Earth Hour

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Merry Christmas Friends!


Friday, November 25, 2022

IKEA gives Filipinos a taste of Scandinavian Christmas

 When IKEA opened its doors in the country in December last year, I hoped it would bring in the holiday decorations I often see in its online catalog. Too bad that didn’t happen then.

This year, however, the retail giant went full blast on their Christmas/Holiday items, bringing the Vinterfint collection to our shores. I, and I am sure many fellow IKEA Filipino fans, just went and bought as much as we could. 

There was an assortment of shiny baubles, LED lights, trees, and decorations to mark the season. There were even festive table linens, plates, and napkins for the Christmas dinner.   

I particularly like this ceramic horse and reindeer set.

As well as this Christmas gnome.

While reading the small prints revealed that these were 2021 items, they still gave us Filipinos a chance to decorate our homes differently from the American-style Christmas decorations.

Have a Merry Christmas, everyone!

Thursday, April 14, 2022

VISITA IGLESIA 2022: New and Familiar Churches Around Quezon City

 We just completed our Visita Iglesia this year.  We weren't able to do this in the past two years due to the quarantine restrictions imposed by the government.  Compared to the last time we observed this tradition, the mood in most churches was more subdued, and people were seriously praying their rosaries and stations of the cross.

We decided to go to churches in Quezon City at sunset when the Lord's Supper Mass was about to begin.  The mass at the first church we visited had already started.  Along Cordillera St., the Our Lady of Fatima Parish is near our house.  

From this church, we went to Mayon Street.  We visited the Parish of Sta Teresita, which houses a Capuchin monastery.  The church has been on the land donated by the Araneta family since before the last world war.  I couldn't get a good angle of the exterior, but I managed to take a picture of the altar from where we were seated.  

We went a few blocks from the place and reached the National Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes. I found out that the original shrine was in Intramuros until it got destroyed during the Second World War.  When missionaries found the image, they brought it to the Sta Teresita Church we earlier visited.  The icon stayed there until the Capuchins had the new shrine built and completed in 1977.

 Following the customs of the Catholic Church, the statues and images inside the church were draped in purple cloth.


The next church we visited was the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Shrine along Broadway St. in New Manila.  The shrine is the center of devotion for the Brown Scapular.  As expected, the traffic was heavy in the church's vicinity, so we decided to walk the few meters going to the church.  

We visited the St. Joseph Convent of Perpetual Adoration for our fifth church.  The place is in the middle of Hemady St, a road dotted by old and modern mansions. The convent is home to the Pink Sisters, an order of cloistered nuns who spend their day praying.  You can even ask them to pray for your special intentions.  The exterior was not well lit, so sorry for the poor quality of the photo.

Our first choice for our sixth stop was Christ the King Seminary, but the traffic going inside was heavy. We decided to go to Sto. Domingo Church, instead.  While our goal was to visit churches we hadn't visited in our previous Visita Iglesia, we decided on the church since it was more accessible from where we were.

We were surprised that there were fewer people this year visiting the church.  Perhaps the devotees visited earlier in the afternoon and left after the mass.  There were still groups praying at the stations of the Cross when we arrived.

We ended this year's Visita Iglesia at our parish church, the Holy Trinity Parish Church in Manila, as part of the tradition.  This church is very memorable to me.  I went to hear mass every Sunday in this church during my elementary school days.  It went through a lot of renovation over the years, but the basic structure is still there.  Beside the church is the school where I finished elementary, and then I transferred to a different school.  

After saying our prayers, we headed home and plan to do this again next year with God's grace. Hopefully, we can visit churches we haven't gone to or even those farther from our location.

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Enjoying the Nespresso Coffee Experience
 I like drinking coffee.  I always have a cup every morning to perk me up and prepare for the day's tasks.  I don't know when I developed a taste for brewed coffee and when I started brewing coffee at home using the drip method, there was no going back to instant coffee. When outside of our house, I usually buy lattes from well-known cafes. 

I've always wanted to bring the cafe experience home, but espresso machines are costly here.  I first wanted to get the Keurig since I had tried it while visiting family in the US.  However, the brand is not available here, and getting one online is out of the question.  Aside from the fact that we cannot find any store selling their coffee.

  Last December, I opted to try the Nespresso brand, which sells machines that make espresso from capsules filled with pre-apportioned coffee grounds.  

Since I just wanted to see how good the product is, I opted for the most basic of their machines,  the Essenza Mini.  This device is so easy to use.  Fill the water container at the back with water and turn it on by pressing one of the two buttons on its topside.  A light blinks which signals that the water is heating (and maybe the needed pressure to extract the coffee flavors). Once the light stops blinking, your machine is ready.  

Just flip open the chamber on top and insert a capsule of your chosen coffee flavor.  You can choose between two sizes: espresso or lungo.  Espresso is a single shot, while the lungo is about a double shot and takes longer to express.

Is it a suitable replacement for cafe-bought coffee?  If you ask me, yes.  Those popular coffee shops aren't the benchmark for good coffee anyway.  Besides, the Nespresso brand has a wide selection of coffee variants we can choose from.  

When you buy a machine, you get 10 free capsules.  I got two sleeves of coffee -- Shanghai and Buenos Aires from their World Explorations line, which is suitable for lungo.  My favorites include Tokyo, Vienna, and Stockholm.  Store staff told me that Stockholm is one of their best sellers because of its rich, sweet, and slightly bitter taste.   

I also tried flavors from the other line, like the Ispirazione Firenze Arpeggio from the Ispirazione Italia line.  I have only one word for it: divine.  It is creamy and bold.  I received a sleeve of 10 capsules as a Christmas present, along with the limited edition "Gift of the Forest" collection.

You can add your favorite milk frothed or just warmed if you want to.  I use a frother bought online and make a latte when I feel like having one.  Since I am lactose intolerant, I use Arla Lacto Free Full Cream Milk.  

In case you're wondering, Nespresso has a recycling program for the capsules. You can drop them at their boutique or pop-up store.  They also give a recycling bag that could fit up to 200 used capsules.

I enjoy having a Nespresso coffee paired with a slice of cake or biscuits each day.  It's a convenient way to have the cafe experience in the comfort of your home.