Hello and A Birthday Post

Hello, dear friends! 

Yes, we are still here. Although it may have seemed that we had abandoned the blog due to the absence of posts, I don't think I will ever find it in my heart to say goodbye to this personal journal of ours. It has been a struggle for me to put my thoughts into written words, often drafting blog posts and writing out stories in my head, only to find excuses not to come through and hit the publish button. I also depend a lot on Bianca for the blog's visuals and photos, but starting college as well as pursuing her other interests has made it harder for me to pin her down. Of course, I understand that her studies come first, but I just felt lost without her. However, as always, at the start of each new year, I resolve to do things better. So, here I am again and I sincerely hope to make good of my resolutions this time around.

And what better way to start than with my annual birthday post! I feel a little rusty writing this now, but hopefully I get the hang of things again soon. 

Today, I celebrate my 24th birthday for the second time. I am not in denial or scared that I'll be turning 50 in just two years, I'm just feeling young at heart! My twenty something years were my carefree years. I had no worries or fears, I was in good health and everything just seemed right in my world. So, I'm channeling all those positive energies from the past and believing that my best years are still ahead of me.  

2016 had me going through more downs than ups. My PD symptoms are advancing steadily and I am coming to terms with the fact that I may need someone to care for me and help with my daily activities sooner than I expected.. I try my best to be as independent as I possibly can, and to work around my medication's "on" time. I carefully plan all my trips out of the house to ensure that I'm functioning properly whenever I'm out to do errands or meetings, or even something as simple as having dinner out with friends. Everything has to be timed and in sync with my medication. And it's the same way when we have guests come over at home because the main goal is that I would be able to sit still, converse and feed myself as best as I can. But sometimes the best laid plans don't always work out and my medications fail me. I used to get so frustrated when this happens, but I've learned to let go of things I don't have control of. It has happened that I've spent an hour getting ready, dressing myself to go out of the house, and maybe another hour in traffic to get to my destination, only to find out that I have to turn back home because I can't even get down from the car because my body decides to start shaking and trembling when it's not supposed to.

Of course I still get frustrated, agitated, or even depressed when these things happen, but I don't stay there for too long. I wallow in self pity for a minute or two, then pick myself right back up. I believe that I am able to do this not because I am strong or brave. I believe that God gives me the grace and the courage to go through life's setbacks and the peace that I am experiencing now is from Him alone. I have so much more to be thankful for. I have the love of my family, friends, and even complete strangers who go out of their way to be good to me and to Bianca. We do our best to give back  every chance we get.

I am sometimes hesitant to tell my stories about what I'm going through with my Parkinson's disease for fear of being judged or criticized but the desire to share and inspire others in similar situations is greater. To my dear friends who are reading this, please don''t hesitate to ask me out to lunch or dinner because I look forward to going out, and having the chance to spend time with you is worth all my trouble, really.

I end my birthday post as usual with my infamous jumping shot. I haven't gotten myself a trampoline yet, but I did manage a skip and a hop this year. I didn't hear any complaints from my photographer, so I think it's safe to say that she's pretty impressed.

With love, 

Cyn

Kitchen Stories: Cherry Almond Oatmeal


I've been trying to get Bianca to eat a proper breakfast at home before she leaves for an almost two hour trip to get to school everyday. But it's always impossible to make her sit down for a meal so early in the morning when she's in between being half asleep and rushing out the door. I've tried serving up her old favorites as well as new ones in the hopes of piquing her fancy but all I get is one bite or maybe two if I'm lucky, and that's it. I've tried sending her with a packed breakfast and lunch but she prefers hot food so it's a choice between the cafeteria or the fast food restaurants just outside her campus. Not really a good idea health and money wise.

I know she's 17 and all grown up now, but the mom in me will always see her as a baby. I always worry that she's not eating well or that she's not getting enough rest, I can almost hear her complaining and protesting as she reads this post. But I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who feels this way. Right, fellow moms?!? Could I have a show of hands, please? Just so I can prove my point. Hahaha.

I made Cherry Almond Oatmeal over the weekend and she liked it enough to ask if she could bring some for breakfast in school. Success! It could have been the cherries, but since it's not exactly the type of fruit you can have every day, we'll experiment with other fruits that are in season and not as costly.

Although this doesn't really count as a recipe since it is pretty basic, I'm sharing the how-to with you just so you can keep this in mind for when you feel like giving your oatmeal some extra lovin'.

Cherry Almond Oatmeal
(makes 1 serving)

1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup almond milk
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup fresh cherries, pitted and quartered
2 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted

Combine oats, almond milk and a pinch of salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then stir in the brown sugar. Continue to simmer for 5 minutes until oats are thick and creamy. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add almond extract and a little splash of almond milk. Mix well.

Pour into a bowl and top with cherries and almonds. You may use as much or as little fruit, nuts and sugar as you like, according to your preference. Enjoy!

Lately



It's been two weeks since school started again! After such a long holiday break, it's been challenging to adjust to homework and readings and long car rides, but I honestly really enjoy the college environment and it's good to be back.

I definitely learned a lot from the first few months I spent in college. Here's a couple things that really stuck with me:

1. There's no harm in trying. Joining organizations and auditioning for music groups and signing up for projects might be daunting tasks, but they're experiences that you shouldn't miss out on just because you're scared. There's always something to be gained from every risk you take!

2. Hang out with people who give you positive vibes. It's essential to spend time with people who inspire and motivate you to be better.

3. That being said, you also have to learn to work alone. Being independent and responsible without anyone telling you to do so is something you must learn how to do.

4. You actually have lots of free time, you're just not using it correctly. Don't procrastinate. Finish your work before your deadlines and don't leave anything to the very last minute.

5. Don't neglect your health and well-being. Eat balanced meals and get enough sleep.

I'm only just getting the hang of this whole college thing. I still have a lot to learn and a lot to improve on. But I know that my second semester will be even better and I'm really looking forward to the rest of it!

Love,  Bianca

Lucky Me

Every new year that comes around, I am reminded of how lucky I am that I get to celebrate the beginning of a new chapter as well as my birth month this January. Like most of you, it's the time that I reflect on the year that was, and the time I set goals of what I'd like to accomplish in the 12 months ahead.

I am very thankful for the past year even with all its challenges and difficulties. I had so many plans for 2015 that I couldn't get off the ground, which made me so frustrated. Despite the best of intentions, nothing seemed to work. Every day, I felt that God was testing me by letting me go through failures and heartaches. I prayed harder and more fervently each day, but I guess God wanted me to take a Master's Degree in Patience and Humility!

Looking back now, I believe that what I wanted to happen didn't happen because I still had lessons to learn and that not my plans but only God's plans will prevail. I am more than lucky because I had family and good friends to see me through it all. Life goes on, and I'm not giving up.

I am ready for a fresh new start this 2016. Every day is a new beginning to live life to the fullest. We all deserve to live a long, happy, healthy and abundant life.  So, let's all smile, laugh out loud, be kind, and have a heart so big that we become unstoppable.

Dear friends, thank you for always indulging me by reading my birthday post every year. And of course, I can't let all of you go without sharing a photo of my infamous jumping shot. I wanted to jump off from a ledge but Bianca wouldn't hear any of it. Oh well, maybe next year I'll use a trampoline ;)



First Monday

Today is the first Monday work day of the year! Although we are technically still on vacation until January 17th, I'd just like to start the year right by putting out one of our work goals for the blog.

As you know, we blogged less in the past year. Life kept us busy and got in the way of blogging, but we tried our best to share snippets of what we've been up to on Instagram and Facebook. We hope you're following us over there!

We are very grateful for brand collaborations that came our way during the last quarter that challenged our skills and creativity. It helped that the brands we worked with were familiar to us and we both worked hard on styling and editing the photos. Although we still have much to learn and there's lots of room for improvement, it is something we truly enjoyed doing as a team. Bianca and I are both thankful for the trust and support extended to us by The Blue Kitchen, Bungalow 300 and Bayo Clothing and look forward to more creative collaborations this 2016.

Happy Monday and Happy New Year!





*Photography by Bianca |  Styling by Cyn


Turning Three


Today, we celebrate our blog's third year! Thank you to you, our dear friends and readers, for continuing to follow us on our journey. We are grateful that although we blogged less this year, you all continued to visit the site  to back read our old posts. 2015 was a challenging year, but we made a conscious effort to dwell not on what we didn't have, but focused instead on our blessings. As we leave all the challenges and difficulties of the past behind, we hope you continue to join us as we look forward to a brighter and abundant new year!

With much love,
Cyn & Bianca

Kitchen Stories: Fresh Fruit Tarts

We love that we've been spending lots of the time in the kitchen this week. These past months have been awfully busy, most especially with Bianca's fully loaded college schedule. Breakfast is always rushed or on the go, and by the time we're both home for dinner, we just want to get it over with so we can turn in for the night or in her case, do homework.

I'm so grateful for this short break we're having now to bond over food and cooking at home. We actually argue a lot when we're in the kitchen about how certain things should be done. But it's all in good fun and we always have a good laugh about it afterwards!

One of our favorite things to make are desserts with all kinds of berries. These picture perfect Fresh Fruit Tarts can be made with your choice of fruits as well - we're just partial to strawberries and blueberries. The tart shells can be made in advance and can keep for a month in the freezer. You can also opt to use ready made tart shells, like we did.*


Fresh Fruit Tarts
makes 6

For the Crust:
(recipe by Arleen Sevilla-Agustin)

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup vegetable shortening, room temperature
3-4 tablespoons cold water

Cut in butter and vegetable shortening into flour using a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles a coarse meal.

Sprinkle cold water all at once over mixture and stir to blend until pastry is moist enough to hold together. Gather with hand and shape into a ball. Flatten into a disc and wrap with plastic wrap, chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 F degrees. Roll out chilled dough and press evenly into mini tart pans. Prick the bottoms with a fork, then lay a piece of parchment paper on each tart and put in dried beans as weights.

Place pie tarts on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Take out the paper with pie weights and return to oven for another 10 minutes, until golden brown. Cool crust completely.


For the Pastry Cream:

3 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups fresh whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Fruit:

1 cup sliced strawberries
1 cup blueberries
apricot jam, warmed and strained (optional)

In a medium sized, heatproof bowl, mix egg yolks, sugar together. Add in flour and cornstarch, mixing until you get a thick,smooth paste.

Heat milk in a saucepan until almost boiling, just until you start to see wisps of steam. Remove from heat. Slowly pour a little of the hot milk into the egg mixture and whisk to combine. Continue pouring the milk in a thin stream into the eggs, whisking continuously.

When all the milk have been added to the mixture, pour everything back in the saucepan. Set the pan back to medium heat and cook until boiling, whisking constantly to prevent curdling. As soon as mixture thickens to a pudding like consistency, whisk for a few more seconds then immediately remove from heat. Stir in vanilla extract. 

Pour pastry cream into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap pressed right up against the surface of the cream.This will prevent the cream from forming a skin. Cool completely to room temperature then chill for at least 1 hour before using. Pastry cream will keep for about 3 days in refrigerator.

To assemble, fill tarts with cream and top with berries or fresh fruits of choice. Gently brush with apricot jam if desired.




Nothing inspires us to cook and to be more creative in the kitchen more than new tableware and props to play around with. We all "eat with our eyes" first, and our initial visual impression of food most certainly affects our sense of taste. So, no matter how simple a dish may be, we always find ways to serve it as appetizing and inviting as possible. Many thanks again to Bungalow 300 for helping us create our colorful and fun kitchen story for today!

Bungalow 300 items featured:
Bellini Tray in Teal
Danish Trays in Bamboo Green and Citrin Yellow
Shell Dipping Bowls
Cutlery Dinner Plate
Black Bird Plate
Chocolat Small Dish
Eleanor Bear Holiday Ornaments
Inabel Napkins and Hand Towels
Inabel Table Runner in Black & White

*tart shells were specially made for us by Arleen Sevilla-Agustin. Do check out her custom, made-to-order cakes, cupcakes and cookies at Arleen's Sweet Art.

 
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