New Horizons on New Normal.

If you’re on social media, I’m pretty sure you have encountered a couple of picture or stories of cute animal characters from your peers, friends, and even celebrities you follow. Released on March, just about when quarantine started on most countries, Animal Crossing: New Horizons took the world by storm. It’s an addition to the Animal Crossing franchise from Nintendo, but this latest game caters to their newly portable console, the Nintendo Switch and its Lite variant. Nintendo sales have garnered an all time high during this period and this game is one of the reasons why.

The Animal Crossing: New Horizons was surrounded by so much hype mainly due to the reason that it has been eight years since the last game in the franchise was introduced, and that it offers an endless possibility in a controlled and limited life in quarantine. The addition boasts of features that gamers are excited about from autosaves to remote island life. Here are some of the reasons why everyone took on the Dodo Airline Ride:

  • Remote island life – On the start of the game, you are being ushered from the airport to a remote island of your choosing where you can get to customize basically everything as you progress in the game, opposed to the previous games where it was set on city life. This basically is a good selling point especially the timing of the game’s release when everyone was stuck in their houses. It’s a virtual island life getaway!
  • Character customizationRight from the start, you’ll be given the freedom to design how your character would look like and can change it, even your clothes, at any point in the game too.
  • Create your own tools – To move forward in your deserted island, tools are to be made and yes, you get to create your own and customize them as well. From basic tools such as flimsy shovels to gold decorations – the game boasts of a wide variety of DIY recipes that players will encounter and make.
  • Autosave – Unlike in the previous Animal Crossing games, there are certain times in this latest addition that it’s being saved automatically.
  • Nook Miles Rewards Program – Basically, you’ll be rewarded for uhm… doing anything. Just kidding! But yes, that’s more like the gist of it – there’s built-in goals in this program that you’ll achieve just by simply playing the game as it is. No puzzles, no hard thinking, no confusion – just play the game as you like, in your own pace, and you’ll get rewards. A game that keeps on giving.
  • Multiplayer ability – Okay, we’re all stuck at home when the game was released, and as social creatures we somehow look for interactions – what a fun way to immerse yourself in a game where you can showcase your creativity to your friends and even strangers by visiting each other’s islands, sharing custom patterns that you have created, make trades like our ancestors did before (barter system), or create virtual adventure relay games. I even had an Animal Crossing date with my boyfriend and had a virtual catch-up with a friend!
  • Updates – since March, a number of updates have rolled on. Usually, there’s one for every weather change (yes, you can have your Sakura moment, and even your Winter Wonderland in the game). There are also other seasonal updates such as the June wedding celebration. And some updates to add gameplay and characters: you can now go ahead and swim in the ocean in your nice wetsuit, or meet Redd, who’s being dubbed as the sly fox.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons paved a way for us escape the harsh reality that we get to face everyday. Even with the above stated features, I believe that the main selling point of the game was the open-ended style and the freedom of the players to take control of their own world – an option you don’t really get to enjoy in real life. Endless possibilities, escape from the pandemic, and witty animal friends – I mean what’s not to like?


I’m planning on doing a giveaway of my stuff and bells as I plan to start my island from scratch. If you want to join or simply looking for an item or colorway of an item, let me know in the comment below. 🙂

Pandemic Made Me Do It

By now you’ve probably seen tons of photos, articles and blog post that are all related to this pandemic. What can we do? This has been monumental for everyone of us – like it or not, we’re all affected by the rapid spread of this virus and it is such a game changer. We were all forced to take a pause from our daily routine, our sense of normalcy disrupted and have since been adapting to our new normal. But as social beings stuck in this world of capitalism, we still found ways to create new fads.

It started when Dalgona coffee took the internet by storm. This easy to make beverage is everywhere on the first few weeks of quarantine – you name it, it’s all over your face each day. The fact that it is easy to make, its ingredients readily available (for a fair price too), highly aesthetic and actually tastes good got the most of us whipping our hearts out. Then came the basque burnt cheesecakes and other pastries. By now, some of your friends have probably opened their own homemade bakeshops that you’ve already tried (
#supportlocal). And let’s not forget the release of Animal Crossing: New Horizons that everyone (including the celebrities we follow. Hi Elijah Wood and Brie Larson ) jumped on the hype train and went gaga over the deserted island life simulation game that even Nintendo was surprised by the sales not just of the game, but the consoles too. But I think, one of the most common guilty pleasure we all share right now is online shopping. It’s convenient, it’s hassle-free, and yes, it’s plain old “retail therapy”.

Again, what can we do? We all have our own coping mechanisms and online shopping can boost our mood or at least gets us something to look forward to. Careful though, it’s a slippery slope to going broke. I myself am a culprit of spending some hard earned cash during this pandemic period to help me get by and let me share with you some of the stuff I loved
:

  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons
    I am guilty of being completely crazy over this game for the first two months since its release. I was playing (more like grinding) this simulation like game which helped me escape from the clutches of reality during the first few weeks of the quarantine. Check out my thoughts on this game here.
  • Kindle Paperwhite
    Late last year, I broke my Kobo (another ebook reader) and has been meaning to replace it ever since but only got around to it during this quarantine period when I stayed with my grandmother. All my books were at home and it also didn’t help that I slept in the same room as to keep tabs on her and therefore could not continue with my late night reading. For those reasons and the sale on Lazada (the leading online shopping platform in Southeast Asia) got me eye-ing this new version of the Paperwhite, I haven’t been disappointed by this since I was able to get my hands on it!
  • UVC Sterilizer
    Even before the virus outbreak, I already have a small bottle of alcohol with me inside my purse or my pocket. I bring it with me when stepping out for lunch or while drinking with friends. When traveling, I see to it that I buy some sanitary wipes and alcohol on the first or nearest convenience store that I could find. So when this pandemic hit the Philippines, I was one of those people who are a bit more careful – spraying alcohol everywhere, getting my hands clean all the time, wearing mask even inside the car, and now, carrying with me a UVC sterilizer too. I just had to up my disinfection game! The efficacy of this product is debatable especially when dealing with the corona virus, but I did my research on the dos and don’ts, and also looked for a reputable brand that I believe in.

Aside from these three and the local food businesses that I support, the best purchase during this period is actually this: yes, this blog. engrvwrites.com. I was a bit hesitant at first because this is my hard earned money that I’d be spending to fund this little passion project of mine but then I realized that if I’m not gonna believe that I’m worth it, then probably nobody else will. I took a bet on myself, and it has not been the same since then.

How about you? What are your favorite purchases this quarantine period? 🙂

Sex and Vanity

It was 9:52 on a Sunday morning, fair but a bit cloudy outside. I was feeling quite tired despite of having been able to sleep for eight hours. I reached for my Kindle and decided to go for some light novel instead of a heavy read, and let myself be carried into the world of extravagance by Kevin Kwan in his new book Sex and Vanity.

The first part of the story revolves around another crazy expensive wedding, but this time set in the beautiful island of Capri and an adventure of a nineteen year-old Lucie Tang Churchill, our protagonist with Eurasian beauty that she seemed to be completely unaware of and born of old American money, and her love interest George Zao from Hong Kong, also born from a ridiculously rich family who kept his mysterious character together in the first act. It centered on Lucie and finding herself being drawn to yet also appalled by the young lad in the cobbled streets, ancient mansions, upscale hotels and historical beauty of the island only to be separated by a heated and passionate albeit unfortunate incident on the wedding day itself.

Reading the first part of the book really made me search for the tourist and some historical spots mentioned. What more can I say? Kevin Kwan has the ability to captivate us in the world of the crazy rich and yearn to see or experience it someday. For me, the first part captured the youth of Lucie perfectly while setting up the foundation for the other characters too, who would be later seen or mentioned in the story. While reading about the wedding week in Capri, I could almost immediately picture this novel in the big screen. That’s how Kwan delivered his storytelling – another chic story waiting to be adapted.

The second part of the book takes five years later from the incident involving drones and on to Lucie’s life back in New York where she says yes to the exorbitant wedding proposal of New York’s most eligible bachelor, Cecil Pike. Most of the chapters take place in the Hamptons but also takes us to an even more elite circle in the Upper East Side than Gossip Girl did. The extravagance of these characters quipped with satirizing them was what made me stick to finishing the whole book in a day despite (for me, at least ) the story not being able to pull off the romance part, at all. I simply find the young “love” of Lucie and George in the wedding week a little too weak to practically make that of an impact on the later part of the story, and Lucie and Cecil’s relationship doesn’t make sense to me (or to anyone probably, I mean really, how did these two even got together??)

I’d hand it to Kwan still for not only delivering a romcom but throughout the story, topics such as racism, the feeling and experiences of being multi-racial, and even the new vs. old money issue (probably being a problem only for the upper 10 percent of the world’s population) are being tackled. However, these were not deeply dealt with but was just a recurring theme and can be easily shied away from. Given these shortcomings, I would still recommend reading this book now. Why? Because I’d rather be transported to the enchanting landscape and dramatic scenery of Capri than be cooped up in front of my T.V. again for a whole new day in this quarantined life.

Singapore: Why I Keep Coming Back

It’s been 109 days since the lockdown has started in our country – due to this quarantine, a lot of travel plans are postponed or cancelled. Nobody saw this coming, and no one has dreamed of going through 2020 like this, for sure. I know, traveling is not the biggest problem everyone’s facing but there’s also some therapeutic magic to it that alleviates stress that people dearly misses, especially having been cooped up for months. So, to satisfy my thirst for it, I decided to revisit my old photos and memories from my past travels and realized why I keep coming back to this one country – Singapore.

First time I went to SG was when I was 18 years old with my grandmother. The minute I stepped inside Changi Airport, my mind was blown by its look and feel. It was something else – from the interior design, the well spaced walkalators, plush carpeted flooring, the lounge, and even its spacious comfort room. No wonder why it was dubbed as the best airport in the world, and that’s even before they had The Jewel. But there’s also one thing obviously evident from their airport to the rest of the country – it screams of being digitally competitive. How they utilized the continuous growth of technology to improve is something I want to happen as well at home.

Initially, we planned for just a 4-day trip thinking to hit only the tourist spots of this well known small country, but it has its magic and we ended up staying for 2 weeks! On the first few days, we already went to check most of the destinations it was known for – Sentosa Island (where Universal Studios Singapore is loacted), Shoppes at Marina Bay, the Merlion, and even the Night Safari. One thing I noticed going to all these places was even if it was crowded with a lot of people – it did not feel overwhelming. In the train stations, it wasn’t unruly at all even during rush hour. There was this feeling that in the sea of a multiracial crowd, you still get to have your own safe bubble, your own personal space. It was because of this, and the country’s low crime rate that when my cousin turned 18, she and I decided to go to Singapore and celebrate her birthday, without any grownup supervision. In fact, during this trip, I must have forgotten my wallet in one of the lockers (all my money and card was inside) in Universal Studios only to remember it the next day. I simply called the USS hotline, asked if they saw it, and the lady only had to ask me what my name is and bring my passport to claim it. That’s one thing you can’t deny when you’re in Singapore – you feel safe.

The next thing I’ve always liked about Singapore is how clean and orderly it is! Some says that it’s because Singaporeans are well disciplined people or simply because they have nationwide cleaning processes and strict laws, but no matter what the reason behind is, in all times I’ve wandered in the streets, shopping malls, food communes, and did my commute – it’s cleanliness and orderliness is always a welcome sight to my eyes. There’s something relaxing when you ride through the city in the morning and see the streets clean, then stroll through Marina Bay Sands Boardwalk with a boba tea in hand on a sunny afternoon with the same comforting vibe, and still the same streets being kept at midnight after a few drinks at Clarke Quay.

What’s a better way to know a place than through its food? If you’ve seen the film Crazy Rich Asians, or read the trilogy, you’d know that Singaporeans are foodies. There are quite a number of Michelin star approved chefs and restaurants in the country – from Hawkwer Centres to an old church converted into a food complex. Yes, that’s where the wedding in the Crazy Rich Asians took place. I just love how welcoming their food scene is, it shows racial diversity and the combined culture of its inhabitants. Whenever I go there, it’s always a must to have some char siew meat, hainanese chicken rice, chilli crab, and bak kut teh.

Okay, I have to stop writing. Just by coming up with this post makes me want to go to Singapore for technically uhm… the 6th time.

Peanut Butter Banana Toast with a Twist

peanut butter banana toast — I tried.

  • sliced ripe bananas
  • slice of bread
  • generous (or not so?) amount of peanut butter
  • sprinkle of courage
  • dash of hope

Let me be honest and straightforward – I am not fan of peanut butter and I totally have no idea why I created this afternoon snack. I just decided to slice up some ripe bananas and oh so generously cover my bread with a hefty amount of peanut butter and shove it inside the oven toaster – I know, in the state of the world right now, mindless snacking should be the least of my concerns.

After five minutes, the timer ran out and ceremoniously “ting-ed”. The result is a bit oily, a bit soggy, a bit crunchy peanut butter banana toast. It definitely isn’t the best I’ve had but honestly, it’s pretty decent and I don’t hate it all. What I hate is this uneasy feeling of burnout that looms over me. It keeps me feeling tired and spent – as early as I open my eyes before my alarm starts at 8:01, and even as I gobble down this greasy peanut butter banana toast. It’s the feeling of being lost and sad, and everything in between its deep dark void. That’s what I hate.

But even in this state, I know better, or at least I think I do. So I try, and I fight. I live to see another day battling all these uncertainties. Because I am a jedi equipped with my lightsaber (gifts) and the unlimited Force, even if all I get to save is my own little world. It’s not heroic, and I may not bring balance to the galaxy as it so needs right now but these everyday fights are not as easy as getting myself some peanut butter banana toast. And yet, trying to get myself back up again and maybe helping somebody on my way sure is worth trying.

There goes.

I hope you find the perfect peanut butter banana toast you’re looking for.