiment a lot in the kitchen without having to eat everything. (Yeah, I have minions who can do that for me LOL). Anyway, thinking/reading/browsing the web about food can be a little too much at times. Too much that all I wanted to do last night was stop working and get started with making myself some tacos, nachos, or whatever you wanna call it. I noticed that these things actually contain almost the same ingredients, it just differs with how it’s served. Use taco shells or tortilla wraps and you have yourself a taco. Use nacho chips and you have nachos.

My only dilemma was I didn’t actually have the right stuff. I didn’t have ground beef, no refried beans, no nacho chips or taco shells.. I only had cans and cans of tuna, wonton/dumpling wrappers, some spices, and a very big appetite. So, what’s a poor girl to do?

Experiment!

I tried to come up with my own “taco” concoction inspired by a few recipes and a blog post from my friend Res.

The moment I got home, I started working my magic in the kitchen. And the result?

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Mexican-inspired tuna taco cups! :)

Here’s the drill:

3 tbsp canola oil
1 can tuna flakes in oil
2 medium Italian Garlic sausages, cubed
1 medium white onion
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 pcs bird's eye chili, roughly chopped (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tbsp honey mustard
2-3 tbsp cream cheese, softened
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and cubed
1/2 cup grated Cheddar/Mozzarella cheese
wonton/dumpling wrappers

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Prepare tuna and sausages. Mix in a bowl. Set aside.

DSCF1259 Tuna and chopped sausages.

Chop onions and tomatoes, place in separate bowls. Set aside.

DSCF1260 Onions and tomatoes.

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease muffin pan and place 2 pieces of wonton wrapper to create a "taco cup."

Heat oil in pan. Sauté onions until soft. Add in tuna and sausages. Season with paprika, cumin, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Add in chili, if using.  Stir for about a minute. Remove from heat and set aside.

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In a bowl, mix honey mustard and cream cheese until combined. Add in sautéed tuna and sausage mixture. Mix until combined.

Spoon tuna-sausage filling into muffin pan and top with a few tomatoes, and finally grated cheese. Repeat until all cups are filled.
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I also made wontons out of the filling. Instead of making a “cup,” I just spooned the filling directly to a piece of wonton wrapper, topped with tomatoes, cheese, and another piece of wrapper and haphazardly wrapped the whole thing. Hehe.

Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes or until wonton wrappers are crisp and golden brown and cheese has melted.

Serve immediately.

DSCF1271My own tuna wonton wrap and taco cup.

Notes:

  • It's high time that I invest in good cheeses. I just used processed cheese, not even the quick-melt kind. So, my cheese didn't really melt. Argh.
  • And next time I make this, I'll make damn sure that I use all-meat! I can't wait. :)

20.5.11

photo project | 04: all by my lonesome.

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It’s just me and my tuna mushroom pasta tonight.

photo project | 03: one can never have enough chocolate.

or, alternatively titled, “Today in Pictures

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No matter what mood I’m in, one bite (or more) of chocolate – cupcake, bar, candy, cookie, whatever, it doesn’t matter – would make me feel 1000 times better.

It’s a guaranteed cure to broken hearts, puzzled minds, and chaotic feelings.

19.5.11

photo project | 02: sweet treat.

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Cheese tart[s] from Bacolod. This sweet treat holds a special place in my heart. Yeah, sentimental mush, I know. But this symbolizes something too big for words. Something like love.

And as I was typing this, I thought of an alternative title for this entry.

Hold your breath --

Love or something like it.

18.5.11

ranch style pork chops and a bad case of bad lighting.

I prepared ranch-style porkchops for lunch today. This is a totally no-fuss meal which can be prepared in a jiffy. I promise. And the results are astounding. They'd make you eat more rice than you'd imagine. Heh. If you're a non-rice eater, this can also be topped over pasta.

Picture 033 Bad lighting, thus the shadow.

Ranch Style Chops
Adapted from Del Monte Kitchenomics

6 porkchops, bone-in
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp oil
1 medium onion, julienned
1 250g pouch Italian Style Spaghetti Sauce (I normally use Del Monte or Clara Ole)
1/3 cup canned cream-style corn
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup snow peas or green beans (I used Baguio beans)

For the Marinade:
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 tbsp ground pepper
1/3 tbsp cayenne powder or hot sauce, optional
2 tbsp soy sauce

Wash porkchops, and pat dry. In a bowl, mix all ingredients ingredients for the marinade and coat porkchops evenly. Marinate for at least 15 minutes. If you have more time, all the better.

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Prepare snow peas/green beans, and sprinkle salt and pepper lightly. Set aside.

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Picture 013Baguio beans. 

Once the pork chops are ready, melt butter and oil in a large saucepan. Pan-fry pork chops, in batches if needed, until golden brown. Set aside.

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In the same pan, saute onions until soft. Add spaghetti sauce, water, and cream-style corn, and stir. Add porkchops, and let sauce simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add snow peas/green beans and let simmer for another 5 minutes.

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Transfer to a platter, or in my case, transfer to lunch box and serve.

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Ugh. Bad, bad photographer.

Best with rice! :)

photo project | 01: of chocolate and candy sprinkles.

Because I want to take photography a little seriously, I think it’s but right to have a photo project. Most of the people I know have taken this route, too, and I think it wouldn’t hurt if I do this. Right?

Right.

So today marks the start of my photo project.

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This is my first photo – a bunch of Dunkin Donuts’ Choco Bang-Bang. I took this without knowing that this will be part of my so-called photo project. I think it’s post-worthy though, so why not?

What do you think?

meet pixie, my new pet.

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Pixie is my new camera. She will definitely be a constant companion in my baking, cooking, and daily adventures.

I was supposed to get Fuji Finepix F550 EXR, but due to some unfortunate event, I ended up with F500 EXR. There’s just a tiny difference, and I really don’t mind it, especially if the change came with a Php 2,100.00 (approx $47) price slash. :)

Now I have legitimate reason to learn photography. Woot!

16.5.11

vanilla cupcakes with chocolate buttercream filling and frosting.

It’s been a loooong time since I last posted something food-related, yeah?

Now, it doesn’t mean that I have taken a leave of absence from cooking and baking. Quite the opposite actually. I have had the wonderful opportunity to bake for officemates over the past few weeks, you see, and my to-bake list has not stopped growing. I am so thankful for the opportunity, really. Smile

With so much baking requests on my sleeve, I have not had the time to continue with my baking experiments… Except today. Finally! I’ve been doodling back and forth on what to bake.. I have quite a lot of recipes and blogs bookmarked, and I can’t decide. Wah.

After debating with myself, I settled on an easy vanilla cupcake recipe courtesy of Joy the Baker. It said TWELVE frosted cupcakes with just one stick of butter. Hmm, I just can’t pass up on that! I deviated from the recipe a bit though. I didn’t do the vanilla buttercream frosting and decided to try her “best” chocolate buttercream frosting.

What can I say? Except for the cupcake tops going a bit haywire and just getting 10 cuppies, both recipes didn’t disappoint. I am so pleased. Smile

Here’s my version of vanilla cupcakes with chocolate buttercream:

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Vanilla Cupcakes
Adapted from Joy the Baker  
1 cup all-purpose flour
a scant 3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract  
Make the cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pan with cupcake liners.

Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and butter into a bowl, and using an electric mixer, beat on low speed until the mixture is a sandy consistency and everything is combined.  Gradually pour in half of the milk and beat until the milk is just incorporated. 

Whisk the egg, vanilla and remaining milk together in a separate bowl for a few seconds, then pour into the flour mixture and continue beating until just incorporated.  Scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side or the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Continue mixing until the batter is smooth.  Just a few minutes.  Do not overmix.

Scoop the batter into paper lined muffin tins, dividing between the 12 cups (I ended up with 10.. I think I scooped way too much!).  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until light golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let the cupcakes cool slightly in the pan, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting. 
While cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting. 
The Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Adapted from Joy the Baker

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup Ovaltine (I used Milo, cos in my part of the world, it's more popular. ;p)

Cream together butter, cocoa powder and salt. Butter mixture will be very thick. Turn off the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add powdered sugar. Turn mixer on low and mix in powdered sugar while adding milk and vanilla extract. As the sugar incorporates, raise the speed of the mixer to beat the frosting. Beat until smooth.

In a 1-cup measuring glass, stir together heavy cream and Milo. Turn mixer speed to medium and pour cream mixture into frosting in a slow, steady stream, until you’ve reached your desired consistency. 

** You may not need the full amount of Milo and cream.  **

To assemble:

Fill cupcakes once cool. I used an apple corer to remove a bit of the center of the cupcakes where the chocolate buttercream filling goes. It made my life easier. Hee. You can fill cupcakes however way you like.

Once filling is almost up to the brim, replace top of the cupcake and spread or pipe frosting as you wish.


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14.5.11

on closure and looking back.

Finally.

One of the saddest chapters in the book of my life can finally be closed. Today, 13 May 2011, marks the day of my freedom.

Freedom from what, you ask?

For over a year, I have been bondage-d (is there such a word?) and haunted by such and unjust and unfair act done by my previous company. I could no longer count how many times I have relayed the story.

We have been laid off from work on 23 April 2010. The reason, I still do not know until now, and frankly, I don't give a damn anymore. All I knew then, and until now, is that we didn't deserve to lose our jobs just like that.

What was "like that" like?

Well, for one last time, let me recount the most awful night of 2010:

I can remember it clearly. I just came back from a long vacation then - one week sick leave and then a few days of vacation-cum-surfing in Baler. The past few weeks leading that frightful day found me agonizing over whether to leave the company or stay.

March and April have been one of the hardest months for most of us in the training team. We were informed that we needed to cut down training costs which means cutting down on people, too. Our trainers were on the phones half the time, and were "on call" in case the queue spikes. Aside from that, we had to revise training modules to fit the campaign's needs. We also ran two trainings - Empathy and TVP Workshops for the two LOBs we were handling. And not to forget, we had to work on weekends. All these courtesy of our new training manager.

Ken and I were also tasked to complete our trainers' score cards -- low scores mean going back to the phones. Full time. I had five trainers under me, and I had to retain only two. We had a lot of things going for us. We have been going bonkers just to complete all our deliverables.

And then lo and behold, a day after I got back to work, and just a few hours after completing a Versant report, I was called to the small meeting room. I really didn't know what was in store for me, but I had a  feeling it was going to be bad. In the room were my manager, the Ops Director, and the newly hired HR Director. They told me bluntly that --

"We are downsizing and we have decided to place you on a 6-month temporary layoff... blah blah blah."

I was dumbfounded. I didn't know what to say. I had a lot of questions but I didn't have the strength to ask.

Why me? I have been a very diligent employee. In my entire stay at Transcom, I didn't have any "unexcused/unexplained" absences. I went to work religiously. I loved my job.

Over the course of one year, we filed a case against the company, I was jobless for 4 months, got a job and went back to square one -- I am not a trainer or a supervisor in my current company, went to hearings at the National Labor Relations Commission, was issued a return to work order but ignored it, agonized over what the decision would be, and waited for a looooong time for the decision to be issued.

Finally it was here -- reinstatement within 10 days of receipt of the decision or pay severance pay. I have been praying that it would be the latter. I didn't want to go back to Transcom.

A week after we received the copy of the decision, we were requested to go to Transcom and meet the HR Director.

We went there tonight, unsure of what was in store for us. It felt surreal, awkward, and exciting. Exciting because I saw a lot of friendly and familiar faces. I saw a lot of my former trainees, and for a moment I wished I was back in training. Surreal and awkward because I haven't been there for over a year. A lot has changed, but it was still the same.

The HR Manager, Ian, met us. And upon seeing the envelope he was holding (and what was inside), I felt giddy. We were being issued a check! Oh yes, severance pay it is. The NLRC ruling was "1 month's pay for every year of service, a fraction of six months is considered one year."

With that in mind, I was expecting around Php 60,000.00. Guess how much I got?

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Oh yeah. Good Lord, thank You so much.

I cannot contain the happiness right now. It's not about the money, really, it's more about justice being served. Some may think it's not enough payment for everything we've gone through, but it's not bad at all. Php 80,000.00 is still Php 80,000.00. I wouldn't get that anywhere, would I?

That's enough for me to pay my credit card dues, 3 months' rent, my Mom, and the attorney's fees; keep a few thousand for savings, and spoil myself a little.

For someone who waited a year, it's more than enough.

12.5.11

a dose of happiness.

I’ve been back-reading Miss Jenni Epperson’s blog and I stumbled upon this. It’s so timely that I cannot not repost this.

I hope this helps you, too. ;)

45 Tips for a Happier, Simpler and More Productive Life
Written by Alex Blackwell


Every now and then we need a nudge, a little extra help. Life can be challenging and sometimes it can test our resolve, determination and faith. When life surprises us with a pop-quiz, it’s good to know where we can find some of the answers.

The following 45 tips are by no means a comprehensive list, but rather a cheat-sheet of sorts to keep some of the most basic answers in front of us.


1. Notice what’s right in your life
Some see the glass as being half-full while others see the glass as half-empty. This expression goes straight to the heart of the power of positive thinking and taking the time to notice what’s working – and then doing more of it!


2. Be grateful
How many times do you say the words “thank you,” in a day? How many times do you hear these same words? If you are doing the first thing, saying “thank you”, the latter will naturally happen.


3. Remember the kid you were
As adults, we sometimes forget how to play, how to relax, or just how to be a kid again. We succumb to expectations we think are imposed on us. This keeps us from feeling the joy and happiness of just cutting loose and playing.


4. Be kind
There is no question by merely watching acts of kindness creates a significant elevation in our moods and increases the desire for us to perform good deeds as well. Kindness is indeed contagious and when we make a commitment to be kind to ourselves and to others we can experience new heights of joy, happiness and enthusiasm for our lives.


5. Spend time with your friends
Although an abundant social and romantic life does not itself guarantee happiness, it does have a huge impact on our happiness. Learn to make the friendships a priority in your life.


6. Savor every moment
To be in the moment is to live in the moment. Too often we are thinking ahead or looking ahead to the next event or circumstance in our lives, not appreciating the “here and now.” When we savor every moment, we are savoring the happiness in our lives.


7. Rest
Take the time to unwind, decompress, or to put it simply, just “to chill.” Life comes at us hard and fast. Fatigue, stress and exhaustion may begin to settle in on us faster than we may think, or notice. The best remedy for this is rest.


8. Put on a happy face
Sometimes we have to fake it until we make it. I’m not suggesting we not be honest, real or authentic, but I’m suggesting, sometimes, we just need to put on a happy face and keep moving forward. Researchers claim that smiling and looking like we are happy will make us happier. Studies further show if we act like we are happy then we can experience greater joy and happiness in our lives.


9. Move!
The expression a “runner’s high” does not infer an addiction, but a feeling or a state of mind – a state of euphoria. There is no question exercise, or any physical exertion, elevates your mood and enhances a more positive attitude as well as fosters better personal self-esteem and confidence.


10. Pursue your goals
The absence of goals in our lives, or more specifically avoiding to pursue our goals, makes us feel like we are stuck and ineffective. The pursuit of goals in our personal lives, with our relationships, or at work, with our careers, is the difference between a mediocre life or a life full of passion and enthusiasm.


11. Finding your calling
Some find meaning in religion or spirituality while others find purpose in their work or relationships. Finding your calling may be much more than accomplishing one simple strategy for increasing your happiness, but having a sense of purpose – of feeling like you are here for a reason – can perhaps bring the greatest happiness of all.


12. Get into the flow
Flow is the form of joy, excitement and happiness that occurs when we are so absorbed in an activity we love that we can loose ourselves and time seems to stand still. What creates flow is unique to each one of us.


13. Play to your strengths
One way to achieve flow is by understanding and identifying our strengths and core values, and then begin to use these every day. Once we aware of our strengths and we begin to play to our strengths, we can better incorporate them in all aspects of our lives.


14. Don’t overdo it
Know when to say when. What gives you joy and happiness the first time may not work the second time. Too much of a good thing may begin not to feel as good if the “thing” becomes more of a routine, or an expectation. Set healthy and reasonable boundaries for yourself and don’t overdo it.


15. Forget regret
Leave your mistakes and regret in the past. They don’t define your value, then or now. When you stay in the past you become stuck and unable to move forward. We all have made mistakes with our job choices, friends and relationships. The consequences can hit us pretty hard. However, to begin learning how to put these experiences behind us – by letting them go, we can begin to live in the here and now.


16. Learn from failure
Learning from failure and having regret are two separate things. Regret is an emotion; a feeling of disappointment along with a modest amount of shame or guilt. But to look back at a circumstance and figure out what went wrong gives you some very important information.


17. Ask for help
You are not alone. It may feel that way sometimes, but there are many people who would extend their hand and lift you up if asked. All you have to do is ask. Often times we are afraid to ask because we don’t believe we are worthy to receive the help. Think about this: we are surrounded by millions and millions of people by design – for a purpose.


18. Believe you are worthy
Whatever your goal, your dream, or your desire, you are worthy of achieving it. The closer you get to it is when the enemy of your soul will begin putting doubt in your mind. Replace doubt with the truth – you are worthy to have your heart’s true desire.


19. Take 100% responsibility
Except in rare and unfortunate circumstances, you are responsible for the quality and condition of your life. Your career, your relationships and your happiness are all under your direct control. Avoid finger-pointing and embrace the control you have in your life.


20. Know what you want
Understanding what and where you want to go in life will provide you with a vision and an insatiable spirit for the journey. Here’s a simple way to figure out what you want: Take a sheet a paper and write down all of the things you want in life. The one that jumps off the page and causes you to cry is what you want most. Honor this one and nurture it. And if you allow, it will take you to where you go.


21. Trust
There are no accidents without value. When you get hit hard and land on your back, look for the reasons and for the value in this. Open your heart and trust this happened for a reason.


22. Keep the faith
At the end of the day when you are weary from all of the effort and energy you have expended and you are sore and tired from being hit hard so many times, but the dream is not realized, the one thing that tells you to keep going; to get up tomorrow and to keep moving forward, is your faith.


23. Get in touch with your life
Get in touch with the areas in your life you would like to change and have more success. Don’t try to boil the ocean in a short period of time. Rather, consider three “quick wins” in the next several months that will help you with creating new habits and will build the foundation to support longer term success.


24. Make a list
Write down the three things you want to do differently in the next few months, things you are not doing now, but would like to begin to do that will give you a greater sense of success, accomplishment and purpose in your life.


25. Perform new actions
Performing new actions will lead to creating new habits. Be aware of the habits you want to learn to change. Also be aware that the bad habits may interfere with your progress. Acknowledge these bad habits and don’t give them the power to keep you from moving forward.


26. Share
There seems to be a higher sense of accountability when things are shared. Tell your partner or best friend what you want accomplish and by when. Sharing also gives you a safer venue to discuss your fears and concerns.


27. Communicate in your marriage or relationship
Good marriages and relationships depend on expressing your thoughts and emotions to each other, of speaking and being heard. If not, everything else will live on shaky ground. In order to have a successful relationship you have to make yourself an expert in communicating with your partner.


28. Learn to resolve conflicts in your marriage or relationship
If your partner simply wants something different from you or does something differently from you, it doesn’t mean that your partner is wrong – it just means your spouse has different preferences, life experiences and point of view. Celebrate these differences. Chances are very good it is these very differences that made you fall in love with this person in the first place.


29. Maintain a commitment to your marriage or relationship
This can be especially difficult today with all of the distractions of our daily lives, but it’s important that you put your relationship first. If you’re committed to making it a success, and you know that your partner shares your commitment, there’s nothing the two of you can’t accomplish.


30. Get healthy
We spend hundreds and thousands of dollars a year on things that make us sick and lead to all sorts of other costs. So kick that smoking habit, go out drinking two nights a week instead of four, or ride your bike to work.


31. Smarter Saving and Spending: Buy Homegrown
Local craftsmen, farmers, and retailers offer unique items at prices that don’t include shipping and handling charges, which have increased exponentially of late due to the sky-rocketing cost of fuel.


32. Smarter Saving and Spending: Buy Used
Used clothes can be passed off as vintage, so why the stigma on other previously owned items? Most used items are perfectly functional and many have developed an endearing and priceless layer of character.


33. Smarter Saving and Spending: Don’t Buy Extended Warranties
If you’re buying that new laptop or plasma television, use your major credit card and it will likely lengthen the warranty just as far as the plan that will cost you hundreds of extra dollars at.


34. Stop doing what’s not working in your life
Comfort can be your biggest obstacle to growth and happiness. Take an honest look at your own life. Are you doing things you know don’t work; but you keep doing them nonetheless because either you are too scared to try something new or you don’t know any other way?


35. Try on things you’ve never done before to see if they work
In order to find the success and happiness you are looking for in life, you must be willing to take risks. Perhaps the most challenging oxymoron in life is in order to build self-confidence, you must first take risks.


36. Exercise to help you discover your source of strength
Exercise is indeed a good venue to discover your source of strength and character. It builds confidence and instills a spirit that better connects your mind to your body. It helps you appreciate the value of goal setting and ultimately goal attainment. It creates better life balance. Simply put, exercise helps you feel better about yourself.


37. Listen to your body
There is a direct connection between our physical and mental health. When we are fatigued our thinking is not as sharp and our confidence wanes. But when we are rested and full of energy, our actions are more deliberate and our results are more significant. Listen to your body – it will tell you what you need.


38. Slow down and do nothing
Take about 15 minutes each day and grab a cup of coffee or tea and give yourself time to think about whatever it is you want to think about. You will be surprised at the inspiration that will come to you.


39. Complete one item of your “to do” list each day
Return the overdue telephone call, clean-up your email inbox, or get an oil change for you car. By accomplishing just one thing that has been gnawing at you, will give you a much-needed sense of relief and accomplishment.


40. Perform one act of random kindness daily
Hold the elevator door open for someone who is a few steps behind you or lift the bag and place it in the overhead bind on the airplane for someone who can’t manage this task. Kindness breeds more kindness. The concept of “paying it forward” is real and effective.


41. Review your goals
If you have not put your goals in writing, do this today. There is a direct and proven correlation between people who have written, stated goals and their level of accomplishment compared to people who do not.


42. Listen, really listen, when someone is speaking to you
Listen without judgments or criticism. Try to avoid any self-referencing and be fully present for whoever needs it.


43. Say “I Love You…”
Tell the people who you truly love and cherish this every day. Do so with heart-felt sincerity. Love them as if this were their, and your, last day on earth. Don’t wait; tell them today because there is no day but today.


44. Practice forgiveness
The purpose of giving forgiveness is not to let the other person off the work, but to free you of the baggage associated with the event. When you refuse to forgive, you remain stuck in that place. With forgiveness you can begin the process of moving forward with your life.


45. Give yourself grace and mercy
We all make mistakes – always have and always will. Perhaps no one is harder on you, than you. Give yourself grace for your sins and mistakes. These don’t define your value or purpose in life. Focus on what you can today, right now, to begin feeling more comfortable in your own skin. You are worthy to receive the good fortunes of life and you are more than enough.


Pass the happy pill, yo!

11.5.11

a painful reminder.

I’ve been under a grey cloud lately. I can’t say when it actually started, but it comes and it goes. It’s like PMS, only more threatening. I’ve long come to a conclusion that I’m suffering a personality disorder of sorts, been dealing with this since 2006, but never got around to seeking psychiatric help. No, I am not joking. I think it’s not that severe yet. I can control it. I can control my emotions but I can’t control the thoughts flying through my mind.

My mind is the culprit here. I’ve been told that I’m a very analytical person. I usually take that as a compliment, but it comes with faults, too. Analytical thinking doesn’t equate to critical thinking, that I’m sure of. I’m not confident of my “strong” analytical skills. I take it as a fault. I think a lot. I stress myself because I think way too much. I go into winding details which normally don’t lead me to the solution.

All I want to say is that…

Rollercoaster rides. While I am not new to them, I am still not immune. My life has been a series of rollercoaster rides. Sometimes they’re bumpy, other times they’re smooth-sailing. It can be as predictable as Pinoy telenovelas, or it may also be as suspense-ridden as Inception (I wanted to put Godfather, but I haven’t seen it, so…)

Is life really mapped out this way? I can’t speak for anyone else’s except mine.

A predictable life can be boring, I know, but I am too OC that I want order in my life. I don’t like surprises and I hate it when my plans are messed up.

What I’m really driving at is this…

When I set my mind on something, I almost always follow through. That’s why it pains me to think about wanting to do a career change this early.

My heart got broken and my life went to a complete stop when I got laid off from the job I loved most last year. I have since moved on, but my heart is still holding on to the only job I enjoyed most. It was almost always stressful, but I was happy. It required me to go on extra hours, but I didn’t mind it. I was fulfilled.

I need inspiration. I need fulfillment. Is that too much to ask?

Do I love my job, you ask?

I can’t say I love it. Maybe I do, but only because it helps me pay my bills and live comfortably.

If only things were easier.

If only job offers came like raindrops during the rainy season.

Yesterday, I was reminded me this:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
- Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

God told me to keep still and just trust in Him.

For how long, Lord?

But today I was reminded of this:

"Don't let go too soon but, but don't hang on too long."
- Tuesdays with Morrie

10.5.11

blah.

I need something new in my daily life.

Any suggestions?


neglected.

Dear Blog,

I know how you must be feeling right now.

Neglected.

I know exactly how that feels. Been there, done that, I should say. But let me explain why I haven’t been around lately…

I just don’t have anything new to post. I’ve been swamped with requests to bake stuff I’ve already posted here, so it’s not worth posting. I must admit, I’ve stumbled upon new techniques, but then it’s not so much of a “Eureka!” moment, you see.

Hmm, inspiration has spiraled down the drain, I didn’t have enough creative juices to squeeze cos I’ve been missing precious hours of sleep.

Last week was just crazy.

But don’t you fret, I’ll make it up to you. I always do, right?

For now, I’ll let you in on what I’m planning to experiment with in the next few weeks, hopefully, they’re worth writing about:

- Pancit Bato

- Chocolate Charms

- Individual Cheesecakes with Blueberry Compote

- Bow-tie “Lasagna”


Just a few of them.. I hope I’ll get around do doing them one of these days.

So till my next entry, who knows, it might be tomorrow. Oh wait, no, I can’t – I have a full 13-hrs at work. Maybe sometime this week. We’ll see.

You know I love you. ;)



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