Moving Forward: A Birthday Post

I turn another year older, today, and I'm hoping another year wiser too. Since earlier this month, Bianca has been asking me what I wanted for my birthday. She's always feeling generous with me this time of year because all her Christmas money is still mostly intact. I never really ask for anything from her except that she be a good girl, and she gets so frustrated every time I say this. "You say that every year mama! Please ask me for something, anything!"

I guess as I have gotten older, I've been more practical, favoring simple, practical things over fancy gadgets or expensive gifts. Take me grocery shopping at my neighborhood supermarket or health food store, or even the drug store (I'm always buying something in Mercury Drugstore) and I'm a happy camper. Or maybe I'm just boring that way? :)

I am so grateful for all the blessings, both big and small, that the past year has brought me. I wish I could say that I am recovering from my Parkinson's Disease, but I'm not. I feel that I was physically stronger last year. But I will not, and I refuse to dwell on that. I choose instead to move forward and  to focus on what it is that I can do. Whatever I lack in physical strength, God has replaced with an amazing strength in spirit, courage and positive attitude.

During our recent travel, I had to be mostly relegated to a wheelchair while in the airport since I couldn't tackle the long walk from the boarding and arrival gates. I wanted to feel sorry for myself, but I couldn't stop smiling. I was, after all, going on a trip of a lifetime.

Still, there are those days that are especially challenging and frustrating for me when I can't perform even the simplest of tasks. On these such days, I allow myself to sometimes lose my cool. Nobody is perfect. But everyday, as if on cue, God points me in the right direction by giving me a reason to be thankful. And just like that, all the frustrations just fade away.

I am blessed with the unconditional love and unwavering support of my family and friends from whom I draw my strength. Thank you for standing by me. I would also like to express my gratitude to those who have written to me through the blog, for your words of support and encouragement. Thank you for your prayers. I may not know you personally, but I sincerely hope I get the chance to meet all of you someday.

Sharing with you some funny photos of me mustering all my strength to do my infamous jumping shot. Bianca and I couldn't stop laughing because I was failing miserably to get my feet off the ground, and I kept dragging her down with me every time she would attempt to jump. Hahaha!
And here we are, finally both airborne, with me just a few inches above ground. Look at how high, Bianca's jump is. She's such a show off!
My birthday jump was so much better last year. But the Eiffel Tower in the background more than makes up for it, don't you think?!

Thank you, once again, for taking the time to read my birthday post. I enjoin all of you, let's all keep moving forward and seize the day!

Inspiration Board: College Girl

I had been so tense and nervous in the months leading up to college entrance test results, but now that I've finally received all of them, I realize I am heading off to college much sooner than I thought! I'm relieved that all the waiting is over, and excited and scared that I'm soon taking my first step into the big world.

I want to be more organized when I start school in September - admittedly, I'm not the neatest or tidiest girl in the world, and I'd like that to change. I'm going to try and start making to-do lists, using colorful sticky notes, arranging my papers and keeping track of everything I need to do.I'm also going to need to fill my closet with practical staples that I enjoy wearing, and let go of the clothes I don't really wear anymore. All through out high school I had to stick to wearing a uniform, so college dressing will be a welcome but major change.

 The Herschel Supply Co. Backpack, Pencil Pouch, Mulberry Reversible Wool Jumper, H&M Bag, Mango Linen T-Shirt, Oasis Crepe Dress, 7 For All Mankind Skinny Jeans, H&M Organza Blouse, Klean Kanteen Water Bottle, Melissa Aranha 1979 Shoes in Pink Neon, Adidas Gazelle

I put together some of my favorite pieces in this inspiration board. It has just the right balance of comfy and cute, which I think is important for everyday dressing. : )

Kitchen Stories- No Cook Overnight Oatmeal

It's everyone's eternal New Year's resolution to eat healthier. But with all the temptingly unhealthy food choices out there, this resolution is the hardest and most difficult to keep.

I think one of the reasons why we've always failed at this is because we attempt the impossible by making big, sudden changes to our diet.  So, this time we are taking baby steps, starting with what is known as the most important meal of the day- breakfast.

She Said: Bianca and I are not big breakfast eaters. We prefer a light breakfast of fruits, yogurt, toast with jam or cold cereal. So this year, instead of reaching for a cereal box laden with sugar and artificial flavors, we'll try to make better choices like whole grain, heart healthy oatmeal.

Oatmeal has long been proven effective in lowering blood cholesterol. High in dietary fiber and phytochemicals that have been associated with protection from chronic disease, it is the obvious choice for the health conscious.

Overnight oats became popular a few years back and are made by simply soaking whole rolled oats in milk overnight in the refrigerator to let them absorb all the liquid. It will be ready when you wake up in the morning. No cooking required! 

The most common recipe is equal parts rolled oats and milk. This is your base. And now for the fun part! The toppings and mix-ins are all up to you: before they go in the fridge, you can add yogurt, sliced fruits, chia seeds, a pinch of salt or cinnamon powder, or some vanilla extract. You can customize your own by using different kinds of milk, like soy, almond or even coconut milk and experiment with different kinds of toppings.

she said: I love cold oatmeal! I prefer adding the sliced fruits in the morning, but it's totally up to you! You can also warm it up in the microwave, if you're not a fan of cold oatmeal.

Overnight Oatmeal
serves 2

1 cup whole grain rolled oats
1 cup milk (we like using almond milk)
1/2 tablespoon chia seeds

Our favorite toppings:

sliced strawberries
sliced bananas
toasted nuts or granola
honey, to drizzle


1. In a mason jar or bowl, combine oats, milk and chia seeds. Cover with lid and keep in refrigerator overnight. 

2. In the morning, scoop out soaked oats into bowls. You can add more milk, depending on how thick or thin you prefer your oatmeal to be. Sweeten according to taste with honey or maple syrup. Top with your choice of fruits and nuts. Oatmeal can keep for 3 days in the fridge.

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Kitchen Stories- Bread Pudding with Vanilla Sauce

The holidays have come and gone, and we're now busy packing away the Christmas tree. We have actually been considering just leaving the tree up because the days go by so quickly, and we're pretty sure it won't be long til we have to bring out the holiday decorations again. Do you feel the same way?  :)

But since it's always better to start the year right and to keep everything organized, it leaves us with no choice but to take the tree down, trimmings and all, until we bring it out again later this year.

We're also  sorting through our closets and checking our pantry and refrigerator for food that needs to be cleared out. We discovered several half loaves of bread, dinner rolls and packs of pan de sal tucked away in the freezer that have either been forgotten or that nobody wants to eat since we buy fresh bread twice a week.

It seemed like such a waste to throw all that bread out, so we thought of reincarnating them into bread pudding so we have less food waste. Stale bread is best for making pudding because it has become stiff and dry, thereby absorbing more moisture, making the end product moist and tender. Stale bread is also good for making croutons and breadcrumbs!

Here's a delicious and simple bread pudding recipe that we hope you get to try. So happy we were able to re-purpose our leftovers and it turned out so yummy that the whole casserole was wiped out in one day!

Bread Pudding with Vanilla Sauce

4 1/2 cups cubed stale bread
2 cups milk
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs slightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup raisins optional

For the Vanilla Sauce

1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions for Pudding:

Heat oven to 350F. Prepare bread cubes and put in a mixing bowl with raisins, if using. Set aside. Combine milk and butter in a saucepan over medium heat until butter is melted. Pour milk mixture over bread and let stand 10 minutes.

Stir in sugar, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour into greased 1 1/2 quart casserole and bake for 35 to 40 minutes until set in center.

Directions for Vanilla Sauce:

Combine all ingredients except vanilla in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until mixture thickens and comes to a full boil, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

To serve, spoon warm pudding into dessert plates and serve with sauce on the side. Store refrigerated.

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