October 28, 2012

Strawberry rose sunsets

by Cara Funk

 

A carpet of corals against the faint current of the sea – that’s how the sky looked like at a 5:00 PM sunset. I got off work early, and the Darling and I were on a cab to see a movie. It’s as if we were looking down into the water, idly moving on a boat, except that we were actually looking up. It was a velvet petal that infinitely stretched throughout a turquoise backdrop. It was a rare occasion to catch the Manila sunset, although it happens everyday. I’ve forgotten how marvelous it was, but I didn’t take a picture. I wanted it to linger and amalgamate with the rest of my memory, so that all happy thoughts would have a rose-colored sunset setting.

I’ve forgotten how sunsets in Manila were so extraordinary. There’s something intangibly unique about how the shadows and lights play with the elements of the city. After a few seconds, I checked which street we were on. As I looked up again, the city was back to this gritty set of despair. The sunset has gone.

It reminded me of how all things beautiful are ephemeral and fleeting. Like catching a flower bloom at dusk, a butterfly or jellyfish’s life, or watching macarons feet rise.   It was such a distressing thought. Beautiful things may be fleeting, but they are recurring – like waking up every morning to a breakfast of oatmeal and jam. Like romance! Fights and compromises are always sprinkled with kisses, embraces in bed, and I Love Yous.

 

The only thing I regret about fairytales is that they just teach you about a prolonged, constant state of happiness. They don’t tell you about how moments of joy may not be ever-present, but they are recurring, and they happen more than the bad times. And every time you catch one happy moment, one beautiful thing, you would love and appreciate it more since the last time you’ve held it.

It’s been awhile since I’ve come across fresh strawberries in the grocery (one beautiful thing!). Naturally, there were no second thoughts about procuring them. Although not as sweet as they would be in summer, they are perfect for Strawberry rose macarons. It’s the natural fragrance of the strawberries that pirouettes through the white chocolate cream dance floor, and reminds you of summer or of a beautiful sunset. And the rose hint is so faint and fleeting that catching it in the crevices of your tongue is that beautiful thing which makes you appreciate joy a few degrees more.

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October 24, 2012

Against the Sky

by Cara Funk

Once upon a time, I was a girl who expected so much wonder from the world. I guess, that’s the thing about time, days, and sleeping just to wake up again the next day – you get closer and closer to realizing that life is really just a limbo. It is a hole that numbs you and makes you forget about the essential. It feels so empty that we would catch and hold on to all things ephemeral just to feel like a star again. We were once stars. To surpass the speed of light was made impossible in this world for a reason.

Once upon a time, I was girl who expected so much joy from the world. No one said it would always be a fight to find happiness. Back then, everybody told me that everything would be alright. No one said that the sun rises just to bring another chance to deal with loss and heartache.

It’s already around 6:00 at night. The sun sets. I feel like the horizon could swallow and burn me up in flames. I just feel so tired of keeping myself afloat, of accepting that it is alright even if it’s not.

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September 18, 2012

by Cara Funk

Art by Lisa Falzon

I have been utterly fascinated with Marie Antoinette since my past life perhaps. She has a made at least one chapter in my world history (text) book a hue rosier and more interesting than ever. I secretly wished the French Revolution never had to happen (well, in the text book, anyway) because it meant (a) her tragic death, and (b) tragic death of imagination while my mind struggled with so many Boston Tea  and all those parties in class. Such monotony which I would have to endure until the chapter of the hippies and the Flower Power revolution come up.

Why Marie Antoinette, to me, is the most darling historical personality is simple. There are significant parts of her life that echo a few of mine.

1. She loves flowers.

When Louis XVI gave her the Petit Trianon, she modeled its landscape after an Enligsh countryside, which is certainly not without greenery that crawls and bursts forth flowers. In close distance, Marie Antoinette kept a rose garden in le hemeau, her rustic retreat within the grounds of Versailles.

While I might not have my own cottage to retreat to – hell, I don’t even have one bit of semblance to an activity of retreat or rest or recreation – a same affection for flowers is certainly shared. I do my part by taking care of a few frangipani shrubs here in there. No roses for now, as I’ve heard they are quite meticulous darlings. I can only look after one meticulous thing in the time being. And those are macarons. But I really have every intention in my bones to keep and prune a rose garden as how I’ve imagined life would be all about when I was seven. Maybe, when I get my own house, or a cottage would be even finer; and when I’ve become mistress of the art of handling multiple meticulous things. For now, frangipanis would do and the occasional rose surprises from the Darling.

Notice how her bedroom in Versailles is quite rich with florals and pastels. I just love her eye for style. If I had the chance to re-model my room, it would most definitely be inspired by her chambers, embellished with flowers and laces…in a less ornate fashion, of course. No gold trimmings or thingamajigs!

2. She has charming quirks and loves coffee in the morning.

Finally, someone in history that I could really relate to! Contrary to what has been shown about her in popular culture or media, Marie Antoinette does not douse herself in confectionners sugar, champagne and pastries – particularly macarons! For one, macarons in the form which we know of today (a filling sandwiched between two shells) has not been introduced until the early 20th Century. Rather, Marie Antoinette didn’t really enjoy extravagant meals which are mostly associated with strict French decorum. She would rather take her coffee in the morning in bed and enjoy chocolates for dessert. She liked to add orange blossom water to her hot chocolate.

For some reason, I found this little habit (or indulgence) quite charming. I add a lot of rose water in my desserts and strawberry syrup in my coffee, too. Those little special details that make ordinary things blossom in to treats. I think, above anything else, what I love and share most about Marie Antoinette is how she made all the simple things in her life a celebration, how she made roses out of weeds.

Photo by Isobel Funk

3. She has been misunderstood.

Marie Antoinette must have been the primordial case of bad press and celebrity gossips. She was scrutinized for her lack of involvement in politics, and for her lavish lifestyle (i.e. 3 ft. high hairstyle, 300 new gowns a year, gambling and partying). But France was already bankrupt long before she was crowned queen.

She must have felt significantly trapped. At 14 years old, she was treated merely as a pawn by her mother who arranged her marriage to advance her own motives. Apart from completely giving up her life to move from Austria to France (she had to give up everything Austrian – even clothes – for French ones!), she lived most of her life trying to please people. Imagine being a queen in your teens!  And she never did say, “Let them eat cake.” It might have been conjured by a French journalist, or a statement most likely made by Marie Therese – her mother.

But Marie Antoinette was really generous and was never hesitant about helping the poor, as noted in Madame Campan’s memoirs.

Well, I think, this is the part which delivers the strongest sting. If I had it my way, and didn’t have to please or take care of people, I would do things differently. Sometimes, it’s inevitable not to feel trapped in this waking up everyday to take the train and type away deadlines, while my mind wanders about in places that I only get to see in photographs or on things that my heart beats for like flowers, macarons and writing. Marie Antoinette, I get you. It’s hard.

But I do appreciate the fact that guillotines are hard to come by these days, and arranged marriages are really not my mother’s thing.

Although, she might not have rolled herself in macarons to stupor, it is only but righteous to make these Strawberry Rose darlings in her likeness – romantic and whimsical, with a hint of something special to turn the humble sugar in to an elegant pastry.

September 18, 2012

{La Vie En Rose Sweets}

by Cara Funk

A good love poem is a delicate fragrance inhaled until your lungs blossom (Edgar Allan Poe)

Nothing like sweet & delicate STRAWBERRY ROSE MACARONS to make up for words in a love poem. Have your strawberries & white chocolate fix in a Box of 6, 9, or 12 NOW! Text/Message us 🙂

For flavors of our French Macarons, please take a look here.

*Strawberry Rose Macarons – A dreamy blend of strawberries & white chocolate with a subtle rosy note hums a sweet & creamy trail on your taste buds.

September 18, 2012

Hope for the flowers and toasts

by Cara Funk

The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls a butterfly. – Richard Bach, Illusions.

Speaking of luminous jellyfish, I’d like to share with you one of the things that has turned up some light in more pitch-dark times.

By a recent trip to one of CubaoX’s thrift book shops, the Darling asked me to get him a book that will change his life. Incidentally, without really arranging the weather and the universe, I found Illusions by Richard Bach. Such sheer serendipity! Naturally, I got him the hundred peso book for a galaxy’s worth of wisdom. It felt like cheating. But the first time I read the book was through  the amazing generosity of a friend who lent it to me and who didn’t even want it back. I have some issues with taking treasures from others, so, I returned it and longed for its wisdom ever since.

I’ve always had this Bach bit wired somewhere inside my mind. But it resurfacing and coming into my life could have never been more timely. 

I’d like to think that in most parts of our lives, we become cocoons – times in which we absolutely feel like dying, as if every fiber of our being has been ripped apart or asphyxiated by a sheet severely wrapped around us. In those times, it is but perfectly human to feel cynical towards just about anything that is within the parameters of your vision – the constellations, your boss, the wall, plastic cups – they are all in a conspiracy to destroy you. In those dying times, the pain is so heavily concentrated – it is a syrup of self-pity. It could harden when subjected to more fire. But every time we are distorted into a cocoon, we always end up gaining a little ounce of something – change, perspective, wisdom, experience or really, just something to write about.

But really, dying is essential to be complete. I had strawberries on toast this morning and lingered on this thought more. It may sound rather silly, but strawberries (you should have seen this coming!) have been grow by the sun, water and the earth only to be consumed – rather obsessively by me, most particularly. But going through that pain of being picked and separated from its stalk is to provide others with some degree of will or happiness to live. It is a prerequisite to becoming what we were put on Earth for.

There is good about being subjected to pain or disappointment. Perhaps, it is to ultimately become or act on our purpose. Because everything has a reason. One cannot become a butterfly without first dying as a caterpillar.

On a lighter note, my pursuit to perfect budgeting has been rather frustrating. It is an injustice to want things but to be so inadequate to have them. But keeping my inner Bach in check, I am aware that this is all part of the universe’s grand scheme and constellations of life. My first butterfly moment is romancing with arts and crafts, and creating a handmade necklace to avoid a little unnecessary buys. A great opportunity and a way to get stress (and a now closer than ever relationship with numbers/excel sheets) off my chest.

PS, I remember writing something about Bach and this quote in February this year here!

August 30, 2012

Of umbrella-shaped bells and tentacles

by Cara Funk

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You see, everyday, I take the train; connecting tips of the skin with strangers. For brief periods of time, we were on a journey together, only to be separated at different stops, varied destinations. Though we never speak to each other, let alone look each other in the eyes, an entire five minute piece of our existence was shared in an almost vacuum, only to be drifted away by our separate lives. What is five minutes in a life time – a butterfly or a full-grown jellyfish’s lifespan? We live our entire lives letting five minutes slip away like water through tentacles, while in other parts, a five minute period means infinity – the throbbing of a jellyfish’s bell as it illuminates from the dark depths, savoring the saline in the sea and the locomotion of other life forms, instinctively feeling the waters’ tides to drift away with it. 

At the dead of night, I sometimes feel it is unfair. To have spent an accumulation of all my five minutes on the train with strangers I will never meet again. To traverse life with people only to the let them go. Sometimes, I feel it is unfair to be  spending an accumulation of all my five minutes doing things that are simply expected of me – and not things that I would throb my translucent bells for, with a lifetime’s worth of fervor and longing for a taste of saline.

For a mindless organism, the jellyfish has lived its life so simply and yet so instinctively on purpose. They drift away with the tides to no particular destination, because it is simply what they feel like doing. It is simply where theyfeel like going. I wish I had such luxury. 

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No, not that I would rather simply drift away in to a floating existence without a destination in mind. But if I were cut open, I’d like people to find that I have a jellyfish for a heart – effervescent and living like it only has five minutes to live. Five minutes that would be beautifully and meaningfully lived with macarons and good books under the coral sunlight – an entire five minute frame of existence spent with my heart beating in accelerating rhythms.

What would your five minutes of life be like?

PS, The first photo is one that I took of a jellyfish aquarium at Monterey Bay Aquarium with my Dad’s old school digital camera 🙂

July 25, 2012

In between delight & delirium

by Cara Funk

La Vie En Rose Sweets

The most sacred time of the day, to me, is that moment between dreaming and waking. That moment when you’re weaving back the lines that divide dreams from life. There’s something so delicately mystifying about it. The view from being pinned against the sheets – those curtain pleats that balloon when a breeze quietly comes in; or the sun as it runs its fingers through the room, creating Cathedral windows out of clutter.  

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But in this convergence, in this brief moment of delirium, there is a sweet (sometimes painful) reminder of being alive. As a child, I always spent such a long time staying in bed after waking, doing nothing. I just listened to the faint motor of the electric fan and to the rhythmic noise the curtain hems made against the wall. The chirping of the birds almost coincided with the light conversations my mother made with my father downstairs. At times, it was too quiet that I imagined hearing flowers growing from outside. I wonder now, as an adult, if they really made any sound.

That moment – of rationalizing your dreams against where you actually find yourself upon waking – is a sweet/painful reminder of being alive. And there is so much to pick up from that moment.

Everyday is actually a struggle between waking life and dreaming. Every moment is really about reconciling my reality as a responsible coffee-drinking working 8-5 girl, with my dreams as a coffee-drinking macaron-baking flower-pressing girl off an Austen novel.

Sometimes, I wish that I could just go back to sleep.

July 12, 2012

Life in Pink

by Cara Funk

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My mom has the most impeccable way of keeping old but beloved things. Over the weekend, I felt a violent urge to watch Pocahontas again, and she managed to keep our video tapes so mightily accessible -at the foot of my bed- that an afternoon of untamed singing along the movie became inevitable.

You see, Pocahontas was my least favorite Disney princess, except when she sings  that‘what I like most about rivers is, you can’t step on the same river twice’ bit. The whole rap movement started with her and that song (a discovery from months of research by Isobel and yours truly). But when I finally saw it again, I’ve come to realize that the girl isn’t that bad. And I would’ve told off my seven year old self for neglecting such a finely unrefined woman who has this magical ability of controlling colorful leaves to swirl around her at will. 

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To cut the long story short, I have come to love Pocahontas due to the fact that I’ve surprisingly learned something from her – what every lady needs to carry on with life:

1. Lovely eye-wear – People will always reject things that are different. But different does not always mean bad.  When confronted with a foreign, absolutely alien experience, or a change that it is too acute, seek to understand. You’ve just got to put on those spectacles and see things differently.

2. Pastries – Just in this context, I would liken John Smith to pastries. Pocahontas couldn’t have him, but she still went for him. And ladies, when was the last time you’ve had pastries without having to overcome a certain level of inner conflict? But you still went for it, anyway. Such torture! How could Laduree tease our poor nerves?! But a little bit of indulgence makes everything better. Guilty pleasures break barriers, and lead us to understand. Thus, fulfilling the first essential. Personally, after mouth interaction with French Macarons, a sudden surge of enlightenment takes place. I don’t know what happens biologically, but I am taken to a much better place.

3. Perfume – I cannot stop talking about making colorful leaves swirl around one’s self every time an emotional scene takes place. I would assume that the swirling leaves are universally accepted as symbol of wisdom taking shape, and manifestation of doing the right thing. Similarly, a woman putting on her favorite perfume is, in a sense, arousing confidence and expressing her readiness to carry on with doing the right things.

Yes, when it comes down to it, I really think that any girl would definitely need a good pair of sunglasses, pastries and perfume to flourish in life. Also, as an insignificant after thought, how I’d loved to be addressed as lady! Lady Cara. I wish everybody still conversed as politely. 

*Photos: La Vie En Rose Sweets French Macarons: Strawberry rose & Blueberry Cheesecake

July 12, 2012

Someday

by Cara Funk

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Someday, everyday will feel like a Sunday. 

Do you sometimes get those unusual associations between an experience and a certain scent, a song and a particular place? My brother and I have this oddly perfect definition of what noontime in the 90’s meant:

– the smell of laundry detergent with faint traces of fried fish or adobo cooking in the kitchen

– the ambient sound of noontime shows coming from the neighbor’s television (retrospectively, that TV was set at a very scandalous volume to have reached us)

– the feeling of having 12 more hours to enjoy the t hings we love in the wonders of our home. It was such a nice feeling, it felt like we were cheating on something.

Every time we passed by Aurora Boulevard at night or an old place in Manila, a tune of an 80’s slow rock song would hum in our heads. We’d mostly feel bad about it, like an overly-spiced dish being forced fed upon us. 

Whenever I can smell hints of freshly sharpened pencils, erasers against paper or this woodsy perfume of my Math teacher, I remember entering the intimidating gates of my former school and feeling so awfully frightened.

But I have better, happier associations. Like Sundays! What would Sunday feel like?

– long drives on an open, free of traffic road. But note that, to me, a long drive in this context means a maximum of an hour long travel.

– clear, absolutely sapphire skies with clouds feathering across the horizon

– feel-good songs that I used to sing along to as a teenager i.e. those of Incubus (Morning View), The Beatles (I Am Sam Soundtrack), Aimee Mann, Silverchair, Trapt and Taking Back Sunday. But Bebop and Dario Marianelli’s music are always perfect, too.

– comfort food that consists of any kind of cheese and any amount of strawberries

– perfect sunshine and family.

Last Sunday, we got to spend lunch at my grandparents’ and brought Maki along for the drive. It was a perfect Sunday, with all the elements in order: a free road (traveling from the South to Quezon City only took us 45 minutes! How amazing is that?), perfectly lit blue skies, Incubus on the stereo, Maki making a couch out of my limbs, cheese stuffed squash flowers which I’ve experimented with, and of course, family. The only thing I missed was my new sunglasses. It would have been a perfect first time to use it. But I figured, I wouldn’t want anything to obscure the beauty of the day. 

Someday, everyday will feel like Sunday.

June 24, 2012

Weekend hiccups

by Cara Funk

I am all for cheap thrills – those little hiccups that rush in, mend everything back together, and fill your lungs with happiness. More so this month, as my pockets are in a disastrous state.

But, hear me out. Working days are all about self-constraint. You have your inner police telling you what time to wake up, what to do next, when is it okay to spontaneously break out in to a song! Then, you have an inner conscience telling you what not to say, what not to do to hurt people, what not to steal. There is so much conflict within the inner spheres of your being alone that it is inevitable not to die as sane as possible.

Then, we have the weekends! Those two days of absolute anarchy. The inner police goes on a holiday and the conscience, well, stays but with little control over things like cursing and the occasional reckless drinking. How can one evade a little spending on weekends when the shackles of self-control have been finally broken?

As I looked outside, I longed for some sunshine, better moisturized skin and conversations that do not involve numbers or annual targets – an absolute anti-thesis of my Mondays throughout Fridays. I dug in to my wallet and all I have left are remnants of my old purchases. In a moment of great epiphany, I had a hiccup.

I can have a great weekend (sunshine, better looking skin, and relevant to life conversations included) under 200 bucks.

1. Side-walk flowers. I love picking wild flowers that grow out of some random house’s garden or city park. It is a guilty pleasure. But, sometimes it’s hard to come across a rose or any fancy garden by luck, and I reckon that a pretty bouquet on my table would be a party of inspiration. There’ a church across my former office and I have always loved to pick up some flowers from there. They are sold at 50 to 100 bucks for about three long-stemmed roses or colorful mums. I remember the Darling showing up at the office (a different one) with a bouquet as a surprise. He got them from a church near his apartment. I wrote about it here around a year and a half ago.

It could be absolutely awesome as well to help out in the livelihood of flower vendors, even for a measly small amount of money. Here are also some blush pink roses my friend, Mish, and I came across at a grocery for about 150 bucks.

2. Local bed and breakfast stops. I am loving how my friend, Zamir, has so much passion for vintage and romance as I have! We recently visited a local b&b in Sucat for some brunch. I loved the experience so much that I don’t know where to begin!

Their menu had so much to offer, from pumpkin soup and baked mussels to pasta and an American breakfast. It took us about 15 minutes to decide what to get, seriously! The food was relatively cheap. I had the pumpkin soup and vegetarian shepherd’s pie for 160 bucks.

The place was a house converted in to an inn. It was so quaint and homey that it felt like we just came in for a visit at a friend’s house. Zamir and I talked for hours (yes, conversations sans numbers), without really noticing the time. There was a slight pour of rain, but I wasn’t worried – a first in a long time. It just felt so safe being tucked inside the b&b. It reminded me of my summer vacations at my grandmother’s house. Everything is quiet, charming and taken care of.

3. Dog-walks. It was my first time to bring Maki to a park. He looks so funny treading across the grass. He was too cautious. I am in love with him. When he finally got the hang of it, he started running around like a wild creature. To tell you the truth, I am having some doubts about his pedigree – he might be part piglet, part bunny and part Tazmanian devil. Oh, dear. He is the most precious thing – happiness for free.

What are your weekend cheap thrills?