She Was Beautiful

She was a person with a good heart. She was one of my sisters from another mother and father. She was a loving daughter, sister and friend. She was smart. She was friendly. She was passionate on her craft. She was generous. She was thoughtful. She was diagnosed with breast cancer.

It was fast. Her cancer cells were too aggressive that it took less than a year before she left us. We used to regularly call each other to rant, discuss scientific findings, and tell all the recent happenings in our lives. And I miss her.

I miss her random phone calls.

I miss her surprise visits.

I miss her rants.

I miss going out with her.

I miss her.

I met her 5 years ago, and like magic we instantly became friends. I admire her for being a loving daughter to her parents, sister to her siblings and friends, and aunt to her nieces and nephews. She was one of those people with genuine passion for research not for her own gain but for the end-users’ benefit. She might looked like a strict teacher to her former students but the people around her knew how much she cared for them – she wanted them to really learn and excel to what they are doing.

February last year I received a call from her. Her voice was the usual voice I always hear but as she went along with her story, the tone that started lively ended with a bad news in a sad voice – she had breast cancer. For 2 months she was updating me on her treatments and other side stories. Before she cut all her communication lines from all her friends (including me), she told me that she was not getting better. I was still hopeful that she’d survive but unfortunately, her mother contacted me to tell the sad news August last year. She is now in heaven.

I am writing this to show the world how beautiful she was inside and out. And if you can read this right now, I want you to know that I am grateful that the universe allowed us to meet, that I met a beautiful soul like yours. Until we meet again, my dear friend.

And to those people who have someone close to their heart experiencing a bad situation, listen to them, treasure them while they are still with us. Tell them how much you love them. Visit them if you can. Create as many memories as possible.

Why I stopped buying milk tea…

Hey milk tea addicts like me! Just want to share with you why I stopped buying milk tea. At the start of 2020 I said to myself: “No more buying milk tea!” and just 2 days after the new year’s eve I found myself in a line waiting for my turn to order salted caramel milk tea! See what I did there? (Maybe I’ll just put it on my 2021 new year’s resolution? lol). Milk tea is life! Then lockdown happened!!! And most of the things we enjoy were not available and we ended doing DIYs!

Firstly, I learned how to make my own milk tea more that a year ago! Raw materials are always available in convenient stores and groceries (shops that were still open despite the strict lockdown). For your basic milk tea, you will just need a bag of your chosen tea variant, hot water, milk and sweetener. Making one is sooo easy and it will take you less than 10 minutes of your time! Here’s how:

Since I have learned how to make my own milk tea, I realized that making my own at home will give me more savings! Let’s say on the average, you spend 100 pesos per cup of milk tea from your favorite milk tea shop and you drink twice a week or 8x a month! It is 800 pesos per month or 9600 per year! Versus if you buy your raw materials, here’s a sample computaion (in pesos): 200 for 25bags of oolong tea, 95 for 1 liter of milk good for 4-5 glass of milk tea, 60 for 1 kg sugar and 75 for 1 kg raw black pearls. This supply sums up to 430 and would last up to 3 months if you drink twice a week (just add another 4 liters of milk). For 3 months, buying milk tea would cost you about 2400 versus if you are gonna make your own (810). You will have an additional savings of 1590 per quarter or 6360 per year. Saving that you can put in the bank or use invest in a small business or stock market.

Lastly, with the milk tea I make, I know and have control on the stuff I put in there. Nutritionists and doctors won’t recommend too much intake of your milk tea because it can increase your sugar level which can lead to diabetes. If you are the type of person who cannot stop yourself from drinking one every week, then you might consider concocting your own milk tea. Choose healthier alternative sweetener like sugar-free sweetener, stevia, or honey. Aside from the sweetener, you can also choose the tea and milk that you like. Do you want green or black tea? Are you lactose intolerant? Why not try soya milk? You have the freedom to choose the ingredients of your milk tea. Take a photo and in the caption why not name your unique mix?

So there’s the tea (pun intended) lol. The next time you pass by a milk tea shop and crave. I won’t stop you from buying one but consider asking yourself first…is it worth it or I can do it at home?

10 hydroponics mistakes beginners should avoid

A year ago, I tried my own DIY hydroponics set-up without thorough understanding of the technique. Fortunately, I was successful growing my Brassicas! Here’s how I did it:

However, my tomatoes grew but did not bear fruits. So, I attended a seminar about hydroponics and there I learned my mistakes as a beginner. I listed ten of those!

1. Early or late seed pregermination

Pregermination of your seeds is a crucial part and this should be done 1-2 weeks before transplant. Seeds usually can germinate without any nutrient because they have reserved ‘food’. As the seedlings grow this reserved food will be used up and if you transfer the seedlings days after they consumed their food, these seedlings can experience stress which can eventually limit growth. On the other hand, premature transfer of seedlings might mean that some important plant organs are not there yet to successfully grow in a hydroponics set-up.

2. Bad choice of planting material

Herbaceous plants or plants with soft stem like lettuce are commonly grown in hydroponics. But, not all plants can be practically grown in a hydroponics set-up. Maize, an herbaceous plant, can be grown in a hydroponics but this is not a practical thing to do if you are into large scale farming because of the farm gate price of maize versus the associated cost of the set-up. If you enter the hydroponic world mainly for business, consider doing a cost and return analysis. Also, make sure to choose a plant that can thrive in this kind of environment.

3. Incorrect size of container

There are plants that are bigger than lettuce but can be grown in hydroponics. One of these plants is tomato – I mentioned that I tried growing one but was unsuccessful and I realised that I underestimated the rooting capacity of this plant and used a small container. With this kind of set-up, the small container I used was always empty and the leaves of the tomatoes were droopy by the end of the day. Think of all the crops you want to grow and either you choose a plant that will fit your container or get a container with proper size for your chosen plant.

4. Use of fake nutrient solution

These days, it is easy to buy bottles, label hydroponics solution and sell. Do not get fooled. Look for legit sellers. Fake nutrient solutions can lead to wasted time and resources. Your plant will die if the solution set you bought is just water and coloring because basically it does not have the nutrient your growing plants need. There are different hydroponics solutions in the market you can choose from which are true nutrient solutions. Here’s where you can get one (https://shopee.ph/SNAP-Hydroponics-Solution-Set-(August-SALE!)-i.86521262.5717286140)

5. Improper mixing of nutrient solution

As I said a while ago, there are different hydroponics nutrient solutions in the market. Some brands offer the solution in solid form and other in liquid and both need to be incorporated in water, and they usually come in sets (solution A and B). One is macro- and the other is micronutrient – both are important in a hydroponics set-up. They are made separately and making the stock solution needs to be done in a chronological order – one of the reasons is to prevent the build up of salts making the nutrient/s unavailable to plants.

6. Harsh pH

Too high or too low pH of the nutrient solution affects availability of nutrients in the solution. Most nutrients are available at pH around 5.8-6.5. But hey stop right there! You do not need to buy your pH meter right away. Hydroponics solutions in the market are often product of thorough research and intended to be used by consumers easily. Just follow the instructions carefully and you will most likely end up with nutrient solution at favourable pH.

7. Uneven surface

First, make sure that you have a levelled set-up – that the height of one end is the same with the other. One thing I experienced during my first hydroponics attempt was the uneven growth of my plants. The plants in the first half of the box were bigger than the other half and I found out that the surface where I put my box was uneven; the side with higher elevation had smaller plants. If you want your plants to grow almost evenly, then double check your set-up for uneven surfaces.

8. Too high or too low nutrient solution in the container

Fully submerging the roots in the solution will create an environment with low to no oxygen. For plants to grow, oxygen is a vital part. Depriving your plants with oxygen means killing them. Meanwhile, plants with roots that barely touch the solution are not getting enough nutrient and water which can lead to dehydration and eventually death of your plants. So, monitor the roots and the level of the nutrient solution – there should be enough space for the roots to get oxygen, water and nutrients.

9. Extreme weather conditions

Just like your plants grown in the soil, plants grown in hydroponics do not like extreme sunlight and heavy rain. Extreme sunlight can cause death of your plant if left unattended because of high transpiration rate brought by high light intensity and high temperature. Rain on the other hand is not needed by your plants in the hydroponics system because aside from your plants are practically submerged in water, the rain can further dilute the solution. Better establish your system in an environment with roof and enough light.

10. Allowing light to pass through the container

You do not want algae to dominate in your hydroponic system because aside from they are messy, they can also compete with your plants. Algae are plant-like and they need water, nutrient and light – your set-up is their perfect place! Growing plants in a sterile environment is tricky especially if you are a beginner. Preventing any light to pass through your container is the easiest way you can do to prevent growth of algae.

For those who are about to start their own hydroponics system whether as a hobby or business, try not to repeat the mistakes I did as a beginner. This will prevent wasting of time, energy and resources.

How to make braised tofu

This recipe is easy to make and ingredients are all plant-based. Get your pen now!

You will need:

1 pack tofu/tokwa, sliced into desired cut
3 tbsp garlic, minced
1/2 cup red onion
1/2 cup onion leek, chopped
1 tbsp coconut or olive oil
2 tbsp soysauce
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp hot pepper flakes
1/2 cup water
1 tsp roasted sesame seed (optional)

 Procedure:

Fry the tofu/tokwa in oil or if you have non-stick pan, you can opt not to them in oil. Prepare the sauce in a bowl by mixing soysauce, sugar, salt, hot pepper flakes and water, stir and then set aside. In a pan, sauté garlic, onion and leeks until they caramelize. Add the sauce mixture. Mix until the sauce gets a little thicker and then add the fried tofu. Make sure each tofu is coated with the sauce. Add some sesame seeds for added flavor.

why do we live?

If you are looking for an inspirational post about living your life, I hope you get something from my post. I too is questioning my existence…my purpose in life. I’ve been contemplating for years now about the reason why I am here on earth and binge watching Grey’s Anatomy made me question myself even more. Do not get me wrong. I find life beautiful. People, places, things – they make life worth living. Despite life being good…I am at that point that I do not know what is the point of living. By that I meant, where are we going? We do our best to live this life to the fullest but all of us will sooner or later breathe the last breath. Why do we keep on fighting for our lives? Others are even in search of becoming immortal? We are born at one point and then we meet struggles and challenges along the way, then comes growth and success and then we die. See? What is the point of overcoming all the struggles and challenges in life?

And I am thinking that maybe living this life is about influencing other people’s lives. What legacy do we want to leave? Maybe we are living not for ourselves but for other people. We do not know right now why we are living but let us give our best shot in everything that we do. Your life is a piece of domino on earth and each action you make will affect others directly or indirectly. I do not know life after death but I do know that this life on earth is so beautiful and worth living. No matter where you are and what you are going through at this moment, remember to still live your life and give everything that you can. Hopefully, one day we will wake up and see that life makes sense.

10 products you can get from cassava

Think of cassava roots…

What products do you think you can get from these? If you thought of cassava cake, you’re obviously right! LOL. But, do you know that aside from the usual cassava cake you can make from this crop you can also derive other stuff? Here I list 10 of those:

1.Tapioca pearls

2. Bioplastics

3. Medicine capsules

4. Alcohol

5. Paper

6. Animal feed

7. Confectionery

8. MSG

9. Sweetener

10. Adhesive

Lumpia recipe for vegetarians and budgetarians

Wikipedia says that lumpia are various spring rolls commonly found in the Philippines and Indonesia. However, in our locality, lumpia specifically lumpiang gulay can be wrapped (spring rolls), wrapped and fried (fried spring rolls) or unwrapped (lumpiang hubad). This post is not intended to get you confused about lumpia. This is for those vegetarian who are looking for budget-friendly dish.

Estimated cost: 100 pesos good for 5-6 persons

Ingredients:

5 cloves garlic 1 medium-sized onion
2 tbsp coconut oil
2 cups mungbean sprouts
1 cup tofu, sliced to small cubes
1/2 cup sliced carrot
1/2 cup sliced sayote
1/2 cup onion leeks, chopped
2 tbsp soysauce
1/2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp cornstarch (optional)

Procedure:

Fry the tofu until golden brown then set aside. In a pan, sauté onion and garlic in coconut oil. Add the fried tofu. Add water, soysauce, sugar, salt and pepper. Mix in the mungbean sprout wait until it simmers. Add the sayote and carrot. Mix everything. Simmer for 2 minutes then add onion leeks. If you want to thicken the sauce, just add cornstarch dissolved in 1/2 cup water.