Come Undone

Come Undone is a poem for the lost and lonely.

Lurking in the darkness
With a reckoning slither
The hideous reflection
Unmasking a soul.

Is there not beauty?
For what eyes can see
Deep into the shadows
In a vale of misery.

How can it be
When in murky alleys
Even in filthy dead-ends
Is a wee dose of living.

In a sudden ray of flicker
Its breath in sillhouette
As a glow of warmth
Slowly dries up the damp.

See them all around
From the drumbeat within
Be gone what is done
Blown away, come undone.

 

photo credit: DeeAshley Scatter Brained and Broad Minded via photopin (license)

The Value of the Old Typewriter

The Manual Typewriter, A thing of the past

Old typewriter
My Dad’s Old Typewriter

My father owned an old Olympia, a German-made typewriter. It now sits on top of an old steel cabinet, rusty and dusty. I have been thinking of cleaning it and see if I could condition it to work. Maybe I would get to that sometime. (For more info on how a manual typewriter works, check this out ( http://www.explainthatstuff.com/typewriter.html )

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I have not tried yet to look for the serial number and the date it was made. It would surely take some thorough cleaning to find them. Nonetheless, I do not think it can be considered as a collector’s item. Of course those made the earliest would undoubtedly interest typewriter collectors. But, even so, I did a quick research on these finger-powered mechanical machines to learn some things. The most collectible and rare are the Underwood No. 5 and the Royal Grand, as they are among the early ones. Writers and journalists preferred the Grand, from what I have read. And my Dad’s Olympia is just as old I am, though I do not look as rusty and beaten!

My Dad

I remember those fingers touching and hitting the keys, strong and determined. The rhythm of those typing sounds, click-clack, click-clack, still lingers in my ears. I do not really think it made a click-clack sound though. Just the closest I could think of. It makes my lips twitch remembering those distinct sounds the manual typewriter made. A little bell sound when the carriage reached the end of the line, a zipper zipping-like sound when rolling the platen knob to feed or remove the paper. Or the zing it made when pushing the return lever. I can still remember a lot of tiny details connected to the typewriter. But I remember more of the big one, that of the man who sat by it.

My dad was not one who uses all ten fingers when typing. I think he only used three on each hand. He did not type fast, mainly because he did not like to make errors. Same thing when writing down on paper, he wrote every letter in cursive with very careful strokes.

Father had a flair for speaking Spanish as well an excellent command of English. He had a great talent for writing essays, speeches and poems and he could easily spot misspellings, incorrect grammar and syntax. He was a family man, a lawyer and a public servant . And being such the last two, his Olympia had unarguably withstood the test of time surviving documents, school projects, and even my mom’s school paperworks. In the village where I grew up, Father was among the only few who owned a manual typewriter. Understandably, when neighbors or friends needed some typewriting done, they would come to our place and ask if they could use it.

The clunky typewriter used to sit on its metal table with folding sides. This typewriter table had little wheels that made creaking sounds when rolled down the wooden floor. I have a vivid recollection of my father moving and positioning it to wherever he found it comfortable working. Sometimes, in the middle of typing, he would take a break but not without putting down the paper bail first. He wanted to make sure the papers he was typing on would still be in the same exact position. I should know because I had been in the same frustrating situation where I would get back to my typing and found out that the letters had jumped to a different line. Even the slightest movement would cause that.

The Legacy20170312_094001

Moving forward, I can not help but think of what we have today, the digital edge. I also think about what my dad would have thought of smartphones, tablets and computers. He passed away three months after his 65th birthday, in 2000, when most of the people in my community did not have much access to the world wide web yet. How I wish he were still around to witness how new technologies are shaping the world now. It would have been fun to see him touch-swipe screen, browsing the web and reading the world news. He liked to read anything that would stimulate his intellect. New inventions, as simple and small as a solar powered flashlight would have amazed him. He would have been excited to try new things.

Would he have switched to encode on a computer and print? Perhaps he would have, but I am certain he still would have kept the old typewriter by his side. It had always been a part of him like it has been of me.

So no, I am not selling my dad’s Olympia, even if its worth would be so much more than the Grand’s. Its value is priceless. This old typewriter is not just a family remembrance of my dad. The legacy is far beyond what is tangible, beyond all the words this typewriter had ever produced.

The mere sight of it makes me think of the things that mattered to my father. Like how writing meant so much to him. It serves as a constant reminder for me to pursue my passion, and to at least try to aim for perfection. And now I think of my own writing, my posts, my forever attempt at blogging. I knew mine is a far cry from his, with all the flaws which I may have never even noticed. But if only Dad were here now reading what I am writing, I am most certain I would see him with a very approving smile.

Read more:

Writing It Easy, Feeling Heavy

 

Sauteed Okra with Pork

Here’s a quick, easy and healthy okra recipe from my own kitchen.

Okra, commonly known as lady fingers to many English-speaking countries, is a rich source of dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals. In addition, it is also loaded with antioxidants and believed to lower blood sugar and cholesterol. It grows in warm climate regions like in the Philippines.

I am one of those who grew up eating and liking okra. I knew that some found this vegetable intimidating because of its sliminess. Once cut, it releases a slimy juice which others found unappealing before they even tried it cooked. I like my okra boiled a little until it gets tender but not mushy. Another way is when cooking rice, placed on top to steam when rice is almost done. Okra sauteed in tomatoes is also one of my favorites. The tomatoes’ own juice blends well with the okra slime, giving the dish a rich and thick taste. It also turns the dish naturally saucy.

Here’s a simple sauteed okra with pork recipe that my seven year old daughter Innah likes. Note that pork is optional. You can cook it plain, or even add or substitute it with shrimps for a richer taste.

Quick, easy and healthy okra recipe
Innah’s favorite okra dish

250 gms okra sliced diagonally
100gms lean pork strips, marinated in 2 tbsp soy sauce
1 medium onion
1 clove minced garlic
2 medium tomatoes
1 red bell pepper, julienne cut
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 cup water
Fish sauce or salt to taste

In a pan, saute onion, garlic and tomatoes. Add the marinated pork strips. Cover pan and cook over low heat for 5 minutes or until pork is cooked. Add the okra, bellpeppers, and season with oyster sauce and fishsauce or salt to taste. Pour in water and let simmer for another 5 minutes or until okra is tender but not overcooked.

Serve over steamed white rice.

Sauteed Okra with Pork served over steamed white rice
Okra served on top of steamed white rice

Cooking time: 15-20 minutes.

Enjoy your meal!

How do you cook okra?

Rain In My Heart

No more tears to spare
Yet the pain lives
Like the stubborn weed
Taking in, all the life it brings.

I hear the sound it makes
From within so deep
Not the drizzle on tin roofs
Nor the faint trickle down its roots.

Cold as white pebbles
As white sands turned grey
When damp and wet they are
Waiting for the moment to subside
Dry but warm, not all hopes gone.

I am past asking why
Regrets I have none, a grateful one
Still holding onto my light,
As strong and ever so bright
Even when it is raining in my heart.

 

photo credit: jenny downing blades of chaos via photopin (license)

10 Practical Tips to Manage Stress


Stress is one of the most inevitable things that could happen at any point in our lives. How we avoid it or cope with it depends solely on our attitude and the actions we take to get things back into balance. Here are some practical guides to deal with it.

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Stress

1. Identify the stressor.

Major life events, work-related and financial problems are just a few of the many causes of stress. Once you knew the roots, do not just mope around. Start by making an action plan.

2. Know your limits.

Take a break if you feel you need to. Sometimes we need to go easy on ourselves. Everyone makes mistakes but not everyone can fix them. Blaming yourself or others will not change anything. When things are getting out of control, do not try to be a superhero and try to change the situation. Let them unfold on their own.

3. Eat the right kind of food.

We need all the energy we could have to stay focused. Having a balanced diet and a well nourished body is crucial to keep both our body and spirit going. Avoid fatty foods and cut back on caffeine and sugar. Stick to antioxidants that boost the immune system like fruits and vegetables and carbs which help the brain produce more serotonin. Serotonin is the hormone that relaxes us. For more info on how to eat right to reduce stress, check this out! http://www.pcrm.org/health/health-topics/how-to-eat-right-to-reduce-stress

4. Sweat it Out.

Get up from bed. Overstaying in bed will only make you more miserable. Do home chores, general cleaning or doing the laundry. It will give you a sense of accomplishment. Take a walk, sit on a bench at the park and watch kids play. If you are lucky you might even find company. One who is more than willing to unpack his own baggage or share his story that would cheer you up and make you realize you are one luckier person.

5. Think happy thoughts.

Do not dwell on bad events that happened in the past, regretting and wishing things were different. Think of pleasant memories and laugh at your own absurdities. Laughter is vital to keep our sanity in this mad world. Try to find humor even in the most difficult situation. Laughing doesn’t only make you feel better but also makes you radiate with positivity. Positive emotions greatly affect our physical and mental health and our overall well being. More on the importance of positivity here https://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/think-and-feel-health.

6. Face the problem.

It won’t do any good to run from reality. Get to the bottom of the problem head-on. Do not pretend to be okay when you feel like the world is crumbling down on you. Transforming yourself into somebody you’re not, trying to be oblivious of the real turmoil inside of you, would only make you feel more lost and alone.

7. Talk.

You do not have to sit on a park bench and unburden yourself to a total stranger. But go ahead anyway, you would never know what would unfold unless you try. Get back to that one friend who is always willing to listen. With social media it is now easier to connect and reconnect with people. A simple hello to an old high school friend or a former coworker might lead to a blessing in disguise, an opportunity, or a simple eyeopener. Another way is to put your feelings into hard copy, meaning, to write them down, maybe in the form of a journal, and unleash them all in writing if you must. Or better yet, do number 8.

8. Find something productive.

Browse the web for some DIY, read informative materials like recycling tips. If you knew how to put your thoughts and feelings into words, try organizing them and post them in blogging platforms like Niume. Niume pays by the way. Just explore the site, read the FAQ’s and sign up here https://niume.com/86439.

9. Stay away from the negatives.

And by the plurality I mean people, places or events that would only make you feel more depressed. They add more chaos to the emotions. Distance yourself from negative people who would rather have you in the same boat than make you feel better.

10. Know that you are blessed.

Appreciate the little things in life, especially those we tend to disregard and miss altogether because of overfamiliarity. There is so much to be grateful for. Give back and send love and energy, and these will come back to you in many ways. Life is and will never be perfect. And we are all blessed fairly with the beauty of its imperfections.

Remember the adage, everything happens for a reason. We may fail to see the reason behind every failure and sorrow while they unfold right before our eyes. But when we look back, that is when we realize and see clearly why things happened the way they did. There is no mere coincidence or random chance. Sure we take the reins and hold on to them, but with an abiding faith that Somebody who is in more control is working in our life and guiding our course.

3 Household Tips in Making Use of Leftover Soap Bars


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Used soap bars usually found their way to the garbage, and slivers are stuck on edges or grooves of soapholders. I have a box set aside where I keep them though, all in different disintegrated shapes, colors and scents. As a stay at home mom, I somehow managed to find ways of putting them in good use. Some of these tips I found from browsing the web and more from my own discovery. I have here three great tips I found the most beneficial and easy to do, by which the third I have been doing on a regular basis as part of my household routine.

1. A good deodorizer

This is the most common. Those bits of old soaps left stuck in your soap dish still even keep the bathroom deodorized. Why not put some pieces inside clothes drawers to keep them smelling fresh and clean. We all have these clothes storages and drawers smelling old and musty and a few pieces would keep the odor away. Be creative. Shape these used soaps into balls, mush them with a little warm water to form a nice shape. Let it dry for a few days, under the sun would be better until it hardens.

2. Liquid hand soap

If you have collected a pound of leftover soap bars, perhaps you would like to try a DIY in making liquid hand soaps out of used soap bars. It would involve cooking and adding glycerin and essential oils. I basically do not go for this mainly because there is no way I could collect a considerable amount of scrap to make liquid soap. I have another priority where recycling used bathsoap is concerned (grin). And that leads me to number 3. But do check this very easy to follow instructions in making liquid hand soap from http://www.clark.com/make-liquid-hand-soap-bar-scraps.

3. Stain Remover (especially on white socks!)

Yes, particularly those stubborn stains on white socks! When my two older girls were still in grade school, it was always a pain getting those white socks white again. I am sure other moms like me could relate to this, I knew of some anyway. Removing those stains kids get on their white socks especially when they wear black leather shoes to school, can be pretty tough. Since I had my third and youngest daughter I became wiser in terms of handwashing small pieces of garments, especially white underwears and yes, socks. I could say from experience that no amount of bleaching or stain removing agent in the market could do better than used bath soap. Plus bleaching agents can wear out the elastic fibers in socks.

Just rub the soap on the stained area, leave for 3-5 minutes then work your way through those stubborn stains. You do not only get the stains removed, the fabric also gets soft, clean and fresh smelling.

This trick also works as well on menstrual stains. Even on colored fabrics. Those moisturizers and cleansing agents in body soaps not only soften and cleanse the skin but also a big help in removing dry and obstinate period stains. I have heard and read a lot of tips which include using oil, grease, and even vinegar. But why go to all the trouble when you have leftover soaps within reach.

So start saving those bits and slivers now. Keep them where they will be kept dry. There are other interesting tips and tricks that you can find at https://www.soapqueen.com/bath-and-body-tutorials/tips-and-tricks/use-leftover-soap-scraps/.

What do you do with your soap scraps? 

 

Tropical Fruit Jelly Dessert


Here’s my version of tropical fruit jelly dessert.

This tropical fruit jelly dessert is perfect not just for summer. It is light and refreshing and you can always substitute or add any tropical fruits like mango, banana or papaya,  or just any fruits in season. To make a twist, I also opted to add eggyolks to my recipe and the result was great! Jelly was noticeably smoother in texture and not too firm but a bit custard like in taste.
The gulaman powder I used called for six cups of water but I used only five to utilize the syrup from the fruit mix. That also added more fruity flavor to the jelly.
For molds, I used disposable plastic containers and cups because I intended to give some to the kids in my daughter’s school. The chilled pink jelly in cups delighted them. Moreover, they liked its mouth watering appearance and the super delicious taste.20170220_155849 20170220_194330

I’ve been so pleased with the overall result that I decided to share my recipe. Since it is easy to prepare, it was done in just less than 20 minutes. Try it!

Ingredients:

836g can tropical fruit cocktail
1 medium slice ripe papaya, diced (optional)
1 packet unflavored gulaman powder (red)
390g can condensed milk
3 egg yolks, hand beaten or whisked
1/4 cup sugar (optional)
1/2 tsp banana essence

Procedure:

Strain the tropical fruit mix and set the syrup aside.
Fill desired molds with the fruit mix.
In a pot, dissolve the gelatin powder in 5 cups water and add in the fruit mix syrup.
Pour in condensed milk and mix well. Add sugar if desired.
Over low heat, pour in the egg yolks slowly while stirring constantly then add banana essence and continue stirring.
Bring to a boil over medium heat until mixture begins to bubble and consistency is somewhat thick.   Pour into prepared molds and let set.

This is best served when chilled so refrigerate before serving. Enjoy!

 

 

 


Self-hosting my blog, long overdue but worth the wait

Finally, I did it! A few years back I set my mind in having my own website, without any idea how and where to start. I did a lot of googling and even came up with the idea of literally building my website from scratch. I even found myself learning html and css, I did not know what and how self-hosting works then.

Hah, those had been all futile efforts and I ended up setting up accounts with WordPress and Blogger.  But over the years, I have educated myself with the basic stuff, those website essentials and components you see when you open a webpage. I familiarized myself with things like the pages, the navigation menu, widgets and others. And of course, plugins.

I got tips from other bloggers but what really motivated   me was Mike, of  http://startbloggingonline.com. How to Start a Blog has really helped me realized what I have always wanted.  And yes, that link opens in a new tab so you don’t leave this blog ha ha. One smart tip from Mike. I tell you, he’s got everything you need to learn. His short Start Blogging Online course was a great help. That was in March 2016. With the girls still in school and nearing the end of school year, things were a bit uptight. Then Philippine summer came by and I found myself back in my hometown. Internet connection was more unreliable than stable plus other summer activities kept me occupied.

After almost five months I finally found myself in a stabler position. Once again I found myself contemplating much on self-hosting. Getting a domain name was one to think about. I had to ask my sister to help me think of a good one. All through out I always thought that once I set up my own self-hosted blog, I would not limit myself to a single niche. Not that the idea of earning is not exciting, I wanted to know first how far I’d go where blogging is concerned. I love writing just about anything, and maybe in the long run I would find my niche in this business.

With age and maturity comes the appreciation and gratefulness of the abundance of all the blessings that I have. They have come in buckets, that I like to say. And they keep coming in, and that I believe. That leads me back to my domain name, and how I came up with it. I told my sister I want something with the word green, because the color is associated with BAYABAS, the guava fruit which is the name of my hometown. It has always been my idea to incorporate into my website all the happenings in town. And that will be Babie’s job to fill us in haha.

My blogsite looks pretty amateurish, I know. But I really don’t care, improvements can come later. What matters to me is that I eventually got my blog up and running. It’s a great kickoff, and timing has never been this perfect!

Let the beauty of what you love be what you do. – Rumi

DNA Replication Using Recycled Materials- School Project

My daughter asked me to help with her science project, the DNA replication using recycled materials. I knew that most students would be using styrofoam and styroballs so I thought of something that would set hers apart. I found an old garden hose and decided we could turn it into a nice double helix. The good thing about this is apart from no cost at all, you must have colored papers and other art materials on hand, you do not have to paint at all so no extra effort and time to clean up. So here’s what to do:

Materials for DNA Replication

First, gather the materials needed:
Garden hose
Cutter
Scissors
Ruler
Colored or construction papers, 6 colors
Glue
Tie wire
Marker
Cut 4” pieces of tie wire, about 10-12.
Using the cutter, cut the hose into 1” and ½” tubes for the sugar-phosphate group depending on the length you want for your model. Then choose two colors for the sugar-phosphate, I used red and white, from bond paper rejects that could still be used. Cut the papers into 2”×2” squares and use them to wrap the tubes, securing the edges with a glue and pushing the ends neatly inside. On the wrapped 1” tubes, make small holes, can be one, two or three holes where you will insert the cut tie wires later. You can use an iron nail or an ice pick to cut holes. These wires will serve as the hydrogen bonds between the bases. Don’t forget to label the tubes with a marker, D- deoxyribose P-Phosphate.

 

 

Next prepare the tubes to be used as nitrogenous bases and cut more 1″ tubes. Wrap them in four different colors for cytosine, guanine, thymine, and adenine, just like you did with the sugar-phosphate group. Then group them in pairs, cytosine always goes with guanine, and thymine always goes with adenine. And don’t forget to label each tube. Now you are ready to assemble your DNA model.

Assembling the Double Helix

First you will need two sets of the sugar-phosphate group to make the sides of the ladder. Bend the end of a 20” long tie wire a little so as not to let the tubes slip to the other end when you thread them. Just like you do when you thread beads. Now place them alternately, white-red-white-red. I used 11 reds and 11 whites for each set by the way. But make sure that both sets are in uniformed pattern. In the first set, insert to the hole or holes the rungs, those 4” pre-cut wires but do it one at a time. Then carefully put a pair of a nitrogenous base into the rung and insert the other end to the other side of the ladder or the other set of sugar-phosphate. Do it similarly with all of the pairs of the nitrogenous bases. Afterward secure the ends by twisting or bending the ends of the wire. Now done, you already have a sturdy form of a ladder. Subsequently, hold both ends carefully and make a counter clockwise twist to make a spiral staircase. You can either mount it on a wooden frame to display like I did, or hang it. Voila, you now have a DNA double helix replica!