Things I Love

Spring is here! My favourite season when nature comes alive with colour and vibrance. Days will gradually become longer and temperatures will be warmer. Spring equates to two of my favourite things: beginnings and transitions. I love it most for the abundance of Cherry Blossoms blooming. To see its beauty is such a fleeting moment but it teaches us all to be grateful for the now. 
Cherry Blossoms Festival 2013
Cherry Blossoms Festival 2013
The Husband never gives me flowers. Instead, he brings to me to places where I can see my favourite Cherry Blossoms. I’m in love with them. I squeal in delight when I see them. I get “kilig” when I seem them on TV. So the Husband took time off work and brought me to Auburn Botanical Gardens for the Cherry Blossoms Festival. It runs for two weeks every year, usually between the 2nd to 4th week of August. That’s not yet officially Spring time but it is when the Cherry Blossoms come out. 
Cherry Blossoms Festival 2013
The Contrast of Winter and Spring. 
Cherry Blossoms Festival 2013

It was our second time to come to the Cherry Blossoms Festival. Last year, we had a Sunday picnic under the Cherry Blossom trees. This year, we opted to visit on a Friday, a weekday so that there would be less people. There were a number of people that came and went in the morning but the volume wasn’t as many during weekend. It was definitely easier for us to take photos.

Cherry Blossoms Festival 2013
Cherry Blossoms Festival 2013
Cherry Blossoms Festival 2013
Cherry Blossoms Festival 2013
P127Cherry Blossoms Festival 20130437
Cherry Blossoms Festival 2013
We saw a group doing a photoshoot. The ladies looked lovely in their Kimonos.
Cherry Blossoms Festival 2013

Other than Cherry Blossom flowers, the garden had other lovely flowers. When I sorted our photos, I noticed that I seemed to have taken lots of pink flowers. 

Cherry Blossoms Festival 2013
Cherry Blossoms Festival 2013
Cherry Blossoms Festival 2013
P12703Cherry Blossoms Festival 201398
We didn’t stay long but we’re happy to have experienced seeing Cherry Blossoms once again. We had fun appreciating nature, see flowers in bloom and feel the falling Cherry Blossoms on our shoulders.

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I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned before but my greatest food weakness is potato chips. I really can’t live without them for a long time. Whenever a workmate of mine comes to my desk and offers me their chips, I’d go weak and have a chip or two. I stay away from chips during weekdays but on weekends, I let myself have a pack or two (just so I won’t binge later on). My other weakness is white chocolate which I love enough to even write a blog post about it.

Last year, my Mom brought us a box of RoyceMilk Chocolate Potato Chip and we loved it! It was sooooo good. It was the perfect snack for me and the Husband because I love potato chips and he loves chocolates. 

When we vaycayed in Manila last month, we dropped by the Royce stall (like we did in 2011) and bought items to bring home with us. This time, I bought the White Chocolate Potato Chips.  
My New Favourite From Royce: Potato Chip (White) Chocolate
P1260578My New Favourite From Royce: Potato Chip (White) Chocolate
The quality of these chips amazed us. We transported this in Manila and once we arrived in Sydney, we stored it inside the fridge right away but the chips are still crisp. 
My New Favourite From Royce: Potato Chip (White) Chocolate
Potato Chips + White Chocolate = a sweet and salty harmony inside a box. I’m one happy foodie because of these.

Royce also has these chips covered in dark chocolate and my Husband loves them.
Would you believe I haven’t transferred our Manila and Seoul photos to my computer? It’s taking me a while to get around to doing our post-travel tasks. Work is taking a lot of my time lately that some days I go home a little exhausted. Last week though I started seeing friends after work. What a joy it was to see friends again. It helps a lot in going back to “our normal”.

Yesterday, I spent an hour sorting out some of the stationery and knick knacks we got from our trip. These were all shared in my instagram (@ibyang) but I would also like to share it because it might be useful reference for some who will visit Manila and Seoul too.

As my love for stationery had been awakened, I kept an eye on stationery during our travel. Other than rekindling my childhood love for stationery, I’m now more appreciative of design and artwork. Maybe the Husband’s “artist fairy dust” is working on me. 

Here are the ones from Manila:

Stationery from Papemelroti. Yes, buhay pa ang Papemelroti! πŸ™‚ They still produce the brown stationery they are known for but this time I found some Manila artwork on their paperie. I especially chose papers with Jeepney artwork. I also got a small Manila poster with “salawikain” written on it. I plan to frame this poster to put on display at home.

Stationery from Fully Booked. White pad paper with Kalesa and Sorbetes art. They’re colourful and reminiscent of life in Manila.  The little sticky notes with flowers are Japanese-inspired art designed in America. 

Coffee-themed calendar planners from our dear friend Agnes. The moment we saw these, we were so amused because it is so Us! πŸ™‚ Grateful for friends who know we love our coffee.
Starbucks Planners gifted by friends Majo and Monet. Husband and I don’t use these kind of planners anymore but we appreciate these ones still because we can add them to our stationery collection and use them for our creative projects. We especially love the book magnets that came with them.
Important men in Philippine history immortalized in stamps. These are used stamps but curated for selling to stamp collectors like me. I plan to frame these in order to preserve them. We found them during our visit to the Ayala Museum.

 An “I Love Manila” fridge magnet. This was the last thing I bought before I got on our plane to Sydney. We were already boarding when I realised we haven’t bought a Manila fridge magnet so I went back out to the shops in NAIA 1 and bought this.

Here are the ones from Seoul:
Seoul is stationery haven! We found a lot of stores that sell gorgeous stationery and pretty little things.

Hanbok Card. One of the fanciest stationery I’ve owned. The design of the hanbok was embossed on the paper. 

 Paper and envelopes with dainty designs. It has my favourite art: dots, flowers and stripes.

 Note pads and Sticky Notes. The note pads came had Korean icons (palace, king, queen, N Seoul Tower) while the sticky notes had dainty-looking designs.

Stamp Stickers. I only bought a few. Two of them had Korean icons while the third one had Alice in Wonderland art.

Souvenirs from where we’ve been: a post card from N Seoul Tower, phone accessory from Hello Kitty Cafe (which we will convert into a fridge magnet), notebook from the Teddy Bear Museum and a pen from Mango Six Cafe (which will also be converted into a fridge magnet).

King and Queen Bookmark. Aren’t they the cutest? It also has an “I Love Korea” embossed on them. 

It was a fun hour sorting all thru the knick knacks we brought home. I can’t wait to use these pretty paper in creating our travel scrapbook. Ahhh but first, we need to sort out our photos. When will that be? I can’t say but I hope soon.

Have a great week ahead!

My love for pretty stationery goes back to childhood when I’d collect and exchange colourful, and sometimes perfumed, paper with my playmates. The art of writing by hand and using lovely paper will never grow old. And I don’t think my love for well-crafted stationery will ever be lost even in this digital age. I remember conversations with the Husband when we need to write business mail and I’d sometimes ask, “Can I use stationery paper???”. And the Husband will laugh, amused at my absurdity and “kikay-ness“. 

I have stopped collecting stationery and I have stopped writing letters (but I still send post cards though). Emails, texts, twitter and direct messages are now the norm in my world. But oh how I feel happy whenever I see and use beautiful paper. I often visit lifestyle stores and stationery boutiques to lust over creatively-made stationery. Sometimes I come home with a small notepad to appease my longing. But rarely do I come home with a set because I don’t want to start collecting and create clutter at home

I think the universe took note of my paperie desires as two months ago, I received a lovely birthday gift in the guise of a box set of stationery (Thank you, Rache!)
Writing with Style

It was perfect! It came with little note cards, big cards, writing paper and envelopes in different sizes.

Writing with Style
Writing with Style
Writing with Style
Writing with Style
And it came in a pretty box too. 
Writing with Style
My good friend surely knows me well as the design of the stationery box set she gave is so Me! It has pinks, greens, dots and one of the drawings looked like a coffee cup.

Being gifted pretty stationery has certainly awaken my love for pretty paper. I have used a few of the cards from the box set and I really find joy in using them and writing on them. Makes me feel that the person receiving it will feel more loved by me.

Now that I have a pretty box (pictured above), I plan to fill that in with pretty stationery that I find in the future. Not meaning to collect but just having enough writing paper and cards that we can use for writing to loved ones.

When in Sydney, one must have a taste of some of the best macarons in the world. I’ve already got three favourite macaron brands: MakMak, Adriano Zumbo and Laduree. I’ve writtten about Zumbo and Laduree and have mentioned about MakMak macarons but I just had write a separate entry for them. According to Time Out Sydney, MakMak currently hold the Number 1 spot in the best macaron category. 

Note: According to Time Out Sydney, the Top 5 macarons are Makmak, Adriano Zumbo, Laduree, Baroque Patisserie and Creasion. I’ve tasted the Top 3 and in my list I’ve also ranked them the same as Time Out Sydney.

I discovered MakMak macarons when we had coffee at Via Del Corso, a cafe at Level 5 Westfield Sydney which offers good coffee and a range of delicious desserts such as cakes, chocolates, ice cream, gelato and macarons made by MakMak. It was a pleasure to have found them as it’s always nice to know that there’s a place where I can easily get great tasting macarons should I have the craving.

MakMak macarons are made by Carlos Heng and Chia Wei Leong. What only started out as a challenge to make the best macarons became a business venture for them. After two years of business, their macarons are considered one of the best in Australia. Their service is commendable as they efficiently create their macarons at home and deliver them personally to clients.Things I Love: Macarons by MakMak

We’ve tried a few of their flavours: Salted Caramel, Peppermint and Dark Chocolate, Gianduja and Peanut Butter.

Things I Love: Macarons by MakMak

Salted Caramel. Rich, luscious caramel with bursts of Maldon sea salt. The best salted caramel macaron I’ve ever tasted.

Gianduja. Classic combination of hazelnuts & Belgian dark chocolate with a hint of Frangelico. The nuttiest of all the nutty macarons. This easily becomes a favourite of people who love nuts with their chocolate.

Peppermint and Dark Chocolate. Inspired by Arnott’s Mint Slice and made with organic peppermint tea. The mint is not overpowering so even if I’m not very fond of chocolates with mint, this macaron was very much tolerable.

Peanut Butter. My super duper favourite from all of their macarons. Savouring their peanut butter macarons is like eating peanut butter from the jar. 
Things I Love: Macarons by MakMak
MakMak doesn’t have an exclusive store (yet) but you can visit Via Del Corso or you can check out their website for orders and delivery.