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Archive for the ‘family life’ Category


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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He said, “we must come back here”.

Oh yes, why not? Fancy my son being so supportive of my hobbies. Although he is not into fiction books like I am, he loves accompanying me to bookstores and  letting me find more books to explore and read. Yesterday was one such lovely day that we got to spend together after a lightning trip to the supermarket to buy groceries. Grocery-shopping, reading labels  and nutrition facts, finding something  new, making list of items that we need to buy – purely routine for some but it’s a joy for me to do.

Last week when he saw  what I bought at Books for Less, he promised to go with me to buy more.  Who would not be thrilled with that? I thought he would be put off by the gargantuan  and riotously arranged books  on display there but he found out something to his interest, a hard-bound book on games  (cards, magic tricks etc.) and he was hooked. He was even surprised that all books on sale are at P10 pesos each.

And more books.

When I think of all the books still left for me to read, I am certain of further happiness. ~Jules Renard

When I think of all the books still left for me to read, I am certain of further happiness. ~Jules Renard

I found two more books on Christmas, one is a collection of short Christmas stories by Rosamunde Pilcher  and a novel by Debbie Macomber.  I found a copy of Taylor Caldwell’s Captains and the Kings.  I watched the tv series decades ago. That was mid-seventies, I think when television programs were something to look forward to, not the sort of teleseryes  (soap operas)  that they have now that I never bother to watch. I remember watching it with Mom and Dad along with the television  sitcom John and Marsha, the longest running comedy series that made us  all laugh.  I love history even if they are just written through fiction books. It is now hard to find mass-produced copies of novels written by great writers from way back except maybe in second-hand bookstores  and I was lucky to find Captains and the Kings. It has mostly five-star ratings on Goodreads .  I am also excited to read Los Alamos, a first novel by Joseph Canon. I have just finished reading the second book of  Ken Follett on WWII and  this would be a nice follow-up since its setting was at the end of WWII. How lucky could one get, right?

Yes, of course.

Yesterday, when Josef said that we have to come back and add some more to my loot, I readily answered, “Yes, of course”  with a smile on my face that says, what a lovely day!

What books are you reading at the moment?

 

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It is always nice to reminisce the good old days. I wonder how many times I’ve blogged about something like this, mostly about books and music, music and books, a lethal combination that makes the  heart happy.  Every Sunday is one such opportunity to reminisce the good old days, the relaxed time, the “me” moments. Never mind if the laundry basket is almost full of dirty clothes that need to be loaded in the washing machine, never mind if the side yard needs sweeping from the jackfruit trees that shed leaves like crazy, never mind the half-finished and newly dug  earth just waiting  there outside. My aging body refuses to work on Sundays so it is spent catching up on reading and listening almost all day long to the music of the 60’s and the 70’s. Most FM radios play them anyway and AM bands have followed suit, so instead of news, I listen and sing along.

This morning, I had a nice chat with my brother who lives in Tulsa with his family. It has become a ritual for us to spend thirty minutes to an hour exchanging news via Viber. Talk about technology advancement and free calls from far-off  US of A.  I just recently learned how to use Viber, I had it installed on my phone  and removed the app for Skype.  I get to call my daughter Nissa and listen to my grandson Nate shouting “Nonna, Nonna, hi” over the phone thru Viber. I think this is the best medium for free calls and messaging. Gone are the days when you are often afraid to make overseas calls because you dread to see your phone bill rising to high heavens.   It is always a riot of laughter while swapping stories with my youngest brother. We talk about our kids (mostly) and food (all the time) and how hard life is nowadays but as always we get to reminisce on the good old days (again).  He loves to cook and sometimes shares his recipes with me. This morning, it was chicken gumbo and bamboo shoots.  Alden, my other brother who lives in the province with Mom brought me fresh bamboo shoots the other day. I have some of it cooked in coconut milk with lots of  sliced green pepper, the rest I put in the freezer for future use.

Books-For-Less-Warehouse-Sale-August-2014

Nissa sent me this early this morning (an ad from Books for Less).  She said I would surely enjoy finding treasures there. I am excited but they are closed on Sundays.

I hope you are enjoying the weekend.

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