Friday, November 20, 2015

Coming Soon!

Hi everyone, sorry for the long delays between posts, but the last few weeks have been extremely busy for Ninin and I. We haven't had much time to go and explore many blog-worthy things/events let alone write a blog post.  But keep your eyes peeled because we have some exciting content coming the next few weeks that we're really excited to share with you all.  Thank you for your readership and continued support, EJ and Ninin. A hint in the picture below, I'm at the airport 😉


Friday, November 13, 2015

Foodie Friday: UCC Clockwork

I've been to UCC before but nothing could have prepared me for the awesome-ness that is UCC Clockwork.

The interior of the cafe is super cool! From the industrial design to the big coffee "bar" in the middle, this UCC Clockwork is truly one of a kind

I was super excited to see the menu because it was just amazeballs, I tell you. It has more items than the usual UCC branches and the menu items were all artisan! Before I go crazy describing their menu, let me start sharing with you our order:


It was just me and my godmother so I can only feature a few items off their menu :( But the ones we got were all very special! First off, the appetizer: Spinach and Cheese dip

Don't be fooled by how plain it looks because you haven't seen me dip my bread in yet!

TO DIE FOR! All that mozzarella goodness! I am truly blown away by this dish. It was super unexpected. I didn't think it was that cheesy. I love that it was gooey and wasn't very salty. The spinach used was also very fresh, and the alfalfa on top was a nice touch and lent it another dimension of flavor. I love love love this dish!

Next, my godmother's pick: Corned Beef with Kimchi Rice:

I couldn't try the corned beef but Ninang swears to how tasty it is! She was also pleasantly surprised that it's home made corned beef and that it's one big chunk of meaty goodness. The kimchi rice goes really well with the beef too! I tasted the rice and true enough, it had the essentials in it-- a bit of tanginess and spice from the Kimchi. Two thumbs up for this one!

Now for my dish! Japanese pancakes :)

I've never had Japanese pancakes before so I was excited to try this one. I got a plain butter pancake with cream cheese frosting on the side. It arrived in a hot plate which I found really amusing.


BECAUSE I CAN, I put maple syrup and cream cheese on my pancakes. Ohehmgee, it's so tasty! I love how fluffy the pancake is and how it's slighty toasted at the edges because of the hot plate.

Lastly, let me feature my coffee (because hey, UCC is a cafe after all):
I got the German "Eiskafee" from the Coffees Around the World Line. It was a wrong order actually cause I didn't want a cold coffee but this one is pretty tasty so I'm not complaining. To see how hard it is to pick a drink from their menu, I'll let you experience it yourself:


I love the crafted coffee around the world and UCC's own concoctions, they all sound so tasty! Yum Yum Yum!

UCC Clockwork is definitely one cafe I'd be going back to (over and over again), and next time, I'll take EJ with me. Artisan coffee dates, for the win! <3

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Stay Kissable

It's starting to get colder in my boyfriend's side of the world, and for most of people who've experienced harsh winters, they're familiar with the case of getting really bad chapped lips.

It was when EJ was showing me the cut on his lip that magically appeared when he woke up one morning that reminded me of my go-to brand for lip balms-- Carmex.


I discovered Carmex in Taiwan when I left my trusty lip balm and found myself with really ugly chapped lips at the beginning of winter. It was the cheapest balm in the grocery, but believe me, the price of this product doesn't give justice to how amazing it is.

The balm itself is softer than your usual Chapstick. It has the sort of consistency of petroleum jelly but it's stickier (not runny), dries off matte, and doesn't smudge. It feels a bit thicker than Chapstick (which leaves a very thin layer on your lips) but it doesn't feel heavy. And it tastes really good!

But the selling point for me of Carmex is that the more you use it, the softer your lips get! I actually felt the difference, a few days after using. It moisturised my lips and made it soft so it doesn't chap so easily. This is really perfect for winter!

EJ and I will be going somewhere cold in a few days *wink* so we'd get to test these babies again. But honestly, I don't think Carmex will disappoint us. Best lip balm for me!

// You can order Carmex online at www.beautymnl.com

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Spicy Chip Showdown: Blair's Death Rain vs. Doritos Collions: Habanero/Guacamole

Here at thenininja.com, we appreciate a little bit of spice and heat in our food. By no means are we fire eaters, but we're not too quick to shy away from a little bit of heat. So today I present two spicy chip options: Blair's Death Rain and Doritos Collisions.

Blair's  (left) and Doritos (right)
These two spicy options are on two extremes in terms of chips. One is a potato chip, the other is a tortilla chip. Blair's is a small specialized company that makes its chips for a very small targeted audience while Doritos is run by Frito Lay, one of the largest chip companies in the world which aims to have it's snacks appeal to as wide an audience as possible. Now onto the fun part, taste testing! 

First up the Blair's Death Rain:


The Blair's starts off with a nice smokey BBQ flavor but the heat is apparent right away. After the first chip, the heat seems bearable but keeps building as you eat more chips and never seems to hit a limit. The number of chips in the picture above had me chugging water because of the heat. Tasty but something you wouldn't do everyday or eat an entire bag in one sitting (at least most people) and if you're not used to it, that kind of heat can do a number on your stomach. The heat also acts as a built-in diet aid by not allowing you to eat too many chips in one sitting. 

Next up, the limited time only Doritos Habanero-Guacamole Collisions:


The first thing that jumps out should be the 2 different chip colors. The spicy habanero chips in the Doritos bag are mixed with guacamole flavored chips in order to give sneakers the chance to cut the heat from the habanero with something not spicy. But since it is Doritos and meant to appeal to a wide audience, the habanero chips aren't very spicy at all and offer more of a tangy/sour taste as opposed to spicy. The mix of the two different flavors offers a nice change up as you eat and the flavors mix but packs very little heat overall which can lead to eating the entire back bag in one sitting.

These are just 2 yummy options of the many spicy chip options available. No matter your craving, there's bound to be a chip out there to help you indulge it and finding that chip by taste testing what's available is all part of the fun. If you have any spicy chip recommendations you think we should try, please feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments section below.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Foodie Friday: Spicy Cheese Toppoki

As I've mentioned on a past blog post, I got a bit hooked on Korean Cheese Toppoki. But since I can't always go to Arisoo for my toppoki fix, I decided to learn how to make it at home. Apparently, the recipe is really easy so I'm sharing it with you all. Here's what you need:

clockwise from left: Korean Spicy Bean paste, bell peppers, cheddar cheese, toppoki, garlic
The key to this recipe is the toppoki (rice cakes) and korean bean paste (doenjang). I got mine from a Korean grocery in Cartimar in Pasay, near Arisoo. If you have those secured, cooking it will be a breeze.

First and foremost, you need to soak cut the toppoki in quarters and soak them in water. Then dice the garlic and cut the bell peppers and cheese.

Next, fill a pot with about 4-5 cups of water and let it boil. Then drop the garlic in the pot followed by the toppoki and wait for the toppoki to soften for a bit.


When the toppoki gets a bit soft (but not mushy), drop in 3-4 table spoons of doenjang, followed by the bell peppers.

Let it often for a bit and taste the broth. You may add a few tablespoons of soy sauce depending on your taste. For me, I added 3 tablespoons of soy sauce and let the broth evaporate a bit so it turns into a sauce. Lastly, when the taste is already to your liking, drop in your cheese.

Let it boil once and stir it a bit. The cheese will make your sauce thick and creamy, which is exactly what you want. Then that's it! The final step is to put in a plate and enjoy :)


Thursday, October 1, 2015

Introducing: Starbucks Toasted Graham Latte

The arrival of autumn brings with it colder, shorter days, sweater weather and the autumn Starbucks seasonal drink offerings to keep us warm. For more than a decade in Canada, that means the Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte or the PSL as it has been shortened to. So imagine my surprise to find this in my email along with the announcement letting me know that the PSL was back.


Allow me to introduce everyone the the Toasted Graham Latte, Starbucks' latest addition to its drink menu. Starbucks describes it as subtly sweet with sweet cream and topped with cinnamon graham cracker crumbs. So of course, I had to go taste it for myself. 


The description from the article was pretty accurate, the toasted graham cracker latte is not very sweet at all (which I like). The cinnamon graham cracker crumb topping gives it some savory notes which pairs nicely with the slightly sweet whipped cream and doesn't overpower the gentle flavor of the latte underneath. It's a perfect drink to warm you up on a cold autumn morning when you don't want something too sweet and gives you another great option at Starbucks. 


Sunday, September 27, 2015

Rewind on cloudy skies

The mercury retrograde this time has been so moving for me. It's not as dramatic as the previous one and it didn't get me bouncing off the walls as well. It was just in a way, quiet and really allowed me to get in touch with my past which is basically what mercury retrogrades give us time for. For those of you who aren't fans of astrology, mercury retrogrades are that period when Mercury (the planet) slows down and appears to be revolving backwards. The way it affects the universe is that it favors activities that involves RE- revisiting, reconnecting, rekindling, restarting, etc. So you might notice a lot of old friends suddenly popping in or old unfinished projects that you decide to continue. It's always been emotional for me cause this period makes it hard to plan anything in the future. Plans fall out and if you know me enough, you know I get crazy when this happens.


The mercury retrograde this time however has been good to me. The timing was perfect cause it fell on my mom's birthday and it gave me time to reflect a bit and just reconnect with my past.  I've been, in a way running away from it but I realized now that you can't completely turn your back on your past. It's part of who you are, it's what made you the person you are today and no matter how much you just want to  turn a new leaf; start a new life; you can't completely cut yourself from your history. You have to embrace it. Let it be a reminder of the things you've gone through, your goals when the world wasn't as complicated yet, and may it guide you in choosing your future path.


This period allowed me to reconnect with friends as well and close off unfinished chapters in my book. The biggest lesson for me is realizing that memories have to be honored. It might not be something you enjoyed but in the end, you have to honor that it happened. And no matter how much it has altered your life, you have to acknowledge it. Make it part of who you are. Be proud of it; honor the people who helped you get to where you are now; the people who helped you forget.


We go through a lot in life just so in the end we can tell stories. And the most amazing stories are those that are filled with adventure. Those that are a bit challenging, a bit dramatic, a little heartbreaking. Those are the kind of stories that make for a meaningful life. That's the kind of life you would want to one day be telling your grandchildren about. 

I am grateful for the mercury retrograde because it allowed me to remind myself of who I was before. Reminded me of what my life has been, what I've achieved so far, and just served as a way for me to stop and count my blessings. 


In all these, I just want to honor my mother. She was the most influential person in my life and no matter how people see me or her, they can never take away the fact that she was a good-hearted and wonderful woman. They can judge us or say things about us but I choose to honor her memory and believe in the pureness of her love and her desire to ensure a good life for me. 

I took the outfit photos when we visited her for her birthday. I was half expecting rainbows cause I've always believed seeing rainbows meant she was smiling down on me. But I never saw rainbows that day. Still, it doesn't matter so much anymore. I was there to remember. Just to be reminded of her love and with and without rainbows, I know I carry her heart with me. I carry it in mine.

Revenge printed top - Revenge Fork
Black shorts - Forever 21
White sneakers - Cotton On
Sunglasses - Sunnies

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Story of Us: NinJay

"I used to think one day, we'd tell the story of us, how we met and the sparks flew instantly, and people would say, "They're the lucky ones."

I think it is only fitting to tell "the story of us" now that EJ and I are celebrating our 6th month together. I know couples will understand when I say, months and years feel long when you're in a relationship. It feels so good to be celebrating milestones and just looking back at how far you've gone together.

Six months.

But honestly, our story started way longer than that. Specifically, two years ago.

It was August 1, 2013 when I received my first email from him. The subject was, "Hello". It was short and sweet, and like how I tease him about it now... business-like. 

We were brought together by EJ's godmother, she was trying to pair us but he's in Canada and I'm in the Philippines, so in my head, no way was it gonna work. But I didn't mind gaining a new friend, so what the heck. We were emailing each other for about 3 months, added each other on Facebook but really didn't think it would go anywhere than that. Around that time however, the email exchanges started to get longer, we became more interested in each other's lives and for some weird reason, I developed the biggest crush on him. Still, it was a difficult set up so again, I didn't think it would go any further than a crush.

November came however, and I got a black box delivered to my office. It was so freaky cause it was around Halloween but when I opened it, I found these inside:


It was the first time that I kinda considered the possibility of an "us". It was so surprising for me to have someone court me all the way from across the world. He was far from me, there was the time difference (his morning is my evening) and there was just no way he could do it. Right? Well, I was definitely wrong. He started courting me with gifts during occasions (where I first learned all about shipping and customs regulations in the Philippines haha)


 

And he started this random campaign on Instagram "Why Ninin Should Visit Canada"


I reciprocated by sending him gifts as well and we were doing all the courting online.



We moved from emailing each other to Viber-ing everyday. Despite the distance, we grew very close until after more than a year of talking, he finally booked himself a flight to Manila :)


We finally met in March this year. It was one of the most emotional periods in my life but that experience made me realize how much I love him and distance, time or any other obstacle can't stand against us. We both took a leap of faith with each other, it was moving and definitely life changing. We both never had relationships before. I was 26 and he was 30, but on March 24, 2015 we decided to lose the "no boyfriend/girlfriend since birth title" and took that once-in-a-lifetime chance with each other. Here's a little video I did to capture our first moments as a couple:

NinJay from Ninin Sampiano on Vimeo.

Thank you EJ for the wonderful 6 months! I am beyond grateful for this moment here... to be telling our story and remembering all that we're gone through together. Happy 6 months, pangga! Here's to many more for us! I love you!

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Backyard Food Truck Community

If you're from the South and is looking for someplace to spend a chill weekend in, try heading over to The Backyard Food Truck Community in Dasmariñas!


The place is just along Aguinaldo Highway but you can miss it if you're not really looking. It's an enclosed area so from the road, you have to keep an eye out for the sign.


The place itself is really  just like a big enclosed backyard. It was practically an empty lot with food trucks parked inside. That Saturday, there were three food trucks parked: Taco Express, SWAT (Sausage With A Twist) and FugoWagon.


So glad that the rain let up so we had the chance to sit outdoors. It wasn't really a big deal though even if it was raining a bit cause they had tents set up in case that happens.

What's really cool about the place is that apart from the food trucks, it has become a hub for artists to showcase their works and just hang out with fellow artists. There was an outdoor screen where they played short independent films (some were Cinemalaya entries), a corner for musicians, and while we were there, a group went about doing a "spoken word" session. There was also a table set up for henna tattoos and a make shift booth selling shirts. It indeed felt like a "community" of artists.

After getting my nachos (I had a bad craving!) it started raining so we decided to go inside the cafe. The cafe was the only permanent structure inside the backyard, it wasn't really much of a cafe cause they only sold one type of coffee (Cafe Barako) but it had a cafe feel to it, and it was the only place you can get drinks.

The cafe is really cute. Apart from the mismatched chairs and tables, there were so many pieces of art too. What I like most are the artworks on the walls that weren't permanent. When we arrived there were only a few artworks on the wall but as the night went on, there were more being added (some done on bond papers only) that were merely taped on. It was a really a nice touch though and added to the artistic-slash-informal theme of the whole cafe.

It was also cool cause they had a collection of board games and if you're bored (or isn't into poetry or film showing) you can just go inside the cafe and play instead. We played board games with the owner's 9-year old son, who beat us in all the games (haha!)

Overall, we had a great time at The Backyard Food Truck Community. It was a great way to spend a rainy Saturday night. I enjoyed the relaxed artsy vibe of the place and how the atmosphere was just nice and warm. If you're ever in the South, try dropping by. I think this is an experience you would want to try :)

Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheBackyardFTC
Instagram: www.instagram.com/thebackyardftc

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