Tuesday, February 21, 2017

View Bingeing in Antipolo

I love nature - love, love, love it. But. I don't seem to be cut out for it. It usually triggers violent sneezing fits or the onset of hives. And then there are the bugs. They love me. They ignore the rest and flock to me. That is, unless my kids are around too. They seem to have the same tasty blood, so they luckily inherited my appeal to the bloodsuckers.

My husband and I like to take the kids for long car rides. We usually park somewhere with a nice view and eat our lunch in the car. This means that the car enjoys more than its fair share of spills and crumbs. It can get pretty disgusting. Fortunately, my husband is a car nut and is manic about maintaining our vehicles.

Recently, while we were parked along Marcos Highway, somewhere between Cogeo and Paenaan (I don't know what that spot is called, but people often stop there to take in the very green vista of the valley below and the mountains across), I suddenly felt a bite or a sting, first on my neck, and then another a bit later on the cheek. We had the windows down so we could enjoy the nice, cool breeze. I didn't see a mosquito, not even a fly. Basically, some noseeum got me. Funnily enough, there was actually a Midge in the car; she's just the human, visible kind. ;D

The good thing about those bites though is that they didn't bother me for long and they didn't leave any lasting welts. They were red while I could feel them, but the color and bump subsided when they stopped being uncomfortable.

After lunch, we took a turn and went up Sumulong Highway. We checked out some properties for sale in a couple of subdivisions up there. We spotted lots of pretty birds, black-naped orioles and many I can't recognize yet.

It's frustrating not to be able to identify the birds. I plan to remedy that and be more knowledgeable about birding. I've been saying that for the past twenty years, but it's not that hopeless. I got a little better. After two decades.

My husband also went a little crazy with all the dill out there. I don't know why he loves the plant so much. It's not like he uses dill a lot. I'll have to ask him because it's obviously a real mystery. I may never rest until I get answers.

It was a good excursion. I've found that I'm willing to suffer through bites, hives, and sneezing fits to get my kids to see nature. The rewards are definitely worth the discomfort. 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Birds Menacing My Herb Garden

I love birds, I do, but not enough to just let them devour my herbs. I discovered the other day that the two rosemary cuttings I had just started cultivating were missing. The rooted rosemary plants were fine. The cuttings, I suppose, were easily plucked out from the soil.

And then I noticed our new dill plant starting to bald - is that the right term? - but the leaves were definitely much fewer, and then yesterday, a stalk was actually broken.

I'm going to roast the culprits if I ever catch them!

Relax - that's just an empty threat. I don't have it in me to hurt a bird.

Those birds are also the reason why we don't bother with sunflowers anymore. They finish up a bloom in just a couple of day, the little gluttons!

Before they make off with every herb in my garden, I need to take steps to thwart those sneaky thieves. Some of the recommendations I've found are:

  • Making a tunnel of bird netting.
  • Using cut soda plastic bottles.
  • Putting up a scarecrow.
  • Hanging or sticking shiny ornaments (CDs, mylar, etc.)
  • Hanging wind chimes.
  • Getting a cat.

I'll probably do the soda bottle and the wind chimes. It might also be fun to put a little scarecrow out there. I'll let you know soon how effective they are.

Do you think they'll leave the plants alone if I install a bird feeder? In any case, if you have any tips for stopping birds from eating up the garden, please comment below.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Getting Acquainted with the Animals at the Avilon Zoo

I grew up in the city/suburbs, so I tend to get too excited by nature. This means, I flip out when I see birds other than sparrows and pigeons, trees bearing fruits, animals that aren't dogs or cats, mushrooms on the ground, fish in a natural body of water... You get the idea.

Now, I've been wanting to take the kids to the zoo. The last time we went was on my eldest child's second birthday, and it was a small, mini mall-kind of zoo. I don't even know what I mean, but it was more of a building with exhibits. Anyway, you can read about that experience here.

That was eight years and two more kids ago. We'd actually gone to a place called Paradizoo in Tagaytay a few months later, but that mostly had farm animals, plus some camels and llamas. Our family was ripe for another trip to the zoo, so my husband and I decided that we should do it as part of our youngest child's second birthday celebration.

We were really stumped for a long time as to what we would do because Sawyer's very suspicious of new places and gets overwhelmed by crowds. However, when we were driving around the neighborhood one time, we came across a neighbor's chicken and turkey run. S was so delighted to see the birds, so my husband and I agreed that a trip to the zoo made sense.

We chose Avilon Zoo in Montalban (honestly, who calls it Rodriguez?). It was the nearest, we believed. The other choices were Manila Zoo and Malabon Zoo, and they were just too far. (We might give them a whirl later this year, and then I'll do a comparative post on my other blog.)

As far as Avilon Zoo is concerned, however, I liked it just fine. We went on a Saturday afternoon, so there weren't many people. I imagine there would usually be school children on field trips during the week.

I wish we'd started out earlier because it probably takes an entire day to properly enjoy the place. We explored as much as we could, but it felt a little rushed.

I thought it was just a small zoo, but there were really a lot to see. There were many different kinds of lizards, birds, rodents, big cats, farm animals, apes, crocodiles, etc.

You can't help but feel sad that the animals aren't free in the wild, but you can also appreciate that you probably will never get the chance to see many of them in their natural habitat, especially if it would entail going on an African safari.

The conditions weren't quite up to the standards of world-class zoos, but you can tell that management is doing what it can to keep the animals healthy, clean, and comfortable. There are many areas for improvement, of course, but I don't want to focus on them.

I think most of the zoo is wheelchair/stroller-ready, except maybe for the area where the crocodiles are. You should definitely wear comfortable shoes as there would be a lot of walking, some of it, uphill.

I wouldn't mind going back. The kids had a lot of fun, although the boys were a little freaked out in the beginning. Marguerite's favorite was the bunnies (there was a petting area where you could touch, but not hold, bunnies and guinea pigs); Cameron's, the ducks, geese, and swans roaming around, plus the giraffes; and Sawyer's - well, he was happy to see everything, but I think he was most interested in the farm animals (Old McDonald, you know).

You can find out more information on the zoo's exhibits and other features, as well as its rates, here.

Mama Pig and Her Litter (Avilon Zoo) Tortoise (Avilon Zoo)
Pelicans (Avilon Zoo) Zuzu the Hippo (Avilon Zoo)  Leopard? (Avilon Zoo) Lion (Avilon Zoo)  Some Kind of Crocodile (Avilon Zoo) 

This is my favorite, lol. Can you spot the squirrel? Some of the animals, like I said, were loose and free to roam around.
Squirrel on the Loose (Avilon Zoo)

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

When Your Husband Gets You

...he'll know what to get you, lol.

I love my Valentine presents. You really hit the mother lode if your husband knows the right gifts to get you. My husband knew that I'd prefer the following to flowers and chocolates.

Mulberry Plant

Mulberry Seedling

Strawberry Plant

Strawberry Plant

(This is really his. The man is obsessed with the herb for some reason.)


A new saucepan


We made out pretty well for people who don't celebrate Valentine's Day. :D

Monday, February 13, 2017

Our Kombi's Brush with Fame

There has been some buzz lately about Jollibee's ads. Some were turned off by the overt sentimentality, while others thought the ads nailed it. I don't have a TV anymore so I had no idea what everybody was talking about until my husband posted something on Facebook about McDonald's winning the ad wars without any effort. I commented that I didn't get it, so he had to explain about some people noticing that Jollibee's "The Vow" ad is strongly reminiscent of an ad McDonald's showed back in 2009. It was most likely coincidental, but because people are curious, the old McD's ad is getting a lot of attention too.

I'm the type to prefer funny commercials to mushy ones, although I've been known to cry over some really touching ads. Of course, the things have to be masterfully done to move me or I'll just end up finding them annoying, but mainly, I don't really care about any other ads besides this.

Jollibee used our VW Kombi for their Framily Road Trip ad. We were so stoked the first time we saw it as a "Skip Ad" (that's what my daughter calls it) on YouTube. Naturally, we didn't skip it. :D It's so exciting to have a commercial model in the family, lol.

Our VW Kombi in a Jollibee Ad

And the ad barkada had the right idea. We intend to take the Kombi for a road trip soon. My husband and I have been talking about doing a lighthouse tour for a decade now, so maybe we'll finally do that. Maybe on our way to visit my sister-in-law who lives in Isabela. Maybe we'll take it all the way to Ilocos. Maybe. :) I wish there was a ferry to bring us all the way to Batanes. Does the RoRo include that route? I guess I'll have to do more research and planning so we can finally do that road trip. Gotta hustle. Summer's almost here. Good thing the Kombi's airconditioned.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

A Non-coffee Drinker's Ramblings on Muji's Maple Marron Latte

muji maple marron latte

My sister Chipi recently came back from a trip to Hong Kong, and one of the things she got me was a pouch of maple marron latte from Muji. There are Muji branches here, but the girl loves the store, so that fact isn't going to stop her from doing some Muji shopping in Hong Kong.

The present actually made me wonder when I saw it. My sister knows I don't drink coffee. I don't even like mocha-flavored desserts because of the bit of coffee taste in them. The irony though is that I love the smell of coffee. I think it's one of the coziest aromas in the world. I hardly think though that Chipi would have bought me real coffee just to sniff.

This shows just how ignorant I am of designer coffee culture. Basically, I know there's plain black coffee to which you can add creamer, sugar, or milk. I know cappuccino has foam... I think that's about it. I don't understand Starbucks talk. I can't tell a macchiato from a frappuccino. Obviously, I don't know what a latte is either.

Now, the maple marron latte sounded very promising as coffee drinks went. I liked maple. I liked marron (chestnut). I only had misgivings when it came to the latte part. Since Chipi had given it to me, and I trust her taste and judgment when it comes to food and fashion, I gave it a try. 

Apparently, latte is coffee that's practically diluted to non-existence with milk. Or that's how it seemed to me because I loved it. The flavor was sweet and nutty, a combination I usually like. I don't think I could even detect any coffee flavor in it, but then again, I don't have the most discerning taste buds. My tongue doesn't do subtle. Flavors have to be in my face for me to register them.

So, thanks, Chipi for introducing me to the treat that is instant gourmet? dessert? coffee. I don't know what to call it. It went especially well with the sweet crêpes we had on Crêpe Day. I won't specify what kind they were because I know you just love one of the ingredients. *Shush, my sister hates bananas.*

Now, I'm not likely to buy any myself because I'm cheap, but feel free, anybody, to gift me with some more of this maple marron goodness. You can rest assured that I'll enjoy it.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Love Thy Neighbor (The View Blocker)

We live on top of a hill. One of the things we loved when we first moved into this house is that the windows in the second-floor rooms opened out to an awesome view. It would have extended indefinitely except that part of the Sierra Madre mountain range rose up in the horizon and made a nice border. 

Training our eyes lower and not to such a distance, we had a pretty good view of the neighborhood as well.

In the evening, I could sit in my bed, folding laundry or typing on my laptop (great way to give myself back issues), I could see the night sky, so if the moon is particularly beautiful, I could post about it on Facebook, urging others to check it out. Quite a number actually care about seeing a nice, big and bright moon.

Waking up in the morning, we could see a pretty good expanse of the sky without getting up from the bed. In the summertime, this wasn't such a good thing if you're not an early riser (cough, cough, my husband) because, come sunrise, we were suddenly awash in really bright light, so the curtains were drawn closed for these months.

Why did we have such an unobstructed view of the neighborhood and the horizon? Our next door neighbor built his house on the far side of his property and had a good-sized side yard. His roof wouldn't have even been level with the floor of our upper story.

That all changed, however, when he decided to make some money off his property and build townhouses edging the property line. Construction was delayed several times, but after more than a year, the rows are finally on their way to being completed. So, now, instead of a pleasant view, we are treated to this:

We can still see some sky right now, but we'd lose that too when the roof is installed, so no more effortless viewing of celestial displays for us. At any rate, it's not like we ever the have the windows on this side open these days. We don't want the construction workers to see into our rooms.

Thanks so much, kindly neighbor, blocker of views. Gotta stay positive though, Maybe the people who'll buy those townhouses will be awesome neighbors, and that will maybe make up for our loss of view. Maybe.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Here's How We Are Now

The last time I blogged, I only had two children. Marguerite was only seven years old and Cameron was just one and a half years old.

These days, Marguerite is all of 10 years old. That's from last Halloween/Harvest and she's Popette from Shopkins.

Cameron is 5 years old. This was taken from the Kombi Run we participated in November of last year. It was an early morning ride to Jariel's Peak in Infanta, Quezon, so we grabbed the kids from their beds as they were, hence the pj getup at this bulalo (beef shank soup) place.

And then, not only are Midge and Cam older, they also have another sibling. Meet our Sawyer, who's now two years old. This was also taken at the bulaluhan.

So now, we're a family of five. We don't have any family portraits, so I'm just going to share these pics taken in the Photobus. That's our new business, btw - Photobus Manila. It's a photo booth inside a VW Kombi.

Here's one from Sawyer's first birthday party (January 2016).

Here's one from my dad's 70th birthday party (November 2016). We're not really complete here except for the bottom right picture.

Now, that I've gotten the fundamental updates out of the way, you can expect more online journal-type posts to follow. I'll also be reviving my other blog Our Lemonade Days, which will have actual articles and not just casual musings and ramblings like those found here. 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

More Than Three Years Later...

Gonna blog again. Really.

For now, this:

I challenged God to tell me something that I really need to learn and he sent me a message about having an attitude of thanks, one that I've heard many times in the past. I guess you can keep on re-learning old lessons. There was an accompanying prayer, too, and this part really spoke to me even though I was supposed to use it to speak to Him.

"...Help me to find the blessings that are locked up in the things I complain about..."

Sometimes I just want to shake myself. That thick skull, that bratty attitude... I need to stop acting 14 and embrace the grace of being 40.

More soon.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Church Party for the Graduates

I was one of those tasked to take care of this years tribute to the graduates. We thought we'd turn it more into a party instead of the usual program. We've been doing it a particular way for many years now and I agreed with my sister (another assigned organizer) that it was time for a change. Not that we really deviated much, and I'm not sure other people preferred our way of doing things, but I think we were able to do away with some of the elements that caused some cringing and wincing in the past, lol (e.g. impromptu speeches).

Here are pictures: