Sunday, July 10, 2016

Japan Travel Part 5: Suginoi Kanazawa | Michelin 2-Star Restaurant #Kaiseki

Another memorable experience in Kanazawa is lunch feast in Suginoi. Kanazawa Suginoi is a kaiseki or a traditional Japanese cuisine, restaurant. And to our treat, it was awarded a Michelin 2-star in 2016. 2 of 3 being the highest means that Suginoi is deserving of a visit for that excellent cuisine, skillfully and carefully crafted dishes of finest quality. Just lovely!

Suginoi, Kanazawa. Suginoi is a kaiseki restaurant, a traditional, luxurious Japanese dining art form that balances the taste, texture, appearance, and colors of food.  
Inside Suginoi, Kanazawa. 
We were ushered to our dining room. The setting is very warm and cozy. Japanese are the sweetest, I swear. They are very engaging. 

Kids have their own set meal with Omurice, Tempura, Fish, Fruits. 
JB was treated a steak for his main dish. 

I was treated with the traditional kaiseki, slow fine dining. As such, the highlights were not only the tastefulness, but also the physical presentation and style of serving it. Here goes, I don't know each name though, and I do hope I got the order right, but basically it features the starters, main courses, shokuji (rice and miso soup), and cap off with a dessert. I will try to match those that I can with that of the text book order and definition. 

Tome-wan (止椀?): a miso-based or vegetable soup served with rice. 
Mizumono (水物?): a seasonal dessert. 
Everything was in divine order. I'm forever charmed! 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Random: View from SM MOA Arena Upper Box during FIBAOQT

Happy Sunday. My boys are still out for their weekend basketball club in LSGH. Awww, props to me, two blog post in one day.

Anyhow, as you know Manila is hosting the FIBAOQT (Olympic Qualifying Tournament) in SM MOA Arena. Yesterday, we watched the live semi-finals, we saw four teams, Canada vs. New Zealand, and France vs. Turkey. Hubby was given free tickets, choice between semis or finals, which is today. We opted for Saturday, since we're bringing Chase, our 10 year old son. Ooops, please wait, if your are here for the technical and official game results, this post is not for you. I'm here, the mostly outspoken me, who wish to tell on animatedly my first experience watching a live, international sporting event, and my first (and hopefully my last) upper box viewing experience in SM MOA Arena.

Canada (of Steve Nash) won vs. New Zealand at the Semis of FIBAOQT. View form SM MOA Arena Upper Box.
Upper Box is on the 4th Floor. 
I have acrophobia. Being in the upper box, and in the highest of which, letter I, makes the experience worse. Literally, chairs are small, little spaces between rows, very steep and inclined. The whole ordeal is reminiscent of riding Anchor's Away in Enchanted Kingdom. Professional Heckler's tweet is spot on. Oh please, don't get me wrong, I'm delighted to be here, honest. As a stage mom, this is very exciting for me, I made sure to be there for my son's first live sporting event. This was also a good time to bond for a rainy, date night.

Sidestory. I'm a basketball player. I can hold my own. Really, I did play in High School, won MVPs for two years (3rd and 4th year), and played in my company event, wherein we also won. It's just been a while though where I rekindled my liking of it in a level of supporting a NBA Team. My boys are devoted Lakers and Kobe Bryant fans. It's NBA TV everyday, morning, and evening. It's only very recently though that I got so into it. I cheered for Golden State Warriors with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. I'm invested. But I'm not into Gilas Pilipinas this time around, so I don't even know their current coach. Hold on, there's a story with Ted Baldwin later.

Because I was very uncomfortable, I had to entertain myself. I told the boys I will be rooting for New Zealand. Since once a fangirl, always a fangirl, I took an immediate liking to Robert Loe. Haha. Only he had 5 fouls, and had to leave.

So I turn to another New Zealand player to cheer on, Thomas Abercrombie.

Thomas Abercrombie made 1 of 2 baskets few seconds to go.  This was a live shot from iPhone 6 zoomed view. 
That awkward moment when a fangirl tweets and the wife likes it back. In fairness, my tweet was safe. Hahaha.
Canada won. It was a great night to cheer for Steve Nash. You have to give it to the Filipino Fans, we really do love the game, as we cheered on both teams. This is not how I remember a live show, last was a really long time ago with PBA Team with Jojo Lastimosa still in it. Hah. This time, it's fun and very lively. There's sports commentator, professional cheerers per team, and drumbeaters.

Drumbeaters at the SM MOA Arena General Admission area. 
Then we went to watch the main game, France vs. Turkey.

Pre-game warm ups. 
Halftime Show
It's rewarding to know that we are in the same arena as Tony Parker, this will have to do since I can't say we saw him up close. Haha

We hope that this will be the first of many more live sporting events and concerts attendance in SM MOA Arena and elsewhere. Last time I was in SM MOA Arena was for Lee Min Ho's My Everything Concert, and I invested on a VVIP ticket, it was 5 rows away from the stage. If you are into cheering or supporting a team or a fan, but are terribly scared of heights, the Upper Box is not for you though. Haha

France wins vs. Turkey in FIBAOQT Manila Semifinal round. 
It was a pleasure. Best part was Chaseyboy did not touch his iPad for three hours. Yay!

On our way down, I saw people asking to do a photo op with someone. Boo me. Not knowing him, I coerced Chase to take a photo with him too. That's what stage mom + fangirl mom do best, I reckon. Haha

Chaseyboy with Gilas Pilipinas Coach Ted Baldwin. 
I had to ask my husband about this guy that I made Chase take a photo with. Oh my, I'm a happy girl. Hope this event inspires Chase to also love basketball as much as we do. We don't want to appear that we're forcing him to take weekend training, but he does need physical activities. So, we made a choice. Cheers! ;-D

Japan Travel Part 4: Charmed by Kanazawa, Japan

Ohayo! Our Japan trip remains to be a favorite escapade. I'm completely captivated by it, and I can't wait to go back. This is a continuation of my travelogue, albeit overdue.

From Osaka, we went to Tokyo. Our second day was for a day trip to Kanazawa. This is my hubby's second visit. We were invited by Japanese business partners, who we now consider as lifelong friends. It's very heartwarming to be joined by their whole family, adorable kids and an Auntie, who is happily a chingu and also served as our interpreter. Kanazawa promises unique charm per season. Haha. I reckon since when we visited it was not-so winter yet, so no snow, or Cherry Blossoms showers, we can go back a couple more times, and will all be falling in love with this charming place all over again.

Kanazawa Tsuzumimon Gate (architectural land mark of Kanazawa) in Kanazawa Station. Kanazawa is about two hours trip from Tokyo Station via Shinkansen with Japan Rail Pass.

Kanazawa is located in the central part of the mainland of Japan. It's the prefectural capital of Ishikawa Prefecture. First stop is the Kanazawa Castle Park and Kenrokuen Garden. Kenrokuen Garden is one of the three greatest gardens in Japan, along with Kairaku-en and Koraku-en.

Photo op with the Kotoji Toro, a two-legged stone lantern, which is one of the most well-known symbols of the Kenrokuen. 
with the Statue of Yamato Takeru
Then we walk towards towards the Kanazawa Castle. Locals in traditional kimono. 

Kanazawa Castle Watch Tower and Storehouse
 After our short but sweet trip to the Kenrokuen Garden and Kanazawa Castle, we went for our lunch treat in Suginoi.

Suginoi is a traditional Japanese Restaurant. Here's my blog post entry.
Because hubby and son are into Samurai. We visited a local craftsman, known for his katana. So I found out, katana is the sword of the Samurai.

As such, from Google, katana was often paired with a similar smaller companion sword, such as a wakizashi or it could also be worn with the tantō, a smaller, similarly shaped dagger. The pairing of a katana with a smaller sword is called the daishō.
Samurai Chase.

Our last stop was this charming Higashi Chaya (Geisha) District. It's a preserved street featuring "chaya" or a teahouse is an exclusive type of restaurant where guests are entertained by geisha who perform song and dance.

The place is so dramatic, reminiscent of a period drama. 
Some locals or tourists to Kanazawa are dressed in kimono. 
We're charmed!
In this district, you can also find a shop that sells Gold Leaf. Hubby bought this from his last trip in Kanazawa. We treat ourselves with Gold Leaf flakes, we sprinkled some in our tea or drinks, even Chaseyboy's. We were told it's for luck. ;-D

Kanazawa Station. One of three Japanese Beauty Hokuriku along with Tokyo and Toyama. It's a new line and route of Shinkansen that features places where traditional Japanese Beauty co-exists with the latest technology. I reckon, it's a fusion of traditions and modern, old and new. True can be really said with Kanazawa, it's very charming. I said that many times. It's enchanting with the well-preserved garden, castle, and a district, plus it's very modern.

I don't think though we took the Hokuriku Train, but the trip was mere two hours. It's pleasantly uneventful, and just like that, we were back to Tokyo.

Sidestory, I actually thought I lost all our Japan pictures. I was ready to revisit every bits of it. Ready, set, go! I'm looking forward to another trip to Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture. We went on a day trip last December. Cherry Trees line up the Kenrokuen Garden, but they're not in bloom, so yes, a spring visit is in order. Cheers! ;-D 

Friday, July 8, 2016

Updated Skin Care Must-Haves

Annyeong! Konnichiwa! ;-D

Awww, so many dramas, real life and KDrama, that I can't really do a review post per item. (That's good, by the way. I'm not complaining.)  Here's a consolidate post of all the skin care goodies I'm loving right now.

1) Avene Thermal Spring Water (this is my second bottle, which I got from Japan). I used it after cleansing. Before I apply the serum and cream. It's very soothing, moisturizing, and calming. Product details here.   
2) Innisfree Orchid Enriched Essence and Cream (from Althea Philippines), are my alternatives for Innisfree Bija and Green Tea Seed line. The line features anti-trouble, soothing and calming, hence brightening, moisturizing and pore care. Loving it so far. I will definitely re-purchase.
3) Nella Fantasio Honey 1 Snail Cream (also from Althea) is a pleasant surprise. I apply it after the Innisfree Orchid Enriched Cream...the more, the merrier. So far, so good. For the price, ye, will definitely keep as a mainstay.
4) Shu Uemura Pink Porefinist Anti-shine Fresh Cleansing Oil was from the recent Shu Uemura Listick haul I did. It was a sample. And my, my, I can't wait to get the full size. It's a great eye makeup remover, leaves a squeaky clean face, that is moisturized and nourished, not the rubbery clean feel.  Hmmm. Just try it.
5) SK-II Whitening Power Spots Specialist is the best sample ever I got from Sephora shopping. I was able to extend its life to two-weeks for those age-spots and pimple scar, but my, I see the immediate lightening effect. But my, it's so pricey at Php 5000 plus for a bottle. I hope to make Innisfree still works for me. I will save SK-II for later, when I'm richer. Haha. 
Facial Wash, Scrubs and makeshift Body Scrubs
SkinFood Lavender Tea Salt Mask Foam is a mainstay in my skincare routine. I did talk about it lengthily here. The Petal Fresh Facial Scrub is a new addition to my routine. Cure Natural Aqua Gel is love, love, love. This is pretty famous and popular. Many have already featured this. And the ravings are spot on. New Facial Wash that I'm just getting locally is the L'Oreal White Perfect. It takes the place of my SkinFood Green Tea Facial Foam, it's half the price and is locally available so I'm keeping it.

Here's a tip, with the many facial scrubs that I keep, and since I can't do scrubbing every day, I'm now using them to its fullest as makeshift body scrub. This way I can always just replenish and keep fresher stocks. The SkinFood Lavender Tea Salt Mask with its exfoliating salts is love, and so does the Petal Fresh Age Defying Facial Scrub.

So far, so good. Let me know how this works out for you, or please do share your skin care holy grail/s too. Cheers! ;-D

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Shop Online, Earn, and Cashout at Shopback #MustDo

If you are into online shopping like yours truly,  you've probably heard of ShopBack, and if you haven't, read on. So there's such a site called ShopBack that rewards you when you actually shop online. How did I miss this?! This is very promising and it works like this.

My recent online shopping finds at Lazada, Althea, and Sephora. 
If you haven't signed up to Lazada, Althea, or Sephora yet, but positively considering to do so, please do not sign up to their site just yet. Check out ShopBack Philippines first.

 Sign up at ShopBack for a Php 100 sweetener.

Explore on the popular sites listed. For beauty products and gadgets, I go to Althea, Sephora, and Lazada. 

To know how much is the cashback/rebate click on the store. 

This is what is in store for Lazada. See that there is difference when you are just signing up in Lazada vs. a returning customer like yours truly. When you are ready to shop or sign up, click Shop Now. Wait for the new browser. It redirects to the main Lazada Site. Do your sign up, sign in, shopping as usual. My hubby is addicted to Lazada. Mostly good and reliable deals be it in the Marketplace or Lazada direct. The Returns/Refund guarantee is easy peasy, that is very reassuring just in case. 

This is for Althea Philippines. In Althea, you get Korean Cosmetics, Innisfree, Iope, and several others. There are deals, like B1T1, Buy 2, Take 1 Free, and a lot more. So this is my go-to site for that.  

For Sephora, note that there is a difference from Existing and New. I'm so happy that Sephora is now available in the Philippines. I usually buy Benefit Cosmetics Value Sets in the US, so I'm happy to have Sephora here. Retail price is the same in the shops, what comes out as extra perks from shopping in Sephora Online site are the Sephora rewards, deals (last time I got a free Benefit Cosmetics Pouch), and free sample. My favorite sample to date is a SKII Spot Whitening Essence. 

ShopBack works like this. 

So I take pride in being a meticulous and diligent online shopper, well mostly, except for that OLX/LBC hullabaloo. I get good deals on authentic finds from reliable online seller. Plus online retail therapy is doubly exciting when your friendly neighborhood delivery guy finally drops the package. And awww, the unboxing is such a sweet tease.  With ShopBack, online shopping gets even more rewarding. Here, you get a certain amount back when you shop online on your already favorite sites. How nice! Let's do this! Cheers! ;-D

P.S. ShopBack is having a blogging contest. Do check it out. 

More details here

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