Sunday, December 30, 2012

Year 2013 - Let's take time to Smell the Roses

(This metal work, a rose was specially and intricately 
handcrafted by Jed for me as his christmas gift.  Jed has
 this special  talent of making me projects with his hands to 
direct my attention back to Jesus!  Here's another 
sample of  his fine work.)

Some time ago, I was working through the night shift with a colleague. She mentioned about her new house up in the hills. I asked, “What is it like to live in a beautiful place?”   The answer surprised me, as she explained how she had gotten used to living in the mountains, she didn’t pay attention anymore.

Another time, I asked another colleague at work how she kept her youthful look and she simply replied with the sweetest smile on her face, “I take time to smell the roses.”

Two people with two very different outlook in life.  Different strokes for different folks, so they say.  But really, can we choose the same option with the same result? What do you reckon?  Regardless of the turn-out  from these two responses, I chose what is best:  I chose to take time and smell the roses.

It's been a wild and chaotic year for me: too noisy, too doubtful, too blurry, too stressful, too many hats! 

After talking to the first colleague at work since that day, I’ve been careful.  I don't want my heart to devastate! (Read about it here.)
This coming year, 2013, will be the opposite. A soaking of God's presence: to listen, to pay attention, to be more thankful, to be positive, to keep still to rest and to do less.  

I will stay out of the trap of ignoring God’s blessings. I WILL PAY ATTENTION and be aware of God's riches and glory around me. When I am aware of God’s blessings in my life, it prompts me to stop and look, listen, and feel more.

I WILL BE MORE THANKFUL.  I will be reminded of God’s amazing grace and faithfulness. All the more I will thank God in all things: the good and in my troubles.   Having a thankful heart is reflected in our prayers, as well as every aspect of my life. I  will  “rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks” (1 Th. 5:16-18).

I WILL BE POSITIVE.  A positive attitude results from smelling the roses.  If anyone had a reason to have a negative attitude, it was the apostle Paul. He had been in prison, beaten, scourged, beaten with rods, stoned, shipwrecked, and poor. But through all this, he remained positive—he focused on good things rather than bad things.

Paul had “learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need” (Phil. 4:12). “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me,” he proclaimed to the Philippians, and everyone who observed his life (Phil. 4:13).  Paul’s attitude was, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God” (Rom. 8:28). Paul knew that God used everything in his life for good, even when suffering greatly for the cause of Christ.

Our God works all things together for good to those who love Him—no matter what happens.

A QUIET HEART.  Now this is MAJOR!  I want to be an instrument of peace, calm and not be anxious (Phil. 4:6).  I will not only be quiet in heart, but also quiet with my mouth!  I  will speak and proclaim life (Prov. 18:21) to myself, to my family, to my friends and to the people around me. I will only open my mouth when it’s necessary to build someone up and be "quiet" when I don’t need to speak.

I WILL ENJOY LIFE. I mean enjoy life!  I will laugh at the days to come and not worry for God has already settled my concerns of my tomorrow (Matthew 6:25-34). God is the One from whom all my blessings flow—“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (Jas. 1:17).

I WILL GIVE MORE. As the giver of all our blessings, God teaches us to enjoy them while doing good—“Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share” (1 Tim. 6:17-18).

My prayer for this year is to slow down... to take time and smell the roses: to smile often, to listen to the chirping of the birds, to feel the soft breeze on my face, and to bask more on God's amazing grace.

Let's start our year right, shall we? May we make an effort to make Jesus more real in our daily walk with HIM!

New Year's fireworks display at Burswood, Perth, Western Australia

HAPPY NEW 2013 family and beloved friends!  The best is yet to come!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Star Was Born!

A STAR was born in a manger 2000 years ago to give hope 

to mankind! Let us rejoice and be glad in it!
1 John 4:9 "This is how God showed his love among us: 

He sent His one and only Son into the world that we

 might live through Him". (NIV)

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a 
Blessed New Year from our family to yours!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Pear and Saffron Chutney

"How am I going to feed 30 people on Christmas eve?" was my dilemna as I went about my rounds at work.  I thought,  with not much extra hands to help out in the kitchen?  These are the times I wish I was home in the Philippines where help was plenty. I recall a time when I used to do a lot of chutneys back then (read about it here). Every year, it is always my desire to make something home made to give away as christmas presents. But this idea about making chutney to give away came in too late.

I'll do them ONE by ONE.  So as soon as I walked in the front door, straight from the night shift did I start a cooking rampage as a prelude to the Christmas eve dinner preparations. My husband must have woken up from the loud clanging and thumping of the knife and the wooden board as I chop away a basket of cooking pears and apples, onions and tomatoes. I doubled Gordon Ramsay's recipe which yielded me about 5 medium jars. But as usual, I don't follow the recipe to the letter. I measure by the eye, I alter by the taste, and I feel by the heart whether the recipe calls for more or less of this or that.

In the middle of my cooking, my beloved hubby walked in the kitchen fresh from a deep sleep. I was so elated to tell him about why I recycle jars. And yes, I did have the "I-told-you-so" moment since he is one that chucks away everything in the bin which he considers rubbish but "treasure" to me.

As soon as the the onions, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger started to sizzle in the pan, my lethargic spirit and my broken down brain from the night shift began to vivify! The house smelt of spiced perfume, oh so full of life! I was dancing while mixing the ingredients in the pot, no music in the background... just the clanging of the pot and wooden spoon.... they're music to my ears.

Okay, I better share with you the recipe as I am just typing away.... and since it's almost lunchtime, I better get my butt out of here and buzz away to dreamland soon!

This recipe yields about 2-3 medium jars. I doubled mine so I came up with 5 jars.


Olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
50g knob of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely grated
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (or ground nutmeg will do)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ –1 tsp cayenne pepper, to taste
250g light unrefined soft brown sugar
250ml white wine vinegar
4 firm pears (such as Williams), about 650g
1 small cooking apple, about 350g, peeled, cored and chopped
125g sultanas
2 pinches of saffron strands
Finely grated zest and juice of 2 small oranges
2 tomatoes, diced


Peel, core and chop the pears and apple.  Set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large pan, add the onion and sweat for a few minutes with a touch of seasoning - to soften but not colour. Add the grated ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and cayenne pepper. Sauté for another 1–2 minutes. Add the sugar and stir over a medium heat until it has dissolved, then add the wine vinegar. Stir in the pears and apple.  Add to the pan with the sultanas, saffron and orange zest and juice. Bring to the boil and boil steadily for about 15 minutes, until the liquid has reduced down to a syrupy consistency. Add the diced tomatoes and cook for a few minutes, by which time the chutney should be well reduced and thickened. Taste and adjust the seasoning with a little salt and pepper. While still hot, spoon the chutney into clean, sterilised jars and seal. Store in a cool, dark cupboard or the fridge and use within 6 months – the flavour will improve with time.

So rustle up as this chutney is a great accompaniment with Honey-Glazed Ham, salads, or steak or fish dishes.

Merry Christmas Everyone!    Enjoy! 

The finished product, tied with strings and with my personal label.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Beeferrific Bakarefic (aka Bakareta)

A Filipino favorite.  So simple to cook and fast.  You can also cook this in a slow cooker for 4-6 hours.  Just mix in all ingredients together and set to low heat and forget about it.  Do your laundry, go out for a jog, do some gardening.  Just as when you are ready for dinner, this delicious meal will bring the house to a storm!  Enjoy!


1 kg Beef cuts cut into large cubed chunks
 (preferably Beef gravy meat as it has a bit of the fat)
1 cup Tomato Spaghetti Sauce
1 cup Tomato Puree
3 Peeled Carrots, cut into big chunks
3 Peeled Potatoes cut into quarters
1 cup green peas
1 cup button mushrooms (halved)
1 large head onion, quarted
8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 big red bell pepper or capsicum, cut into squares
150 grams of bacon, cubed
1 link Spanish chorizo, sliced thinly
Salt and Pepper to taste


Boil the beef cubes in at least 1 pitcher of water until tender then add in the potatoes and carrots.  Boil when soft.  Drain some water until there’s a bit of water at the bottom of the pan.  Set aside.

In a separate pan, sauté with a bit of oil the chopped garlic, onions until transparent.  Add in the chorizo, and bacon until golden brown.  Add in the peas, mushrooms and capsicum.  Pour in the tomato puree and tomato sauce and bring to a boil.  Combine this with the beef and stir slowly until well coated with the sauce. Salt and pepper to taste.

Best served with rice. Enjoy!

(Usually tastes savoroso when aged a day or two. Refrigerate left overs and heat up on stove top when needed)