Sunday, December 29, 2013

Why I Love the 2014 Belle De Jour Power Planner! ♪♪♪♪

Viviamo, maker of the popular Belle de Jour Power Planner, has sent me their newest planner for review.  Like I've mentioned last year, I consider this an exceptional item made for women, by women. 

  2014 Belle De Jour Power Planner

It makes sense, right? When it comes to knowing a woman's intricately unique set of needs, hopes and dreams, only fellow bellas can truly understand and address these concerns effectively. Once again, this year's BDJ Power Planner takes these issues to heart and adds a bit more.

  2014 Belle De Jour Power Planner

For one, I've noticed that the 2014 Belle de Jour Power Planner is a few inches smaller than last year's. It is neither too big nor too bulky which makes it a lot easier for us, bellas, to slip it into our handbags.

  2014 Belle De Jour Power Planner

And since the 2014 BDJ Planner is almost as small as my iPad Mini, I might even consider taking the planner with me wherever I go.

  2014 Belle De Jour Power Planner

Fact is, no matter how convenient the Calendar app in my iPad is, for some amazing reason, nothing beats old-fashioned note-taking sometimes. Perhaps that's the reason why most women are still drawn to buying planners amid the ever increasing allure of digital technology.

  2014 Belle De Jour Power Planner

Although the 2014 BDJ Planner boasts of a smaller size, it still sizzles with an array of our favorite features from last year's such as the Goals Page, BDJ Checklist, Random Thoughts, Menstrual Tracker, Bills & Cash Flow Tracker, Vacation Planner and of course, the Weekly Planner.

  2014 Belle De Jour Power Planner

Dream board is still included but with a zesty new twist. Instead of just jotting down your wishes, you are encouraged to cut photos that best represent your deepest dreams, and make a collage out of them.

  2014 Belle De Jour Power Planner

Fun and informative reads mark the start of each month which allow us to re-assess our personal, professional and even financial commitments.

  2014 Belle De Jour Power Planner

And of course, the Php 40,000 worth of coupons from partner establishments are still there to further spice up the 2014 BDJ Planner!

  2014 Belle De Jour Power Planner Coupons

More coupons are found inside the Power Planner thanks to the following biz partners:

2014 Belle De Jour Power Planner Coupons

Aside from the regular features mentioned above, I've noticed that there are also some new additions, making the 2014 BDJ Planner more succinct than it already is.

Here are just some of them:

Compact Monthly Calendar helps us visualize our month-long activities and appointments.

  2014 Belle De Jour Power Planner

Choose to Shine Page allows us to analyze and address our fears  head-on.

  2014 Belle De Jour Power Planner

Advocacy Challenges Page helps re-awaken the patriot within.

  2014 Belle De Jour Power Planner

An Immunization Page keeps track of our vaccines against cervical cancer and the common flu, among others.

  2014 Belle De Jour Power Planner

Share Happiness Page drives us outside our comfort zone into caring for our immediate community and our country in general.

  2014 Belle De Jour Power Planner

Cutesy Stickers allow us to mark important appointments and qualify them into various themes.

  2014 Belle De Jour Power Planner

All of these well-thought out features are fused together resulting in 200 full-color pages filled with inspiring quotes such as this one:

"Every great dream begins with a dreamer.
Always remember you have within you
the strength, the patience and the passion
to reach for the stars to change the world."
-Harriet Tubman

  2014 Belle De Jour Power Planner

I've also noticed that this year's planner delves on how women should live life to the full and make it a masterpiece.

And to answer this pervading question felt all throughout the planner:

"I will make my life a masterpiece by choosing to soar above life's raging storm and use its seemingly frightening wind power to help lift me to greater heights of service and influence."

  2014 Belle De Jour Power Planner

Grab your very own 2013 Belle de Jour (BDJ) Weekly Planner for just Php 598 at all leading bookstores nationwide. If you prefer to shop online, simply click this.   

 2014 Belle De Jour Power Planner is available for Php 598

Remember: Every purchase of the BDJ Power Planner entitles you to a Lifestyle Card that serves as your passport to BDJ events all throughout 2014. For more info on how to claim yours, simply click this.

  2014 Belle de Jour Power Planner
My Rating:
♪♪♪♪ Marvelous! Highly recommended. 

Belle de Jour Power Planner


Monday, December 23, 2013

Tickled Pink by Pinkberry's Signature FroYo @ SM Aura Premier ♪♪♪♪

The FroYo Wave may have subsided a little, but for a number of reasons, Pinoys still find themselves happily indulging in FroYo's signature sweet 'n' tangy concoctions time and time again.

Pinkberry Philippines (SM Aura Premier)

For one, FroYo is believed to be much healthier than its ice cream counterpart which of course, remains a debatable issue for some. Healthy  maybe FroYo's middle name, but what gravitates people toward it, is its distinctly refreshing taste, ever evolving yogurt flavors  and a plethora of decadent toppings to choose from. Nothing could be better than that!

Pinkberry Philippines 

When my food review at Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen wrapped up, I met up with hubby Bala and kulet boy Tutapel to get some desserts. Just a few steps from Ikkoryu was Pinkberry, one of the pioneers of Frozen Yogurt in the world.

Although Pinkberry was first conceptualized in 2005 in West Hollywood, California, it took them 6 years before their first store opened here in the Philippines. For some, their timing was a little bit off. Aside from the fact that Red Mango was dominating the FroYo Craze in the metro, another wave was emerging- the public's fascination with Milk Tea!

Time may not have been Pinkberry's biggest ally, but "word of mouth" is. Customers psyched up by their yogurt varieties and delectable toppings used social media to share their pent up elation. I can't help but share their enthusiasm!

Pinkberry is really something to rave about. It features more yogurt flavors and definitely more chocolate toppings than Red Mango. But what Pinkberry doesn't have which remains to be Red Mango's strength is blueberry jam which just about balances the yogurt's tartness in all levels.  

Pinkberry Philippines SM Aura Premier Branch

Setting that detail aside, we still enjoyed Pinkberry's Signature FroYo in 3 delightful combos:

Salted Caramel with Three Toppings (Php 155).
Pinkberry's own take in Salted Caramel FroYo was made richer and two notches more decadent with the addition of toasted almonds, shaved Belgian milk chocolate and yogurt chips. Truly a must-try!

Pinkberry Philippines

Original Flavor with 3 Toppings (Php 155).
The tangy yogurt flavor was beautifully balanced by the nutty Fudge brownie bites, crunchy semi-sweet chocolate chips and enticing shaved Belgian milk chocolate. Another winning combo in my book!

Pinkberry Philippines

Original Flavor with 3 Toppings (Php 155). 
Pinkberry's trademark FroYo in original flavor was made three notches more tangy with toasted almonds, kiwi and blueberries. This might be the store's most popular combo, according to one of the staff members, but I wasn't particularly fond of it at all. Just maybe if I added a smooth liquid topping and some cheesecake bites instead, the resulting taste could have been more harmonious than it actually was.

Pinkberry Philippines

Any which way, I can't wait to go back to Pinkberry and try out their other yogurt flavors and sinfully good add-ons.

How about you, what's your favorite Pinkberry concoction?

Pinkberry Philippines
My Rating:
♪♪♪♪ Marvelous! Highly recommended. 

Pinkberry Philippines

Pinkberry SM Aura Premier
Level 2, SM Aura Premier

Pinkberry Greenbelt 5
Phone: 9457610

Pinkberry Powerplant Mall, Rockwell
Phone: 9941197


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Into the Traditional Ramen Culture at Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen SM Aura Premier ♪♪♪♪

Bonifacio Global City is steadily garnering a reputation as a mecca of good food, thanks in part to the vast array of restaurant franchises in the area. Foodies like myself, consider this a glorious development to whet one's appetite and satisfy a plethora of cravings. And if you find yourself yearning for authentic Japanese Ramen in the area, I can think of nothing better than Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen.

Ikkoryu is a part of the Yamagoya Ramen Family which boasts of over a hundred restos in Japan, including their hometown of Fukuoka, Tokyo and Osaka, among others. Worldwide, Ikkoryu Ramen has over 150 restos in Taiwan, Thailand, China and most recently, the Philippines.

At its SM Aura Premier branch, for instance, I was impressed by Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen's attention to detail as depicted in its exotic wood plank walls behind an immense glass panel window.

Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen SM Aura Premier

More wood planks were found inside which somehow made the traditional welcome greeting of Irrashaimase twice as loud. Smiling Smiley Face  After the initial shock, however, my eyes became fixated on this covelike seating area for its creativity and classy vibe.

Wood Planks provide a more intimate setting @ 
Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen SM Aura Premier

 An even more stunning set of wood planks are found inside
@ Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen SM Aura Premier

Up close, the wood planks had something written on them which according to Mr. Kenji Komuro, Public Relations Director of Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen Philippines, was the opening sentence of Hōjōki, a popular essay in Japanese Literature written by Kamo no Chomei during the Kamakura Period (1185-1333). Known as Account of Hut or The Ten Foot Square Hut  in English, the short work talks about the many disasters faced by the people of  Kyoto at the time.
Primarily considered as a form of Zuihitsu  because of its adherence to the concept of loosely connected personal essays and fragmented ideas relating to the author's surroundings, in this case Chomei's, the writings on these wood planks, actually mean this:

"The current of the flowing river does not cease, and yet the water is not the same water as before. The foam that floats on stagnant pools, now vanishing, now forming, never stays the same for long. So, too, it is with people and dwellings of the world." (Translated by Chambers)

Impressive Calligraphy @ 
Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen SM Aura Premier

Renowned Japanese artist Ms. Sensyu Yasuko traveled here to the Philippines just so, she can do the calligraphy on each of the wood planks displayed at all Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen shops.

Renowned Calligrapher Sensyu Yasuko at work

I've always been fascinated by the art and science of Japanese Calligraphy ever since I attended a calligraphy class in Tokyo many years ago. It turned out to be one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life, as I got a taste of Japanese culture through a seemingly simple partnership of a brush and an ink.

Got so self-conscious when our Japanese Team Leaders started looking at my work! 

Aside from the shop's calligraphy, I can't help but smile when I saw this section designed for solo diners as it exuded that traditional ambiance distinct in Japanese Ramen Houses from years ago.

Ramen Station for clients-on-the-go
Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen SM Aura Premier

Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen specializes in Tonkotsu-based broth  made out of pork bones, fat and collagen boiled over low heat for more than 12 hours. To provide structure to the milky white broth are Chikuhou noodles known for their thinness and chewier nature.

A Five-Fold Approach to Fully Enjoy Ramen @
Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen 

Assorted Condiments @ Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen: 
Sesame Seeds, Sesame Oil, 
& Blackish Aromatic Oil from sesame seeds or charred, crushed garlic 

Just last Saturday, I had the privilege of joining a group of bloggers to try out Ikkoryu's trademark ramen. Thanks Ms. Riza M. for the invite!

Left to Right: Mr. Kenji Komuro (PR Director of Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen); Moi;
Mamu Lariza Garcia of Mom's World of Arts & Happiness;

Please allow me to share with you some of the different dishes we had that afternoon. 

Ajitama Tonkotsu (Php 380).

An undeniable bestseller for its milky broth infused with firm Chikuhou noodles, thick-slices of Chasyu (roasted pork), bamboo shoots, black fungus mushroom, a melt-in-your-mouth Aji-Tamago (soft-boiled egg) topped with spring onions and served with nori (dried seaweed).

I found this tonkotsu type flavorful, a little bit salty but certainly without the zing which made me like it even more. Although the Chasyu  wasn't as tasty as the one I had at Hokkaido Ramen Santouka, I think that Ikkoryu's version worked well with its already savory Tonkotsu and very chewy Chikuhou noodles.  A definite must-try!!!

Ajitama Tonkotsu @ Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen 

Mr. Kenji Komuro ( PR Director of Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen)
serving us himself. Talk about customer service! 

Food Tasting @
Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen SM Aura Premier

Rediscovering the foodie in me!

Yuzu-Tama Tonkotsu (Php 380).

What set this tonkotsu-type from the first, was the presence of yuzukosyo known for its disarmingly zesty nature. If I were to rate this particular Tonkotsu's pungency level with 5 as the highest, I'll definitely give it a 4.5.

Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen SM Aura Premier

It was really that spicy; but, still undeniably delish and appetizing. Best enjoyed with a dash of sesame seeds to tone down the ramen's heat level.

Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen SM Aura Premier

Special Vegetable Paste Tonkotsu (Php 380).

In between sips of Barley Tea in order to neutralize the palate, I was given a serving of our third type of tonkotsu ramen embellished with an expert fusion of vegetable paste and aromatic oil. The broth was tasty, exhibited a deep pepper flavor and a bit oilier than the first two which I think was really inevitable, considering this particular tonkotsu's primary ingredients.  

Special Vegetable Paste Tonkotsu @ Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen

Spicy Tobanjan Tonkotsu (Php 380).

Despite a generous serving of zesty tobanjan paste, the resulting broth was not at all spicy but amazingly flavorful and deeply satisfying. And when the pickled ginger was added per advice of the PR director, the soup even had a more tangy edge which made it a notch more appealing. A first-rate tonkotsu in my book!  

Spicy Tobanjan Tonkotsu @ Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen

Gyoza (Php 150).

No Japanese-style meal will be complete without gyoza, a popular dish originally of Chinese descent; but, has become strongly associated with Japanese food for the longest time. Made up of pork, cabbage, green onions, sake, sesame oil, among others, wrapped in a special type of dough, gyoza is first steamed and then grilled, according to Mr. Komuro.

Ikkoryu's gyoza was sooo good! The dough's crispness worked well with the filling's flavorful nature. I think that Shinjuku Ramen's trademark gyoza considered by many to be the best in town, has found a rival in Ikkoryu's.

Gyoza @ Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen 

Karaage (Php 180).

I've never tried Japanese-style fried chicken before or if I had, maybe it wasn't that impressive enough to leave a mark in my memory. I guess the best way to define Ikkoryu's Karaage is to compare it to other fried chicken dishes in town. Ikkoryu's was almost as crisp as Bonchon's minus the sweetness and almost as flavorful as Max's trademark chicken. What's quite remarkable was that even though I ate the chicken almost 15 minutes after it was served, the chicken was still notably crisp and the meat, still juicy. Even without the slaw and mayo, I still quite enjoyed my fried chicken.

Karaage @ Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen

Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen Philippines
My Rating:
♪♪♪♪ Marvelous! Highly recommended. 

Ikkoryu Fukuoka Ramen Philippines


Level 2, SM Aura Premier
26th Street corner McKinley Parkway
Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
Phone No: 478-8333

Level 5, Shangri-la Plaza East Wing
Shaw Boulevard cor EDSA, Mandaluyong City
Phone No: 477-8333

P1 Concourse Level, Powerplant Mall
Rockwell Center, Makati City
Phone No: 897-8088