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Archive for the ‘guilty pleasures’ Category


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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Each day is a stepping stone into future days on the upward path. Enrich each day with gratitude and a time of quiet. – Lillian Marshall

Gosh, you won’t believe this! Yesterday I braved the traffic by taking  a commute   to visit the book sale at Books for Less in Pasig City. It is right in front of La Consolacion College where my two kids spent their high school so the place is quite familiar. This is the first time that I visited  BFL and I was  like, “Oh, Oh, I don’t know what books to buy”.

There were so many volumes on so many subjects  that I was in a quandary which to choose. Some look practically new with the dust jackets still intact but of course, BFL sells secondhand books.  I don’t mind buying secondhand books, I’ve done it for years at Booksale. I only get to buy new ones on the works of authors I am collecting  and those lovely editions that one can’t help having on one’s shelf. Sometimes, I just close my eyes and don’t look at the price :)  This time though, I enjoyed an hour looking for well-known authors that I like, discovering some fiction books that look interesting.  I was able to buy twelve books in all,  including a small volume  entitled Stepping Stones (meditations in a garden) with lovely flower illustrations on each page. I just love it. I also found another collection of short stories by one of my favorite authors, Rosamunde Pilcher. It was such a joy to see two more volumes of L. M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables, classic stories that never grow old with time. I hope I will be able to find the missing three more volumes to complete my collection. There was also a memoir and a children’s book for Nate (which looks  new) and the rest are fiction books of authors that I haven’t read yet.  Josef  told me yesterday to go back there and we would bring the car so I don’t have to commute but he has to buy a replacement for our submersible pump for our small pond.  I am comforted by the thought that the sale would end on August 31 so I still have plenty of time to buy books. Did I tell you that I only spent P120 pesos for those twelve books?  Each one costs P10 pesos,  easier on the pocket, I must say. My book shelves are close to  bursting.

Today is the Feast Day of St. Dominic. Happy Feast Day to all  of my Dominican friends.  Fr. Lovell, O.P. (my adopted son)  texted and said that he is praying  for and offering his masses for the family.  I told him it is a noble gift to be prayed for always. What a blessing! I am sad though to learn that the former Rector of UST, Rev. Leonardo Z. Legaspi, O.P.  passed on this morning . He  was the first Filipino UST Rector.  He was a part of my high school and college life in the 70’s.   He died on the feast day of St. Dominic and on his  episcopate ordination anniversary, two special events that would make  it easy for his friends and family to remember. He would always say “Good morning” every time he meets students at the UST campus.  Requiescat  in pace. I’ll remember you in  prayers.

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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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Hello, sun in my face.
Hello, you who made the morning
and spread it over the fields…

Watch, now, how I start the day
 in happiness, in kindness.

- Mary Oliver

 

I am sure one of my favorite authors,, Mary Oliver would not mind if I borrow the title of her poem. I often blog about her and how I enjoy reading her writings, simply worded and yet they have deep meanings that touch the heart and the soul.

The sun is up and I could feel its warmth on my face although at the moment it is playing hide and seek with the clouds. We are still experiencing southwest monsoon and there is another storm coming but at least we could enjoy the weekend without worrying about flash flood and heavy downpour.

Yesterday, I finally finished cleaning our bookshelves, sorting books  and arranging them according to authors. The books  Nissa, Josef and I  have collected over the years  are all placed on the higher shelves  along with the lovely ones (craft books, Calvin and Hobbes comic books which my son collects, mythology and some non-fiction).  Every time I do some dusting here, I always read a few titles and remember the times my kids and I bought them. Some are gifts from close friends who know of our penchant for reading. I can’t  resist  re-reading  the boxed set of Nick Bantock’s The Griffin & Sabine Trilogy. IMG_6174Years ago ( I don’t remember now), my sister-in-law sent me this set as a birthday gift and it is one of the treasures that I have in my book collection. IMG_6176IMG_6175 The three books are actually my introduction to an epistolary novel, work of fiction written through letters but what makes it so lovely to read is that, the letters are  actually written on real stationeries with attached envelopes to boot.  It makes me smile reading these lovely letters again.  The Griffin and Sabine story is an extraordinary tale of love, beauty and art.

Believe me when I say that I again found duplicate copies of some books from authors that I collect. It’s a good thing they are just mass-produced paperbacks. For a while, I enjoyed reading e-books, but there is nothing like holding a good book in your hands, lovingly turning the pages and exploring  another world in another time.

Do you love reading? Do you also collect certain authors in your bookshelf?

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There is nothing much to do in this rainy Wednesday morning.  Sometimes, you just get bored with so much time in your hands. Waking up early really has its advantage because you get to finish daily household chores early too. This morning, I decided to tackle the contents of Nissa’s cabinet  which was left as it was since she got married November of 2011. We have floor-to-ceiling cabinets in our bedrooms so you can just imagine the amount of things left there most of which are old clothes which she didn’t bring with her, personal effects, stationeries,  arts and crafts kits, and various  toiletries some of which were not opened yet. I disposed all of the facial creams, lotions, shampoo bottles and some used make-up which she left behind.  Despite all these junks I found some treasures though while cleaning. IMG_6162

One is  a cellphone holder still in its original box in purple color. I always call Nissa a purple girl since it is her favorite color. When she got married, all her accessories were done in three shades of purple.  Now I have a nice holder for my cellphones. I am sure she would just smile when she sees this. She is a hoarder of sentimental things like I am. Would you believe that I still have two shoe boxes of letters from friends from way back?  I am digressing again. To make the story short, I found another item that I’ve been looking for since  typhoon Ondoy and that was four years ago.  It’s a candle thermometer which my brother sent me when I was into candle-making.

This candle book is a gift from Josef and I learned so much from it.

This candle book is a gift from Josef and I learned so much from it.

When I left the bank (I availed of an early optional retirement) fourteen years ago, I was in a quandary on what to do. I had so much time in my hands so I enrolled in some arts and crafts course  including candle-making. I sourced raw materials from as far as Divisoria market and bought lots of shut glasses for my jelly candle.  Back in those days,  you can make  candles in any scent you want. I was thrilled to try chocolate, bubblegum, vanilla  and peppermint scents to name a few. I  ended up giving them as gifts to friends and relatives. Nissa’s art kit consists of several crimping scissors, paper-cutter, stamp pads for designing stationeries, beads in different colors (for making bracelets, earrings, rosaries etc.), cutters, beading wires, pens in different colors,  and ribbons. She said she misses doing crafts and she has no time now.

I remember those cross-stitches  I did  before but was not able to have them framed.  I am into rosary-making now and give them as gifts to friends. Maybe one of these days,  I will try candle-making again. It would be nice to prime wicks, find lovely molders and wax fragrance and wax dyes too.  Maybe when I’m done with my fascination for baking cookies, bars and simple cakes, when I am done reading all those books on my TBR list, I will try other crafts.

How’s your morning? Is it also rainy in your area?

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The past days, I didn’t have the energy to blog. I am still busy with gardening,what with the onset of the rainy season and the carabao grass seems to grow by leaps and bounds.  I actually hired somebody to clean our side yard outside because I am planning to have it planted with some green veggies.  As is the case with people who are not really into gardening,  they can never visualize what you want to do with it. I have to tell him how to remove the stubborn weeds by turning over the soil and removing the roots embedded there. It is even more time-consuming to give instructions and see if he did it the way you wanted. Gardening is hard I know and  when you don’t have any love for the earth, it would be just one tedious task that you will have to do again and again.

My son and I did our marketing this morning back at Pasig market. It is always something I look forward to because I am so curious about what fruits we could buy that are in season which would save us a few pesos. Santol is selling by the crates and a kilo of the Bangkok variety  with that sweet and juicy pulp is selling at P20.00 and the ordinary ones are at P10.00 a kilo. I was thinking of cooking ginataang santol so I bought two kilos. The last time I cooked something like this was about a year ago. I have forgotten how yummy it is, with the sour taste blending perfectly with the coconut cream, Thai red chilis and a bit of ground pork  to make it more tasty.  Filipino recipes cooked in coconut cream won’t be that authentic without the hot taste of red or green pepper. I am also planning to plant the local siling labuyo in our backyard. Josef was delighted when he saw  bright red cherry tomatoes. We could use them for fresh vegetable salad.  Locally produced zucchini are a lot cheaper than the imported ones. I also got the orange variety of sweet potatoes, what a joy! It is always a thrill to discover  something  new  to buy and something nice to experiment on in the kitchen.

Yes,I was able to catch up on reading. I laughed out loud while reading Sophie Kinsella’s I Got Your Number. I know, you’ll probably say, most of her books are funny and humorous but then, don’t we sometimes want to read books that are simply relaxing?  Just imagine, four books in one week and I am on my 5th one,  another book by Jojo Moyes. That’s a feat if you ask me :) I could not wait though to do some looming again but it has to take a back seat in lieu of gardening.

How was your day? I am looking forward to what July has in store. I’ll be on my 5th year in remission by July 14th. Thank God for the gift of health. I bow my head for all these graces and blessings.

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