Coffee Shop Saturday: Gift Avenue Cafe

I think I found a really nice coffee shop to hang out.

I’m browsing through my IG, when I saw a post about this new coffee shop in Gateway Mall in Cubao called Gift Avenue Cafe. Since I frequent Cubao and that mall due to my long commute, and because I was a little pissed off about something,  I decided to check it out today.

What brought my attention to this coffee shop is their nicely designed lattes, and that there are other knick-knacks (jewelries, stationeries, planners, art sets, etc) that you can buy from them, aside from coffee and snacks.

However, being familiar with the mall, I’m not sure where exactly in the ground floor they are located. Good thing I asked the guard where they are, I got to figure out their location (They are right next to BDO).

It’s a small cafe, quite homey in my own opinion. It’s not as crowded as the well-known coffee shops in the area, so there are a lot of available seats. I chose to sit at the table right next to their gift shelves.

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There’s also a lounge area with a nicely painted and hand drawn wall. I wanted to sit at that side, but there are some people in that area, and my social anxiety kicked in again. The lighting is very nice, and I like the design of their ceiling lamps.

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I ordered the Hazelnut Latte and Classic Sansrival. I like how nutty the sansrival is, but I had a little problem scooping the bottom part of it. The sweetness is just right.

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The latte is also just right. It was not too sweet and not too bitter. It suits my tastebud.

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I actually liked how the latte complimented the sansrival. I think I found a really good food combination with these two.

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Although I had a short stay here, I enjoyed the atmosphere, as well as the food. I think this will be my new favorite hangout.

 

 

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Misadventures: An #Instagrammable Solo Trip To Cavite, Tagaytay & Batangas

I know , I know… I’ve been neglecting this blog. I have not written anything for the longest time. But… now, I’m back! Hopefully, it’s not that one-off-I-only-write-something-here-when-something-good-happens.

It’s been a long time since I went out of town. I think the last time I went out of town was during my goddaughter’s confirmation, and we went to Enchanted Kingdom that time. And so, I planned another trip -another solo trip, that is. Sometimes, you need a time alone by yourself without any of your friends, so that you could get to know other people.

I was planning to go to Las Casas Filipinas, but I’m still contemplating on whether I should go alone or join a joiner trip. While doing the planning, I chanced upon an #Instagrammable tour from Hitch Travel and Tours.

I checked their itinerary. The tour consists of different places (seven, to be exact) from Cavite, Tagaytay, and Batangas. They covered several IG worthy places in those three places. Honestly, I am not a selfie type of person. I don’t like taking too many selfies. I just like taking pictures of other things and post it on my IG. Since I wanted to practice taking better pictures, I wanted to go on a solo trip to refresh myself, I wanted something different to post on my IG feed, and I needed something to update on this blog, I decided to sign up for this trip.

We left early morning on Sunday going to Cavite for our first stop – the Korean Temple. For those who are K-drama or K-pop fanatic, this is a perfect place for them to take selfies. But for me, unfortunately, I am not a K-pop nor a K-drama fanatic (I am into Taiwanese dramas and C-pop). However, I’m curious as to how those temples look like.

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I don’t understand what it says…

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One of the “guards” by the gate

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This mini tower will greet you the moment you enter the temple

We’re allowed to take pictures around the place, however, we are not allowed inside the temple. So, I just stood outside the temple and zoomed in my camera to get this shot

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Inside the temple

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Full view of the temple, ignore the people taking pictures

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The mini tower again, I don’t know what this is called.

Of course, most of the people were doing the finger heart sign. I didn’t.

Next stop is Dreamland Arts and Cafe. It’s one of the IG worthy places in Tagaytay. This small cafe has two stories – the lower part is like a souvenir store, and the upper part is where you can eat.

The play is filled with dream catchers (maybe that’s why it’s called Dreamland). The walls are also filled with motivational posters and quotes. It looks like a hipster haven, in my opinion. From what I heard, they serve healthy foods, but we weren’t able to order or eat anything as we have a tight schedule. We stayed there briefly just to take pictures.

As you enter the cafe, you will be greeted by several dream catchers at the front of the cafe.

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Be Brave

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This is me, I guess

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This mandala caught my eye

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This is a good background for a selfie (and yes, I did take a selfie at this wall)

The upper floor is filled with more dream catchers. It even has a wall/division made of dream catchers.

 

 

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This table and chairs caught my eye because of its design.

 

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Dream catcher wall

 

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Surf board table

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You can calso play sungka 

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Our next stop is Pink Sisters also in Tagaytay. When we arrived, there was an ongoing mass. I decided to take just a few pictures, hear a few minutes of mass and then I left.

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On my way back to the van, I found a stall that sells bibingka. So, I had to stop by and grab one, because I suddenly felt hungry.

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Our next stop is The Gingerbread House back in Cavite. It’s like a winter wonderland in the middle of a tropical country. Going there makes it feel like Christmas. I think kids would enjoy going there the most.

Our tour guide said their bread tastes good. There were a lot of pastries, but I haven’t seen any bread (or maybe I’m being far-sighted again). There’s a smores place,  a playhouse for kids, and tons of place where you can sit and relax. There’s even a fish spa for your feet!

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The main house really looked like a gingerbread house. Actually, it looks like Christmas. I heard that during the Christmas season, it’s snows here at night. Of course, the snow must be artificial, as there’s really no snow here in the Philippines.

 

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Big gingerbread house. Not edible, though. 

 

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Too cute to eat

 

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There was also a huge bear here. Everyone wants to take pictures with it. I patiently waited until I could be alone with the bear.

 

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You don’t know how long I’ve waited to take a picture for of this bear.

They also have a room, where they made a diorama out of the gingerbread houses.

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Sonya’s Garden is our next destination. I’ve seen this place from the IG of celebrities, and so, I got curious. I was excited with all the flowers and plants that I can take pictures of. We were supposed to go downhill, but unfortunately, we were not allowed as we were not checked in. One of their staffs kept on following us, just to make sure we won’t go to where their guests are. And so, I just took pictures from areas that we are allowed.

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Found a bed in the middle of the garden

 

 

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I can’t pass into this arched tree, so I had to take another way

 

 

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Got bitten by the ants when I sat and rest here for a while

 

 

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Not sure which insect this is

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IG worthy rose

 

We had our lunch after we went to Sonya’s Garden. After our lunch, we headed to our next destination, which Calaruega Church. I wasn’t abe to explore much or take a lot of pictures or even get to the church itself, because I was quite tired. It was noon time, and it was really hot, the sun is almost melting it. After taking a few pictures, I decided to go back to the van to rest.

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Actually, I’m reserving all my energy to our last destination. I’m really excited about it because it’s the closest thing to Disneyland that I could go to. Well, that and Enchanted Kingdom.

Our last destination is Fantasy World in Batangas. This was supposed to be the Disneyland of the Philippines. Unfortunately, this project was abandoned because of lack of funds. I remember seeing this place on 90’s to 2000’s TV programs and dramas on TV. I wondered what happened to this place until this abandoned place was once again featured in some news and magazines.

It was a one hour travel to this place. We were supposed to take a 500 meter walk and ride a jeepney, but since we lack time and we wanted to get here before it closes at 5 PM, our driver and tour coordinator decided he’ll just bring us there. However, to get there, we have to take a zigzag road. And, it was like riding a roller coaster on our way there. But hey, that bumpy ride is all worth it.

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A lame attempt to do something dramatic

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I have a fascination with fancy, big gates

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I heard there were plans to re-develop this place. I really hope they will, because the place had a lot of potential. Plus, the structures are there and just needs repairs and restoration.

I did enjoy this trip. I’ll probably sign up again in the future, once I finished all the places in my bucket list. I do hope Hitch would offer an instagrammable tour to other places as well.

 

Parallel Worlds

There is a theory about parallel worlds, where with every decision you make, a new parallel world is created. For example, there is a world where in you decided to  take a different route to work rather than the usual ones  you take. There is a parallel world created when you decided to wear the pink dress to work, instead of the white one.

When faced with two or more choices in life, I sometimes wonder what would happen if I chose option A rather than option B. Would I be happier? Would my  life me better? Will it make my day bright, or will it make my day bad?

I would like to think there’s a world where I chose the other option instead of what I chose now. And sometimes, it made me think, maybe that option is better that what I have right now. Maybe, if I chose the one that I didn’t choose in the first place, the outcome wouldn’t be like this.

Although I feel like I’m not contented with the way my life is going, I find solace with the thought that there is another world/dimension/space where I chose a different path. Maybe there’s another world where I’m enjoying my life when I decided to choose the job offer to  another company months ago. Maybe there’s another world where I am happy with my life should I not accepted the promotion years ago. Maybe there’s a world where my mom is still alive.

I guess these thoughts are coming from regrets – regrets of letting go, of trying to stay in the comfort zone, of wanting to take all the opportunities. Of course, there will always be regrets in life. And we will always wonder, what would have happened in my life should I chose the other option.

Maybe that’s why there’s theories like this.

Choco Diaries: My Favorite Choco Candies

Who doesn’t love chocolates? Unless, of course, if one is allergic to it. I admit, I’m a chocoholic. It’s may go-to food when I’m hungry, when I’m stressed and when I need to stay awake.

Over the years, there are brands or types of chocolates that I have come to love. Most of them are the ones that I include in my grocery shopping list, others are the ones that I request from friends who go abroad. Here are some of my faves.

Cloud 9

This has been my favorite ever since I was young. It is a classic. It was my companion during sleepless nights during my finals. The combination of chocolate and nougat made this chewy concoction a hit for me.

Image grabbed from topten.ph

Big Bang 

Not the K-pop boyband. Big Bang is as classic as Cloud 9. It’s like Cloud 9, except that instead of peanuts, you’ll get rice crispies. Recently, they added a new twist to this chocolate, and they now have a blueberry and cheese flavor.

New find #bigbang #bluberryandcheese

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Dutch Treat

This is the chocolate that doesn’t break my budget. At Php 30 (well, at least here in Montalban), you can buy a pack of 12. It has the kind of sweet that kids would love. I love how the krispies makes this a little crunchy.

Peborit #chocodiaries #foodgram #foodgrammerph

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Dual Choco

What I like about this chocolate is the surprise inside – it’s peanut butter (me thinks)! This is like the small and cheap version of Reese’s. This chocolate reminds me of the candies I used to buy in the mall back in 2005-2006, where they set the price by weight.

Dual choco #chocodiaries #keisieats #foodgram

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Caramilk

Ahhh… the gooeyness goodie that is Caramilk. I always always buy a bar of this whenever I stop by the grocery store to buy dinner. Caramilk is life for me. I love that when I take a bite of this rich and milky chocolate, golden sweet caramel oozes out of this treasure. I sure hope my friend would bring me back some a couple of this when he comes home from Canada.

Rolo

If Cadbury gas Caramilk, Nestle has Rolo. One of the chocolates that made me sane during my stint in Canada. It’s like Caramilk – inside is the golden delicious caramel that drips down when you bite it. If you make me choose between the two, I will choose both.

Dont mind the Reese’s bar

Rolo not only comes in bar, it also comes in time round candies like below. Still, it’s filled with caramel.

Mini rolo #chocodiaries #sonyxperiac3 #xperiagraphy #xperiatography

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Meiji Choco Baby

Let’s go Japanese this time. Choco Baby is one of those Meiji chocolates I really like. These babies come in tiny bits, and you can’t help but take a bite after another. Soon after, you’ll find yourself with an empty box (?). Seems like the smiley face on this chocolate candy has a hint of caramel.

It's been a long time since I had one of this baby #chocobaby #chocodiaries

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Venus

Honestly, when I first saw this in 7-11, I thought this chocolate is expensive. But I was wrong. It was very affordable! The one I got, which is Toffee flavor, has a toffee or caramel inside the milky chocolate sqaures. It’s like Rolo, but cheaper. They have other flavors too, which I have yet to try.

Been wanting to buy this one but I thought it was expensive #chocodiaries #foodonmybed

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Meiji Apollo

These little chocolate cones come in blueberry and strawberry, but I guess the most common here is the strawberry. What I love about this is that it’s not that sweet, and it tastes more of strawberry than chocolate. You know life is good when you open a box of this, and you smell the scent of this strawberry-infused chocolate.

In threes #meijiapollo #chocodiaries

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Choco Power

Another 7-11 find. This is rather difficult to eat. It’s like melted chocolate inside the tube, and you need to push it to the top (like what you do with a toothpaste), and then suck the chocolate. The difficult part is when there’s a few more choco liquid remaining inside, but you can’t push it to come out. Still, one of the good chocolates I found.

Dark choco version of chocolate power… like thus one better #chocodiaries

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Aero and Cadbury Bubbly

It’s crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. No, just kidding. It’s hard on the outside, but soft inside, just like me. I love sinking my teeth into the bubbly inside of this chocolate. It is light, crumbly and velvety. However, Cadbury has the richer chocolate and less crumbly. What I like about Aero though is it’s different flavors. Just like the strawberry flavor below.

Flat Tops and Curly Tops

I seriously have no idea what’s the difference between the two. They both tastes the same. Maybe it’s because flat tops is flat and curly tops has a curly swirl on top? Still, this is a childhood favorite. If I want pure and decadent milk chocolate, without any add-ons like nougat, nuts or rice crisps, I go for this one.

Image from tsikot.com

Image from topten.ph

There are a lot more chocolates that I love, but I’ll discuss it on another day. How about you, what’s your favorite chocolate candy?

Coffee Shop Saturday: Kopi Roti

Back when I was working in Makati, when I needed an iced coffee fix and I don’t have money to buy Starbucks coffee, my go to place is Kopi Roti. It’s just a stone’s throw away from my office – all I have to do is just cross the street.

What I liked about Kopi Roti is that their drinks are very affordable. It has that kick that could make me awake throughout the day. Their food is affordable as well, that’s why most of the time, I prefer to buy here than the other expensive  coffee shops.

Sadly, when I moved to another company, I was not able to got to buy nor taste their coffees again. Having an acid reflux made it difficult for me as well. Although there are a few branches of Kopi Roti near my previous place, I wasn’t able to visit it because I don’t always have the time.

I realized that their Tomas Morato shop is near the building where I pay my house amortization is. And so, I decided to pay it a visit and get a taste of my favorites.

I  ordered their Set B1 Meal, which is coffee and kaya toast. I changed the coffee to Iced Choco, since I need to sleep when I get home. Aside from that, I also ordered their french toast, with a side of kaya jam and butter. I wanted to order kaya puff, but unfortunately, it was not available during that time.

I've been craving for this for five years now #kopiroti #kayatoast #frenchtoast #kayajam #keisieats #foodgrammerph #foodgram

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The taste is the same as I remembered it. The french toast is soft and fluffy. I love the kaya jam so  much. It has the right amount of sweetness. It does pair well with their french toast. I remember asking the staff a few years back  if they sell the kaya jam, but unfortunately, they don’t. In case they do, I’d probably be buying a jar of it.

French toast with kaya jam #keisieats #foodgrammerph #foodgram

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The kaya toast, on the other hand is on the borderline of soft and crispy. The combination of the toasted bread, butter and kaya jam is superb. Although some of the slices has more butter than kaya jam, nevertheless, I enjoyed the toast.

I've been craving for this for five years now #kopiroti #kayatoast #frenchtoast #kayajam #keisieats #foodgrammerph #foodgram

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The iced choco capped  off my meal. It just has the right taste  of chocolate, and it’s a good way to cool off.

#keisieats #foodgram #foodgrammerph

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Overall, I enjoyed my meal here. I feel so nostalgic as I tasted the food, as it took me back to my 20s, when I was starting in the IT industry after a career shift. Kopi Roti gives you a good taste of Singaporean coffee, and some of  its food without having to break a bank.

My Splice Of Life: About “Saving Francesca”

It was February 2008, a week before I will start in my new company. Nanay and I went to Marikina Riverbanks to get something I could use in my new office. In one of the far corners of the store we went to, I found the book “Saving Francesca”.

I read the summary at the back of the book, and since I am writing an almost similar plot where a girl get transferred to an all-boys school, I decided to buy to make it as my reference.

The story about Francesca Spinelli, who narrates it in her own view. She just started Year 11 in Saint Sebastian’s, which is an all-boys school that started to accept girls that school year. As a new school year starts, she had to deal with things happening in her life – new school, trying to make new friends, feeling left out since her friends went to another school, falling in love, and her mother’s depression.

What affected her and her family most is her mother’s depression. Suddenly, she found herself getting support from her new friends during these times. She is stuck in the middle – trying to be an adult and a child at the same time. Frankie is used to hearing her mother’s words of wisdom and encouragement (or butting in to her life and telling her what to do) almost everyday, and with her being like a ghost in the house, she suddenly felt lost.

Frankie had to face her world on her own. She became friends with some of the Stella girls who also goes to Saint Sebastian’s – Tara the feminist, Siobhan the flirt,  and Justine the shy and quiet girl. She also found an unlikely friendship from Thomas, music lover, Jimmy the stoner, and Will, the Year 12 guy who will become her love interest in the story.

I found myself unable to put down the book the moment I read the first chapter. I have read the whole book over and over again. I love how the author depicts high school in a more real sense. While others may candy-coat high school stories, Melina Marchetta writes how high school really is. Every words and lines are unforgettable. There are linesin the story that I sometime read over and over again, especially when I feel sad. Whenever feel so down, I just go and reread this book to cheer me up.

I love how Frankie’s character developed in the story. She had no  idea what she wants to do with her life yet. She is in a stage where she is finding her place and her identity. She struggles to conform with what her old friends want her to be, instead of what she really is, just to  be accepted by them. In the end, she let lose and began to be herself. When before, she needed to be saved by others, her resolute at the end of the story is that it’s only her that can save herself.

At the time I was reading this, I can relate to it since there’s a big change in my life. I see myself in Frankie, uncertain of things to come. I love this book so much, but sadly, it got lost. Not sure if it got flooded, or it simply got lost during moving to our house. Still this is one of my favorite books.

And since I love quoting this book, below are my favorite lines.

“Comfort zones are overrated. They make you lazy”

“Do you think people have noticed that I’m around?”
“I notice it when you’re not. Does that count?

“I think we’re made up of all these different pieces and every time someone goes, you’re left with less of yourself.”

“Do something that scares you everyday.”

“I want to be an adjective again. But I’m a noun.
A nothing. A nobody. A no one.”

“Memory is a funny thing. It tricks you into believing that you’ve forgotten important moments, and then when you’re raking your brain for a bit of information that might make sense of something else, it taps you on the head and says, “Remember when you told me to put that memory in the green rubbish bin? Well, I didn’t, I put it in the black recycling tub, and it’s coming your way again.”

“I think I’m a bit in love with these girls. They make me feel giddy. Like I haven’t a care in the world. Like I’m fearless.
Like I used to be.”

“When I grow up, I’m going to be my mother.”

“You’re my rock.”

“I didn’t even know who I w as here, so what made me think that I’d know who I was over there?”

“You go and shake your foundations, Will. I think it’s about time I saved myself.”

 

~~~ Heading grabbed from hypable.com

Reset

“I’d go back to the moment it all fell apart and I’d start there.”

– The Piper’s Son

Maybe, what I needed is a reset. Maybe, what I needed is to start from where it all ended. Maybe, I needed to change my way from where my world began to crumble.

There were regrets. A lot of it. As much as I try to correct my mistakes, it only makes things worse. It only make things more complicated. So while correcting the mistakes is one obvious option, when your paper already has a lot of erasures, is it only logical to tear that paper out, put on a new and clean one and start over?

They say bad decisions make good stories. Mine is a combination of both – a good decision with a bad ending, a bad decision that made it for the better. But somehow, I ended up not being happy of the outcome of what I did. When you don’t like what you’re doing anymore, the only left thing to do is to stop it.

“Stay when you’re  happy, leave when you’re not.” I can count on my fingers how many times I tried to leave, to run away from everything. I always tell myself, this isn’t meant for me, but still end up doing the job. I’m not sure if the problem is with me, or with the circumstances I am in. Maybe it’s the latter. But then again, maybe it’s me.

So here I am, stopping to do a reset. It’s a time to clear my mind from things I want and don’t want, to separate my dreams and aspirations from my happiness, to make just a clean slate. I’m doing a reset to see what matters most to me. To do what I used to be happy doing.

Although, I’m not sure what will happen if this reset won’t work. At this stage, maybe it’s too early to tell. Maybe, if this reset won’t work, I just have to start from the scratch once again.