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.”

 

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.

 

 

Gardening In The City – II

D65AB5F9-31B9-4908-B064-1944D0E147EDThe photo above shows the young Butternut Squash fruit.  The flower petal had dried off and ready fo fall off the fruit.

Vegetable Container Gardening is fun and the fact that most vegetables adapt well in unusual environment makes this type of gardening a pleasant and healthy hobby; in addition to the joy of watching plants grow, you get to harvest, cook and enjoy the flavor of whatever vegetable you planted.

I have never grown this type of Squash before.  I was extremely pleased that it can bear fruits even if it’s grown in a pot!  The leaves are huge — the size of a big dinner plate, I’m sure the reason for this is because the pot it is planted on is on a semi shaded area, which  get direct sunlight only in the afternoon.  Plants are so adaptable, which is wonderful!  The seeds came from the grocery bought Butternut Squash which I have washed/cleaned  and dried the previous year.

This type of squash bears male and female flowers in the same plant so that one does not have to worry about planting two each planting season.  Ideally, this Squash needs a lot of space so that it’s many vines can scramble all over the place.  In my limited garden area, I let it climb on trellis or fence.  It does invade all available spaces if left alone, so if you have plants that you don’t want to be shaded from sunlight by the squash’s  huge leaves, make sure to guide the squash vines away from them.

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The Photo above shows a very young fruit with the flower still blooming.

 

Look at that glorious yellow color!!!  58A3914E-C3E6-498E-8869-EFD91894F8B7.jpeg

 

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The photo above shows two maturing fruits and one on left, I harvested.  Note the difference in color.  The mature one has orange tint coloring while the two young fruits are light green in color.

 

Gardening In The City – I

It is good to know that even if we live in a condo facility I can still garden.  However most of my plants are in containers.  The Condo facility where we live allow an individual homeowner to garden in a limited space behind the home, as long as it’s taken care of by the homeowner.   Home owners are also allowed to use flower pots placed in entry way only so that it does not get in the way of maintaining/landscaping the front yard.  Below are photos of my garden this year.

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The plant climbing on a trellis is a Bittermelon (Ampalaya, in Tagalog; Amargoso, in Bicol dialect).  As the name implies, the fruit is bitter but it has lots of medicinal value such as to fight or prevent diabetes and cancer.  The leaves are lacy and beautiful.  It is easy to control and train to stay only in areas where you want the vine to stay.  You simply guide the plant towards the area where you want it to cling.  If it clings to forbidden area, just pinch the tendril or clinger and move the vine away.  It will cling to anything on its path but the good thing is that it is easy to redirect the errant branch.

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The Bittermelon bears both male and female flowers in the same plant.  Above photo shows the front view of male yellow flower.  It has yellow orange anther which holds the pollens.

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The above photo shows the side view of the male flower.  It does not have a fruit nodule at the base of the flower as compared to the female flower.

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The above photo shows the female flower which has closed, I assume, after having been pollinated and ready to develop the fruit at its base.

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The above photo shows the immature fruit.

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The above photo shows the mature fruit.

It is good to note that there are several varieties of this plant that bears fruit in varying sizes depending on the variety.  The above plant bears a medium size fruit ranging from 4-inch to 6-inch in length.  The size is also affected by how rich the soil that the plant is planted in.

My favorite seed source for Asian Vegetable seeds: Kitazawa Seeds Company

Pineapple Tunic

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My most recent crocheted work.  I love working this pineapple design.  I used Crochet Cotton Thread from This site

The thread is very nice to work with.  I used crochet hook size 3.75mm.  This specific thread can be searched at Mary Maxim by typing on the search box “1 lb cotton thread” and clicking on the photo of the 1 lb cotton thread to see more color options.    I ordered 2 more 1 lb cones to finish the pineapple design on the sleeves.  I will crochet a skirt to match the tunic.

Transient Beauties

44479CC4-9A66-40D1-86A8-4F57F6996C8FSo Beautiful and so fragile… only last a day or two; each bright bloom reminds me of a passing day, a fleeting moment under the bright sunny sky.  How can I have a bitter and unforgiving heart and at the same time admire these beauties before my eyes?   I will forgive, I will be generous just like these flowers which put forth everything it has to give.  I will Give and forgive and therefore be happy for this is the season of my life!

Advance Happy Mother’s Day to all MOTHERS!

Ambidextrouse Crochet

What does Ambidextrouse crochet mean?  The technique of using both right hand and left hand in making crocheted work.  Right handed crocheters hold the hook on the right hand and make the crochet stitches from right to left; at the end of a row, the work is turned and the crocheter makes the next row from right to left again.  Crochet stitches have a right side and a wrong side.  The right side or visually smooth side of a crochet stitch is the one made facing the crocheter and the wrong side or bumpy side of crochet stitch is the one facing away from the crocheter.   By using right hand only to manage the crochet hook, the crochet rows are made up of alternating right side and wrong side of stitches.

The result of the crocheted work done by left handed crocheters is the same as that of the right handed crocheter.   Left handed crocheters hold the hook with the left hand and make crochet stitches from left to right.   But what if one desires crocheted work where the stitches are all facing in the same direction so that the work has a definite right side and wrong side?  This is where the advantage of being an ambidextrouse crocheter comes in.

To be an ambidextrouse crocheter is to be able to crochet using left hand and right hand technique.  This means that if one is a naturally right handed individual, he/she will have to learn to crochet left handed and vice versa for naturally left handed person.

I am in my 2nd month on teaching my left hand how to crochet.  My right hand is functioning at an expert level while my left hand is functioning on beginning level.  What motivated me to learn to crochet left-handed is the desire to teach my left-handed crochet students easily and more efficiently.  By becoming a beginner on left-handed crochet technique,  I can empathize more on their difficulty in learning a new craft.  It takes time and patience, to train the muscles of one’s hands and fingers to work together.  I am learning that my left hand cannot really duplicate or mirror everything that my right hand does, for example, my right hand holds the crochet hook “pencil grip” style while my left hand holds the crochet hook “claw”/”cup hold” style.  To try to teach my left hand to  hold the crochet hook like my right hand does is next to impossible.  To do so is very uncomfortable and creates muscle strain on my wrist.  So in Crochet there is no right way or wrong way to hold the crochet hook.  Hold it in a way that works for each individual crocheter without creating discomfort on fingers or wrists.