Friday, December 20, 2013

Madeleines aux pépites de chocolat

ca fait longtemps que j'ai fait une recette française. c'est pour ca que aujourd'hui, j'ai décidé d'essayer faire les madeleines. c'est l'un des gateaux français que je prefère. je me rapelle, quand j'étais en France, je les mangeais pour petit-déjeuner presque tous les matins. je spécialement prefère ceux aux pépites de chocolat.

ce qui m'etonne ici à Singapour , c'est que c'est toujours difficile de trouver l'extrait de vanille pûr et bien aussi les moules pour faire les madeleine. mais, j'avais de la chance, parce que j'ai démandé ma belle-mère avant d'arriver ici a Singapour pour ses vacances de m'amener quelques ingredients et les moules pour les faire.

les trucs amenés par ma belle-mère qui viennent de France -- même si ils sont pas les extraits "pûrs", ils sont meilleurs que les trucs qu'on peut trouver ici à Singapour.

j'etais très heureuse de trouver les sachets de levure chimique de Casino chez Cold Storage ici a Singapour

j'ai suit la recette ici. mais, j'ai remplacé quelques ingrédients pour avoir la touche personelle. j'ai utilisé la levure chimique qui vient de la France, et j'ai ajouté l'extrait d'amande et les pépites de chocolat. un petit conseil: ne pas ajouter trop d'extrait d'amande parce que c'est très fort, et ca donne le goût amer.

je prefère d'utiliser cet ingredient à la place de l'extrait de vanille... j'en ai trouver ici à Singapour chez Cold Storage une fois, mais quand je suis revenu j'en ai plus trouvé, malheureusement. c'est bon aussi pour les "pancakes", etc.

aussi, j'aime utiliser la cassonade à la place de sucre blanc. mais, ca c'est juste une question de goût. et si tu veux, tu peux aussi ajouter le sucre vanillé pour remplacer l'extrait de vanille. ca c'est pratique si c'est vraiment difficile pour toi de trouver l'extrait de vanille pûr.

la forme parfaite

pour la forme parfaite, il faut avoir la bosse comme sur la photo ci-dessus, et bien aussi la coquille à l'envers comme sur la photo ci-dessous:

madeleines aux pépites de chocolat fait-maison

je suis très fière de moi pour avoir faire les bonnes madeleines pour la première fois.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Skin Care Products Review

i am the type of person who gets loyal to a brand. that's why, when i found the perfect moisturizer for my skin type, i never tried any other moisturizer again until today...

i started using moisturizer on my face since i've arrived in Singapore. in the Philippines, my face would always get sweaty sticky oily all throughout the day, so i never really developed the habit of moisturizing my face on a daily basis.

Crabtree and Evelyn, my all-time favorite brand of body lotion

but in Singapore, for some reason, i found it less humid and more drying not just on my face, but on the rest of my body. this is why is started using Kiehl's facial moisturizer. it was one of the brands recommended by a friend for the best lip balm ever. it's a good thing i didn't stop at buying a simple lip balm and extended my curiosity with the moisturizer because it turned out to be just perfect for my skin. i even bought a facial wash to go along with it. and it was also perfect. Kiehl's is absolutely one of my favorite brands.

Kiehl's ultra facial cream for combination skin type

 when i started using it though, i really had very dry skin. and i continued using Kiehl's products even after moving to France, where it was even less humid. it was also a great product to use during the winter. although, i needed to use their Argan Oil too for extreme moisturizing during the winter months.

some of the products that i bought at the Kiehl's Store in New York -- sunblock and a set of cleanser, moisturizer and toner

now, back again in Singapore, i found that my face no longer gets dry the same way as before moving the France. i don't know if it's due to hormonal changes or weather changes, but i do know that the old moisturizer just doesn't cut it anymore because my face now gets especially icky shiny oily especially on the T-zone.

Clinique's pore refining and mattifying facial moisturizer

and so, yesterday, i experimented on this moisturizer by Clinique. it claims to moisturize while leaving a mattifying effect, meaning, less shine as possible. what's more, it has pore-refining ingredients too. tried it today and it worked wonders. does not feel heavy on the skin and my face feels less oily.

i've also chanced upon this famous Rosebud Salve since i've already ran out of Kiehl's lip balms... it was nice. does the work. but it feels kinda hot and heavy on the lips. i still prefer Kiehl's.

trying on some new lip balm (Smith's Rosebud Salve)... not quite as good as Kiehl's

next on the list is this facial wash by Aesop. i chanced upon it while i was browsing the shops in Sydney, Australia. i wasn't really convinced when i tested it on my hand because it was leaving a bit of stinging sensation. but hubby convinced me to get it. and so i did. didn't like it. but i guess he did, because he's now the one who's using it. maybe it's more suitable to oilier skin types like hubby's than mine, which is combination type.

Aesop's Amazing Face Cleanser -- not suitable for sensitive semi-dry skin like mine... leaves a nasty stinging sensation after use... and it was even more expensive than Kiehl's!

 and so, for now, it's still Kiehl's ultra-sensitive, non-drying facial wash that does the trick for me.

best facial cleanser for combination (bordering on dry) skin type

having fun inside the picture booth at Kiehl's NYC shop

have a great weekend, everyone! :)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Introduction to Painting Class

ever since i can remember, i have always been on the lookout for painting classes. as you know, i have quite a bit of experience with drawing, as i love doing portraits in charcoal or pencil. but with painting, i always get a bit apprehensive. not only because i find it quite difficult to render color on paper, but also because i'm scared to go in a class where all the other people have already had the skill and experience beforehand. yeah, i hate being judged. especially for my art work. so, do be gentle with me in the comments, now. :)

but then, last week, i felt quite lucky to stumble upon this painting school that organizes classes for people who have never ever painted in their lives. and they even offer a discount for this introductory class. what's more, it's a mere fifteen-minute walk from where i live, which is just perfect!

my class began really early in the morning. i decided to bring along my baby and her nanny with me since it was quite a pleasant early morning walk on the way to the school. we got there really early, so we even had some extra time to sit and enjoy the pleasant park where the school is located.

there amidst the greenery is my art school

such verdant and calming ambiance. who wouldn't get inspired to create some art work surrounded by all this greenery?

with a lovely little café

they even have a cozy little café inside. it was unfortunately closed on Wednesdays.

can't wait to color up all that stark whiteness

this is how my set-up looked like.  you can see my blank canvas, and farther up behind is the still life subject of a collection of things in different shapes -- a cube, an apple and a banana. they were all illuminated on the upper left corner with a yellowish light from a tiny desk lamp.

before sitting, the teacher first told us how to use the materials. we were made to choose between oil and acrylic. i chose oil because i thought it's easier to manage than acrylic since she told us that acrylic dries up quickly. this is how i looked like after the session. right before cleaning up everything. so happeeee!!!

the mix of colors on my palette has taken the form of a mandelbrot set.
and this is how my palette looked like. can you imagine how a lot more difficult it would have been had we used more colors? we only used white and green, actually, because we were just working on the different shades, tonality and gradation of colors.

you would think that having just two colors to work on would simplify everything. it was not the case at all. i kept getting lost all the time, trying to find where one shape ends and where one shape begins. it's a lot lot different from mere black and white sketching and drawing, which is definitely more straightforward than painting.

our teacher, explaining and giving some pointers on how we can improve our paintings

here, you have the results. can you guess which one is mine? :) 

the semi-finished paintings of the whole class

mine is actually second from the left in the above pic. i thought i screwed up the entire painting at first because i started my painting using a mix of white and green colors. it's because i thought i should begin from lighter to darker. it turns out to be just the opposite... but i managed to make the corrections.

i really think my banana was the best and most realistic-looking than the rest of the class. and it was in the most challenging position from where i was sitting. unfortunately, i didn't have enough time to work more on my apple and cube. i don't know why i got so fixated on the banana... probably because i tend to work on the most challenging to the least... which is not always a good idea.

please be gentle on me with the criticisms... it's my first time. ;)

and here it is again up-close. i really liked painting. i totally enjoyed it. makes you forget about everything else and makes you feel like a kid again. i'm just a bit turned off with the mess and the smell of the turpentine. and it also stings a bit on the skin. but well, don't we all have to do some sacrifice and suffering, all in the name of art and beauty?

and of course, i had to do a pic with my chef d'oeuvre. :)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

St Emilion, France

during my first trip in France, i was lucky enough to have my then-boyfriend-now-husband and my in-laws as tour guides. and since i told them that it was my life-long dream to visit a vineyard, they organized an educational tour for me to Saint Emilion, a famous and quite touristic village a few miles east of Bordeaux.

i remember being so excited riding the car on the way there. i can still remember being fascinated by the huge and smiley sunny sunflowers along the road. and you can imagine how thrilled i was at the first glimpse of the rows and rows of vineyards on the rolling hills.

once we were in the vicinity of the vines, it felt like going through a maze finding our way to Clos La Madeleine.

the entrance to the caves where the wines are casked and aged
here, we made a tour around the vineyard and also inside the distillery and into the cave on a guided tour about the process of wine-making.

here, the guide was explaining the process of distilling the wine.

inside the cave, it smelled a bit like Roquefort cheese. thankfully after that, we had a bit of wine tasting which made me forget about the smell of the cave. it amused me to be told that i could spit it out if i didn't like the taste, or did not wish to swallow the wine for some reason, like maybe if i'd tasted several already and didn't want to get drunk. :)

explaining the tastes and flavors of their products

it was such a lovely summer day and the vineyards looked surreal to me, having seen one right in front of me for the very first time in my life. i was quite disappointed, though, to find all the grapes still green. and that they were to be harvested end of summer. feeling famished after the vineyard tour, we headed into the village to have lunch.

look at that lovely restaurant on the left, completely covered in grapevine.
on the way to the restaurant, we passed by shops selling the region's and neighboring region's specialties.

canélés are a specialty in Bordeaux

the ancient white stone houses looked so beautiful to me. it made me feel like Juliette Binoche in Chocolat. :) everywhere you look is just unbelievably beautiful. too beautiful for words.

the village church

vines and stamps for sale

this is the restaurant where we had our lunch.

the entrance of the restaurant where we had lunch

lovely restaurant

we were seated at the lovely terasse at the back of the restaurant, where we enjoyed the our food and the wonderful summer ambiance in the shade of trees.

my favorite jambon and melons with some whipped cream and watermelon soup

France is all about wine and good food enjoyed in the company of well-loved family and friends. "enjoy" is the operative word here. french people love to enjoy things, and to experience the moment. as for me, the moment is not fully enjoyed or experienced unless i capture it in stills. and that's why we are now all enjoying the memories of this once "enjoyed" moment that i had in France. ;)

some pork for main dish, paired with Saint Emilion wine... not my lunch though. i had Confit de canard.

we resumed the walk around the village after lunch. and decided to climb uphill for a nice view of the whole village... unfortunately not at the top of this tall tower...

but here instead... ok, take a deep breath before scrolling down...




if this doesn't make you say "WooOOooooOOOow !!! ", i don't know what else will.

Saint Emilion was truly wonderful and unforgettable. but don't take my word for it. go and experience it for yourself. ;)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Sight-seeing Sydney

highlights of my short trip to Sydney, Australia

the magnificent rocky beach views along the coastal walk from Bondi Beach to Coogee Beach:

Bondi Beach waves

some art work along the coastal walk

you can see the boardwalk that passes by a cemetery right next to the sea... reminds me so much of Edgar Allan Poe's Annabel Lee

reliving my tree-climbing childhood days at Hyde Park... and speaking of trees, would anybody know what this purple tree is called:

gorgeous and fragrant purple tree inside the Botanic Gardens

these magnificent captures of the Opera House:

the view of the leafy greens framing the Opera House and Harbour Bridge

it really doesn't have any bad angle

the weekend market and night fair at The Rocks in Old Sydney, where our hotel is located:

market stalls selling food, crafts, clothes, jewelries

watching Thor at the world's biggest IMAX Cinema:

we wanted to watch Gravity but only Thor was showing at the time

seeing the sleepy koalas and the Neverland crocodile:

siesta time -- i tried my very best not to bother them while taking this shot

same goes for this guy

et voila, c'est tout pour Sydney. have a lovely week, people! :)

Typhoon Yolanda's (Haiyan) Wake

I would just like to share this video to as many people as possible. Help is desperately needed.

Here's one way you can help via Red Cross donation.

Please share to as many people as possible.


Monday, October 21, 2013

Hong Kong and Macau Revisited Part 3

walking towards the Peak Tram from our hotel, we passed by this church which looked so out of place amongst the towering buildings.

last time i took the Peak Tram, it took more than an hour to queue. and here i thought i would never submit myself to this torture again. but i was mistaken.

because the experience is worth it. and i would never get tired of this view.

last time i went for this view, it was in the evening. it's less dramatic during the day, i guess. but also, less crowded.

view of the ancient tram heading towards The Peak.

we headed to Causeway Bay for lunch and shopping afterwards.


i was a bit disappointed though. the items in the area are not really so much to my liking.

 we decided to take a bit of walk heading towards the direction of our hotel and passed by this market. i find it quite weird to have a market like this  open at noon.

since it was our last evening, we tried to make the most of our HK trip by club-hopping and eating out at Lan Kwai Fong.

the famous Fringe Club with a rooftop bar was under renovation. so we settled for a beer in this bar called Hong Kong Brew House which offered free peanuts and had San Miguel Beer under the Boring Beer category in its menu.

for dinner, we found this French-American restaurant somewhere along Hollywood Road. i had some seafood pasta and it was quite good. but a bit expensive.

back to Lan Kwai Fong for some mojito.

mood and mojito

we would've visited more bars or clubs but the peanuts from the first bar was taking its toll halfway through my first and last mojito, so we had to reluctantly go back to the hotel for an early night. i knew from the start beer + peanuts do not really mix well.

oh well... that concludes our HK trip. more travels next time.