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Posts Tagged ‘guilty pleasures’


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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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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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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Yay, I didn’t take an afternoon shuteye just to finish  Letters from Skye.  It took me more than two days (on and off reading) to finish the book. Since  it was my first book of Jessica Brockmole, I really didn’t know what to expect, there is  nothing to compare it with previous books she has written . What a nice surprise because I enjoyed it. Pen pals, making friends through letters, finding love in an exchange of words  and thoughts – you would think it is an old-fashioned way to communicate, right? Compared to the modern way of communicating nowadays, you would even say it is boring but it’s 1912 and  1940 fused together and the historical aspect makes it more poignant because letters are the only means one could get through.

I could not remember reading a book without a dialogue except letters. It is an epistolary novel. It must be hard to write something like it without losing the plot of the story and getting the message across to the reader.  LettersThoughts of Mary Oliver’s writings entered my mind while reading it and I was hoping the author would give examples of what Elspeth Dunn wrote about, she was a poet and poets are dear to my heart. Come to think of it, I was tempted to jot down some quotes as I usually do with other books that I read but I didn’t want to lose the momentum, excited enough  on what the answer would be to the last mailed letter. Imagine the thrill and joy of receiving one, the anticipation of  knowing that there is something to look forward to. The story is common enough but the way it was told made it a fascinating read.  I would not attempt to make a real book review here with the story summarized in chronological order. Find it for yourself if you are also fond of writing and receiving letters.  Yes, there  are quotes that comes to mind.

“You’re my breath, my light, the one my heart flies towards.”

“A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.”

“… that a letter isn’t always just a letter. Words on page can drench the soul.”

It was worth the two cups of coffee I consumed just so I could finish the book. There is that feeling that reading a love story once in a while is  an afternoon delight.

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I was just but a kid when the Beatles came into the limelight, taking everyone by storm  and with their catchy brand of music that defined the 60′s. If you don’t belong to the age of the “baby boomers”  (Wikipedia defines them as those who were born between the years 1946 and 1964) you’re not probably familiar with the names John, Paul, George and Ringo but I doubt it,  even my twenty-nine year old son is familiar with their music.

Last night, I was searching for  the AM band that I regularly listen to every weekend but I could not find it so I switched to another station and found this sports channel playing, what else, The Beatles. They started on the first appearance of the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show, playing tracks that are now so familiar with most of us. It was in relation to the 50 years celebration of the group since they first set foot in the United States back in 1964.  It was a lovely four-hour of listening to several  of their well-loved songs, live recordings of their guesting at the show. Come to think of it, they are one of my favorite groups but I don’t have a single CD of their songs, I do have several back copies of Jingle Chordbook magazine though, where they were regularly featured. Maybe, in my entire life, they are the only group whose songs I know so much about, lyrics and all.  An artist friend who is a Beatles fan all these years named one of his sons John Paul George (I am not kidding) and  his nickname (yeah, you guessed it right) is of course Ringo.

I am looking forward to next Saturday’s feature -  their  love songs as a group and as individual artists. Of course, it is easier to catch them on YouTube but listening to them while you are relaxing is still the best way of appreciating their music. Don’t you just wish you could own this latest 13 CD Beatles collection? I wish :)

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Got this pic from Photobucket, a picture of John, Paul, George and Ringo.

I do remember watching their first movie A Hard Day’s Night with my nine-year old son two decades ago, a feature  in one of the newest television channels back then.  You can still catch it on YouTube. As with other groups that have disbanded for good, the Beatles will be remembered for their music.

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These,  I think, are lazy blogging days for me. For the past two days,  our “normal” weather is back and take that to mean that the cold days and colder nights are gone but PAGASA says, we will still experience the cold weather in a few days but not as temperate and balmy as the days we experienced back in January.  In the next two weeks, we’ll be experiencing  a high  31 °C and a low  22 °C.

I was again lucky to find another book by Catherine Cookson , my 7th read this year. I was impressed with her writing style in A Dinner Of  Herbs that I finished the whole book, all 725 pages of it in four days.  I love a bit of history and the 18th century England setting  was just perfect.  It was quite a surprise that I enjoyed the book immensely and when I looked at Goodreads, most readers marked it five stars.  I didn’t even know it was made into a series  until I read some  reviews so I got to watch a few  episodes on YouTube.  I know, some would say the book is always better than the  movie adaptation but  it is nice to recall the story while seeing the characters’ faces onscreen.  I wonder when the movie adaptation of The Book Thief  will be shown here. Some reviews say it’s  emotionally flat  and does not show justice to the beautiful book by Marcus Zusak.  I believe that every film adaptation on any well-loved book deserves some merits because it is completely different from the pages of the book.  I’ve read it twice, by the way and got to  appreciate it better the second time around.

Our street is showing a new look. I woke  up one morning several days ago and saw every light post decorated with red ribbons and rectangular red cloth crazily dancing in the wind.  Oh, they dressed them  for the V-day. Who celebrates Valentine’s day now?  Florist shops would make a  killing again with the costs of a few blooms thrice as much on a regular day.  I always smile every time I see someone wear a red shirt on Valentine’s Day. Why do you have to wait for Valentine’s day to show and reinforce that love?

Yes Virginia, there’s a St. Valentine and he is a patron of love, young people and happy marriages.

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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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Oh, the comfort – the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person – having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.”
-  Dinah Maria Mulock Craik

I’ve been a lazy bug lately. No, don’t get me wrong. I am just resting my weary body from fatigue. The last few days, I was so busy that I was not able to check my blog and post something.  Finally, I found time to sit here for a while  and update my blog. When you haven’t been blogging for a week, it seems as if you’re starting all over again.

It’s all worth it though because our little potluck  lunch party was a success – lots of food, laughter and sharing. Those precious and priceless moments that only friends can enjoy together, something worth-reminiscing and the thought of it makes me smile.  We were joined by two priest friends, Fr. Tacky, a Franciscan and Fr. Boy, a Dominican. Not that it matters that they belong to different congregations because  they both studied in Rome and met there.  We took lots of pictures of course, what’s a party without those wacky poses and shots that make us laugh. We even have to use a tripod so we could all fit into the frame. There is this picture window  at our house that never fails to attract our friends and visitors to have their pictures taken there. Believe me, it has become some sort of trademark for the members  of our Catholic community  who drop by when they are on vacation.

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We had an exchange of gifts just for fun. Imagine the laughter we had when we simultaneously opened them and found things like a roll of tissue paper which Darlene said she will take with her on her trip back to Abu Dhabi, a small bottle of efficascent oil from Reena  which Matt got, packs of marshmallows  and so many more. What do you think, the gift should only be worth P30 and what can you buy with P30?  Reymon, aside from bringing three whole roast chicken gave us individual bags of gifts from Bench.

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They were surprised to learn that eating green mango with the skin on is the best way to eat one. I asked Joan to bring me some and when they saw me eating a slice, they all tried it  except Matt :)  Endless laughter!

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We can’t get enough so the party extended on to early dinner with ice cream, Fuji apples  and suman na pinipig (the best  suman I’ve tasted) for desserts. And they all said, “sa uulitin”.  Until next time guys.

One of the best gifts that we could ever have is the gift of friendship.

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Sometimes, you meet people who leaves a nice impression long after they are gone (just a brief encounter)  and you smile at the thought that just by  greeting  each other, it gives a nice feeling of joy.

Yesterday, Josef and I were seated at the second front pew of the church and beside us were a foreign-looking kid and  probably his grandma who smiled at us when the priest said, “Let’s greet each other good morning”.  The kid looked at us long and hard and said in perfect Tagalog  with the right accent and intonation, “Magandang umaga po”.  I smiled, how polite he was.  He sang with us and actively participated in the mass. Even when the priest delivered his homily, he listened intently.  During the communion, he asked my son Josef, “Anong pangalan mo kuya?”. I asked his name in return and he said, “Adam”.  I was curious so I further asked, “How old are you?” and he answered “Twelve”.

A boy of twelve and he knows how to carry a conversation. I was impressed. When we left the church, he said goodbye to us and smiled again.  Maybe, when Nate grows older, we’d talk about things and such and I would be the happiest Nonna in the world.

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Yesterday has  been a busy day for me,  from sunrise to sunset (literally).  Some friends are coming over in a week and I have to do a bit of general cleaning and check grocery supplies that I will use for our get-together. I am excited since it’s been more than a year since I saw some of them. Who says working at home is easier than an office job is exaggerating. I would exchange my slippers, garden hose and brooms for a day  with a corporate attire complete with lunch at a  nice but affordable restaurant, catch and exchange news with former office mates instead of listening to the radio all day long while doing household chores.  One thing that I get to appreciate though is having my afternoon nap,  try to catch up on reading a chapter or two  then off to dreamland for at least an hour.

I promised myself I would jot down the titles of   all the books I plan to read this year and count how many books I could manage to get hold of but rereading some verses from a favorite book of poems does not count of course. And I thought of challenging myself (for the second time) to post once a day here. The question is, would I be able to do it again? Sometimes, it’s not the lack of what to write about  but how to go about catching one reader’s eyes to read my  post till the end.  I’ve seen plenty of quotes about 2014 saying that the days are like blank pages of a book that you need to fill up with your experiences, angst even and happy moments that you want to remember.  I’d rather dwell on the positive side because I want the rest of the year to be stress-free at least.

New hope. New Beginnings. New Dreams To Uphold. I’ve never been good  at keeping new year’s resolutions because I don’t make a list in the first place. I’d rather call them goals that one needs to reach and no matter how simple they are, it would be nice if at the end of the year, you’ve fulfilled some promises to yourself.  The “me” times are just as important as having occasional chats with online friends or having a laugh over at Skype with a long-lost friend or relative.  Noel, my youngest brother who is based in Tulsa is my regular caller on Skype. We would always talk about the kids and how life is away from one’s homeland, reminiscing the days when we were kids and marveling how happy we were despite the simplicity of life back then.  We would touch on Philippine cuisine and recipes that he miss because Asian stores in their area don’t sell all the ingredients that he needs. We would laugh at some remembered  jokes that  made childhood memories something to treasure always.

On new year’s day, I took  shot of some blooms growing in the garden. It’s something that would remind me of January 01, 2014.

IMG_5547Can you see the bud of this Mokara Orchid  showing its face?

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And when it is in full bloom, it would look like this.

IMG_5551This is my variegated Aglaonema. A few months ago, the main plant died on me but I was surprised  to see this new bloom days after.

IMG_5550I’ve never been successful in propagating Crossandra from seeds. They’re now sprouting everywhere, randomly showing lovely orange blooms alongside my other plants.

There is a cold wind blowing outside and another cup of hot, hot coffee would surely be welcome. Here’s another promise I made myself starting this year, I would always appreciate what life has in store for me, no matter how painful some days may bring.

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