Friday, 8 February 2019

In Search For My Next Big Thing

"Mom, what are you doing now, aside from crocheting?", my son asked while we were having brunch during the Christmas season.  At first, I couldn't answer, I was at a loss because  I wanted to tell him I'm doing something big, interesting and productive but there was none, at least that's what I thought then. 

I can understand why my son asked because he knows that his Dad and I always have "things to do".  Just like our two daughters, he is encouraging and supportive of our interest because they want us to enjoy our lives.  My son always read my blogs and gives positive feedback  in spite the  of hundreds of emails he reads and responds to everyday at work.

Since we sold the convenience store, I have been soul searching for something to do but it only gave me blank boards. 

However, after talking to my younger daughter the last time she was in town, she said that I don't need to do something big for a start.  "For instance, start to focus more on your health and do related activities.  There are many little things you can do, it need not be big and spectacular". 

You see, my idea of something-to-do should be financially productive.  Since I got married, I always pulled my weight in that department that's why I've always geared my activities towards an earning venture, something I always enjoyed doing.  But my daughter enlightened me that it doesn't always be so. 

Therefore, as I start this year on my 8th decade, I'll keep an open mind,  ready for my next big thing. In the meantime,  I aim to celebrate my life in good health, joy, love and peace.

Saturday, 15 December 2018



Last week, I decided to crochet again, a  hobby I learned from my Mama.  My fingers were itching to do both the  pansy and the grape doilies, two of my favorites.

I just finished these two, the grape and pansy doilies.  My Mama must be smiling down from heaven seeing me pick up this craft again.

I have been looking for the catalogue of patterns Mama left me that I kept all these years.  I know I had it somewhere.  It is old but so precious because from it I was able to master following written crochet instructions. 

I cant crochet without written instructions, while some people can't follow crochet instructions, I'm not one who looks at a finished product, count how many chains, single crochet, double crochet, treble, popcorn and  picot stitches there are and imitate. 

I did not despair when I couldn't find my catalogue because in this time and age I can google.  If I were in this predicament in my Mama's  time, I would be desperate by now.  

So I decided to look up my favorite doilies on line.  I got lucky that  among the numerous doily patterns,  I was able to find those that I love most. 

Going through the doily images was like going down memory lane; seeing familiar doilies and table runners exactly like those that my Mama and I made awakened cherished childhood memories.  On line, most of the patterns were classified as vintage, some were still in black and white pictures,  but I'd like to think about them as classics. 

Memories of those happy times with my Mama, my aunt Nenet and I crocheting came back to me.  I recall afternoons sitting at our terrace, the radio tuned in to DZRH, the station that played music the whole day, while we crocheted away. 

That's also where we listened and sang along the latest hits.  As we listened, our pencil and the unfinished draft of the lyrics of our favorites were on the ready to write down and/or fill-in the gaps to complete the song; though we could have waited for the song hits pamphlet that comes out weekly to look up the lyrics.  

We looked forward to a program, second guessing which of the songs made it to the ten top hits of the week.  Those were the times of Ricky Nelson, Paul Anka and Neil Sedaka.

In later years of high school and college,  I did a lot of crocheting.  I sold doilies, table runners, shawls, cardigans, pot holders, coasters, and even bed covers, anything that people ordered from me.   I recall one Christmas break in college, I had to do marathon crocheting to complete an order of a queen-size bed cover.  

I never lost interest in the craft having crocheted on and off in the intervening years that I still have some colored thread in my stash. When I thought I'd crochet again, I brought them out and saw I had white thread, pink and yellow so I started to make the flowers for the pansy doily. 

Since I love the grape as well, I had to go down to One Stop Shop for the violet and deep lavender thread.  Below are pictures in completing the grape doily.

Getting there

Almost done. Just one more leaf

Below are a few pics of doilies I copied on line with their instructions plus others. I Intend to make them all.

Rose doily that I started to make. 

I'm making the flowers now. 

Dafodil doily

Tulip doily

The rest are aster, petunia , holly, pond lily, edelweiss, blue bell and many more.

Earlier, I thought I'll make some for Christmas gifts but now I want a collection first, who knows where this will lead me.  Besides, I enjoy making them and you know what, I need the radio playing while I crochet. 

Wednesday, 17 October 2018


I thought I'd combine pumpkin, moringa and carrot and cook these two ways.  The crunchy veggie patty and veggie roll;  "ukoy"  and pritong lumpia respectively to us Pinoys. 

Preparation of Ukoy.
Mix half of following ingredients: 

 Grated pumpkin ( kalabasa)

Grated Carrots

Moringa leaves, sun dried half a day to remove bitter taste

 Chopped spring onions and celery leaves

Pre-sautéed minced pork 

Add to the mixture a tsp of cooking wine, egg, corn starch, salt and pepper and form that into patties and fry.   It would have been great if I had baby shrimps to top the ukoy but since this is a spur-of-the-moment decision, I had to make do with what I had in my ref. 

Preparation of veggie roll: 
In a tablespoon of oil sautee the other half of the veggies, add a reasonable amount of the pre-sautéed minced pork and season with salt and pepper.  Let it cool awhile and wrap into a roll and deep fry.

I was walking with a neighbor this morning and we got into talking about the challenges of cooking for two especially the idea of avoiding leftovers.  Oftentimes it is a trial and error to cook just enough, I don't want to be short also. Rewind 5 to 10 years when veggies were still so affordable, I used to buy a lot and cook a lot too.  

Recently however, veggies are putting more dent in our marketing budget that to be practical, I now count the number of string beans, pieces of eggplants, miniature bitter gourd, bunches of leaves, etc. I will need for the week. Veggies wilt, you know. 

We are lucky that Jim's backyard okra plants give us around  6-8 pieces daily.  "Why, that's great", my neighbor replied. It is really great since oftentimes okra at the market are no longer tender.  This was when she told me that she makes veggie patty with moringa leaves, pumpkin and egg.  

I thought I'd try her idea two ways.  Hence the ukoy and the "fritong lumpia". 

Sunday, 14 October 2018

I Made Dried Banana Blossoms

Do you use dried banana blossom?  I always do for adobo, braised beef, Pata Tim,  arroz caldo and all other congee.  

I often sauté banana heart in salt and vinegar with a little sugar and pepper; actually it's like pickled banana heart.  This is a great appetizer and my sister's favorite.  When she visits, I always serve this for any meal. 

But I have to remove a lot of the outer covering and only use the inner tender portion and end up throwing away the outer blossoms as shown below:

These are what I usually throw away.  

When we harvested two banana hearts last week, I thought I would not waste the outer blossoms.

I need to remove the plastic looking part in each blossom as well as the part looking like a match stick as shown 

Once this is done, the blossoms are blanched for 20 minutes in water with a tablespoon of salt.

Once drained, I made a mixture of equal parts of soy and sugar 

I soaked the blossoms in a soy and sugar mixture overnight.  

I drained again and sun dried. 

 I placed these in ziplock in the refrigerator and these will last for a long time for future use. 

Thursday, 11 October 2018


                                  Fresh moringa leaves with their stems

I've been liquefying fresh moringa leaves with a banana for my evening shake.  However it is so much of a hassle to put a handful of leaves, liquify that with a banana.  Moreover, it has a slightly bitter aftertaste. 

I've been drinking matcha green tea with low fat milk for a long time now and I thought converting the moringa into powder would work as well.  So I thought of making the leaves into powder 

There are several suggested ways to pulverize but I chose a less complicated way, tweaking the procedure some. 

Leaves removed from the stems 

In a covered tray, I sun-dried the leaves for three days. 

Notice the difference from the fresh ones.  The dried ones  look toasted, and they crackle when moved about..

I used my coffee bean grinder to pulverize the dried leaves, 2-4 handful at a time.

This is how it looks after 20-25 pulse-grind 

I placed the powder in a sealed container. 

My shake recipe: two ways

In a cup of low fat liquid milk, I add a heaping teaspoon of the powder and shake well to incorporate the powder to the milk, yum! 


I liquify 1 big lacatan banana and add one tablespoon of the powder and half a glass of water. Also yummy. 

I noticed that the shake has a slightly toasted taste sans the bitter taste of the fresh leaves.  I conclude the powder is better. 

I suggest you google the health benefits of  this superfood and I'm sure that you will be interested. 

Sunday, 30 September 2018


How long do you hope to live?  Do you want to live beyond a hundred?

This book says it is possible.  It says that statistics claim that the average life span of Americans today is 94, but scientific and medical research  show that it is possible to live up to age 120.  

I'm so happy that I attended this  interesting seminar yesterday at one of my favorite places, The Artists Gallery. 

I love to go there often to visit Cynthia, the owner, who became my good friend after I organized my sister's milestone birthday party last year. Cynthia turned her beautiful house into a gallery and it became an interesting event venue.  It is big enough to accommodate 140  guests but she has dividing doors to isolate an art class, give privacy to a family dinner or a business meeting, and even a ladies' tea party or a seminar like the one we had yesterday. 

Cynthia's sister, Fatima Bustos-Choy MD, now based in the US  unselfishly gave this free seminar for 30 people along with a very generous merienda. A delicious spread was set up at the dinning room.  There were salad greens, tasty noodles, dainty tea sandwiches, finger foods and various sinfully-delicious sugar-filled but irresitibly tempting desserts. 

In the above picture on the left is my friend, Nitz with Dr. Fatima between us. 

Nitz and I were greatly inspired by the insights shared by Dr. Fatima lifted from the book of a Korean bestselling author and one of the most renowned meditation teachers of our time: 
ILCHI LEE.   I am just starting to read this book and the 6-paged introduction alone already inspired me and got me all excited. 

I can easily relate with Ilchi Lee's book especially after reading another book of basically similar topic. 

The  100 Year Lifestyle book is by Dr. Eric Plasker, an internationally acclaimed wellness expert and a renowned chiropractic Doctor. 

My younger daughter who is into wellness, meditation and such and has been practicing yoga for years believe that many books has been written about the subject and they say basically the same things only in varying  styles.  I started reading  "Ageless Body, Timeless Mind"  by Deepak Chopra sometime ago but it is quite heavy for me to absorb easily so I'm taking it slowly.

I was telling myself that this seminar couldn't have been given at a better time than now.  Recently, we sold our 31-year-old convenience store.   I have been managing it while I was employed full time.  When I retired in 2005, I was glad I had the store to focus on and to exercise my management skills.  

For the past two months after parting with the store, I felt like I was hibernating in spite my attempt to keep myself busy fixing things around our home.   I'm also gardening along with Jim for a more productive edible backyard garden.  Most importantly, I've been soul searching for activities to make my life more fulfilling and purposeful.  

When our son FaceTime on weekends, he would ask what's keeping us busy.  Likewise I heard that my younger daughter is checking out from her older sister who lives in town about my current pre-occupation.  I guess our children are so used to seeing Jim and I always pre-occupied.  I know they want us to be happy.   Now I wonder, are they worried that we are already slowing down? 

At the seminar we were asked to look back to the first half of our  lives and to recall the challenges and struggles in the pursuit of our ambitions.  Ultimately it was said that the first part of life is mostly defined as the time spent in search for success, something people in general perceive as a prerequisite for social acceptance.  That's the reason it seemed so important during that period. 

What then shall we live for in the second half? 

What can we look forward to?  Shall we just sit back on our rocking chairs or in front of the TV and relax?  If we have the means, shall we keep on traveling in the hope that fulfillment maybe found somewhere away from home?   Shall we stop competing, just take it easy, go with the flow and let circumstances take over our lives?  

The book says, we need a plan, make an outline if we must, for the remaining years and decades.  It is also important to make up our minds how long we intend to live. 

It is a well-known fact that in this day and age people live longer than in their parents'  time.  This book says that in Japan where people are known to live the longest formulated a method by multiplying our current age by 0.7 to determine the age we actually feel physically and mentally.  I'm 73 now; if I multiply that by 0.7, I should be feeling and thinking like I'm only 51.  Interesting, right?  How do seniors feel about this?  To find out more about it, I think I have to check out how people really think and feel in their early fifties. 

Going back to the decision about how long we want to live,  I feel that this should be based on how we want to live, and what we want to live for.  I hope that my life plan will dawn on me after I finish the book.   Moreover, I need to line up goals that I still hope to accomplish; family milestones that I hope to be part of in the near and distant future; including other major considerations that I still couldn't put my finger on at this point. 

One thing is for sure though, regardless how long I intend to live, I want to look forward to a life of optimism, "in health and happiness, feeling that life is fun and rewarding".  

Saturday, 8 September 2018


I've been making meatloaf in forever using a loaf pan.  When I saw this idea on Facebook, I felt I've got to try it.  So I prepared it for our Friday dinner with my daughter and granddaughter following the suggested recipe and not my tried and tested meatloaf recipe. 

This is the meat mixture with egg, carrots, celery stalk, Parmesan,  bread crumbs and seasonings. 

I made big balls and dropped them on muffin pans lined with paper.  Popped them in the oven at 350 for 40 minutes. 

Baking doesn't complete the job though, this is not yet the finished product.  It should look like a real dressed -up cupcake. 

Here they are  with mash potatoes topping.  I'm not great in putting on icing that they're really not looking that great like a cupcake should be.

"What's for dinner, Nana?", my granddaughter asked.
"Cupcake meatloaf", I replied. 

Interesting but it was not quite popular.  I learned my granddaughter doesn't eat meatloaf, though she ate one.   Moreover, when my daughter cooks at home, she fries the slices like any meatloaf, homemade or otherwise.  But to be fair, they taste good as well and so not a flop afterall. 

Well, they're not really looking nice like all cupcakes do.   "Better luck next time", they all say, but there won't be a next time, promise!  Well not cupcake meatloaf anyway.  Im going back to my traditional meatloaf method and recipe.