Sign Language: This is not funny!

bomb jokes
A quick post on the way out of Manila (Jakarta bound)….. I love this. What happened I wonder? Did bomb jokes at the airport become a national obsession with everyone and their granny announcing they had a bomb in their bag? Or did some clown take his gag too far one day? We’ll never know….but I won’t be “cracking such jokes” any time soon!

Sign Language: For Decorative Purposes Only?

Some people sarcastically comment that street signs here have no meaning and are only for decorative purposes.  I beg to differ.  Here’s my take on the functional interpretation of road signs here in Manila:

Sign:  Stop Sign


Description:  Red hexagon

Possible Meaning: You may stop here if you feel like it, or if you would like to send a text

Sign: Pedestrian Crossing


Description:  White stripes across the road.

Possible meaning: Beware of foreign pedestrians shouting and screaming at you for some unknown reason

Sign:  Traffic Light

traffic light

Description:  Pole with coloured lights

Possible Interpretation of colours:  Green = Go.  Yellow = Go faster.  Red = Stop (unless your on a motorbike, then you can go anyway.)

Lane Markings


Description:  White lines painted down the middle of the road.  Inexplicably, comes in two different designs:  solid or dashed

Possible meaning: A suggestion on how you might like to form lanes if traffic is not too heavy.

Sign: No Parking


Description:  White Circle with a crossed out P

Possible Meaning:  Other people may not park here

Am I wrong?!


90 Days Tick Tock…Tick Tock…

clock This weekend we have reached the 90 days until departure landmark. Its the unofficial start of the departure check list of things to schedule/do/complete before we go. And the list is long!  Its not that any of it is so difficult, there’s just a lot of it, and mixed in with family priorities going on at the same time, it pretty overwhelming if you don’t break it down into little doable bits every day.

Things would be a little easier if the people reviewing our travel orders could do so a little quicker.  They did stop by for a quick photo though:


How to Make Homemade Yoghurt

Yoghurt making equipment

Assembled ingredients to begin the job

Ingredients to make 2 kilos of yoghurt

  • 2 litres of water or UHT milk  (you can use fresh milk also, but using that here is prohibitively expensive and UHT is just fine.  Water is fine too.  It just makes a less creamy yoghurt)
  • 2 2/3 cups of full fat milk powder
  • 1 cup of yoghurt starter or 1 cup of homemade yoghurt from the last batch
  • 1 cup of sweet whey powder (optional.  It makes the yoghurt creamy and taste like it has a higher fat content, although it actually adds no fat to the mixture.)
Sweet Dairy Whey

Sweet Dairy Whey adds creaminess and a very slight sweetness to the yoghurt without adding significant calories. You can buy it online.

Yogurt Starter

We purchased yoghurt starter as part of our initial experiments to give us a standard to test our experiments. It turns out that you don’t really need it unless you can’t get plain fresh yoghurt easily.


  • 2 1-kilo/liter containers (tupperware or recycled yoghurt containers are fine.  We recycled a large Skippy jar.)
  • Large slow cooker (crockpot)
  • 2 large plastic jugs or bowls for mixing.
  • Wire whisk
  • Sieve
  • Small ziplock bag or tupperware container
  • 1/3 cup measure
  • Towel
  • Thermometer (optional, but recommended)


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Pour milk(or water) into plastic jugs. Add 2/3 cup of milk powder to each jug and whisk.  Add half the yoghurt starter to each jug.  Mix well.  Finally add the sweet dairy whey to each container and whisk well.We like to use two jugs and pour the liquid back and forth to make sure both jugs have equally combined ingredients.

Pour the mixture through a sieve because at the bottom there are usually lumps of powder that did not mix in well enough.  You can pour the mixture directly into the yoghurt containers.  Because of all the powder you have added the volume will have increased to greater than 2 litres.  So pour the extra mixture into a small baggie or tupperware container.  This will be processed along with the main yoghurt containers but will become your yoghurt starter for your next batch.  Once its made, you can just leave it to cool down and put it in the freezer, ready for your next batch of yoghurt another time.

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Put the yoghurt containers and baggie into the crockpot.  The crockpot should be no more than 1/3 full of warm water.


Note our containers are too tall to fit into the crockpot to close the lid properly.  This is not a problem if you use a thermometer to keep track of the temperate and a towel to cover the top of the crockpot and act as a blanket.  You should try to maintain a temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  The minimum mark on our meat thermometer is 120 degrees, so once we see the temperature is getting near the 120 mark, we turn the crockpot off and let it sit for a couple of hours, keeping an eye on the thermometer and turning the crockpot back on again to bring the temperature up again.  This can be much easier if you have a hot area in the house that you know maintains a high temperature, or a crockpot that can maintain 100 degrees by itself.  Ours can’t and we are fighting erratic airconditioning in the kitchen.  With a little practice your get a feel for how long it takes and how many times you need to check the temperature.  Yoghurt making takes 4-8 hrs typically.  In the right temperature conditions, you can put it on before you go to bed and wake up to fresh yoghurt.

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Hints and Tips

1. Always wash up the mixing equipment immediately.  The milk and whey powder traces turn to concrete on the sides of the jugs.

2. If you don’t want to purchase yoghurt starter and have yet to make your own baggie, you can use commercial yoghurt.  Most of them will say “live yoghurt” on the side of the container which indicates that it has the live culture to make your own.  The exception would be highly processed yoghurts, especially those that don’t need refrigeration.

3. If the yoghurt didn’t set, the temperature was too low.  If the yoghurt curdles the temperature was too high.  Try again with adjusted temperature controls.

4. Don’t expect to get it right the first time, but its also not that difficult.  Once you figure out how to control the temperature, the battle is won.

Cost and Quality

The flavour, texture and quality is vastly superior to commercial yoghurt.  Its worth figuring this out just for the improved product.  However the cost is also significantly cheaper.  Made with only water and skimmed milk powder, the cost is about $1.50/kilo.  Using UHT milk and dairy whey, the cost goes up to $3.00/kilo.  Compared to the prices that we are paying here for imported yoghurt, that’s a steal.  Imported yoghurt costs from $11-20/kilo here.