Thursday, May 26, 2011

Spinach and Rucola

Our vegetable garden is thriving. It is now a colorful corner. We are all proud of ourselves!

Does that mean we all have green thumbs? Well, I would say so.

Since the girls love spinach, we have decided to plant it. Since we saw some rucola seeds beside the spinach seeds, we plucked out one pack, too. Just to add more greens on our table.

We scattered the spinach seeds in the corner beside the carrort; and planted the rucola near the thyme. In just a few days, they were growing so fast. Almost overwhelming the other plants.

After two weeks, we were ready to harvest. But first, I had to admit to my first gardening mistake: we planted the spinach and the rucola too close together that they dont have enough space to grow more! My husband told me he forgot to inform me that we should scatter those seeds in a bigger lot area so that they could thrive better.

Well, it is too late. So, to atone to my gardening 'sin', I decided to just harvest them and use them in our meals almost everyday so that they would have room to grow. That means, I have to improvise especially with the spinach.

With rucola salad, the girls could eat them just freshly picked. But they love it when I add some apple slices and some drops of olive oil, wine vinegar, with salt and pepper. Our rucola just tastes better! I guess everything just tastes better when you worked for it.

What to do with our spinach? I used the leaves together with our left-over noodles, ala lasagna. First I buttered the baking tin, placed a bed of spinach, added the noodles, another bed of spinach, then noodles and some cream cheese, seasoned it with salt and pepper and topped it with gratin cheese and more spinach. I baked this mixture for 20 minutes. Result? The kids loved it. Though they said I should have added more cream cheese.

So now the garden is sprouting more spinach. I have given the neighbors a bunch; the rest I might just freeze them. Meanwhile, I am accepting recipe suggestions for spinach!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Just Believe

We have resurrected our tradition of celebrating Kids' Day, a special Sunday once a month, in which we ask the girls to decide and plan what we would do, where we would go, what we would eat; just about anything that they wanted to enjoy.

IC and MC agreed immediately for a picnic, in our garden in the mountain. After all, it was supposed to be a sunny weekend. Actually, I was surprised with their choice. It being so simple and something that we could always do even if its not a Kids Day.

Anyway, it's their choice. But wait a minute, the girls have pens and papers ready and were starting on a list for their 'simple picnic' the next day.
IC's list:
- piknik
- kuchen (cake)
- eis (ice cream)
- 4 kleine flachen flaschen (small bottles of water)
- chpilsaken spielsachen (toys)
- ein schtoftir stofftier (one stuff toy)
- birne (pear)
- mufin (muffin)
- papkorn (popcorn)
- korb (basket)
- deke decke (picnic blanket)
- buch (book)
- schlafsack (sleeping bag)
- kisen kissen (pillow)
- wasa flacken wasser flaschen (water bottles)
- malsaken mahlsachen (coloring books)

MC's list includes:
- karoten karotten (carrots)
- foto (camera)
- banane
- besteck (utensils)
- teller (plate)
- handtasche (bag)
- kiwi
- ananas (pineapple)
- himbeeren (berries)
- erdbeeren (strawberries)
- mathesachen (math books)
- käse (cheese)
- brot (bread)
- schokolade
- taschentücher (napkins)
- sahne (cream)
- hönig (honey)
- gummibärchen (gummi bears)

Alas, not so simple at all. I started baking a cake using a readymix variety. And I went to the grocery but didnt find everything on their list. Then around 9 pm, my husband said that Kids' Day might be too cold for a picnic after all!
The girls groaned but that didnt stop them. They started drawing the faces of a smiling sun on the pavement, on papers which they tacked on all windows and even wrote letters to the sun and pasted them in our doors.

'Liebe Sonne, du bist die Beste' (Dear Sun, you are the best)
'Liebe Sonne, bitte komm. Wir wollen Piknik machen.'. (Dear Sun, please come. We want to have a picnic.)

Early morning the next day, it was a little gray and windy. We wanted to postpone the picnic and just visit a farm party. Although disappointed, the girls drove with us; yet still insisting that the day would turn sunny.

And then, around noon, the sun shined! The girls urged us to go back home and bring our picnic items. Well, we did. Hurriedly I packed everything in a basket and we drove to a gliding field where we found a nice place to spread our blanket.

We had fun watching the gliders while enjoying our picnic. And what did the girls tell us? 'You know what mama, you told us to just believe and it would happen. And so we did, we believe that the sun would appear through our drawings and letters; and it did!'

Monday, May 16, 2011

Green, green garden

I told you I learned to love gardening, right? Well, my husband, who is the hobby gardener in our family; encouraged me. I mean, us, as the girls got interested in gardening, too. After clearing the bushes, mowing the lawn, and cutting the weeds and thrimming down the rose bushes; we planned our garden.

We decided to have a herb garden on the side of the porch which is accessible from the kitchen. Then we decided not to cut down the old trees scattered around the garten and instead wait after they bloom (we were not sure what kind of trees they are). We've decided to have a flower garden near the garden fence.

After planning, we listed down what we needed and drove to the next home and garden shop. We got sacks of garden soil, bought another pair of garden scissors (the girls doesnt have the time to share as they need to work faster, according to them), and choose the kind of herbs and flowers that we wanted. The girls had a hand on choosing the herbs and plants. How did they choose? Because they love the smell, they eat them, they would eat them, they look good, etc.

Back home, everbody got down on their knees and started the dirty work. The girls planted the seeds (and the plants) around our chosen herb garden corner. There's lemon thyme, dill, chives, basil, parsley, rosemary, bärlauch (bear's leek), mint, and lemon balm.  We also made space for radish, varieties of carrots, peas, cucumber and varieties of tomatoes. We also added a strawberry patch.

The girls took turns in watering the plants, their responsibility. Almost everyday, they would report to us how the garden is growing. The first greens they saw, were of course, the weeds! But they didnt know that, so we told them how to recognize the weeds and how to remove them.

Another reponsibility of the girls: to remove the weeds. They accepted the job at first, but afraid of plucking the wrong 'green' -- they delegated the job to me. Watering the garden is more fun!

After a few weeks, our garden is green (with weeds in between). The girls enjoyed watching the plants growing. They have started counting the green strawberries. And our trees? It turned out they are cherry trees, and the other bushes were currants and blackberries!

Our garden is now very green. And some fruits and plants are giving it different colors such as red, black and orange.

We cant wait for the first harvest! (And I want to know if I have the green thumb, too!)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

My Mother's Day Memories

My gift wasnt a real surprise anymore, I was with my husband when he brought the flowers last Friday. But I had to act surprise because the girls didnt know that. They hide the flowers by posting a 'Mama, Do Not Enter' sign on their room doors.

And the night of Mother's Day, the girls stayed up late. I caught them around midnight still busy on their work tables. Good thing they didnt hear me.
Mother's Day. Around 8 am, I heard the little patter of feet going up to our room. My husband and I pretended to be asleep, the patter of feet left us alone. Then I heard drawers being opened followed by the clangs of the silverware and plates. My husband warned me not to do anything although both of us were wearing huge grins.
Then I heard them coming back so I closed my eyes. Only to open them again when I heard them shout 'Happy Mother's Day'! IC was holding a breakfast plate and a plastic bag on the other hand while MC was already giving me a glass of orange juice and was trying to hide something.

After receiving hugs from the girls, I ate my breakfast which consists of three pieces of cornflakes, a slice of cheese and a slice of pear :-D They apologized that there wasnt a slice of bread as they are afraid to use the bread cutter by themselves.
Then the surprises: IC opened her plastic bag first, revealing her Mother's Day card with a poem, a cut-out butterfly, a drawing and a gift certificate stating that she would do the following chores for me: make her own bed, hang the laundry, clear the table and clean her room! MC gave me a poem, a handmade heart cushion, a hello kitty figure and sang two songs for all of us. What was sweet was that she also made a poem for her Papa, wanting him not to feel left out!

Then I am asked to stay in bed, which I love; because they are supposed to prepare the real breakfast! After a few minutes, I was escorted in the kitchen where I received my flowers and a healthy meal.

We then drove to the countryside to buy fresh asparagus and freshly picked strawberries for our dinner. And passed by a cart race. You see, my husband, as a former car racer and a Formula One fan, still hopes that the girls would have an interest in motor sports! Actually the girls proudly display his trophies in their rooms!

Dinner was in the porch as it was a sunny day. Afterwards, IC ticked through my household chore gift certificate by clearing the table, doing her bed, and cleaning her room. MC cleaned her room, too, I am sure with the urging of her little sister.

Afterwards, we cuddled and hugged in bed before the girls took off to MC's room as they will sleep together to plan the next Mother's Day.

It is great to make memories on Mother's Day.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Nanay (Mother)

There are five of us. There's only one of you.
Two sons and three daughters. A mom.

There's not so much age difference between us siblings. During those growing up times, I know that our tailoring business was still thriving. You were sewing and helping Tatay (Father) manage the business the whole time. I am left in wonder on how you beautifully coped. That is why I dont have the right to complain, what with all the comforts we have now!

All five us us graduated in privates schools. You managed to sew and be a mom.
All five of us received our college degrees. Still, you and your machine continuous to sew. And you are still a mom.

All five us us experimented in the world. Still, you waited for us until the wee hours of the morning; sometimes behind your sewing machine.

Then, came your grandchildren. You welcomed them with new small things coming from your magical sewing machine. And you would continue to make them feel welcome as they grow; because you would be sewing bigger clothes for them, too.

Dont you know that my girls cannot wait to receive those home-sewn dress coming from you? Dont you know that it is a highlight for them when they would get doll clothes specifically created for their doll babies? Dont you know how much your sewing is being appreciated? But of course, it is just one way of letting you know that you are special. My girls would always boast that Nanay makes the best dresses of them all. I just wonder, dont you miss being called 'lola' (grandmother) at all? I remember that you have decided that your first grandchild would call you 'Nanay' because you were not yet of 'lola' age when they were born.

I hope you know how much we prayed for you when you suffered aneurysm in 2004. How strong you are. That even though aneurysm had already struck, and you were in the taxi on the way to the hospital, you are still worried about your youngest child! And you fought, how you fought. I still am in awe in how you did not even attend any of the therapies after the operation. I am sad that the reason you refused to undergo therapie was the fear that it would add more to the bills, but that is part of your practicality and your own brand of stubborness.

I am in awe of your steadfastness, your hardwork and your generous heart. I cant forget that you gave all of my clothes to charity, but it was only wishful thinking that I would be able to collect those again :-D

I admire your sense of humor and I cannot forget the smell and taste of your cooking. I remember those overseas calls while I was trying one of your recipes.

Thank you for letting us go to find our own ways; for letting us learn from our faults; for the words of comfort and for our belief. Thank you for feeding our body, our soul and our hearts.

Oh and thank you; that I inherited your beautiful skin. What a wonder to know that it was thanks to you that we dont have those marks of pregnancy in our belly. I still remember when you told me, 'dont you know why you dont have any stretchmarks on you despite having two kids? That is because I dont have stretchmarks, too, and I have five of you!' Well, being a little vain wont hurt, right? :-D

Nanay, you are the best!

Happy Mother's Day to my sister, to my sister-in-law, to my mother-in-law in heaven, to my blogger friends, to my non-blogger friends.

Special Mother's Day greetings to those moms who cannot biogically conceive yet gave their hearts to their special babies.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Hullahoop and O

I promised myself I would start jogging and my hullahoop exercises when the kids go back to school after their Easter break. My plan was to bring the girls to school and then jog back home.

Although MC refused to walk to school and passed by her classmate's house to ride with them; I started my first day of jogging. Back home after 30 minutes, I gulped a glass of water, turned on the TV to CNN and started my hullahoop exercises.
At first I thought I wasnt hearing right; nor am I reading the flash reports right. O is dead! Oh, I wanted to share the news to someone but my husband was out to bring IC to school so I decided to stop my hullahooping and concentrated on the news.
Then I got caught. The celebration. I wanted to see the people in New York and I wanted to see them in Washington. Then, I wanted to know more about what happened. The remote control cant keep up as I surf channels.
Then I realized, would the death of their leader keep the group still? Or would it unleash their anger? We just dont know, right? So, suddenly, I felt a little lost and a little insecure.

Here is what I know and have given me assurance, I prayed: To those who find release and closure in the news, to those who are confused on why people celebrate because of someone else's death, to those who would be angry because they have other beliefs, to those who are afraid of any future consequences, and to those who orchestrated what happened and to those who would be orchestrating something that would not benefit the greater of us all.

And I continued hullahooping while I watch the news and once in a while, whispered prayers, too.