Sunday, July 26, 2015

Container Gardening

The biggest downside to big city living is the lack of space. There is hardly a plot of land for any attempt to cultivate a garden, never mind the dream of a true pocket garden. Lately, I have been caught by the nesting bug. 

I am always on the lookout for any greens that can be added to our tiny apartment to make it seem more livable. And to allow it to breathe. There are still a few more pieces I would like to plant but I think what I have now is a good start. 

After much false starts, I actually did the the digging and re-potting of the plants we have at home. 

A few weekends ago, I went to the hardware store to buy my gardening tools. 

Then two weekends ago, we went to Sonya's Garden and saw these gorgeous herbs. 
Tarragon and Mint. Plus, Kira's gifts: succulents. 

Basil. And the castaway plants from a conference I attended. The aloe and that other plant I had since summer. 
I live on the fourth floor so I usually line them up on the balcony floor to avoid any accidents especially when it's windy. 

I patted myself for a job well done. I managed not to kill any of my potted friends yet. Then, my mom shared on what she had done with our left over vegetables. Curious we went to our laundry area. And these are the potted plants thriving there... which by any measure look better than mine. 
Kangkong. We can harvest in a few weeks!

This plant is the healtiest among the potted ones I have. 
I also have greens rooting in water placed either in vases or in used bottles. 

This weekend made me realize that I can have my own potted vegetable garden for fresh ingredients to our home-cooked meals. Or just for garnishing on dishes. 

A while ago, I planted cherry tomato seeds. Hopefully, I'll see some sprouts in the next few days. In my wish list are a grafted pine tree, a lemon tree, lettuce and potted hydrangeas. 

So looking forward to the next long weekend to scour the city for plants and nice pots. 

Do you wish to have your own pocket garden, too? What have you planted so far?



Friday, July 10, 2015

Summer Reads

It's no secret that I love to read. I can spend hours and hours getting lost in a book. But life has dealt me a different card this year. Motherhood seem to require all of my energy and time to care for my beautiful baby. 

For months I had been too lazy to read. Yet one day I found myself in the bookstore, grabbed some titles. I started reading again. And I downloaded dozens of titles on my iPad, too. 

This summer, my reading list is as varied as the genre you can stumble into. 

1. Love, Rosie by Cecilia Ahern

I have read some books of this Irish writer. And they were good. She's a contemporary writer who does not follow the usual romance formula. So I picked this book. 

And I tell you, it's such a painful read. It's a story about a man and a woman who were best friends as kids, geographically separated in adolescense but kept the friendship despite the distance. Chapter after chapter, there is an undertone of mutual attraction, love, if you may call it, but a series of unfortunate events in each others life have prevented them from being together. 

Decades later they have come to accept that there can be nothing more between them but friendships. However, in a twist of fate and in the twilight of their lives, the universe aligned. 

The story closed with Rosie finally achieved her goal of being a hotelier by opening her own B&B. One night, she jogged down memory lane by reading her old letters. And the last one was of Alex, professing his love. It's a missive that was written years ago but did not reach Rosie until recently. As she pined for all those lost years, the bell rang. Waiting by the reception is the love of her life -- Alex. 

It's a modern love story that reminds me Love in the time of cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I'm not saying the quality of writing is the same. But there were parallelism. The heart aches, the long stretches of time, the unrequited love, the loneliness, and the hope that springs eternal. And that love conquers all, in the end.

Tearjerker, I know. 

2. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

If you liked Gone Girl, you will love this. 

The protagonist Rachel is a flawed character -- alcoholic, loser. 

Everyday, she makes up stories about a couple who lives across the tracks where her train to London would pass by. She paints a picture of them living a perfect life. A contradiction of her dire circumstances. At the onset you would think that she's just a wacko. Given the fact that she's a pretender -- commuting to a job she no longer has on a daily basis, sticking to a schedule she no longer need to keep, it seemed odd to be the focal point of this thriller. 

You hate her character. You will despise her through and through. Rachel personifies the anti-thesis of woman empowerment. She's a goner. 

But a string of event puts her in the middle of the life of the people who live across the tracks. A dead woman (the wife in the perfect couple) set the stage for the drama (more of it) on how the storyline progresses. 

There were dragging points but it's mostly a page-turner. And a few scenes that take your breath away -- they scare you. But it's the kind that makes you want to prod on to find out what unfolds. 

I love the resolution of the story. There is just the right amount of justice, intrigue and hope. The kind of recipe that keeps me interested with the other works of the author. 

3. China Rich Girlfriend by Kevin Kwan. 

This is the sequel to Crazy Rich Asians. It's chick lit. So, don't expect too much. But boy, this book is hilarious, sprinkled with intrigue. It makes you cringe at times. Better to read this after you're done with Crazy Rich Asians. You'll understand the characters' backstories more. 

I know these were my summer reads but the rainy season brought back that usual longing to just curl up in bed, sip coffee and be entranced by the pages of your book of the week. 

What's on your reading list? I still have The Rosie Project and This is How You Lose Her on my bookshelf. 

This is How You Lose Her on my bookshelf.