Harvesting Broccoli

I miss the cold weather in Manila. I miss it terribly. Although we were already warned by many reports, it was still heartbreaking for me to experience the heat so soon, because I wanted the cold weather to last for a few more months. I was just getting used to wearing hoodies, not experiencing sweat that much and constantly feeling the cool breeze whenever I would take a quick walk outside. However, when I stay inside or go outside of our house nowadays, I’m not able to feel and appreciate the cold, fresh air anymore.

My first Broccoli. :)
My first Broccoli. :)

Just last week, I got so affected by the sudden change in the weather because I noticed how both my Broccoli and Cherry Tomato plants were having a difficult time surviving each day. Before, watering the plants twice a day (morning and evening) was already sufficient. But because of the extreme heat recently, the plants and soil dried up immediately after they were watered.

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Also, I noticed how weird my Broccoli eventually looked like. In my former posts, I showed photos of how the Broccoli plant was able to produce its first Broccoli, but when I had a closer look at it a few days ago, I saw little flower buds growing on it. The Broccoli certainly didn’t look like the ones being sold at the supermarket. It had puffy buds.

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After doing more research online, I found out that the heat and lack of water caused the Broccoli to grow prematurely, thus, allowing the flower buds to grow. And when we allow the yellow Broccoli flowers to grow on its head more, it would eventually develop a bitter taste. So, I inspected the head and saw that some of the flower buds already started to open up a bit. At first, I didn’t want to remove it from its stem since it was still a small head. But then, I also knew that I needed to harvest it soon because if I didn’t, it would end up as a ball of yellow, inedible Broccoli flowers. I prayed about it and decided to harvest the head the next day.

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Steamed Broccoli with Salt & Pepper. They were quite sweet! :)

When I was tempted to complain and grumble last week, God encouraged me to thank Him instead because He gave me the privilege of growing even just a small head of Broccoli. It reminded me of the verse in the Bible where it says:

“Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food…
yet I will rejoice in the Lord…”

[Habakkuk 3:17-18]

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Two days ago, I went online and browsed through one of my favorite gardening blogs, White On Rice Couple (http://whiteonricecouple.com/). To my surprise, the couple behind the blog shared about how they lost their 10-year old Blood Orange tree due to overwatering. Somehow, I sympathized with them because I felt like I lost my 9-month old Broccoli plant when it grew a head prematurely because of the heat and lack of water. But in their blog, they shared about how they decided to plant a new tree to replace the old one. And that simple act reminded me of hope. Hope not in ourselves or in the situations around us, but Hope that is found in God who causes things to grow.

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When I first planted the Broccoli seed, I remember placing a sign in the pot to encourage me. It said “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.” [1 Corinthians 3:7]

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Thank You, Lord, for the past nine months of growing a Broccoli seed and learning more about You from it. Thank you for allowing it to grow. I look forward to growing more plants and trees with You in the near future. ‘Til our next harvest!

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

Simple Sunday Snack: Wicked Fruit Shakes

Last Friday night, my siblings and I watched Wicked at the Cultural Center of the Philippines. It was AMAZING!!! It reminded me so much of my highschool days because when we were in our third year, my musically-inclined classmates introduced Wicked to me and I instantly fell in love with the songs. I remember listening to my Wicked playlist everyday and sometimes, I would even sing their songs with my friends during lunch breaks in school. Hahaha. It really was a memorable experience for me because the musical encouraged me to sing in front of and with others freely.

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By God’s grace, He provided for our tickets and He made us all available for the show! Thank You so much, Lord! :)

With Jemma Rix (Elphaba) and Suzie Mathers (Glinda)
With Jemma Rix (Elphaba) and Suzie Mathers (Glinda)

One of the things that I enjoyed about the untold story of the witches of Oz is how the main characters initiated in restoring and building their friendship with each other in spite of their differences. One of their songs “What is This Feeling” talked about how much they loathed each other when they first met. But as the story progresses, their hearts change and they naturally show humility, forgiveness and sacrificial love towards each other. In some scenes, they were even willing to die for the freedom of the other.

With Steve Danielsen (Fiyero)
With Steve Danielsen (Fiyero)

It reminded me of John 15:12-14, where it says: “… love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

Watching the scenes that showed sacrificial love brought tears to my eyes because I knew what it felt like to receive this kind of love. Many years ago, Jesus died to pay for the penalty of our sins and he took our place on the cross so we could spend eternity with Him.

“Tell me what kind of God would choose to save
The bruised, the broken, the sinners, the runaways
How do you ever try to comprehend this love that knows no limit
I could try but I could not explain

His kind of love is reckless for us
His kind of love is will never give up
‘Til the whole world knows how far He went to show His kind of love.”

[Group 1 Crew’s “His Kind of Love”]

With Nessa
With Nessa
with Boq
with Boq

After learning about the story behind the songs I’ve memorized before, I fell in love with the musical even more. It really was encouraging to be reminded of integrity, forgiveness, humility, and sacrificial love. I hope that more composers and scriptwriters can create beautiful masterpieces like Wicked. :)

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From Google Images

In honor of Wicked, here are some of my favorite fruit shakes that somehow resemble their main characters, Elphaba and Glinda.

Elphaba and my Avocado Shake
Elphaba and my Avocado Shake

 

Glinda and my Strawberry Shake
Glinda and my Strawberry Shake

Feel free to try the recipes.  I usually just estimate the ingredients and taste every now and then until I like it’s consistency and flavor. :)

AVOCADO SHAKE
2 medium ripe Avocados (or 5-6 sweet, ripe strawberries)
3 tablespoons of sugar/honey (More or less :P)
4 tablespoons of milk
10 ice cubes (size: 2 x 1)

STRAWBERRY SHAKE
5-6 sweet, ripe strawberries
3 tablespoons of sugar/honey
2 tablespoons of milk
8 ice cubes (size: 2 x 1)

 

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

Words in Cookies

When I was in highschool, one of my classmates opened up to me and said: “Nicole. You know what? You’ve changed – in a good way. I don’t know if you still remember this, but when we were in the 4th grade, you used to tease me because I was chubby. But now, you’re so nice to people, including me, and I really appreciate it.”

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At that time, I really couldn’t believe what she just shared to me. I honestly couldn’t remember bullying others verbally before, but by God’s grace, He changed my heart through the years and restored my friendship with my classmate. I told her that the change happened because of my desire to honor God in my relationship with Him. After she shared, I also asked for her forgiveness. I even remember getting teary-eyed while hugging her that day.

 “Words can build you up. Words can break you down… Start a fire in your heart or put it out.” –Hawk Nelson

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It’s truly amazing how our words can instantly strengthen or discourage the people around us. This is one of the aspects in my life that I really need to improve on. But despite my past mistakes, my careless words and weaknesses, it’s encouraging to be reminded of God’s grace and the new opportunities He gives me to honor Him with my words and heart.

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Also, God has been faithful in teaching me to tame my tongue by guarding my heart. By His grace, the more I spend time reading, memorizing, studying His word and soaking my heart in it, the more I am able to honor Him with my mouth and encourage others too.

Matthew 12:34 says: “…Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”

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A few days ago, I tried making Fortune cookies again and instead of putting fortunes in them, I placed some of God’s promises (from the Bible) that are close to my heart. After making them, I shared them to my family and we all broke our cookies and read the promises. God graciously uses moments like this to encourage my heart to dwell more on His word (even while I’m in the kitchen baking treats).

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All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

2 Timothy 3:16-17

It doesn’t matter if we read and study one verse or one chapter per day. God looks at our hearts when we spend time with Him and He graciously speaks to us through His word wherever, whenever.

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“God, Your voice is the only thing we need to hear.” –Hawk Nelson in “Words”

It is my prayer that I would grow more in my walk with God this year. God says in His word that nothing is impossible with Him. So, I believe with all my heart that I can improve in this aspect and honor Him with the heart and mouth that He has given me.

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If you want to make fortune cookies too, you can try this recipe. :)

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NOTE: Making the fortune cookies wasn’t easy. In fact, after baking and folding all of the cookies, you’ll probably have sore fingertips (especially if you don’t use gloves or other things to cover your fingers while folding them). But, the experience is exciting because you’ll only have a few seconds to put the strip of paper on the HOT cookie, fold it in half, fold it again with the help of a mug, and let it rest/ harden in a cupcake pan.

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Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)

Simple Sunday Snack: Little Trees (Broccoli) with Sticky Cheese

Exactly a week ago, I was hanging out at our veranda where our cherry tomato and broccoli plants were. It was such a joy for me to see a new batch of cherry tomatoes ready for harvest. However, I couldn’t help but wonder when the Broccoli plants would produce their heads. I then decided to do more research about it after I finished watering the plants that morning.

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While I was watering one of the Broccoli plants, I noticed something different in the middle area. It looked like a baby Broccoli head, but I wasn’t sure yet. I told my sister, “Ate, I think the Broccoli has a head!” and I asked her to check it out too. After a few seconds of observing, we both concluded that it did grow a tiny head! Oh, you could just imagine how happy I was! I remember feeling physically weak that time because I was sick, but the moment I saw the head, I jumped up and down like a happy bunny while shouting “YAY!!!!”.

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After eight months of waiting, one of the Broccoli plants finally produced its baby and I am one happy, proud, and grateful gardener!

It took a lot of faith and courage for me to plant the Broccoli seeds months ago because I knew that it was a cold weather plant. In the Philippines, they usually grow these in Baguio and in other cold places. So, the chances of it growing in Manila (considering its usual hot weather) were really small. But by God’s grace, He made the weather in this country cooler recently. As you can see in the news articles I included below, we have experienced really cold days in the country last month!

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Interestingly, PAGASA even recorded the coldest day (so far) of 2014 last Sunday (January 26, 2014), the day when the baby Broccoli head grew!

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God used that moment to encourage me to continue being faithful and to trust in His faithfulness and provision. Honestly, there were days when I didn’t feel like watering the Broccoli plants because they were only growing leaves and not the vegetable that I wanted. And during those days, the leaves of one of the plants wilted and I thought that it was already going to die. But after two days of regularly watering it again, the leaves stood tall!

“Faithfulness is not doing something right once but doing something right over and over and over and over.” –Joyce Meyer

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God showed me how the discipline of watering the plants daily and taking care of them every now and then also helped in growing a healthy plant. I know that I have so much more to improve on and I hope and pray that by His grace, I will also be faithful in the other aspects of my life. In maintaining good relationships, in honoring Him with my daily walk with Jesus, in doing my best at work and in ministry, in regularly tithing, and even in taking good care of the things He has given me.

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Deuteronomy 7:9 says “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.

 

Looking forward to the day when I can harvest the beautiful Broccoli! I’ll most probably blog about it soon. But for now, I’ll be sharing a simple snack for you guys:

LITTLE TREES WITH STICKY CHEESE

Ingredients:

Broccoli

Butter

Spices (Salt, Pepper)

Mozzarella cheese (or quick-melt cheese) at room temperature

 

Steps:

1. Cut the Broccoli into smaller pieces. Steam for 3-5 minutes, depending on your desired texture.

2. Season the steamed Broccoli with salt and pepper.

3. Add a tablespoon of butter and grated cheese on the vegetable while it’s still hot.

4. Enjoy! It’s a great source of vitamin C!

 

Read more about growing Broccoli and Cherry Tomatoes here: http://encouragingtreats.com/growing-broccoli-cherry-tomatoes/

Encourage yourself one treat at a time. :)