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Archive for November, 2009


Just when you thought everything is right with the world, another blow comes into your life that makes you think and pause for a while. And your initial reaction is, “not again”.

It is always hard to accept something that you yourself wants to deny.  And sometimes, in your own little world of understanding how God works, you begin to ask “why?”

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Haven’t tasted this for quite sometime, and I mean the last time I had it was decades ago. Seldom do I see such flowers here in the city. I remember my lola , who used to have this as a regular fare in the family dishes that she used to cook. She was hypertensive and it was through her that I learned of the curative effect of this medicinal plant. This morning, I was surprised when Nissa and hubby brought home about half a kilo of these edible flowers which they bought at the wet market. We had it for dinner. Escabeche is a wonderful dish, everyone loved it. I used slices of slightly fried mackerel. The tangy, slightly sweet sauce compliments the taste of these flowers.   

Locally  known as katuray, it has white and pinkish red flowers and are usually grown from seed.  It is also called Sesbania grandiflora or hummingbird tree and West Indian Pea. The flowers are best used in salads and are excellent source of calcium, iron and Vitamin B.

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Two summers ago,  I enrolled in some cooking lessons at Sylvia Reynoso Culinary Studio. I learned a lot from the Practical Chinese Cooking course taught by Sylvia, baking courses from Ernest(her son) and special lessons on Doughnuts from Morella(her daughter). It was fun and I enjoyed every minute of every lesson that they taught us.  The fun part of course was the taste test. We were given the chance to sample our own cooking and share it with the other students. They were so supportive and generous of their know-how in cooking. We got some practical tips on how to enhance, measure, where to source for ingredients, how to make product costings if you want to sell them in the future. Sylvia emphasized that cooking is an art and  you got to have a passion for it in order to learn.

 

Chinese cooking course include siopao dough making, siopao filling, cuapao, siomai, fish head soup, fried kikiam, radish salad, lumpiang hubad, camaron rellenado and many more. I was so impressed with the steamed lapu-lapu, it was so appetizing. Sylvia told us that not all types of lapu-lapu are suitable for steaming, some are for grilling.

Ernest taught us different kinds of cookies and bars and also some courses on money making for beginners like chocolate chip cookies, chocolate crinkles, yummies, date walnut cookies, polvoron, chewy mallow bars, Lebanese boat tart, Russian tea cookies etc. There were all kinds of special cookies and bars like Mississippi mud bars, chewy rocky road brownies, chunky oatmeal bars, peanut butter brownies, marsmallow cookies. If you want to put a small-scale business, these are quite easy to make but the thing is the ingredients are quite expensive.  Ernest knows if you are a newbie in baking or an expert by just looking at the way you handle  the spatula and the way you mix the dough. It was so exciting learning new crafts and meeting new friends too who have the same interest  as I have.

A charming lady, Morella is based in Baguio, she has her own culinary school there. I only got to learn Special Lessons on Doughnut  from Morella. So that was the way they do the different kinds of dips, fillings and frostings for doughnuts. I haven’t tried the recipe on Churros yet with a thick Spanish chocolate as dip.

Baking needs a precise way of measurement but you can experiment on other ingredients like substituting casuy instead of walnut.

That was an unforgettable summer for me.



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Nov. 16, 2008
It’s just one of those things you find when you least expect them. I’ve found my Learning Journal the other day. It was given by  BPI Training Development Center many, many years ago. Some old scribbles, no particular subject, nothing much really but just random thoughts from a restless mind. They were dated though.April 04, 1997
BPI

Somewhere in every one of us
there lurks a child within
insecure, desiring for acceptance
and hungry for love.

Somewhere deep inside
there’s a child willing to get out
wanting to experiment
what life is all about.

April 07, 1997
BPI 1:25pm

Why do ants always stop every time they meet one another?
I wonder…..

April 08, 1997
9:20 am BPI

Some things are better left unsaid, they are better felt with
the heart!

April 10, 1997
5:00pm BPI

Sometimes, touching the leaves of the past brings
a feeling of warmth inside.

It brings into focus what the present holds
and the anticipation of what the
future has in store.

April 23, 1997
10:50am

I really don’t know what makes me think often of the movie Dying Young. Sure thing I know is that I’ve always admired Campbell Scott when I watched the film thrice three years back. It was one of a kind movie that touches the heart.

Two weeks ago, I bought a CD of this film – played it more than ten times I guess.  the soundtrack is so beautiful – one feels nostalgic about things like these – remembering old friends and the best times shared with them.

Yesterday, while I was browsing at Booksale, I came across the book itself  and it was written by  Mari Liembach. Coincidence again? There were so many coincidences in my life lately that sometimes I feel as if there’s a hand guiding me to discover these things. I know GOD is here somewhere, watching and loving me despite and in spite of  “everything”.

And the question remains, do ants kiss when they meet or just say hello and say, how have you been?


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Category: Books
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Author: Richard Paul Evans
I have always been fascinated by the works of Richard Paul Evans. My first book of him was The Locket, a hardbound, 333 pages, which I bought at NBS a few years ago. The book starts like this: “There are years of our lives that pass like strangers on a busy streetwalk – as quickly forgotten as encountered”.

From then on, I was hooked, I even subscribed to his mailing list so I would be updated with his other books. And he does write every time he has a new book or even greets his readers during Christmas. When I became a member of Shelfari, I found out that my very first friend there, Oel also reads RPE and he even has more books of Evans than I have.

Timepiece is the second book in The Christmas Box series (the first one was The Christmas Box and the third was The Letter, which I have yet to find). Evans always starts his books with a quote from a diary/journal of one of his lead characters.

“Of all, clockmakers and morticians should bear the keenest sense of priority – their lives daily spent in observance of the unflagging procession of time…and the end thereof”. -David Parkin’s Diary, January 3,1901

So begins Timepiece. It’s an unforgettable story of hope shared by Mary Anne Parkin with the author, Richard. It’s about a magnificent grandfather clock which Mary Anne gave to Richard before her death. It’s also about a unique timepiece which Mary bestowed on him with the understanding that he pass it to his own daughter when she gets married. It’s the story of David and Mary Anne – David’s fascination for timepieces and her love for her and their child Andrea. It traces their lives as they discover love, loyalty and most of all, the power of forgiveness.

There is more in this book than just being a tearjerker. This book makes one think long after one finishes it, that life, even at its darkest moment, enables us to reveal what is best in everyone of us.

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Category: Books
Genre: Parenting & Families
Author: Elizabeth Joy Arnold
Genre: Fiction, Psychological

In one of my jaunts at Ever-Booksale, I noticed this book (author unknown to me) which has a nice picture cover. I bought it without reading the summary at the back, one of those quirks of a bookworm some times.

For a first novel, Elizabeth Joy Arnold is a winner. If you love Summer Sisters by Judy Blume and My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult, Pieces of My Sister’s Life is equally touching. I don’t have a sister in real life so I get fascinated by stories like these.

Eve and Kerry Barnard – twins who grew up together, “one and the same”. Motherless at the age of seven, shares a common love for their best friend Justin, the central figure in their lives. They shared everything until the summer they turned seventeen and lost their father.Although they have no one else to turn to except each other, they quickly drifts apart, the introspective Kerry clinging to Justin and Eve, a competitive flirt, is out to win the man her sister loves. Thirteen years later, Kerry comes back and they are forced to face the consequences of what happened in their past. Eve is dying of cancer and struggles to find peace for both of them.

There are lots of flashbacks in the novel but the complex interplay between past and present is never lost. Although there is a touch of melodrama in every page, it is still a fabulous story. Quite impossible to put down. Overall, this book is a great summer read.

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ReviewReviewReview French Women Don’t Get Fat Sep 1, ’08 9:52 AM

Category: Books
Genre: Nonfiction
Author: Mireille Guiliano
Last night, Nissa brought home a copy of this book from their Stress Management Office. As it has a deadline, I temporarily shelved Outlander and decided to read this book first.

don’t diet
eat chocolate
drink wine
take long walks
enjoy life
stay slim the French way

Wow, if these words would not motivate you to know those slimming secrets, what would? I would not attempt to summarize the book here, it’s for you to find out.

There are lots of menus and recipes included in the book. It’s perfect for building a healthy attitude towards work and exercise. And did you know that sleep deprivation (think thirty-five and up) is a major contribution to weight gain? I have copied some practical tips that would help us take control of our lives.

- Increase your proportion of fruits and vegetables as compared to other food types. Practice “less is more” more aggressively avoiding meaningless calories and saving them for real pleasures

- Try to pay more attention to the rhythms of your life, daily, weekly, monthly. awareness reduces stress and promotes well-being

- Carry water everywhere you go and increase your intake to at least two quarts a day

- Learn to say no, with an eye to saying yes to something else

- Build small rest periods into your day.

- Try to find new interests. life seems fuller with novelties. curiosity, no less than openness to pleasure, is not the exclusive property of the young

- Everyday is a bonus. With acceptance of one’s age and time remaining come gifts: a wise reluctance to waste little moments of happiness, peace of mind that comes with tolerance and patience with and less resentment of the world.

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ReviewReviewReview What Dreams May Come Oct 22, ’08 7:35 AM

Category: Books
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Author: Richard Matheson
“for in that sleep of death what dreams may come, when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause” Hamlet, Act III, Sc.1

After life there is more…The end is just the beginning…If you are into parapsychology, metaphysics and the supernatural then this book is for you.

What Dreams May Come is the story of Chris Nielsen and his wife Ann. A love story that transcends death – a guy willing to spend his life in Hell just so he could be with his loved one. The story opens with Chris dying in a car accident but he does not realize that he is now dead. His main concern is his wife and family. He hovers within as a ghost until he finds himself in Summerland (the idea of heaven) and meets his dead dog Katie and his cousin Albert who serves as his guide in heaven. Summerland, more a state of mind rather than a place. Despite the beauty and splendor of Summerland, he still longs for his family specially Ann to the point of wanting to be reassured of when they will see each other again.

Ann could not accept the demise of her husband so she commits suicide breaking the ties forever and she finds herself in Hell. Richard in his desire to help Ann, goes down to the lower realm accompanied by Albert and there he personally witnesses what hell looks like but he does not find Ann there. She does not believe in afterlife so she is trapped in her own hell. He lets himself becomes part of her reality so they could be together forever.

The story flashes to Chris finding himself again in Summerland and they both move on until such time that Ann chooses a quick rebirth on earth. They are soulmates and the story ends with the premise that they will be together again in another life.

Okay, here’s my take on the story. What really happens to us after we die? Do we really have soulmates? The imagery between heaven and hell is so vivid that you would prefer to be in heaven than anywhere else. Anyone can escape Matheson’s hell – they only have to recognize and accept their shortcomings. It’s a sort of a temporary dwelling until such time that you eventually go to heaven.

There was a movie made on this book and Richard Matheson is the same author who wrote Bid Time Return which was translated into a movie called Somewhere in Time – one of my favorites.

Quotations from the book:
“It’s a painful thing to learn I know,”he said, “that every thought we have takes in a form we must eventually, confront”.

“Language is more a barrier to understanding than an aid. Also, we’re able, through thought, to communicate in any language without the need of an interpreter. Moreover, we’re not confined to words and sentences. Communication can be enhanced by flashes of pure thought”.

“I noticed you have no mirrors,” I said.
“They serve no purpose,” he told me.
“Because they’re mostly for vanity?” I questioned.
‘More than that,”he answered. “those who’ve marred their appearance in any way by their actions in life aren’t forced to witness that marring. If they were, they’d become self-conscious and be unable to concentrate on improving themselves:.

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Posted Nov. 02, 2008

Category: Books
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Author: Sue Monk Kidd
Once in a while, you get to read a story that touches you to the core and The Secret Life of Bees did just that. For a first novel, it contains all the ingredients of a successful story – coming of age, family relationship, friendship, racial differences and broken dreams – poignant, at times humorous, engaging, brimming with energy and hope and above all it is the story of women who believe in the power of a higher being, in August’s words, “Our Lady (pertaining to the black Madonna) is not some magical being out there somewhere”, she’s something inside in all of us.
Set in the year 1964 in a little South Carolina town, The Secret Life of Bees is a story of Lily Owens, a fourteen year old girl whose life revolved around a peach farm and a father who has no love in his heart. She spent much of her life longing for her mother, Deborah who died when Lily was four years old amidst mysterious circumstances. Her father, T. Ray made her believe that she accidentally killed her mother. Together with her black American nanny Rosaleen and armed with a picture of a black Virgin Mary, the two set out across North Carolina in search of a new life. Their destination was Tiburon, South Carolina.They found a home with three black beekeeping sisters who worshipped the Black Madonna. Lily called them ‘the calendar ladies” for they were named May, June and August.It was here, amidst the hum of bees, and a circle of wise and colorful women that Lily found what love was and where she made a new life. She has finally forgiven herself of all the wounds she felt losing her mother and has come to terms with her mother’s past, finding love at last and several mothers to booth.

The book was richly written and what made it more interesting was the the vivid description of how bees live. I learned a lot just reading the introductions on the life of bees at each chapter of the novel. I am quoting some paragraphs here which I think summarize Lily’s longing for a mother:

“The frame contained a picture of a woman in profile, her head bent toward a little girl who sat in a high chair with a smudge of baby food on the side of her mouth. She held a baby spoon in her right hand, Light glazed her face. The little girl wore a bib with a teddy bear on it. A sprig of hair on top of her head was tied with a bow. She lifted one hand toward the woman.

Me and my mother.

I didn’t care about anything on this earth except the way her face was tipped toward mine, our noses just touching, how wide and gorgeous her smile was, like sparklers going off.

Through the open window the air smelled like Carolina jasmine, which is the true smell of South Carolina. I walked over and propped my elbows on the sill and breathed as deeply as I could.

I looked down at the picture, then closed my eyes. I figured May must’ve made it to heaven and explained to my mother about the sign I wanted. The one that would let me know I was loved”.

This was made into a movie which starred Dakota Fanning in the “I am Sam” fame. I am a little excited and I’d like to watch it when it will be shown here.Based on some reviews that I read and the video clips that I watched, it seems they have made a good movie adaptation of the book.

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Hubby told me to relax and I am quite obedient when it concerns my health and my treatment. I am not usually this complacent, but lately  I’ve been thinking,  there is really nothing to worry about.  And my idea of relaxing is sitting in front of Josef’s laptop and sharing my muddled thoughts and giving vent to one sure way of escape….blogging.

Tomorrow would be my fifth chemotherapy.  One more to go, after this hurdle.  I don’t know if I’m supposed to be thrilled because during my last check-up, my medical oncologist told me that I need not have to undergo lab tests and doctor visits in between my fifth chemo and the last.  That means, a few pesos saved on gas and doctor’s fees, hooray!

I was watching Umagang Kay Ganda early this morning  and they were having a countdown, Christmas is just 39 days away.  Gosh, how time flies!  And that means, one more Sunday before the beginning of Advent.  I always look forward to Christmas, it is my favorite time of the year, but I may have to forgo  buying gifts this time because technically I would still be on chemotherapy drugs until December 22.  I’m counting the days you see, before I’m out of everything that has to do with my treatment.  Hopefully, by next year this is all beyond me.

Nissa and I are quite excited to decorate our  house once the renovation is done.  We have agreed on the minimalist look, less clutter, but more cozy type of decorating.  She even had her interior decorator friend help her choose what to buy.  And didn’t I tell you the hubby is so meticulous when it comes to the measurements of our built-in cabinets? Even the size of plates and other glasswares have to be measured and each item has its specific place, even our microwave  and my portable electric oven have to be wall-mounted. Perhaps, he is more OC than I am. When you have experienced that kind of deluge that we had before because of typhoon Ondoy, I guess, it’s just natural to be wary of things.  I lost all my copies of Real Living  and House Decorating  magazines, so I bought the November issue of the former.  It contains must-know designer secrets from the experts. Those make-over features that they do are really something to think about.

So what next? Please, wish me luck for tomorrow’s ordeal and your prayers are always welcome.  And I wish to share these quotes with you.

“To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury; and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable; and wealthy, not rich; to study hard, think quietly, talk gently, act frankly; to listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart; to bear all cheerfully, do all bravely, await occasion, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious grow up through the common. This is to be my symphony.”

William Ellery Channing

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