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Archive for the ‘family life’ Category


Nate

This made my day, a show of life’s beauty and grace, simple smiles from two precious people in my life.  It’s a new day!

 

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Around this time last year,  I featured a pencil sketch of my seventeen-year old nephew  entitled One Sunny Afternoon.  I was so impressed with his drawings which he posted on his wall at Facebook so I picked one to write about. It reminded me so much of those times spent with mom during off-school days. My youngest brother and his family has been living abroad for the last 23 years so we always appreciate every bit of news from both sides, ours and theirs. We laugh at jokes while talking over the phone, exchange family food recipes when we are in the mood, we remember the early years back in our province. This morning he surprised  us with a picture he took of Justin, his youngest son who is into music. My nephew  is a member of the Renegade Regiment, Union High School Marching Band in Tulsa, OK. I love this picture, I think it was perfectly captured – the boy and his baritone.

The baritone horn is a low-pitched brass instrument. Baritone horn is a piston valve brass instrument with a predominantly cylindrical bore like the trumpet  and uses a wide-rimmed cup mouthpiece.

The baritone horn is a low-pitched brass instrument. Baritone horn is a piston valve brass instrument with a predominantly cylindrical bore like the trumpet and uses a wide-rimmed cup mouthpiece.

Seeing this, I miss them all the more. Go, go Justin, follow your dreams.

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Sometimes it is hard to get back one’s muse. I’ve put aside blogging for the past week because I don’t know where to start again. Blame it on the erratic weather we have here and the things I need to do a week after the monsoon rains left us – a garden that needs attention although it is not that immediate, plants that need trimming, a pond that needs to be brushed of dirt and needs repainting.

I have this blasted cold for almost a week now and for the past three nights I find it hard to sleep because of  bouts of coughing. It’s that time of year again that almost every one you meet on the streets has colds. September is about to end and we are experiencing hot and sunny weather early mornings and thunderstorms in the afternoon.  Son says to set aside today for rest, he specifically told me to just relax and not touch anything in the garden. The only relaxing thing I could think of is to catch up on my reading but I get sleepy most of the time, probably the effect of the cough syrup I am taking. I seldom watch TV or DVD  for that matter, I have no patience with watching telenovelas but I listen to the news every day.

I got a nice surprise early this morning while watching the dogs having fun in the garden. I saw two Gardenia blooms, the flowers wide open and the sweet scent made my morning.  For the past several years, the only time I get to see  gardenia flowers in our garden  are during the months of May and June.  What a nice surprise.  And I remember this  touching  story I read and I blogged about a few years ago, about a girl who receives a gardenia every time she celebrates her birthday. When her mom died, it stopped coming and that’s when she knew that it was her mom who gave her all those blooms.  Today, my daughter turned 32 but her family was not around to celebrate with us. They attended a 7th birthday celebration of one of Nate’s cousins.  My brother who lives in Tulsa opened a  family group chat on Viber  and it is always a joy to exchange a word or two (longer if we have time) and talk about anything under the sun. That’s the kind of bonding we do have nowadays because it’s been years since we last saw each other.  You would see spur-of-the-moment postings on what-do-you-have-for-breakfast-today. Crazy you might say but it’s fun and the joyful moments are priceless. He craves for Filipino food, rice specially, I am contented with left-overs the night before and Nissa has her own breakfast regimen at the office.  We hear the laughter ringing through our phones sometimes and it feels great being with the family. It’s nice  to know that they are always there when you need them most – to laugh with, to cry with, to reminisce upon the happy times when we were staying in an apartment when the kids were  small.

We are celebrating the Feast Day of San Lorenzo Ruiz de Manila today, our first Filipino saint.

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Nissa

Today I celebrate the gift of life with you. May you always be blessed. I love you so much anak!

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♫♪♫All that I am, all that I have
I lay them down before You, oh Lord
All my regrets, all my acclaims
The joy and the pain, I’m making them Yours

Lord, I offer my life to You
Everything I’ve been through, use it for Your glory
Lord I offer my days to You
Lifting my praise to You as a pleasing sacrifice
Lord I offer You my life

Things in the past, things yet unseen
Wishes and dreams that are yet to come true
All of my heart, all of my praise
My heart and my hands are lifted to You

Lord, I offer my life to You
Everything I’ve been through, use it for Your glory
Lord I offer my days to You
Lifting my praise to You as a pleasing sacrifice
Lord I offer You my life

What can we give that You have not given?
And what do we have that is not already Yours?
All we possess are these lives we’re living
That’s what we give to You, Lord

Lord, I offer my life to You
Everything I’ve been through, use it for Your glory
Lord I offer my days to You
Lifting my praise to You as a pleasing sacrifice
Lord I offer You my life

Lord, I offer my life to You
Everything I’ve been through, use it for Your glory
Lord I offer my days to You
Lifting my praise to You as a pleasing sacrifice
Lord I offer You my life
Lord I offer You my life♫♪♫♪

This inspiring song has played in my head since this morning. I was more inspired attending mass at St. Padre Pio chapel with Fr. Jerry Orbos, SVD  as mass presider. Josef and I agreed to meet there before the mass but we saw each  other  only after the final blessing. There were so many Padre Pio devotees who attended –  people from all walks of life, people in wheel chairs, people who believe that there is a loving God who will always be there for all of us. I was touched listening to some of them sharing a bit of their stories  before the mass, some came from nearby towns and provinces just to attend the celebration.  We were on the same journey, seeking intercessions from Padre Pio. We each have our own personal intentions but we were there as one family celebrating his feast day.

The past week  was  not just busy for us, it was pretty tiring too. Come to think of it,  Metro Manila was not even under any storm signal but typhoon Mario wrought havoc to our town again, flooding most areas because of the monsoon rains. It  was typhoon Ondoy all over again. We are still thankful though that even if flood waters reached our house (almost knee-deep), it didn’t bring damage to properties. PAGASA said that what is supposedly an amount of rainfall for a month fell in a day. Five years ago, when typhoon Ondoy hit us, we had to renovate. I had all our cabinet changed and fixed permanently.  I am not yet done arranging and fixing our personal things which we had to move to higher shelves. Sometimes I feel physically drained, it’s like doing manual labor, cleaning the house etc. ( I haven’t touched the garden yet).

Life is a bit hard sometimes but we have to move on and move forward. The uncertainties, the fear and trauma of dealing with such natural  disasters are still there but we are thankful that we are alive and enjoying moments with  the family. There are more things to be thankful for than to complain about. Fr. Jerry said in his homily this afternoon, “Offer your pain to God, be thankful for all your blessings. When the burden is too much, let Him carry it for you”.

Sunshine comes after the rain.

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This afternoon, I got really, really bored  so I started to update my journal, transferring some recipes I culled from the net for future kitchen experiments. I have to check our pantry if there are available ingredients for what I am planning to cook. Then I saw a pack of dates (my last one actually…huhuhu) which I am saving for my no-bake fruit cake. I don’t know where I could buy dried dates here (aside from the fact that they are expensive locally) but I was craving for something sweet. I’ve baked dates  bars before but I recently found a simple recipe sans vanilla extract and cinnamon powder.  Baking saved the boring afternoon. I love the smell of something cooking in my oven, the calming moments while waiting for it to bake, the oh-so-yummy look of it when it’s done.

Date Squares...oh so yummy!

Oh so yummy Date Squares!

If you want to try this, here’s the link.  I reduced the sugar because the dates are naturally sweet and used calamansi instead of lemon. Happy baking.

 

 

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And before you think this is about books  again, you’re wrong.

Sorry, I amend that. After blogging about my loot from Books For Less for the last few days, I switched to e-books for a change. Sometimes it is more convenient to read just holding your phone close while relaxing to the beat of some sentimental music, a somewhat low-key means of  spending the time away. I am currently reading The Glass Kitchen and I was inspired by the book thinking of what to bake for a change. Two days ago, I read one of the books I bought at the sale  (a Christmas story) and there were three recipes there for fruit cakes. One thing that intrigued me is the recipe for no bake fruitcake.  I would definitely try that one of these days and I will use locally produced dried fruits and nuts instead of using imported ones.

Banana and Chocolate?

This is my first time to try baking by combining banana and chocolate. I told Josef to leave two pieces of bananas that I could use for today’s experiment. It’s either chocolate (brownies mostly) or banana bread with nuts or raisins. I searched the net for a simple recipe and I found this, a yummy Banana Chocolate Cupcake recipe.

banana choco cupcakes

Banana Chocolate Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place rack in the center of the oven. Line 12 regular-sized muffin cups with paper liners or spray each cup with a non stick vegetable spray.

In a large bowl whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In another large bowl, whisk together the egg, mashed banana, water, milk, oil, and vanilla extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir, or whisk, until combined. Pour or scoop the batter into the muffin cups, about 3/4 full, and bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.  

Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. Frost with the Chocolate Frosting.

Chocolate Frosting: Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the butter until smooth and creamy (about 1 minute). Add the sugar and beat until it is light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the chocolate and beat on low-speed until incorporated. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until frosting is smooth and glossy (about 2 -3 minutes).

1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar

1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour

1/3 cup (35 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (regular or Dutch-processed)

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

1/2 cup (120 ml) mashed ripe banana (about 1 medium sized banana)

1/2 cup (120 ml) warm water

1/4 cup (60 ml) milk

1/4 cup (60 ml) vegetable or corn oil

3/4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Chocolate Fudge Frosting:

3 ounces (90 grams) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup (120 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 

 I didn’t bother with the frosting since it tastes so good even without it and it was moist inside.  I made  twenty mini cupcakes. The recipe was lifted from the joyofbaking.com

Try it, you won’t be disappointed.

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