Crocheted Tunic

Cold Weather is here and it’s time to make something to keep us warm.  Let’s get our knitting needles, crochet hook etc. and any unfinished projects out and start working on them.  Visit a craft or yarn shop to get inspired or browse craft sites for ideas on what to make.  There is an abundance of information (diy) online which makes it easy to learn making new things.

This tunic started out as a scarf and I decided to turn it into a vest first then I found more gray yarn that had been lying around unused so I decided to make a tunic instead.  It turned out good.  I hope to write the pattern at some point.  Hopefully soon, but I’d rather create than write.

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Harvesting Lemon Grass

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Now that the weather is cooler and I know that the temperature will drop at any time to where tropical plants will not tolerate,  I have made a decision to harvest my Lemon Grass and keep them in my fridge to use in my cooking this winter.

Before starting this task, I put on denim pants, long sleeved shirt and gardening gloves to protect my skin from the sharp leaves of these plants.

I would say that harvesting Lemon Grass is labor intensive, at least for me.  I need the physical exertion so I did not mind this rigorous activity.  I planted all my lemon grasses  in big pots this year due to having learned through my friends experience that planting lemon grass in an open field is not such a good idea.  It was almost impossible to dig the whole clump because of the dense sturdy roots it sends down through the soil underneath it.  The photo below shows just how dense the roots are!F1132580-A78F-4C09-860F-ED01FD5A5BE7.jpeg

The technique of getting the root ball out of the pot depends on what kind of pot the Lemon Grass is planted on.  The photo above shows that I used a black nursery pot to plant the Lemon Grass in and it was easy enough to get the whole root ball out.  All I have to do is tap the sides and botton of the pot then shake the plant loose and it came out easy.  If the plant is planted in a pot that has a water reservoir at the bottom of the pot, the water reservoir tray has to be removed first and the roots that extend to the water reservoir tray has to be clipped before I can successfully remove the clump out of the pot.  See photo below.

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Once I cut the roots that extend to the water reservoir tray,  I can tap the sides and bottom of the pot and shake and pull the clump out of the pot just like I did for the one planted in the black flower pot.

Once the clump is out of the pot, I used a shovel to remove the dirt surrounding the plant and at the bottom of the plant.  See photos below.F1132580-A78F-4C09-860F-ED01FD5A5BE7

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Then I separate each plant by pulling each plant apart from the clump until all are separated from each other.  See photo below.

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The next step is to cut the leaves off each plant with the use of sharp scissors and also clip the roots with the use of sharp limb clipper.  Then remove the dead or dried leaves.

Wash the individual plants thoroughly using rubber gloves or disposable gloves to protect hands from cuts as the edge of the leaves and stalks of the plants are sharp.  Spread the cleaned plants on a dry towel.  See photo below.A2DC321E-BA6F-431F-95CA-ED46D8C0796C.jpeg

Once the plants are free of excess water from washing,  put them in a big plastic bag and place inside the fridge.  See photos below.

 

The photo on the left shows young plants which I will use as seedling for next year.  The photo on the right shows mature plants which I will use for cooking and give away to friends.

How To Clean Bitter Melon Seeds

The Video shows how to remove the gelatinous coating of Bitter Melon 
seeds.  

Part of Fall season gardening activities is gathering seeds for next planting 
season.  Some seeds are easier to collect than others as they come out dry but most
of them are coated with some gooey substance that has to be removed from the seeds.  One
of these seeds is the Bitter Melon seed.  Each seed is coated with a brightly red 
gelatinous substance.  I surmise that this substance attracts ants which eat the sweet,
mushy substance but leave the seeds alone and usually some of the seeds will sprout in the 
the coming year but very late in the season so it is best to collect the seeds instead of 
leaving them in the ground.  The seeds need to be cleaned and air dried at room temperature so
so that mildew or fungus will not harm it.  When they are very dry they can be wrapped 
in dry paper towel then placed in a plastic bag.



Lemon Grass

Since I planted Lemon Grass on my back patio, I have not noticed any gnats or mosquitoes hovering over me when I’m outside.    Maybe it’s too early to tell.  I would know more about it when the temperature drops down to a cooler one at the onset of Fall.  I’m really very pleased at how my Lemon Grasses grow so well in containers.  These are started from three single plants last winter, which I bought from an Asian grocery store.  I chose ones that have visible intact bud at the base of the plant and stuck them in a flower base half filled with water.  I kept them under flourescent light in my bathroom winter through spring.  They developed roots and leaves all through these two seasons in my bathroom and even produce pups or young plants around them.

When the weather was consistently warm this year, around May or Jun, I transplanted them to flower pots.  As you can see from the photo above that they almost fill up the pots that they are planted in.  It is very sensitive to cold weather so it has to be placed inside a garage or unused room inside my house.

WARNING:   THE LEAVES HAVE SHARP EDGE AND IT CAN CUT SKIN VERY EASILY.

 

How To Make A Short Blouse Longer

I have this blouse that I like so well, but  I wish that it is longer, so I decided to add a lace trimming at the hem.  See photo below.

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I found a lace fabric at Walmart and decided to use the scallop selvedge as the new hem.

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Like this.  See photo below.

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Step 1:  Measure  the width of the hem.  Divide this measurement in half this should give the the length (yardage) of fabric.  Note:  There will be lots of extra fabric since only portion from selvedge is to be used.  Remember that the fabric comes folded.  If the blouse is stretchy, add 3 to 4 inches to the yardage to allow for the stretch.

Step 2:  The lace fabric being folded,  match the scallop at each eadge together evenly using a straight pin to hold the fabric together, placing the pins all through the selvedge.

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Step 3:  Decide the length you want to add to the hem. Measure from the widest part of the scallop and mark the length with a straight pin, repeat this through out the selvedge.2F8DC87D-AB3E-4393-A096-4ACB6EAC3F12.jpeg

Step 4:  Cut 1/2 inch away from marked area straight accross the selvedge.

 

 

Step 5:  Sew the side seam of the lace fabric, right side together, using matching thread.

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Step 6:  turn the blouse hem wrong side up; lay the raw edge of the lace, wrong side up also over the hem and pin. Keep pinning blouse hem and lace together at about 3 inch interval all around.

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Step 7:  Leave 1 inch unsewn from end of the lace; use zigzag stitch to sew the lace onto the turned hem of the blouse.

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Step 8:  Leave 1 inch unsewn at the other end of the lace also.  Put machine needle and presser foot up and remove work from sewing machine.  Pin each unsewn end onto the blouse hem.  Mark the area where the two lace ends met with a pin, this is the start of the side seam of the lace.  Remove the previous pins after marking the side seam.   Align and pin together the two unsewn ends of the lace starting at the marked place, down to the scallop  hem.  See step 5.  Cut away excess fabric leaving 1/4 seam allowance.

Step 9:  Lay the lace over the blouse hem and continue to sew the unfinished gap overlapping half an inch on previous stitch and ending in a half inch overlap also.

Tada!

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Enjoy the refashioned Blouse!

The Tragic Lullaby

Woke up one night to your soft voice,  singing an old Filipino Bicol Lullaby “ *Sa Diklom Nin Bangui….”.  Why is my brother crying and restless?  Mama, you are singing to keep him still and calm…..

Oh mama, mama didn’t you you see?  My brother is gasping for lack of air!  If I know then what I know now, oh mama, mama I would declare……

Take him quick to the doctor  near  even in the darkest of nights and dangerous tide; nothing to deter you for your baby, my brother, so dear…..

In your innocent mind, a mother’s love and touch was enough to cure a poor sick child!   So through the night you sing….the baby gasping for lack of air!

I was a child, no knowledge of the world, born only to observe and listen but not to reason….. it was my role to keep silent and passive.  Why?

My baby brother dying in your arms,  I’m sad for you and for him too!  For I’m remembering all these events from long ago.

The daylight comes and then we go to doctor in the nearest town;  the quiet baby seems at rest and mama sigh relief but not for long for we are told….. “too late,” the doctor said…

”Bronchial  Pnemonia,” he proclaims too late for cure at this late hour!  The redness in my father’s eyes spoke of tears and grief withheld. No words spoken….

The silent mourners marched toward the grave of my dear baby brother; finally, my mother said as they lower the baby’s coffin to the watery grave, “my dearest child, you will be cold!”

 

* Sa diklom nin bangui translates in English as “In the darkness of the night.”

 

Thoughts Brought On By The First Rain In September, 2018

The Rain

The rain, gently pouring; children on the street frolicking under its soothing coolness.
I’m watching by my window as the swollen creek carries debris of green and brown; Young coconuts plucked forcefully by the wind; fronds browned by the sun all scurrying with a rush…. rush….rush…. hurry ….. hurry kind of way, bobbing up and down along the floody banks.

The rain, flowing on my sweaty face washing off the perspired salt – a gift from the tropic sun shining intensely  a while ago.  I taste the sweat flavored rain, it is cool and  tasty too.  It is well that the Palay had not been spread to dry this day.  It would have been a rush….rush…. rush…hurry….hurry…. hurry kind of event; and there are no clothes hanging in the clothes line which would make another rush…. rush….rush…. hurry…..hurry…. hurry…..to save the dry clothes from the rain.

The rain making the males of the family come home early from their labor,  I’m so happy upon seeing them all.  This is a very special event, all the family members gathering together in this early afternoon!  There is no rush….. rush…..rush…. hurry….hurry….. hurry,  for the rain stops our work today.

The rain subsides and the flood settles down in the rice fields nearby; the Carabaos are safe from the flood;  the chickens lazily comes out of their hiding place; my sister and I are talking about picking fallen Pili nuts off the ground, oh joy!  Let’s rush….rush….rush….and let’s hurry….hurry…..hurry….. to the Pili Nut tree!

The rain, bringing two young sisters to the flooded river where my little creek flows, having the same thinking as mine and my sister’s, never thinking of the impending danger, innocent babes – thinking only of food to be had – the black shiny Pili Nuts! They say to each other, “oh let’s rush……rush……rush…..hurry……hurry…..hurry  to swim accross the river to the Pili Nut tree!

The rain, making my brother go toward the roaring river, searching for our Carabao which he turned loose during the rain so by this gesture, it can escape the raging flood.  He hears the faint sound of someone drowning in the fast current of the river.  Rush…..rush…. rush…. hurry……hurry….. hurry, he hears his heartbeat pleading…

He sees the girl bob up and down on the surface of the river.  Once or twice he hears her moan gasping for air,  her eyes forlorn;  he grasps his bolo and quickly cut the nearest plant which is bamboo, and quickly extend it to the hands of the drowning girl!  Rush… rush….rush …..hurry…..hurry….hurry, his heart continues pleading….

My brother drags her to safety using that bamboo pole! But Alas, the younger of the sisters, who is my classmate at school, she disappears under water, not a cry was heard from her!  All the Barrio people came to search the river thoroughly.  It was only  after several hours, they found her stuck under a tree!  All attempts to revive her failed for  she has gone away!

Rush…..rush…..rush….hurry….. hurry…..hurry,  the swooshing flood still say, when every passing storm sends rain and flood the river to this day!

 

 

Crochet UFO Invaders!

In Knitting or Crochet linggo, UFO refers to unfinished object.  Most corners of my room hide a UFO or group of them.  Hiding in traveling cases, shopping bags, plastic boxes etcetera.  They come in different shape: rectangle, circle, hexagon and also in different colors.   It’s time to get rid of them one by one and the only way to get rid of them is to develop the guts to finish them off completely or unravel them to make a different project.  It’s almost putting oneself on a mission to kill malevolent invaders whom you encounter sporadically in an unexpected moment, such as when you are cleaning the house or you are looking for certain items.  I’m sure some of my craft peers have encountered this kind of problem and if you have not,  I very much admire you and send you my sincere CONGRATULATIONS!

I’m on a mission to finish this round UFO that had been hiding in my closet for almost 10 years!  It is a yarn version of a thread doily.  My primary purpose was to make this as a round table cloth.C821F7E2-72D0-434F-9265-53B55FD52BD8.jpegIt will take a few more patience, will power and few weeks to bring it to completion.

Wishing myself Good Luck!

Pork Stuffed Bitter Melon

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I remember a vietnamese friend of mine who made a pork stuffed Bitter Melon Soup.  I love the taste of that soup so I have the craving to make some, specially that my Bitter Melon plant had produced enough fruits due for harvesting.

Warning:   If you are pregnant or planning to get pregnant, or breast feeding, please, please don’t consume this fruit.  For those who have never eaten this fruit before, just be cautious and or totally avoid it. Negative reaction upon ingestion had been cited in some articles that I read here in the U.S.

The fruits and leaves of Bitter Melon are commonly eaten in most Asian countries.  It is shuned or feared in the U.S. due to inconclusive research done by a lot of pharmaceutical companies.  The possible inconclusive benefits such as anticancer, antidiabetic, antiparasitic effect etc. are overshadowed by the plant’s abortifacient and other teratogenic effects.  It is ironic that countries whose populations eat the fruit or other part of the plants  produce more children.

Ingredients I used

Meat Stuffing

1/4 tsp basil

1/4tsp parsley

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp garlic – minced

!/4 cup onion – diced fine.

1 oz rice Vermicilli – soaked for 10 minutes then cut in 2 to 3-inch long strands.

1/8 tsp salt or more if more fluid is added.

1 oz black olive – sliced and drained

1 egg

1/4 lb ground pork or chicken

1 large bitter melon or 2 to 3 small ones.

 

Soup

2 cups water

1 cup chicken broth or chicken bone broth

Green onions – chopped.

Preparation

Slit Bitter Melon lengthwise without cutting the middle part of the other side of the melon.  Cut a 1 inch slit at both ends of the other side just enough to pry open the melon. Remove the pulp and seeds with the use of teaspoon or its end.  Set aside.  Beat the egg until eggwhite and eggyolk are well blended.  Set aside.  On a medium size

Place the meat in small mixing bowl and sprinkle it with one of the spices.  Using your hand, mix the spice into the meat thoroughly.   Repeat the same process for each remaining seasoning or spice until all of them are used.

Add the drained Vermicille noodle, black olive, salt  and egg to the mixture.  Mix thoroughly.  Stuff the mixture inside the Bitter Melon.  Do not pack the stuffing mixture too full inside the bitter melon as the rice vermiccilli will expand.  Use a cooking cotton cord to tie and close the bittermelon shut at both ends and middle.

If there is extra stuffing, shape them into balls and add to the soup

Making The Soup

Place the stuffed Bitter Melon in a  kettle big enough to accomodate all ingedients.  Add the  2 cups water and the 1 cup chicken broth.  Place the Kettle on stove top and turn heat on high setting.  Cover the kettle until liquid start to boil.  Let lid vent so fluid will not overflow.  Cook until bitter melon and meat are done about 45 mins.

When meat and Bitter Melon are well done, add the green onions and turn off the heat.  Cover completely for 10 mins to cook the green onions.  If a big Bitter Melon is used in the recipe, cut it across in 3 to 4 serving portions.  Serve warm.

The soup is good for 3 to 4 people.