Monday, October 20, 2014

DIY {Do It Yourself} | Fall Centerpiece

Fall colors are at its peak here at home. Almost all of our maple trees are now dressed in bright red, orange and vivid yellow.

I wanted to bring the colors and leaves inside the house so I made these inexpensive fall center pieces yesterday while waiting for my hubby to come home {he's been working for almost 48 hours training nurses and hospital staff on Ebola virus infection control}.

Project #1:

You need:
Small serving tray {use whatever you have in your kitchen}
8 small pumpkins
Fall leaves from the backyard {choose different vibrant colors}
Scented candle jar {again use whatever you have at home, I used my Bergamot woods scentend candle from Bath and Body Works Fall collection}
Ceramic bird figurines {optional, or use any figurines you have : owls, birds, ducks}

Easy Peasy:
1. Place the candle jar in the middle of the tray
2. Put pumpkins around the jar.
3. Embellish with fall leaves and bird figurines.

And voila ....

Project #2

Yuu need:
Small round wood tray {I bought mine from a thrift shop for $1.50}
Mason gar {or any vase}
Bunch of fall flowers
2 small pumpkins
Fall leaves from the backyard

Easy Peasy:
1. Arrange the fall flowers in a mason jar.
2. Place the mason jar on the round tray.
3. Embellish with pumpkins and fall leaves.

As I always say, the kitchen is an excellent source of  materials to decorate our home. It also won't hurt to go outside and bring some of  nature's wonders inside!

Have a fantastic week!

Linking with : Tilly's Nest

Monday, October 6, 2014

Where in the World : Beautiful St. John's Newfoundland

A month ago, when we were in the thick of  unpacking boxes and making our new {old} house feel like home, my Senior Sales Director told me I need to travel for three days in St. John's Newfoundland. I've been wanting to see this part of Canada for a long time so I easily surrendered my weekend and left my hubby with those unpacked boxes on top of the 17 chickens and 2 ducks!

Known as "North America's oldest city", St. John's is located along the coast of Atlantic Ocean on the eastern tip of the the Avalon Peninsula on the island of Newfoundland. St John's holds the title of "Most Days a Year with Precipitation". An average of 212 days with precipitation a year! No wonder it was drizzling when the plane landed.

I was working most of the time I was there but I made sure to find some time to walk around the city when the sun finally decided to appear. The narrow winding streets lined with colorful clapboard rowhouses  are postcard perfect! 

One evening, we went to The Rooms for some wine and appetizers.  The food and wine choices were great but what made the gastronomic experience even more special is the awesome panoramic view of the city nestled in lush green mountains surrounded by blue water.

George Street in downtown St. John's is the centre of  entertainment district. This two blocks of pubs, restaurants and bars is known as "the biggest little street in the world". It has the most pubs and bars per square foot of any street in North America. I enjoyed authentic Newfoundland dishes in a couple of restaurants (more about these in future blog posts) and had my "screech-in ceremony" {kiss the cod} at O'Riellys. I guess a visit to Newfoundland is not complete without kissing the cod!

Further down the city block are churches and old buildings that completed the old world ambiance of this charming city in the Maritimes.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Chicken Tales : My "Girls" are Adopted!

For most of you who read my blog and facebook page,  you know by now that I am keeping chickens in our backyard. As a proud "mama" to "my girls", there's more story to tell about them than just their names. When we first saw the property in April, it was love at first sight {more about the history of the house in future blog post}. The old house is beautiful with a good size of land to plant herbs and vegetables, raise half a dozen chickens {I repeat  6 chickens!}, and keep a colony or two of bees. When we toured the main house, we felt that it was calling our names {NO, of course not in a creepy or hunted way - otherwise I was out of there even before Jayvee can say my name}. Then we were led outside in the backyard and that's when I saw this ....

The property has a built-in chicken coop with 20 live chickens in it! OMG as in literally I said "Oh my God you are answering my prayers, aren't You? I only want 6 chickens but You are giving me 20!" and I started crying. The real estate agent probably thought i'm nuts and JV said I guess you just made a sale - the chickens sealed the deal!!! BUT the story of my girls is just starting....

The Boss up there didn't just gave me ordinary chickens. He gave me hens who are ex battery hens. Huh? Battery what?

The Canadian Coalition of Farm Animals (CCFA) has this to say about ex battery hens :

"Most eggs in Canada are produced under intensive factory farm conditions where hens are confined in small, over-crowded cages for their entire life. The hens are unable to perform any of their natural behaviours such as roosting, making nests, or even walking. The cages are so cramped they cannot even spread their wings. Many birds suffer broken bones, aggression from other birds, hunger, feather loss, and foot ailments. After one year, when the birds have reached their peak production average of 6 eggs per week, they are sent to slaughter."

In short my girls are rescued from slaughter houses. Patrick (our house's previous owner) saved them from sure death, build them a beautiful house and nourished them back to health to enjoy whatever is left of their remaining chicken lives in a more comfortable and suitable surroundings. What a real "ChikenJoy"! (no pun intended Jollybee}

Jayvee and I took this chicken adoption seriously. Just like other pet adoption, this one comes with responsibilities. We want to continue {if not surpass} what Patrick has kindly started so we spend time, effort and some financial resources to make the girls comfortable and well taken cared of. As much as we can ,we try to provide them the luxury they missed during their "hard labour days" as battery hens. From the crowded cages at the egg farms, they now live here in newly painted and spacious "La Grand Maison du Poulet" {The Grand Chicken House}.

La Grand Maison has three sections. Below is the Maison de Ville {the town house} where they roost, make their nest  and lay their beautiful eggs.

Adjacent to the Maison de Ville is the Bistrot Poulet {Chicken Bistro} where their meals and other seasonal treats are served early morning and at dusk.

The west end of the Bistrot is the Jardin du Poulet (Chicken Garden} where they can do dust bathing to their hearts' content. A healthy and good smelling chicken needs to take a dust bath on a regular basis. The first time I saw my girls do this, I thought they are dying! It is one of the most unusual things I've ever seen. During the act of dusting, the hens will get as much dirt as they can all over their bodies. down to the base of their feathers. This in turn actually cleans the chicken and will asphyxiate pests that may prey on them. 

Just last Saturday, hubby lovingly added some soil and sand in their garden. During the process, the girls were so delighted picking on worms and insects! After about 20 minutes of "worm festival", some of the girls retreated to their nests and gave us 4 eggs as if  returning the favor.

Visiting the coop  2 times a day {sometimes three} is pure bliss and joy. The chickens may think that they make us {and some friends} happy for the eggs they produce daily but more than that I'm thankful for them for bringing out the compassion and kindness in animals in me. Traits that my sister {who by the way is feeding numerous  stray cats daily}and I got from our parents. We are thankful for witnessing one of God's daily miracles after the hens lay their eggs. We are blessed to be given the resources to provide for these farm animals in their second lease on life.

Some of our girls will go to pet heaven by next spring {we lost the two oldest already}. We will miss them of course but we will make sure to save other chickens {well, at least some of them} from the slaughter house by adopting a new batch in spring. Hubby and I and the rest of the girls will be happy to welcome the newbies to their new home ...

Linking with : Tilly's Nest

Monday, September 22, 2014

Oatmeal "Arroz Caldo" - A new Fall Favorite Comfort Food

The air smells like Autumn - crisp and delicious. Daylights are shorter and early morning temperature started to drop (sometimes to single digit). The sunflowers are everywhere, my own way of telling  fall is near.

In the coop, my "girls" egg popping activity is slowing down due to shorter daylight. Surprisingly, Maleficent {my black anacona hen} who lays egg every other day is now popping these cream colored eggs every day. There must be something in the autumn air that she likes ....

I decided to garnish Maleficent eggs in my new fall favorite comfort food: Oatmeal "Arroz Caldo"! 

Arroz caldo (Filipino congee), as the name implies is simply rice soup usually garnished with chicken, hard boiled eggs and spring onions. It is a very popular breakfast in the Philippines specially on a cold rainy day. Since I am trying to get rid of some unwanted pounds, a good friend of mine suggested to use oatmeal  in my recipe instead of rice. So I did and I love it! Now, I can enjoy this comfort food without feeling guilty!

While slicing and peeling my ingredients, this beautiful cedar waxwing bird landed in the backyard. What caught my attention are its single bloody red dot on its wings and the neon yellow accent on the tip of ts tail. When I looked closely, the bird's eyes are accented with black coloring as if it is wearing a mask! Simply gorgeous.

Now back to my recipe.... it took me less than 30 minutes {yes, that's even counting the photo session with the waxwing bird!} to prepare this .... equally delicious but definitely a healthier version of  my favorite comfort food ....

Oatmeal "Arroz Caldo"


2 tablespoons canola oil (or other vegetable oil)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 thumb-sized fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped 
1 onion, finely chopped
2 1/2 cups chicken stock  (add more if  needed)
2 cups shredded chicken meat (I used left over roast chicken breast)
1 cup instant oatmeal
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 hard-boiled eggs for topping
2 spring onions, thinly sliced for topping
Calamansi or lemon


In a large stockpot,  saute the garlic, onion and ginger in oil over medium heat. Cook until onion is translucent. Do not burn the garlic.
Add the oatmeal. Stir and coat the oatmeal with sautéed garlic, onion and ginger. 
Add the shredded chicken meat and cook for another minute while stirring.  
Pour chicken stock, and fish sauce. 
Cover the pan and simmer over medium to low heat. 
Stir frequently and simmer until the oatmeal are cooked. Add more chicken stock if oatmeal is getting too sticky.
To serve, ladle oatmeal "arroz caldo" into bowls and garnish with spring onions and hard-boiled egg.
Drizzle with lemon or calamansi (optional)

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