Tuesday, May 16, 2017

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros -- The Alchemist's Secret by Scott Mariani

It has been a while since I blogged. Honestly, I am at a loss on how to jumpstart the writing part. I feel so ancient! 😁 Since I am re-acquainting myself with the process of making sense with words using the keys on my laptop, I thought of participating in First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea. Basically, you just share the first paragraph, or two, of the book you are currently reading or the one you are about to read.

 At the moment, I am reading a mystery/thriller book, The Alchemist's Secret written by Scott Mariani. For my initial participation, I prefer to share the first two paragraphs (it says I can use two) to depict an interesting scene.

Chapter One

France, October 2001

Father Pascal Cambriel pulled his hat down tight and his coat collar up around his neck to protect against the lashing rain. The storm had ripped open the door to his hen-house and the birds were running amok in a panic. The sixty-four year old priest herded them back in with this stick, counting them as they went. What a night!

A flash of lightning illuminated the yard about him and the whole of the ancient stone village. Behind the wall of his cottage garden lay the tenth-century church of Saint-Jean with its simple cemetery, the crumbling headstones and ivy. The roofs of the houses and the rugged landscape beyond were brightly lit by the lightning flash that split the sky, then plunged back into darkness as the crash of the thunder followed a second later. Streaming with rainwater, Father Pascal pushed home the bolt of the hen-house door, locking the squawking birds safely in.

Will this intro excites you to read this book?  


School Days of Yore

I was just checking my inbox a while ago and since I am a bookish gal, I am subscribed to various bookshop's newsletter. I realized that after a few more weeks, it will be June already. The month of June heralds the beginning of the school year back home. Thus, I receive offers and discounts on back-to-school shopping. They even provided a checklist to make the experience stress-free, which, back then, was a constant source of headache for parents (especially if you have a number of kids and you want the best deal ever).

But here in Doha, most of the school implements a September-to-June academic year. So while everyone I know in Manila are getting ready for the new school year, I am just waiting it out to end. 😊

On the other hand, I sort of miss the feeling of doing all those rushing about to prepare for the first day of class. I never had the chance of doing such for my son because he started his school years here in the Middle East.

I remember the times when my momma and I (and sometimes with my siblings) would go to the bookshop and malls (and Divi --- the possibilities are endless) to buy a new bag, pencil case, lunch box, pair of shoes, art materials and other school stuff. I get a kick when choosing my notebooks because I cannot seem to pick a limited number of notebooks with thousands of lovely covers to choose from (I am not sure if this statement even makes sense). I also buy extras for my journal.

But the most exciting part (aside from shopping for school needs) is the idea of the first day of school. Don't we all drool about meeting new classmates, friends and teachers? Of course,  we also get to experience bouts of anxiety by just thinking of something going wrong. Who wouldn't?

taken when he was in second grade
Looking forward to new things happening in school is something I want my son to experience. I wish the time will come that we will be able to come back (hopefully soon) and share those joyous and sometimes, nerve-wracking moments of being an elementary student and mom of a school kid in Manila. What can I say? My heart still beats for my beloved πŸ’œPHπŸ’œ.

 All children start their school careers with sparkling imaginations, fertile minds, and a willingness to take risks with what they think. --- Ken Robinson

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Chicken Cashew Stir-Fry

For days, I am feeling a little out of myself. It is like I am scattered all over the place, wondering why I am a little bit antsy.

I have been a stay-at-home momma for so many years now. My baby who was born less than a decade ago is now a strong, big boy. I know he still depends on me for a lot of things but I want him to learn to do some things by himself when I am not around. I also think that I have to do something for myself to relieve the crappy feeling that seems to surface frequently.

Anyway, when I feel like this, I resort to reading a cozy mystery book or trying a new recipe. Food has become a solace and no wonder I gained a "few" pounds. 😜 I have been meaning to cook this recipe last week but I was a little preoccupied with the tower of laundry I had to finish.

So earlier today, I had the chicken from the fridge thawed a little bit and cut them into bite-sized pieces. The size was intentional so my picky-eater of a son could have a taste and would be more receptive to the new dish.

When I am in the mood to cook, I usually try to incorporate veggies in the dish. One, it is healthy and second, I am constantly trying for Miggy to be open to eating different kinds of food especially vegetables. In this recipe, you have broccoli, french beans, bell pepper and carrots.

By the way, please practice caution for those allergic to nuts as this recipe requires peanut butter and cashew. Also, one of the ingredients for the sauce is sesame oil, which, can also trigger allergic reactions to some people.

For this recipe, you will need the following:

Chicken Cashew Stir-Fry

  •     1-2 tablespoon of olive oil
  •     500 grams of chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  •     1 small head of broccoli, broken into florets
  •     1 cup of sliced carrots
  •     red bell pepper, julienne cut
  •     1/3 cup of cut french beans
  •     3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  •     chopped onions
  •     small ginger, thinly-sliced
  •     1/3 cup of cashews, unsalted ones
  •     salt and pepper to taste 

Ingredients for the sauce 
  • 2-3 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
  • 4 tablespoon of peanut butter
  • 4 tablespoon of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ginger powder


1. Prepare the sauce first. In a small bowl, whisk the soy sauce, honey, sesame oil, peanut butter, ginger powder and water together to make the sauce. Add another 2 tablespoons of water should you feel like having a smoother or lighter consistency. Set aside.

2. In a skillet, lightly toast the cashew nuts in a non-stick frying pan until golden. Transfer to a plate to cool and set aside.

3. Using the same pan (or you can utilize a wok), drizzle olive oil and stir fry chicken pieces over medium-high heat. Add a dash or pinch of salt and pepper and continue sautΓ©ing for 2-3 minutes until chicken turned lightly brown.

4. Add the thin ginger slices, sautΓ© a bit, followed by the minced garlic and do the same process for a few seconds, gently stir together with the chicken.

5. Add the french beans, carrots, broccoli, bell pepper and onions and stir fry for about 2 minutes. Keep stir frying until the veggies are tender and cooked through.

6. Stir in the peanut sauce, add the toasted cashew nuts. Gently mix all together to coat everything and quickly remove from the heat.

Serve it over a bowl of steamed rice and there you go! This dish is perfect for dinner with the family. Healthy, quick and easy to prepare.

Apologies for the photo above. I took a snap of the cooked dish in a rush. It does not really look appealing. I may have to re-adjust the water which I added in the peanut sauce to make it "less moist" in appearance but I assure you, you will love how it tasted. 😊 Liking how it turned out, somehow, my mood was uplifted with this first-time-to-cook recipe.

...no one is born a great cook, one learns by doing. --- Julia Child, My Life in France

Monday, April 13, 2015

Challenging Myself To Read More

I used to read a lot of books back when I was still unmarried and with no bigger responsibilities in life. I averaged from 50-60 books per month. It is quite a small number compared to other bookish lovers I know. Some read like 100+ books per month and they even have the time to make reviews. 

Here came my little boy. In between feeding him and changing diapers, I tried to squeeze in a little reading time. I also considered it my own version of "ME" time.  

I get stuck with 24 books every year. It is the only number I can manage. I utilize Goodreads for my yearly reading challenge. It is less complicated to use and it also serves as my recorder of my reading accomplishment. 

I am guilty of being a slacker for the past 2 months. Brief vacation, sickness from injury for my first grader, the stress taking its toll on me, my son's school activity, the great sandstorm...the list goes on.  I only have 4 books read and according to GR, I am 2 books behind. At the moment, I am reading The Lanvin Murders by Angela Sanders. Now being aware of my sluggish reading tempo, I vow to enjoy this cozy mystery tale about Joanna Hayworth, her vintage clothing store and the murder brought about by this 1930s Lanvin coat. Fingers crossed, I can close this book in 2-3 nights.  

Usually, I have a tbr pile to choose from. I pick books from the bookshelves, whether the plot excites me, the author engages me or the book cover simply lures me. During the course of this challenge, the book-splurging (shopping), recommendations from bookish friends and some magazines, the discovery of a very intriguing title (the plot has to be interesting, too) from an obscure author...the pile grows bigger and taller. This thing happens all the time. So I decided not to be so strict in following my tbr. These days, I choose a book based on my moody self. What is the point of reading if it does not interest you at all? 

I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! -- When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.  --- Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Sunday, March 22, 2015

It Has Been A While...

...Great! A lot of things had happened. I just had the sudden urge to visit this old blog. I do not even know what had happened to Blogger. The platform seems so different compared to the last time I published something. 

It is year 2015. This blog came up in 2003. As much as I love to write back then, life got in the way. So much that I have to neglect my online outlet to deal with the real side of human existence. Some years ago, I had the dilemma of inactivating this blog for good. But a wise soul breathed some words of wisdom. She said just let it be; let it float to oblivion. That someday, I will miss the fun part of writing, of fencing words and hearing the chipping of keys...of being back to journaling online.

So why am I here? I do not even know what the reason is. All I know is I am darn bored. Somehow, in my mind, my blog figured in my consciousness. The desire came about to see how it appeared online. I could not even remember the last time I tweaked it.

For now, I will not mess with whatever would make this blog "pretty." I really do not care. All I want is to revive the hobby of writing my mind, learning how to play with words. 

I hope to be back. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Keeping Touch With My First Loves

I love to read books. My preferences are crime fictions, mystery/suspense, thrillers (legal, medical and cozy mysteries), historical fictions and nonfictions.

I love coffee. Drinking coffee, that is. Generally, I prefer black with sugar but no cream, please. But I also love frappuccinos! And I collect mugs from Starbucks!

I love bags. A bag-aholic? Perhaps. I adore signature bags but I am not the type to hoard every branded bag there is (I am only lusting for 1 LV bag at the moment). I want a decent, functional bag where I can put all my stuff. I do not like the small ones and neither those over-sized bags. Medium? Probably.

I love postcards. Collecting them by themes (that I prefer) encourages me to learn more about other countries. I collect UNESCO WHS, pictorial map cards (I am navigationally-challenged, that's why), popular tourist spots, art-related, OWLs (as in the night bird)...So if you want to mail me a postcard, feel free to contact me for my mailing address.

And if you're going to ask me if I love to travel, I think any person you ask will say yes. And I do like to travel. I have visited Japan (Kyoto is heaven), Singapore (thrice, I think), Hongkong, United Arab Emirates (Dubai and Abu Dhabi) and France. Currently, I am based in Qatar (temporarily). Aside from the usual wandering around, it's the shopping for souvenirs...and postcards and snow globes that pumps me up! And now, I am waiting for the time "to pin" Italy, Spain, Turkey and Egypt on my mental map.

I am happily married to my husband and we have a little boy to complete the family.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Happy New Year!

May everyday of the New Year glow with good cheer and happiness...

May your 2012 be filled with peace, prosperity and good fortune...

Happy New Year!
From my family to yours, HAPPY NEW YEAR!



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