Cafe Seolhwa: Bingsu Date with my Sister

My sisters and I have been roommates ever since I can remember. Whenever I’m with them, I can honestly say that I feel very much at home. I guess it’s because I’ve spent more than two decades making good and crazy memories with them, having pillow talks, playing imaginary drums on our bellies before going to bed, and sharing our clothes, shoes, accessories, and bags with each other. However, ever since we started working, we somehow slowly drifted apart. It was ironic because even though we saw each other every morning and evening, we didn’t have the same closeness and bond that we had before. But, by God’s grace, He still gives us opportunities to develop our relationships at home. One of the major highlights that I experienced recently was the 9-month bonding that my eldest sister (Camille) and I had since last August. Looking back, I realized that it was one of God’s opportunities for us to get to know each other’s hearts more.

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It started when our company transferred to another city last Summer. My sister graciously offered to bring me closer to work and to wait for me everyday since her workplace was also in the same area. I was hesitant at first because I knew that it would be a hassle for her. Picking me up from work everyday meant that she would wait for 2 hours in the afternoon and patiently go through the heavy traffic during rush hour. I was also hesitant because I was used to having my alone time (which my introverted self sincerely enjoyed) to and from work since I was employed almost four years ago. However, because commuting to and from our new office would cost more (considering the time and effort), I agreed to our carpool arrangement.

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This went on for months and even though we didn’t know how long we would be doing it, my sister continued to help me in this aspect. (Thank you, ate!) A few weeks ago, we had some changes in our transportation and schedule and we eventually decided to end our daily carpooling adventures. When it was finally sinking in that we weren’t going to work together and that she wouldn’t be waiting for me anymore, I suddenly had a separation anxiety. We had nine months of driving along C5, watching sunsets together, spotting stray cats and dogs on the streets, talking about the blessings and victories after a long day at work, ranting about stressful and discouraging situations, enjoying the sights of rainstorms and lightnings, taking turns in driving the car home, being silent when we weren’t in the mood to talk, sharing our hearts’ dreams and goals, treating ourselves to fastfood, and playing new songs in the car.

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It was definitely a wonderful set of experiences that my heart will treasure forever. Even though I was hesitant at first, I saw God’s grace at work in our hearts and in my relationship with my older sister. During the past months, we not only had our ultimate bonding experience but she was also able to make good use of her daily waiting time by developing her skills and craft in calligraphy and painting. Also, because of our carpooling adventures, I was able to experience the wonders of walking around the city where our office is and discovering interesting finds like free Krispy Kreme donuts in the morning, new photography sights, and making friends with strangers (e.g. Sweepers, policemen, etc. in Bonifacio Global City) on my way to work. It was also a good cardio workout for me as I enjoyed a 30-minute walk to the office while listening to my favorite songs. Somehow, God still allowed me to have my alone time which filled my heart.

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I know that sometimes we may not fully understand why God allows things to happen in our lives. But, through this experience, I am reminded and encouraged to trust in Him as I welcome changes. From the start, God knew that this would be good for my heart and I’m glad that He allowed my sister and I to share special moments together on the road.

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To celebrate our 9-month adventure, I treated my sister to one of my favorite dessert places in town. This is one of the few and quite expensive treats that I sincerely want my family members to try. I fell in love with Café Seolhwa’s bingsu when I first tasted its soft and sweet shaved and milky ice that melts in the mouth. The flavors that I’ve tried so far are the Mango Cheese bingsu and the Berry Cheese bingsu. I wouldn’t mind ordering them again and again. The only branch I’ve tried so far is the one located inside Bonifacio Global City. I love the artworks inside the store, the Korean music playing in the background, and the awesome presentation of bingsu desserts. One regular size of bingsu costs around Php 240, but it is already good for sharing (2-3 persons). For more details, you can click on the link at the end of this post.

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In the near future, I hope that I can bring the rest of my family there too. But, for this month, I had the privilege of enjoying both flavors with my eldest sister. Hooray! Sometimes, it still feels a bit weird not travelling home with my sister. But, I guess it’s time for me to move on (haha!) and welcome new changes in my life.

Maybe, it’s time for me to have new adventures with my other siblings as well. :)

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To my eldest roomie at home, thank you for graciously, unconditionally, and patiently driving for me and waiting for me for the past nine months. Like what Justin Bieber said in one of his songs: “You know I love you. You know I care. Just shout whenever and I’ll be there!” HAHAHA. See ya later, alligator!

CAFÉ SEOLHWA

https://www.facebook.com/seolhwabingsu/

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Project Pie: A Personal Touch to Pizza

You can’t go wrong with eating pizza and enjoying bottomless iced lemonade on a hot summer day.

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It was fun to be spontaneous again. My dear friend who went on a trip abroad came home a few weeks ago and invited me for lunch today. She asked me yesterday and I immediately said yes! Usually, we would hang out inside coffee shops. But, this time, we both agreed to eat at a lovely and creative pizza place called “Project Pie”. It was my second time to try this restaurant and so far, I’ve had pleasant experiences in both branches (SM Megamall and Eastwood).

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Project Pie offers two ways in ordering their pizza. We can either order by number (pre-set flavors) or build our own pizza by choosing the ingredients and sauce that we want. For our lunch today, my friend (Jessica) and I ordered one banana nutella pizza and one customized pizza which included mozzarella, parmesan, Italian sausage, bacon, basil, prosciutto, and garlic. It didn’t take long before our hot pies were on our table. I think it took 10 minutes to bake each pie in the oven. Not bad!

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The pizza crust was thin, crisp, and chewy at the same time. It didn’t taste like the usual Italian pizza dough, but it was still delicious. However, it would be nice if the pie was bigger especially since it was worth Php 285. Nonetheless, I did appreciate the ff: their use of fresh ingredients for the toppings, how the utensils and dispensers for the drinks were neatly arranged, and the friendly and accommodating crew members inside the store.

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I think one of the strengths that Project Pie has is its drive to engage the customers. Even if their pies are a bit expensive, a lot of customers still line up for them! Personally, I think that the experience of seeing raw ingredients transform to delicious pizza pies in minutes makes it worthwhile. Not to mention, hearing your name being called by their staff as they present a freshly baked pie topped with your choice of meat, vegetables, and sizzling, melted cheese.

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Somehow, it reminded me of my lunch date with Jessica. We could have just updated each other through SMS or online chat, but because we communicated in person and had our lunch and tour around Eastwood together, it had a nice impression on our friendship. Similar to what Project Pie does, there was a personal touch to our experiences today! While we were on our way home, I even found out something new about Jessica! She can also hear and sing harmonies! Woohoo! I love it!

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If you haven’t tried Project Pie yet, I would suggest that you stop by and experience it at least once… or thrice! :P

PROJECT PIE MANILA

https://www.facebook.com/projectpiephilippines/

 

To My Polar Bear Dad

“Nicolas, I have a gift for you!” My dad randomly gave me a yellow microfiber cloth for my camera’ lens before we left for our family’s dinner last night. Yay! It was such a simple gift, but it reminded me of how God provides and how He knows what I need, even without me asking for it. You see, yesterday morning, for some reason, I remembered how dad would graciously lend me his microfiber cloth (the one he uses for his eyeglasses) whenever I forget to bring mine. This usually happens when we eat out as a family. Having that cloth is very important to me because I sometimes accidentally touch the lens of my camera. It was just amazing that without me saying anything to anyone, he surprised me and gave me a lens cloth last night! Awesome! Thank you, dad!

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Just this morning, God reminded me once again of his provision while I was looking for a parking space in our church’s building. I left the house late so I arrived at the lobby area a few minutes before the worship started. It was almost impossible for me to find a slot in the basement parking. But, by God’s grace, he allowed me to park at one of the last few available slots just in time for the worship service. After attending the service, I went to the supermarket nearby to do some errands. Again, because I knew that a lot of people would be eating lunch at the supermarket, I knew that I would most likely have to wait for a parking slot. I whispered a prayer to God and told Him that if it was His will for me to save more time and park immediately, I prayed for a slot to free up. A few seconds later, one of the cars near me left!

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Aaaahhh! I just love those kinds of moments. Sometimes, it’s the little things that speak volumes to our hearts. God has so many attributes that I am thankful for. But today, I want to honor Him by being my ultimate provider. Before I could even pray for or have the desire for something, He already knows it! He knows what I need and He provides for me. But, more than receiving the material things in life, He gave me the greatest gift we can have and that is eternal life with Him through his son, Jesus. Because of His love and His gift (that we do not deserve), we are able to live life abundantly.

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This Father’s day, I want to honor the fathers in my life. :)

To my dearest dad, thank you for encouraging me to know Jesus and to grow in my walk with Him. Thank you for working hard and for providing for the family. You have always been thoughtful and I appreciate you for that. Thank you for giving us the most random things like our stock of green mangoes, my worm fertilizer for the plants, chicken mami soup for dinner whenever mom’s not around, and for the polar bear hugs every time you go home. Thank you for encouraging us to be good stewards of the things that God has graciously blessed us with. From taking care of the vehicles to budgeting and saving wisely to not excessively consuming electricity at home, and many more.

I pray that this year, we (my siblings and I) will get to know your heart even more. I pray that you will continue to love and serve the Lord and love mom. Even after almost a decade, the attitude of gratitude that you’ve taught me still remains in my heart. (If you can still remember, it started many years ago, when you gave me money for the electric guitar that I wanted to buy! Haha). Thank you, Dad! Happy Father’s Day!

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And of course, to my heavenly Father, you know the deepest desires and struggles of my heart and yet You still love me the same. Words can never express how grateful I am to have a personal relationship with You. Thank You for constantly speaking to me, picking me up when I fall down, for making me the way I am, and for loving me unconditionally. You deserve more than my best praises and I look forward to having and documenting more memories with You.

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”  –1 John 3:1

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Sunflowers and Rain Showers at UP Diliman

“You should get some sun, Nicole.” This was the advice given to me by one of my colleagues after I told her that I still had colds. It’s been three days already and although I think I am getting better, my voice still sounds funny and I still need to bring a lot of tissue wherever I go. While I was scrolling through my news feed yesterday, I saw a photo of one of our family friends which caught my attention. He took a selfie in front of sunflowers! Immediately, I knew that he was inside U.P. Diliman because they do have thousands of sunflowers near the oblation statue. It didn’t take long before I had the idea to visit the place too. Surprisingly, when I asked my older brother if he could go with me today, he agreed!

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I rarely visit Quezon city because it’s not near our home. So, I wanted to drive going to the University of the Philippines. It wasn’t as difficult as I expected. By God’s grace, we arrived before 3 pm and parked a few blocks from where the sunflowers were planted. On our way to the parking lot, I said “Wow” a couple of times as I quickly gazed on the rows of sunflowers. They looked tall, healthy, and beautiful. It was such a lovely sight! As soon as we parked, I grabbed my camera and brought a small bag with me and we walked more than a hundred meters towards the sunflowers.

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I really enjoyed my quick date with my older brother. While we were walking, I took photos of random things on the street and happily shouted “Yay! Kuya, we are spending Independence Day inside the University of the Philippines. I love it!” After maybe 5-8 minutes of walking, we finally saw the sunflowers up close. I could still remember how my eyes beamed with delight as I stared at the sunflowers one by one. Bees were everywhere! They transferred from one sunflower to another, but it didn’t scare us at all. We were just amazed by how the sunflowers grew beautifully. (Side note: We bought Sunflower plants from Tagaytay months before and they didn’t survive at home. Hahaha! So, looking at thousands of sunflowers really made us stand in awe.)

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I took my time taking photos of the flowers, bees, and my brother. And he also took a lot of photos of me. Haha! It was such a fun and spontaneous activity! I think we stayed for 15-20 minutes in the area. After we took a couple of selfies with the Sunflowers behind us, we started to feel a soft drizzle of rain. We looked up and saw a dark cloud over us but we didn’t think it would rain that hard. Haha. Unfortunately, it did. For the next five minutes, we ran like crazy and stayed under a huge tree with branches sticking out. We just laughed at the random and heavy pour of rain, but we were very grateful too because we had the privilege of quickly touring the place and taking photos while the sun was still out.

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I kept laughing and telling my brother how cool the experience was and how amazing and gracious God was! I remembered my prayer on our way to U.P. Diliman and I asked God to protect us and allow us to see and enjoy the Sunflowers. It was a simple prayer from my heart and by God’s grace, He answered it. It was a humbling moment for me because we planned to go to the place by 12 noon. But, because I was late, we left at around 2 pm already. Despite this, He still gave us enough time to have fun and take photos inside U.P. before we got drenched in the rain.

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God really is amazing. To be honest, I would have enjoyed walking, running, and dancing in the rain. But, I had a camera with me, so for obvious reasons, I couldn’t. Haha. Nonetheless, it was a very memorable experience for me and my brother. We eventually took a taxi to the parking lot and we went home safely.

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I sincerely believe that God knows what is best for us no matter what situation we are in. For me, although I think it might not help my colds, the rain at the end of our activity was a bonus because I love rain! He not only allowed me to enjoy the sun and sunflowers this afternoon. But, He literally refreshed us with rain! What a way to celebrate Independence Day! Thank You, Lord.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.

[Psalm 23:1-3]

I’m not sure how long the Sunflowers will be there at U.P. But, if you can, I’d encourage you to drop by and enjoy the view.

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