Lifestyle Blogger. Promdi. Filipina.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The Civil Wedding Ceremony

My youngest sister recently got married via a civil wedding ceremony. She’s getting married in a church ceremony in December, but she was advised that it would be good for her to get the legal ceremony out of the way before the church ceremony so she and her now-husband went in front of a judge here in our municipality and said their I Dos.

civil wedding

I didn’t expect the ceremony to affect me the way that it did when my other sisters got married in church. I thought that with it being a simple ceremony before a judge that it wouldn’t be as moving as a church one. I was wrong. I felt this urge to tear up during the ceremony. I had to control myself since there no one else seemed to be in the verge of tears as I was.

It was nice that the judge who officiated the ceremony was a nice guy. He had a sense of humor that made the ceremony less stuffy and more fun. He even encouraged photos to commemorate the whole thing, with him included of course!

I loved that being a small ceremony, everything was more intimate during the civil wedding. It was good to share something special with a small and select group of people. 

It was so good to see my sister smiling and laughing during the ceremony. Before the relationship with her husband, her previous one ended badly, and it hurt her so much that I thought it would be hard for her to recover. Thankfully, she met her husband and the rest is history. 

The newlyweds will still be having their church wedding in December. As nice as that one will be with the fancy outfits, the big reception and all the fancy decorations and whatnot, I think that I will still like this civil ceremony more. It had the couple at their most unguarded, at their most natural. Same goes with friends and family. 

If I ever get to the point of getting married myself, I’d probably prefer a small and intimate wedding just because this one felt so much better to me than the bigger weddings that I’ve been to with all the fanfare. It was just my sister and her husband and the immediate members of their family, along with a couple of close friends and relatives.

Personally, I don’t understand all the things that go with weddings these days. Maybe it comes with age, but I feel that the simpler they are, the better. I think it’s much more practical to spend on the couple’s life together than to spend all that money on just that one day. I’ve heard of people who have had to borrow money just to afford their weddings and I just don’t think that is the right way to go.

There’s something to be said of the small and intimate ceremony. Even if it’s not as small as a civil ceremony with a few family and friends, having an intimate church ceremony for me feels better for me now that I have seen how it can be like. From what I’ve read of some other weddings done in other countries, some couples opt for the small and intimate ceremonies then just choose to have a “wedding dinner” for the bigger group of people after. If I were to get married, I’d probably want to do that. 

I still can’t believe that my youngest sister, our little baby, is now a wife. It feels just like yesterday that I would carry her in my arms and sing her to sleep. Next thing you know she’ll be the one doing the same thing to her own baby. I know she’s got other babies she’s focusing on right now like her work, blog and business, but you never know right?

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Monday, October 14, 2019

The Accidental Icon Update

As I have mentioned in an earlier post, I am a fan of the blogger Lyn Slater, aka Accidental Icon. I shared my post on Facebook when it came out and tagged her. To my surprise, she posted a comment to reply! I can't believe I never shared this!

Accidental Icon


I know that this is a bit of a late reaction, but I didn’t realize that apart from raving about this development on my other social media accounts, I did not give an update about this here on my blog. Since it all started here, I think that it is something that should be updated here as well.

Lyn’s blog was the inspiration that I needed to continue blogging. When I started in 2003 (with a different url…I’ve had several through the years), blogging was so different from what it is today. At one point I questioned if I should continue blogging since so many of the people who blogged during the time that I started were not doing it anymore.

Blogging today is a whole new environment. I don’t think that my blog is up to par with the more popular, “influencer” ones that are out there and I questioned whether I was too old to be doing this. Once I discovered Accidental Icon, I realized that it was never too late and that I was never too old to keep on doing something that I loved. 

I was so happy to discover through the reply from Lyn that she had read my blog. It warmed my heart to find out that she thought my voice was “engaging, self-reflecting and honest.” I may not be like the other bloggers out there, but I realize that it was better not to be. 

Yes, I am not a successful blogger when it comes to popularity and income but as long as I am being true to myself, that is what matters. After all, I did not start the blog for popularity and money anyway. 

Yes, it would be nice if I could monetize my blog, but it was started as an outlet, something to help me decompress from the stresses of everyday life. If that purpose is being fulfilled, I will keep on going. It may not be a daily thing like before, but it would still be something for me to do when I felt like it.

One post that I recently enjoyed from Lyn Slater’s blog is her entry on “What Nowness.” It’s about change and reinvention. I may not be in the same situation as Lyn as her post was about retirement, but for me I’ve felt the same urge for change in terms of my career and wondering, “What now?”

I can’t help but wonder how my future is now unknown, that I am at a crossroads and that I am currently either waiting for a shift from my environment or an instinctual push from my own subconscious to know what to do next. 

There is an urge for me to focus on my creative side. But, given the number of people that I am responsible for, the risk of up and leaving my current job for something that doesn’t assure me of financial stability is too big to make that move.

For now, I feel like I just need nourish my creative side whenever I have the time to do so. Take pictures, write, draw, paint. Anything that strikes my fancy. Anything that inspires me. Just put whatever I have out there and see what sticks. Maybe one of those things can be the what now that I’m looking for.

What do you think?

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Friday, October 11, 2019

Keto-Friendly Baked Fish Recipe

My sister is currently getting ready for her December wedding by going on a Keto Diet. She’s been very strict with following this diet and has lost a lot of weight since she started. Since she only eats food that are keto-friendly, I decided to try preparing a dish that the family can all eat together even if she is on her diet. One recipe that I found via the Yummly app was Baked Fish with Mushrooms by CDKitchen.

As with any recipe that I try, I tend to tweak them a little to fit into what ingredients are readily available. Since I was making it keto-friendly, I checked in with my sister and showed her the ingredients to make sure it was something that she could have. Ingredients and instructions are credited to CDKitchen, with italicized notes being my tweaks on the recipe.

Ingredients:

1 pound fresh or frozen fish fillets, ½ to ¾” thick – I had no idea how to estimate this (not my strongest suit) so I just bought two packs of cream dory fillets from SM Hypermarket.

2 tablespoons butter or margarine – I used butter. I haven’t used margarine in anything ever because I don’t like the way it tastes!

1 1/2 cup sliced fresh mushrooms – I used a can of button mushrooms since I couldn’t find any fresh ones.

1/4 cup sliced green onions

1 teaspoon snipped fresh tarragon or thyme – I used thyme because there was no tarragon available. I only used McCormick Thyme Leaves because again, no fresh ones available. 


Instructions:

Thaw fish, if frozen. Rinse fish; Pat dry with paper towels. Cut into serving size pieces, if needed. 

This was easy enough, but I realized that patting freshly rinsed fish used up too much paper towels. I should have found another way to dry them. I felt like I wasted too many paper towels…or did I rinse the fish too much?


Arrange fish in a 2-quart rectangular baking dish, turning under thin edges. Sprinkle with salt. In a small pan, melt butter; add mushrooms, green onions, and dried tarragon, if using. Cook over medium heat until mushrooms and green onions are tender. 

Spoon mushroom mixture over fish. Sprinkle with fresh tarragon, if using.

My baking dish wasn’t as instructed, I used what I had. I think I went overboard with the salt – I rubbed instead of sprinkled, and I was worried that the fish was a bit on the salty side. It was a good thing that the butter with the mushrooms and spices seemed to help overpower the salt.


Bake, covered, in a 450 degrees F oven for 12 to 18 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.

I forgot to cover the fish! And I forgot to check the temperature!

Thankfully, since I was watching over the oven like a crazy person, I managed to cook the fish properly. Once the fish flaked easily, I took it out of the oven to serve to the family.


This finished product:

keto friendly baked fish

According to my family, who love and would probably never tell me if I did not do this right, the fish was good. As much as I appreciated the support, I know that I could still improve on it (by following instructions, for one thing) and I could probably tweak it a little more to adapt to the ingredients that we have at home. Maybe add a little here and there to make up for the fact that some of the items I added were not as instructed. 

This is the second cream dory fillet recipe that I’ve tried so far. Hopefully I can discover some more recipes using white fish fillets (which are readily available here) in the future that I can share with everyone. 

Any suggestions?

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Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Appreciation Post: Fresh Produce

When I first moved to the province from the city, I felt that my stay would be temporary. Now that I am two decades into it, I feel that there’s no place I’d rather be. Aside from enjoying the fresh air and not living in an overcrowded area, one of my favorite parts about it is getting fresh produce like fruits and vegetables easily – sometimes even at no cost!

My sister and her husband are good with planting/gardening. We’ve been able to harvest the following organic fruits and vegetables from their hard work: Chinese Cabbage (Pechay), Papaya, Malunggay, Calamansi, Lemongrass, Chilis and Dragonfruit. No fertilizers and no pesticides used. Our garden may not produce a lot, but it’s a start. Fresh fruits and veggies straight from the garden. Who doesn’t want that?

dragonfruit

I don’t have a green thumb; I can’t begin to count how many plants have died under my care. But I do love that we are able to do this here. I’d love to invest in some plant boxes so that we (meaning my sister and her husband) can plant some more or possibly break off some cemented parts of the house so we can have more land to plant in.

Aside from fruits and vegetables from our garden, we also get a lot of the same from friends and neighbors who have their own trees and plants in their own gardens. Recently we got some rambutan from a neighbor. Sometimes we get fresh mangoes from another. We also get a regular bunch of bananas from the harvest of yet another neighbor. All organic and for free! How often can you say that when you live in the city?

rambutan

In these times when we need to be living sustainably, it’s a good thing that we can have the opportunity to produce our own fruits and vegetables. I think everyone should be encouraged to start a garden of their own at home, no matter how small. There’s just this different appreciation for these items when it comes straight from your garden. Considering how weirded out I am by how some fruits and veggies look in grocery stores, it’s great to have normal looking produce to enjoy.

I read from a post of a friend on Facebook that having your own garden at home is not just sustainable living but it also helps the environment in terms of water absorption, because having an inch of compost and plant cover can increase the ability of the land to absorb water by 20%. This helps to absorb water/rainfall during the rainy season. In some areas, that can help minimize flooding and this can also help recharge our groundwater aquifers for future use, since most areas are having groundwater shortage issues already. 

While I do encourage having your own garden, this does not mean that I discourage acquiring your produce elsewhere. I think that we all need to support our farmers and buy from them as well. Here in our part of the province the fruits and vegetables come directly from the farmers themselves, so buying from the market is a great way to support them. 

If you are in the city, another way to support farmers would be to buy from Session Groceries, which works directly with farmers to sell their products. That way they earn more from their hard work instead of being paid little if they go through other routes/middlemen to sell their produce in grocery stores and other markets. When you order products from them, they deliver the produce right to your door. I haven’t tried it myself, but I’ve seen the reviews and I think it’s a very promising venture that I hope other provincial farmers can benefit from in the future. 

If you haven’t tried gardening/planting your own fruits and vegetables, I suggest experimenting on it. Having your own fresh produce is very fulfilling, even for someone like me who just enjoys the benefits of it. 

If you don’t have a green thumb, support local farmers as much as you can. Not only will you be sure of the kind of produce you get, you’d be helping other people as well. 

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Monday, October 7, 2019

Embracing the Gray

One thing that reminds me that I am aging is my white hair. I’d say gray but when I stare at them, they aren’t really gray, they’re white. I have been coloring my hair every three to six months or so to cover them up and it takes a lot of work. I don’t know if I was the patience for this gray hair cover-up process anymore since I end up with this look on the top of my head just a few months after coloring:

embracing the gray


It’s a hit or miss kind of thing trying to figure out the best gray coverage with the right kind of shade for me. There’s also the matter of making sure that my hair doesn’t go dry and brittle from too much coloring.  I've been having hair fall issues and I worry that it’s from all the coloring too so I am hesitant about making this a “rest-of-my-life" thing. 

Coloring my hair at the salon is too expensive because I have long hair that goes down to my mid-back. Coloring my hair at home, on the other hand, is a process – often a messy one. It’s just too much work. As I’ve mentioned before, I have been considering embracing the gray instead of continuously coloring my hair. It just seems the simpler, less-stressful thing to do. 

I’ve discovered that there are several women even younger than I am who are embracing the gray. There is even an Instagram account called @grombre that celebrates women with gray hair. I’ve also read an article on Glamour that mentions the names of celebrities who have also embraced the gray themselves. It also features other women who are making the transition and stopping with the hair coloring to cover the grays up. It’s an inspiring/encouraging read. 

My last hair color was in April (more or less, I can’t remember when exactly). I’ve decided that I will stop coloring my hair and let it see how it grows out (for now).   

My sister is getting married in December and I’m going to be a bridesmaid so there is still a possibility that I will color my hair then but at this point, I am leaning toward letting my hair be the way it is, unless my sister intervenes for the benefit of her wedding photos. I’m hoping that the hairdresser can make it work without suggesting that I color it.  

Considering how much goes into the hair coloring process: the chemicals, the packaging and all that, I think that it is also an earth-friendly thing to stop coloring my hair altogether.   

In the past year or so I have been more conscious about the waste items that I produce. The hair color products are in plastic packaging so imagine my horror when I realized how much plastic I have thrown in the trash throughout my hair color phase.  

I can’t keep coloring my hair and destroying the planet at the same time. I don’t think there will be a point to my gray-less hair if the planet is reaching extinction. I know some people might think I’m overreacting but I think every little thing counts. I may not be able to avoid producing waste, but if I am capable of at least reducing that in areas where I can, I feel that I should do it. It doesn’t hurt that it will be easier on the wallet too since I usually have to use two boxes at a time with my hair.  

So, there you have it: I’ve decided to embrace the gray. I don’t know how my hair will end up in the long run, but I will be less stressed out about it since I don’t have to color my hair every three months anymore. I’m in my 40s. I’m aging and I’m going to deal with it.  

Anyone else agree with me? Let’s embrace the gray now! 
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Friday, October 4, 2019

Managing Screen Time for Kids

Kids these days have grown up very differently compared to the way I grew up in my day. We didn’t have the internet. We didn’t have gadgets like smart phones back then. Who knew that one of the big problems for parents today would be controlling screen time for children? I don’t think I ever imagined this technologically advanced world we live in now!

I think a meme I saw on Facebook showed it well: back then, parents had to scold their kids for staying out too long playing with other kids but now parents force their kids to go out and play with others. Technology has played such a big role in this because while I grew up playing video games on my TV or on green-screened portable players, kids can now use their mobile phones and tablets to do this. And if you let them, they can do this ALL DAY.

I don’t have my own children, but I do have a niece and two nephews that I often spend time with. These days I’ve come to appreciate the childhood that I had that did not involve the constant use of gadgets, so I make it a point to have activities with the kids that do not involve them.

nondigital time with kids


My younger nephew is only 5, but he has already played games and watched videos on phones/tablets for a few years. For a time, his mom was worried because his eyelids used to twitch a lot and she thought it was from too much gadget use so she decided to limit screen time for him. My sister and her husband got him a bicycle and that is something that he enjoys that takes him away from phones and tablets (plus, it’s good exercise).

Another thing that my sister has enforced is having times when my nephew (and his teenage sister) can use gadgets. Sometimes gadgets are also withheld completely when they need to concentrate on schoolwork. Considering how distracting gadgets can be, that is a good call.

When it comes to spending time with my nephew, I try to come up with activities with him that do not involve gadgets. However, I do try to have activities that are related to the things in the games and videos that he usually enjoys. We play with his toy dinosaurs and reenact the dinosaur battles in the games that he plays. Sometimes we draw the dinosaurs and color them. When he was in his train phase, we used to play with toy trains, or pretend to be trains ourselves.

nondigital time with kids


Another thing that my nephew and I have come to enjoy together is playing Jenga. For someone so young this little guy is so good at the game! He has beat me several times and this has encouraged him to play the game more. I think that while it’s not physical activity, it’s still better than too much screen time. 

The good thing about limiting screen time with kids, based on the experience with my nephew is that you get to condition the child to not spend too much time on gadgets. We’ve noticed that even if my nephew does enjoy playing games or watching videos on gadgets, he gets tired of them easily and moves on to doing other activities. He stops watching or playing on his own accord, we don’t need to tell him to stop or remind him not to use gadgets too much. He does it on his own.

nondigital time with kids

Are any of my readers parents with kids who also enjoy their screen time? What do you do to manage their screen time? What kind of activities do you have with your kids to minimize their gadget use? I’d love to know!

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Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Thoughts on Reusable Grocery Shopping Bags

I’ve been an advocate of the habit of carrying reusable bags for shopping for a while now. I am very happy that many people are now practicing the same habit so that shoppers can avoid the use of plastic bags. But I still have my reservations when it comes to reusable grocery tote bags...my biggest issue with it being how “reusable” they are.

I still stand by my earlier post and prefer reusable canvas/tote bags, particularly for groceries. The ones that are usually sold at grocery stores are made of the type of cloth material that tears easily if the contents are too heavy. This will eventually end up in the trash. Are they even compostable? 

The bigger ones, while reusable, are usually made of plastic which, in the long run, will be another thing to add to the growing number of solid waste in the world. Just thinking about it gives me so much anxiety. 

My sister and I have made it a habit to ask for boxes instead of bags when we go grocery shopping. It’s much more practical than carrying hordes of bags when we do our shopping for monthly household needs. We figured it’s much more practical considering that grocery stores do have these boxes when items are delivered to them.

It was a surprise to us when one day we were informed at SM Hypermarket that they are no longer allowed to use boxes to pack our purchases. We were forced to buy their small reusable bags, which were so impractical to carry, especially since not everything can fit into bags of that size. We have since started to bring big reusable shopping bags, but I still feel it was much better to use the cardboard boxes we were used to.

reusable grocery bags


According to a sign I saw, the reason they are refusing to let shoppers use the boxes is because they will be sending those boxes for recycling. I found that odd – isn’t it practical that they are reusing the boxes with the shoppers who, in turn, can send the boxes off later for recycling? 

Sometimes I think that it's more of an optics thing: it’s a good way to show corporate social responsibility, a good way to show they are being “earth friendly.” Other times I think it’s a profit thing too since those green bags go for P10.00 each, and it costs even more money for the bigger bags. 

As disappointed as I was about this development, I still appreciate that an effort is being done to be earth-friendly, even if I feel it’s not quite the perfect move. At least it’s a step in the right direction somehow. It makes people more aware and more conscious of what can be done to reduce our use of bags that eventually end up in the trash.

I wish that stores could have a way of recycling the bags that they sell since, as I said, they will eventually tear (for the small bags) or are made of plastic (for the bigger ones). It would be great if they can collect these bags from their shoppers – maybe they can have a collection area in each store and show how these bags can be recycled/reused to ensure that they don’t end up in a landfill or worse – the ocean. 

We are still a long way to go before we go zero-waste when it comes to shopping. I don’t even want to start with online shopping on this one. I just hope that eventually we can figure something out that will be best for everyone – the shoppers, the stores and the planet as a whole.

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