Book – Llama Llama Red Pajama

~~We have added this book to our Favorites page~~

By Anna Dewdney

An instant family favorite, this book was a gift from Jun and Gabriel’s great-grandmother Nancy.  The rhyming words are fun to read and to hear, and the pictures are so sweet and truly adorable.

The story is about Llama Llama’s bedtime routine and feeling alone after his Mama kisses him goodnight.  The boys — and I think most children — related right away to Llama Llama’s anxiety, impatience, fear and his “Llama-Dramas”.

When we read the part of the story where Llama Llama, feeling afraid, puts his bed cover over his face, the boys ask to pause… so they too could put their own bed covers over their faces.  Only then are they are ready to continue when Llama Llama yells for Mama Llama to RUN RUN RUN!

The worried Mama rushes up to check on Llama Llama, only to find that Llama Llama is OK and was just impatient.  Hands on her waist, these lines from Mama Llama follows:

Baby Llama, what a tizzy!  Sometimes Mama’s very busy.
Please stop all this llama drama and be patient for your Mama.

Anna Dewdney has since written 3 more Llama Llama books.


Book – Little Pea

~~We added this book to our favorites page~~

We read this book about 1 year ago, and it still comes up in conversation for the boys, so we recently read it again.

It is by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Illustrated by Jen Corace.  Published by Chronicle Books.

It is about a Pea (as in the vegetable) family — the Papa Pea, Mama Pea and Little Pea.

The Little Pea liked many things except for CANDY.  And that is what Little Peas had to eat …candy.  Candy on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and so on.

We enjoyed the simple illustrations, and especially the various candies Little Pea had to eat before he could have his dessert — which was his favorite, SPINACH.

The pages that shows Little Pea reluctantly eating his candy, one by one, and the accompanying word sounds, Yuck… Blech… Plck, Pleh… made the boys laugh.  They liked repeating the funny sounds Little Pea made.

The boys do love eating spinach too, so that was a plus…and a little book about a little pea that makes all of us laugh, is a plus too!

Here is the link to author Amy’s (very cool) website.

Gray Belt

4 year old Gabriel, white belt at Tae Kwon Do class


My grandsons (four-year-old Gabriel and six-year-old Jun-Jun) take Tae Kwon Do lessons, a Korean form of martial arts.

Gabriel just started —- he is a White Belt.

Jun started with Tae Kwon Do at age 5 and recently passed his Purple Belt promotion test.

6 Year Old Jun - Purple Belt



I guess the whole belt thing must be on their minds because when they saw Opa (Grandpa) with a gray robe and matching belt in the early morning, both said, “Opa!  You’re a Gray Belt!”

I don’t think the Gray Belt is  officially sanctioned by the World Tae Kwon Do Federation just yet.




Did you know that Tae Kwon Do is the national sport of South Korea?  It is also considered the most popular martial arts based on the number of practitioners world-wide (estimated at over 70 million in 190 countries),  and has been an Olympic event since 2000.

More information on Tae Kwon Do can be found by clicking on this link to Wikipidia.

Besides Taekwondo, there is only one other martial arts sport in the Olympics…can you guess what it is?  The answer…

Bizarro Modern World

The Bizarro cartoon today captures modern world headaches I encountered after what I thought would be a simple transfer of domain name registry, as well as the dot info blog site I was starting for Native Leaf.   I was in need of many aspirins, but perhaps antidepressants would have been better.

If you are a fan of Bizarro cartoons as I am, or just want to laugh, here is the link to the blog,, with the tagline “A daily blog by Dan Piraro, creator of the syndicated newspaper cartoon, Bizarro. It has cartoons, art, photos, thoughts, vids, nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. Please enjoy responsibly”.

Bizarro Cartoon 5-26-2011

No, I did not eat THAT Blackberry


The article from my post about how product names are derived (Name that mop…) also discussed how the smart phone name Blackberry came about  — and yes, again, Lola’s favorite technology device.

At the time the Blackberry was developed, the focus was on email so the first names had words like Mega-Mail, Pro-Mail, etc.  The concept overwhelmed people so the branding firm went towards names that calm people down….like vacations and natural things, which then led to fruits.  Eventually the name Blackberry was chosen as it was associated with a good color and apparently, “B” words are a reliable sound.

I wonder too if in the back of their minds, the success of the “Apple” brand influenced this use of a fruit name for the brand.

Photo from Tom Curtis,

So…it also reminded me of a time when (then 3 year old) grandson Gabriel was being impatient with Lola.

On an errand trip, Gabriel and I took a snack bag of delicious blackberries with us, and promptly ate it all.

Upon arriving at our destination, I was fumbling around for my Blackberry device — — —and I think taking a bit too long to look (well at least as far as Gabriel was concerned!).

Gabriel wanting OUT of his car seat said, “What are you doing Lola?”  I responded “looking for my Blackberry Gabriel”, to which he said, “You ate it already Lola!”.  I just had to laugh —- goodness I hope I wasn’t THAT hungry!

UPDATE TO POST October, 2014 — Wow, how quickly technology changes, and most of us know about the quick demise of Blackberry over the last few years.  I’ve moved on to HTC phones (first the EVO with the 3D photos / video capability, which was a lot of fun for the grandchildren, and now have the nice and big HTC One).  I did really enjoy my Blackberry, and now will have to be happy with real blackberries to eat!

I will keep this post on my blog though, as a reminder of the sweet and amusing comments from my little grandsons.

Blogger Spammers

I heard someone say that if spammers cannot find your blog and articles, then no one else can.

I am enjoying this process and still learning about technical aspects for my blog site, but as far as spammers, well…I have been found.

Getting a comment on a post is SO NICE, except when you realize it is just SPAM.  For those of you new to blogging, here is how I check (and please let me know if you have other methods):

  • check the email address on Google — if it is a spammer, others would have reported it already and it will be obvious on the search results.
  • or check the website on Google…same thing
  • there are also sites focused on listing information from known spammers on forums and blogs, e.g.,
  • And oh joy, if the site or address has poker chips or cialis as part of it, it is probably a spammer.
  • Oh and for the obvious….if the comment is generic and has absolutely nothing to do with the post.  For example, I got one on my post about the ethnic food aisle that said “you saved me MUCH time”.  Really?  From going to the ethnic food aisle? And another who said “thank you for keeping up with the trends”….Lola and trends?  OK maybe I am a hip Lola after all (except the post had nothing to do with trends).

WordPress has a button to click for Spam…Sigh…

Luggage with A Special Kind of Stinky

Being a nation comprised of thousands of islands and where the ocean is never really far away from anyone or anywhere, it is easy to see why Filipinos are fond of seafood.

Also consumed in large quantities are dried fish and related fermented fish products, as these do not need refrigeration, are a source of protein, and brings flavor to plain old rice and vegetables.

“Tuyo” – Dried Fish for Sale at the Market

The word “tuyo” which means “dry” in Tagalog, is the same word for dried fish.

I do like using patis (Philippine fish sauce) in my cooking, as noted on my earlier post.  However, I am not as crazy about dried fish, though I know many bring back their favorite dried fish, squid or specialty fermented seafood after coming back from their visits to the Philippines.

Years ago, my Mom decided she had to bring several jars of a local Visayan “delicacy” called ginamos back to the California, and tucked several jars in her luggage.

Ginamos is a salted, fermented product made from tiny fish like silver fish, anchovies or sometimes bigger fish like sardines, as well as shrimp (the pinkish version on the photo below).  Sold in glass jars or in open buckets at the market, the sight of it is not exactly appetizing as most are cloudy to muddy gray in color.

Ginamos – Bagoong at Market. Photo Courtesy of Tsubibo

It does not get better once you open up the container, when the smell of fermented, decaying fish wafts out.  I swear the stinkier the variety,  the more my Mom lights up at how good it will be with her fresh steamed rice.  Many Filipinos also like to eat ginamos with bananas and sweet potatoes.

When walking through local markets where ginamos is sold, I have to hold my breath —and walk as fast as I can—for fear I may pass out from the smell…and I grew up familiar with this unique aroma.  So I can only imagine how those —whose olfactory senses are “new” to the odor would react to the smell because….it truly is a special kind of stinky.

So for this trip back,  Mom must have thought the ginamos batch was worth taking to the U.S., and brought back not just one, but several jars of it.  Unfortunately, Mom was not mindful of how to properly pack ginamos for a 7,000+ mile journey.

At the San Francisco International Airport’s baggage claim, I waited next to Mom and other tired passengers for her luggage.  At the same time, I noticed the area emitted a familiar fishy smell (familiar that is, to many Filipinos), and noticed too, others wrinkling their noses.

As you can guess, indeed, one of my Mom’s treasured jars of ginamos had shattered.  I was worried she would never get the odor off her clothes, and thought, oh well that luggage bag is history!  And then I thought..uh oh…..the poor folks who may have to smell that special stinky —maybe for weeks— around the luggage carousel.

For Mom though, she was more upset that she had lost a jar of her ginamos, especially after traveling so far.  After all, you can replace clothes and luggage, but you cannot buy that special gnamos just anywhere in San Francisco!

Enjoy your ginamos and bananas! Photo Courtesy of Karlhans.

Related: Lola Jane’s Filipino food posts:

Vegetarian Fish Sauce?

In the same store noted in yesterday’s post about the “ethnic food aisle”, I saw this product I had not seen before.

For those of you not familiar with fish sauce, it is an often used condiment in cuisines of –as far as I know– Filipino, Thai, Vietnamese, and other Southeast Asian countries.

I did not know there was a vegetarian version.  Vegetarian fish sauce sounds rather funny to me, because it does not have the usual ingredients of well, you know, FISH, or fermented fish extracts.

In the Philippines fish sauce is called “patis”.  A popular brand is Rufina, which list ingredients as Fish Extract (assorted blend of scads, herrings, sardines, mackarels), water and salt, and less than 1/10th of 1% of benzoate of soda as a preservative.

It has a strong, very pungent, fishy odor which can be off-putting to some people, like “Opa” (Grandpa), who grew up in Indiana and never smelled fish sauce until he met Lola Jane. Oh, and to clarify that, not that I smell (or used to smell) like fish sauce, hah!  And not that there is anything wrong with smelling like fish sauce if you happen to adore that sort of scent on people.

And lucky for him we are never without fish sauce, for I always keep an extra bottle as back up.  And, I don’t tell him (though I suspect by now he knows or will after he reads this) that it is my secret ingredient in the tasty soups and stews I make.

Fish sauce is also delicious mixed with vinegar and spices for dressings and dipping sauces.  Just a tiny bit is needed.

And well…as far as the vegetarian fish sauce, I passed, and I think I will stick to my regular fish sauce with actual FISH in the ingredients for now…Though next time, I will check out the vegetarian fish sauce ingredients.

Do you use fish sauce?  Love it or hate it?

Related post:

The Ethnic Food Aisle

I was at an Asian store in San Jose shopping for what else, Asian food, and noticed this aisle sign.

Ethnic Food Isle in an Ethnic StoreHey…am I not IN an Ethnic store technically?  I thought it was odd that the store would have this particular aisle sign.  I have been to my share of Asian stores and had never seen an aisle sign like this, so I could not wait to check out the shelves…maybe American food?

I laughed when I saw it was food from the Philippines.  OK, maybe because the store was in an area with many Vietnamese stores…but still, Vietnam and the Philippines are neighbors geographically (Vietnam is the closest country to the Philippines across the South China Sea), so I am wondering why Filipino food ended up in the Ethnic aisle, since they do share the term “Asian” right?

NOTE – I received a text from a reader with the following technical points from their point of view:

  1. The Philippines is also near Guam, Palau and Micronesia, so some may argue about the Philippines’ “asian-ness”,  being historically Malay-Polynesian.
  2. Just because a line is drawn including the Philippines as an East Asian country, would have to argue that it may not be 100% true.

Any Comments?

The Swiffer…are you ready to replace your walis tambo or ting-ting?

Using Walis Tambo

Our (very tall) brother-in-law likes to use walis tambo for quick clean ups inside the house.

Did you replace your walis tambo — the traditional Filipino broom — with a Swiffer and wonder how the name Swiffer came about?

We know that language used in advertising and by PR firms are all about enticing us to buy products, but how did the branding team who come up with the name for Procter and Gamble’s new mop, the Swiffer?

As you can imagine, a cool brand name is crucial to introducing a product to market.

For the Swiffer, the branding firm started with a play on the word “mop” but decided to throw that out since it was a new type of mop.

Instead, a play on the words clean, wipe and sweep was how the name “Swiffer” came about.

Swiffer is now among Procter and Gamble’s biggest sellers, sold in 15 countries.

The experts say that one of the keys to a cool name is that the word has to be easy to say in all languages —which is vital to brand success.

With Filipinos having a tendency to replace “F” words with “P’s”, or strangely, vice-versa— since the Tagalog alphabet does not have a letter “F”, some Filipinos may call the Swiffer a SwiPPer.

Which, actually…sounds like, a SWEEPER anyway!

Though good luck with replacing the trusted walis-tambo, or walis ting-ting, the traditional brooms made of grass (tambo is soft for inside jobs) or from the rib of coconut fronds (nice and stiff for outside jobs).

Lolas walis ting ting webI have lived in the U.S. for a LONG time, and I still use traditional Philippine brooms.

I suspect that if there was a survey of broom types used in Filipino-American households, almost always, they will find  traditional brooms, which, by the way, are usually made of natural plants that compost or biodegrade.

Here is the link to the article,  With Billions at Stake, Firms Play Name That Mop, featuring hit names like the Outback but also some misses like Google’s “BackRub”.

Do you live outside the Philippines now but still use your walis tambo or walis ting-ting — or other types of traditional brooms?

Or are you now using a Swiffer, too?

walis tambo with plastic trim for web

Walis tambo for sale at one of our local Filipino store. The walis makers should go back to using natural materials (bamboo or rattan strips, natural fiber twines) so that the entire walis can be composted when no longer usable. The walis is not going to last forever, so why use plastic unnecessarily? It would be prettier with natural materials, too!


Picking Coconuts Philippines RdNot just for coconuts! Every part of the coconut tree is used, including the leaf frond rib to make the stiff traditional brooms called a “walis ting-ting” — click on photo for more about the coconut tree and coconut products made from this “Tree of Life”.

Related posts:

Palates from another planet

When it comes to my 4 and 6 year old grandsons’ food preferences and their palates,  I sometimes suspect they are from another planet.  I’m kidding of course, but would most kids like and eat a dinner comprised of fish sauteed with capers and garlic, wilted spinach and couscous?

Kid Favorite? Fish with capers & garlic, spinach on couscous – Yums!?

When I made this, 6 year old Jun took a bite, closed his eyes and stated, THIS IS SOOOOO GOOD, Lola!  Ummmmm, ummmmm!  Well, as you can imagine, hearing this and seeing the expression on his face —- makes any cook, especially this Lola, so HAPPY.  It was as if the taste was so terrific that he had to close his eyes to take it all in.

Mind you, Jun is not the expressive type (not yet anyway), so for him to have this reaction was great.  Gabriel followed suit with thumbs up, and Lola was a happy cook.

And the funny thing is that this is one of the easiest meals I make, uses only two pans –and the last thing you would think a 4 and 6 year old would love.   Come on, what is easier than making couscous—5 minutes and surprisingly high in fiber by the way— and quicker than cooking fish and spinach (I use the same pan to cook the fish and wilt the spinach).

Prior to Jun and Gabriel visiting my sister over the Christmas holidays, she called to ask if there are any special foods she should get for them.  I asked their Grandpa (whom they call Opa)—and he said, “not that I can think of, and oh tell her, whatever you think kids would NOT like, they like”.  This is true!

Photo of Bok Choy from Luigi Diamanti, www.freedigital

Often, kids hate vegetables — they don’t.

Months ago my neighbor gave me a big bag of broccoli — oh no I thought, how am I ever going to cook all this?  Well, Jun and Gabriel practically fought over the broccoli.  When we make asparagus — it is more! more!

And another odd one, Bok Choy…they just LOVE this vegetable, especially in the pot sticker soup we make, or when in the Filipino sour soup dish called sinigang.

When Gabriel is in a salad mood, be ready to refill his plate and expect him to say “more salad please Lola!”  The other night Gabriel proclaimed – “more veggies please Opa!” (it was a leftover saute of cabbage, green beans and carrots).

These guys love eating fruits. Bananas, kiwis, clementines, melons, and especially mangoes and pineapples…to the point that the fruit acids have made their mouth red and itchy (especially with eating too much fresh pineapple!).

Here are Lola’s shopping bags after coming back from the store with not one but TWO pineapples.

Of course they love their candy, ice cream, cookies and all the other goodies we all like, but in general, they are not fussy eaters at all.

Maybe it is a phase (a long phase) and the next time I make this fish dish or offer up a plate of asparagus they turn their heads and exclaim BLLCCCCHHH!  Well, at least then I will know for certain they are children from THIS home planet of ours after all…

But for now, Lola is quite happy to cook and shop for veggies and fruits for these good little eaters.

Jun and Gabs cleaning up frosting after Lola Jane makes cake.

Sniff Kisses

When I was a little girl, I use to think the method in which lolas (grandmothers) and our titas (aunties) greeted us was….well, a little odd.

Sniff Kiss to grandson

sniff kiss to grandson Gabriel

The titas and the lolas would hug us and then give us these sniff kisses.  Yup…just as it sounds, they come close like they are going to kiss you and at the same time, do this sniff and inhale action.

It was as if they were taking in your very essence….maybe in case of a blackout (or as it is called in the Philippines,  brownouts) they can find you in the dark among all the other children.

Aha!  So there it is…a sniff kiss is actually a child location system from primitive times that we Filipinos are still doing in modern times.  Well…the sniff kiss might soon become obsolete once all human beings are implanted with a form of  GPS device.

And guess what, when Jun-Jun, my first grandson was born, I started giving him sniff kisses too!

I surprised myself, oh oh….and, oh no!  What the heck?

I am doing the sniff kiss thing just like those old lola types from my childhood.  Ok, no need to remind me, I am a lola, and….yes, getting older by the minute (so are you!)

Oh well, I’m in the sniff-kiss club now…and sniff kisses are the norm for me when kissing my little Jun and Gabriel —  well, at least until they become teenagers and refuse any close contact with their Lola!

By the way, I wish I had one of these onesies —  spotted at — when the boys were babies.

Let me know if you know of other cultures doing this sniff-kiss thing too.  And I suspect not just Filipino grandmothers…

My favorite sniff kiss subjects, my grandsons Jun-Jun and Gabriel…

favorite sniff kiss subjects

Phone call no sniff kiss

Sorry Lola, I’m too busy talking on the phone now, you’ll have to hold off on your sniff kisses for now…

A note on brownouts:  A Wikipedia article on brownouts noted that “In the Philippines the term brownout refers to an intentional or unintentional power outage or blackout and there is no apparent word in Philippine English to refer to a drop in voltage.”

Don’t know how to sniff kiss?  Then you must view the Happy Slip’s “tutorial” video, below. The talented Auntie’s advice always puts a smile on this Lola’s face 🙂 …

Hot Iron for your Undies?

Photo of New Iron by vichie81,

My friend Rachel recently returned from visiting her family in England.  She told me that her mother still sets time aside for ironing, including pillow cases, sheets and even underwear.

While there, Rachel told her mother —  to her mother’s surprise — that she no longer irons.

Rachel is a busy wife and mom to 3 boys— one is still a baby.

The topic of ironing reminded me of when I was stationed in Germany and of our loving babysitter, Oma (Grandma) Adelaide Lonien.

Baby Dominique in one of her german outfits, probably ironed by her Oma Adelaide

Any clothing that baby Dominique soiled while at Oma’s house got washed and IRONED.  Mind you, these clothes were for a BABY, whose wardrobe consisted mostly of SLEEPERS, and well…who SLEPT a whole lot.

Don’t get me wrong, I so appreciated getting the clean pile of uber-soft, perfectly folded, smoothly ironed baby sleepers when I picked up Dominique.

At the same time though, the thought of baby sleepers being ironed always made me laugh because I found it so unnecessary.

I suppose that it is a gesture of love and pride from certain people —- you want your family to look good right?

So perhaps the same thing with the ironing habits of my friend Rachel’s mom…but the ironing underwear part?    Well, OK, if you were modeling for Victoria’s Secret, you would not want wrinkly undies.  Not a good look on the runway.

I used to iron more than I do now…my favorite clothing to wear are linens and cottons, so it is a requirement really.  Lately though, my favorite linen shirts have been missing in action, in a basket piled with items to iron.  Lola is just too busy — after all, in addition to other tasks, I have a blog to maintain now!

My younger sister —who hardly irons anymore and is also in favor of wrinkle free clothing– recently uttered a saying in tagalog I have not heard in ages. Hahabulin ka nang plantsa! One says this when a person –usually a close friend or a much-loved relative— is wearing something so obviously in need of ironing.

It translates to something like:  The iron is going to chase you! I don’t think I have heard an English version of this (let me know if you have), so I wonder if Filipinos are just more wrinkle-phobic.

Old iron – photo courtesy of Leonardo Roque

And talk about old school ironing…when we were little in the Philippines and living in the province with our Nanay Lucing, ironing was a major and hazardous undertaking.  Here is a photo of an iron from that looks just like the one we had.

As you can see, there is no electric plug. And it is called an iron…because its made of IRON.  In order to use this contraption, you must first make a fire to have charcoal.  You then load the iron with glowing hot charcoal and lock the lever on top shut.

Old Iron on Banana Leaves, photo courtesy of

One must plan this out as you would iron first the items that were thick and can take the “high heat” setting — actually make that the “hot as hell” setting.  And be super careful lest you scorch –no, actually BRAND yourself (forever)  if you accidentally let any part of the iron touch your skin.

I was too little to help in this chore thankfully, so my older sister and cousin had this responsibility. There was always a pile of fresh, cool banana leaves as a place to set the iron. Then too, there was the starch…oh my goodness.  Nice to have that stiff cardboard look!

The part of collecting the banana leaves —well, the smaller girls were allowed to do.  And we hung around to watch if anyone got burned, and to smell the banana leaves.  Scorched banana leaves always did smell so good to us, because banana leaves are used in Filipino desserts.

With all the new wash and wear, and “wrinkle-free” type textiles in these modern times and our busy lives, who really irons anymore?  Is this a generational thing and do you still iron — and what do you iron?

Lola Jane

Related Germany post:

Seahorses at the Monterey Aquarium

We took the grandkids to the Monterey Bay Aquarium on Friday — what a treasure for the area.

The boys had a great time going from exhibit to exhibit, and despite the large crowd, no one got separated and lost — well at least not for long, as I stayed put until I was found again!.

This is the second time we saw the fascinating exhibit “The Secret Life of Seahorses”.  I didn’t remember seeing the display of a big frame made of coral, dried seahorses and marine animals at last visit.

The type of frame is ubiquitous (in varying sizes) in beach town tourist shops.  This time, I stopped to read the information.

Seahorses Exhibit at the Monterey Aquarium

Growing up in the Philippines, I was accustomed to seeing these frames or other items decorated with shells and marine animals.

Maybe because they were so common…I thought that these items were picked up by beach combing…as in, the creatures are already dead and washed ashore.

This is not the case, and much of these animals are collected ALIVE and dried to make these souvenirs.

I am saddened at how uninformed I was  about this practice!

Family and friends, please do not buy these souvenirs.

With everything else happening to our oceans, we all have to do our part to stop this. And please spread the word about protecting these fragile and fascinating creatures.  In the process, we also protect and  preserve their homes —and our home.

Please visit the for more information on what we can do to save the declining seahorse population.

Additionally, visit Alex Pronove’s blog for an informative article on the seahorse and sea dragon market & supply chain (starting in the Philippines) –

~Lola Jane