Well-deserved!

The preparations for my friend’s birthday kept me busy the week before the Holy Week. You see my friend, Ernelyn, was turning 40 and she dreamed of having an 18th birthday type of celebration. She had this dream written in her dream book! (This made me panic a little since I do not have a dream book!) Many of her dreams have already been fulfilled: having her own family, building her own home, buying her own car and having me as a friend (kidding!). Having this party was one of those dreams she wanted to cross off her list.

For those who know her, we all agreed that Ernelyn deserved this grand celebration. When you look at her life, it seemed that the odds were all against her favor (credits to Suzanne Collins). She was born out of wedlock. As a baby, her mother left her in the care of her aunt who raised her like her own but her aunt was not rich so they lived with meager means. She told me that she used to go to school without breakfast.  She did not even own proper school shoes. Yet, she survived it all unscathed. She graduated with honors: elementary salutatorian, high school salutatorian, cum laude in college. She passed the CPA boards. All her hard work paid off and she started to fulfill her dreams.

Even with all her achievements, she never forgot to give back and share her blessings. Her home is always open for her family and friends. I was one of the recipients of her generosity. I remember last year I was working during my birthday that I did not have time to organize even a simple celebration. She came to my house and told me to dress up because she was going to treat me to dinner. What a friend!

And since she asked that I take care of her slide show, I did the best I could. I am glad she was happy with what I did.  All of us, her friends and family, were there to support her.

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Here we are with our party duties: Mitzi (right) is Erns’ best friend and she was asked to deliver a speech and Bobot (left) was one of the hosts for the program.

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Jen (middle), Erns’ neighbor and bff,  was the official party photographer. Wela (left) and I (the girl with a poor posture) were on double-duty. Wela was one of the hosts and since we brought cameras, we also took photos . (Btw, I am using Wela’s photos in this post.)

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These are some of our friends who each has a role to play in the party.  Left to right: Wela, Kikim (one of the hosts), Ernelyn  (the debutante. hehe), Teram (photobooth sponsor), Me and Mitzi (the bestfriend).

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This is my photo with the birthday girl. Ernelyn really deserved this party!

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If you have noticed,  I wore makeup. You can count on my two hands the number of times I wore makeup in my lifetime. Thanks to my friend, Teram, for insisting. Otherwise, I’d look like Cinderella before the ball. Haha Good thing, I bought a black and white houndstooth printed skirt from Zalora when there was a sale last December.  (Here’s a tip: Visit ZALORA’s wide range of plus size clothing if you want stress-free shopping.)

Ernelyn’s birthday was a party to remember. Looking forward to other birthday parties!

The 37 Things this 37-year-old Learned the Past 12 Months

I just celebrated my 37th birthday early this month. Thank you those who took time to greet me.

It has been a good year.  My heart bursts with happiness whenever I think about the blessings that came my way. God loves all of us and He has a way of making His presence felt in my life. I am sure He does the same thing to your life.

Last year I made a list of of 36 random thoughts. In the same spirit, I am writing 37 things I learned the past year. These are mostly things I learned about myself.  I have to review the recesses of my brain (who am I kidding?) Facebook posts to refresh my memory.

1. It does not matter whether you know the person long enough or not. When you are comfortable with someone, it just feels right. I welcome friendship at any point in my life.

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2. You make time for people. I gained friends this way.

3. It is never awkward to randomly send a message to a friend to catch up on our lives.

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4. A little sense of humor does not hurt.

5. Good food is a good thing.

6. It is never too late to learn new things.

7. Do not assume you know everything.

8. We all have different experiences. Sometimes you can also learn from the mistakes of others.

9. Falling in love may be a wonderful thing. It may not happen to you but you can always have a different kind of wonderful.

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10. Even with unfortunate things happening in the world, you can still trust in the innate goodness in people.

11. It is okay to be nice.

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12. You do not have to buy something you like just because you can afford it.

13.  You do not need to travel far to appreciate the world around you.

14. Create your own piece of heaven on earth.

15. I may be silent when around people. Sometimes I just do not have anything to say.

16. You can be happy with the success of others.

17. Prayer can change a lot of things- all for the better.

18. Surround yourself with people who inspire you.

19.  Family means the beings who are close to my heart. This includes the pets we have at home- Joaqui, Blessy and Peachy.

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20. You do not have to have a witty retort on every unfavorable remark hurled against you. Silence can be your response.

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21. Rediscovering your own talent can be a reward itself. Being appreciated for it is a bonus.

22. A genuine smile is a thing of beauty.

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23. Welcome happy thoughts.

24. Give back in whatever way you can.

25. Do not work hard for just the money. Work hard for the fulfillment of something meaningful.

26. Listen to people of all ages. You can learn a thing or two from them.

27. A grateful heart is a vessel for joy.

28. I learn more about my friends when I travel with them.

29. I celebrate diversity. It is more fun to be around different kinds of people from all walks of life.

30. Never delay praises. When you like what you see, say it or hit ‘Like’ on Facebook. 😉

31. Make time for yourself.

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32. Savor some of those moments of happiness alone.

Source: http://brightend.tumblr.com

Source: http://brightend.tumblr.com

33. Take care of your health.

34.  Assume the best in people. Sometimes they surpass your expectations.

35. Learn how to forgive. It is better to have a peace of mind that have the last say.

36. Enjoy whatever is in front of you.

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37. Life is short  and it is not race. Just enjoy it.

 

Let’s Move & Let’s Love

I just celebrated my 35th birthday last week. Two friends and I had a joint celebration. It was a simple dinner with friends. The night was full of laughter as we tried to catch up with each other’s lives.  It is during birthdays that I feel a renewed sense of hope and love.

 

A birthday, for me, is a gift- another year and another chance to do things better.  To do things better is to do things with love. Little acts of love matter.  Sometimes we think we are insignificant specks in the universe. We are not. Think about the Higgs boson particle. Too nerdy? How about a mosquito?

 

Acts of love do not have to be grand gestures. In my case, I enjoy the little things like the after-dinner conversation and laughter with my aunts, a hug from a pet, sharing an entertaining video with my cousin or a simple, touching message from  a friend.  It is in the little things that people (and animals) share with me that I feel loved the most.

Source: fridgedoor.com via kat on Pinterest

 

Because a birthday is a new year for me, I commit to spread love through good vibes, positive attitude, warm smile and good food. The foodie in me had to say that last bit.

Source: bellamumma.com via kat on Pinterest

 

 

Clearly, my mind wanders around food. Ha! Today is my uncle’s birthday. We had a simply lunch with family. I cooked two dishes. I may not have the money to buy him an expensive gift but I do have the time and energy to cook Fried Wontons and Crispy Shrimp Pasta.

Our tummies are filled with good food (and love).

How about you? What simple acts of love do you want to commit doing?

Benetton encourages you to move and love. Check out http://perfumes.benetton.com.

Betty Crocker saved the day!

Yesterday was my 34th birthday.  I woke up at 5am to attend mass. It was good to start my day with gratitude and blessing. I had a simple lunch with family. I cooked lunch (just spaghetti) and I baked a cake.

A cake is staple in my past birthdays. It makes a regular lunch or dinner a little fancier. It signifies a celebration.  I’ve had cakes of different sizes, flavors and designs.

This time around I baked my own cake. Betty Crocker came to the rescue. I found this box of cake mix in the local grocery.

Although I had six months of baking lessons under my belt, I did not want to sweat it out on my birthday. Baking from scratch is a lot of work. I was glad that the instructions written in the box were really simple: just mix and bake! No sweat!

What sealed the deal was that it was affordable!! Only Php141.75 (~ $3.3)! The price of a chocolate cake when ordered from a good baker ranges from Php 500-Php1200 depending on the size (and the reputation of the baker). Since I know how to make chocolate frosting, this is worth giving a try.

This is the baked product with frosting.  Tada!!

Haha! It looks bad. I need a lot of practice in the frosting department. Don’t tell me what it looks like. I already know what you are thinking!! Taste-wise, the cake did not disappoint. It was moist. I almost burned the cake bottom but it was still soft and moist. I think my oven was too hot that the cake was done earlier than the expected baking time. (Mental note: Buy an oven thermometer. )

Thank you, Betty Crocker! I will never bake a cake from scratch again. (The lazy bones in me are acting up!) I should have met you before I had the six months of baking lessons! Now I have this crazy idea of selling Betty Crocker cakes for Php500. (Cue in: evil grin)

More on the birthday:

I did not do much yesterday. I spent it lounging around. After the chitchat with family over lunch, I took a bath, napped and  read a book. I replied to Facebook greetings in between.  I was swamped with all the greetings. Thank you, Mark Zuckerberg, for Facebook. Although I have issues with your privacy settings (the lack thereof and my confusion over the existing ones),  it is a nice feeling to receive greetings from friends. I tried to personalize my reply (as opposed to the standard “Thank you, _____!”).

“Thou that has given so much to me,
Give one thing more–a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if thy blessings had spare days;
But such a heart, whose pulse may be
Thy praise.”

– George Herbert

34 minus 1 day

As the title suggests, it is a day before my 34th birthday. It is reminiscing time for me. I want to write something thoughtful but I can’t seem to move forward. This is the empty page in my Moleskine journal.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to write something meaningful before the day ends.  I try to recall my past birthdays by looking through photographs. I am amazed at the birthdays my mother single-handedly prepared for me. Even if my parents did not have much financially, my mother was able whip something special for my birthday. Oh, how I miss my parents!

My favorite celebrations were the ones when we were all gathered in the dining table, eating, talking and laughing. Last year, I had a simple lunch with my aunts.

The parties with guests stress me out that I vowed to do that every 5 years only.  Next year, I am due to have a party with guests. For  tomorrow, it will just be a simple lunch again (or dinner?) with family.

As I reminisced, I tapped into my journals as a teenager. I had quite a number of them. Oh my! I was surprised at my entries. I had my share of teenage angst! I have always thought I was a calm and balanced teenager. I guess I poured all my heartaches and pains into those journals.  I am glad to say that I have grown up. The things that bothered me before do not bother me anymore. I must admit they were quite shallow.  How I cringe at the grammar mistakes! Well, that is part of the learning process. I was thinking of posting my entries here but I digress. Some things should be kept hidden.

I look forward to the future. As I welcome another year in my life, I’ll say to myself:

“If you’d never been born, well what would you be?
You might be a fish! Or a toad in a tree!
You might be a door knob! Or three baked potatoes!
You might be a bag full of hard green tomatoes!
Or worse than all that… why, you might be a
WASN’T!
A Wasn’t has no fun at all. No, he doesn’t.
A Wasn’t just isn’t. He just isn’t present.
But you… you ARE YOU! And now, isn’t that pleasant!”

— Dr. Seuss, from Happy Birthday To You!