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Archive for the ‘guilty pleasures’ Category


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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The monsoon  rains woke me up. For some strange reasons, I could not sleep last night and here I am, wide awake after just a few hours of sleep. The past week has been a little busy, busier than most actually but at least our little garden is looking like a proper garden now. Except for the vacant space outside our fence which still needs to be cleaned of growing weeds and whatnot, our carabao grass is now properly trimmed, my lone gardenia shrub has been deadheaded of dried flowers that sprouted the previous month.  I repositioned some of my Amazon lilies in a partly shaded area under our two lime trees.  Such is the backbreaking job of a gardener but a fulfilling one too.

As usual, I’ve been able to catch up on my ever-growing fascination for making bracelets out of loom bands. A friend asked what will I do will all those colorful bracelets. Well, I enjoy looking at them in the first place and son says, it is really a good way to unwind. True, sometimes though, the design is a little complicated, you miss something in between and you have to repeat it all over again. Another friend said she enjoys looking at the colorful bracelets that I post on my timeline and she even suggested that I buy my supplies near their place where the loom bands are cheaper than buying them in malls. Why not, it is just a 15-minute jeepney ride from our place.

Last Sunday, I had a chance to talk to my grandson over the phone and I say, time flies, really! He can clearly utter, “Hi Nonna” now. He has learned so many words since the last time we saw him. I am impressed with Nissa’s desire to teach him  everything. At eighteen months, he already knows a lot which reminds me, they went out to dinner last Sunday and Nissa sent me some pictures of Nate and another boy, a little older maybe, hugging  each other. Long lost friends? Nah, they were just at the next table where my son-in law, Nissa and Nate dined. Children have that natural inclination to be affectionate. Nate has the habit too of waving his hands at the wait staff of any food establishment that they go to.

The joys of everyday things.

The joys of everyday things.

It’s a glorious morning, the sun is up and my plants are happy  being drenched early from the rain. Hooray, this is my 1,450th post.

 

 

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You always get that nice smile on your face once you see a lovely surprise in your garden. I love flowers, they have that allure and beauty that are pure delight to the senses. There was a time when I used to document every lovely bloom in my garden and ambitiously thought of researching their growth patterns, what time of the year they usually show their faces but then being busy with everyday life sometimes keep one from doing just what you want to do. It is more of doing what you need to do.

This morning, I was watering the plants when I saw these lovely blooms growing side by side with my cacti plants. It hasn’t rained in our neck of the woods for quite sometime now although every afternoon, you’ll hear thunder when the sky gets dark. Rain lilies usually grow during the summer months when there is an occasional rain. Rain lilies belong to the hybrid Zephyranthes and this particular variety is called Zepherantes Beni Tama,  a Japanese rain lily hybrid. The small clumps of bright pink, goblet shaped flowers have prominent  yellow stamens at the center. They grow in full sun. I fell in love with these flowers when I saw them at a garden center in a large pot  with pink flowers in almost every tip of the slender leaves.

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Even my Mokara orchids are blooming non-stop. I saw several buds in different branches early this morning.  It makes me remember another quote from Emerson, “Flowers are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty outvalues all the utilities of the world”.  When life seems a  little hard to bear,  a garden is an Eden where peace, delight and peace reign.

Zephyranthes ‘Beni Tama’,
Zephyranthes
Zephyranthes

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The box is labeled 8 and up. So I say I am 8 going 50 plus plus.

Josef bought this for me yesterday from Toys Are Us. We saw it when we had lunch on Mother’s Day and I told him, “I wonder if I could make something like that” and he said, “If an eight-year old can do it, why can’t you?” But then it is so pricey for a DIY starter kit. I had fun sorting the colors last night and starting on my first Rainbow Loom bracelet.

I was pleasantly surprised when he came home with this lovely box and he said it is for me.  Hey, anyone could start another craft which is, I understand, the craze for the last few months. I told him it looks complicated but when I read the manual, one can visit YouTube and take it from there.  We spent the night sorting the different colors included in the kit and attempted my first fishtail bracelet using the enclosed shorter hook.  A perfect stress buster if you ask me.

The starter kit is priced at P987.75

The starter kit is priced at P987.75

Rainbow Loom was created by Cheong Choon Ng, a Malaysian immigrant of Chinese descent who came to the United States in 1991.

Rainbow Loom was created by Cheong Choon Ng, a Malaysian immigrant of Chinese descent who came to the United States in 1991.

Always look for the embossed loom and hook. There are so many imitations in the market.

Always look for the embossed loom and hook. There are so many imitations in the market.

Our first projects - two fishtail bracelets and a single band done in one color.

Our first projects – two fishtail bracelets and a single band done in one color.

Try it for size - that's Josef's arm...hahaha!

Try it for size – that’s Josef’s arm…hahaha!

Josef bought an additional plastic pack of rubber bands  in purple color. My daughter is a purple girl – she loves everything purple. I showed her what we did last night and she said she is excited to try to make one.

 

 

 

 

 

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The family  celebrated Mother’s Day today, a day earlier than May 11. We decided to meet at SM Megamall for lunch. Another day worth-remembering. One thing that highlights  the day is of course Nate’s presence. The moment he saw us, he let his dad undo the strap of  his stroller and let Josef carry him along. There is a special affinity between the “magninong” (that’s a Tagalog word for godparent) even if they don’t see each other often.  He can pronounce Nonna clearly now and I was so glad when he took my hand and planted a loud kiss on my face.  Nissa said he learned new words in the three weeks that I haven’t seen him.

We opted to dine at the newly opened wing of SM  Megamall. The Mega Fashion Hall  is the new high-end extension of the mall. It houses several restaurants and other international clothing brands. The set-up is somehow similar to the Ayala Malls. Aside from the more popular Vikings, there is another branch of  Lugang Café where we took our lunch. So it’s Chinese food for lunch. I took some shots but mostly of Nate banging a spoon and fork on the table and playing with the plastic green cup which they provided for him along with a green plastic plate and bowl. I had a good time watching him eat what was served on the table. He loved the Fried Beef Noodles and Fried Rice.

He was behaved...at first but he clearly knows when to stop and say sorry to Mom and Dad.

He was behaved…at first but he clearly knows when to stop and say sorry to Mom and Dad.

Mother and daughter team.

Mother and daughter team.

Three generations of Abuel.

Three generations of Abuel.

Nothing is more important than having the family around.

Nothing is more important than having the family around.

Busog na baby? Our little man!

Busog na baby? Our little man!

That's his way of saying,  "I'm full, it's your turn to eat Dad".

That’s his way of saying, “I’m full, it’s your turn to eat Dad”.

I love the Garlic Pork Roll and Steamed Fish Fillet. No room for dessert...

I love the Garlic Pork Roll and Steamed Fish Fillet. No room for dessert…

He is probably looking forward to going swimming tomorrow  with his Dad’s side of the family. Enjoy Nate  but be careful with the sun. I know how much you love to paddle your feet and splash water with your hands.  Until we see each other again.

(Note: This is my 1,440th post…can’t believe it)

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It’s been a while and I felt quite lazy to sit in front of the computer and blog. This afternoon, I experimented on another dessert recipe culled from the net. I was looking for a simple recipe for chocolate brownies, something easy to do with a minimum of preparation and found this. As usual, I tweaked it a bit adding grated Belgian chocolate truffles on top instead of frosting.  My son was all praise for it and said it taste more like a chocolate cake than a simple brownie mix. I smiled and said, “the one on top makes it so yummy” plus the unsweetened dark chocolate I used.

Yeay, it's so yummy!

Yeay, it’s so yummy!

Look at how it looked when I finished baking it and topping it with truffles.

brownies

Here’s the recipe if you want to try it. You can double the amount of ingredients if you want a thicker slice.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter

1 cup  white sugar (since I used unsweetened chocolate, this is just enough)

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking powder

Frosting:

3 tbsp. butter

3 tbsp. cocoa powder

1 tbsp. honey

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease and flour an 8-square inch baking pan. (I just greased it).

In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter, remove from heat and stir in sugar,  eggs and 1 tsp. vanilla extract. Beat in 1/3 cup cocoa powder, salt, 1/2 cup flour and baking powder. You don’t need to use a mixer, a spoon will do. Spread batter into prepared pan.

Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes.  Garnish with grated chocolate truffles while still hot. Slice into squares when it is cool to the touch.

 

 

 

 

 

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“You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces — just good food from fresh ingredients.”~ Julia Child

One of best  volumes I’ve seen in cooking are that of Julia Child’s  Mastering the Art of  French Cooking. They’re available at Bestsellers. They come in four volumes actually but they cost the earth so I just look at the spines and indexes  and try to memorize some simple recipes  that don’t need  complicated ingredients.

We have some left-over food from yesterday and some ripe mangoes from the other Sunday that a friend gave us. I thought of  making mango bread and found this site on how to make a simple one.  The procedures are almost the same as making banana cake. Gosh, I burned my finger trying to take it out from the oven. I love the heavenly aroma of combined cinnamon and fresh mangoes.  There is something  so comforting about measuring ingredients, sifting the flour, mixing and such.  So here it is,  my yummy version of mango bread. Can you imagine a mango bread topped with grated Belgian chocolate truffles? Another friend who was on  vacation from Canada gave me a box of these sinfully addicting  chocolates together with some mint candies wrapped in dark chocolates.

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I can proudly say, it  is really, really yummy. Here’s the recipe if you want to try it copied from  kitchenrunway.com.

Ingredients:

  • 2 C All Purpose Flour
  • 2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 C Sugar
  • 2 tsp Cinnamon powder
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • ½ C Regular Butter, melted
  • ¼ C Oil
  • 2 Ripe Mangoes, finely chopped (or chunks if you prefer) I used 3 medium-sized ripe mangoes, coarsely chopped

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 180 ° C
  • Sift flour into a large bowl.  Add baking soda, sugar and cinnamon and stir the dry ingredients to combine.
  • In a medium bowl, beat eggs, add vanilla extract, melted butter and oil.  Combine the ingredients and add to dry ingredients.
  • Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon stir to combine the wet and dry ingredients.  Fold in the  chopped mangoes.
  • Pour batter into a greased loaf pan and bake for 55 – 60 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  • Let cool in pan for 10 minutes.  Remove bread from pan and let cool before slicing.

 

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I was watering the plants early this morning when I noticed this single lovely bloom of our gardenia shrub. Pleasant surprises await when you least expect them. It’s only the middle of April and gardenias usually give that lovely scent during the months of  May to June.  I remember three years ago when this same gardenia shrub surprised us with a bird’s nest with three eggs right in the middle of Holy Week. It’s really amazing when you find something like this. I took a photo to remind me yet again the wonder of nature and the gifts it brings.

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Gardenia is one of my favorite flowers. As I have mentioned in my previous blogs, it reminds me of the times when we used to grow them in our old house in the province.  We had so many shrubs in front of the house so you can just imagine the intoxicating scents they have when they are in bloom.  It also reminds me of the times that mom used to grow flowers in pots in every window of our old house. We used to have this what we call barandillas  and they were full of flowering things like Hoya orchids, hydrangea, different colors of Bougainvillea and every flowering plant that I could think of.  Summer  brings back those memories.  I love summer and the different colors it brings to my small garden. Here are a few shots I took this morning.

a hodgepodge of flowering plants from crossadra to lilies

a hodgepodge of flowering plants from crossandra to lilies

 

bleeding hearts

bleeding hearts

shrimp plants, some call them golden candles

shrimp plants, some call them golden candles

bromeliad

bromeliad

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

begonia blooms

begonia blooms

 

who do i always forget the name of these flowers. i only planted them once but they bloom every year.

why do i always forget the name of these flowers. i only planted them once but they bloom every year.

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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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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.

coloring books

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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