Chachic's Book Nook


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Snapshot from a Book: Loveless. Childless. Clueless.

Another delayed post from me! I’ve been back in Singapore for a week now but was too busy starting at the new job so I wasn’t able to finish all the updates from my Manila trip. I had forgotten how lonely and awkward the first few days/weeks in a new job are, when you are still Clueless and Friendless (going by similar descriptors to the title of the book featured in this post). I’m sure it will get better though.:) I hope I’ll have more time to read and blog once I’m more settled into my new role.

Anyway, Snapshot From a Book is a sporadic feature that I have on my blog where I match snippets of books I’ve read with pictures I’ve taken. I rarely get to do this because I don’t always get to visit the settings of the books I read. I have been wanting to visit Pinto Art Museum for the longest time, just that I haven’t been able to do so because it’s in the outskirts of Manila and traffic is always bad whenever I go home for a long vacation (because it’s usually at Christmastime). Luckily, I was able to venture to Antipolo during my recent trip! Pinto Art Museum such a gorgeous museum, garden, park, ideal photo shoot venue all rolled into one. If it was nearer to our house, I would have definitely visited it more than once. There’s a scene in Filipino romance Loveless. Childless. Clueless. by Miren B. Flores that’s set in that place, and of course I remembered it when I got there. Some shots that I took and two snippets from the book:

Pinto Art Museum 1

Pinto Art Museum 2

The museum is inside a gated community (we find out later that it used to be the home of a doctor who was a patron of the arts), nestled on top of a hill far away from the city. The walls are white stucco, rough and unadorned, cool to the touch.

We enter one of the galleries. Against white walls, the colors and textures in the modern paintings are stark, vibrant. There are swirls of midnight blue and dark purple, an ocean angry, tempestuous. A small canvas looks like the scene of a violent crime, a human heart beaten to a pulp, the words “You broke me” splattered over torn arteries.

Nice. Several months ago, I could’ve painted this.

Long arcades give us views of courtyards with little fountains. Curved staircases with colorful tiles lead to roof decks with wrought iron chairs and the occasional daybed; terra cotta steps reveal gardens dotted with sculptures.

I am half-expecting a Mexican drug lord to emerge from behind a tree, a Cuban cigar in one hand, the reins of a polo pony in the other.

Pinto Art Museum 3

Pinto Art Museum 4

Pinto Art Museum 5

Pinto Art Museum 7

Pinto Art Museum 6

Her hair is long, tight curls billowing around her shoulders. Her head is bowed, her face empty save for a small, upturned nose. Vines are crawling up her legs and thighs, wrapping themselves around her swollen belly.

The wind in her hair, the grace with which her hands touch her belly – it all looks so real, so warm, I can’t believe she’s made of metal.

Pinto Art Museum 8

Just looking at these pictures makes me want to go back! I hope I can find something as lovely as Pinto Art Museum in Singapore. Oh and by the way, I don’t have a physical copy of Lovesless. Childless. Clueless. so I asked my friend to bring the copy I gave her for Christmas last year. I knew I had to take a shot of it with that sculpture in the background.

Previous Snapshot From a Book posts:
Anawangin Cove, Zambales, What You Wanted by Mina V. Esguerra
Prague, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Ateneo de Manila University, Interim Goddess of Love by Mina V. Esguerra
Paris, The Chocolate Touch by Laura Florand
Paris, The Chocolate Thief


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Influenced by a Book: #LauraFlorandDiscussion

As a reader, there have been times when something that I read in a book has influenced some of my actions. Influenced by a Book is a feature that lets me share experiences like that. You can view some of my previous posts here.

My friends Kim and Mina are co-moderated a discussion of Laura Florand’s Amour et Chocolat series. I wasn’t able to join the face to face discussion in Manila earlier today, but I participated in the online discussion. A common reaction to reading this series about chocolatiers and pastry chefs is to crave delicious desserts and chocolates like the ones described in the books. Because of this, Mina requested that we share photos of our chocolate adventures on social media and use the hashtag #LauraFlorandDiscussion. I’ve shared pictures all over Twitter and Facebook, and I wanted to consolidate all of them in this one blog post. I don’t know whether I should be proud of myself for using #LauraFlorandDiscussion to indulge the dessert addict in me, or be embarrassed by how sinful some of these creations are. Sharing these pics in no particular order because I’ve forgotten the exact dates when I had them (also not giving a timeline on when I had theseπŸ˜› ).

Paris Baguette is a Korean bakery that has a branch near our office. I get some of their pastries for breakfast from time to time. I love their chocolate earl grey cake (more like a mousse) because I’m a fan of both chocolate and tea-flavored desserts:
Paris Baguette - chocolate earl grey

Another cafe near the office is Paul, a well-known cafe in France. I’ve seen branches of it in French airports and train stations. I dropped by to grab a croissant and chocolat chaud for breakfast one day:
Paul - pastries

Paul - macarons

Paul’s macarons have two sizes: tiny and huge.

Royce is a fancy Japanese chocolate brand and my go-to whenever I’m in dire need of chocolate. I think they’re reasonably priced for the quality that they provide.
Royce

Awfully Chocolate is a Sinagaporean chocolate store that offers a variety of dark chocolate desserts. My favorite from them is their cold poached chocolate, a kind mousse that’s so rich and yummy. I’m not a big fan of their truffles, I think the ones from Royce are better.
Awfully Chocolate

This post would not be complete without a Laduree shot! I’ve tried Laduree in Paris and Singapore and I think the quality is pretty consistent. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite macaron brand in Singapore but I feel like they started the trend so they deserve the popularity. I tried their earl grey flavor when I visited this time.
Laduree - Laura Florand Discussion

Bonheur Patisserie is a brand that comes up whenever I search for macarons in Singapore. I didn’t love them the first time I tried their macarons but I’ve found two flavors that I think they do really well: lavender and rose.
Bonheur Patisserie

Bonheur Patisserie 2

Bonheur Patisserie with matcha

Bonheur Patisserie’s lavender and rose macarons paired with St. Marc’s matcha latte

I’ve been meaning to try Patisserie G for a while now and finally got to do so when I was in that area with my friend. We shared their signature dessert called the G spot and I had a lavender lemon macaron. We found the G spot just okay, but I thought the macaron was yummy.
Patisserie G pastries
Patisserie G macarons
Patisserie G

Last, but certainly not the least, is another well-known Parisian cafe that opened a branch in Singapore: Angelina. I previously blogged about their chocolat chaud and macarons. This time, my friend and I ordered their Negresco pastry (meringue, chocolate mousse, dark chocolate shavings ) and signature Angelina tea (light and fruity). My friend and I agreed that the Negresco is much better than the G spot mentioned above.
Angelina - Negresco and tea
Angelina - Negresco

OMG I’m feeling so guilty just looking back on these pictures. I need to have more salads in the coming days and weeks. I used to say that I would have started a food blog if I didn’t have a book blog. So it’s also been fun to go to these places, try their desserts and take pictures. Sometimes, I share my food adventures on Instagram. What do you guys think of all of these yumminess?:)


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Influenced by a Book: Chocolat Chaud et Macarons

As a reader, there have been times when something that I read in a book has influenced some of my actions. Influenced by a Book is a feature that lets me share experiences like that. In a previous post, I talked about how A Wish Upon Jasmine by Laura Florand influenced me to give lavender oil a try. Today’s post is also inspired by another Laura Florand book, The Chocolate Kiss. The female MC of the book has a special way of making chocolat chaud (hot chocolate) while the male MC is renowned for his macaron creations.

My friends Kim and Mina are co-moderating a discussion of Laura Florand’s Amour et Chocolat series. While I haven’t reread any of the books recently, I’m being reminded of them because of the discussion threads. So when I had an emotionally draining and stressful work day, I chose to drown my sorrows in Angelina’s chocolat chaud and macarons:

Angelina - chocolat chaud and macarons

Angelina - chocolat chaud and macarons 2

OMG this chocolat chaud was super thick. It’s rich enough for me to marry! I could have had it just by itself for dessert. But I’m a macaron fan so I went ahead and ordered a set that included dark chocolate, chestnut, lemon and chocolate passionfruit. I finished all of these by myself and yes, I did feel slightly better about my day after this particular indulgence. Just one more work day to get through before the weekend is here.

What about you, have you done anything lately based on something you’ve read in a book?


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Snapshot From a Book: What You Wanted

Snapshot From a Book is a sporadic feature that I have on my blog where I match snippets of books I’ve read with pictures I’ve taken. I rarely get to do this because I don’t always get to visit the settings of the books I read. And interestingly, all of my posts so far have featured my lomography shots. Today’s feature is What You Wanted by Mina V. Esguerra. This Filipino romance is primarily set in Manila but the couple takes a trip to Anawangin in Zambales. I’ve been to Anawangin twice and it’s beautiful, which is why I’m choosing to share pictures of it.

I hope these snippets and pictures make you more curious about the book!

lomo Anawangin boat

“Have you ever been to Anawangin?” I’d asked, suddenly.

Hours later, we were there. It was a bright, beautiful day. The drive north felt effortless, even if we had little sleep. We checked into a resort along the beach in Zambales, left the car and our heavier things there, and then hired a small boat to take us to the island.

This was something I did, by the way. Take off, no plans, do something crazy. Not everyone was up for it; my sister had long since asked to be left out of the invite list, my parents only requested that wherever it was, it should have phones or a decent signal. Damon didn’t even blink when he said yes, and he packed like a pro. I had the advantage of having been there before, but with a group of friends.

ZambalesLomo3

We couldn’t spend the night on the island, although that was what other people did. No tent, no other supplies, so we asked our boat guy to pick us up later that afternoon. There were a few other groups of people there, mostly friends setting up camp, and we had to find a spot near the water where we could be as broody as we wanted. The view was spectacular – a wonderfully confused cove of pine trees, green hills, and white-gray sand. Perfect for reflecting on our sins.

ZambalesLomo5

ZambalesLomo6

Anawangin, Zambales, Philippines
October 2011
Camera: Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim
Film: Fuji Velvia and Fuji Sensia

Previous Snapshot From a Book posts:
Prague, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Ateneo de Manila University, Interim Goddess of Love by Mina V. Esguerra
Paris, The Chocolate Touch by Laura Florand
Paris, The Chocolate Thief


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Influenced by a Book: Lavender Oil

As a reader, there have been times when something that I read in a book has influenced some of my actions. I’m starting this new feature Influenced by a Book to talk about things like that. I have no idea how often I’ll do posts like this so let’s just see how it goes.

First up is something influenced by one of my favorite reads this year, A Wish Upon Jasmine by Laura Florand. This lovely romance is set in Provence. It features a heroine who is a top perfumer and a hero who is a perfume executive (and is part of an old perfume family who has a strong presence in the business). So being the serious business guy that he is, the hero gets tension headaches which he usually just tries to live through. A thoughtful solution that the heroine suggests? Lavender oil. Check out this snippet:

It said: If you get a headache, try this.

And for some reason – it must be his fucking head – that made his eyes sting.

He uncapped the vial, and the scent of lavender hit him immediately, spicy, fresh, optimistic. The scent of a bee sting easing. The scent of a field on the plateaus, high up, away from the world, with a wind rippling waves of purple. The scent of an afternoon making love in a small, shadowy room above an old perfume shop.

He held the vial to his nose, his eyes closed, and his breathing slowing and deepening. That tight pain eased the minutest degree at the first breath, and then a little bit more with the second, and a little bit more, like a guitar string close to snapping being slowly, slowly adjusted back to proper tightness. It eased until he almost forgot about it, his lashes growing heavy, his face muscles relaxing.

lavender essential oil

Lavender essential oil that I recently bought

That scene makes me go awww. I love the way lavender smells and I’ve used lavender-scented perfumes, shower gels, shampoos, and other bath products. I also love its flowery taste and have eaten lavender-flavored cakes and ice cream, and I’ve savored lavender tea. But I’ve never thought to use lavender essential oil for headaches, which I get from time to time, especially when I’ve been working long hours. I try to avoid taking Biogesic / paracetamol if I can help it because I don’t want to depend on it. So when I felt a headache coming on, I decided to try the treatment that Jess suggested. While my headache didn’t completely go away, the lavender oil did help me relax. Maybe I need to inhale more of it.

What about you, have you recently done something that was influenced by a book that you read? Also, what do you think of this new feature of mine?πŸ˜›


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Snapshot From a Book: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Snapshot From a Book is a feature that I started sometime last year and so far, I only have three posts for it (Interim Goddess of Love trilogy by Mina V. Esguerra, The Chocolate Thief and The Chocolate Touch by Laura Florand). I did mention that I wouldn’t be sure how often I’d be able to do this since it’s rare for me to visit places that are used as settings in the books that I read. Also, I think it’s pretty cool that I’ve managed to use lomography pictures in all my posts so far. In keeping with that theme, today I’m featuring snippets and pictures for Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor (my review). I visited Prague a few months ago and I believe Laini Taylor did a magnificent job in describing this gorgeous city. I’m sharing pictures taken using my Vivitar Ultra Wide and Slim film camera with no edits. Films used were Fuji Sensia, Fuji Velvia, Lomochrome Purple and Revolog Kolor.

“The streets of Prague were a fantasia scarcely touched by the twenty-first century – or the twentieth or nineteenth, for that matter. It was a city of alchemists and dreamers, its medieval cobbles once trod by golems, mystics, invading armies. Tall houses glowed goldenrod and carmine and eggshell blue, embellished with Rococo plasterwork and capped in roofs of uniform red. Baroque cupolas were the soft green of antique copper, and Gothic steeples stood ready to impale fallen angels. The wind carried the memory of magic, revolution, violins, and the cobbled lanes meandered like creeks. Thugs wore Mozart wigs and pushed chamber music on street corners, and marionettes hung in windows, making the whole city seem like a theater with unseen puppeteers crouched behind velvet.

Above it all loomed the castle on the hill, its silhouette as sharp as thorns. By night it was floodlit, bathed in eerie light, and this evening the sky hung low, full-bellied with snow, making gauzy halos around the street lamps.”

Prague lomo 1Prague lomo 2Prague lomo castle

“Prague entranced you, lured you in, like the mythic fey who trick travelers deep into forests until they’re lost beyond hope.”

Prague lomo astronomical clockPrague lomo old town

The medieval Cesky Krumlov was very briefly mentioned in the book as well, so I thought it would be nice to include some shots of that lovely place too:

“Zuzana was Czech, from a long line of marionette artisans in Cesky Krumlov, the little jewel box of a city in southern Bohemia.”

Cesky Krumlov lomoCesky Krumlov lomo 2


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Shoot That Book: Lersta Reading Lamp

Shoot That Book combines my passion for books and my tendency to become trigger happy with a camera. My lack of photography skills is compensated by my enthusiasm. Basically, I like taking pictures of books.

A couple of months ago, I moved to the room that I’m currently renting and wrote about the aspects of the move related to reading and blogging. In that post, I mentioned that I couldn’t really read in the reading corner where my armchair is placed because there’s not enough light at night. I had a desk lamp that I used to balance on the armrest but even that has given up on me (the switch is broken). I also mentioned that I thought about buying a stand lamp but the ones that I saw in Ikea were too expensive. The other day, my friend mentioned that she saw a lamp that was only SGD19.90 and I wanted to get one as soon as I heard about it. So today, I dropped by Ikea after work and got a Lersta reading lamp.

Ikea Lersta and bulb

This is the cheapest stand lamp that is available in Ikea. All the other ones are a little pricey. Now I’m berating myself for not searching through the online store to check if there are cheaper alternatives to the ones I saw in the physical store. This lamp is just a bit more expensive than the book light that I bought a few months ago (which has also died and I didn’t bother replacing the batteries since it wasn’t any good)! Anyway, just wanted to give a quick update because I’m happy that I now have a bright and shiny lamp in my reading corner:

Ikea Lersta lamp with armchair

Now I just need to decide what to read next…

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