Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Book Review: Me and Mr Darcy by Alexandra Potter

After a string of disastrous dates, Emily Albright decides she’s had it with modern-day love and would much rather curl up with Pride and Prejudice and spend her time with Mr. Darcy, the dashing, honorable, and passionate hero of Jane Austen’s classic. So when her best friend suggests a wild week of margaritas and men in Mexico with the girls, Emily abruptly flees to England on a guided tour of Jane Austen country instead. Far from inspiring romance, the company aboard the bus consists of a gaggle of little old ladies and one single man, Spike Hargreaves, a foul-tempered journalist writing an article on why the fictional Mr. Darcy has earned the title of Man Most Women Would Love to Date.

The last thing Emily expects to find on her excursion is a broodingly handsome man striding across a field, his damp shirt clinging to his chest. But that’s exactly what happens when she comes face-to-face with none other than Mr. Darcy himself. Suddenly, every woman’s fantasy becomes one woman’s reality. . . .


The fact that it's written by Potter immediately draw me near this book. I love her books because it's light, fun and charming. Aside from this, the title having "Mr Darcy" in it really piqued my interest. Not because I've read the classic Pride and Prejudice or a fan of Jane Austen (at least not yet) but because I just recently watched the movie and I loved it. Like I've said, Potter books are light, fun and charming and this is not an exception. You can wrap this up in a day or two but it took me a month (a lot happened between my readings). There are excerpts from Pride and Prejudice injected in the book that made me conceive the similarities of Emily Albright and Ms Elizabeth Bennet. On another note, I think the times Emily met with "Mr Darcy" are a little off. At first, I didn't understand the whole imaginary Darcy thing, but eventually catch on some loose ends. The story was obviously based on the classic novel and, I think Alexandra Potter is quite brilliant and one hell of an Austen fan to be able to write such version.

Overall, I give this book 3 out 5. 

Because you will meet somebody more exceptional than anyone you have ever know. Who will love you warmly as possible. And who will so completely attract you that you will feel you never really loved before.
-- Me and Mr Darcy, Alexandra Potter

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sweet Treat: Fried Peanut Butter Oreos

A heartily sweet treat perfect for family gatherings and batch reunions. - Fried Peanut Butter Oreos

- Pancake Mix
- 1 large egg
- 2tbsps cooking oil
- 3tbsps Peanut Butter (or more)
- Butter
- Cream-filled cookies (Oreos)

1. Make the pancake batter. (I just followed the steps found at the back of the box xD).
         - With one pack of flour, add one egg and 2tbsps of cooking oil. MIX until smooth.
         - Add 3 tbsps of peanut butter.

2. The batter is at the right consistency if no lumps are found. Next step, drop the cookies into the mix until fully coated.

3. Lightly coat the pre-heated pan with butter. Carefully drop the battered oreos on the pan, fry both sides until golden brown.

I surprised my family with this treat on Mothers' Day and it was a total hit! Easy-peasy, eh? Grab a flipper and fry Oreos now! xD

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Race Your Voices (05.05.12)

Last Friday, "Race Your Voices", a fun run entirely for the benefit of the Calasiao Children Chorus was held at Robinsons Place in Calasiao, Pangasinan. The proceeds of the said activity is to fund the choir air fare as participants in the upcoming international competition this coming November. For your information, Calasiao Children Chorus have joined international competitions in the previous years. If I remember it correctly, they brought home medals from the categories they've won. So, it is just right that we support and give this group another shot. They might just win and bring home all the gold medals this year.

My cousins, brother and I were among the hundreds who joined and supported the benefit. As first time runners, we chose the second shortest distance - 3K. When we first got the copy of the route, we thought the distance was short for us. An easy-peasy. We even thought about doing the 5K instead. And good thing we stuck to the original plan, because it's only when we heard the gunshot that signaled our start that we realized - it's going to be a loooong run...

I still haven't reached the 1K mark when I started to feel really tired. Damn, how unfit can one get? Water was readily available for thirsty runners in the stations that were put up along the street. Aside from water, ponytails were also given. I really think this was a very thoughtful move.

At midway, I found myself not running but walking instead. The only time I ran again was when I saw this little girl, tired and sweating.. but still running. The feeling of embarrassment and weakness pierced on me. It pushed me to run again. To finish what I've started and to stick to the commitment I signed up for. Isn't it funny and amazing how a small little girl can teach or remind us something really important? I gave it my all but, upon nearing the finish line I just couldn't get myself to run anymore. And even so, we weren't the last ones to arrive. So yay! for that! :)

Here are some photos:

@ 5AM. On our way to Robinsons, the starting line.
@ Robinsons, waiting..
still waiting.. :)
I just had to take a pic. Haha
Credits to Kuya Simon Vistro of What's Up Dagupan

The Finish line!

While waiting for our certificates
From What's Up Dagupan
Breakfast @ Jollibee
The main reason we joined was really for the fun and not the prize (as if we had a shot at winning haha) and we absolutely got what we came for. I hope another benefit just like this will be organized again. Because although I'm very aware that my body would ache after and would last for a week, I would still sign up without a second thought. Who would've thought helping can be this fun?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

My Top 5 Photography Apps

Since I had an iPhone, I haven't been using a digital camera or DSLR for capturing photos. Most people use their iPhone camera only for desperate times, but not me. It's my go-to camera. The main reason why I love it is because of the various photography applications available in store. I've tried using and learning Adobe Photoshop and Corel in the computer, but they seem not to like me. Haha So to people who are hard up in using those photo editing software, or to those who are just plain lazy, here are my top 5 photo apps that are worth downloading:

1. Snapseed
This application won the Best Mobile Photo App for 2012 and iPad App of the Year. The main edge of this app is that, you can select precise portions of the photo you want to be edited only. Creative enhancements are also available like Black&White, Tilt-Shift, Vintage Films etc.. The only sad thing about this app is, it costs 4.99 dollars. So save up!

2. Instagram
Yes! The famous photo app available for both Apple and Android users. This includes 17 unique instant filters. Another feature is the blur effect for better focusing and depth of field. Photo sharing to other social sites like Facebook and Twitter is easily done in one touch. Make sure to put up great photos dearies and it might just land in the popular page!

Follow me on Instagram @carinagironella !

3. Pix: Pixel Mixer
This app includes 30 filters, 24 film layers and 16 frames. It lets you create your own edit by allowing the usage of 3 filters all at once. This is also the app best for lazy lazy lazy people because of the Random Effect Touch. It randomly chooses filters and edits your photo with just one touch. Great, right?

My edit. :)
Random Edit

4. Camera+
Winner of Best Visual Design, Best Photography App, and Best App Ever Award. This app has numerous features. If your hands are shaky, well worry no more because this app has a stabilizer that helps steady the camera to minimize blurry shots. If you're very particular with angles and such, a grid is available to line up the photo shot. Also, this app includes Scene Modes such as Sunset, Food, Scenery, Backlit and more just like in a digital camera. It has 4 Filter Categories (Color, Retro, Special and I <3 Analog). Each of this category has 9 filters. That's a total of 36 filters! To complete the editing process, wrap it up with a frame and a caption. This app costs 0.99 and this is its sale price, so get it now!

 5. NightCap
Okay, iPhone's Camera Flash is useless. It makes the photo blurry and also makes the person like a ghost. It defies the main purpose of a flash. Don't you agree? So you absolutely definitely positively have this app right here! It allows you to take clear and bright photos even at night! And you don't have to edit. Just point, shoot.. and Voila! This app costs 0.99 also.

with flash
no flash
with NightCap

If you notice, 4 out of 5 are paid apps, but the best usually goes with a price. Right? So save up, grab your iPhone and start downloading.

Point. Shoot. Edit and Share! :D

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Take A Bite: Starbucks' Almond Pain Au Chocolat

Four days ago, I was on cloud nine all because of.... bread.

It was not just any kind of bread though, it was Starbucks' Almond Pain Au Chocolat. For your information dear readers, it is pronounced as [pɛ̃ o ʃokola] (listen here) Please bear this in mind. You don't want to say "the almond thingy" when you order this in a bakeshop just like I did.

Its golden, semi-crisp appearance leaves a hint of cinnamon after every bite. It's coated with powdered sugar and topped with almond bits that just makes the pastry more tempting. And it gets better.. Smeared butter swirled with melted semi-sweet chocolate awaits inside and instantly brings you to a state of great happiness. Your next move is just so predictable - to have another bite.

There are a number of coffee shops already established in Dagupan, but still no Starbucks in sight. There were rumors of it having a franchise here but it stayed that way - a plain rumor. I was really craving for it, so when my sister was on her way home from Baguio yesterday, I requested for another sinful piece. She intended to buy me 3 but, unfortunately only one arrived home. There are three branches in Baguio and only one baked heaven piece left among them. The barista informed my sister that it's because they would be changing their set of pastries already. Lucky me, I had the last piece of Baguio. :)

It's such a bummer that Starbucks change their pastries often. Why do they have to change even the best ones? hmm.. I really hope they bring it back. Everyone should be on food could nine like I was. :)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

What's in my bag?

I've been browsing blogs during my free time and stumbled upon numerous "What's in my bag" posts. In my reading, I learned that there are different reasons for posting such topic. Some say it's an outcome of boredom, some by request and most because they say it's a must-blog post for every blogger. Now, I'm making my own version. My reason? Out of laziness. Haha! Well as you can see, I haven't posted for the last 10 days. I've been busy, tired and sleepy lately but I really want to keep my blog updated so here goes this post!

1. My bag. I bought this bag in Baguio during the Panagbenga Festival. I love it because it's simple, universal and of the right size for me. It's my favorite bag at the moment. :)

For the record, the inside of my bag really looks like this. (I didn't fix this just for the photo. Haha) I make sure everything is placed neatly and orderly. I'm neat freak like that. :)

2. Wallet. My grandmother has been the giver of my wallet ever since I entered college. This is already the third violet wallet I received. :)

Unlike others who place their own photo, family photo or a couple photo in their wallet, I placed Senior Divino Tesoro's photo and my wallet never got empty ever since. I also have a rosary in there. :)

3. Notebook and Pens. I love to doodle and scribble words when I'm bored so I always make sure I have this in my bag. The pens are for signing autographs too! Haha *wishful thinking

4. Hand Cream and Cologne. I hate it when my hands go dry after washing that's why lotion should never be out my bag. My friends tease me with my cologne because it's DOVE. They say I use a deodorant for my cologne! Haha Anyways, I love it because it's in a refreshing cucumber scent and cheap too!

5. Girly Stuff. So there's powder, blush, mirror, lip tint, lipsticks, lip balm and a mirror. If you're wondering why I have my bank book with me, it's because I don't want to misplace it and also my allowance goes straight to the bank :)

6. Book. This is my current read. When I have nothing to do at Mama's office, I read. :)

Here's an overview of all the items in my bag.
That's all for now! Thank you for your time! Toodles! <3

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Holy Week 2012

While others enjoyed the waves of the ocean, drove out of town or flew out of the country for Holy Week, my family and I spent it the only way we do year after year -- at Church. I'm not complaining. To give you a piece of my mind, I really think Holy Week should be spent at church. But I have nothing against those people who choose to go in vacations because maybe they find spiritual renewal that way and, we should respect that.

Holy Week is a time to be reminded of Jesus' life sacrifice for his love for us. A time of sacrifice. I did some sacrifices in the past years. It may be simple, easy, small or won't even make sense for some but, it truly means a lot to me. I still remember the first sacrifice I did -- a week not sleeping with my putchi (pillow). I couldn't sleep without it before but got over it eventually over the years. Another was during high school. I spent a week without a cellphone. It sounds lame now that I'm older, but not then. I itched to get my hands on my phone every single time it beeped. Well this year's sacrifice was different. In times of no scheduled mass in church, my brothers and I took turns staying at the Shrine of Senior Divino Tesoro. His fiesta is fast approaching and, novena sponsors and donations in all forms start to line up. Mrs. Lourdes S. Fernandez, the president of SDT Foundation, also our grandmother, used to receive these donations. She is too old to stay long at the shrine already that's why we volunteered to do it. The task was quite simple so to make it more meaningful, we donated as well - handkerchiefs, key chains and cellphone charms - with the intention of helping in spreading the miracles of Senior Divino Tesoro.

Mass is usually scheduled in the afternoon. We come to church early because a lot of people hear mass during this time. I always get amazed by the number of faithfuls arriving, but not this year. The church wasn't packed like how I expected it to be. We didn't even have a hard time looking for a vacant pew. Is this a sign of Catholics decreasing? Lack of faith? Laziness? Or maybe more opted for a vacation? Well, whatever the reason is, it really caught my attention.

One of the things I look forward to during this week are the stalls that stand beside the church. Sotanghon, pancit and halo-halo awaits after mass. For dessert/appetizer, nothing beats the super affordable hotcakes. (Look for Ate Vicky if you want your cakes hot from the pan) And of course, the star of every fete in Calasiao - PUTO - was found in every corner. It should never be missed out!

Like most families, Visita Iglesia is also a tradition we never fail to do. It's a Catholic practice where you visit 7 different churches to pray. Here are photos of the churches we went to:

Shrine of Our Lady of Manaoag in Manaoag, Pangasinan
Sts Peter and Paul Parish Church in Calasiao, Pangasinan
The Holy Family Church in Sta Barbara, Pangasinan
Sto. Tomas De Aquino Parish in Mangaldan, Pangasinan
St Joseph Church in Mapandan, Pangasinan
St John Cathedral in Dagupan, Pangasinan
It really doesn't matter where or how we spend Holy Week. What matters is that in whatever we do, we bear Jesus in our minds and hearts.

I hope you also had a meaningful Holy Week. :D

Photo Sources:
What's Up Dagupan
   -- Sto Tomas De Aquino Parish
   -- Sts Peter and Paul Parish
   -- Shrine of Our Lady of Manaoag
St Joseph Church

PS. I failed to look for a photo of the 6th church we went to in Bonuan, Pangasinan.