Category: Did you know?

Shrove Tuesday

shrove-tuesday1Today is shrove Tuesday, which has now become better known as Pancake Day.

What is Shrove Tuesday about?  Has it become just a day of cooking and tossing pancakes?

Shrove Tuesday is the last day of merriment and feasting before Lent begins in earnest.

But in truth and in its history, today is about penitence.  Shrove Tuesday got its name from the ritual of shriving, which early Christians used to do.

The act of shriving meant that Christians would confess their sins and their shortcomings and in so doing will receive absolutions.

Absolution means the person will be forgiven of his sins and released from his guilt and pain that he had caused.

This tradition is very old.

Shrove Tuesday

It was a custom and tradition of the early Christians to confess their sins a week before the start of Lent to their priest/confessor, who shall so shrive them.

Today is not only about pancake but a time to think about the wrong deeds that we have done or have continued  doing.  We must be penitent of them.

On the happier side, Shrove Tuesday is also about partying and feasting.  Time to cook and serve all the foods that may have to be given up for the sober Lent to come. Barbecue the meat and fish and make pastas so no food are wasted for the coming Lent.  Today is like a Mardi Gras – Fat Tuesday.

Pancake became the ideal food for Tuesday because it uses up all the fats, milk and eggs with the addition of flour.





Passion Fruit

Passion fruit, photo by PH Morton

Passion Fruit

Photo by PH Morton

Passion fruit is sweet with a tinge of sourness.  It is very seedy.  The seeds are soft and edible.

The scientific name for passion fruit is Passiflora edulis. It comes from a vine rather than a tree.

It is native to South America.

Did you know?

To tell whether the fruit is ripe is to look at the skin.  When the outer skin has shriveled then it is ripe.  The shriveled the skin the riper it is.



Happy Halloween 2017

Happy Halloween 2017

Tis the night — the night
Of the grave’s delight,
And the warlocks are at their play;
Ye think that without
The wild winds shout,
But no, it is they — it is they.

~Arthur Cleveland Coxe

Happy Halloween 2017 to our visitors. Here  in London we enjoy Halloween. On 31 October, millions around the world celebrate a festival that has evolved from nature rituals of ancient times.
Halloween, or it’s proper name Hallowe’en (Hallows evening)contracted from the Christian ‘All Hallows Evening’ or ‘Eve’,  is thought to have pagan roots and from a festival name of ‘Samhain’.
Halloween is supposed to be the time when the earthly and spirit worlds meet allowing spirits of those departed and fairies to dwell for one night on earth and commune with us mere mortals. It is an important date for pagans, witches etc. The festival predates Christianity by thousands of years.

Wiccans  hold one of their seasonal Sabbats (festivals) every 31 October. Witchcraft & witches are derived from the old English words,  wiccecræft & wicce.

To try and suppress such pagan non-Christian beliefs, the Church hierarchy then later added All Saints Day (to commemorate all Christian Saints) on the 1st November, followed by All Souls Day on 2nd November, when the deceased family, relatives, friends etc., are remembered and commemorated with Church services.

Halloween is thought to mainly originate from ancient Celtic festivals in Scotland, Ireland, Wales and northern Europe. These Celtic festivals and rituals marked the end of summer and the coming of winter after autumn and the unwelcome arrival of longer darker & colder nights. Bonfires were lit to keep the dark at bay and rituals performed to banish ghosts, evil spirits, fairies from coming with the winter darkness. Candle lit turnip lanterns carved with scary faces were made which later evolved into the pumpkin lanterns we see now.

Halloween spread to North America in the 1800s with the arrival of Irish & celtic immigrants. It quickly became a big festival which, evolved over the years into what takes place today. Children dressing up as ghosts, witches etc., touring around the neighbourhod with patient parents on Halloween, trick or treating. Halloween themed parties are de riguer .
Before pumpkins became the favourite of Halloween lantern makers (they are easier to carve), turnips and swedes were and still are used. Some of these carved pumpkins are minor works of art.
The Irish settlers arriving in America found no turnips so used the native grown pumpkins as lanterns as are used to this day.

When I was a child on Halloween, my mother and I would carve two lanterns out of smaller root vegetable swedes (Swedish turnip), as pumpkins were rare here then. The swedes are harder to carve, but worth the effort to an imaginative young mind. We would put a lantern in our living or bedroom window
We would keep the lantern swedes until Guy Fawkes Night on each 5th November. We would re use them if they were still fresh as lanterns then burn them on the bonfire we had in our garden as we set off fireworks, so much fun and happy memories ?

This early evening, like the last few Halloweens’, we will take our 8 -year-old grandson and baby brother around the local roads. We meet other families too and exchange laughs. A lot of neighbours get into the spirit (pardon the pun!) and have pumpkin lanterns like us by their front garden gates. Some open their doors dressed up in scary costumes, a good fun evening.


Christmas’ Forgotten List

Christmas Decor
Photo by JMorton

The item that would really worry me that I forgot to buy for Christmas is the battery. I remember one Christmas when I bought all these beautiful remote controlled toys for my son.

On Christmas morning, he can’t play with them because of the missing batteries. I saw how bravely he was trying to hide his disappointment but it did break my heart.

Now I always ensure that we have batteries for Christmas.

The next item is the tin foil, the aluminium wrap, to cover the turkey. Stress….

Then running out of gravy granules, that is total disaster. I like my roast swimming in gravy.

Christmas’ Forgotten List

Below is the top 10 forgotten items.  Hope this will be a reminder to make Christmas painless and extra special.

Top 10 forgotten Christmas items:

1.    Batteries
2.    Sellotape
3.    Crackers
4.    Gift tags
5.    Cranberry sauce
6.    Wrapping paper
7.    Pigs in blankets
8.    Napkins
9.    Beer
10.  Gravy

Please let us know your forgotten item or items and we will add it to our list.

You Are What You Eat

The proof is in the eating of the cupcake, lol, Photo by PH Morton

You Are What You Eat

It is true I am afraid, well in my case anyway.  I love chocolates and it shows: in the tummy area, along the hips, in the face and everywhere. 🙂

Belonging to the class mammalia (species with the mammary glands, lol) we are rather versatile in what we include in what we eat.

There are at least four classifications of diets or intake of nourishment.  Which do you belong?

  • Herbivores, these are those who eat greens, the verdant leaves and sprouts of plants.  Are you as vegetarian as the brontosaurus?  Or cows and horses perhaps?
  • Carnivores, these are those who like to eat meat.  I must admit, I have to have meat in my diet.  I am very partial to pork and chicken.  Now and again, you here news of people who are practising cannibals, meaning they eat people. There are even news that during the Russian famine of the 1920s, food was extremely scarce the peasant started eating human limbs, which were up for sale.  Anything for survival.
  • Omnivores, these are those who eat greens and meat (also chocolates), which are us humans.  We do like a variety in our diet.  Apparently some bears are also known to be omnivores.  We don’t just like to eat grass like cows and carabaos on pasture.  We want a bit of both in our meals.  Roast meat with three vegs.  🙂
  • Insectivores, these are those who eat insects.  Some humans have a penchant for eating insects like locust, crickets, grasshoppers and juicy spiders.  Humans are now giving aardvarks a run for their money.



Walis Tingting (Coconut Broom Stick)

Walis Tingting

Walis Tingting (Coconut Broom Stick)

Walis Tingting is as Filipino as can be. Couple with walis tambo, you can sweep inside and outside of your house. From the bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen, sala (living room) to your front yard, backyard and side yards!  They can all be cleanly swept.

Tambo can be used to sweep places with smoother surfaces while the walis tingtings are used to go into the more uneven corners and more difficult surfaces.

Walis tingting are gathered from the long fronds of coconut tree.  There is a rather woody stick that run to the leaves of the tree, each of these woody sticks are trimmed of from the leaves and then bundled up together like the photos above to make a walis tingting.   The volume should be enough that it is ergonomic, comfortably held with one hand as you sweep.

Fortune Cookie Tells All

Fortune Cookie, photo by JMorton

Fortune Cookie Tells All

My fortune cookie says that “Everything is now in place for you to make a major decision with ease.”

The fortune cookies came as a freebie with our Chinese take-away.

But did you know?  Fortune cookies are not a Chinese invention.  They are in fact American.  A Japanese restauranteur in San Francisco, apparently started the fashion of inserting little bits of thank you notes in their buns.

This proved popular which then copied by a nearby Chinese restaurant and instead of thank you, it started to tell ‘fortune’

The Life That I Have

Despair, photo by JMorton

The Life That I Have

The Life That I Have (sometimes referred to as Yours) is a short poem written by Leo Marks and used as a poem code in the Second World War.
The life that I have
Is all that I have
And the life that I have
Is yours.
The love that I have
Of the life that I have
Is yours and yours and yours.
A sleep I shall have
A rest I shall have
Yet death will be but a pause.
For the peace of my years
In the long green grass
Will be yours and yours and yours.

Peter told me to add this poem into the blog.  He said I would like it.  He is partly right because I more than like it, I love it.

The poem is about Love Eternal.  It is beyond love every waking moments, its goes on until and after death.  Isn’t that just the most romantic thing ever 🙂 !!!

But romance aside, the poem apparently was used to send code during WWII.  A message is encrypted within the poetry itself.  This short poem was sent by Leo Marks to a French agent, Violette Szabo, who was ultimately captured, tortured and murdered by the Nazi (not because of the poem!).  A film was made about Violette Szabo called Carve Her Name With Pride, where the poem was included but undergone an artistic licence, as Hollywood would often do.  In the film the poem was supposed to have been written for her by her husband, Etienne.

Forest Bathing @ Hampstead Heath

Wood shack at Hampstead Heath, photo by PH Morton

Hampstead Heath, photo by JMorton

I love this Manet-like impressionism photo at Hampstead Heath by PH Morton

Forest Bathing @ Hampstead Heath

Forest bathing has become an accepted form of relaxation and stress management in Japan.  It was started in the mid-80s.

But what is forest bathing?

It involves going into a woody land or forest, a green space, and hike leisurely; relax and breathe in all the freshness and negative ions, the so-called air-borned vitamins’, given off by the surrounding trees and plants.

Let all the stress of the day melt in the comparative embraces of the forest.

In London, there is a woodland called Hampstead Heath, a 320 hectares of open, green space perfect for forest bathing, among other things.  It is a place for a great family bonding.  There are numbers of ponds, there is even a ‘secret garden’ which is architecturally excellent.  It also covers a natural swimming pool for ladies and also for men, there are the Parliament Hill, the Kenwood House, Highgate pond, etc.

Be astounded at how great Hampstead Heath is, when it is just 6 kilometres away from the very busy bustling city centre of London, the Trafalgar Square.

It is a place for biodiversity: human meets natures and wildlife in a capsule of forested heath.

So Londoners, now the weather outside is no longer frightful, put on your walking shoes and have a forest bath!


Increase Brain Power

It seems brushing one’s teeth is not only for health and hygiene reasons, it is so much more.

Brain Power

Increase Brain Power

There are also some research about the effect of chocolates to brain power.  Apparently the flavanols in cocoa can increase cognitive abilities, allowing for multitasking, i.e. ability to perform two or more tasks at a time.


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