Alternative Concept

A collection of random, spontaneous and reflective thoughts and views. A reflection of curious mind and pondering emotions, seeking an avenue to bare it all.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Planner

My mother has told me that my brother might be getting married soon but not sooner. So by now I was thinking of planning a budget, practical and yet elegant wedding that would not hurt anybody's pocket. I know for sure, I will have my share on this wedding which I don't mind. For now, I have ideas which I would strongly recommend to them.

Invitation: You don't need a large, bulky invitation for a simple wedding. 2-3 pages are substantial and the simplier it is, the better. I think having an invitation in nature theme is a wonderful idea, and having it handmade would add a personal touch. Handmade paper, cardstock, flysheet, ribbon or even dried flowers can make a difference.

Recommended Sites:
Paperzone (www.paperzone.com)
InviteSite (wedding-invitations.invitesite.com)

Wedding Cake: My previous blog featured cupcake wedding cake and I intend to have such to have a unique, simple and practical wedding cake http://alternativeconcept.blogspot.com/2005/07/wedding-cupcake.html . Cupcakes in the Philippines can be bought for as little as less than P10.00 (less than US$ 20 cents) if you buy in a local bakeshop but if you choose to have it done by known bakeshop, I'm pretty sure it will cost about US$ 40 cents each. We can do the frosting and decorations by ourselves (my sister and my aunt are good in this).


Lunch/Dinner Feast: I am always an advocate of small family wedding and done in the privacy of your own home. If I have my way, I prefer these easy to prepare and exotic dishes. Most Filipino weddings are done in buffet since having a plate-in would cost so much time and money (to pay the server), this is because wedding is regarded as a feast - your invited guest will bring his/her own guests as well. Some opted for restaurant or hotel reception to limit the number of pax and to save as well. But if it is a house reception, expect to see unfamiliar faces.

Appetizer: Lumpia Shanghai and Lumpia Vegetable, & Ham/Asparagus Rolls

Salad: Egg Salad or Coleslaw
8 eggs
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons chopped pimento

Note: Filipinos are not keen on salads but to extend the variety of dishes. This salad will bring a shock for sure for some people because egg is not usually served in weddings, but it will boils down to taste and presentation.

Main Dish: Chinese steamed fish (whole fish served in wedding is considered by Chinese a good luck)
Crunchy Fish Finger in Tartar Sauce
Orange or Pineapple Pork Spareribs
Beef Stroganoff
Buttered Vegetables

Dessert: Coco Bico (a new recipe I found on the daily paper)
Fresh Fruit Flatter
Leche Flan

Chicken macaroni soup


My husband cooked this few weeks ago. I was on my eating mood of having chicken macaroni soup. With pasta available, a left over chicken and a dozen of egg, my husband was so wonderful enough to gave in to my request. He usually cook without any measurement, just perfect approximation. I don't know how he made it but the addition of hard boiled egg was a perfect combination. It was yummy and creamy!

Fish and Chips

I remember the fish and chips shop in Toowoomba near Coco's Fresh Food Market (along Hume Street), and they have the best f & c in downtown Toowoomba. Last Saturday, I fancied eating fish and chips. Though my chips are actually french fries (Aussie chips are thicker and larger than the shoe-string fries of the Americans) but it is still potato. I used two kinds of fish (I dunno the names) but they are very fleshy and flaky and a good choice for my own version. Instead of having beer as a batter, I used water. With no exact measurement, I mixed the ingredients to make a batter

All-purpose flour
Baking powder (I have no self raising flour)
Salt
Pepper
Water

I try not make my batter so watery so the mixture will coat the fish thoroughly.

Deep-fried some ready-made chips, and voila! A hearty (?) lunch for me and my husband.

With no tomato sauce around, I was forced to buy a sweet chili sauce from a nearby small convenient store. The sauce is not as tasty as the one from Thailand, but better than nothing.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

What's wrong with my inquiry?

I found a website that sells handmade paper in my country Philippines. With a plan of expanding our range of products, I inquired about getting locally produced handmade papers. I sent an online inquiry and after a week I received nothing. Then I sent an email to the address and until now (almost a week) received nothing from them. I am not sure if there is a problem with my inquiry, seems this company is not interested with my query. I supposed they don't like pesos, insted they prefer dollars. Tsk tsk tsk....isn't business not to discriminate? It's their loss not mine. I could still find some small business who are producing this material.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Jacaranda


When I was still in uni, when the final examination is fast approaching, we try not to pass through under the jacaranda tree. There is a myth/belief that when a single petal of the flower fell on your head, you will fail the exam. It was such a ridiculous belief but never in my uni years I tried walking under the jacaranda tree. I am not sure if it is only the Filipinos have this coz I saw most of the Aussie didn't care at all. Nevertheless, October is a beautiful month when in uni because of the blooming trees.

Brisbane University

Brisbane provides excellent universities, three are reputable ones - UQ, QUT and Griffith.

The University of Queensland (UQ) www.uq.edu.au

The University of Queensland (UQ) is one of Australia's premier learning and research institutions. It is the largest and oldest university in Queensland and has produced generations of graduates who have gone on to become leaders in all areas of society and industry. US has 3 campuses - St. Lucia, Gatton, and Ipswich. Other UQ locations include teaching hospitals and health centres, veterinary science centres, agricultural science farms, marine research stations, physics research stations, seismograph stations and an underground mine. UQ is one of Australia's top eight universities. UQ is my alma mater.












St. Lucia Campus












Gatton Campus










Ipswich Campus


Queensland University of Technology (QUT) www.qut.edu.au

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) is one of Australia's largest universities, enrolling 40,000 students, 12 per cent from overseas . We can offer you a broader range of undergraduate degrees than most other universities, with the flexibility to choose a combination of study areas as well as participate in exchange programs with overseas universities.
QUT is the largest provider of bachelor degree graduates into full-time employment in Australia each year and its graduate employment rate is well above the national average for Australian universities. QUT has campuses in Gardens Point, Kelvin Grove, Carseldine, and Caboolture.












Gardens Point Campus












Kelvin Grove Campus










Carseldine Campus


Griffith University www.gu.edu.au

Griffith University is one of Australia's most progressive and dynamic tertiary institutions. With five campuses in the Brisbane-Gold Coast corridor, and a total of some 27,000 students, Griffith University is acknowledged as one of Australia's top universities. A wide range of degrees are offered, from biomedical science to international business, aviation to education, law to music, engineering to fine art, IT to psychology, the environment to the humanities, laser sciences to languages, and nursing to physiotherapy, to name just a few. GU has 5 campuses - South Bank, Nathan, Mr. Gravat, Logan and Gold Coast.






South Bank Campus





Nathan Campus





Mt. Gravat Campus









Logan Campus





Gold Coast Campus

Gatton View

I found this pix from the net (www.australianbeers.com/ pubs/gatton/gatton.htm) and this is truly amazing coz it's the pub that me and my African mate used to hang out and where is always bought her XXXX beer- the Gatton View Hotel.


The pub/hotel is just across our flat along Railway St. I never had a picture of Gatton town so it is kind of nostalgic.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

I am not a bank

Just received a text message from my sister forwarding the text she received from my elder sister talking about needing money. When it comes to money matter, my name always comes up. It seems they expect me to take care of all their financial problems, not considering that I am also looking after my own family. Me and my husband are not earning millions. I already have my own share of responsibilities - I am sending my sister to nursing school and providing allowance to my parents. Now, even the problem of my sibling who is married and has a husband, they expect me to solve it for them. I am not a millionaire. I only have enough to sustain my sister and parents needs, I can't take care of everybody's problems. I am not a bank or a financial institution who has a ready supply of money all the time. Since 1995, I have been supporting my family, until now that I am married I am doing the same thing. I don't know when I can get out from this - it's just too much to bear. Their problem is my problem, but my problem is mine alone.

I know it is not a good attitude to count what I have done for them but sometimes their expectations are beyond my means. I already sent my sister some money help - it was not a loan rather I gave it to her. Now, the text message is implying that I am not willing to help (she said it seems no one is willing to help them). I guess my help wasn't enough, they still want more from me. What more can I give? I still have to send P13,000 by August and now,they expect me to shell out more. I am saving for the birth of my baby, my husband is saving for the small shelter I'll be in once I get home.

She has a husband who is a slob, who doesn't give her money and seems to me is relying so much from us. Why should I shoulder the problem? If I let them borrow now, for sure they won't be able to pay for it.

I am so tired with all of these.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Exotic Tagum

We don't have apples, grapes, apricots, kiwi or nectarine fruits but we have santol, balimbing, saging and durian. These are just few of the exotic fruits our farmers provided for the people in the city. For those living abroad, the sight of these fruits not just bring nostalgic feeling but also salivation :-) . Just the thought of santol and green mango is enough make us drool.


Santol (Sandoricum koetjape): Although a native of Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia, santol has spread all throughout the Philippines and Tagum has an abundance of it. It has to be peeled before eaten and the flesh is sour (s0me variety are sweet) while the stone is sweet and slimy. Most people swallow the stone but I could not dare to do it. You eat it with salt, vinegar, combination of salt and vinegar, soy sauce, sugar or soy sauce-sugar mixture (this one is weird). Can be bought in the market or be taken from friend's backyard.
Mango: Green mangga (unripe mango) is more popular to the Tagumians,not because it is cheaper but because of its exotic taste. It is often eaten with bagoong (fermented tiny shrimps) or a soy sauce-vinegar-sugar mixture can save the day. Most green mangoes are sour while the ripe ones (yellow) are sweeter and has that soft texture.

(while writing this, i was salivating)
Pomelo: We call it buongon. I can still rememeber, my grandma had two varities of it - yellowish and pink. Best eaten with salt or vinegar, even tried it with shrimp fry paste (sweet,salt and tart). Most people in Tagum don't buy it, they just ask from friends or friends of friends who have pomelo trees. We used to steal some from my grandma's neighbours before.
Lanzones: A sweet fruit that comes in cluster (just like grapes) but you can't eat the skin, you have to pinch the fruit near the end so the white, soft and sweet inside will come out. When in season, it can be very cheap (less than a dollar) but expensive when not.



Banana: This type of banana is called cavendish. Many towns around Tagum have vast plantation growing this fruit for export (mostly to Japan). Honestly, most people in Tagum don't eat this one, the prepare the other varieties (binangay, tundan or senorita). However, this variety is highly preferred for making banana cake because of its texture.
Marang: A yummy tropical fruit having a mass of small seeds embedded in sweetish white pulp. Need to cut in half (you can do it by just using your hands coz the ripe ones are very soft). It has a distinct smell that you can recognise from the distance. One person can eat a whole marang in just one sitting.
Balimbing: Ahh, the humble balimbing. We don't usually buy this one, we just steal it from the backyard of somebody else. There are small variety of it as well. It is very juicy and yellow or bright orange when ripe. It has a five sided shape and there is no need to peel. You just dunk it with salt and bite!

Durian. The famous durian. The foulest-smelling fruit ever but the taste is sooooo good. I think the variety in Tagum is much better than the ones in Thailand or Taiwan. The custardly meat and the stinky smell makes it the king of the fruits. It is rather expensive compares to the other fruits but it is worth the spending.




Pineapple: Tagum is strategically located between Cagayan de Oro, Bukidnon and Davao City where pineapple plantations are located. The ones from Del Monte and Floreindo farms are the best I've tasted so far. The locally-grown ones (by the small fruit growers) are good as well but not of export quality.

Jackfruit: Nangka, that is. An enormous fruit with yellow exterior and interior of large edible bulbs of yellow, banana-flavored flesh that encloses a smooth, oval, light-brown seed. The unripe nangka is used in cooking such as ginataang nangka (jackfruit with dried fish and coconut milk), jackfruit salad, nilaga na bukog sa baboy with nangka (boiled pig bones - with lots of ginger!).


Rambutan: A cousin of longan and lychee. It is like lanzones but sweeter and juicier. It feels really good when the fruit is rolling inside your mouth :-) . Can be expensive sometimes.


English Scones

Talking about scones, I found this recipe from www.mrbreakfast.com

Traditional English Scones
(This recipe yields 10 servings)

2 and 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup bread flour
6 Tablespoon sugar
1 and 1/2 Tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 and 1/2 Tablespoon chilled unsalted butter -- cut into pieces
1 Tablespoon soymilk
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 cup raisins (optional)

For glaze: 1 egg yolk beaten with 2 Tablespoons water.

Preheat to 375. Butter and flour heavy large cookie sheet. Mix dry ingredients in large bowl. Add butter, cutting it in with pastry blender or two knives, until mixture resembles fine meal. Add milk, eggs and yolk, then raisins and mix intil fully incorporated.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface.

Press dough into 1-thick rounds with floured 3-inch round cookie cutter. Gather scraps and reform into 1-inch thick rounds.

Transfer rounds to prepared baking sheet, spacing evenly.

Brush with glaze.

Refrigerate 15 minutes.

Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes.

A reader suggested to add one more egg to the recipe. I don't like my scones with raisins coz I reckon scones is best when plain ....no traces of dried fruits or anything.

Baking website

I found this baking website and I think I should visit this one more often. I haven't done any baking attempts but I will try it once I get home, waiting for my baby to arrive.

www.baking911.com by Sarah Phillips. She has a book as well Baking 9-1-1 (some sort of emergency line for baking disasters/FAQs).

By the way, she has the recipe for English scones (which no bakeshop I have visited in Taiwan ever made this). Ohhhh, the taste of scones with cream...... i'm drooling.

Wedding (cup)Cake

I was on my wedding mood the other day and the only thing came to my mind is wedding cake. I search the net and found the latest trend in wedding cake.... the humble and yummy cupcakes. In my country, people are still into that three to five layered cakes you usually find in weddings but as I read some articles, in the US the wedding cupcakes are taking the place of the more traditional wedding cakes. For reasons - cupcakes are cheaper, easy to serve (no more cutting/slicing and mess with the frosting/icing), simple with a touch of elegance and uniqueness, and I reckon a kind of hip.

I found some good ones from the net (link to the site to see more of the variations). If I have to make one for my friends or families weddings, I would incorporate fresh flowers/leaves to the table decorations, have the frosting the same colour as the wedding motiff, and stick Bible verse, and one round cake at the top for the traditional cake cutting.


www.weddingcaketastic.com

www.freedsbakery.com

www.sugarcraft.com


www.carlocksbakery.com

www.aboutthecake.com

www.cakes4fun.co.uk

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Pangga


My husband...taken during a trip to Taiwan's high mountain in Nantou. The place is a small replica of the aborigine's typical house. He wasn't pounding anything though, it was just for a show.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Shortest Marriage

For us, Christians, marriage is a sacred sanctity bound by God to be forever. However, there are many marriages that only lasted a day or less than a decade. I checked the Internet and I found these.

Jennifer Lopez & Ojani Noa = 13 months
Jennifer Lopez & Cris Judd = 8 months
Drew Barrymore & Jeremy Thomas = under 1 month
Drew Barrymore & Tom Green = 5 months
Shannen Doherty & Ashley Hamilton = 5 months
Shannen Doherty & Richard Salomon = 9 months
Nicholas Cage & Lisa Marie Presley = 3 months and 15 days
Lisa Marie Presley & Michael Jackson = 20 months
Carmen Electra & Dennis Rodman = 5 months
Mike Tyson & Robin Givens = 1 year
Jim Carey & Lauren Holly = 9 months
Julia Roberts Lyle Lovett = 21 months
Charlie Sheen & Donna Peele = 4 months and 24 days
Alyssa Milano & Cinjun Tate = 10 months and 19 days
R. Kelly & Aaliyah = under 3 months
Janet Jackson & James DeBarge = 4 months
Robin Givens & Syetozar Marinkovic = 1 day
Robert Evans & Catherine Oxenberg = 12 days
Dennis Hopper & Michelle Philips = 8 days
Zsa Zsa Gabor & Felipe De Alba = 1 day
Rudolph Valentino & Jean Acker = 6 HOURS
Britney Spears & Jason Allen Alexander = 55 hours

Well, they have the money to spend for the wedding, they also have to dispense for the divorce. To quote Britney and Jason "Let's do something wild, crazy. Let's go get married, just for the hell of it.'' There you go.

Furniture business


Early this year, we started with our small furniture making business. The business is picking up slowly but not bad for a biz with just a start-up of less P100,000 (including all the machines). I have here some of the pieces custom made for the customers.

6-seaters dining set


Solid wood front door

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Overseas nurses, goldmine for their families?

I read numerous stories of the families of Filipinos nurses working in the US and UK claiming that their children/sisters/brothers,etc. are earning around P100,000/month (about 1,400 plus Euro), which is equivalent to almost 3 years of salary in the Philippines. So these families in the Philippines are expecting for a large monthly remittance from these nurses. The thing that disgusts me is when these families are boasting of the nurse earning without realizing that these men and women are spending their money not in peso but in dollars or euro. For instance, if you are a Grade D Staff Nurse, the salary would range from £16,525 to £18,240 per year. These numbers would afford any nurse to send money at home. However, you should be aware that the salary reflects the cost of living in UK: food and accommodation prices are in line with the money someone earn. With the rent alone, you will be spending £200 to 300 a month rental for a flat share. Grocery for about £300 a month, not to include household bills of maybe £80 a month. With the amount of money you are receiving and the amount being spent, anybody won't feel like being rich and yet those families in the Philippines thought they have found a goldmine. Needless to say, it is better off than working in the Philippines where salary is not enough to buy a box of detergent and a bottle of bleach for the white uniform.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

The countryside - a safe haven


Even though I am just on my 16th weeks of pregnancy, I already have the growing concern on how am I going to raise my child in a chaotic world. With the news of London bombing yesterday only confirmed that there is no safe haven. Though we won't be living in a city (we will be settling in a farm in the province), I can't confine my child in that safe environment, every now and then we will be visiting the city. I think that’s when the fear creeps in. However, compare to those who live in high profiled countries or cities, we will be better off living in a laid-back community. That's the consolation we have in exchange for the glitter of the city. Having lived in different cities of different countries, I began to appreciate the humbleness of being in a countryside.

My photography thing

I have been doing this photography (very amateur and no technical stuffs) for less than a year. I took some good ones (well, for me they are), most are flowers coz they are easier to take. Here are some of them.