The countdown

weddingAfter I completed my undergraduate degree I completed an Event Marketing Management Certificate at BCIT. On numerous occasions I was offered the opportunity to choose ‘Wedding Planning’ as one of my electives to complete my program and opted for other courses. I believe most aspects of event planning is pretty similar (a matter of goal setting and measuring, coordinating respective parties building rapport and of course the logistics) – the only differing factor were the opinions and people to please.

Since my engagement last August my life has been consumed by wedding planning. I’m not the type of girl that grew up envisioning my wedding day or my perfect man. I never even started dating until I turned twenty five. I’ve spent half of my life planning and executing events so I thought this wedding planning business would be a piece of cake.

Little did I know how much of a challenge planning this event would be. There are so many moving pieces, deadlines and yes important people to please – all the while trying to stay on budget! Midway through my own planning here are my tips to any newly engaged couple out there:

  1. Budgets – I can’t preach about how to stay on budget but just its importance. In retrospect budgeting is the most crucial part of any planning. You need to do thorough market research with every component of your wedding to make sure you have accurate numbers for your plan.
  2. Your Wedding Planning Bible – This is binder/digital spreadsheet that contains ALL the information regarding every supplier, attendee or logistical timeline for your wedding. Create one – JUST ONE. We started with a binder then wrote on notepads and sheets; finally we progressed to an online spreadsheet which was easier to maintain.
  3. Openness – At this stage of the process I think it’s really important to be open with your fiance and family members with their wishes for the wedding. Discussions around who wants what and when will be happening after your engagement – especially if you come from a  family centred culture. So while you have your plan and your discussions with your fiance there needs to be some wiggle room to save you your sanity.

Some days I think of how amazing a destination wedding would be, or better yet, a trip down to city hall (my frugal side). Don’t get me wrong – I value the religious ceremony and having my closest friends and family around – but I’m not sure that I will be sane by the end of these 8 months. Most people I know or have come to know have opted to skip through this stressful limbo of “planning” by either eloping or hiring planners. With my limited budget, I am opting for a Day Of Coordinator but am slowly starting to wish I had a planner. The only challenge a planner would not solve or fix are the (important) people pleasing – that is the biggest challenge I am facing now.

I’ll keep you posted on my next steps!

*advice welcome*

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

Tis the season

theme-christmasI love Christmas. In the Philippines, where I was born and raised, the decor goes up as soon as September starts. It’s a predominantly Catholic/Christian country entrenched in American consumerism so that’s likely why they go hard in celebrating the holiday. Growing up I don’t think I recall the months or days leading up to Christmas but rather have so many fond memories of that day itself. I am fortunate to have grown up in a large family and every holiday season usually involves celebrating with my aunts, uncles, grandparents and cousins.

Over the last few years I’ve come to love the season, not for the day of gift giving but the weeks leading up to Christmas. It’s in these weeks that we get a glimpse of humanity at its finest. There are hoards of individuals volunteering their services for the less fortunate, the marginalized and the sick. And then there are companies and organizations mobilizing to drive funding to the organizations that are the pillars to our social communities. From a macro-society perspective it’s a win-win for everyone.

With the recent loss of a loved one and just this week having heard about the shocking loss of an acquaintance I’m learning to understand that this season is about growth – not materially but spiritually. I’m not going to talk about religion or mysticism here but more so the growth of our self conscience. This is a time to observe the blessings or fortunes around you, to look at the silver linings, the positives in every occasion and reflect on how this has made the life you are happy with or rather has driven you towards working for a life you want.

In today’s world it’s easy to fall into despair but I’m a firm believer that we have to look towards the positive in order to accomplish greater things in life. The cycle downward is easy and the climb up is hard but it is always always 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.

 

 

A mid-summer dream: Ireland (i)

A month ago I, along with my then boyfriend, embarked on an adventure to Europe. We set out to meet his family in Ireland, party at Temple Bar for my 30th and then lounge by a beach in sunny Portugal. While we did all those things – the trip was just so much more than I could ever have imagined.

As a teen stuck at home with religious regimented parents, my escape came through novels and sometimes I indulged in the cheesy but gloriously romantic Nora Robert paperbacks. I remember picking up a particular three part saga set in Ireland which likely started my fascination for this country – along with the famous St. Patrick’s Day. Who wouldn’t want to travel to a country with beer, rainbows and pots of gold?

Well, it was as magical as I had imagined it to be!

13900145_10153604668826436_163431437208945735_nIreland is filled with lush greenery, meadows of sheep and horizons filled with ruins and castles and cliffs. Their little towns, narrow roads and the most wonderful people make this country one of the most amazing places I have ever visited. We drove to a little town in Wicklow called Gleanealy, checked out Black Castle, Glendalough, the Sally Gap and Britta’s Bay. Our B&B apartment right in Wicklow town called the River’s Inn was run by a friendly older woman with the strongest Irish accent. She brought us coffee and tea every morning which always came with a wonderful cheery chat.

Our second night in the country we were invited by my fiancé’s auntie to dinner – this was my very first experience with a large Irish family for a meal. I’ll be honest, I was very anxious and I don’t get anxious much. It turned out to be an amazing evening, everyone was so chatty and happy! It might have had to do with the yummy food that his aunt had laboured over, or the endless wine, or the glorious cheese!!! Needless to say I left feeling happy.

13895286_10153604669906436_1841810436899885581_nIrish people are just such happy people. For my 30th birthday I rallied up my boyfriend’s siblings and dragged them out to Temple Bar to celebrate with me. Temple Bar is an area in Dublin full of pubs, bars and eateries. While the most touristy bars had loads of people there were no fights or anyone showing aggressive behaviour. Sure there were those who were quite drunk but bouncers/door security aside, everyone seemed to be in a happy and peaceful drunken state! This area was mostly filled with tourists but this was my general observation as I traveled throughout the counties in Ireland (as I was of course stopping at pubs and bars along the way).

At the end of our first week there we attended a christening for my fiancé’s god-daughter who is one of the cutest wide eyed chubby cheeked ginger babies I have ever met. After the christening we were again served with glorious delicious food. I was definitely beginning to see the parallels in the Irish culture with my Filipino one!

 

 

 

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.

 

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