You can take the girl out of Manila…

…but you can’t reeeeeally take Manila out of the girl.

Between the two of us, it’s usually S who does the cooking. Not only is he so much better at it, he also enjoys the process. I tend to do the baking, and things like smoothies, rice, setting the table and cleaning up after. 😛

It was a bit different last weekend because I volunteered to cook. And as it turns out, everything I did was Filipino-themed.

I made:

Chicken inasal. Twice. This is my favourite chicken dish ever. I/we’d tried a few recipes in the past from the Internet but they weren’t great. Fortunately, my brother gave me his recipe and it turned out really well. So well, we decided to have it for dinner on Sunday, too.

Green mango salad. Spotted some green mangoes at the grocer so decided to make a really simple one with mango, tomatoes, and onions to go with the inasal.

Ube crinkles. Crinkles aren’t a thing here so this was a two-in-one new experience for S. (I think I’d still have to make the standard chocolate ones though.) We bought ube at the Filo store and I was thinking of ways to use it up other than spooning it out from the jar.

I got the ube crinkles recipe from The Not So Creative Cook. The only thing I didn’t have was ube extract — I didn’t realise that was a thing.

There’s still plenty of ube left, so thinking about what else to make.

Mushroom chips. We love Mom’s Haus of Mushroom mushroom chips. Unfortunately, mushroom chips aren’t a thing here and we are down to the last packet.

I made some with this recipe, but with a lot more breading and garlic powder and paprika to flavour it a bit more. They tasted great out of the oven, unfortunately they became softer the next day. Planning to re-bake ’em to crisp them up again.

Calamansi things… I bought an entire packet of calamansi. Couldn’t help it when we spotted the bag at the Filo store. It was $7.50 for a Ziploc bag full. Now what to do with all the calamansi?

Day off!

One thing I like about my current job is how I can take flex days. If I work extra hours on most workdays, I can take a couple of days off each month. Because I’m used to working longer hours anyway, I’ve been taking three-day weekends twice a month.

It’s the best!

For example, when I go to Canberra for the weekend, I get to have two full days and take the bus back on Monday, instead of rushing around on Sunday afternoons.

Or cases like today, where I’ve had a sleep in, then got to do my life chores and life admin in a leisurely fashion. It’s great to finally knock of all these little tasks I’d been putting off since forever.

It’s also good to think about other things after running on autopilot most of the time. Mostly I’ve been thinking what it means to live a good life. I’ve been continuing to read about Stoicism and it’s inspiring me to consider how I spend my time and how I’d like to live my life.

I came across a version of the image below earlier this year, and I’ve been thinking of it ever since.

Don't complicate life

Simple things I’ve been grateful for lately:

  • Flex days, like this one (hehe)
  • Being able to snuggle into a cosy couch, with my laptop/journal, reading or writing with music playing in the background and a hot drink on the coffee table
  • Weekends filled with everyday errands, making and eating food, and relaxing
  • Hikes around national parks
  • Catch-ups and messaging sessions with friends
  • Using things up. (There are some things I like hoarding, like skincare and stationery, and I like how I’m finally using them up, haha! Makes me feel like I’m not being wasteful)
  • Living in a country where I can live a decent life without needing to make a ton of money.

Saving the planet little by little

I’ve started to be a bit more environmentally-conscious in the past year or so. It was watching a show a few months ago around all the rubbish Australia was sending overseas that made me determined to take more steps to reduce my household waste.

Here’s a few things I’ve found helpful:

Beeswax wraps as an alternative to cling wrap or foil. I was sold after I used one to wrap my avocado smoothie. When I previously used cling wrap or a mason jar, I found that the top layer would oxidise. No oxidation after using beeswax wraps! The only downside is that since wraps are precut, it’s a bit awkward trying to fit a massive wrap on a smaller container, for example.

I bought mine from Beeswax Wraps Australia but there are a lot of other sellers out there.

Produce bags to wrap my fruit and veg in. I found that despite bringing my own grocery bags I would still use plastics to wrap my fresh produce in separately. Now I have to make sure I always bring them when shopping.

I got mine from Eco Shop Co, though similarly there are other brands out there.

Rollo wrap. I do a fair amount of baking and have gone through rolls of baking paper. This is a better alternative. (I still have a roll of baking paper left, but have been using it to trace over my sewing patterns.)

Reusable sanitary products. I’ve been using reusable sanitary products for the past 8 or so years. I highly recommend Wemoon, Thinx and Modibodi. (Some of my friends swear by their menstrual cups, but personally I’m a bit nervous to try them out.)

Reusable coffee cups and water bottles. I’m lucky to live in a country with potable tap water. I don’t see the point in buying bottled water, I just make sure to bring my bottles everywhere. I also have two KeepCups for when I buy takeaway coffee.

More ethical household products:

  • Environmentally friendly toilet paper and paper towels. Trying to use less paper towels in general, but it’s hard!
  • Palm-oil free anything (especially soaps), if I can help it. (I’ve been loving Only Good)
  • Environmentally conscious cosmetics and toiletries
  • Repairing things that can be repaired, like my shoes at Roger Shoe Repairs
  • Buying local as much as possible

I have a long way to go, but at least it’s a start!

I’m no longer on social media

A few weeks ago, I deleted my social media accounts.* With the exception of Twitter (which I liked because of the articles people would share) I’d already stopped using Facebook and Instagram in January. Not that I even used Facebook much before that. I figured, I wasn’t using them anyway, so why not delete them altogether?

That isn’t completely true, however. 😛 That’s the easy answer I give people. The truth is, I got caught up in the Bea-Gerald-Julia love triangle. It emphasised to me how I no longer wanted to be part of the social media ecosystem which can become so toxic.

I wasn’t even updated about any of their lives before this. I thought Gerald was still with Kim which was apparently so nine years ago. I also thought Julia was still a preteen. But that didn’t stop me. I’m ashamed to admit I spent more than a few of hours reading gossip websites and tweets.

I think the fact that it all happened online fascinated me. The entire thing, at least in my view, blew up based on a precariously constructed framework of speculations cobbled together from bits and pieces of social media activity.

Photos that appeared innocent at face value were suddenly given new meaning by another post appearing at the same time. No names mentioned, but it was clear that shade was thrown. I don’t even know why I read all those articles talking about which celebrities were on whose side based on photos they liked or social media accounts they commented on.

Each and every little thing anyone posted was dissected. There was no way anybody could win – every single comment was taken negatively by someone out there. Even other celebrities posting about unrelated things had their posts misinterpreted by people thinking they were talking about that. And there were all these Twitter threads of random people giving unsolicited life advice or pouring their hearts out why Julia or Gerald was wrong. Why did these people care so much to spend time writing these things?! And why did I just waste hours reading all of it?!

That’s when I deleted my accounts.

Thing is, I’d already noticed bits and pieces of those behaviours around me, although not to that extreme level. And back when I was using social media, I have to admit I did a little of it myself. Things like looking up people’s online activity and assuming meanings about things where none probably existed. Obviously, genuinely passive-aggressive posts did exist and it was always juicy coming across them (cue “I wonder who it’s for! I wonder what she’s talking about!”) but at the end of the day none of those things really concerned me.

We’d also recently watched the following shows highlighting some of the negatives of social media:

So that’s me. Or rather, not me.

* Technically, I only deactivated Facebook so I could continue using Facebook Messenger.