Category Archives: happy-healthy me

‘me time’ when I’m never alone

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“Me time” is a foreign concept to me. Turo and I have pretty much maintained our own personal activities, goals, and undertakings, so while we do a lot of things together, we still have our own stuff to ourselves. In a way, having some personal time is a given, and it doesn’t have to come off as something that needs to be planned or scheduled, or extremely hard to come by.

I’ve always been content with getting a dose of peace and quiet while riding a bus through the expressway, or walking to the bus stop, or train station. To me, clearing my head for a few minutes, that’s “me time” enough.

Until I became a stay-at-home mom. Here’s the deal, when you’re a mother to four kids, and you work at home, and you educate your children at home, and you exclusively breastfeed any one of those kids at any given time, plenty of times it’ll be overwhelming. No more peaceful bus rides, or quiet walks to the office. Suddenly, life is suffocating and there’s very little room to breathe deep, and be still.

I’m not complaining. I’m perfectly happy being home with my family 24/7. Although sometimes, a break would be helpful, if not wonderful. But it’s not like I can just walk out of the house anytime I like. Of course, I can’t leave my little people behind.

Turo and I have our coffee time. Twice a day. And then another round of caffeine-free drinks late in the evening. That’s “us time.” We have carved it out into our routine. And it’s sacred.

But the “me time”, I’m just starting to find a good rhythm for that. So tonight, Turo went out drinking with his buddies. I put the babies to sleep early. The older boys and I finished a movie, so now they’re off to bed. I boil water for my ACV+honey+cinnamon drink. I light up a lavender-scented soy candle. I play a jazz piano playlist saved by Uri on Spotify. I put warm water and Epsom salt into a basin, and soak my feet in. Did I mention that we were out at the farm earlier weeding, and my legs are sooo tired? Oh, the foot soak was heavenly. Now why have I never done anything like this before? For five long minutes, I enjoyed the sweet smell of the room, and the warm water on my feet, and the syncopated beat of jazz, with my eyes closed. It felt like a bus ride. Or a walk home alone. And I loved it.

 

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supporting a local farmers’ market

we are a farming family and a farmers’ market is our happy place

10626557_914625538658604_3095722565160699811_n Continue reading supporting a local farmers’ market

cloth diapering (older babies and toddlers)

It’s been awhile since I posted anything about cloth diapers. I am proud to say that our little boy Ira, who is now 19 months old, is still using cloth diapers exclusively both day and night.

I must say that successful cloth diapering is a hit-or-miss, trial and error process. But, if I could give any word of encouragement to a cloth diapering skeptic, it could be done! Continue reading cloth diapering (older babies and toddlers)

the daily soup

soup diet, anyone?

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I started a new fad in my household. We now eat soup more times in a day than we have dessert. Not kidding. I love soup. Ari likes soup but only occasionally, like every time we eat out 🙂 Uri hates it. Turo is so-so about it. But hey, I’m the President of my kitchen. I do the grocery and get stuff from the market and pay for takeouts and I set the meal plan for the week. In short, I wield a lot of power over everyone else’s food choices. So one day, I woke up and said, we’re gonna eat soup everyday. And so we did.

Every morning, I wake up, cut up vegetables, simmer them in water, add a pinch of spices, a sprinkle of herbs, maybe some milk or yogurt or cream, grated cheese when I’m feeling fancy, or egg when I’m feeling exceptionally hungry. And then the rest of the pack wakes up to a bowl of soup each, with toast or crackers on the side. That’s what we have for breakfast EVERY SINGLE DAY for about a month now.

Nobody’s complaining. Who could resist my I-don’t-have-to-fix-my-own-breakfast offer? So y’all might think I’m dragging my entire household into this diet revolution, but there’s more to it than trying to lose pounds or belly flabs.

Why go on a soup diet? Continue reading the daily soup

organic for a cause

we’re rooting for local organic farmers (ourselves included), and we get a basketful of veggies in return. sweet.

Today we received our first farm “share” of locally produced organic vegetables. We subscribed to a community-shared agriculture (CSA) scheme where we paid 4 weeks’ worth of seasonal, organic produce from farmers organized by Good Food Community. GoodFoodCo. is based in Quezon City, but recently, a group of young, organic farmers (including us!) from where we live here in Los Banos, thought of replicating this CSA scheme here.

What is CSA and how does it work?

Community Shared/Supported Agriculture (CSA) is a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer. A farmer, or an organized group of farmers, offers a certain number of “shares” to the public. Interested consumers purchase a “share” or “membership” or a “subscription”, which is a lump sum amount paid in advance, and in return receive a box/bag/basket of seasonal produce every week throughout the farming season. This arrangement benefits farmers because they get a sure market for their produce and they receive payment at the start of the planting season, which helps to have a stable farm cash flow.

our weekly CSA farm share delivered to our doorstep
our weekly CSA farm share delivered to our doorstep

In the GoodFoodCo. CSA scheme, each share can be one of 3 options: a bayong pambahay (roughly 3.5 kg of cooking vegetables good for a family of 4), a salad pack (roughly 500g of salad greens and herbs, with occasional fruit in season), and a juice pack (a choice mix of juicing vegetables good for approx. 500ml). We are currently subscribed to the juice pack, and this week our basket included celery, cilantro, lettuce, kale, cucumbers, lemons and ginger–all for PhP 370/week!

our veggie smoothie
our veggie smoothie

Nothing beats fresh, organic vegetables, pureed with bananas, papayas and yogurt. That’s our recipe for a high-fiber smoothie, which we usually have for breakfast or afternoon snack. And for less than 400 bucks a week, Turo and I can have this every day, plus a few sips each for our little boys.

Joining a CSA makes getting a variety of freshly harvested, organic produce super duper easy. No need to go to a farmers’ market as you get your veggie load delivered right to your doorstep. It’s also a great way to pack more vegetables into meal planning. Since we’re now only subscribed to the juice pack, next month we’ll subscribe to the bayong pambahay so we can also have fresh organic veggies to cook with. Really, this has simplified our dilemma of eating organic exclusively at a price we can comfortably afford. And soon enough, our farm will be part of this CSA program as we’ll be providing organic lettuce for the salad packs!

Read more about how we transformed the way that we eat and our healthy lifestyle choices from these posts:

The local food project

The food that we eat

Conscious consumption

Small and sustainable

hot air balloon fiesta

by far the most unplanned trip we’ve ever taken..

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Travel is a huge part of how we live. We live a lifestyle that is conducive to always being on the go. We homeschool our children (which means we do school, everywhere, all the time). I work from my Macbook (which is basically everywhere, including traffic jams). We hired a farm helper (so Turo can supervise farm operations even remotely). We are lucky because we can just go to any place when we want to, without asking permission from the school or office, without being accountable to anybody but ourselves. Lucky, yes. But also because we made a great deal of sacrifices before we can be at this point and state in our lives.

So, early in April, when the summer weather started getting extreme, I thought we should go on a mini-vacation. Okay so I always think of going on a vacation, like every month, but this time I wanted to go on a trip with some level of urgency. I’m 6 months pregnant and heading into my third trimester, and if I don’t take the kids on a trip now, I won’t be able to until after I give birth and the newborn is at least a year old! Continue reading hot air balloon fiesta

what our bahaySKUL day looks like

everyday is different. some days seem like the others. other days are filled with adventure.

We have been homeschooling for over 6 months now. The early months were a struggle, but now we are settling down into some kind of routine, building a familiar structure to our bahaySKUL day.

7:00 am We start our day by snuggling together in bed. Post-Christmas months are always cold, and nobody wants to be the first to get up.

8:00 am I start making breakfast. These days we eat bread with ham, egg or cheese, a handful of greens, such as lettuce or spinach or kale, and a glass of milk, choco or a tub of yogurt. We also used to eat rice in the morning but it just takes longer to prepare and more dishes to be washed. If all else fails (i.e. we wake up really late), we can always turn to a good ol’ bowl of cereals and milk. Continue reading what our bahaySKUL day looks like

the life we live daily: small and sustainable

the farm is our constant source of encouragement and inspiration. seeds sprouting, leaves turning green. life and nature are such marvels, things we’d never get tired of watching and anticipating.

AGFA POCKET CAMCORDEROur hydroponic farm is picking up on its pace. We see continuous increase in productivity since we resumed operations after the summer. We are very close to optimizing production capacity in our 100-square meter greenhouse. And when we do, which I know will happen very soon, we’ll be adding up the numbers (the right numbers this time) and we’ll be ready to replicate.

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Imagine, our successful, small-scale, sustainable farming model could be brought to any location and environmental condition, to bring farm-fresh, affordable, safe and natural produce to every ordinary household. That’s our big, big dream, and we are inching closer.

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As I keep saying over and over, “organic” and “sustainable” are not mere concepts. They are a way of life. Nothing that you can learn overnight. And the whole process is likely to be bittersweet. But such is the way that we choose to live ours. Pains, gains and all.

the life we live daily: entertainment for free

It’s a shame, really, when I said in my last entry that I was doing a series of posts in honor of my fourth anniversary of blogging. That was in July. And that was this blog’s anniversary month. And now, it’s what? Days before Oktoberfest!

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A lot of things happened in between. And I mean a L-O-T. Let’s start with, I turned thirty. Some of our very good friends migrated to Canada (sniff). I’ve been to India and was a vegetarian for a week. I got a raise. It’s the first time in my life that I’ve ever gotten a raise. And then I started working my ass off since then.

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But today, today is a special day. I’m celebrating turning thirty with my best friends in the world in a surprisingly nice hotel (I’m not that easy to impress) right smack in the middle of the city. Unfortunately, these good friends of mine were kind enough to sleep out on me, thank you very much. My children are angels watching endless cartoons (we don’t have cable). And Turo is away partying on boys’ night. For the first time in a very long time, I actually have time for myself to not be super busy and… blog! Well, who am I kidding, of course I’m writing a report after this, but right now I  still have some glorious minutes to spare.

For this post I want to share one of our family’s best kept secrets: going out and having fun without spending a centavo. If you think this is impossible in this day and age of consumerism, well I’ve got one word for you, EXPLORATION.

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We’ve lived in Los Banos for over two years now, and to be honest, there are still a million places here that we haven’t been to. Some of these places we know or heard of, but a lot of them are probably just around the corner we only need to go and find them.

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I guess the difference is about looking at life as an adventure. That there is something special waiting to be discovered at every turn. This is something my children taught me. That life is never just about goals, and reaching them. Not just about plans, and making sure things go the way you want them to.

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It’s about finding nice little surprises along the way, and actually stopping for a moment to enjoy them. Because at the end of the day, you will likely end up doing that thing that you need to do. Or reach that place you’ve dreamed of going to. Or get that role you’ve always wanted to sink your teeth into. Because you’re smart enough to think up goals that are actually doable and within your capacity.

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The question is, when you find something really interesting along the way that is not within your perfect little plan, can you afford to hang back for a moment and stare in awe like a little boy would?

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To some people, there is a huge opportunity cost to doing just that. But for us, breaking one’s journey is practically free. And, oftentimes, it’s even the most exciting!

the life we live daily – conscious consumption

Practicalities in everyday living need to be just that – practical.

Four years blogging and I cannot instinctively say that my life has changed drastically since. There had been changes — some major, some hardly noticeable. And this blog was a likely witness to most of them. So, in honor of this blog’s fourth anniversary, I start a series of posts that will hopefully serve as a snapshot of my life at the moment, which I know I would lovingly look back to in a year or more.

The first post in this series I call “the life we live daily” speaks of a topic close to my heart, environmental preservation, and the real and doable things that we do in order to make a positive difference to our well-loved earth.

I have written plenty in this blog about changing our purchasing and consumption habits so that we could reduce our negative environmental impact.

The food that we eat

The local food project

Lifestyle check: reduce, simplify and reduce

Ilog maria finds

Greener gift giving

Diaper duty 

This commitment to environmental preservation through conscious purchase and consumption, is not only a personal advocacy, but one that we try to do as a family. We realized that food expenses lead our consumption pyramid and by changing the way that we eat, we can make a significant difference in the way and in the amounts we consume.

Our food prioritization principles are simple.

  1. What we eat should be organic.
  2. If we can’t get organic, these should at least be locally sourced, and best if we personally know the farms or sources where these are derived. By locally sourced we mean coming from the same province or region we are in.
  3. We choose products that use less packaging, therefore less waste, and have gone through less processing.

Below I list down a number of basic food categories, our sources and the reasons why we choose to buy religiously from these sources. Please note, however, that some of these products may be significantly more expensive than conventional ones, while some are practically free (eg. plants we grow ourselves); but that we choose to purchase them for the overall environmental and health benefits we derive from them. Towards the end of the table I also include non-food products that we use regularly that we source in a similar way.

Products Source Reason for buying
Dairy (milk, yogurt, ice cream, cheese) Philippine Carabao Center, UPLB only pasteurized products coming from grass-fed carabaos; non-homogenized, non-UHT, which means more nutritional content than dairy products in groceries
Eggs Micah’s Eggs

micahseggs.com

Pila, Laguna

we know the farm to be environmentally compliant and to maintain high standards of quality and freshness
Meat Herb Republic

http://www.herbrepublic.biz

Bay, Laguna

antibiotic and growth hormone-free pork and chicken
Deli (hotdogs, mortadella, bratwurst, etc.) Philippine Carabao Center, UPLB a selection of preservative-free sausages made from carabao meat
Rice (upland organic black rice) La Trinidad Organic Producers Association, Benguet we mix black rice with regular sinandomeng rice to supplement nutrient content
Culinary Herbs (basil, Italian oregano, mint) grown at home organically grown and propagated
Medicinal Herbs (lagundi, native oregano, calamansi, gynura) grown at home organically grown and propagated
Fruits farm-grown bananas

seasonal fruits from neighboring towns

Cooking oil Minola coconut oil

San Pablo, Laguna

 

coconut-based, which is abundant here, and locally sourced
Bath products (honey propolis shampoo & body wash) Ilog Maria Farms

http://www.ilogmaria.com

Silang, Cavite

organic and biodegradable soaps from propolis (a by-product of honey production). we found these products to be effective cleansing agents without stripping the skin or scalp of necessary oils or proteins. we also use calamansi slices as hair conditioner.
Laundry products Champion Natural

Perla white bar

we use a biodegradable detergent and a coconut-based laundry bar soap. we also use fermented rice washing to soak soiled clothes before washing with detergent.