Tag Archives: garden

gardening with kids

when they touch the soil and witness something growing from it, they learn how much they are part of this earth..

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Farm and garden work are very much part of our every day life. For one, we are running an organic agriculture enterprise. At the same time, we are growing as much food as we can in our own backyard because we want to eat fresh and healthy all the time. This has rubbed off on our kids, and in fact, they now play a bigger role in tending to our backyard garden.

You might wonder, what kind of gardening work can young children actually do? Pretty much everything, I would say. Continue reading gardening with kids

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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

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

a long summer break

home-hopping all summer long

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Our family has not stayed home for over a month. We have spent the entire month of May at my in-laws, at my parents’ home, at my uncle’s resthouse in Aklan, and, the highlight of our trip, Boracay!

The first twelve days of May were what we considered a ‘mobile transition’. Turo and I had been traveling back and forth our house making sure everything was well and in order (and relieving our homesickness to some extent). All April, we had been getting ready to spend plenty days away from our Los Banos home come May. Our first stop was at the house of Turo’s parents in Cavite. Turo is just recovering from a near-heat stroke during this time and we needed him to always be rested and away from the sweltering summer heat. Despite doctor’s orders, he insisted on being productive and took on his first landscaping project in his parents’ backyard.

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This project had both Turo and I, and the kids, all excited. We were together buying floor pavers, picking out tiles and choosing the right paint colour for the back patio. But the most exciting part of all was waiting for the plants to arrive and watching them bring new life to the otherwise abandoned section of the property.

A fern wall accentuated with lovely red bromeliads took centerstage at one end of the yard. The sides were planted with slender Thai bamboo against roughly finished white concrete and pebbles. The flooring on the other end was covered with locally made concrete paving blocks and the rest of the are was planted with frog grass.

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By this time, we are still waiting for the grass to grow thick so the kids can run around the new lawn. By the time Turo, our project manager, declared the project complete, we packed up and moved on to our next destination — my parents’ house in Cainta.

Staying in Cainta did not take a lot of getting used to for the kids. We lived there when they were babies, before we moved to Los Banos a couple of years ago. This was their home too, as this was mine for most of my life.

Cainta was our take-off point for our much awaited trip to Aklan province. Aklan was my grandmother’s hometown and we were more than happy to accompany her back to her motherland, after how many decades. She was really excited. We can tell from the photographs we took of her, from the way she told stories of her life here in the 1940s, and how she managed not sleep during the two-hour land travel to her New Washington hometown.

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The kids had some real provincial fun as well. They played with dogs who had houses up on stilts, walked on floating bamboo rafts and a hanging bridge. They even went fishing for the first time!

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And then there was Boracay. It was our first trip to this famous white sand beach together as a family. We enjoyed ‘Bora’ despite the crowds and the noisy parties at night and overpriced accommodations. We came there for the legendary beach, and we swam our hearts out up to the minute that we were about to check out from our hotel room. We love swimming and we love the beach and Boracay proved to be another memorable beach experience for us.

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IMG_2339At night in Boracay we watched a fire dancing performance, which we enjoyed, and the kids were obviously impressed. They even danced Gangnam onstage together with the fire dancers.

IMG_2480Turo and the boys each got henna tattoos on their arms, which they were really proud off until the day their tattoos faded out.

IMG-20130524-02323I guess these were the highlights of our long, mobile summer. It was the first and longest time we spent away from home, and we enjoyed every minute of it. Sure, we missed our home but we always knew it would welcome us back at the end of summer. And it sure did.

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Our mobile summer experiment was an astounding success. Now Turo and I are starting to plan for next year’s summer break, which we swear will take long, and will be packed with more exciting adventures.

 

 

 

some traviesa trivia

My fascination for natural decor has just stepped up a notch.

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Traviesa is a Spanish word for a piece of wood that functions as a cross beam or brace to support the rails on a railway track. The photo above ignited our interest for the traviesa. Here it was used to create a deck or platform as part of an outdoor landscape design.

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You can assume traviesas to be about a century old. So don’t be surprised that it can function perfectly even outdoors in all-weather conditions. These are some long-aged wood we’re talking about. They’ve been treated with time, no additional chemical treatments needed.

IMG-20130321-01878There’s something about me and old, aged, sturdy wood. I feel like they have so much character, so many stories behind them. And more stories waiting to be written and told.

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So, this fascination took us a several kilometres down south as we went on a search for sources of traviesas and other types of old wood. As it turned out, we have a trusty antique wood supplier a quick drive a way.

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There was wood of all kinds, sizes and thickness. You could see how deep the wood grains are. Some have cracked and faded. Some used to be staircases, door jambs. Some were materials to make boats.

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To me, visiting that store by the highway was a very intimate experience. There was so much history amid these huge planks of wood. As if every piece was speaking to us about where it’s been. And we were all ears.

 

starting my week with backyard tea

the power of tea shall help me pull this week off..

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I have a hectic week ahead, with a major work presentation coming up, which I am barely prepared for. The hot summer weather is not at all helping. My entire household had been doing more coughing than talking in the past week. So with an overworked respiratory system and two days of presentation planning, I soul-searched in my backyard for much-needed support.

cough concoction
cough concoction

I made a tea concoction using oregano leaves, calamansi and ginger, all harvested while I boil water for tea–and call it my “cough concoction“. It’s no remedy but it soothes my throat, clears my breathing and has loosened up tough phlegm. I have been taking a potful of this concoction once every morning and in the afternoon in the last three days, and it’s been nothing but relief. It also helped that we swam in the hot pool yesterday, which relaxed all my tired back and chest muscles.

If like me, you hate taking medicine and dread going to the doctor because he’ll prescribe you some medicine, try my cough concoction. I’m sure you can take it alongside any cough medication. Even if you only have a tired voice or sore throat, one cup can work wonders.

a flower and garden show

now I have proof that my husband is a bigger flower lover than I am. no wonder I never got flowers from him.

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Turo and I spent a lovely Thursday morning at the Los Banos Flower and Garden Show. We consider visiting garden exhibits among the cheapest indulgences and we’re lucky that we have regular exhibitions like this one right here where we live.

seniors' social garden

The Los Banos Flower and Garden show is held twice a year at the UPLB Seniors’ Social Garden. The main attraction inside the hall this year is the Iligan Fern (below). This is about the largest sized fern I’ve ever seen up close, and also the most beautiful. While I love flowers, I am also equally attracted by wild and diverse foliage plants. I believe that leaf patterns, textures, shapes and hues, more than the blooms, are what makes gardens more interesting and alive.

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Throughout the exhibit visitors will find an interesting array of ornamental plants and flowers. Plenty of new varieties, but a lot of the well-loved favourites found in Filipino homes and gardens. Bougainvilleas, orchids, petunias, gerberas, the list goes on.

variegated bougainvilla
variegated white bougainvilleas
wild orchid
wild orchid
colorful gerberas
colorful gerberas
indoor foliage
indoor foliage
bed of blossoms
bed of blossoms
bright and cheery blooms
bright and cheery
a floral feast indeed
a floral feast indeed

In a later post I will tell you about the designs featured in the horticultural landscaping contest of this year’s garden show. But for now, I leave you with Turo and his precious anthuriums. Anthuriums are obviously Turo’s favorite plants. He even came close to ordering imported anthurium varieties from Holland.

turo and his anthuriums
turo and his anthuriums

So yes, we bought some white and red anthuriums for our new garden at home. These shade-lovers are perfect out front, where they can get plenty of morning sunshine but stay safe in the afternoon shade. This time we’re moving beyond just edible plants and herbs for our garden. We can’t wait to welcome our guests with splashes of colour from ornamental flowers and plants in our new home very very soon.

preppin’ for lots of pesto

These basil plants have almost outgrown their seedling bags. It’s time to move them to their new home at the farm. We are just waiting for their new containers to be delivered. On Friday, which is a holiday, they will be replanted on the ground so that come Christmas time, we’ll have enough basil leaves to make plenty jars of pesto.

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garden in a bottle

When the absence of a garden stopped being an excuse for not gardening..

We live in a tiny apartment. We point to the soil underneath a palm tree outside our unit and call it a garden. We have oreganos, peppers, mints, basils and a small cement fish pond where our pet goldfishes swim around. Recently, we extended our so-called garden to include our roof gutters. Turo had planted lettuce, Italian parsley and some other herbs inside used plastic bottles and hanged them up against the roof where they are partly sheltered from the rain but receive an ample dose of sunshine everyday.

This is a photo of our flatleaf parsley in a bottle. It conveniently hangs right outside the door of our front porch so I can easily snip off a few leaves or branches to garnish pasta dishes and stews. Apart from herbs, almost any plant can grow inside a container, except for those with an extensive taproot like coriander. I’ve seen tomatoes, cucumbers and beans sprout from soil-filled soda bottles, mineral water containers, etc.

Continue reading garden in a bottle