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Archive for April, 2010


I’ve always thought that I am finally on the road to recovery.  Lately, I’ve been taking medications for my kidney stones and gall stones.  You won’t believe this but I’ve been diligent in following doctor’s orders, even taking around 60ml. of  olive oil and drinking lots and lots of apple juice to help flash out those unwanted stones from my body.  I went back to my old doctor, a kind-hearted soul who does not believe in such drastic measures like surgery.  Everything could be flashed out with combination drugs , a little easy on the pocket but  hell.  Just thinking of those laxatives and antilithiasis dilator which I have to take twice a week for a month makes me puke, but I have to do it , just to save myself from another   surgery.  I haven’t fully recovered yet from the effects of chemo drugs – my hands and fingers get stiff from time to time making it hard for me to write, it’s easier of course when you are in front of the computer.  For the past week, I’ve been having attacks of UTI and I thought, it’s more painful than my slow recovery from my sigmoid surgery last year.  Just imagine, calling your doctor at an ungodly hour of 2am,  you are wide awake until 4am and the only comfortable place to get a few winks is to just sit on your bed with lots of pillows all around.   It’s sheer hell!

Haven’t have the strength to go out  and my ever reliable PC comes in handy.  And in between taking a peek at my Facebook site and occasional chats with long-lost friends, I’ve taken some shots of the garden and uploaded my collection of my niece’s pictures.  I am finally appreciating watching TV, something I’ve never cared  about before.  The things you do to combat boredom.

Perhaps, I was a little too excited to read the book, Julie and Julia by Julie Powell, after watching the movie on DVD.  They are raving about it, the book I mean, but I’ve too much of  Boeuf Bourguignon and potato salad, and eggs floating in red wine that I set it aside when she started talking about Disaster/Dinner Party on page 109.   Weird, you say?  Nope, apparently, I am just bored.   And James Patterson could really write love stories, right?  Believe me,  I’ve read all those Alex Cross series, action-packed thrillers and harrowing plots but when I encountered  Sam’s Letters to Jennifer, I was hooked.  And he says, “whether it is as fleeting as the sun-kissed days of summer or lasts the length of a lifetime, love is always worth it”. That line made me shed copious tears.  Reading his other book, Sundays at Tiffany’s made my self-imposed retreat all the more bearable.  What if your imaginary friend from childhood was your one true love?  haha!  Dreams do really come true.  I am reminded of  GGM’s  Love in the Time of Cholera.  A friend at Shelfari admits that she has read it thrice. I can’t dispute the fact that the book is good since I’ve been able to appreciate One Hundred Years of Solitude but how come I could not even advance to page 51?  I had enough of Fermina Daza, Florentino Ariza and Juvenal Urbino at  chapter 3.  Perhaps, I’ll give it another try, one of these days if I find another copy which is not that expensive.  Like the other books that are still on my TBR list, this one got flooded.

Ouah!  it’s time to take my meds.

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It’s one of those rare times that I get to watch early morning TV programs .  Umagang Kay Ganda featured Lolita Carbon, a member of the singing group Asin and she sang  Masdan Mo Ang Kapaligiran. I often hear this song back in the seventies, but I never felt its importance before. It was more of  a song with very good lyrics and acoustics and listening to it now made me realize how we have abused mother Earth.  My family and I were victims of typhoon Ondoy.  It  was not only the amount of rain that befell Metro Manila that caused the destructive flood we have experienced  before but also it was because we were not so careful  about the garbage we disposed of.  I want to share with you the lyrics of the song, it is very touching and full of lessons that we should apply daily in our lives.  Tomorrow, we will  be celebrating the 40th anniversary of  Earth Day  and just like what we did for an hour last March 27, 2010, let us open our eyes to the gargantuan task of saving our planet, let us do our share in making Mother Earth a place which  we could truly be proud of.

Wala ka bang napapansin sa iyong mga kapaligiran?
Kay dumi na ng hangin, pati na ang mga ilog natin.

Refrain 1:

Hindi na masama ang pag-unlad
At malayu-layo na rin ang ating narating
Ngunit masdan mo ang tubig sa dagat
Dati’y kulay asul ngayo’y naging itim

Ang mga duming ating ikinalat sa hangin
Sa langit huwag na nating paabutin
Upang kung tayo’y pumanaw man, sariwang hangin
Sa langit natin matitikman

Refrain 2:

Mayron lang akong hinihiling
Sa aking pagpanaw sana ay tag-ulan
Gitara ko ay aking dadalhin
Upang sa ulap na lang tayo magkantahan

Ang mga batang ngayon lang isinilang
May hangin pa kayang matitikman?
May mga puno pa kaya silang aakyatin
May mga ilog pa kayang lalanguyan ?

Refrain 3:

Bakit di natin pagisipan
Ang nangyayari sa ating kapaligiran
Hindi na masama ang pag-unlad
Kung hindi nakakasira ng kalikasan

Darating ang panahon mga ibong gala
Ay wala nang madadapuan
Masdan mo ang mga punong dati ay kay tatag
Ngayo’y namamatay dahil sa ‘ting kalokohan

Refrain 4:

Lahat ng bagay na narito sa lupa
Biyayang galing sa Diyos kahit nong ika’y wala pa
Ingatan natin at ‘wag nang sirain pa
Pagkat pag Kanyang binawi, tayo’y mawawala na.

We celebrate Earth Day to honor mother Earth and all living things that inhibit it.  Reuse.  Recycle. Reduce.  There are practical energy saving tips that we could observe and do to help.  How often are we told to always turn off the light when not in use?  If possible, we should use natural daylight since a few hours saved on electricity means a few pesos less on our monthly bills.   I remember my mom often telling us not to open the refrigerator door more than we need to, it’s one way of saving electricity too.  Read books instead of watching TV or playing electronic games.  Some of you may not agree specially those who can’t do without  TV in front of them. I know of some people who use TV to lull them to sleep.  Electronic games? Online games?  Most of us are probably guilty spending hours on the net playing Farmville or what not.  It’s good I am not a fan of those online games.  I remember an article written by Wilson Lee Flores a few weeks ago.  He said, “Farmville is fun, but go plant  real vegetables in your backyard.  Facebook is fun but go out too and meet people”.    Gardening is such an engaging hobby, why not plant your own and be rewarded with fresh produce and blooms?

I am glad that most supermarkets now encourage bringing one’s own shopping bags instead of using plastics.  I have several shopping bags made of cloth, some from the lowly “katsa” and they are more handy to use than plastic bags.  Reuse!  If  it is possible, during grocery shopping, we should buy in large quantities to save on gas for future trips to the store.  Let’s buy products with the least amount of packaging.  Don’t buy disposable items like plates, cups, diapers, batteries, they add up to the waste we accumulate daily. Come to think of it, it is so inconvenient using plastic spoons and fork, right?  During parties, I always try to avoid using disposable items, it’s better to invest in good old china plates,  drinking glasses etc.  Styrofoam which is often used by food chains contains polystyrene which is the most difficult material to break down.    If we can’t avoid buying disposable items, we should at least limit their use.  Reduce!

There are one thousand and one ways which we could do to help save our planet. It is not yet too late, let us start now!

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The title caught my eyes, Loving Through Heartsongs.  I found it in my forays at  the bookshop at Metro East Mall. Yes, hubby, my daughter and I went back to the place after the 9am mass last Sunday to buy some groceries.  What a perfect time to visit Booksale again, after having been there last Friday.

I never heard of Mattie J.T. Stepanek  before but the short write-up about him says that he has been writing poetry and short stories since the age of three. He has actually published five books all entitled Heartsongs.   It is  disheartening to learn though that he died before his 14th birthday last June 2004 but he left a legacy – reflections about life, loving, illness, death, family, country and most of all faith in God. I was so moved while reading his poems that I cried.   His idea of happiness is clearly depicted in one of his poems simply called About Happiness.

To me,

Happiness is traveling.

Not really “me” traveling.

But my Heartsongs traveling.

When the songs in my heart

Travel out and around the world

In the things that I say and

In the poems and stories that I write

And in the prayers that I feel to God,

And when the letters and words

Of those Heartsongs bring some

Peace to the countries and people

Who have war in their lives,

That is real happiness

To me.

He struggled with a rare form of  muscular dystrophy which also claimed the life of his three siblings.  I think this was his last book in the  Heartsong series.  The selections were divided into “Finding Love From Lessons”, “Witnessing Love inCreation”, “Sharing Love Through People”, Keeping Love Amid Challenges”, and Learning Love for the Future”.  It’s love everywhere for this young poet who shared himself to the world through his poems.  In his poem  Gift-Rapt, he has this to say:   “Let us think gently, speak gently, live gently….and the world may be blessed gently with the greatest gift of all…Faith.”  So true, when everything fails, it is our faith in God that will carry us through.  I remember my own struggles being a cancer  patient.  “It is truly impossible to learn nothing when you believe”,  because life is a constant learning experience, it teaches us lessons that decide how strong we are  when confronted by and faced with situation that is beyond our control.   He is matured beyond his years.  And here is what he says  About Promises:

Promises

Should be

Taken seriously

Because

They involve

Something

that will

Somehow

Touch

The future

Of some life.

Some people are not good at keeping promises.  These lines somehow remind me of our present political situation.  I don’t want  to explore this much-hyped scenario, that is why I seldom blog about politics.  We should learn a lesson from this 13-year-old.  He  surely has too much love in his heart and sincerity in his soul to be able to write passionately about life, sharing his thoughts, reaching out to people belonging to an older generation like us.

Kudos Mattie, I am inspired discovering your poems.

Photos courtesy of Mix 107.3/WRQX-ABC Radio.





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A food for thought Mar?  And yes, why not make a blog of this?

Why do girls like gifts that last so long?” Mar asked.

This could be a whole blog,hahaha, ” Agnes commented.

It’s because we love making and keeping memories and gifts of that nature are worth-keeping”, I said.

Maybe because that kind of gift is an indicator that your love is eternal…unflinching…and steadfast???!!! Nelia questioned.

Why indeed?   And would you agree if I say that men are more romantic  than we are when it comes to gift-giving?  Are women more practical in terms of finding that one special gift that would delight the recipient?  Romance does play a big role when it comes to gift-giving and I don’t mean friends or relatives but between husband and wife.

Call me a bit on the practical side but I’d rather have something that would make me remember the occasion it was given than having that bunch of roses  or that big bar of chocolate which in a day or two would somehow be forgotten.  Don’t give me flowers, I prefer a pot of it where I could see it everyday growing in my garden. How practical could you get?  Once in a while though, we want to be surprised and those romantic dinners complete with the wine and the music make us excited.  We always welcome the idea that it is a well-thought  of gift.  And that oh-so-romantic-dinner-by-candlelight is  really something special.  Us girls sometimes give you the hint that we want this or that.  But always, in the end,  it’s the surprise of receiving an unexpected gift that makes us smile.   How could it be otherwise?

Do I sound so unromantic?  But as I’ve said I love keeping memories and what more would  I want than  something that would last longer?

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Just arrived home from a  few hours of  shopping alone at Metro East Mall.  Hubby was kind enough to drop me there  and  came back to share lunch with me later.  I was looking for some gifts for a friend who had her birthday last month and  for my mom’s 81st birthday on Tuesday,  April 20.  Yes, that’s how old my mom is and we are so lucky that she is still with us and except for occasional pains of her arthritis, she is doing fine.  Finding that perfect gift for her is a  little difficult. I want to give her a gift that she could really appreciate and  something that would last for a long time.  Anyway, I had the whole morning to do it and still visit my favorite shopping destinations, National Bookstore and Booksale.  It is quite a delight to see that the latter now carries hardbound books, some of them are still in their original plastic cover.  I have to scour every nook and cranny to see if I could find something worth-buying.  I have to restrain myself because I saw several hardbound gardening books which cost the earth at NBS but Booksale sells them from P250.00 to P500.00 max. All my books  on gardening were washed out during typhoon Ondoy so I have to start from scratch all over again.

And if you are wondering what my treasure find was, here it is.  Something I’ve long wanted to own but just like gardening books, it costs sky-high too.  I am quite enamored with Thai cuisine because Thai food is fresh-tasting , healthy and the ingredients are easy to find.  They use a variety of cooking  ingredients  be it on their salad wraps, Thai rolls, Satay, Barbecued chicken, stir-fried vegetables.  One thing I find truly unique in Thai cuisine are their different dips and sauces.  You can find a matching dip or sauce for every menu set on the table.  Thai  food must have that right combination of the four primary tastes:  sweet, sour, hot and salty.  They are also fond of using coconut milk, curry paste and rice noodles.  And don’t you just love their Jasmin rice?  Just like here in our country, rice is an important ingredient in Thai cuisine.

For the price of P250.00,  I am so proud to have found it.  It was still covered in plastic and a bonus pack  of notepad, stickers, recipe cards and splash guards are included inside.  It’s a wonderful, wonderful find. There is a metric chart at the last page,  a very helpful index page, and some Chinese, Japanese and Korean recipes too.  I am sure Nissa would be so thrilled by this  because about three or four days ago, she just bought two books, Le Cordon Bleu’s, The Cooks’ Bible and Kitchen Essentials. She and some close friends are booked on a  Thailand food trip this coming June.

Yes, I was able to buy gifts for my mom and my friend,  and they are now neatly wrapped and labeled.  Sometimes, it’s good to be alone when shopping, because you won’t have to worry about time  or of someone waiting for you.  It surely was a very productive day for me.

And here is something you can try.

Shrimp, Mushroom and Omelet Soup

10 to 12 dried shitake mushrooms (about 1 pound)

3 eggs

1 tbsp. chopped fresh chives or minced green onion tops

2 tsp. vegetable oil

3 cans chicken broth

2 tbsp. oyster sauce

12 ounces medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined

3 cups lightly packed spinach leaves, washed and stemmed

1 tbsp. lime juice

red pepper flakes

1.  Place mushroom in bowl; cover with hot water. Let stand 30 minutes or until caps are soft.  Meanwhile, beat eggs and chives in small bowl with wire whisk until blended.

2.  Heat 10- to 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add oil and swirl to coat surface.  Pour egg mixture into pan.  Reduce heat to medium; cover and cook, without stirring, 2 minutes or until set on bottom.  Slide spatula under omelet; lift omelet and tilt pan to allow uncooked egg to flow under.  Repeat at several places around the omelet.

3.  Slide omelet into flat plate.  Hold another plate over omelet and turn omelet over.  Slide omelet back into pan to cook other side about 20 seconds.  slide back into  plate. when cool enough to handle, roll up omelet. slice into 1/4 inch wide strips.

4.  Drain mushroom; squeeze out excess water.  Remove and discard stems.  Slice caps into thin strips.  Combine mushrooms, chicken broth and oyster sauce in large saucepan.  Cover and bring to a boil  over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cook 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high; add shrimp and cook 2 minutes or until shrimp turn pink and opaque.  Add omelet strips and spinach; remove from heat.  Cover and let stand 2 minutes or until spinach wilts slightly.  Stir in lime juice.  Ladle soup into bowls.  sprinkle with red pepper flakes.

Quite easy to do. Makes 6 servings.

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Move over Ming Tsai. Take a seat  Martha and let this little tyke  try her thing in the kitchen.  Obviously, siomai is one of her favorites, so last Christmas, she persuaded Nissa  and me to teach her how to make it.

Learning the ABCs of sioma-making is a  feat for her.  So after preparing the ingredients, we let her mix everything and  she was so happy doing it.  Let’s welcome our new chef, Bobic, my six-year old niece.

Look at her face, she is so intent in measuring the siomai  mix.   Even small children have that satisfaction  on learning an adult task. They feel important that you are giving them self-confidence in doing it.

“Am I doing it right Tita?” she asked.

Hmm, not bad for a beginner.

And here’s the end result….hmm…looks yummy!

“Yes, I made it!”

And here’s a simple recipe on how to make siomai.

Dough:  2/3 cup hot water

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups all-purpose flour

cornstarch for dredging

Substitute:  sioma/molo wrapper (100 pcs. per pack)

Filling:

1/2 kilo chuck meat (kasim), chopped finely  or ground pork

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. soy sauce

1 tsp. sesame oil

1/2 cup singkamas or Mexican turnip

2 pcs. chopped mushroom

1 pc. egg

1 tbsp. AA flour

2 tbsp water (beat egg into it)

1/2 cup shrimps (chopped) about 1/4 kilo

Procedure:

Mix all ingredients together, put the seasonings and place in molo wrapper.  Cook in a steamer for 15 minutes.  Be sure that the rack you use is greased with oil.

Back when I was learning Chinese Recipes under Sylvia Reynoso, she suggested that you put the  uncooked siomai first in the freezer for about 20 minutes before steaming so it would bind better.

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Lovell gave me this lovely, lovely journal yesterday.   There is a biblical passage written on every page.  I want to start it with this:  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,  with all your soul, and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5. The pages are just waiting to be filled up and I can’t wait to write my journey, some moments of reflections – moments worth remembering.  I am just overwhelmed by all of what has been happening lately in my life.  But really, nothing is impossible with Him.

This is a very special gift Lovell,  maraming, maraming salamat for being so thoughtful.

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