Sunday, August 31, 2008

Daring Bakers August 2008 Challenge -- Diary

Tuesday, August 12
9.30 am - I’ll be making the pastry cream first then the cream puff dough and then the chocolate glaze. I think I’ll make some caramel, too.

10.10 am - Pastry cream is finished. I just remembered how good it tastes!

10.28 am - Getting ready to make the dough.

10.41 am - Measured out the ingredients and it’s ready to go only I have not prepared any of the tools I’ll need.

Boiling the mixture before adding the flour.
10.55 am - Incorporating the eggs by hand. A Kitchenaid would be really nice right now.

The different stages of the dough while adding the eggs.

11.03 am - Arm exercise is finished, piping the dough.

11.16 am - Finished piping. It made 18 pieces total. Hmmm, I thought it would make a lot. Good thing I didn’t halve the recipe. Only 14 pieces could fit so I’m freezing the other four.

11.19 am - In the oven they go ― 7 minutes.

11.27 am - Inserting the wooden spoon. My oven is making a strange clicking sound it’s never made before. Goodness! I hope my cream puffs won’t explode.

11.30 am - Looking at the puffs ― they’re puffing! Yipee!

11.32 am - Flipping the pans now. I noticed that the tops are broken, not smooth. Is that normal? I don’t think so. Uh-oh, I hope they don’t fall apart.

11.35 am - SHRIEEEKKKK! I was just reading the recipe again and it says to bake the puffs at 375! I only set my oven to 350!!! Grrr, I don’t know how to read anymore.

11.40 am - Puffs are still pale and they do not look like they’re done. I’m giving them a few more minutes. Corrected the temperature, maybe it’s not yet too late.

11.43 am - Looking at the puffs again. About half of them caved in.

11.45 am - Not good.

11.50 am - Took the puffs out of the oven. They’re lightly browned. A lot of them caved in and have cracked on top.

The only one theat turned out well was the one in the botterm right corner. The round cream puffs look a little odd.

12.07 pm - Now for the chocolate sauce and glaze.

12.26 pm - Chocolate glaze covers a multitude of sins!

These puffs are ready to be filled!

1.07 pm - Cream puffs are done, am eating my second one now. They don’t look too good. The puffs did not rise very well. However, it tastes good. The pastry cream is too soft and the glaze could have been thicker. Overall, it’s not soo bad. Anyway my family does not know I messed it up. And I’m not telling!

Maybe I should have dipped the tops on the chocolate instead of pouring it over the puffs.

Things I Would Do Differently Next Time:

1. Read the recipe carefully and take note of the correct oven temperature.
2. Use 4 eggs instead of 3 for the pastry cream.
3. Use parchment paper to line the pans.
4. Allow the glaze to cool a little more to thicken, that way I could spread it on top of the cream puffs.
5. Practice piping!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Mario Badescu and Me

I have been using Mario Badescu products for about 2 months now; the Enzyme Cleansing Gel, Special Cucumber Lotion and Glycolic Foaming Cleanser. I am very sad to say that Mario and I just can't work out.

My face has gotten worse; whiteheads on my forehead, jawline and cheeks multiplied. It looks very bad. I'm very surprised at the result becasue I've read many good reviews about MB products and plus they use natural ingredients. I've stopped using it now (except for the Toner which I still use in the morning but I'll eventually stop using it) and started using another product line from another brand which I'm very happy to say is working so far for me (more on this miracle product soon).

MB products are not all bad, though. The cleanser is really good in removing makeup. It will leave your skin feeling soft and moisturised. Same with the toner. It doesn't have a very strong smell like some products do.

If you're thinking of using MB products, I highly recommend that you try the samples first to see if it's compatible with your skin instead of buying the full-sized products like I did.

Friday, July 18, 2008

How many countries could you name in five minutes?

Were you listening to your teacher when she was teaching geography? Prove it.....

Created by OnePlusYou

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Dark Chocolate Cake with Caramel Meringue Buttercream

I have no explanation for everything I do.

Case in point: two days ago I just felt like baking a chocolate cake. So I did. It was a sudden urge that I had no choice but to follow. The next day, I was a little irritated with....oh, I don't know everything, so I did the unimaginable---I made Swiss Meringue Buttercream, or as popularly known in cake websites, SMBC. The dreaded SMBC. I've always been afraid to make this buttercream but yesterday, I was angry enough and I just did it. And it came out perfectly. Good thing it did because if it hadn't, I think I would have lost it. Somebody loves me. Anyway, here are the recipes just in case one day you get angry and you need something to calm you down...make this cake.

Dark Chocolate Cake
Makes: 1, 3-layer 9inch cake

2 cups boiling water
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar

4 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 3-9 inch pans with butter or cooking spray OR you can line the bottom with parchment paper then grease that. Set aside.
(Note: This recipe can also be made with just two pans. Read below. OR, you can halve the recipe---it makes a lot.)

2. In a 2-cup Pyrex measuring glass or a medium bowl, combine the water and cocoa powder, mixing until the powder is dissolved. Let cool.

3. In a medium bowl, sift together the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

4. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until pale in color and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl after every addition. Add the vanilla.

5. Mix in the dry ingredients alternately with the cocoa mixture. To do this: Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the butter and mix for about 1 minute or until incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Then add 1/2 the cocoa and mix on low, about 1 1/2 - 2 minutes or until incorporated. Scrape sides of the bowl. Repeat. You should end with adding the last 1/3 of the dry ingredients.

6. Pour the batter into the prepared pans.
(Note: My oven can only accomodate 2 pans at a time. Of course, leaving the third pan out on the counter while the other two are baking can only end in disaster and tears. So, I poured 1/3 of the batter in one pan and 2/3 on the other. I placed the pan with 2/3 batter on the lower rack and the other on the upper rack. )

7. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool on wire racks.
(Note: The 1/3 pan baked for about 35 minutes and the 2/3 pan for about 50-60 minutes.)

Do not over bake the cakes! (If you like dry, burnt cakes then ignore this.)
To check for doneness: Five minutes before the cakes should be done, insert a toothpick in the middle of the cake.
If it comes out with batter, bake 5 minutes more.
If it comes out with moist crumbs, it's done.
If it comes out clean, it's overbaked. You can still eat it, though.

To make 3 layers, cut the thicker cake into 2.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Makes 8 cups

2 3/4 + 3 tablespoons (20 ounces) granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) egg whites
2 1/2 cups unsalted butter, cubed and softened
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

I used a hand mixer to make this recipe. If you have a stand mixer, good for you!

1. In a bowl, whisk together the egg whites and sugar until well mixed. Set over a pot with boiling water. Whisk constantly until all the sugar crystals are dissolved. To test: Pick up a little of the mixture (careful, it's hot!) and rub it between your thumb and forefinger. If it's smooth then you're done. If it's grainy whisk some more and put your back into it! Do not overcook. Otherwise you'll have scrambled egg whites.

2. When it's done, put the bowl on your counter and start mixing on high until the mixture forms a stiff meringue. (When you slowly raise your mixer and the meringue forms peaks that does not fall over, it's stiff. Otherwise, continue mixing.) It took me about 15-20 minutes.

3. Add the butter a few cubes at a time while mixing on low speed. After all the butter has been incorporated, mix on medium speed until fluffy.

4. Add the vanilla and beat until the buttercream is smooth and creamy. It's ready to be used.

I added about 1/2 to 3/4 cup caramel topping to my mixture.

After you refrigerate the buttercream, you will need to reconstitute it before using. Heat 1/3 of the mixtue in your microwave until warm, not melted. Whip the remaing 2/3 for about 1-2 minutes then slowly add the warm 1/3 mixture. Beat until creamy.

My dog, longingly looking at the cake.
He wants a piece but knows he can't because he's on a diet.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Emu Oil as my Makeup Primer

I first heard about Emu Oil from this site.

Since I bought this product, I have been using it almost everyday as my moisturizer/primer. It helps my makeup last long, all day in fact. And I never retouch in the afternoon. In the evening when I come home my face still looks good---albeit a little less fresh looking but still presentable. I have an oily skin and EO(emu oil) does make it slightly oilier but, in my opinion, tolerable. You might be wondering how EO could make my makeup last longer when it makes my already oily skin oilier. Doesn't oil wash out your makeup? I have no explanation for this. All I know is that when I use EO I don't have to worry if my makeup stays put.

There are many primers on the market now. I've never tried any of them so I can't really compare them with EO. If you're planning to try this product, make a thorough research on the Internet first. There are a lot of sellers online that offer competitive prices.

(I also found that EO is useful for inflammed acne. Just put a small amount on the affected area and it it will help with the pain. Ditto with insect bites and burns. There are many, many uses for EO. If you research Emu Oil on the Internet, you will have no shortage of materials--1.08 million results from Google alone. You may want to sit on a very comfortable chair. There are now Emu Oil shampoos, lip balms, soaps, colognes (!)(Animal fat cologne? People actually buy this? Why would anyone want an animal fat colone?), body lotions, etc. Products galore.)

Friday, July 4, 2008

Danish Braid Recipe

This is the recipe I used for the Daring Baker's June 2008 Challenge -- Danish Braid.
Source: Sherry Yard’s The Secrets of Baking

Note: I only made half of the recipe. The recipe that follows is full, not halved. There are 3 components to this recipe; the dough, the butter block and the filling. I suggest that you divide the work in 2 or 3 days because the work on the dough alone, will take you at least 2.5 hours. It's a lot of work, I know, but really worth it. I also know that reading the directions alone is like reading a novel, it's long. I noticed. But don't be intimidated. It's really, and I'm not kidding you, easier than it looks.

There's nothing like a warm, flaky and hard earned Danish Bread.

Component 1: DANISH DOUGH
Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough

Ingredients For the dough (Detrempe)
1 ounce fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 large eggs, chilled
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

1. Combine the yeast and milk (Cold. Yes, cold.) in a bowl. Mix together then slowly add the sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs and orange juice. Mix well.
2. In a large bowl sift together the salt and flour. Make a hole in the middle and then pour in the wet ingredients. Slowly mix with your fingers using a circular motion, starting from the middle to the outside.
3. After all the flour has ben incorported, dump it on a lightly floured working area and knead for about 5 minutes or until it is smooth. Transfer the dough to a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes before

Component 2: Butter block (Beurrage)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1. Combine butter and flour in a bowl and mix with a hand mixer until smooth, no lumps of flour visible. Don't foret to scrape the sides! Set aside. I refrigerated mine because it is hot in my kitchen.
2. After the dough has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle (if you can, but don't worry about it too much) approximately 18 x 13 inches and ¼ inch thick. If the dough is sticking to the table or to your hands, dust it lightly with flour. Using a spatula, beat the butter mixture a little until smooth then spread it evenly on 2/3 of the dough (Center and right side. Look at the pictures I posted on my previous entry.)
3. Now, fold the dough into thirds like a letter; left edge (the side that doesn't have butter) over middle part only. Then right edge (the one that has butter) over the middle. That's the first turn. Three more to go. Remember to poke the dough with your finger so that you can keep count of the turns you make. After each turn, wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Do not skip this part. The butter needs to firm up before you roll it out and fold it again.
4. Place the dough lengthwise on a floured work surface with the open ends to your right and left. Repeat step 3. Roll, turn and refrigerate. This is the second turn. Do 2 more turns.
5. After the fourth (final) turn, refrigerate the dough (wrapped in plastic wrap) for at least 5 hours or overnight.

Component 3: APPLE FILLING
Makes enough for two braids

4 Fuji or other apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch pieces
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. Combine all ingredients except butter in a large bowl.
2. In a pan, melt the butter until gently over low-medium fire (you wouldn't want to burn it, remember it has sugar). Then add the apple mixture and cook until the apples are tender and browned.
3. When done cooking, spread the apples on a bking sheet to cool.

To Assemble the DANISH BRAID (finally!)
Makes enough for 2 large braids

1 recipe Danish Dough
2 cups apple filling, jam, or preserves

1. Prepare you baking sheet. You can line it with parchment paper.
2. On a lightly floured table, roll out the dough to about 15x20 inch rectangle, 1/4 inch thick. Place the dough on the baking sheet. (Note: you can divide the dough into to to make 2 braids.)
3. Make 5 inch cuts on the dough. This will be your braid. (See pictures on my previous entry.)
4. Dump the filling in the middle part. Then start braiding; left flap over right flap, left flap over right flap until you reach the end. Tuck the ends inside however you want. just make it neat.
5. Brush the dough lightly with milk to help it brown nicely.

Proofing and Baking
1. Put an oiled piece of plastic wrap over the braid. According to Sherry Yard, at this point you should "proof at room temperature or, if possible, in a controlled 90 degree F environment for about 2 hours, or until doubled in volume and light to the touch." I just left mine on the kitchen table for 2 hours.
2. About 15 minutes before your proofing is finished, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Position a rack in the center of the oven.
3. Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan so that the side of the braid previously in the back of the oven is now in the front. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F (Don't over look this part!), and bake about 15-20 minutes more, or until golden brown.
4. Let cool for 5 minutes then serve and enjoy!

Just a comment: Yesterday I bought a Danish pastry from one of the most popular bakeries here. When I first touched the pastry, I knew immediately something was wrong with it. Bought it anyway. After I got home, I took my first bite into it and it was........crunchy?! It was crucnhy! Aaaaagggghhhhhhh!!!!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Daring Bakers June 2008 Challenge--Diary

Tuesday, June 10

2:52 pm - I'm making half the apply filling. I wanted to try other fillings made with local fruits, like avocados, bananas or mangoes but I thought it best to start with the original recipe first to see how it will turn out, then I can tweak it.

3:17 pm - I want my Dad who's diabetic and my sister who's watching her sugar intake to be able to enjoy this bread, too (provided it does not end in a disaster). So, I'm substituting the sugar called for in the recipe with Splenda Sugar Blend for Baking. We don't have lemons so I'm using orange juice instead.

3:23 pm - Mixed the cinnamon with the sugar instead of dumping it directly on the apples. This way it will be evenly distributed, no clumps. I hate clumps. All the ingredients are ready now. Will start cooking it.

3:29 pm - The smell of apples and cinnamon is filling the house....hmmmm...smells like home.

3:31 pm
- This apple mixture reminds me of Reuben's Apple Pancake. Yummy.

3:44 pm - Apple filling is done and cooling. I'm now debating whether I should make the Danish dough now or if I should make it tomorrow.

3:46 pm
- Okay. I'm making it today but I'll do the turning and rolling tomorrow. Found some green cardamom beans in our pantry. Now, how am I going to make this into powder?

3:47 pm
- Ding! Light bulb.

Yes, I used my rolling pin to pound the cardamom seeds. Don't tell.

3:53 pm - Pounding the life out of the cardamom seed's seed.

3:59 pm - Dad comes in the kitchen looks at the apple filling cooling on the counter and starts to complain how he never gets to eat anything I bake because it has sugar. Told him I used Splenda. He smiles and goes away.

4:02 pm - Still pounding.

4:04 pm - This had better be worth it.

4:05 pm - Cardamom is fairly powdery now and smells good. It is worth it.

4:33 pm - Mixed the dough. I'm now ready to knead it.

I mixed the dough in a large mixing bowl because I did not want a messy table.

4:47 pm - Just finished kneading the dough. It's now in the fridge, recovering from the massage I just gave it. It sort of looked spongy. And it's smaller than I thought! (I made half the recipe.) Will finish my Danish Braid tomorrow. Can't wait!

Wednesday, June 11

9:30 am - Mixed the butter and flour. Rolling out the dough. So, the instruction says to roll it out to a 18x13 rectangle. I don't think half a dough could roll out to that length so I'm making it into a 9x6 rectangle.

9:39 am - How do they roll it into a rectangle, anyway?! It looks more like an oblong trying to pass for a rectangle.

This is as rectangular as it is ever going to get.

9:55 am - Spreading the butter. That's a lot of butter!

9:58 am - First turn done. The dough looks like an omelette.

10:32 am - Second turn. Butter is oozing with a vengeance! I don't think there would be enough of it left in the dough!

10:43 am - Just completed the second turn. Oh my goodness---it was so messy! Butter was oozing out of the dough. And air pockets were bursting and butter would come out. I know it's butter but.......ewwwww. My imagination is working overtime. Sometimes I hate my imagination.

11:35 am - Third turn. Less oozing. Thank goodness.

12:07 pm - Fourth and last turn. Now for the 5 hour rest.

Thursday, June 12

8:40 am - Rolled out the dough, put the filling in the center and braided it. Proofing, 2 hours. looks so nice!

9:16 am - I'm looking at the picture I took and I realized I cut the braids on the left side on a wrong angle! No wonder it was a little weird when I was braiding it. I'm a little anxious now. My Danish Braid looks ok but what about the taste? I'll know in about 3 hours.

11:00 am - In the oven it goes!

11:11 am - Turning the pan as per instruction. Uh-oh. The braids came loose and the bread looks like a rib cage!

11:32 am - Kitchen smells wonderful and the bread is done! The braids are not braided. Oh, but it smells wonderful! I'm looking at the bread and it looks really flaky. I'm so happy. Now, to taste it...

Can you tell how flaky they are? The bread is just so warm and brown and perfect! Well, except for the braids coming apart!

11:44 am - At first bite, I was greeted by a mellow orange taste then by the sweet apples (they were not mushy, thanks goodness!). Orange and apples goes together pretty well. The cardamom gives it that taste/smell thatmakes people go, "What is it?". The bottom of the dough is crunchy and teh ends of the braids are very flaky. I can not get over how flaky the braids came out! They are just so puff pastry-ish!

12:58 pm - Family and I are enjoying the sweet fruits of my labor. My Dad is thrilled because it's sugar-free! (Well, mostly.) And Momi just loves how flaky it is. A sure hit! I can not believe I made this!

Questions and Answers:
So, will I make this again? Yes.
Is it hard to make? It's definitely not easy, it requires some skill but I wouldn't say it's hard either. I think amateur bakers can do it, just follow the instructions.
What did I learn from this experience? I should never be afraid of yeast because I'm bigger than they are!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Daring Bakers June 2008 Challenge: Danish Braid

Danish Braid

I first found out about The Daring Bakers in a forum, I think. I can't really remember now. It was mentioned casually and I thought the name was very interesting so I decided to check it out. The idea of this club is simple. The host for the month will post a recipe for all members to try (all members are expected to complete at least 8 out of 12 challenges in a year) and then on the chosen day, all members will post a write up about the challenge on their blogs. So, I made up my mind and officially became a member this month of June.

And now for my very first challenge...Danish Braid.

I know there's a reason why they called the monthly recipes to-try "The Challenge" but I just didn't think it would me this challenging. For me anyway. And not for my first challenge. A little background: I have an aversion for any and every recipe that calls for yeast of any kind. Why? Yeast hates me. Yes, they do. (Yeast are live organisms, you know. They have feelings just like we do and they hate me.)

Every yeast-based bread I tried to make failed. The worst one was the Dinner Rolls Disaster. I could not shape the dough at all because they were waay too soft. They were almost like batter. In fact, to bake them, I had to ladle them on to cupcake pans. The one and only yeast-based recipe that worked for me was the copycat of the Cinnabom Buns. I love Cinnabon and that was the motivating factor that pushed me to try the recipe. And in case you're wondering, no it was not a disaster. It had a happy ending. Despite that, my fear of yeast remained. And now for the challenge this June. I actually considered quitting The Daring Baker's club because I just didn't see how I was going to pull this one off. Then I remembered the saying that "the only way to get over your fear is to face it." So I decided to face my fear, my nemesis. Yeast.

I made the Danish Braid in 3 days. So how did it go? Well, they say a picture paints a bazillion-gazillion words. So, let's allow the little chatterboxes do the talking.

The yeast creatures and I have officially made up.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My favorite meal is Breakfast!

Bite me.
Yes, I will.
I lovelovelove breakfast. Best meal of the day for me. Sometimes I wake up in the morning just so I could have breakfast. now, I love the typical Pinoy breakfast---rice, fried egg, tocino or longanisa, atchara, danggit, ensalada, itlog na pula (salted egg), etc. Yummy. Every now and then I like to try Western breakfast options. Biscuits are on the top of my list. I seached for a good recipe and this is the one I picked. It it from the site. What I love about this recipe is how easy it is to make. No brainer. And you can dress it up by adding dried fruits, herbs and seasoning (like cinnamon, nutmeg or even basil, cheese, etc. if you want a savory biscuit), nuts, etc. Your imagination is the only limit. Will post pictures on another day.

Easy Biscuit Mixture

Making biscuits is easier than you think.

10 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup baking powder
1/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups shortening

In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Store in an airtight container for up to 6 weeks.

This will make approximately 17 cups of mix. That's a lot, I know. You can scale it down by 4. I already did the math so you won't have to. (See how nice I am?)

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup shortening (I used Crisco)

This will make 4 1/4 cups mix. The weather is always warm where I live and I was concerned that the shortening in the mix will make it rancid overtime. So I out the mix in a plasctic container and stored it in the fridge.

To make Biscuits:
1. Preheat oven to 450F. Prepare an ungreased pan.
2. Use 2 1/4 cup biscuit mix then add 2/3 cup milk. Mix together until a soft dough forms. Then, on a lightly floured surface, knead 10 times by hand.
3. Roll out to 1/2 inch thick and cut with biscuit cutter. I didn't have a cutter so I just used a sharp knife and cut it into triangles/squares. Bake 10 minutes.

The tops of my biscuits did not brown at all. So next time I will brush the tops lightly with milk. I ate them piping hot with butter and they were yummy! I think it would pair better with jam, though. You can also use this mix to make pancakes, maybe even a pie crust. I'm going to use this as the pastry crust of Chicken Pastel. For more ideas, visit

You can also serve the biscuits with Honey Butter. To make, mix using an electric mixer until smooth and fluffy:

Honey Butter
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup honey

Spread on top of very hot biscuits and serve. You can dress it up adding cinnamon, nutmeg, dried fruits, etc. You can also use this to spread on bread, scones, even baked chicken, ham...experiment with it! Enjoy!

I'm off to enjoy the fruits of my labor.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Save me Mario!

I have been having problems with my face lately. Whiteheads have decided to build a colony on my forehead, jawline and cheeks. I want to evict them.

And so, I have been on the search for cleansers and other products to help me. I've tried "The Regimen" recommended in't wok for me. Though, to be fair, I think it would have worked if I had followed it religiously. The Regimen requires you to use lots of Benzoyl Peroxide morning and evening and I was concerned that using so much chemicals on my face might have ugly side effects when I'm older. So, I started looking again. I tried many others but none really worked for me.

I've heard of the famous Mario Badascu Drying Lotion, touted as the "best" product for zapping zits. Then recently I read an article about the best products in the market and Mario Badescu was on the list. Since I already spent so much money on products, I thought, what's one more? So, I went to their website, took the Questionnaire and last Friday I bought the recommended products for me. This is what I got....

Enzyme Cleansing Gel

This non-foaming, gel cleanser thoroughly removes the day’s make-up, dirt and oil without drying the skin. Papaya Extracts are exfoliating Alpha Hydroxy Acids that help break down dulling build-up, leaving skin fresh and healthy.

Ingredients: Deionized Water (Aqua), Glycerin, Papaya (Carica Papaya Fruit) Extract, Grapefruit (Citrus Grandis Fruit) Extract, Monomide, Triethanolamine, Methylparaben.
Good for these Skin Types:All Types

Special Cucumber Lotion

Refreshing, disinfecting and deep cleaning astringent that is effective in drying up existing acne blemishes while preventing new eruptions. Sulfur and soothing Cucumber based, acne fighting formula that is non-drying and non-irritating.

Ingredients: Deionized Water, Isopropyl Alcohol, Sodium Sulfate, Cucumber Extract, Nonoxynol-9, Boric Acid.

Good for these Skin Types:Combination, Oily
I bought them in Rustan's and boy, they had better be worth every dime! I spent P1,690.00 on these two. The Enzyme Cleansing Gel was P745.00 and the Special cucumber Lotion was P945.00. I've been using them for 3 days now and, well, my skin still looks pretty much the same. At the end of a month, I'll be writing a review on these products to either warn you or convince you to buy these, too.
By the way, when I bought these at Rustan's, the salesman gave me a lot of free samples. So I didn't feel so bad about spending so much money. He gave me 3 samples of the Glycolic Foaming Cleanser, 3 Caviar Day Cream and 2 Ceramide Eye Gel.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

"The Annest of Annes!"

Have you every heard of the classic series of novels, Anne of Green Gables? If not, allow me the honor of introducing to you Anne Shirley and her her wonderful world of imagination.

A little background: The "Anne books" were written by L. M. Montgomery. And to save myself from having to write a short background-biography of Ms. Montgomery, the words of which I'll probably just paraphrase from an already existing short background-biography of the said author, I'll just quote directly from the book itself. On page 278 of Anne of Green Gables Series #2 it says:

"Lucy Maud Montgomery was born on November 30, 1874, in Clifton, Prince Edward Island, Canada. Although few women at that time received higher education, Lucy attended Prince of Wales College in Charlottestown, P.E.I., and then Dalhousie University in Halifax. At seventeen she went to Nova Scotia to work for a newspaper, the Halifax Chronicle, and wrote for its evening edition, the Echo. But Lucy came back to rural Prince Edward Island to teach, and lived with her grandmother at Cavendish. It is this experience, along with the lives of her farmer and fisherfolk neighbors, that came alive when she wrote her "Anne" books, beginning with Anne of Green Gables in 1908. first published as a serial for a Sunday school paper, Anne of Green Gables quickly became a favorite of readers throughout the world, so much so that L.M. Montgomery published six novels in all featuring Anne Shirley and family. Lucy Montgomery also wrote the popular Emily of New Moon in 1923 followed by two sequels, and Pat of Silver Bush in 1933 with its sequel. She and her husband, the Rev. Ewen MacDonald, eventually moved to Ontario. L.M. Montgomery died in Toronto in 1942, but it is her early years in lush green Prince Edward Island that live on in the delightful adventures of the impetuous redhead, the stories Mark Twain called "the sweetest creation of child life yet written."

I have just completed my collection of the Anne books recently. I've read all eight of them: Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, Anne of Windy Poplars, Anne's House of Dreams, Anne of Ingelside, Rainbow Valley, and Rilla of Ingelside.

My favorite books from the series are the first three. The next two were also pretty good but in those books, Anne had already grown up. The sixth book is more about the adventures of her kids. She pops up in the story every now and then but in general, the story is not really about her. From the seventh book on, we see less and less of Anne and more and more about her children, the Meredith kids and her youngest daughter Rilla.

Of all the books, the ones that I enjoyed the best were the first three of the series. They were all about Anne Shirley and her adventures, or more accurately, her misadventures. What does Anne think of her misadventures? On book two of the series, she spies through the window of a neighbor and sees the plate she needs, impulsively jumps for joy and crashes through the roof of the duck house up to her armpits, unable to extricate herself from it, she says, "Oh dear this is a dreadful predicament. I wouldn't mind my misfortunes so much if they were romantic, as Mrs. Morgan's [an author she looks up to and just met] heroines' always are, but they are always just simply ridiculous. Fancy what the Copp girls [her neighbors] will think when hey drive into heir yard and see a girl's head and shoulders sticking out of the roof of one of their outhouses. that a wagon? No, Diana, I believe it is thunder." And then it rains. Hard. Lol.

Anne is hilarious. Things just happen to her, most of the time, bad. Many times I would laugh out loud reading the books, needless to say, I really enjoyed them and am already planning to read them all over again. It's one of those books that just doesn't get old. I think it's because when you read the books, you are reminded of your own childhood. We were all children once and remembering those golden days is pleasant diversion from the serious and sometimes rigid life of an adult.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

An Open Goodbye Letter

It was love at first sight for me.

I’m a very picky person, as you know. But the moment I saw you, I knew. You were the one, so I chose you. It’s funny how things work, don’t they? People spend hours weighing their options and choosing, but when the right one comes along….click. It’s so easy. That’s what happened to us. We just…clicked. We fit together so well. So I walked towards you and the rest, as they say, is history.

Three years of history. That’s how long it was for us. You walked with me and carried me all those years. You were a faithful companion. But now you can no longer go with me. You need to rest. I walked towards you that day, but today you’re walking away from me. I know you don’t want to but it’s not up to us to decide whether to stay or to go. Your final resting place is calling you, and you cannot refuse him. You must answer his call. But why? Why us? Why so soon? It’s not fair.

But now I know I need to let you go. Seeing you deteriorate a little everyday is worse than losing you. I’m sorry that I was selfish. I only thought of my own loss. But now I see things through your eyes and I finally understand what you were trying to teach me: For everything there is a place and time; a time to meet and a time to say goodbye.

It’s time to say goodbye.

Goodbye my favorite white pair of shoes. Rest well.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Kiddie Party Cupcakes Part 2: Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

Aside from the Devil's Food Cake Cupcakes I made, I also made Vanilla Cupcakes. They did not turn out as well as I hoped. The recipe I used made cupcakes that were lacking in vanilla flavor. Maybe I should have used better quality vanilla, I don't know. But next time, I'm using my tried-and-true Yellow Cake recipe instead.

The Vanilla Cupcakes looked good, though. And I think the buttercream compensated for it. And besides, you know how kids are. Serve them anything sweet and they'll eat it.

They look good, don't they?

Hmmmm....come to think of it, maybe I should give this recipe another try.

I took this picture in the fridge. I didn't have time to take proper pictures as the kids were already in the house and causing havoc. My hands were full.

I am so out of practice! But the colors came out nice. The pink looked nice and sweet, the yellow looked alive and perky.

Disaster. The color came out 'lacking' and the piping.....shame, shame, shame on me.