Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Uh oh. The kids have discovered my blog. What now?

I know you all have noticed that I'm not really sharing personal stories and photos anymore. Ironic since I blogged last year that I'm ready to blog again. You know what happened? My kids discovered my blog.

Yep. And while I don't mind spilling my guts to you all, I found that I was uncomfortable with the thought of my kids reading how I feel about motherhood. Because you know too-honest me—I just don't enjoy motherhood 24/7. I don't even think I'm a great mama 24/7. Who is???

But that's the whole thing about motherhood for the last few millennia. We mothers kept quiet. We just say, "Oh it's the most wonderful thing, a woman's peak accomplishment, the only thing worth living for!" We basically never talk about how hard it is, how it wrecks your body and your sanity, how punishing it is. We just grin and bear it.

Well, I don't. Not because I hate motherhood. I love it. I love it so much actually, it's so corny. But I can love it if I can be honest about it. There's something so incredibly liberating and there's so much tension and worry released when I can say, "This is hard and I want to scream and just curl up and sleep for 10 years!" Then after I say that, I feel better and I can be a better mama. Anyone else feels the same way???

Anyway, well, my kids discovered ze blog and now it's weird. I dunno what to do.

Well, I will still blog. I'll definitely still blog! I just don't know what I'm going to blog about. Maybe I'll just do reviews now—Frances Finds stuff for your home! Frances Food! Frances Fun! Frances Faves!  It's all going to be beauty, fashion, food, travel and more! That sounds safe, right. Also I must admit, it's more guaranteed to get more search results than my usual weepy confessions. What do you think???

It's so exhausting how my blog keeps evolving. But at the same time, it's kinda nice, seeing how I evolve, or how my circumstances change. I used to be so chill and full of myself, like, I was the coolest mom in the world because I got everything under control—my weight, my hair, my nails, my schedule, my kids. Coolest mama evah! Ya, I said that all the time.

But now I'm a mess haha I'm happier now actually, even though I'm never on top of things. Weird. I feel like every day now is SURVIVAL! And yet, because I'm just letting go a lot, I'm more relaxed. What will be will be. And I also depend on God a lot now. "Lord God, You love my boys more than I do. You love me more than I love myself. So I cast all my cares on You and You just do everything through me. Amen!" And you bet I can breathe after that!

Anyway, it's kinda nice (and kinda not nice haha) that my kids know I'm so in love with them. And that their Mama is just human and has struggles even with such a gift as them, and that I am—more and more—learning to trust God with this whole motherhood thing. I hope that they see that no matter how hard it was for me, especially when they were young, we more than survived and thrived, we had a great time. These last 10 years were the most challenging but also the most amazing years of my life. And it's because of them, my three boys. I hope they read that!

*My prayer claims God's promise in I Peter 5:7: "Cast all your cares upon Him for He cares for you." I love the play on words in that verse, how the meaning of "cares" is "worries" or "anxiety" and then the meaning becomes "to look after, to feel concern, to love" in the second part of the verse. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Homemade recipe: Shrimp Curry in Coconut Milk

My son, Vito, helped me out in the kitchen last weekend. We checked out the stuff in our ref and pantry and I decided I have ingredients for a curry dish. Vito has never had curry before so he declared he'll cook it but he won't eat it. Well, we'll see about that!

So this is my recipe for Shrimp Curry in Coconut Milk. But further down this post, I'll tell you how you can make it your own with a few tweaks. That's what I love so much about cooking—you can take any old recipe and make it your own!

Shrimp Curry in Coconut Milk

1/2 kilo jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used Fisherfarms Shrimp Cocktail)
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can of green peas (I used Jolly)
1/2 tsp curry powder (I used McCormick)
salt to taste
1 can stewed tomatoes (I used S&W)
1 pouch coconut milk (I used Coco Mama)
1/8 cup calamansi juice (around 6-8 calamansi)
(optional) 1 tsp red pepper chili flakes
(optional) 1 tsp dried basil OR fresh basil, chopped

Heat oil in pan.
Add onion, garlic, and peas. Cook for 1 minute.
Add the whole can of tomatoes (juice and all!) and coconut milk. Mix well.
Add a pinch of salt and curry powder.
Bring to boil. Cover and simmer on low heat until sauce thickens or about 10 minutes.
Add shrimp and cook for 5 minutes or until shrimp is pink.
Add calamansi juice. Sprinkle basil. Stir.
Serve over hot rice!

He loved it! He ate it all up and asked for another bowl!

This was SO GOOD!

Now here are the ways you can tweak it:

1. Shrimp. If you're going more plant-based or are vegetarian, you can easily swap out the shrimp with chickpeas or broccoli or cauliflower. I'll make vegetable curry next and put red bell peppers, chickpeas, spinach!

2. Canned tomatoes. S&W is my favorite canned tomatoes brand because it's already stewed with other vegetables and spices so it tastes wonderful. I use it for tomato soup, pasta, and other tomato-sauce dishes. I just revealed one of my top kitchen secrets!!! But you can choose other brands and other kinds of canned tomatoes, but it should be canned. If you must use fresh tomatoes, use really ripe ones and boil them first so they're really soft and tender and juicy.

3. I think this recipe will be better if it has heat in it. I really wanted to add chili flakes or chopped chilis, but since my kids don't like spicy food, I didn't add any hot stuff.

4. You can use any cooking oil but I like coconut oil with this dish because I think it will really bring out the flavor of the coconut milk.

Tell me once you try it and tell me how you tweaked it, too!

Monday, January 13, 2020

Oh, 2020, what kind of year are you going to be?

Happy 2020, everyone! That's my wish for us all—a happy new year. It's only been 12 days in and already there's a lot of bad news everywhere. Australia burning, Iran and the US at war, earthquakes in Mindanao, Taal erupting. Looks like 2020 hit the ground running. So buckle up, mamas. It's going to be a wild ride this year. I hope the photos in this post cheer you up!

It's the New Year but I'm going to share photos from MY new year, back in November 2019, when I turned 43. As usual, it's just me and the boys at home. I ordered a lovely rainbow cake because I was feeling extra festive. I'm finally getting used to being in my 40s—muscle pains, white hair, worsening eyesight, and all that comes with aging. It's not so bad once you adjust!

It was such a happy birthday. You know why? Well, because I have my husband and our sons to celebrate it with. And because I'm finally over it—my birthday! I'm so hung up over my birthday, it's crazy. Loyal Readers would know I announce my birthday a full month before the day and I talk about my wish gift list and how I'm going to be absolutely fabulous. That was the old me, thinking every birthday is a fresh start to conquer the world. And that's okay.

But this year, I just want to be safe and normal and old and be with the people I love. The pressure to be amazing is off so I can be just happy! Or maybe it's the other way around. I'm finally completely happy so the pressure is off. Either way, I feel so relaxed. Finally. I've finally gotten a grip on my anxiety and lost that "look at me me me!" obsession. I guess I finally grew up!

Anyway, I was asking God for my word of the year. Last year, it was "cheerful." And you know what? It helped me big time. My father fell ill and then he died. We thought we'd financially go under. I started a new career in PR and realized soon enough that I'm not very good at juggling office work and motherhood. I missed my kids terribly and I was dropping so many balls, especially at home. To top it all off, my health was weird (I really should see all my doctors!). Sounds like a bad year, right?

Yes. It was. And yet I stayed buoyed up with an unexplainable happiness throughout the year. I truly was cheerful! Of course, there were times I cried and there were times I felt really bad about how certain decisions I made were affecting my family. But here we are—we're still okay.

Life's like that. We just need to have fortitude and a good "bring it" attitude to face every day. We need to constantly assess our situation and find ways to improve it or learn from it and then do better. We also need to always be grateful for everything, because even in the darkest of hours, life can still send us tiny blessings. I realized that in 2019—my eyes were so open and hungry for things to be grateful for. I guess that's why it was so easy for me to be happy despite all the bad stuff that happened.

I'm also lucky because I have a few people who have my back. It's true what they say—when you go through tough times, you find out who really cares for you. And I am grateful for them, 4 of them are in the pictures here!

I'm also so grateful for you, dear Loyal Readers. All the messages of encouragement and friendship you sent me last year—every single one I read and every single one comforted me. Thank you! I'm so glad you're still around, reading my blog, heart-ing my Instagram posts, chatting with me on my Facebook page, and basically still sending little old me and my family your love. I LOVE YOU, TOO!

So what's my word for 2020? It's LOVE! God impressed that on my heart at around December and I got worried haha I was, like, "Why, what's going to happen, Lord? Why do You need me to be extra loving this year?" You see, LOVE had already been my word, yes, in 2016. Election year. And oh wow, I did not love a lot that year. Not at all. So much hate and vitriol in social media, in my own family, with friends. I wish I can forget that year.

So God's telling me, "Let's give LOVE another try, Frances. You're going to have to give all the love you can give, every day of your life for as long as you live!" Haha that's not God, that's Sound of Music! But seriously, I'm going to try really hard to love this 2020. Love God, love my husband, love my family, love my friends, love my work, love my chores, love mankind. That's not easy. So pray for me!

Look how I must be this 2020, according to I Corinthians 13:4-7:

"Love [Frances] is patient and kind.
Frances is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
Frances does not demand her own way.
Frances is not irritable, and Frances keeps no record of being wronged.
Frances does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
Frances never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance."

Woah. Okay. Challenge accepted! Will you take on the Love Challenge, too, mamas? Because it looks like 2020 will be a year of trials. We're going to need a lot of love to see it through!

P.S. God bless you and keep you in His love, dear Loyal Readers. You are the conduit of God's blessings to me. I am so grateful for everything you do. Even when I'm out of it and just wallowing in worry and being full of myself and exhausted and lazy to blog, you're still here. Thank you!