I moved my blog!

i-moved

Hi guys! I just want to let you know that I just moved my blog to a new home. It’s no longer Jazz and Sass but its Domestic Geek Diva. Different name but still the same geeky goodness.

I hope you’ll visit me there. Also, don’t forget to signup to my newsletter to receive updates. Don’t worry. Your emails are kept confidential. I also won’t be spamming you. So I hope to see you there!

Balay Cafe: Your Home Away from Home

“There’s no place like home.”

When Dorothy of¬†The Wizard of Oz wanted to go home, she only had to click the heels of her pretty sparkling red shoes and say those words, and voila!¬†She’s home sweet home.

¬†Sadly, it doesn’t happen in real life. Especially¬†to¬†students who had to leave their home towns to¬†venture in to big cities, like Cebu (based on Philippine standard :D), to get a university education.

But that sadness can end there.

Because Balay Cafe has just officially opened to serve students, teachers, employees, food lovers and even non-students right inside the University of San Carlos РTalamban Campus. And I was fortunate enough to be part of the event.

Balay Cafe Logo

April 8, 2016 marks the day the cafe opened its doors to serve the public with their student-budget-friendly delectable food, hot drinks, chilled frappes, desserts¬†— yes, there’s ice cream!

Balay Cafe Menu

Slices of leche flan

Balay Cafe's home-cooked buffet

Balay Cafe

Guests where given taste of the different kinds of food that the establishment will be serving along with several mouth-watering drinks, such as frappes, hot drinks and many more.

Apart from the delectable, home-cooked gastronomical line-up Balay Cafe has in store for its patrons, it’s also designed to offer a safe and fun refuge for students who, after a long tiring day at school, need a respite. Or a place where they can study and hang-out with their friends with comfort.

From the outside, those who are unacquainted with it¬†will think it’s just another one of those student dormitories. Once you walk in, though, you’ll be amazed at how the owners have¬†transformed an old canteen in to one with bistro-like ambiance. While ¬†it has retained its open-air design, ¬†the cafe now comes with modern amenities and sophisticated light fixtures to help create that fancy feel without losing its homely vibe.

Colorful glass chandeliers

circle table with floral centerpieces

Round dining table with floral and precious stone centerpieces

large centerpiece with embellished amethyst rocks

A chat with Ms. Charo Barro, the chief financial officer of Kintar Group of Companies, the company that brought to us Balay Cafe along with two other Cebuano-themed cafes (which I hope to visit someday soon and blog about them), revealed that they opened the cafe not with just the students in mind but also for women and micro food entrepreneurs.

She wants to provide an avenue¬†for food vendors who can’t afford to open their own restaurants,¬†karenderyas¬†(or eateries), or even food stalls to sell their products by way of¬†consignment with Balay Cafe. For Ms. Barro, this kind of arrangement is her way of giving back to her community. And to make sure that diners will have a wide variety of food options to choose from.

Some photos I took during the event:

Balay Cafe event host

The effervescent event host during the opening.

Balay Cafe owner with USC-TC president

The lovely Ms. Barro with the USC school president.

Owners of Balay Cafe

Taken during the blessing of the cafe.

wine glasses and wine bottle

Charro and I

Charo and I.

The cafe is open 24/7 to cater mainly to students living in the surrounding dormitories. But outsiders can also dine at cafe. All you need to do is inform the guard where ¬†you’re heading and leave an ID if requested.

Another reason this cafe is worth checking out is that¬†¬†it can also host your events if you prefer a place that’s more intimate and private. The cafe also has a small air-conditioned room for small private events,¬†meetings and business functions. It also has Wi-Fi connection so you can dine at chill while surfing the net.

Balay is a Cebuano term, which means house. And so with Balay Cafe, it offers not just good food and a safe environment, but it also offers an experience of home in every way possible.

For inquiries and event bookings, you can check out Balay Cafe’s facebook page. Just send them a message, and they’ll get back to you as soon as possible. If you have questions or if you want to share your experiences with Balay Cafe, let me know at the comment section below.

Dayun Kamo!
(Welcome, please come in.)

 

How to Shop on Amazon If You’re From the Philippines

Have you always wanted to shop on Amazon.com or on any other US-based online shops but would think otherwise because of shipping cost or your orders might get lost while in transit? Or do you find it frustrating that some of your favorite products are expensive here in the Philippines, or worse, not available in the country at all?

Well, worry no more because you can now shop on US-based online shops like Amazon, Ebay, Asos and a whole lot more with ease.

I’ll show you how to do it.

So normally, when I need to buy something that I can’t find anywhere else, I’d go ¬†to Galleon.ph. It’s an online store where you can buy stuff not being sold in the Philippine market. You can read my review about Galleon.ph here. The problem is their prices are a bit, well, pricey.

Thankfully, I’ve been doing some research and came across LBC Shipping Cart. It’s a web application that lets you¬†buy goods from US online shops conveniently by providing you with a US virtual address you can use for shipping. Once your purchase arrives in the address, LBC will then ship your goods to¬†your Philippine address. Simply put, you shop and they deliver.¬†

How to Shop Using LBC Shipping Cart

I thought the whole process is complicated, but, surprisingly, it wasn’t all the bad. Here are the steps to follow to get you started:

  1. Register¬†at http://www.lbcshippingcart.ph. You can either use your Facebook account to create one or take the long route, which is signing up with your full name and email address. Once done, you’ll be given a US virtual address found at the bottom right of your account page.

LBC shipping cart virtual address

2. If you don’t have an Amazon account, sign up for free here. If you already have one, skip this part.

3. In your Amazon shipping address, use the US virtual address given to you by LBC Shipping Cart as follows:

Amazon shipping address

4.¬†Save and add payment method once done. Just so you know, Amazon doesn’t accept Paypal as your payment method. Thankfully, they accept credit cards from the Philippines. If you don’t have one, you can use Globe’s GCash American Express Virtual Pay. Click the link and it’ll provide you with details on how to shop using GCash.

5. Once everything is set up, you’re now ready to start shopping on Amazon. After you place your order, they’ll then ship your purchase to your US virtual address. All you have to do is wait.

6. Upon arrival of your orders, LBC will notify you through email and an update on your LBC Shipping Cart account page. What I love about it is that they’ll include a picture of your orders so you can decide whether to return or exchange the item for something else. If it doesn’t show, you’ll have to wait a few more days, roughly two to four, for them to update their website. Here’s a screen shot of what they sent me:

LBC shipping cart store items

 

7. Once it’s all good, you can proceed to shipment and pay the shipping fee. The amount is already provided so all you need to do is pay via¬†credit card, Paypal, or cash through an LBC branch¬†near you.

8. As soon as payment is confirmed, LBC will then deliver your orders straight to your doorstep. It takes approximately five to 15 days by air and up to two months by sea. It all depends on the shipping method you selected.

It’s a long wait, but it’s worth it. I placed my order on March 4th, and I got it on March 22nd. It was 18 days long, which is not bad. In fact, it was earlier than expected so yay!

As for the cost, well, I was able to save. If I bought my items here, it’d probably cost me around PhP 5,000 because the shades alone cost around PhP 3,500. ¬†On Amazon, it cost around PhP 1,700+. I also compared the prices on Galleon, and it also costs more. So it’s good thing I found LBC Shipping Cart. ūüėÄ

Here some pictures of recent purchase from Amazon.com:

Top view of LBC delivery box

angled view of LBC delivery box

Contents of LBC and Amazon delivery box

Image of orders from Amazon
AO Eyewear, helping hand tool and wire rounder

So you see? Shopping on Amazon is no longer a hassle because you can feel rest assured that your purchases will reach you in time. You may have the option to ship directly to Philippines, but not all sellers on Amazon offers that option and it may cost too since you’ll have to deal with customs and all.

Will I shop again on Amazon? I definitely would! In fact, I already have a shopping list to fulfill. Hahaha! ūüėÄ

And that’s about it! Have fun shopping! If you have any questions, just let me now by commenting below. ūüėÄ

Book Review: Moonlight (Crowns of the Twelve #2)


Moonlight book cover

source: Goodreads.com

Review Rate: Five Open Books

5 open books
Author: Ann Hunter
Genre: Fantasy / Retellings
Published: March 3, 2014 by Afterglow Productions
Support the Author: 

amazon buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Disclosure:  I just thought I’d let you know that I received this book  for free from the publisher to give my honest review. I’m not paid to do this review. All my opinions are of my own are not influenced in any way from the author and publisher. 

Synopsis:

One vow. One curse. One thousand moons. While Princess Aowyn’s six brothers are favored by their father, Aowyn is the jewel in her mother’s crown. When the Queen dies, Aowyn takes a vow to protect her brothers and father from the hungry eyes of the queen’s handmaiden, Ciatlllait – who is more than she seems. In order to save her family, Aowyn risks a dangerous deal with the dark creature Sylas Mortas. But magic comes with a price: and Aowyn soon realizes the one she has paid is too steep. Only true love can reverse the spell…but it will take one thousand moons.

Set in a Celtic world, “Moonlight” is the story of faith and true love woven through a breathtaking retelling of the classic folktale “The Swan Princess”

Review: 

Truth be told. After reading¬†The Subtle Beauty,¬†I didn’t expect much from this book. I thought¬†Moonlight will just be like¬†The Subtle Beauty: cheesy and lacking in emotional connection.

But boy oh boy was I surprised. Not only did I enjoy the story, it also made me cry, which seldom happens when I ready fairy tales. Anyway, on to my review.

Moonlight is a re-telling of one of the most popular childhood fairy tales,¬†The Swan Princess. But instead of reading Odette’s story and how she became a swan, the author, Anne Hunter, gave it a different twist. A really interesting twist at that.

It tells the story of a young Celtic princess, Aowyn, and her seven¬†brothers and her struggles to defeat her evil stepmother who poisoned his father. It also tells the love story of Aowyn and Xander, Eoghan’s father in¬†The Subtle Beauty.

What really impressed me the most is Aowyn’s character. Even though she’s a princess of a prosperous kingdom, she was humble, self-less and strong. ¬†She wasn’t also naive.¬†She felt something different in one of her mother’s maid and she made sure to keep an eye on her. If it weren’t for her, her family would’ve perished without a fight.

Another characteristic that I love about Aowyn is her integrity. She stuck to her promise with the devil even if it meant losing the person she loved. Her brothers didn’t disappoint as well. Although at the beginning, most of them were proud and self-absorbed, they saw their sister’s sacrifices throughout the years and made sure to be their for her when she needed the most.

Xander’s character was also different from what he was in¬†The Subtle Beauty.¬† In¬†Moonlight, he was kind, caring and humble. It was easy for him to abandon ship when the going got tough for him and his army, but he stayed and tried his best to finish the mission he was sent out to.

As most fairy tales promise, the ending of Moonlight demonstrated that love conquers all.  It definitely has a happy ending  that you could truly savor, which is the perfect anti-climax after a stormy beginning and a tumultuous middle.

You’ll find that Moonlight isn’t just about a love story of¬†star-crossed lovers, but it’s also a tale about family, duty, honor, integrity and righteous sacrifice. For me, I find them to be the right ingredients of what fairy tales should teach us.

Favorite Quotes: 

“Fear departs when faith endures.” ~ Naomi W. Randall

Find something in life worth fighting for.

Be more than one thing. Be. More.

Get a copy: amazon buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Book Review: The Subtle Beauty (Crowns of the Twelve #1)

The Subtle Beauty book coversource: Goodreads.com

Review rate: Four Open Books

4 open books the girl in the steel corset

Author: Anne Hunter
Genre: Fantasy
Published: January 2, 2014 by Afterglow Productions
Support the Author:
amazon

 

 

Disclosure:¬†Before I proceed, I just thought I’d let you know that I received this book for free. And I’m not paid to do this review. All my opinions are of my own are not influenced in any way from the author and publisher.¬†

Synopsis: 

A cursed prince. A vain beauty. Glory is the seventh daughter of Balthazar, High King of the Twelve Kingdoms. Glory hopes that – of all her sisters – she can escape the fate of a loveless marriage. But on the night she plans to elope with the royal falconer, her world comes crashing down: Her father announces Glory’s betrothal to Eoghan of the Blood Realm – a prince no one has ever seen. The prince is said to be a recluse, cursed and deformed by the gods for the sins of his power-hungry father. Yet when Glory is trapped in Blackthorn Keep she discovers that not everything is what she expected. An insulting gryphon, a persistent ghost, and a secret plan to usurp the prince keep Glory reeling.

In this retelling of BEAUTY & THE BEAST, can Glory overcome her vanity to learn that what she wants isn‚Äôt what she needs‚ÄĒand save the cursed prince?

Review: 

We’re all familiar with the fairy tale¬†Beauty and the Beast. I’m sure that many of you would even say that it’s one of your favorite classic fairy tales. Likewise, Belle is also my favorite among the Disney princesses. She’s smart, bookish and beautiful. Some of the things I can relate to — Hahaha! Just kidding!

So anyway,¬†when I was asked to read and write a review for the¬†The Subtle Beauty,¬†I didn’t think twice.¬†A twist to may favorite classic fantasy store is something I couldn’t resist.

However, instead of the prince being cursed for being rude and mean, he was cursed because of his father’s greed. And instead of¬†the heroine being the kind, beautiful and smart woman who can change the prince’s life, Glory is vain, rude and selfish.

It’s interesting to note that in¬†The Subtle Beauty,¬†beauty is the beast and beast is the beauty — wait. Did that make sense? I got a bit confused there.

Anyway, the story began with¬†Eoghan’s mother heavily pregnant of her and his father worried that a prince will be born with no lands to rule over. Out of desperation, Xander (the prince’s father) made a deal with the devil in exchange for land, power and wealth for his son. To make the long story short, he got what he wish with an expensive price to pay.

Fast forward to many years, Eoghan meets Glory after being betrothed to one another, and began their love-hate relationship. But, like many fairy tale endings, love conquered in the end. I’m not going to relate everything here since I don’t want to spoil it. This, I gotta say though, is that¬†The Subtle Beauty,¬†despite its cliche, is an interesting read.

I liked how the writer¬†Ann Hunter twisted the plot to answer the question¬†what if beauty is isn’t beautiful in the inside?¬†Will beast still love her? Well, in the story it’s possible even if the roles were reversed.

What I didn’t like, though, is that I didn’t¬†fall in love with their love story. Perhaps the reason is that it lacked the emotional connection. Sure, the prince was kind to Glory in most instances but, for me, it wasn’t enough.¬†I thought Glory falling in love with the was premature because half the time they’re together was spent on banter. And it’s not enough to make someone fall in love, in my opinion.

There were some deja-vu-like instances in the story. It contained sequence of events similar to Disney’s¬†Beauty and the Beast. What took my by surprise, however, was that the ending didn’t end where the prince died. It was nice to read that Glory grew from a spoiled rich princess in to this lovely, mature woman post-Eoghan. The character development was really something.

As for the ending, well, let me warn you that I find it to be too cheesy for my taste. Hahaha! I’m not going to tell you what. Suffice to say that it made me cringe a little bit like I did when I re-read¬†Twilight.¬†But don’t worry. It’s not all that bad. Maybe you’ll find it romantic.

Overall,¬†The Subtle Beauty¬†is an interesting. It’s a nice re-telling of the classic fairy tale we’ve all grown to love. The writing style was satisfactory. Their story didn’t communicate well with me, but I enjoyed it. I rate it four open books because it has a good story. But not great enough to make me go gaga. I can put my e-book reader down any time without an ounce of resistance, if you ya know what I mean. ūüėČ

Favorite Quotes: 

I found none that I would like to treasure. Sorry.

If I read it again, I’ll probably find one or two quotable quotes.

Read The Subtle Beauty:
amazon

Up next: Book review on Moonlight (Crowns of the Twelve #2). 

The Buzz Cafe: Mixing Business with Pleasure

One of the things that I love about my job is that every month I get to meet with this amazing people and talk not just about work but also about other things just to unwind after a stressful week. Of course, the highlight is sharing stories over good food.

The Buzz Cafe image collage

For last week’s meeting, we went to The Buzz Cafe of the famous Bohol Bee Farm. Apparently, they opened a branch here, which got us really excited. We don’t have to travel to Bohol to taste their famous ice cream and buy their organic stuff.

When we got their, we had to wait several minutes before they could seat us because their restaurant was packed during the busy lunch hour. But it was worth the wait.

We were seated at a long farm table with upholstered banquettes and chairs, giving our whole dining experience that provincial feel. A look at the entire dining place¬†and you can say it’s pretty cozy.¬†Floor-to-ceiling glass walls brighten the room, illuminating their beautiful upcycled decorations on the walls.

The food doesn’t fare behind as well. Although the price is a bit pricey, what you’ll eat is organic. And the taste is just delish. A feat you’ll enjoy dining at another classy restaurant only healthier. So for health-conscious individuals, The Buzz Cafe should be in your radar.

Here’s a video montage I created about our recent visit in the place. I hope you like it. You can check it on my¬†YouTube channel, too.

The Buzz Cafe MenuIMG_9383

IMG_9384

IMG_9385

IMG_9386

IMG_9441 copy

The Quintessential Bathroom Groupfie and Selfie. ūüėÄIMG_9440 copy

Full-length selfie

IMG_9435 copy

My OOTD. ūüėÄIMG_9443-1

Top: H&M
Maxi Skirt: Charlotte Russe
Sandals: Nicole
Studded Crossbody Bag: Aldo
Bird’s Nest Necklace: Drea Drazz Handmade Jewelry

 

90s-Music Surprise Wedding Dance Number

As you know, my brother got married last month. Being the youngest, and because we want to make special events like this extra memorable, my other siblings and I were talked in to doing a surprise number for the bride.

The mastermind? My younger bro, of course! He wanted to surprise his lovely bride and wanted to do something different for their first dance, so he came up with the idea of dancing along three popular songs back in the ’90s (which also happens to be their wedding theme).

And we did. The choreographer is my other brother, which you’ll probably guess just by watching the video. In case you’re wondering, it only took us two hours or less to practice the entire dance routines on a Saturday, with only 20% practice and 80% chitchat. Haha! Regardless, we really had fun, and the bride didn’t see it coming. ūüėÄ

You can check out this video on YouTube. Don’t forget to share if you enjoyed them. And let us know what you think? Especially in how we can improve our performance for the future. After all, I still have two more single brothers. Hahaha!

 

What’s Going on With Me

Hi, guys!

It’s been a while.¬† I know,¬† I know.¬† I’ve been MIA for quite some time, and I feel really bad because part of my 2016 resolution was to take blogging seriously, you know, and I haven’t gotten around to doing it.

I’ve thought of some things on how to make my blog better so hopefully I’ll be able to do them before the 2nd quarter rolls in.¬† If not,¬† perhaps in the third quarter.

Well,  enough of that.  How are you?

As for me,¬† I really have lots of catching up to do. I have to some posts all the way from December up to the present that I need to put up on the blog. Since after our holiday,¬† I’ve been really busy.

First off,¬† I had a¬†photoshoot engagement.¬† Then we had to travel to Cagayan de Oro in the 2nd week of January to do the traditional pamanhikan before my brother got married. I’ll be posting out about our mini adventure soon.

After that,  my weeks leading up to February has been pretty hectic.  I had to spend cupious amount of my free time editing tons of engagement photos.  Had to design and make the wedding invitations too.  All of which you can check out on my newly set up website,  www.pixeart.com.

FB header

The website was another reason I haven’t been updating on my book reviews. I wanted to create a portfolio site where I can showcase my photography work,¬† hoping to go pro one day.

I hope you can visit my site,¬† www.pixeart.com and let me know what you think about my work. I’d really appreciate it if you can share some insights on how I can improve my photography skills.¬† Any input would be really helpful.

After that, there was the wedding. With such a short amount of time to prepare, I was pretty bogged down after that. I never thought preparing for a wedding was that stressful. When hubs and I got married, I was pretty much hands-on in the wedding preparations. Not only did I have to deal with the invitations, wedding souvenirs and whatnot, I also had to do a lot of packing for my move to Palawan that time. It was stressful but I never felt it. Oh well, perhaps it was the excitement that fueled me.

Despite the hectic schedule, I did a lot of reading in my spare time. One of them was the Pretty Little Liars book series. And of course, I can’t wait to share to you what I think about them. So stay tuned.

And that’s about it! I’ll keep you posted soon.

Books Instead of Toys in McDonald’s Happy Meals

 

50 Million books by 2016 by McDonald's

So I was scrolling down on Facebook for something interesting to curb my short attention span before I get to work, and I stumbled upon an article announcing that McDonald’s will be serving on the children’s books with their Happy Meals instead of the usual toys.

I thought, cool!

Finally, someone thought about it.

I mean I’m not against the idea of giving free toys along with a meal. It’s just that books can be expensive for some people, especially children’s books. I don’t know why a tiny book with only a few pages can cost more than Php 300. It’s crazy! Anyway, I’m sure any parent will appreciate¬†that someone else, let alone a popular fast-food chain, is encouraging their kids to read instead of spending copious amount of time playing video games and whatnot.

Besides, wouldn’t be cool if kids these days read more? ¬†I think society will be in a better place if people read more, especially during their free time. My mom used to tell me that¬†idle hands are the devil’s workshop.¬†She’d tell me that people who are bored usually resort to doing illegal stuff, like doing drugs or do petty crimes for the fun of it. That’s why we grew up with volumes of encyclopedias lying around the house and shelves filled with books.

Anyway, what McDonald’s is doing is really cool. I think they’re doing a really huge favor to their customers instead of the other way around.

How I wish McDonald’s Philippines will do the same thing here. I may not have kids, but I’ll probably drag may nephews and niece to the nearest restaurant for a bite. Seriously, they need to know how reading books can be enjoyable. ūüėÄ

So to all my friends who are in the US right now, don’t miss out on this. Grab a meal for your kids, nephews, nieces, friends’ kids, neighbors’ kids, or for yourself. The fast-food chain is running this campaign only until February 15th.

For more details about this awesome promo, check our McDonald’s newsroom.