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Archive for the ‘family life’ Category


Mango

Last Sunday, a friend who came over for lunch brought a bagful of green and golden ripe carabao mangoes. We could not consume it in three days so I decided to make some smoothie drinks by simply adding a small can of evaporated milk, a few spoons of sugar and crushed iced. There you go, a sweet and refreshing glass of pure mango.

Most people say that the Philippines has the best sweet and delicious mangoes in the world and I agree. Summer is the best time that you’ll enjoy this fruit. I am planning to make a mango jam out of the remaining ripe ones. You might not believe this but I love green mangoes more. I enjoy eating them fresh, sliced with the skin on and just sprinkled with a pinch of salt. Heaven!

I also baked chewy oatmeal raisin cookies using yellow raisin instead of the dark ones. Yellow raisins have more natural taste, not too sweet and not too dry.  Preparing  something in the kitchen need not be that elaborate. It’s Holy Week  and I suggested to my son that we do away with meat for the whole week and eat sea food and veggies instead.

Have a blessed and meaningful Holy Tuesday!

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Yesterday, my son,  her girlfriend Jovy  and I visited Padre Pio Chapel in Libis, Quezon City. This is Jovy’s first time to visit the place so we toured her around the gardens after spending some time inside the chapel and at the prayer room of St. Francis of Assisi. I always feel blessed and energized every time I visit this lovely place. Never mind that I am still dragging my left foot while walking. I haven’t been here for a year and I really missed the place. One thing that I enjoy  and always look forward to  is writing prayer petitions. It was a wondrous communion with God. Despite the  knee pain, I found it easier to kneel and the flow of words kept coming. Mere thanksgiving is not enough, asking for more blessings  seems a little selfish but that is what I did – praying for the family and for my health.

I took lots of pictures  which I will use for my online apostolate.  One thing  that I found so amazing and so beautiful  are the pictures of a dove perched at the statue of an angel in a corner of the garden. It seemed as if it was saying “welcome” to us.  Don’t laugh but I said “hello” and it just turned its head the other way, maybe acknowledging our presence there in the heat of the morning sun. Doves have long been depicted as symbols of  love, peace and as messengers.  White doves are often used during weddings too.

Perched atop the head of the image of Padre Pio.

Perched atop the head of the image of Padre Pio.

When I was a little younger, I thought doves always come in white. I later learned that that there is a dove gray color like this.

When I was a little younger, I thought doves always come in white. I later learned that there is a dove-gray color like this.

 

Oh look, it has turned its head seemingly saying, "Isn't she lovely?" while looking at the angel figure behind.

Oh look, it has turned its head seemingly saying, “Isn’t she lovely?” while looking at the angel figure behind.

 

Will post more pictures of Padre Pio chapel in my next blog. Just could not get enough.

 

 

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Four years ago, I blogged about my niece and her fascination for coloring books. Do you know that coloring books and the time you spend making a magical picture out of the pages are stress-busters too?  A friend of mine  swears that she gets to relax while coloring a picture and being busy with choosing what colors to combine. She suggested that I buy one too but I cannot find something that would suit my desire to color. Either they are too complicated or too simple for my taste which I think are understandable since they are intended for kids, right?  There are times though when just like kids, we want to have a stress-free life and going back to old favorites (when you were five or six) help save the day.

This morning,  Josef and I spent a few hours just relaxing at Eastwood City after visiting St.  Padre Pio Chapel nearby. It would not be complete if we can’t visit a bookstore (that’s a given) so off we went to Books For Less and later at National Book Store.  I found another book by Lincoln Child, an author I discovered a year ago.  Terminal Freeze deals with climate change. I don’t even have to read the whole cover summary to convince me in buying it.  I’ve been reading  e-books for the past month and  it  is a nice change to be able to hold a real one again. The smell of a new book never fails to make me smile.

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“I bet, when we reach home, you will start coloring this“, Josef said pointing to the paper bag from National Book Store. I laughed and told him, “You guessed it right”.  You see, I was excited to start.  I actually took a shot of the three pages  that I started coloring. Nothing fancy, nothing complicated, they are just simple pictures that probably a seven-year old can color but then it is the thrill of making those pictures more vibrant and lovely that counts. I was even in a quandary whether to use dandelion or apricot for the faces. Back when I was into cross-stitching about a decade ago, I have memorized the chart of colors for the thread that I used. There are as many variations of one color, different shades  on the color wheel.

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Some relaxing moments – priceless minutes spent coloring.  Why don’t you give it a try? Unleash the child in you once in a while.

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Finally, we’re done trimming  the carabao grass. It’s son’s day off so we spent the late afternoon finishing the patch of grass that we left yesterday. It’s summer here now and 4pm is still a bit too hot for gardening.   Took time out to take a few shots of our lovable and cuddly dog Kuchi. She’s been with us for more than two years now and she has definitely grown. She has learned to open our screen door at the back . She has grown a little longer with those short legs and fan-like tail to boot. She is so “makulit”, always inching her way to get inside and sleep under our dining table. Lately, this is her favorite spot, a small area in our garden.

Her name is Kuchi!

Her name is Kuchi!

I am saving on space so I compressed the photos. A friend is giving us a new  male puppy, a mixed breed of Japanese Spitz  like this one.  Dogs have been constant companions for us since we moved here nineteen years ago.  I call our backyard garden “pet sematary”, it is where our previous dogs are buried.  Remember Stephen King’s book of the same title?

We did our marketing this morning by going back to Pasig market, an hour trip from our place when there is traffic. As usual, I enjoyed the haggling, I am happy with even just a peso discount on fruits and vegetables.  It’s been some sort of ritual for Josef and me to eat breakfast at the nearby Jollibee outlet before going to the market. He would always order hotdog with egg  and local sausage (longganisa) for me either with two hot cups of coffee or hot chocolate drink.  We would go back there to explore the garden center we saw this morning. I would love to buy a pot  each of citronella, rosemary or marigolds. Citronella is the most common natural ingredient used in formulating mosquito repellents.

We’re having fun at making simple kitchen recipes again. This morning, Josef prepared lumpiang shanghai made of different veggies which we bought earlier. Then we recycled the left-over spaghetti sauce my making pizza  using sliced bread.

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IMG_5696Our Tootsie roll sandwich is made of flattened sliced bread, with ham and cheese inside and rolled in bread crumbs before frying.  It is best served hot.

One can always experiment on  these simple and easy to prepare snacks without making a dent on one’s pockets.

Or you can boil fresh corn or sweet potatoes and they will give you enough fiber and they are healthy.

So much for this, have to catch up on reading Archetype.

 

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I know, I know, this comes a bit late again but I just have to post these two pictures that I took of one of the lovely places I went to with the whole family. The Farm at San Benito is located in Lipa, Batangas, a three-hour drive from our place in Rizal. One thing I do remember so well is the night swimming at their Secret Pool with the lush green all around. It was so relaxing and it makes me smile thinking about my reaction to the place when I first saw it, the “oohs and aahs” and the excited anticipation of exploring it.

...then you wish you could stay here forever just absorbing the silence.

…then you wish you could stay here forever just absorbing the silence.

...and maybe a copy of a favorite book in hand.

…and maybe a copy of a favorite book in hand.

 

 

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“There was a mood of magic and frenzy to the room. Crystalline swirls of sugar and flour still lingered in the air like kite tails. And then there was the smell-the smell of hope, the kind of smell that brought people home.” - Sarah Addison Allen

One thing I love about baking, be it a simple banana bread,  moist carrot bars or cookies  is the smell that permeates the whole kitchen once you place the baking pan in the oven. I love the  combined smell of cooking raisins, nuts, vanilla or cinnamon or whatever ingredient a particular recipe calls for. This afternoon, I baked my second apple pie confident enough to tweak the recipe a bit and  experiment on brushing just egg whites on top instead of a beaten egg with the yolk.  The top part of the pie may not be as silky as when you use the whole egg but it adds a flaky feel combined with sprinkle of sugar and cinnamon. Whereas before I didn’t even know how to make a dough, it’s now as easy as kneading something for our local steamed bun called “siopao”.  I also sliced half and half of Fuji apples for a natural sweet taste and the tart flavor of Granny Smith.  It came out good, son said, “it’s yummy”.  I laughed when he asked, “did you take pictures?” He knows that I document almost everything that I cook in the kitchen  just like I do with my flowering plants when they are in bloom. He cut a slice even before it cooled down. I got three remaining apples, would love to try making apple sauce and use it on my next baking adventure.

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Here’s one more that I experimented on a month ago, a simple recipe for vanilla cake. I didn’t put icing because I love the flavor without being too sweet.

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I love the quiet, concentrating on the task at hand , the calming effect of kneading, measuring and  mixing to make something  yummy and  scrumptious.

I got a lovely surprise this afternoon when a friend sent me a lovely tin of Fannie May Colonial Assortment chocolates via LBC.  Aren’t I lucky? Can’t wait to take a bite. Thank you Ex.  :)

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Here I am, still thinking  of  the gentle days of January. It seems as if the month is in a hurry to shed its leaves  and bid goodbye.  The quiet days of January -  the cold winds on my face each morning  I stay in the garden, the balmy weather  that hopefully will stay until the end of February, the surprise  visits from friends whom I haven’t seen for a long time, Nate’s newly learned words that sometimes I still can’t understand but pleasant to my ears just the same, the delight in discovering new blooms in my garden,  what bliss!

Today is my  son-in-law’s birthday and Nissa treated him with a nice family lunch at Bag of Beans in Tagaytay City. They brought Nate with them of course and Nissa said the food was good. Gosh, it’s been three years since I last visited Tagaytay and my favorite place, aside from Breakfast at  Antonio’s  is the Mushroomburger  house. I always have a takeout every time we pass by the place. They sell the yummiest mushroom burger this side of town.  Tagaytay is a very nice place to visit. Aside from the lovely weather, it’s closer to home and the view of Taal Lake from  the top of the ridge is just so beautiful.

My priest son, Fr. Lovell is going on a mission two months from now. Come to think of it, I haven’t heard of Babuyan Islands except in old history books during my younger years. It is even more remote  and isolated than the beautiful Batanes. My initial questions were, “Do they have cell sites there, do they have internet connection? How long will you be staying?” He briefed me on how life is there.  You can only reach the place from Cagayan province via an 8-hour boat ride with sometimes big waves (the size of  a house) along the way. The islands are  actually closer to Taiwan than the nearest island in Northern Luzon.  Visiting the place when he was still a seminarian  made him finally decide to persevere to become a Dominican priest.  I found this lovely blog with lots of pictures of Babuyan Islands.  Looking at the pristine landscapes and reading the blogger’s description of the place, this island paradise truly mesmerize.

Except for the party my close friends (at AFCC) and I had last January 11 and the family visit from my daughter Nissa, January was a quiet month but I love it just the same. My only regret is that, I haven’t finished my sixth book that I originally planned to read this month.

It is growing cold and I am here wondering what February will bring.

 

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Two weeks ago, a friend from Hongkong sent me three packs of pitted dates and a pack of dried yellow raisins. Eating the pitted dates direct from the plastic pack is not really an option because I find them too sweet to my liking. I searched the internet for a simple bar recipe for dates. What do you know, it came out really yummy. As usual, I reduced the sugar since the dates are naturally sweet.

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If you want to try this, here’s the recipe.

You would need:

1 1/2 cup water

1 1/2 cups chopped pitted dates

1 tsp. vanilla

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup dark brown sugar (reduced it to 3/4 cup since the dates are sweet)

1 cup old-fashioned oats (I always use rolled oats when baking)

1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 cup (equal to 1 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, diced, room temperature

Here’s how:

Preheat oven to 350 °F.  Rub butter on an 8 x  8 inch baking pan. Set aside. Bring 1 1/2 cups water to simmer in a saucepan. Add dates, simmer until very soft and thick, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature then stir in vanilla.

Combine flour, oats, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl, stir to blend. Add butter. Using fingertips, rub in until moist clumps forms. Press half of oat mixture evenly over bottom of prepared pan. Spread date mixture on top. Sprinkle with remaining oat mixture by pressing gently. Bake until brown at edges and golden brown and set in center, about 40 to 50 minutes. Cool completely in pan on a rack. Cut into bars and serve.

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It seldom happens now because they are always busy at work, yesterday though, Josef and his girlfriend Jovy took me to Mont Albo in Timog Avenue in Quezon City, a spa and massage facility that offers several massage therapies including body scrub. The three of us availed of the Hilot, a Filipino healing method practiced for  thousands of years. It is a total body massage characterized by slow deliberate strokes to remove blockages by using virgin coconut oil.  It was a very relaxing one hour therapy. The three of us also availed of the additional  Bentosa, a therapy used by placing suction glass cups at one’s back to remove energy blockages. Josef practically went to sleep when  the therapist did that because we could hear his gentle snore while waiting for ten minutes before they remove the suction glasses and resume massage of the arms  and legs. I used to have foot massages  before (another way to unwind and relax) in the nearby beauty salon but it has become quite expensive so I only go there when I need to rest and enjoy the quiet times.

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We had an early dinner at Papa John’s  in  Tomas Morato before going home. I told Josef that we used to live in that area back when he wasn’t born yet. The quiet neighborhood in the early eighties has now become a busy avenue of several high-end restaurants and eateries.  It was my first time to sample Papa John’s cheese and bacon pizza and its crispy onion rings, better than what we usually order at Burgoo’s. Such  a lovely day to spend  it  with them. I wish that next time we do this, my daughter and son-in-law and of course my darling baby Nate  could join us.

The weather here for the past  two or three weeks was a good 20 degrees Celsius.  It is colder at night and windy in the early morning and late noon.  The coldest morning so far in Metro Manila was at   17.5 degrees Celsius early Saturday  while Baguio City was at its coldest at 8.1 degrees Celsius last Sunday. Most days it’s cloudy, a perfect time to catch up on gardening and do a little weeding too.  It’s  a lovely time too to read. I’ve done six books since the start of the year and I planned to read around 50 books till the end of December. I really hope I could do it since I neglected reading last year, read a measly 20 titles, I guess.

I am listening to Richard Clayderman  and Ernesto Cortazar  while writing this blog. It’s a lovely day :)

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Would love to try another language to say Happy New Year.  In Tagalog we say, Manigong Bagong Taon. Whew, Christmas has come and gone and I am stuck here with so much to do, fixing things here and there, cleaning the house and getting rid of unwanted items that are no longer in use.  Just wanted to greet  2014 not just with a trimmed garden but with  lesser bits and pieces in my  cabinet. I’ll be hosting a party for a small group of friends on January 11 including two priests who are also members  of my Catholic group at Facebook where I am one of the admins.  We have decided on a potluck lunch and snacks so we could concentrate on sharing news and tidbits  about our individual journeys in life.  My co-admin and creator of the online group Fr. Louie Coronel, OP used to say, ” you can share anything under the Catholic sun except sin”. Believe me, in all these years that we’ve journeyed together, some members have become real friends. And that’s something to be thankful for, finding friends in social media and bonding with them and we’re like brothers and sisters who have found a home through our page.

How was your Christmas? It was another peaceful, joyous and happy celebration for us, just the family with Nate (my grandson) grabbing the limelight sharing what he has learned the last month since his birthday. The joys of being a grandma, more greatly felt with Nate’s generous kisses that made my day and   the celebration of Christmas a happy one for me. He is walking on his own now and beginning to touch things that his hands could reach. I told Nissa to say goodbye (in the meantime)  to small objects that  he could grab and play with. He was amazed when he discovered the knob of our CD player and turned the sound off while we were listening to some Christmas carols of old.

I made a video of our Christmas pictures at OneTrueMedia but I forgot that I can’t listen to the music that I chose as a background since my son detached the defective speakers of my PC a month ago. Anyway, I am sharing some pics I took in a photo box so as to save on my allowed limits here at WordPress.

photoboxI baked lots of chocolate chips cookies that I gave to friends and neighbors. I think there are two or three more left in the cookie jar.  I received cash gifts from the kids but one thing that I really love is one of the additional gifts from Nissa, a lovely infusion bottle which I could use later. Kev brought a bottle of Novellino red wine.

photobox2Christmas was a simple celebration but it was one of the best ever. What about you, how did you celebrate  Christmas? And before I forget, let me greet you Bonne année  . Let 2014 be a happy, peaceful and a fruitful year for all of us.

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