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
London is brimming with old historic shops and is home to some of the world-famous department stores such as Selfridges, Harrods, etc. Liberty of London is one of them and it is my all-time favourite shop in the city. It may not be as massive as Selfridges or Harrods but the imposing Tudor style structure is very unique; of all the buildings in Regent Street it truly stands out and is quite attractive. Continue reading
Summer is my favourite season. I love wearing cotton and linen dresses as well as ballerina shoes and flip-flops. I am a tropical girl indeed! My body has already acclimatised to the cold weather, that is, after living here for almost 18 years, but I still give Jared the customary whimper at the onset of winter months. 🙂 Continue reading
Today I want to be a discerning learner. I wonder what does it mean to be a learner who is made in the image of God? The world is full of learning opportunities for ourselves and others. And with the technology available to us today, almost all of the educational materials we need is at our fingertips. As Christians, how do we determine what is worth the cost, both in time and money, to invest in for education? Does it really matter if educational materials include the Christian worldview as long as biblical studies receive sideline attention? Continue reading
This week I’ve read a book that could very well be the sentimental story of a romantic Victorian bestselling novel, but the story isn’t fiction. It did happen in real life. And it’s not an overstatement to say that the story of Mary Jones changed the history of the world. Her amazing journey, though it happened 217 years ago, remains a tale well worth telling. Continue reading
Now that I got some basic sewing techniques under my belt (that is, after I made a shift dress, skirt and top), I decided that it was time to get into a more challenging project. I have some Liberty of London fabrics from the summer sale that I had originally planned to make into vintage style dresses. Continue reading
One day last summer I woke up to a wonderful surprise — one for the books indeed! You see, I love the West End musical shows and Shakespeare’s stage plays but whenever I bring up the subject of wanting to watch a new show, Jared would always say, “Sorry my dear, it’s just not my cup of tea. Why don’t you invite one of your girl friends to watch it with you?” 🙂 Continue reading