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Happy Eating!

4 Jan

Just a Sunday thought for everyone because I know Sundays are meant for pigging out and this weather makes it even worse. I want to bury myself in steak today! Happy Sunday!

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Sweet Incantations Confectionery

2 Jan
Happy Happy at Sweet Incantations Confectionery

Happy Happy at Sweet Incantations Confectionery

Happy New Year everyone! Let’s ring in the New Year with a new and very indulgent post, shall we?

So my friends and I have this annual Christmas celebration together: where we eat, catch up and have our studio pictures taken (which we forgot to do in 2014! oooppsss). Since the metro was still experiencing rain showers following Typhoon Seniang, we opted to meet and have a quiet dinner at Ayala Center Cebu. We picked something familiar this time – Bigby’s – which I think I don’t have to elaborate much on since they are an institution in Cagayan de Oro City and here in Cebu. But we wanted to try out something new for dessert – it was either Butterbean or Sweet Incantations Confectionery.

If that's not mouthwatering I don't know what is

If that’s not mouthwatering I don’t know what is

Due to the limited parking space and the bright lights at Butterbean, my friend’s boyfriend thought maybe Sweet Incantations Confectionery was a better idea. Just a literal stone’s throw away, we ended up at one of the coziest cafes in Cebu (and a way better parking space too!).

From the outside, Sweet Incantations Confectionery looks pretty impressive already for its minimal decor. The wall was filled with photographs of travels around the world, perhaps of the owner. It had enough space for big groups and intimate spaces for couples as well. But the highlight of the place was its display case – not your ordinary display case at that! IT WAS A REAL SHOWCASE OF ALL THE MOUTHWATERING CUPCAKES MANKIND COULD EVER IMAGINE (ok now I am exaggerating but that was what I felt that moment). Needless to say, at that moment I fell in love. I wanted everything in it, but that wouldn’t be good for my diet (ha! as if I was on diet!).

Awesome Display!

Awesome Display!

They had cool sounding names for their cupcakes: Monkey Business, Red Vixen, Espressamel, and their holiday cupcakes Gingernog, Northpole and Pasko among others. Anyone could tell that they take this business pretty serious. It’s not fun making up names for cupcakes. Some would easily go by whatever they put on it. But Sweet Incantations – they have so much to give when it comes to cupcake-making. My friends and I gushed our oohs and aahs too loudly I think it annoyed the woman behind the counter.

Menu

Menu

Compared to other places, theirs was a little bit pricey, but not too much because cupcakes are now around PhP 55-65 I guess. Each of their cupcakes are at PhP 70. If you buy a box of six, that would only cost you PhP 400. Not bad at all especially when you get to taste their cupcakes! We ordered the box of 6 which was great for sharing with the group. Their cupcakes are HEAVENLY with emphasis on the capital letters. I’ve never had a cupcake with such thick frosting, with a texture that’s as thick as Marshie’s marshmallow. Hey, I am not a baker or some pastry person so I can’t really point out what kind of frosting that was, mmkay? So, yeah they definitely have the finest and most indulgent cupcakes I have ever had 🙂

IMG_0605[1]The cake itself is both dense and moist at the same time. I never liked too dense or too fluffy cupcakes. It was done just right and it went so well with the frosting – a real great marriage between cupcake and frosting. My favorites were the Espressamel, Butterscotch & Bubblegum and Little Black Dress – yeah I am a sucker for Chocolate & Mint. Apparently, these two were their bestsellers along with Sweet Saigon which had hints of Lemongrass and PB & J.

Sweet Incantations also serves Cookies at PhP 50 each and Gelato which is at PhP 85 for single scoop and PhP 130 for double scoop. We had double scoops of each flavor – Chocoholics Anonymous, My Name is Earl (my favorite since I love Earl Grey Tea), Monkey Berry and Espressamel. We had two tea pots as well and they serve Dilmah tea, if you might ask.

Their Gelato

Their Gelato

I absolutely have no protestations when the cupcakes were laid out on our table. They were served in little chopping boards. It dawned on me that every detail of this was well planned out down to the toilets. Teas were served on pristine white teapots that came with matching cups and even their service water was served in coordinated glasses and a resealable glass bottle almost similar to that of Shangrila’s. I’d have to say kudos to the owner who’s thought so much about what goes well with what without sacrificing flavor – which in fact is the greatest highlight of the place.

The little details that matter a lot - presentation!

The little details that matter a lot – presentation!

All in all, it was a happy night – good friends, great dessert. Sweet Incantations was what my friends and I would call a happy place and we don’t honor that name to just any restaurant or cafe. Only the deserving ones. I guess someone’s going to be a regular customer then, huh?

You can visit Sweet Incantations at the Ground Floor of the Avagar Bldg., Escario, Cebu City, somewhere between Kuya J and Simply J’s. Like their Facebook Page: Sweet Incantations Confectionery or Follow them on Instagram: sweetincph.

Enjoy!!

Oxford Brewing Co.

13 Dec
Welcome to Oxford Brewing Co.

Welcome to Oxford Brewing Co.

I have not been blogging in months as you all know that’s mainly because of out-of-town work. Since I am back in the city for good with a more stable internet connection and a free schedule, I am definitely ready to share to all of you my new find. Well, it’s not basically new because I have been there once in April for a business meeting that lasted for less than an hour. I was glad to get another chance to visit and I got to spend time with my cousins and sister at the same time.

Inside OxfordAnyway, I am greatly excited to share to you the newest comfort place for me: Oxford Brewing Co. It might be too far from where I live, but this unassuming place has attracted me in more ways than one. For one, it’s pretty cozy despite the limited space. There are only a few tables and chairs inside as well as outside. The decor isn’t very fancy, but the wall will definitely catch your attention. It’s a blown up photo of the Big Ben and a red telephone booth which we (or I rather ) often associate with London although I haven’t been there at all.

On my first visit I got to talk to one of the owners whose inspiration for the place came from her volunteer work in the UK. That explains the name! (Duh!) She had worked there for 4 years and poured a majority of whatever she’d earned on Oxford Brewing. This also inspired her and her partners to create an English theme for the Cafe especially with their teas. I am a sucker for anything with tea on it so the place definitely won me over on the first visit. That’s why I was eager to go for the second visit when my cousin offered after hearing mass at Tabor Hill.

My Guava Organic Iced Tea

My Guava Organic Iced Tea

I love fruit iced teas – a mix of brewed tea and Monin syrup on ice. Of all the places that offer them, I think it was only at Oxford that I had tasted the perfect mix between syrup and tea – Organic Iced Tea at that! The tea was strong enough to overpower the syrup rather than the other way around; so you can basically say they were using good tea leaves (or bags, I wasn’t really able to ask). I had Guava flavored, my cousin had Strawberry and the other cousin had Green Apple. The amazing part was they served them in Mason Jars with the lid on them. For me that’s a pretty unique touch and a feat for a place such as theirs.

My sister, on the other hand, tried out one of their fraps – Coffee Cookie Frappuccino – which was also a winner for me. It was good since it wasn’t sickly sweet and you could really taste coffee in it. We also ordered a few sandwiches and since it was dinner, we ordered their All Day Breakfast Tocino, which was pretty much standard (if not overpriced). They also offer Smoothies, Waffles and FLAVORED BEER!!

All in all it was a great experience for me, but I have to warn you, there might be periods within the day (or night) when Korean students frequent the place for beer, which can cramp the place. This doesn’t help much since the place is a bit too small for a crowd. Better visit during the day or in the afternoon rather than 8 PM onwards.

English Tea? No problem!

English Tea? No problem!

Oxford Brewing Co. is located at the Ground Floor of E-Park Mall in Talamban – on the way to Pit-os.

Oh, and before I forget, I might be changing some things around my blog. There might be posts where I don’t give ratings to places. 

Here are some other photos from our visit and their fit for photo op wall 🙂 Enjoy!

Their wall

Their wall

On The Menu...

On The Menu…

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IMG_0171

Our Food

Our Food

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Paradise in Cebu – Shangri la’s Mactan Island Resort & Spa

5 Sep
Shangri la's Mactan Island Resort and Spa

Shangri la’s Mactan Island Resort and Spa

Things have been very busy lately but I am having one of the best years of my life I think. Getting the new job and traveling at the same time was only the beginning. I had tons of opportunities this year I did not want pass up even if it meant I would leave some people behind. I thought to myself this was my life’s great adventure. It came a bit late, but it came anyway.

View at night

View at night

Since it has been raining a lot lately, all I could do at home (I’m still on a hiatus from work) is sit and stare at the pictures from the past months. I always scrolled back to this summer – one of my most memorable yet. It was when I started my new job, a chance to meet people from Iloilo and a chance to see beyond the paradise-like gates of the posh resort that is Shangri la’s Mactan Island Resort & Spa. This was before I got to the paradise that is Camotes (seen in this post).

If you are like me and you’re from Cebu, you’d think yeah they’re all the same. I’ve seen the beach fronts of BE Resorts and  Hilton, before it was acquired by Movenpick and way back before their improvements. They were nice but pretty standard to me back then. So, when the opportunity landed on my hands and I grabbed it even if it put me in a situation where I had to rush to work the next day.

The Gazebo on a Cliff

The Gazebo on a Cliff

It was a weekday, but it happened to be Labor Day; my sister and I had work the next day though so we couldn’t really go around and see much of the place together. We even hurriedly ate our breakfast 😦 But thanks to my new job, I was able to linger for a few hours and voila – I wandered through paradise, which I never got to see before beyond their main swimming pool. We stayed at the Ocean Wing which was the VIP area of the resort. Yep, we had access to some parts of the resort where no one could unless you’re checked-in in one of the suites there. It had better view, it was closer to the ocean and it had its own swimming pool in case it gets congested in the main pool. It also had its own lobby and the breakfast was served in a separate part of the resort.

So, I thought I would give homage to Shangri la on this post. I hope it would kind of make you guys think that you’d want to go there someday if your budget permits or if you guys get lucky as well. It’s a beautiful place. Cebu is beautiful and it has so many things and places left to be discovered. It is indeed more fun in Cebu 🙂 ENJOY!

I'm a sucker for Sunrise

I’m a sucker for Sunrise

The Ocean Wing Swimming Pool

The Ocean Wing Swimming Pool

The Pathway from the Garden to the Beach

The Pathway from the Garden to the Beach

Shangrila Mactan Shangrila Mactan Shangrila Mactan Shangrila Mactan Shangrila Mactan Shangrila Mactan Shangrila Cebu

The Garden

The Garden

Shangrila Mactan Shangrila Mactan

The Obligatory Selfie Shot

The Obligatory Selfie Shot

 

Ocean Wing Baby!

Ocean Wing Baby!

A little peek at the view from our room

A little peek at the view from our room

Our Suite

Our Suite

Disclaimer: NO, this is NOT a paid advertisement. AS IF THEY WOULD EVER DO THAT! If you guys should know I got to stay for one night through a friend who had the room booked for 4 nights and invited us to use it for one night. 🙂 So yeah again unbiased here!

Beauty Hall at The Parkmall

3 Sep

 

Inside Beauty Hall Spa and Lounge

Beauty Hall Spa and Lounge

My cousin Lucille, was raving about a new spa/lounge she was consulting for that was waiting to dish out a new trend in the salon business – luxury at a friendlier price. Back then I was pretty sure it was still going to be pricey as most of the salons in Cebu. I said I was happy enough with my neighborhood salon. So, the spa and lounge my cousin was talking about did open August 30 at The Parkmall and she raved about how affordable their services are. I didn’t believe her when she said it was only PhP 50 for a regular mani/pedi using local nail polish. So, I had to check it myself.

Professional Makeup by Trained Makeup Artists

Professional Makeup by Trained Makeup Artists

On a whim, my friend Megee and I figured we needed a pedi and so I told her why don’t we try that new place at The Parkmall. We got to the 2nd floor of the Alfresco area of The Parkmall and there it was in bright lights with its Hot Pink and Black color scheme – BEAUTY HALL SPA AND LOUNGE. Part of me was hesitant at first because it was definitely dolled up like one of those very expensive nail salons in Ayala and SM. The flawlessly white leather chairs screamed maximum comfort – and pricey.

 

Incidentally my cousin Lucille was there and so was my friend Joseph Bontilao, who works as their PR/Marketing Guru. It took me just one look at the prices of their services and I was sold! After chatting with my cousin and friend, we finally got seated and boy, the couches DID FEEL VERY COMFORTABLE. It’s the kind of comfort that you get from places like Hollywood Nails at a very very very affordable price.

Their Display of Imported Beauty Merchandise. Spotted Urban Decay's Naked Palette with Primer

Their Display of Imported Beauty Merchandise. Spotted Urban Decay’s Naked Palette with Primer

 

Well, the place is still pretty small, after all it’s a startup project by the owner but the services are topnotch. I took a peek at their facial room and they have those machines for real decent facials, so that was a plus. Their services are quite extensive for a startup. They have a massage room too, but for now it might get a bit noisy inside the lounge and a little bit inconducive for relaxation because of the limited space. Beauty Hall also offers makeup services at a fair price considering they’re using ah-mazing (definitely NOT cheap) products. PLUS, they have imported AUTHENTIC make up and skin care products for sale.

This for PhP 100-120!

This for PhP 100-120!

BUT THE BEST THING ABOUT THE PLACE FOR ME IS THE NAIL CARE SERVICE. Where can you get a good mani/pedi with the complete treatment: foot soak in warm soapy water, rinse, wipe, nail cleaning, DECENT FOOT MASSAGE, BASE COAT, nail polish and then top coat. YES, they forget the rinse and base coat part at our suki. The regular local polish (which was already considered imported by “my suki”) is only PhP 50. AND GET THIS, they do premium mani/pedis with imported polish for only PhP 100 (manicure) and 120 (pedicure). When they say imported, they use OPI, ZOYA and ESSIE. YES! That’s like PhP 350 in other salons, right? So, that’s like a great great great great bargain for us who want to save some for a movie or a date. 🙂

Foot Soak - Check!

Foot Soak – Check!

I invite everyone to go visit them NOW! This is rare for me to talk endlessly and enthusiastically about a place, especially a salon, so you guys should know this place is totally rave-able (if there is such a word). This is NOT a paid or a freebie kind of post. Went there in person and PAID the services myself. They are at the 2nd level of Alfresco Area of The Parkmall, above Joven’s Grill and beside Shui Wellness Spa. I swear all you ladies and gents who’d love to be pampered will love the place. As their tagline says, “Beauty and Luxury need not be pricey”.

 

xoxo

Services Offered 2

Services Offered 2

Services Offered

Services Offered

Our Nail Care experts

Our Nail Care experts

Happy Us! The most satisfying Pedi we've had for PhP 50

Happy Us! The most satisfying Pedi we’ve had for PhP 50

Local Nail Polish

Local Nail Polish

Imported Nail Polish

Imported Nail Polish

My Fruitful Adventure :)

1 Sep
Pilar, Camotes Sunset

Pilar, Camotes Sunrise

I haven’t been writing much; not even as I had promised early in the year. It’s way past the middle of the year and this is my follow-up post from months ago. You guys must know by now how unpredictable and moody I could be when it comes to posting. For a time I contemplated on creating a new blog, but that would be a waste of readership. Plus, it’s hard to land on a great spot on Google (jeez, I still have the SEO touch!).

The Students

The Students

My life took an absolute turn when I had the opportunity of working as a skills trainer once again. It felt good to be back in the classroom and doing the thing I’ve always loved besides writing. I took a leap of faith and reverted back to being a classroom facilitator. I left my post as a contributor for a website, well, multiple websites, and hibernated from the blogging world out of necessity, not out of boredom.

This ought to be boring you by now, so let’s fast forward to September 1st. Here I am dying to write once again about anything I could think of. And the one thing I could think of is my latest out-of-town adventure.

Welcome Welcome!

Welcome Welcome!

 

I am not much of a traveler and I haven’t been away from home besides my 2-week stay with my Dad in Thailand. Now, due to my new job I get to travel around Cebu to deliver my goods – training scholars for various Skills. I haven’t been to many places but at least I had the opportunity to visit the three beautiful islands of Camotes for work. It wasn’t easy, but it was definitely beautiful. Traveling is in fact beautiful, which I have yet to get really used to.

The Beach at Pilar, Cebu!

The Beach at Pilar, Cebu!

It’s definitely like hitting two birds with the same stone – work and play, makes Kate everyday okay 🙂 Along the way, I get to help people further their futures while traveling. It’s a year full of adventure so don’t hate me for leaving you. This should fuel some inspiring blogs in the future. I really hope this goes out well (and that’s my heart opening up to everyone else).

Thank you for continuing the readership you guys! And btw, since I have been so out of touch with the city life lately, care to share places you’d want to feature? Thanks!!

xoxo

Let's dive in!

Let’s dive in!

Across the Island of Poro, Camotes

Across the Island of Poro, Camotes

The Waves!

The Waves!

Aloguinsan I: How Ecotourism Changed A Quiet Town

8 Aug
Beautiful View at Aloguinsan's Viewing Deck

Beautiful View at Aloguinsan’s Viewing Deck

I’d like to blog as much in a week so I can catch up with what I haven’t been posting just yet. (I am excited for this post too!!)

There is a lot more to Cebu than what we already know. Thanks to online presence and Social media, all sorts of information can be accessed easily. Every week, there’s another food and travel destination waiting to be explored. And explore I did.

Hermit's Cove - Aloguinsan

Hermit’s Cove – Aloguinsan

It was early this January when my college friends and I were lucky enough to get the chance to go snorkeling (it was still on its trial period) and river cruising in Aloguinsan, a quiet town in Midwestern Cebu. It was for one of our barkada’s birthday. They call Aloguinsan the Jewel of the Midwest. Why? You’ll see.

There are so many ways to get to Aloguinsan these days. For us, we took the route through Carcar, which took us only two hours – but the road was smaller than that of the highway (of course, lol) and could only be accessed either through a special trip of a Van for hire or private vehicles. You can always get to Aloguinsan through riding a bus at the Cebu South Bus Terminal going to Toledo City. From Toledo City, public transportation is available going to Aloguinsan. You can also take the route through Pinamungajan but that will take you more travel time than the other two I have mentioned.

Briefing on how to use proper snorkeling gear

Briefing on how to use proper snorkeling gear

I say it’s best to stay in Aloguinsan overnight so you can do everything – from snorkeling (it’s not available through online booking as of the time this entry is published, but we got our first dibs on it!) to the Farmhouse tour and the Bojo River Cruise. As of the time being, the town has yet to complete their impending project to provide more rest houses so people can enjoy their stay in Aloguinsan for more than a day. So far, guests can stay at the local pension house – Al Maxi Apartelle – and dine at the numerous eateries/carenderias near the town public Market. In case of beaches like Hermit’s Cove, a tent on the beach will do :). Lucky for us, ahem, we got to stay at our friend’s house – the wonderful abode of Morenos – Mayor and Vice-Mayor of Aloguinsan.

the mouth of Bojo River - Aloguinsan

the mouth of Bojo River – Aloguinsan

It was a great opportunity for us because we had first-hand information on how Eco-tourism in Aloguinsan paved the way for the townspeople to find more means of generating income – other than fishing. If you asked the local government, they take pride in these projects not because of prestige or political inclination, but because it had helped tons of people in the community. Prior to these projects, the townspeople were largely fisherfolk and lived only through whatever they catch for the day. Other than that, they only depended on crops and local produce. With the ecotourism projects of the local government, members of the community took turns in manning the local tourism projects and others could generate income from the tourists that get to visit the area.

Welcome drinks at Bojo River Cruise tour

Welcome drink at Bojo River Cruise tour

Mayor Cynthia Moreno had that much passion in her to establish these projects in Aloguinsan. It has been years in the making and it sure paid off. She even took it to a higher level and studied in the US so she could implement it in Aloguinsan. As I recall, she would reiterate in our conversations the foundations of Ecotourism (which I have already forgotten, haha). But I believe that a main part of it was on making it educational and sustainable. So if you try to interview each tour guide you meet on any of your tours, you will really know that the local government had never been stingy in giving the people the right resources and training to equip them the information they need to educate the tourists as well. For the Morenos, it was the government’s (technically, the people’s) money well-spent on these training and equipment because in the future, the townspeople are the only ones who will benefit from it. They further reiterated that the local government DOES NOT get any dime from the income that these eco-tours earn. The income goes directly to the people in the community. This is true.

The Farmhouse in Aloguinsan

The Farmhouse in Aloguinsan

My feature on Aloguinsan will take on many parts as it would be hard to put them in one lengthy entry – BORING! It will also do justice for the many sights and information you need to know about Aloguinsan, Keep posted you guys for these battery of posts 🙂

With Mayor Cynthia Moreno

With Mayor Cynthia Moreno