My Sunny 26th Birthday!

Have you ever had that one moment that turned out to be spectacularly better than how you planned or intended it to be? Well,  that was exactly what happened on the actual day of my 26th birthday this year. Call me highly appreciative, because the tone of this entry would probably sound similar to the tone I used in my previous one (See: My Birthday Brunch), but there really is no other way to put it! :)

I decided to take the whole day off from work just to be able to spend the day slow. In all technicality, I really wasn’t excused from receiving calls from work, but how I spent the day out of the office kind of made up for all of those minutes on the phone. Ha ha!

I started the day with a 7:30 am mass at Santuario de San Antonio parish, which was a little outside BGC. When we all sat to listen to the homily, I didn’t really expect much from it because it was after all a 7:30 am mass and more often than not, priests give the shortest homilies during early morning masses–due to either the call of breakfast or the slow re-boot of the brain from an evening slumber. Surprisingly though, the priest shared a little more than I had initially allowed him to. I don’t remember every single detail he said in the verbatim, but I remember this:

We oftentimes neglect the significance of every single moment in our lives.

It sounds so basic, I know. But it spoke to me as if the priest suddenly started using a megaphone instead of the ordinary mass mic. Neglect. That word. Significance. That’s another. The neglect we commit (which we usually blame our innocent daily lives for) in recognising–or at the very least respecting the importance of–every moment and every chance we have to make things right, paves the way for the incessant accumulation of our I should have’s and the I could have’s. 

The missed chance to be kind to the people we claim we love is a chance lost forever, and neither you nor I can say for ourselves the number of chances we are allowed to have with every person we have the privilege of sharing our love with. This brings us now to one of my resolutions for this year: minimise the what-could-have-beens, and maximise the what-I-can-do-nows.

I have little words to share about my breakfast except for the fact that I loved every minute of it.

We had it in what would seem to be my most favorite branch of Wildflour yet. The one along Rada st., in Legaspi Village Makati. I fell in love with the facade of the cafe right away, all the more with its interior. I wish I had photos to show for it but I was too intoxicated by the promise of the day that I failed to take my usual hundred-and-one photos on special occasions. Hah!

Early morning sunlight literally flooded through the glass windows of the cafe, bathing its tables and red brick walls. I ended up savouring every bite of my potato crisps and smoked salmon under that very sunlight. It was a Tuesday office day, I was at Wildflour having slow breakfast with the best company ever, and I was allowed to take all the time I wanted. Who could ask for more, really?

In the evening, we went to Sip&Gogh to paint! It was my first time and the experience didn’t disappoint. The painting we did though was pretty challenging but we powered through it. I love how the group made the experience fuss-free, complete with salami, cheese, crackers, wine, and relaxing background music! Plus, we had two instructors for the night: one to demonstrate step by step how to paint the picture, and another to go around and assist us. At the end of the night, we each had our own paintings to bring home with us as remembrances to the night.

It was the perfect way to cap my birthday. Every moment mattered, making it a great start to my 26th year. :)

Until my next birthday post!

My Birthday Brunch!

The first thing that entered my mind when I woke up this morning was: 1) There was no electricity; and 2) There was most certainly no oven to use for my strata and bacon. It was 5:30 am and it seemed like typhoon Lando was not ceasing any time soon, which added much to my anxiety. Should I postpone? Would my ingredients last another week? Would I buy flowers again for next week? If brunch pushes through today, what do I do about the oven situation? were some of the thoughts that bombarded my mind.  Today was my first time to throw a thanksgiving brunch, and there was no electricity.

Eventually (when I couldn’t stand the thoughts anymore) I stood from my bed, walked into the living room and saw my mom standing by the window. She was looking out and up to the gloomy sky. I stood beside her and watched the unwavering rain. “Ma, no oven.” I said. “That’s okay, honey, we’ll make do with what we have,” she responded in her most comforting tone.

At that very moment, I realised and said to myself: God is testing me. He’s testing how sincere I am in calling this a ‘thanksgiving’ brunch. It’s so easy to forget being grateful when things don’t go my way. Maybe this time He wants to know if my being grateful can go beyond all this.

With my mom’s confidence and the reminder of why I was throwing the brunch in the first place, I went down to the kitchen and started prepping. Brunch will push through, rain or shine, with electricity or without. The plan was to cook everything else but the strata until 9 am. If electricity hasn’t come on by 9 am, ditch the strata and improvise. Which was exactly what happened, since electricity came back on when my family and I were already in the middle of devouring the brunch spread. But by that time, I’d already forgotten about the worries I had to go through pre-brunch. I was just happy to be having a pleasant time with people I love. :)

By the end of it, everyone was full and happy! And! And! I couldn’t help but feel all the more grateful for the ray of sunshine–a combination of our jokes, stories, and laughter–we made for ourselves during on a gloomy day like today.

Top View Plate

Each plate has a simple note that says: Good morning! Here are some pancakes and bacon, and everything nice to thank you for everything you have been to Aix. :)

Sausage&Egg

The brunch spread started with my deconstructed strata (aka improvisation): toasted ciabatta bread and scrambled eggs with olives, white onions, red and yellow roasted capsicum, and fresh basil, topped with crumbled feta cheese. The meats consisted of Cabanatuan longanisa and crispy bacon (lovingly cooked by my sister Julie).

While over to the sweet side of the brunch spread are vanilla cinnamon pancakes (almonds and maple syrup on the side), fresh strawberries, and fruit jars of oranges, grapes and yogurt.

Special thanks to: My sister Julie who helped out with the cooking; Kuya Gab for bringing me to the grocery Saturday afternoon, and even helping me pick up my sunflowers from my supplier; Mommy for keeping me level headed during the no-oven situation; Papa for the ciabatta and for making sure to cover the details that are beyond my check list (replacing light bulbs, umbrellas for the guests, etc); Karins for recommending to me a reliable source of flowers; Tita Jojo, Tita Leah, Mia and Robert, for my birthday cake and most especially for coming up in spite of the bad weather! THANK YOU. :)

24 years later

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There is this certain pressure on me every time I turn a year older. The kind of pressure that can perfectly be encapsulated by two questions: How have I changed? Where am I headed? To say that I have not learned anything would put my 24th year to sham; to say that I got both myself and my life completely figured out would be a total overstatement.

Fresh from college, my head was filled with ideals. I had very specific expectations from life and how the world should be. Now, a full year into working for a publishing company, I am greeted by the learning that the world never bows down to our wishes. The world just is.

I suppose I have changed in the sense that my idealistic self has been chipped off by blocks. At 16, I would be sad at the thought of this. At 24, it’s now a simple fact of life I’m grateful to slowly learn and accept. With the lack of perfect situations life has to offer, I’m starting to develop a renewed sense of appreciation for the tiniest details that in a way have a glimmer of perfection

Having good breakfast, drinking great coffee, feeling the wind on my cheek, having hilarious chats during traffic—suddenly these make the highlights of my days. I realize that when I truly appreciate these almost-minute day-to-day details, everything becomes lighter. Heck, the whole world can be in full-blown chaos and I could care less because of the sumptuous breakfast I just had.

This isn’t something we learn when we are young and hyper-focused on the glitz and glam of “bigger” and more prominent events of life. I suppose this is something we learn when we come of age, and I’d like to think I’m on my way to fully understanding this.

Where I’m headed, I can’t tell you yet. In fact, I’m still in the process of knowing everything there is to know out here before I pin down where (or what it is) I want to direct my days to. But here’s a precious take away from my 24th year: It really isn’t so much about the destination, no. It’s all about the walk – the precious moments that make up my days and the memories I create with the people around me. And if I just have a complete understanding of what it is to live well – in spite the world being just is – I’d like to be able to say, upon reaching my final destination, “now that was a really, really good walk.”

I wrote this 5 days after my 24th birthday last October. I wanted to share with you this very personal mental note from me originally only to myself, but now also for you. :) 

Look back: January.

January

How my month of new beginnings was marked:

1 Awesome officemates.

2 Slowly but surely easing into work-work-work!

3 Cake was shared on my parents’ 35th wedding anniversary.

4 My nephew turned 4 with a chocolate fruit loop cake.

5 Korean food with childhood friends.

6 Food trips with officemates. Ribs, anyone?

7 Reunited with old friends.

8 A life-long promise and a kiss were shared by two good friends.

9 Life’s sweets of friendship and gifts of words.