My inbox has recently been flooded with emails asking for the template and step-by-step instructions of this gingerbread house, an old post from December of last year. Regrettably, I do no longer have the templates of any gingerbread houses I made over the years, including those of the London iconic buildings, simply because I give them away after using them. I had no plans of reusing them again as I always make something new every year. Continue reading
I’m one of those women who will use any excuse not to put on a pair of black opaques tights unless necessary. But as winter colds up, I don’t go out without any black tights on. I mean, a pair of 80-denier opaque tights underneath my trousers (plus thermal shirt, a hat, a pair of gloves and the whole shebang) as if London is experiencing a sub-zero temperatures! 🙂 Continue reading
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has been on my long list of places to visit in London but the building is only open to the public once a year for a day or two. Last year they only opened for one day, and it fell on the Lord’s Day which I obviously missed. This year however, it was for a couple of days, Saturday and Sunday, and I finally got to visit and really enjoyed it. This building was mentioned in a book I’ve read about the famous Victorian artists, and George Gilbert Scott, the architect who designed one of my favourite buildings in London, St Pancras Hotel, was also responsible for the overall classical design of this building. Continue reading
I went to the Farmers’ Market early this morning and forgot to put on my hat and gloves. It was so cold that I felt like my fingers were falling off haha! When I checked the temperature, it was 2 degrees — already too cold for me! I just wanted to crawl back in bed and get cozy. I’m dreading the onset of the winter months. I am not looking forward to another five-six months of wearing layers of clothes, heavy coats, boots, gloves and hats. Continue reading
We really don’t go to restaurants very much, contrary to what my family and friends back in the Philippines seem to think. I’m not an avid foodie but I’m constantly being asked for restaurant recommendations by people who actually eat out much more frequently than I do. In saying that however, I’m not bad at finding places that are a good value. I try to keep up with the current events not just on politics but also on arts and culture — of course, including the theatre and foodie scene in London. More often than not, I find interesting ethnic places with good fresh food, swank restaurants, neighbourhood joints that have great lunch deals or new places that we want to try. Jared and I actually prefer to stay in, cook our own food, and would only eat out on special occasion. On weekends, I always cook something special…maybe a Japanese, or Thai, or other exotic dish. Apart from the take-away meals, mostly Japanese or Italian, from Eat Tokyo, or Metro Pizza, or other neighbourhood restaurants, we do eat reasonable, home-cooked food. Continue reading
When I was growing up, the period from October 31 to November 2 was a big holiday in the Philippines. It is not a huge festivity like Christmas but people would normally take a few days off work, travel back home to be with their families to honour their loved ones, both the dead and the living. Filipinos are very superstitious and religious people you see . . . even those who claim to be nominal Catholics do pray for, and to, the dead (the image of President Duterte crying in his mother’s grave uttering ‘Tabangi ko, Ma!’’ — please help me, Mother! — is a classic example of this). Back in my day, and I’m referring to 30-40 years back when I was very young, everyone did lit candles in the cemetery to commemorate All Saints’ Day (November 1st) and All Souls’ Day (November 2nd). In our family we always had a novena (a form of worship consisting of special prayers on nine successive days) at home every night during these festivities aside from offering a mass (that is, paying money to the priest to hold a special service) for the dead family members. A lot of Filipinos still do practice this tradition to this very day. Personally though, All Saints’ Day took on a completely different meaning when my father died on November 1, 1984, exactly thirty three years ago today. Three days ago my older brother turned 50 and as I was on Skype chatting with everyone, the family gathered to celebrate his birthday, I was reminded once again that my father died at age 51 — really young. Continue reading
Despite my love for Japanese food, and I am particularly fond of Okinawan food, I have not dabbled much in cooking Ryukyu dishes. I have some recipe books and guidebooks about the unparalleled longevity of native Okinawans and I recently unearthed them from a huge pile of books needing to be sorted out in our library, and started reading them again.
The Japanese people are renowned for their food, eating habits, and relatively healthy lifestyle. Evidently, results of numerous health studies show that the Japanese are more likely to reach 100 years old than anyone else. In the Ryukyus, the southernmost islands of Japan, there are more centenarians than anywhere else in the country, or the world for that matter. There were so many doctors, nutritionists, and other health professionals who did extensive research on life expectancy of the Okinawans. I have a copy of The Okinawa Diet Plan and the author highlights that the regular inclusion of animal protein can be an advantage over vegetarian diets when it comes to longevity. However the authors also note that in the Ryukyu Islands meat was traditionally a small part of a diet rich in whole foods. The importance of pork — both a delicacy and everyday food with the entire pig eaten, from ears to feet — in the Ryukyu diet is also mentioned as very traditional.
Then last week Jared and I were talking about the work out that we’ve been doing recently, our diet, lifestyle, etc., and our conversation drifted into shallow waters — food and being indulgent with all things edible. I ended up rather waxing nostalgic about a pork dish I love and haven’t cooked in over six months. It’s called Rafute, a traditional pork dish slowly simmered in soy sauce and a generous amount of awamori, or Okinawan rice wine. I had visions of biting into the fatty pork slices melting in my mouth and being transported back to the Ryukyu Islands. So the next day I went to our local butcher and purchased a kilo of pork belly.
I’ve been making bath salts recently — thanks to my friend Rhoda who introduced me to this wonderful concoction. But before I’m quite there let me just say that I’ve been using Epsom Salts, or Magnesium Sulphate, for warm baths, foot soak, shower scrub, facial wash, etc., for many years now (and I’ve also been taking this) but the idea of making bath salts never even occurred to me until I saw Rhoda’s Instagram post. Continue reading