The two month countdown…

There’s only two months left until I officially become Mrs. Reynolds.

The event planner in me is thinking of all the things that still need to be done from the seating chart, the music list to the very tiny small details. Reviewing the decor to ensure my green, gold, creme and coral/blush motif works well together. The BlackTux Rental Company has put this beautiful color swatch together that basically mirrors the color motif I’ve planned for my own wedding except with slate grey suits and a more coral toned blush.

FBFBC275-0E4D-431E-8798-E14B31447C94-247-00000026A9E5A68D

The other part of me is trying to get serious. Getting married isn’t just a party or a huge event, it’s a commitment of a lifetime. I’m so thankful to have found my better half, someone who continually leads me to grow and development.

My goal this month is to finalize all the details and complete the pieces so that I get to savour the weeks leading up to my wedding and how huge of a deal this really is!

How did you make sure you had all your to-do’s ticked off in time for the wedding?

 

 

Holiday Baking – Filipino style

As I had mentioned in my previous blog, I love Christmas. This year I wanted to gift my loved ones with a special gift of value: pandesal.

fullsizerender-2Pandesal is a bread bun found everywhere in the Philippines. It’s made with very simple ingredients but requires special love to make (I found this out).  Made with the recipe found on Salu-Salo.com by Liza A I spent about 3-5 hours last night making my first batch of pandesal and I couldn’t be more happy with the results.

When I think of pandesal I think of the Philippines and mornings of waking up with my Lolas around. Typically eaten at breakfast although I also have memories with one of my Lola’s dipping it into a coke for a mid-day snack. This was the same Lola that mixed egg with her Sarsi! Anyway, this little common bun holds lots of fond memories for me and I can’t help but feel like it would generate the same sentiments with those who receive it.

Here’s the recipe I used (originally by Liza A with minor changes):

  • 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 1 cup lukewarm milk
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter at room temperature
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 4 cups all purpose flour

img_0001I mixed the yeast and water together in a bowl on it’s own and set it aside. In another bowl, I put the milk, butter, sugar, eggs and salt together. Important memo: make sure the butter is at room temperature. My butter was not as warm as I had thought and it was challenging mixing since it stayed in clumps.

After mixing the two bowls together I started adding the flour. This is the process that took lots of time and required lots of love. You basically mix, then transfer the dough onto a lightly floured countertop and then knead until it’s elastic or not sticky.

Once I had a ball of dough, I placed it into bowl, covered with plastic wrap and let it sit for an hour or so until it doubled in size. After it rose, I cut it into about 26 rolls. The little doughs of love then undergo another cover and rise routine. I covered the parchment lined trays for about an hour with a cloth. Once they rose the little dough buns were placed into a preheated oven at 225 degree Fahrenheit for twenty minutes and then I increased the temperature to 325 degree Fahrenheit for 8-10 minutes.

They made my little tiny apartment smell amazing and was reminiscent of my childhood. Once these buns came out of the oven I immediately spread some butter on them. While they required so much time and effort to make I felt they were well worth it.

 

Ireland (ii): Land of the rainbows

I definitely did not expect Galway to be as great as it was. Upon arrival to downtown my senses were thrilled with all kinds of sights, sounds and scents.

13680697_10153604679976436_5415760361339878812_nCobblestone alleyways filled with al fresco dining, banner flags strung throughout the street, happy fiddlers playing such fun tunes and crowds of people flocked through each establishment. We checked out a few establishments for our first night. We had dinner at the only restaurant that was not overly full – it was an Asian noodle house. But then stopped at various pubs like the Quay, The King’s Head, The Cellar Bar for a pint. When we head back to our Airbnb accommodation we were surprised with a massive loud street party put on by Red Bull energy drink with a live DJ turning tables in a trunk out on the street. It was the craziest and funnest random party ever!

Our first day in Galway was pretty great, although the one thing that I noticed about Galway was that everyone smokes everywhere and the smoke made my eyes dry and my head hurt. Aside from that downtown Galway was beautiful!

13876613_10153604704576436_3723355539356678484_nWe decided to drive to Kerry to do the Ring of Kerry, backwards. We drove around the craziest narrow roadways and the scariest part was that large (I’m talking ginormous) tour buses drove around it. We didn’t pick the greatest day to travel there as the weather was not on our side but it was lush, green and full of sheep 🙂

The next few days spent in Galway were just staying around town lounging and adventuring around neighbouring sights. We checked out the Cliffs of Moher, Bunratty Castle & the Folk Park – both were definitely sites to check out.

13879475_10153604707611436_8167719958109592884_nThe last day my fiance took me for a drive further north of Galway, past Connemara. Our drive took us around some lakes and it was just breathtaking. We stopped at Abbeyglen Castle where I was surprised with a night’s stay…and my now beautiful engagement ring. I won’t go in too much detail but we arrived at the castle and were greeted with a champagne reception, a 5 course dinner and dessert then a beautiful cozy engagement by a fireplace.

 

 

Hold fast, stand firm.

When I was nearly complete with my undergraduate degree in economics I remember sitting in one of my classes where the professor broke society down into supply & demand graphs. There were those that consumed, and those that provided for the demand; some small business, larger corporations and then the very elusive select top uber groups that held the monopoly of the world’s economy within their control.  Am I mixing up my sociology/economics courses? Maybe – but in today’s news it seems that everywhere you turn there is some insane series of events (horrific and unbelievable) that seem to be enforcing the perspective of “my people”. I’m not belittling and want to fully admit my bias that I have not been primarily affected. If you stop to look at the macro perspective with all the recent events and the news we see – it seems like all of it creates feelings of us vs. them.

When Trump started his campaign the news went nuts with his proposition of building walls and segregation, little did we know this was just the beginning. Throughout his campaign news coverage of riots and racial cards were brought to the forefront. Awareness of this was one thing but for some it seemed to bring people to rally on one side versus the other. Then Brexit, then the horrible horrific shootings in America – what is happening in society today?  Then even more local, the Vancouver housing market asking us to shut our doors to the foreigners – yes I believe they are part of the reason for the insane pricing hikes but the conversations that are stemming from this are really quite racial. And with all that’s happening in the common wealth nations there is little to be seen or said about what’s going on in the Middle East. It’s like it’s been completely removed from our news so we can focus on the shootings, the protests and the injustices of North America and the privileged European countries. Who is controlling what we see and why are they feeding us this?

I opted to change my path in university and did not pursue my major in economics, adding another four years of study, because I refused to see people as cattle. I refuse to let the select elite garner influence how I feel about society or how I treat other human beings.

Yes, we need to update our justice & learning institutions, we need to eradicate racial perspectives of difference and through all of these events we must remember that we are one human race.  There is no separation. We don’t need to side with one or the other. We are one people. That is what I choose to derive from all the chaos of world events today.

Social media has woven us into a tighter and more knowledgable social community. Here’s to holding your virtual hand and hoping for a better now.

landscape-nature-hand-field

 

Cancer

This topic is a heavy hitter. It seems that nowadays most people are unfortunately familiar with this disease. Cancer as everyone knows is the uncontrollable growth/division of abnormal cells within the body. Is it the increasing prevalence of social media or is our society growing susceptible to cancer?

In 2010, the year I graduated from my bachelors degree, I planned to travel around the world to celebrate my graduation from university. Those plans changed when I found out that my aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer. While I consider all my family close, my aunt lived with my family for the first 7 years of my life. So I decided to stay in Manila for three months while she underwent her mastectomy and chemo treatments. It was also during that time that her son, my cousin, Noel had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He passed away five months after he was diagnosed; two months after his 8th birthday. My family was devastated and at a loss, I still am. In the next year my aunt, his mom, had been cleared of her breast cancer so there was the silver lining.

Last August I had learned that my aunt’s cancer had come back. It’s a devastating feeling really and I’m not the one going through it. Chemotherapy is a painful process and it drains every ounce of life you have in you. It took a while to get her motivated to want treatment and to see hope for a cure but she came around to it.

Last week I was told that her cancer has spread. There are tumors all over her stomach and right outside her liver. I’m at a loss of how to describe what I feel or what I think but know that I need to do something. I’ve suggested natural alternative approaches, of course to her approval, but for now I need to feel productive. So I am reaching out to you, my blog readers, friends & family for support.

I’m weary to start a personal funding page as I know that there are so many causes and people that deserve so much and I know I personally have so little.  Prior to being told about my aunt’s condition, I was in the process of launching my virtual administration & marketing support business: Projects by Maria.

I’ve decided to contribute my profits towards her treatment this year because it’s the very least I can do.  If you know of a small business that might be interested in my services please forward my information or check out my Facebook page.

 

ProjectsByMaria Site Logo 2

 

House Special Surprise

My boyfriend and I went on a double date last night at a new restaurant in Yaletown at House Special. We were invited as my friend knows the owners and I went because I hadn’t seen my friend in a long time. I was told it was a Vietnamese restaurant so I expected pho and rice noodles. To my surprise their dishes were beyond any regular Vietnamese restaurant.

IMG_7566Upon walking to the door I was greeted by cute paper lanterns strung on their patio with industrial brick of Yaletown as the backdrop made me feel as if I were in a different city. Walking through the door you are immediately greeted by an big open bar seating. Their menu was simple, and amazingly affordable with their share plates. Their tapas style Vietnamese cuisine was one of the first surprises of the night.

Our group ordered a few dishes but my favourites, that I now crave, were the spring rolls, crispy ribs, Saigon steak and Vietnamese pork tacos. I should have remembered the proper names for these dishes as they might seem like the ribs/steak/tacos you can get anywhere but they really are not. I’ve never had ribs so juicy and savoury at the same time, the meat literally came off the bone. Their pork tacos were very different from your average taco as it was more like a crepe wrap made with coconut than a flour or corn tortilla shell. I thought that the big seller for me was that everything tasted fresh. From the basil to the beansprout it all tasted as if it were just delivered that morning which was a surprise as I’ve been to far too many pho diners with I feel I should have been more adventurous and gone for salads and their pho but that just means I have more of a reason to come back.

My boyfriend who claims that he is not a fan of Vietnamese food (I didn’t tell my friend this ahead of time to save face) was suddenly converted and already wants to go back. Their wine & beer menu along with the already happening buzz in Yaletown leads me to predict that this restaurant will be this summer’s social dinner destination for those wanting to explore a modern take on Vietnamese cuisine.

 

Mind warp

I have a problem. I can’t turn my mind off. After a long hard day, err week, I can’t sit at home and not think of things to do that would be a more productive way to spend time. If I turned the TV on it would be to watch something I could learn from. When I scroll through my social media feeds it’s to curate information for my non-profit or find socially beneficial events to support. Even now as I attempt to avoid my e-mail, Facebook and Twitter I’m blogging.

My mind is always going. I would walk outside except it’s miserably rainy and dark – while this is an excuse, yes, my experience of walking in the dark/rain is to busy my mind with what my plans are for the next few days. It never ends!
How do you break free from the mental productivity race?