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/

 

Food Photography Workshop by Artu Nepomuceno

I just came from a Food Photography workshop by Artu Nepomuceno at a dainty Italian restaurant in Burgos Circle named Casa Italia. Sitting in a room with a random group of aspiring food photographers was like a breath of fresh air. Usually, I spend my Saturday mornings resting at home. But today, I was very much eager to learn and have a quick adventure in the city.

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During the workshop, Artu shared about the Do’s and Don’t’s in taking photos of food and drinks, specifically. He also talked about pricing, taking photos at different angles, appreciating the story and people behind the food, and even choosing the right gear, accessories, and props for this type of photography.

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My favorite part of the workshop was the hands-on activity. The participants paired up and attempted to style and take photos of certain dishes from the restaurant. My partner (Joe) at the workshop and I chose the plate of spaghetti. It was challenging because we only had limited props available. But, it was also fun and interesting to experiment with different angles and concepts.

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Afterwards, we all went back to the room and evaluated the photos we took. Artu showed the photos to the group and gave constructive criticism and detailed points for improvement. It was the part of the workshop that I appreciated the most because we were given the opportunities to apply the tips he shared earlier today and at the same time, we learned from the strengths and weaknesses of each photo shown to the group.

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Before today, I didn’t really think about how the number of forks used in a photo of a single dish would have an effect on the overall appearance. Haha. But, even in this simple illustration, I learned from Artu that it is better to use just one fork especially when taking a photo of one dish even if we wanted to show that the dish was for a couple or a pair. Using one fork (one set of utensils) shows the intimacy in the photo which sets a completely different mood. It was very interesting.

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Just before the workshop ended, our speaker asked the participants if we had any more questions. A lady in the room then asked him “Will you continue to have workshops in the future?” and Artu replied, “As long as there are opportunities, the teaching will never stop.” Aaahhh! I love how he casually and sincerely answered it. The teaching will never stop. Of course, on my part, learning about photography will never stop as well. There’s still so much to learn, to experiment with, and to take photos of! This year, by God’s grace, I will be sharing more stories and lessons learned with you through photography. Hopefully, you can share yours with me too!

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Thank you, Manila Workshops, for organizing this event! Thank you, also, Artu Nepomuceno, for graciously sharing your knowledge and skill in photography and food styling. May God continue to use you to inspire the young and young at heart to pursue their passions in life.

ARTU NEPOMUCENO

Website: http://www.open-art.photography/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/artunepo/

MANILA WORKSHOPS

http://manilaworkshops.com/

CASA ITALIA

http://www.casaitalia.com.ph/

Share the Joy: Shared 50 Free Krispy Kreme Donuts

It all started when my sister and I were running late for work.  Just before 7 am last August 5, she dropped me off at a mall which was a couple of blocks away from my office. She usually drives me to work, but since we left the house late that morning, I had no choice but to walk more than a kilometer to our building. However, on my way to the office, I dropped by the Krispy Kreme store since I still had a lot of time to spare. Walking into the store that morning was one of the biggest blessings I’ve had this year. It was the start of a very interesting and heartwarming adventure for me… oh, and for 50 strangers and friends as well.

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Before I ordered a donut from the store, one of their staff members walked towards me with an original glazed donut in her hand. She cheerfully greeted me and handed me the warm treat. At first, I didn’t understand what was happening, but as soon as she showed me the hot light, I remembered how selected stores would give away free donuts when the light is turned on. It was such an encouraging time for me because I was disappointed with myself and my situation that morning. We left the house late which caused me to walk a longer distance to work. But, when I got a free donut, all I could think of was God’s grace, provision, thoughtfulness, and goodness.

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A week later, the same thing happened again. So, I went on my way and passed by the same route I took before. As soon as I reached the street where the Krispy Kreme store was, I noticed that the hot light was turned on again! Without any hesitation, I walked in the store and they handed me a donut… for free. I remember thinking “Seriously? This is so cool. It’s my second time to receive a free donut this month!” However, instead of eating the treat, God encouraged me to give it away. I gave the second donut to one of the sweepers near the Krispy Kreme store and it was definitely a blessing to share it with a stranger.

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After that day, I told my sister that I was okay with being dropped off a couple of blocks away from our office. When I thought about it, walking that far wasn’t that bad. I knew that it would somehow help me spiritually and physically too. (e.g. simple cardio routine in the morning, have an extended quiet time with the Lord before going to work, etc.). So, ever since August, I’ve been walking more than a kilometer to work every morning, which was a big improvement for me because I was used to bringing a car to work every day for two years. Yay!

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What started out as a disappointment turned into a blessing! As weird and funny as it sounds, in the days, weeks, and months after I got my second free donut, God graciously gave me 50 more opportunities to pass by the store when the hot light was turned on. It was crazy and cool at the same time. Also, when I received the 16th free donut last Sept. 16, I was encouraged to continue sharing the treats to the strangers around me. Somehow, I was encouraged to keep on extending His love and goodness to others by sharing the free donuts that I receive. I usually get one free donut in a day. But, there were some instances when I got two.

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In the last four months, I’ve had the privilege of giving away 50 free, original glazed donuts to 50 friendly strangers and friends in the area. It’s so amazing how God used this experience to speak to my heart. It’s also interesting how Krispy Kreme operates by the motto: “Share the Joy”. As I type this entry on Christmas day, I can’t help but be reminded of the best kind of joy that we can ever experience and share. And it comes from the best gift that I’ve received in my life – JESUS. More than receiving free donuts and having the joy of sharing treats to others, my heart is blessed by the truth that God sent His one and only son, Jesus, to die on the cross and rise again many years ago. He saved us from our sins and He became the only way for us to spend eternity with Him in Heaven. Amazing grace, indeed!

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”-Romans 5:8

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Here are some of the things that I’ve learned by giving away free Krispy Kreme donuts this year:

1. You can’t give what you don’t have. – If it weren’t for the hot light, I wouldn’t have been able to receive and share the free donuts. In the same way, because I’ve experienced joy, peace, and hope in Jesus, I also want to share it with you too. This Christmas season, I pray that we would be encouraged to know, experience, and share Him to others too.

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2. Even when you don’t feel like giving, still give. – There were days when I passed by the store and saw the hot light turned on, but I didn’t feel like getting a free donut and giving it to a stranger. Being the introvert that I am, I usually prefer to just do my own thing. But through the experience, I was encouraged to selflessly give and share the resources that I have to others every time I can, especially if it would help them feel God’s love and goodness.

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3. Sometimes, people will reject you and/or what you share, but don’t let it stop you from sharing what you have. – In the past four months, I think I’ve experienced 3-4 rejections from strangers. I would usually smile and say “Hi! Would you like a free donut from Krispy Kreme?” Usually, the strangers would give me a big smile and say “Wow! Sure! Thank you!”. But, there were a few who gave me a weird/serious look and responded negatively. Sometimes, it made me feel conscious about myself. But, afterwards, I was reminded that giving away the free donuts wasn’t about me, but about the sincere desire to share to others; to help them experience the same joy that I had.

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4. A small act of encouragement goes a long way. – Every now and then, strangers, family, and friends need encouragement. It may seem like a trivial thing to do, but I am encouraged to be a blessing to others even through the simplest things (e.g. sharing bible verses to a friend who is going through a difficult time, praying for and with a family member, listening to a friend, etc.).

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This Christmas, one of my officemates gave me a Krispy Kreme calendar as a gift. It made me smile because it reminded me of the experience that I had this year. I was sincerely happy with the calendar itself. But, after a few hours, I realized that the calendar had coupons for free donuts/drinks and it had discounts too! In her greeting, she said “I am giving this to you because I know that you will be sharing the treats to others too.” Hahaha! I loved the idea! When I first gave a donut away, I didn’t think it would lead me to give 49 more donuts to random people by the end of the year. But, God has His way of using ordinary people to bless others too. I hope and pray that you, dear reader, would be encouraged to know and share the Joy that we have in Jesus as we welcome a new year.

Merry Christmas! :)

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