My Strawberry Jam from Baguio

When I went home for a three-week vacation last April and May, I managed to do a day trip to a place that holds many special childhood memories for me — Nikky, my youngest brother and I, had gone to mass in Manaoag, then we commuted up to Baguio for the day.

One of the things I purposely went there for was the Mountain Maid Strawberry Jam made by the Good Shepherd Sisters.  When my Mom was here the first time, I still had one or two bottles and then ran out, and none of the fancy and gourmet strawberry jams I bought her here measured up.  So I was determined to bring home a few bottles to New York for Mom and for Alan and me, too.

Today, Alan said strawberry jam and butter when I asked him what he wanted for breakfast.  I had already heated a day-old donut my mother-in-law bought and decided that the strawberry jam and butter sandwich with coffee would be a treat.. I had the same thing.  It’s so heartwarming to bite into memories of old, strawberry jam and Baguio are synonymous in my head.

Jeannie, who I met up with in Paris, is from  Baguio, and by her own proud declaration a true G.I. — “Genuine Ilocana” — told me maybe our next meeting will be in Baguio.. if not Paris again.  (I have yet to write this post but I will over the weekend in Pinay Francophile.)  I’m on my second of three bottles.. hopefully, I will be able to get some replenishment before I run out..

In my kitchen

I have a rather small kitchen, although it’s roomier than the one I had in the one-bedroom apartment Alan and I rented when we were starting out.  I am shopping for a new gas stove because the one I have is beginning to die out on me.  The ovens are no longer working (and my maintenance guy tells me that I need to have some tubes replaced which might end up too costly given the age of my stove — it had probably been there even before the family we bought our place from..THAT old!) and the pilot light of one of the gas burners is getting unreliable.

I like the way the sun streams into that little space in the middle of the day when the sun strikes the huge tree outside my window.  It’s bright and warm, but it’s never harsh because the rays are filtered by this tree.

I have a breakfast counter where we have placed two bar stools.  Although the counter is usually full because of my mother-in-law’s goodies and my usual kitchen gadgets — the rice cooker, the toaster, etc., I love sitting there to write, type away on my laptop, or just watch the sun outside the window from that perch.

My kitchen, though, is most memorable for the conversations I have there with my Mom.  In the morning, she is always there ahead of me, puttering around.  At night, when I cook, she mills around and we catch up with each other.  This is where we argue, tell stories, and this is where we have often shared stories we laughed together about.  This is our tiny space where we often fall into speaking her native dialect, Bicolano, for privacy.

I love the way Mom teaches me about cooking techniques I would never have had the chance to learn from her if I were in Manila because I never cooked there.  She always tells me I should wait for the onions and the tomatoes to cook instead of rushing through the ginisa.  That’s me and my mom in my kitchen.

A Question on Scrapbooking

I haven’t been writing much, if you noticed.  I’ve been busy scrapbooking.  It’s been a mad rush to get everything together before I lose steam again, I misplace the things I collected, I forget the materials that I have, or one or the other.  So far, I have come up with around 20 layouts already. 

I promised myself I’d take the time to write today rather than just keep beginning a blog post in my head, only to lose it because I never grabbed a pen to write my thoughts down.

First thing’s first.. “quiet lurkers” who pay my little corner of the web a visit regularly coming out to say hello always make my day, and this morning, I got this comment from Joy who stopped by to say:

been a passive reader and fan of your blog for quite sometime now. tnx for sharing your experiences.

just wondering about your scrapbook project, because i am now starting my own as well because of you. do you print them all or do you have the photoshop do it for you?

To which the Pinay New Yorker says:  Joy, you gave me two gifts today — you said hello and you are asking me to talk about something I truly enjoy: scrapbooking. 

I had done photo prints from the shop for my Mom’s first scrapbook only because I felt she would’ve liked it more that way — and I was still learning how to digitally scrap way back then.  For my current projects, I’ve been doing all digital for the photos, only because it’s so much easier to crop and do effects.  (Overlays are particularly challenging if you are not doing digital scrapbooking.) Also, I have been doing a long of 12×12 pictures for my current project because the scenery and the details of the picture are more vibrant and alive when printed larger.

I would strongly suggest, though, that you do actual picture prints instead of printing them off unless you have access to a laser printer or a really good bubblejet.  I know that in Manila, actual prints are cheaper when done by the shops. 

There’s also the challenge of coming up with 12×12 prints if you’re doing them like I do.  Another important thing to consider when you’re printing your own photos is the original resolution of the picture.  Most low-resolution photos are not enlargeable and do not render well when printed at home. 

I hope this helps.  You have such a treasure trove of materials back home I actually envy you.  I remember during my visit there last summer, my mother-in-law received a bouquet of flowers which was wrapped in a flattened coco husk if I’m not mistaken — or some hard fiber that was dyed a beautiful pink.  I preserved that very well and packed it and went home with it.  I haven’t used it but intend to do so when I finally work on the Manila scrapbook in earnest.  Handmade paper is also bountiful, which I would love to use over and over again in my scrapbooks.  Cinnamay flat on a solid background would give such nice texture and appeal to a page. 

I was so happy to see that National Bookstore already has its own scrapbook corner which has a good stock of embellishments.  And of course you can always make your own.  Buttons, ribbons, threads, lace.. you have a ton of them there at much cheaper prices.  Do share your layouts! 

I hope this helped and don’t ever hesitate to write again.. even if it’s not about scrapbooking.  Happy Holidays!

top blogs